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5E Earthsea Magic in D&D


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dave2008

Legend
Probably not, but I am skeptical that my deep spiritual ignorance of D&D can be so easily solved by your explanations.
I doubt that is the issue; "spiritual" and "the spirit of" are completely different meanings anyway. ;)

Simple put, I see no need to put D&D in a box and say it is one thing and can only do X, Y, & Z. You seem to feel differently. That is OK, there are millions of people playing the game with many, many different perspectives on what it is and how to play it. There is room for everyone IMO.
 
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Aldarc

Legend
I doubt that is the issue; "spiritual" and "the spirit of" are completely different meanings anyway. ;)

Simple put, I see no need to put D&D in a box and say it is one thing and can only do X, Y, & Z. Who seem to feel differently. That is OK, there are millions of people playing the game with many, many different perspectives on what it is and how to play it. There is room for everyone IMO.
Simply put, I was not inviting or asking for further discussion on the matter.
 

Voadam

Hero
Just curiosity. Earthsea is one of my favorite worlds and story cycles, and I've always loved the idea of a campaign setting for it, but I don't plan on running games in Earthsea at this point. I'm mostly just interested in what an Earthsea-like magic system would look like.

Verbal components would be in Draconic?

True name magic could be like Ars Magica's noun verb magic system, most of their spells are fairly easy to translate into D&D. The trick would be how to translate names known into D&D if you want a mechanical system to reflect that.

GURPS Magic and thaumaturgy paths in Vampire the Masquerade or the hedge magic paths in World of Darkness Sorcerer, mostly build on a narrow base theme then mastering that theme more and more with increasingly powerful magical effects.

3.5 had a truenamer magical class in Tome of Magic that suffered from using a skill resolution mechanic, but I found it worked pretty well by changing it to a level vs. CR mechanic. It relied on true names, but not knowing names for categories like fire or wind so moderate relevancy. Similar for Arcana Evolved which had a feat for giving you bonuses if you new a specific spell target's true name (useful for buffing your allies who trust your or when you can research a specific foe).

The Karma aspects of casting such as Ged's Shadow, would be its own thing and I do not really have suggestions there. It has been a couple decades since I read the story so the details are not top of mind.
 

nevin

Explorer
While I love Earthsea and its magic, I don't think it's a good match with D&D 5e (which I also like, mind you.)

If I had to come up with a quick and dirty implementation, I'd simply say that
  • the true name of things and entities that don't have a stat block (a pebble, a single blade of grass, a cup, a cloud, etc) is "included" in knowing the (official D&D 5e) spells that affect them. If you mend a broken shelf with Mending, you used the true name of the shelf, and that's it
  • not knowing the true name of statted things and entities but trying to affect them with spells works as per the official D&D rules
  • knowing the true name of statted things gives you an advantage on any roll you're required to cast OR a disadvantage to their save, OR maximum damage / healing / duration rolls etc, noting that learning the true name of a statted thing is the equivalent of gaining and possessing a magic item.
And that's it. Anything deeper than this, I'd go look for a different system more suited for Earthsea's world and magic.
hmmm I guess as long as you kept mostly away from Charm and mind affecting spells most True name magic would be you using parts of the world to affect other creatures. So most magic would be pretty similar just roleplayed differently. Truenames of living creatures or even dead ones is where it gets different. Even in D&D if you know the truename of a outerplanar you can summon it. Even if it's powerful enough to kill you, it's worried that you might spread it's name around and cause it untold grief. Perhaps if you used the idea that intelligent monsters, wizards, high level PC's have the same worry it would work. The high cleric may be able to kill the mage but where has he written that name down, what if he dies and some one more powerful gets it.

could be a game with a lot of great roleplaying.
 

nevin

Explorer
Yeah Im thinking that the interesting part of Earthsea’s magic came from le Guins prose rather than being inherent to the ‘magic system’. As represented by Sparrowhawk learning True Names was the challenge but once learned he gained access to the relevant ‘lore’ including its restrictions. The only major issue is that Earthsea magic has a cost which could be modelled as fatigue or major backlash (you get hunted by a evil shadow)

I wonder if then if the Sage Background with its Research feature is pretty much all thats really required. Just play it that the spellcaster needs to actively research to learn true names, then select story appropriate spells
or if you bring someone back from the dead, either something really bad could happen or someone else would have to die to maintain the balance. Reversing Death could do some bad things in EarthSea, including killing the caster.
 

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