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Narrating Magic in Kabal

Updated: Apr 28, 2021

Almost any time I've played an RPG I've been some kind of magic user. It's unsurprising then that Kabal has a rich magic system. In fact, there is an entire philosophical framework behind it, but the Cole's Notes version is basically that magic is the fabric of reality, it runs forward like a river, permeating all things and representing all potentialities simultaneously. Specifically, all of the potentialities of things which exist within the current environment. Something that is unlikely or doesn't exist - while a possibility - would be be extremely unlikely to manifest and therefore much more difficult to accomplish. In my mind I see the mage reaching into a flow of those potentialities and, using his skill and talent, selecting the version of reality that is the most achievable and closest to what he wants. Then, pouring his energies into increase its potential until it manifests.


Last night that got me thinking. If magic represents this slight warping of the potential possibilities of this reality how would it actually manifest? How would you as a referee, or Chronicler, describe the spell effects to the players?


Firstly, the spell effects should almost never originate with the caster. They should originate in the environment around the caster. So, if we take for example the very venerable 'lightning bolt' spell, instead of this scene:


"You mutter the incantation and make the arcane gestures; Bolts of lightning emanate from your hands and fly towards the rampaging Kinn electrocuting them and rending their skin"


you'd have this scene:

"You mutter the incantation and your mind pierces through the fabric of reality calling forth the energies of nature. You feel united with all things and pour your power into the stream, warping reality. You feel those powers gathering in the storm clouds above you. When you open your eyes your notice your hair standing on end, you can feel the air charging with ever greater amounts of static electricity. Then you direct your focus to the charging Kinn horde and bolts of lightning burst as if rent from the air itself to electrocute them, leaving their skins singed and smoking, revealing the monsters they are beneath."


It's not that the lightning couldn't originate from the Wizards hands, but that's far less likely and as a result would be much more difficult to accomplish, requiring a much more powerful character.


How'd that work for a fireball? Well, instead of a ball of fire that emanates from the caster and flies towards his enemies you could instead have a nearby tree spontaneously combust, bursting and hurling fire and shards of wood at the enemy with great force. Or, perhaps as in the previous example the tree was hit with lightning, igniting in flames with explosive force and injuring the enemy.


What if there isn't a tree nearby you ask? Well, then you move to something that is less probably, spontaneous combustion, or a small meteor fragment, or perhaps the sword or arrow of a fellow adventurer bursts into flame somewhat explosively as it hits your target. Perhaps the sword or the arrow are redirected to your target instead of its originally intended target...


There are a lot of possibilities for a creative referee, and it goes well with the current magic system which, as it happens, contains no pre-generated or pre-defined spells. Only a framework to quickly create magical effects during play.

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