No Medieval Paradigm

So I have been thinking of doing away with the medieval paradigm altogether, creating not so much a Mythic Europe as Europe, mythic.
Mostly inspiration is in the uk tv show Merlin, and I like the idea of experimenting with my own setting a la D&D.
This would have several consequences I think:

  1. Physics of the world are like ours, only the characters don't know it. This has no effect on gameplay, or maybe some different rules with healing, like higher ease factors or something
  2. There is only the natural world and the supernatural world which has Magic. No Divine, Infernal or Faerie auras and powers.
  3. No angels and no demons. Faerie creatues are actually creatures of magic, only they use different magic (fae magics) from the hermetic magi, just like mercurian magic and the other magical traditions.
  4. No relics, no miracles, no exorcisms. A ghost may be put to rest by christian burying only if he was christian in life. If he was atheist, paid only lip service to the church, or was from another religion, it doesn't work(but a muslim ghost can be put to rest by muslim ritual for example).

I do not think this has such a major effect on gameplay. It does not immediatly negate the existence of the christian god, leaving room for both faith and atheism, simulating the actual state of medieval europe better, while leaving the social pressure in favor of religiousness intact.
The true danger of the church is a political rather then a magical one . After all, the roman church is the most extensive organization of the time, and as such it has political, military, social( and religious) might that remain unmatched. It is much more likely that the order be afraid of massive Inqusition-style stake burnings than of a host of avenging angels descending on earth; even in mythic europe that has never happened before, and it seems like a distant threat at best.

The removal of demons, on the other hand, is more significative, and the magi run the risk of running out of people they can rightfully maul to death.
Of course, anyone who has ever opened a D&D monster manual, any one of the five, knows that there are a ridiculous amount of critter than one can throw at a covenant. Nevertheless I appreciate the need for more subltle schemes,so i have cooked up the idea of Spirits (original, I know).

Basically Spirits are creatures of pure Magic, that are created when stong emotions are experienced near sites with a magical aura. Those emotions leave "imprints" which can, in time, produce Spirits. The might score of the creature depends on the strenght of both aura and emotion, as well as the exposure time.
Negative emotions are naturally stronger, so if all the peasants in a village with a moderate magical aura die a horrible death for starving during the course of several years, a powerful Hunger spirit is born.
They have the magical power of evoking their emotion in humans, and those who have a spirit constantly influencing them are generally called "possesed" (originalty again). Possessed people are not necessarly aware of being possessed.
Spirits can be of virtually any emotion, so it is not hard to imagine a greed spirit secretly influencing a noble or bishop to act in corrupt ways, possibly demanding unfair taxes of a covenant ecc.
It can also have unexpected twists, like a justice spirit influencing someone to act according to the letter of the law without regard for circumstances and humanty. It is important to understand that while Spirits are born of human emotions, they are NOT human as they have the capacity for only that emotion, and pursue it ruthlessy and mindlessy. They are generally not nice creatures.
Spirit are fed by both the emotion of which they are a representation, and the energy inherent in a magical aura. The longer they stay in an aura, the greater is the corruption (or rather decadence?) of said aura, to the point that a magical "sink" is created. In game terms, spirit can corrupt an aura so that instead of giving a bonus to spellcasting, it gives a penatily. I have a nice idea of a chart which shows the effects of a spirit infestation in relation to the time of the permanence and the aura corruption, so that it goes from +aura to all magic(remember there are only Magic powers, no divine ecc) to +0 to a minimun of -(3 times aura). In addition to this, while in a corrupted aura all characters gain a Personality trait of the corresponding emotion with a bonus equal to the aura magnitude; for ex. Greed+5 while in a 5th magnitude magical aura corrupted by a Greed Spirit, the rules are the same as per the personality roll table .
I was thinking that this effects has a penetration of 5 times aura magnitude.
Please note that the effect of a spirit infestation do not lower aura magnitude, they simply change how the bonus from a magical aura is applied to spellcasting.

This makes Spirits powerful enemies, as they are a serious danger to the magi's precious auras, and can manipulate others.
The Demon's Eternal Oblivion is now the Spirit's Eternal Oblivion(kills them in the same way and they always leave appropiate Vim or Mentem vis), and the warning about devils in the oath is now about Spirits. When priest think "demon" they are probably thinking about a spirit.

But what about dealings with Spirits? In another great flash of originality, I have come up with the idea of Shades (Eragon all the way). Basically they are mundanes, but sometimes magi tired of having to get power the slow way and who want it all and want it now.They take possession a step further, willfully calling upon a number of spirits, and offer themselves up to them, gaining their powers. They are no longer humans but become magical creatures with a might score, a number of magical powers and immortality. Depending on how much I am willing to blatantly copy, maybe the only way to kill them is to pierce their hearts to get the spirits out. The actual might score is irrelevant and can vary from Shade to Shade, the point is that they make a powerful enough enemy for the order, and the part about diabolists in the oath is now about Shades.
A mighty Shade may be the driving force behind obscure political manipulations of an entire country, maybe extending their dark influence on a Tribunal, with the help of possessed magi, and a relatively weak one can be the mastermind behind mysterious events that have been happening around the covenant.

What do you think? Unbalanced? Unoriginal? How?

Thats how we pretty much always played it. It makes a lot of things concerning rules arbitration MUCH easier.
Its usually not hard to transfer reality into how characters might see it and it means you dont have to come up with a lot of fancy fake make belief pseudophsyics. Just advantages in this from my point of view.

Seems a bit rough? You may be curtailing your gameworld a bit much through this. I think i would at least recommend you to include faeries(if nothing else because characters with some faerie ancestry is fun to play). Keeping divine and infernal "magic" and powers completely out(as distinct and different abilities) i can certainly understand though.

Hmm thats an interesting variation. My first impression of it is "pretty good" i think.

You may still want to give them some kind of defense against magic as a counter against the superpowers just about any magi is compared to mundane people.

Certainly. Just make sure you pick monsters thematically, not all foes from D&D is suitable to a fantasy-style medieval Europe.

A fairly simple but quite nice take on the concept i think.

Ouch thats potentially a massive penalty indeed. Neat.

You could have it autopenetrate even...

Havent read Eragon but its a pretty decent idea.
Personally i would rather add spirits and shades rather than have them essentially replace the 3 removed auras/creatures. But thats personal preference only.

Interesting and i might borrow some of it if we ever get another game going here. :wink: