Magic in Trollworld, Part 3


Wizards get lots of action on Trollworld.–Art by Moonwolf.


What do you understand?

Trollworld is an intensely magical world.  It exudes magic in the same way that Earth exudes Magnetism or Gravity.  Perhaps it is the same thing.  The magic is there.  How it is understood determines how it can be used.  

To be able to talk about something does not mean that you understand that thing.  I can talk about Electronics, but I can’t build a radio or design a circuit.  I don’t understand enough.  On Trollworld there are many different ways of understanding Magic, and they all work.

Lesser magicians (i.e. player characters within the Tunnels and Trolls game) understand that they can absorb a tiny bit of the world’s magical kremm energy, and then by focusing their will, cast spells to change reality.  They believe they can improve in this ability, and it’s all true.  They can do this, and they can improve, sometimes to impossible heights of power.  Lerotra’hh currently has a WIZ rating of about 4000.  She thinks she understands the nature of life, death, immortality, attribute manipulation, shape-shifting, and all sorts of things.  She doesn’t understand time travel, the creation of matter, or metaphysics.  She thinks she has transcended mortality and become a goddess, and she calls herself The Death Goddess, but in reality she is only a great wizard.

Earlier editions of Tunnels and Trolls used the Strength attribute to power magical spells.    Because they believed that they needed superhuman strength to power their magic, those wizards made themselves into unsurpassed physical specimens.  What they believed, shaped how they developed.  Players using 7th edition rules use the Wizardry attribute instead.  They no longer see themselves as having to be superhumanly strong in order to cast great spells, and they’re right.

There are places on Trollworld where the use of Magic is seen as inherently evil and self-destructive.  Spells are powered by the Constitution attribute in these locales, and wizards actually harm themselves to work magic.  In still other places it is believed that Luck is the driving force behind Magic, or Intelligence, and in those places, it is true.  What the people believe is what they experience.

There are some wizards, like Gristlegrim, who have gone on to a more powerful understanding of the world.  They believe they don’t have to store the kremm energy at all.  They believe that they just have to act as a conduit for the world’s energy, and thus they can do anything they can imagine.  These are true god-wizards, but they are not true gods.  Gristlegrim believes he is a Dwarf, and he will always act in a Dwarven fashion.  They remain limited by their own conceptions of who and what they are, and what is possible.  This is the kind of magic that works by fiat–it happens because the Game Master says it happens.  We don’t need rules for this kind of magic except to say that player characters never ever have it.  The I can do anything power of the gods is reserved for Game Masters.

There are places where people believe that only the gods and other supernatural beings can do magic.  They pray to their gods and sometimes their prayers are answered and magic happens.  It works as a gaming principle because there is an element of uncertainty involved.  Perhaps the character needs some quantifiable thing like Favor to get the gods to intercede for her.  Or we could call it Grace.  Perhaps the player just needs to call his shot on the dice–roll 2D6, call for a 7, and if you roll a 7, the magic works.

The point of all this writing is to let you know that T & T magic isn’t limited to what it says in the rules.  It is only limited by your imagination as Game Master.  When you are the player, your limits are the Game Master’s limits.

Magical Beings

Some of the creatures in Trollworld don’t do that much magic, but they ARE magic.  Elves live forever because they’re magic.  Dragons can fly and breathe fire because they are magic.  Rock trolls are made of living stone and have lava for blood because they are magic.  Medusas turn some beings to stone when they are seen because they are magic.  Unicorns heal poison and disease with a touch of their horns because they are magic.  And the list goes on and on.  Take away the magic and you take away the creatures.  You and I need air to breathe; trolls and dragons need magic.

And now we are ready to talk about Magical Things like Staffs, Potions, Amulets, Weapons, Clothing, and so forth.  I’ll talk about them in Part 4, coming in the near future.

to be continued

Magic in Trollworld, Part 3
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8 thoughts on “Magic in Trollworld, Part 3

  1. I still remember the first time I lobbed TTYF (Take That You Fiend) at a gribbley – it fizzled, then so did I, the Master Assassin Drow Elf.

    Don’t ask. No, just don’t.

    *wanders off cursing nostalgia*

  2. We shouldn’t need to be reminded of the things in the post, but it helps. magic should be, well, “magic”.

    I often don’t stop to think about the world can shape the mechanics just as much as the mechanics can shape the world.

  3. The magic summary was great, but I like it when you expand the T&T mythos by giving Lerotra’hh’s WIZ attribute or Gristlegrim’s belief that he is a Dwarf.

  4. Very much enjoyed this exposition, some really fun ideas buried in there (love the idea of mages powering their craft by CON, etc.).

  5. Was discussing using LK to power spells in my T&T/Runequest crossover game I have planned – instead of POW in RQ – so it’s interesting to hear that there are magicians on Trollworld who do exactly that!

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