Magic System

Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will reign over all.

--The Gospel of Thomas

The spirituality of the desert nomads is deeply personal. Nomads believe that, although the universe contains gods and other higher order entities, the human spirit was designed to be the equal of any immortals, and that manís mortal nature was a handicap placed upon him by entities that feared, given an infinite lifespan, he would unlock all the secrets of the universe that were kept secret even from them. As a result, the magics that they produce are subtle things, and just as often can be attributed to mental state rather than to divine or supernatural forces.

The nomad ignores the traps and magical trainings of the outside world. To him, these are traps put out for the vain and ultimately succeed only in solidifying the worldview of the magician, preventing him from gaining true knowledge by immersing him in a false and limited projection that masquerades as the Truth. Nomads, then, have no priests nor do they have true mages. To teach another person spirituality is to rob them of their own.

Instead, then, of learning magics or pursuing gods and grimoires to increase his spiritual knowledge and potency, a nomad simply reflects upon his own existence, the things that he has seen and the people he has met, and hopefully simply the ebb and flow of his own life will bring him deeper insight into the world around him.

A nomads magical abilities are those that he has learned the hard way. Certain experiences bring certain abilities, and the more things that a person experiences Ė the more people he meets, battles he experiences, loves he gains, and friends he sees die, the better his chances of gaining understanding and power.

The following is a list of a few types of experience and example powers that they might unleash:

Powers of Anguish

Experiences of loss and swift change often hit individuals hard, but often give them great insight into themselves and how they exist in the world, how fragile life is and how little change matters. Enough anguish can give a person control over his identity in his environment, and it can also crush his spirit. Too much can cause someone to lose all connection to reality. Experiences of anguish would include the death of a close friend, of a lover, of a child, the destruction of oneís camp, or of a favorite animal.

Thought Without Mind

The things of the world are meaningless and cloud the mind. Once one removes the world from ones mind, one has an infinite amount of time to contemplate oneís decisions. A nomad who has mastered Thought Without Mind can make two combat actions instead of one, and three noncombat actions instead of two.

Crystal Clarity

After seeing enough of the important things in his life pass away, a nomad begins to feel things outside of his own psyche less. A nomad with Crystal Clarity no longer experiences negative psychological effects due to outside forces. He does not need to make panic checks, nor does he suffer from exhaustion in extreme heat. Pain also ceases to have a negative effect on his performance in any task.

Powers of Hatred

Left time to heal, Anguish yields a removal from the practices of the world. However, there is another option open to those wronged: to take it out on the world. Revenge, jealously, hatred: these are the things that draw one into ones self and bring out perhaps the most destructive of powers. However, the yoke of hatred is hard to remove and will frequently drive a person away from his tribe. Killing and acts of violence, especially soon after feelings of anguish, stimulate the powers of hatred.

Thorns of Passion

When one embraces oneís hatred of other living things, one can let go of the unconscious checks against depravity that hold the mind back. No longer incapable of contemplating the truly horrific and without a concept of fairness, one with enough hatred in him can and will destroy anything he sees as an enemy. With a weapon in his hand, a nomad with Thorns of Passion strikes wildly and accurately, each strike he makes inflicting twice the amount of pain that it should, the slightest cut often making opponents scream in agony.

Liquid Rage

Some say that the blood flowing through those filled with hatred becomes black in the veins. Whatever its color, one who has enough hatred in his heart can actually harm his enemies with his own blood. Instead of flowing off normally, the blood of someone with liquid rage forms a cloud around him until battle is done, and does constant damage to all in its range save the person to whom the blood belongs.

Powers of Life and Death

The forces of life and death can be deeply personal, but when one is able to observe life and death that is not connected as much to the self, one can gain a different perspective on it. The observing of the birth and death of a herd of sheep or the burning of a distant town, the birth of a new foal and the growing of a forest: all these images of the cycle of life and death bring knowledge and power of a cooler, tranquil flavor. Be warned, however, the more death one observes, the more ones powers will be clouded with it.

The Grip of Time

The things that a nomad with this ability touch are affected by his or her place in the cycle of life and death. As with all Powers of Life and Death, the Grip of Time has both a life and a death aspect. If the power was awakened by the death essence, his off hand becomes affected with the essence of decay. Anything he holds in that hand will decay at twice the normal rate for a full month. This includes living beings, so that if a nomad with this ability fights bare-handed, he inflicts a curse of age on his opponent. With the life essence, the power works in reverse, halving the effective decay rate of anything touched in this manner. Only five entities may be under the affect of this Grip at any given time.

As currently planned, each type of experience will give a random chance of gaining a power. The more times you experience something in a category, the more your character will be colored by it. Ideally, these will not just be huge power-like changes, but will also effect minor changes, possibly down to simple AI behavior when the player isnít watching.

This is not the only type of magic present in the Dunes. There are also very powerful artifacts left by the more polytheistic city dwellers that populated the once-fertile region. These artifacts will have effects on global variables rather than simply providing powers to the tribe that holds them. They are also stationary and/or self propelled, not able to be transported by bands of nomads and instead subjecting those that seek to control them to the necessity of restricting their movements to the movements of the artifact. By changing global variables, they can drastically alter the entire economy, and should provide interesting in strategy indeed for those who wish to monkey with the markets.

The Jade Pyramid

A thirty foot tall pyramid made entirely of green Jade, The Jade Pyramidís location is not known. What is known that it offers great power to those willing to pay the price. The machine, if fed sheep, will open floodgates hidden beneath the desert and cause certain rivers to flow for a few days. Unfortunately, the gates are many and only one can be opened at a time, so it is hard to use it to too much advantage.