Let’s talk about magic.
In Théah, Sorcery is quantified and often divided by national borders. The nobles of Montaigne use Porte, and they are the only ones who do so. The Hexe of Eisen and the Glamour Knights of Avalon have distinct powers, as well as power sources, that come with their own unique and separate rules. These rules involve mechanics as well as narrative elements; a Hexe has to deal with the average Eisen’s opinion of witchcraft, while the Avalonian Knight must abide by the knightly code of the Graal.
Magic in Khitai doesn’t work the same way.
As we talk about magic, keep in mind that all of this is subject to change. Basically…
The following is a true design goal. The names and mechanics have been changed to protect the innocent.
Khitai Magic is much more unified than Thean Sorcery. Different Nations interpret and use this power in different ways, but the font from which that power springs is shared with those of other Nations.
Shamanism involves communion with spirits. A spirit in Khitai is tied to an object, place, or ideal—a temple can have a spirit, as can a sword, as can a family bloodline. These spirits tend not to have goals beyond the preservation and safety of their tethers. The spirit of the monastery wants to protect it, the spirit of the family bloodline wants to make sure it isn’t snuffed out. Shamans can communicate with these spirits, and draw information and power from them.
Alchemy is the mystical science. Khitai holds many secrets in its stones, plants, and creatures. An apothecary studies these secrets, and learns how to combine them to achieve extraordinary results. She can craft a miraculous curative potion, or a terrifying poison. She can make a device that will create a dazzling flash of light to blind her enemies, or a small bomb to collapse a dangerous tunnel. From an elixir that forces the drinker to speak only the truth to a smoke bomb, the alchemists of Khitai study the world in order to master it.
Forbidden knowledge addresses the terrifying power of the things that creep in the shadows. Summoning and binding demons, learning secrets that are whispered in the shadows, or harnessing otherworldly power to return life to the dead, mages who study forbidden knowledge break the natural rules of the world as they see fit. While the shaman communicates with spirits of the natural world and the alchemist knows how to combine and alter substances to achieve unusual results, a person who studies forbidden knowledge discards the rules that bind them to the natural world.
Extraordinary heritage is the power that comes from a bloodline that isn’t entirely human. Perhaps an ancestor fell in love with a divine being, or your mother made a pact for power with a dragon. In either case, a person’s extraordinary heritage grants them abilities that, if they study it and seek to perfect it, grants them a great deal of power. Characters with this power might find themselves ostracized from a community or regarded as a demigod.
Magic in Khitai shares a small number of sources, but the Nations have different expressions of that power. A shaman from Agnivarsa has a great deal in common with one from Han. Both of them commune with spirits, but the shaman from Han does so in a different way—and can appeal to the spirits for different benefits. The two share similarities in their experience that they can bond over, but have enough differences to create drama and a sense of uniqueness between them.
Those are our goals for magic so far. A lot of things are still in development, but if you’ve read the Quickstart (which you should), you’ll get a good idea of the direction we’re going.
7th Sea: Khitai is on Kickstarter NOW through November 12th. To celebrate the first major expansion of 7th Sea’s world, we’re sharing stories and thoughts straight from the developers. We’ll be discussing people, places, magic, game systems, and what the designers themselves are most excited about! Stay tuned.