Sunday morning I finished the magic system I’ve been developing for the last seven years. That’s huge, right? It’s the culmination of seven years of research and design and wow! It’s hard enough to hit that exclamation point because I’m aware of how much work is left to be done. I still have to translate my notes.

In some ways it feels like the Death Star 2 — fully armed and operational but lacking a lot of its internal structures to the point that it’s relying on the moon of Endor to generate its deflector shields. The d20 System is my moon.

So, what is the big deal exactly? I’ll tell you.

The project’s been about making the connections between class features consistent with their power sources. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it started with the horrific broken-ness of 3e and its radically different interpretations of “Divine” magic across the Cleric, Druid, Paladin, and Ranger.

The question that first drove me to delve into the differences between the different magic types was probably, “Why does the Bard — an Arcane spell-caster — get healing magic when the Sorcerer — another Arcane magic-user — does not?”

It struck me as unfair. There are methods of regaining hit points via Arcane magic of course, several shape-changing powers allow a character to regain hit points, others grant temporary hit points, and some allow “stealing” of hit points, a la “Vampiric Touch.” Finally, there was the terse description of necromancy.

Quoted from the SRD:
“Necromancy spells manipulate the power of death, unlife, and the life force. Spells involving undead creatures make up a large part of this school.”

Never mind that despite “life force” being a key part of the description, there are few-to-no healing spells in 3e necromancy — which are present in earlier editions — because they were crammed into the Conjuration school of magic.

Also, it conveniently leaves out the fact that “Fear” magic forms a majority of necromancy spells. Fear, which has nothing to do with “death,” “unlife,” or “life force.” Also, it doesn’t mention anything about “souls,” despite the high-profile “Soul Jar,” “Soul Bind,” and “Trap the Soul” spells belonging to necromancy.

It’s important to point out that 3e souls have little or nothing to do with “life force,” since the undead are animated and tend to have no “souls.” There might be an argument that soul-less creatures respond differently to necromancy/healing magic, but that connection seems tenuous at the best of times.

“Alive” doesn’t mean “has a soul,” nor does “animated” mean “soulless,” so it can safely be assumed that life force has no correlation to the presence of a soul.

There’s a lot more to talk about than I can fit in one post. I’ll basically be talking about this for like, forever now that it’s moving on to the “filling out” stage.