I wanted an evocative title for a weird post.

Last night in the throes of insomnia, I hit upon solutions for a number of magic system problems I’ve been stuck on for months and months. This comes right after a burst of activity in monsters and class, in addition to some brand-newish mechanics for non-violent conflict resolution.

Like a big slip along a fault line. I’m a bit shaken up.

First things first, I borrowed a mechanic for sacrificing ability score points to power dice rolls. A little bit of roll protection and a little bit of exhaustion mechanics. Me like-y. I’ve been trying to remember which it was.

Last night (or early this morning), I hit upon an idea for a series of Divination spells that blur the line a bit between prophesy and numerical advantage. I’ve created a subschool of Divination called “Covenants,” which deal directly with deities. I think they’ll be popular. I mean, I like them.

Since Divination for me, includes both Scrying and Sending capabilities (that was the other subschool I forgot to mention in my notebook earlier…), those are included as well. Together, I’ve projected about thirty Divination spells.

I also drew a couple important “lines” in magic effects.

Alteration (see also: Transmutation) can be used to enhance objects and creatures, but cannot be used to imbue them with motion or sentience. In other words, “Animate Objects” is not an Alteration spell.

It’s a Necromancy spell.

See, in addition to dropping the rather nebulous connections to “fear” the Necromancy school has had in the past, I’ve tried to broaden its scope to incorporate some more diverse effects.

Now, psychology is the study of the mind, but the root betrays a connection to the concept of the “soul” in the Greek root from psychos. Mind, soul, and the animating force are all closely related.

It isn’t really a stretch that a magic-user who can animate the dead can also animate objects. For that matter, possession should be within easy reach as well (see: magic jar). So I’m giving all kinds of animation to Necromancers.

Not unlike the Necromancer’s golems in Diablo 2.

In addition to animating objects and the dead, a Necromancer will also be able to bestow sentience to objects (but not plants — that’s more complicated), the “Awaken” spell. But that led me to another idea, which is all the really nasty enchantment spells beyond “Charm Person,” like oh, Modify Memory.

As much as these spells might affect the mind, they just don’t jive with the rest of the Enchantment vibe. They’re too scary, too dangerous, and too permanent. Necromancy doesn’t flinch from permanent effects. In fact, a large portion of their effects are Save/Negate. So why not?

But once I got started down that road I realized there are some other mind-affecting Enchantment spells that have long felt out of place — “Sleep” is a powerful low-level spell with some really far-reaching consequences, that quickly runs out of steam. It’s great crowd control in the early game.

Sleep and Death are twins in Greek Mythology: Hypnos and Thanatos.

Plus, 3e gave Necromancy most of the fatigue/enervation/exhaustion effects, so it’s a little awkward that a couple of “people get tired and fall asleep” spells are found in a completely different school.

Now, I get that magical sleep is a thing — like, “faerie magic.” Totally.

But no, let’s move on from that. I think magic has grown up a little since then. You can still have enchanted faeries instruments that lull PCs to sleep — they’ll just be casting Necromancy instead of literal “Enchantment.”

There’s more though, a lot more.

Sadly, not enough time to write about it. I’ll come back to this.