I’ve been playing in the Alfmarches game on Discord, and on that server is a character creation channel in which players just make PCs for fun. It was on that channel that someone said something that stuck with me: essentially, the mage version of any character concept is the most powerful version of that character. Now, this is not strictly true, and certainly does not speak to what people want to play, but it does recognize that spellcasting in ICRPG feels a little bit like running around with a magical gun that never really runs out of ammo, but does occasionally malfunction. For my tastes, that doesn’t feel very magical, though for the style of play which ICRPG seems inclined toward - a fast paced, action movie type romp - this type of magic is fun to play at the table. That said, the “magical gun” doesn’t feel very magical to me. So, I started meditating on Discord, and now here, on the subject of narrative costs (as opposed to mechanical costs), and narrative taboos for spells. For this discussion, costs are requirements that need to be met to cast or obtain the spell, and taboos are circumstances in which a spell would not work, or would be harder to cast. For me personally, I prefer thinking of taboos as things that make casting HARD, or provoke a magical backlash, rather than something that makes casting the spell outright impossible.
I also want to note that though I am doing this on a per spell basis, you could write up costs and taboos that are thematic to the kind of spellcaster you are playing; a demonologist’s spells have different requirements and rules than a druid’s, or a member of the Order of the Secret Flame.
Most of this discussion is going to take place in the responses, rather than up here at the top. I’m going to start off with the first spell, ARCANE BOMB up here, and go from there. I hope you all will check this out, and share your thoughts and opinions.
So, without further ado!
ARCANE BOMB costs: The practicality of this spell is limited by not being able to control the fuse, but it still turns a single person into a walking demolitions depot, so why hasn’t Alfheim been paved over with convenient roads carved through the mountains with magical bombs? Perhaps because casting requires the toe or finger of a spellcaster, or something else no caster wants to part with? Could also be just something weirdly specific, like a paper lantern from the birthday party of a first-born noble’s daughter. But that makes it almost unplayable. Might be reasonable if caster is assumed to have every spell. Then the challenge isn’t finding the spell, or even carrying it, but meeting the requirements. Still, body parts are my favorite material components for attack spells. A year of life could also work - all the life’s energy of an entire year released at once makes a good explanation for the source of the boom.
ARCANE BOMB taboos: These could be very caster specific, such as a druid-ish type wizard couldn’t cast it in a place where it would damage a tree, or a sea witch can only set the bomb in sea water. Thinking more specifically about the spell, maybe ARCANE BOMB can only be cast during a storm, or a meteor shower. The thunderclap of the storm acts as the fuse, which is why it can’t be set, but if you can shield it from the sound, or produce your own loud noise, you can change the fuse time. That feels thematic, and gameable.
Hope you enjoyed! ARCANE MISSILE discussion will show up in the responses below later! Stay tuned!