Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Spellbook Schmellbook

Twenty-One Mnemonic Tools for Magic-Users
  1. A book, whether leathern grimoire, apprentice's lesson book, recipe file or collection of dirty limericks which are in fact cunning linguistic mnemonics
  2. A Rune-carved staff or magic wand
  3. The wizard's own beard or hair, with spell components woven into it in a complex arrangement of knots
  4. A pointy wizard's cap, magician's silk top hat or priestly miter.
  5. A talking mirror or mask of the wizard's own face
  6. The shell of a great conch into which new spells are spoken when learned and echoed back each morning
  7. A deck of cards depicting strange glyphs or scenes of thaumaturgical symbolism
  8. A strand of fetishes worn around the neck
  9. A familiar animal or homunculus which dwells in the wizard's robes or pouch, creeping out to whisper spells while its master sleeps.
  10. Pill box, klein bottle or syringe providing a daily dosage of spells
  11. Brazier, censer or pipe from which magic is smoked or inhaled
  12. Yarrow stalks, knuckle bones, or dice with which a day's spells may be divined
  13. A transistor radio tuned to a secret frequency
  14. A star chart or planar codex indicating the locations of the gods, demons or aliens who send the mage her spells
  15. An illustrated broadsheet depicting sacred postures or arcane calisthenics
  16. A cube of shifting cubes, which must be properly ordered according to the enchantments desired
  17. Musical instrument on which spells may be rehearsed
  18. A tiny ceremonial blade and stylus the sorcerer uses to write his spells in blood
  19. Chymical oils, unguents or paints used to mark the wizard's skin
  20. Chess, backgammon or go board on which the day's spells are played through
  21. Mother box, wrist-computer or Personal Dweomer Assistant


Chris said...

A nice change of pace from a musty old tome Max. GJ.

"...beard or hair, with spell components woven into it in a complex arrangement of knots."The grogblog hivemind synchronicity effect strikes once again. Yoinked!

Doug Easterly said...

The idea of a Mother Box as a spellbook now has me thinking of square-fingered wizards in big helmets surrounded by Kirby dots (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirby_dots) every time they cast spells.

Max said...

Chris: Glad to be of service.

Doug: Oh yes. The bizarro wizards from Thundarr are definitely an inspiration!

Looking for a Kirby Dr Strange I found this: Black Magic #8. "So you're saying *don't* step into the circle?" Yeah, that'll end well...

brandykruse said...

Great list! I especially, like Chris, love the knotty beard (instant madman!) and the transistor radio (again, instant madman!)=)

Max said...

crazyred: Glad you enjoyed them! As I envision it the wizard with spellknots in his beard or hair would look crazier and more disheveled as time passed -- each time he casts a spell the knot falls loose till such time as he memorizes his arcanamentarium anew.

Dave Hendrick said...

A forge. The wizard sees runic patterns in the chaos of sparks from the iron as the hammer beats out the impurities. Such a wizard could only have spells in memory AFTER completing a hard day's work. This would also turn the notion that wizards do not do physical labor on it's side.

Telecanter said...

I just wanted to say this is really smart. It is something that I have to keep reminding myself of-- that while we need the boundaries of a rule system, we can be creative and and imaginative in what descriptions sit on top of those rules.

Magic missile's damage may be important for balance/whether anyone picks it, but does it really matter if what does that amount of damage is a glowing quarrel, a snowball, two shadowy bats, or piercing cramps in the victim?

So, thanks.

Age of Fable said...


I turned this into a table on my tables website (www.apolitical.info/webgame/tables). I've credited you and linked to the original article. I would've emailed you to ask, but I couldn't find your email (I think it was there before?) Anyway, hope that's OK. My email is news at apolitical dot info if you want to contact me directly.

Anonymous said...

Fun -and useful- ideas there.

But you missed:

Permanent tattoos or scars winding up the limbs of the wizard.

A puzzle box that changed every night and must be solved anew each morning to release the magic.

Or for those evil sorts, finding their spells in the entrails of ritual sacrificed animals.

Anonymous said...

A numerologist vampire magician who must drink ALL the blood of a person with just the right True Name to gain the ability to cast that spell once.

He's currently searching for a young woman named Ehlonna Quarmall whose name gives her blood the power of a spell of Resurrection. If the vampire seizes her he will become alive again, with all his powers.

You play Ms. Quarmall, an agent of Her Majesty's Arcane Service.

Ragnorakk said...

rowdy list!