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Magic works through transmutation circles infused with sigils that both manifest from a person's mind. The individual focuses their Anima, or life force, through these circles in order to create magical spells. These sigils can range from dozens to hundreds, and change depending on the type of spell being created.

There are complex steps to casting a spell, and being able to manipulate it is the main requirement to casting it. Each sigil has Anima requirements, and Anima must run through them at a certain pace in order to function. For example: a person has a number of sigils. One requires 30 Anima at a slow pace, another requires 5 at a medium pace, then 15 Anima at fast pace, etc.These requirements and the Sigils themselves can change during the spell itself, depending on how powerful the spell is. All spells also have neccessary time limits, which can range from 10 minutes to many hours.

As you can see, this is a form of magic that emphasizes control and finesse over raw power. A person with a level of Anima over 9000 and another with a level of 25 will achieve the same result in the same amount of time. However, I still want to make raw power valuable in some way within these requirements.

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  • $\begingroup$ For example: a person tries. [...] As you can see. I suspect something is missing there. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Jul 2 at 11:38
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    $\begingroup$ Please don't forget to clean up your Sandbox post. $\endgroup$ – JBH Jul 2 at 16:28
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH ok. Tonight I will. $\endgroup$ – Incognito Jul 4 at 17:17
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Sigil energy requirements

Well, you already mentioned a sigil of 30 anima at slow speed, and that your weak person has only 25 anima - ergo, your weak person can't cast any spell containing the 30anima sigil. Who says that there aren't spells with 100anima or 1000anima sigils? If you can do multi-person casting, you might manage them with 4 25anima people, but surely it is less accident-prone to have only one brain working on such a complex spell?

Spell energy requirements

Does the caster's anima get used up during the casting? If a 100Anima mage casts a spell containing a 30Anima and a 15Anima sigil, does the caster have 55Anima left afterwards until they mysteriously regenerate their missing Anima? In this case, the more powerful casters can do longer chains or more spells before they have to regenerate.

Or is it more like a speed limit, that a 100Anima mage may cast any spell as long as none of the individual components go beyond 100Anima? In that case, see the first point of Sigil energy requirements.

More bang for the buck

If you've got an average of 100Anima per person, but some outliers at Over 9000, there will be enough comparatively strong people that you also have some spell crafters amongst them. And unless your magic system forbids the existence of any spell that translates input anima into output damage, you will have spells where Over 9000 will shine beyond measure.

Imagine a water spigot spell. Standard 5Anima use will fill a glass of water within 20 seconds. 50Anima use can be made to water your garden. 200Anima use to do some serious dirt removal, 1000Anima a proper fire hose, and at over 9000 you can probably extinguish half a burning forest. Which is indeed helpful in some cases, as long as your task is not filling a water glass.

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A person with a level of Anima over 9000 and another with a level of 25 will achieve the same result in the same amount of time.

Take the example of any projectile fire weapon: the combustion of the detonating charge takes roughly the same amount of time, regardless of whether you are firing a Colt or a Big Berta. The result is the same: within a certain time frame, a projectile is ejected from the barrel.

However, the amount of damage delivered on the target is way bigger with the Big Berta, because of the different power level.

Same holds for your magic: casting the spell is about "projecting" it on the target, the actual damage being done by the energy delivered.

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Issue before the answer

I'd like to point out that having sigils that move/consume/process Anima at different rates means you need some kind of buffer or battery between sigils. If your first sigil moves Anima at a slow rate and your second sigil moves it at a fast rate, then you're second sigil isn't working unless it waits for sufficient Anima to build up to allow the sigil to operate. Since the problem is solved with "buffering sigils" that act like batteries to ensure each sigil gets the Anima at the rate it needs, the differences in rates makes this magic system very complex without a good reason.

Answer

Your magic system should work like electricity.

An electric circuit requires a specified voltage and current. If you think of electricity like a river, voltage is the speed (or, unfortunately, "current") of the river and current (see what I mean by "unfortunate?") is the volume of water. Thus, a large, slow-moving river has a small voltage but a large current. A fast but small river has a large voltage with a small current.

Continuing with the water analogy for a moment, your sigils are like water wheels, stones/rocks, waterfalls, land grades, etc., that affect the speed and volume of the river.

Converting back to electricity, your sigils are resistors, capacitors, inductors, transistors, and a host of other electronic components. Each component affects the electricity, depending and using power, defined as the product of voltage and current (P = V • I).

This is useful, because P is the amount of Anima an individual wizard has to work with and how much is needed is a function of the rate of consumption and the volume of consumption.

Thus, a combination of sigils that lifts Marilyn Monroe's skirt are fast with low volume where a combination of sigils that moves a mountain are slow with high volume.1

In terms of your magic system

Now, I want to simplify matters such that an RPG-style rule can be created.

Rate defines how much "time" is required to consume Anima. Rate is a number between 0 and 1 but never 0 (0 < Rate <= 1).

Consumption is the amount of Anima consumed in that much "time." Consumption is a number greater than zero (0 < Consumption).

Yeah... that might be a bit confusing, but check this out, I think you'll like it. Let's define three sigils.

Akdur = influences the spell to create a clockwise spin or twist to the result. Rate=0.2 Consumption=12.

Cheffaw = appropriates the atmosphere around the caster. Rate=0.8 Consumption=5.

Heurist = draws heat from the sun (vs. other sources). Rate=0.1 Consumption=25.

All the rates must even out. That means the largest rate controls the whole spell. We'll assume that one of each sigil is require to create a hot tornado of death!

Longest rate: 0.8. The other rates must fit into this.

0.8 + 8(0.1) + 4(0.2)

And we replace the rates with their associated consumptions:

5 + 8(25) + 4(12) = 253 Anima to get our Hot Votrext of Death!

And there's your power-based limitation

The stronger your wizard (total Anima) the more complex and more powerful the spell that can be cast. Weak wizards need to get creative with the sigils to squeeze the most out of what they can do.


1I'm not suggesting the same power was needed to lift Marilyn's skirt as to move a mountain — after all, she was known for kinda liking her skirt to be lifted.

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Three possible benefits of having more Anima come to mind. First, extra Anima could provide a buffering effect such that less skill or concentration is required to successfully manifest a sigil. Fluctuations in quantity or rate that would ruin a sigil would be moderated by the large pool of extra Anima.

This would not affect what spells one has the power to cast, but it might allow an Anima-rich caster to work on two spells at the same time, cast a more challenging spell when tired, or cast a simple spell while busy or distracted. The fineness of control (related to concentration and skill) might not have a linear relationship to Anima quantity and rate fluctuation, so only a highly skilled caster with lots of Anima might be able to cast two spells at once.

A second possibility is that a caster with abundant Anima can set-up sigils in parallel. This would not effect the time between the start of casting and when the spell is completed, but it would allow the caster to fail early and retry. For example, if the vast majority of failures are in set-up rather than "flow" or "settle" (which controls the total casting time), a spell with 20 sigils each using 20 Anima and requiring 30 minutes to complete might only be attempted once every 30 minutes by a 20-Anima caster but once every 15 minutes by a 40-Anima caster and once every 90 seconds by a 400-Anima caster.

Even with a significant "settling" failure rate, an Anima-rich caster could make more failed attempts within a given period of time. For example, with a 50% settling failure rate spread over the settling time (with near-zero settling time for a standard casting, so failure effectively occurs at spell completion), a four-fold reduction in set-up time would place half the failures in the first quarter of the casting (i.e., during set-up) and 75% of failures after 62.5% of casting time.

Third, a bad miscasting might be less harmful to a caster with lots of Anima, perhaps especially if parallel set-up was not used. (Having parallel set-up have blow-back effects according to the set-up Anima would make the tradeoffs more interesting.) A 30-Anima caster could cast a spell with 30-Anima sigils, but an extremely bad miscasting might be fatal while a 300-Anima caster might be knocked unconscious and a 3000-Anima caster might just get a bad headache.

With such blow-back, failure containment methods might be used, especially by low-Anima casters. A skilled caster might be able to redirect the Anima flow from a failed sigil to a new sigil, changing the nature of the spell but avoiding spell failure. Quickly selecting an alternative sigil with similar Anima and rate that can compose a useful (or at least not harmful) spell would involve skill. Adding constrains of size, connections to adjacent sigils, or mostly complementary "coverage" relative to the failed sigil (i.e., failure makes the area covered by the failed sigil to be less able to hold part of a new sigil) would increase the required skill.

Parallel set-up might force the caster to choose alternative sigils for all the sigils being set-up, which might be extremely difficult even with just two sigils being set-up in parallel.

(Distraction might cause an early failure even in a serial casting. If the blow-back is related to Anima and rate of the current/most recent sigil(s), the ordering of sigil set-up could be significant in spell safety, especially with parallel set-up where the last sigils would determine the impact of a "settling" failure.)

All of these have implications on spell research and practice. When spell casting is easier, faster, and safer, practice and experimentation is cheaper.

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I may not have properly understood the system yet, but here is my take on it.

1) Raw power = potential growth.

With limited power, you can't cast overly complicated and huge spells, because if they change the needed power midway, you may fail to power it within the time limit.

With huge raw power, you have nothing to fear. With every improvement in control, you automatically become able to cast the highest level spells. Others may fail, if the spell contains a high Anime requirement sigil with fast pace channeling and short time limit.

2) Multi casting

Dual, triple, ... casting of spells become available given the right amount of control. If the spells only scale in complexity, not required power, instead of one huge spell, you may be able to cast dozens of the simplest spells at the same time. The low power casters can't do this and there are occasions when quantity is better than quality.

3) Unique (Secret) Sigils

Not sure about the whole sigils stuff, wether they are set or acquired, but since people's power levels vary, they must have researched, found ways to devise sigils which make use of high available powers. These sigils may have been lost in time, become forgotten, kept as secrets within limited circles or deliberately suppressed as the elite with low levels don't want the potential threat of overpowered heroes.

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  • $\begingroup$ Highest anime requirement. Possibly the most amusing autocorrect I’ve read this month. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Jul 2 at 18:00
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Consider it like unarmed combat. All other things being equal, a skilled, smaller fighter can beat a larger, stronger fighter who is not skilled. However, given equal skill levels, bet on the bigger, stronger fighter.

Within reason. If the difference in size/strength is too much, skill won't make up the difference. In a fight between an average-sized 12 year old blackbelt in karate and judo and a 2 meter tall man who regularly works out but has no training other than knowing how to block and throw a punch, no one outside movies is ever going to think the kid has a chance.

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It's relatively simple problem: You can only hold and/or push out so much power for so long.

This means that very complex and time consuming spells are not only constrained by the control level but the energy reserves of the magician. A particularly complex spell will be draining and people with not enough "magic muscle" behind their casting will give out before the spell can be completed.

Let's try to transform this to a real world example: complex ideas. Many people can think about complex stuff and process and understand them. Be that maths, or writing a plot, or playing a game. This is the "control" factor. However, everybody also has limits on their mental fatigue. One person might solve equations all day long, another has to stop after half an hour. That's not exactly "power" but it's a close enough analogy.

So, a mage without enough power might just be physically (magically?) unable to complete a spell, even if they could manipulate the energy in the correct way. So, they sort of know the theory but can't back it up in practice.

This opens up venues for acquiring external power. This can enable magicians with less power to still complete spells they couldn't otherwise. However, since the magical power needed is tied to the life force of a person, this practice could damage or even kill the battery. Also, since it's not the magician's own power, it likely requires even more than normal as the caster cannot manipulate another's anima as efficiently and/or the process of extracting the anima is lossy.

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Combinatorial Sigils

Where several sigils might be required to cast a spell, each with their own channeling requirements, there could be larger sigils that cost more to run, but produce the same effect as multiple small ones, simplifying the spell being cast. Example: A mage with 100 anima can certainly cast a complex spell with 80 total anima required and 12 sigils, but a mage with 1000 anima cast the same spell with two equivalent sigils worth 140 anima.

Power Multiples

Just because a sigil requires 30 anima at a slow pace to function doesn't mean more can't be added. Throwing a multiple of 30 at it instead increases the aspect of the spell that particular sigil controls. This can also be made more difficult as each sigil requires more precise control to handle the extra power. Each sigil can have its requirements met at multiples of its base rate to alter the spells characteristics by how many multiples of that rate is added to each sigil. Example: a Fireball has a sigil for power, speed, size, tail length, cluster munitions, range, arc, multicast(2+ fireballs!), and temperature. Each of these can be manipulated to increase the attribute the sigil controls.

Optional Sigils

Certain sigils attached to spells can have huge power requirements, but be completely optional. The whole fireball spell only costs 25 anima to cast, but there are options that can be added in. Example: 25 anima fireball then 50 anima sigil for a trail of fire and 200 for it to explode off my first target and head towards a second target.

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Besides the obvious of "you need enough Anima to actually be able to cast the spell" you can make it more intricate. Not only can you make more Anima more valuable, but you can also put in the limits that most powers sorely need.

Simply put, Anima stored into your body is under pressure. The more you have, the more pressure you have. For sigils that have a high anima rate this can make it possible for the caster to cast them more easily.

The problem arises when you need specifics. Sigils meant for a 15 Anima rate could actually be powered by 12 to 17 Anima for example. But some Sigils will need 15 Anima, no more and no less. It would be harder for the caster with over 9000 Anima to fuel that specific amount without problems as he has to deal with a lot more Anima pressure. Someone with less Anima can power that one more easily. This way you make sure powerful casters dont make everyone else obsolete

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