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Orgone is the measure of a person's connection with the cosmos. It is the conduit through which the power of the cosmos flows, focused through a sorcerer's will. There are five base forms of magic, each with their own sub-disciplines, which ultimately lead to hundreds of fields of magic.

  1. Enchantment- the binding of Orgone within animate and inanimate objects for a purpose, ongoing or drawn upon in times of need.

  2. Protection- Orgone can be drawn upon to thwart and reflect the undesired intent of others.

  3. Transfiguration- Using orgone to alter and control the living creature be it plant or reasoning being.

  4. Transmutation- weilding Orgone to change the nature of minerals, fluids, and gases, to bind and divide, to empower and to expel.

  5. Warging- the capacity to comprehend, to see beyond the limits of the senses.

These five disciplines can be combined with each other to create new and unique disciplines (ex: enchanting and transmutation). However, I don't want my mages to be able to pick certain spells from each discipline and combine them, or only picking certain fields in various disciplines at once like a Jack of all Trades. Most mages should spend most of their lives studying one discipline. Rare and talented mages go on to accomplish mastering two disciplines. Truly rare individuals, the 1 percenters, would be the ones to combine two or more schools of magic together to create unique forms of magic.

How can I design my system so that mages are forced to master one discipline at a time before moving on to another?

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    $\begingroup$ You could make the magic-learning process horribly dangerous, so that an apprentice could only learn from an accomplished master who knows how to do it without killing himself. That way apprentices would only attempt at a different discipline after they're confident with their skills. Combining different disciplines would be twice as dangerous, especially if they're trying to invent a new spell or use one that is poorly documented, which would be more likely to backfire. $\endgroup$ – Nightingale Sep 24 '19 at 13:13
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The TL;DR Version: Each field of magic is as much philosophical as it is reliant on natural talent.

The Mighty Wall of Text Version: Each of the five schools of magic is itself a school of thought or a way of thinking that builds on itself to permit one to cast the stronger spells of that school. The magic also flows in different ways which partially reinforce that philosophy in a sort of arcane feedback loop. After a certain point, a mage won't be able to adjust their thinking and/or mind state to really make use of a second school at anything beyond the most basic level.

Natural talent comes into play as a person has a predilection to one school of magic from the outset to some degree. The vast majority of people will take up training in the school they are the most naturally gifted at as that is where they will see the best results fastest.

Mastering two disciplines would take either a flexible mind or an high natural talent in one of the studied disciplines. While it might be possible for most to do this, the common trend is that mastery in one is better than proficiency in two.

A few mages will be able to apply the philosophy behind a different school to apply it to theirs to create new spells in their discipline. I suspect Enchanting would be the best at that. It will be the special ones (the 1%) that can actually merge both the lines of thinking and casting methods to create new spells of mixed schools.

Being a Jack of All Trades would be a philosophy in itself, and a difficult and self-limiting one at that. By keeping an open mind and not rejecting any school on principle, they might be able to use simple things from any school on their own. However, this school of thought greatly limits their ability to do anything truly advanced in any one school. I would expect that if magic was mostly academic in learning that this line of thinking would be shunned specifically for the lack of advanced spells available.

Some basic thoughts on this are below. They only represent one possible school of thought, and it is likely that there are many philosophies that apply to any single school.

  • Enchantment has the view of seeing the potential in anything and looking at how something can be enhanced. Anything can be improved.
  • Protection is about redirection and evasion. A defensive school by nature, its school of thought is to prevent harm and for many to do so with the least expenditure so as to make it harder to do harm. Some like the more karmic aspect of reflection.
  • Transfiguration is about controlling the world around you through everyone's connection to Orgone. By controlling the resonance of your Orgone to another's, you open up the means to control them.
  • Transmutation posits that the world is a canvas and you are the painter. That pile of rocks can be a house with the right mindset, that stream a lovely pond. A more offensive line of thought is that everything is a weapon.
  • Warging is about understanding the world. Listen to the world when it speaks, and you will know. Work in harmony with the world and knowledge beyond yourself will reveal itself. By admitting ignorance, you can gain knowledge.
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Though everyone (mage or otherwise) can draw in orgone, to channel it takes the development and infusing of a special rune. This would allow for two different methods for ensuring these runes would require significant (individual) time, investment, and focus:

  1. These runes are only created or transferred by another mage, who already has the rune, after the prospect mage has completed a special trial (or trials) which are meant to ensure the prospect has sufficient strength not to explode in mystic flame when the rune is transcribed. This takes years to prepare for (and not all complete/survive).
    • The rune could develop naturally but its exceedingly rare (in fact only 5 people have ever done that - hence 5 schools)
    • This is a bit of a trope so you could make it "a set of potions have to be taken in order over months", "the deity is at the top of the tower and gives adventurer once reached", "the rune is tattooed one part at a time at the end of each trial", etc...
  2. These runes can be tattooed anytime but will only activate after a certain amount of of the practitioner's orgone is infused into them.
    • So weak spells are possible with a certain minimum training/investment but anything worthwhile will also take that level of study
    • As muscle ache when working them out this could also cause physical/mental pain which requires resting between "training" sessions (or bad things happen like going mad)
    • One could also stipulate that a base (mid to high) level of further investment is needed to ensure runes are stable or they can react explosively with any new tattoo that is added. Of course, a third would require even more in both runes.
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Each field of Magic applies Orgone in a specific way and a Mages mastery and skill is linked to how well they understand and can apply a school of thought.

For example, lets say that Enchantment focuses on binding Orgone while Warging focuses on casting Orgone into space. The schools of thought contradict or conflict and so someone who can cast Enchantments cannot cast Warging due to their lack of understanding of the principals behind it. This contradiction also affects their current understanding and abilities which can permanently stunt their growth and capabilities.

They are instead encouraged to have a full understanding of a particular field, which they can then unite with another field. Because their understanding of a single school of thought is flawless, learning a secondary school allows them to incorporate the two concepts together.

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The average person isn't anything special, the world is full of average people.

The average person has access to magic, all disciplines of magic, but with no particular way to distinguish between them, no particular way to call on one school over another, their magic is almost always ineffective because the mixed aspects of magic confuse and confound any spell they try to cast.

Some people are special, these special people actually have limited access to magic.

Because they only have access to one school, the magic they try to cast is always in that school. No confusion, no unexpected consequences, the spell cast can only be in the discipline to which they are attuned and as such they do not suffer the difficulties that average people suffer.

On this path, you have a choice for the 1%ers, but really it lies on a sliding scale.

We could start with people who have an affinity for one discipline but they're not locked out of the others, or perhaps a strong affinity for one and a weak affinity for another. That way they're not heavily disadvantaged at the start but can still cast from a secondary discipline once they have mastered the primary one.

The other option is to bring them more in line with the average people but with the focus and ability to distinguish between the disciplines rather than drawing directly on raw ability and casting what comes out.

Taking this last option allows you to take "average farm boy" and expose him to "ancient mystical master" to make him the great mage and hero of the day by teaching him some long forgotten aspect of magical control.

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Consider tying magic to the body. Have each discipline tied to a focus of power originating in a part of the body, to learn to drive magic through and by one nexus of power is difficult enough for the average mage, and they are often eager to use and benefit from their power. A single mage may take up with an army, teach at a school or work making magical items for some purpose or another. They're most likely working a full time job using their skills the same as everyone else, with continued improvement a secondary concern.

Consider that learning a second discipline requires training a new nexus and learning new concepts while still honing and retaining your initial skills.

That I think would be enough, consider the proportion of people who have multiple graduate degrees, they are few and while their skills are in demand we simply cannot support nor produce a large array of such individuals nor do most learners want to pursue that level of education when they could stop between a Bachelors and a single Doctorate and pursue a field immediately.

If you tie magic to the body you can offset the value to the average mage, since the training is taxing and even more time consuming than the mental exercise. The devotion required to master multiple disciplines and synthesize a combined field is simply more than most people desire to undertake.

This also has the benefit of making such disciplined individuals exceedingly unique. They can do what nobody else can, so their job is to attain such power for times of need. They do things like(for example) making a King's elite guardians into half-bear men with steel skin, and reversing the process when their time as guardians is over. Nobody else could do that, and the energy required to synthesize Transmutation and Transfiguration on the same living being without killing them is so great that simply attaining that level of power and skill requires decades of study and training, only a few can dedicate their lives so.

They can also provide solutions to emergencies that are beyond the scope of most mages. Calling out such individuals when nobody else has any ideas makes them valuable and provides an excuse for letting them sit in a tower and practice magic, consuming daily resources without providing daily value.

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Make it physiological, the channels used to cast Orgone are stiff in most people and once given a certain shape (using a given magic school) won't be able to change shapes or they could break. Some people are simply more elastic or has trained these channels in a certain way that allows them to unlock different schools.

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