This is another re-post from the Lords of Gossamer and Shadow form.  The writer of the book made the mistake of asking what we thought was wrong with Sorcery…

For my part… the biggest problem I have is that it kind of seems like an afterthought to the whole system – kind of a “well, we know there are sorcerers, so I guess we need a magic system” thing. The write-up, particularly the first portion, is very heavy on the “you don’t want this power, it’s a time-waster and it sucks and you will end up basically having a job refreshing these spells and who wants to do that?” theme. I’d really like to see it integrated into the tone of the rest of the information, even if nothing else at all can be done with it.

In terms of particular (IMO) broken points…

1. Casting times are extreme. I’m totally on board with the idea that casting a spell shouldn’t be an instantaneous effect, but the ADRPG assigns something on the order of an hour’s from-scratch casting time to a spell that Merlin casts from scratch in 20 minutes. And I still haven’t figured out the supposed 10-minute spell that is mentioned in passing in the initial description, because every example listed starts with half an hour casting time or more, and every single spell building block starts with 30 minutes casting time. And then you add 5-10 minutes per lynchpin…

1A. It’s never clear in the writeup whether things like high Psyche can reduce casting time, or whether it’s always concrete.

2. The lines between conjuration and sorcery are kind of fuzzy. When does summoning become conjuration and vice versa? When does Shadow manipulation in sorcery cross the line into conjuration, or does it?

3. Spell creation is a joke, as far as I’m concerned. The two “MAGIC RULE”s are good, but the micro-spells themselves are completely unwieldy. Every time I look at that section, I feel like I should go find a slide-rule and a flowchart to figure out how to wedge those things into whatever spell idea I have in mind. I can’t figure out how half the sample spells use those micro-spells, even taking variants into account; how the heck am I supposed to use them to create new ones?

4. It’s a pretty basic concept of fantasy fiction that sorcery has certain inalienable Rules, but we aren’t really given any rules for ADRPG sorcery. There’s no underlying cosmology to it – or at least nothing more sophisticated than “you must have the powers you’re trying to use in a spell.”

Is sorcery a power that relies on the magic contained in an individual? It’s hinted that this is the case in the Attribute Tips, but then there’s a micro-spell for creating magic energy wholesale. Can magic be drawn from the Shadow you’re in instead? How does a sorcerer with a major cosmic Power stack up against a non-Powered one – is that governed by Psyche too, or does Power win the day? Does each sorcerer have some sort of spell book floating around where they’ve written down all the spells they were taught and that they’ve created? What’s a reasonable number of spells for a player character to start with? What (if anything) happens to your one memorized spell when you cast a new one from scratch, since it requires so much upkeep and all?

5. Advancement is either non-existent or free, depending on how you look at it. There’s just Sorcery. Even Conjuration has High Compelling as an advanced power. The only “advancement” is creating new spells – which costs you nothing but in-game time, where other powers cost you points.

I’ve seen some surprisingly elegant solutions to this – the simplest being to break Sorcery down into “can use major Powers” and “can’t use major Powers.” One GM I’ve played under several times breaks it down into local mage (only knows magic in one Shadow), area mage (knows magic in a few neighboring Shadows or a band of similar Shadows), and universal mage (knows magic everywhere), with different point costs for each. Another asks that you pay specifically for “Pattern Sorcery” or “Logrus Sorcery,” in addition to plain old Sorcery, if you want to use those Powers as part of your spells.

Not that I’ve considered any of this or anything, right? :lol:

I think every GM I’ve talked to about it has had slightly different reasons why, but the general consensus I’ve heard is, “it’s just badly written and doesn’t adhere well to canon.” For the first series purists, the problem seems to be that it’s too close to Merlin canon; for other folks, it seems to be that it can’t be used to accurately describe what’s written in the Merlin books. For those that don’t particularly care one way or the other about Merlin, it seems to be that there are holes you could drive a mac truck through, and it’s easier to start over than fix those and any other problems in the system as a whole.

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