Tuesday, 23 September 2014

What's another name for magic?

I have a game in the works that is about warriors who must share their mystical energies while fighting the forces of tyranny and darkness. I'm drawing inspiration from a few places, mostly from console games and anime. As you can imagine, I'm at the early stage where I'm working through key concepts in the setting as well as some core rules. My head is running over with statistical models and dice!

Also high on the agenda is the setting itself. Although it sounds like a minor detail, one part of the puzzle is what to call the magic of this setting. I could call it magic and be done with it, but I want more flavour. It should be something evocative, something memorable. It's at the heart of the world, so it'll be something that the characters will talk about. I want my players to be able to say the word and feel the importance of it. That means it also can't be clumsy, unpronounceable, or cheesy.

I started brainstorming and put this list together. It's a list of all the magic-esque words I could remember from other settings and stories. Magic, magik, chi, qi, mana, focus, power, spirit, psyche, charm, the force, glamour.

I thought about using Scrabble tiles of these words and pulling them out of a bag to see what words came out. When I did this, I ended up with the most ridiculous options. Really, you don't want to know. So… scratch that.

This time I went to German (as you do). There's a word that the German philosopher GWF Hegel used: weltgeist. It means "world spirit." I like the "geist" part, as a word for spirit. I also like the word uber, meaning "over." The ubergeist would be the overspirit, the power that a team of mystic warriors could share, in addition to their individual heists.

And then back to English. Perhaps there's nothing wrong with merely using "spirit" or "ghost" for this. By imagining the table talk, the answer becomes clear.

"I take a die from the ubergeist pool to boost the spell."
"I need something from the overspirit to succeed this roll."
"I use one from my geist, one from the ubergeist, and two from my ability."
"I cast the spell, using two from my ghost and one from my ability."
"I boost the spell with another die from the spirit pool."

Ghost has a nice ring to it.

How about you? What's your favourite word for magical power and which game or story is it from?

Image credit: Magic, by Cruenta

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