Commentary and Inspiration: Ks. Jim Ogle, David
Oakes, Phil Dack, Eric Gibson, Dominick Riesland, John Jones, Nick
Lawrence, Winston-in-a-Box, and Chad Dickhaut
.pdf of this article.
The first goal for Storm Knights was to update and revise
the axiom charts of Torg. The official charts had many
blank entries, many entries whose meaning was opaque, and the charts
were not well suited for use with any realities other than the
Updating and revising the axioms has been a massive undertaking,
Magic more-so than any other: the scope of what people consider
to be magic is broad, and there are thousands of different magic
systems, each with their own idiosyncrasies. Much of the material
is contradictory and seemingly irreconcilable.
Yet underlying all (or nearly all) of these differing systems
of magic was a single common concept, a single shared assumption
about what magic is. This assumption underlies magic in the real
world, magic in fiction, and magic in roleplaying games.
That assumption, distilled down into a coherent and concrete
principle, forms the core of the revised Magic axiom and of a revised
magic system. It answers a question that has taxed many: “What
What is Magic?
Magic and magical concepts have existed in every culture known.
Magic forms the backbone of most myths and legends, and folklore
and superstition are alive and well in the modern world.
Magic has many permutations. Nearly every culture views magic
differently, and many cultures have multiple forms of magic. Then
there are the manifold magical systems developed for roleplaying
games and fantasy fiction.
All of these seem incompatible, yet all of these apparently different
magical systems share a single fundamental concept:
Magic involves people causing effects
by manipulating symbols that represent the desired effect.
Let’s expand. A symbol can be anything:
a word, a picture, a gesture, or an activity. An effect is
a specific desired end: cause injury, cure an illness, bring good
fortune. In magic, people manipulate symbols that represent the
effect and by doing so, cause the effect to actually happen.
card has a meaning, the way in which they’re laid
out has a meaning, what cards appear where in the
layout have meaning, and whether the cards are upright
or inverted has a meaning.”
Real World Magic
A college student shuffles the cards of the Tarot deck. Each
card has a meaning, the way in which they’re laid out has
a meaning, what cards appear where in the layout have meaning,
and whether the cards are upright or inverted has a meaning. These
cards are said to foretell the future of an individual.
According to Joseph Campbell, the paintings on the cave walls
in Lascaux invoke the magic of the hunt. People drew images of
a successful hunt, so their hunts would be successful.
Isopsephia is an ancient form of numerology. To use this system,
the person must convert the letters of their name to numbers, then
find other words, names and dates whose numbers are related. Because
their numbers are related to his numbers, those words, dates, and
names are significant and foretell the person’s future.
Magic in Fiction
The television show The X-Files featured an episode with
an Appalachian folk magician. He wanted to harm a family, so he
made dolls that looked human, that had the same hair color as the
person, that had bits of the target’s hair and clothes, that had
features which resemble the target’s. What he did to the doll—burn
it or stick pins into its eyes—happened to the target.
In Randall Garret’s “Lord Darcy” stories, magic
involved performing actions with objects, these actions and objects
being related to what the magician wants to occur. The specific
relationships were detailed in a series of laws—the Law of
Contagion, Similarity, Synecdoche, etc.
Ursula K. Leguin’s A Wizard of Earthsea had magic
that revolved around a language, the true language that was spoken
to create the world. Words in this language have power. By using
the word tolk, for pebble, a magician could create a pebble,
create the image of a pebble, cause the pebble to move, or break
a pebble. Magicians studied intently in order to learn and use
the words, and went to great lengths to discover lost words.
stated in the Introduction, the scope of magic is
very broad. In addition to spellcasting, it includes
forgotten lands, magical creatures, and magical materials.
spellcasting (encapsulated by the Fundamental Principle
of Magic) is the most common, most iconic form of
magic, and the one most likely to be used by players.
other forms of magic have their place on the new
axiom chart, but for the sake of clarity they are
not discussed in this article, but in later articles.
Magic in Roleplaying Games
The magic of Wizards of the Coast’s Dungeons & Dragons involves
spell components. Magicians burn guano to cause a fireball. They
rub fur on a glass rod to cast a lightning bolt. To understand
another’s language, they take a ceramic model of a ziggurat and
break it. Each component symbolizes the spell’s effect.
In Call of Cthulhu, characters research ancient texts,
written in dead languages, that tell of monstrous and inhuman beings
from beyond existence. When the stars are right, they read the
incantation—that includes appeals to unknown powers—and
can summon or banish impossible horrors.
In Mage: the Ascension, mages use foci—ranging
from feathers and drawings to dances and meditation—to work
magic, each Tradition having its own unique sets of foci corresponding
to its paradigm.
The Fundamental Principle of
What is magic?
Magic is the use of symbols to cause
specific results, the symbols representing the desired result.
Symbolic manipulation is the implicit principle behind all magic:
magic in the real world, magic in fiction, and magic in roleplaying
games. This principle describes what magic is, because it’s
what everyone believes magic to be.
The Ages of Magic
Though each magic system revolves around magic’s Fundamental
Principle, not all of them work the same. Some forms of magic are
precise and controllable, others obscure and imprecise, and some
are mere superstitions. Magic is sometimes weak and unpredictable,
and at other times is is powerful and exacting.
These disparities make it seem as if devising an overarching
scheme for magic is impossible. It isn’t, for behind all
of these differences there is a discernible order to magic, a path
to its development from something weak and difficult to control
to something powerful and easy to control.
This path—which underlies the Magic axiom—can be
broken up into five separate stages, the Ages of Magic.
The Age of Superstition
At low Axiom levels, magic is unknowable, uncontrollable, and
unreliable. It manifests as good and bad luck, superstitions, good
luck charms, omens, fortunetelling, and curses. Folklore and superstitions
are the only source of magical knowledge.
The Age of Mysticism
Mystic magic is obscure, ritualized, undependable, and limited
in effect. It is difficult to discern the principles of mystical
magics, and comprehensive, well-understood systems of magic are
unknown. Magical learning is taught by tradition, as rituals handed
down from person to person. New rituals may be unearthed from time
to time, but this is a haphazard process of trial and error.
The Age of Arcana
the apotheosis of the axiom, anyone can use wish
magic, and everyone does.”
Arcane magic is specialized, controllable, and exacting. The principles
of magic are known and understood, allowing for a comprehensive
body of magical knowledge. This body of knowledge allows spells
to be created and used, but only with intense study. This limits
spellcasting to specialists, variously referred to as sorcerers,
wizards, magicians, mages, and so forth. Magic can be dramatic
and powerful, and can have a great deal of impact on the daily
lives of many.
The Age of Mastery
Magic is no longer an esoteric discipline, it is a ubiquitous
tool that anyone can use. Common people can learn cantrips, minor
spells of great utility, and mages can learn spell formulae, allowing
them to surpass the rigid restrictions of spells. The fundamental
essence of magic has been identified, and mages can use magic more
flexibly than ever before. Innate magics, or talents, are possible,
meaning some can work magic because it is a part of who they are.
The Age of Myth
Magic can be worked by the pure application of desire: magicians
can wish for something and it happens. At the apotheosis of the
axiom, anyone can use wish magic, and everyone does.
These five Ages form the backbone of the Magic axiom, and define
the path it takes. Nearly all systems of magic, from fiction, the
real world, or other games, can be placed into this progression
The Magic axiom limits the “supernatural” elements of a reality.
It determines what magic can do, what methods are available to
evoke magic, and the extent to which the supernatural can affect
the natural world.
This is the essential axiom chart, the chart reduced to the bare
minimum of complexity (for ease of understanding). It is based
around the Fundamental Principle of Magic and the Ages of Magic,
but presents both in more detail.
of the strengths of the new Magic axiom is the sheer
variety it enables. From primitive superstitions
to overpowering wish magics, the new chart is rife
with ideas that enable gamemasters, players, and
writers to explore new cosms and new characters.
is important: if every cosm has the exact same type
of magic, there is nothing significant to distinguish
a Cyberpapal mage from his Ayslish counterpart. Fortunately,
the cosm sourcebooks went to some length
to try and distinguish one cosm’s magic from
include the spell magic of Aysle, the mystical
Occult of Orrorsh, the technomagic of Tharkold, Nile’s
Mathematics, and the theme magics of Core Earth.
The new Magic axiom seeks to support the same variety
and extend it.
the new Axiom, each unique variety of magic is a
Tradition. Cosms can have many Traditions or one
(or none, at an Axiom of 0). Traditions let the new
chart support the extant magic systems of Torg.
also allows the importation of Magic systems from
other games. As Dungeons & Dragons wizards
are different from Deadlands hucksters and Earthdawn mages,
the Axiom needs to recognize and support such differences.
Traditions exist in the real world. Vodoun is different
from Kaballah, which differs from Enochian magic,
geomancy, and Pythagorean magic. Each of these different
magical systems are Traditions, and the Axiom allows
for them to exist in-game.
exist in Torg, the real world, and other
roleplaying games. The new Magic axiom had to allow
for their existence as well.
0- Magic has no effect, and magical concepts and beliefs
1- Magical beliefs are now possible, including belief in
luck, the symbolic manipulation of luck, omens, and so forth. The folk
lore skill is possible.
Axiom 1 is the beginning of the Age of Superstition.
2- Magical energies first manifest: the presence of magic
alters the outcome of events for good or ill, causing random outbreaks
of good or bad luck. Such magical effects are known as hexes.
3- Superstitions can now evoke hexes; people can, through
the use of symbols, bless or curse each other or themselves.
Omens, spontaneous events that prefigure good or ill luck,
first manifest. The skill of omen reading is possible,
which allows individuals to understand the import of omens.
4- Rituals to evoke omens are now possible, allowing for
fortunetelling. Fortunetelling can predict the future, though only
in the most general fashion, and doing so is very unreliable.
5- Rituals can now evoke hexes (though unreliably). A body
of magical lore can be accumulated, which lore consists of a collection
of recorded rituals. Many rituals do not work and those that do
work are extremely unreliable. There is no way to differentiate
between the two. As a result, magical knowledge is heavily entwined
Magical Traditions can be formalized, and organizations based
on a Tradition are possible.
Axiom 5 is the beginning of the Age of Mysticism.
6- Rituals increase in reliability; it is now possible
to distinguish real rituals from folklore. A deliberate study of
symbols is now possible, allowing the learned to guess at what
symbols might evoke a desired effect. Through this process, they
can discover new rituals.
7- The magical symbology of a Tradition can be formulated
as a detailed series of magical laws; these laws delineate which
symbols are needed to evoke a given effect (thus eliminating guesswork).
Reliable rituals are now possible.
8- The rudiments of spells and spellcasting are developed.
Specially trained (or talented) individuals can devise and cast
spells. Spells allow precise control over when, how, and how powerfully
a magical effect manifests. The spellcaster’s Tradition limits
what effects are possible.
Divination effects are possible. The earliest types of magical
This is the beginning of the Age of Arcana.
original Torg axiom charts were numbered
from 0 to 33. Despite this, there were a number of
holes—the charts were simply incomplete. One
of the goals of revising the axiom charts has been
to fill in the holes.
during this process, it has become clear that having
34 benchmarks for each axiom is simply overkill.
The complete charts were less usable, not because
of bad content but because of information overload.
There was just too much information to amass comfortably.
34 benchmarks, the differences between each axiom
level were small, in some cases imperceptible. They
tended to blur together in an indistinct mess. As
a result, the many realities tended to blur together
as well, especially if their axiom rating was close
to that of another cosm.
comparison, this Magic axiom is clear, distinct,
and usable. Each axiom level has its own feel, its
own flavor. Even cosms that differ by only one point
are distinctly different. It makes it easier to differentiate
realities, which makes it easier to build a variety
of well-defined realities.
22 benchmarks makes the axiom easier to understand.
It makes it more useful as a system to describe and
differentiate realities. Taken together, these make
it easier for players and gamemasters to understand
and play in each reality.
reasoning holds for all the axioms, not just Magic.
The next revisions of the other axiom charts will
use 0-21 benchmarks as well.
9- Apportation effects are possible. Spells can be translated
between Traditions. Focusing is possible.
10- Alteration effects are possible. Impressing is possible.
11- Conjuration effects are possible. Wards are possible.
Charges are possible.
12- Traditions no longer limit the type of effects that
are possible. Permanent magical items are possible.
13- Mages can discover the essence of a cosm’s magic;
this essence underlies all magic in the cosm and is the source
of all magic in the cosm. Knowledge of the fundamental nature of
magic allows mages to transcend the limitations of a Tradition.
They can share spells freely between different Traditions and can
even devise and cast spells that use no symbols (although such
spells are more difficult to cast and produce weaker effects).
Axiom 13 is the beginning of the Age of Mastery.
14- Spell manipulation becomes possible, allowing mages
to bend the rigid limits of a spell (e.g. to allow the effect to
last longer or to make the spell more powerful). Manipulating a
spell requires extra effort during spellcasting.
15- Spell formulae develop. A formula is a spell that can
be manipulated at will, with no extra effort or concentration.
16- Spontaneous magic (casting “on-the-fly”)
develops. Mages can select an effect and cast it without using
a spell (drawing the energy directly from the essence of magic
itself). Spontaneous magic can use components, but none are required.
17- Conjunctional magic becomes possible, allowing mages
to mix different effects into the same casting (either as a spell
or a spontaneous magic effect.)
18- Wish magic develops. A wish mirrors the desires of
the mage creating it; what he wants, happens. Mages no longer need
to learn different magical skills, as a wish can duplicate any
one of them.
Axiom 18 is the beginning of the Age of Myth.
19- Potential wishes (wishes which are created by mages,
but which can enact the desires of anyone) are possible.
20- Wish magic can be used unskilled, though trained mages
are far more proficient.
21- Wish magic becomes an innate ability. Anyone can evoke
a wish, simply by concentrating.
Because the axiom chart has been altered, conversion notes are
necessary. The following notes allow gamemasters to convert Magic
axiom ratings from the old axiom to the new axiom.
Each entry lists two values, a literal conversion, which maintains
the old Magic rating as much as possible, and a “suggested” rating,
which better reflects the nature of magic in that cosm.
When converting, gamemasters should keep in mind that, because
the new chart is so different from the old, differences between
the old cosm and the new cosm are to be expected, both in available
spell effects and available mechanics.
Straight Conversion: 14
Notes:A Magic of 14 allows for all tools Aysle currently
has, with the exception of “on-the-fly” spellcasting.
A 16 would allow for “on-the-fly” spells, but would
also include spell formulae, something the original cosm didn’t
Gamemasters who wish to portray the cosm mostly as it was can
use the 14 and disallow “on-the-fly” spellcasting or
use 16 and ignore spell formula. However, a 16 does allow for some
very interesting options for Aysle (see “Aysle as a Magic 16 Reality” below for
Straight Conversion: 5
Notes: A 5 includes fortunetelling and Traditions, both
of which Earth has (whether or not magic works in the real world).
Anything higher is too advanced for a “Near Real World” cosm,
though (as in the official material), some areas of Earth might
have crossed over to a 6 or 7.
Straight Conversion: 10
Notes: Despite the relatively high Magic axiom of the Cyberpapacy,
there are no spells in the cosm’s sourcebook and only two creatures
have spells listed (both gospogs). This makes it difficult to judge
what the reality should have. A 10 allows for the creatures listed
in the sourcebook (Cygoyles, demons, etc.) as well as substantially
the same spell effects available at a Torg 10.
Straight Conversion: 11
Notes: The creatures observed in the Land Below, like Ungrosh,
require a 9. However, an 11 allows for the spell effects available
under the original axiom (such as the wards and charges of Engineering).
do you soft-skins agonize over the cause of things?
The Carnol attacked our camp because it was hungry.
The snake crawled into your pack because it was cold.
In all of them is Lanala. How can you attribute to ‘luck’ what
is caused by the goddess?”
Straight Conversion: 0
Notes: There is no compelling reason for the Living Land
to be a 0, and the superstitions of Magic 3 suit its primitive
and tribal nature well. With this rating, eidenos might hunt only
on lucky days or they might eat the right berries before the hunt,
for luck. Such superstitious rituals could actually bring good
or bad luck, though this is hard to prove (not that an eidenos
Keeping the rating of 0 does offer some interesting options.
The eidenos would believe that there is no luck, for everything
is Lanala and is governed by Lanala.
Chad Dickhaut: “Why do you soft-skins
agonize over the cause of things? The Carnol attacked our camp
because it was hungry. The snake crawled into your pack because
it was cold. Those villagers came down with the sleeping sickness
because that is the way of things for those who live near the marshlands.
In all of them is Lanala. How can you attribute to ‘luck’ what
is caused by the goddess?”
This option would give the eidenos another area of commonality
with the Akashans (see “Space Gods”, below), giving
them even more motivation to favor the Living Land (as they did
in the official campaign).
Straight Conversion: 8
Notes: Most engineering effects (such as maat matrices)
are technically wards, which the Nile didn’t have access to. An
11 allows for the existence of Wards, which Engineering should
have, but means the Nile’s Traditions are still restricted by their
theme (as they are in the Nile Empire Sourcebook.)
Straight Conversion: 1
Notes: A 1 indicates that Nipponese can believe in superstitions
and fortunetelling, but they don’t actually work. People can knock
on wood, but it’s pointless. This seems apt for the reality.
a Magic axiom of 6, the essence of magic is unknown,
so no one knows what the Occult is or who’s behind
it. Which is just how the Gaunt Man likes it.”
Torg: 15 (20 for the Occult)
Straight Conversion: 12 (16 for the Occult)
Suggested: 6 (12 for Occult effects and Horrors)
Notes: Orrorsh’s Occult is a mysterious form of magic whose
practitioners have to guess at what symbols (called props or Nouns)
might evoke a given desired effect, using their own knowledge and
mysterious, possibly untrustworthy occult tomes. This is exactly
the type of magic prevalent at Axiom 6.
Thought the Occult could be seen
as spontaneous magic, making the cosm 12/16
(the “straight” conversion), the murky rituals of 6 are far
more appropriate for the feel of Orrorsh and the feel of the Occult.
Making it a straight 6 would limit the potential effects, however.
The reality of Orrorsh (implicitly, a world law) boosts the Magic
axiom to 20 for Occult events, causing weird visual manifestations
(like inexplicable storms). Under the revised Axiom, it works in
much the same way, boosting the Magic to a 12. The most appropriate
Axiom rating for Orrorsh is: 6 (12 for Occult rituals and effects).
At a 6, all magical spells are contradictory. This isn’t problematic.
As the Orrorsh Sourcebook notes, spells are rare and usually
contradictory, just as they are be with a Magic of 6.
Orrorsh (limited to those in the sourcebook) are the result of
Occult investigations and almost impossible to find, hence are
not contradictory in Orrorsh (the same phenomena that powers the
Occult also raises the Axiom for native spells). Optionally,
gamemasters might consider eliminating Orrorshan spells altogether,
restricting natives to Occult rituals.
Horrors are magical creatures, so require a sufficient axiom
to support their existence. A 6 wouldn’t but a 12 does, so
the same 6/12 rating allows for them to exist, exactly as described
in the sourcebook.
One last note: With a Magic axiom of 6, the essence of magic
is unknown, so no one knows what the Occult is or who’s behind
it. Which is just how the Gaunt Man likes it.
Straight Conversion: 5
Notes: The Space Gods cosm shouldn’t have a Magic
of 5 (and should never have had a 7 under the official chart).
Whereas Earth has various magical Traditions and practitioners
of the same, the Star Sphere does not. Add to this its status as
the “Reality of Science Fiction”, including the Akashans’
scientific (and hence natural law) orientation, a 0 is far more
A 0 means the Akites don’t believe in superstitions, good or
bad luck, or folklore. They quite likely regard Earth’s acceptance
of the same as evidence of humanity’s primitive nature. The
Akashans are rationalists, to the core.
Straight Conversion: 8
Notes: An 12 allows for the creatures appropriate to Tharkold
as well as (most of) the effects currently present there.
Straight Conversion: 5
Notes: According to the Ravagons Sourcebook (pg.
natural magic systems exist on Tz'Ravok.” More (from page 9), “[r]avagons
have no natural ability for the arcane arts“ and “ravagons
throughout the ages have left magic alone.“ In fact “there
are not even any legends concerning magic“ among ravagons.
That is a pitch-perfect description of a cosm with no magic, that
is, an Axiom of 0. An Axiom of 0 might be a good suggested value,
but we already have one cosm with an Axiom of 0 (the Space
Why have perfectly good low Magic axiom levels, if they’re
not going to be used? Part of the point in re-designing the Axiom
charts was to allow for variety in Axiom levels, this should be
taken advantage of.
Since we’ve already got one 0 axiom, Axiom 2
is a good suggested value. A 2 means ravagons can be
superstitious, but these superstitions have no effect. Good and
bad luck can exist, but appear at random. There is still no actual
magic use, so no changes to the setting need be made.
Aysle as a Magic 16 Reality
The primary difference between canon Aysle’s Magic and the “suggested”
rating is the presence of spell formulae. A spell formula is much
like a spell, but instead of having a single set Effect Value,
Range and so forth, the values for the Spell Formula are chosen
each time a mage casts it.
Formulae are highly magical and very flexible. In comparison,
spell magic is rigid and limiting. To raise the Effect Value of
a fireball spell, the mage has to design the whole spell
again, from the very beginning. To raise the Effect Value of a fireball formula,
the mage just chooses a higher Effect Value as they are casting
it, and each time they cast they can choose a different value.
If Aysle has access to spell formulae, while other cosms do not,
this gives Ayslish mages a distinct advantage. Ayslish magic would
be clearly superior to all other magics, even those from otherwise
magically powerful cosms (like Tharkold). This makes the “Reality
of Magic” the most magical reality.
Integrating spell formulae is very easy, as they change nothing
about the feel or setting of the cosm. Mages still have grimoires
(but grimoires full of formulae instead of spells), they still
cast magical effects using symbols, they still use the four magics
and arcane knowledges. The setting remains the same, only now it’s
more distinctive, different from all the other cosms.
magic would be clearly superior to all other magics,
even those from otherwise magically powerful cosms.”
For gamemasters who wish to use a 16, but dislike suddenly adding
spell formulae, another option is available. If we assume that
Aysle only recently became 16, then spell formulae and “on-the-fly” castings
are recent innovations, innovations which not all mages have access
One can learn to cast “on-the-fly” easily, and most
mages have, but devising and using spell formulae takes special
instruction, instructions not available outside the High Lord’s
coterie of magicians. In this case, Aysle mages would still have
books of spells (as in the current material), but they would be
aware of the rumors of spell formulae, and would be desperately
seeking to learn about them.
If the High Lord’s mages posses the secrets of spell formulae
and mages of the Armies of the Light don’t, this explains why Dark
mages dominate, even over more skilled and learned mages of the
Light. The effort to steal the secrets of formulae could be a source
of adventure ideas. This would allow the players to intervene and
change the course of Aysle’s civil war, by doing something
useful to alter the balance of power. That’s a victory worth Glory.
An Ayslish PC with formulae will be equally footed with Dark
mages, and superior to technodemons and Cyberpapal witches. He’d
also be a celebrity among his magical colleagues in Aysle.
Using spell formulae doesn’t alter Aysle, but does make
it unique. This is a strong reason for gamemasters to consider
Afterward: A Magic Metasystem
There are many systems of magic, each differing from the others.
The Ages of Magic, and the new Magic axiom, have been written with
the varying characteristics of different magic systems in mind.
In effect, they describe not just one system of magic, but a meta-system
of magic. This metasystem allows us to understand and incorporate
many different magical systems.
Here’s how it works:
In some magic systems, magic is weak and chaotic, in others powerful
and rigid, in yet others it’s powerful and free-form, with
few restrictions on the mage.
In Torg, when magic first materializes it is weak and
poorly understood, as expertise with magic grows it becomes powerful
and controllable, and eventually it becomes capable of effects
that are breathtaking in scope. Thus, the varying capabilities
of the many magical systems represent not irreconcilable differences,
but different stages in the development of magic, that is, different
levels of the Magic axiom.
By analyzing the unique characteristics of specific systems,
we can place that system within the overarching Magic axiom.
the axiom chart includes enough variety to translate
nearly any fictional setting into Torg terms, translating
a roleplaying setting presents additional difficulties.
As the Mage: the Ascension example shows, even if
the concepts behind the magic of the setting are
neatly compatible, the game mechanics will not be.
game mechanics of magical systems—such as those
in Shadowrun, Earthdawn, Deadlands, or Dungeons & Dragons—are
predicated on the mechanics of their parent system:
Dungeons & Dragons Class-Levels, Shadowrun’s
dice pools, Earthdawn’s Disciplines, the poker
deck and chips of Deadlands. This makes it impossible
to exactly recreate them using Torg mechanics.
this was not a design goal of the new Magic axiom.
Instead, the axiom includes those common concepts
that underlie most settings, allowing the settings
(if not the mechanics) to be translated into Torg
terms. Gamemasters who wish to translate the mechanics
of other settings must look elsewhere for advice.
• Dungeons & Dragons magic (in Third Edition
and earlier) revolves around magic-users learning and casting spells.
Magic-users are specialists, and not everyone can be a wizard.
These are all prime attributes of the Age of Arcana, so Dungeons & Dragons fits
somewhere in that range, probably at a 13.
• Magic in Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris and Mistborn
Trilogy revolves around innate abilities, channelled through
external props (in Elantris, magical sigils, in Mistborn,
pieces of metal). Innate magical abilities belong to the Age
of Mastery, so these two worlds are probably a 14 or 15.
• Mage: The Ascension presents a distinctive and
colorful system of “magick.” Though its metaphysic
is fundamentally incompatible with Torg’s, the elements
of its magick have clear parallells in the new axiom.
The Mage magic system involves Traditions (each with
their own paradigm and symbology), rotes (formalized repeatable
effects), and free-form magic (which can accomplish nearly anything).
They can also combine radically different magics into one effect
(in Torg terms, conjunctional magic). All of these concepts
are present in the Magic chart, conjunctional magic being the most
advanced at a 17 (probably the best rating for the Mage system).
The mechanics of Mage: The Ascension cannot be perfectly
reflected within Torg (not uncommon, see the Translating
Game Mechanics sidebar). Even so, its concepts fit into the Magic
chart and an appropriate axiom rating can be determined.
In a similar manner, the Ages of Magic metasystem enables gamemasters
to adjudicate the Magic axiom of nearly any other setting they
wish to translate into Torg terms (some more easily than
others). This gives Torg magic an unprecedented level
of flexibility and scope, its only limits the imaginations of writers
Conclusion and Acknowledgements
When I set out to revise Torg’s axiom charts, I had a
few goals in mind:
- To maximize Torg’s ability to represent a large variety of
settings—original or imported—with a high degree of fidelity.
- To give gamemasters and writers tools to build any reality
- To make each chart complete and internally consistent.
- To include within each axiom a variety of concepts and tools
that improve its playability and flavor.
- To make each axiom level distinct from the others, having its
own feeling, its own flavor.
With of the Ages of Magic metasystem, the Magic axiom finally
fulfills these goals.
Under this chart, magic is no longer one kind of magic, it’s
many different kinds of magic. This is good for each cosm individually
and for the game as a whole.
The axiom is now distinct- each axiom level is present, each
level is different from the one before and the one after, each
has its own flavor (or offers its own unique tools for mages to
This axiom is coherent- there is a consistent theory behind magic
and how it develops. Each level leads logically to the next, and
the whole forms an understandable progression.
Last, and most importantly, it is ecumenical. It reflects a greater
variety of magical concepts, but is based on the one implicit concept
common to all, or nearly all, systems of magic.
This axiom chart allows the Torg magic system to replicate
many settings, from the real world to A Song of Ice and Fire to Ars
Magica, which enables gamemasters to more easily translate
other settings into Torg cosms. It also allows extant Torg cosms
to be more distinctive, more colorful (“Aysle as a Magic
16 Reality” for example).
I’ve always believed that this is what Torg could be,
if done correctly, that it’s what Torg should be. After
nearly a decade of research and development, I am inexpressibly
happy to have reached the point where the Magic axiom finally lives
up to my vision. I can only hope that, when complete, the other
axiom charts will as well.
In conclusion, I want to thank the many people who’ve helped
along the way, most of whom did so without knowing it. Thanks is
also due to the members of the Torg email List and WEG’s Torg boards.
Most importantly, thanks are due to the original designers of Torg and
the Torg magic system. This chart differs from theirs
greatly, but they developed the concept of an axiom chart and the
fundamental concepts of Torg magic, without which I wouldn’t
have had a place to start from or a vision to work towards.
- Jasyn Jones, January 31, 2010
Sources and Inspiration
Perdido Street Station & The
Scar- China Mielville
Case of the Toxic Spell Dump- Harry
Faerie Tale- Raymond E. Feist
Doc Shidhe & Shidhe Devil- Aaron
The Magic Goes Away- Larry Niven
The Magic May Return- various, Larry
Old Nathan- David Drake
Knight of Ghosts and Shadows- Mercedes
The Sea Hag- David Drake
Pyramid Scheme- Eric Flynt and David
The Magic of Recluce- L.E. Modesitt,
Neverwhere- Neil Gaiman
Stardust- Neil Gaiman
Assassin’s Apprentice- Robin Hobb
The Eyes of the Dragon- Stephen King
The Redemption of Althalus- David
Eddings, Leigh Eddings
Sympathy for the Devil- Holly Lisle
The Talisman & Black House- Peter
Straub and Stephen King
Belgarath the Sorcerer & Polgara
the Sorceress- David Eddings, Leigh Eddings
John the Balladeer- Manly Wade Wellman
Prince of the Blood & The King’s
Buccaneer- Raymond Feist
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell-
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory & Charlie
and the Great Glass Elevator- Roald Dahl
James and the Giant Peach- Roald
The Honorable Barbarian- L. Sprague
Wizard’s First Rule- Terry Goodkind
Elantris- Brandon Sanderson
The Mistborn Trilogy- Brandon Sanderson
The Lies of Locke Lamora & Red
Seas Under Red Skies- Scott Lynch
The Name of the Wind- Patrick Rothfuss
Orphans of Chaos- John C. Wright
Amber- Roger Zelazny
Myth Adventures- Robert Lynn Asprin
Majipoor Chronicles- Robert Silverberg
Wiz Biz- Rick Cook
Incarnations of Immortality- Piers
Apprentice Adept- Piers Anthony
Xanth- Piers Anthony
Chronicles of Earthsea- Ursula K.
Tales of Alvin Maker- Orson Scott
Wheel of Time- Robert Jordan
The Belgariad & The Malloreon-
The Elenium & The Tamuli- David
Harry Potter- J.K. Rowling
The Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit-
Shannara- Terry Brooks
Magic Kingdom of Landover- Terry
Riftwar, Serpentwar, Riftwar Legacy-
Raymond E. Feist
Daughter of the Empire- Raymond E.
Feist and Janny Wurts
Thieves’ World- various, Robert Lynn
Asprin, Lynn Abbey ed.
Dragonlance- Margeret Weis and Tracy
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant-
Stephen R. Donaldson
Oz- Frank Baum
Darkness- Harry Turtledove
The Dark Tower- Stephen King
Mary Poppins- P.L. Travers
Chronicles of Prydain- Lloyd Alexander
The Merlin Trilogy- Mary Stewart
Death Gate Cycle- Weis and Hickman
The Once and Future King- T.H. White
Smith of Wootton Major- J.R.R. Tolkien
Magic, Inc.- Robert Heinlein
Lord Darcy (various)- Randall Garret
Arrowsmith- Kurt Busiek
Magic Goes Away (Graphic Novel)-
Jan Duursema, Paul Kupperberg
Order of the Stick (webcomic)- Rich
Fables- Bill Willingham
Warcraft, et. al.
Diablo, et. al.
Neverwinter Nights, et. al.
Dragon Age: Origins
Age of Mythology
Clive Barker’s Undying
American McGee’s Alice
Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri
Labyrinth- Jim Henson
Lord of the Rings- Peter Jackson
The Princess Bride- Rob Reiner
Legend- Ridley Scott
Conan the Barbarian- John Milius
Dragonslayer- Matthew Robbins
The Dark Crystal- Jim Henson
Willow- Ron Howard
The NeverEnding Story- Wolfgang Petersen
Harry Potter- Various (Series)
Ladyhawke- Richard Donner
Bedknobs and Broomsticks- Robert
Clash of the Titans- Desmond Davis
Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas
(animated)- Patrick Gilmore
The Mummy & The Mummy Returns-
The Scorpion King- Chuck Russell
Peter Pan (animated)- Clyde Geronimi,
Wilfred Jackson & Hamilton Luske
Alice in Wonderland (animated)- Clyde
Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson & Hamilton Luske
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-
The Illusionist- Neil Burger
Pirates of the Caribbean (Curse of
the Black Pearl, Dead Man’s Chest, At World’s End)- Gore Verbinski
Lady in the Water- M. Night Shyamalan
Pan’s Labyrinth- Guillermo del Toro
Night at the Museum- Shawn Levy
Splash- Ron Howard
Jumanji- Joe Johnston
Practical Magic- Griffin Dunne
Reign of Fire- Rob Bowman
Angel- Joss Whedon, et. al.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer- Joss Whedon,
Neverwhere- Neil Gaiman via the BBC
Magitech (Amazing Engine)
For Faerie, Queen, and Country (Amazing
Mythus & Mythus Magic (Dangerous
Dungeons & Dragons
Unearthed Arcana (Dungeons & Dragons)
Urban Arcana (d20 Modern)
d20 Modern Player’s Companion vol.
Wheel of Time
Kingdoms of Kalamar
Monte Cook- Arcana Evolved, Arcana
Unearthed, Books of Eldritch Magic
Mike Mearls- Iron Heroes
Relics and Rituals I & II
Seventh Sea (d20)
Legend of the Five Rings (d20)
Sovereign Press- Codex Mysterium
Fantasy Flight Games- Steam and Sorcery
d20 Fantasy (many titles)
Beyond the Supernatural
GURPS (many titles)
Nexus: The Infinite City
C.J. Carella’s Witchcraft
Savage Worlds- 50 Fathoms and Everknight
Call of Cthulhu
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying
Mage: the Ascension
Mage: the Awakening
Insylum (Dennis Detwiler)
JAGS 13 Colonies
How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy- Orson Scott Card
Internet Message Boards/Mailing Lists
West End Games
The Storm Knights website and
its contents are copyright © 2001-2010
by Jasyn Jones.