Hello, new to ACKS (not to roleplaying). I’ve got a vision for how I would like things to work in my game world–help me think it through please!
I see Law and Chaos as akin to Holy and Unholy. Merely being a good or bad person doesn’t make you Lawful or Chaotic. Law and Chaos are real, cosmic forces. Only people like paladins and priests, on one hand, and black magicians and undead, on the other, are Lawful or Chaotic. (Bad, selfish people do have fewer scruples about using Unholy power, however.) Unlike the description in the core rules, they do not have to do with being for or against civilization. A person could be very pro-civilization and yet not be Holy; a civilization could be tainted with Unholiness. However, Law is associated with the primary human religion, so that Paladins, etc. are Lawful (probably steal the Friar from FH&W too).
Being pro or contra human civilization does not have cosmic significance, but is important in the game world. Elves and dwarves are not Chaotic, but they are indifferent to the expansion of human civilization and support or oppose it depending on how it suits their interests. Elves and dwarves have less to do with Holiness and Unholiness in general; they make more use of nature, runic, and grey magic than white, and are more likely to just avoid a sinkhole of chaos than go on a crusade against it.
Parts of Heroic Fantasy work for this vision. But ceremonial magic seems to add much complexity for little in-play benefit. Ceremonial casters will perform ceremonies every morning, roll for success, and create trinkets which then act like spell-casting; extra work and book-keeping to get to the same place. Basically a more complicated version of memorizing spells. Sorry but this is how I see it playing out. It is cool and well-designed, but too complex for a simple game. Spellsinging is also too complex for me.
I want to incorporate corruption but I think the corruption rules, particularly corruption for using grey magic selfishly, are too harsh. Again, the universe doesn’t care if you act bad, it only cares if you use Unholy power.
So I want to use eldritch magic for the heroic feel, but use spellcasters instead of ceremonial casting. I see magic broken up into: White, Grey, Black, Nature, and Runic. I very much like the idea that magic is not given by the gods, so that one could steal the magical secrets (spells) of a temple and use them, or so that a bishop trained in White magic could secretly learn and use Black spells without losing his ability to cast White spells. However, if there’s no distinction between divine and arcane magic that could through off game balance: cleric types, who can cast spells in armor, get stronger. Can anyone heal if s/he learns the spell? etc.
I am thinking that White, Grey, Nature, and Runic are different enough that a character must choose one to start with (or be assigned it via class choice). To learn spells from a different school is difficult somehow–needs a proficiency or something? Not sure. But Black magic spells are available to anyone. That way Black magic always represents a temptation. White wizard, but lacking a good blast spell? Here’s this nice Black spell, only costs a little corruption, you’ll be fine!
For classes, I see humans with the biggest variety, including wizards and classic Holy cleric and paladin types as well as Mystics. Elves get wizards, druid types, rangers, and fighter-magic user and magic user/thief types. Dwarves may only get Runic casters, i.e. something like a Craftpriest casting from a separate list of Runic spells. Halflings may not get a mage at all, and I don’t like gnomes or variant humans like Nobirans or Zaharans (althought the Zaharan history and magical tradition is fine).
Can this mishmash work? Suggestions, resources, problems?