Magical Tradition
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Basic Information

A Magical Tradition is a body of spell-casting techniques, and the related philosophical or religious beliefs pertaining to one particular view or method of magic or occultism.

The list below is pretty wide-reaching, including some actual magical traditions, along several versions of mysticism or gnosticism, a few mystery cults, social organizations that use occult trappings, and some philosophies that can be recast as magical with a bit of narrative elbow grease. Some of these groups definitely don't think of themselves as magical, so certainly you'll want to be thoughtful and sensitive in how you present them in your tale. They are included here on the idea that if your game or story is set on Earth, it's potentially more effective storytelling to build upon existing traditions and use them as shorthand or a starting point, then to just completely build something whole-cloth that is entirely unique to your story. Essentially, the same reasons why an author would use established tropes rather than try to avoid or subvert familiar story structures and characterization.

Generally, it would be fair to state that all of these traditions are someone's interpretation of the spiritual and supernatural side of life - or at least a thumbnail sketch thereof - and unless someone is a staunch materialist they may well adhere to part or all of at least one. These traditions will also tend to interlace very deeply with the cultures to which they belong and have influences that are not immediately apparent.

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Game and Story Use

  • Any of the Magical Traditions on this list is full of great ideas for character concepts, spells, magic items, game worlds, etc. Basing the magic of your setting on something from the real world can help give it flavor and detail beyond Color Coded Wizardry and the Standard Fantasy Setting.
  • One culture may have different forms of magic with different restrictions on their use - an example would be the Norse distinction between runic magic - which was sort of acceptable for a man to use - and seidr, which was for women and nithings only. Unless you were Odin apparently.
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