I was going to blog about something completely different today but as we seem to still be in dissecting rolemaster mode and Brian has the hood off of Spell Law I thought I would stick my oar in as well.
So as you all know I have been reading the 7th Sea rules. Looking at 7c2e magic at first glance you could so easily turn it into a spell list based system.
7c2e has different types of magic.
Porté allows the sorcerer to mark items, people and places with their own blood and then by creating a portal to either draw the item to them or travel to the person or place. As your skill in Porté increases you can maintain a bond with more items, people and places and take more people with you when traveling via these portals. So you could have a series of spells for Mark I, Mark II and so on that build up the number of marked items, Mark Person, Mark Place and so on that go up in stages and Create Portal spells. Between those you could easily build a list.
Sanderis is a form of magic where the character has a contract with a demon (to all intents and purposes). The spells on a Sanderis list would be in the form of ‘deals’ where the demon could be coerced into performing actions. Low level spells would do minor deals in exchange for minor gains and high level spells would force the demon to significant errands for the character.
Hexenwerk is a cross between alchemy and necromancy to create unguents. Unguents are thick pastes or salves and come in minor and major variations. Here is an example, Ghost Eyes. Eyes carved from the recent dead, mixed with holy water and mandrake, and then smeared across the eyelids. Ghost Eyes allows you to see—for a single Scene—spirits, ghosts, and other such Monsters that would typically be invisible. One could easily build a list of unguent creation spells going from minor to major effects.
Those are just three of the six types of magic in 7c2e. Each is woven into the culture of the land where it originated and each has very distinct usage, effects and mechanics.
So, I could easily convert all of these to Rolemaster spell lists but in doing so something would be lost. With Sanderis the ‘caster’ can do any deal with their personal demon if they are prepared to pay the price. You do not need to be a particular skill level to get a particular effect. With Hexenwerk you can build a recipe book of different unguents as you learn the recipes. You do not need to work through them in a linear way.
So why do we need Channeling, Essence and Mentalism to work in exactly the same way? If a priest is getting his or her power directly from their deity why are they limited in what they can prey for? Rangers and Clerics are both channelers but their power source (nature vs gods directly?) are potentially very different yet treated as being one and the same.
Potentially you could easily abandon the realms model completely and built truly distinctive spell casters that are closely tied into their setting and characters culture as they are into their magical tradition. The only thing that makes one pure spell caster different from the next are their base lists. If a style of magic does not fit into a linear list style structure why not abandon the list and create a structure that does work?