Atlas Rules Resources Adventures Stories FAQ Search Links
Explanation of Dweomersby Bob Kaelin
OK, first a short (After typing it out and looking back I had to laugh at the word short) explanation then I found some examples I've had Jaggar use (I knew the spells but it's been a while since I looked at the formulas I used to come up with the difficulties.)
A first level mage can be taught to hurl magic missiles, a 13 year old apprentice can even be taught a few cantrips but how much of the nature of magic do they really understand? They understand how to gesture the somatic components, how to speak the verbal components in a clear, commanding tone, and how to care for and preserve their material components. Most importantly they learn how embed patterns of magical energy into their minds for releasing at a later time, but (like in many of my former History classes) they only learn to spew out what they've already learned, they have little better understanding of the nature of magic then before.
Of course, they can research new spells but it's a matter of trial and error. They try to come up with a new pattern they can memorise and spew forth on demand, again what do they really understand?
At their most powerful, a "normal" mage may master the ultimate spell Wish. This spell allows the caster to alter reality to suit the Arch-Mages needs, but the penalty is severe (5 years of aging, possible disability for days and the very real chance that their spells intent may be perverted beyond their control.) Wish, is essentially the Arch-Mages chance to beg a the powers of magic for attention, but he/she gives up control of the outcome and again, What does he/she understand of how it works?
At high levels (20+) gifted mages with the most finely tuned minds (18+ Int) can actually begin to grasp the true nature of magic and manipulate it directly without relying on rote formulas. This is a True Dweomer.
True Dweomers are a caster's personal manipulation of magic, and as such they can just about any effect the caster desires, they tend to take much longer to prepare then researching even 9th level spells and for most of them there's a chance they may fail. The caster, however, understands fully why the spell does/doesn't work but this does not guarantee successive castings of the same True Dweomer will work, but improves the chance (there a small bonus to the difficulty).
True Dweomers cannot be recorded on scrolls, in spellbooks or put into magic items as they all lack the understanding necessary. Basic formulas can be recorded, but these are only intelligible to someone capable of casting True Dweomers and only help a little to the final difficulty (since exact functionality of a True Dweomer vary slightly with each casting.)
The caster is free to vary the effect of the spell, the arch-mage builds a list of schools and types. For example, Divination is broken into Foresee (future viewing) and Reveal (seeing more in the present); Alteration is broken down into Animate, Destroy, Fortify, Transform, and Transport. Each of these has a base difficulty and this difficulty can be multiplies for increased affects. A single difficulty Alteration (Transform) could perhaps enlarge the targets, while an triple or quadruple difficulty Alteration (Transform) could change the targets into objects like a Polymorph any object.
The caster is free to mix and match as many different effects into one spell as he cares to, but each adds to the cumulative difficulty. (There's really no limit to what a True Dweomer can do, but as you add more effects the difficulty gets way out of hand, taking years and tons of special material components to work).
The caster also has control over the spells Range, Area of Effect and Duration. Each of these are defaulted to minimal values (touch for range, 1 creature or a 5X5 area for Area of Effect, and Instantaneous for Duration.) The cast can improve these spells beyond virtually any limit. Ranges can span planes, or even go beyond planar boundaries, Area of Effects can even span planes. (It is theoretically possible for a True Dweomer to effect every creature on a entire plane of existence, but the addition to the difficulty would be 1600 points and the difficulty needs to be reduced to under 100 to be have a chance of working. So it would take a quest for material components that would span many planes and probably take the fortunes of an entire nation to get a chance to work. But it does make for one hell of a high level quest for PC's though.)
Now that the caster has the effects of the spell in mind, he can either spend years researching it or reduce the difficulty by adding conditions and material components. To keep a long story short (too late) components and condition are either common (no effect, like dirt or a sword) rare (little effect and usually something the caster can just buy or acquire without a lot of effort, like a 10k gem or a minor magic item like a +1 Sword) or exotic (very helpful to difficulty but requires a special quest or good role-playing to get.) The caster can also put in special processes, limits to how the spell can be used in the 3 same categories as material components.
Once the final difficulty is determined a table shows how long it takes to prepare (research) and cast the spell. The casting times can be anywhere from a day to a week, and the preparation times can vary from none (the caster can cast the spell whenever he chooses) to years. There's a limit to the number of spells a caster can have prepared at once, or cast in a day based on level. The caster must also role a % dice above the final difficulty to see if it works, or else all the material components and processes are used up and nothing happens.
True Dweomers cannot be affects by any spell of less then True Dweomer status Dispel Magic, spells of protection, even prismatic spheres are useless against a True Dweomer. Only a True Dweomer can block or dispel another True Dweomer. Dispel magic is partially effective, but it can only prevent the effects for 1-4 rounds, and only if the dispel can fully encompass the area of the True Dweomer, and only if it's solely used against the True Dweomer.
I highly recommend the book by the way. And left out the exact tables, examples, and some details so hopefully some more people will buy it. (The more who do makes it more likely TSR will use it more often.)