Magic in D&D and other tabletop RPGs is very mechanical, more so in D&D 3.+ than in OSR, but still, it is mechanical, and in being mechanical, loses some of the metaphysical, abstract, metaphoric "Terrible & Awesomeness" of Howard magic, or magic in other older fantasy literature (I would argue this all applies more or less to Tolkien as well).
So below is a Terrible & Awesome Sorcerer generator; the Fate of those who become entangled with them, their otherwordly Presence, and what makes them a Force of Nature (and how to overcome them). Figuring out how to work with, work against, or avoid them at all costs, becomes a challenge unto itself, like a fairytale.
I've played with this idea to some extent with how I use superpowers in my games; basically defining them loosely and letting players Just Do It if it's a minor thing, or roll to do it, or spend some kind of player point to do it if it's advanced enough. But in those cases it's more of a story-game effect like a FATE aspect, made loose just to keep the game running smoothly and emphasize narration and flavor. This is about leveraging that same kind of mechanic, a nominally "storygame" mechanic, in an OSR or TNT-style capital-G Game. A character in an OSR game that plays like a "storygame" character would be something Terrible & Awesome, something Weird and detached from the physics of the game in a very real sense. If your fate is foretold by sorcery, IT WILL HAPPEN AS A FACT OF THE UNIVERSE.
Take these as non-finite, as suggestions. Feel free to tweak them and make your own.
Note that I have been very busy lately, in a good way, but unfortunately it means I did not have time to code this up as I would have liked to and as I usually do.
This sorcerer compels Fate. To...
- do business with
- become acquaintances, friends, or fall in love with
- run from, ignore, or deny the wishes of
- seek out, give audience, or acquiesce to the wishes of
- loyally serve
- morally or principally oppose
- be known by
- personally meet
- be in the presence of
- have personally met and been forgotten by
- have personally met and forgotten about
- create, spread, or hear/read rumors about
- develop a relationship of any (or some specific) kind with a close friend, family, or lover of
- get drunk or high with
- survive a deadly battle or duel against
- fail to impress
- deeply know
- Suffer the curse of
- Mortality: You will die soon.
- Loss: You will lose a loved one soon.
- Mutilation: You will be transformed in a grotesque and debilitating way soon.
- Jinx: You will be unlucky forever after (always have Disadvantage e.g. roll two dice and take the lower value, or a similar negative game mechanic).
- Debilitation: One of your abilities (or some equivalent, depending on game) will be permanently impaired by 1d4 and cannot ever be raised above that value.
- Forgetfulness: You will forget some important aspect of your history, a piece that may very well change who you are as a person.
- Hatred: If you do not already feel all-consuming hatred towards another, you will develop a feeling of all-consuming hatred towards another soon, driven by some tragic circumstance. You will never overcome this hatred.
- Irony: Your strength will become your weakness; that which you most value will cause you enormous grief; you will come so close to succeeding at your greatest ambition, only to fail in some tragic and symbolic way.
- Gain the boon of
- Peaceful Death: You will not die violently, unexpectedly, or in pain.
- Love: You will always have love in your life.
- Beauty: You will become, and forever after be the most beautiful version of yourself, regardless of how your body changes over the course of your life. Others will recognize this beauty in you, and you will have self-acceptance of this beauty.
- Blessing: You will be lucky forever after (always have Advantage e.g. roll two dice and take the higher value, or a similar positive game mechanic).
- Empowerment: One of your abilities (or some equivalent, depending on the game) will be permanently increased by 1d4 and cannot ever go below that value.
- Remembrance: You will remember some important aspect of your history that will change you for the better. If nothing of such value has been forgotten, you will experience a dream of equal substance.
- Acceptance: You will come to terms with a hated enemy. If you have no hated enemies, you will have the certainty that you will never make one.
- Irony: Your weakness will become your strength; that which you most detest will be your salvation; on the verge of failing at your greatest ambition, a comedic or symbolic deus ex machina will favor you.
This sorcerer has a Presence. Around this sorcerer...
- the beauty in all things is apparent.
- the ugliness in all things is apparent.
- animals and monsters, even those domesticated, revert to their basest natures.
- conversation and all noise-making gives way to silence and seriousness.
- activities, even those of importance, give way to raucous merriment and silliness.
- playful or socially acceptable violent urges are likely to be acted upon, and they will escalate if allowed.
- the dead or lost are remembered.
- the dead or lost are forgotten.
- an oppressive lethargy, an ennui, presses upon all.
- animals and monsters, even the wildest sorts, are abated, and carry a gravitas evocative of a heretofore unseen intellect.
- it is difficult to remember names, details, facts, or prepared spells.
- muscle memory and other skillful actions feel sloppy and unpracticed.
This sorcerer is a Force of Nature. They cannot...
- be harmed or killed
- be impeded
- be banished
- their true name is revealed.
- they fall in love.
- their phylactory or other sorcerous focus is destroyed.
- they experience empathy.
- they reach enlightenment.
- they will it to be so.
- they dream.
- reality is fundamentally altered.
- reality ceases to be.
- a hero succeeds in their journey.
- they produce an heir.
- they take a life.
- they refuse to kill.
- someone or something they love is killed.
- someone they love is turned against them.
- they are shamed.
- they are made to forget themselves.
- a species is brought to extinction.
- a civilization is destroyed, all traces of their existence are irrecoverable, and they are forgotten.
- they defy the gods.