Circe and Medea are perhaps the most famous mortal magic users of Ancient Greece, featuring prominently in the stories of Odysseus and Jason. Age of Legends is set hundreds of years after these stories, in a time where the gods are once again paying attention to the mortal world. The Olympians and the Titans are fighting a proxy war over the worship of the Greek people. They are taking mortals as their champions and imbuing them with a small portion of their power. Divine champions now roam the world having adventures epic enough for this to be called an Age of Legends.
Curses and Wards
Nearly all magic in Age of Legends can be described as either a curse or a ward. Curses are a staple of Ancient Greek mythology and a favourite punishment used by the gods. Mechanically they’re all handled as negative status effects but there is no narrative limit on what the curse could be. A sorcerer could make a guard intolerably itchy, a merchant unable to count or a politician attractive to spiders. By contrast wards are positive status effects used to help or protect. Seen less often in the legends, wards can be used to seal a door, protect from fire or discourage the presence of spiders.
The ability to place curses and wards is very rare. It is not something that can be taught, instead being an innate talent of the soul. Knowing that you have the power comes from self discovery or being informed by an oracle. The very lucky will be able to find themselves a mentor to help them develop the talent further. Most sorcerers live lonely lives as their powers are not trusted by mortals. Even champions of Hecate find themselves under suspicion and accused of being the source of many people’s non-magical problems.
Herbology is the use of plants and minerals to create potions, brews and concoctions. In the hands of a sorcerer or master herbalist, herbology can even create supernatural effects. In addition to the near instant healing of wounds, potions can be used as a delayed delivery mechanism for curses and wards. All settlements have a person capable of making simple remedies for illnesses and the larger poleis house several famous potion makers. Seen as an important part of society, it is considered an honour to be taken as an apprentice to a herbalist and benefit from generations of passed on knowledge. Most do not dabble in the creation of poisons or toxins as getting caught by the wrong people would cost a herbalist their social status.
Violence between Ancient Greek sorcerers can look like a vicious and bitter argument to a watching layperson. Each sorcerer seeks to overcome their opponent’s wards by casting increasingly complex and unpleasant curses. Many of these will have no visible effect, instead harming the recipient’s mind or soul. Victory goes to the sorcerer able first render their opponent unable to cast. This doesn’t have to be the most powerful mage. A lot of the power in a curse and ward comes from their wording. A carefully phrased curse can easily slip past the strongest wards and affect the target in a way they had not prepared for. Thus cunning and intellect are vital to a sorcerer’s success.
Image Credit – Circe Offering the Cup to Odysseus by John Williams Waterhouse – Public Domain