Magic and aging

What if using magic caused a character to age? An interesting question, one inspired by Brendan of Untimately, who wrote a post back in June about it. His idea, was a game mechanic that sees a character aging days as a consequence of using healing magic. Another chap, Talysman, responded with the idea of the aging occurring as a chance, in that when a player rolls die to see how much HP they've recovered, there's a chance the character could age years. Brendan did a later post about it and he explains it better than I can:
Whenever a character is healed magically, there is a percentage chance to age one year equal to the number of HP so healed, minus the character's constitution modifier. For example, if a character with 10 (average) constitution is magically healed 6 HP, there is a 6 percent chance of ageing. If a character had a +1 constitution modifier, the same healing would result in a 5 percent chance of aging.

Gandalf is actually a 22 year old wizard
who overdid it at a frat party.
I like and if I ever play an RPG, I think it would make a pretty cool feature. But, that's not why I'm posting about it. Instead, the posts got the Kobald in my head working and wondering how this would look in fantasy fiction. An idea came to mind that what if magic (not just the healing variety) did age a character and all these old, white bearded wizards you see in fantasy aren't really that old? What if they're actually fairly young (30s-50s), but years and decades of casting spells caused them to grow old before their time. I like it because it gives a bit of a dark edge to magic in general, but also enhances the stature of magic users as people willing to use magic, even if it's detrimental to themselves.

Another thought is what happens if a magic user overdoes it? What if things go down and a wizard has to turn it all the way up to 11 and cast lots of powerful spells or harness vast amounts of magical energy, more than he's accustomed to or should be doing? Well, if using magic on a normal basis causes him, her, or it to age about a year per spell, then this could age rapidly like Nazi from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.



Wizardry, much like pimpin', ain't easy.

Edit: Another thought just occurred to me: What if items caused aging either passively through mere contact/ownership or actively through use? Example: A weapon that lets you fight like a total badass, but ages you weeks, months, or even years the longer you use it. I dig this because it forces the owner of a such a weapon to think their way out of situations and not merely fight.

Picture via Fanpop

Comments

  1. The Riddle of Steel RPG includes this as a standard feature, Basically your caster has a dice pool that has to be split between resisting aging and getting the spell powered up. what makes it interesting is that if the spell matters and is important, a characters "Passions" , the traits representing what matters to them can be added to the roll. This makes common use of major magic quite rare .

    The only real downside is the that the magic uses real physics after a fashion and its easy and legal per the author to create spells that can smash cities. If you hate enough, it might age you are year or two. Ugh

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