Scholarly Magic is the “upper class” version of magic: Sorcerers in towers poring over ancient tomes, wizards roaming the world seeking out spell-crafters and new sources of power, colleges of magicians teaching apprentices while debating amongst themselves the merits of this spell or that, etc.
A sample Scholarly Magic system is presented below. It’s a flexible magic system, with no preset spell list, and thus leaves a lot of decisions up to the GM. Gamemasters are welcome to substitute any other magic system of choice.
Magical Talent: Scholarly Magic
Characters wishing to learn Scholarly Magic must have the Magical Talent: Scholarly Magic Gift. You may spend up to four points in the Scholarly Magic group, but only as many points as you have levels of the Magic Talent: Scholarly Magic Gift. If you spend only one Gift on Magic Talent: Scholarly Magic, you may only spend one point on Scholarly Magic skills. Note that Scholarly Magic skills cost more; see below.
Characters without Magical Talent may learn the Thaumatology Knowledge Skill instead. This will allow them to recognize magic spells, skills, and possibly magic items and talismans (especially if powerful or well known), but not cast magic themselves.
Skill Points and the Scholarly Magic Skill Group
The Scholarly Magic skills are difficult areas of study, covering magical incantations, rituals, arcane knowledge, and more. There is no default for these skills, so a character learning Scholarly Magic in-game (as opposed to pre-game character creation) would learn the skill at Terrible.
They cost more at character creation, as well.
Note that you may trade 1 Scholarly Magic skill for 2 skills at one level lower. And remember that you can spend only as many points in Scholarly Magic as you have Gifts in Magical Talent: Scholarly Magic.
Points Spent in Skills in that Group, Scholarly Magic at which Levels (Max = # Gifts) (choose from one column or the other) 1 1 at Fair or 1 at Good
1 at Mediocre 1 at Poor 2 2 at Fair or 1 at Great
2 at Mediocre 2 at Fair 3 1 at Good or 1 at Great
4 at Fair 1 at Good
1 at Mediocre 4 1 at Great or 1 at Superb 2 at Good 1 at Great
3 at Fair 3 at Good
The Gamemaster should decide which of the Scholarly Magic skills presented here are allowed. The “Black Arts” (Sorcery and Necromancy) may be restricted to NPC villains, for example. Likewise, the Scholarly Magic Skill of Alchemy may be off limits. (PCs should be allowed to take the Knowledge Skill version of Alchemy, which allows them to recognize various alchemical potions and know something about the procedures and ingredients involved in making them, but not actually create magical elixirs.) The GM may also decide that each culture in the game world knows only a few of the many “flavors” of Scholarly Magic. For example, Shamanism may be restricted to the “primitive” tribes on the jungle continent, or to the horse nomads on the great steppes. Another culture may know Mesmerism, but outlaw its use. A centuries-old university of mages may combine Conjuration and Kineticism into a single branch of study, and likewise with Extra Sensory Perception and Mesmerism. Perhaps Runes are a lost art, and no one living now understands the strange markings found on ancient obelisks and monuments and over archways leading to catacombs.