On the Magic Abracadabra

Speech is sorcery.

The origin of the word is uncertain, but there is the Arabic phrase, avra kehdabra, meaning “I will create as I speak”.

I've surprised centipedes, acquired an ability to excrete acid through my skin, stopped pistons in a wizards tower right before getting knocked out, just in the last week.

Our community talks a lot about a variety of things, but we rarely talk about how magical what it is that we do.

I've talked about how the dice provide an ocular power to view the reality of other realms, through auguring of bones.

Now they are plastic of course, but they auger the course of reality just the same.

But what really happens is we create entire realms and other worlds which we explore. Some people might consider that the Old School Renaissance is about the rules, retreating to an older style of play. Others might think it's about moving away from character builds and combat focused games. Some say it's about publishing a proliferation of rule-clones.

But that's not it at all. I make plenty of choices with some of my characters, and we certainly get in plenty of fights and having plenty of killing. Everyone, everywhere, runs their own personal version of Dungeons & Dragons, and always has.

What it's about is getting away from straightforward dull play, and returning to magical and evocative realms that are created by our spoken and written word.

Literally, we create as we speak.

Hack & Slash


  1. I like the augury analogy a lot. I sort of think about DnD as a brain hemorrhage, gushing out my nose and mouth, which is clarified by the rules, bounded by the considerations of the people I play with, and kept fresh with the dice. Only then is it fit for consomption.

    And everyone contributes to the hemorrhage gumbo.

    1. Now I'm imagining a session which ends with a bunch of dead people sitting around a bowl filled with blood and brain matter.

  2. Hear, hear! Nice way of putting it!

    And I love the pendant! :D

  3. It's true! We are verbal psychonauts.

  4. I always liked to describe the actions my character has to take to cast spells. When my character casts a summoning spell, I say he pulls out a candle and a tiny bag, which burns into ash after I complete a 6 second chant and do an arcane gesture. When I GM, I don't say what the spell is, just what happens when an enemy casts it. It's my own little way of using description to add magic to...well...magic.


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