Going back to the Greeks, they believed in four primal elements - earth, air, fire, water, with a fifth element as the 'quintessence'. The implication was that humans were the quintessence. I also like the fundamental idea that the other folk of the land are tied to the other four elements - a fire people, an earth people, a water people, and an air people.
However, my previous experience has tuaght me that I don't really love those as conceptualizing the elements in game terms, because I have trouble perceiving water or air as particularly powerful. I have tended to use the elements in game terms as an axis of three: frost, flame, and lightning. I like this better in some ways, but it leaves glaring holes in other ways.
Both have problems. Where does nature magic fall? Who casts invisibility? What attributes govern them? Are they all the same attribute, or is it different by magical type? Is it different by the type of folk?
Here's a specific comparison... Let's say that two of these folk are going to be gnomes and elves (or something like those). Great. I want to say that gnomes use some kind of nature magic (grounded, practical, useful, applicable to things like farming and animal husbandry) while elves are more ethereal and angelic, wielding a form of light magic. Maybe even have elves be a lesser form of angelic creature.
How do these fit? What elements govern them? Nature magic and light magic?
What about a different paradigm altogether? Four magics - light vs. dark, nature vs. deep magic.
Light magic is the magic of healing, help, warding, proection and virtue. It is used by the elves. Linked to persona.
Nature magic (pastoral?) is the magic of the natural world. It is used by gnomes. Linked to intuition.
Deep magic (old magic) is the magic of secrets and the primal elements. It is used by dwarves. Linked to reason.
Dark magic is the magic of destruction, chaos, and pain. Linked to persona. the PCs cannot use this magic without being corrupted.
So, there is no need for 'classes' per se. There would only be three archetypes: The hero, the caster (mystic? I like that), and the rogue. If you are a non-human caster, you default to your racial magic type; dwarves who take casting may only wield deep magic. Gnomes who take casting may only wield nature magic. Humans, as the quintessence, may wield any of the three (but use the attribute of the given magic type).
A human could then be somewhat more complex in terms of character building; a typical witch might be a mystic with nature 2/dark 2/deep 2.
This would change the way I even think about arranging magic; you might have foundational spells and then those that get unlocked at higher tiers.
Here are some thoughts for light magic (T = your caster tier):
- Healing. Use 1 action to restore Td6 hits to one living ally in short range. At tier 1, this restores 1d6 hits; at tier 5, this restores 5d6 hits.
- Bless. Use 1 action to grant a pool of Tier edges to the target; these edges must be used within 1 hour.
- Smite. Use 1 action to deal Td6 damage to an undead or evil foe in short range. The foe may check persona for half damage.
- Ward of evil. Use 1 action to grant the target resistance to the attacks and abilities of evil or undead cretures. Against the next number of attacks equal to your tier, the target checks your tier; if successful, that attack is completely ignored.
- Cure disease (Tier 2). At tier 2, you unlock the ability to cure any disease of a living creature in short range.
- Removed curse (Tier 4). At tier 4, you unlock the ability to remove a supernatural curse.
- Raise the dead. (Tier 6). At tier 6, you unlock the ability to use 1 turn to perform a ceremony that restores 1 dead creature to life. The creature must have died within the last 7 days, and the body must be present.
This also changes the tally system as I've conceived it. Now, you might have a number of tallies per day equal to your caster level; you roll 1d6 after every spell you cast; on a 1 you get a tally. For a caster 1, each spell that day might be the last; as a caster 6, you can earn 6 tallies before running out (meaning that you on average get 36 spells a day). Hmf. That's excessive. Okay. I need to re-think tallies, but I like the idea of simplifying tallies to a 1 in 6 chance, and then using edges to increase or decrease the likelihood of a tally.