Scribblomancy

The pen is mightier than the sword.
  Sometimes called doodle magic, Scribblomancy and its enchanted Scribble-Quills infuses words with magic, to pull them off the page and manifest with meaning. A quick scribble can become a bullet or a key, sentences turn into chains, and doodled-beasts bite at the command of their mistress. It is a quick and dirty kind of magic, each spell lasting no longer than a few moments outside the Beyond. But with skill and imagination, Scribblomancy is a potent art.   In the hands of a skilled scribblomancer, words - no matter how hastily scrawled - have power.  

The Art of Scribbling

Hold on, let me write down... YOUR DOOM!
  Scribblomancy is the art of turning quick scribbles into spells. Writing 'FIRE' will launch the words at the target to engulf it in inky flames, while 'ARROW' might spear them on the spot. Words transform as they escape from where they were jotted down, shaping themselves to become what they mean.  
Words build on themselves for Scribblomancy spells. FIRE might burn, but 'RAZOR FIRE WITH SPIKES' means you're in for a bad day.
 
78876 - kopia.jpg
by Rawpixel.com (Freepik)
It is a magic that draws on the imagination of its user, and that of humanity as a whole. Intent, as much as wordcraft, shapes the spell before hurtling it into the world. Though versatile, Scribblomancy is relatively weak, its effect small and short-lived, the spark of magic contained within each stroke of the pen small. Two, maybe three, words work the best, while true Scribblomancers might be able to string together five for some really unpleasant effects.  
Most of its spells are simplistic and straightforward - but so is a bullet.
  The time it takes to scrawl the spell is another factor - many Scribblomancers know to use no more than is needed, unless they're feeling particularly vindictive. The more words used in a scribble, the more power has to be used to fuel it, after all. Additionally, doodles or concepts too complex often collapse under their own weight, after a brief life as an inky abomination.
 
All Scribble-Spell are two-dimensional, something that can make them difficult to counter or even see coming as they slice through the air.
  Despite all that, Scribblomancy isn't without its complexities. Some magi have mastered ways to leave scribbles 'hanging' to be activated later and use it to set traps or contingencies, while others incorporate color into their scribbling for additional effect. Like the words, the colors carry whatever meaning the user attribute to them, usually influenced by their upbringing. Red burns brighter, blue soothes, while black and grey can be oppressive and smothering. Other scribe words with little flourishes that add to their effect - like hooks at the end of every letter carry over as the words transform, for instance.  
The best Scribblomancy spells are something immediate and concrete. It doesn't do well with abstract concepts, and failed spells produce nothing more than a puddle of ink.
  At its core, Scribblomancy can be broadly divided into two styles; Scribbling and Doodling. There's plenty of overlap, and most Scribblomancer use both.  

Scribbling

Words with power, Scribbling is the traditional application of the art. Quickly scrawled words or sentences turn into spells, functioning like either tool, weapon, or entertainment.   It is more commonly used than Doodling, requiring less power to fuel them and less artistic talent to draw the damn things.

Doodling

Art imitates life - never has it been more true with a doodle made by a Scribblomancer. Doodles often, but not always, live longer than scribbles, at an equal increase in cost and complexity. These two-dimensional critters sometimes display archetypical personalities, though it can be hard to tell what that archetype is supposed to be with some artists.
  Just as important as the words or doodles are the tool used to craft them.  

Magic Markers & Pact-Bound Pens

You can have my pen when you pry it from my cold, ink-stained hands.
  No matter what they want to scribe or draw, no Scribblomancer can do so without their pen. Traditionally called a Scribble-Quill, no matter its actual shape, these enchanted tools of writing and drawing are as much a part of the Scribblomantic art as the words. They are a focus for the magic, allowing the spark of creation to flow into ink and turn words into wonders.  
Most Scribblomancer would rather lose a finger than their quill.
 
Besides that, most Scribblomancers often enchant their quills further to better suit their particular kind of spellslinging. The most common type of enchantments affects the pen as a pen, rather than a magical focus. The ability to draw on any surface or control the size of each stroke past the physical point of the pen are also popular. Others bind colors into their quills, changing between them with a thought.  
In a pinch, a regular pen can be used to sling a Scribblomantic spell, but it won't be half as good - or last long.
  Some magi combine their Scribblomantic art with other spells for the same effects, but without the fuss of making it permanent.
78876 - kopia (2).jpg
by Rawpixel.com (Freepik)
summon-4373257_1920.jpg
by Pixabay
 

Pacts

Pacts are contracts signed with entities of power, usually from the Beyond, where a Magi makes a promise in exchange for some boon. These range from small and fleeting, such as safe passage through a part of the Beyond or the Key to a particular Gate, all the way to immortality and forbidden, blasphemous powers. The price paid rises accordingly, and only fools make such promises lightly.   All spells need a source of power, and Scribblomancers looking for an edge sometimes make pacts to make it a razor-sharp one.  
Pacts
Condition | Jul 8, 2021

Making a deal with a devil, and its consequences.

 

Murderous Moon

For whatever reason, scribbling a moon always have some unintended consequences. A potent source of arcane energies even removed in space and dimension, it exerts influence on all things magic.   Though few know the details, the moon has always been trouble. When it is full, the wall between worlds weaken, monsters awaken, and trouble brews. Magic itself shifts, depending on the magical tradition. It might be a prison, it might be a great magic focus, it might even be a god. Whatever it is, it's the kind of thing it's better if no one goes poking around on.  
The Moon Wants To Murder You: Fact or Fiction?
Myth | Jul 10, 2021

The moon; innocent turner of tides, or malicious bastard just waiting for a chance to stab us all in the back?

Launching a scribbled 'MOON' at someone is a wildcard - though the power of the spell remains unchanged, the effects is anyone's guess.
jaroslav-devia-xfYiIpHnvhs-unsplash.jpg
by Unsplash (Jaroslav Devia)
 

Scribbling in the Beyond

The Beyond is a realm of monsters and magic, of wonder and horror, far from the mortal world. Here, spirits, gods, and demons dwell among impossible, myth-shrouded lands. Getting there is difficult, and getting out can be even worse.   In this realm of raw magic, ink comes to life almost unbidden, and Scribblomancers are able to draw dreams into existence... Although the results are rarely under their control.  
The Beyond
Geographic Location | Jul 3, 2021

The world beyond all other worlds, a place of wonder and horror in equal measure.

Once, all Scribble-Quills were just that. Extravagant quills with never-ending ink, as much status symbols as instruments of arcane power. Times have changed, and only the most staunch traditionalist cling to that, while most have moved on to modern tools. Everything from pencils to magic markers. Some radical scribblomancers even use spray cans, creating cacophonies of color and fury to unleash on whoever's annoying them.   Rumors even persist of some digital, technomagic variants that can cast spells through computers... But like most things technomagic, it is mostly wild speculation and unfettered experimentation.  
"Front Towards Enemy."  
— Written on Scribble-Quill
 
nicolas-thomas-SXn-fWj0Ht4-unsplash.jpg
by Unsplash (Nicolas Thomas)


Cover image: by Unsplash (Art Lasovsky)

Comments

Please Login in order to comment!
8 Jul, 2021 11:25

Heh, as usual the lead quote is perfect!   And you said you got carried away, but really... isn't that half the fun?? :D

— The wolf of Tales of Justice, Creator of Legends of Elohey, Star Wars: Shards, Fiven Chronicles and more!
8 Jul, 2021 11:37

Or double the fun! :D

8 Jul, 2021 11:32

Enjoyable and creative, though the tone of the article slightly clashes with the tone of your theme. The theme is dark and brooding, while the article is quite upbeat and humorous. Something to think about.   While written magic in this form is neither new or very novel, I like your take on it and I like that you've taken the time to further emphasize it's "written-ness" with different tools (spray-cans! Who even thinks of that?) and the fact that it's two-dimensional.   Personally, I felt that the two-dimensional thing was the most creative and has the most potential, and I would've personally have liked to see you dive more into how that makes scribblemancy unique and useful by leveraging it's dimensionality.   Overall, I liked it!

Author of prize-winning RPG settings Dark Shadows and Cinders of the Cataclysm. Designer of the narratively focused Celenia D10 RPG System.
8 Jul, 2021 15:24

Thanks! I'll keep that in mind when I return to it. :)

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
8 Jul, 2021 15:11

Oh I have something a bit like that in my first novel :D Except that they need to have drawing talents :p It's such a cool magic! I really love all the details you give about the mechanics of how this works.   Series of random questions:

  • is the quality of the penmanship or drawing important/having any impact on the magic?
  • does the size of the writing/drawing have an impact since you mention paint spray-cans? Or do they just tag walls because it's cool?
  • has anyone tried to do something like the death note? :p
  • do people either have duels with that type of magic? Like, they're try to take out their pen and paper and try to write down as quickly as possible? Or is it more something to do to stab someone in the back while they're not looking?
  • 8 Jul, 2021 15:23

    Thank you! I love writing magic system, so I got carried away. :D   1. Nope! Not one iota. Most tend to get good at it anyway, but in action scenes, favor speed over pretty. 2. Yes! More surface area of ink/color can hold more magic. So it's more expensive too. That's why they enchant their pens to be able draw larger - so they can launch a ballista bolt instead of a bullet, in case 3. Haha, afraid not - this is much more physical You could write 'DEATH' and sling it at someone, though ;) But it's pretty much a face-to-face kind of spellcasting 4. THEY DO NOW! That is a great idea, and I can imagine ink missiles flying like crazy, and the two spellcasters trying to cancel each other's words out with the opposite and stuff like that :D Definnitely happening now   <3

    Eternal Sage AmélieIS
    Amélie I. S. Debruyne
    8 Jul, 2021 15:53

    Awesome! I totally see them duelling Yugo Oh! style now XD

    Sage Dylonishere123
    R. Dylon Elder
    8 Jul, 2021 17:09

    OOOOO that's awesome. I like that the spells continue having inky qualities rather than just writing fire and its just straight up fire. I loved this!

    9 Jul, 2021 01:20

    Forget lettering and brush markers! I want to learn Scribblomancy and get my revenge on some bastards!

    Am I writing or procrastinating? Take a guess and visit my galaxy
    9 Jul, 2021 08:15

    Word-shuriken those jerks right in the face :D

    15 Jul, 2021 05:18

    As a lifelong doodler and scribbler... I love this, and I must learn this mystic art.   I found myself wondering how doodles would work as I was reading, and then you went and answered it perfectly <3 I love that there's some Scribblomancers pushing the bounds of what's possible -- it's such a fun system, I see lots of room for really entertaining experimentation!

    Cathedris, the world of God-Husks and New Magic, welcomes you.
    15 Jul, 2021 07:09

    Making a whole magic system might not have been the intent of the prompt, but here we are :D