We’ve enjoyed playing spellcasters in our favorite fantasy roleplaying game for decades. Clerics receive powers as favors from the gods while warlocks literally sell their souls to fiendish (and other) patrons, but what about arcane casters like wizards and sorcerers? Schools of magic like illusion or abjuration dictate the nature of specific spells and effects, but their underlying source remains an unanswered question. Midgard stands apart where the lore of the world provides an explanation for the font of raw energies that power most arcane spells: ley lines.
What Are Ley Lines?
Ley lines flow through the world of Midgard, fueling its life and magic everywhere. Elusive and mysterious, ley lines are invisible rivers of primordial power interconnected with the land itself and even reaching to other planes. Some speculate that ley lines shaped the geology of the world while others argue that any creation, natural or artificial, can influence the course of these streams of magic.
The Midgard Worldbook provides context into what ley lines are, why they’re important, and offers a map (see above) and description of named (or titanic) ley lines. Titanic ley lines and shadow roads also appear on the interactive map of Midgard. From the frozen reaches of the Northlands to the sprawling districts of Ramagani, ley lines exist (almost) everywhere, flowing silently and unseen, ready to be manipulated by a special caste of spellcasters originating from Bemmea, Nuria Natal, and beyond.
The goal of this series on Midgard ley magic is twofold. First, to provide guidance and assist GMs during adventure preparation when ley magic spellcasters are featured, either as player characters (PCs) or as non-player characters (NPCs). Second, to enhance the player experience of these casters through new character options and ley magic spells. Everything presented in this series is built on top of the existing ley lines and geomancy spellcasting rules. You are strongly encouraged to first read these rules as quoted in this series (or in Deep Magic: Ley Lines) and also check out the Ley Magic FAQ.
Ley Magic Spellcasters
All spellcasters indirectly benefit from the innate influence of ley lines as they channel magic through various spheres of influence. Only true ley magic spellcasters can directly harness the power of ley lines to shape their spell effects beyond the expected results. The Midgard Heroes Handbook provides the “Ley Lines and Geomancy Spellcasting Rules,” outlining how the mystical blood flow of Midgard can be exploited to great effect… or random disaster. Ley lines are unpredictable, and harnessing their power involves risk. Even when successful, none but the greatest ley masters can control the effects that result from tapping ley lines.
Two types of ley magic spellcasters are known: ley initiates and ley line savants. The latter are primarily known as geomancers.
Ley initiates are spellcasters who acquired enough knowledge of ley magic to tap into ley lines when casting spells. Some initiates study ley magic in the academic sense to enhance their own spellcasting abilities while others possess an innate natural ability to see and exploit ley lines. Most of them see ley lines as glowing, stringy waves or shimmering bands of light coursing through the air. A few rare initiates have been rumored to perceive ley lines as musical melodies with the ambient notes of ley energy guiding them in shaping their magic. Ley initiates are characters with the feat of the same name.
Wizards trained in the geomancy arcane tradition (see Midgard Heroes Handbook) can not only channel and tap into ley lines for various effects, they can bind themselves to those lines, becoming a ley extension across their plane of existence, capable of accessing their power at great distance. Geomancers eventually gain the ability to channel more powerful ley lines. Adepts can bind themselves to strong ley lines, and masters can achieve the pinnacle of control over ley magic—binding to titanic ley lines and choosing their desired effect when tapping their power.
GM Prep: Placing Ley Lines on Game Maps
Reading through the ley line rules, many references appear with regard to the distance between a ley magic spellcaster and the nearest ley line. These casters have a vested interest in knowing the location of ley lines and will often ask their GM if there are ley lines nearby. The following reasons outline why knowing the specific location of ley lines becomes relevant:
- Geomancer & Ley Initiate: Tapping a ley line located within 30 ft. to enhance the power of their spells or casting a ley line spell with an effect dependent on the location of ley lines (see new spells in this series).
- Geomancer: Binding to a ley line located within 1 mile at the end of a short or long rest.
- Ley Initiate: Regaining spell slots when completing a short rest within 1 mile of a ley line.
- Ley-Bound (feat): Gaining inspiration or infusing ley energy into a token when completing a long rest within 1 mile of a ley line.
- Geomancer (14th level): Locking or unlocking a ley line located within 30 ft.
What is missing is the location of all these crisscrossing ley lines. Known titanic ley lines are mapped, but weak and strong ley lines are not, and they are too numerous in the web of magic to realistically map them. Furthermore, ley lines are prone to fading, reappearing, drifting, and twisting out of control, rendering any mapping attempts completely futile.
A GM needs to anticipate player questions such as, “Are there any ley lines nearby in this location?” and, “Which types of ley lines are present within a mile and where is the closest?” if a ley magic spellcaster is present in the party. The Midgard Worldbook provides high-level guidance, summarizing where ley lines may be found and where they are rare or non-existent.
It would be easy for an unprepared GM to simply answer “no” when asked about the presence of nearby ley lines. But after a while, your geomancer may cry foul after constantly being denied the benefits of their subclass. It only takes a few minutes during game prep for a GM to preemptively decide where ley lines are located, if any are present. When using game maps, a GM should trace a line where they feel a ley line exists, as applicable. If there are no ley magic spellcasters in your group, you needn’t worry about ley lines.
Be creative with ley lines, even the larger ones. While all named ley lines are known titanic ley lines, not all titanic ley lines are named, or known. Discovering a new titanic ley line could be a goal on its own or an unforeseen adventure twist for any ley magic spellcaster. Furthermore, if the heroes revisit a location, don’t assume that weak ley lines remain in the same place. Ley lines often vanish or shift location, or more could have appeared.
GMs looking for more guidance and randomization tables used to facilitate the placement of ley lines can look forward to the next installment in this series where this topic will be covered.
New Ley Lines Spells
Ley line spells are designed to magically access ambient ley energies surrounding the caster, creating localized effects within the influence of those lines. While many spell effects from various schools of magic can be enhanced by a ley magic spellcaster when tapping nearby or bound ley lines, other spells were crafted by geomancers to exploit the physical presence of ley lines in their surroundings. Ley lines effectively become a new required or optional component for many of these spells.
Remember that only geomancers and ley initiates can learn and cast ley line spells after discovering them as written scrolls or being taught by another geomancer (unless otherwise allowed by the GM).
Hold the Line
1st-level enchantment (ley line) druid, sorcerer, warlock, wizard
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 30 feet
Components: V, S, M (a small twig with at least 4 shoots)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute
You create a beam of sustained white energy that connects you to a ley line you can see within range. Roll 6d10: the total is how many hit points of creatures this spell can affect. The beam visibly connects with creatures located within 30 feet of the ley line as energy travels along its path, but no farther than 120 feet from the caster, affecting them in ascending order of their current hit points (ignoring prone and unconscious creatures).
Starting with the creature that has the lowest current hit points, each creature affected by this spell is restrained for the duration of the spell. Subtract each creature’s hit points from the total before moving on to the creature with the next lowest hit points. A creature’s hit points must be equal to or less than the remaining total for that creature to be affected.
A restrained creature can make a Strength saving throw at the end of each of its turns against the spell save DC, ending the effect on itself on a success. Alternatively, someone else who can grab or shove the creature can use an action to make a Strength (Athletics) check against the spell save DC. On a success, the restrained effect ends on this creature.
If there are no ley lines within range of the caster, the spell has no effect. A geomancer with a bound ley line can instead target a single creature, rolling only 3d10 to determine how many hit points this spell can affect.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, roll an additional 2d10 for each slot level above 1st.
evocation cantrip (ley line) druid, sorcerer, warlock, wizard
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S
You point at one creature you can see within range, and a discharge of ley energy springs from the ground beneath it. The target must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or take 1d6 force damage and is knocked prone. If you target a spellcaster currently holding concentration on a spell, they must roll at disadvantage on their saving throw to maintain their concentration.
If the target is 60 ft. from a ley line, the discharge originates from that ley line instead, causing an extra 1d6 force damage per strength of the ley line (weak: 1d6, strong 2d6, titanic: 3d6). The spell has no effect if the target is not in contact with the ground (such as the creature is swimming, levitating, flying, is suspended, on a boat, and so on).
This spell’s damage increases by 1d6 when you reach 5th level (2d6), 11th level (3d6), and 17th level (4d6).
Have you played a geomancer before? Do you have any questions about ley lines? As a GM, how do you handle the placement of ley lines? How are the new ley line spells working out in your adventures? Leave your feedback below and come back for the next installment in this series.