Blade & Crown: What magnitude of nodes?

Wheel of magic in Blade & CrownA question came up in last Sunday’s session of Blade & Crown: what’s the maximum magnitude of spell that a mage can align a node to? That is, if I know Metal Magic to level 3, can I align a node that’s magnitude 4? Could I align a magnitude 4 node to a lower magnitude spell and let the ‘excess’ magical power just go to waste?

As I was writing the game, I had in the back of my head the idea that a mage could only align nodes up to the level of their Magic spell. That is, that if I have Metal Magic 3, I can only use (align, cast, etc.) spells up to Magnitude 3. I also intended that higher-magnitude nodes are simply unusable by someone with a lower Magic skill than their magnitude.

However, as I checked what I’ve actually written in the rules, I don’t think I stated this anywhere. And thinking about it a little more, I think it’s probably enough to have large penalties to align nodes that are of high magnitude. If you want to align a Crystal node of magnitude 5 when your Crystal Magic skill is only 2, it feels right that you should be able to attempt it — and possibly suffer horrible consequences. I could see the argument that allowing any mage to align a node of any magnitude could lead to magic being overpowered, but I think it’s well balanced by the inherent danger. Allowing mages to (in principle) try anything, even highly dangerous tasks, accords with the principle of making magic rare, mysterious and powerful, I think.

Ultimately, of course, this is up to your group and your play-styles. What are your thoughts? How do you approach this in your games?

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