Magic, Magic Everywhere

Only a short blog post this week, and not really any pictures, as I have been (and as of the time of writing, still am) away for work all week. While suffering from a cold. Air travel when your sick is definitely not fun…

Anyway, while I’ve been sitting here in my motel room of an evening feeling sorry for myself, I haven’t really had much of a chance to work on anything solidly, but I have managed to start thinking about the magic system for d3RPG.

I really want the system to feel fantastical – the characters you play are NOT normal, everyday folks. One thing that I want to do to help achieve this feeling is to make magic available to any character – to suffuse it throughout the system. Of course, this is slightly complicated by wanting to keep the system setting-neutral. How do you explain magic in a modern setting? Or a space-based game? Reflavoring things can only go so far. I guess that’s a problem for another day. For the moment, let’s work on the assumption of a default Fantasy setting.

In the Land of Defaultia, anyone can wield powerful, reality-shaping magic. Some folks might call it sorcery, or witchcraft, or any of a thousand other names. We’ll keep it simple and just call it Magic. After all, while there’s a lot of things in Defaultia that aren’t default, a lot of things are. Anyway…

Accessing Magic

So everyone is going to have access to magic, and as previously established, there is not going to be the traditional idea of Classes either. In that case, how will this work mechanically?

It’s not all that complicated, really. If your character meets the required prerequisites, she can simply take the Perk for the spell she wants to cast. (Perks, remember, are similar to Pathfinders Feats, or Savage World’s Edges). The primary prerequisite is fairly obvious if you think back to the Skills blog post. Give up yet? It’s your Spellcraft skill.

Of course, pumping up you Spellcraft skill to meet prerequisites is going to affect the number of character points you can spend in other areas such as “not being squishy” or “smarter than a crayon” (Another memory prompt – Spellcraft is linked to your Spirit attribute, not your Mind, so you can be perfectly stupid as a character, and still wield magic). It’s going to be a balancing act for both myself from the design perspective, and for any future players who are dumb enough to test this game excited to play something new.

Limiting Power

I refer often to Pathfinder, in case you haven’t noticed, because it’s both wonderfully deep and crunchy, and where I’ve spent the large majority of my RPG time. Pathfinder does, however, have a reputation for making spellcasters significantly more powerful than non-spellcasters at higher levels. I’m hoping to account for that not via a traditional Vancian spell slot system, but through having a risk of failure when casting a spell, and penalties associated with said failure.

The easiest way to explain this will be to provide you with an example spell Perk:

And now that we’ve got this far, I realise that this is the first time I’ve shown you ANY Perk, not just a magical one. Never mind! Just think of it as a birthday present. Or Christmas. Or something more to your liking.

Anyway, let’s take a look at what we have here:

  • This is a Perk called “Lightning Bolt”, which costs 3 points to purchase, with a prerequisite of Spellcraft 4 (meaning 4 “levels” of the Spellcraft skill have been purchased).
  • When this spell is cast, one opponent needs to make a Dexterity test with a target of 9 (ie, they fail if their 3d3! + Dexterity + Perks is 8 or less). If they do fail, they take 1 point of Body damage.
  • Additionally, you need to make a Spellcraft roll yourself, with a target of 9. If you fail, you take 1 point of Body damage as well, as the electrical discharge flows through your own body as well as (or possibly instead of) your target.

Everything has it’s price

You can see here that even if you fail your Spellcraft roll, your spell will still trigger, occur, activate, or happen. What your spellcraft test is representing isn’t so much your ability to cast the spell, but your ability to do so SAFELY.

In a Vancian system, you have a certain number of potent spells you can cast each day. In the d3RPG system, you can cast all day, every day – if you want to risk the damage to your own mortal container. And remember – if you’re spending points on increasing your Spirit attribute so that you can improve your Spellcrafting skills, in order to purchase new spell Perks, then chances are good that your Body attribute is if not neglected, then at least not your primary focus. While you CAN cast spells all day, do you want to risk three or four failures in quick succession, putting you out of the fight by your own hand?

Of course this is all theoretical at the moment, as nothing is well-developed enough yet for playtesting or balancing. So make sure you stay tuned for the inevitable “I’ve got egg on my face” post as this all comes crashing down when reality and probability all sets in.

Until then, have fun.

Yours in Adventure,

Shane

 

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