Quick Notes

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I have a post in the queue about an alternate origin of dragons. This article is in the same vein (though not the same manner) as the dwarves of Dwimmermount. It should show up on Monday. Today, however, there is a hodpodge of ideas that I wanted to share instead of creating yet more draft posts.

Azamar Review

Over 250 people have read my review of Azamar over the past few days. I hope that it was helpful. Sales seem to be going well, it is #12 on the Hottest Items list at RPGNow.com. My two part review can be found at these links:

Azamar Part the First
Azamar Part the Second

Arcanist Rules

I've written about a skill-based mage called the Arcanist for Andras a number of times. Before jotting down a few notes, here is an index:

First Draft of the Arcanist (I don't like this version)
Discussion of Spell Points
Yet More Thoughts on Spell Points
A Brief Mention about the Spell List
The First Stats Appear for the Arcanist

I've shifted a bit from the OpenQuest Magnitude chart to using the Open D6 chart. I've also changed the spell point system. The main reason for doing this was the ability to create spells by effect. I still generate some spells from TFT, OpenQuest, 2e Psionics, etc. The difference is that now there are spells from OpenD6 as well. Basing spell creation on a simplied OpenD6 spell building system allows the Arcanist to have similar spell school options as regular Mages. In other words, you can have a specialist Arcanist.

Another reason for changing to something like the OpenD6 spell system is that I can provide bonuses/penalties for all kinds of situations that would pertain only to a skill-based mage. For example:

Increasing Casting Time to 9:                 +2
Increasing Casting Time by a round:   +5
Eschewing Material Components:         -2
Eschewing Verbal Components:            -2
Eschewing Somatic Components:         -2
Casting a Spell with students:                +1 per student max +10

Again, the Arcanist cannot change the intensity, range or area of the effect without researching a new spell. However, that research will be significantly reduced from the cost of researching the original spell.

With the group casting bonus, if would be fair to surmise that there are some spells that can only be cast by a group of Arcanists. The +1 per student bonus is only for spell that were originally created to be cast by a sole Arcanist. Group Spells that will be given in a later PDF have the benefit of a community already factored in.

New Dice

I went to an educational store and picked up some unusual dice. One is a d6 that has negative numbers. The others are all fractional. There is a red d8 that features 1/8 through 1,  a white d10 with 1/10 through 1 and two white d6's that have different fractions. One d6 has 1/6 through 1. The other d6 has 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/6, 1/8 and 1/12. Lots of fun to be had besides adding and subtracting fractions practice.

ConstantCon

I've asked Google+ developers for a page that anyone could post upcoming hangouts on. I could post something here, but I'm thinking of something that is editable by the community and doesn't rely on me to find all the ConstantCon Hangouts and Games that are going on. Here's to hoping.

Also on the ConstantCon front, I hope to have a game scheduled to start in November for a Spelljammer game. I am a parent of two young ones, so it will be a weekend schedule.

Refining the Arcanist

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A note before talking about the Arcanist again. I had planned to do more about mecha in this post, but the combat system isn't testing well. Essentially, my attempt to do mecha combat without minis is confusing. I am not a minis person, but I may need to concede that mecha combat is much easier with them than without them.

Why the shift in focus? It's not really a shift but more of an 'aha!' moment while re-reading my notes for inspiration. At one time I had wanted to convert all the d20 spells into their OpenD6 equivalents. Using the spell creation system in D6 Magic and Vade Mecum Magic seemed simple enough that I thought the project would take a couple weeks.

D&D Magic, though, is quite resistant to being easily categorized in such a way. I know that killershrike.com converted almost all the spells to the Hero System. He seems to have run into the same issue I have when attempting to convert Air Walk (I couldn't convert it either). When you build spells based on effect, it is difficult to separate Air Walk from Levitation though in a prosaic sense, the difference is obvious. Sure, both lift you in the air, but one is like gliding up and down an invisible elevator, while the other is like walking on invisible stairs.

Vancian  Magic  has certain characteristics, most notably, that it "... is no science, [it] is art, where equations fall away to elements like resolving chords."  I also like the description that it is like putting a demon in your head. In attempting to differentiate the Arcanist from a Mage, I thought about how an Arcanist approaches magic.

Primarily, a skill-based mage would approach magic like any other craft. There is a base knowledge that must be attained. There are specialized tools used to ply the craft. New knowledge is built upon the proven knowledge of what came before. The mystery of magic for a skill-based mage comes from exploring what is unknown. Once a spell is known, it is no longer a mystery - it is a ritual that can be reproduced as often as desired.

Does this mean that an Arcanist would never sell his soul to a demon for more power? Absolutely not. Everyone is tempted to take shortcuts. An Arcanist, over time, will be able to craft tremendous magic. After a lifetime of study, his/her power will be quite formidable. But if there is a way to have all that power without the lifetime of study, well... you can see where the demons come into play.

What does this mean in game terms? At its simplest, a points system coupled with a completely different (from D&D) method of magic research. An Arcanist can make potions and wands, but the manner and costs will be very different from a mage. Spell research will also be different in that variations of a similar spell will cost much less for an Arcanist to research. An arcanist may be able to cast a spell more than once, but he/she has a greater chance for failure when casting.

The base skill level to cast a spell at 1st level is 11. Per Andras convention, a roll of 11 or less would indicate the successful casting of a spell. A roll of 12-19 and the spell does not work and the Arcanist loses 1 spell point. On a roll of 20, consult a yet-to-be-created Critical Fumble table.

The base skill is modified by the level of the spell and any other conditions the GM believes is appropriate. 1st level spells add five to the base skill. In other words, a 1st level Arcanist must roll a 16 or less to cast a 1st level spell. After that, spells become much more difficult per the table below:

Spell Level 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th
Adjustment 5 -1 -7 -13 -20 -27 -34

Except for Experience Points, here is the Arcanist Progression Table.

Level Hit Dice (d4) Spell Points Abilities
1 1 6  1st level Spells
2 2 12
3 3 23 2nd level Spells
4 4 40
5 5 56 3rd Level Spells
6 6 83
7 7 110 4th Level Spells
8 8 147
9 9 184 5th Level Spells
10 10 231 Create Spell Stores*
11 10+1 278 6th Level Spells
12 10+2 335
13 10+3 356
14 10+4 387
15 10+5 449 7th Level Spells
16 10+6 485
17 10+7 516
18 10+8 552
19 10+9 558
20 10+10 569

*Spell stores are special magic items specific to Arcanists. Spell stores allow the Arcanist to store spell points in an item. These stored spell points can be used instead of using the Arcanist's spell point reserve. These points will also allow an Arcanist to exceed the maximum spell points usable per day, though an Arcanist can only use one spell store at day. The amount of points that can be stored is equal to the Arcanist Level times five. For example, at 11th level, an Arcanist can store 55 spell points in a spell store.

The points will last until they are used or until the item is destroyed. Breaking the item will not cause damage, but the spell points stored within the object are lost. When an Arcanist drains the last spell point from a spell store, the item disintegrates. Spell stores are not rechargeable.

Tomorrow or Thursday, some example spells for the Arcanist as well as the Spell Creation tables.

Changing Feeds

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I realized that with my Statis-Pro Football post earlier that I setup my feeds incorrectly on the Old School RPG Planet and the RPGBA.

I have fixed the issue so that only RPG articles will appear in both places. Although it is well after the fact, I hid my Statis-Pro post in the RPGBA feed before making the correction to the feed itself. My apologies for any annoyance this created.

Although the Joesky tax technically doesn't apply, here is something to actually add RPG content:

When thinking about spell points for the Arcanist, I originally looked to the Magus Divlantia section of the Net AD&D Players Supplement (written sometime in 1995 and edited in 1996). The formula for starting points is (((2*INT)+CON)-30) /4. The formula for points gained every level was (((2*INT)+CON)-30) /7. In the example of the Arcanist I gave earlier, I had assumed an INT of 16 and a CON of 12. Following the formulas, he started with 4 points and gained 2 points every level.

In the end, I simplified to INT bonus + CON bonus + 2 as the initial points and INT bonus + CON bonus every level after that. It calculates the same as the other formula. Don't get me wrong, I'm not afraid of a little math. It just is simpler for newer players to use numbers already on the character sheet and perform simple addition.

I still believe I need to tweak it to generate more points. If a different idea tests well, I'll be happy to post about it here.

If you want to test it out, basically download the OpenQuest developers kit and look at chapter 9 about sorcerors. Use that spell list and Magnitude table for spells. Use the simplified formula above to calculate spell points. I would post it if I had it written in a better format than some crawled notes on a printout.