2020 Hopes

Around the holidays, I was able to post quite a bit about magic systems and a few other things. I've been quieter within the past 2 weeks, though, because I have been writing offline quite a bit. As a result, here are the things I hope for in 2020:

Words of Power Series

I plan to finish these up pretty soon. Mostly because this set of posts leads into the next project.

Regional Magic Book

I have been trying to generate D&D-ish magic systems for years. Once, I even created a system based on the Paydirt footbal game. I have finally managed to create a series of systems that different from each other, yet can inform each other. These systems include systems that feature gematria, alien scripts, spontaneous casting, spell building, artifact hacking, found magic, and more.

I've mentioned some of the systems before like salt magic, spontaneous casting, and gematria. I found that making any individual system work came from making them interrelated. I have a campaign world that explains why they are different and common threads that make them all related. It's been a long, ground-up world building that I hope is useful to others, at least for mining ideas, if nothing else.

The document should be ready for testing in Feburary and out in PDF in the Spring for Swords & Wizardry. (I would love to have it for OSE, but there are conventions is S&W that appeal to me.) If I am lucky, a month later will have a 5e version. I have one more magic system to tweak before working on editing this month.

Eye of the Needle

Using M20 Spacecraft as a starting point, I want to finish this setting in the Summer of 2020. A lot is already written, but I need to finish the trading system. This will be less of a priority than the regional magic book, but one it is a passion project for me as I love the central location in this setting, a hole in the ground that takes you to another planet.

EPiC Engines

I have written this Black Hack & SAGA-inspired game that uses only a deck of cards. I stopped work due to 52 Fates, a system that just works differently in many wonderful ways. That said, I still want to give this to the world. I had so much fun making and testing this.

No time limit on this, but if I can get other projects completed, this is a document that just needs some editing and tweaking of the magic system.

Itch.io

I plan to make some non-traditional games with all kinds of wild ideas on my nascent itch site. (No link because, well, no content.) I have a bunch of half-finished games that use odd dice combinations, tokens, and custom cards.

Tyrian Purple is an example of the types of things I want to post there. It doesn't have any custom components, pro se, but it is a competitive card game that playtested well. I still want to simplify bartering, though.

2020 Plans

Those are the plans. As I mentioned earlier, I will finish the Words of Power series of posts. The podcast will fire back up with little bits of goodness here and there. I also plan to post more on 5e as my kids want to play it. So far, I have all manner of sidekicks and creatures inspired by their adventures.

Magic-User Options

The featured image was created by Luigi Castellani. His patreon is here, go support him. He is anextremely talented artist and writer.

In four older  posts, I covered tweaks to the standard Magic-User. For convenience, they are listed below:

By popular request, a fifth link is provided that deals with the Turn Undead table.

Using the Turn Undead table

The premises for these posts were simple:

  • A class feels different when the mechanics are different.
  • The spell table is the primary limiting factor.
  • House rule: The standard Magic-User can create scrolls for 100gp per spell level. The process takes a number of days equal to the spell level.

Looking back on these posts, one theme stands out. A different mechanic creates an unreliable spellcaster. When the success is not automatic, like with the standard Magic-User, other things are needed to make the class worthwhile. Here are the pieces so far:

  • Creating a spell focus that can guarantee spell casting success without a roll.
  • Creating amulets that allow for the Best 2 out of 3 rolling for success.
  • Minor counterspell ability that costs highest available spell slot.
  • Creating Mnemonics that allow the spellcaster to keep the spell slot in case of failure.
  • Gaining lucky numbers that always grant success when rolled.
  • Creating magic items that guarantee a range of die rolls will result in a successfully cast spell.
  • Minor hex ability based on the Prayer spell.

What can we do with these pieces? Quite a bit.

Campaign Ideas

One way to use these four variant magic-users is to have a campaign world that doesn't have the standard Magic-User. All spellcasters are unreliable, but each type searches/fabricates items that help them make magic more reliable.

I could see this in a Swords & Sorcery type of setting where the four different types of magic-users would have evocative names. The Red Hand, Disciples of the Path, The Feeders, etc. I'm partial to the name I gave the Chainmail spellcasters, the magic-eaters. I could also see where each type is distrustful of the other three. It provides a built-in backstory for the magic-user in the party.

Another campaign idea would put the standard Magic-User as high mages with the other three considered hedge mages. The academics could laugh at a preoccupation with numbers or making charts while they study real magic.

Parts is Parts

Take a mechanic you like:

  • Saving Throw
  • Chainmail (2d6 + m-u level/2 greater than or equal to 7)
  • Percentages
  • Custom charts
  • Turn Undead table

Decide the consequences of failure:

  • Retain spell slot
  • Lose spell slot

Decide how the unreliable spellcaster can increase his chances:

  • Make something to guarantee success
  • Make something to increase the odds of success

Determine, if necessary, how making something increases your chances of success:

  • Add an extra dice
  • A magic item create a specific number that when rolled is always successful
  • A range of results as success

If they make something to increase the odds of success without guaranteeing success, choose a minor ability:

  • Counterspell
  • Hex
  • Mnemonics (Save spell slots at spell failure)

Viola! You have a tweaked class that uses the same tables for spell slots and advancement. There are many different combinations available just for these limited options. A minor ability is roughly based on 2nd level spells or weakened 3rd level spells. I would avoid spells that do damage, but instead choose spells like Locate Object, Mirror Image, a weakened Monster Summoning I, or Rope Trick.

That's it for now, the next post will be about my favorite OGL alternative to the Mind Flayer and then moving to more thoughts about the Words of Power Hack I've been working on.

Rune Magic for Older RPGs

Here is a rune magic system that allows you to group spells that gradually unlock to magic-users. The system does require a check to successfully cast, but many optional rules are provided to enhance the magic-user’s chance or make the risk worthwhile.

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