Five dice showing 4, 5, 5, 2, 6

Doubles and Lonely Dice

This is the description I found on the troll dice roller website about a novel dice mechanic. An anonymous person was experimenting with an idea for a GURPS magic system using the site. The mechanic was documented this way:

Experiment with a custom magic-system in GURPS using HP as blood sacrifice, using 2-10 d6.
Doubles, triplets and above count as their value, lonely dice only add +1 per dice.
a roll with 5 dice [4,5,5,2,6] will make 1+5+5+1+1=13.

I immediately played with various numbers of dice and wrote scripts for d8s, d10s, and d12s. Yet after all that, I was drawn to 5d6. It reminded me of Dice Throne and ultimately Yahtzee. I had to admit that I was drawn to this idea using 5d6 because of the endless games of Yahtzee and Kismet I played as a kid. That shared memory makes this dice mechanic feel intuitive through repetition.

This is the point where my co-worker would say that my Nerd is showing.

When I began looking at the probabilities, however, it inspired me for possibilities in my home game with the kids, retroclones, and various other games. For the curious, here's a handy table.

At this point, my co-worker would use their teacher voice and talk about all the work they need to do.

The next few posts are going to explore how this dice mechanic can be used in 5e and other role-playing games. It not only provides an interesting sub-system, but it can be a part of the world-building. Specifically, I'm going to look at using this to build a bolt-on and hopefully simple way to make magic different.

Summoning with the Words of Power

Having effects words of Servitor I - IX seem to be redundant. Every effect word is the ability to summon a single creature. As the Spell Level goes up, so do the CR of the creatures that can be summoned.

Moreover, have a separate table for druids and rangers is just annoying to me.

Here is one table to handle all Servitor effect words:

Spell Level CR
1 <1
2 1
3 2-3
4 4-5
5 6-7
6 8-9
7 10-11
8 12-13
9 14-16

This reduced nine effect words into one.

Combinations and Boosts

Any other effect words combines with this effect word will only affect the summoned creature. One boost can be used to summon 1d4 creatures instead of just 1.

Epilogue

This entry was very short. I'll have more on my next Words of Power post.

More About the Words of Power

This is the third post in a series about adapting the Words of Power system.

  • The first post that introduces the system as I understand it is here.
  • The second post that covered types of effect words is here.

In the previous post, twenty-five effect words were reduced down to eight. This includes one I created for temporary magic weapons. For the Change effects, I added a house rule that you can only gain the form or abilities of creatures you have encountered and taken a sample of. Instead of listing possible form or function modifications, the list is generated by the creatures the spellcaster has encountered.

Since damage is damage, I condensed all the energy types down to their damage effects. There were fire and cold effect words that did the same amount of damage. so now regardless of energy source, there are three types of damage that can be done. The spellcaster is free to use whatever energy type they want as it makes no difference in terms of damage. (It also allows more than the standard five energy types.)

Body Effect Words

That said, what separated the energy types was that a given effect word did damage and placed a condition of the target(s). That is meaningful, so I have separated the condition effects out and placed them with the Body effects words. This will add back another fourteen effect words if I borrow the fifth edition conditions, but it is worth it. These Body effect words would be separate from Energy words. Adding the conditions gives you paralysis, petrification, charm, invisibility, and so much more. They are powerful words on their own.

That said, these Body words combined with Energy words allow you to duplicate the WoP words, but also invent some fanciful and scary options. What if an acid cloud didn't blind you, but grappled you instead? As a player, a creepy green acidic fog that damaged me, stopped me in place, and nullified speed abilities would terrify me. What if a Flame Dart also stunned me? A sonic wave that also knocked me prone? A gust of wind that charmed me? These are the kinds of spells that interest me because it's more than just whitling down an opponent's hit points.

The Rest of the Body Effect Words

There are a few more Body effect words that are more than conditions. Two of the words, Energy Resistance and Energy Immunity would be moved to the Energy effect words. They were already energy type agnostic, so the specific type is determined at the time of casting the spell.

The Enhance and Perfect Form effect words are identical to those in the Modify effect words from the previous post. Boosting ability scores is handled by those effect words. Yes, this means that a spell caster has to gain a sample to boost a target's ability scores. The Enhance Ability spell ties each of the ability scores to an animal, so it fits with this system pretty well.

That leaves Fortify, which I will simplify to simply add temporary hit points equal to the target's Hit Dice or level.

Like the Energy Immunity and Energy Resistance effect words, it's important to add the Physical Resistance and Physical Immunity effect words. Resistance offers a +4 bonus or rolling advantage to Saving Throws against a specific Body Effect word. Immunity would simply make the target immune to a specific Body Effect word. (It makes me think of a spell that makes the target immune to the effects of being knocked prone like theĀ  Instant Stand ability I've read about somewhere.)

The Fear, Wounding, and Healing Effect Words

There are two Fear effect words that aren't needed anymore now that Frightened is a part of the Body effect words. Fear is simply placing the Frightened effect on a creature.

All but one of the Wounding effect words basically deal damage like energy effect words with the side effect that undead creatures gain hit points. I'll make these reversed healing spells instead.

This brings us to Bleeding Wounds, an effect word that does 1 point of ongoing damage per round. I'll leave that effect word as is.

Healing spells restore hit points, but remove hit points from Undead creatures. Healing spells also remove one or more conditions a target is suffering. Why not have them place the condition on Undead targets as well? It may not make sense in a narrative way and some of the conditions will have no effect, but why not? Stunning Zombies have a meaningful effect, especially if the Cleric is out of commission or otherwise occupied.

This adds two Healing Effect words, Heal (1d6 hit points per caster level) and Cure (remove one Body effect from the target). Healing effect words have the side effect of Harming undead creatures by reducing hit points or placing a Body effect on them.

Adding one more effect word, Harm, is essentially the reverse of Heal.

Progress So Far

In all my posts so far, I've covered 42 effect words from the Pathfinder Words of Power system. So far, I've reduced that down to 23 Words of Power and added what I think is some wild effects.

This post and the previous one should have covered everything that can be done to a target's physical form. In the next post, I'll cover effects that cover the mind before moving on to other effects.