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Tag: Vancian Magic

The Next Big Project

I don't know how far I will get on this, but I'm posting about it as a prod to get into the habit of writing instead of thinking.

For that reason alone, there will be no kickstarter. In fact, it will be free.

Seriously, though, the big project is a big book of magic for Swords & Wizardry. The book will include alternate options for magic, classes, spells, rules for spell research as well as magic item creation. Much of the alternate options for magic are already written, so that is not the difficult part. The rules for magic item creation are really straight-forward, but I haven't tested them, ergo, they may not be as straight-forward as I believe they are. The big challenge is finishing the spell building system.

Backing up a bit, here are some things to know about the material in the book:

Brace Yourself: There Will be Houserules

I have changes that range from modifying the odds for learning spells for characters that spend money to allowing scroll creation at 1st level. One example of a house rule is that everyone can use slings. The main reason is to provide a magic-user an alternative to throwing knives. One of the implications of that small house rule is that since many magic-users may use a sling, magic stones for slings become a type of magic item that appears from time to time. Since everyone uses a sling, these stones are quite useful.

Priests of Different Mythoi

This was bound to happen for me. In my head, the priests of Mitra have to be different from the priests of Asura. What would a priest for the God of Magic look like? How does a God of the Harvest send an "adventuring Cleric" into the world?

In 2e, Cleric spells were grouped into spheres which later became domains. Since the document will be OGL, I feel like I need to use the word domains even if I think "Spheres" in my head. Maybe I'm just getting old.

These domains are part of what makes one priest different from another. Another distinction involves alternatives to turn undead. Some variations are as simple as Turn Demons or Turn Orcs. Other variations are based on spell effects like Remove Fear or Protection from Evil 10' Radius. My favorite one at the moment involves the ability to provide healing that does not change the target's hit points. This includes spells like Cure Insanity or Ability Score drain, but not any of the Cure Wounds spells.

New Mechanics

I generally do not like to introduce new mechanics. I prefer to reuse ones that already exist. One favorite is a take on the Turn Undead table - variations of that appear in an alchemist type of class and in the psionicist class.

Yet, with the emphasis system aimed at creating more unusual spells, new mechanics open themselves up to all kinds of options. One of these options is a new type of magic item that allows you to permanently or temporary alter your magic-user's choice of emphases. My favorite is a spell that allows the caster to "borrow" an emphasis from its target.

I also have my own take on a spell point system. There is no subtraction involved. The saying goes that necessity is the mother of invention and I needed a system that was faster for my kids.

Wizards' Forms of Magic

The most powerful form of magic for wizards is Eldritch Magic. This is magic as presented in the S&W Complete rules. This means so-called unbalanced spells and spellbooks, spells as semi-living things in the wizard's brain, and all other kinds of Vancian goodness.

The second most-powerful form is Academic Magic. This is what "standardizing" magic looks like. Practitioners can create new spells with a greater degree of certainty, but lose the ability to re-create all the spells used by Eldritch Wizards. For example, an Academic Wizard can create a spell that sends a magic bolt at a target for 1d6 damage. The Academic Wizard, however, will not be able to match the range (240') of the Eldritch Wizard nor the ability to generate multiple bolts per level. For an Academic Wizard to generate a Magic Missile like spell, complete with a level-based effect on the number of missiles created, he or she would generate it as a second or third level spell instead of a first level spell.

The third most-powerful form is Everyday or Common Magic. This includes minor cantrips and illusions. These spells also include simple things like Mending objects, adding a foot to a length of rope, adding a spice to a dish and more. Don't let spells with minor effects fool you, shortening a length a rope can have deadly consequences.

Did You Have to Do Psionics?

Yes I do.

Eldritch and Academic Magics are available only to those that have the gift. Either a person can cast these types of spells or they cannot. For a person that wants to learn magic, but doesn't have the gift, the options are to either become a Cleric or make a deal with a supernatural power (i.e. become a Witch). Psionicists, called Disciples of The Path have found a different way. Clerics denounce disciples as atheists and heretics. Wizards consider them unsophisticated and crude. Witches consider them a hated enemy. Those that choose the Path, however, know that their powers equip them to deal with extraplanar forces malevolent and benign.

Other Things

There will be more spells and a handful of new creatures. As mentioned earlier, there is a spell building system. In addition to various player options, I hope to include many NPCs, including some that do not conform to any set of rules. (Bwa ha ha). There should be a whole slew of new magic items as well as artifacts. My hope is to provide something that may add a bit of spice to everyone's game.

Wish me luck, I'll need it. 🙂


Vancian Spell Names and a Call for Whimsy

Every few months, the Dying Earth Spell Generator is traded around. I'm glad because despite having it bookmarked, I tend to forget that it is available. For those that think like me, here is the link: Dying Earth Spell Generator.

I've seen this posted somewhere, but I cannot find it. Essentially, someone said that they were taking a break from dark fantasy. This person still wanted fantasy, but something that was light (as in positive) fantasy. In other words, instead of dread and misery, a world of wonder. Yes, maybe even a bit of whimsy.

As hard as it is to imagine, I get a sense of wonder from many of the resutls of the Dying Earth spell generator. For example, Baiti's Vocal Backbone makes me think that some bard made individual vertebrae capable of singing harmony with him. Why the backbone? So that the voices would come from behind him, making his voice stronger and still a lead voice. Hearing a bard perform in this magical way, the typical PCs would examine the instrument, his gloves, his hat, his necklace, bracers, etc. etc. etc. They would never ever guess that it was a spell, and a spell that vocalized his vertebrae.

There's wonder in that for me.

I will be posting a review of James Hutchings, A New Death and others in a couple days. I think there are stories in this tome that can evoke a similar kind of wonder. I read more than one story that make me think "magic should work this way" or "a world like this would be fun to explore." It reminds of when I was collecting Hot Wheels and I found a red Cobra Mustang. It felt to me like I had one of only three in the world (they made more, this is just a feeling) and I had endless delight imagining myself behind the wheel of one of these bad boys.

So I am off dark fantasy for a while. Sure, lurking undead and tentacled horrors from beyond the stars are awesome, but I ready for dragons that are actually awe-inspiring, magic that can't be explained well and creatures that are totally unexpected, but not always evil. Make the good guys cool, too.

That also means a shift to rewarding exploration. I like Greyhawk Grognard's idea of awarding xp awards for finding certain places scattered over the world. I'm going to use that. I'm also going back to when defeating monsters granted xp, not necessarily killing them. Sometimes, attacking a goblin just to get 5 xp will benefit you nothing at all. (No gold farming, please.)

Maybe whimsy is a poor choice of words, but the gist is to look for something with a bit more wonder.

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