Thursday, April 15, 2010

New magic-user spell: Spellcheck

Yeah, I know, har har. Working title only, folks.

Anyway, this is just part of my recent musing on "counterspells" in (A)D&D.

Arcane Enchantment/Charm
Level: Magic-User 3
Range: 120'
Duration: 1d3 rounds +1 round/two caster levels (round down)
Area of Effect: One spellcasting creature
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 3 segments
Saving Throw: Negates

The target of this spell must be a single spellcasting creature. "Spellcasting" in this case means that the target casts pre-memorized spells in the fashion of a cleric, magic-user, or other regular PC class. Innate spell-like abilities alone are not sufficient, nor is magic item use, and neither of these functions are impaired in any way by Spellcheck. If the initial saving throw versus spells fails, the target must roll another save versus spells each time spellcasting is attempted during the duration of Spellcheck. Failure indicates that the spell in question is not successfully cast and is instead expended without effect. This spell's suggested material component is an iron padlock, which can be any size (even downright miniature), so long as its design and workmship permits it to function. This item is consumed utterly upon casting of the spell.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A one-page magic system for Fudge.

Not D&D-related as such, but I ran across it on my hard drive and thought I'd share. My goal here was to create a complete fantasy magic system for Fudge that I could fit onto a one-page player handout. I succeeded, but haven't managed to get any new Fudge games off the ground since. Enjoy!

Freeform Fudge Magic

Magic is a supernormal power. It costs two gifts per level in objective character creation terms. Purchasing Magic once gives the magician a Magic skill at Poor. Each additional time the power is purchased, Magic skill increases one level, up to a maximum set by the GM (Great is recommended). This skill is used not only to determine spellcasting success, but also as the active trait in most opposed rolls involving the magician's magic (an attempt to resist a successfully-cast mind control spell with a Willpower roll, for example). Magic skill is nonexistent by default.

Whenever a magician wants to cast a spell, the GM will assign a difficulty level to the desired spell based on its proposed effect, from Poor all the way up to Legendary and beyond (the GM can also disallow a proposed spell entirely, of course, if it seems inappropriate). If the spell’s difficulty level is not greater than the magician's Magic skill, a Magic skill roll is attempted on 4dF.

If the Magic skill roll is below the difficulty level, the spell fails to work.

If the Magic skill roll matches the difficulty level exactly or exceeds it by one, the spell succeeds and the magician temporarily loses one level of a health-related trait (Constitution, Stamina, Strength, etc) specified by the GM, representing the stress of imperfectly channeling powerful and unpredictable magical energies. Lost health levels return at a rate of one per hour of uninterrupted rest and a magician that drops below Terrible falls into a coma, waking-up only when health regenerates to at least Terrible again.

If the Magic skill roll exceeds the difficulty level by two or more, the spell succeeds and no health is lost.

Any Magic skill roll of -4 always fails and inflicts one level of temporary health loss (as above) from fatigue, as well. Any Magic skill roll of +4 always succeeds and never results in fatigue. There may also be further positive and negative consequences of -4/+4 results, if the GM so desires.

Fudge points may be spent on magic-related rolls as is standard for other types of rolls in the campaign, unless the GM rules otherwise.

Most spells can be cast during a single combat round, but magic item enchantment (see below) typically takes much longer, as can spells that the GM's deems to be too powerful or esoteric to be usable at a moment's notice.

The creation of a magical item can be treated as a spell with a lengthy casting time requirement (days, weeks, months or even years) and required material components. In addition to calling for a more difficult Magic roll, more powerful items should take longer to craft and require more rare and expensive components. Components are typically consumed in the enchantment attempt, whether it is successful or not.

For specialized magic potential, such as fire magic or demon summoning, allow the magician to purchase levels of the Magic skill at half normal cost (as gifts rather than supernormal powers). Magic skill rolls requiring multiple specializations are usually based on the lowest of the applicable skills.

For non-tiring magic, substitute another trait for "fatigue" purposes that isn't tied to physical stamina (Mana, Power, etc). Such a magician would probably not have to worry about falling unconscious once this power reserve was all tapped-out, but would still be powerless until it regenerated to at least Terrible again.

Some types of magic include restrictions. Examples include the need to use magical words and gestures, the need to possess specific material components like a mage’s staff in order to cast spells, and even potential insanity. These may be assumed to be an inherent part of the Magic trait or treated as separate faults, depending on the GM’s preference. The GM may even remove the freeform aspect of spellcasting and require magicians to choose their spells from a finite list of specific effects or retain freeform magic while making it more difficult to use than such “formula” spells (-1 or more to Magic skill rolls when creating a new spell on-the-fly).

With a little tweaking, this system can also be used to portray other extraordinary powers, such as psionics.

Friday, April 9, 2010

On "production values."

I stopped by the RPG section at a book store on this last Monday. Pretty much all WotC and White Wolf, as always. Something about the very look of it just seemed so wrong.

The books were so glossy, so colorful, so lavish that they were just viscerally ugly somehow. Garish and tacky, like a rhinestone-studded cowboy hat (or a painted whore, to be perfectly vulgar).

One word kept coming to mind as I scanned this tableau of flashy, expensive, soulless corporate refuse: Decadence.

Is it just me?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

An odd realization on the way to defining "real D&D."

So I'm thinking again, as I sometimes do, about how I define "classic D&D" or, to put it less diplomatically, "real D&D." That is, editions of the game that I consider worthy of the Name and playable without reservation.

It seems that there are three very specific rules that appear both in every single "real D&D" iteration and in none of their lesser aspirants:

a) Alignment language

b) Encumbrance measured in coin (cn) units


c) The designation of one player as the party caller

These three traditions all dropped off the map completely in the post-Gygaxian era and haven't been seen since.

I can't think of any other long-standing rules that vanished so cleanly from the published game at exactly that junction. How about you?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

One year ago today...

World's Smallest Car to Meet Gumball Obama at Ripley's NYC

Just curious if I'm the only one who compulsively reads all those "X years ago today..." posts.