Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Word Magic

What follows is a spell system hacked together from several others intended to replace Vancian magic in your system of choice.

Casting Spells

The basic spellcasting system is heavily derivative of GLOG spellcasting. Check out the author Arnold K. and his blog for more information.

All spellcasters get Magic Dice (MD) equal to their levels in spellcasting classes. Spellcasters allocate Magic Dice to cast spells, rolling each die allocated when they finish casting. Each die that comes up 4-6 is burned out, and cannot be used again by the spellcaster. Each die that comes up 1-3 is conserved, and can be used in further spells. Spellcasters regain all of their MD at the next dawn. In spell text, [dice] refers to the number of Magic Dice allocated and [sum] refers to the total result of the dice rolled.

When casting spells, rolling two of the same number results in a Mishap. These are temporary penalties or maluses that affect the spellcaster or their immediate surroundings. Rolling three or more of the same number results in a Doom. These are permanent marks on the spellcaster to remind them of the terrors of magic. Dooms are usually more permanent penalties, but could be removed with a quest. Classes will have their own Mishap and Doom list, though a generic one has been included with these rules as well. Mishaps are rolled for when they happen, but Dooms happen progressively: first 1, then 2, etc.

Spell effects can be made permanent by dedicating Magic Dice and maximum Hitpoints (HP) equal to [dice]. An inscription must also be made on the target of the spell, typically in blood, ink or etched gold. Destroying the inscription or killing the spellcaster destroys the spell. The dedicated MD and maximum HP are returned when the spell is destroyed, doing nothing if the spellcaster is dead.

Spellcasters can only hold a number of spells in their memory equal to their MENTAL modifier. They may cast spells from either their memory or from a grimoire or scroll, so long as they hold the object in one hand. Spells can be transferred from text to memory with 20 minutes and some peace and quiet, and the reverse can be performed with 10gp of arcane ink and 8 hours of solitude.


Generic Mishaps:
  1. The spellcaster takes [sum] damage.
  2. The spell targets the caster instead. If the spell already targeted the caster, it targets a random creature within   30'.
  3. The spell is delayed by 1d6 rounds.
  4. Another spell accessible to the spellcaster is instead cast with the same number of MD allocated and the same targets. Determine which spell randomly.
  5. The spell is removed from the spellcaster's memory after casting it. If casting from a text, ignore this entry.
  6. The spellcaster knocks themselves out for [dice] rounds. The spell casts normally.
  
Generic Dooms:
  1. The spellcaster forgets all the spells they have memorized and all of their MD are expended. They permanently lose one of their MD.
  2. As 1, but all of the spellcaster's possessions are destroyed instantly. They are left with only a set of common clothes.
  3. The spellcaster is struck dead.

 

Panoply

The panoply system derived from Courtney Campbell's blog.

Spellcasters gain one additional Magic Die for each piece of Panoply they have. Each piece only counts once, but there isn't any specific level requirement for attaining any of them. Panoply pieces are as follows:
  1. Focus. This is a wand, rod, staff, holy symbol, ritual dagger, or other magical weapon that the wizard must hold in their hand. Useful as a weapon as well as a Focus. Spellcasters can channel 1 Magic Die through their Focus to deal [sum] damage. This Magic Die follows the normal rules for being expended or conserved.
  2. Familiar. A small spirit that the spellcaster has formed a bond or pact with by giving it 1 or more of their HD. The pact may be made up of more than the transfer of HD, but must include at least that. The familiar takes on the shape of a creature that the spellcaster is knowledgeable of with equal HD to the amount the spellcaster gave up. The spellcaster and the familiar share the spellcaster's actions in combat, and only get one set between the two of them. A familiar can travel between the spirit world and the material world with a few moments of effort.
  3. Raiment. This is a set of expensive clothing that signifies to all who see it the nature of the spellcaster. A spellcaster's raiment must cost at least 100gp and is impossible to be worn with armor. Any Raiment is immediately recognizable as denoting a spellcaster by all but the most ignorant. Raiment is also used socially to determine the nature of a spellcaster and the magics they wield. Spellcasters often sew permanent spells into the lining or inside of their Raiments.
  4. Lair. This is a specific place infused with the spellcaster's power. Damage or faulty maintenance of a lair harms the spellcaster, and the spellcaster always knows when and what spells are cast within it. Lairs vary wildly in price and currency needed, but usually requires at least the goodwill and explicit permission of the local government and 5,000gp. Despite the name, a Lair might just as well be a temple or shrine to a diety, a tower in a baron's castle, a grotto deep in an ancient wood, or any other suitable location.
  5. Apprentice. Taking on an apprentice to teach them magic gradually increases the power of the Mentor spellcaster. As the Mentor, the spellcaster is responsible for the physical, mental and spiritual safety of their ward, as well as teaching them to be a spellcaster in their own right. The Mentor character only gets the additional Magic Die when the Apprentice is available and nearby to assist them with casting spells (within roughly 60' and not incapacitated in combat terms). Apprentices become spellcasters of their own after a period of training equivalent to 7 years and 7 days or quicker if they have the aptitude and experience. Apprentices have a mind of their own and act as hirelings in all respects, including costs (the money is not paid to the Apprentice, but covers their room and board as well as teaching supplies).
  6. Talisman. This is a small wearable object of personal significance to the spellcaster. These objects are similar to Raiment in that they are immediately recognizable for what they denote, but differ in that Talismans signify a specific person instead of category of person. The method of creation for every Talisman differs, but they are always related to a time of emotional or spiritual significance. Any spellcaster can spend 10gp and a day ruminating and reminiscing to replace their Talisman if their old one is destroyed. Talismans allow spellcasters to perform a one-time action of using their Hit Dice instead of Magic Dice to power a spell. These dice are always expended, no matter what they roll, and the spellcaster doesn't get them back. This action also burns out the Talisman.

Ritual Casting

Spells can be ritually cast, drastically increasing the casting time but allowing for more precise control of spells. Rituals always have a base 1 MD, even if the caster has no MD of their own. Spells can be ritually cast either from a text or from the memory of the primary ritual caster. The time necessary to cast the spell is increased according to the following table:

Magic Dice Allocated        Time Necessary
    1-2                                       minutes/MD
    3-4                                       hours/MD
    5-8                                       days/MD
    9+                                        months/MD

When ritually casting, you may choose the results of the Magic Dice that you allocate to the spell. This does not make them immune to Mishaps or Dooms, but for each participating ritual caster, one MD may be excluded from counting for Mishaps and Dooms. Choose which dice are excluded after rolling.


Words and Spell Creation

Spell creation and Word Spells derived from Telecanter's blog.

Spells are created via the following procedure:
  1. The spellcaster PC describes the spell they want in a single phrase or sentence. This sentence is vetted by the GM and then both people work together to create a matching spell-text. GM should be lenient when it comes to word tenses and phrasing (eg. EXPLODE is the same as EXPLODES).
  2. The player takes each word in the description and uses it to make a crossword.
  3. For each letter of the crossword, the spellcaster PC must find a book, scroll, or research object that loosely corresponds to the word. These objects cost at least 50gp when bought or sold, though they may be found or looted in the wild. Letters at crossroads between two words must correspond to both words. These objects vary in ability to acquire, with more common words being easier to find.
  4. The spellcaster PC spends a number of days equal to (the number of words in the crossword)^2 working 12 hours a day on experimentation and spell-scribing. They spend 100gp per day spent working on materials and components. While working, the spellcaster expends all of their MD each day.
    1. If the PC is just editing an existing spell that they know instead of creating a new one, they spend (number of unique words)^2 days to a minimum of 4 days working instead of the default amount of money and gold. Example: spellcaster PC uses FIRE DART EXPLODES spell to make ICE DART EXPLODES spell; spending 4 days for the 1 unique word change (FIRE->ICE) and 400 gold.
  5.  The spellcaster PC commits the spell to memory and has successfully created a new spell.
Once a spellcaster has research materials corresponding to a Word, they may use that Word in subsequent spell creation. Each piece of research takes up one inventory slot, making the use of a library or similar storage medium necessary for the traveling spellcaster.
Spellcasters begin play knowing 3 spells created for free using Words determined by their class and specialization. These spells may be either memorized or written in text in any configuration of the PC's choosing. Unless their class or background specifies otherwise, they do not begin with any books or pieces of research.



Example Background: Pyromancer
    Starting Equipment: Blackened ash staff (Focus), fire-resistant jumpsuit, thick leather gloves, big goggles

    Starting Spell:
      Create Fire
        T: object touched    D: [sum] rounds
        Cover touched object in fire. Max size determined by MD allocated.
                    # of MD        Size of Object
                        1                    bird's nest
                        2                    wasp hive
                        3                    chest
                        4                    human skeleton
                        5+                whatever you want
        Object will only remain covered in fire for the duration of the spell, but natural fire might spread from the natural one. Creatures on fire take 1d6 fire damage at the beginning of their turn.  

    Starting Words:
    3 of [FIRE, DARTS, BLAST, BLAZE, SMOKE, SPREAD, WALL, EXPLODE] and 1 on-theme Word of your choice (GM's approval)

    Create 2 spells from the Words available to you as a Pyromancer. You know them in addition to Create Fire.

Example Background: Vivimancer
    Starting Equipment: Bone wand (Focus), personallized Vivimancer's Ring (Talisman), doctor's bag (scalpel, forceps, bandages, a large bottle of ethanol, needle & thread, spirit lamp), 2 3-liter specimen jars, a medical degree 

    Starting Spell:

      Mend Flesh
        T: Touch    D: [dice] minutes
        Heal 1 HP every round. This spell does nothing to mend broken bones or ruptured organs, though the target will stop bleeding.
     
    Starting Words: 3 of [DIAGNOSE, MEND, CURE, FLESH, MORPH, LIMB, POISON, TARGET] and 1 on-theme Word of your choice (GM's approval)

    Create 3 spells from the Words available to you as a Vivimancer. You know them in addition to Mend Flesh.

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