Showing posts with label Magic Users. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Magic Users. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

At the Table: Those wacky players.

Ah, my wacky players. I pretty much play fast and free with spell casting characters. In the first session, I note which spells they like and then take that into concentration when planning combat.

Theoretically, AD&D magic users should have a limited number of spells. When I plan a combat session, I write down what I want the bad guys to have.

Sometimes, this goes to wanting a specific flavor and other times I fall on the side of "team evil" and use those spells to hose the player characters with significant casting issues. Darkness, light, and silence spells can inflict horrible effects on spell casters, so I am generally pretty careful with them.

What makes my players so wacky is, I can't help but notice that the first couple of sessions, they riff through the spell list and just pick one to cast. After a few levels and encounters, I have flat out caught players casting off a list when they had been picking and choosing among all of the spells a session before.

In every case, the limited choices are comprised of scrolls and spell books found as treasure. What the heck?

Ah, dang. The players go from winging it at low levels to wanting a specific effect or flavor when playing more advanced, knowledgeable characters.

Should I hand out XP for quietly imposing limitations on one's self? I just might. What about you? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Oh, No You Don't! Unfettered Magic

All Magic Users (and only magic users) in my campaign have the inherent talent to read and control magic for their own use. Generally, this is limited to the magic user, his own items and knowledge. However, mages also have a darker, more dangerous power which can be used with great care.




Unfettered Magic

Level: 1                                                         Components: V, S, M
Range: 3" (30 feet/30 yards) +1" per level   Casting Time: Instantaneous
Duration: Instantaneous                                Saving Throw: Special
Area of Effect: One Creature

All magic users have the ability to defend themselves from magical forces, by the nature of their studies in their profession. Unfettered Magic is a dangerous defense against hostile magic users. The danger comes in respect to the possible level disparities of the defender and attacker.

A magic user can only cast this spell when they see another magic user begin casting a spell with a Casting Time of one segment or more. It cannot be cast in preparation - I.E. before the other caster begins.

As soon as the last symbol and word for Unfettered Magic is uttered and woven, the other magic user is entitled to a saving throw. If they are successful, the caster of Unfettered Magic also makes a saving throw. What happens next, depends on these rolls.

If the defender makes their roll saving, the caster of Unfettered Magic must make a saving throw to avoid taking 2 points of damage per level of the defender's spell. If they are unsuccessful AND they do not have enough hit points to survive this damage, they are burned to ash and the extra damage explodes in a 1" (10 feet or yards). People in this area must make a save for half damage. The magic user can't be revived to a corporeal form by any means short of wish. Casting resurrection or reincarnation will summon their ghost.

If the defender loses his saving throw verse Unfettered Magic, they immediately lose the spell they are casting and the caster of Unfettered Magic gains this spell, in all ways. They can cast it before the end of the round. If they survive combat, they can scribe this spell into their spell book. If they do not transcribe the spell within 24, they forget it. The magic user is not required to cast this spell at all, they can merely release the energy.

IF both magic users make their save, no damage is taken, but the caster of Unfettered Magic has his position revealed and is now know to be a hostile spell caster. The other caster has the option of targeting them immediately with their current spell instead of casting at their previously selected target. Range and area of effect may preclude this. 

If there is a level disparity, say a 1st level magic user trying to divert a 5th level spell, the user of Unfettered magic takes one hit point of damage per level of difference. For example, a 1st level magic user gains Magic Jar, they would take 5-1 points of damage, regardless if they used the spell at all. If this reduces their hit points to zero or less, they die. In this case, they can be revived by normal means and there is no explosion as the energy was directed inwards. Note: even if the caster dies, they may direct this spell before the end of the round.

When a magic user uses the Unfettered Magic spell, there is a cool down period where they may not work other magic. The duration of this is based on the level of the spell they attempted to seize. It is one round per level of spell. Redirecting a 7th level spell will result in a 7 round period where the magic user cannot use magic at all. While magic items will continue to function if they function continuously, like a +1 dagger or ring of protection, the magic user cannot use a wand, staff, rod, potion, or cause a miscellaneous item to activate. This limitation occurs on both success and failure.

Unfettered Magic can only be used on actual spells, cast by a magic user. It does not work on clerical, druidic, or illusionist magic, nor can it be used against spell like abilities or magic items, such as a wand of missiles. Non-magic user casters accidentally targeted by this spell will immediately know the location (even if hidden) of the magic user and have a choice to redirect their current spell on to them.

Since most low level magic users have relatively no chance of forcing a higher level mage to fail a saving throw, this is a desperation move, where death is better than not trying. Oft-times, low level magic users will do this when they are within 30 feet of a higher level caster, in the hopes that the explosion will hurt them. Higher level magic users can use this spell with virtual impunity but generally don't because of the cool down.

Monday, June 10, 2019

House Rule - Empowering Arcane Casters

For years, I battled my players on Magic Users and Illusionist. No one would play them because at low level, they can't survive combat. Of course, they can't. They aren't meant to rush headlong into combat. You need those clerics, thieves and of course, the mighty fighting man to smash whatever remains of the enemy after the Magic User has his or her way with them. Once a couple of spells are released, Magic Users should take a back seat to the action.

No one likes the back seat.

I even had trouble trying to get players multi-classing MUs. My players' opinion was that fighters fight, thieves steal and Magic Users use magic. And never the three should meet. Two of my players advanced a ranger and paladin to spell casting levels, but then never used the option because they believed it to be to unbalancing.

I was always a fan of Fighter-Magic User-Thief when I couldn't be a Bard under AD&D, and wanted my players to do the same.

In an effort to inject something attractive to the players into the Magic User classes, I tried some house rules. The only one seemed to appeal to the players was Counter Magic. Back then, I didn't have the whole thing codified like I do now, so it was a relatively unsuccessful trial run of House Rules.

Two other ideas struck me: Down Casting and Crisis Casting. They also turned out to be untenable.

Down Casting is simple. The character has a certain number of spells of certain levels. A fifth level Magic User has 4 first level spells, 2 second level spells and 1 third level spell. When Down Casting is in play, the Magic User can forgo his or her third level spell and convert that to 3 second level spells. They can take it a step further and convert a second level spell into 2 first level spells. Note that you get x number of spells based on the level of the forgone spell. I had thought this was diminishing returns, but it wasn't enough.

You can probably see how that didn't work. While we were play testing this rule, the 5th level Magic User Down Casted his 3rd level spell to two second level spells, then Down Cast all of his second level spells to first level spells. He then spent the entire combat casting magic missile. I am uncertain as to how many times that was, but he could have potentially put 36 magic missiles in to the enemy. I recall they ran out of enemies really fast.

I still think the idea has merit, but needs a different mechanic to prevent a magic missile MERV attack.

Crisis Casting was a little more successful, but also equally untenable. The rule was, if a Magic User has 10 or less hit points and is hit for damage, they regain memorized one first level spell. I had intended for this ability to make a spell caster more dangerous in combat, but it ultimately caused the deaths of several characters.

From a DM's perspective, Crisis Casting seemed to be a cure for any number of tactical problems. However, in practice, it made the Magic Users too aggressive. Instead of using Push, Jump, Spider Climb or Feather Fall to take control the tactical situation, most player simply unleashed another offensive spell. Usually of the type which didn't help them the first time. It could be that with limited spell slots available and combat being on the mind, they didn't memorize the right spells to make good use of the talent.

I'm probably going to try to reintroduce these option in my next campaign, but need to rethink each of them. I have the most hope for Counter Casting. What do you think?