Showing posts with label Spells. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Spells. 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.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

52 Weeks of Magic - 15 of 52 - The Shape of Memory

This weeks foray into magic is both a thing and a process.

The Shape of Memory is a ritual used by spell casters to better focus themselves to learn. The ritual invariably creates a small token of magic, "The Shape" but the actual item created is highly personal. This object, when consumed allows a spell caster to recast an orison, cantrip or first level spell as if it was on their memorized list of spells. It can be used immediately or saved for later. The spell must be currently on their list of known and memorized spells. The creation of the item does not cause the caster to lose the spell from their memory. The spell cannot be transferred from a scroll or book to "The Shape", it must be current in their mind.

Consumption is a qualified statement, the object may be eaten, drunk, burned, crushed, etc. The actual appearance of the object can be anything but tends towards care-free or whimsical items. Origami birds, a strange pattern inked on paper, a tint loaf of bread or muffin, a candy, a shaped wax candle, a tincture of herbs to drink, etc. In fact, the item produced will be as far away from the actual effect of the spell as possible, as if the caster was doodling mindlessly during the creation process.

The creation process usually takes all day as the magician makes choices about creation, but is not an all day process. The item has some worth, say a few coppers, but no one would call it art. The life time of such an object is usually 1 week unless special care is taken. Typically, the creator will have no more than 2 or three of these items available for use and sometimes the caster will use one to create a new one.

Any spell effect 1st level or under can put into the object, however most users will imbue the item with a knowledge based spell such a read magic or detect like spell. This is a practical consideration as usage requires an action which is best done while sitting or at least not looking at a target. The spells effect is immediate even if the consumption process takes longer. Usually such spells cannot be used in combat as the user is forced to make a non-combative action to activate it, but in rare instances it can be effective in combat. For example, throwing a paper token into a campfire can allow the user to immediately cast magic missile or light.

These items will NOT allow a different caster or non-spell caster to cast a spell but their use can cause confusion in this process. For example, a cleric who wishes to heal someone via this device may share a bite of a candy or loaf, but the target's action has nothing to do with the process. In fact, some people may find this action too weird to agree to, such as burning a token or eating a bit of candy. Only the caster's desire to do so is required.

This creation process is tied to the idea that there are many days where a caster will not utter a single prayer or spell and can save it for later.

Week 1 of 52 - Magic Lamps
Week 2 of 52 - The Rat Bag
Week 3 of 52 - Emulous Cursed Sword
Week 4 of 52 - The Cloak of Peaceful Repose
Week 5 of 52  - The Cowl of Death
Week 6 of 52 - Scimitar of Smiting
Week 7 of 52 - The Symbol of Sol Invictus
Week 8 of 52 - The Equi Phalera
Week 9 of 52 - Libertatem
Week 10 of 52 - Sorrow
Week 11 of 52 - Aemilla Carna
Week 12 of 52 - The Obice Cardeam
Week 13 of 52 - The Gnollish Rattlebone
Week 14 of 52 - The Bands of Roland
Week 15 of 52 - The Shape of Memory

Now, the commercial. I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG. I am obviously thinking of writing another and Gnolls might be the subject. Please let me know what you think in the comments. 

Friday, November 23, 2018

Overpowered Spells and Obvious Consequences

Meteor Swarm is one of those that has some very obvious societal consequences, even more than teleport or fly spells. Magic users anywhere nearing the ability to cast this spell should immediately become a "priority" to anyone operating an army in the area.

I've never ran a magic user from 0 to 18, nor had anyone in any of my campaigns done so. I was unfamiliar how effective Meteor Swarm was until I played a game with a pre-generated, 21st level magic user. The DM was an old school wargamer. He loved the Chainmail rules and WRG. He intended to start the game with a prison break, but as a twist, let us play out our capture. Our party encountered what could only be described as hoplite phalanx, a seemingly overwhelming force that would easily capture our tiny party.

As the DM described the situation, I read the description for Meteor Swarm. I asked if they were in bow range. The DM advised that they were not. he smugly informed me it didn't matter because magic users use darts, not bows. As they got closer, the party loosed arrows. A few arrows hardly did anything, there were several hundred guys. At 180 yard... yards(!), I cast Meteor Swarm.

Meteor Swarm vs. Phalanx
The DM consulted the Player's Handbook as I rolled damage. He read that description back and forth, over and over again, as I rolled die after die. The zig-zag of range in yard and area of effect in feet confused him, but not me. The AoE is massive for this spell. The rolls didn't matter, there were only a few hundred guys. The DM ruled that anyone hit by the spell was dead. The overlapping pattern of damage made saving throws moot.

What happened next was even more horrifying. I cast it AGAIN! The DM walked away from the table. Even assuming the phalanx scattered to the winds, I was killing survivors by the dozens. The few that ran towards the party were running into a hail of arrows and in the very next round, I would be casting a fireball.

As it stood, the DM decided to allow this insanity to stand. The second, third and forth phalanx captured the party. Funny how they snuck up on us. My character was put to the sword. I played a 5th level thief for the remainder of the session.

If there is a smart lord or lady of the lands, they would be wise to kill any and all magic users before 18th level.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Rock is paper vs cold and fire

An ingenious attack method built right into GSIV. Cold and fire spells against stone creatures cause extra damage. Casting Dark Catalyst against stone trolls or giants causes their skin to crack to horrific effect. The temperature differential adds another round of damage a moment or two later.
This is different than the standard Fire Spirit against trolls. That merely slows or stops regeneration for a time. The temperature differential is extra damage. This is a good thing because that stone skin is as tough as metal.

A hit, a palpable hit.

I am off hunting swordsmen, so of course I can only find heralds. This morning, I decided to ensorcell my baby blue kakore runestaff. It was a good choice. 

>incant 719
You trace an intricate sign that contorts in the air while
forcefully invoking Dark Catalyst…
Your spell is ready.
You gesture at a putrefied Citadel herald.
CS: +325 – TD: +280 + CvA: +17 + d100: +48 == +110
Warding failed!
… and hits for 11 points of damage!
A putrefied Citadel herald is suddenly engulfed in flames of pure
… 25 points of damage!
Flames incinerate right leg to the bone. Not a pleasant sight.
It is knocked to the ground!
… 15 points of damage!
The Citadel herald’s left arm trembles with the cold.
… 20 points of damage!
Heavy shock to left leg. Gonna limp for awhile.
… 25 points of damage!
Strong blow to chest!
You feel 5 mana surge into you!

Necrotic energy from your kakore runestaff overflows into you! 
You feel energized!
Your kakore runestaff flares with a burst of flame! 
… 15 points of damage!
Burst of flames chars neck a crispy black.
You hear a sound like a weeping child as a white glow separates itself
from the Citadel herald’s body as it rises, disappearing into the heavens.
A putrefied Citadel herald writhes on the ground then spits, “This
cannot be defeat…” before lying motionless.
The very powerful look leaves a putrefied Citadel herald.
The white light leaves a putrefied Citadel herald.
The dim aura fades from around a putrefied Citadel herald.
A white glow rushes away from a putrefied Citadel herald.
A putrefied Citadel herald seems slightly different.
A putrefied Citadel herald seems hesitant.
Cast Roundtime 3 Seconds.

I tagged him with DC which triggered a flare from my kakore staff and then an ensorcellment flare. I wish someone had been there to applaud.