Sunday, March 22, 2015

New Playing System in the Works

Having always favored ultra simple rules systems for table top role play gaming, it comes as a bit of a surprise to myself that a good friend and I have begun collaborating on a decidedly more simulation-oriented rules system for a new game we are forging.

We are  borrowing extensively from the underlying strata of some rules systems of days gone by. Brent is working on the combat system at the moment while I undertake the magic section, and the way its shaping up, it will be a different kind of game experience for me.

I have always favored low-level adventures for D&D games, meaning that I enjoy playing games with characters from 1st level on up to about 5th or perhaps 6th.

I've realized that one major reason for this is simply because as DM, its easier to keep track of things in the game at lower levels. Its also much easier to run combats. I really do not like the way that combat gets longer and longer the higher the levels of the characters and hit die of monsters involved.

With that in mind, we are trying to get the best of both worlds with regards to realism and ease of play. It is skill based and uses a twenty sided die for most resolutions.  It is not, however, the open d20 system prevalent today and probably favors some of the old aspects of some of the Fantasy Games Unlimited systems of old.

The spell system is nearly done--it does not consist of prepared lists of spell by level but rather the mage begins with a certain chosen skills relating to the particular type of magic he or she most wants to practice, be it Necromancy, Divination, Conjuration, Sorcery or what have you.

Instead of choosing from a spell list the player informs the DM of the desired magic effect.

Player and DM select the skills which are needed to perform the magic and a skill check is made for each one--usually there will never be more than about four.

Only a critical failure in using any of these skills negates the spell at this point.

After determining the skills to be used, the spell is set against a codified but brief list of spell criteria/effects including but not limited to, say number of wills involved, area of effect, spell distance, amount of elemental matter to be manipulated, damage effects, whether or not the spell is creative in nature, time in preparation, and so on.

Modifiers are assigned based on these factors, the more difficult spells having tougher mods.

Once all of this is done, a final roll is made using the Mage's Intuition attribute score as a modifier as well. It should be noted that at this stage, only a critical failure negates the spell...however, less spectacular rolls could diminish the spell result, like, for example, cutting down duration, etc.

There will be a mana or magic power reservoir stat from which spell casting is drawn, no more magicks being available when it is depleted.

There are no backlash effects  for critically failed spells other than the fact that you lose the mana in a crit fail but get no magic effects. However, if one has conjured or summoned an other planar being or is maintaining control over a mind or will and critically fails, the backlash is quite evident.....

One unique feature of this system and somewhat of a departure from D&D is that most spells are not cast on the fly because the skill of Ritual is a requirement in casting most powerful magicks, certainly those which require summoning, necromancy, displays of elemental power, etc.

Incantation is also a Mage skill and magicks which require only Incantation can be cast on the go.  Magicks of this nature would be spells of illusion, suggestion and command, and very minor elemental manipulation of materials close at hand.

The key to making use of more powerful spells during an adventure is casting them before hand in a a place of magick making and binding or storing the spell in talismans, amulets, or the most likely, wands. The spell can then be cast from the item using a word of command.

Any level mage can craft enchanted items to store such spell effects--however, the item is limited by what magic it can hold by the amount of magic that went into crafting the item.

Spells of ritual can be cast during an adventure but only if time, atmosphere, peace and space permit.

Physical components are required for all spells.

An obvious side effect to this sort of system is that Mages of even the lowest order MUST have a place to perform magick, a base of operations. And their physical talismans and wand are vital. However, by means of binding magicks to such items, although they expend mana in the making of the spell, they do not expend mana during the adventure, allowing them to use their mana for Incantation spells or in resisting other magicks cast against themselves.

Another thing gone bye bye...and I apologize in advance for saying this, I know it is a time honored the silly business of "We drive a spike under the door and spend the night in the dungeon room so the mage can regain spells....".

Uh, no...not gonna happen.

The aspects of that entire situation completely preclude any effective magic building in such a dire locale. The state of mind of the Mage, the opposing influences in the ethereal realm, the history of that place, everything.  Because although in our system mages will certainly want to own grimoires and magic books, the magic comes from ritual and not memorizing spells which you forget once cast.

What I like about our system is that it means a player should really only construct from the skill tables a character they are personally really suited to play.

If you have a mage, for instance, you will be creating your own spells and customizing your own talismans and items. Sky is the limit on the subtle variations a player can introduce to the game.

The combat system that Brent is working on is the same in this respect in that it is suited for those who favor warrior characters.

It's not a matter of "Here, roll this number on this dice, if you hit, roll again to see damage."

You actually tell the DM what you want to do in the way of moves, desired strike effect, etc. You have a number of defensive moves available to you in a round as well. Use them or hold them, up to you. So in playing a warrior, you will use your imagination.  Warriors use their Prowess attribute in battle in a manner similar to how mages use Intuition in spell casting.

We are discussing religion and healing magic at the moment and how the Priest type character fits into this scheme.

But that is a foretaste of the coming system, which is yet unnamed.

We will be self publishing it, probably in large part for free! So stay tuned to the Mazes!

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