Author Topic: Snakefing's Magic Proposal  (Read 2333 times)

snakefing

  • Gibbering Mouther
  • *
  • Posts: 225
    • View Profile
Snakefing's Magic Proposal
« on: September 08, 2006, 10:45:07 PM »
Snakefing€„¢s Magic System
(she used to refer to characters, he refers to players or GM)

Concept
When a caster generates a spell, she is using the power of her will to bend the laws and nature of reality. This is not easy €' even weak spells would leave an untrained person drained and woozy. This condition clears up quickly (a matter of minutes in most cases) but even experienced casters can become mana fatigued.

As a caster gains experience, her mind strengthens and becomes capable of sustaining greater effort. This allows her to cast more powerful spells, or to cast weaker spells with less effect on her state of mind.

In some cases it is possible for a caster to exceed their ability to handle magic. This will lead to the caster becoming dazed, and in extreme cases they may suffer mana shock. This leaves the caster in a temporary coma until they can recover.

Implementation
Characters start out with a default Mana Level of 0. At initial character generation, and as they gain experience, any character can pay to increase her Mana Level. Depending on the implementation of specific magical skills and abilities, some of these may also grant an additional boost to the Mana Level. Different sources of Mana always stack.

When a character casts a spell, the Mana Cost of that spell is deducted from her current Mana Level. If this reduces her Mana Level to 0, she is mana fatigued, meaning that she can no longer cast spells until she regains her mana. If her Mana Level drops below 0, she is dazed until she regains enough mana to return her level to 0 or higher. In addition, she must make some kind of save or suffer mana shock. A character suffering from mana shock is unconscious but stable.

For comparison purposes, the Mana Cost of a spell should be about the same as the level of the most comparable SRD spell. It may be possible that some spells (like Wish, Miracle, etc.) might have even higher Mana Cost, perhaps as high as 15 or 20. This means that a low level caster may only have a Mana Level of 1 or 2, and at high levels she may have between 10 and 25, depending on her spell casting choices.

Mana Level recovers quickly. The normal recovery rate I propose is 1 per minute. This is not a physical recovery, but a mental one, so mana recovery is not affected by normal physical activity. It might be affected by intense mental activity. For example, we might choose to have mana recovery interrupted if a character is casting spells or doing research. From a practical perspective it makes so little difference that I don€„¢t think it is worth it.

It would be an interesting experiment to reduce recovery rate to 1 per 10 minutes.

It might be interesting to have feats that increase the rate of recovery. However, this has a similar numerical effect as multiplying the character€„¢s mana level, so this would have to be done very carefully.

Effects on the Game
There are no daily limits on spell casting. Given the relatively quick rate of mana recovery, the only real limit is on short term casting. Within the space of an intense encounter, the caster could easily burn out.

This would leave the caster vulnerable for a period of time until she regains her equilibrium. To avoid this situation, a caster will seek to have a Mana Level high enough to cast a good number of spells, and save her most powerful spells for times of need. But as long as she survives the encounter, she€„¢ll be good as new with a half hour€„¢s rest.

Because of the fact that spells can be cast without much in the way of limits, it would be best if damage spells and the like were toned down a bit from their SRD equivalents. For instance, Fireball, a third level SRD spell, might do less damage or cost more mana. Also, spells would generally not scale with caster level. There might be options on some spells to increase the damage by increasing the mana, but this would probably be on a case by case basis.

I€„¢d also recommend that there be essentially no save or die type spells. A death spell might do Toughness damage €' or something similar. Save for half. It might do enough damage that average schmoes will be killed outright, but
Tactics against spell casters will be adjusted to make them cast spells faster than they can recover. A force with numerical superiority will need to press the attack, force opposing spell casters to burn out, then press their advantage. The opposing spell casters will have to choose their spells wisely €' straightforward attack spells might not be as good an idea as spells that protect or enhance their own forces, repelling opposing forces while they regain their strength.

From a bookkeeping standpoint, the system is not too demanding. There will be an additional stat €' Mana Level €' for casters only. During an encounter players will have to keep track of what their characters have used. Most typical encounters don€„¢t really last long enough for mana recovery to come into play, but in longer encounters, or cases where multiple encounters occur in a short period of time, a player may have to track his character€„¢s recovery time.

Example Caster
For this example, I€„¢ll have to assume something about the nature of the magic skills. The mechanics of this system will work with any set of magic skills that are consistent with the general concepts laid out above.
Fiorella, Fire Mage:
Fire Magic III (includes +3 Mana Level)
Air Magic I (includes +1 Mana Level)
Intensified Fire Magic (increases damage dice of fire spells from d4 to d6)
+3 Mana Level
Her skills give Fiorella the ability to learn any spell that has Fire Magic I, II, or III, and/or Air Magic I as a prerequisite. Her total Mana Level is 7. This is not a particularly advanced level of magic. She can cast a Mana 3 spell, a Mana 2 spell, and two Mana 1 spells in quick succession, then she€„¢ll be tapped out for several minutes. After a minute or so, if things are not already

Example Spell
Fiery Wind
Prerequisites: Fire Magic II, Air Magic I
Mana: 3
Duration: 5 rounds
Area: 3 m radius surrounding caster
This surrounds the caster with a swirling vortex of flaming winds. The wind is not strong, but the flames carried on it will ignite combustibles. Creatures caught within the vortex will take 1d4 of fire damage on their turn each round. On the first round, creatures may elect to make a Reflex save to leave the affected area before taking any damage.

Items for Discussion
The rate of mana recovery is open for discussion. Longer rates mean that mages who burn out will be out of commission for extended periods of time. That would make them more hesitant about burning out at all, and provide additional ways to defeat them.

Given a decision on that, then we need to look at what the best ratio would be between the mana cost of a caster€„¢s strongest spells vs. the caster€„¢s anticipated Mana Level. This helps to set out a proper costing scheme that avoids the problems of having too much mana (hence not really limited) or not enough (hence unable to cast spells).

If the basic idea is sound, then we€„¢ve got to work on what the magic skills themselves ought to be. My examples above suggest breaking magic into various styles or schools based on the effects of the spell. Spells would have prerequisites, casters would still have to find and learn them, once learned the caster can cast the spells freely. But there are lots of alternatives. For example, every spell could require both one or more Elements and one or more Techniques. That allows characters to specialize in either a particular Element or a particular Technique, or some combination, or just branch out in all directions. It might be too complicated though.

Also, I need some better rules for mana fatigue and mana shock, I think.

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by beejazz »
My Wiki

My Unitarian Jihad name is: The Dagger of the Short Path.
And no, I don't understand it.

snakefing

  • Gibbering Mouther
  • *
  • Posts: 225
    • View Profile
Snakefing's Magic Proposal
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2006, 10:49:25 PM »
Just so its clear, this is for the CBG system thread. If we had a separate forum to put all this stuff in, it might keep it all together and out of everyone else's hair.
My Wiki

My Unitarian Jihad name is: The Dagger of the Short Path.
And no, I don't understand it.

beejazz

  • Yrthak
  • *
  • Posts: 1511
    • View Profile
Snakefing's Magic Proposal
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2006, 10:54:58 PM »
Mana total equal to the cost of the highest-level ability. Recovery at a rate of one per round.
For fatigue and shock, I don't know.
Beejazz's Homebrew System
 Beejazz's Homebrew Discussion

Quote
I don't believe in it anyway.
What?
England.
Just a conspiracy of cartographers, then?

Numinous

  • Flail Snail
  • *
  • Posts: 1708
    • View Profile
Snakefing's Magic Proposal
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2006, 10:59:14 PM »
Sounds good over all.  I don't like adding another stat, although this might be a use for the "spirit" stat which iss till floating around.  I would up the rate of mana recovery, just so casters would actually bide time in combat to regain mana, instead of just trying to end the encounter as soon as possible.

You have my thoughts ;)
Previously: Natural 20, Critical Threat, Rose of Montague
- Currently working on: The Smoking Hills - A bottom-up, seat-of-my-pants, fairy tale adventure!

snakefing

  • Gibbering Mouther
  • *
  • Posts: 225
    • View Profile
Snakefing's Magic Proposal
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2006, 02:22:33 PM »
I guess I'm a little torn between recovery rate 1 per minute or 1 per round.

If it is 1 per minute, then casters would really have to think about how they are going to use their power during an encounter, because once they burn out they won't be able to cast even weak spells for a while. But this could also lead to casters being dead weight in an encounter after the first round or two, and that's not a lot of fun.

On the other hand, if the recharge rate is 1 per round, then casters can use Mana 1 spells pretty much endlessly. That might lead them to deliberately burn themselves out in the first round or two, then just chip in with Mana 1 or Mana 2 spells for the rest of the encounter. At least that gives them something to do - but there's less incentive for them to hold back on their most powerful spells. To compensate for that, you might have to make their most powerful spells a little weaker.

I think only playtesting would really resolve the issue.

Well, I'm going to leave this alone for a while until some of the other concepts get posted and commented on a little.
My Wiki

My Unitarian Jihad name is: The Dagger of the Short Path.
And no, I don't understand it.

beejazz

  • Yrthak
  • *
  • Posts: 1511
    • View Profile
Snakefing's Magic Proposal
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2006, 03:05:54 PM »
Well... you don't necessarily need 1 mana spells. Deciding the cost of different spells goes hand in hand with deciding the recharge rate.
Beejazz's Homebrew System
 Beejazz's Homebrew Discussion

Quote
I don't believe in it anyway.
What?
England.
Just a conspiracy of cartographers, then?

snakefing

  • Gibbering Mouther
  • *
  • Posts: 225
    • View Profile
Snakefing's Magic Proposal
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2006, 06:47:39 PM »
That's true. I was thinking in terms of Mana 1 for easiest to Mana 10 for hardest, and maybe even a lot more for ritual type magic. But that's not fixed, and playtesting might reveal a better range.

I'd be in favor of a fixed recharge rate - you can't improve that, you can only improve you base Mana Level. If you can improve both, the opportunities for minimaxers increase greatly.
My Wiki

My Unitarian Jihad name is: The Dagger of the Short Path.
And no, I don't understand it.

CYMRO

  • Yrthak
  • *
  • Posts: 1506
    • View Profile
Snakefing's Magic Proposal
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2006, 08:58:59 PM »
Quote
When a character casts a spell, the Mana Cost of that spell is deducted from her current Mana Level. If this reduces her Mana Level to 0, she is mana fatigued, meaning that she can no longer cast spells until she regains her mana. If her Mana Level drops below 0, she is dazed until she regains enough mana to return her level to 0 or higher. In addition, she must make some kind of save or suffer mana shock. A character suffering from mana shock is unconscious but stable.


This seems an over-complication and adds an element I am not fond of.

If you are using mana, then why introduce a mechanic to punish the caster more than just being unable to use spells?

beejazz

  • Yrthak
  • *
  • Posts: 1511
    • View Profile
Snakefing's Magic Proposal
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2006, 10:06:53 PM »
Yeah... Punishing the caster isn't going to make the game more fun. It'll probably just piss off the caster.
Beejazz's Homebrew System
 Beejazz's Homebrew Discussion

Quote
I don't believe in it anyway.
What?
England.
Just a conspiracy of cartographers, then?

snakefing

  • Gibbering Mouther
  • *
  • Posts: 225
    • View Profile
Snakefing's Magic Proposal
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2006, 10:16:59 PM »
This mechanism allows casters in a pinch to exceed their normal mana limit - but they'll pay for it big time. If you prefer, the rule could just be: you can't cast a spell if it would drop you below zero, period.
My Wiki

My Unitarian Jihad name is: The Dagger of the Short Path.
And no, I don't understand it.

beejazz

  • Yrthak
  • *
  • Posts: 1511
    • View Profile
Snakefing's Magic Proposal
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2006, 10:43:13 PM »
Meh... don't get me wrong, the *ability* to overchannel is neat. Just don't expect incapacitated casters to jump for joy when they get coup de graced. Maybe they can buy abilities that would mitigate the penalties?
Beejazz's Homebrew System
 Beejazz's Homebrew Discussion

Quote
I don't believe in it anyway.
What?
England.
Just a conspiracy of cartographers, then?

CYMRO

  • Yrthak
  • *
  • Posts: 1506
    • View Profile
Snakefing's Magic Proposal
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2006, 11:22:23 PM »
Quote from: snakefing

This mechanism allows casters in a pinch to exceed their normal mana limit - but they'll pay for it big time. If you prefer, the rule could just be: you can't cast a spell if it would drop you below zero, period.



Maybe the Mana burn aspect could be an ability/feat you buy, allowing you to exceed your zero limit.  That means, for those that chose to take such an ability, its use would probably be reserved for moments of high drama.  

snakefing

  • Gibbering Mouther
  • *
  • Posts: 225
    • View Profile
Snakefing's Magic Proposal
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2006, 04:22:02 PM »
Could be. I'm pretty open on the mechanic for mana shock. I was thinking that there would be some kind of ability check or the like to avoid mana shock - getting harder the more negative you went. Essentially, you would not be very likely to go comatose unless you really went over - which you wouldn't do unless the situation were dire.

It could easily be possible to allow feats or abilities that allow these things to be done with less penalty. Like I said at the start, the mechanics for mana shock and fatigue are really open for discussion.
My Wiki

My Unitarian Jihad name is: The Dagger of the Short Path.
And no, I don't understand it.

beejazz

  • Yrthak
  • *
  • Posts: 1511
    • View Profile
Snakefing's Magic Proposal
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2006, 12:03:10 AM »
Holee...
Having mana derived from AP?
If we use it?
Probably not, but it's a thought.
Beejazz's Homebrew System
 Beejazz's Homebrew Discussion

Quote
I don't believe in it anyway.
What?
England.
Just a conspiracy of cartographers, then?