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Spell-Making For Fun and Profit (but mostly Fun)


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#1 Michael Hopcroft

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 03:17 AM

I have the Magic Book, copies of some other d100 games with magic in them, and so on. I'm wondering about adding some new spells specifically if I run something -- things that will hopefully surprise players and people who read about them. But I don't want to go overboard in terms of spell power either -- I want these to by things a PC can cast (if she can learn them) without ecxhansting all their Magic Points in one shot and without totally upstaging the rest of the party.

Example: I want to be able to enchant a blade with Elemental Sharpness so that it can cut through any inanimate material. Things like pesky knots of the Gordian variety, reinforced wood-and-steel doors, obscene idols to the Unhallowed Ones, and so on. But the knife or whatever cannot penetrate living material at all, and does no damage to living things in combat from the edge (it would probably still leave a thin welt if it struck exposed flesh, but it wouldn't cut or penetrate the skin). You could cut a steak with it, but not a live cow. The spell would be of limited duration -- you might get one or two cracks at your slicing, but after that it either goes back to being a normal blade or becomes useless (losing its edge altogether, until you have the chance to go see a weaponsmith to get it sharpened again). In an extreme case the weapon could be utterly destroyed when the spell ends, shattering into a million pieces or crumbling to dust.

Now in a points-based system like Hero modeling this is a relatively easy collection of advantages and drawbacks that affect the spell's point total. There is no such guidance in most BRP fantasy settings or games. I'm wondering about things like the MP cost to cast, the number of spell levels it would take up, and so on.

It would, of course, function differently if it were a Divine spell as opposed to a Sorcery.

#2 Atgxtg

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 07:15 PM

I'm not sure what you're getting at here. Can you, as a GM, make up such an item? Yes. Can such an item be potentially unbalancing? Yes, because you never know just how the players might use the item.

As far as the risk of the PC upstaging the rest of the party, well, that can't be helped if you give that PC access to greater abilities than the rest of the group. If they do so or not depends on the player.


The points and all that stuff don't really matter. I can show you two characters in HERO, GURPS or whatever built on the same number of points, but who are nowhere near equal in capabilities.


As the GM, you will have to decide if the benefits are worth the risks, and also probably come up with a way to undue things if the new ideas mess everything up.
Smiley when you say that. :P

#3 Michael Hopcroft

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 12:36 AM

Just how powerful is the Elemental Sharpness spell I posited earlier, and how would it work mechanically?

#4 Agentorange

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 12:04 PM

Just how powerful is the Elemental Sharpness spell I posited earlier, and how would it work mechanically?


You're referring to the Magic book as opposed to Magic World ? That is, the one with Spirit Magic, Divine magic etc etc in ? Also which version, the one that uses hit locations or the one that doesn't ?

#5 Chaot

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 03:34 PM

Saw this over at RPGnet. For completeness sake I'm going to post my response here as well.

I think your best bet, Michael Hopcroft, is to pick a powers system and then piece it together that way. As soltakss says, compare the spell to other spells for strength and eyeball it.

If I were going to do this using the Sorcery system I'd look to Summonings as a guide. Being able to cut effortlessly through non living things sounds to me to be a pretty durn powerful effect. Generally, Sorcery magic runs in the 1-4 mp cost range. The below is a very generic break down.

1 mp = three types.
a) grants caster a single ability that doesn't harm another character (see through unintelligent creature's eyes, cause light to appear, obscures area, etc)
B) increase chance of harming or affecting another character by a small amount (involving a mp : mp or a POW : POW roll).
c) gateway spell to more powerful spells (summoning demon or elemental)

2 mp = Slightly more powerful and can effect temporary change in subject (think spells like Heal)

3 mp = either has multiple effects or can do direct damage with a save (also cause permanent change, such as Repair, in inanimate objects)

4 mp = specialty spells that are flashy and cause change in the environment or individual (not instant death spells though, moderate change)

Then you have Summonings, that amplify effects to a significant degree. Hell's Razor 4 will increase the damage a blade does by 4 points. Summoning and binding a demon weapon increases damage by significantly more. These things cost at least 1 point of permanent Pow. There are also specialty spells that go above the 1-4 mp range. None of them sound quite like what you're going for though.

Going by your description above, making this a spell with a limited duration, I would fudge the Sorcery rules.

Elemental Sharpness 1 POW*, 8 mp
*this cost is a one time expenditure. Characters must have at least 16 Pow to cast spells.

Duration is caster's POW in combat rounds. This spell is used to enchant a blade so that it can cut effortlessly through any inanimate material. Useful against most barriers, pesky knots of the Gordian variety, Unholy Idols, and so forth. The downside is that it can't cut through or into living tissue at all. The most it can do is leave a thin welt on exposed flesh. Thus you can cut a steak with it but not a live cow. At the end of the spell, the blade crumbles to dust.
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#6 Chaot

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 03:39 PM

Just how powerful is the Elemental Sharpness spell I posited earlier, and how would it work mechanically?


I want to be able to enchant a blade with Elemental Sharpness so that it can cut through any inanimate material.


I would say it's VERY powerful. I can see all sorts of abuses for it, which is why I placed the cost where I did. Keep in mind I'm using Sorcery from the BRP core and Magic World book, not the RQ derived stuff. For that you need to talk to one of the many RQ experts around here.
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#7 vagabond

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 06:19 PM

I have the Magic Book, copies of some other d100 games with magic in them, and so on. I'm wondering about adding some new spells specifically if I run something -- things that will hopefully surprise players and people who read about them. But I don't want to go overboard in terms of spell power either -- I want these to by things a PC can cast (if she can learn them) without ecxhansting all their Magic Points in one shot and without totally upstaging the rest of the party.

Example: I want to be able to enchant a blade with Elemental Sharpness so that it can cut through any inanimate material. Things like pesky knots of the Gordian variety, reinforced wood-and-steel doors, obscene idols to the Unhallowed Ones, and so on. But the knife or whatever cannot penetrate living material at all, and does no damage to living things in combat from the edge (it would probably still leave a thin welt if it struck exposed flesh, but it wouldn't cut or penetrate the skin). You could cut a steak with it, but not a live cow. The spell would be of limited duration -- you might get one or two cracks at your slicing, but after that it either goes back to being a normal blade or becomes useless (losing its edge altogether, until you have the chance to go see a weaponsmith to get it sharpened again). In an extreme case the weapon could be utterly destroyed when the spell ends, shattering into a million pieces or crumbling to dust.

Now in a points-based system like Hero modeling this is a relatively easy collection of advantages and drawbacks that affect the spell's point total. There is no such guidance in most BRP fantasy settings or games. I'm wondering about things like the MP cost to cast, the number of spell levels it would take up, and so on.

It would, of course, function differently if it were a Divine spell as opposed to a Sorcery.


The old Elric!/Stormbringer 5th RPG had two supplements that allowed you to create your own spells to some degree. Basically, you pulled in various powers, and the rules told you how expensive in MP (and possibly other costs) the spell would be. Unknown East and Corum. IIRC, Advanced Sorcery will have the rules from Unknown East in it.

Ian

#8 Michael Hopcroft

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 03:24 AM

Chaot's writeup illustrates how very unclear I am on some of the core concepts. Like what could be described for want of a better terms as "the POW economy". Unlike the other core attributes, POW is apparently expected to fluctuate: certain things cause you to gain POW, and if you have enough POW you can sacrifice some of it to do things like buy spells like this.

Here's another example: you're a magic-utilizing Victor Frankenstein who wants to build a person out of parts from the dead. Not an obedient golem -- anybody can built a golem -- but a complete person with their own mind, will and (if you believe in that sort of thing) soul. Mechanically speaking such a creation will have a POW score. Where does that POW come from? Can our creator sacrifice a little bit of his own POW as a "starter", and the creature gradually adds to his score as he gains knowledge and experience?

#9 NathanIW

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 03:27 AM

I'd probably summon a spirit to use as a POW source for the flesh construct. If any of it's old memories or whatever get in there too, I'm sure that'll all turn out fine. :P

#10 Michael Hopcroft

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 03:39 AM

I'd probably summon a spirit to use as a POW source for the flesh construct. If any of it's old memories or whatever get in there too, I'm sure that'll all turn out fine. :P


In at least one filmed version of the story, Frankenstein deliberately chose the brain as that of a recently deceased mentor. He hoped that some of the intellect of his friend could be recovered and that he would be essentially be resurrected -- opening the path to the immortality of the best and brightest of human minds (including presumably his own). It didn't work out that way -- even though that version of the creature was highly intelligent (enough to teach himself to read without any instruction, and to comprehend very complex written material) he didn't have the knowledge possessed by the original owner of his brain, and had a quite different sense of ethics as well.

#11 Chaot

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 03:50 PM

Chaot's writeup illustrates how very unclear I am on some of the core concepts. Like what could be described for want of a better terms as "the POW economy". Unlike the other core attributes, POW is apparently expected to fluctuate: certain things cause you to gain POW, and if you have enough POW you can sacrifice some of it to do things like buy spells like this.


Keep in mind that answers will definitely vary depending upon what magic system is used though. I come from an Elric! background and that's immediately what I jump to when I need to figure something out.

As far as the fluctuation of stats, some versions of BRP have Pow as a very fluid stat. RQ3 reads as if Pow sacrifices are made regularly and also regularly gained through play. In Elric!, Pow gains are a bit rarer. You have to find a spell that involves a Pow : Pow contest and then you have to win against an opponent who has a higher Pow than you. THEN you have a chance of increasing your Pow. The other stats will also increase through similar Stat : Stat contests and through training. Siz is the most static of the stats.

Here's another example: you're a magic-utilizing Victor Frankenstein who wants to build a person out of parts from the dead. Not an obedient golem -- anybody can built a golem -- but a complete person with their own mind, will and (if you believe in that sort of thing) soul. Mechanically speaking such a creation will have a POW score. Where does that POW come from? Can our creator sacrifice a little bit of his own POW as a "starter", and the creature gradually adds to his score as he gains knowledge and experience?


In the Bronze Grimoire this can be handled by using Create Abomination, which uses a craft roll to make the body and costs a bunch of magic points and a point of Pow. For a thinking abomination the caster can then use up 10mp and 1 Pow with the Lure Spirit spell.

All this being said, if you think a spell should be adjusted up or down in difficulty and cost, make the change and see how it plays out. BRP is pretty sturdy.

I'd probably summon a spirit to use as a POW source for the flesh construct. If any of it's old memories or whatever get in there too, I'm sure that'll all turn out fine. :P


What could go wrong!?
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#12 Michael Hopcroft

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 03:33 AM

I wonder if magic could be involved in making something akin to Greek Fire -- a sticky, inflammable substance that you can catapult onto enemy ships or siege-works, either already alight or set alight afterwards, the flames from which are almost impossible to extinguish by any means short of total immersion. Of course, for a ship to be completely underwater was an even bigger problem than for a ship to be engulfed in flames! It would also be virtually impossible to extinguish a person who'd been hit as well (at least without magic).

Apparently in the real world the secret to making Greek Fire is lost to time (assuming Greek Fire ever really existed, of course). Those targeted by it must have thought something arcane was involved in the stuff that was burning their fleets.

Edited by Michael Hopcroft, 10 March 2014 - 03:35 AM.


#13 seneschal

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 06:42 AM

Pitch, natural tar, would be a key ingredient of Greek fire, as would probably sulfur. Dangerous and scary, but not necessarily magical. You just have to have the right recipe (which is a closely guarded military secret). This is a job for a sneak like Ulysses rather than a wizard.

#14 Michael Hopcroft

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Posted 01 April 2014 - 03:51 AM

Which is an interesting approach. Admirals assume the Greek fire-equivalent must be magical, so they try to deal with it magically. But the effects are resistant to traditional magical means of extinguishing flames. Will the enemy assume it's just a much more powerful magic than they're used to dealing with, or will they add two and two and realize that they will need to find a technological method to cope with the new naval superweapon?




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