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Why spell memorization?


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Hello all,

I just picked up the book and have been reading it. I really like this system because it seems to contain all that I want in an RPG: generic (cross-genre), hit points as opposed to abstract damage tracks, plenty of optional rules to add depth to the game but which are not necessary, plus others.

Yesterday I got down to the task of creating a character so as to make the rules sink in better. I wanted to get acquainted with the magic system, so I made a wizard character. I've always been put off by the classic Vancian system of magic found in (A)D&D because, IMO, it is severely limiting to spellcasters. When I played HARP a while back, I was delighted to find that it has a "spells as skills" type of magic system powered by power points--much like BRP. As I was checking out the spell section of the BRP book, however, I found this on p. 91:

"If your character wishes to use magic spells, he or she must have them committed to memory. A magic spell caster can only memorize a number of spells at a single time, equal to 1/2 his or her INT (round up)."

My question is: Why bother with this? If the purpose is to limit the spellcaster's magic repertoire in the interest of game balance, I ask: Isn't the use of power points and skill points sufficient to provide such balance? If the spellcaster wants to cast a particularly powerful Blast spell, he does so at the risk of running out of power points with which to cast other spells, and his chance of success is dependent on how many skill points he has devoted to that spell. As the saying goes, "You pay your money and you take your choice."

YM

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Well, I'm going to bother with it simply because I want to stick close to the BRP RAW!

I presume it's there because it's "traditional" to have some such constraints in these games. Yes, probably Vancian in origin. It is quite limiting, but I'm hoping it won't prove too severe. At least it's not spell-levels! And remember that spells can be cast almost as fast (1r/lvl) from your 'grimoire' (which needn't be a book, if you take the option from Sorcery, but could be a staff or whatever...). It's these sort of difficulties that give characters interesting choices, and make life interesting.

Sorcery is more generous (INT rather than INT/2). Perhaps that's to make up for Sorcery spells being slower to cast.

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If the purpose is to limit the spellcaster's magic repertoire in the interest of game balance, I ask: Isn't the use of power points and skill points sufficient to provide such balance? If the spellcaster wants to cast a particularly powerful Blast spell, he does so at the risk of running out of power points with which to cast other spells, and his chance of success is dependent on how many skill points he has devoted to that spell.

First of all, anyone having played BRP games long enough knows that player characters end up having wagonloads of power batteries. Power Points are a good alternative to spell memorization, but they are not the final solution for balance.

Moreover, the INT limit represents also the fact that the wizard is continually practicing his spells to keep them "ready to cast", so he cannot do so with an unlimited number of spells. In any case, this is better than the awful "You cannot cast the spell more than X times because you have not memorized enough castings of it" that is in That Other Game.

If you have time, try using the RuneQuest Sorcery, too. It needs some fixes that you can find on the Wiki but it provides more fun.

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First of all, anyone having played BRP games long enough knows that player characters end up having wagonloads of power batteries.

Not necessarily. Whether such things exist at all is a GM's campaign decision. The new BRP doesn't really mention them, aside from Magicians Familiars/Staffs and the dedicated power point reservoirs for magic items (with the implication they'd only be for powering the item function).

I myself am coming to the conclusion that power-point 'battery' items should be very rare indeed (for balance) - making them even more special.

Britain has been infiltrated by soviet agents to the highest levels. They control the BBC, the main political party leaderships, NHS & local council executives, much of the police, most newspapers and the utility companies. Of course the EU is theirs, through-and-through. And they are among us - a pervasive evil, like Stasi.

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Maybe it's a left-over from RQII days when power crystals were lying about everywhere. In these days of no random treasure tables, there is a lot more GM control over these things.

I don't mind limiting the power of spell casters, really - after all, in BRP they are not really any more restricted than other characters in terms of combat skills, so the spell itself is already a bonus. The INT limit is not that onerous unless you're a serious spell caster, in which case you may be able to find ways around it. Most "lay" spell caster PCs I've come across don't use that many spells on a regular basis.

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My question is: Why bother with this?

Becuase it was a feature of the MagicWorld systems that Magic is based on and as others have said, power points / skill are really only limiting factors for mages starting out...

If the purpose is to limit the spellcaster's magic repertoire in the interest of game balance, I ask: Isn't the use of power points and skill points sufficient to provide such balance?

No, not unless the GM specifically chooses to limit power point storing devices in a way that is quite draconian.

If the spellcaster wants to cast a particularly powerful Blast spell, he does so at the risk of running out of power points with which to cast other spells, and his chance of success is dependent on how many skill points he has devoted to that spell. As the saying goes, "You pay your money and you take your choice."

But if there is no "book learning" and a mage can have any spell they know equally to hand that's a different feel to magic.

You certainly could drop the requirement for your game and it wouldn't "break" the game - but it would have a noticeably different feel, especially with experienced mages. And the principle of a Wizard having a limited repertoir of spells immediately available, but potentially more available in their grimoire is a common motif in fantasy literature and has a long history in BRP games...

Cheers,

Nick

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Hello all,

I just picked up the book and have been reading it. I really like this system because it seems to contain all that I want in an RPG: generic (cross-genre), hit points as opposed to abstract damage tracks, plenty of optional rules to add depth to the game but which are not necessary, plus others.

Yesterday I got down to the task of creating a character so as to make the rules sink in better. I wanted to get acquainted with the magic system, so I made a wizard character. I've always been put off by the classic Vancian system of magic found in (A)D&D because, IMO, it is severely limiting to spellcasters. When I played HARP a while back, I was delighted to find that it has a "spells as skills" type of magic system powered by power points--much like BRP. As I was checking out the spell section of the BRP book, however, I found this on p. 91:

"If your character wishes to use magic spells, he or she must have them committed to memory. A magic spell caster can only memorize a number of spells at a single time, equal to 1/2 his or her INT (round up)."

My question is: Why bother with this? If the purpose is to limit the spellcaster's magic repertoire in the interest of game balance, I ask: Isn't the use of power points and skill points sufficient to provide such balance? If the spellcaster wants to cast a particularly powerful Blast spell, he does so at the risk of running out of power points with which to cast other spells, and his chance of success is dependent on how many skill points he has devoted to that spell. As the saying goes, "You pay your money and you take your choice."

YM

Basicially I think you are right. There is normally "power out" before sorcerers get too powerful with too much spells. Only if you play with the "sorcery" rules later in the book and different high POW races there can be alot of Magic Points which an ambitiour sorcerer is able to aquire. Eg. Melnibonean with Braziers of Power. Or if you allow the creation of power storing devices like those in RQ3. Then the magic point can maybe go up to 100 or even more. (just look at some very powerful shamans in RQ3) In this case if you have archmages limiting the INT is useful.

Another advantage if you limit the spell by INT/2 is that an intelligent sorcerer is more versatile than his dumb collegues and the rule mechanic supports this. Which is not beyond some logic and can be a nice roleplay twist.

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I just want to say that I really really like that moniker 'Yellowcake Mutant'.

Thanks. I came across the term "yellowcake" recently in some news article about a significant quantity of the stuff getting bought by Canada after having been confiscated from some middle eastern country (maybe Iraq, but I'm not sure). I had never seen the term before, so I looked it up online and found out it is partially processed uranium, iirc, that can be used for nuclear power.

YM

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