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Resisting the need to add more spells


Harshax

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. . . and doing so sparingly.

I've been meditating (yeah, meditating) over the magic chapter for a couple of weeks now. The spells therein are for the most part, quite powerful, and broad in their application. With only 30 spells, BRP manages to distill a good majority of spells found in games like D&D into a few broad powers.

As a personal exercise, I am browsing the SRD, spell by spell, and looking to match their effects to an existing BRP spell. The trick however is making sure you understand the full extent of a BRP spell's power.

it's apparent that the game methodology behind 3.5 is different than BRP, in more than an obvious way. D&D is set up to solve problems with magic. Spells like Animal Messenger have incredibly long durations, granting characters the ability to simply dismiss challenges that are beneath their accumulated power.

In BRP however, problems are solved by characters actually going out and doing things. Magic helps a wizard in the same way weapons help a fighter, and a ruler helps an engineer. Magic is only a tool, not a mechanism to dismiss challenges in the game. Keeping this in mind, I found that many spells simply do not fit in BRP. These spells could be easily added, but I am ignoring them.

I treated the BRP spells as a baseline for new spells: Short durations, broad in scope, and amoral.

Breaking out the SRD, I went over the 30 "A" Spells presented in 3.5. Most of these spells already receive a good treatment with BRP's Change, Enhance, Control, Perception, Vision, and Wall.

There were about 7 spells that didn't really fit any of BRP's magic, and might make good candidates for new spells. These are:

Acid (Acid Arrow, Acid Splash, but not Acid Fog)

Animate (A. Dead, Objects, Plants, Rope, and Awaken)

Augury (Augury)

Boost (Aid)

Fear (Antipathy)

Projection (Astral Projection)

Warn (Alarm)

The following spells were ignored: Arcane Mark, Align Weapon, Atonement.

Arcane Mark has such a low level effect, that it might be a non-spell for someone with high enough POW, while the other two spells deal with character morality.

Seven spells might seem like a lot, but I think that those seven, if properly written will be very applicable to a good majority of the spells found in the rest of the SRD.

Anyway, I started this after being inspired by MurfinMS. His monster write ups are a welcome addition to BRP's bestiary, and it's super nice that he shares his work with all of us. I want to try and do the same, but with Magic, so if no one minds, I'll be writing up a few spells, and posting my work.

For now, here are my thoughts on the Animate spell.

Animate

Range: 30 meters

Duration: 15 minutes

Power Point Cost Per Level: 1

This spell allows a character to animate a single non-sentient object or plant. Each level animates up to 3 SIZ points, or gifts the object with 1 INT point. If the target of the spell is in the possession of a sentient being, the caster must overcome the target's POW on a successful resistance roll.

An animated object can be willed to perform a task, such as move or strike at a nearby creature, with a base chance to hit equal to the caster's DEX x3%, and doing 1D6 +db damage with a successful hit. An object has a STR equal to its SIZ. Non-intelligent objects will perform the task once, and then stand idle until commanded again.

If the object is granted INT, the caster may give it a single sentence instruction for every point of INT granted by the spell. Animated creatures have 10 HP for every 3 SIZ points.

If desired, the gamemaster can substitute the objects hitpoints with more realistic values derived from its composition.

And don't forget Realism Rule # 1 "If you can do it in real life you should be able to do it in BRP". - Simon Phipp

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Bluntly, BRP needs more spells. The ones in the rulebook are OK, as far as they go, but they don't make up a consistent whole.

Look at the nearest rival to BRP - RQM has masses and masses of spells over a number of books. Spellbook has hundreds of spells, other supplements have many spells. What does BRP have in addition to the rulebook? Nothing.

So, it would be great if people made spells up and published them here.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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harshax if you hold off for a week or two i might be able to assist you with your problem. similar to the divine spellist i gave you, i'm preparing a similar one for just arcane spells. i am running it through play test at the moment which i didn't do with the divine spells. I am running a playtest with the divine stuff as well and will have the results of that soon.

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With only 30 spells, BRP manages to distill a good majority of spells found in games like D&D into a few broad powers.

However, if you stick with one system of powers (say, Sorcery), you have a far smaller list of abilities out of the box. A GM might choose to allow one system because he wants powers to have the same feel (e.g. psychic abilities, swords-and-sorcery, etc.), or because he likes the mechanic (e.g. percentile abilities like Magic and Psychic Powers vs. automatic success like Sorcery).

Bluntly, BRP needs more spells. The ones in the rulebook are OK, as far as they go, but they don't make up a consistent whole.

I'd like to see some innovation in systems, too. Power Points, percentile rolls, domains, time, and material requirements are different ways to limit the scope of magic, and different mixes provide a different "feel". I'm working on a Ritual Magic/Spirit Magic system, based around summoning spirits and invoking deities, which eschews Power Points and skills in favor of extended time, components, and raw POW. I'd love to see "ports" of Ars Magica (syntactic magic), Ghosts of Albion (a "spell construction kit" plus levels of success), and True 20 powers (a mix of broadly-defined Psychic and Magic powers, but based on a common "magical talent" stat).

Edited by fmitchell

Frank

"Welcome to the hottest and fastest-growing hobby of, er, 1977." -- The Laundry RPG
 
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Since you're going for broad scope would it be a good idea to expand this to an Influence Emotions spell?

That's exactly what I'm going for, and am purposely taking baby steps to get there. I too realized that a broader Emotion spell would be more suitable than a simple fear spell, as it would cover sympathy, antipathy, confusion, and fanaticism.

So far I've gone through A - C in the SRD, noted that the BRP spells handle a huge majority of them, and have about a little more than five spells that would be worth writing: Animate, Emotion, Alter Reality [think Glorantha style Illusions], and spell for increasing/decreasing skills. There are a couple more, but I don't have my notes with me.

fmitchell I sort of agree, but the sorcery system expands the list of spells at the expense of utility. Magic Sharpen works on all weaponry, while the Sorcery spell list has one spell for each major type of weapon.

I think there's something to consider there too. Sorcery spells always work, have a maximum level, and narrowly defined spells. Magic spells are skills, have a very high maximum level (compared to Sorcery), and broadly defined spells. Clearly the designers felt that the narrow and Automagical nature of Sorcery was balanced by broad, skill based magic.

Lord Shag I appreciate the offer, and do look forward to seeing what you've written up, but there's more to this than beefing up the Powers Chapter. I haven't written anything in a good long while, and I need to stretch those mental muscles. But if what you've got cooking is anything similar to my approach, I hope to be plagiarizing some of your work. :thumb:

And don't forget Realism Rule # 1 "If you can do it in real life you should be able to do it in BRP". - Simon Phipp

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fmitchell I sort of agree, but the sorcery system expands the list of spells at the expense of utility. Magic Sharpen works on all weaponry, while the Sorcery spell list has one spell for each major type of weapon.

I think there's something to consider there too. Sorcery spells always work, have a maximum level, and narrowly defined spells. Magic spells are skills, have a very high maximum level (compared to Sorcery), and broadly defined spells. Clearly the designers felt that the narrow and Automagical nature of Sorcery was balanced by broad, skill based magic.

Or it could be that the original S****b*****r/E***c designers created narrow spells, and the Magic designers created broad spells. (Actually, I believe RQ 2 and 3 had variations for each weapon type, e.g. Bladesharp vs. {blunt instrument version}.) Four spells rather than one doesn't seem like a big limitation, especially if your entire party prefers blades. I'd like to know the straight dope from the designers, if any are watching this thread.

At any rate, I suspect magic system design is as much, if not more, about atmosphere as game balance.

Frank

"Welcome to the hottest and fastest-growing hobby of, er, 1977." -- The Laundry RPG
 
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Oh! There was one more spell I was inspired to add from the very good old days of D&D: Fist. A spell for creating a small moveable wall, holding enemies, or punching them.

Still don't have my notes with me, but I'll post a few complete writeups tomorrow.

And don't forget Realism Rule # 1 "If you can do it in real life you should be able to do it in BRP". - Simon Phipp

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Ok, I got a little lazy through the doldrums of L and N, but I think I have a decent list of candidates worthy to add to the Magic spells. Tell me what you think. Am I missing any that deserve the BRP treatment?


Animate            Grant ambulation to an object                      

Acid               Ranged, does 1D6 points of acid damage per level            

Alter Reality      Create something out of nothing                             

Augury             Divine the outcome of a future event                        

Charm              Force an opponent to see you as friends, or allies as enemies

Cure               Fight the effects of disease or poison                      

Discorporate       Spirit leaves the body and travels elsewhere                

Emotion            Alter a person's emotional state, such as Fear, Fanaticism or Confusion

Fist               Creates a spectral force that can injure, grasp, or impede movement

Illusion           Create false perceptions of any of the 5 senses             

Incompetence       Decrease skill by 5% per level.                             

Mastery            Increase skill by 5% per level.                             

Raise Dead         Bring the dead back to life                                 

Slow               Decrease MOV rate by 1 point per level                      

Speed              Increase MOV rate by 1 point per level                      

Weather            Create, increase, or reduce weather phenomena               

Web                Spews a sticky barrier that restrains those it captures     

I'm toying with an idea for this writeup. I was reading some other threads about BRP support. I don't have the inclination (desire, ability, or time) to write anything meaty in support of this game system, but I think I might have an interesting alternative. Why not write a minor supplement? A short section of new spells, like the ones listed above, and cast of interesting NPC mages, and some interesting adventure seeds that illustrate the kinds of awful mischief players may encounter when faced with magicians that wield this kind of power?

Edited by Harshax

And don't forget Realism Rule # 1 "If you can do it in real life you should be able to do it in BRP". - Simon Phipp

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This is precisely the thought I had for Sword & Spell. See my write up of the "Bigby" Fist spell in the Chaos & Catacombs thread. As a matter of fact you have distilled it down to pretty much the same list that I did, give or take. You sure your not in my playtest? :)

Rod

Ok, I got a little lazy through the doldrums of L and N, but I think I have a decent list of candidates worthy to add to the Magic spells. Tell me what you think. Am I missing any that deserve the BRP treatment?


Animate            Grant ambulation to an object                      

Acid               Ranged, does 1D6 points of acid damage per level            

Alter Reality      Create something out of nothing                             

Augury             Divine the outcome of a future event                        

Charm              Force an opponent to see you as friends, or allies as enemies

Cure               Fight the effects of disease or poison                      

Discorporate       Spirit leaves the body and travels elsewhere                

Emotion            Alter a person's emotional state, such as Fear, Fanaticism or Confusion

Fist               Creates a spectral force that can injure, grasp, or impede movement

Illusion           Create false perceptions of any of the 5 senses             

Incompetence       Decrease skill by 5% per level.                             

Mastery            Increase skill by 5% per level.                             

Raise Dead         Bring the dead back to life                                 

Slow               Decrease MOV rate by 1 point per level                      

Speed              Increase MOV rate by 1 point per level                      

Weather            Create, increase, or reduce weather phenomena               

Web                Spews a sticky barrier that restrains those it captures     

I'm toying with an idea for this writeup. I was reading some other threads about BRP support. I don't have the inclination (desire, ability, or time) to write anything meaty in support of this game system, but I think I might have an interesting alternative. Why not write a minor supplement? A short section of new spells, like the ones listed above, and cast of interesting NPC mages, and some interesting adventure seeds that illustrate the kinds of awful mischief players may encounter when faced with magicians that wield this kind of power?

Join my Mythras/RuneQuest 6: Classic Fantasy Yahoo Group at https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/RQCF/info

"D100 - Exactly 5 times better than D20"

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This is precisely the thought I had for Sword & Spell.

Hmm. Somehow I got the impression that Sword & Spell was going to be just a humorous parody of D&D. In writing that last sentence, it occurs to me that it could be a parody, and still have lots of goodies for those of us that enjoy that style of gaming more seriously.

You sure your not in my playtest? :)
Um, my invite got lost in the mail? I sweated the stamp off my wrist? I only stepped out for a smoke?

And don't forget Realism Rule # 1 "If you can do it in real life you should be able to do it in BRP". - Simon Phipp

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Hmm. Somehow I got the impression that Sword & Spell was going to be just a humorous parody of D&D. In writing that last sentence, it occurs to me that it could be a parody, and still have lots of goodies for those of us that enjoy that style of gaming more seriously.

Um, my invite got lost in the mail? I sweated the stamp off my wrist? I only stepped out for a smoke?

The parody aspect has gone the way of the dodo. It's now a homage to the 'classic' era of dungeon crawl role playing.

Rod

Join my Mythras/RuneQuest 6: Classic Fantasy Yahoo Group at https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/RQCF/info

"D100 - Exactly 5 times better than D20"

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