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Hi,

I'm indepted to Questbird, who a while ago posted about combining Spell Law with BRP/Magic World. For example, in my version, spell users get a number of base lists (half INT) at INT% and can cast spells on their lists equal to lvl x 10%. So starting characters can cast lvl 1 spells. In my version, the spells are cast at a POW times 5 casting roll, but the lists are ticked for experience if the roll also goes under the lists %. That way individual lists increase but characters are not unnecessarily whiffy when it comes to using spells. Spells relating to damage, like a shock bolt (lvl 2), do damage based on the demon power list (so a d4 if lvl 2; but in my game I use POW and INT to derive a magic damage bonus, using the same table as STR and SIZ. That way a shock bolt can be fairly offensive). Magic point cost is the lvl of the spell. (Classic Fantasy's Spell Lore can be used to provide extra MPs while being used as an Arcane Knowledge/Lore.)

I would suggest allowing characters to have up to half INT in base lists, but the remaining INT is for memorising other spells, with each lvl being a point of INT. This means that characters can also diversify a grimoire and can only hold in memory spells up to half INT in lvl. Thus, a character of INT 18 can only hold non-base spells up to lvl 9 in memory, but can cast base spells up to POW in lvl. (Related to this, I have been thinking of limiting skill levels to a corresponding statistic times ten. This would mean that skill % can max out while being tied to PC stats. It also means a demon with a high STR or DEX can also have a very high skill potential. But I digress.) The aim here (with memorising individual spells, combined with spell lists) is to allow for finding spells as being a motive, and to make sure magic users are not too rigid in relation to starting base lists. However, lists allow for different flavours of magical professions. Casting any spell uses POW times 5 as a casting roll, but for casting non-base spells the maximum lvl one can learn and cast is equal to the lowest base list skill the PC has divided by 10. Thus if out of all PC lists the lowest skill is 23%, the PC can only learn and hold in memory, and cast, a lvl 2 non-base spell. This controls power levels while tying power and diversity strongly to skill in all of one's lists. So lists in general, as a measure of magical skill generally, determine the lvl of non-base spell one can learn and cast.

The above system is best if using Spell Law along with the Essence Companion, the Mentalism Companion and the Channeling Companion. The latter is especially great for god-specific clerics, and can model wfrp gods and other dieties. Spell Law on its own fails to do this. (Mentalism might work well as being reserved for elves, but I haven't decided yet.)

However, different from the above solely in relation to magic, I would also suggest that Arms Law (or the simpler MERP or A MILLION WAYS TO DIE critical lists) can be used too. One doesn't need to use the attack tables, only the criticals. E.g., anytime a serious wound is done, it is now referred to the critical tables. This is a small change and requires little change to MW as per usual. It is true that such hits might now be fatal, but they also don't inherently lead to the PC passing out after a few rounds. Stunned means parry and dodge at half skill %; unable to parry is self-explanatory, but you can keep dodge at half; and bleeding and extra damage can be converted by the recommended (in an ICE supplement for converting to Runequest) 6 equals 1 (in BRP/MW), perhaps rounding up. Thus an extra 10 hits and bleeding 1 per round can be an extra 2 hits and 1 hit per round. The description also ties in nicely with some healing lists, as nerve damage or whatever may require such specific healing.

The sole issue for the above critical lists is what severity column to use: from A to E. This can be answered by skill level. Thus, if the attacker has 40 or fewer percentiles, then use A. 60 or fewer is B; 80 or fewer is C. 100 or fewer is D; and over 100 is an E. This seems to model nicely how skill level makes serious wounds more lethal, and the descriptions model the deadliness of the attacker. This also means that spells can also use the Spell Law critical tables (let the list % determine any severity column), without recourse to the convoluted attack tables which required rolling high. In this system, only the critical tables are used instead of the previous serious wound table in MW. I feel it adds to the flavour of the setting. In a way, the core BRP/MW system simplifies Rolemaster while allowing for the RM spells and gorey detail. In fact, when one considers that RM OB ratings are convertible to MW skill levels, such as creature attack levels, according to RM conversion guidelines, the RM treasures material are also useable. A +20 sword can now be used. (Although you might feel that such a weapon should only increase damage rather than skill rating. But the latter is effectively how RM did it.)

In any case, the above provides some suggestions for RM Spell Law and Arms Law to be used with MW. It also suggests how MW can essentially replace the core of RM while still using its other elements. Again, Channeling Companion provides for spell lists based on religious spheres, such as war or fire, or nature/druids, and is essential to give fantasy world clerics the required detail. Wizards, too, are rather elemental in RM, so one might want to allow wizards/mages to pick three elemental base lists (from mage lists) and the rest from closed lists. The GM can decide if closed lists are available for further spell memorisation or not, or if only open lists are. Likewise the place of Mentalism in your world may need consideration. Naturally, dwarves make good alchemists. You might give regular dwarves the Inorganic Skills list as a species trait, which would fit their great crafting abilities. Likewise, elves might get some lists as racial/species abilities. (I would personally use the RM and MERP guidelines that make Hobbits and Dwarves very resistant to magic. Hobbits get effectively +10 to POW and Dwarves +8 for resisting magic. This balances the lack of magic users among these peoples, with the exception of Dwarven alchemists. But that's just me; MERP was my first rpg, so it left a mark!)

Any thoughts on the above, let me know. Again, my thanks to Questbird, who started my thinking on the above lines. :-) 

Edited by Nikoli
Changed a misspelt word. Added tags.
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Interesting writeup. I need to think about it and digest how a lot of this might play out at the table.

One thing I'm not sure about is halflings getting +10 to POW (or dwarfs for that matter at +8) for purposes of resisting magic. If you are using the resistance table, that seems a little too high for my tastes; making a halfling with max starting pow (28) vs. a human sorcerer with max starting POW (18) all but immune to magic.

But whatever, easy enough to tweak things to personal tastes, thanks for sharing.

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Hi Nick,

Yes, the halflings are VERY resistant. But not immune to a powerful sorceror, although I feel few writeups in rpgs give any benefit to being a halfling. Only MERP or RM had a tangible benefit, which felt appropriate to Tolkien and their general willpower. In fact, in some d100 writeups they even get lower POW than a human! 

It's true, though, that in RM the resistance table based on level is more granular. A level difference led to 2 or 3 percentiles, rather than 5% as in MW, so +30 (6 POW) for halflings and +20 (4 POW) for dwarves seems close to the original intent. This is just for resistance, though, so the regular stat stays the same. 

I would also use fate points like in WFRP, with humans and halflings getting 3, dwarves 2 and elves 1. Humans need to spend a fate point to be a cleric or magic user. Dwarves can be alchemists, without spending a fate point, but they are best as NPCs. Elves can be rangers as standard or indeed magic users or bards, etc. Few humans would have such training in the ways of the woods or magic. Elves are fading but are still close to magic. So Dwarves and Hobbits benefit from resistance as standard in the absence of magic; depending on setting, clerics might be possible. (Rather nicely, for WFRP, one can use the Slaying column for Dwarven Slayers! You might also rule that large creatures use the next column up from their skill level, and huge creatures two columns up. That way a huge creature with 80% can do an E critical. Seems fitting.)

In WFRP, halflings were all but immune to chaos. (Though a halfing mutant did creep into the published scenarios.) This resistance seemed to be based on the Tolkien aspect in which halflings consistently impressed the other races with their heart and courage, not to mention the ringbearer. I kind of like the idea that a halfling thief might prove a bane to a sorceror. What they lack in arms they can make up in other ways. Even in Age of Shadow, it's hard to see the appeal of a halfling without some tangible benefit. In RM and MERP, dwarves and hobbits were very resistant to magic. Especially hobbits. They had appeal for a PC.

Anyways, just my two cents! Glad you found the other stuff interesting! 

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I don't know Rolemaster, though I've seen a lot of praise for it. I'm still not clear on what it is that Spell Law brings to the table?
Are there random spell results ala Dungeon Crawl Classics? Or does it just offer a lot of options for spell use... so that no two caster's spells will be the same?

Edited by Simlasa

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Yes, a lot of spells. 2000 or so, in the basic package. But many of those will be too powerful if you used my POW is max level rule, which I think is wise. So having 200% in a list won't get you a 20th level spell, unless you have the POW. (I would likely make every 5% over 100 a lvl, so 150 would be lvl 20. That makes 300% the effective limit at lvl 50, but my POW limit would prevent those spells from being cast.)

My main problem with MW as a generic system was that it lacked the spells/miracles I wanted for magic users and clerics. I have the Magic Book, Advanced Sorcery, some updated Deep Magic posted by Chaot (which is good), and Classic Fantasy, but still couldn't recreate to my satisfaction, in an elegant system, the variety or types I wanted. Spell Law does it better for me and can create god-specific clerics (the Channeling Companion is needed for this), bards, paladins, etc. It also provides a huge selection of individual spells for memorisation, if using that mechanic. And lists as skills are more forgiving than individual spells as skills. It also allows for a nice sense of progression, so learning magic is partly built into the system I described since you get ticks and via experience checks you can learn new spells.

I also wanted to use the critical tables. :-) The serious wound table needed some expanding, for me. I wanted to attract WFRP players, and wfrp had more critical tables.

Mostly, I feel I can now model lots of wizards and clerics, and other professions or species like elven rangers. It also has alchemy rules. It feels more magical while still running on MW's very streamlined and elegant core system. And despite the complicated rolemaster base rules, you can ignore all of that. Any bonuses and penalties can be ported over, though, more or less. E.g., you might choose to use instantaneous casting at a -30 penalty, just as in RM. A round of prep is 0, and two rounds is +30. This just shows that the mechanics are useable with MW. So you can steal a lot of the detail with less complication. The Mentalism Companion goes into astrology and tarot, for example.

It may not suit everyone, though. But I like the consistency of just having the RM books at the table. Even if you don't use it as above, the various lists can be used as Arete systems, so that after certain skills go over 100%, they could provide list powers. E.g., after Nature 100% you might give access to Nature's Ways list in the manner I described earlier, so 120% would get a lvl two 'benefit' or power. Alegiance could also be used, so one might grant Paladin powers over 100% Light, etc. It has a lot of uses, imo.

N.

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In my opinion, RM attack tables aren't that easy to use in BRP, as the damage values listed are meant to affect differently a level 1 character with dozens HP and a 20th level one with hundreds of those.

Critical severity could be based on various damage threshold, based on the target's total Hit Points.

For instance:
-Hits between (THP/4 and THP/2) would deal A crits
-Hits between (THP/2 and THP*3/4) would deal C crits
-Hits beyond (THP*3/4) would deal E crits

I would also drop the need to memorise spells, and allow casters to cast any spell under (skill/10) in lists he knows.

Edited by Mugen

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Hi Mugen,

The suggested conversion is 6 RM hits to 1 MW/BRP/RQ hits. So that works. Don't use the attack tables, only the critical tables. The conversion is the one recommended by RM, but you could modify it to a more conservative 7 or 8 to 1. 

You can of course base critical severity on another method, though I favour one tied to skill without needing to work out fractions of total hits. A simple method might be to increase the severity for every HP over half total hits. So hitting for 11 against a half total of 8 would result in a C critical. (9 is A, 10 is B, 11 is C.)

I would allow casting spells exactly as you state, below list% divided by 10, but I also mix it with memorisation. One doesn't have to, but it enables grimoires. I like that there's a magical professional core along with room to maneuvre. RM normally limited non-base lists so that you could only learn a certain level outside your core profession. By having a listed core (about 6 lists) and the other slots being memorised, it helps to emulate that WHILE also allowing diversity. I think one might find that using only lists would prevent PCs from useful narrative spells or that it may box them in too much, thus reducing the appeal of Spell Law. So I see Spell Law as providing both magical professions and a huge collection of individual spells. (But you could certainly just use lists throughout. You may then need to rule if non-base lists can go over 100%. And if closed and open lists differed, too.)

But I'd encourage anyone to use what suits themselves. My approach is just one way. I took some ideas from Questbird and modified them, to reduce starting and casting spell whiff, while aiming to preserve the core profession AND the spell grimoire effect. I envisage a grimoire as having either individual assorted spells, collected over time, derived from many lists, or being dedicated to entire lists. E.g., The Art of Fire (Fire Law). 

Best,

N.

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On 6/24/2019 at 3:35 PM, Nikoli said:

Yes, a lot of spells. 2000 or so, in the basic package. But many of those will be too powerful if you used my POW is max level rule, which I think is wise. So having 200% in a list won't get you a 20th level spell, unless you have the POW. (I would likely make every 5% over 100 a lvl, so 150 would be lvl 20. That makes 300% the effective limit at lvl 50, but my POW limit would prevent those spells from being cast.)

My main problem with MW as a generic system was that it lacked the spells/miracles I wanted for magic users and clerics. I have the Magic Book, Advanced Sorcery, some updated Deep Magic posted by Chaot (which is good), and Classic Fantasy, but still couldn't recreate to my satisfaction, in an elegant system, the variety or types I wanted. Spell Law does it better for me and can create god-specific clerics (the Channeling Companion is needed for this), bards, paladins, etc. It also provides a huge selection of individual spells for memorisation, if using that mechanic. And lists as skills are more forgiving than individual spells as skills. It also allows for a nice sense of progression, so learning magic is partly built into the system I described since you get ticks and via experience checks you can learn new spells.

I also wanted to use the critical tables. 🙂 The serious wound table needed some expanding, for me. I wanted to attract WFRP players, and wfrp had more critical tables.

Mostly, I feel I can now model lots of wizards and clerics, and other professions or species like elven rangers. It also has alchemy rules. It feels more magical while still running on MW's very streamlined and elegant core system. And despite the complicated rolemaster base rules, you can ignore all of that. Any bonuses and penalties can be ported over, though, more or less. E.g., you might choose to use instantaneous casting at a -30 penalty, just as in RM. A round of prep is 0, and two rounds is +30. This just shows that the mechanics are useable with MW. So you can steal a lot of the detail with less complication. The Mentalism Companion goes into astrology and tarot, for example.

It may not suit everyone, though. But I like the consistency of just having the RM books at the table. Even if you don't use it as above, the various lists can be used as Arete systems, so that after certain skills go over 100%, they could provide list powers. E.g., after Nature 100% you might give access to Nature's Ways list in the manner I described earlier, so 120% would get a lvl two 'benefit' or power. Alegiance could also be used, so one might grant Paladin powers over 100% Light, etc. It has a lot of uses, imo.

N.

 

I really like some of your ideas, especially the half-INT number of initial spell lists and the magical damage bonus idea. My players never really used the damaging spells so I didn't come up with a way to adapt that.

The advantage of Spell Law is that you can create really diverse and specific spell casters by using the various spell lists in the book.

Good job! The Arms Law criticals idea is interesting too.

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Thanks, Questbird!

I'm following in your noble footsteps! 

I would likely use either 6 or 8 initial spell lists at INT %. That way, if using the memorisation element for non-profession spells, the smarter mage isn't penalised...because having more lists means a lower lowest score on average. (If using the idea that you roll the lowest list skill as a non-professional skill % for other spells.) So setting the number will make it fair. Either 6, as per RM, or 8 to mirror the number of skills in a regular profession. But I would likely do 6. (I'm wondering if I might just go for full lists and leave individual spells...but they seem useful.)

For higher level attack spells (e.g., lvl 7), if it says 'like shock bolt I' (lvl 2) or something, but 300 feet, I would count damage as lvl 2 (d4) but 300 foot range. So I would only count the higher level if a genuine attack lvl, such as a fireball. Or a lightning bolt. 

Yeah, the magic damage bonus seems useful. I got the idea from RM/MERP's idea of a directed spell OB. :-)

Where a spell says 'lvl in mins', etc., I use POW. 

I agree. The lists allow for very flavourful magic users and clerics. An apprentice might be INT % in all base; a journeyman wizard 50%; a full wizard (magister in wfrp) 80%; a master over 100% in each; and a wizard lord or archmage over 150% (lvl 20 for me, or 200% if keeping with the 10% increments over 100%. I think making 5% increases over 100% to be an extra level works. A kind of arete for the deep secrets such mastery has produced, leading to 150 equal to lvl 20 and 200% to lvl 30. It seems neat. 300% would be the amazing lvl 50. Only godlike beings would have such power, as PCs are still limited by POW for maximum casting lvl.

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Come to think of it, allegiance could be linked to lists, too. E.g., an elf with 80% balance might be able to use a lvl 8 nature's ways, etc. Just some ideas. Or maybe they can call on such a power once per adventure or session, etc. 

The lists, being percentile in the above mechanics, can port onto arete and allegiance easily, as well as being their own skills.

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On 6/28/2019 at 7:00 AM, Nikoli said:

Come to think of it, allegiance could be linked to lists, too. E.g., an elf with 80% balance might be able to use a lvl 8 nature's ways, etc. Just some ideas. Or maybe they can call on such a power once per adventure or session, etc. 

The lists, being percentile in the above mechanics, can port onto arete and allegiance easily, as well as being their own skills.

 

I use Allegiance points to power Channeling spells. That is, one magic point from the caster and the rest from his or her Allegiance.

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I remember that. It's neat. 

I wanted the same mechanic for all users, so the flavour is the lists themselves. My concern would be tracking allegiance so that it raises or can raise in a comparable way to MPs. It seems easier (for me) to just use the same mechanic. But using allegiance for extra MPs seems good. Likewise for chaos sorcerors etc. The wizards who aren't too religious and are more self-reliant are left to their own power. 

Maybe for each MP drawn upon from allegiance, there is a 'wrath of the gods' or 'taint' mechanic. Each MP is a % chance of some disapproval. So drawing 5mps from allegiance leads to a 5% chance. What happens is up to the GM. Maybe no access to powers or that list. Maybe some other event. Because they are drawing from their deity, they are protected from the corruption mechanic below. (In the case of chaos sorcerors...they are already corrupt!)

I was thinking of using the MPs cost as a corruption mechanic, like in MERP 2E. The spell MPs is the %. You cast a spell, but for each MP spent there is a chance of being noticed and tainted. The taint could be the MP cost added on to chaos allegiance. The 'noticed' is the chance of some nefarious servant or servants of the enemy being sent your way.

So clerics can draw on their allegiance, but could evoke wrath. They don't suffer corruption. But they might still be noticed. (Perhaps they can use allegiance points to veil their good works?) 

Wizards can suffer corruption and be noticed. The casting roll and corruption/noticed roll can be separated or combined. E.g., casting a lvl 4 spell with a POW of 18 means a casting roll of 90%. But if they roll 4 or less, corruption/noticed. The spell goes off, but they suffer 4 chaos points and some lesser servants of evil, like orcs, are sent their way. (Spells over lvl 10 may result in greater servants.) Clerics might have a similar mechanic, but could be just the wrath of god. They lose the number of MPs from their allegiance. E.g., with the above  stats, if under 4% they lose 4 light and must atone before they can use that list again. (I think calling lists 'litanies' and individual spells 'prayers' seems fitting.)

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The Chaos allegiance power mechanic as written in Elric!, which awards Chaos points for casting spells and then allows Chaos allies to draw on allegiance points as magic points as well, makes sorcerers pretty powerful. There is an obvious 'power corrupts' message behind Chaos allegiance points, but it is a Hell of a power trip along the way for the individual sorcerer. It was fine for the Young Kingdoms but I found it a bit too powerful for my low-magic Nehwon campaign. But some sort of corruption mechanic is appropriate for a sword-and-sorcery campaign.

For me, using allegiance points to power spells works well for priests because it forces players to roleplay some fawning to their god in order to get (or recover) access to the most powerful spells, and also explains why such spells wouldn't be used every day. I suppose sorcerer's allegiance to Chaos is not much different -- the power comes from outside the wizard in exchange for obedience to the cause.

Edited by Questbird
typo
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