View Full Version : Evocative Magic for the Twenty First Century

2012-06-22, 02:47 AM
Alright folks, I need some help. I'm working on a new system of magic, one based entirely on destroying things. I'm talking pure Evocation, with all the bells, whistles, and explosions attached.

To begin with, I have a basic concept of the actual mechanical ways the system will work. My problem lies in the details (as is usually the case). Of the types of Evocations, this is what I have so far:

Cold (lack of temperature, void of heat)
Death (destruction of living energies, animating forces)
Dismantle (the specific destruction of physical objects, in particular buildings, natural formations, and artifacts)
Electricity (the electrical energies made manifest to cause harm)
Fire (heat and light combined, combustion at its finest, made destructive)
Force (the invisible, indestructible power arising from the mind, or perhaps the void)
Light (light, radiance, projected into a single force, magnified to disrupt and destroy; that radiation which harms)
Sonic (the vibration of the world itself, and thus the destructive force of canceling such forces)
Toxic (the corruption of natural forms, all forms, from organic to mineral, liquid to air)

The real problem I'm running into is that I don't want this to just be the same old "Fire in a line, Fire in a cone, Fire in a massive explosion." I want there to be tiers of power, with the lower tiered individuals being able to pull off some alright stunts, but the more powerful individuals being able to pull off spectacular things.

After wracking my brain for whatever I could come up with, I am basically drawing a blank. So, I thought I might turn to the Playgrounders for help. Anyone want to make a cool Evocation system?

2012-06-22, 04:38 AM

OK, here's an idea that I'm making up as I go:

The system is designed to allow for lots of customizability.

First off, there are 5 tiers, Tier V being the highest and Tier I being the lowest. Each tier is given a certain amount of points, as follows:


For prepared casters (Wizards, Clerics, Druids, etc), these points are a 1 time allocation per spell.

For spontaneous casters (Sorcerers, Bards, etc), they are flexible. When preparing to cast spells for the day, they choose how each spell has its points allocated. At any point in the day, they may spend a spell slot of the same tier or higher to re-allocate points in one spell.

Points can be spent on the range, shape, size, damage, or to add special effects to a spell.

Range starts out at 15 ft + 5 ft/caster level, and can be increased by 10 ft/point. It can also be sold to "Touch" range for 2 points in return

Shape costs as follows:

Size works differently by shape, as follows:

Cubes start out as a 5ft by 5ft by 5ft volume. Each point invested into size increases the length of each side by 5 ft. A 3 point investment would make a 20 ft cube.

Cones start out as a 15 ft length/max diameter size. Each point increases both the length and end diameter by 5 ft.

Lines start at 5 ft width. Each point increases this by 5 ft.

Spheres begin at 10 ft diameter. Each 2 points increases this by 15 ft.

Direct shape spells are unaffected by size.

Damage starts at 1d4 for all spells. Increasing the damage die costs 2 points per increase (d4 to d8 is 4 points, for example). Increasing the number of dice costs 3 points for 2 extra dice.

Effects are things that define added things a spell does, like blinding or setting on fire. Big list is in progress.

2012-06-22, 07:27 AM
if you want it to be really really easy and basic, you could just give players an amount of Mana each day

Have some guidelines for basic spells
the ones posted earlier are fine i guess.
More points increase damage, change shape, etc.

Then, go wild.
say to your players: you can do whatever you want.
Players can invent their own spells and effects.
Want to animate a fire elemental? sure! Just set up some stats, how you can
increase them, how much does it cost.

An electricity-based caster could control electrical machines (just set a cost per-minute)

You may even want to allow dual-type spells
For example, a Sonic/Death power would be like Power Word:Kill
You can invent most effects, and most importantly you can give your players freedom to do what they want.
Possibly though, have people specialize in one or more Evocation types.
Like, you ahve one type at tier 3, two types at tier 2 and three at tier 1
Increasing level you increase some tiers.
Some particularly strong spell may require certain tiers (SuperFireBallOfDeath requires Fire tier 5, while Power Word Kill may require Death tier 5 and Sound tier 3)

You can work along these lines, player's creativity will do the rest

2012-06-22, 08:05 AM
I've always thought Divination and Evocation needed more subschools. Divination could have Cleromancy, for example. Evocation though, that's harder. Necromancy took Destruction. Conjuration took Creation. There are no mind-affecting Evocations, although there SHOULD be.
You could have Evocation (Repulsion), Evocation (Force) and Evocation (Elemental) as subschools. Each need some more work, but dang if it wouldn't be nice to have them.

2012-06-22, 01:41 PM
There are some good ideas here, but I should have clarified a bit more. I'm not strictly working out of the 3.5/Pathfinder system (and I have a massive hatred for Vancian casting, but that's neither here nor there), so this system is being created from the ground up.

As for the actual mechanics, the system itself is a variant of the mana system, allowing for a bit more maneuverability (there isn't a strict limit of how much mana a player gets per day).

What I'm really looking for is ideas for how to spice things up. I already have the ideas in place of how to make the Evocations fairly simple: they all start at 1 mana and are touch attacks, you can increase the amount of mana to make it a line or a cone or a sphere or what-have-you (the system I'm making is very low on hit points, so damage isn't as much of a factor).

What I'm more looking for isn't so much the specific mechanical aspects of the abilities so much as more open ideas. Almost like, would there be a way to make higher tiers unlock higher abilities? I had an idea that perhaps the Death Evocations could knock out certain senses, or that Toxic could be used to create poisons outside of a living creature.

Is this a bit more explanatory?

2012-06-22, 03:50 PM
I suggest you go take a look at... anything WoD related, I'd guess...

Maybe a copy of Genius: the Transgression would do you good? I don't know.

However, may I suggest something? For uniqueness (I.E., I haven't seen a game set up like this before), why don't you make it that higher Tiers bring greater control, not greater power?

So if you told two different people, namely a Novice in Fire and a Grandmaster of Fire, to light a candle (for example; this would entail making the wick burn.)

The Novice would light the entire candle, wax and all, on fire, unless he was really lucky; and if he was really unlucky, he might light the table and floor on fire as well.

The Grandmaster, on the other hand, would be able to easily light the candle, barring outside interference, of course.

A Novice in Dismantle, when asked to open a door, would probably Dismantle the entire thing, along with the nearby floor joists, leaving a large hole in the wall where the entire thing falls into a pit; a Grandmaster would just Dismantle the locking mechanism, and then could just push the door open.

And of course, this greater control would allow cool stunts and, paradoxically, it would also allow more powerful uses of the magic, since a Grandmaster could probably handle a metric ****ton of magic before they run a risk of freezing the blood in their allies' veins or straight-out killing everyone in a village.

Your thoughts?

Fable Wright
2012-06-22, 04:23 PM
The Avatar d20 project (https://sites.google.com/site/avatard20/bending-version2.0) may be something to look at for this. Different applications for elements, outside of blast in different shapes, in addition to a possible system for it.

@Amechra: Basically, then, you would have it so that changing the area would cost more mana? Basically, a point-buy system, with each spell of a certain rank having a certain number of points to it, and then casters can distribute those points among different aspects, with the degree an aspect can be augmented to based off of the person's level? For example, a basic Fire spell, Blast, might look like this:

Points: 17
Everything within range of caster: 10 points
Cone: 8 points, requires level 3 in casting class
Line: 5 points, requires level 5 in casting class
Emanation at point in range: 6 points, requires level 7 in casting class
Single Target(s): 3 points, requires level 9 in casting class +3 points and +2 minimum level for each additional target.
1 point: Add 1d6 points of damage.
2 points: Add 1d4 points of fire damage per turn after, requires level 3, +2 minimum level for each additional time this applies.
X points: Add status effect. Maybe blindness?

EDIT: Just saw that it was a mana-based system. Maybe require a certain amount of mana to cast a spell, with each additional mana used to increase the points available? It would certainly add more flexibility to the system, and with all the damage taken care of by one spell, there are other options to add...

2012-06-22, 05:16 PM
My idea follows more along the idea of:

You can spend X many mana on an effect; however, you can only SAFELY use up to Y mana.

Any excess forces you to make a saving throw equivalent or have everything go to Hell, based off how many more than your limit you spent.

Fable Wright
2012-06-22, 11:51 PM
My idea follows more along the idea of:

You can spend X many mana on an effect; however, you can only SAFELY use up to Y mana.

Any excess forces you to make a saving throw equivalent or have everything go to Hell, based off how many more than your limit you spent.

...And how does this make lighting a candle harder than setting the wall behind it on fire?

Regardless, spells like in my last post might be a good idea. I like the idea that fine control takes time to master and is inefficient, and modular spells seem like a good idea, especially with mana augmenting the number of points that can be spent on things. You now only need one spell for all your explosion needs, one spell for your lances of fire needs, and adding on a system for combining the spells (Augment option: Add another effect to spell, originating at the source of the explosion, paying full mana for it but getting a lesser number of points to use?) would mean that you can cause your explosion to shoot rockets of fire to get to foes outside of the radius. Create a Fire Sword spell, and give it an augment option: Has 1/5 the points of combined spell per swing of the sword- combine with Fire Lances, you now have a lightsaber/blaster weapon. Augment the Fire Sword spell with a Fire Lances spell augmented with an explosion spell, and you do the above while creating explosions at the same time. Create chain explosions, with one setting off lances augmented with more explosions- magic that can be used flexibly and creatively, working within a mana system, and each spell covers a base perfectly. It also reduces the number of spells you would need- you might get more spells when you level up, but each one already can handle all of one aspect. Plus, instead of more powerful spells, you just need to combine a few- a novice might get a weak cone of fire out of Blast, but a high level caster can focus the damage into one point, already a more powerful effect, and then add on augments, whether it be additional iterations of the same spell or adding in the effects of a different spell, and suddenly you have a higher level spell of your very own creation that can be modified to fit the situation, never being useless. Plus, spending less points on the area/targets would mean being able to unlock higher level augments, adding higher level spells to the system in disguise.

For some ideas of effects in the sample system:
Injure Organ [Death]
X mana
Y points
Targets different ranges, restricted by level with less points needed for finer control.
Each augment adds one status effect. These are expensive, so it would be hard to add more than one or two at most, with a range of cheap-ish augments and more expensive augments. It will be difficult to do more than a little bit of damage at lower levels, so mostly higher level casters take this spell. Plus, with high augment costs, it's difficult to use this with other spells properly.

Exaggerate Damage [Sonic]
X mana
Y points
Target: As above
Z points: Different durations for the damage to last, after which the wounds amplified go back to normal.
A points: Extra damage dealt to someone for duration
B points: Temporarily increase someone's wounds on someone for duration, giving penalties for low HP. If you die, you stay dead.
C points: Increase damage of weapon for duration.

Combining this with a direct damage spell, such as a Reduce HP [Death] spell, you can have a spell that lasts for one round, reduces the target's HP by a certain number for the duration, and then spring to normal at the end of the turn. Or, in other words, Power Word Kill. If you want Power Word Blind? Just use the Organ Damage seed. If you want a fireball that causes people to fall down and lose their legs? Organ Damage + Blaze. Want a fireball that causes huge immediate damage that people recover from? Blaze + Exaggerate Damage. It's something to think about, anyways.

2012-06-23, 03:18 PM
Actually, both of you two seem to be thinking right along the same lines as me. In particular, just last night I was thinking exactly along the same lines as Amechra, with greater tiers bringing greater control. I was also thinking that greater tiers might bring higher ability to do more interesting things.

So, for example, take Death. At its most basic (tier one) it is an assault on the life force of a creature. You can kill things by snuffing out their animating force. But, at higher tiers you can begin to more specifically target their bodies, perhaps killing off portions of them (a prized swordfighter won't be doing much with their hand suddenly necrotizing), or rendering certain senses obliterated, with the highest heights allowing something like stripping the spirit straight out of a creature, leaving the life force behind, but an empty shell (so this seems very much like what you were suggesting, DarkDM).

I'm quite glad other people had similar ideas. Makes me feel better about my own ideas. If any other ideas are out there, feel free to throw them at me. I'll be writing up a simple concept sheet of what I'm thinking and throwing it up here to see what people think of what I produce.

2012-06-24, 01:14 AM
So, this is what I've got so far.

Each of the eight Evocations possess five tiers. Higher tiers allow for greater control over the specific ability, and each tier unlocks a specific new way to use that particular Evocation. Beyond this, other kinds of ways of augmenting the Evocations can be obtained, such as changing the Evocation into a line or a cone, or adding interesting effects, such as bursts.

At their most basic, each Evocation can be used only as a Touch attack. Other augmentations must be obtained to expand these options. However, a particular augmentation need only be obtained once; in other words, you don't need to obtain the Cone augmentation once for Fire and again for Force. Obtaining the Cone augmentation once lets you apply it to whatever Evocations you happen to possess.

What I would like to add in the end is a way for each of the specific augmentations that are gained upon obtaining higher tiers to be added to other augmentations. For instance, one of the augmentations that is gained for Cold at higher tiers is Climb, which causes ice to grow and "climb" up objects struck by the Evocation. If you learned how to gain another augmentation, such as Electricity, you would be able to apply Climb to it as well, even though it is somewhat different. The augmentation is naturally learned only through the Cold Evocation, but can be expanded to others.

This seem like a good basic set of rules?

2012-06-24, 05:31 PM
Sure, it does seem nice.
I guess you only need to play around with costs, mana points/day, and dice.
The bare bones are there, now it only takes a lot of playtest to make it usable.

Possible suggestion for effects:
Entangle (if you Dismantle the ground under your opponents, you make it difficult terrain to pass through)

Sicken (Toxic gives persistant maluses)

Redemption (Light effect may turn the enemy to nonviolence? this has gotta be a high-level one)

Uhmm i have no more for now :P

2012-07-11, 01:54 AM
So, the basics of the system are now set up. I played with quite a few ideas and came up with this. There are five tiers to an Evocation. The first tier always do the same thing: allow access to a new kind of Evocation. The second, third and fourth tier abilities are all augmentations which can be added to any Evocation, even those outside the Evocation in which they were originally learned (so, if I learn the Climb augmentation from Cold, I can add it to Sonic to make a persist, resonating sound). Finally, the fifth tier ability is also an augmentation, but one which is specific to that particular Evocation, and often quite powerful.

That said, here are my Evocations in brief:

Cold (lack of temperature, void of heat)
Tier 1 – Frost: Can create intense blasts of cold, enough to deal immediate damage to human flesh, creating instant onset frostbite
Tier 2 – Solidify: Can freeze and direct water in the air in order to creating shards of ice with which to deal damage, as well as the more powerful cold, and can push back opponents (or, make other attacks solid, so they cannot be passed through)
Tier 3 – Climb: Can cause ice to grow on objects instantly, allowing for blockades as well as damage (or, cause an Evocation to suddenly engulf a creature (so long as the creature is touching a source of the Evocation), impeding movement)
Tier 4 – Internalize: Can freeze the very blood within a living creature, causing instant damage (or, can completely avoid armor)
Tier 5 – Absolute Zero: Can fully and totally freeze an object, bringing it to a point of stasis for some time

Death (destruction of living energies, animating forces)
Tier 1 – Anti-Life: Can snuff out the life force of other creatures, killing them without landing a blow
Tier 2 – Senseless: Can destroy specific senses the target possesses, rendering them less capable (or, can cause certain senses to be wounded)
Tier 3 – Deaden: Can selectively cause certain body parts to become deadened, causing instant dangerous wounds (or, can paralyze specific body parts)
Tier 4 – Leech: Can absorb the life force instead of destroying it, using it to heal wounds as it harms (or, can absorb some of the energy lost through entropy; essentially the same thing)
Tier 5 – Unsoul: Can strip a living being of their spirit, leaving the body alive, but without a consciousness

Dismantle (the specific destruction of physical objects, in particular buildings, natural formations, and artifacts)
Tier 1 – Demolition: Can cause immediate damage to an object, breaking it down
Tier 2 – Weaken: Can selectively destroy bits of an object, creating weak points (or, can do exactly the same thing)
Tier 3 – Sabotage: Can obliterate key components of an object, rendering it apparently untouched, but unusable (or, can disguise an Evocation as a believable circumstantial occurrence)
Tier 4 – Bad Juju: Can cause an object to break in such a way as to harm someone else (or, can cause an Evocation to be aimed at one target but strike another due to happenstance)
Tier 5 – Damnation: Can cause an object to immediately break upon its next usage

Electricity (the electrical energies made manifest to cause harm)
Tier 1 – Shock: Can form and express electricity, damaging foes
Tier 2 – Chain Strike: Can cause the electricity to arc to multiple targets (or, basically the same thing)
Tier 3 – Twitch: Can damage the creature’s nervous system, causing a chance for involuntary movements (or, basically the same thing)
Tier 4 – Animate: Can force electricity into objects which use electricity to work (including living, organic beings) and take control of them (or, can take control of objects which use a particular Evocation souce)
Tier 5 – Disintegrate: Can destroy the very electrical bindings in a creature, turning them to a pile of dust

Fire (heat and light combined, combustion at its finest, made destructive)
Tier 1 – Flame: Can create fire, burning foes to the ground
Tier 2 – Napalm: Can cause the fire to cling to opponents, burning over a number of rounds (or, do the same thing with a different source of damage)
Tier 3 – Holocaust: Can cause a wildly expanding conflagration which grows and consumes all it touches (or, cause another Evocation to spread)
Tier 4 – Barrier: Can create a massive wall of flames, stopping others from passing through (or, cause a wall made of a different Evocation)
Tier 5 – Anti-Combustion: Can cause combustion to be impossible to incite, making fire unusable

Force (the invisible, indestructible power arising from the mind, or perhaps the void)
Tier 1 – Missile: Can fire bolts of mystic force, an invisible, intangible power which strikes
Tier 2 – Split: Can fire force blasts at multiple targets (or, the same thing)
Tier 3 – Turn: Can fire a lance of Force which can make a single turn (multiple applications can allow extra turns) of up to 90 degrees (or, the same thing)
Tier 4 – Phantom Target: Can start an Evocation from any point in space you can see (or, basically the same thing)
Tier 5 – Perfect Cut: By projecting an infinitely thin line of force, you can slice directly through an object, causing a perfect cut

Light (light, radiance, projected into a single force, magnified to disrupt and destroy; that radiation which harms)
Tier 1 – Radiance: Can create a massive blast of light which harms those it strikes
Tier 2 – Sunburn: Can deal stress with altered kinds of light (or, the same with another type of damage)
Tier 3 – Infrared: Can shift the light into a nonvisible spectrum, making the Evocation invisible (basically the same thing)
Tier 4 – Wave Nature: Can cause the light to act more like a wave, allowing it to avoid certain objects (or, pretty much allows an Evocation to not strike certain targets)
Tier 5 – Laser: Can fire a line of pure light, which strikes immediately, leaving no time for reaction, and traveling in a perfectly straight line, ignoring any attempt to dodge it

Sonic (the vibration of the world itself, and thus the destructive force of canceling such forces)
Tier 1 – Resonate: Can fire a blast of sonic energy which resonates with the body and destroys it
Tier 2 – Infrasound: Can create a disquieting blast, sinking into the range of hearing which causes fear (or, a fearful Evocation)
Tier 3 – Silent Strike: Can attack the sounds themselves, destroying them, thus creating silence (or, a silent attack)
Tier 4 – Phase: Can create a blast of sound which passes through objects, allowing the Evocation to pass through walls (or, the same damn thing)
Tier 5 – Sonoluminescence: Can create a vibration so intense as to actually collapse the air around it, requiring a strength check not to be crushed

Toxic (the corruption of natural, living forms)
Tier 1 – Poison: Can inflict a dangerous poison which attacks the flesh of a creature
Tier 2 – Autoimmune: Can weaken a target, significantly decreasing a certain ability score (or, basically the same thing)
Tier 3 – Boils: Can create a painful pustule which explodes upon being struck, dealing more damage and
possibly infecting others with the disease (or, causes an infusion of an Evocation, which explodes upon contact)
Tier 4 – Cancer: Can corrupt a creature, causing a raging cancer (or, cause a constantly damaging wound)
Tier 5 – Necrosis: Causes completely deadened flesh, which cannot be healed through natural means

And, for reference, these are simple augmentation that can be automatically applied to any Evocation:

Increased Range: Increase the length at which the Evocation reaches
Cone: Turn the Evocation into a cone shape
Emanation: Changes the Evocation into a blast originating on the Evoker
Detonation: Causes a successful strike of an Evocation to release an explosion, possibly striking those
Admixture: Mixes two Evocations together, creating two sources of damage

So, that being put out there, what I'm wondering now is if there are any other possible kinds of Evocations that people could think, both in terms of types of augmentations and types of damages. Now, I'm not necessarily going about this in a D&Dish way, so I'm not just looking for types of elemental damage. More, since Evocation in this sense is just pure damage output I'm looking for other kinds of things which could possibly cause damage (for instance, one thing I've been playing with is Growth, or causing sudden, excessive growth in plants to cause damage).

If anyone has any ideas, or critiques of what I've got so far, throw 'em out. I'd love some feedback.

2012-07-11, 03:37 AM
Disorder: Entropy as damage; increase the Disorder in a complex system to screw it over. Remember, if you put a jigsaw puzzle in a box, and then shake it around a bit, it most likely won't be in the right order when you take it out...

Wrecked Fate: This could be more of an augmentation; basically, you attack their fate, so that at some later point they suffer an accident related to the element that is augmented (so they might catch on fire, or get stuck outside the next winter, or accidently pick up an acid flask)... Mechanically, this would give you the ability to delay the damage or other effect until later.