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Chirp
2016-04-05, 06:15 AM
I'm working on a fantasy setting with a more grim and dark style than is typical for the genre. In this setting, magic is a fairly new dynamic in the world that came about due to the discovery of a substance (yet unnamed in my planning) that grants those who drink it the ability to use magic. However, the substance is highly addictive, to the point that those who have used it for an extended period literally become incapable of surviving without it. At the same time, it also corrupts the user's body, causing their veins and eyes to glow. The side effects are tolerable if the user only consumes the substance is small amounts, but over use, or use over long periods of time will wither the body into an emaciated crippled state. An overdoes of the substance can even result in the user losing their minds completely and mutating into a type of monster.

The trick is reflecting this addictive and corrupting quality through game mechanics, and I'm not sure how to do it. My first thought is to limit the caster classes down to those that gain magic innately rather than through study (For example sorcerers would be allowed but not wizards). Then making it necessary for members of the class to consume the substance in order to gain their daily spells. But I'm not sure how to reflect the addictive nature of the substance, except perhaps imposing penalties on casters who fail to take it regularly. And I'm not sure how to reflect the corrupting influence without inflicting penalties. Which would mean casters would be getting penalized no matter what, and that seems unfair.

I also had an inclination to develop some spell-like abilities that non-caster classes might gain if they were to take the substance, opening the addiction/corruption to everyone.

Obviously this substance is going to play a big role in the setting as a catalyst for magic and alchemy, which will/has had a dramatic effect on what was otherwise a more realistic medieval culture.

DontEatRawHagis
2016-04-05, 07:54 AM
The trick is reflecting this addictive and corrupting quality through game mechanics, and I'm not sure how to do it. My first thought is to limit the caster classes down to those that gain magic innately rather than through study (For example sorcerers would be allowed but not wizards). Then making it necessary for members of the class to consume the substance in order to gain their daily spells.
A good rule of thumb only give out positive effects, negative effects will most likely be forgotten. In Dark Sun for instance the Defilers are magic users on steroids. Make the substance enhance normal spellcasting so much that if you tried to be a spellcaster you have to use the "substance" to keep up.

When you make it that a Sorcerer is playing without any spells because he forgot a dose you have severely crippled him. Making players wonder either why are they playing such a class or mad at you for taking away the only way their character can function. With a positive effect such as extra spell slots its powerful, but not so much as to make them useless.


But I'm not sure how to reflect the addictive nature of the substance, except perhaps imposing penalties on casters who fail to take it regularly. And I'm not sure how to reflect the corrupting influence without inflicting penalties. Which would mean casters would be getting penalized no matter what, and that seems unfair.
You might play around with conditions that make it more likely that the PC will get injured. You don't give a system for this so I can only assume that you are in either Pathfinder or 5e. If you are in 5e I'd just give a level of Fatigue/Exhaustion.

If someone takes too much of the substance you could start doing CON damage to them. This would be as if the substance is actually poisoning them. Going through rehabilitation might restore their CON to its original value.


I also had an inclination to develop some spell-like abilities that non-caster classes might gain if they were to take the substance, opening the addiction/corruption to everyone.

Obviously this substance is going to play a big role in the setting as a catalyst for magic and alchemy, which will/has had a dramatic effect on what was otherwise a more realistic medieval culture.
Its a cool idea, make sure your players know what they are getting into.

Comet
2016-04-05, 07:57 AM
What game are you playing?



I also had an inclination to develop some spell-like abilities that non-caster classes might gain if they were to take the substance, opening the addiction/corruption to everyone.


Elaborating on this, I would probably have no caster classes in the game at all. Everyone would be playing non-casters with the opportunity to gain spells through substance abuse. That way all players get to participate in this thing that's a big deal in your setting and you can also slap on as many penalties for addiction and corruption as you want since the players can make the decision on whether or not this magic is worth the risk without having to commit to it before the game begins.

BWR
2016-04-05, 07:57 AM
Apart from defiling I'd look into Legend of the Five Rings' maho and Taint.

goto124
2016-04-05, 08:17 AM
I would probably have no caster classes in the game at all. Everyone would be playing non-casters with the opportunity to gain spells through substance abuse.

Everyone's a non-caster, the only way to do magic is loads of cursed items!

Firest Kathon
2016-04-05, 08:30 AM
I think the best way would be to switch to a point-based magic system, using a conversion (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/magic/spellPoints.htm) or going psionic (http://www.d20srd.org/indexes/psionicRacesClassesSkillsSpells.htm). Then drinking X amount of the substance can give you Y spell/power points which you can then use to cast. Some more suggestions:

For the reasons DontEatRawHagis stated, magic characters should have some base points which are available without consuming the substance. This could be fluffed as having been acquired from long-term use, maybe correspond with addiction
Using the substance within some limits (e.g. only as many points as you would get using the normal rules for whichever system you are using) is (relatively) safe, only when going over this limit it is really dangerous for the user (stepping up the penalties, heightening the addiction etc.).

Example using the spell points system linked above, using a sorcerer 5 with Cha 18:
- Starts each day with 8 spell points (double the amount from table "Bonus spell points") (could cast 4 lvl1 spells or 1 lvl2 + 1 lvl1 spell)
- Drinking the substance is safe as long as he only acquires max. 23 Spell points ("Spell points per day" + "Bonus spell points")
- If he drinks more than that, he will suffer some consequences

Regarding the addiction, I would go with a scale approach. The following table is just to give you an idea what I am talking about, it's not really well tought out. The char would advance on the table when going over their safe limit, consequences are suffered if the substance is not consumed within two days (so missing it one day is not a problem) and are cumulative. Each level should also carry some bonus


Addiction level
Consequences
Bonus


0
None
None


1
Fatigued
+2 Diplomacy when interacting with other consumers


2
1 <casting attribute> damage
Less substance needs to be consumed to gain spell/power points


3
Permanent loss of 1 max spell/power point
Half cost for applying metamagic feats to spells

Eisenheim
2016-04-05, 08:32 AM
This sounds like a really interesting game.

I would not in a million years use D&D to play it.

There a lots of great systems out there, many of which could handle something like this better. It's just so far from D&D's baseline and D&D isn't modular or easily hackable to that degree. There are lots of people on this board who could point to other systems, depending on what else you want out of the game.

Douche
2016-04-05, 08:39 AM
Dude, if you're gonna put Blood Elves in your game, just say it. Don't dance around it by explaining the entire Blood Elf lore and not using the term Blood Elf


Main difference here being that Blood Elves originally got their magic from the Sunwell, but then it got corrupted/destroyed or whatever, giving them withdrawals when they didn't even know they were addicted. Then they turned elsewhere to get their "fix", that being Fel (demon) magic

Segev
2016-04-05, 08:50 AM
Corruption mechanics work best when they psychologically addict the player. Since your fluff says that taking this substance is where magic comes from, that should be the "recovery" mechanic for magic.

Let me try to explain with some hypothetical systems. If you run a D&D-like game, they don't replenish spell slots by resting overnight: they take a dose of the stuff and get a certain number of spell slots. You could literally have potions of the stuff have specific numbers of spell slots for specific spell levels (e.g. 4 1st level slots, 2 2nd level slots, and a 3rd level slot, from drinking this one potion).

The costs are twofold: 1) the potions aren't free, and 2) the defects of the poison are real.

In a mana-based system (like GURPS with Fatigue or BESM with EP or Paladium with PPE), again you don't have the "mana" recharge naturally; instead, you have 1 mana be 1 unit of the substance. Scale the "unit" to get the amount you want consumed to correspond to mana pool restoration rates.

Note that this is best done with the costs used strictly as balancing mechanics. The limit on how much magic somebody has is their wealth of the substance and their willingness to take the penalties associated with it.


If you want a corruption mechanic that actually manipulates player BEHAVIOR, simulating some sort of madness or the like, then have the behaviors you feel are archetypal to the kind of corruption you want be rewarding. It lets them offload some of the penalties, or it lets them avoid some of the penalties entirely. Or it gives them more efficiency from the same dose. Perhaps willingly interacting with hallucinations prevents some of the worse penalties of fighting off madness. Or those hallucinations are batteries for extra mana, but they have to bargain with them or beat them up or something to recover it.

Chirp
2016-04-05, 08:51 AM
Dude, if you're gonna put Blood Elves in your game, just say it. Don't dance around it by explaining the entire Blood Elf lore and not using the term Blood Elf


Main difference here being that Blood Elves originally got their magic from the Sunwell, but then it got corrupted/destroyed or whatever, giving them withdrawals when they didn't even know they were addicted. Then they turned elsewhere to get their "fix", that being Fel (demon) magic

Well, I'll give you points for having an accurate forum name. :smallannoyed:

After a brief google search I can only assume blood elves are a WoW thing. I don't play WoW. I hate WoW and everything associated with it.

This idea did not originate in WoW. The concept of using an addictive and dangerous substance to gain power has been around for as long as fantasy/sci-fi. It can be seen in works such as Dune (spice) and Bioshock (Plasmids [or whatever they are called]), as well as many others.

Segev
2016-04-05, 08:52 AM
The concept of using an addictive and dangerous substance to gain power has ... can be seen in works such as Dune (spice)

That's what I first thought of at your description, if that makes you feel any better.

JeenLeen
2016-04-05, 09:07 AM
I definitely like the idea, and I've struggled with subsystems like this in games I've tried to make.

I don't have a solution, but I wanted to share what the main struggle I've had is: you need to make the addiction relevant but not crippling. Look at the morality systems in old World of Darkness. Often (depending on how the game is run), they seem to either not matter at all* or be absolutely crippling. If the former, it's a waste of time. If the latter, then nobody wants to play that character.
Addiction might be easier than something like mental or moral corruption. If you have something like the Taint tables from D&D's horror book (forget the name), but less random, that could work. The players get benefits -- maybe free feats or some equivalent, or bonus spells/power to spells -- but the consequences are known. Basically, being addicted becomes a flaw you trade for a boon.
Balancing said flaws and is still tricky, to avoid players getting flaws that just don't matter.

I think the flaws mattering is important because it mattering helps roleplay. It's easier to roleplay the consequences of corruption if the corruption can't just be ignored. That may be my and my group's personal experience due to some optimizing tendencies, but even those who can ignore the mechanics for roleplay would probably appreciate the mechanics assisting roleplaying the addict.

*it might matter a little bit, but if the negatives are so minor that they can easily be avoided/worked around, it's essentially not mattering or just a little annoying -- either way a waste of time and a drain on fun

Chirp
2016-04-05, 10:02 AM
Some great ideas suggested so far. They've gotten my brain working. I'm going to toss around a couple of ideas and see if anything sticks together, and I'll post any results here for further brainstorming.

Mark Hall
2016-04-05, 10:49 AM
Depending on your spellcasting mechanics, another option might be to make things more expensive as you slip further into addiction.

I'll use some 3.x terms, as they are sort of the lingua franca around here...

Imagine that your spellcasting system is based on psionics. However, every time you used a power, you also had to make a Fortitude save to avoid slipping into addiction. Fail your Fortitude save, and every power becomes 1 point more expensive... and it keeps getting more expensive the more you fail.

You can overcome this addiction by completely abstaining from psychic powers for a period of time (I'd go with Fibonacci days... one day if you've got a 1 point penalty, 3 days if you've got a 2 point penalty, 6 days with a 3 point penalty, etc), and a lot of casters yo-yo through addiction phases, able to abstain for a while before falling off the wagon. For using psychic powers, I'd even include the various psychically-powered feats... increase their minimum reserve when you're addicted, and make using them something that continues addiction (but not, perhaps, forces a save).

You might also add some ancillary penalties to this... problems with charisma checks or whatever... but make USING the magic the thing that drives the penalty AND the place the penalty lies. Getting addicted to magic makes you less able as a magic-user... but using magic is your thing.

EDIT: Another option, drawn from Star Wars d6, is to make addiction a bit of a benefit, as well. In Star Wars d6, there were Dark Side Points. Too many, and your character was lost to the Dark Side. Until then, however, Dark Side points added to your Force rolls, and not taking the bonus subtracted from them. The Dark Side wanted you, and offered you help... until you were theirs, when they stopped helping you and just let you stay in the Dark.

Gildedragon
2016-04-05, 12:02 PM
Depends what system you're using. I am most familiar with 3.P so...

Taint mechanics in Heroes of Horror might be a good baseline. So we'll work with those for now.

Next: what sort of campaign you want to run; thinking a sorta horroresque one, where the bonuses per dose start strong but weaken as the addiction progresses.

Putting it together:

The Substance IS magic, pure and powerful, or so the dealers say. It is unquestionable that it increases the might of the user; but at what cost?

Each dose of substance grants a bonus (see below) but carries a risk with it; immediately after consumption one must make a Fort save with the DC increasing a lot with each prior usage.
Failure means they gain 1 point of corruption, which affects Con or Wis negatively, making more corruption gain easy.
The bonuses are temporary and stacking
At first stages: +1 or +2 self-stacking profane bonus to Cha, +4 spell levels to cast (can be used for metamagic-ing spells beyond actual casting power), a +8 CL bonus to next spell; the bonuses last for 24 hours or until the bonus spell levels are used up
Then the bonuses are halved, then quarterd, or limited to which one can get (instead of getting all 3 you only get 1 per dose) and so on.
Withdrawal involves a daily check with the save the Substance has gutted, failure to imbibe results in Cha damage which is healed once the Substance is once again consumed. N failed checks (as many as your corruption) or one successful one result in lowering your corruption by 1.
... Heading out but this is a rough draft of how it might work in 3.5

Segev
2016-04-05, 12:44 PM
Depending on your spellcasting mechanics, another option might be to make things more expensive as you slip further into addiction.

I'll use some 3.x terms, as they are sort of the lingua franca around here...

Imagine that your spellcasting system is based on psionics. However, every time you used a power, you also had to make a Fortitude save to avoid slipping into addiction. Fail your Fortitude save, and every power becomes 1 point more expensive... and it keeps getting more expensive the more you fail.

You can overcome this addiction by completely abstaining from psychic powers for a period of time (I'd go with Fibonacci days... one day if you've got a 1 point penalty, 3 days if you've got a 2 point penalty, 6 days with a 3 point penalty, etc), and a lot of casters yo-yo through addiction phases, able to abstain for a while before falling off the wagon. For using psychic powers, I'd even include the various psychically-powered feats... increase their minimum reserve when you're addicted, and make using them something that continues addiction (but not, perhaps, forces a save).This is a poor model for addiction, honestly. It makes it harder and harder to do the thing that is, in theory, less and less easily resisted. Addiction mechanics work best when they make not giving in cause life to be harder for you. Not just from the standpoint of "man, that convenience would be nice," but from the standpoint that you're actually worse, as you grow more dependent, without the addictive substance than others are.

A really simplistic model might be a drug which grants a +4 alchemical to Strength for a couple hours, but which causes you to suffer a -2 to Strength the next day. Taking it again negates the penalty and gives you that +4 back on top of it, though. As you grow more addicted, the penalty might worsen and your duration of the penalty might increase, until you're basically at -6 Strength any time you're not on the drug. (I could complicate the model a bit more, but I think I get the point across with this.)


Depends what system you're using. I am most familiar with 3.P so...

Taint mechanics in Heroes of Horror might be a good baseline.
I generally find HoH's taint mechanics to be poor. Taint is 100% bad (unless you're in one particular easily-broken PrC), and in no way is seductive. It's strictly inflicted on the character, and has an overt "you now act like this" style of showing its malign influence. It is something which, from a game perspective, players have no reason to pursue nor indulge, so their characters aren't "tempted" so much as "mind controlled." It's not very immersive, and makes the whole concept of being tainted by evil feel very external. It's not corruption so much as disease.

SethoMarkus
2016-04-05, 12:58 PM
This idea did not originate in WoW. The concept of using an addictive and dangerous substance to gain power has been around for as long as fantasy/sci-fi. It can be seen in works such as Dune (spice) and Bioshock (Plasmids [or whatever they are called]), as well as many others.

Late to the party but I concur; the first thing I thougt of when addiction was mentioned was Dune, and that changed to Psykers in Warhammer with corruption into monsters being mentioned.

Perhaps create a system like Incarnun? I agree that in such a setting magic should be open to all characters, not just casters, though those that choose to focus entirely on magic should feel some benefit to their choice.

Gildedragon
2016-04-05, 01:05 PM
This is a poor model for addiction, honestly. It makes it harder and harder to do the thing that is, in theory, less and less easily resisted. Addiction mechanics work best when they make not giving in cause life to be harder for you. Not just from the standpoint of "man, that convenience would be nice," but from the standpoint that you're actually worse, as you grow more dependent, without the addictive substance than others are.

A really simplistic model might be a drug which grants a +4 alchemical to Strength for a couple hours, but which causes you to suffer a -2 to Strength the next day. Taking it again negates the penalty and gives you that +4 back on top of it, though. As you grow more addicted, the penalty might worsen and your duration of the penalty might increase, until you're basically at -6 Strength any time you're not on the drug. (I could complicate the model a bit more, but I think I get the point across with this.)


I generally find HoH's taint mechanics to be poor. Taint is 100% bad (unless you're in one particular easily-broken PrC), and in no way is seductive. It's strictly inflicted on the character, and has an overt "you now act like this" style of showing its malign influence. It is something which, from a game perspective, players have no reason to pursue nor indulge, so their characters aren't "tempted" so much as "mind controlled." It's not very immersive, and makes the whole concept of being tainted by evil feel very external. It's not corruption so much as disease.

I took it as a model for the saves and progression of the corruption. The decreasing but stackable rewards are meant as the crunchy reason to use the stuff.
Fluffy side effects such as animal mistrust, monocholor eyes, and the like can be added as random side effects

Chirp
2016-04-05, 01:10 PM
I see a lot of discussion about this addiction making spell casting easier, but the intention I'm going for is that this substance is what makes spell casting possible. Without it, there is no magic. None.

For this reason I think I'm going to eliminate spell casting classes entirely and only have martial based classes available. Then the use of the substance will offer more of a allure as it offers any character the ability to use magic.

I'm not sure if I'll put together different spells/spell-like abilities that each class will have access to, or just one generalized list.

I'm thinking that I can work it so that the more of the substance you take, the more powerful the abilities you have access too. For example, a rogue that takes a small amount might gain a limited sixth sense ability for traps, a little more and he can become almost completely silent, a lot more and he could possibly turn invisible for a short period. Something along those lines.

This of course is just off the cuff brainstorming. Not really sure how I'll work it out yet.

Mark Hall
2016-04-05, 01:32 PM
Perhaps something akin to a Domain for each character, with more of the substance giving you access to higher level domain abilities?

So, your Rogue might have the "Sneaky" domain, which at low doses will give him access to Find Traps, with more giving options for Invisibility, Knock, etc. A fighter might choose the "sneaky" domain, using magic to "multiclass", or he might pick a domain that offered Stoneskin, Bull's Strength, etc.

Then you worry about addiction, corruption, tolerances, etc.

Gildedragon
2016-04-05, 01:38 PM
You could always have magic be Incantation based. Requires minutes if not hours of prep to cast, with skill checks every so often... Oooor one could take a dose to cast instantly with a single check. Max spell power is tied to HD, the immediate power is tied to the number of doses consumed.

However this makes for odd balance. Magic, at least in D&D is assumed to be part of the typical party set.

Athasian magic might be of interest

You could allow for sorcery or wizardry, but each use of magic maybe depletes the local manasphere... Or magic has a risk associated with it; but this just means players will either nullify the risk or not take it altogether

Hmm perhaps it is worth asking: what do you want to accomplish with this?

Segev
2016-04-05, 01:59 PM
I see a lot of discussion about this addiction making spell casting easier, but the intention I'm going for is that this substance is what makes spell casting possible. Without it, there is no magic. None.Then definitely, I suggest something along the lines of "you get your spell slots back only by imbibing."


For this reason I think I'm going to eliminate spell casting classes entirely and only have martial based classes available. Then the use of the substance will offer more of a allure as it offers any character the ability to use magic.

I'm not sure if I'll put together different spells/spell-like abilities that each class will have access to, or just one generalized list.Perhaps make the lists defined by "potion type," instead, and have the depth of one's addiction also determine how high one's CL (and thus spell access) is?


I'm thinking that I can work it so that the more of the substance you take, the more powerful the abilities you have access too. For example, a rogue that takes a small amount might gain a limited sixth sense ability for traps, a little more and he can become almost completely silent, a lot more and he could possibly turn invisible for a short period. Something along those lines.

This of course is just off the cuff brainstorming. Not really sure how I'll work it out yet.Sounds to me like you could make it be that the primary spellcasting classes are "in the bottle," and the depth of addiction/corruption corresponds to level, while amount of potion drunk helps determine what spell slot(s) are recovered. Overdosing should give bonus spell slots, but have additional...consequences.

SethoMarkus
2016-04-05, 02:09 PM
I see a lot of discussion about this addiction making spell casting easier, but the intention I'm going for is that this substance is what makes spell casting possible. Without it, there is no magic. None.



That is the fluff reasoning, and can be a very integral part of the system, but I think many in the discussion are viewing it as a given that magic does exist at all in the system (which it does), and attempting to mechanically simulate the nature of magic as you described it.

The example of gaining bonuses to spellcasting can work mechanically in that it boosts spellcasting compared to those not taking the substance (in this case, casting vs non-casting), while fluff wise the substance grants the ability to cast at all. Mechanically, assuming there is a caster class (which you've now decided to remove) this would explain the addiction aspect of the substance. Similar to a wizard with only cantrips (no substance) compared to a wizard with 3rd level spells (after taking substance).

On the topic of giving each martial class spell-like abilities, it occured to me that you could use Tome of Battle as a reference. Refluff the mystical abilities of the martial adepts as magic granted by the substance, but change it so that maneuvers are recovered through imbibing the substance?

Gildedragon
2016-04-05, 03:50 PM
Home, with books, ideas:

again, assuming 3.X system

The (ab)use of the Substance can be structured as a 9 level PRC.

Level 0 represents casual usage, providing use of a couple cantrips a day.

Each level of the PRC grants a malus to ability scores (allowing one to use one's consumption of the Substance as a replacement for the ability score modifier, and grants access to a new spell level.

Maybe a save is required to not take a level in the class as soon as it is possible.

Vinyadan
2016-04-05, 06:33 PM
Can you throw sanity points into the mix? Withdrawal is a difficult business, and causes the weirdest effects: e.g., alcohol withdrawal can cause seizures and delirium, but also delusional parasitosis - you perceive insects running under your skin.
But that's withdrawal with things which only affect your body. What does a drug which unleashes magic powers do? Does it put you in contact with something? In other words, is it possible that withdrawal crises not only involve horrifying delusions, physical pain and psychological torment, but also beings from who-knows-where being summoned for the duration of the crisis?
Working with a high-down-withdrawal triangle, you can create a bunch of situations for your players. High: magic works! Down: My life sucks! Withdrawal: well, I already told about it.
The DM might have fun secretly rolling percentile dice to determine whether the PC's sexual functions have been turned down by the down or whether the PC is entering withdrawal and about to have a seizure and a visit from beyond. In theory, you could have minor, less terrifying bad things also happen during the down: some miscast effect of fizzled spells coming back. We made a nice list once here on gitp, but I can't find it.

Then there is the realism part. You smoke/sniff/inject the substance. Then you have power points, which you can spend for magic effects. I assume the high only lasts for a certain time (a day? An encounter?). If you do it a certain amount of times, you develop habit. Your body adapts itself: after the high, you can still use some magic powers (like with reserve spell feats). At the same time, you need more of the drug to reach the usual effects. If you stop using the substance at this point, you start having withdrawal. If you keep using it, you start losing money. Money becomes too important, and your alignment may shift, based on what the GM thinks. Anyway, you start stealing. You get always more doses at once. At a certain quantity, you start rolling for physical damage, which may result in something like a flaw. Then you roll for heavier forms of damage, such as blindness, deafness, ictus, insanity, permanent stat damage and death.

In a schematic form:

The drug gives access to magic powers based on quantity, granting power points. The level of the powers, however, is determined by character level.
The drug causes addiction. There are different levels of addiction.
Entering each level of addiction is signalled by a "major episode", which may include mental or bodily changes (aberration feats, stuff like that, contrasted with a flaw)
Each level of addiction causes a decrease of efficiency of the assumed substance: same quantity, less power points. Gaining a class level should grant an independent boost to the PP value of the drug, however.
Each level of addiction causes heavier (and faster-hitting?) withdrawal symptoms
If you can handle withdrawal, you can decrease your addiction level
The higher the addiction level, the more difficult it is to go without the drug. You will need to make saves to avoid consuming, buying, stealing related to the drug. If you are at the highest level of addiction, you may get no save to consumption.
Effects of "major episodes" disappear slowly: you will lose 1 every 2 addiction levels you free yourself of, and then need the same time again for "major episode" effects to disappear.
If you assume a huge quantity of the drug at once, you will suffer severe physical effects (flaws).
If you assume even greater quantities, you may suffer severe handicaps or death.
There could be the chance to avoid habit and physical addiction by waiting a certain amount of time between doses. This is how apothecary drugs usually work, but it isn't how all "ugly" drugs actually work. Crack may immediately cause physical addiction with withdrawal symptoms. Cocaine doesn't cause physical addiction, but the pull is such, that a user presented with any quantity will consume it all, even though he believes not to be addicted because of the lack of withdrawal symptoms and because of the time between assumptions. So, you can choose how ugly this drug will be.


A table with some ideas (the reserve feats are probably too much, but the innate powers may work)
http://s15.postimg.org/y39cq9ubv/The_Magic_Junkie_page_001.jpg

BTW, I have no firsthand experience or medical background, so take the information I gave about drugs with some caution.

Lycanthrope13
2016-04-06, 09:24 AM
I would recommend a penalty on will saves, and cumulative penalties on all stats.

I write this as someone who has witnessed a loved one deal with addiction. As they go through withdrawal they become increasingly moody (CHA penalty), irrational (WIS penalty), and forgetful (INT penalty). They have tremors (DEX penalty) and, in the case of opioid withdrawal, hypersensitivity to pain (CON penalty). As it progresses, they become willing to resort to more desperate measures to get a fix (Will save), and desperation can be a powerful motivator (STR bonus).

I would stat it that as the save penalties stack, if you can make it to -1 on your save without taking a dose, you've kicked the habit, and the penalties SLOWLY go away.

goto124
2016-04-06, 09:35 AM
Feed the group nice snacks. Pizza, gummies, candies, whatever their favorite is.

Then, start lowering the amount of snack you bring. When the group asks for more, get them to do things in exchange for food. Help someone. Refuse to help someone. Go on a side mission. Snark and insult an NPC. Steal from a shop. Kill an innocent.

Lead them down the spiral... for SNACKS! TASTY DELICIOUS SNACKS!

SpoonR
2016-04-06, 09:47 AM
I'd suggest looking at Warhammer Fantasy for ideas (the wargame &/or the RPG). I don't know the exact mechanics, but

Warpstone is solidified magic energy.
Using it gives/improves spellpower somehow (like I said, dunno the mechanics)
Using it also tends to make you mutate, usually physically rather than mentally. Some mutations are actually useful. That could be important for your players - they are much more likely to remember "one arm turns into a giant claw that does good melee damage" than "you are scared of spiders". Hmm, a world of all-humans, where one mutation is "you turn into a dwarf"
Actually, that raises a question. Do the side effects/corruption go away if you stop using, or are they permanent?
Rat-people (Skaven) know the most about warpstone (I think that is what originally made them intelligent), and also use it as a weapon to inflict mutation and uncontrolled power (head go 'splodey) on their enemies.

BWR
2016-04-06, 10:49 AM
Feed the group nice snacks. Pizza, gummies, candies, whatever their favorite is.

Then, start lowering the amount of snack you bring. When the group asks for more, get them to do things in exchange for food. Help someone. Refuse to help someone. Go on a side mission. Snark and insult an NPC. Steal from a shop. Kill an innocent.

Lead them down the spiral... for SNACKS! TASTY DELICIOUS SNACKS!

Expense (and more than one person bringing snacks or paying for their own food) aside, this wouldn't work for my groups: if someone who habitually brings something to share alog doesn't do it once we don't whine about not getting our free yummies. I don't think it would even occur to us.

paddyfool
2016-04-06, 11:13 AM
On the food idea: you could keep a stash of sweets behind the screen to hand out to players when they take a dose of the liquid. And maybe request that other snacks at the table be savoury or something.

On the mechanisms proposed, I quite like the domains idea as offering existing themed lists of spells, but I think each player should pick one or two domains at level one that their character intrinsically can gain access to through use of the liquid, while also having options to increase their spell list later (perhaps through feats or a "liquid addict" prestige class).

On penalties: possibly you could penalise all saves vs magic in a way that stacks up generally with increasing use? So that being a liquid user is excellent when facing mundane threats, but can be a liability when facing magical ones (although this swings both ways, with hostile magic users then also becoming more vulnerable to your party's users). Perhaps you could also have options to develop spell resistance for characters who abstain...

Chirp
2016-04-06, 01:40 PM
I'm finding this to be a very difficult thing to nail down without making it too complex, while still capturing the feeling I'm aiming for. :smallconfused:

Gildedragon
2016-04-06, 02:04 PM
Well how AVAILABLE do you want magic to be. A party member? Npc only but easy to get to? Hard to get to? Villain only tool? A part of the world and it's society or existing only in it's margins?
If PC: how powerful? How much of a concept can it take up?
If villain only: don't sweat the mechanics, ditto npc only and hard to get.

Hmmm maybe look at dragonmarks? Ad the contagion spreads powers increase but they make the individual more easy to target as a witch-heretic-monster and be attacked or refused entry into cities or service in towns.
But the power lets one do the impossible

Segev
2016-04-06, 02:09 PM
I'm finding this to be a very difficult thing to nail down without making it too complex, while still capturing the feeling I'm aiming for. :smallconfused:

What is your base system?
What is the "feeling" for which you're aiming? (I know you've probably said it already, but try to state it again in pure fluff terms. What do you want the players to feel about it?)

Chirp
2016-04-06, 03:02 PM
What is your base system?
What is the "feeling" for which you're aiming? (I know you've probably said it already, but try to state it again in pure fluff terms. What do you want the players to feel about it?)

Well part of the problem is I haven't settled on a base system yet. I'm jumping back and forth between 3.x, d20 Modern, and 4e. Since those are the systems I know the best and feel the most comfortable working with.

As for the feeling, let me see if I can give you a break down of how I see this setting. Keep in mind this is all very loose, and the setting as a whole is still very much in the brainstorming stage of development. Everything is subject to change:

The world used to be a pretty normal medieval setting. Humans were the dominant race, and they lived peacefully alongside halflings and elves. Then the substance was discovered. At first it was used only for alchemy, and the world experienced a renaissance of new creations, catapulting it into a magic-punk setting where things like golems, airships and potions were almost commonplace.

Then the elves discovered that consuming the substance granted the user the ability to work raw magic, unlike anything yet experienced in the world, but with horrible side effects. This sparked a firestorm of panic as the use of the substance for anything other than alchemy became outlawed, and the "mages" who used it were labeled dangerous criminals. What followed was an eight year war known as the (substance name) War. In the aftermath, the use of the substance was strictly regulated, and control of it was put into the hands of the Mage Guild.

These days it is extremely difficult to get even a small amount of the substance outside of the guild, and gaining membership is nearly impossible. They allow only the most strong willed individuals into the guild, and the use of the substance is strictly monitored and regulated. Low ranking members are allowed very little, while higher ranked members are allowed more. Those who are permitted by the guild to become mages are required to serve the guild, and act as special operatives in the armies of the kingdoms they serve.

Of course, there is a black market for the substance, and more than a few unregulated mages in the world. The primary traffickers of black market magic are the goblins, who themselves have been changed due to prolonged exposure to it. Goblins in this world are intelligent, cunning, and strong. More closely resembling dwarves in their stature.
-------------------------

Of course this is all raw ideas straight out of my head and written down with no refinement or development. Just stuff spawned from the images I see in my imagination. I'm not 100% happy with what I've written above, and some or all of it may change as I develop the idea more fully.

Gildedragon
2016-04-06, 03:07 PM
But what does it do, fluff wise. What is the nature of its corruption, besides the corruption that comes from handling magic?

Clistenes
2016-04-06, 03:22 PM
You could use a rule that blood sacrifice can reduce the negative effects of magic. As in, if you sacrifice an animal while casting a memorized spell you don't spend the spell slot. That way, you can memorize just a spell or two of each level and have to drink a lesser amount of the drug.

Of course, adventurers couldn't do that because, what are they going to do, take a herd of sheeps, goats and oxes to a dungeon delve? Unless they go full dark and start taking prisioners and sacrifing them as they advance (which wouldn't be practical except for day-long spells that you cast at the beginning of the day).

Another way would be to have blood rituals that cleanse the effects of the drug and reduce the addiction.

Segev
2016-04-06, 04:14 PM
Regarding the setting history, I suggest that you reverse the order of discovery of its use for magic vs. alchemy, just because the scientific process and effort seems like it'd come later, after people discovered the "easy way" was dangerous.


I will outline how I might approach it, mechanically, in 3.5. I can attempt to adapt it to 4e if you like, though I don't know that system nearly as well. d20 modern can use the 3.5 version pretty straight-forwardly, though power levels may need reconsideration.

In 3.5/PF, have people take a non-spellcasting class. Be specific about what you won't allow - you don't want people coming in with binders and psions to get around this. Think carefully about incarnum or not. Etc.

The Substance comes in varieties, each corresponding to a given spellcasting class. Make it just two: Favored Soul and Sorcerer. (Specifically choosing spontaneous, fixed-spells-known classes, one arcane and one divine.)

Doses of the Substance come in potencies, ranging from 1 to 9. Taking a dose of a given Potency gives you a spell slot of that level.

Each character also has a given Tolerance. Tolerance cannot exceed their character level. It has a minimum of 1. You can take a number of doses of various Potency per day equal to the appropriate class (sorcerer or favored soul) spell slots per day chart, using Tolerance as class level. No bonus spell slots apply. Exceeding this dosage has immediately detrimental effects. You get the spell slot(s), but suffer for them and risk various things that drug users do when they OD, combined with the magical nastiness associated with the Substance's corruption of your body.

You can learn spells up to the limit given in the appropriate class's spells known table for your Tolerance. Each spell you learn increases your Dependence. Dependence measures both how many doses of the Substance you need, at what Potency, at a minimum per day to avoid withdrawal, and what the symptoms of withdrawal are. I suggest that you need a minimum of one dose of each Potency for each level at which you know spells. And the total sum of levels of spells you know corresponds to a chart detailing withdrawal symptoms.

For added nastiness, successfully weathering withdrawal could lower Dependency, randomly costing you spells you already knew.

Dependency should be something that has to build up by heavy dosing.


There are mechanics in the cracks here to work out, but I don't want to hammer it out in too much more detail unless it looks like something you want to use and until you've nailed down a system. If you want to take it and hammer out the details yourself, feel free to use or discard as much of it as you like; I just enjoyed the mental exercise to this point. Any further and I want to have a little more concrete knowledge of the system in which it's going to be enmeshed, though, because details get more delicate with balance concerns.

The basic idea, though, is that people who are using the Substance have either Sorcerer or Favored Soul (or both, if they're addicted to both Substance variants!) spells known and potential for spells-per-day (and then some, if they're willing to overdose), on top of whatever other classes they have. The balance is that it costs a constant resource drain to pay for this, and the addiction and health issues will rack up with time and abuse.

ATHATH
2016-04-06, 04:19 PM
Dragon #315 has an article on the Red Curse, which may be of interest to you.

Knaight
2016-04-06, 05:35 PM
Dude, if you're gonna put Blood Elves in your game, just say it. Don't dance around it by explaining the entire Blood Elf lore and not using the term Blood Elf.

That's right, the whole concept of magic as coming from giving into corruption, and of those who have magic having dependencies other don't originated somewhere in the Warcraft series in the last couple of decades. For sure. I mean, I thought I vaguely recalled a record of something similar in The Golden Bough, an anthropological text about magical beliefs that was published decades before the Warcraft series came out about beliefs centuries if not millenniums old, but in the face of this convincing rhetoric I must conclude I read wrong.

Eisenheim
2016-04-07, 06:28 AM
I would go with d20 modern for certain. That's the system with the fewest assumptions of available magic for you to pair away first.

Then, you just need the particulars. I'd work it like this: make a spells known and spells per day chart, by level like a normal one. Everyone uses the spells known chart: that's their magical potential. Then, if they take a hit, they cast as a spontaneous caster from their spells known until it wears off.

When a hit wears off, they test (probably will or fort save) against a target number set by the number of spells they actually cast. Failure leads to whatever kind of consequences you decide make sense. If you want a spiraling addiction, make hits last shorter periods as you get corrupted.

I think attraction takes care of itself. This way, the drug essentially gestalts something like a sorcerer with your regular progression when you take it, and it gets better as you level, because you're casting as a caster of your level.

goto124
2016-04-07, 07:26 AM
On the food idea: you could keep a stash of sweets behind the screen to hand out to players when they take a dose of the liquid. And maybe request that other snacks at the table be savoury or something.

The more liquid you drink, the higher your chance of diabetes :smalltongue:

Zale
2016-04-08, 01:43 AM
I once played on a Mud based on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was a basic precept of the MUD that magic was addictive and slightly dangerous.

There were essentially four types of magic: Mental Magic (Telepathy, Telekinesis, etc), Arcane Magic (Fireballs, Healing and Mystic Utility), Good Magic (Supportive, Purifying) and Bad Magic (Powerful Offensive Spells).

Mental Magic was the weakest both in terms of offense and in lacking essential supportive spells, like healing or damage mitigation. However, it was also the energy-cheapest form of magic and the only form that wasn't addictive. It was weak, but safe.

Arcane Magic was more powerful in terms of offense and utility, but was somewhat addictive. Using this sort of magic raised your character's magic addiction- a sort of score invisible to players. You wouldn't notice at first, because it only became obvious when you stopped using magic. If your character had a magic addiction, then they'd start to suffer from withdrawal symptoms if they went too long without casting a spell.

It was generally very insidious: You'd only notice it went things were calm. When you were in the thick of things fighting, you'd be using magic frequently enough that your withdrawal symptoms would never kick in- you always got your fix faster than you needed it. It was only after, when you were hanging out that you'd start to see your character get twitchy. They'd start daydreaming about magic (The MUD would tell you so); the more severe the addiction, the worse the symptoms would become with time. Not to mention, the more severe the addiction, the faster the withdrawal would come.

That's why it's a problem, because no matter how much magic you use, there would come a time when you just couldn't cast fast enough to satisfy your addiction; then you'd be shuddering on the floor dry heaving, unable to do much of anything.

Naturally, there were workarounds. There was a drug item that could suppress withdrawal symptoms temporarily, but only temporarily. Additionally, you could just go cold turkey until your addiction level fell to something manageable, or just pace your magic use to avoid it.

Good Magic offered another solution, but that requires explaining the Aligned Magic system: Essentially, using a Good or Bad spell tilting your mystic alignment to that source of power; made it impossible to use the opposing one. This alignment would slowly (Very, very slowly) drop back to zero, but until then you'd be locked out. This made the dark side hard to get out of; the good side difficult to corrupt.

Essentially, Good Magic had the opposite effect of Bad and Arcane- it reduced addiction instead of increasing it. It also came with a lot of utility and supportive spells, but lacked heavy-duty damaging spells.

Bad Magic was basically like Arcane on steroids: More powerful, more useful, even more addictive. Like, seriously, my character had learned a single one of these spells because I was curious. And even though I knew using them just trapped my character in a cycle of waiting for alignment to zero out & just amped up addiction, I was still really tempted to use it. It was a order of magnitude more powerful than my other spells; was a temptation not just to the character, but also the player. The game made the dark side legitimately desirable.

-------

For you, OP, I'd recommend taking this from this post: The addiction should be insidious and hard to see coming; make it desirable. The reason that MUD's magic system was so interesting was because it actually caused a cycle of dependency on magic-users. They didn't just want to use magic because it was cool, they were DEPENDENT on magic to not turn into jittering messes. (But keep in mind that the end path of following through with diving into the addiction to flee the withdrawal should end badly. )

Avoid making a system where you're suffering for sub-optimal things.

Even when people recognize all the problems that will come their way, they should still want to buy into magic because it's useful and they can totally manage this.

It should be easy to go off the deep end; hard to come back and once you've gone that way, easy to fall off the train.

All of this will help magic seem like an addictive and corruptive thing without making it an absolute pain to use.

hifidelity2
2016-04-08, 06:19 AM
I like the idea but I would use GURPS for this as the magic system could handle this and the Dis-advantages systems allows you to be addicted to substances and has withdrawal rules

I would us a variant of the standard magic system - the "Unlimited Mannor System"

Unlike the normal GURPS magic you have a pool of Points and recover some each DAY (40/8) is the norm - so you have 40 Mannor points and get back 8 / day. This in the normal game gives to a spell caster that can do bigger effects but can run out of power if over used

Here you could have a pool (40) but each drink / inject / other of the substance gives you X amount into the pool. Each day you dont have the drug you lose X. when total pool goes below zero start losing health / IQ / St - your choice - with a save to not lose any that day. Save can be modified by your level of addiction.

This will also allows someone the chance to go cold turkey by making a number of hard saving thows in a row

Dr_Dinosaur
2016-04-08, 08:49 PM
If you're willing to shell out $10, Spheres of Power overhauls 3.PF magic to a more overall balanced, consistent force and provides rules for changing how magic is utilized by way of Drawbacks and Boons. I believe Addictive and Corrupting are actually included as examples.

Xuc Xac
2016-04-10, 04:13 PM
I'd just do something simple that could be bolted on top of the system. Everyone plays non-casters. "Bards" are just rogues who like music. Paladins and rangers are just fighters with skills in Knowledge: Religion or Nature.

But magicrack potions give you temporary levels in Sorcerer. A bigger dose gives you more levels. The downside is that you have to make a Fortitude save with a DC based on the size of the dose. If you're already "sorced up" when you take a new dose, it adds up, so you can't avoid it by taking a lot of little sips throughout the day. If you fail the save, you gain a permanent negative level.

If you want to use magic again, you have to take extra doses to cancel your negative levels before getting Sorcerer levels, so people who use it a lot will need bigger and bigger hits to get the same effect. Of course, bigger and bigger doses also make it more likely that they will go even deeper into the hole. Eventually, they will be in so deep that they can't function without a big dose of magicrack and they'll be full time sorcerers.

If you want to add in the warped corruption effect of turning into monsters, you could let characters get rid of a negative level by taking a racial level in a monster class (or "retraining" one of their current class levels).

In the world, there will be a broad spectrum of users, but I think most PC users would fall into two categories. Dabblers who don't risk addiction and limit themselves to small doses for the slight edge they gain by having a couple level one spells up their sleeves and hard core users who jump in the deep end and try to be wizards.

This kind of Sorcerer is weaker than the standard D&D Sorcerer, but casters are already more powerful than non-casters, so it's not a disadvantage as much as it's just a smaller advantage than usual.

Kane0
2016-04-10, 10:06 PM
Base rule: resting doesnt renew your spells, you need the substance to get your magic back. Exception for cantrips, there is no issue with such small doses of magic.
Prepared dose/Potion of substance: Drink to regain 6 spell levels worth of spent spell slots, plus 3 addiction points
Refoned Dose/Dust of substance: Smoke or inhale to regain 12 spell levels worth of spent spell slots, plus 5 addiction points
Pure dose/Raw substance: inject to regain 18 spell levels worth of spent spell slots, plus 7 addiction points

Every full day of recovery (24 hour period doing nothing but resting and/or flushing your system) reduces your addiction score by your con modifier (or similar stat).

Addiction scale:
Function normally when addiction points are less than con/int score (or similar stat).
Exceed by less than 10: minor benefit and drawback
Exceed by 11-20: above plus average benefit and drawback. Reducing addiction score via rest becomes weeks instead of days.
Exceed by 21-30: above plus significant benefit and drawback. Reducing addiction score via rest becomes months instead of weeks.
Exceed by 31+: PC rendered unplayable, character becomes comatose or NPC under DMs control.

I also recommend 5e for this. Its simpler to play and run, it isnt nearly as crippling to be a caster with only cantrips if you dont have/want substance like it would be in 3.X and avoids the power nightmare that 4e would provide.