View Full Version : Savage Worlds alternate magic - Am I being stupid?

2016-04-27, 06:49 PM
I will soon be running a Savage Worlds game with a number of house-rules to make it more lethal and supernatural. The only thing I'd really consider homebrew, though, is the magic system. I'm lifting heavily from Hedge Wizards, Wise Women, and Adepts (http://savageheroes.com/adventures/swalternate_magic.pdf), though I've made significant changes.
I have a tendency to over-complicate things, and though I can understand my words just fine, I'm not certain how others will fare. I'm also not exceptionally experienced with the Savage Worlds system, and I'd rather not horribly unbalance things. (I do expect magic to be less powerful in combat, though.)

Apologies for the atrocious formatting, the forum's software doesn't take kindly to indentation.

Basics of Magic

Inscribed Objects
Unless otherwise noted, you must either trace or draw a rune in order to cast a spell. You may inscribe an object and infuse it with a little of your magic in order to avoid carrying a bag of sand. An inscribed object will work only for its creator, though if a spellcaster finds an inscribed object they can identify the rune with a Knowledge (Arcana) check and learn the spell should they so choose.
It takes a day to inscribe an object. The object to be inscribed can be anything from a bone to a gemstone, as long as it is solid, a mark can be made in it, and it is at least the size of an open hand.
Each spell has its own rune, so a witch would have to carry an inscribed object for both his Epistemic Lens spell and her Corporal Ward spell.

Trappings are minor effects that modify the way a spell functions. A spellcaster begins play knowing one trapping, and may gain more by choosing the New Trapping Edge. A spellcaster may apply a Trapping she knows to any unmodified spell she casts by increasing the Power Point cost by 1 or taking a -2 on her Spellcasting check- some spells require both. Alternately, when the spellcaster learns a spell, she may choose to have it always be affected by a trapping she knows. Thus, she pays no additional cost and suffers no penalty, but if she wishes to cast her spell without the trapping she is unable to. A spell cannot be modified by more than one trapping unless specifically noted in its description.
Some spells- such as Illumination- are aligned with one or more trappings. Sometimes, these spells cannot be modified any further. Other times, it can be modified further- the Illumination spell cast by a witch specializing in Light spells might be brighter than others, or perhaps it burns away supernatural evil like the noonday sun.
There are eight different trappings- Acid, Cold, Darkness, Electricity, Heat, Light, Necromantic, and Sound.
Even if a spell is mechanically unmodified, a spellcaster is free to describe their spells however they like (within reason.) Even if it doesn't set fire to creatures or bypass armor, a witch's Bolt spell could appear as an arrow or ray of flame.

Some spells (such as Blessing of Competence / Curse of Ineptitude) can be spoken backwards in order to reverse their effect. When you learn such a spell, choose one effect- in this case, the Blessing or the Curse. This is the spell you have learned.
You may, at the time of casting, choose to speak your spell backwards, causing the opposite effect, however if you do so you must spend an additional power point and take a -2 on your Spellcasting check. If a 1 comes up on the Spellcasting die while attempting to backspeak (regardless of the Wild Die), instead of normal backlash, the spell is cast normally but is not backspoken.(The Curse of Ineptitude you attempted to cast on your enemies was accidentally a blessing, or vice versa.)

Arcane Edges

Arcane Background (Witchcraft)
Arcane Skill: Spellcasting (Smarts)
Starting Power Points: 10
Starting Powers: 3
Hedge-witches are the most common practitioners of magic. Their power is not great, but given enough time they can change the world around them in unnatural ways. They must obey several limitations on their spells.
Time. All spellcasting takes 1 round per Power Point in the spell, with a single Power Point being expended each round. Any interruption that results in the witch being Shaken or Wounded will cause the spell to fail. In the event of such an interruption, only the Power Points already spent are lost.
Materials. A spell requires the materials listed in its description. Components are consumed unless specified otherwise. Some spells have several options of materials, with different materials granting a different effect. Without the proper materials, a witch cannot cast his spells. Sometimes a substitute may be used (a shard of glass instead of a quartz crystal), though this will impose a greater penalty on the Spellcasting test the more unsuited the material is to the spell.
Gestures. Casting a spell always requires speaking aloud as well as both hands. In addition, a witch must trace a rune when casting a spell. This can be done either in sand (or something similar) or on a specially-made object inscribed with the rune. (See Inscribed Objects, above)
A witch may ready a spell by casting it almost fully but withholding the final word, expending power points, materials, and time as usual. This allows her to later complete the readied spell in a single action for no additional Power Point cost. However, a witch may only ready one spell at a time, and becoming Shaken, taking a would, or losing consciousness causes the spell's energies to unwind and become useless. A witch may freely cast spells while a spell is readied.
A witch begins play knowing one trapping.
Backlash: When a witch rolls a 1 on his Spellcasting die
(regardless of his Wild Die), he is automatically Shaken. This
can cause a wound.

New Spell
Requirements: Novice, Arcane Background
An arcane character may learn a new Spell by choosing this Edge (which may be taken multiple times). He may choose any Spell that is of a rank he can cast.
Alternately, if the arcane character has found an object inscribed with a spell he wishes to learn, he may choose this Edge to be able learn up to three spells from inscribed objects. You are not required to learn all spells immediately.
Either way, it takes a few days of study and practice to fully master a new spell. You may choose this Edge more than once.

New Trapping
Requirements: Novice, Arcane Background
Sometimes it is desirable to have more variety in the spells a character can cast- Fire, ice, or what have you is not always applicable. By choosing this Edge, a spellcaster may choose another Trapping to add to their their spells- Acid, Cold, Darkness, Electricity, Heat, Light, Necromantic, or Sound. (Note that spells cast with the Necromantic trapping are clearly recognizable as black magic.)
This trapping may be taken multiple times, but no more than once per rank.

Power Points
Requirements: Novice, Arcane Background
Whether Witch or Truemage, arcane types always want more power. This Edge grants them an additional 5 Power Points. This edge may be selected more than once, but only once per Rank.

Rapid Recharge
Requirements: Seasoned, Spirit d6+, Arcane Background
This Edge allows an arcane character to regain 1 Power Point every 30 minutes

Improved Rapid Recharge
Requirements: Veteran, Rapid Recharge
The character regains 1 Power Point every 15 minutes.

Soul Drain
Rank: Seasoned, Arcane Background, Knowledge (Arcana) d10+
Spellcaster in dire need of Power Points may use this Edge to drain energy from their own souls. To use this dangerous ability, the arcane character first decides how many Power Points he wants to draw from himself. Then he makes a Spirit roll minus the number of points hes trying to drain. (This is a free action.) On a Spirit total of 1 or less, the character suffers a wound and falls unconscious for 1d6 hours. On a failure, the character suffers a wound. On a success or better, the character gets the points he needed and may attempt to cast a spell with them immediately (they may not be saved).
Use of this edge is clearly evident to those around you as black magic.

Type: Professional Edge
Requirements: Seasoned; Arcane Background (Witchcraft); Knowledge (Arcana) d8+; Spellcasting d6+.
Truemages are those rare spellcasters who have a greater measure of control and understanding of the forces of magic. They focus their insight primarily on one of three areas:
Path of Celerity: Spellcasting is slow and arduous. To that end, some Truemages attempt to make their spells more succinct. By studying which steps of spellcasting are redundant and/or extraneous, Truemages of Celerity are able to cast their spells very quickly. Truemages of this path may cast all of their spells with but a single action (unless otherwise noted).
Path of Frugality: A Truemage might find themselves in a situation where they are unable to find components for their spells. To that end, some study the way components are weaved into a spell and can learn to bypass them. Truemages of this path may cast spells without components. They must still use rare components, but can sometimes substitute- powdered jade instead of powdered malachite may serve just fine for a Truemage of Frugality.

Path of Subtlety: Spellcasting is inconvenient and obvious. One must carry sigils or find dust, use both hands, and speak loudly. To that end, some attempt to make their spellcasting more subtle. By studying the inconvenient aspects of spellcasting, Truemages of Subtlety may cast spells with but a single hand and a whisper. Drawing or tracing runes is no longer required. You may cast without speaking at all if you take a -2 penalty to your Spellcasting check. You may take the same penalty to cast without using either of your hands, though you cannot do both at the same time.

The character must choose one of these paths at the time this edge is selected. This edge may only be selected once.

Truemagic Expertise
Requirements: Veteran; Truemage; Arcane Background (Witchcraft); Knowledge(Arcana) d10+; Spellcasting d8+.

Once a truemage has fully mastered one path, they can foray into another- never fully understanding it, but gleaning enough knowledge to make their efforts useful. When you choose this edge, choose one of the options listed below. You may not choose the same option as you chose when you chose the Truemage Edge.

Study of Celerity: By studying which steps of spellcasting are redundant and/or extraneous, Truemages who study Celerity are able to make their spells more succinct. After choosing this option, you may cast your spells in half the time, rounded down. Two power points are expended each round until the spell is cast. You may never cast a spell with less than one action.

Study of Frugality: By studying the way components are weaved into a spell, one can bypass some of the restrictions related to components. After choosing this option, you may cast a spell without using components, though you take a -2 penalty on your Spellcasting check. You may use substituted components at no penalty. You must still use rare components as normal.

Study of Subtlety: By studying the inconvenient aspects of spellcasting, one can make spells more subtle. After choosing this option, you may choose to take a -2 penalty to your Spellcasting check to cast your spells with but a free hand and a whisper. You still must draw or trace sigils.

You may only take this Edge once.

I've also redone the spell list, changing names, adding material components (and sometimes more powerful secondary effects if more obscure components are used), fitting some spells to the backspeaking rules, and sometimes changing the nature of the spells slightly to better fit with the setting. (Okay, heh, that's a lie- I've only done a couple spells so far. I plan to do the rest.)

One thing I'm unsure of is whether I should be giving spells elaborate names - Epistemic Lens sounds more arcane then Analyze Foe, however if a player wants to cast Eye of Darkness then I totally support that. I'm not certain what to do there, really.

Any advice on ways I could change wording to make it more clear? Anything I should just toss because it's too complicated? I really don't know what I'm doing...

2016-04-28, 03:56 PM
Aside from making Trappings (of which RAW you freely get one per Spell, a thing we always extended to at least 2) Edges, THE most important and limited/overused Ressource in SW, and the focus on Material/other D&Dish Components (normally not used in SW) it sounds okayish to me.
A bit too detailed for FFF! but then again, its a rough draft and can be streamined, no?

Addendum: I am a Novice SW Player and GM and have not palyed it in over a year. Might overlook some things because of that. ;)