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- Join Date
- May 2016
Cooking Up Sorcery (New Magic System)
I'm in the process of developing a magic system for an RPG I'm working on currently. As it stands, it's fairly unfinished and probably won't be until later this year after I've playtested it and ironed out the kinks, and there's still a lot to be done. One of these is, as you probably guessed, the magic system itself.
The main method of character advancement will be either level-based like D&D/Pathfinder, or purchase-based, like Dark Heresy/Only War. Regardless of which one the final version ends up using (there's drafts for both), the magic system will be largely unaffected since it relies on self-contained mechanics. Only the way characters gain access to certain spells and the like will change, but that's not the point of this thread; I'm looking for a little CC on what I have so far.
I'll give you a brief overview before getting into details.
- Spellcasters will, naturally, be given the ability to use magic to solve a variety of problems posed to them both inside and outside combat as they see fit.
- Using spells drains a caster's mana pool, depending on how powerful the spell is (denoted by a strain level from 1-9).
- Casters that deplete their mana will go into mana exhaustion; magic used in this state has a chance of not working depending on how far they are into exhaustion, and physical characteristics take harsh penalties. Pushing too hard can result in a caster becoming unconscious or dying if the strain proves too much.
- Spells are organised into Schools and Disciplines.
- There are five Schools into total. Destruction, Restoration, Illusion, Conjuration, and Alteration. Thank you TES for a concise and helpful spell organisation system.
- Under each of the Schools you have three Disciplines. Each School has a base spell, which acts as common magical knowledge taught at most Colleges. Every spellcaster knows these when they first start out, as magic requires training to harness and Mage Colleges give them the knowledge and practical skills needed to use it to their full potential.
- Destruction - Pyromancy, Cryomancy, Electromancy
- Restoration - Rejuvenation, Warding, Illumination
- Illusion - Divination, Obscuration, Telepathy
- Conjuration - Necromancy, Summoning, Binding
- Alteration - Transmutation, Telekinesis, Terraforming
- Each of the above Disciplines correspond to a smaller family of magic that perform similar functions. Fluff-wise, each Discipline's spells share similar compositions, so they're somewhat related.
- Though each Discipline has only a few spells (six or seven at most, minimum four), spells are upgraded by getting Augmentations, which enhance and alter each spell's effect. Examples are given below. Wizards gain the most spells, but fewer Augmentations. Conversely, Sorcerers get few spells, but can generally max out most of the ones they do invest in. Some classes (Druids and Clerics in particular) get unique Class spells which can't normally be obtained by other classes.
If you have suggestions, I'm grateful to hear them. If you have critique on the system (even if it's 'you should probably think this over more'), I'm happy to hear them. To give you a slight idea of what I'm going for here, I've compiled a list of a couple of the Pyromancy spells, along with Destruction's base spell. As of the second draft of the Spell Compendium, there are 95 spells, each with roughly 5 to 7 Augmentations each.
Spoiler: Magic Be HereBase Spell - Magic Missile
Bet you didn't see that one coming.
Magic Missile is the most basic Destruction spell any novice can learn, and for good reason. It doesn't take much effort to condense a bit of mana into a magical arrow/bolt/dart/what-have-you and fling it at someone stood a short distance away. That said, does a bit more than sting; even first-timers can produce enough force to break ribs. Whilst generally forgotten about as a mage learns of better, flashier, more impressive spells, Magic Missile has the potential to pack an incredible punch when Augmented. This includes, but is not limited to:
- A single, stupidly destructive railgun-like blast that atomises whatever it's aimed at. Can be made to explode on contact.
- Ludicrous amounts of smaller, but potent darts that seek out targets in a machine-gun like barrage.
- A large orb that flies in an arc, detonating at the apex in an accurate recreation of the Jericho.
Cinder Bolt - Low damage orb of hot ash and cinders is thrown at the target. Basic direct damage spell. The upgraded versions (Fire Bolt, Plasma Bolt, and Solar Flare) can be made to explode on contact, scatter smaller explosive orbs after the primary detonation, and ignore mundane things such as fire resistance. Cinder Bolt retains utility at higher levels by offering knockout options and a corrosive damage component.
Flame Ward - Generates a mirage-like barrier of heat around the caster. Simple shielding spell. Provides fire resistance initially, but can be improved to provide total immunity to fire damage. Other improvements include limited damage reduction, increased AC, fire damage on targets who hit you in melee or ranged, and finally an aura of fire that damages nearby enemies if they get too close.
Pyrokinesis - Allows the caster to create and manipulate fire dynamically. Versatile utility spell. Can pull flame from external sources and use it to reduce Pyromancy spell strain, or ignite nearby objects. Upgrades can allow the caster to manipulate molten stone and metal (and heat/cool them until molten/solid), imbue melee and ranged attacks with fire, and even create minor fire elementals slaved to your will. The latter is usually termed Fiendfyre. Just make sure you pay more attention in class, or possibly end up like Crabbe.
Wall Of Fire - Long wall, not necessarily straight, of orange fire. Excellent defensive or strategic spell. Deals heavy fire damage to entities that pass through it, and makes one side of the caster's choosing emanate enough heat to scorch nearby enemies (essentially identical to the PHB version). Augmentations offer extensions on the length and height, allow you to generate a wall without an anchoring surface, and produce barriers of magma instead of fire (Eruption).
Smokescreen - A dense cloud of smoke and ash that obscures an area from view. Useful escape tool, especially when combined with other spells. Creatures within the cloud gain defensive bonuses, enemies have difficulty breathing. Corrosive sulphuric and phosphoric acid suspensions can be added to make it a better area denial spell, or the cloud can be made to ignite explosively, with more powerful Augmentations creating a firestorm.
Explosive Rune - A motion-sensitive trap designed to stun and disorient. Useful crowd control and escape tool. Any creature, ally or foe, that moves above a certain speed (sneak checks can prevent activation) triggers what amounts to a flashbang, briefly blinding and deafening them. More powerful versions can knock opponents down and stun them, or deal lethal damage on the scale of a thermobaric bomb.
Immolate - A continuous stream of fire spews forth from the caster's hands or mouth. Simple and effective area damage spell. Has a high chance of igniting combustible materials on targets that get caught in the flames. Additional effects include a greatly increased chance of inflicting Panic on enemies, and concentration of the fire into a highly-damaging beam of heat. You say Scorching Ray, I say meltagun.
Last edited by HopefullyThisGy; 2016-05-30 at 12:20 PM.
- Join Date
- May 2016
Re: Cooking Up Sorcery (New Magic System)
I rather like what you have listed here.
Incidentally, I too used TES as inspiration for a spell system within a game of my design.
Great minds thinking similarly and all that
To my understanding this is how this all works:
You learn a School's base spell.
As you get stronger, you invest in Disciplines to expand your spell list.
You also learn Augmentations as you progress to add power to your spells.
If that's how it works, then it seems like a pretty solid system
Makes me wonder how combat and other things work...
- Join Date
- May 2016
Re: Cooking Up Sorcery (New Magic System)
That's precisely how the system works, barring just one small thing: when you start out, you know every School's base spell. It's to allow spellcasters more flexibility earlier on and offer a better all-round utility. Base spells are usually pretty weak when you start out, but end up as some of the most potent spells in the game! The Alteration base spell eventually evolves into a fully-fledged Wish/Miracle equivalent, for example.
Combat is looking like it'll follow most D20 systems, with minor modifications here or there to slim things down and add a larger degree of realism (ranged attacks have a chance of hitting extremities instead of just the centre of mass). The D% system is also quite an attractive prospect as well; I've had tons of fun in the past playing Dark Heresy. Partially because it's quite lethal, and partially because I'm proud of the fact that my psyker was the longest-lived character in my first game.