Monday, October 21, 2013

Book and Candle Magic

A proposed slightly alternative spell-preparation and casting system for traditonal rpg campaigns.

We all know the drill for traditional old-school spell-casting a Magic-User has spells in a book, there is a limited number of spells per day the Magic-User may cast after spending some time memorizing the spells, sue the spell and you may mot use that spell again today (unless of course you have multiple selections of that spell). There have been a host of objections to that general scheme over the years and this system here incorporates the traditional system while addressing some of the shortcomings.

It’s not spell memorization, it’s spell preparation. A Magic-User of uncanny intellect and magical ability doesn’t forget his spells, he’s trained himself for decades and poured over his spells again and again, much like the annoying guy you know who can quote Monty python and the Holy Grail line by line the Magic-User can recite the spells he knows. There is more to spell casting than then simple reciting of lines of verse however, one must align a host of magical energies and the exertions and fatigue caused by this is a limiting factor in spell preparation and casting. A Magic-User prepares a spell before being able to completely cast it.

To prepare a spell a Magic-User is required to have a moderately safe and illuminated space. The Magic-User (MU hereafter)must not be interrupted while preparing a spell. The MU must open conduits to allow communication and transmission of magical energies and prepare himself and the space for preparation to allow this to happen. The rite to prepare the spell must be conducted and the verse(s) of the spell spoken aloud. After all that the spell is ready to be cast.

A prepared spell may be immediately cast or held for casting later. There is a limit to how much magical energy a MU is able to hold or use in a given day. A MU may hold in any given day no more spells than those given in the rules as allowed by level. A MU is technically capable of casting as many spells as they have time and resources for in a given day but there are risks in this.

Time to prepare a spell: It takes a minimum of 10 minutes per level of spell to prepare a spell. During this preparation time the MU muse have non-target components on hand, must have carefully lit candles, and must prepare self and space. Movement and general peace conducive to preparing the spell within the space is required. Some astrological configurations/alignments may prohibit preparation of some spells or later the means of preparation required, as can influence of nearby magical phenomenon, influence of bystanders and spirits all of which must be considered and dealt with. All of this as stated above takes at least 10 minutes per spell level to keep track of.

A MU-may prepare a number of spells as listed in the rules for their level at no risk to themselves, the environment, or neighbors. Preparing more spells a day then listed in the rules opens oneself up to dangers.

Mechanical Resolution of Spell Preparation:
A saving throw vs spells is made by the MU to successfully prepare a spell, following 10 minutes per spell level in time taken. The following modifiers apply:
+1 per candle used in preparation. (add 1 minute per candles used over 3)
+4 if spell-book used as reference.
+1 if assisted by an apprentice.
+2 if assisted by a fellow MU of level no less than ½ your level (not counting the 1st apprentice). Add 2 minutes per individual assisting beyond the apprentice.
+1 for using a clean Athame (of which a MU can have no more than one).
+1 for use of Boline.
+1 for use of a Staff.
+2 if prepared within circle of salt (takes one extra minute per participant over first 3)
+2 for use of Crystal Ball or  Focusing Vessel.
+1 if burning incense worth at least 10 gp per spell level.
-2 if Astrological influence of poor portent ( 1 in 12 chance lacking prepared forecast)
+2 for Astrological influence of favorable portent ( 1 in 12 chance lacking prepared forecast)
-4 if within or near (within 30’ per spell level) consecrated space of other faith/alignment
-2 if trying to be quiet to reduce risk of detection. Also adds 2 minutes per spell level.
-1 if member of opposite alignment of no significant magical power is within 30’ per spell level.
-3 if enchanted/magical (including other MU and aligned magical items) being of opposite alignment within 100’ per spell level.
+2 if lowest level spell MU may cast. Cantrips not accounted for.
-2 if highest level spell MU may cast. Cantrips not accounted for.
- level of spell if daily allotment has already been cast for that level.
+1 if INT score 15-17.
+2 if INT score 18+

The Magic-User preparing the spell makes the saving throw after the time is spent.
If the saving throw fails the time is wasted and the spell is not prepared and may not be attemoted again thee same day . No harm is suffered unless the die d20 die roll is also equal to or lower than the spell level which in such a circumstance inflicts 1d3 pts of damage per spell level upon the MU (who gets no additional save), all other participants in the preparation may make a save to avoid this damage (at -2 If lower level than the MU) devices employed in the casting must save on such a situation or be destroyed. A roll of 1 is not a certain failure and a roll of 20 not a certain success.
Once prepared a spell must be cast within as many turns of the MU’s level unless the MU’s daily allotment of prepared spells is still available (and used) for that spell level. If a spell is not cast within the number of turns required it is lost, if another prepared spell or magical item is used instead the spell is lost.

As examples: A third level MU with INT 16 preparing a 2nd level spell with spellbook on hand and a clean athame, brining a single candle, and a circle of salt would make a save roll with a total adjustment of +7 (+1 athame, +1 for candle, +4 for book, +2 for circle, +1 for int, -2 for highest level spell) No harm would be suffered unless the saving throw failed and the d20 roll was a 1 or a 2.

Later in the same day the MU wishes to ready and cast an invisibility spell after having used the earlier spell, this time no candles are used and no circle of salt and the Mu is trying to be quiet as there are orcs nearby this results in total preparation modifier of  -4. (athame +1, highest level spell -2,-2 as level 2 spells all used today -2 prepping quietly, +1 for INT).

Benefits and difficulties under this system: MU have some capacity to prepare and swap out spells as needed (if they have the time). MU have access to a larger number of spells in a day and can replace bad choices but not with certainty or without risk. MU can’t always be certain to have the most ideal spell on hand even with this system. There is additional table time taken for MU players to have PCs ready spells.

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