On-the-Fly Spellcasting Method Using PP

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Would you like to see an official on-the-fly magic system created for Savage Worlds?

Yes! I hate pre-packaged spells.
15
16%
Sure. It would provide more variety.
36
39%
Yeah, as long as it was balanced, it would be good.
31
33%
No, too much potential for abuse.
3
3%
No. It sounds too complicated.
4
4%
No! I hate those kinds of systems!
4
4%
 
Total votes: 93

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HawaiianBrian
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On-the-Fly Spellcasting Method Using PP

#1 Postby HawaiianBrian » Mon Aug 13, 2007 2:55 am

Hi Savages,

I just wanted to share a system I put together for making on-the-fly spells. Before you point me to Sharkbytes, let me point out that I got the idea originally from the Ars-Magica style spellcasting article written there. I playtested it, modified it, playtested it some more, repeat a few more times, before finally deciding to stick with a spellpoint system. So I put together a similar method of creating spells "on the fly" that use spell points.

In all ways this method creates spells that function like the spells from the Savage Worlds core book, only with this method, the player gets to tinker with the spell before spending the points to cast it. If you have any questions, or comments, I would welcome them.

This is currently being playtested in my Savage Torg campaign (hence the references to Aysle)

-------
Arcane Background: Ayslish Sorcery
Arcane Skill: Spellcasting
Starting Power Points: 10
Starting Powers: One Form and One Knowledge Edge
Sorcery in Aysle differs quite dramatically from magic as it is commonly practiced throughout most other realities. Magic infuses everything in Aysle, and those who know how to manipulate it can produce spell effects on the fly, without needing to resort to magical
tomes or special learning. This level of magic requires a Magic axiom of at least 18 to not cause a contradiction.
Aylish sorcery is based on four Forms, which are learned as Edges: Alteration, Apportation, Conjuration, and Divination. Alteration causes an existing object or entity to change. Apportation causes an object, effect, or entity to move. Conjuration creates objects, conditions, entities, or other effects. Divination provides knowledge about an object, condition, or entity to the caster.
Second, there are twelve Knowledges, also Edges, that determine how a spell will manifest itself:

Ayslish Sorcery Spell Modifiers Chart

Shadow (Darkness, Evil, Death / Undeath, Demonic)
Light (Illumination, Good, Life, Angelic)
Time
Air
Earth
Fire
Water
Plants
Metal
Folk (Humans, elves, orcs, etc.)
Beasts (Natural animals)
Supernatural (Unnatural monsters, such as dragons)

A sorcerer can only cast spells using Forms and Knowledges they know.
To cast a spell, the sorcerer must combine a Form with an Arcane Knowledge, creating essentially a verb / noun combination. For example, to create a ball of fire, a sorcerer would need to know Conjuration and Fire. To teleport, he would need to know Apportation and Folk.
The base TN to cast a spell is 4. This assumes the sorcerer is using a focus (usually a wand or staff), words and gestures to cast the spell. The TN increases if the sorcerer chooses to leave out components (say, if they are trying to be stealthy). Leaving out one component increases it by +1, two increases it by +2, and using no components increases the TN by +3.
Build a spell on the fly by consulting the chart below. The column on the left indicates how many power points each modification adds. Select one level from every column, and cross-reference it with the power point cost, adding them all together for a total.

PP CostRange (must hit with Fighting/Throwing)..........Targets or Area (Choose one)..........Duration (Extend for 1 p.p. per same time)..........Power (Target gets Vigor check to resist spells that impose status changes)
+0....................Self or Touch....................Self or 1 target....................Instantateous / 1 round....................Cantrip (No damage, minimal changes)
+1....................Close range: 1 - 12 squares....................2-3 Targets or Small burst template....................3 Rounds....................Weak (1d6 damage, small changes, slow speeds, light weights, weak summons)
+2....................Medium range: 13 - 24 squares....................4-6 Targets or Medium burst template....................1 Minute....................Moderate (2d6 damage, medium changes, speeds, or weights, strong summons)
+3....................Long range: 25 - 48 squares....................7-10 Targets or Large burst template....................10 Minutes....................Powerful (3d6 damage, great changes, fast speeds, heavy weights, unearthly summons)
+1 per listed step....................to 1 Mile, 10 miles, then multiples of ten..........Multiples of 5 (Targets or more inches of area)....................One Hour, Day, Week, Month, Year....................Increase dice damage or die type (d8, d10, d12), increase changes, speeds, etc. 1 level

Where the spell falls in the “power” column is tricky and best left up to the GM. As a general rule of thumb, any spell with mundane application and limited combat usefulness will be a cantrip (heating up a pot of water, etc.) Alteration spells grow more powerful as the target’s form gets farther from its original form. Apportation spells grow more powerful as distance covered grows. Conjuration spells grow more powerful as the conjured object or effect becomes stronger or less common. Divination spells grow more powerful as the information gathered increases.
The power point cost to cast the spell is also for backlash TN -- you must beat both difficulty levels with one roll if you want to cast the spell correctly and avoid backlash damage. A failed roll results in one fatigue level, but “snake eyes” results in one wound level. This damage can be reduced with a soak roll.
Sorcerers can lower the cost by spending more time crafting the spell. Extending the time by one “increment” (1 full round, minute, hour, day, week, month, year) drops the cost by -1. Also, the cost drops a point with each raise on the spellcasting roll.
Sorcerers with Light or Shadow Knowledges can cast spells as illusions, reducing the cost by 2 points, but giving the target the opportunity to resist its effects with a Smarts check. If successful, the spell has no effect and he knows it is an illusion. If he fails, the spell effects him as though it were real. Sorcerers must know the Light or Shadow knowledges for this.
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#2 Postby chatterbox » Mon Aug 13, 2007 1:49 pm

Kinda neat, although the chart is a little difficult to read. One of my first favorite theoretical "magic systems" was from Fantasy Wargaming, and it was (mostly) an on the fly effect system. I'd be curious to see how this worked out in play, especially as far as speed goes. I'm fairly certain that each PC would end up with some standard effects they create and use often.

Question about the final "+1/per" row: Increase dice damage or die type (d8, d10, d12):
I'm assuming you're starting at 3d6, so 1 step can make it 4d6 OR 3d8, and 3 steps could result in 6d6, 5d8, 4d10, or 3d12?
I'd be inclined to cap the number of dice at 3, just to reduce the number of possible rolled dice, and make the increased die type the big power boost.

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#3 Postby HawaiianBrian » Thu Aug 16, 2007 2:38 pm

Yes, you read that right. Perhaps you're on to something. I'll consider limiting it in that way.
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#4 Postby Emiricol » Thu Aug 16, 2007 2:47 pm

Would be GREAT if you could post a file on the Savage Worlds Yahoo Group so we could see it with formatting intact. But, keeping in mind what Chatterbox said, I like what I see. Takes what is in the SharkBytes and streamlines it with the system's rules a bunch :)
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#5 Postby Clint » Thu Aug 16, 2007 2:58 pm

When I did my improvised magic rules (wow, three and a half years ago; time flies), I had two big differences from this system you might consider.

One, I didn't change how magic worked mechanically. And two, I defined the mechanical effects of the powers pretty specifically.

The first could be more tied to the setting (though it is a bit complex and doesn't always follow the basic conventions of the system). The second though I think is unavoidable, even if it does take a bit of work to define all those other effects mechanically and balance them to the damage levels given.

Anyway, like I said, just something to consider.
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#6 Postby HawaiianBrian » Thu Aug 16, 2007 3:17 pm

The file that contains this spellcasting method can be found here:

http://files.meetup.com/47023/Savage%20Torg.pdf

It starts on page nine.


Clint: I haven't seen improvised magic rules.... Or else I did but didn't realize what I was looking at. Where would I find those? I'd love to take a look.
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#7 Postby Clint » Thu Aug 16, 2007 3:32 pm

Hmm, here ya go. This is an old file, and they may have been tweaked a bit since then, but not much...

Improvised Magic Rules for Savage Worlds
By Clint Black


These rules were designed to simulate Arcane abilities where the user is only limited by their power and creativity. They could also function for characters whose powers are limited only by a theme or trappings or simply as a basis for creating new Powers.

All Powers start with a Primary Effect with a base Power Point cost. From there the cost can be increased or decreased based of choices of Modifications, Range, Duration, and Casting Time. Reductions in PP cost can never decrease the cost of a Power to less than 1 PP. Unless otherwise stated, the base Duration for all Powers is Instant, the base Range is Touch, and the base Casting Time is 1 Action.


Primary Effect: (OPP: Opposed Roll applies if target wishes) (Base cost: 1PP)

3d6 Damage: OPP for any Duration beyond Instant

Increase or decrease a single Trait one die type (two with a raise): OPP

Decrease a Derived Stat by 2 (Shaken with a Raise): OPP

Increase a Derived Stat by 2 (Target gains a related Edge with a Raise). Replace Edge with Monstrous Ability (+1 PP)

Summon a character or creature with 3 points in Attributes and 8 points for Skills

Negate one Wound or Fatigue Level applied within the last hour (two with a Raise)
-This Effect starts with a Duration of 3 (1/rnd). For +2 PP, the Duration is Permanent.

Negate or impose a –4 Situational modifier (-6 with a Raise) for a target or against a target (+1PP): OPP
-This Effect can have a multitude of functions. Examples: Negating a modifier for a target (Darkvision that negates Lighting penalties). Imposing a modifier for a target (Blindness that causes Lighting penalties). Negating a modifier against a target (Glittering dust that counters a target’s Invisibility). Imposing a modifier against a target (Basic invisibility).


Modifications

Reduce damage to 2d6 Damage (-1)

Uses Small Burst Template (+1)
Uses Medium Burst Template (+2)
Uses Large Burst Template (+4)
Caster chooses who in Template is affected (+1)

Per each +2 points to increase a summoned creatures Attributes (+1)
Per each +4 points to increase a summoned creatures Skills (+1)
Per 2 net Monstrous Abilities or Edges of summoned creature (+1)
Per Weakness or 2 points of Hindrances of summoned creature (-1)

Negate Wounds or Fatigue over an hour old (x3)
Negate non-permanent Crippling Injury (x6)

Multiply Power (+1)
-Allows one Power to be activated multiple times in one action. The character pays the base cost for each use. He rolls one Power Skill die for each activation separately, but only gets one Wild Die on the roll.


Duration
3 rounds (1/round) (+1)
1 minute (1/minute) (+2)
1 hour (1/hour) (+3)


Range
Smarts (Damage Powers have a Medium Range of 2x Smarts and a Long Range of 4x Smarts) (+1)
2x Smarts (Damage Powers have a Medium Range of 4x Smarts and a Long Range of 8x Smarts) (+2)
Line of Sight (Damage Powers suffer no penalties to hit for Range) (+3)


Casting Time
Full Action (No other actions at all, including Free Actions or movement) (-1)
1 minute (-2)
1 hour (-4)
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#8 Postby The One » Thu Aug 16, 2007 3:53 pm

Hmm, Clint's system is interesting, very reminiscant of the way magic works in the World of Darkness mage books without specifically stating which effects someone would have access to


I like the idea of a system like your one Brian, but it looks a little clunky. At least with Clint's version there's no real way to twink things out, you simply pick the effect that works for the situation and pay the power points.
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#9 Postby HawaiianBrian » Thu Aug 16, 2007 7:21 pm

I'm tempted to agree. You know, Clint's system reminds me of the True Sorcery system by Green Ronin, for their "True20" d20 revision. Originally the magic system was designed for their Black Company rpg setting. The magic system there presents a bunch (maybe 30) "base" spells, from which all other spells derive and are just versions. Kinda like powers in Savage Worlds, where the difference is most often just a matter of trappings (Melf's Acid Arrow vs. Magic Missile, for a quick and imperfect example). To cast a spell, you need to know the thing, of course, and have some skill in Spellcasting, and from there you can choose modifiers on-the-fly to change it up a bit.

Clint, was this originally published in Shark Bytes? I'll take a second look at your system and probably add a few more effects (transformation, divination, that sort of thing) and modifications and use it. I'm also looking at how to scale it (see this post: http://www.peginc.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=15327) for different magic levels.
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#10 Postby The One » Fri Aug 17, 2007 1:35 am

If you're gonna use Clint's system, scaling becomes very simple indeed. Depending on the level of magic in the world, that's the limit to the number of power points you can spend on an effect.

No need for anything more complicated than that :)
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#11 Postby supercOntra » Fri Aug 17, 2007 3:54 am

It's used in Talislanta 4th edition and I never liked it because it destroyed a really good adventure idea, the search for lost spells/tomes.
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#12 Postby Clint » Fri Aug 17, 2007 9:46 am

HawaiianBrian wrote:Clint, was this originally published in Shark Bytes? I'll take a second look at your system and probably add a few more effects (transformation, divination, that sort of thing) and modifications and use it. I'm also looking at how to scale it (see this post: http://www.peginc.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=15327) for different magic levels.


Actually that predates Sharkbytes.

As far as scaling it for different magic levels, I think that's easy. Just add another variable to the cost of the spells...

Magic Level
High Magic (+0)
Low Magic (+1)
Rare Magic (+2)
No Magic (+4)
Anti-Magic (+8)

So spells just cost more personal power the less ambient magic there is.

And for other effects, look at what's there to begin with. Transformation may be a simple cosmetic change for 1 PP (imposing a -4/-6 penalty to determine the character isn't what he appears), but no physical change in abilities. Then you could just use the modifiers for summoned creatures to cause actual changes with the transformation.

For example, transform someone into a dog.

Primary Effect: -4/-6 to determine they are not a real dog (+1)
Modifier: Small -1 Size (-1)
Modifier: Fleet-Footed and Go for the Throat (+1)
Modifier: +4 Skill points to Notice and Tracking (+1)
Modifier: Str+d4 bite (+0)
Duration: 1 minute (1/minute) (+2)

So, the total cost is 4 PPs.

Note that adds to the system a damage effect for summoned creatures based on...

Melee damage
Str (-1)
Str+d4 (+0)
Str+d6 (+1)
Str+d8 (+2)
and so on...

Anyway, hope that helps.
Last edited by Clint on Fri Aug 17, 2007 1:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#13 Postby HawaiianBrian » Fri Aug 17, 2007 12:52 pm

Clint,

This rocks! Thanks for your input. I'll probably be implementing this in my game to play around with it a bit.
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#14 Postby Sunwolf » Sat Aug 18, 2007 8:49 am

Clint,

This really should be in print somewhere. Every time it comes up, the Savages love it. Maybe in a Powers Toolkit? :sly: :smile:

For the record, I’m still working on using this as a base for an effect-based power toolkit, ala Hero or M&M, but MUCH simpler. I’d been stuck on things like transformations and adding effects Clint had left out. Now I see I need to look at it a little differently.

Anyway, still think this is a great system.
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#15 Postby BObrien » Sat Aug 18, 2007 10:42 am

Sunwolf wrote:Clint,

This really should be in print somewhere. Every time it comes up, the Savages love it. Maybe in a Powers Toolkit? :sly: :smile:



Yeah, Clint! Even if just posted up on Savage Heroes. Me personally, I just saved it to a file in my Savage Addons directory. :)

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#16 Postby Sunwolf » Sat Aug 18, 2007 5:38 pm

BObrien wrote:
Yeah, Clint! Even if just posted up on Savage Heroes. Me personally, I just saved it to a file in my Savage Addons directory. :)

Brennan


That would work, but a Power Toolkit would be even better. hint, hint. :smile:

Edit: For the record I know they said they weren’t planning a Power Toolkit. But I can dream. :sigh:
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#17 Postby Boldfist » Tue Sep 04, 2007 11:11 pm

Bump
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#18 Postby Emiricol » Thu Sep 13, 2007 6:50 pm

Brian, would you be willing to post this to the Savagepedia house rules section?

Likewise with Clint's system.

If either of you post the final versions up there, I will be happy to format it.

-Emiricol

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#19 Postby HawaiianBrian » Thu Sep 13, 2007 8:27 pm

Sure, I'd be happy to. I wish I had more time to devote to fiddling with the system. Right now it's a work in progress, but it seems to work.
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Improvised Magic Rules--a late question

#20 Postby Roman » Sat Jan 26, 2008 10:32 am

When this was originally published, wasn't there also a modifier to PP cost based on the rank of the power / spell?

Am I misremembering?


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