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#1 Postby HawaiianBrian » Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:50 am

This is an idea that grew out of my desire to have an improvised, "on-the-fly" spellcasting method. Here's the original thread:

Unfortunately, I've tried a couple different systems, from the one in Shark Bytes to one I jury-rigged myself, but nothing seemed to work. Clint Black suggested on in one of his post responses, and I latched on to the idea of applying difficulty modifiers to spells that make them harder to cast, but provide neat one-use effects.

So I wrote up the following. They work a bit like his suggestion, or like the Power mods in the Necessary Evil sourcebook. Sorcery is what I called it, and it is designed to be used with the Magic AB only, though I suppose in the right setting I don't see why it couldn't be used elsewhere.

Requirements: Novice, Ayslish Reality, Arcane Background (Magic), Spellcasting d8, Knowledge: Arcana d8
Your training as a sorcerer in one of Aysle’s many schools has taught you how to modify spells, raising their efficacy but making them tougher and more dangerous.
To use Ayslish Sorcery, a sorcerer must first select a spell to cast among the spells she knows. The base difficulty starts at the usual 4, and then the spellcasting character adds or subtracts to this number by choosing modifers from the list below (see sidebar). Spells can have only as many modifiers as half the caster’s Smarts die. Once the spell is cast, the caster immediately takes backlash and is shaken, or suffers one wound if she was already shaken. There is no way to avoid this backlash.

Ayslish Sorcery Modifications

Modifier and Effect (+/- to Difficulty)
Reduce damage one die type (-1)
Increase damage one die type (+1)
Maximum damage (no aces) (+2)
Change to Fatigue damage (+2)

Effect Area
Decrease template size one step (-1)
Caster selects targets within template (+2)
Add 1 additional target (use ROF rules) (+2)

Decrease by one round (-1)
Increase to minutes (+2)
Increase to hours (+4)
Increase to days (+8 ) *changed from 6*

Casting Time
Increase to Full Action - no move (-1)
Increase to 1 minute (-2)
Increase to 1 hour (-4)
Cast as a Free Action (+4)

Increase Touch to Smarts (+1)
Double Smarts Range (+2)
Line of Sight (+4) *changed from 3*
Anywhere (single familiar target only) (+8 ) *changed from 4*

Change trappings for this use only (+4)
Cast without trappings (silent, etc.) (+2)
Infuse with Honor (+1d6 vs. corrupt) (+2)
Infuse with Corruption (+1d6 vs. good) (+2)

Change Attribute for Opposed Roll (+2)
Heal wounds/fatigue over an hour old (+3)
Heal non-permanent crippling injury (+6)
Lose 1 Fatigue level to empower spell (-4)
Delay activation up to 1 minute (+1)
Delay activation until certain event (+2)
Cast spell one Rank higher than you (+8 )

What do you think? Is it overpowered? Unworkable? Need any adjustments here or there? :unsure:
Last edited by HawaiianBrian on Thu Jan 31, 2008 11:36 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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#2 Postby Karnaze » Thu Jan 31, 2008 11:31 am

For the damage modifiers, do you mean raise/lower the damage by a die 'type', say from a d6 to a d4/d8, or reduce the damage by a 'die', say from 2d6 to 1d6/3d6? The precedent in NE allows for the latter with bolt and blast.

Not sure what 'Aysle Reality' is in the reqs, but I'd likely add Knowledge: Arcana to the reqs and tie the limit on modifiers to that instead of base Smarts. I think that would better represent thier increased training and knowledge in modifying spells than using Smarts.

Should add an 'Increase Area of Effect' modifier to that section. And I'd probably increase the cost of the 'Choosing Targets' modifier. Being able to drop a 5d6 LBT Blast right on top of your own group and not have it affect anyone but enemies is HUGE.

I'd be careful with the 'Make Permanent' modifier. +8 PPs sounds like a lot, but not if the character does the spell during downtime. And being able to cast something like 'Smite' permanently on a weapon is a large swing in damage, especially if the caster gets a raise. Permanent +4 Deflection? Permanent 'Raise Trait'? Things like that could break the system pretty quickly.

The 'Line of Sight' modifier might be too much as well. In 50F a mage in the crow's nest of a ship could conceivably target an enemy vessel with a fireblast to the sails or becalm from as far as 20 miles away (allowing for the curvature of the Earth).

Not sure about the 'Cast a Spell One Rank Higher' modifier either. How would the character know how to cast said spell? I'd think you'd have to add additional penalties to this one. Maybe make the target number either a 6 or 8 just to cast the spell due to unfamiliarity. Make the feedback from a 1 on the casting die cause a wound instead of a shake due to the caster trying to channel more energy than he can safely handle.

Just impressions from a first read.

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#3 Postby Clint » Thu Jan 31, 2008 12:08 pm

No offense to Brian, but the issue I see is really with the Edge as a whole. My ideas were for an entirely separate magic system, but as a single Edge with all of these options, it seems way too powerful.

I mean, most games might have a single Edge that would allow a mage a single one of these abilities at X penalty (with an Improved version that might remove or reduce the penalty).

The sorcerer gets all of these and can mix and match them. So the question is how that balances with everything else. Unless there is an equivalent non-sorcerer Edge, no mage would be caught dead without this Edge (and any mage without it would be grossly outmatched). If that's the case, then it could just be a Setting rule for how magic works in the game.

That said, it then becomes an issue of how it is balanced with any other available ABs, not to mention non-AB characters in the same setting.

Right now, it just feels kind of like an Edge in a vacuum with no way to see how it would balance with everything else in the setting. My gut tells me there's more I'm not seeing, but without that information, I've only got what I know to work off of.

My two cents anyway.
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#4 Postby Snate56 » Thu Jan 31, 2008 3:51 pm

Well then, how about as a setting system? So I could take a bolt spell, run it through the checklist above, and have a unique spell just for my character? Said spell would not be variable and would be purchased normally.
I rather like the chart otherwise.

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#5 Postby Clint » Thu Jan 31, 2008 4:41 pm

Snate56 wrote:Well then, how about as a setting system? So I could take a bolt spell, run it through the checklist above, and have a unique spell just for my character? Said spell would not be variable and would be purchased normally.
I rather like the chart otherwise.

Well, that's kind of getting back to my original system the chart above is based off of, only instead of modifiers to the casting roll, each option varied the PP cost to cast the spell. As I said back then, it could also be used simply as a basis for creating new powers.
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#6 Postby Shalist » Thu Jan 31, 2008 6:28 pm

Quickie...This is for a 'savage torg' game, where highlords of various realities have invaded and psuedo-teraformed large swaths of the earth in order to...well, suck the life outta the place. ie, a jurassic park area, a slightly sci fi tokyo area, a fantasy (aisle) area, kung-fu movie china area, etc etc...each one has various axioms saying what's possible--ie, tech, magic, spirit, social. Aisle is the setting with the high magic axiom, so listing it as a prereq is its kinda like saying you need to be from the sci-fi place to use cybernetics.

That being said:

1) I agree that the duration-bumping is overpowered as written. If used, there should be a penalty as long as the spell is in effect--ie, every extended spell reduces max PP by (cost * X), or they give accumulative minuses to casting (or casting stat related, ie any spirit/smarts) trait rolls, or some such. (edit: even then, walking around with a permanent deflection or boost trait would be a bit much. You wouldn't even need the 'permanent' option, just making it last a few hours would be more than enough to keep it up all the time, like environmental protection.)

2) Range could be really unbalancing if there was ever an opportunity to use it. It'd basically add a whole new dimensions to the game that might come to play in unexpected ways. ("...and as the armies clash miles and miles away, much to far for you to interfere with, you see the helicopters firing heat-seaking missles at the enormous chinese dragon, and--" "I cast 'Blast' on them!")

3) The biggest problem, as clint implied, is the lack of a cieling. Everything you do--fighting, shooting, skills, etc--has inherant caps on how useful being good at it is--even if you have every edge and every Edge in the books and have a +50 to shooting/fighting, the most you could really do is get a headshot with a raise. That's not the case with this though--with enough PP's, someone could really really do whatever the heck they want.

Perhaps their could be various improved versions for each rank--novice would allow +/- 2 points of tweaking, seasoned would be+/- 4, on up through +/- 10 or 12 at legendary...this would limit the cieling severely for a while, let the powers scale with level, and still allow for a great great deal of versatility. _perhaps_ throw in a reduction of penalties at later levels--ie, every 2nd edge (4 points allowed) you'd get one point free, so that at legendary you can tweak +/- 12 w/ 6 edges invested, and the first 3 points are free (but still count against the 12).

Just a few thoughts. It'd be cool to introduce metamagic feats to the casting systems, but it really would allow for some interesting and unexpected consequences.

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#7 Postby HawaiianBrian » Thu Jan 31, 2008 7:40 pm

I appreciate the comments. Even after I posted this, I decided to nix the Permanent thing because I could immediately start seeing how it could be abused.

One thing that must not have been clear enough if the description: the +/- is to the difficulty, not to power points. Thus, trying to cast a Blast spell that does maximum damage but only affects chosen targets within the template would actually require beating an 8 to successfully cast.

Other examples of how this might work...
1. You're trying to cast Dispel on two targets who are far away. That would raise the difficulty to 8 (additional target and Smarts x2).
2. You're trying to cast the Puppet spell on someone in another city, use Smarts instead of Spirit to resist it, and make it last for 3 hours. That would raise the difficulty number for the spell to a whopping 18! You could drop the difficulty back to 12 though, if you took 1 fatigue, and spent an hour casting it.
3. You're trying to cast Teleport to cross hundreds of miles. Normally, this is impossible, but it's possible by using the "Anywhere" range and increasing the difficulty to 12. Then you spend a minute casting it, and voluntarily take 1 fatigue and bring that back down to 8.

Remember, this is difficulty, not power points.

I already suspect a lot of this is unbalanced, like the Line of Sight thing, though I'm trying to work out how to balance it better. I didn't include anything about increasing template size because for spells that use templates, increasing it is already given as an option for more PP.

Clint: I can see your point about this being an Edge no spellcaster would be caught dead without. This thing was originally designed to be used in a high magic fantasy world, would require the character having been trained in a school, and nobody else would have access to it, but even then I see it being the "must-have" Edge. Perhaps this could be mitigated somehow? I was thinking one of the penalties to using this Edge would be immediate backlash -- shaken, or a wound if one is already shaken. That would raise the stakes even higher.

That doesn't address the "must-have" quality to this Edge, but it might make it less prevalent in use. I could also add a thing where the Sorcerer must choose which three modifiers they learned at the time they take the Edge, and then make those unchangeable. You wanna learn more? You take the Edge again... that kind of thing.
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