Tweaking Hellfrost's magic system

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kaladhan
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Tweaking Hellfrost's magic system

#1 Postby kaladhan » Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:32 pm

Hi everyone!

Context
I'm working on a Ptolus campaign using the Savage Worlds ruleset and a few add-on from Arcana Evolved. I'm not satisfied with the power system that comes with SW. Specifically, the power points are not to my liking. This is why I chose to use Hellfrost's approach to the magic system.

Tweaking Hellfrost's magic system
I have 2 questions regarding tweaking the magic system :

1. The siphoning is very setting dependent. I'm trying to come up with an alternative (that I nicknamed Backlash). Has such a thing already been done? I imagine it should.

2. Since I'm going to have few different type of spellcasters (clerics or wizards), how should trappings be acquired? Should wizards begin with 1 trapping of their choice and gain one per rank and/or edge?

Thanks!

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#2 Postby ValhallaGH » Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:52 pm

Greetings!

1) Not aware of such projects, but I don't track Hellfrost-specific magic tweaks, so I may be forgetting something.

2) Learning an entirely new power is an edge. New trappings are nice, but nowhere near as useful as an edge - even getting 50 new trappings is probably less potent than getting another power.
Example: Boost/Lower Trait is one power that is (approximately) equal to 30 Wizard / Sorcerer spells and 80 Bard Cleric, Druid, Paladin, Ranger spells. That's 110 different ways of buffing your side or de-buffing the other side, for a single power.

Aside: You may want to take a look at the No Power Points setting rules in Savage Worlds Deluxe, if you have not already done so. I prefer them to the Hellfrost rules, though opinions differ.

Best of Luck!

P.S. Ptolus was designed for D&D 3.x, especially the way magic works in the setting. I hope you recognize that by changing that, you're going to have some pretty interesting repercussions for the entire setting. Simply something to keep aware of.
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#3 Postby The One » Sun Aug 12, 2012 12:51 pm

With trappings, I tend to play that trappings can be found as part of treasure, or purchased from various sources such as magical colleges, arcane merchants or similar. They're useful equipment, but as mentioned above, no where near as useful as a new power.

Unfortunately I've not seen Hellfrost so can't offer advice on tweaking the system.
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#4 Postby StJason » Mon Aug 13, 2012 2:41 am

Depends on how you run magic, really. For the most part, trappings should be inherent to the spell. You don't learn trappings, you learn spells that have trappings.

If we take as an example, the Boost/Lower trait, my personal preference is that you should never, never, never, never run it as is. Instead, it should be the template for Boost Strength, Lower Smarts, Boost Agility, and so on. To do otherwise makes this power crazily powerful.

The same thing goes for other powers. You should in all cases avoid using the stock spells out of the book. Instead, use the trappings (am I the only one that thinks that there should be a difference between trappings (lowercase) for things like 'pink sparkles rain down' and Trappings (uppercase) for things like 'Ice Bolt that does extra freezing stuff') to make new spells. Never Bolt, instead Sonic Bolt (can't do multiples, but does extra damage underwater, and deafens targets). Never Entangle, instead Grip of the Dead (dozens of hands burst from the ground, grabbing whoever. Living targets must make fear check if grabbed).

So, getting back to the OP: You don't learn Ice trapping to give your bolt power. You learn Ice Bolt. Later, if he wants to get Acid Bolt, that is a whole new spell. Knowing Ice Bolt does not mean that his Armor power automatically gives them Ice Armor. (and if they learn that Acid Bolt, they don't get Acid Armor either...)

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#5 Postby Lord Lance » Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:09 am

StJason wrote:If we take as an example, the Boost/Lower trait, my personal preference is that you should never, never, never, never run it as is. Instead, it should be the template for Boost Strength, Lower Smarts, Boost Agility, and so on. To do otherwise makes this power crazily powerful.

Here my 2 cents. Powers, is SW, are quite balanced each other. So, you could take them as you read it, and you get a good playing at your game table.
That said, I love to "paint" the base power with colours too.
I like to give personality to the spell (so, it's not "Bolt", it's "Fireball" for a mage, and "Ice Shard" for another). This personality should grant some modifiers, in game, absolutely "as the Game Master see fit". So a Fireball can actually turn a barrel of oil afire, and the Ice Shard can do +2 damage to that Fire Creature.
About Boost/Lower Trait, it's fantastic to give some contest. "Great Blessing" could be "only boosts", but you could give a free Small Template area. "Black Hex" could be "only lowers" but with double range. "Body Alterations" could be "only physical", but +2 turns duration.

Powers in SW are a sort of artistic composition, more than exact science.
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#6 Postby amerigoV » Mon Aug 13, 2012 2:31 pm

I am currently in a Savage Ptolus game that just hit Legendary. We basically run core SWD/FC. I've run a psionist and another player has run a classic wizard. We have a cleric, but the player is absent a lot so his trappings are pretty weak. Also, I ran the Banewarrens under 3.x so I am familiar with Ptolus' intended feel.

All that said, just running trappings by the rules and applying trappings to skills and edges gives tons of flavor. I have to say overall its been our most successful fantasy campaign. So my advice is do not sweat the magic. If people get into the trappings, it will be one of your more colorful campaigns without even trying.
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Re: Tweaking Hellfrost's magic system

#7 Postby kronovan » Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:40 pm

kaladhan wrote:Hi everyone!

Context
I'm working on a Ptolus campaign using the Savage Worlds ruleset and a few add-on from Arcana Evolved. I'm not satisfied with the power system that comes with SW. Specifically, the power points are not to my liking. This is why I chose to use Hellfrost's approach to the magic system.

Tweaking Hellfrost's magic system
I have 2 questions regarding tweaking the magic system :

1. The siphoning is very setting dependent. I'm trying to come up with an alternative (that I nicknamed Backlash). Has such a thing already been done? I imagine it should.

Hi back Kaladhan and welcome to the forums. ;)

For sure siphoning can be quite severe in Hellfrost, but something to keep in mind is that a player rolling a 1 on their acrane skill can reroll by spending a benny. There's also nothing in the Hellfrost setting that forbids a critical failure from being rerolled with a benny - although personally I don't allow that in any of my settings. So unless the Mage is completely out of bennies, there's a good chance they'll avoid the siphoning. As well even if they get a resulting wound from the siphoning effect, it can be potentially removed by spending a benny for a soak roll. There's nothing that can prevent the temporary loss of their arcane skill though, if they do in fact end up being subject to siphoning.

There's a number of other 3rd party settings that feature no power points; Totems of the Dead and Interface Zero to name a few. They all balance out the removal of the burden of power point management with some sort of consequence/backlash. The no power points system in SWD (pg. 95) is fairly simple and has less consequences than many others, so its a good starting point. There's also ritual magic systems in the Fantasy (simple) and Horror (more complex) Companions that might suit your setting.

2. Since I'm going to have few different type of spellcasters (clerics or wizards), how should trappings be acquired? Should wizards begin with 1 trapping of their choice and gain one per rank and/or edge?

I lean in the direction of making them required for very flexible powers like boost/lower trait or blast, but don't require them to be an edge. I allow players to quest or train for them - haven't ever allowed for them to be purchased but I can see where that could work. I also allow a new trapping on an advancement if the advancement comes at the end of an adventure or narrative/down time follows the session the experience points were granted in.

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Re: Tweaking Hellfrost's magic system

#8 Postby UmbraLux » Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:36 pm

kaladhan wrote:1. The siphoning is very setting dependent. I'm trying to come up with an alternative (that I nicknamed Backlash). Has such a thing already been done? I imagine it should.
Yes, several people have done away with power points in one fashion or another. Some are on the forums, mine is off site (and oriented towards urban fantasy - probably not what you're looking for).

2. Since I'm going to have few different type of spellcasters (clerics or wizards), how should trappings be acquired? Should wizards begin with 1 trapping of their choice and gain one per rank and/or edge?
I'd start with 1 but have some method of changing it or gaining more fairly easily...not requiring an edge unless it adds a trapping for all spells.

In a fantasy campaign, scrolls or tomes may work. So would simply taking the time to study and 'change the way you cast' if you just want to switch out trappings. Gaining a new trapping each rank isn't a bad idea. Settings with schools of magic might have a universal trapping per school and allow picking up a new school via edge.


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