Masque of the Red Death - Powers Check

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decalod85
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Masque of the Red Death - Powers Check

#1 Postby decalod85 » Sat Oct 01, 2011 1:44 am

So, in the old 2nd Edition D&D Masque of the Red Death setting, whenever a PC casts a spell, they must roll a powers check to see if the taint of the Red Death entered the PC.

There were 4 levels of taint, and the 5th level indicated that the PC had become a werewolf, vampire, or some such beastie.

Spells are less reliable (the fabric of magic has been damaged), and since the spell casters craft has been lost to the ages, there is little understanding of how magic works. Most casters are blindly following rituals with little understanding of what they do. I am considering using some of the ritual magic rules from the FC, at least the parts about casting being more time consuming, and less power points.

Powerful spells have a greater chance to taint the caster. Taint can be cured, but not easily.

Any recommendations on a mechanic for spellcasting that incorporates these elements?

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Re: Masque of the Red Death - Powers Check

#2 Postby robert4818 » Sat Oct 01, 2011 2:20 am

decalod85 wrote:So, in the old 2nd Edition D&D Masque of the Red Death setting, whenever a PC casts a spell, they must roll a powers check to see if the taint of the Red Death entered the PC.

There were 4 levels of taint, and the 5th level indicated that the PC had become a werewolf, vampire, or some such beastie.

Spells are less reliable (the fabric of magic has been damaged), and since the spell casters craft has been lost to the ages, there is little understanding of how magic works. Most casters are blindly following rituals with little understanding of what they do. I am considering using some of the ritual magic rules from the FC, at least the parts about casting being more time consuming, and less power points.

Powerful spells have a greater chance to taint the caster. Taint can be cured, but not easily.

Any recommendations on a mechanic for spellcasting that incorporates these elements?


My thoughts:

Use the no PP rules from the SWD book.
Have the "taint" be backlash, but have backlash happen whenever the spell is failed to cast (instead of simply on a 1). (In this scenario, assume that failure to meet the TN due to casting modifiers/wounds is a failure to cast, failure due to range and situational modifiers results in the spell going off, but failing to "hit". Apply Casting/wound mods first).

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Re: Masque of the Red Death - Powers Check

#3 Postby ValhallaGH » Sat Oct 01, 2011 9:20 am

decalod85 wrote:There were 4 levels of taint, and the 5th level indicated that the PC had become a werewolf, vampire, or some such beastie.
...
Powerful spells have a greater chance to taint the caster. Taint can be cured, but not easily.

Any recommendations on a mechanic for spellcasting that incorporates these elements?

No Power Points setting rule. In addition, all failed spellcasting results in a level of taint; 5 of those and your character becomes a monster.

Taint is considered a permanent injury for purposes of great healing.

I'd treat partial success (such as casting at least 1 of multiple bolts) as a success for determining taint, but I'm nice like that.
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#4 Postby HawaiianBrian » Sat Oct 01, 2011 10:46 am

Hmm I might do something more like:

• No PP option
• With a roll of 1 on the Trait die, make a Spirit check with a penalty equal to your current Taint
• If Spirit check fails, gain a level of Taint (it gets harder to resist as time goes by)
• Ten levels of Taint, reaching 10 means the character has become a monster.
• Taint can be healed with Greater Healing, though of course the character's current Taint level is a modifier against this casting!

Does that mean the character becomes an NPC?

Also, you might want to consider using the rituals from Shark Bytes issue 2 instead of a traditional AB. It sounds great for what you're doing.
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#5 Postby 77IM » Sat Oct 01, 2011 1:06 pm

I like the suggestion of the No PP rule, but 5 failed checks and you become an NPC? I feel like that's too harsh, especially considering the penalties involved. I see several alternatives.

1. You only get the taint if you roll a 1. A regular failure still means you are Shaken and drop all your powers, so it's still bad.

2. Taint goes away after time. Something like, you lose 1 taint level per day. Of course if you actually reach level 5 you are boned, but it means you can reach level 4 and still have some recourse (lay off the casting for a while). A daily Spirit check, with penalty equal to the taint, might be required (so level 4 would take a lot longer to get rid of than level 1).

3. Your first one's free: Failing a check merely makes you "tarnished" for an hour. Failing a check while tarnished gives you a level of actual taint, and resets the timer for how long you will be tarnished. (So it's kind of like Shaken -> Wounded, but for taint.)

4. To combine some of the above ideas: taint heals over time, unless you roll a 1; that taint's permanent. 5 levels of taint and you lose (even if some or all of it is temporary taint).

5. This one's more complicated. Your taint heals over time, down to a minimum of zero. Except, every time you hit 4 taint levels, that minimum increases by a point.

6. I like HawaiianBrian's suggestion too. Variations would include making the Spirit check every time you fail a roll, or placing no limit on the amount of taint but saying that if your Spirit check is 1 or less you become a monster.

Well I could go on like this all day but I guess my point is, "5 strikes and you're out" is nice and simple but it would really dissuade me from playing a caster.


-- 77IM

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#6 Postby robert4818 » Sat Oct 01, 2011 5:45 pm

77IM wrote:I like the suggestion of the No PP rule, but 5 failed checks and you become an NPC? I feel like that's too harsh, especially considering the penalties involved. I see several alternatives.

1. You only get the taint if you roll a 1. A regular failure still means you are Shaken and drop all your powers, so it's still bad.

2. Taint goes away after time. Something like, you lose 1 taint level per day. Of course if you actually reach level 5 you are boned, but it means you can reach level 4 and still have some recourse (lay off the casting for a while). A daily Spirit check, with penalty equal to the taint, might be required (so level 4 would take a lot longer to get rid of than level 1).

3. Your first one's free: Failing a check merely makes you "tarnished" for an hour. Failing a check while tarnished gives you a level of actual taint, and resets the timer for how long you will be tarnished. (So it's kind of like Shaken -> Wounded, but for taint.)

4. To combine some of the above ideas: taint heals over time, unless you roll a 1; that taint's permanent. 5 levels of taint and you lose (even if some or all of it is temporary taint).

5. This one's more complicated. Your taint heals over time, down to a minimum of zero. Except, every time you hit 4 taint levels, that minimum increases by a point.

6. I like HawaiianBrian's suggestion too. Variations would include making the Spirit check every time you fail a roll, or placing no limit on the amount of taint but saying that if your Spirit check is 1 or less you become a monster.

Well I could go on like this all day but I guess my point is, "5 strikes and you're out" is nice and simple but it would really dissuade me from playing a caster.


-- 77IM


The 5 and out came from his descrption of the taint. I don't know enough(anything) about the original module/setting to judge how harsh the actual taint process should be.

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#7 Postby decalod85 » Sun Oct 02, 2011 1:02 am

The original rules had the user make a roll on each spell they cast, successful or not.

It was a percentile roll, and pretty unlikely to happen. But when it did, it required redemption spells to undo.

Spell casters were more likely to become tainted if they used higher level spells.

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#8 Postby decalod85 » Sun Oct 02, 2011 1:12 am

I like the No PP idea. It encourages the spellcasters to draw from an limitless pool of power, but they may pay the price.

However, I was thinking of having the Powerpoints used modify a check (perhaps a spirit check to resist taint). The more points you use, the harder it is to resist the taint.

So perhaps we use No PP, but still keep a watch on how many they are using for the purposes of making taint more likely to happen with more powerful spells.

Perhaps taint is slow moving. Any day you cast spells, you keep track of the number of PP that you use. Then there is a daily roll for taint. The roll is modified by your current taint level, and PP divided by 5.

It slowly dawns on the hero when he awakens that his canine teeth are much longer than they once were, and he is hungry for a big breakfast of steak.

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#9 Postby robert4818 » Sun Oct 02, 2011 1:56 am

decalod85 wrote:I like the No PP idea. It encourages the spellcasters to draw from an limitless pool of power, but they may pay the price.

However, I was thinking of having the Powerpoints used modify a check (perhaps a spirit check to resist taint). The more points you use, the harder it is to resist the taint.

So perhaps we use No PP, but still keep a watch on how many they are using for the purposes of making taint more likely to happen with more powerful spells.

Perhaps taint is slow moving. Any day you cast spells, you keep track of the number of PP that you use. Then there is a daily roll for taint. The roll is modified by your current taint level, and PP divided by 5.

It slowly dawns on the hero when he awakens that his canine teeth are much longer than they once were, and he is hungry for a big breakfast of steak.


The no PP rule from SWD also contains rules for modifying TN's based on the PP needed to cast.

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#10 Postby Lord Karick » Sun Oct 02, 2011 2:16 am

Following this with great interest. How about the following; when the Arcane user rolls a 1, take a card. Clubs - permanent increase in corruption, Spades - temporary increase in corruption (or similar negative effect), Diamonds - no effect, Hearts - temporary 5 PP increase in total PP, Joker permanent 2 PP increase.

The carrot would mean that the player might actually take the risk rather than bennieing it away (is that even a word?).

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#11 Postby decalod85 » Sun Oct 02, 2011 6:40 pm

How about this?

We make it work like wounds/incapacitation/permanent injuries.

Use the "No PP" rules, with the penalties for PP used on a power.
Whenever a power is used and the AB trait roll total is 1 or less (using more power is dangerous), the PC takes a "taint wound".

When a 4th "taint wound" is taken, the spell caster makes a spirit roll. Failure means a permanent level of taint, and are unconcious for 1d6 hours. Success means a level of temporary taint, and unconcious for 1d6 hours. Temporary taint levels goes away when the wounds go away. A raise means they are at 3 taint wounds, and no new taint level.

Taint wounds heal over time (1 per day on a successful spirit roll), taint levels are only removable through an atonement ritual(Greater Healing or a setting specific Remove Taint power).

Or...

You could also go as far as having a derived stat (spirit/2 + 2 + edge bonuses + item bonuses), and have the DM roll taint damage based on the level of the spell (2d4 for Novice, 2d6 for Seasoned ...). Treat spirit derived stat like toughness.

Levels of Corruption

Levels of taint cause changes to the heroes body. Stage One could give the PC putrid breath and fangs which lower Charisma but add damage in combat. Each stage would add new horrors (with some hindrances).

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decalod85
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#12 Postby decalod85 » Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:07 pm

OK, another idea.

Use No PP rules as normal, except this.

"Taint: If a caster rolls a 1 on the arcane skill die when using one of
his powers it automatically fails and he suffers 2d6 + (half the power's usual Power Point cost rounded down) damage. If the PC suffers a wound, they gain a level of corruption from the Red Death's taint of magic."

That seems FFF, but will it be frequent enough to make the taint a credible threat?

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#13 Postby ValhallaGH » Mon Oct 03, 2011 8:00 pm

Yes it will.
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