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Thimhallan conversion?

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  • Thimhallan conversion?

    Has anyone seen or given thought to a conversion of the world of the Darksword Trilogy by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman? I'm not sure how possible it might even be, but thanks to finding stuff in an old box I forgot I had (isn't that always the way?) was recently wondering if the SW magic system might be flexible enough to manage it.

  • #2
    It could work.
    You'd have to be very strict about Trappings, and very careful with the available power lists.

    The protagonist would have Arcane Resistance. The eponymous sword would probably increase that, since it can cut magic.
    Drain Power Points would probably have some kind of feedback on the target.

    I can't recall if anything else needs specific notation.
    I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.


    • #3
      Agreed on those points, and yes Trapping management would be key. Using the books to write up a bunch of pre-made example spells per Mystery would help.

      Catalysts seem like they could easily become highly complicated, too, though. Or a simple version would end up either Too Good or The Suck depending

      And thinking more on it I wonder if it would be better with a bunch of custom ABs, a couple ABs and some custom Edges, or an AB with a bunch of custom Edges. Also make Thimhallans essentially a race with built-in AB? With the caveat that they can be born from or give birth to regular humans, of course...


      • #4
        Not being familiar with the source, I totally parse the name a bit oddly. Reading the thread, I assume Thimhallan is essentially the word for "magic-user" in the setting. So this is a wizard?


        • ValhallaGH
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          ValhallaGH commented
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          Thimhallan is the name of the magical kingdom the books happen in.

        • Sgt Anjay
          Sgt Anjay
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          Sgt Anjay commented
          Editing a comment
          Yeah, sorry, guess I did put that oddly since I was going from a perspective of being familiar with the setting.

          But yes, Thimhallan is the world of the setting. The basic conceit being a world where virtually everyone is born with magical power and set up in a caste society divided into nine branches of magic

      • #5
        Originally posted by paladin2019 View Post
        ... I assume Thimhallan is essentially the word for "magic-user" in the setting. So this is a wizard?
        This is Thimhallan.

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        Last edited by Deskepticon; 02-08-2020, 01:43 PM.


      • #6
        Any thoughts on possibly using Rifts Mega Modifiers for Powers to represent which Powers from those available to a caster they particularly specialize in depending on their Mystery? Tied to an Edge or no? Any other suggestions to represent this?


        • #7
          Originally posted by Sgt Anjay View Post
          Any thoughts on possibly using Rifts Mega Modifiers for Powers to represent which Powers from those available to a caster they particularly specialize in depending on their Mystery? Tied to an Edge or no? Any other suggestions to represent this?
          Mega Modifiers seem like a poor fit. The mage / sci-fi war was extremely one sided, implying that magic can't compete with technology directly. As for the indirect competition, I can't recall any effects that can't be done with the core power rules.

          I'd suggest a "trademark power" edge. Not yet sure what the mechanics should be, but something. Maybe guaranteed Raise effect on a success, maybe just a bonus to activating this particular power, maybe something else.
          I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.


          • #8
            Actually, reading over that it was more complicated. Once the main character taught the mages how to fight tech, the tide turned to an extent in that regard. The tech users suddenly got some very nasty shocks and were less confident, though they weren't pushed back. Not to get too deep into the plot, but there were some other wildcard factors at play, too, and in the end it was the climax event that neutered the mages, not the superiority of tech. Then there's hints from the fourth book in the trilogy that Thimhallan maybe could have held out...but, of course, the fourth book was something of a jumble.

            But your point makes me ask, do you view the purpose of mega modifiers as a mechanical balancing of magic to tech? My thought was simply that people especially good at their Mystery in the books weren't just better at doing the things everyone in their Mystery could, they could do things that those less talented weren't capable of.

            Regardless, a Trademark Power Edge does seem like something the setting could use. There were several characters that went to a given spell over and over. A bonus to Spellcasting (or miracles or whatever) when using that Power seems a good start, and maybe auto-raise for an Improved Trademark Power?


            • #9
              My recollection is that spells were only effective if they targeted the soldiers as people. Fear and confusion effects worked well (little or no resistance) and a simple fire damage attack was quite effective against exposed infantry (not tanks), but all their advanced techniques were for fighting other mages and therefore doomed against normal humans. And the defensive spells were largely useless, since nothing could really stop a laser cannon and their invisibility only worked against either normal light or thermal (you needed two mages to use one version of each to get effective invisibility).

              Mega Modifiers serve two purposes.
              One is to make magic powerful to the same degree as, if in a different way than, technology. Conventional technology on Rifts Earth is absurdly good - a basic trauma medicine device injects a swarm of nano-robots that can repair grievous trauma in seconds and lingers for 24 hours to assist conventional surgery for both the initial injury and further injuries. That's a piece of expensive but readily available gear that out performs the healing power. Having access to Mass Healing makes magical healing competitive again.
              Two is to do a few things that magic is supposed to be capable of in the setting lore but that isn't doable with the base savage worlds effects. Effects like the Illusory Mask of disguise and the Psychometric Projection of object reading are in this second category.

              Aside: I've noted a tendency among folks that mostly play Savage Rifts (and not other savage settings) to try to apply Mega Magic to many other settings, when the truth is that nearly every setting either does not need any changes to powers or only needs a couple of new powers to get magic working correctly in the setting. The new Lost Colony reloaded is a good example; despite power armor, tanks, and space ships being prominently in the setting, magic in general got nothing new and the specific arcane backgrounds got two or three new powers and some new Edges and gear each.
              I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.


              • #10
                You're remembering the initial attack by the tech users, and forgetting the counterattack the mages launch once the main character starts to teach them what they're dealing with. Like I said, I've looked over the books recently.

                They thwart the initial advance of the laser tanks' by foiling their thermal optics and motion sensors with an ice wall.
                Concentrating their thoughts upon a single spell, the magi caused a wall of ice to rise, shimmering, into the air, completely surrounding the fortress.
                Almost instantly, the lethal beams of light ceased. The killing stopped.
                And then the mages began to adapt
                Acting on Joram’s advice, some became invisible. Though this would not protect them from death should a beam strike them, he said, they were not obvious targets and they could sneak up upon the enemy unobserved. Others protected themselves from the heat-seeking “eyes” of the monsters by surrounding themselves with their own ice walls or causing their body temperatures to drop drastically.
                So Invisibility was effective, as long as you used the right Trappings.

                “See that part of the creature where the head is attached to the body? Like the soft underbelly of the dragon, that is the place where it is most vulnerable. Cast the lightning bolts there, not against the scales.” The warlocks did so and were astounded to see the creatures of iron explode, catch fire, and burn.
                Magic blowing the turrets right off the tanks. Pretty good.

                “Use the Green Venom spell,” Joram counseled the witch “The creatures have a vulnerable spot on top of their heads. Cover that with the poisonous liquid and watch.” Though this seemed absurd—after all, the poison affected living flesh, not metal—the witch did as she was ordered. A gesture of her delicate hand caused the green, burning liquid to coat the top of the creature of iron as it would coat the skin of a human victim. To her amazement, the witch saw the head of the creature burst open. Screaming in pain, the strange humans flung themselves out of it, their skin covered with the green poison that had apparently seeped through the top of the creature’s head, dripping on the humans concealed inside.
                Insidious, especially since the series has always described the Green Venom spell as a nasty, painful way to die, some kind of poison/acid combo.

                At Joram’s command, the druids sent the forest into battle. Giant oak trees with the strength born of centuries heaved themselves from the ground and lumbered forward to the attack. Catching one of the creatures of iron, their huge roots wrapped around it, cracking it like one of their own acorns. The stone shapers caused the ground to gape beneath the iron monsters, swallow them whole, then close over them, burying their enemy inside.
                Now that's a pretty impressive Druidic Trapping for Summon Ally, possibly with the Force Multiplier mega modifier? And...I'm not even sure; maybe one hell of an Earth trapping for (Greater) Blast?

                So yes. Mages taking out laser tanks a few different ways. But oh yes, individual soldiers certainly began to be slaughtered too. The mages shapeshift themselves into were-creatures and rend them, route them with illusions...and then start summoning and controlling other magical creatures. The examples given are troops strafed by dragons, killed by basilisks and cockatrices, rent limb from limb by centaurs, eaten by hydras, crushed by chimeras, and in one notable case...a whole squad was sucked into the mad realm of the faeriefolk.

                The end result?

                When night—true night—came to Thimhallan at last, the battle was over. The magi had won, or at least it seemed so. The creatures of iron and the strange humans who came with them retreated, withdrawing to some place unknown—confused reports came in of having seen the iron monsters entering the bodies of still larger monsters and that these enormous creatures of iron had then flown straight up into the heavens and disappeared. No one believed these fanciful rumors, however. No one except one man—Joram—who looked up grimly into the sky, and shook his head. He said nothing, however. Time enough for that later. Now there was much to be done. The cost of victory had been grievous.
                A Pyrrhic victory...what else, the mages had been caught utterly unprepared and unaware...but a victory. There's also a scene where several officers, including the commander of the expedition sent to conquer the mages, are quaking in terror after going over the events from the field, but that quickly gets into plot stuff.

                And again, the fourth book postulates that Thimhallan could have held out if it wasn't for the climax event of the trilogy.

                As to the mega powers, well, I'm not 100% they are needed. I do think there's a case to be made for them, but you may be right there. I'm partially trying to convince myself one way or the other as much as anything. But the performance of Thimhallan magic versus sci-fi tech is compelling.

                And this is a setting where there are literally people described as not ever learning how to walk because of levitation magic. Though they'd once had them, by that point their "carts" no longer had wheels (they were essentially barges they levitated), and they don't bother to learn, let alone use, the principle of the lever; they could just move whatever from city to city with magic, and shift obstacles the same way. A world so washed in magic that machines as basic as the wheel and the lever are redundant! Nobody knows even basic first aid because of Healing.The weather is under the control of their Air mages. I'm fairly certain even the Rifts city of Dweomer would be impressed by Thimhallan's city of Merilon with its Star Dome, floating districts, and which hasn't known Fall or Winter for generations. They magically conjure or shape giant fishes or whales or trees for ships. Floating cities, underwater cities with magic domes...little and big, everything with magic. One of the premises repeated in the third book is that there's so much magic concentrating in Thimhallan that the mages are literally suffocating themselves with it. That's why I'm impelled to tap into something like the Rifts mega modifiers. To be honest, I've also been eyeing the Conjuring Edge since we see a lot of petty conjurations; its implied they conjure "disposable" eating utensils and the like out of magic all the time.

                I do appreciate your feedback, though. I could see using stuff from Rifts lead to a Rift-y approach on the setting that wouldn't serve its unique qualities, I'm not sure. It is only in the end of the series that magic and high tech interact, so maybe its best to just ignore that part of it and focus on the world as it was for most of the series, or even before that.

                Maybe another, simpler approach is just that they can just do super-fast rituals (measured in minutes, or even rounds?) that let them do the bigger feats of magic, especially if helped (Supported) by one or more Catalysts? That might be more FFF, and encourage more Dramatic Tasks...


                • #11
                  Yeah, I recall most of those scenes. Forgot about the lightning bolts, so thanks for the reminder.

                  Normal invisibility doesn't work against thermal vision, but does work against normal eyesight. The thermal counters (ice, body temp, etc.) work against thermal vision but not normal vision. Layering the two, when possible, allowed for real infiltration.

                  The Ice Wall blocked the targeting sensors - thermal by the cold mass and optical by the glacier like mass. I'm assuming the rules of engagement didn't include massive explosions or massive civilian casualties, which fits with the negotiation and surrender scenes.

                  The lightning bolts can be handle using Called Shots with the Heavy Weapon and Armor Piercing mods.

                  Green Venom seems to have a trapping that can burn through NBC seals. Acid plus poison is a nasty chemical weapon, and stuck on the personnel hatches it is quite reasonable that it would melt through and fall onto the crew. Which is what happened in the scene - targeting the crew as people instead of the war machine.

                  Looking back at my previous post, I do make it sound much more one-sided than it actually was. My apologies for that. I do stand by my basic point though.
                  Thimhallan definitely has some new powers, notably the weather effects.
                  Their version of telekinesis is dope, and I suspect that "hovering craft" is a common trapping for speed. The healing power is amazing and doesn't require the Healing skill, so if healing is common (as it is in the setting) then there's no reason to bother learning Healing.
                  I think the setting has a Setting Rule that mimics a common house rule. That you can use magic as a Trapping for mundane Skills and Edges.
                  I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.


                  • #12
                    I appreciate the input!

                    How about the druids sending a forest to battle, or earth shapers opening up the ground and just swallowing tanks whole? I still do think something to at least let mages team up for big magic would be helpful; the big weather stuff tended to be teams working together too.

                    In terms of weather and some other effects like Green Venom, really one of the barriers is that damage over time isn't much of a Savage Worlds thing. But mostly the stuff weather does is big fancy showy Light/Darkness and Sloth/Speed, I think.

                    Telekinesis, yes! Definitely a lot of making stuff float around going on. And good call on also being a good Speed trapping! I had been mostly thinking about making the constant, ubiquitous levitation just long-duration telekinesis, including of themselves. Also wondering about dealing with the fact that virtually everyone can do that, so it seems like a default Power? With one group being better at it than the rest though. Hmm.

                    Setting Rule for performing skills "magically", absolutely, since only one specific group use any kind of even the most basic tools at all.


                    • #13
                      So...I keep bumping against what to do with Catalysts.

                      For reference, in the setting Catalysts are simultaneously the most magical caste...but also the least capable of magic. They can perform almost no actual spells, just some divinations, but they are the only ones that can perform the Conduit. The Conduit is basically channeling magic; they can pull magic into themselves from people or things, draining them of magic energy, or just from the environment, and then channel it into others to keep them supplied with magic energy. This makes them socially and politically powerful, because the mages use magic for absolutely everything and its the Catalysts that keep the magic flowing.

                      In terms of conversion, their Power list would be pretty limited: Drain Power Points, maybe Divination, maybe Detect/Conceal Arcana? But I'm not sure how to handle them supplying others with magic; just a reverse of Drain Power Points? And I'm wondering if its necessary to keep Rapid Recharge out of the setting, otherwise there might not even be any need for Catalysts at all...

                      anyone have any thoughts on channeling magic like that?


                      • #14
                        I ran a homebrew campaign many years back where the mages would siphon energy from around them to fuel their powers, but it was mostly just a Trapping of how magic worked. I needed to explain how casting magic in corrupted areas would incidentally corrupt the magic and possibly the caster themself.

                        As for what you're looking for, I'm not sure. I'm not familiar with the novels so I can only offer suggestions based purely off mechanics.

                        If the Catalysts have a short power list, maybe make what they have very good. Drain Power Points might draw out 2d6 PP (2d8 on a raise) and the Catalyst can give those points to whoever they want, including recharging Arcane Devices. Custom Edges can expand those abilities, maybe allowing them to split the points between multiple targets, or allow the Drain dice to Ace.