Author Topic: Spellcasting Update  (Read 10495 times)

tonydowler

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Spellcasting Update
« on: July 01, 2010, 10:29:46 PM »
If you're playing Apocalypse D&D, here are some new rules for spellcasting you might want to try out.

PDF version is available here: http://planet-thirteen.com/apocD&D/spellcasting%20Update.pdf, feedback is welcomed!

Instead of memorizing spells, spellcasters prepare some of their spells for faster casting. They may prepare the same number of spells they could memorize under the D&D rules, but these spells are not forgotten. With a night's rest, they can change the spells they have prepared. A spellcaster may also cast spells they have not prepared, using the Focused Casting move.

Cast a Prepared Spell
When you make a move by casting a spell you have prepared, make that move as normal. For example, if you go aggro using Magic Missile as your weapon; Make your Move using Jump; read a situation using Scry, and so on.
On a 10+: the spell works as written with no difficulties
On a 7-9: in addition to any options they already get, the DM may choose to roll on the miscast table.
On a miss, the DM decides what happens, as normal.

Focused Casting
When you take out your spellcasting accouterments and spend several minutes casting a spell you have not prepared, or cast a prepared spell without making any other move, roll dice. Magic Users and Illusionists roll +INT. Druids, Clerics, Rangers, and Paladins roll +WIS.
On a 10+: Choose one:
•   Maximize dice
•   Extend range, duration, or number of targets times two
•   Cast covertly, without sound gesture or outward sign
On a 7-9: The spell goes off as normal, but the DM chooses one effect in addition:
•   Someone’s exposed to danger
•   Someone’s put in a tight spot
•   Someone or something is made aware of the casting
•   Roll a miscast

Miscast Table
1.   The casting is accompanied by annoying, but otherwise insignificant effects like the smell of sulfur or the sound of tinkling bells.
2.   The caster’s appearance or body is altered in some alarming way (but it goes away in a few hours).
3.   The caster’s vicinity is visited with frightening manifestations of wild magic, divine disfavor, infernal wrath, or inimical forces of mysterious origin.
4.   The caster’s appearance of body is altered in some alarming way, and it’s permanent.
5.   The caster or target immediately has their mind opened to contact some higher or lower power.
6.   The caster or target is incapacitated by magical feedback. Immediately take s-harm (when you take s-harm, in order to do anything but wander around in a daze, you must successfully Defy Danger).
7.   The spell is accompanies by drastic and uncontrolled pyrotechnics, noise, or other distracting effects. Everyone in the area of effect must roll to Defy Danger to do anything but duck and cover for the next round.
8.   The spell echoes across the eternal flows of magical essence. Every powerful magic or divine being in the vicinity senses the cast and knows who cast it.
9.   The spell exposes the caster and/or allies to harm or danger as per the spell’s effect (or, if beneficial, reversed effects). Normal saving throws apply.
10.   A small rift is opened in the planar fabric and something or someone comes through.

Saving Throws
When you make a saving throw, roll dice:
•   If it’s paralyzation, poison, or death magic, roll +CON
•   If it’s petrification or polymorph, roll +STR
•   If it’s rod, staff, or wand, roll +WIS
•   If it’s breath weapon, roll +DEX
•   If it’s spells, roll +INT
On a 10+: You escape or resist to no ill effect
On a 7-9: You take half damage, are exposed to greater danger, or put in a tight spot.
On a miss, you suffer the full effects.


benhimself

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Re: Spellcasting Update
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2010, 02:07:24 AM »
Nice!

Although I'm not sure about having one option on the miscast table that is strictly "worse" than another (4 compared to 2). Maybe 4 should be a minor but permanent alteration, and 2 can remain the alarming but temporary one?

Michael Pfaff

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Re: Spellcasting Update
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2010, 01:18:43 PM »
This is great. Keep it up.

skinnyghost

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Re: Spellcasting Update
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2010, 03:43:16 PM »
Good stuff, Tony.  We'll test this out next Sunday. 

philaros

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Re: Spellcasting Update
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2010, 10:55:19 PM »
I am formulating thoughts on this and should have something to post later today.

Shreyas

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Re: Spellcasting Update
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2010, 10:57:46 PM »
The word you're looking for is paralysis. I'm not sure that recapitulating the language ignorance of our forebears is really...uh...forwarding your design.

tonydowler

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Re: Spellcasting Update
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2010, 11:25:52 PM »
Can you elaborate Shreyas? Paralysis doesn't really tell me anything about why you think this is wrong headed.

Edit: What I mean to say is, clearly you think this is the wrong direction to go, not forwarding the design,as you say. Can you tell me more? Is it just that you think recapitulating D&D spellcasting design is a dead end, or that you think I've done it poorly?
« Last Edit: July 11, 2010, 11:27:47 PM by tonydowler »

philaros

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Re: Spellcasting Update
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2010, 11:31:20 PM »
Ha! I suspect you are reading too much into Shreyas's comment, and that all he's really objecting to is "paralyzation", in "paralyzation, poison, or death magic".

Shreyas

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Re: Spellcasting Update
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2010, 11:49:50 PM »
What Phil said is right. I think your game design is on the dot; it's just the terminology that irks me.

tonydowler

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Re: Spellcasting Update
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2010, 12:14:25 AM »
Aha! Philaros, as always, sheds light on the situation! Now I'm embarrassed! I somehow thought you were applying some obscure general criticism.

Yeah, this "language of ignorance" is totally a thing that has to be dealt with, and I'm not sure I know the right answer to it.

There's a lot of difference and debate among OD&D and old-school renaissance designs regarding the "right" or "best" way of doing saving throws. I don't know the answer to this conundrum. Could be that saving throws just plain don't belong in ApocD&D. That's part of what I'm trying to figure out.

There's a deep question here regarding the old language of D&D. I don't think anything can be jettisoned without losing some bits of value. What criterion do you apply in deciding what to keep and what to toss?

C. Edwards

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Re: Spellcasting Update
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2010, 12:36:32 AM »
The saving throws are basically specific Suffer Harm moves, yeah? I think they would bring a lot more to the game if you gave each save category a few custom move results. As it is now, the only difference is which stat you roll against, which is sort of "eh".

Unless you're fine with a lot of spells losing potency, removing saves all together may not be a good thing.

philaros

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Re: Spellcasting Update
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2010, 01:32:14 AM »
So here's where I'm coming from. Tony's stated that his intent "is to fully preserve the essential elements and feel of AD&D," while adapting them to the Apocalypse World system. Therefore, I think in the interest of assessing any proposed moves for spellcasting, it's useful, perhaps necessary, to consider what are the "essential elements and feel" of the AD&D magic system. For now, I want to avoid getting into the specific spells and what those tell us about magic in AD&D, and just consider the systemic elements as a whole. So, here's what AD&D tells me about magic:
  • Magic is a rare talent. Not just anyone can do magic. Only a few races can become wizards, a few more can become clerics, and you have to be smart to be able to do any magic.
  • Magic is difficult to learn. In AD&D, your intelligence limits what level of spells you can use and how many spells you can learn. Only the most intelligent characters, with an 18 intelligence, can cast the highest level magic user spells, and NO player character can learn all the spells available at each level without some kind of later magical augmentation, because Intelligence maxes out at 18 for everyone (except half-orcs, at 17) and a 19 Int is required to learn all the spells.
  • Magic is difficult to do. You can only cast a few spells per day, depending on what level you've reached. Even if you have an 18 intelligence and therefore know a minimum of 9 spells at each level, you can never cast more than 7 spells of a given level per day, and that's only for the lower-level spells at the unheard-of caster level of 29, i.e. the mightiest wizard in the world.
  • Magic on the whole is reliable. You never have to roll to cast a spell, spells never fail or are never miscast, they just work. Some spells do need to be targeted, and you can fail in that respect, but the spell itself still does happen.
  • Magic however is sometimes avoidable or resistible, as the saving throw indicates.

philaros

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Re: Spellcasting Update
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2010, 01:38:03 AM »
Now, this is what Apocalypse D&D 3.0 tells me about magic.

By default, I'm supposed to go with the AD&D rules unless something in Apocalypse D&D supersedes it. Therefore, the default assumptions are that magic is rare, difficult to learn, difficult to do, reliable, and sometimes avoidable/resistible.

Looking first at the current 3.0 draft, not the new Spellcasting rules posted above, the Cast a Spell move tells me:
  • Magic is unreliable. I have to make a roll to see whether I cast the spell successfully, fail altogether, or get an unexpected result, and even if I'm successful it may still misfire.
  • Magic is dangerous. The consequences of a spell misfire include possibly causing direct harm to the caster and also possibly attracting the attention (and anger) of dangerous entities.
  • Magic may not be avoidable or resistible—there's no provision for saving throws, so it's unclear how to handle that.

The new spellcasting rules offer two moves. Again, the standard AD&D assumptions apply unless explicitly superseded, and the Apocalypse 3.0 assumptions that magic is unreliable and dangerous also still apply.

Cast a Prepared Spell tells me:
  • Magic is difficult to do quickly and spontaneously. You are limited in how many spells you can prepare for fast casting. This replaces the regular rules for memorization.

Focused Casting tells me:
  • Magic is more accessible/available than in AD&D. You can use Focused Casting to cast spells that you have in your spellbook but haven't prepared in advance for fast casting.
  • Magic can be more safely and controllably cast by taking time and using the correct implements and rituals, but it's still risky and misfires can still happen.

The Miscast Table tells me:
  • Magic is wildly unpredictable with potential for anything from minor annoyances to serious disaster. You should think long and hard before using magic. Isn't there a better, more reliable way you could accomplish your goals?

And the Saving Throw table tells me that yes, magic is still sometimes avoidable or resistible. This means using magic as a means for accomplishing your goals is even riskier and even less reliable than it already appears.

Shreyas

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Re: Spellcasting Update
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2010, 02:06:15 AM »
Elaborating on what Phil said above - since there is a way you can fuck up your own magic, and there's a way the target can weasel out of it, as compared to all the other moves where only one participant gets to apply their stats and talents to the situation, what does magic do so well that it's worth it to do magic to people?

philaros

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Re: Spellcasting Update
« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2010, 02:13:23 AM »
So, what does all this mean for the spellcasting moves?

First, do you agree on the assessment of the essential elements and feel of AD&D magic? If that is not how you think of magic in AD&D, why not? How would you characterize it instead? If you agree that it is a fair assessment, is that what you're looking to emulate? Are there other aspects you'd rather emulate?

Second, how do you feel about the way the spellcasting moves, as they currently stand, change some of the elements and feel of AD&D magic? Are these still what you want magic to be, or do you see anything that needs adjusting? Note in particular my reaction to the combination of the Miscast Table and also having Saving Throws: miscasts have the potential to come up a lot, and combined with opponents getting saving throws, I'm going to seriously consider whether magic is a worthwhile move. The spells had better offer me some significant advantage to offset the risks.

Third, well, what about the spells? Oh man, don't even get me started on first-edition AD&D spells. Of all the editions to pick to emulate, this one's possibly the worst. So many ridiculously specific detailed limitations, restrictions, complications, and drawbacks or penalties. Suffice to say, the Apocalypse World system already builds in plenty of opportunities for getting what you want only leading to more trouble and for failing also leading to more trouble, so the less you adhere to the nitpicky details of AD&D spells, the better. After all, you do want the wizards to actually use magic, yes? So make sure it's worth their while.