Monday, May 17, 2010

More on Magic - Some Realizations

I've been talking about complicating the magic user class (here and here) by giving them possibly unlimited use of cantrips (0 level spells) but requiring the cantrips as prerequisites for higher level spells. Thus, to cast Mirror Image you'd have to have some kind of zero-level bend light cantrip (the first link above goes into that).

Rob Conley of Bat In the Attic suggested in a comment that I check out GURPS because the magic system does just that - it's progressive - to cast the really good stuff, you have to learn the really basic AND intermediary stuff. Very cool.

So I read through the magic system in GURPS 4e Magic (as well as the magic chapter in GURPS 4e) and I really like it. As I was reading I was thinking that I'd like to just bolt this on to AD&D - tweak it a little and then call it the magic system. I'd toyed with point systems before, so this wouldn't be that different. And GURPS (like 2ed) divides spells into colleges, which is okay - I think that I could deal with that, too - just have to brush up on the rules for non-college spell use. And GURPS has some really cool spells, too - so that's a plus - either bolted on nearly as is, or as a resource to mine for AD&D spells.

But it all kind of came crashing down on me when I saw this in the appendix:

That's when I realized that it wouldn't just be fiddly - but downright complex. Now, I recognize that GURPS 4e has something like 1,000 spells to deal with, so that's going to make the flowchart even more complicated and 1ed AD&D mages only have 260 (counting UA) spells (+66 Cantrips, though I'd be rewriting nearly all of those if I went with my system) and Illusionists 92(+8) - so AD&D is less complicated to begin with...but it might not be as easy to systematize those...352 spells (and 74 cantrips) in the way that GURPS has (NOTE 2ed has 312 magic user spells - divided into schools - cantrips are handled way differently than in 1edUA). NOTE, too that none of the above (AD&D) includes reversed spells. So...maybe it's not quite as uncomplicated as I thought at first...

So, I'm kind of back at the beginning. I really like AD&D (actually I like it as is but I'm a consummate tinkerer, so I can't help myself) - and I like GURPS magic - but I don't like GURPS rules in general (I like archetypes - character classes - ability scores - saving throws - etc the way they are in AD&D).

So I'm going to explore my ideas a little further - GURPS is a great reference for how to handle the idea of prerequisite spells - but I have to decide how UN-AD&D I'm willing to go. The whole original idea was similar to what James M posted here - only to reverse engineer it - so that it's a kind of "at will" ability for spell casters who know certain spells - not just when they have them memorized, but at just about any time - maybe limited in some way (like# of uses = INT + level or something...).

So - with GURPS sitting open here, the secondary effects from Trollsmyth (for B/X, but a start) and my PH, UA and 2ed PH open as well - I'll try to see what I can come up with...


Roger the GS said...

Ha ha, that looks like the by now infamous "Afghanistan briefing flowchart" making the rounds.

Yes, grouping spells into "colleges" is a lot easier. That's my solution anyway. Cantrips and new spells all follow from what colleges a magic-user has studied.

Rob Conley said...

Those charts show the prerequisites of spells in a graphical form. They are an aide not a vital part of GURPS Magic.

Most spells prerequisites are straight forward and are limited to spells in that college.

For example in GURPS Lite 3rd Edition (because it free and has spells). You have the spell Fireball.

But to take Fireball you need to learn Create Fire, Shape Fire.

To learn Create Fire, and Shape Fire you need to learn Ignite Fire.

The idea is that if you didn't have a prerequisite system then people will skip the "crappy" spells and go to the cool spells. Something that was an issues with other skill based magic system of the the time.

The flowcharts are meant for somebody who want to get a specific spells they can see the chain of spells they need to buy as it's prerequisites.

It looks complicated because
a) there are a lot of spells
b) the most complicated spells have the most complicated prerequisites. Like Teleport require X spells from several different colleges.

On the chart you posted. For example Know Recipe requires Far Tasting, which requires Seek Food OR Seek Air which in either case you can't get if you have the disadvantage of No Sense of Taste/Smell. Seek Food is a base spell while Seek Air you will need to look up on the College of Air chart.

You also need Season and to know Season you need Test Food also a base spell.

For some people the text of the book is better for other the graphics. In my experience is that the text is adequate 99% of the time.

You could organize the colleges into levels and require that you have X spells of the previous level before getting spells in the next level.

Plus there the idea of a college skill. Each spell is listed with a prerequisite count which is minus off of your skill for that college. It is one of the option in GURPS Magic. The prerequisite count is listed in the chart of all spells in the back of the book

Hope this helps

P.S. I am just teasing but couldn't you picked a better school than the College Of Food? Say Fire, or Movement? ;)

Daen Ral Worldbuilder said...

Heh - Rob, it was the only chart in the copy of GURPS Magic 4e that I have access to (the pdf) - I assume it was placed as a typical example. So GURPS 3 lite is free? I'll have to find it.

Anyway, Fireball is EXACTLY the kind of thing I was thinking of:

Ignite Fire (cantrip?)
Create Fire (level 1)
Shape Fire (level 2)
Fireball (level 3)

I like the progression. Like I noted, I like the concept of GURPS Magic and I could see importing it wholesale into AD&D (and that might happen in the future). For now, I'm going to keep tinkering with what's there already and see how to "make it fit."

Rob Conley said...

GURPS Lite 3rd Edition

Virtually no difference between 3rd edition magic and 4th edition magic other than 4th edition has everything thrown together.

you want to look at Chapter 27 Variation starting at page 200. Particularly alternate prerequisites and shortening the prerequisite chain.

You can use the prerequisite count to organize the spells into nine levels (or nine+cantrips) or however you want to do it.