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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 72 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: A magical tangent  (Read 9748 times)
Jaif
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Posts: 327


« on: June 04, 2002, 07:24:34 AM »

I wanted to share some thoughts on the evil sorcerer NPC I ran in my last adventure.  Sorry this is so long.

1) My friends and I are all in the "Magic should be feared more than it is encountered." camp of gamers.  Just so you know our style.

2) I'm running a home-brew campaign, not weryth.  My campaign features an enemy nation run by sorcerers who tend to specialize in necromancy.  It's a lot more complicated than that, but again just so you know the style.  For the record, 4th age Gondor 250 years later, w/Umbar the bad guys.

3) I wanted my first adventure setting to be rather easy, so we could all get used to the rules.  One thing I wanted to introduce was a sorcerer, so I did, but he wasn't powerful and wasn't going to directly oppose the characters from the get-go.  He was a presence, but the characters had a large ability to control their meetings.

4) After spending a lot of time thinking about it, I came up with the following "rules" for a sorc's behavior.  All of these can have exceptions, of course, they're just a starting point:

 a) Sorcs try not to age except in emergencies.  However, spending (say) a year of their life to save their life is always acceptable.

 b) Sorcs are extremely dice/difficulty conscious, and will take the easiest path to achieve their goals.

 c) Sorcs like to have an 'out', preferably more than one.  Therefore, they rarely spend all of their dice.

 d) Sorcs are patient.  Rather than brute force something in a day, they'll be happy to chip away gradually for months.  This is a result, if you will, of the above rules.

5) I started with a vision of his favorite spell: summon undead.  I made the following rulings/decisions:

 a) Spirits and bodies are available at graveyards.  In particular, a sorc doesn't need to summon a minor spirit.

 b) Dead bodies weigh a whole lot less than live ones.  Four bodies will weigh in under 200 lbs. (My sorc had an MA of 4.)

 c) The formalized summon undead spell actually broke into two parts: 1st, implant undead into bodies, and second command those undead.  Sometimes the command is a "maintain control" thing, and sometimes it's just an image & emotion.  Since spirits don't have a lot going-on upstairs, that image will become a focus, and that's often good enough.

 d) An appropriate cost (read the imprisonment rules) for imprisoning spirits in bodies is a health point.  In other words, blood.

6) Looking at my undead spells, I decided that my numbers were still a bit high for comfortable use.  So, I decided to add something to my campaign.  In Jeffland, a sufficient quantity of raw amber will function as a minor talisman for spells that involve the dead.  Furthermore, a large quantity (probably mystically fused together) of purified, polished, and otherwise prettified amber will work as a major talisman, again w/the dead only.  Then I decided that all sorcs w/a cultural background of Umbar got a free major amber talisman.

It's good to be da'GM, sometimes. :-)

7) I then gave my sorcerer his vagaries.  This is the most important thing you do as a GM: if you give a sorc 3 in everything, then you better know what you're doing and be prepared for a ton of work.  From memory, my sorc had: Vision 3, Command 3, Movement 2, Summoning 2, Growth(?) 2.  That was sufficient for him to summon undead, protect himself, and probably destroy a city if I thought about it.

8) What I found is that my sorcerer as long as he was careful and had soldiers backing him, was pretty safe.  What would have changed things significantly would have been a PC sorcerer.  Then I would have had to think about what personal protections a sorcerer can cook up, but I suspect that sorcs, like snipers, are all about who sees each other first.

9) It occurs to me that a great way for a sorcerer to kill a target is to accelerate the growth of a specific disease already present in the target.  Just make it a weak spell, but concentrate to keep it in effect for an hour(ish).  It shouldn't take much to help something normally innocuous grow out of control and overwhelm a person's body.  The reason I call this "great" is that the death would have no direct evidence pointing to the sorcerer.

10) If I made sorc of my own (something that won't happen cause no one I know is going to run the game), he'd be a physical guy who used spells to support his fighting and give him a big edge.  Things like extremely light but strong armor, illusury doubles, and so on.

-Jeff
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2002, 08:35:12 AM »

The Warrior-magician (not the walking artillery battle mage, but the magically-enhanced fighter) is a favorite archtype for many of my players. You get some pretty wicked stuff.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Psychopompous
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Posts: 27


« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2002, 04:06:37 PM »

Quote from: Jake Norwood
The Warrior-magician (not the walking artillery battle mage, but the magically-enhanced fighter) is a favorite archtype for many of my players. You get some pretty wicked stuff.

Jake


Interesting... I can't see a Warrior-magician being very good at either... because he only gets 6 vagaries and 39 attribute points (and that's with low social status and no skills)...
Considering the minimum strength and toughness for a decent fighter is 5 and the agility/wit combination should total at least 10 for a decent fighter... 12 for a good one. (Starting characters are not allowed to be GREAT fighters for some reason, ruined on of my character concepts... but most still work) That's 20 of your attribute points and just 4 attributes, that gives you a 3 average on other things (setting a strength or toughness high is a good idea for a melee fighter, while a wit high is preferable for ranged fighters... which reminds me, a ranged fighter would have more problems because they need a good per...) and that hurts...

Initially I was thinking about a Jedi-type warrior-sorcerer for a character, then I realized a couple things: he would suck (see above), and I couldn't really use the jedi powers like they do in the movies...
A great many of the common, easy, jedi tricks have a high CTN (causing aging problems that Jedi don't run into) and causing the spell to take way to long to cast (a 6-second forcepush would get a jedi killed...) not to mention the slow refresh on spell pool and the inability to deflect arrows...

-Psychopompous
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Jaif
Member

Posts: 327


« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2002, 05:05:49 PM »

Quote
because he only gets 6 vagaries and 39 attribute points (and that's with low social status and no skills)


You get either 47att & 6 profs, or 14profs & 39 att, if you assume your A&C go to atts & profs.  Never assume:

Munchkin, the fighter-mage (sorry, my naming's off tonight)

A - 6/6 skills
B - Gifted
C - 39 att
D - no gifts/flaws
E - 2 prof
F - No where to go but up!

Munchkin was a low ranking Gelure battle-mage in training.  As he trained, he came to realize that Gelure, the sorcerer's paradise, was actually Gelure, hell slowly growing on earth.  Munchkin made his stand on board a ship when he was orderd to sink a Xanarian merchantman leaving Farrenshire's waters.  Sadly, Munchkin was shot and knocked overboard.

Some days later, Munchkin awoke on ?'s shore.  Tired and sick, he crawled to a nearby stream, and collapsed.  Many days later he awoke.  He had been shot, tossed overboard, was starving, cold, and only recently recovered from sickness.  With nothing left but some rags, Munchkin swore that he'd put a stop to the evil he had seen in Gelure!

Munchkin will have a 4 in most of his stats, with a 2 in health (he's not doing so well right now) and a 5 in wit.  He'll have drive, conscience (damned nuisance), luck, a passionate hatred for a certain officer, and I'll work on the other.  He'll take the soldier & ritualist packages, and because he's from Gelure the soldier package will be at SR -1.  He'll put his 3 free Gelure vagaries into sculpture:2 & movement:1.  Last, he'll take his 2 starting profs plus his 1 free Gelure prof for a 3 in cut & thrust. (Or maybe polearm, just cause I'm on a quarterstaff kick right now.)

-Jeff
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2002, 05:44:50 PM »

And then he'll cast some spells to give him a wicked sword and near-permanent protection/armor. Yeah...useless...

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Claymore
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« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2002, 07:53:02 PM »

Since we have mentioned warrior mages I have a question on the Armor of Air spell. It lists the AR as 12, I asume this is a typo, it should read AV, right? And Armor and Toughness stack with this as well? That means a Mage with 4 Toughness and leather armor would have an AV of 18? How is any mortal man going to hurt him?


Thanks,


GWT
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Atomic Requiem
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Posts: 21


« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2002, 09:44:59 PM »

Quote from: Claymore
? How is any mortal man going to hurt him?


Good point. I assume the answer to this will be "not in battle."

Wait til he's sleeping or hugely surprised or something.

Or?

*AR*
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Psychopompous
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Posts: 27


« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2002, 11:20:52 PM »

Quote from: Jaif
Quote
because he only gets 6 vagaries and 39 attribute points (and that's with low social status and no skills)


You get either 47att & 6 profs, or 14profs & 39 att, if you assume your A&C go to atts & profs.  Never assume:


Uh... I was assuming allocating 8 points to a proficiency so you would know how to fight... that would leave 6 vagaries...
Alternately, you could have multiple proficiencies (skill with a crossbow can be quite handy in addition to swordsmanship...) and suck at one or both or lose vagaries. You could also drop the proficiency level to get more vagaries...
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Bob Richter
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Posts: 324


« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2002, 11:38:32 PM »

Quote from: Claymore
Since we have mentioned warrior mages I have a question on the Armor of Air spell. It lists the AR as 12, I asume this is a typo, it should read AV, right? And Armor and Toughness stack with this as well? That means a Mage with 4 Toughness and leather armor would have an AV of 18? How is any mortal man going to hurt him?


Thanks,


GWT


Hm. The answer is "through no ordinary means." Kinda the point of the spell.
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So ye wanna go earnin' yer keep with yer sword, and ye think that it can't be too hard...
Lyrax
Member

Posts: 268


« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2002, 08:16:55 AM »

How is any mortal man going to hurt him?  He DOES need to eat, right?  (wicked laugh)  >-)
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Lance Meibos
Insanity takes it's toll.  Please have exact change ready.

Get him quick!  He's still got 42 hit points left!
Claymore
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« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2002, 09:35:34 AM »

My main concern was from a PC Sorcerer point of view. As an NPC, a Sorcerer with Armor of Air is an interesting challenge for a group of pcs to handle. But a pc running around with the spell can be a bit unbalancing (yes I understand Sorcery is certainly not balanced, but...)

My main issue with the magic system is that the only guidelines other that the brief vageries descriptions are the sample spells, which vary widely in level of power (take Barbarian Strength for example, one CTN less, and far more balanced in my opinion) My first impression reading the spell design rules would be that the AV of Armor of Air would be equal to the CTN (8). I would also point out in the spell description that manuevering might be a bit more difficult (there is a field of air around the caster which suspends movement)

I hope the general release version of TROS contains more concrete guidelines on the in-game effects of creating spells using the 8 vageries.


GWT
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2002, 12:44:36 PM »

Quote
I hope the general release version of TROS contains more concrete guidelines on the in-game effects of creating spells using the 8 vageries.


Things are still left pretty vague, but some improvements have been made. Fist, a lot of things are re-explained in a much clearer fashion, a lot of redundencies have been removed, and so on. We also regularized the spells and vagary effects to make things more straight forward. As for the AV of Armor or Air, it has been changed to 8, so as to match the CTN (as it should be). One of the biggest things we did was go very carefully through each spell, cutting a few out and expanding/clarifying/regularizing the ones that remained.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Claymore
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« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2002, 01:46:37 PM »

When can we expect to see the new magic rules posted on the net for those who already purchased the game? I'm VERY interested in taking a look at them :-) I also have a full group of gamers waiting to get their hands on the Mass Distributed edition. Hope this will be coming very soon!
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #13 on: June 05, 2002, 01:49:13 PM »

Hopefully tomorrow.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Claymore
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« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2002, 08:37:51 PM »

Ex...Cell...Ent!

Looking very foward to reading it!
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