The Fantasy Traveller Part 8 – The Magic System

So much for good intentions; this article, the latest in my ‘Fantasy Traveller’ series has been in development hell for two years. Oh well, at least it’s out the door now! Looking at the site visitor stats, it’s one of my more popular articles, so I hope the length and content makes up for the delay in getting this out to you, the reader.

As I mentioned in part 7 in setting up the principle is that for every spell that you want to cast, you need to roll an 8+ for success. The more proficient (ie. greater skill level) you have, then you can apply the skill DM to the roll. Eg. A Shaman has Shamanic Magic skill.

A success means that the spell cast successfully and its effects work as intended. If the roll fails, then the effects of the spell work in the opposite way. The results table is listed below:-

0-5 Complete failure, negative effect of spell

6-7 Neutral effect, the channelling of the power does not work

8+ The spell works as intended

If you have Shamanic Magic skill, apply the DM to the above roll (eg. Bernard the Blessed has Shamanic Magic-1, he rolls to cast a spell successfully but gets a 7. Adds the modifier for an 8 and the spell casts successfully. Note that whatever the result roll above, points to cast the spell are still expended.






A Shaman can only cast one spell every ten minutes game time. Depending on the skill level of the spell, points will be deducted from STR and END in varying levels. STR and END recover at one point each at the same time every ten minutes.

How do Shamans learn spells? They learn through the normal career advancement process and learn all the skills that are available at the skill level gained. eg. Shamanic magic-1 has five spells available, skill level -2 has five spells and level 3 has six spells available with an opposite effect description on just about all of them.

The number prefix is the skill level of Shamanic Magic that the Shaman requires. Descriptions after the forward slash denote the opposite effect, intended or not. When the caster wishes to cast a spell, they should declare what spell they want to cast and variation, so that if the casting goes wrong, the opposite effect can be applied.

The Spell Book.

Level 1 Spells

Increase SOC / Reduce SOC

Cure Wounds (STR / DEX / END)

Bright Light / Make Darkness

Detect Magic

Unlock Door / Lock Door






Level 2 Spells

Manipulate Object

Increase Weapon Effectiveness / Reduce Effectiveness

Slow / Increase Speed


Create illusion

Level 3 Spells

Carry Huge Weight

Shatter Weapon / Harden Weapon

See Far Away

Invisible Fiend

Negate Magic / Increase Effectiveness of Magic

Drain Attributes / Increase Attributes

Spell Descriptions

Unless otherwise specified, all spells effects have a duration of 10 minutes.

Level 1 Spells 

Increase SOC / Reduce SOC

Cost: 1 STR

Description – allows the shaman to specify if they want to increase or decrease a target’s SOC score for a maximum of 10 minutes. If the casting roll is successful, the SOC score increases by one point, or reduces by one point. However, if the casting roll is unsuccessful then the opposite is applied to the target. The target must be within 25 feet range..

Cure Wounds (STR / DEX / END)

Cost: 1 STR and 1 END

Description – the shaman can restore one of the above attributes by one point, if a successful casting roll is made. If the roll fails, then a point is taken away from the recipient. Note that the shaman must touch the person who is to receive the attribute point.

Bright Light / Make Darkness

Cost: 1 STR

Description – creates glowing light either around the casters hand or object such as a staff. Lasts for 30 minutes. Failure to cast results in a globe of darkness which acts in the same way. Effective range is 10 feet.

Detect Magic

Cost: 1 STR

Description – the caster can ‘see’ what direction magic may be emanating from. This takes the form of becoming aware of the direction, but not the exact location, type or range of where the magic may be. The opposite result is that a completely wrong ‘seeing’ and different direction to where the magic is actually located.

Unlock Door / Lock Door

Cost: 1 STR

Description – if a door is currently locked by mechanical or magical means, a successful roll negates the lock and the lock is freed. Note that the door isn’t automatically opened, simply unlocked and a person still has to physically open the door. A failure to make the roll adds an additional ‘lock’ to the already locked door, eg. A mechanically locked door has in addition a magical lock applied, or a magical lock is twice the strength. If it is required that a door is to be locked (using a variation on this spell), then the caster should declare it before making the success roll.

Level 2 Spells

Manipulate Object

Cost: 2 STR and 1 END

Description – allows the caster to pick up with an invisible force and move and object of equal to or less than the casters own weight, upto 25 feet range. The movement can take the form of simply moving a beaker across a table to picking up a person and throwing them across the room. The negative effect is that the object moves in the opposite direction, potentially at the caster (referee to determine).

Increase / Decrease Weapon Effectiveness

Cost: 1 STR and 1 END

Description – allows the shaman to add a +1DM to hit rolls and +1DM damage to a weapon of their choice. The weapon must be touched – the shaman specifies if the weapon is to be made more effective, or reduced. Failure to make the casting roll has the opposite effect on the weapon

Slow / Increase Speed

Cost: 1 STR, 2 END

Description – this spell can be applied to anyone (including self) by touch and slows all movement down to 10% of normal rate. Conversely, it can be applied so that the recipient has double their normal speed of doing things. Note that double the speed also means there is an increased risk of a fumble. Whilst the double-speed effect is still applied, apply a -1DM to all rolls that involve some sort of physical skill or saving roll. The caster declares what type of spell they wish to cast and the success roll is made. The opposite effect applies if the roll is a failure.


Cost: 2 STR, 2 END

Description – an invisible wall appears with a 10ft radius around the caster, protecting all those that are within the protective circle. The area of protection offers a -1DM to anyone that tries to hit anyone within the circular area. Conversely, if the spell fails to take effect then only when the opponent strikes at the caster, will the opponent find they have a +1DM to hit.

Create Illusion

Cost: 2 STR, 2 END

Description – if the caster specifies an illusion, they can create a moving or stationary illusion that is as realistic as the caster wants. It can be humanoid, mechanical or a simple piece of rock that gives the impression that something is there, but really isn’t. A failure in the casting of the illusion results in the creation having some sort of obvious flaw that makes it recognisable that it is an illusion. However, to make it more difficult for the caster, the flaw may only be visible to opponents – referee to determine.

Level 3 Spells

Carry Huge Weight

Cost: 3 STR, 2 END

Description – this spell allows the caster to carry up to three times their own weight (STR multiplied by three). If the spell fails to work however the caster becomes incredibly weak and their current strength score is divided between three.

Shatter Weapon / Harden Weapon

Cost: 2 STR, 3 END

Description – the caster determines what variant of this spell they wish to cast before expending the necessary STR and END points. By touching the weapon, they can either improve its effectiveness by adding a +1DM to hit and +1D damage roll (for 10 minutes max). However if the spell fails then the opposite effect occurs and the weapon shatters into a thousand pieces.

See Far Away

Cost: 2 STR, 2 END

Description – the caster can see a specific, nominated point within anywhere in a thirty mile range by closing their eyes. A real-time vision is presented and the caster can actually see what is happening, however without any sound (the spell is of course ‘see far away’). However if the spell fails a random place is shown to the caster, determined by the referee. The spells duration is two minutes.

Invisible Fiend

Cost: 4 STR, 3 END

Description – this spell creates a demon/fiend that the caster controls to do their bidding, even if it involves violence. The fiend has the following attributes: UPP A9A411 and fights with two claws for 2D+2 damage and +1DM to hit. The fiend remains in existence until it is killed, or disappears after 10 minutes. The fiend cannot be dispelled before the 10 minute period expires and remains under the exclusive control of the caster – if the caster is killed before the ten minutes are up the fiend disappears prematurely. However, the opposite results in the fiend turning on the caster and anyone and anything in immediate vicinity and will attack until everyone or it is dead.

Negate Magic / Increase Effectiveness of Magic

Cost: 5 STR, 5 END

Description – a caster can completely negate the effectiveness of someone else casting magic; for example an Invisible Fiend spell can make the fiend disappear prematurely or remove the increase to a weapons effectiveness. The caster has to declare which variant of the spell, before rolling for success; failure results in the opposite occurring. Increasing the effectiveness of the spell results in all elements of the spell being doubled. For example, duration is increased to 20 minutes (instead of 10), to hit scores are increased by +2DM and damage to 2D.

Drain Attributes / Increase Attributes

Cost: 6 STR, 5 END

Description – this allows the caster to drain an opponents attributes without touching them. The caster uses the electrical field that is present in parts of Grond to make a connection with the victims own electrical field and literally draw their energy out of them. The energy is added to the casters own UPP at a rate of half of the number of points drawn from the victim. The points are added to STR, DEX and then END at one point at a time, sequentially. A maximum of 2D6 points are drawn from the victim, determined at the time of the spell being successfully cast. The opposite effect occurs if the spell fails and 2D6 points are drawn from the caster, into the opponent.
I think that gives a reasonable start to a magic system and covers one of the major components to a fantasy-based gaming system. Looking at my original intentions of having to try and keep the system as simple as possible and using existing Classic Traveller rules, this is the one part I think I’ve had to deviate a bit by providing my own ‘house’ rules framework. I hope you find the article interesting and useful; I’m not going to predict another article in this series, but if there is something that I think of to add, I’ll post it when I can.

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Ships of the Clement Sector 8 – Berlin Class Colonial Destroyer Review

I’ve always liked spacecraft identification manuals, ever since I’ve owned a copy of ‘Spacecraft 2000-2100AD’, the first of the TTA books. So when John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games sent me a copy of ‘Ships of the Clement Sector 8: Berlin Class Destroyer’ I eagerly looked forward to getting my teeth into reading it whilst on holiday.

Something to me that sets spacecraft identification books apart from each other is the descriptive background of a craft. Its history, how it came into being, how it performs and notable actions during service. The TTA books having this style always seemed to catch my imagination and I’ve returned to them over and over again for some years.

This is why I’ve particularly enjoyed reading this, one of the latest ‘Ship…’ books by Gypsy Knights Games as it nicely balances these elements for me, along with the practical elements of deck plans and specifications. The book is 38 pages long including cover and obligatory open game license page. It is available from the fine Drivethru RPG store for a very reasonable $4.99 in PDF format.

The ship itself is a 1200dTon destroyer built and employed by the German Navy. A number these were in service in the Clement Sector at the time of the conduit collapse and have been integrated into the Hub Federation Navy.

Berlin Class Destroyer

The book is broken down into a main background story of the ship, specifications and deck plans, monochrome and colour illustrations of the ship (by Ian Stead) displaying various views (top, side, front) along with its service craft details. This content is interspersed with a running storyline or a mercenary units last, almost desperate job to capture one of these destroyers and the action taking place. This helps to present a page of adventure seeds and a mercenary NPC, backed up with colour graphics by Bradley Warnes. The destroyer itself looks like it could ‘do the job’, with a large number of hardpoints dotted around the hull and four particle beam weapons as its main armament. I did wonder at the number of marines the ship is supposed to carry, at around thirty. Would this be enough to be effective in the variety of actions the ship is supposed to support? Then again, I don’t have any point of reference to compare against, so I will bow to the writers guidance on this.

It’s a book that feels nicely balanced – the running storyline has enough ‘meat’ to engage you and the specifications and deck plans (by Michael Johnson) are well detailed. I suppose what has made this ship stand out for me in comparison to other ships of the navies is by having the background linked to a mercenary action and to make use of the book not restricting it to the players being part of a navy. It simply feels like a book that I’ve enjoyed more than some others. The illustrations are excellent – all the contributing artists have produced some beautiful pieces of artwork – if anything the quality is of a greater level of detail than in previous releases.

A thoroughly enjoyable book – well worth purchasing for use in your campaign! I would like to thank John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games for kindly sending me a copy to review.

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Introduction to Clement Sector

Well, I’m on holiday at last after an incredibly busy period at work helping move most of the IT facilities for my employer to a new building. I’m just starting to write this review whilst sat in the cottage garden I’ve booked for my wife and I (and pet greyhound Millie) not far from the coast near Whitby, in the east of England so some chill out time and catching up with Traveller RPG reviews and blogging is well overdue.

Gypsy Knights Games have just added their latest title Introduction to the Clement Sector at the bargain price of free, available for download at Drivethru RPG, which you can’t really argue with! It’s designed to give potential players and referees an overview of the ATU of the Clement Sector should they wish to invest in some of the GKG products.

Introduction to the Clement Sector

The book is 29 pages long including cover and open game license legalities. The book starts with a 7 page introduction to the Clement Sector, a timeline of major recent events and background to the Zimm-drive, the equivalent to the jump drive in Third-Imperium Traveller. If I was to give an overview of how Clement sector ‘feels’, I would say a cross between 2300AD, Classic Traveller and the TV series Firefly. 2300AD in that interstellar travel is possible but with limitations and many technologies are not too far removed from us in the early 21st century; Classic Traveller because humans are the dominant (well, only) intelligent creatures in the known universe and Firefly because you have a number of technologically advanced core worlds and a large number of outlying ‘frontier’ worlds where many adventures can be set. This introductory section also describes the background and practicalities to the Zimm-drive, because this works in a different way to the OTU Traveller jump drive. There is a ship size limit of 2-5000 tons and range of 2.4 parsecs, though most ships keep to 2 parsecs for reliable travel. I think this limitation helps keep the ‘feel’ of the setting within reasonable limits in that humans have had interstellar capabilities for a few hundred years, have made use of it and expanded into space, but realised its limitations.

The background has been developed by John Watts and a small team of writers and there are a large number of books, adventures and supplements with which to jump into the Clement Sector. There are two pages dedicated to describing the current titles in print, which I reckon will become quickly out of date due to the frequent number of releases that Gypsy Knights Games have.!I should note though that the list will probably get updated every so often, GKG are very good in tracking down typo’s and making amendments to make sure their books are as up to date as possible. If you subscribe to the Drivethru RPG alerts, you’ll get these amendments notified through email.

There are a couple of pages of FAQ’s interspersed with some nice colour images, which is then followed by a short adventure using materials from two publications ’21 Plots: Misbehave’ and ‘Dade Colonies’ which forms a nice complete adventure with a detailed background of one of the planets that can be found in the Clement Sector.

Overall, this is a good introduction to the background of the Clement Sector and why you should invest in it as a backdrop for your adventures. Its heavily world / technology orientated; if I was to add anything, perhaps a page or two on the careers and peoples of the Clement Sector, especially as there are some excellent books available from GKG to support the background. I think this would have balanced the book out a bit more – but as I mentioned earlier, the book is free and you’re getting a free adventure for the deal, so its all good!

I’d like to thank John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games for informing me of this latest release.

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The Art of Homeworld Review

A bit of a diversion for this post and something very special. I’ve been waiting to get hold of a copy of the art book ‘The Art of Homeworld’. Gearbox Software obtained the license to re-issue the classic game, in its original format and an enhanced high-definition version. Along with the game (which first found support for its re-issuing on Kickstarter), Gearbox have published a large-format hardback book with drawings, colour plates and development images from Homeworld and Homeworld: 2 with a commentary about the inception and development of the game. I’ve been watching for its release in the UK for some time and last Sunday I noticed that there were a few copies available to purchase from Amazon UK for £39.99 excluding delivery. I jumped on it like a ton of bricks and was delivered on the 5th of May.


The commentary is provided by Rob Cunningham and Aaron Kambeitz throughout the book and describes the inspiration for the spacecraft designs, notably the late great Peter Elson and the artists of the Terran Trade Authority Handbooks. The book is broken into sections featuring many of the concept designs for the ships and vehicles used in the game, based on the Kushan and Taiidan. The minor races (such as the Bentusi and Turanic Raiders) are also featured.

The book is huge – over 230 pages in total. It is lavishly illustrated with line art drawings and colour concept drawings on heavy quality paper. If you are looking for inspiration for spacecraft designs, you’ll find it here as there are plenty of variations, developments and revisions of the many designs some of which did or didn’t find their way into the final game.

You can see the influence of the TTA books in the design and decal colouration of the ships, which is borne out by the description of the programmers and artists.

The book doesn’t have any images from the game, which in some ways is a slight omission in my opinion – it would have been nice to have a few colour plates to compare the final electronic versions with the hand-drawn originals. However it doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the book.

If you’re interested in a little game history, art or design inspiration or just love spacecraft in general, this is a fantastic book and despite the steep price, is well worth purchasing.

Overall rating – 9.5/10.

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21 Villians Review

I’ve took the day off tomorrow (Friday 8th May) so I can stay up through the night to watch the general election results come through. Well, sort of – my wife wants to so I see it as an opportunity to stay up and get some blogging done! Real life is a bit bonkers at the moment, I’ve got the culmination of a couple of years work coming up with a major work project which is taking up most of my time, hence the lack of updates recently. Something that I’m introducing from this review onwards is a rating out of 10 to help summarise the review of a book. I’ve considered introducing it for a while but wasn’t sure on how many marks I should use – out of 10 seems the best compromise.

Anyway, Gypsy Knights Games kindly sent me a copy of 21 Villains to take a look at. It’s the first of a line of books they’ve released detailing some of the characters you are likely to meet that operate on the wrong side of the law. Its available from Drivethru RPG for the very reasonable price of $4.99 for the PDF, however during the month of May there is a special ‘science fiction month’ promotion where 15% discount is already applied (promotional price $4.24). It’s a 46-page book describing as the name suggests, 21 ‘Villains’ or low-lifes / evil characters (whatever you want to call them) that you can throw at your characters as part of an adventure or campaign.

The format of the book remains the same for each of the characters; their personal statistics, profession, age and languages, equipment, skills and a description of the characters background and personality. Bradley Warnes has provided the artwork throughout the book and an image of each of the characters can be found at some part of the characters pages. Typically, two pages cover all the details of a character – though not all of a page is filled with their background (I hate white space!) However I should counter this minor criticism by looking closely at each piece of text. The description of each character is nicely balanced and I feel that you get enough insight into a characters background and personality, without it being restrictive when utilising the character in your own adventure.

21 Villains

There are a decent range of miscreants in the book; thugs, politicians, professionals, drug/crime lords, military and the odd pirate. There are some nasty pieces of work in the book, but also some that may prove to be useful allies – it all depends down to the players and how they make use of such encounters (and of course, how evil the referee is feeling!)

The artwork is of Bradley Warnes’s usual high standard, each character depicted in a suitable (colour) scene. Any major criticisms? None really, though the book is pitched within the GKG ‘Clement Sector’ setting its contents can be easily be adapted for any Traveller RPG setting. It’s a nicely balanced book in that you aren’t over powered with a huge amount of crammed writing and the images break the text up in the right places.

Do I have a favourite character? Probably Nurita Metzker – who sounds like a downright nasty piece of work. A pirate who employs ruthless tactics and has developed quite a reputation for dealing with her enemies.

It’s nice to see GKG expanding the Clement Sector in lots of different directions (hardware, worlds, personalities, adventures) and this is a recommended addition to their ATU. I’d like to thank John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games for sending me a copy to review.

Overall Rating – 8/10.

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Grand Safari Review

Happy New Year everyone! For this first post of 2015, I want to spend a bit more time on one of Gypsy Knights Games’s recent releases, ‘ Grand Safari’. I felt on my last post that a mini-review wouldn’t do the book justice so he’s something a bit more substantial.
Grand Safari is a 154-page book available from Drivethru RPG
for $9.99 for the PDF or $19.99 for the PDF / softcover book combo. The book is part-adventure / part-supplement based in GKG’s Traveller RPG ATU. The book is split into the following sections:
1. Introduction
2. Pre-generated characters
3. Getting started and skills day
4. The adventures (numbering six)
5. Planetary descriptions
6. NPC descriptions
7. Spacecraft and vehicle descriptions
8. Additional adventure ideas
The introduction obviously sets things up for the adventure locations and how to make best use of the book. You’ll need some additional GKG supplements namely the ‘Clement Sector’, ‘Dade Colonies’ and ’21 More Organisations’ which are also available from Drivethru RPG. The aim of Grand Safari is for the PCs to take part in a series of linked adventures set in a largely unexplored region of the Clement Sector, named the Hannibal subsector.
Grand Safari

The pre-generated characters each have their own page giving full stats, a descriptive background and a colour illustration by Bradley Warnes. The next section describes how to start the adventure, who the ‘Gentlemans Club of Dashwood’ are and the first ‘adventure’, ‘Skills Day’ which are a series of tests for the players to build up their ‘Safari Points’ which are the measure for the players ultimate success in the safari. Skills Day could take some time to run – if you have lots of players there will be a great deal of dice rolling, but it instills competition between the players.

The actual adventures are quite short in description – an average of one or two pages each. However because of the way the book is structured, there isn’t any need for much more content than this. Again, success is measured by the awarding of ‘safari points’ – there are some straightforward tasks and some with a few twists…!

The planetary descriptions section form the majority content of the book and this is no bad thing; you have a complete subsector of unexplored worlds or systems which only have minimal surveys to plunder for adventures. The subsector forms the basis for the adventures in the book so you glean all the additional setting information from here. You get a full planetary system overview with orbits and hydrographic data. There is also a number of enounter / random event tables plus stats (and some illustrations) of the creatures that can be found on the world. There are a decent array of worlds to explore – nineteen in total, covering ninety pages.

The next section covers significant NPCs and the ships crew of the ‘MV Livingstone’ – the starship the players use for the safari. Full deck plans are provided for the MV Livingstone – an 800dT Atlas-class freighter along with an ocean-going safari ship suitable for use on water worlds.

The final page contains descriptions for three additional adventures set in the Hannibal subsector.

I’m thoroughly impressed with Grand Safari – there is plenty of adventure content, supplementary material that can be used within and outside the game – for any other game sessions the referee may be running. Its well written, there are some gorgeous illustrations of the significant persons and creatures and I only found one typo which I’m certain will be updated by GKG very soon (they have a habit of making corrections and improvements and send these to purchasers on a quick turnaround). This is a highly recommended supplement for the Traveller RPG referee – go and buy it!

Finally, I’d like to thank John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games for kindly sending me a copy of Grand Safari to review.

In other news, the winners of the Zhodani Base ’76 Patrons’ contest have been published – 23 entries were submitted including one from me, though I didn’t win there are some really good entries and I suggest you check them out!

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Alegis Downport : 2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,500 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 58 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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