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.

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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

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Level 2 Spells

Manipulate Object

Increase Weapon Effectiveness / Reduce Effectiveness

Slow / Increase Speed

Protection

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.

Protection

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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About AlegisDownport

Musings on the Traveller RPG world, technology, astronomy and digital art.
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2 Responses to The Fantasy Traveller Part 8 – The Magic System

  1. Dan Higdon says:

    Interesting idea to tie spell cost to both STR and END, and I like your spell list.

    Since I’m also daydreaming a fantasy CT variant (seems like everyone is, these days LOL), I had decided to just co-opt the “Blows” system for points, with each spell costing Level*2 Blows if cast successfully (only Level blows if you don’t manage to cast it).

    (In fact, I’m kind of over-using the Blows system. It might penalize low-END players to much. I’ve considered allowing players to “Soak” damage with Blows (which simulates what hit points are meant to do in D&D) if they wish, but I have not playtested that. I guess if nothing else, it will keep combats short!)

    • Hi Dan, thanks for the kind words, I’m glad you like the spell list; I tried to cover a reasonable ‘armoury’ of spells and I grabbed inspiration from the Tunnels and Trolls 5th ed rulebook for the list.

      I haven’t come across the system you describe, though if my understanding is correct my system and yours have some similar aspects. I didn’t want the cost of spells to be simply down to expending one attribute, but make it a bit more ‘costly’ to reflect that magic in my world is rarer and more expensive. I wanted to avoid MU’s flinging fireballs around or end up in a war of attrition. Combat in Traveller is typically pretty deadly and short and I’ve tried to reflect that in this system.

      System conversions in Traveller I think reflect the flexibility of the rules – and help make the game more enjoyable!

      Have fun & best wishes, Steve

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