Saturday, 31 August 2019

Making Magic: Redux


While my previous Wizard Downtime rules worked well enough, in the new post-apocalyptic paradigm I've been speeding up the ol' timeline so we'll get multiple years in-game per year of real time.
This is the exact opposite of a lot of games where you'll play for years and the characters only experience a few months of hooning around killing things.

Hence the very important rejigging of Downtime mechanics to taking place in units of weeks and months rather than days. Spend a month off and you'll get 4 weeks of downtime to be used at your leisure. More on that when I've rejigged the rest of the Downtime rules. For now, magic!




Chaotic Casters

I've spiced this up a bit with some new mechanics, and some juicier potion-making rules that focus on replicating found potions or generating random potions until you get one you like.



Activity
Time Taken
Cost/Spell Level
Copy Spell to Spellbook
1 Week
30 obols
Research Existing Spell
2 Weeks
150 obols
Create New Spell
4 Weeks
300 obols
Potions
1 Week
150 obols
Scrolls
1 Week
300 obols


Basic Gimmick
You're rolling up to three dice, with the size of each die based on the following factors:

Care: Roll 1d6. Improve by taking more time. +1 die size per extra week taken.
Quality: Roll 1d6. Improve by paying for higher quality materials. +1 die size per 100 obols.
Knowledge: If you have access to a library, roll 1d6. Adjust die size by Intelligence Modifier.

ie. Joe Average the Wizard has access to a library and isn't bothering to spend extra time. He rolls 3d6.
Smarto Richpants the Mage is in a town with no library but pays 300 obols for premium materials, and he's got a +3 Int Mod. He rolls 1d6+1d12 since the Quality is higher but without a library he can't put his superior intellect to use.

Roll and look up the result on the relevant table.


Spells
Add a spell to your spellbook, whether that's via copying a spell you have to hand, researching a spell that already exists in the game, or creating a whole new one.


  Roll
  Result
13<
  Success! The Spell is now safely in your Spellbook.
9-12
  Slippery. Roll one less d6 when casting this Spell spontaneously.
5-8
  Seditious. Casting this spell simultaneously releases a Chaos Burst.
4>
  Sentient. The Spell becomes intelligent, taking the form of a Familiar of its choice. 
  Your maximum Mana is permanently reduced by 1. 


Potions
Copy a potion you have to hand, or create a random potion.


  Roll
  Result
13<
  Success! The Potion is complete!
9-12
  Spoilage. Potion will expire at the end of the next month.
5-8
  Soured. Drinking this potion deals 1d6 damage in addition to its effects.
4>
  Explosive! It goes terribly wrong! Take 1d6 damage to each ability score.


Scrolls
Copy a spell you have to hand into a Scroll. Anybody can use a Scroll, but most classes require an Arcana roll to use it.
If an appropriate caster identifies a Scroll with an Arcana roll (or the Identify spell), they Decipher it and don't have to use Arcana to cast it.


  Roll
  Result
13<
  Success! The Scroll is complete! It can be used once before it crumbles to dust.
9-12
  Overcomplicated. Scroll can only be used if Deciphered by an appropriate caster.
5-8
  Indecipherable. Scroll cannot be Deciphered, so must be cast with an Arcana roll.
4>
  Illegible. Scroll is Indecipherable and casts a random spell when used.



MY POTIONS ARE TOO MUCH FOR A BEAST, LET ALONE A MAN!


Clerics

Over half the current party are Clerics, to my delight. They're very very powerful and have some fun gimmicks.
A potential issue with the well-received new Cleric rules is that Clerics lost a few of their more powerful high level spells - namely Cure Disease and Remove Curse - so these are Downtime things now. Honestly it fits better this way - Curing Disease with a snap of the fingers is a little boring.



Activity
Time Taken
Cost
Bless Holy Water
1 Week
Free
Hasten Recovery
1 Week
100 obols
Treat Disease
2 Weeks
200 obols
Transfer Curse
2 Weeks
500 obols
Sanctify Church
4 Weeks
1000 obols


Bless Holy Water
Gain 1 vial of Holy Water per level.
Holy Water burns unholy creatures like undead, demons and elves for 1d8 damage.
Holy Water can be stacked 5 to an encumbrance slot.

Hasten Recovery
Miraculously increase the recovery speed of a person suffering from a lingering injury.
Each Hasten Recovery ritual reduces their recovery time by one week.

Treat Disease
Alleviate the symptoms and halt the progression of all diseases afflicting a person.
At the end of the ritual they may make a Save vs Law against each disease afflicting them, curing that disease on success.

Transfer Curse
Remove a curse from a person and place it into another vessel. The vessel can be any object, living or inanimate, but it must be present for the entirety of the ritual.
If the vessel is a willing person the transfer is automatic. Else the afflicted must pass a Save vs Law to successfully transfer the curse.
If the cursed vessel is ever killed or broken, the curse moves to the one who destroyed it.

Sanctify Church
Consecrate a building or structure to become a Church of your faith.
Churches are consecrated ground and painful for wholly Chaotic beings like demons, elves and undead to enter. Such creatures cannot use their supernatural powers within the area, and corpses in the area cannot be animated.
The sanctification lasts as long as the structure is used as a place of worship, or until the Church is desecrated by destroying the altar.




Discussion

Wizards

Spells
Some mild changes here on top of the timings, most interestingly - the potential to create a sentient spell! Extremely rare if you've got access to a library, but out in the woods with the hedge witches I suppose these things must be more common...
The other downsides are to make it more in-line with the new Mana rules for wizards.

Potions
I don't have enough opportunities to give players random potions, so here's a way for players to brew their own!
Rather than something boring like "brew a single-target spell you know into a potion", this now creates a random potion, or lets you clone a potion you already have. Much improved!

Scrolls
Deciphering is a bit messy. Basically any class can use any scroll with an Arcana roll. To allow MUs to use MU scrolls and Necros to use Necro scrolls without risk, successfully identifying a scroll means you can cast it without risk if it's on-type for your magic.
Full text for identifying scrolls and wands -
Roll Arcana. On success, you identify the spell. 
You also Decipher it if your character class can cast it. You can use Deciphered Spellbooks normally, and cast from Deciphered scrolls as an Action.


Clerics

Holy Water
Clerics can create holy water for free now! Good for fighting demons and elves and undead, so on-brand for Clerics.

Hasten Recovery
With the new Cleric comes the loss of classic Cure spells in favour of a healing pool mechanic. This does mean that there's no Cure Critical Wounds to heal a broken arm or something, so we've got this activity instead.
A team of Clerics healing one person seems pretty Christ-like. Maybe the disciples were Clerics too?

Treat Disease
A classic Cleric job, but in downtime form. Not much more to say really.

Transfer Curse
I never liked that Clerics could just cure a curse. Curses are fun!
So now there's this, which means a curse must be transferred to some other vessel.
The classic Levitican trick of a Scapegoat will totally work though!

Sanctify Church
A fun one because my campaign is going to have a through-thread of spreading across the world and repopulating it, chiefly by settling new towns in the horrible poisoned wastes. New towns need new churches, and this is how to make them!

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Post-Apoc Fantasy Hexcrawl Rules

The end of the world dragged my campaign kicking and screaming from a civilised network of roads and cities to a proper hexcrawl across the barren earth.

This is an awful, painful place to travel through. The air burns to breathe, the rain is acid, and the threat of a Gas Front rolling through and vapourising all organic life is ever-present.
It's harsh, it's slow, and it's draining, but looting the ruins of the old world is an extremely profitable line of work...

Intent

Harsh
Travel in the post-apocalypse is dangerous due to the harsh environment and the toxic weather.
Almost everything is dead out there, so the classic travel danger of creature encounters is replaced with more impersonal forces like horrible rain or choking mists.
These rules are meant to refocus my campaign so that travel itself is part of the meat of the game, something players have to think about and plan around, rather than just a time tax between destinations.

Slow
Travel in the post-apocalypse is slow. Roads are old and ruined, towns have fallen into decay, and travel is physically exhausting. Gone are the days when you could zip across the regional map in less than a week by road, we're in the Post-Apocalypse now.
I like the idea that my well-used map effectively changes scale without changing size. Quick trips taken by road or by air in the past will now take several days, and it will be a logistical challenge to carry all you need to survive without slowing yourself down.

Exploratory
A game set in a relatively civilised area of towns linked by roads is tacitly a pointcrawl. You travel between destinations by road and rarely trudge through the wilderness.
Not so in the post-apocalypse. Now we're in a proper hexcrawl, and that means exploring!
Nobody really knows what's out there any more, but there are old maps and memories of the old world (even for the players, who have "lived" in this world for years).
The players are now explorers, pioneers, and treasure hunters in a world they once knew. It's pretty cool!

Extent of player exploration to date

Base Units

Distance
Distance is measured in Miles.
The world is divided into 1 mile Hexes.

Time
Overland time is divided into Watches.
Each Watch is approximately 4 hours of activity.
6 Watches per 24 hour period.

Basic Procedure

Each Watch follows these steps -
  1. Group Up: If they wish, the party can form into separate groups.
  2. Choose Activity: Each group decides what they're doing this Watch
  3. Lost: If outfield, the DM secretly checks to see if each group is lost.
  4. Encounters: Roll and resolve encounters per group. 1d6 if outfield, 1d12 if encamped.
  5. Weather: Resolve weather effects.
  6. Activity: Resolve the activity itself per group.

Where would we be without laminated gimmick sheets?


Previous laminated gimmick sheet in action. This is Winter, so the day only lasts 2 Watches / 8 hours.


Travel

This is the main thing with hexcrawl rules so I'm putting it first!

Maximum Travel Distance
On foot, your speed is limited by your Encumbrance.
I'd probably double these for pre-Apocalypse travel.

EncumbranceMiles/Watch
Unencumbered4
Lightly3
Heavily2
Morbidly1
Over0

Exhaustion
This is one of the main limiting mechanics to travel.
Each point of Exhaustion gives you a -1 penalty to all rolls and counts as an Oversized item (ie. +1 Encumbrance), slowing you down.
If it's been over 4 Watches (16 hours) since your last Rest, you take 1 Exhaustion per Watch.
Weather also commonly builds up Exhaustion, eventually forcing you to stop and rest.

Trails
You can intentionally leave a Trail as you travel.
This gets added to the map, making it easier to backtrack and easier to take the same route at a later date.
There might be times when you don't want to leave a Trail (like if someone's tracking you), but most of the time you'll want to leave one.

Travel by Vehicle
See the rules for Vehicles at the bottom of the post.
In short - vehicles are great for carrying stuff and protecting occupants from the weather, but they're liable to crash off-road. Wagon trains encouraged.



Watch Activities

Some examples of things you can do in one Watch.
Encounters are rolled on an encounter grid (see Encounters section below).
Encounter chances are effectively halved when you're encamped.

Outfield Activities
Basically any activity where you're moving around in the open exposed to the elements.
Encounter severity is rolled on 1d6.

Suggestions include:
  • Travel: See Travel section above.
    Basically just move as far as you want up to your group's maximum travel distance.
  • Explore: Search a hex for things of interest.
    No need to roll, you just find anything in the hex by the end of the Watch.
  • Forage: Search for sustenance.
    See Foraging section below.
Encamped Activities
Basically anything you want to do that doesn't involve leaving an immediate area.
It probably goes without saying that anyone at the same campsite is in the same group for encounter purposes.
Encounter severity is rolled on 1d12, with results 7-12 as "nothing happens".

Suggestions include:
  • Set Camp: Set up tents and organise the camp site, ie. draw the map of the camp.
    Important if some sort of post-apocalypse beast comes sniffing around.
    Shielded Camps: Some hexes have protected campsites that are good enough to resist deadly Gas Fronts and other dangers. Resist all weather effects, and when Encounters are rolled you can replace the result with "nothing happens" if you wish.
  • Cook Food: As per the Dungeon Masterchef post.
    We've seen multiple cookoffs so far, which pleases me greatly!
  • Forecast: Check to see where the weather's heading.
    Roll Bushcraft. On success, you can tell what the next weather change will be.
    On failure, you at least know the possibilities.
  • Rest: See Getting Some Rest section below

Foraging

It might look like everything's dead out there... but if you know where to look you'll find some strange edible flora and fauna that's managed to adapt to the toxic atmosphere and frequent all-devouring Gas Fronts.

Forage
Roll a Bushcraft group check (ie. use highest Bushcraft score in the group).
On success, find 1d4 Ingredients +1 per additional forager.
The Ingredient you find is based on terrain. Roll 1d10 on the associated Forage table to see what you find!

***PLAYERS DON'T CLICK***
You can find my current (incomplete) Forage tables in this sheet. It's all weird stuff adapted to the post-apocalypse, so you'd want to change it to Nettles and Mushrooms and stuff for non-fucked settings.
***THANKS FOR BEING GOOD!***

Set Forage
The first time Forage is found in a hex it becomes easier to find that particular Ingredient there. Set Forage by adding the Ingredient to the hex description.
Any time that hex is successfully foraged in the future, the forager rolls the 1d10 and can choose between that and the Set Forage.
Really good if you know you need a certain foraged ingredient for a particular meal!

Weather Boost
Each type of Forage is more prevalent during certain weather (see Weather below).
During the right weather, boost the Ingredients roll twice - from 1d4 to 1d8.

Example for Hills areas. If you want Popjack, go out during a Haze!
Season
In Winter, find 1 Ingredient per forager in the group only.
I was considering having proper seasonal forage, but it's easier to just add some seasonal flavour to the description. Plus that'd be a lot of backend work to track forage per hex per season!



Getting Some Rest

Sleeping out in the wastes is hard when you're plagued by itches and your mate's coughing up a lung on the bedroll next to you. Luckily you're often so tired that you don't care.
Going more than 4 Watches without a rest gives you one point of Exhaustion per Watch.

Shelter
Scratch-built shelter won't do in the post-apocalypse. You need a proper Survival Tent!
Costs available here.

Rest
Resting for a single Watch heals 1 point of Exhaustion.

Long Rest
Resting for two Watches in a row cures all Exhaustion.
You get Overnight Healing rates as per the house rules.
In short:
- No Food and/or Shelter: If you're on 0HP, no healing. Else heal your Bushcraft score in HP.
- Food and Shelter: Heal up to the next step of Half HP, Full HP, or Full+1d6 HP.

Convalescence
Resting for a whole 24 hours (6 Watches in a row) with food and shelter heals ability scores.
Save vs Doom. On success, heal 1 point of stat damage in all affected ability scores.


Getting Lost

It's fairly easy to lose your way if you're not following a trail, especially with the terrible weather and the way the air stings your eyes. I cannot emphasise enough how much the post-apocalypse sucks.
The base chance of getting lost while outfield is 1 in 6, adjusted by the following modifiers:

Getting LostModifier
Following Road/River-3
To Visible Landmark-2
Following Trail-1
Following Map-1
Clear Weather-1
Hazy+1
Rainy+3
Foggy+5
Night (Bright Moon)+1
Night (Quarter Moon)+3
Night (Dark Moon)+5

If a group gets lost while travelling the DM secretly rolls on this chart to see which way they went. They leave their intended path at a random point in the journey.
If they get lost while exploring or foraging within a hex, they simply end up in a random hex nearby.
A lost group makes a Bushcraft group check (ie. use highest Bushcraft score).
On success, they know their bearing, how far off course they are, and the direction of their intended destination. On failure they've got no idea.
Groups that left a trail behind them could retrace their steps, those who don't might be in trouble.


A Stoneshell Crab, by our own Tom


Encounters

Overland encounters use an encounter grid as per that post.
Encounter severity roll depends on whether the group is Outfield or Encamped.
1d6 for Outfield.
1d12 for Encamped.

Encounters with actual creatures are rare, so they're on the low and high ends of the bell curve.
The special part is that there are common entries that change based on terrain, weather and hex.

***PLAYERS DO NOT CLICK***
You can check out the encounter grid I'm currently using here.
***PHEW THANK YOU THAT WAS CLOSE***

Base results are these, so I can explain the special non-creature ones.

    Probability fiends will note that there's only a 33% chance of an encounter involving a creature.

    The environmental "encounters" are these:
    • Weather Effect: Doubles down on weather effects, no matter the weather.
    • Terrain Special: Changes based on terrain, so Hills is different to Plains and so on. Sometimes cause something to be added to the map, like a new fissure appearing in a Hills area.
    • Hex Special: Involves the current hex they're in.
    • Weather Special: Changes based on weather, so Haze is different to Acid Rain and so on. Usually additional badness, but sometimes something nice happens like the rain lets up for a bit!
    • Rogue Weather: The weather changes! This is temporary and the weather has turned back by the end of the Watch. If the party splits up and multiple groups get different Rogue Weather I guess the results are strangely localised.
    The effects change with the severity roll. You can see the effects on the encounter grid linked above.



    Weather

    Since it's after the end of the world there is now a massive focus on environmental dangers, chiefly the weather. Plus complaining about the weather brings us together as Englishmen.
    The stinging Haze leads onto Acid Rain or thick Chokestorms, and deadly Gas Fronts are an ever-present threat. Thank goodness the Gas Fronts are usually preceded by the crackling electrical storms of the Warning so people know when to get to cover. And all that's just in Spring!

    ***PLAYERS DO NOT CLICK***
    Weather types as of right now can be found here.
    ***CHEERS!***

    Survival Gear
    It's awful out there. You need protective clothing and a breather mask to last long out in the wastes.
    Survival Gear replaces normal armour and follows the same rules (see house rules).
    Short version - Certain effects can Notch your armour, each Notch reducing its AC by 1. If this ever makes it worthless, it falls apart and is irreparable.
    Filter Masks replace Helmets. They can be destroyed by certain Death and Dismemberment effects.
    Six-Dimensional Weather
    Invented by Daniel Sell at What Would Conan Do, this hex-based Six-Dimensional Weather is the foundation of this weather system. You can see how it works at that link. It's very clever!



    Types of Weather
    There are six types of weather. Each season has a variation on the theme.
    • Haze: Common travelling weather. Fair visibility, but exhausting to walk in.
    • Acid Rain:
      Heavy rain that eats away at your gear. Bad visibility.
    • The Warning:
      Precedes Gas Fronts. Lightning storms that are safe to walk in unless you clash metal on metal.
    • Gas Front:
      Lethal fog of Omnipoison converts all organic life it touches into more Omnipoison. If you're lucky you die instantly.
    • Clear:
      A rare reprieve from the weather!
    • Storm:
      Seasonal variation, always terrible. Usually a worse version of the Haze with bad visibility.
    Weather Change
    Weather moves around the hex map every dawn and dusk.
    When the weather changes, roll the next change in advance so players can Forecast it.

    Weather Effects
    Each type of weather has an associated Effect.
    If you're not wearing survival gear and a breather helm, you also take the Exposure effect. Somehow despite wearing practically nothing, Barbarians always count as wearing survival gear and breather helm.
    If combat occurs, Encounter Conditions apply.
    For example these are the Weather possibilities for Spring. You'll notice pretty much everything sucks. That's the post-apocalypse for you!


    Forecasting
    An Encamped activity.
    Roll Bushcraft.
    On success, you know what the weather will be next time it changes.
    On failure, you at least know the potential options.

    Fast Forwarding
    If you ever need to fast forward the weather, like if players are resting up safely in town for a while, just roll a weather change twice per week.
    It's assumed that the random walk did a completely average return-to-origin loop for 6 days, then went somewhere else on the 7th day.
    If I had a computer program that could do it for me I'd use that though!


    Seasons

    Seasons change over the course of the campaign, especially since I'm intentionally pushing the timeline forward by limiting the PCs to one Expedition or Downtime activity per in-game month.

    Weather
    Each Season has a different spin on the basic weather types (see that section above) and a different feel.
    • Spring sets the standard. Variable levels of crap weather. Relatively rare Gas Fronts but potentially interminable Chokestorms might stop travel for days.
    • Summer has long stretches of clear days, but if it gets bad it tends to stick. Hot weather is exhausting for anyone in heavier gear.
    • Autumn is all wet and miserable. Rain tends to last, alternating between acid rainstorms and an interminable hissing rain that makes it easy to get lost.
    • Winter is brutally cold. Travelling requires you to have Cold Weather Gear - an Oversized item - lest you freeze to death. At least Gas Fronts freeze into the ground in winter.
    Day Length
    The day gets longer and shorter over the course of the year.
    Your chance of getting lost increases at night (see Getting Lost section above).
    Watches from dawn until dusk:
    • Summer: 4 Watches
    • Spring/Autumn: 3 Watches
    • Winter: 2 Watches



    Travel by Vehicle

    Finally, travel by Vehicle!
    This ties in better to the roads in the seasonal Rebuild Phase (to come) but the travel stuff is relevant.
    While vehicles have the potential to be slightly faster than a party on foot, they're mostly about carrying supplies and/or protecting occupants from the weather.

    I'm pretty pleased with the speedometer gimmick!
    Compartments
    Vehicles have 6 Compartments - numbered 1-6 in the image above.
    A compartment can fit one person and all their equipment, or 20 encumbrance slots-worth of items.
    If you got a good treasure haul you might have to walk because your wagon's full of stuff.


    Speed
    When you Travel with a vehicle, choose how fast you're going.
    Higher speeds increase your chance of crashing, as per the image above.
    You'll notice that this is slow, but that's because the roads are real bad. If you were driving down a maintained and paved road you'd go at double speed, but no roads are that good just yet!

    Crash Chance
    Base 1 in 6 with the following modifiers.

    Crash ChanceModifier
    On road-3
    On trail-1
    Off-road (flat)+2
    Off-road (rough)+4
    Clear Weather-1
    Hazy+1
    Rainy+3
    Fog+5
    Night (Bright)+1
    Night (Quarter)+3
    Night (Dark)+5

    If you crash, the driver will roll on the Vehicle Crash Table.
    They make a Piloting check.
    On success they roll a 1d6 on that table. On failure they roll 1d12.


    Monday, 17 June 2019

    Magic User Rework: 4 Kinds of Spellcasters.

    In the last post we replaced Spell Slots with Mana.

    In short:
    1 Mana per level, spells can be Bound (memorised) for 1 Mana per Spell Level, or spells can be cast Unbound (spontaneously) at a risk.
    Overall you get fewer safe spells per day, but you get far more flexibility and never run out of spells.





    Casting Mechanics

    I should note that I've changed the base magic rules slightly, mostly for ease of use.

    Casting
    Declare casting as an Action. The spell goes off at the start of your next turn. During casting you count as Surprised against all attacks.
    Bound Spells cannot

    Changed from "Declare before initiative is rolled, spell goes off at the end of the round". I kept forgetting to ask people to declare spells. Since initiative is rerolled every round, this could get crazy...


    Interrupted Casting
    If you are damaged mid-cast there are consequences based on your character class.

    Down from "if you are damaged or attacked in melee", because if a creature can't hit a wizard standing still with a melee weapon they don't deserve to disrupt anything!


    Exp Tracks
    All casters - even Elves - use the Magic-User exp track.

    Since Elves are on an even keel with the other casters at this point, it seemed unfair to penalise them.


    Alright, on with the show.




    Caster Classes

    I've got 4 Chaotic caster classes in my game.
    could just have each class use the exact same core mechanics, but I like the idea that different casters feel different in play and encourage different gameplay styles.


    Magic-User: The flexible caster.
    The main focus of the Mana system.
    Bind spells for safe casting, access to Cantrips, and the ability to create Familiars.
    Leave Mana Unbound to cast spontaneously.

    Muscle Wizard: The frontline caster.
    Increased survivability since Bound spells boost HP and melee attack, and spells are instant-cast so can't be interrupted.
    Unbound Mana might be used to overload a powerful punch attack, and spontaneous casting means you could cast more than one Magic Missile Punch per day.

    Elf: The spontaneous caster.
    Defined by their Heartspell - a level 1 Spell that defines their Elf species.
    Cannot Bind Spells, so they always cast spontaneously unless they're casting their Heartspell. Very chaotic!
    Spooky Elf powers boost your Heartspell or grant special abilities, but are lost as you spend Mana.

    Necromancer: The Vancian caster.
    Work best when they do the traditional Vancian memorise-spells-at-start-of-day thing.
    Can Unbind spells to do AoE damage, and use Unbound Mana to cast Subjugate Dead.
    Reliant on spell components for many of their spells.




    Magic-User

    Bound Spell Perks:

    Cantrips: 
    You can tap into the power of Bound Spells for minor magical effects. 
    For example Sleep might be used to make someone yawn, or Magic Missile could be used to improve your aim.
    When you cast the Spell, you lose access to its Cantrips.

    Familiars: 
    When you Bind a Spell you may form it into a Familiar.
    Familiars are smallish creatures on-brand for the spell - like Shield could be a hedgehog or Spiderclimb might be a spider or gecko.
    When you cast a Familiar's spell, you can cast it through that Familiar if you choose. It vanishes once its spell is cast.
    Familiars can communicate mentally with you, will obey simple orders, and cannot be harmed.
    If you die, all of your extant Familiars go rogue - each erupts as a Summon spell with HD equal to Spell Level and runs amok!


    Interrupted Casting:

    Bound Spell:
    If damaged during the casting of a Bound Spell you release a Chaos Burst.
    If you wish, Save vs Chaos to negate the Chaos Burst and re-Bind the spell, effectively putting it back in your head like you hadn't tried to cast it. Otherwise the spell fails and is lost.

    Unbound Spell:
    If damaged during the casting of an Unbound Spell you risk disaster.
    When the spell goes off, roll on the Chaos Conduit table an additional time for each instance of damage. Take the worst result.


    Notes:

    Themes:
    Magic-Users are flexible and the most easily re-themed into a Witch or a Sorcerer or Druid or whatever kind of archetype you like.
    Cantrips give the player a lot of leeway to get imaginative with minor effects. As a general rule of thumb these should be about as powerful as the classic (non-5e) cantrips like Blink or Bee.
    Familiars have been in the game for a long time, but previously they've been a permanent animal companion who can hold an extra spell. Now they are spells and I'm quite excited about it! If a wizard shows up surrounded by a menagerie you'll know they're dangerous, and also maybe have some hints as to what spells they're packing.

    To Bind or not to Bind?
    Magic-Users have the most obvious risk/reward to Binding spells.
    Bind them for the Cantrips, Familiars and safer casting, or leave your Mana unbound for flexibility.

    To Cast or not to Cast?
    Similarly, if you've Bound some Spells you have another obvious choice - keep the spell Bound for the perks? Or cast it for the immediate benefits?
    We've had one Wizard who kept hold of Magic Missile forever instead of casting it because he liked using a Cantrip that gave him a bonus to Aim.

    Interruptions:
    Bind a Spell and if you're interrupted the spell is cancelled no matter what, but you've got a chance to retain the spell for later.
    Cast spontaneously and there's at least a chance that you'll cast the spell regardless - pour enough Mana into a spontaneous cast and it's impossible to stop it from going off successfully.




    Muscle Wizard

    Bound Spell Perks:

    Muscle Magic:
    Your fists are d4 Shanky weapons, and can be dual-wielded (naturally).
    Each Bound Spell improves your strength and physique.
    You gain +2 HP and +1 to melee attacks per Mana committed to Bound Spells.
    You lose these perks as you cast the spells. If you reach 0HP from spellcasting, you fall unconscious from overexertion.


    (Un)interrupted Casting:

    I Cast Fist:
    Your spells are cast instantly via punching, so you can never be interrupted!


    Close Range Caster:

    Ultimate Muscle:
    The maximum range of a spell is 10' - extra distance you run or jump or flash-step to the target - and you are never affected by AoE from your spells.
    When you cast a spell you must combine it with an unarmed attack that automatically hits for maximum damage, plus bonus damage equal to Mana consumed in the casting.
    You can target yourself or your punched target with the spell, so if you want to target yourself it's best to target an enemy but perfectly ok to punch a wall or small animal or something.
    On the other hand, if you want to cast a buff spell on a friend you'll want to make sure they don't have a glass jaw...


    Notes:

    Themes:
    Obviously the Muscle Wizard remains one of the sillier classes, but I've always been pleased by how they work in play compared to a regular M-U. Especially since I've got fond fond memories of POWERLAD.
    The theme is obviously to PUNCH. They've got frontline combat buffs, and since they snap-cast their spells they're less vulnerable than other casters in the thick of it.
    A new change is that they have to combine a spell with a punch attack. Previously damaging your target was optional, and I'll be interested to see how this works out.
    Since Mana is limited compared to Spell Slots, each Mana committed to Bound Spells gives +2 HP. This works out better for the MW in early levels and gets to be on-par with the bonus HP of the previous version by level 7, which is a sweet spot. Plus their attack bonus grows quicker.

    To Bind or not to Bind?
    Muscle Wizards will usually want to bind all their Mana into their muscles to increase their power and reduce their squishiness.
    On the other hand - spontaneous casters can cast in armour and Muscle Wizards can't be interrupted, significantly reducing one of the main risks! I kinda dig the idea of an Armoured Muscle Wizard and the Muscle Wizard's low AC has always been a weakness, so this could shift the balance.

    To Cast or not to Cast?
    Always a straightforward class - the Muscle Wizard has always had to decide between keeping their spells back (for the HP and attack bonus) and using their spells for immediate effect.




    Elf

    Heartspell Perks:

    Heartspell:
    There are 20 species of Elf. Each has one of the standard first level spells as their Heartspell.
    It defines their species - the mutations and abilities they gain from the magic infusing their magical forms. As they use their magic, flinging it out into the world, they slowly regress back towards that feeble mortal form.
    For each point of Mana in the Elf's Mana Pool, they gain an additional power and mutation from their Heartspell. Current document is here. They lose these gifts as they use up Mana.
    When an Elf has 0 Mana in their Mana Pool they lose access to magic - they are human again.

    Moondancer:
    Elves do not sleep. They regain their full Mana Pool after dancing under the moon for an hour per level. If prevented from doing this somehow, they do not replenish their Mana.
    They gain +1 to their maximum Mana Pool when they dance under a crescent moon, and double it under the New Moon.
    They take -1 to their maximum Mana Pool when they dance under a gibbous moon, and halve it under the Full Moon.

    Casting:
    Elves cannot Bind spells. They must cast spontaneously (with all associated risks) if they want to cast anything but their Heartspell.
    Their Heartspell, by contrast, is easy. It can be cast instantly as an Action. When they cast their Heartspell the Elf must Save vs Chaos - on failure they spend 1 Mana, otherwise they cast the spell for free.


    Interrupted Casting:

    Heartspell:
    Since a Heartspell is cast instantly as an action, it cannot be interrupted.

    Unbound Spell:
    If damaged during the casting of an Unbound Spell you risk disaster.
    When the spell goes off, roll on the Chaos Conduit table an additional time for each instance of damage. Take all results, but successes don't stack.


    Notes:

    Themes:

    Elves are all about the creepy fae vibes.
    Forcing them to be Spontaneous Casters feels thematically on-brand, as does giving them potentially infinite casts of their core Heartspell. Around Elves, watch yourselves.
    The effect of the Moon is more powerful than it was in the past, so Elves would do well to ensure they're paying attention to the moon phase. Due to certain incidents my campaign's moon is in a close orbit so you get 2 moon cycles per month. More opportunities for moon madness!
    Since Mana is doubled at the new moon, Elves can reach higher power levels more quickly. Exciting! And it forces me to bulk out the Heartspell power list quicker.

    To Cast or not to Cast:
    Elves, unlike other casters, completely run out of magic when they run out of Mana.
    They also gain far more from retaining their Mana than the other classes - powers and mutations that give them cool abilities and make their Heartspell more powerful.
    The choice is then - keep my powers? Cast my Heartspell and risk losing a small part of my abilities? Or weaken myself for certain by pouring Mana into a regular spell?

    Interruptions:
    Heartspells are cast instantly - they're a safe option.
    Unbound spells are far riskier. Interruptions risk chaos, but also some certainty. If you've already rolled a Success then you know the spell will go off. The issue is you don't know how many side effects you'll be facing...



    Necromancer

    Necromancer Spells:

    Voice of the Dead:
    Many Necromancer spells and abilities require spell components. The most important component is Last Breath - the final breath of a sapient being. These are usually stored in glass vials, and breathing in a Last Breath grants you the Voice of the Dead for ten minutes.

    Lesser Dead:
    There are three basic flavours of 1 HD Lesser Dead, available to all Necromancers.
    Skeleton: Can use weapons. Take 1 damage from non-Smashy attacks.
    Zombie: Double HP. Slow - acts at the end of each round. Becomes an area of damaging zombie bits when killed - dealing 1 damage to anyone standing in it. Becomes a fast, intelligent Ravenous Zombie if it eats a brain.
    Skin Kite: Doesn’t obey orders. Real bastard. Flies slowly. Takes 1 damage from Smashy attacks. Grapples fleshy targets, dealing 1d6 damage and healing itself to 6 HP per successful Grapple.

    Master of the Dead:
    Necromancers have the innate ability to raise and control the Dead. Each of these abilities requires the Voice of the Dead.
    Animate Dead: Spend X Mana, raise that many lesser Dead minions. Takes 10 minutes.
    Subjugate Dead: Spend X Mana, roll Xd6+level and Subjugate that many HD of Dead, weakest first.
    Command Dead: Free action. Give your undead orders. Complex orders take a whole Action instead.

    Bound Spells:
    Necromancers use a unique Necromancer spell list (first couple of spell levels converted for use here based on the book here)
    Spells must be Bound to be cast - Necromancers cannot cast spells spontaneously. Unlike other casters, you can bind more than one copy of the same spell.
    In addition, many spells require the listed ritual components.
    Binding Spells takes an hour. Spend X Mana and bind that many spells. Mana spent this way is lost until the spell is cast.

    Casting:
    Spells take a round of ominous chanting and rattling and summoning up the souls of the Dead.
    Declare you are casting as an Action and the spell goes off at the start of your next turn.
    Traditional: Cast the spell and lose it from your mind. Sacrifice 1d6 HP to retain the spell if you wish.
    Mana-Boosted: Spend Mana to cast the spell. You retain the spell and count as casting at 1 level higher per Mana spent.


    Interrupted Casting:

    Death Burst:
    If you are damaged while you are casting a spell, A burst of death magic deals 1d6 damage per Mana spent in the casting to you and everything with 10’.
    Undead are healed for the same amount.
    You lose the spell unless you cast a Save vs Chaos.


    Notes:

    Themes:
    Thematically, Necromancers are encouraged to be careful and plan ahead. If they want spells they need to pack them in advance, otherwise they have to fall back on basic dead-raising Necromancy.
    Last Breath is a commodity in the post-apoc economy because there are so few people left, so people use it as a currency. Pretty macabre.

    To Bind or not to Bind?
    Do you keep your Mana unbound so you can cast your Dead-affecting spells? Or do you bind it into spells, reducing that option?
    Once you've bound a spell you can cast it over and over by sacrificing HP, so that's good.

    To Cast or not to Cast?
    Since there's no passive benefit to retaining spells, the question is more how to cast.
    Do you cast it once and lose it from your mind? Or go full blood magic and power the spells with your HP? The choice is yours!




    Gimme the Full Thing Already!

    Full text, with the "Core Mechanics" integrated, is either in the player-facing Quick Class Breakdowns booklet, or in the latest House Rules Document.