Saturday 29 March 2014

Tweaking the Magic-User

Behold Magic-User, the Most Tweak'd.

No doubling up: A magic user can’t have the same spell prepared twice, but a reversed version of a spell counts as a different spell.
Spell flipping: A magic user can flip a reversible spell as they cast it.
Inspired: On level up a magic user immediately gains a random spell of an appropriate level, they feverishly scratch down the formulas into their spellbook at the earliest opportunity.
Interrupted casting: If the magic user is interrupted while casting a spell they lose the spell as if they’d cast it. The magical fallout manifests as a Chaos Burst unless they pass a save vs INT.
Cantrips: Minor magical effects can be manifested at will based on spells still in the magic user’s head, so Sleep could make somebody yawn or Identify could let them touch an object to sense if it’s magical.
If the magic user keeps a spell in their head for over 1 night per level, cantrip effects manifest spontaneously and sporadically until the spell is cast.
Familiars: A magic user can have a smallish animal as their familiar which holds an extra spell and can cast it as normal. The familiar can be given simple instructions, can communicate mentally with the caster at short range and cannot be killed. If it’s casting is interrupted it releases a Chaos Burst.
If the magic user dies their familiar erupts as a Summon spell of HD equal to the caster’s level.


My additions to the magic user class look fairly extensive I guess, mainly because I wanted to keep them mechanically distinct from the other magic casters I added.

The original impetus was to distance them from Elves. Elves have magic as part of their nature and their spells come from throwing that magical essence out of themselves into the world.

Magic users are different. Fluffwise, they crack part of their soul and let Chaos drip in. Like opening the tap and letting a trickle start to fill the bath, except that the tap only ever turns one way. 
As they level up their soul buckles like a breaking dam, the Chaos forces its way inside, and the trickle becomes a gush becomes a flood.
In the morning they have to reroute the Chaos inside their heads into four-dimensional glyph-forms baked into the contours of their synapses, creating feedback loops that both hold the magic and keep the Chaos away from essential parts of their brain.
Spellcasting is vomiting a big chunk of the magical energy out into the world, giving the magic user some breathing room before the Chaos inevitably starts to fill them back up, like throwing a bucket of water out of that slowly-filling bath before it gets dangerously full.
Bigger spells are bigger buckets. You can't fill that bucket enough to throw it out at lower levels, but as you level up and the waters start to rise you're going to need that bigger bucket to stop the magic inside your head from overwhelming you.

So if Cleric magic is safe and lawful and focused on maintaining reality, Wizard magic is all about creativity and chaos and unintended consequences.

Explanations for the house rules themselves -

No doubling up on spells and flipping reversibles affects all chaotic casters save the Necromancer, who has spell components as a trade-off.
It’s to make people use more than the standard spells, I guess, and hopefully cause them to use their spells creatively because they can't just load up on Magic Missile.
The spell flipping thing is to make magic feel a little more versatile. It also allows people a minor way to bypass the doubling-up-on-spells rule if they want to pack two Lights or something.

Inspired is just because “Hey you get a free spell! Gotta spend 3d6 weeks on it though..” always got a look of disappointment from the player, especially when they leveled up but were still involved with some sort of mission far from a library or major city.

Interrupted casting makes Int an (even) bigger benefit to magic users and is meant to amp up why normal people hate wizards.
Even if you see someone start casting and tackle them heroically like it’s a guy with a gun they could still fuck up you, your family, and the world by accident.
Plus it adds to the chaos by opening up more unintended consequences and domino effects from spells going wrong and all that good stuff.
I’m using this for chaos bursts.

Cantrips are for creativity and also making spellcasting a tradeoff between casting the spell and manifesting a bunch of cantrips.
It also makes taking Identify and other not-used-in-the-field spells a solid option, since you can at least tell that an item is magical even if you don’t know what it does.
It's also good for showing off and being generally wizardy without having to blow your wad in front of the townsfolk.
The bit with manifesting cantrips unintentionally is to get across the idea that you need to get it out of your head because otherwise it starts fucking you up.
If they still don't cast those spells then I guess things get worse, here are some ideas for always-on impacts of keeping spells in your head for too long.

Familiars are because having a familiar who can do your bidding is super cool and wizardish, and having an extra spell slot for free is awesome, right? Riiiight?
Until you die and your friends have to deal with a creature from beyond and there goes a big chunk of chaos and horror into the world. And I love the Summoning spell so any opportunity to roll on that deliciously horrible table is a good thing.
For maximum impact, don’t tell them the downside until they find out about it in play.

obligatory in any post about fucked up wizards.

Wednesday 26 March 2014

New Crit and Fumble Tables

After the success of my fighter crit/fumble bonus, my venerable 4e-era crit and fumbles were thrown into the spotlight.
I've been kind of dissatisfied by them for a while, so I bit the bullet and collapsed them into d20 tables. No more crit confirm, just straight up roll on the table.
Fighters still add their level to their rolls on the crit and fumble tables.

PDF available here!

Rather than a chance of instant kill, rolling a 20 now doubles the results of a reroll which is pretty much the same thing, especially if you roll a bunch.
Fumbles have been good too, I'm still running BTAM and last game the Defiler's dog creature ate its master by accident and sucked her into the sub-reality in its stomach.

If you're not using notches, read any result where a weapon is notched as "weapon destroyed", and any result where armour sustains notches as "-1d4 AC until end of combat or armour is removed".

I know gifs are tumblr level but this represents my current feelings perfectly

Here's the tables in non-pdf form -

Critical Hit
Regular hit, roll damage as normal.
Deal maximum damage, plus the target is blasted back and prone.
Leg Crippler
Deal maximum damage, plus cripple the target’s legs halving their movement speed.
Arm Smasher
Deal maximum damage, plus cripple one of the target’s arms. They cannot use that arm and drop everything they’re holding.
Huge Hit
Deal maximum damage, plus roll damage as normal and add to total.
Deal maximum damage, plus kick the target in whichever direction you want.
Deal maximum damage, plus all enemy combatants immediately check morale.
Deal maximum damage, plus wind the target giving them -1d4 on all actions for the next 1d4 rounds.
Blinding Blow
Deal maximum damage, plus target is blinded for 1d4 rounds.
Deal maximum damage, plus the target staggers around and cannot act for 1d4 rounds.
Deal maximum damage, plus all attacks made on the target next round are at +1d4 to hit and damage.
Deal maximum damage, plus you either take the target’s weapon or throw it out of reach.
Deal maximum damage, plus immediately make an attack against another target.
Force Fumble
Deal maximum damage, plus the target immediately rolls on the Fumble table.
Deal maximum damage, plus the target’s weapon is immediately broken.
Armour Buster
Deal maximum damage, plus the target’s armour takes 1d4 Notches.
The Devastator
Deal maximum damage, plus the target is stunned, prone and -1d4 to AC
Deal double the maximum damage, plus reroll damage and add to total.
Deal maximum damage, reroll damage and add to total, then keep rolling attacks against the target until you miss.
Reroll on this table and double damage dealt and negative effects. Rerolling this result doubles it again, and again, and again...
Critical Fumble
You really fucked up this time! Roll twice on this table, rolling this result again stacks.
Crit yourself
Oh buddy, that’s going to sting. Fighter crit bonuses do not apply.
Hit ally
You hit your closest ally, if nobody is in range you hit yourself instead.
Hit yourself
You somehow manage to hurt yourself with your own weapon, roll to damage.
Weapon shatters
Your weapon practically explodes, dealing 1d8 damage to you and anyone nearby. Save vs Breath for half.
Wide open
A nearby enemy immediately make an attack against you.
Notched weapon
The weapon(s) you attacked with gain 1d4 Notches
Broken pouch
One of your pouches splits open spilling the contents everywhere. If you have no pouches you Notch your armour instead.
Notched armour
Your armour gains a single Notch.
Full stumble
You fall against somebody else sending both sprawling. If nobody is nearby you fall over instead.
You slip on something and fall prone
Twisted ankle
You twist your ankle real good, causing you to limp for the next 1d4 rounds.
Stun yourself
You give yourself a good crack on the head and miss your next round.
Poor aim
It was dark, ok? Roll to hit a random combatant nearby, if nobody is in range you throw your weapon instead.
Off balance
You stumble and put yourself at a disadvantage, any attacks against you next round are at +1d4 to hit.
Caught on gear
You get wrapped up in straps and stuff and can’t do much, pass a Dex check to untangle yourself.
Throw weapon
Your weapon slips from your grip and goes flying, roll to hit a random combatant.
Drop weapon
You fumble your weapon and it falls an inconvenient distance away.
Weapons tangled
You and your opponent get your weapons tangled. Begin wrestling checks, if nobody is in range you just drop your weapon.
You were just throwing them off guard! Reroll to hit.