"If the shield spell was cast many rounds ago, how are you to remember the actual spell check the shield caster got? I certainly don't want to bother taking note of that... although admittedly, thinking about it, at least you would have a range for the check so you knew what effect you had produced. Even if it would be annoying to have to note the exact number.
Good point, though in playtests, I usually just "ballpark it"; i.e., if the magic shield was cast by a level 3 wizard I just assume they have around a +5 spell check and give them an "average" 11 + 5 = 16 result. I suppose I should put this in the rules.
Usually in opposed caster situations it's PC vs. NPC and you can ballpark the NPC result - there's a typical range for casters based on their level.
I have a small suggestion for addition to Spellburn. Give each entity a preferred attribute for Spellburn and allow any attribute to be used. Some demons might want a point of Luck, some celestial allies might want a point of Charisma (i.e. ritual scarification, a brand, or a specific tattoo), etc. If you give the entity the attribute point it wants, it is more likely to help you.
Mechanically giving a point in a preferred attribute could count for double. So, if the demon wants Strength and you give it Stamina it is worth +1, but if you give it Strength it is worth +2.
Another thought I just had. What about permanent effects? By temporary expenditure means the attribute damage from Spellburn heals over time. What about having 'Permanent Spellburn' for a few limited things. The caster wants to sacrifice a permanent part of himself to create a permanent effect on himself (e.g. Magic Shield as a permanent spell effect) or on an enemy (e.g. striking the foe dead by destroying his eternal soul) this costs him a point (or more) of Spellburn which he never regenerates. This could roleplay as the caster cutting off one of his fingers as a sacrifice or something similar.
Or would these be better suited to an Appendix entry, or getting added to my soon to be created "Doug's DCC RPG Houserules" document?
EDIT: Also, what about sacrificing others to fuel spells?
All of these are great ideas! I am continually having to self-edit because the rules create cool ideas that spin off into additional word count and then I find myself too far along on something that’s more of “supplement material” then “core material.” I can see the rules are also filling you with cool ideas – which is great. Some parts of what you noted above are in the rules already but you’re onto some new ground as well. Once the book comes out you should definitely do your own house rules document, like you mentioned!
The one thing I am avoiding is getting too close to “sacrificing others,” as you called it. Admittedly, that IS a part of Appendix N (I was just reading one of Merritt’s books, Creep Shadow Creep, where human sacrifice is a key part of the summoning rituals), but that’s a little too far past my personal “PG-13 threshold.”
However, when I read the example of the mechanics for Magic Missiles, the thoughts that came to me were, "This is just one spell, so is it likely to be a constant book-consulting, page-turning game when it comes to magic? If so, isn't that kind of counter to one of the design goals of making the system streamlined?"
We’ve got it formatted such that spellcasting is “flip-free.” In play I pass out the “spell pages” to the wizard for his spells – each spell is on one 8.5x11 page, and the wizard PCs usually have 4-6 of these depending on level. It’s easy to reference. In the final printed book the spell tables will be formatted so they’re easy to find (and “permission granted to photocopy for personal use, etc.”).
I'm sure it will get ironed out during the play testing and everyone involved is well aware of the potential issues. However, I still feel I need to say, be careful you don't "throw the baby out with the bathwater." The immediate feedback to this thread has been essentially, "simplify it a bit more", which appears to confirm the point above.
You’ll all get a chance to play in a couple months, and hopefully it will come out simpler in play than it seems here. Trust me, it’s pretty simple in play.
Spells known: I'm interested in how this will work out (or has to date). Will we have:
(a) a limit to the number of level 1 spells known, level 2, etc. as found in D&D? Or
(b) a set number of spells of any level the wizard knows; with some more complex spells only learnable at higher levels, but otherwise not differentiated on the Spells Per Day list?
Option B in your list above. At least as I’m playing right now and it’s working out pretty good.
Secondly, I'd like to know about learning new spells. Does the wizard find spells to transcribe into his spellbook at any time? Do they learn them as they go up in level and only then?
Good question and the subject of some recent internal debate in one of my games.
Personally I like the unpredictable nature of spell acquisition as evidenced in Appendix N, especially Vance and the Harold Shea books, so the rules as written have initial spell acquisition based on random determination, and future spell acquisition based on finding the knowledge. You don’t just “learn” a spell when you level up…finding the knowledge, materials, and rites to cast that spell is actually part of the in-game experience, and may in some cases be the reason behind an adventure! Leveling up reflects the skill level to cast the spell properly, not the acquisition of the knowledge; for example, a wizard may have a library of 20 spells, but he’s only skilled enough to really pull off five of them with any consistently, and when he levels up he finally is competent enough to consistently cast a sixth spell. (Kind of like a martial artist who knows how to throw a spinning back kick in theory, and maybe even in the gym, but remembering how to do it under pressure in a real fight is a completely different story…)
The catch so far is that random determination of initial spell acquisition can, frankly, result in some really gimpy wizards. It’s conceptually cool but man, I’ve seen some lame wizards generated that way. Nobody wants to play the wizard whose spell selection consists of comprehend languages, cantrip, mending
, and detect magic
. And if the DM isn’t good about granting adventure hooks to find new spells…
So the theory is there; the practice may require some tweaking.
How often can they re-memorize spells? Ie: if the spell is lost, can they just sit back down for an hour, or do they need to sleep 8 hours?
Next day – sleep 8 hours.
Years back I posted an idea on Monte Cook's Arcana Evolved site, about learning spells. The geist of it was that I wasn't sure where the magus and others got their spell knowledge from, and I still can't really remember. it seemed they just accessed the same expansive list, like Clerics do. I proposed (iirc) that they needed a spellbook, or source to memorize off of. Some particular spells, exotic ones, could only be prepared using a particular book or source; the Necronomicon, for example, could have the only copy of "create deadite" in existence, and be impossible to copy into a book in any way, so to memorize "create Deadite" you'd need the Necronomicon.
It sounds like, if it's a game where spells need to be 'memorized" from a spellbook, that it would be an interesting mechanic. Also, for exotic spells, the reason Wizards would set up shop and take over a dungeon or lost temple: they want the spell written on the dead giant's crypt, or what have you. heck, if it was written on the body of a powerful monster, they could have a deal going whereby they sacrifice creatures to it, if it lets them re-prepare the spell whenever they 'forget' it.
Totally agree with everything you’re saying! And there are similar themes in DCC RPG. One of the modules currently being outlined involves a plot along these lines…