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 Post subject: Is corruption meant to be permanent?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:02 pm 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer
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Is corruption meant to be permanent? Some of the effects seem mighty harsh for something that has a 5% of happening.

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 Post subject: Re: Is corruption meant to be permanent?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:04 pm 
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Chaos-Summoning Sorcerer

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The game is lethal. And magic is BAD.


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 Post subject: Re: Is corruption meant to be permanent?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:31 pm 
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Location: On the run.
Yes, permanent. (Potentially mitigated by other dealings with fearsome powers. But that's death spiral if ever there was one.)

Magic is powerful, but it requires dealing with supremely nasty powers – demons, devils, Cthulhu, things from the outer dark. The knowledge they provide permits a caster to warp reality, but it comes at a cost. Too often, that cost is a character's soul. A natural 1, rolled on Invoke Patron, is a fearsome thing to behold.

On a game level, this is what prevents spellcasters from becoming the arch-class. You might have the ability to cast spells all day, but do you really want to when, statistically, 1 out of 20 is going to screw up your PC? Each spell needs to be carefully considered, as you are taking your PC's life (or at least his sanity) into your hands.

A powerful, high-level wizard is a rare accomplishment.

//H

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 Post subject: Re: Is corruption meant to be permanent?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:40 pm 
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Wild-Eyed Zealot

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I think that gives you more of the feel of Appendix N as the wizards in those stories didn't blast spells away all day long. They worked powerful magic at times but did so rarely.


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 Post subject: Re: Is corruption meant to be permanent?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 8:33 am 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

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Dreamslinger wrote:
Is corruption meant to be permanent? Some of the effects seem mighty harsh for something that has a 5% of happening.




Let us consider Cameron and Dagobert, two hypothetical 1st level Wizards; both have 18 Intelligence and -2 Luck modifiers; both know 6 spells. Neither one will be allowed to gain a level until at least 30 game days have passed, and the nature of the campaign dictates that each party member must use all abilities to the fullest. Cameron has a +3 to spellcasting and Dagobert has a +6 to spellcasting. All their spells will be lost on a roll of 11 or less; thus Cameron loses a spell if he rolls 1 to 8, and Dagobert loses a spell if he rolls 1 to 5. (Both of them always roll d20, rather than a larger or smaller die as might happen with Mercurial magic.)

For losing a spell: Cameron has a 40% chance; Dagobert has a 25% chance. However, the trials are not independent for any given spell on any given day, so this is not a binomial probability situation. I think it is a negative binomial situation, in which case I expect Cameron to lose a spell after casting it 2.5 times on average, and I expect Dagobert to lose a spell after casting it 4 times on average.
Any one who can correct my math is welcome to do so!

Thus I expect that Cameron will get to cast 6*2.5=15 spells in a day, and I expect that Dagobert will get to cast 6*4=24 spells in a day. Each spell casting has a .05 chance of Corruption, and each wizard can get Corruption results of -2 to 17, all of which result in permanent effects. After 400 castings (i.e. less than 27 days for Cameron and less than 17 days for Dagobert), I expect that each wizard will have 20 permanent Corruption effects.

At this point, the campaign seems a little unworkable. Probably most judges would say that the campaign should not force wizards to use all spells all day until all spells are lost. However, it seems likely that many wizards will have 20 permanent Corruption effects before reaching 2nd level.

Suppose Dagobert rolls #6 on Table 5-3 twice. The first time, the judge might use random dice to determine, and the second time the judge might choose a new mutation. Long claws and goat legs seem appropriate to me. However, suppose Cameron rolls #7 twice. Albino skin and pitch black skin do not seem to harmonize very well. Does one cancel the other out? Is the wizard afflicted with irregular patches of different effects?

I might house-rule this by saying that each wizard should keep track of which permanent corruption numbers he has received, i.e. any number from 17 to negative infinity. I would rule that if the same number comes up twice, the judge gets to decide on a new corruption.


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 Post subject: Re: Is corruption meant to be permanent?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:46 am 
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Chaos-Summoning Sorcerer

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yfr wrote:
I expect that each wizard will have 20 permanent Corruption effects.

You can use a longsword. There's a reason.


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 Post subject: Re: Is corruption meant to be permanent?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:08 am 
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Deft-Handed Cutpurse

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Location: Central Vermont
jmucchiello wrote:
yfr wrote:
I expect that each wizard will have 20 permanent Corruption effects.

You can use a longsword. There's a reason.


Agreed, this sounds like a tone of casting. Still, I think it is important for some folks to successfully test a wizard from level 1 to 5 just to make sure it is possible. You should be a freak show at this point, but it shouldn't be unattainable. More important, the gain in corruption should feel relentless and gradual, not all piled onto the first few levels.


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 Post subject: Re: Is corruption meant to be permanent?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:48 am 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

Joined: Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:51 am
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Just a random observation:

the new Camelot series features two sorcerers, Merlin and Morgan Pendragon, both at differing levels (Morgan is probably level 2 or 3, mostly uses magic for shapeshifting and doppleganging peoples lives to shards. Merlin is much, much higher than that - can shapeshift and shapeshift others, but almost never does, can control and create elements such as ice and fire, but, again almost never does.)

Morgan's spells are of much greater duration, and so far, the direct cost has only been to her body and an erosion of her sanity. She's definitely developing an addiction to magic. Merlin knows that every spell has a "cost," and that he can't control what that cost is. Still there are times when his casting is critical to advance or protect the budding kingship of Arthur.

Furthermore, he is hourly tempted to cast, because he loves magic so much.

So, Merlin is of much higher level than Morgan, suffers from deeper corruptions, but has slowed their effects and growths by being very judicious with magic. He knows how to use a sword, too.

Morgan is having a blast with her magic, uses it to overwhelm situations in her favor, but is paying the cost like her treasury is infinite. It isn't. Her eyes bleed, her body tremors, and the symptoms aren't going away. She is less aware of the intrigue around her, because she is obsessed with the fugues and ecstasies of her Art.

And yeah, the corruption is definitely permanent and has proven fatal (or worse) to others on several tragic occasions...


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 Post subject: Re: Is corruption meant to be permanent?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 6:27 pm 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

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jmucchiello wrote:
yfr wrote:
I expect that each wizard will have 20 permanent Corruption effects.

You can use a longsword. There's a reason.


If I actually go through the grind of getting a high-Intelligence character to survive, after killing off several 0-level characters, it's a sure sign that I have embraced the play experience of a character devoted to magic - even if that means Corruption.

Wizards who prefer their longswords will end up like Elric - they'll have pretty faces, but they will hate life. Elric wasn't a wizard by nature - he was educated in it, but it didn't make him more effective.

Wizards who embrace corruption will look like Sheelba of the Eyeless Face, but they'll get to actually act like wizards, which is the point. Sheelba and his rival with 7 eyes were freakshows, but they were definitely specialists in supernatural affairs.


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 Post subject: Re: Is corruption meant to be permanent?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 6:32 pm 
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meinvt wrote:
Still, I think it is important for some folks to successfully test a wizard from level 1 to 5 just to make sure it is possible. You should be a freak show at this point, but it shouldn't be unattainable. More important, the gain in corruption should feel relentless and gradual, not all piled onto the first few levels.


A tabletop game is not deterministic; the rules are expected to have blurry spots that will be filled in by the judge. As I read the rules, the tables and dice are NOT enough to decide what happens. The charts will BREAK after about 20 Corruptions, and then the judge will have to house-rule them.

This is probably a feature, not a bug, but it would be nice to a section that gave some numerical guidelines as to how many Corruptions a wizard should be able to suffer before the character dies from permanent ability drain.

The way I interpret the wizard, it's really two classes. You can rely on a sword and be like Elric, or you can actually cast spells and become a shambling, Lovecraftian monstrosity before level 3.

I know a LOT of players who would enjoy playing shambling Lovecraftian monstrosities as a matter of choice. The tone won't be Leiber, though, it will be like some of my over-the-top Call of Cthulhu games.


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 Post subject: Re: Is corruption meant to be permanent?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 6:35 pm 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

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QuentinTheTroll wrote:
Just a random observation:

the new Camelot series features two sorcerers, Merlin and Morgan Pendragon, both at differing levels (Morgan is probably level 2 or 3, mostly uses magic for shapeshifting and doppleganging peoples lives to shards. Merlin is much, much higher than that - can shapeshift and shapeshift others, but almost never does, can control and create elements such as ice and fire, but, again almost never does.)

Morgan's spells are of much greater duration, and so far, the direct cost has only been to her body and an erosion of her sanity. She's definitely developing an addiction to magic. Merlin knows that every spell has a "cost," and that he can't control what that cost is. Still there are times when his casting is critical to advance or protect the budding kingship of Arthur.

Furthermore, he is hourly tempted to cast, because he loves magic so much.

So, Merlin is of much higher level than Morgan, suffers from deeper corruptions, but has slowed their effects and growths by being very judicious with magic. He knows how to use a sword, too.

Morgan is having a blast with her magic, uses it to overwhelm situations in her favor, but is paying the cost like her treasury is infinite. It isn't. Her eyes bleed, her body tremors, and the symptoms aren't going away. She is less aware of the intrigue around her, because she is obsessed with the fugues and ecstasies of her Art.

And yeah, the corruption is definitely permanent and has proven fatal (or worse) to others on several tragic occasions...


Morgan bleeding from her eyes could be done with spellburn. But that show doesn't reflect the probabilities of these rules.

If Morgan is having a blast with her magic, how many spells does she cast per day? At least one? At least eight? Reviewing the numbers, and factoring in Luck, she should have at least one clearly nonhuman feature before a month is out.

The kind of subtle corruption that makes dramatic television will be impossible after level 1 with these rules. The only subtle psychological conflict will be a wizard character putting on armor as a signal that he has given up on spell-casting.

Other games have treated issues like sanity loss and drug addiction - usually very crudely. These issues are easy to write stories about, but hard to express as rules for tabletop games.


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 Post subject: Re: Is corruption meant to be permanent?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 7:52 pm 
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Chaos-Summoning Sorcerer

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The problem is 1 in 20 is far too frequent for the health of a long running game. I don't think DCCRPG is meant to be a long running game though.

If it really bothers you, a day after receiving a corruption effect, add a level check or some such. Roll a d10 and if it exceeds your level, the corruption fades, perhaps leaving a slight scar. So low level casters will be relatively corruption free. But sooner or later the corruption will stack up.


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 Post subject: Re: Is corruption meant to be permanent?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 8:12 pm 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

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jmucchiello wrote:
The problem is 1 in 20 is far too frequent for the health of a long running game. I don't think DCCRPG is meant to be a long running game though.

If it really bothers you, a day after receiving a corruption effect, add a level check or some such. Roll a d10 and if it exceeds your level, the corruption fades, perhaps leaving a slight scar. So low level casters will be relatively corruption free. But sooner or later the corruption will stack up.



That's a really neat idea for the level check. It isn't the low-level cthulhoid wizards that bother me, though. Lots of games presume that players who are willing to cast cool spells are also willing to roleplay hideously ugly characters - see, for example, the "Nosferatu" clan in Vampire. I would be happy to have super-ugly wizards, if I thought that the rules were mathematically sound. What bothers me is that I suspect the mathematics are unsound.

No, what bothers me is that I get the sense that the game design is pushing multiple incompatible design goals on the player, and giving no means to resolve them.

E.g. Spells go up to level 7. One needs an 18 Intelligence to cast a level 7 wizard spell.

But the probabilities of the game dictate that it should be essentially impossible to make a 18 intelligence character who survives long enough to learn level 7 wizard spells.

The only way to make a high-level wizard is min-max and exploit the weak points. And that goes against page 10:
Quote:
Using this method of highly random character re- sults, high mortality rates, and player choices as to which of their randomly-generated characters takes risks and which stays safe, you will find that you have a party of randomly generated characters in which the players have agency. There are essentially no op- portunities for min-max play


I can tell you, mathematically, how to min-max this. The judge has to allow players to generate 216 0-level mooks; one of them will have 18 Intelligence if the dice obey the laws of averages.

Of course, the spirit of the game suggests that if you don't get an 18 Intelligence in your first batch of four mooks, you simply have to give up on ever casting a level 7 wizard spell.

So WHY are level 7 wizard spells in rulebook? It's like the designer is saying, "I have a really cool level 7 wizard spell, and you *want* to cast it, and you roll very well for about six months of weekly play, I will let you cast it. But if, at any point during those six months, you roll badly, you lose everything."

At that point, it would be less alienating to say, "Level 6 and 7 wizard spells exist, but they are NPC-only. They are effectively godlike powers that are not possible for player-characters. Just like you can't play Cthulhu in Call of Cthulhu, you can't play a high-level wizard in this game."


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 Post subject: Re: Is corruption meant to be permanent?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 8:32 pm 
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Chaos-Summoning Sorcerer

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Well, my solution to this is in another thread where I posit the removal of spell levels. Some spells just have a wider range of lost/failure results.

Also, with 10th level as the top of the chart, I don't higher than 5th level spells would be in the main rulebook. But you are correct, having any high stat and surviving a few levels with that stat intact is going to be rare. As I've said elsewhere, I don't think long term campaigning is a goal of the ruleset. Appendix N is episodic and I suspect DCCRPG is also supposed to be episodic.


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 Post subject: Re: Is corruption meant to be permanent?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 8:56 pm 
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I guess I am looking at DCC being a game that starts out Paranoia deadly and then gradually levels out. The early deadliness is there to give the characters that survive more personality and create attachment for the player as the game moves on to a longer campaign.

If having a long term campaign isn't really what DCC is meant for then by all means cut loose with the freaky chaos transmogrifier.


In a longer campaign, the biggest issue I have with permanent corruption is that unlike Ningauble and Sheelba a second or third level wizard with half a dozen corruptions is not so powerful that he can live behind the scenes manipulating his mortal pawns.

I think I'd be happier to see a natural 1 cause some sort of wacky spell mishap and add it's spell level to the Wizards Corruption score. The Wizard would then have to make a save with his total Corruption as the DC. Will makes the most sense but Fort could be used if you want it to be a tougher save. If the save is failed the Corruption manifests itself as a permanent effect and the score resets.

You could take it further by having a table that shows the effects of having being at a current tier of Corruption. Even though there hasn't been a freakish manifestation people, animals and nature can sense that something just ain't right with the Wizard.

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 Post subject: Re: Is corruption meant to be permanent?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 9:13 pm 
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I don't personally have a problem with the corruption, but for those who are overwhelmed by it, a Fort save vs spell DC might prevent it or lessen the effect. I like it, and don't want to lose it or see it become so rare it's irrelevant.

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 Post subject: Re: Is corruption meant to be permanent?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 9:22 pm 
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Chaos-Summoning Sorcerer

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Dreamslinger wrote:
I guess I am looking at DCC being a game that starts out Paranoia deadly and then gradually levels out.

I see nothing in the system that levels out the deadliness. Look at spellburn.

Quote:
I think I'd be happier to see a natural 1 cause some sort of wacky spell mishap and add it's spell level to the Wizards Corruption score. The Wizard would then have to make a save with his total Corruption as the DC. Will makes the most sense but Fort could be used if you want it to be a tougher save. If the save is failed the Corruption manifests itself as a permanent effect and the score resets.

That works too.


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 Post subject: Re: Is corruption meant to be permanent?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 3:10 am 
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jmucchiello wrote:
I see nothing in the system that levels out the deadliness. Look at spellburn.



I have no objection to a deadly system if the designer has a rigorous understanding of how deadly it is supposed to be.

For example, if he has calculated that exactly 1 out of every 216 characters generated should be able to survive to level 10 - I'm fine with that.

Likewise, if he has calculated that 20 out of every 216 characters generated should be able to survive to level 10, I'm fine with that too.

The designer might even design a couple of variable that individual judges can tweak to adjust their campaigns.

What worries me is that the designer might not have any quantitative notion of how deadly everything is supposed to be.

Likewise, details such as how many Corruption points one can get before imploding into a squamous pool of goo should be made clear in the final edition. If 40 Corruption should kill off any wizard, then the rules should say so. If a wizard should be able to handle Stamina*10 points of Corruption, then the rules should say so. That way, before the players even invest any time in the campaign, they can look at the rules and say, "Hmm, I can see the risks involved, and I can choose to gamble my time on taking those risks."

One other detail is - do 6th and 7th level wizard spells even exist? If not, then the ability table 1-1, column "Max Spell Level" should have "5" for rows 16,17,and 18.

I would feel very confident risking time on a wizard character if I knew that 15,16,17, and 18 Intelligence wizards all had equal potential for advancement.

Players cannot legitimately expect to have high stats, even with Patron help. Thus it is very important to know how much potential success is possible with medium-high stats such as 15 Intelligence. If a 15-Int wizard and an 18-Int wizard can both get to the highest level of spell-casting, then the game is much more interesting.


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 Post subject: Re: Is corruption meant to be permanent?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 7:23 am 
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Chaos-Summoning Sorcerer

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I still prefer the solution to this specific example[/i] where spell levels don't exist. But I realize that is really tangential to your point.


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 Post subject: Re: Is corruption meant to be permanent?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 1:31 pm 
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Ill-Fated Peasant

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jmucchiello wrote:
The game is lethal. And magic is BAD.


Exactly. Consorting with dark forces should always be risky, and a great deal of that risk comes from opacity - the caprice of the wizard's patron and the power he or she tries to harness. Anyone with hubris enough to cast 16+ spells a day is bloody well asking for it.

That said, I appreciate the desire for some hard limits. Maybe the judge secretly rolls to determine how much corruption a wizard can withstand? Thus the mystery (and its attendant dangers) are preserved.

Regarding repeated results on the corruption table - it's easily dealt with. Some effects can be suffered multiple times, others can be blended. Job done.


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 Post subject: Re: Is corruption meant to be permanent?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:58 pm 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

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jmucchiello wrote:
The problem is 1 in 20 is far too frequent for the health of a long running game. I don't think DCCRPG is meant to be a long running game though.

Players with wizards as characters are going to be most effective when they have some idea of how long a GM intends for given game to continue. However, I don't think that a long campaign cripples a wizard character. The reason for this is that the spellburn mechanics allow wizards to concentrate their power in as little as a single (potentially highly effective) spell per session. When concentrating power in this way, a wizard has a reasonable chance to avoid any corruption at all in the first level or two.

It seems to me that in a DCC campaign, the concept of wizard as the party nuke is amplified. They can't (without risking corruption) be brought in to solve every encounter, but when they are brought in, they can be incredibly powerful.

For the time being, I like the permanent corruption rules. We'll see how they hold up in my home game.


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 Post subject: Re: Is corruption meant to be permanent?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 4:35 pm 
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My only problem with it is that I think it will too strongly discourage ever using a spell like Cantrip. Likewise, casting Detect Magic for a wizard is significantly more risky than for a Cleric.

I think this means that most wizards will rarely cast spells like Cantrip instead preferring to cast Patron Spells or Magic Missile. I think this is a bit of a loss as it makes it harder to play a 'nice guy' wizard who only dabbles in the weaker powers specifically because he doesn't want to draw corruption.

I'm reserving judgement until I see it in play however.


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 Post subject: Re: Is corruption meant to be permanent?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 6:30 pm 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

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maasenstodt wrote:
jmucchiello wrote:
The problem is 1 in 20 is far too frequent for the health of a long running game. I don't think DCCRPG is meant to be a long running game though.

Players with wizards as characters are going to be most effective when they have some idea of how long a GM intends for given game to continue. However, I don't think that a long campaign cripples a wizard character. The reason for this is that the spellburn mechanics allow wizards to concentrate their power in as little as a single (potentially highly effective) spell per session. When concentrating power in this way, a wizard has a reasonable chance to avoid any corruption at all in the first level or two.

It seems to me that in a DCC campaign, the concept of wizard as the party nuke is amplified. They can't (without risking corruption) be brought in to solve every encounter, but when they are brought in, they can be incredibly powerful.

For the time being, I like the permanent corruption rules. We'll see how they hold up in my home game.


But recall that spellburn, on a natural 1, results in permanent ability score loss.

I propose the following optional house-rule: "involuntary euphoria" spellburn

The current Corruption system strikes me as binary. Either the wizard can successfully pass himself off as human, or he can't.

E.g.: If the wizard just as albino-white skin, or a tail, or tentacles behind his ears, he can use a hooded cloak and flickering candle-light to conduct interviews with normal humans without completely giving himself away. At this stage, the wizard has few incentives to slow down.

If, on the other hand, the wizard has fiery-red skin, a beak, and his entire body is a mass of suckered tentacles, then no amount of hooded cloaks are going to make him look human. At this stage, the wizard has nothing left to lose and might as well embrace Corruption as much as he can.

Thus, there needs to be something more subtle to reflect the danger of magic. I propose "involuntary euphoria."

When a wizard has decided to cast a spell, and has decided whether or not to use spellburn voluntarily, he must then make a check for "involuntary euphoria." The chance is 9% per level; thus it is a 9% chance at first level, an 81% chance at ninth level, and a 90% chance at 10th level.

If the wizard rolls at or below this number, he must burn 1d3 extra ability points from strength, agility, or stamina. Involuntary euphoria does not lead to permanent ability damage if it is the only source of spellburn.


Example 1: Ferderix the 1st level wizard casts a spell and decides to spellburn 3 points of ability. Then he rolls a 06 on percentile dice, and 2 on 1d3, so he involuntarily burns a further 2 points, for a total of 5 points of ability damage and +5 to his spellcasting check. Unfortunately, he rolls a 1 on his spellcasting check. Because he had decided to spellburn voluntarily, he loses 1 point of ability score permanently.

Example 2: Gernafex the 2nd level wizard casts and spell and does not want to spellburn any points at all. However, he rolls 14 on percentile dice and thus suffers involuntary euphoria. He rolls 3 on 1d3 and must spellburn 3 points of ability scores. Further, he rolls a 1 on his spellcasting check, but because his spellburn was involuntary, he does not lose any points of ability permanently.


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 Post subject: Re: Is corruption meant to be permanent?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:18 pm 
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How about rolling a d24 or even a d30 on the Corruption table? The magic-user still has a slight chance of turning into Cthulhugoatboy (so there is still risk and randomness), but more of a chance of just passing out.


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 Post subject: Re: Is corruption meant to be permanent?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2011 5:14 pm 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

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The problem with saying "Magic can hose you permanently, so you should be careful of using it" reminds me of my Jedi characters in my d20 Star Wars game. Jedi were headed a lightsaber and a bunch of force powers, then told that per the Jedi code, violence and force use should be a last resort.

"here are some cool toys, avoid playing with them"

I'd be willing to somehow, forgo the insanly powerful results, if I could avoid corruption.


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