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 Post subject: Spells, and what to do with them.... [long]
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 5:18 am 
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I wish this board had a way to make polls. I would have included a poll as part of this post.

Having played the DCC RPG since March and having had numerous discussions with gamers I respect on these boards and others, I have come to a conclusion that bothers me a little. I think that most RPGs in the D&D-style are pretty much the same, except that there are often little quirks about one or the other that folks love or hate. When they hate these design elements, sales of the game suffer a lot.

For example, D&D 3E was perceived as having too many skills and powers and feats and complexity so the early-edition gamers shunned it even though it had some wonderful design elements (and gave us the OGL SRD documents). D&D 4E seems to be a pure combat game and the combats drag on forever, which overshadows the fact that players get to “do more” and the rules are chock full of cool ideas and powers. The “retro clone” games are knocked for not being the “real thing” even if they are organized and/or designed better. (Swords & Wizardry is blasted for the single saving throw mechanic, which seems pretty minor to me in the scope of an entire RPG.) The list goes on, and the point is that folks will find a “something” they don’t like and won’t play the game because of that “something.”

Of course, no way to please everyone, but identifying that “something” may make the game more successful in the long run.

For DCC there appear to be two issues that seem to turn people off when they hear about them.
1. Use of “funky” dice.
2. Having to reference charts when casting spells.

The funky dice thing isn’t a big deal, in my opinion, since there are easy ways to take the dice you own and make them work for you instead. The Beta rules tell how to do it. Let’s move on.

The spell problem is the one where I’d like to focus the discussion, and where I wish there was a “poll” feature. While at the end Joseph will make the final call as to the design of his RPG, I think that part of the job of playtesters and forum posters is to provide feedback. And hopefully to offer solutions instead of just complaints.

There are two problems with spells. The first is that lots of spells eat up lots of pages in a rulebook that was intended not to be really fat. In the Beta rules set, 32 spells take up 35 pages. And those are all first level spells. The second, and perhaps most important, is that players need to look up spells during play and this seems to be generating negative feedback.

There are a couple of possible solutions to the spell issue that I will list off, and I’d love to hear more ideas if you have them.

1. The easiest solution is to do nothing. They buy the book, they can look up spells.

2. Another option is to allow players to photocopy pages from the rulebook so that they don’t need to flip through the book all of the time.

3. A third option is to create “spell cards” which could be actual cardstock and professionally printed or simply a PDF which is formatted so that players can print their own. I’ve tinkered with this idea some (and shared them with Joseph) and I’m running into the problem that some of the spell descriptions are just too darned long. My layout was to put a page into “landscape” mode and divide into two columns with the notion of getting two spells per sheet of paper. As I mentioned, some don’t seem to format as easily as others.

4. My most recent thought was to trim down the number of spells to a “core” list (if you look at OD&D, they didn’t have many spells per level) and provide spell charts for those. Then, we can make some general rules as to how to create your own spell charts and make a list of spell names for possible spells to be created. (The SRD has huge lists of them.) This does several things. It makes the rule book thinner, it makes spells more unique like monsters, and it gives material for a possible expansion book on spells that could be printed by GG or a third-party publisher. I tossed this idea to Joseph and he’s pondering its value.

Basically, I’d like to get the ball rolling to see what ideas we can generate. Do you like any or all of my suggestions? Do you hate any or all of them? Is looking up spells in a book a “deal breaker” the way a 5-level rulebook was? Do you have any suggestions or improvements on how we can “fix” the “problem” before November?

Thanks,
- The Minister of Propaganda

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 Post subject: Re: Spells, and what to do with them.... [long]
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 6:06 am 
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I favour condensing spells wherever possible. You say the 32 spells are 1st level - but how many of these cover the effects of higher level spells within their potential range ? - I've only seen the Magic Missile spell and that is hellish powerful at higher rolls. Surely a Charm Person spell encompasses Charm Monster and Mass Charm over it's range ? A Protection spell can have a range of things it protects against, a Healing spell can too.

My solution (without seeing the spell list - hint!)

- a core list of condensed spells for wizard to pick/roll from till they reach 5th Level - enough to convey a feel of low-mid Appendix N sorcery where individual wizards do not seem to possess a wide range of spells. Spells are rare and prized.

- from 6th-10th level, a wizard could add to the core by devising own spells or relying on invoking Patron or finding the specific scroll/magic item/place of power/ritual for the job. Keep the wizard adventuring if possible. Essential for getting the vibe of Rhialto-level wizards or Harold Shea experimenting.

- other spells may appear in adventure modules - keeping magic special and less predictable. Also helps making the publication of adventure modules that have new spells more of an event.

In this way you're providing the means for expansion without going down the route of extra splatbooks that are essential for play.

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Last edited by geordie racer on Sat Jun 04, 2011 8:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Spells, and what to do with them.... [long]
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 8:02 am 
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It will be interesting to hear what people think about this. I know I've said it before, but I'm a fan of the "spellbook" model: showing up with my wizard character sheet and my sheaf of 7 spells that I jealously guard. (And of course, my PC has renamed all the spells to hide them from the prying eyes of demons and devils, and I've scrawled different sigils, signs and warnings on each sheet, etc.)

But I'm that sort of geek. I like having that spiral binder dedicated to my PC. It certainly doesn't appeal to everyone, nor should it.

So, I guess as far as polls go, count me in as one fan in the "keep spells long" column.

//H

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 Post subject: Re: Spells, and what to do with them.... [long]
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 8:47 am 
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Personalized spellbooks are a great idea, more fun and practical than passing a copy of the rulebook around during play.

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 Post subject: Re: Spells, and what to do with them.... [long]
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 9:04 am 
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finarvyn wrote:
4. My most recent thought was to trim down the number of spells to a “core” list (if you look at OD&D, they didn’t have many spells per level) and provide spell charts for those. Then, we can make some general rules as to how to create your own spell charts...


I favor this option. I have an antipathy to fat RPG books. A RPG book with "heft" weighs too much.

More importantly, the D&D spell list has experienced an unhealthy growth. As finarvyn noted, the 1974 D&D rules contain very few spells: 70 magic-user spells (of up to 6th level) and 26 cleric spells (of up to 5th level). That's enough. Actually, that's more than enough.

The admirable design goal of the DCC RPG is to emulate the books found in Appendix N. Joseph has wisely noted that the Typical Suspects of the D&D Monster Menagerie do NOT fit Appendix N. The 1,000+ monsters that have become "the old standbys" in D&D feel like nothing other than...bloated D&D. They certainly do not fit Leiber, Howard, Lovecraft, Merritt, and all the rest.

This is equally true of magic spells. The overwhelming majority of the hundreds of spells that are now considered "standard" D&D spells have no analogues in Appendix N. These far too numerous spells feel like bloated D&D and nothing else. As with monsters, D&D has become insufferably self-referential. Crom's devils! May such a thing never happen to DCC RPG.

I'd counsel Joseph to rigidly "hold the line" on the number of spells included in the game book--especially since it will cover characters only up to 10th level. Setting aside the 1974 rules' 6th-level spells (since they can't be cast by 10th-level characters), that leaves only 80 total spells in the original rules than can be cast by 10th-level characters. That's not a bad number, if still rather on the high side. The AD&D Players Handbook has 60 pages of spells. If each DCC RPG spell takes-up an entire page (which is a good thing), I'd say hold the line at no more than 60 spells, and try to include only those spells that are found in Appendix N.

What would be ideal: Ever since I first read James Raggi's Random Esoteric Creature Generator, I've longed for an analogous book for spells. It would be so cool for Joseph to publish a Random Esoteric Spell Generator. Referees could use it to help generate new and unusual spells for NPCs. Players could also use it to get their creative juices flowing.

How many times does a spell-caster in an Appendix N book cast a normal, recognized spell? ("Oh, look, he's casting a Passwall spell.") Close to never. The only exception I can think of is Vance's Dying Earth. (And for that matter, the opening pages of The Dying Earth note that there are fewer than 100 spells extant.) Typically, Appendix N sorcerers are sui generis. I'd like to see that sort of attitude hold sway in DCC RPG. No cookie-cutter magic-users and clerics.

Last note: But what to do with all the spells that Joseph has already converted for DCC RPG, but wouldn't make the cut if my suggestions were followed? Give them to NPCs that are in modules, and publish these spells in the appropriate modules. Thus the spells wouldn't go to waste, and it would reinforce the idea that spell-casters are not "standards" but rather mysterious figures of unknown powers.

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 Post subject: Re: Spells, and what to do with them.... [long]
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 9:15 am 
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From what little we know so far (playtesters) aside I'm with Harley. I think the spells sound great, and any wizard player worth his salt comes to my table with a spell book, even if I have to supply it.

Would I like to see some of the series spells amalgamated...probably but the modern D&D list does tend to regurgitate a lot of the same between levels.

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 Post subject: Re: Spells, and what to do with them.... [long]
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 9:27 am 
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Harley Stroh wrote:
It will be interesting to hear what people think about this. I know I've said it before, but I'm a fan of the "spellbook" model: showing up with my wizard character sheet and my sheaf of 7 spells that I jealously guard. (And of course, my PC has renamed all the spells to hide them from the prying eyes of demons and devils, and I've scrawled different sigils, signs and warnings on each sheet, etc.)

But I'm that sort of geek. I like having that spiral binder dedicated to my PC. It certainly doesn't appeal to everyone, nor should it.

So, I guess as far as polls go, count me in as one fan in the "keep spells long" column.

//H


I agree with Harvey. I don't mind looking up spell charts and think keeping a copy of each spell with the caster will be necessary and fun.

From the one spell example I have seen, perhaps the number of potential outcomes was just a bit too long but I want to play the game first before I make that judgement.


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 Post subject: Re: Spells, and what to do with them.... [long]
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 9:27 am 
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finarvyn wrote:
(Swords & Wizardry is blasted for the single saving throw mechanic, which seems pretty minor to me in the scope of an entire RPG.)

[OT]
I loved the single ST in S&W, very good to represent the general luck factor; in one of my HRs I've just added a slight diversification by giving a +X bonus in a specific field (wizards save better against effects generated by a magic source, warrior save better against more natural effects, and so on).
[/OT]

finarvyn wrote:
There are two problems with spells. The first is that lots of spells eat up lots of pages in a rulebook that was intended not to be really fat. In the Beta rules set, 32 spells take up 35 pages. And those are all first level spells. The second, and perhaps most important, is that players need to look up spells during play and this seems to be generating negative feedback.

I agree: if you're used to play MERP/RMSS, too many charts are hard to digest.

finarvyn wrote:
There are a couple of possible solutions to the spell issue that I will list off, and I’d love to hear more ideas if you have them.

As already said, solution 3. could be a nice one if spell descriptions were not too long (unless you use the A6 format for cards).

An alternative to solutions 1. and 2. could be using a detachable insert (techically no added costs) or a separated grimoire (added costs for wrapping).

Talking about solution 4., I think that a good starting point could be focusing on the main words you usually describe a spell with: effect and target.

Analyzing a littler deeper, you have:
  • damage effect: this spell affects targets with sudden damage.
  • verdict effect: this spell affects targets with a "verdict" (i.e. banishment or death, sometimes replaced by a minor amount of damage on a successful save, like Finger of Death spell).
  • continous status effect: this spell alter a target status (mind, body structure, perception and so on) for its duration.
  • continous damage effect: this spell inflicts continous damage for its duration.
  • area target: this spell affects all creatures in a particularly shaped area (sphere, circle, cilinder, cube), or the area itself.
  • specific target: this spell affects a well-defined number of targets (at least 1).


IMHO combining these elements (with some little changes, this was just a sudden idea) you could create a limited number of charts to simulate any spell (damage area for Fireball, specific verdict for Banishment, specific continous damage for Melf's Acid Arrow and so on).


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 Post subject: Re: Spells, and what to do with them.... [long]
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 10:43 am 
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I, too, am with Harley. The spells, like the dice, are a feature, not a bug.


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 Post subject: Re: Spells, and what to do with them.... [long]
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 11:07 am 
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I can see where this could be a problem, especially for dm's who might have waste time consulting spell tables for who knows how many npc's or monsters in one night. I won't really have an opinion until I see the rules and playtest some though. One thing that might be an option- couldn't you make a generic spell effect chart that applies to all spells? You know, like those wild magic tables from ad&d.

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 Post subject: Re: Spells, and what to do with them.... [long]
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 11:12 am 
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mshensley wrote:
I can see where this could be a problem, especially for dm's who might have waste time consulting spell tables for who knows how many npc's or monsters in one night. I won't really have an opinion until I see the rules and playtest some though. One thing that might be an option- couldn't you make a generic spell effect chart that applies to all spells? You know, like those wild magic tables from ad&d.

With unique and different spells it would be hard to do such chart, I suppose. Also, when I have to check a chart, I like to have everything in one place, not checking a general and specific chart too. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Spells, and what to do with them.... [long]
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 11:14 am 
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I'm not upset by what I know of spell format. From what I know, it works for me, as is. And the guys I know that play spell casters with any regularity would probably have no problems with looking things up, either. We do it as it is! :mrgreen:

But I've always been slightly annoyed by multiple spells that all do damage in just slightly different ways. Hamel's comments go part of the way to what I'd try as a solution to too many spells: Give each first-level spell caster access to one type of energy and one 'shape' of attack (ray, area, cone, etc.). As they rise in level, they get access to new energy types and new shapes. So they might start off with a ray of fire, and get to that fireball a couple levels down the line. Stripping out energy and shape from spells, fireball and lightning bolt would be one spell and the wizard determines the details by what he knows. Maybe a SonicBall is the better option this fight... Perhaps Acid Bolt is better next time around... Detect spells could be condensed similarly, I suspect. There may well be others, but my flu-addled brain is not conjuring them up.

[/2¢]

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 Post subject: Re: Spells, and what to do with them.... [long]
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:09 pm 
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Marv, all the 'oh no not tables!' comments on the blogs are from people who advocate more 64 page flavourless generic retro-clones are the only way forward. Well they exist already, and I haven't seen any of those bloggers posting to this forum or putting forward any constructive comments. When they bother, then I'd listen to their opinions on a game I've already pre-ordered. The irony is that they'll just buy the game anyway, for the artwork, for the sake of completeness, and slot it on a shelf alongside their shrinkwrapped collection.

breathe...relax..steps away from keyboard :wink:

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Last edited by geordie racer on Sun Jun 05, 2011 7:33 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Spells, and what to do with them.... [long]
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:37 pm 
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R I C K wrote:
I, too, am with Harley. The spells, like the dice, are a feature, not a bug.
Fundamentally, I agree with you. I think that the spells are really cool, but the question in my mind is really whether it's a good idea to fill up lots of pages of core rulebook with spells or put the spells in another format for ease of use. I hate to get rid of the flavor that these spells provide!

geordie racer wrote:
Marv, all the 'oh no not tables!' comments on the blogs are from people who advocate more 64 page flavourless generic retro-clones are the only way forward.
Maybe, but there are some valid points to what they have to say and I'd hate for DCC to be known as "that game with a zillion pages of spells" so that no one wants to play it. There are lots of games that I have no desire to play, in part from personal experience and in part from hearing about the experience of others, and I'd hate for this game to suffer because of something that could be fixed before publication.

Ultimately, if Joseph says "leave it as is" I support him because I like the game already and I trust in his judgement on these things.

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 Post subject: Re: Spells, and what to do with them.... [long]
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 2:54 pm 
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finarvyn wrote:
Maybe, but there are some valid points to what they have to say and I'd hate for DCC to be known as "that game with a zillion pages of spells" so that no one wants to play it.

The best-selling game at my FLGS is Pathfinder, where the core rulebook (500+ pages) has no monsters in it and so people shell out again for a Bestiary. More people play Pathfinder than all the retro-clones out together. Many players spend ages creating characters and picking feats etc. Not my scene, I'm more of a rules-lite guy myself**, but I recognise I'm in the minority. Scouting for plaudits from the old schoolers who haven't been at playtests is a bit odd, it's a false snapshot. They'll always be a knee-jerk reaction to anything slightly 'd20'.


**I like Dragons at Dawn only having 40-50 spells and rules for spell research, it gives you enough to build on, then it's up to you.

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 Post subject: Re: Spells, and what to do with them.... [long]
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 3:10 pm 
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Having seen the description for magic missiles, I'm surprised the spells take, on average, slightly greater than a page each (32 spells take up 35 pages). There must be some huge spells in there that are causing such an average spell:page ratio. Perhaps, more effort in describing them telegraphically is in order, or developing some standardised abbreviations? e.g., I give many university lectures and always use "&" instead of "and" as it simply cuts down on text clutter and space on the powerpoint slides. e.g., the word "damage" must feature quite often in spells, so why not "dmg" instead?

If spell descriptions need to be consulted, especially for a new group, and there is only one copy of the rule book at the table, then it's going to be a bit of a hassle, especially if there is more than one spell caster in the group. But then again, how fast and furious do spells get cast in a game? Those who have played at conventions could help here.

I have no problem with consulting my copy of a rule book during a game as long as it's not going to be every round (see above query). Then again, a "spell-book" is a natural option, especially in this day and age with computers, printers and photocopiers being so common. Thus, it's likely to be taken up by many, even if they aren't especially hassled by book consulting during play.

I'm very much in favour of keeping the core spells to a minimum best "bang for buck" list. I'm also in favour of providing a few supplements with additional spells as long as that doesn't end up being a salami slicing end unto itself. I'm very much in favour of unique spells appearing in modules; to my mind, that best fits the bespoke nature of spells. If this is to be the case, there better be very clear rules on how a magic user can "collect" spells from foes during adventures, as that will be a veritable compulsion for many.

Similarly, some advice on how to create your own spells would be very useful and allow a GM to create their own where they see a hole in the published list(s) and need a particular spell for their plot. e.g., recommended granualarity, suggested minimum, middle and maximum effects, mandatory effects.

Thus; "Spells should have between 6 and 10 different outcomes. On the lowest score there must be a spell failure. The minimum effect should be consistent with causing some harm to a 1st level character or equivalent monster or producing a slightly useful, but not pivotal effect. In the middle score range, a spell should have serious consequences for characters of the 4th - 6th level or equivalent monster or having a very useful and potentially influential effect. A maximum score should produce a serious threat to the highest level characters or monsters and require significant counter measures by them to avoid it, even then complete avoidance should not be possible. Effects should be very significant, wondrous, long lasting, and provide significant advantage to the caster."

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 Post subject: Re: Spells, and what to do with them.... [long]
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 4:21 pm 
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geordie racer wrote:
I like Dragons at Dawn only having 40-50 spells and rules for spell research, it gives you enough to build on, then it's up to you.


I really like that, too. I particularly like that only 3 spells in D@D do damage. How many spells do we need that basically say, “This spell creates a ball/beam/ray/arrow/streak/bolt/shock/etc. of fire/lightning/ice/acid/energy/etc. that causes X amount of damage”? Those are the most unimaginative of spells.

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 Post subject: Re: Spells, and what to do with them.... [long]
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 4:39 pm 
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Geoffrey wrote:
Those are the most unimaginative of spells.


Perhaps, but they are also among the most evocative in the game.


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 Post subject: Re: Spells, and what to do with them.... [long]
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 10:20 pm 
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I can't imagine needing 2nd level spells if 32 1st level spells take up 35 pages. Sounds to me like the solution is get rid of spell levels and put the implied "level" of the spell in the die roll. Want to take "wish" at first level, go right ahead. Of course, results 1-15 is backfire, 16-25 is fizzle and 26+ is the first "good" result. But there's no reason to restrict wizards from having such a spell at 1st level.

Second, having done layout on chart heavy RPG books, I can't imagine the spells really need so much space. This is just an artifact of the "one page per spell" vibe Joe is going for. Hopefully there will be a SRD version of the spells for folks to copy/paste into their own word processing documents to create personalized spell books for each wizard.

Third, the DM having to "flip through" a 64 page book at the table should not be particularly onerous when players are fighting against an enemy wizard. Likewise, the DM can always just simplify spells for enemy wizards, 15+ good effect 14- no effect. There shouldn't be more than 3 or 4 rounds of combat so you don't care if the soon to be dead wizard loses the spell for the rest of the day. IOW, treat enemy wizards as monsters. You only need as much detail on the "monster" equal to it's time "on stage".


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 Post subject: Re: Spells, and what to do with them.... [long]
PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:34 am 
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Stainless wrote:
I'm very much in favour of unique spells appearing in modules; to my mind, that best fits the bespoke nature of spells. If this is to be the case, there better be very clear rules on how a magic user can "collect" spells from foes during adventures, as that will be a veritable compulsion for many.

Similarly, some advice on how to create your own spells would be very useful and allow a GM to create their own where they see a hole in the published list(s) and need a particular spell for their plot. e.g., recommended granualarity, suggested minimum, middle and maximum effects, mandatory effects.


The big problem with expanding spellbooks via new spells being added through adventures and research is that is a surefire source of power creep. Wizards get more + more options in relation to non-casters. Warriors become less interesting in comparison over time. And no - I don't think the answer is limiting magic weapons to warriors.

Keeping limits on casting is threaded throughout Appendix N.

Maybe there are some spells that monster wizards can cast that characters can't.

There may be some that are beyond their patron - maybe they have to switch to a new patron who has that power at their disposal, risking the wrath of the old patron - you would only attempt this at high level maybe.

e.g Belchus the Mage is chaotic good but turns to evil to acquire the power for revenge by invoking an evil patron and disdaining his old CG one. The Seer Phappilon turns to good to get his lover resurrected rather than just invoke his necromanctic patron to bring the person back undead.

Couldn't that be a way of seeding further adventures while keeping the power that a wizard personally wields under control from power creep ?

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Last edited by geordie racer on Sun Jun 05, 2011 6:08 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Spells, and what to do with them.... [long]
PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:57 am 
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Stainless wrote:
Having seen the description for magic missiles, I'm surprised the spells take, on average, slightly greater than a page each (32 spells take up 35 pages). There must be some huge spells in there that are causing such an average spell:page ratio.
The problem isn't that there is a huge amount of description for the spell, it's mostly the chart. Each chart tends to have 7-9 different spell effects, based on the quality of the die roll. Each spell effect is a row in a chart.

And the philosophical question exists of how to put things in a format so that they can be used in game play. (One spell per page may waste space, but a player gets only what he needs instead of having charts for spells he doesn't have. I made most of the spell charts fit into a half-page each.)

There are a couple of spells where big options occur and details are needed, so a couple of spells take up more than one page. (For example, the "Patron Bond" spell needs two charts -- one for casting it on yourself, one for casting it on another. The cleric spell "Blessing" has charts for casting on yourself, casting on an ally, casting on an object.)

Stainless wrote:
Perhaps, more effort in describing them telegraphically is in order, or developing some standardised abbreviations? e.g., I give many university lectures and always use "&" instead of "and" as it simply cuts down on text clutter and space on the powerpoint slides. e.g., the word "damage" must feature quite often in spells, so why not "dmg" instead?
Each chart has a certain number of rows for the different outcomes, so a minimal amount of space is needed. This may help a little for my "spell card" project, but I suspect it won't make much difference in the rule book.

Stainless wrote:
If spell descriptions need to be consulted, especially for a new group, and there is only one copy of the rule book at the table, then it's going to be a bit of a hassle, especially if there is more than one spell caster in the group. But then again, how fast and furious do spells get cast in a game? Those who have played at conventions could help here.

I have no problem with consulting my copy of a rule book during a game as long as it's not going to be every round (see above query).
Again you aren't "consulting a rule book" as much as making use of a chart. It's not that there are so many tricky rules that one constantly has to look things up, but every time you cast a spell you need to roll and check the chart for effect. If you only have a couple of spells you might memorize the chart after a while, but as the number of spells in the campaign grows this would become less likely.

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 Post subject: Re: Spells, and what to do with them.... [long]
PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 7:51 am 
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Geoffrey wrote:
geordie racer wrote:
I like Dragons at Dawn only having 40-50 spells and rules for spell research, it gives you enough to build on, then it's up to you.


I really like that, too. I particularly like that only 3 spells in D@D do damage. How many spells do we need that basically say, “This spell creates a ball/beam/ray/arrow/streak/bolt/shock/etc. of fire/lightning/ice/acid/energy/etc. that causes X amount of damage”? Those are the most unimaginative of spells.


Yes, looking at the Scorching Ray chart - couldn't you condense fire/lightning/ice/acid/energy attacks into it's forms:
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 Post subject: Re: Spells, and what to do with them.... [long]
PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 8:58 am 
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Looking at the spell section in the Beta rules there seems to be a decent amount of free space on spell pages that don't include artwork - I'd say 15-20% isn't that uncommon. If you reformated the spell entries and took the lines at the top - things like level, duration , saving throw, etc that are wasting a ton of space horizontally and combined them you could get pretty close to 2 spells a page.

Example:

SPELL
level x
range x'
duration x minutes
casting time x actions
save negates

turn that into:

SPELL
range x' duration x rounds casting time x save negates

Does a spell needs to say what level it is... there is a chart elsewhere of spells by level where spells will be learned/chosen. I'm only looking up spell QWER becuase someone is casting it. (If I want to look for a good level 1 spell I'm not reading through the whole list of all spells I'm looking at the list at the front and then go to read the spell descriptions from there.)

Casting time is always actions so you don't need to restate it in the casting time of each spell.


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 Post subject: Re: Spells, and what to do with them.... [long]
PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 9:04 am 
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finarvyn wrote:
The problem isn't that there is a huge amount of description for the spell, it's mostly the chart. Each chart tends to have 7-9 different spell effects, based on the quality of the die roll. Each spell effect is a row in a chart.

And as I keep saying, the problem here is not the chart, it is the decree that each spell should have its own page. I've done RPG layout with lots of charts, it isn't hard.

Quote:
And the philosophical question exists of how to put things in a format so that they can be used in game play. (One spell per page may waste space, but a player gets only what he needs instead of having charts for spells he doesn't have. I made most of the spell charts fit into a half-page each.)

It's a short rule book. It can't possibly be onerous to flip to any page of a short rule book. Since the player should know BEFORE the DM asks what spell he intends to cast. He should have the rulebook open to the right page before he rolls the die. This is a non-issue.

And again, having the spells available in an editable SRD style arrangement makes it infinitely easy for players to craft their own "spellbooks" specific to their own character.


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 Post subject: Re: Spells, and what to do with them.... [long]
PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 9:09 am 
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Scorching Ray is a perfect example of a spell that I would be tempted to reduce the number of potential outcomes. You could speed the game slightly and significantly reduce the size of the charts if you combined some of those (ie. remove 16-19, remove 26-29, remove 32-33).

Ex.
1-13 - Lost
14-19 - Target takes 1d6 + Caster level. Additionally it must make a Reflex Save (and so on)...
20-21 - As above but the caster can launch 2 rays at the same or different target for 1d8 + caster level.
22-25 - As above and the caster can launch up to 3 rays at 1d10+ caster level.
26-31 - As above and caster can choose a single ray, 3 rays or a cone of 40' width for 1d12+ caster level.
32+ - As above and targets automatically catch fire and ray does 1d20+ caster level

This way you still keep the main effects but reduce the outcomes from 9 to 6 and speed handling time, reduce complexity etc. I just think that, for example, outcome 16-19 is unnecessary and doesn't add much flavour. It offers 1-2 extra damage, something that may not even come up unless a 7 or 8 is rolled, and may not make a bit of difference to the outcome of a fight except at 1st or 2nd level. Why not simply make 14-19 roll a d7 and call it a day? Afterall you have the dice to do it.

Like I said I am waiting for Beta to test the rules out so I am willing to withhold my judgement until then. Maybe I will absolutely fall in love with these spell tables and desire even more options! It is certainly one of the most appealling part of the games so please don't think I am against them. I just worry that at higher levels this will slow things too much and they may benefit from being stream-lined a tad without significant loss of fun/flavour.


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