Doing my bit to mess with sorcerers

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pachristian
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Doing my bit to mess with sorcerers

Postby pachristian » Mon Oct 14, 2013 6:54 pm

This rules varient was inspired by the classic tale "The Sorcerer's Apprentice". The old Roman story, not the Disney movies.

Any suggestions for improving it?

Spell Dismissal
Sorcery spells do not automatically ‘end’ when their time is up. A magician cannot ‘end’ a spell simply by ceasing to maintain it. Any spell with duration must be Dismissed when the sorcerer is done with it. Dismissing a spell requires a Grimoire skill roll, just like casting the spell. A caster may continue to attempt dismissing a spell as often as needed, until the spell ends.

Dismissal role is:
• Critical The spell ends, and the sorcerer recovers 1 magic point spent on the spell.
• Success The spell ends.
• Failure The spell does not end. If the magician does not successful dismiss the spell by the time of the spell’s ‘natural’ ending (as defined by the Duration Manipulation) he loses magic points equal to the points spent to cast the spell in the first place, and the spell continues.
• Fumble The spell does not end. The magician immediately loses magic points equal to the points initially spent casting the spell. When the duration is up, the magician loses another set of magic points. (Again, equal to the points spent casting the spell.)

A spell which is no longer controlled, but which has not been dismissed, is referred to as Spell Residue.

There is a link between the sorcerer and her active spells and spell residue. This link can be seen by Second Sight, Soul Sight, Mystic Vision, or Witchsight. A person using any of these abilities can follow that link back to the sorcerer. If the spell was cast using power from a crystal, or sacrifice, or another source, the link connects the spell, the source, and the sorcerer.

Spells with a duration of Concentration have the same issue as other spells with duration. Once the sorcerer loses concentration, they lose the ability to control the spell. However, the spell residue still hovers around them, and the target of their spell. This residue remains until the spell is dismissed. Even though the sorcerer has lost concentration, the spell must be dismissed, or it will continue to drain magic points from them.

If the magician moves out of range of his spell target, the spell stops taking effect. However, the spell residue is still present and, again, the magician must dismiss the spell or she may continue to loose magic points.

A spell that was cast using a power crystal, sacrifice, or some other form of external power, will drain whatever magic points are available from that source, and then drains the magician who cast the spell.

Remember that a magician does not recover spell points spent on a spell until that spell ends. A sorcerer who loses control of his spells can be drained to zero or negative magic points, killing him. At the GM’s option, he may turn into some form of undead – specifically, a magic-point draining undead.
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Re: Doing my bit to mess with sorcerers

Postby Ultor » Mon Oct 14, 2013 9:15 pm

This is good stuff, and would make sense as a creation rationale in a world in which Vampires drain POW rather than CON or STR or any other variant.

Of course, there are plenty of power gamers who would like to have their Damage Resistance 8 have no set end point...
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Re: Doing my bit to mess with sorcerers

Postby alex_greene » Mon Oct 14, 2013 9:26 pm

pachristian wrote:This rules varient was inspired by the classic tale "The Sorcerer's Apprentice". The old Roman story, not the Disney movies.
You won't need the Duration factor of sorcery spells, then, if spells are naturally persistent. So more Manipulation factors can be spent on Magnitude, Range, Targets and maybe Combine.

Also, you won't need the Concentration trait. Same reason.

Now I can see this working as a Divine spell, because the caster is not really casting their own spell, but rather evoking some external force - which would have its own agenda, not subject to the whims of any mewling mortal ...
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pachristian
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Re: Doing my bit to mess with sorcerers

Postby pachristian » Mon Oct 14, 2013 11:01 pm

You do need duration and concentration.

The sorcerer does not recover magic points until he successfully dismisses his spell. So the "duration" is how long the sorcerer has until he starts loosing additional magic points. The spell will literally suck the life out of him if he cannot end it. The less duration he provides, the faster it will suck out magic points.

Example:
Goh-Re-Sekt is an apprentice sorcerer. He has IN 17, POW 15, Grimoire (Warrior in Flame) 54% and Manipulation 52% (manipulation limit 6). He casts Animate (Fire) on campfires, directing them attack his enemies. He assigns points as follows: Magnitude=1 (no fear of it being dispelled), Range=2 (85 meters), Duration=1 (17 minutes), Targets=3 (three mobile, animated campfires). Magic point cost is 3 points. His magic points drop from 15 to 12.

Goh-Re-Sekt's plan backfires, and his enemies shoot arrows at him, forcing him to dive for cover. Goh-Re-Sekt loses concentration. The campfires remain in the last position he directed them to. The spell is now
residual. He no longer controls it, but it is still "on". Having a moment to concentrate while in cover, Goh-Re Sekt attempts to dismiss the spell. He fails. He would try again, but suddenly he's being chased by enemies. Escaping, he forgets to try to dismiss the magic again. At the end of 17 minutes, Goh-Re-Sekt suddenly looses another 3 magic points. He is now down to 9. Yes, he is aware of the loss of magic points. Goh-Re-Sekt attempts to dismiss the magic again. This time he succeeds. Now he can start regaining magic points. And plot his revenge.

If poor Goh-Re-Sekt had been knocked unconcious, he would have continued to loose 3 magic points every 17 minutes until he died. This would have taken about an hour and a half
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Re: Doing my bit to mess with sorcerers

Postby alex_greene » Mon Oct 14, 2013 11:08 pm

It sounds like something the Gods would do to their Divine Magic followers, more than sorcery.
Sorcery is, after all, a manipulation of natural forces by force of the sorcerer's Will. Not something external to the human experience but which feeds off the humans' gifted life force in the form of Pacts. That's the gods' job.
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Re: Doing my bit to mess with sorcerers

Postby Ultor » Tue Oct 15, 2013 1:42 am

pachristian wrote:The sorcerer does not recover magic points until he successfully dismisses his spell. So the "duration" is how long the sorcerer has until he starts loosing additional magic points. The spell will literally suck the life out of him if he cannot end it. The less duration he provides, the faster it will suck out magic points.
That makes a lot of sense. I have PCs who tend to cast spells with very long durations (they have high POW and high skill as the campaign has been going on for several years) but their next Grimoire might come with this problem attached.
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Re: Doing my bit to mess with sorcerers

Postby Deleriad » Tue Oct 15, 2013 10:01 am

Certainly a fun twist to add to a particular setting. Sort of represents that old trope about uncontrolled magic. If magic is a wild and unpredictable force then this works quite nicely. You could also have other triggers for losing control such as failing to cast a spell or rolling doubles when making any sort of activation roll for a spell.

E.g. Your sorcerer has 2 spells in effect. Tries to cast a third spell and fails. They must immediately roll to control their current spells or else the spells become uncontrolled.

A spell automatically becomes uncontrolled when its duration expires.
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Re: Doing my bit to mess with sorcerers

Postby RangerDan » Tue Oct 15, 2013 10:34 am

Very nice idea, and I think it will work 'out of the box' as you envisioned it.

I disagree with alex that it should be limited to Divine magics - the trope of sorcerors meddling with magic they barely understand is older than old.

Death at zero MP might be a tad extreme, though perhaps that's just what you need to keep spellcasting a dangerous proposition!

If you want to tone it down a bit, you could have it apply only to casting rolls of doubles as Deleriad says, or a natural 13, or some other meaningful numbers.
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Re: Doing my bit to mess with sorcerers

Postby Loz » Tue Oct 15, 2013 2:29 pm

I disagree with alex that it should be limited to Divine magics - the trope of sorcerors meddling with magic they barely understand is older than old.
+1. Its actually quite an elegant, Newtonian view of how sorcery works and manifests. Once an effect is set in motion, it won't stop until it faced with an equal and opposite reaction (the Dismissal) or it runs out of energy. That's very in-keeping with the idea that sorcery is the manipulation of the universe through arcane means.

Conversely, I really don't get how this notion would apply to divine magic. You're petitioning a ghod or higher power to channel their abilities or gain a magical effect the deity can provide. There's no inherent assumption that these divine favours or powers will continue ad-infinitum. Why would any god grant such a thing? Its true that pacts with manipulative and exploitative creatures, such as demons, might result in a perverse delight in draining a worshipper in this way, but I think it would be incredibly rare - and would need to be balanced by some pretty phenomenal gifts to compensate for the dangers. Certainly if fantasy where divine magic relies on duplicitous pacts (such as the Elric saga), divine magic is actually very limited in effect, with the repercussions either being inherent in the pact (ie, you've bargained your soul), or are realised much later and in far more subtle ways.
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Re: Doing my bit to mess with sorcerers

Postby Deleriad » Tue Oct 15, 2013 2:37 pm

I agree that this is one of the neatest twists I've seen recently. Essentially it recasts Duration to mean "the duration that you can control the spell for." It's a nice thing to add into the toolbox of sorcery options. You can of course have lots of fun with the visual and so on effects of uncontrolled magic and the image of a sorcerer being consumed by their own magic is a real classic.
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Re: Doing my bit to mess with sorcerers

Postby pachristian » Tue Oct 15, 2013 3:15 pm

RangerDan wrote:Death at zero MP might be a tad extreme, though perhaps that's just what you need to keep spellcasting a dangerous proposition!
Death at zero MP is a bit extreme. I just re-checked the Legend rules (page 154, under "Using Magic Points".

I'll modify the rule to say:

Once the magician looses all his magic points, he gains a level of fatigue at each interval, as the uncontrolled spell literally sucks the life out of him, until he dies of exhaustion.

So Goh-Re-Sekt, from the example I gave earlier, would loose 3 magic points every 17 minutes until he was at 0 (85 minutes total), then loose a level of fatigue every 17 minutes. 17 minutes after he was dehabilitated, he would die. This gives him a little extra time, and some dramatic effect.
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Re: Doing my bit to mess with sorcerers

Postby Loz » Tue Oct 15, 2013 3:30 pm

So Goh-Re-Sekt, from the example I gave earlier, would loose 3 magic points every 17 minutes until he was at 0 (85 minutes total), then loose a level of fatigue every 17 minutes. 17 minutes after he was dehabilitated, he would die. This gives him a little extra time, and some dramatic effect.
Remember Tom Baker's sorcerer in 'The Golden Voyage of Sinbad'? He aged every time he used his magic. You could replace fatigue with aging - perhaps a number of months or even years (if you're being a bit of a bastard) equal to the duration. So poor old Goh-Re-Sekt gains 17 years for each duration period once he hits zero MP. Dismiss the spell or perish through accelerated decrepitude...

As Deleriad says, its a great way of making sorcery different, is very in-keeping with the genre, and one that would certainly work in certain styles of campaign (although not all).
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Re: Doing my bit to mess with sorcerers

Postby Deleriad » Tue Oct 15, 2013 5:41 pm

Ageing, I like that. Or for those who remember such things, gaining Twilight or "corruption" or mutations and some such. What might be fun is some sort of chart.

"Uncontrolled magic and 0 Magic Points"
something like d100
01-05 - magic dissipates (mostly) harmlessly. Caster ages 1 year and gains 2 levels of fatigue (can't be killed this way).
06-20 - magic dissipates violently. Caster ages d6+6 years and takes 1D6 damage to 1d3 locations (ignoring all armour as his blood boils from within.)
21-40 - Internal bleeding and wracking agony. Caster takes 2d6 damage to 1D3 locations. Magic does not dissipate.
etc
Can add in all sorts of genre dependant fun too.
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Re: Doing my bit to mess with sorcerers

Postby pachristian » Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:16 pm

Loz and Delariad -

I can see the point (Golden Voyage of Sinbad is one of my favorite movies), but I'm not sure I want to make life that miserable for sorcerers. I allow and encourage playing sorcerers, so I don't want to screw over a PC with a permanent crippling if things go wrong. I've often been amazed at how many players will happily accept PC death, but throw a fit like a congressman at the prospect of being crippled, or loss of hard to recover characteristic points.

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