Sunday, December 27, 2009

Character Creation - Pre-requisites for Magic Use (Part II) - Magic Skill

Hope everyone had a good holiday. Let's take advantage of the brief lull between now and New Years' and get some postings in! So, ya wanna be a Wizard, eh?

Before we get too far into the skills of Magic (known as Wizardry in the SoG), I'll take a minute to provide some "game play experience" insight. The Spirit of Greyhawk (SoG) implementation of FATE takes a viewpoint that represents something of a different direction from pure Greyhawk canon.

The realm of Greyhawk represents high-fantasy, and as such magic is considered a relatively common occurance, like gravity. It's just a fact of life. And so in making a set of rules that supported the stories I wanted to tell, I decided to make a distinction between skill-based magic (Wizardry) and stunt-based magic (Sorcery). Both exist within SoG:

  • Wizards are the more "ivory tower" users of magic, something similar to our world's scientists. They are skilled in the use and principles of Magic.
  • Sorcerors represent the most "pure" use of stunt-based magic. While they might be capable of generating very powerful magical effects through their given abilities (within a realm that provides that magic is common), they have little or no training in the priniciples of the forces they manipulate. I also expect that the more common useage of magic among non-wizard types fall into this category.

Maybe there will be an opportunity later to lay out some design themes and considerations but to keep this blog entry focused on rules, I'll summarize it like this:

  • Skill-based magic represents an empirically-oriented study of magic and the practice of documented principles and applications (i.e., pre-made spells). As such, magical effects are much more predictable and not prone to failure as long as the caster works within his or her skill level.
  • Stunt-based magic represents a more ad hoc study of magic in a less principled environment than wizardry. Magical effects are much less predictable and are prone to failures.

So without any more stalling, here's the Magic Skill...

Magic Skill
This skill would directly correspond to the user's overall skill level with regards to casting increasingly difficult Magic spells.

Wizard spells run from levels 0 (cantrips) through 9. For Spirit of Greyhawk, Level 1 spells are considered Average (+1) difficulty.

Translated, this means that if you have only the Aspect of magic but no skill level, than you can cast level 0 spells (difficulty Mediocre) before you incur an negative modifier.

Fate DifficultyAD&D Spell Level
+9 (Mythical?)Level 9
+8 (Legendary)Level 8
+7 (Epic)Level 7
+6 (Fantastic)Level 6
+5 (Superb)Level 5
+4 (Great)Level 4
+3 (Good)Level 3
+2 (Fair)Level 2
+1 (Average)Level 1
0 (Mediocre)Level 0

(The adding of level 9 to the Difficulty Ladder is a departure from normal FATE, but I honestly don't expect to spend much time up there! Level 9 spells tend to be something closer to deus ex machina grade spells anyway.)

Casting Spells BELOW your Skill Level

As per normal FATE, this would allow for the opportunity of a greater number of positive shifts (margin of success) when casting is a success.

Casting Spells ABOVE your Skill Level
If we were using pure canon, there would be NO opportunity for casting spells above your skill level. However using Fate 3.0, this now becomes available. Whether or not it’s advisable for a caster to attempt it is another story…

OPEN ISSUE: What would the implication be of failing a spell that was ABOVE your skill level? I think there ought to be SOME sort of impact to failure—otherwise people would be doing it all the time. Would the caster receive damage (physical or emotional, up to the GM) for the same amount of shifts equal to failure? I'm open to suggestions. Although my undocumented preference is that the implications are still up to the GM, perhaps within certain guidelines.

When using the Magic Skill to cast a premade spell in SoG, the caster doesn't roll the usual 4dF which gives a potential range of -4 to +4.

Instead, use 2dF+2 to give a potential range of 0 to +4.

This is to reflect the benefit of the wizard's extensive study in the casting of "preset" spells. By using that preset spell, the caster is reducing the randomness in the outcome of the casting. This also allows for a more consistent feel with the Greyhawk source material.

This benefit DOES NOT apply to Sorcery, or if the Wizard decides to "change the formula" of a preset spell (more on this later).

In Summary
A caster may use the 2dF+2 roll only if all of the following are in force:
  1. User is casting a Preset Spell.
  2. User's Skill (or related Skill?) is at least the equal of the spell's difficulty. Example: A Good (+3) spell being cast by someone with a Magic Skill of Good or better.
  3. The preset spell is being cast "as is" — no modifications are being made.


Mike Olson said...

I know I've said it before, but I really dig the mechanical differences between Wizardry and Sorcery.

Unknown said...

Thanks! I can't take full credit for the 2dF+2 idea. I remember it came out of a conversation with Bill Burdick (Hi Bill!) about something steampunk related. But as soon as I heard it, a bunch of things in my head around the idea of AD&D's "Fire and Forget" spell-casting and how to do it in FATE fell into place.

Unknown said...

BTW, you ain't kidding about your "largely ambivalent public" comment in your new blog... ;)