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 Post subject: Need help with magic conundrum
PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 10:55 pm 
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Greetings!

I have been trying to re-work the revised magic system by Vogt et al. I've been re-working this into something which fits into my custom world concept and meets my design goal of "a magic system which is intuitive and inspiring".

As I see it, there are 3 goals which I need to meet for an intuitive and inspirational system.

1. Making sure the player knows what he can attempt
2. Making sure the player knows how difficult (CTN) an attempt will be
3. Making sure the player understands how successful his attempt was relative to his original intention

This weekend I made up some flow charts to compare Mage: The Awakening and TROS (Core/Revised). I compared Mage arcana to TROS realms and Mage practices to TROS Vagaries and their listed effects.

I found a snag that I'm having trouble getting around. I'll try to simplify it here. I have one possible solution to suggest, but I would love feedback. :D

Potency and Capability in Mage and TROS1. In Mage the dot represents both potential for success and capability.

By potential I mean the base number of dice in your pool which may result in a success thereby increasing the potency of the spell. By capability I mean the possible arcane effects -- what a player can attempt to do -- which in Mage is called a practice. For example, a 1-dot Arcanum allows you to Know (gain understanding) and Unveil (gain sensory perception), but not alter or control phenomena.

2. In TROS the Sorcery Pool represents potential success. It also seems to be used to measure the potency of a spell. For example, for every success in the spell Pain (Core, p. 115) the target loses one SP die.

3. In TROS the Vagary Level (hereafter VL) represents the "Level of Effect" (see Core, p. 111). It also seems to determine to one degree or another how potent a spell can be. It does this indirectly by increasing the CTN; it does this directly by qualifying or defining the limits of the effect.

Reading through the Core you can see that each VL comes with a list of the possible qualities of targets or phenomena -- e.g. greater or lesser demons; basic or complex shapes; number of materials that may be joined -- and/or the maximum level of potency.

For example, in Core p. 105, Movement 2 would allow you to move a target up to "50 yards per second" or "change direction swiftly in all three planes" with the "coordination of a normal human". Vogt's revision leaves Movement alone despite the scientific tone he and others wanted to tone down.

4. Therefore there is a possible overlap between SP and VL regarding maximum potency. That is, how "well" you can achieve what you want is determined both by how many successes you get and what your VL is.

This raises a big question for me: When it comes down to it, what should determine the potential potency of a spell - the number of dice in your pool or your level in a proficiency?

As is, the Core/Revised rules would prevent a caster with Movement 2 from throwing something faster than 50 yards per second even if he had a SP of 15 and came up with 8 successes when he only needed 1.


A Possible SolutionRange, Target, and Duration (RTD) - Vogt's revision removed Volume - are easily separable from overall potency. RTD don't determine the potency of a spell but something else. For the moment let's call this Scope. The scope of a spell includes the everything already described within RTD.

Under this:

The Vagary determines Effects
The Vagary Level determines Scope
The SP determines Potency


This seems to address my three needs. The player knows what he can attempt because of the Vagaries he has. The player knows how difficult of a task he could attempt because he can easily see how his Vagary level interacts with the Scope of a spell and its CTN. Finally, it is transparent to the player how successful he can be when he sees how many SP he has.

What are the pros and cons of this?

PROS:
(1) A single chart, "Scope", which includes RTD and all the qualities that may be considered when determining CTN;
(2) Adding additional Vagaries to attempt a spell becomes mechanically intuitive.
Example: Even though I have Conquer 3, I need Vision in order to extend my Range to 4 (beyond line of sight).
(3) Characters know their limitations but with creative thinking and some well-placed SAs can attempt the "impossible"

CONS:
(1) Determining CTN seems circular in logic. If CTN = Level + Scope, then in this setup, CTN = Level (Maximum Scope) + Scope.
(2) Some abstraction would be necessary in making a single paradigm of Scope applicable to all Vagaries.


I know I've put up quite a lot. I hope some of you may have some suggestions, insights, or resources. Thanks! :D

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 Post subject: Re: Need help with magic conundrum
PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 2:17 am 
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Seanachai wrote:
4. Therefore there is a possible overlap between SP and VL regarding maximum potency. That is, how "well" you can achieve what you want is determined both by how many successes you get and what your VL is.


Seanachai wrote:
The Vagary determines Effects
The Vagary Level determines Scope
The SP determines Potency


What does the number of Successes represent in the revision?

Regards,

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 Post subject: Re: Need help with magic conundrum
PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 4:26 pm 
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I was going to suggest something similar to your solution before I read it. VL would represent what the character knows, while SP would represent how much innate power he has available. Thus, he could have a huge amount of power available to throw into his spells (high SP), but not be able to do anything because he hasn't learned how (low VL). Luckily for him, RTD is separate from VL, so at least his can use his high SP to cast his wimpy spells on a lot of people, or over a long distance.

The other scenario is that he could have all the knowledge in the world about how to cast spells (high VL), but he wasn't born with the required power to actually do it (low SP).

So, even though both VL and SP determine to some extent how powerful the character is, and by extension the potency of his spells, it's pretty clear what both attributes are doing. I know that doesn't necessarily solve your mechanical conundrums, but it might help your players understanding somewhat. The system's ease of use depends a lot on how you explain the characteristics.

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 Post subject: Re: Need help with magic conundrum
PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 8:05 pm 
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OK - So the questions that need answering are:

1. In which spellcasting situations would multiple successes be necessary?
2. In those situations what does the margin of failure (MOF) mean?
3. In those situations what does the margin of success (MOS) mean?

Ian.Plumb wrote:
What does the number of Successes represent in the revision?

The easy answer is whatever the player and Seanachai agree on. The player announces his character would like to accomplish some feat by magic. The Seanachai tells the player the stakes: what constitutes complete success, partial success, and failure.

What I suspect would be better in the long run is to have two helpful guides.

1. A very detailed entry for each Vagary describing possible effects and their levels of potency similar to what Mage has under Rotes.

Under a mental vagary dealing with mind-control, for instance, there might be a brief and general description of the different levels of mind control - suggestions, commands, complete dominion. The Seanachai would then have the duty of adjudicating how each would be reached in a situation - that is, how many successes are necessary to achieve the desired level of potency based on anything relevant.

Mental Vagary Example wrote:
Seanachai: Even after such a long social combat, your old friend the merchant doesn't seem to want to tell you where his criminal acquittance is hiding.
Player: Nemo will use Dominate to urge him to tell me everything he knows.
Seanachai: Are you attempting to mind-control him?
Player: No, no! I just want to loosen his tongue. He can trust me.
Seanachai: OK. He is your friend, but you've been arguing about this for a while. In order to successfully get him to tell you everything he knows, will be Tricky. I need 3 successes. Anything less and he'll only tell you a few things, and he might remember that you used magic on him.
Player: Frak! I only got 2.


The Seanachai must then tell the player what he found out and decide whether the merchant remembers being ensorcelled.

Alternatively the Seanachai could use a standard requirement (say, 4 successes) and just award a die or two for situational modifiers.

2. An easy-to-use chart with abstract qualifications on how successful an intention is.

Here are some pre-existing tables in TROS we could look at for inspiration. These would need a lot of expansion that is intuitive and inspiring, but isn't too limiting.

Degrees of Success; Core, p.6 wrote:
MOS 0: Failure
MOS Ties: Result Varies
MOS 1: Narrow Success
MOS 2: Comfortable
MOS 3: Room to Spare
MOS 4: Expertly Done
MOS 5: Flawless


Simple Checks; Companion, p. 31 wrote:
Successes needed
Simple: 1 success
Average: 2 successes
Tricky: 3 successes
Difficult: 4 successes
Hard: 5 successes
Extreme: 6+ successes


Number of extra successes | Result wrote:
0: Check is successful
1-2: Check is successful but with extra flair
3-4: Exceptionally successful, impressing onlookers
5+: Character has outdone himself


Question: When did contests become checks? :?

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 Post subject: Re: Need help with magic conundrum
PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 8:49 pm 
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Seanachai wrote:
1. In which spellcasting situations would multiple successes be necessary?
2. In those situations what does the margin of failure (MOF) mean?
3. In those situations what does the margin of success (MOS) mean?


Ian.Plumb wrote:
What does the number of Successes represent in the revision?


Seanachai wrote:
The easy answer is whatever the player and Seanachai agree on. The player announces his character would like to accomplish some feat by magic. The Seanachai tells the player the stakes: what constitutes complete success, partial success, and failure.


I see a couple of basic issues here.

Firstly, if SP represents the character's innate power then what is happening when the SAs kick in?

Secondly, if the number of Successes required to accomplish a particular effect are determined on the fly by the referee then the player is left with an unpredictable parameter on every spell. Whenever something new is attempted or the casting context is slightly or majorly changed, the player can't predict how many successes will be required.

There are many situations where unless you nail all of the targets you may as well not cast the spell. Success then actually requires a significant number of Successes while failure is represented by a smaller number of successes. That feels odd to me.

For myself I prefer a system where 1 Success represents success but additional Successes have value -- being able to be spent on other things (with magic, usually reducing one or both of the detection parameters -- time or distance).

Regards,

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 Post subject: Re: Need help with magic conundrum
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 12:08 am 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
Firstly, if SP represents the character's innate power then what is happening when the SAs kick in?


I don't know. That's why it's *cue jazz hands* magic. :D Seriously, though, the same thing that is happening whenever SAs kick in. The character is drawing on unknown reserves of endurance and strength. In spellcasting maybe that means they've got a little more Power/Ka or concentration than usual, or their body is able to take more Strain and not age.

Ian.Plumb wrote:
Secondly, if the number of Successes required to accomplish a particular effect are determined on the fly by the referee then the player is left with an unpredictable parameter on every spell. Whenever something new is attempted or the casting context is slightly or majorly changed, the player can't predict how many successes will be required.


I absolutely agree that the number of successes shouldn't be determined on the fly. What to do then in uncontested rolls then? I think the idea I've gleaned from other systems is that there is no such thing as uncontested. Multiple successes just means that whatever you're overcoming is setting up obstacles - cf. Dogs in the Vineyard.

What I'll have to do, then, is make sure that the descriptors for each Vagary and the potency table are clear enough so that when the Seanachai says "I want 3 successes", the player isn't completely surprised.

Ian.Plumb wrote:
There are many situations where unless you nail all of the targets you may as well not cast the spell. Success then actually requires a significant number of Successes while failure is represented by a smaller number of successes. That feels odd to me.


Not sure I follow. I would imagine that if I went ahead with this idea, the number of targets would be included in the Scope not the potency part of the magic equation - i.e. a higher CTN. So getting a 5-success Mortigrand's Headshrinking Curse Of Horribleness on 3 targets is harder than on a single target.

Ian.Plumb wrote:
For myself I prefer a system where 1 Success represents success but additional Successes have value -- being able to be spent on other things (with magic, usually reducing one or both of the detection parameters -- time or distance).


Successes being able to be spent on things? Interesting. I saw something like that in BW with successes being able to change the potency of a blow landed or the location.

I also echo want you are saying about 1 success always meaning success. But, like in BW, there is a compromise. I guess when it comes down to it, I don't think it's necessary to have the Core rulebook tell me that an appropriate CTN overcome with Movement 2 will make something fly at 50 feet/second. I can't imagine a scenario when a player would declare the intention, "I want to send this flying at 50 feet a second." Rather, his intention would be to fling something across the room.

"Ok!" says the referee. "This is how difficult it is to do that." One success means you succeed: that book is flung as flung can be, but if you get 5 successes, then we can start determining whether you broke the sound barrier.

That's what I'm really trying to achieve here. I want VLs to represent the capabilities of the character to achieve his intention. But how well he achieves it is based on how many successes he gets. If the dice are stacked right, he's going to be able to really get his way (narrative rights?), but otherwise he has to compromise and it's up to the referee to determine how to move the story forward.

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 Post subject: Re: Need help with magic conundrum
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 8:47 am 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
Firstly, if SP represents the character's innate power then what is happening when the SAs kick in?


Seanachai wrote:
I don't know. That's why it's *cue jazz hands* magic. :D Seriously, though, the same thing that is happening whenever SAs kick in. The character is drawing on unknown reserves of endurance and strength. In spellcasting maybe that means they've got a little more Power/Ka or concentration than usual, or their body is able to take more Strain and not age.


I think this might be a language issue. Inate is the wrong word to use in these circumstances. "SP represents the amount of magical power the character can control at that moment." might be a better descriptor.

Seanachai wrote:
What I'll have to do, then, is make sure that the descriptors for each Vagary and the potency table are clear enough so that when the Seanachai says "I want 3 successes", the player isn't completely surprised.


That is jolly nice of you!

Ian.Plumb wrote:
For myself I prefer a system where 1 Success represents success but additional Successes have value -- being able to be spent on other things (with magic, usually reducing one or both of the detection parameters -- time or distance).


Seanachai wrote:
Successes being able to be spent on things? Interesting. I saw something like that in BW with successes being able to change the potency of a blow landed or the location.


In SatF, you could spend the extra successes to boost parameters. I dislike that solution -- in fact, any solution where extra successes changes the result. You cast a spell in order to get a specific result. Changing that result -- by either decreasing or increasing the result -- can ruin the plan. You don't want a system where the player knows they need 4 Successes -- and either 3 or 5 Successes represent disaster. Nobody wants a system where the player spends Luck to change a Success to a Failure in order to get exactly the right number of Successes on a roll.

I would much prefer to see a system where extra Successes can be spent -- on narration rights, or on other aspects of the spell affect (reducing the "signature" of the arcane effect to prevent detection, adding Colour to the spell effect, etc).

Cheers,

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 Post subject: Re: Need help with magic conundrum
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 8:56 am 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
In SatF, you could spend the extra successes to boost parameters. I dislike that solution -- in fact, any solution where extra successes changes the result.


Well, shoot. :( I've almost finished a post where I took this approach. Oh well! I'll post it anyway and maybe it will elicit some useful feedback.

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 Post subject: Re: Need help with magic conundrum
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 9:11 am 
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Here's what I got so far. I took Ian's idea of buying potency with successes to heart.

First off, some terms.

Levels of MasteryMastery 0: Initiate
Mastery 1: Novice or Apprentice
Mastery 2: Adept
Mastery 3: Master


Casting Target NumberThe CTN of a spell is determined by the spell's Scope plus the Mastery required to cast the spell.

CTN = Scope + Mastery

Scope includes Range, Target, and Duration.
Mastery is the highest level of Vagary mastery required to meet the Scope.

Casting a spell with the scope Range 1, Target 2, and Duration 0, requires Mastery 2.


PotencyThe Casting Roll versus the CTN determines the number of successes. These successes determine the Potency of the spell.
Potency is made up of three scales -- Magnitude, Strength, and Effectiveness. The caster may move up the Potency of a spell by "spending" successes to move up the scale.

Nemo wins 4 successes on his Casting roll. Instead of putting all of it into Strength, he decides to enlarge the spell's Magnitude to affect multiple foes.


Once a character decides to cast a spell, follow these steps:

Step 1) Determine the CTN of the spell.

Here are descriptions of RTD. Some of this may not make sense to you as I haven't posted the cosmology of Erd and its conceptual framework.

RangeRange measures the level of experience a caster must have with his target.
TN 0: Self. True mastery begins with mastery over oneself.
TN 1: Touch. Under the control of its substance, an entity is susceptible to the sarrum of even an Novice.
TN 2: Sight. An Adept may attempt exert sarrum over anything whose essences he perceives.
TN 3: Gnosis. A true Master may transcendentally affect or control what he is aware of.

Nemo is a Master (Vagary Level 3) at Compel, the Vagary art of controlling entities and forces in the spiritual realm. He wants to summon a greater vulture spirit to him. The spirit is known as Kraak. Knowing that name would allow Nemo to cast his spell with Gnosis (Range 3). If he knew the spirit's true name, Screeches-From-Above, the referee might grant some sort of situational bonus.

If Nemo had been able to see the spirit through some other spell (such as Divining or Scrying), he would have been able to use Range 2.


TargetTarget describes the most complicated nature of the force or entity a caster may exert sarrum over.
TN 0: Self. An Initiate has learned to Know, Alter, and Control his own essences.
TN 1: Simple. An Apprentice has gained sarrum over the simplest of essences or forces in the respective realm -- shapes and substances, perceptions, minor spirits, and the sarrum of simple magic.
TN 2: Complex. An Adept wields power over complex entities and forces -- life, thoughts and emotions, powerful spirits, and the sarrum of complex magic.
TN 3: Intricate. A Master of the arts exerts command over even the most intricate of forces and entities -- memory and personality, greater spirits, and the sarrum of intricate magic.

Nemo wants to Wield, the Vagary of control over physical forces, the fire from a soldier's torch, turning it against the solider. The referee would call this a Simple Target, making the Target TN 1. If Nemo wanted to make the soldier see the fire jump from the torch that would also be Target 1 since he would be targeting the soldier's perception.

If instead Nemo wanted to cast a spell of fear on the solider, making him drop his torch and flee, that would be Target 2.


DurationDuration refers to the resistance a caster's spell has to power of the Great Chain to revert back to its natural order.
TN 0: Instant. An Initiate may only bring an effect to pass for a sudden manifestation. This may suffice for some spells, but for others it may prove disastrous.
TN 1: Brief. An Apprentice's spells are brief, lasting only minutes unless sustained.
TN 2: Short. An Adept's influence may last for a short time, lasting hours at most.
TN 3: Long. Master's spells are known to last for days.

Sustained spells work as described in Vogt's revision.

Nemo wants to heal his friend. He knows that to cast a healing spell instantaneously would tempt the referee to check to see if the ally could survive such a shock. Therefore, Nemo attempts to slow the effect of his magic, spreading it across several minutes to lessen the shock and pain of skin and sinew knitting itself together.


Step 2) Split the SP into Strain and Casting rolls as per the Revised sorcery rules by Vogt.

Step 3) As long as the caster has won one success, use the success(es) won to determine the Potency. Depending on the situation and type of spell, there are three scales which may come into play.

MagnitudeMagnitude refers to the number of targets or distance affected or for the amount of time affected. In this scale MA refers to the value of the caster's Mental Aptitude* attribute.
0 Successes: 1 Target, 1 Foot, 1 measure of Duration
1 Successes: MA targets, MA in feet, Up to 2 measures of Duration
2 Successes: 2x MA targets, MA in yards, Up to 3 measures of Duration
3 Successes: 3x MA targets, MA in miles, Up to 4 measures of Duration
Etc...
Note: I'm reconsidering this Scale. Expanding the distance and duration seems desirable since they could be "icing" to the casting cake, but multiple targets may be better rolled into the CTN of Target. I'm thinking this because it seems almost impossible for a caster to earn enough successes to reach multiple targets and overcome natural resistances (following Vogt's revision).

*Note: I'm not married to this attribute. Would ART, PER or some other attribute be more appropriate?

StrengthThe Strength of a spell is the level of manifestation it exhibits. This follows the mechanic described in Vogt's revision, where Successes are multiplied by Mastery in order to replicate Attributes such as Strength, Toughness, or Agility.

Nemo's 3-success Mastery 2 Wield spell to throw someone against the wall replicates 6 Strength (3 x 2).


EffectivenessThe final scale, Effectiveness, can be used when the potency of a spell isn't appropriately measured by its Magnitude of Strength. The referee can follow the tables in Core or Companion which describe the Margin of Success in words like "Narrow Success", "Flawless", or "Unbelievable success".


Step 4) Determine the mechanical and narrative outcome (applying damage, describing the consequences, etc).

What remains

1. The best attribute for determining distance and number of targets
2. Deciding whether to have target number part of Potency or rolled into the CTN of Target
3. Trying this all out by calculating the CTN & Potency required for the types of spell-effects that might come up in a low-fantasy Conan-esque FRPG.

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 Post subject: Re: Need help with magic conundrum
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 1:23 pm 
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Very interesting! Before I weigh in, can you define sarrum for me?

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 Post subject: Re: Need help with magic conundrum
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 6:21 pm 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
"SP represents the amount of magical power the character can control at that moment." might be a better descriptor.


That's not how I think of SP. That might represent Ka/Power, but Art, Capacity, and Sight (using revised terminology) seem to represent all the factors of the character that results in his overall exhaustible effort.

Wouldn't you say that's parallel with what the Combat Pool represents? It's all the training and natural talent that goes into making someone effective and potentially successful.

SP is the same for me. It is the exhaustible effort and energy available to a character to be successful in magical tasks. It comes from natural talent (the "Physical" side), training and knowledge (the "Mental" side), and that extra special something (the "Spiritual" side; SAs).

As you'll see in later posts, I really took this theme of 3 and ran with it.

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Last edited by Seanachai on Mon Sep 07, 2009 8:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Need help with magic conundrum
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 6:36 pm 
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pbj44 wrote:
can you define sarrum for me?

Yes, I can, and I definitely plan to, but it will require a much longer post to make it clear. For now, though, sarrum is the authority a mortal can exert over phenomena in cosmos. All things are bound to one another in the Great Chain, and it is through these bonds, pacts, and covenants that sarrum may be used.

When a tree grows at the behest of a greater spirit, this is sarrum. When Ged uses the true name of a dragon to bind him, or when Gandalf says a Word to halt the Balrog, that is sarrum.

Mortals through danger, cunning, and sacrifice may acquire cosmic authority which naturally does not belong to them. There are three paths.

Esses (Temporal), the mixed-blood or mixed essences of mortals such as Changelings and the Gremlin Marked. These mortals of impure essence possess the innate authority of their inheritance.

Promethesis (Mental), the power that comes from knowing the name and nature of entities and forces. As all entities and forces are firstly bound to their names and natures, they must submit to a sarrumiza who has gained such power over them.

Charis (Spiritual), the authority given to mortals by higher beings. Like an emissary for a king, the mortal with charis is recognized as wielding the authority of another.

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 Post subject: Re: Need help with magic conundrum
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 9:51 pm 
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Outstanding problems1. Target covers the quality targets in a desirable way so far, but Magnitude covering the quantity may cause a problem.
2. Range 3 needs some qualification. Just knowing someone's name shouldn't be enough.


For problem one, it might seem undesirable to have to buy multiple targets with successes after the spell has been cast.

Nemo has to get past four guards. His MA is high enough that he only needs one success to cover all of them, and the rest could be applied to overcoming their will. He only rolls 3 successes!


Remember that this would be a resisted roll. The guards are rolling WP/ART against his Potency to resit being ensorcelled. Does he now have the option to (a) apply 2 success potency against all of them, (b) change his mind and apply 3 potency against one, (c) drop the spell all together? This doesn't seem desirable that he can change his mind after the dice have been rolled.

To deal with this issue, it could be possible to take Target quantity out of Magnitude.

One possible solution may be using Activation Costs in the Casting Roll. Mage the Awakening, which I have been using in other areas for inspiration, uses dice penalties for Number of Targets

Mage: The Awakening, p. 1181 Target : No penalty
2 Targets: -2 dice
4 Targets: -4 dice
8 Targets: -6 dice
16 Targets: -8 dice
Etc.

I've never seen activation costs in TROS go above more than 2. Let's take that out to 3 and see what we could get.

Activation Cost for Multiple Targets1 Target: No penalty
MA* in Targets: -1 dice
2x MA in Targets: -2 dice
3x MA in Targets: -3 dice

*Note: I am still not 100% certain I want to use MA for this.

Example:
Nemo has a MA of 5 and a SP of 10. He wants to cast his glamor spell on all 4 of the guards. He knows this is tough, but is willing to pay the price. The CTN is set at 6. He spends 1 die on the activation cost. This leaves him with a SP of 9. Nemo splits his remaining dice pool among Strain (4) and Casting (5). He rolls 5/CTN 6 and achieves 3 successes (50% chance), which is the Potency. The guards must then overcome 3 successes with their WP.

Turning our attention now to the second problem, you'll remember that Range 3 refers to an entity or force being outside the sensory perception of the caster. In Mage the channel through which a caster can still affect a phenomena is called a sympathetic connection. It can be summarized as below:

Mage the Awakening, p 114Sympathetic Connection dice penalty
0 Sensory: You can see, hear or sense target directly or through a sensory spell.
-2 Intimate: You have a piece of the target's physical substance, such as hair, nail clippings, or blood; or you know the target very well, such as a longtime friend.
-4 Known: You know the target - a friend, co-worker, or personal possession. Alternatively, you have a photo or accurate representation.
-6 Acquainted: Casual acquaintance, or an item you held or used once.
-8 Encountered: You have encountered the target briefly.
-10 Described: You have never encountered, but can describe it. You know the name or physical description.

This is obviously much more complicated that is desirable for a low-fantasy Conan type game. But there are some occult fluff that seem intuitive and inspiring.

Activation Cost for Range 3Affecting a phenomenon whose essences you do not presently perceive takes much more effort. Pay the following Activation Cost for any spell which a Range value of 3.

0 True Gnosis: You know the true name of the target
-1 Intimate: You are intimately familiar with the target or possess some vital part of his physical substance, such as blood or bone.
-2 Known: You know the target's name and have experience it on several occasions, or you have some important element associated with the target, such as clothing or hair.
-3 Encountered: You have experienced the target. You may not know its name, but you have a description or reasonable facsimile, such as a portrait or statue.

Example:
Nemo is called on to scry the location of a minor lord's missing son, Pubert. Nemo's player searches through the lordling's room and finds one of Pubert's favorite handkerchiefs. The referee declares that this will allow Nemo to cast his scry spell with Range 3/Gnosis: Known (-2 Activation cost). Since there is no hurry, Nemo decides to use a Ritual to cast this spell, drawing on his full magical resources. He pays the 2 dice to attempt the Range, and then splits his dice pool into Strain and Casting.

Yet to be discussed: Should dice spent in the Activation cost of a Casting Roll be exhausted and recovered like usual (1 die is recovered once an hour) or immediately available at the next casting (like in the Strain roll)?

With a tougher take on this, those 2 dice will have to be recovered through meditation or rest as usual. With a lighter take, those 2 dice were merely unavailable for this spell because of the extra effort, but will be available for Nemo's next spell that day.

These are very rough sketches of what I'm attempting here. Feedback, as always, is welcome!

_________________
"Remember it well, then... this night, this great victory. So that in the years ahead, you can say, 'I was there that night, with Arthur, the King!' . . . For it is the doom of men that they forget."


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 Post subject: Re: Need help with magic conundrum
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 5:05 pm 
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Another possible solution to the Magnitude problem is to put it back into Scope. This would make Magnitude more difficult, since changing the TN is more potent than adding or subtracting some dice.

This option would also mean that you couldn't buy your way to a masterful level like you could when you get just give up 3 dice. This is probably desirable as well. To balance that out, I would want to remove the numerical restrictions for narrative ones.


Magnitude as ScopeMagnitude refers to the level at which a spell's potency is experienced.
TN 0: Simple. The initiate can only spatially encompass a single target or small area.
TN 1: Small. A Novice can use his power to sway a small group of targets across several yards.
TN 2: Large. An Adept has learned to control large groups and his magic can span across miles.
TN 3: Extreme. A true Master can unleash his sarrum to encompass an entire village or army, and his strength can be felt over leagues.

Example
Nemo and his companions believe they were followed to the tavern. As they sit in the common room, they cannot be sure who might be their enemy. Nemo decides to put all the patrons to sleep for a few minutes while they escape. Nemo is a Master of the Dominate Vagary. The CTN of such a spell is determined to be 8 (Range 2: Sight, Target 2: Complex, Duration 1: Brief, Magnitude 1: Small group; Mastery 2).

Nemo divides his SP and rolls. He ends up getting 4 successes. The Seanachai rolls resistance for the group, averaging it all out and remembering that most of the patrons are weak-willed drunk farmers, and says that Nemo's margin of success is 2. Success! The tavern patrons fall forward in their chairs and into their plates and mugs. Nemo knows they will be asleep for about two minutes.

In the Magnitude I posted above, I put in measures of durations. What I had in mind for that, specifically, is scrying type spells. This should look similar to the Duration table.

Magnitude AddendumTN 0: Instant. Useless?
TN 1: Brief. Minutes
TN 2: Short. Hours
TN 3: Long. Days

Here's an example from a favorite movie.
Conan and Akiro wake on the shore of an evil wizard's lake to find the young princess missing. 'Akiro - Where is she? What happened?' the barbarian demands.

Akiro could just use a scrying spell to just locate the princess, but he is upset that someone was able to get past his awareness and steal her away. He casts a scrying spell on the campsite in order to learn the events of the recent past.

To look into the past, the referee and player determine the CTN of such a spell is 5 (Range 0: Ambient, Target 3: Intricate (Time), Duration: 0, Magnitude 2: Hours). Akiro's five success allows him to Know the happenings of up to five hours in the recent past in the area. Sure enough, only four hours prior, a giant smoke bird came from the mirror castle to take the princess across the lake.


I've been posting quite a lot. I should probably stop here and let it digest. I hope someone has the time and patience to give me some outsider perspective.

_________________
"Remember it well, then... this night, this great victory. So that in the years ahead, you can say, 'I was there that night, with Arthur, the King!' . . . For it is the doom of men that they forget."


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