Saturday 31 October 2015

Where's the Magic in Magic?

I've spent a lot of time over the years thinking about magic use in fantasy roleplaying games.

The difficulty I have, in system after system, is to make magic magical, and to make it perilous and difficult without becoming uselessly dangerous to the user.

D&D magic, if used by the book, is really rather mundane. It is virtually omnipresent; it might as well be modern or sci-fi technology. At best, it makes the game run like a superhero RPG. The latest iterations of D&D (the 4th and 5th editions) are the most egregious in this respect, with virtually every character class tossing magic around with gay abandon, but it's a feature of the system that has been building right from the beginning back in the '70s.

In the Microlite D20 version of D&D3e, there are no spell slots as such. Spells cost the character Hit-Points to cast. I don't recall the exact ratio, but it's probably 1 hp per spell level. That strikes me as a useful mechanism to control the willy-nilly flinging about of cantrips like Light and such-like.

I'm thinking of instituting a casting cost of, say, 1d6 + 1 hit-point per spell level to cast, and half that (rounded down) for each additional round of maintenance, With the large number of hit-points most characters have in 5th Edition, along with the ease and speed of recovery, I don't think it would be too onerous a price to pay, while still resulting in a noticeable diminishing of resources over time. It would make items for creating spell-like effects a lot more desirable, and perhaps magical energy reserves (like IOUN stones or something) could be added.

This does nothing much to address the mundane omnipresence of magic in D&D, but one thing at a time.

This guy includes in his Generic Adventurer rules just the sort of thing I mean:
"No more memorisation, you know all the spells you know.
To cast a spell, lose maximum HP equal to the spell's level. Maximum as in off the top, not the total. Your total HP will reduce if you max HP drops below it. (this prevents just healing yourself to ignore the difficulty of magic and also allows magic users to not stop casting spell from fear of killing themselves)
If a spell would be unavailable to a magic user of your level (according to default Lamentations rules) it costs double. Example: A level 4 character casting a level 3 spell (not normally available until level 5) would lose 6 max HP when casting it
Your max HP recover after 8 hours rest"
Lamentations characters have far fewer hit-points than D&D5e characters, so I'd stick with the additional d6 hp on casting. I do like the idea that spell-casting wear and tear comes off the character's hit-point maximum rather than their current total. Though I'm not quite sure what he means by "allows magic users to not stop casting spell from fear of killing themselves". I also like the idea of a magic-user being able to cast spells too high for their own level by paying penalty rates, but I think that idea needs a little more attention.

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Ein Volk, Ein Dungeon, Ein Fuhrer!

"The 6th Panzer Division creates a pincer encirclement here to deal with the infestation of bugbears kobolds and squid-face things, which will open our path to the Holy Grail and TOTAL WORLD DOMINATION!"

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Airfix 1:72 Boulton-Paul Defiant

For the first time in years and years, I felt the urge to build a model aeroplane. As usual, I veered away from the cool 'planes, and went for a bit of a lame duck: the Boulton-Paul Defiant, from 1940.

Airfix have just released a newly-tooled model of this aeroplane, and I have to say that it's the best-engineered plastic model kit I've ever put together. Everything went together like a breeze, and the detailing is excellent for a kit of this scale.

Saturday 10 October 2015

Home-made D4

To fill some empty time today, I made myself a "brazil nut" d4 out of some pink birch and poplar dowel. It seems to be successful as a die, so I shall probably make some more. I've just eyeballed the proportions, and haven't employed any great precision in manufacture, but it seems to roll pretty randomly nevertheless.

It's about 18 x 30 mm. I wouldn't want to go any bigger than that, but it wouldn't hurt to be a bit smaller. That would make manufacturing them trickier though.

I tried out this design too, but it didn't roll as well — it had a tendency to end up lying on one of the curved sides (and thus not showing any of the pip faces), especially when rolled on a soft fabric surface.

Also, the pips are too small and indistinct for easy reading.

Thursday 1 October 2015

Not what I should be doing

There are several things I should be doing today, and none of them are painting another Zvezda 1:100 scale T-35.

However, that's what I've done.

I'm such a rebel.