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Push-your-luck style magic system

 
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Hrusk
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 3:00 pm    Post subject: Push-your-luck style magic system Reply with quote

I've been running a Deadlands campaign for about half a year now, and now that we're starting to wrap up, one of my players wants to run a game with a homebrewed modern fantasy world he's brewed up on his own.

Since I'm the one most experienced with Savage Worlds rules, I'm helping him with game rules and such. One of the things that our new GM liked about Deadlands was the Huckster push-your luck style of spellcasting. You could either spend precious power points and cast safely, or you could gamble everything on a hand of cards. I though about this for a while, and I think I've come up with a system with the same sort of feel, without the hand 'o cards theme of the Huckster ability.

In this setting, magic is a wild force, usable in its natural form only by the fey. Other creatures are imbued, either by chance or genetics, with natural magic, and can use certain abilities, like oracles, or vampires. Normal humans, on the other hand, can access magic by controlling wild magic with words of power that allow them to shape reality itself. The AB(magic edge) works exactly like in the core rules, with the following changes:

(current incarnation of the push roll)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
PP's recharge at a rate of 1 PP per 3 hours.
Instead of using power points as normal during a casting attempt, the caster may attempt to "push", and draw wild magic from the surrounding area. When s/he does this, the caster rolls a number of dice equal to the power points cost of the spell, and of the same die-type as his/her casting die. If no doubles are rolled, the spell is cast as normal, although the caster may still need to roll to hit (with Bolt or similar spells). If, however, a double is rolled, the spell fails, and wild magic courses through the mages body, causing backlash. The type of backlash is dependent on what doubles the mage rolled. Look at what the mage rolled for doubles and consult the table below:
1 Corruption: The spell does the opposite of what it was supposed to do. Healing spells hurt, protection spells affect the opposition, damage spells affect the party, etc.
2 Mindscramble: Wild magic scrambles the mages mind. The GM picks a mind-related insanity from the hindrances list, or makes up his own. The insanity in question lasts 1d6 days before the mage "snaps out of it"
3-4 Backlash: The mage takes 2d6 damage, which ignores armour.
5-6 < >: The mage is shaken for 1d4 rounds
7-10 Shaken : The mage is shaken
11-12 Mutation: The mage suffers some sort of cosmetic change. Maybe his eyes change color, or his hair turns to white feathers. Otherwise, this effect does nothing.

If multiple doubles are rolled, the mage suffers multiple effects from the backlash table.
The minimum number of dice a mage can roll during a push attempt is 2.

ex: Xefron the Firemage is engaging in a duel with his nemesis. Xefron's out of PP's, and attempts to finish off his foe with a 6 PP Bolt, dangerously drawing magic in an unfiltered form. His casting die is a d8, so he rolls 6d8 and checks for doubles.Disaster! Xefrons rolls three 4's, two 8's, and a 5. Xefron is shaken for 1d4 rounds and gains an insanity for 1d6 days.

ex: Jack the Fuchsia(d10 caster skill) decides to cast a 2 PP deflection spell. Jack pushs and rolls 2d10. Jack rolls a 3 and a 7. Since there are no doubles, the spell goes off, and Jack does not reduce his PP pool by 2.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The reason behind the doubles being rolled determining the result is two-fold:
1.) It makes the "push" mechanic faster. In one roll, I can tell whether I succeeded or not, and if not, what the bad effects will be.
2.) The push mechanic is much, much more deadly for mages with lower casting dice. Not only are they more likely to roll doubles, but the effects of these doubles are more potent since you cannot possibly get doubles of a number higher than your die type.

Things I'm still struggling over:

Can you spend a bennie to re-roll a push roll? <resolved: only with an edge>

Is there a way to succeed with a raise, and if so, how do you determine it? My thoughts here are that in order to get a raise, you need to roll a run of three. This means that the closer you get to your maximum die-type, the more likely a raise will happen, but the more likely backlash will occur, which gives high-cost spells more of a all-or-nothing feel.<run-of three doesnt work for 2PP spells. Still looking for a raise mechanic>

Does having bonuses on your die type give any bonus to your push roll? Perhaps the bonus after d12's add to the number rolled on doubles, if any. So a mage with a d12+1 stat would have a 1 in 12 chance of suffering corruption on a backlash, and a 1/12 chance of suffering nothing at all (besides spell failiure)

Thoughts? criticisms? suggestions?


Last edited by Hrusk on Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:16 am; edited 1 time in total
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supercOntra
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you had 3 PP and wanted to cast a 6 PP spell would that be 3 dice?

From the looks of it I like your system. Maybe it needs tweaking but I'll leave that to people playtesting (I am currently running a sci-fi campaign).

Nice to have all done in one die roll. Maybe a raise allows you to discard one of the rolled dice or something like that.

Personally I'd not allow bennies since it's not a skill/stat check.

Will the casting roll be a separate roll, which I assume it is? If not, how is it included in the push roll since multiple dice vastly increases your chances of success.
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jpk
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suspect that this system will be far more punishing to magic users than you probably think it is, and there will be virtually no surviving non-WildCard mages in the setting. On average, if an Extra mage hits double fives, he's dead.

The Deadlands mechanics allow for pretty significant improvement in the card drawing mechanics. With just a few Edges, Dealing With the Devil can become a pretty reliable means of really hosing around power. You might want to consider something comparable to allow for personal improvement in this system, too.
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mcw
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have you looked at the Solomon Kane magic system? Seems pretty close to what you are trying to attempt, without the PP. I use the SK system for everything I run now.
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Hrusk
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Nice to have all done in one die roll. Maybe a raise allows you to discard one of the rolled dice or something like that.

Personally I'd not allow bennies since it's not a skill/stat check.

Will the casting roll be a separate roll, which I assume it is? If not, how is it included in the push roll since multiple dice vastly increases your chances of success.


The push check is in place of a regular spellcasting check, although if its a spell like bolt, you still need to roll to hit. If you succeed the push check, the spell goes off as if you had just successfully cast with with no PP expenditure. If you have 3 PP's and are casting a 6PP spell, you still roll 6 dice.

perhaps an edge that allows you to re-roll push checks?
Master Mage
Prerequisites: AB(Magic), Spellcasting d8+
You know how to harness to power of wild magic, and can keep it in check if need be. You may spend a bennie to re-roll a failed push check.

Quote:
I suspect that this system will be far more punishing to magic users than you probably think it is, and there will be virtually no surviving non-WildCard mages in the setting. On average, if an Extra mage hits double fives, he's dead.

The Deadlands mechanics allow for pretty significant improvement in the card drawing mechanics. With just a few Edges, Dealing With the Devil can become a pretty reliable means of really hosing around power. You might want to consider something comparable to allow for personal improvement in this system, too.


Hmmm... after some testing, I think your right. I'm going to bump down the backlash damage to 2d6.
Remember,however that you can still use regular power points. Extra mages will almost always forgoe pushing for simply keeping power points. Only those with a death wish (ie PC's) would even think of tapping such arcane power, blah blah blah.

the system above is primarily for WC mages. NPC's generally don't last more than a single fight anyways, so running out of PP's is rarely a problem. As for edges, bumping up your spellcasting die makes backlash a lot less likely a 2PP spell has a 1/6 chance of backlashing on a d6, but only a 1/8 on a d8. But a few edges wouldnt hurt....
Careful Caster
Prerequisites: Seasoned,AB(magic),Spellcasting d8+
You know how to contain wild magic such that should you lose control, you wont be as badly damaged. When you roll doubles on a push check, you may add +1 to your roll to determine backlash effects.

Archmage
Prerequisites: Vetren, AB(Magic), Spellcasting d12
You are a master of the arcane arts. When you push, you may re-roll up to 2 dice from your push roll.[/quote][/b]
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supercOntra
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 5:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not wanting to rain on your parade since I like the basic idea, but I wan't to bounce some ideas and questions.

Basically the more dangerous the spell (more PP) the greater the chance of success (more dice). I guess the increased chance of backlash partially offsets this but still don't like this part. If you roll 3d8 compared to 1d8 your chance of success goes from 62,5% to 95% and with 6 dice it's 99,7%.
You have not become better at casting but simply chosen a more difficult spell.

Maybe one of the dice, indicating the casting, should be a different color.
How does the wild die fit in?

Also I'd try to make a system where triples are worse than doubles and quadruples are even worse, that way only the most foolhardy would go for the 10PP wild magic.

The edges above I like, they will probably work well with this system and seem balanced enough.
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Clint
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm, am I missing something or does this make 1 PP powers effectively free. Since only one die would be rolled for their casting, there is absolutely no chance of doubles coming up. So mages would never use their PPs to cast such powers.

So a 2d6 bolt, a 1" barrier, elemental manipulation of any kind, creating light, speak language, and speed (just from the core rulebook) would all be "free."

Then it seems the jump to a 2 PP spell is a big gap. A lot of useful spells fall in this range (armor, deflection, boost/lower trait, smite, etc.), but the caster has a 1 in die type chance of backlash, and even with a d12 skill, there's a 50/50 chance of taking 3d6 damage, going insane, or reverse spell effect. On top of that, going with the "run of three" rule for a raise effect (as I understand it), there would be no way to get a raise on any of these powers that provide an additional effect for a raise, since only two dice would ever be rolled.

Again, maybe I'm misunderstanding, but that's what it looks like.
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Hrusk
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Clint wrote:
Hmm, am I missing something or does this make 1 PP powers effectively free. Since only one die would be rolled for their casting, there is absolutely no chance of doubles coming up. So mages would never use their PPs to cast such powers.

So a 2d6 bolt, a 1" barrier, elemental manipulation of any kind, creating light, speak language, and speed (just from the core rulebook) would all be "free."

Then it seems the jump to a 2 PP spell is a big gap. A lot of useful spells fall in this range (armor, deflection, boost/lower trait, smite, etc.), but the caster has a 1 in die type chance of backlash, and even with a d12 skill, there's a 50/50 chance of taking 3d6 damage, going insane, or reverse spell effect. On top of that, going with the "run of three" rule for a raise effect (as I understand it), there would be no way to get a raise on any of these powers that provide an additional effect for a raise, since only two dice would ever be rolled.

Again, maybe I'm misunderstanding, but that's what it looks like.


No, no Clint, you're right on the money.
Hmmm...
Perhaps editing the results table to make the nastier effects less likely?
I can see the table looking like this:
1: Corruption
2: Mindscramble
3-4: 2d6 damage (lowered to make less deadly)
5-6: shaken for 1d4 rounds
7-10: shaken
11-12: cosmetic change
13+: nothing

Then having the careful caster edge makes Corruption impossible, and Mindscramble on double or more 1's.

I'd although thought of the 1PP free rule, but I didn't think of the battle spells like 1 bolt, barrier, and so on that can cost 1 PP. Perhaps the minimum dice to roll would be 2?

As for run-of-three for raises, yeah, that idea went out the window pretty fast. As of now, I can't think of some way of determining raises in a push roll.

Any ideas, folks?
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Clint
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I'd honestly probably drop the entirely different system of casting, and go with something that works more based on the existing rules.

For instance, instead of changing the way the dice are rolled and the effects determined, what about...

Pushing: A spellcaster can attempt to cast any power they know without expending Power Points, however instead of standard and safer Backlash, they face Backfire/Wildflash/Manaburn. If the Spellcasting die comes up with a result equal or less than 1 plus the normal PP cost of the power, the caster is automatically Shaken and the GM rolls on the Manaburn table for and additional effect. Note, a power may still activate but result in Manaburn (whether due to the Wild Die or a PP cost of 3 or more).

Manaburn Table (roll 2d6):

2: The draining. The caster loses 1d6 PPs from his total permanently.
3-4: Overload. Power builds up and explodes in a LBT centered on caster doing 3d6+PP damage. All in the area (except for the caster) may Dive for Cover.
5-6: Corruption (power has opposite effect)
7-9: The burn. Mage takes damage equal to 2d6+PP cost.
10-11: Insanity for 1d6 days.
12: Mutation (cosmetic change)

Now, I dropped the roll on the table being based on the skill because high Skill is already going to reduce the odds of Manaburn to begin with, so having it affect both is kind of double-dipping.

Examples: Dangolf the Pale Prestidigitator casts (and pushes) for three 2d6 bolts, normal cost of 1 PP each. His Spellcasting dice come up a 5, 3, and 2 (with a 9 on the Wild Die). The 2 is equal or less than 1+1(the PP cost), so he is Shaken and the GM rolls on Manaburn for the additional effect. He gets an 8, so Dangolf takes 2d6+1 damage as well. He still gets off two bolts though without spending PPs (one for the 5 and one for the Wild Die). If Dangold had been trying to cast 3d6 bolts (costing 2 PPs), then he would have suffered another Shaken result for the 3 as well (1+2, the PP cost), and another roll on the Manaburn table as well. Pushing for bolts is dangerous.

Later Dangolf decides to push to cast Quickness (he's a little crazy). With a 4 PP cost, Manaburn will occur on a roll of 5 or less on his Spellcasting die. He gets a 4 on his Spellcasting die and a 2 on his Wild Die. Dangolf is once again Shaken and looking at a result on the Manaburn table, but the power will still activate normally unless he ends up with a Corruption result... which I wouldn't doubt given his luck.
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Last edited by Clint on Wed Feb 25, 2009 4:13 pm; edited 1 time in total
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supercOntra
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Clint. You're the man
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Hrusk
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2009 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Clint wrote:
Well, I'd honestly probably drop the entirely different system of casting, and go with something that works more based on the existing rules.

For instance, instead of changing the way the dice are rolled and the effects determined, what about...

Pushing: A spellcaster can attempt to cast any power they know without expending Power Points, however instead of standard and safer Backlash, they face Backfire/Wildflash/Manaburn. If the Spellcasting die comes up with a result equal or less than 1 plus the normal PP cost of the power, the caster is automatically Shaken and the GM rolls on the Manaburn table for and additional effect. Note, a power may still activate but result in Manaburn (whether due to the Wild Die or a PP cost of 3 or more).

Manaburn Table (roll 2d6):

2: The draining. The caster loses 1d6 PPs from his total permanently.
3-4: Overload. Power builds up and explodes in a LBT centered on caster doing 3d6+PP damage. All in the area (except for the caster) may Dive for Cover.
5-6: Corruption (power has opposite effect)
7-9: The burn. Mage takes damage equal to 2d6+PP cost.
10-11: Insanity for 1d6 days.
12: Mutation (cosmetic change)

Now, I dropped the roll on the table being based on the skill because high Skill is already going to reduce the odds of Manaburn to begin with, so having it affect both is kind of double-dipping.

Examples: Dangolf the Pale Prestidigitator casts (and pushes) for three 2d6 bolts, normal cost of 1 PP each. His Spellcasting dice come up a 5, 3, and 2 (with a 9 on the Wild Die). The 2 is equal or less than 1+1(the PP cost), so he is Shaken and the GM rolls on Manaburn for the additional effect. He gets an 8, so Dangolf takes 2d6+1 damage as well. He still gets off two bolts though without spending PPs (one for the 5 and one for the Wild Die). If Dangold had been trying to cast 3d6 bolts (costing 2 PPs), then he would have suffered another Shaken result for the 3 as well (1+2, the PP cost), and another roll on the Manaburn table as well. Pushing for bolts is dangerous.

Later Dangolf decides to push to cast Quickness (he's a little crazy). With a 4 PP cost, Manaburn will occur on a roll of 5 or less on his Spellcasting die. He gets a 4 on his Spellcasting die and a 2 on his Wild Die. Dangolf is once again Shaken and looking at a result on the Manaburn table, but the power will still activate normally unless he ends up with a Corruption result... which I wouldn't doubt given his luck.

I bow to the master.
That is much simpler and elegant than my solution, and much more punishing when it comes to multidice powers like Bolt.

Well done sir!
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