Help With Customizing Power System

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lordvalinar
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Help With Customizing Power System

#1 Postby lordvalinar » Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:34 pm

Hey all! I'm having a dilemma what to do with the spell system for my homebrew world, so I thought I'd pitch the idea out to the community for some feedback and suggestions. So the format shall be simple - I'll post a little bit (the bullet points) of the world to get a better idea hopefully, and then I will post my thoughts/what I have so far.

[*] Low-Magic setting (as in - not many casters are there and/or allowed, however, those that do play are going to be feared, hated, and hunted down if caught casting. There are additional costs with using Necromancy, part of the problem listed below)

[*] Dark Fantasy (while suitable for PG 13 - of course can't say for all GM/tables, some may take it to a more mature setting - the world is bleak and filled with horrifying monsters that inspire terror nearly everywhere to the common folk. Many ancient ruins have claimed the lives of countless adventurers, plus demons, vampires, and other eldritch horrors from beyond dot the landscapes). Includes SW - Horror Companion for Sanity and a few other rules, Edges, and Hindrances.

[*] Planes of Magic - There are two: The Eldritch Arcana (a plane of pure energy in which magi "anchor" themselves, allowing a controlled flow of energy that they manifest into the world as spells/powers) and then there's The Void the expands endlessly and yet is connected to every other plane. Necromancers, blood mages, and demonologists use this plane to summon forth dark energies to bind demons to corpses (Undead), blood magic to influence the minds and bodies of others like puppets, or just summon and bind demons in a pure(true) form to wreck havoc upon all but themselves. Maybe even make a deal out of it.

--- The System ---

What I Want To Do: Separate the magic so those that use the Void must substitute life force for Power Points (similar to Soul Drain). So one thought:
[ Arcane Background(The Void) ]
Arcane Skill: Soulweaving(Spirit)
Starting Power Points: Special (Gains 'Blood Rite' listed below) This is primary method of casting (unless they gain Soul Drain later).
Starting Powers: 2

[ Arcane Background(Eldritch Arcana) ]
Arcane Skill: Spellcasting(Smarts)
Starting Power Points: 5
Starting Powers: 2

(( Either when the hero reaches the next rank - typically Seasoned - or if they want to spend an Advancement on it early, then they gain:
+1 Power
+5 Power Points (Eldritch Arcana) -or- Cost to activate a spell is 1 less for Void?

New Edge

[ Blood Rite ]
Requirements; Novice, Spirit d8
Benefits: May perform a dramatic ritual with 1 less skill check to succeed, or when using blood magic to obtain power points to cast a spell/power with necromantic trappings, you may make a Vigor check.
Failure: Something here, maybe Shaken (may cause a Wound), or perhaps relate more towards Fatigue since it's cuts and bruises, ((unless the result is 1 or less, then maybe is an actual Wound))
Success: obtain the power points to cast the Power (or perhaps gain 2d6 power points temporarily. May use out of that to cast the power and save the others?)


--- Your Help ---

So the real question is since we want to make it FFF... obviously don't want to make it too complicated, but how do I separate the system? Necromancers, blood mages, and demonologists need to draw upon life force to cast their spells. Whether it's a ritual sacrifice of someone else, cutting themselves to draw upon their own life blood, or Souls (via receptical, their own, etc.) Appreciate any feedback and advice :)

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dentris
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Re: Help With Customizing Power System

#2 Postby dentris » Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:15 pm

Maybe do something with how PP is gained? Just throwing ideas:

PP do not regenerate over time. In fact, every hour, you lose one PP. Whenever you Shake an opponent, you recover a PP. For every wound you inflict on others, gain 2 PP. You may also cut yourself. As an action, you may volontraly gain one level of Fatigue which may only be restored after 8 hours of sleep, but gain 5 PP in the process.

Then you have these Edges:

Feeds on Pain
Increase PP gain when Shaking or wounding enemies by 1

Bloodflow
You may inflict wounds on yourself as well as fatigue levels. These wounds must heal through natural healing.

Masochist
Gain 5 PP when gaining fatigue or wounds from an outside source (like an attack)
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ValhallaGH
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Re: Help With Customizing Power System

#3 Postby ValhallaGH » Thu Apr 20, 2017 7:40 am

Hey and welcome!

Sounds like an interesting project, I hope it all comes together well.

lordvalinar wrote:[*] Low-Magic setting (as in - not many casters are there and/or allowed, however, those that do play are going to be feared, hated, and hunted down if caught casting. There are additional costs with using Necromancy, part of the problem listed below)

[*] Dark Fantasy (while suitable for PG 13 - of course can't say for all GM/tables, some may take it to a more mature setting - the world is bleak and filled with horrifying monsters that inspire terror nearly everywhere to the common folk. Many ancient ruins have claimed the lives of countless adventurers, plus demons, vampires, and other eldritch horrors from beyond dot the landscapes). Includes SW - Horror Companion for Sanity and a few other rules, Edges, and Hindrances.

[*] Planes of Magic - There are two: The Eldritch Arcana (a plane of pure energy in which magi "anchor" themselves, allowing a controlled flow of energy that they manifest into the world as spells/powers) and then there's The Void the expands endlessly and yet is connected to every other plane. Necromancers, blood mages, and demonologists use this plane to summon forth dark energies to bind demons to corpses (Undead), blood magic to influence the minds and bodies of others like puppets, or just summon and bind demons in a pure(true) form to wreck havoc upon all but themselves. Maybe even make a deal out of it.

These are all Trappings of the world. They matter for explaining and conceptualizing, but (other than the third) aren't important to the game mechanics. Still, really cool. Thanks for sharing.

lordvalinar wrote:What I Want To Do: Separate the magic so those that use the Void must substitute life force for Power Points (similar to Soul Drain).

You want Void magic to mostly be ritual casting? Because that doesn't usually require an AB to do, though having an edge or two to ease it is pretty cool. Bonus, it makes The Void very insidious and relatively easy to access (like all the best evil systems). For a true Void caster, one that's "mastered" channeling life, having a full Arcane Background is probably the right move.
Are you giving free power increases to EA? Because that's usually a really bad idea.

So my thought, is that Void uses the No Power Points rules for psionics (since it makes sense that a bad roll could harm everyone in the area) while EA uses No PP for magic (only likely to accidentally kill yourself).
The difficulty of casting, and the dangers of backlash, give a game mechanic for why there are so few casters (most apprentices die from backlash) and why most wouldn't bother to learn magic even without the social pressures (the penalties make it hard to succeed without lots of tedious training).
The other big difference would be the available power and Trapping lists. (If you're already doing this, feel free to ignore the next part.) Both should have different power lists; some abilities should be common to both (bolt, deflection, etc.) but there should also be a fair number of powers only available on one list. There should also be unique lists of trappings for both; examples: fire, lightning, and light are something for EA while necromancy, darkness, and tortured spirits are Void.

Good luck and I hope this was helpful.
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Erolat
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Re: Help With Customizing Power System

#4 Postby Erolat » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:33 am

This sounds like it could be fun. I think you want your Eldritch casters to be a bit more powerful but only slightly so, where your Void casters are a bit more bloody minded. As a result here are my suggestions:

Arcane Background (Eldritch Arcana)
Arcane Skill: Spellcasting (Smarts)
Starting Power Points: 5
Starting Powers: 2
Available Powers: All except Puppet and Zombie

Edge: Eldritch Master
Requirements: Seasoned, Arcane Background (Eldritch Arcana), Spellcasting d8
The spellcaster learns one additional power and gains five power points. Can be taken once per rank.
(Effectively giving both New Power and Extra Power Points in one edge but limited to once per rank.)

Arcane Background (The Void)
Arcane Skill: Soulweaving (Spirit)
Starting Power Points: 0, the Extra Power Points edged is modified for this character (see below)
Starting Powers: 2
Available Powers: All except Healing and Greater Healing

Instead of using power points the Weaver casts all powers as a shortened dramatic task. They have four rounds to generate four successes. They are dealt initiative cards each round and have complications when dealt Clubs suffering a -2 on their Spellweaving check for that round. Just like a dramatic task multiple successes can be generated in any given round. If the Weaver can generate all four successes in just two rounds the power activates as if with a raise. (If five or more successes are generated then the power gets per success over four if appropriate.) Unlike dramatic tasks the Weaver is allowed to perform other actions while attempting this task. Doing so however generates a multi-action penalty for the weaving and all other tasks attempted.
Rolling a 1 on the skill die during any of these checks causes a feedback loop dealing one point of Fatigue damage. Failing to generate the needed four successes in four rounds causes the power to fail and the Weaver takes a wound.

Edge: Blood Magic
Requirements: Novice, Arcane Background (The Void), Soulweaving d8
Through minor cuts and blood letting the Weaver is able to generate power points for casting powers without the need for a ritual. As an action the Weaver makes a Soulweaving check that generates 2d6 Power Points, 3d6 with a raise. Rolling a one on the skill die inflicts a wound on the Weaver. These points can then be used to cast any power the Weaver knows with just a single Spellweaving check. These points fade at a rate of one point every 15 minutes. While the Weaver has power points in storage he is unable to generate any additional power points in this manner.
Optionally, the Weaver can cause a wound to himself to generate ten power points with no skill roll needed though it is still an action. If the Weaver has a bound, living target he can inflict this wound on the victim instead. (The cuts must be rather precise so they cannot be the result of a melee attack, and most people do not like having their blood drained to grant someone else power.) This option is available even if the Weaver has points already in storage.
Any wounds generated by using this edge can only be healed through natural healing.

Edge: Master Blood Magic
Requirements: Veteran, Blood Magic
This power slows the decay of power generated through the Blood Magic edge to a loss of one power point every 30 minutes.

Edge: Extra Power Points (Arcane Background: The Void)
Instead of granting the Weaver five base Power Points it instead modifies his Blood Magic edge to generate an additional 5 Power Points. This edge can be taken multiple times increasing the gain each time.

Now some examples:
Ritual: Our Weaver wants to raise a few minions to help around the house so she starts a ritual to cast Zombie. On the first round she is dealt a heart so she just makes a Soulweaving check and gets really lucky, a 13 generates three successes. On the second round she is dealt a club so she makes her check at -2 and she is not so lucky this time getting no successes. On the third round she is dealt a spade and gets two more successes. Her zombie minions are successfully raised for the next hour.

Ritual (with raise): Finding out that she has a lot more stuff to still get done she casts Zombie again. On the first round she is dealt a spade so she makes a Soulweaving check and gets really lucky agian, a 15 generates three successes. On the second round she is dealt another spade and gets two more successes. This is enough to grant her not only a success but also a raise. And, because she generated a fifth success she gains the benefit of two raises and her minions are animated for one day. Now she can get all the chores done.

Blood Magic: Our Weaver knows she is going into a dangerous situation, she is headed into town, and she wants to be able to respond quickly. She takes a moment to prick her finger and draw some symbols on her arms. With a successful Soulweaving check she generates 2d6 Power Points gaining an amazing 9 points. A few minutes later sure enough the villagers start to riot and she needs to take a few down. She casts Bolt at three targets using three of her nine Power points. This scares off the crowd and she continues on her way. Twenty minutes later the villagers have recovered their courage, and found the city guard, and return. Over this time one power point has faded leaving our Weaver with only five Power Points left to deal with this new threat. She knows she needs to thin the heard a bit so she wants to maximize a casting of Blast. To do this she needs six power points though and she cannot generate any more the easy way. Knowing she does not have much time she makes a large cut in her arm, dealing one wound, and makes a Soulweaving check. With a success she now has fifteen power points to blast the uppity townsfolk and teach them a lesson.

lordvalinar
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Re: Help With Customizing Power System

#5 Postby lordvalinar » Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:58 am

Hey everybody! Thanks for the feedback thusfar. Going to try to respond in order here:

dentris wrote:PP do not regenerate over time. In fact, every hour, you lose one PP

I like the idea of the edges giving the players more opportunity to gain PP, but not so much the "it ticks down" sort of thing. Feels like more bookkeeping or tediousness than already necessary. Good suggestions though will keep that in mind.

ValhallaGH wrote:These are all Trappings of the world. They matter for explaining and conceptualizing, but (other than the third) aren't important to the game mechanics. Still, really cool. Thanks for sharing.

Yeah I only meant for them to get a bit more feel for the world without going into TOO much detail. I could sit here all night writing out the entire story lol

ValhallaGH wrote:You want Void magic to mostly be ritual casting?

Not quite no. Void magic requires life force to manifest where EA users require an "anchor" (symbolic for the arcane link they create between themselves and the EA plane itself; ie. Verbal/Somatic/Material components, etc.). I feel that ritual sacrifice could be a valid method in providing both the life force and a body for a demon to be bound to. Two birds with one stone kind of thing, but not the only method. Bloodletting (cutting their hand with an athame or something), or if they have a container of souls, they can draw from those as well, etc.

ValhallaGH wrote:Are you giving free power increases to EA? BEcause that's usually a really bad idea.

Nope. The idea behind my system was to divide the original ABs. (10 PP, 3 powers for Magic for example, and then cut it down to 5 PP and 2 powers to start. When they reach Seasoned (or if they Picked up AB later like Seasoned, they would get the other half on the next Rank (S,V,H,L, etc) gaining those other 5 PP and 1 power)

ValhallaGH wrote:So my thought, is that Void uses the No Power Points rules for psionics (since it makes sense that a bad roll could harm everyone in the area) while EA uses No PP for magic (only likely to accidentally kill yourself).

I like this idea... would take away the tediousness of keeping track of PP, and provides risk. The former could be the mage didn't anchor themselves properly and the surge of energy from another plane ... well.. hurt lol okay nice. I'll definitely put this down in my notes.

ValhallaGH wrote:Both should have different power lists; some abilities should be common to both

For this part I'm still deciding on. Will have to go through all the powers and trappings but right now with AB(magic) and AB(miracles) I took the Fantasy Companion's idea of making the Magic one not have Greater Healing, healing, or succor available to the list. And a new one "Animate" replaces "Zombie" (because animating objects aside from corpses fit the description as well). In my world, "Mimics" or Animated Armor basically are demon possessed objects :P

Erolat wrote: I think you want your Eldritch casters to be a bit more powerful but only slightly so

In this world Void magic is more "powerful" or should I say more potent.... like the Light/Dark side of the Force, neither side is more powerful, but the dark side is more flashy and aggressive. And those who can obtain the more powerful effects (like the power to incinerate foes with a mere look ... SW fans know what I'm talking about.. because I've forgotten the power's name :P anyways), so yeah. Void magic is more potent to an extent, but as it feeds on life force it's also more dangerous.

To Erolat:

Some really great suggestions here, especially with the edges to compliment the power points/powers. I could provide those bonuses as Edges I suppose (but I also wanted the option available to the players for "Free" when they hit the next Rank. This simulates the characters have had time to adjust to the ways of magic they've adopted and their bodies have gotten used to the strain and thus gains full access to the power a normal SW game would take by taking the appropriate Arcane Background edge. But having an edge available for them to take (that advancement) works great as well. Will keep these in my notes as well :)

As for the rest of it, I think I'm going to go with Valhalla's suggestion on No PP system for both, but provide different backlashes for each one. Still thinking on the ritual part (might use your edge for the ritual 4 chances, 4 successes as a dramatic task) but instead of providing the PP needed, will make the Soulweaving check with the 0.5 x PP required penalty as per the No PP rules. That could work I think?

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Re: Help With Customizing Power System

#6 Postby lordvalinar » Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:21 pm

I still don't know though. I'm also kind of thinking of leaving AB(Magic) and AB(Miracles) and just have the Eldritch Arcana and Void "aspects" of each power. (like valhalla said with the trappings), but maybe have different penalties depending on which trapping you're using (the No PP psionics(void), No PP magic(EA)).

Maybe the "Healing" power with a necromantic trapping could be used on the undead (that can be healed)?

Or alternatively I'm not sure how to go about seperating the powers for the powers. A lot of them sound like they can be used by either Arcane Background (save for a select few). So.. maybe a large pool of powers is free for all, and then just pick and choose certain ones that are restricted to certain ABs?

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Re: Help With Customizing Power System

#7 Postby ValhallaGH » Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:56 pm

For myself, those kinds of questions can be answered by going back to the setting. The powers available to an AB say a lot about what that AB can do, how it interacts with the setting, and what the limits are.
If a particular AB can heal injuries then it should have healing. If it can regrow limbs and heal old injuries then it should have greater healing. If it can energize a character, removing deprivation (hunger, thirst, sleep, etc.) or light injuries (i.e. Shaken) then it should have succor.
If it can draw forth murderous allies for a brief period then summon ally. If it raises the dead to slay foes then zombie.

Void and Eldritch Arcana both probably have the ability to divert incoming attacks (deflection), harm foes (bolt), and a bunch of other similar powers. But they should both have some unique abilities, too.

A couple of examples:
wizard list wrote:armor, banish, barrier, blast, blind, bolt, boost/lower Trait, burrow, burst, detect/conceal arcana, confusion, damage field, darksight, deflection, disguise, dispel, drain Power Points, entangle, environmental protection, farsight, fear, fly, growth/shrink, havoc, healing, intangibility, invisibility, light/obscure, pummel, quickness, slow, slumber, smite, speak language, speed, stun, summon ally, telekinesis, teleport, wall walker, and warrior’s gift.

cleric list wrote:armor, banish, barrier, beast friend, blind, bolt, boost/lower Trait, burrow, burst, clairvoyance, detect/conceal arcana, confusion, darksight, deflection, dispel, entangle, environmental protection, farsight, fear, fly, greater healing, havoc, healing, intangibility, invisibility, light/obscure, pummel, quickness, shape change, slow, slumber, smite, speak language, speed, stun, succor, summon ally, wall walker, and warrior’s gift.

weird science list wrote:armor, barrier, blast, blind, bolt, boost/lower Trait, burrow, burst, clairvoyance, confusion, damage field, darksight, deflection, detect/conceal arcana, dispel, drain Power Points, entangle, environmental protection, farsight, fly, havoc, healing, intangibility, invisibility, light/obscure, pummel, quickness, slumber, smite, speak language, speed, stun, succor, telekinesis, teleport, wall walker, and warrior’s gift.

There's a lot of overlap in those lists, but also some differences. Powers not used by all three lists include: beast friend, clairvoyance, damage field, disguise, drain Power Points, fear, greater healing, growth/shrink, shape change, slow, succor, summon ally, telekinesis, and teleport.

So, think about what they're supposed to do in the setting and compare that to the powers list. And avoid stretching too far with the trappings; I figured out trappings for an earth mage to raise zombies but decided that I should cut that power despite my clever trapping - having zombie on the list said the wrong things about that AB in that setting.

Good luck! I hope some of this was helpful.
"Got a problem? I've got the solution: Rocket Launcher."
"Not against a Servitor."
"... We're all gonna die."

lordvalinar
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Re: Help With Customizing Power System

#8 Postby lordvalinar » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:16 pm

Okay so some overlap is alright then. I was just thinking of doing something like:

AB(EA): Any power except (list of Void powers only)
AB(Void): Any power except (list of EA powers only)

Edit: Forgot to mention below "Animate" replaces "Zombie". So any edge (like the Necromancer professional edge in SW: Horror Companion) that affects "Zombie" will now affect "Animate".

Then the lists would be shorter lol. Also a couple other things... since I liked the idea and am going with the No Power Points thing, I just remove "Drain Power Points" power right? I am adding other powers from the SW: Horror Companion and SW: Fantasy Companion (some non mentioned powers like Analyze Foe, Draining Touch, etc.) and then I've also made up my own Power "ANIMATE". Covers animating objects (binding demons to non-magical non animated objects to make "mimics" :evilbat: Animated Armor, and of course animating corpses or pile of bones to make zombies/skeletons. Then thinking of offering Edges to improve the Animate power (make more powerful undead -> Ghouls, Wights, Revenants, and Ghosts -> Improved Edge for even MORE powerful undead (death knights, wraiths, undead dragons, and liches) but at a higher penalty to the arcane skill roll to create those. or something.. still WIP.

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Re: Help With Customizing Power System

#9 Postby ValhallaGH » Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:28 am

You can do power lists that way, just make sure you go over the powers lists and look at all the powers, how they fit the concepts, and what they say about the setting. Otherwise you'll be repeating mistakes I've made, and I'd hope that someone would learn from my mistakes. :lol:

Animate sounds like a hybrid of summon ally and zombie. Possessed armor is roughly the same as a Bodyguard, and a larger and more powerful construct would probably be a Sentinel.
The big differences between summon ally and zombie are Duration (3 & 1 rounds; 1 to 24 hours), versatility (different options at various costs or more of weaker things at higher costs; one type of thing in almost limitless numbers), rank available (Novice with new options each Rank; Veteran), and Power Point cost (base cost +2 per additional creature; 3 per zombie).
They're pretty comparable, with zombies being roughly as powerful as a bodyguard. Which raises some questions about the Rank differences. The conclusion I came to is that the duration, and potentially large numbers, are the big balance issues that make zombie be a Veteran power.

Things to consider when working up your new power. Good luck!
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"Not against a Servitor."
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lordvalinar
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Re: Help With Customizing Power System

#10 Postby lordvalinar » Fri Apr 21, 2017 11:15 am

Hmm I didn't even think about Summon Ally. I was comparing (in a lore sense) that Animate was more like a simultaneous "Summon Demon" + "Bind Entity" (from the SW: Horror Companion), but directly into a host body/object form.

I was mostly using the Zombie power for in terms of duration (1 hour, 1d6 hours on a raise, or an entire day on 2 raises) at a cost of -1 to the arcane skill check for Animate Object, and -2 per corpse for Animate Dead. Then also considering the Necromancer professional edge in SW: Horror Companion would lower the cost of Animate Dead to -1 per corpse, Requirements become Novice for the Animate power, or may keep the cost at -2 to extend the duration for Animate Dead extend to: 2d6 hours on a success, 2d6 days on a raise, or permanent on two raises.

I didn't want to bother messing with Animate Object, I thought it was fine as is. Alternatively.... I could remove Summon Ally and change up Animate to be more like it. (or just reword Summon Ally to Summon Undead, but that wouldn't be technically correct since you require a pile of bones or corpse for the power to activate).

EDIT: For the undead portion only. Animate Object could be similar but have animated by size (the classic Mimic chest, to the medium Animated Armor, to large things like Monster House) xD lol
EDIT2: Or I don't have to remove Summon Ally... just sort of mimic Animate to be like it?

Cost | Rank | Undead summoned
----------------------------------------------
-2 / Novice / Skeleton(pile of bones) or Zombie(corpse)
-3 / Seasoned / Ghouls(corpse) or Ghost(recently deceased)
-4 / Veteran / Revenant(corpse) or Wight(corpse)
-5 / Heroic / Death Knight(corpse) or Wraith(bound spirit)
-6 / Legendary / Undead Dragon(dragon corpse), Vampire(corpse), or Lich(pile of bones)

Necromancer professional edge could reduce the arcane skill penalty by 1, duration could be 24 hours? With the possibility of maintaining it, that would mean a necromancer couldn't get an unlimited army unless they really want to stack on those penalties when casting the power over and over again.


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