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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Some Tricks for Tunnels & Trolls' Magic System

This came through as something I was thinking about but the blog "The Omnipotent Eye" (See my blogs followed area for a link.  I really must learn how to use all of the functions available to me in Blogger someday..) got me to actually write things up.

You see, spellcasting in Tunnels & Trolls 7.5 edition is sort of weird.

In that opponents with a higher Wizardry score are immune to spells from someone with a lower Wizardry score.  So until that enemy spellcaster has burned his WIZ (or Mana.  Or Spellpoints.  All the same thing really.) spellcasters with lower WIZ cannot even affect him.  (Edit: According to the Trollgod himself Ken St Andre I missed something I could have sworn I read back when I first read the ruleset but missed on my recent reskimming of the book.  Spells still go off but merely the WIZ actually spent subtracts from the defender.  Which is a little low really.  I think my ideas still improve things.)

This... is kind of not good.

See in Tunnels & Trolls you can also buff spells to do more damage, have a longer duration, or just have a smaller WIZ cost to cast because you are of a higher level or have a magical focus doo dad.

So a fix needs to be made.  One that is exciting and cinematic.  One that is tactical.

And I may have come upon the solution I posted to the Omnipotent Eye.  Here it is for all of you with some tweaks and edits.

So a damage spell hurts your WIZ first, then overflow damage goes to your CON, what T&T uses for Hit Points.  So say your 40 WIZ, 20 INT(elligence) spellcaster casts Take That You Fiend.
Normally this spell costs 6 WIZ.  Our spellcaster decides to cast it at a times 3 effect for a casting cost of 18.  Well our hero is also level 4 since he has that 40 WIZ so the cost is reduced by 4 to 14.  If our caster had a normal magic wand/staff this drops to 11 as the spell is being cast as a 3rd level spell.  (I could go into the more fancy focus items in the Monsters & Magic Book but I want to keep things a bit simple.)
Normally our 100 WIZ enemy wizard would laugh and be completely immune to a 80 point whopper of a spell. (TTYF doubles its previous effect at each level.)  That's kind of stupid and unexciting.  Spellcaster Bob uses one fourth of his eldritch might to stop Wizard Doug.
And because Doug has more WIZ?  Doug is immune and Bob has to go target something else.
This is dumb.  Also it then means Bob can then cast the same spell at an even cheaper cost since he is higher level, and turn Doug into cinders and he can't do anything but die horribly.
What if we use my system?  Bob casts his spell which does 80 points of damage?
We get strategic now.  Doug can now decide to take the hit OR subtract the damage directly from his WIZ, weakening his magic store, but keeping him alive and ready for a counterattack that will probably take Bob out anyhow, though leaving Doug almost empty of WIZ so Bob's friends can take the pesky Wizard out.
Let's make it even more thoughtful.  You can CHOOSE how many points to take from your WIZ and CON when hit by a spell.  Maybe your spellcaster partially lowers his defenses so he can cast a massive counterattack spell or maybe even a mass heal spell that heals him and his minions.
We have just turned T&T's magic system into cinematic duels.  Rock.
But you may be wondering what we do about non direct damage spells.  Well this is easy.  The WIZ reduction from the target is the BASE cost of the spell including its' boosting cost.  So a 12 WIZ spell boosted twice is 36 points of WIZ the spellcaster has to subtract (in non direct damage spell's cases no splitting it.  All or nothing to WIZ) that 36 no matter how cheaply the enemy spellcaster had made it due to levels and foci.  Or the spellcaster can take a chance on a Saving Roll or whatever else could be done to avoid the negative effect.  Or just take it.
It all becomes an epic gamble of wits.
Good and tactical for the lower mages too. Its as if they are fighting off the higher powered mage by forcing him to use his own Kremm to stop their magical attacks as opposed to using it to hurt them!

Its also nice for your non spellcasters as WIZ matters to them too.  It gives them a little defense from enemy spells.  Now no longer can Wizard Doug blast Dave the Daring with a TTYF and have him die.  Dave has 15 WIZ which lets him soak up 15 points of damage.  Sure the majority is still hitting him.  But now that barely armed and armored Doug has to deal with a VERY angry and scorched Warrior who has a good 30 combat adds plus a nice 7D6+1 Flamberge ready to send Doug 6 feet under.  (Doug thought himself too special to spend Adventure Points in buffing his CON.  Thus Doug only has 20 CON.  And Doug cast a spell so no Combat Rolls period.  Doug chose poorly and has to endure 38-73 points of damage.  Doug only has 8 points of armor.  Doug is a dead Wizard.  Goodnight Doug.)
Would you rather be frozen in place, or lose WIZ?  With my system you get to make that choice, making some exciting decisions in the heat of combat like my examples show.

More thoughts and update:  There are various discussions if armor blocks damage effects.  I am probably missing it just like the Kremm drain rules but as far as I am concerned?  Any damage spell that has a physical effect that could be blocked by armor IS.  So a Fireball type would be blocked by armor, but a spell sending brain NEEEMS to the head wouldn't get any armor resistance unless the defender was wearing a helmet.  In crossover games with Mercenaries, Spies, and Private Eyes we just made Tin Foil Hats essential adventuring gear!
Oh yeah.  And friendly spells ignore the above and always work.  A spell that heals the body isn't going to be affected by the WIZ values of other caster or target.  The rules above just affect harmful spells.
I don't care how high my WIZ score is.  If someone casts "Zooey Deschanel in Your Lap" at me, that is helpful and will always work.
However my WIZ score would be used to BLOCK "Watch Fox News".


Fun at the Library said...

I love that way of handling spells. I'm all for more color and excitement in the game. Perhaps we can implement those rules in the chaotic 8th edition of the rules.

BTW, weaker wizards can still cast at higher wizards. The energ;y spent reduces the other guy's energy by the same amount. Having the damage reduce the kremm, tho, is a radical concept.

--Ken St. Andre

Captain Rufus said...

Just make a little thanks to me for coming up with the idea and I would be HONORED good sir.

I'm sure your gang at Trollhalla could put the concept through its paces and make it shine.

Though it honestly wouldn't surprise me if some RPG/hobby game didn't have dueling power/magic/psi points somewhere.

I KNEW I missed something. I could have sworn spells sucked away a little bit of WIZ at the target but I must have missed it in my quick reread before writing this blog post. I will have to go back and look through again.

I sort of want to do a total "advanced" combat example showing what sort of tactical play could be done with T&T without getting too complicated and sort of need to do a reread of a few sections. Its been well over a year since I read the books and a few bits must have passed me by.

(I can only imagine what the ASL community will catch me doing wrong when I start tackling the Starter Kits. My shame will be legendary.)

But thanks for the kind comment, and thank you for making such a kicky fun, fast, flexible, and freewheeling system.

Its a crying shame more people don't play or respect it sir.

Maybe the troubles you are having with the now former 2nd party publisher will continue bringing old fans or people who never gave the game a good shot in the past into the fold.

Oh.. and as someone who loves books, thanks for Library work as well!


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