Sunday, August 19, 2018

Universal Spontaneous Magic System

In order to cast a spell, you must first Invoke a Discipline and declare your effect. Your DM will tell you how difficult this spell is, and then you can roll a d20 meet or beat the SC (Spell Challenge). Add your Intelligence modifier to all normal spell rolls. Casters add their level, half casters add half their level, rounded down, to the spell roll. If you've equipped a wand, staff, magic orb, spellbook, etc. add +1 to the roll.

On any successful spell roll; your character gets -1 to all spell rolls made for the rest of the day. This is due to draining their magical energy. If you drink a mana potion you can restore +1d6 points of your normal bonus. Points over your maximum provide no bonus, but make your eyes and skin glow for 1 turn per point over max.

On any failed spell roll; you must choose one of these four options. If you are casting a spell from a scroll, item, don't know what the spell does, or are manipulating another unknown magical force; roll 1d4 to determine random outcome instead. You must also roll a random outcome if your roll has a final value of 0 or less.

Spell Failure Table
[1] Spell Fizzles. Spell Fails, no ongoing negative modifier. You cannot invoke that Discipline for the rest of the day/adventure.
[2] Overexert. Spell Succeeds, -2 ongoing negative modifier to spell rolls. You are stunned for 1d4 rounds if in combat and cannot cast spells for 1d6-Wisdom modifier exploration turns.
[3] Backlash. Spell succeeds, -1 ongoing modifier. You take some damage to maximum hit points, a random attribute, destroy some of your equipment, or suffer a mutation. If you use spellcaster Dooms, then this option advances your Doom by 1 stage.
[4] Haywire. Spell succeeds, -1 ongoing modifier. Spell is uncontrolled and has random or unforeseen consequences. Summoned creatures are no longer friendly or under the control of the caster, energies fly randomly or change element, healing spells cause mutations, etc.

Spell Challenge
The Spell Challenge or SC of a spell is how difficult it is to cast that magic. You must meet or beat the number on a d20 + modifiers to succeed with your spell, and follow the rules for success or failure normally.

The base SC is 10.

Spells are easier if;
(-1 SC) Casting on an item you own
(-1 SC) Casting on a place you live/closely tied to
(-1 SC) Casting on a willing/friendly target
(-1 SC) You are touching your target
(-1 SC) The area is awash with ambient magic, such as a magician's manse or standing stones
(-1 SC) The spell is cast “as a ritual”, meaning it takes at least an exploration turn.
(-2 SC) You are casting on something that already exists instead of conjuring something new.
(-2 SC) You are casting a “Formula” Spell (spell effect common in campaign setting)

Spells are harder if;
(+1 SC) Target is more then a stone's throw away
(+1 SC) One symbolic degree of separation from your spell's discipline to your desired effect. For example; creating just light from the Elemental Create/Control Fire discipline.
(+1 SC) Conjuring something with a minor supernatural property
(+1 SC per) Each AC gained from heavy armor.
(+1 SC) Area of effect is 5-10 square ft.
(+1 SC) Deals 1d4 Unerring damage.
(+1 SC) Duration over one exploration turn.
(+2 SC) You cannot see or hear your target.
(+2 SC) Your target is a swarm (ignore multiple creature rules below for swarm creatures)
(+2 SC) Conjuring something with a major supernatural property.
(+2 SC) Area of effect is 15-30 square ft.
(+2 SC) Deals 1d6 Unerring damage.
(+3 SC) You do not speak the incantations. This also includes trying to cast from stealth.
(+3 SC) You arms or hands are tied.
(+3 SC) Area of effect is 35-50 square ft.
(+3 SC) Deals 1d8 Unerring damage.
(+4 SC) Deals 1d10 Unerring damage.
(+4 SC) Area of effect is 50+ square ft.
(+1 SC per) Additional Targets past the first. If casting on multiple creatures, the HD of the highest creature determines spell resistance.
(+HD SC) Casting on an unwilling monster or creature; their level/HD increases their resistance.

Every magic user has Disciplines- Disciplines are the type of magical actions they can perform. They are equivalent to schools of magic or broad “spells” they can cast, such as an Illusionist or an "Orthodox" Wizard. Disciplines can only be learned with special training or pilfered spellbooks, or developed over many years.

Some magical characters may seek training or mastery over a specific Discipline; when this is accomplished, add +1 to the Discipline's name, which is added when Invoking that Discipline.

Each class archetype only has a few disciplines for when they start play.

Common Disciplines of Archetypes
  • Create/Control Arcane Energy
  • Animate (Inanimate) Objects
  • Discern the Invisible or Hidden
  • Levitate/Hold Beings

  • Obfuscate Places or Things
  • Guide/Heal Nature
  • Enchant Items

  • Empower/Control Animals
  • Animate Plants
  • Shapeshift Self
  • Create/Control (Localized) Weather

  • Summon Demons
  • Transform self/others
  • Cast Hexes/Curses

  • Conjure phantasms
  • Change Appearances
  • Manipulate emotions

  • Animate Dead
  • Create/Control Death Energy
  • Harm Living Beings

  • Restore health & attributes
  • Ward against monsters
  • Conjure light
  • Counter black magic

  • Create/Manipulate a fated event
  • Predict Actions of Others
  • Peek into the past of a thing or place
  • Project senses remotely

  • Conjure/Control Fire
  • Conjure/Control Water
  • Conjure/Control Earth
  • Conjure/Control Air

Red God Cultist
  • Empower/Guide Monsters
  • Manipulate/Reveal Bloodlines
  • Empower/Damage Attributes
  • Fill places with Gloom & Dread

Alternate Rules for Patrons
You may also be able to replace your Discipline with a “Patron” being. To Invoke, you must speak the beings name instead of speaking a magic incantation.

Casting a spell by Invoking a patron doesn't give you a negative to all spells, just to the patron's discipline as you expend your favor. Doing things that the patron likes, making a sacrifice, and regular religious service during downtime can restore these negative modifier.

Failed spell rolls can allow the patron to cause their wrath upon you instead of a Backlash, and being forced to do a quest for them replaces Haywire spells.

For example; the Warlock invokes the name of an arch demon to burn his enemies twice. He has -2 onging to Invoke the Archdemon; but smashing a gemstone as a sacrifice will allow him to restore a point of his modifier to make further spells more likely.

Example Spells
Ice Platforms
Bortho the Level 4 Magic User has the Discipline Create Ice Sculptures at +1. He wishes to create three floating icy platforms to help his party escape a chasing monster. He is not holding a staff, as his was gobbled up by a gluttonous ooze early in the adventure, and he already cast two spells today. His Intelligence modifier is +1. His spell roll modifier is +4, +1, +1, -2 for a total of +4.

The SC for his spell is 10 + 2 additional platforms. The Dungeon Master rules that the floating platforms should count as a major supernatural property, and adds another +2 to the SC. The DM asks Bortho the area of the platforms you could stand on, and Bortho just says enough for a single person, so the area of effect is just +1 SC. The total SC for the roll is 15.

Bortho rolls a 1d20 and rolls an 8. Even with his bonus of +4, he fails the spell and is presented with the table of options on spell failure. He doesn't want to give up his best Discipline, and fizzling the spell would mean the monster would be upon them without an escape route. Overexerting himself would also be a bad move, because then he would be incapacitated for long enough for the monster to kill him, and he doesn't want to be left behind, and he's weak enough from the dungeon that taking damage could kill him. So he goes with the final option, and allows his platform to be haywire'd.

The DM describes the platforms shakily coming into being, but nothing happens as of yet. The party is skeptical of the Wizard's work, but ascend up the steps anyway. As weight is put on each step, however, they start to float to the left and right, shoved by the weight. The platforms start to crash into each other and the walls, prompting saving throws to avoid falling into the chasm below. Bartho is later kicked in the balls by the Fighter's daughter for killing her father, but Bartho has the last laugh because he is a Wizard and didn't need his balls anyway.

Magic Missile
Any first level Wizard wants to cast magic missiles. Using the Discipline of Create/Control Arcane Energy, they can deal 1d4 Unerringdamage, which means it can't miss and there is no save, at +1 to the SC for a total of SC 11. The Wizard has a staff and is first level, so gets +2 to the roll, not including intelligence. The DM declares this to be a legacy or formula spell, and makes the SC 9 instead. The Wizard only has to roll a 7 or higher to succeed for this simple spell.

Red Candle
A Sage with the Discipline of Conjure/Control Fire wishes to create a magic candle that ties itself with the life force of a young apprentice; the candle turns red when she is in danger. While the Discipline of Fire isn't very closely related to life force or “sensing danger”, the DM makes a ruling since the Sage already has healing and protective magic disciplines that it's acceptable without a penalty; but BOTH Disciplines must be invoked and could be voided on a failure.

The duration is over 1 turn which adds +1 to SC, the apprentice may not always be nearby or in sight, so adding the modifier for distance of +1 SC and +2 SC for no visible/audible target may also apply. Since the spell is being cast on a candle already present, subtract -2 SC. Since this spell is being used on a friendly character, with an owned candle, and they can touch when it is cast/not an issue of distance, you could also drop another -3 SC from the spell's difficulty. But since the target is not always going to be present/touched for the duration, you could also rule these out. I'd mark the SC of this spell to be around 12, give or take, depending on how you'd rule the complexity and symbolic ties.

Spontaneous Magic to Spell Slots Conversion
If you use spell slots; Spontaneous spells instead use up a spell slot instead of giving negative to future spell rolls. Make a saving throw vs spells upon a spontaneous magic cast, and on failure, roll on your favorite spell failure table. This is the cost and uncertainty of using spontaneous spells instead of your safe, practiced rote spells.

1st Circle Spell from SC <10
2nd Circle Spell from SC 10-14
3rd Circle Spell from SC 15-19
4th Circle Spell from SC 20+

Random Discipline Table
Roll 1d20
[1] Conjure/Control Things associated with a “Basic” color.
[2] Astral Magic from Dominions
[3] Repair/Manipulate Mechanical Devices
[4] Generate a random Lovecraftian Horror. This is your patron.
[5] Dig Holes/Tunnels in the Earth or Stone
[6] Summon/Guide Creatures that Fly
[7] Mimic Dragon Powers
[8] Enchant/Animate Cloth
[9] Open/Close Dimensional Spaces & "Otherspaces"
[10] Create/Control a random Magic Energy
[11] Shapeshift self/Control Insects & Arachnids
[12] Manipulate/Stop Time. +4 SC to these spells.
[13] Sideshow Magic. -2 SC to these spells.
[14] Sense/Peek/Manipulate/Project Dreams
[15] Summon Otherworldly Beings
[16] Conjure Soldiers/Equipment/Fortifications
[17] Empower/Degrade Appearances
[18] Shrink/Grow Objects or Beings
[19] Sense/Reveal/Manipulate/Levitate Alchemical Creations
[20] Roll on Cave Girl's Aspect list for a Discipline

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