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Sunday, 24 April 2016

How I run Magic Users

Once again, these are LotFP house-rules, but they should work just fine for other systems too. Magic users work basically like they're presented in the Lamentations core book, with these add-ons.

I don't refer to spells as having levels. Character classes have levels, spells have ranks. So, for example, a Magic User gets a second rank spell slot at character level three.
Your spell-book doesn't need to be a book. Just some way of carrying lots of writing around. A blank notebook from the equipment list can hold a single spell, whilst a spell-book can hold up to twenty. Other options include tattooing spells onto your skin (or your assistants), carving them into the interior of your wagon, or etching them into your armour. Recording a spell on an item costs as much as a reading-book, but doesn't weigh anything.

Preparing Spells
You don't need to get six hours rest to prepare spells. Instead, you just need to ritually prepare a space to work in. This takes a turn, and requires as a bare minimum:
  • your spell-book
  • at least three lit candles
  • a circle drawn with chalk, charcoal, paint or similar, to define the space you are working in
Once a ritual space is set up, you can prepare spells. This is a lengthy process, during which you almost finish casting the spell, with only a single final trigger required to set it off. Each spell takes as many turns as its rank to prepare. You can prepare as many spells as you have slots left open.

Sleep is still required to properly relax the mind and safely hold spells ready to cast. Since you last slept, you can prepare spells once without any risk. If you prepare spells any more times than this, you're at risk of some sort of mishap. After you finish preparing spells on the second or subsequent attempt that day, make a save versus magic to see if you can hold the magic in safely. If the save is failed, roll on the 'Magical Backlash' table given below to see what bad shit happens to you.
You can improve the safety of your ritual by making a more elaborate ritual space, using the following methods.
  • For each silver piece's worth of incense burnt (and therefore used up), improve your save by one.
  • For each silver piece's worth of rare pigments used to draw your circle, improve your save by one.
  • For each chaotic-aligned assistant who helps you prepare the space, improve your save by one. If an assistant is neutral-aligned, they are only actually any help if they succeed on a Research skill roll. Lawful assistants can't help.
  •  If you prepare the space in a state drug-addled intoxication (or at a pinch, massively drunk), improve your save by one. For each assistant similarly intoxicated, likewise improve your save by one.
You can prepare a spell into the wrong rank slot, such as putting a fifth level spell into a first rank slot. When you cast such a spell, make a save versus magic; if failed, the spell does nothing and you roll on the Magical Backlash table instead.

Scrolls, Potions, Wands and So On
Creating these items works just like in the core book.
Any neutral or chaotic character can identify the spell bound into a scroll, potion, wand etc. with a successful Appraise skill roll. 
A chaotic character can cast from a scroll without using Read Magic if they succeed on a save versus magic. A chaotic character who can't normally cast spells can do the same with a wand also by making a save against magic. If failed, the spell still happens, but a roll for Magical Backlash needs to be made. Anybody can drink a potion, but all potions have the fun side effect of being intoxicating.

Learning Spells
A magic user starts out with Read magic, and three other spells in their spell book. Two of these will be rank one, and a third will be be between rank one and six. Spells are selected randomly; roll a d6 to determine the rank of the third spell. When a magic user levels up, they pick a rank and learn a random spell of that level.
A magic use can learn spells from the cleric list if they find them on a magical (IE chaotic) scroll, or in another magic user's spellbook. They can also research them with a library and laboratory, just like researching a magic user spell. They normally can't, however, start out knowing spells from the cleric list.
A Magic User may choose to follow a specific esoteric tradition. Whenever they randomly learn a spell (IE the three learned at first level, and when they level up), the randomly generate the spell from that tradition's list. An esoteric tradition's spell list will be much smaller and more focused than the full spell list. It may have some cleric spells on it, or some totally unique spells.

An example Esoteric Tradition - The Vitruvian School
The Vitruvian school focuses on manipulating the classical Hellenic elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water, and their manifestations in the human body - Black Bile, Blood, Yellow Bile and Phlegm. A practitioner has some skill dealing with raw elemental forces, and with the basic stuff of mortal flesh.

Rank 1 - 1  Cure Light Wounds, 2 Detect Magic, 3 Faerie Fire, 4 Feather Fall, 5 Light, 6 Mending, 7 Shield, 8 Unseen Servant
Rank 2 - 1  Delay Poison, 2 Heat Metal, 3 Resist Cold, 4 Resist Fire, 5 Stinking Cloud, 6 Wall of Fog
Rank 3 - 1  Cure Disease, 2 Explosive Runes, 3 Gaseous Form, 4 Gust of Wind, 5 Water Breathing, 6 Water Walk
Rank 4 - 1  Cure Serious Wounds, 2 Dig, 3 Extension, 4 Minor Creation, 5 Wall of Fire, 6 Wall of Ice
Rank 5 - 1  Airy Water, 2 Cloudkill, 3 Major Creation, 4 Stone Shape, 5 Transmute Rock to Mud, 6 Wall of Stone
Rank 6 - 1  Contingency, 2 Disintegrate, 3 Heal, 4 Lucubration, 5 Move Earth, 6 Stone to Flesh, 
Rank 7 - 1  Earthquake, 2 Part Water, 3 Reverse Gravity, 4 Statue
Rank 8 - 1  Clone, 2 Permenancy, 3 Polymorph Any Object
Rank 9 - 1  Imprisonment, 2 Lost Dweomer, 3 Shape Change

Magical Backlash
So, you messed up your magic, and something bad happened. Roll a d20 and check the table below to see what it was.
  1. Something is transformed. Roll a d10 for what is transformed, and a d12 for how. For the d10 1=The magic user, 2=everybody nearby, 3=all nearby weapons, 4=all nearby clothing and armour, 5=all animals nearby, 6=the magic user and anybody related to them by blood, 7=everybody looking at the magic user, 8=the next thing the magic user touches, 9=all plants nearby, 10=everything chaotic nearby. For the d12, 1=grows to four times it's normal size, 2=shrinks to  a quarter of its normal size, 3=glows in the dark, 4=turns to stone, 5=turns to ice, 6=turns to stone whenever exposed to sunlight, 7=turns to stone on holy ground, 8=grows leaves, 9=starts seeping warm blood constantly, 10=turns into the same weight in spiders, 11=is invisible, 12=is turned to wax. Characters aren't ever rendered unplayable by the transformation, they just become animate statues and so on. Any neutral character affected becomes chaotic.
  2. Plants start rapidly growing in a ten foot radius, and within a minute a lush thicket of small trees will have sprung up.
  3.  There is a sudden Cacophany of gibbering voices. Everybody nearby immediately casts Contact Outer Spheres, and gets to ask the voices a single question.
  4.  Time unravels for a brief moment. Everybody present stops ageing, and any magical effects become permanent.
  5.  Information floods everybody's minds, most of it useless but some of it profoundly insightful. They each gain 2d20 times a hundred experience points. Anybody who levels up as a result becomes in some way insane, and if they were neutral they become chaotic.
  6.  Each person nearby is cursed such that, when they die, they will ressurect as a (playable) undead monster of some sort - see the Vampire class for one possibility.
  7. The magic user is infected with some sort of symbiotic insect. Whenever they take damage to their flesh, the bugs will repair it at a rate of one flesh a turn by replacing the missing meat with swarming insects. For each point of flesh healed in this way, the magic user loses a point of strength, dexterity, constitution or charisma (randomly determine which) permanently as more and more flesh is replaced by bugs. If this process kills them, they will resurrect as a Walking Hive.
  8. Everybody nearby must save versus magic, or fall asleep. Those asleep in this way have vivid dreams - the lawful dream of horrific punishments meted out by the divine, the neutral dream scenes from their childhood, and the chaotic dream things of such exquisite beauty and sensual pleasure that they will be utterly distraught if somebody wakes them.
  9. The magic user vomits out a slew of 2d6 internal organs of various types. They don't seem any the worse for it. If the organs are eaten, they're just like the fish created by Strange Waters II.
  10. All corpses nearby resurrect as undead monsters. Roll up what they're like using this.
  11. For the next ten minutes, colourful bubbles come out of everybody nearby‘s mouths instead of words. The words are released when the bubbles are popped. Any spells cast during this time will be similarly delayed.
  12. A big Easter-Island-style stone head appears.  If a gold piece is placed in the stone head's mouth, it will briefly animate. It's incredibly intelligent and knowledgeable.
  13. The magic user instantly casts the spell Summon. No preparation, and the summoned monster has hit dice equal to double the magic user's level. Whoops.
  14. Pressure builds up inside the magic user's head. D6 damage to flesh. If this damage drops the magic user to 0 or less hitpoints, their head explodes. This results in them dying, and everybody nearby takes as much damage as the magic user did from bits of bloody shrapnel. 
  15. 2d20 frogs, fishes, lemmings, snails or crabs fall from the sky. They might not be dead whilst they're falling, but they certainly are when they hit the ground. 
  16. Time suddenly lurches forward. Everybody and everything ages 3d6 years.
  17. Any coins present begins to heat up, at the same rate as if a Heat Metal spell had been cast. On round four, if they aren't immersed in cold water or similarly cooled down, the heat will be sufficient to melt them into shiny blobs.
  18. Everything nearby becomes weightless and floats a few feet into the air if not fastened down. The effect lasts for d12 turns.
  19. A solar eclipse occurs. Astronomers are baffled.
  20.  All food and drink nearby spoils.

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