View Single Post
Old 07-12-2018, 12:16 PM   #32
Join Date: May 2015
Default Re: Should all spells be equally easy to learn?

Originally Posted by Rick_Smith View Post
In the Experience thread, Steve wrote:
Thus, spells ALWAYS take 100 XP to learn, but talents can cost up to 3 times that.
Yes, and in his later version, 500, 1000, or 1500, and they were always 1, 2, or 3, and ITL says it takes at least 3 times that number in MONTHS to learn a new talent.

Originally Posted by Rick_Smith View Post
I would think that intellectually, learning a spell that twists reality; which can make the laws of physics sit up, beg, roll over, and play dead, would be harder than learning how to do artistry / calligraphy.
Yes, though it seems to me that:

* To me it feels right that it would/should be quite hard to learn to psychically manipulate reality at all, but then how hard each spell is after you've learned to do that would probably not involve that same initial obstacle, (which is part of why I wouldn't want to lose the Wizard/Hero distinction).

* As-written in IIRC all SJ's versions, it is harder to learn one spell than Artist/Calligrapher. You either have to first be a Wizard (which I'd say involves a lifetime of magic, so is part of the difficulty), or spend 3 points like Artist/Calligrapher and suffer a -4 for not being a wizard, and you need access to a teacher (or be a literate wizard with a book that teaches the spell you want).

* The time needed to learn a spell uses different mechanics from talents, which are more detailed and based on the IQ level of the spell compared to the IQ level of the wizard, so the harder spells are harder to learn, but only in terms of time. When SJ suggested having to spend XP to learns spells, people immediately suggested maybe higher-IQ spells might require more XP to learn (and that maybe wizards could invest more XP to learn particular spells better).

Originally Posted by Rick_Smith View Post
A spell could be written thus:
IQ 13 S Touch of Death (2) When the wizard touches his or her victim...

(So touch of Death would be a Special spell which is twice as hard as a normal spell to learn.)

The spell would still fit in a single memory slot (or perhaps not, artist / calligraphy takes 3 memory slots after all).

Further there are a few spells that I think are too powerful or problematic in some way. (Discussed in next post.)
Sure, I'd think adding learning difficulty to spells would be cool. I agree some spells are more powerful or problematic than others. Of course, other limiting options include the already-used (but may need more) methods of increasing fatigue costs (though that may be bent depending on how the new staff power ends up working), and/or adding issues to the way the spell works.

Originally Posted by Rick_Smith View Post
This thread is for discussing should some spells be harder to learn, if some spells should take up more than one memory slot, and talking about if some spells are too powerful and or problematic for some reason.
The spells I remember that I ended up not using because I thought they broke the game I wanted to run (in rough order of severity), were:

Trance - SJ's errata says it can only be cast at most twice per day, but even so, I think it provides too-reliable information about too-unlimited subjects. As a logical sandbox-type GM, it makes me think that my powerful lords/wizards/organizations should often have one or more wizards frequently casting this spell to gather various intelligence as a matter of course. "Is the Duke of Kel planning to act against me?" "Is my wife faithful to me?" "Is there an ambush on the road ahead?" "Is the enemy's army stronger than ours?" "Has anyone cast Trance at me in the last week?" "Is anyone planning to violate castle security today?" And not only do I not want the game about how people plot to be about being able to do that, even if I did, it would drive me mad thinking about whose trancers are asking what questions about whom even twice a day. I would only use this spell if it unreliably gave nebulous clues according to some interesting way of working. I would at least add a note that GMs may want to seriously consider whether they want this ability to exist in their campaign worlds, and/or how it actually works and how reliable it is and what sort of information it does or doesn't give.

Curse - Both powerful (especially if no one with Remove Thrown Spells is available for a long long time) and annoying, and kind of surreal in a gamey way. We did use it for a while, and mostly didn't like it and stopped using it (and Charms). If I wanted to use it for flavor, I would nerf it, say by limiting it to one power level (+1d), and/or by making it more random about when it would take effect (e.g. by GM discretion, or it only takes effect every so often), and/or limit the duration.

Summon Lesser Demon / Summon Demon - These existed in theory but didn't really enter play. If they did, they could be really annoying if used aggressively. "Hi Demon, thanks for showing up at 3am. Take this greatsword and tower shield, and go attack unsuspecting victim X in Timbuktu, then go after Y in Bendwyn and Z in Hoochbahar, and if you have time left, try to steal the fine sword I saw at the armorer in Canigli and bring it back here." Also not only can they one-hand greatswords, but at ST 50 or 100, it's probably reasonable to make bigger weapons for them. Or just hand them a giant's club for 10d+10 - hard to deal with when a demon can teleport in at any time. (What exactly infinite MA means is technically undefined, too.) Is every duke's bedchamber going to need a pentagram? There could be some interesting/fun solutions - personally if I wanted demons, I'd tend to make who you get and what their abilities and personality unpredictable and devious and your ability to control them and mess with things without risk of major consequences very uncertain. After all, most fiction about demons ends up on the theme about how any temporary gains end up not being worth the eventual backlash.
And that's not even mentioning the Wish aspect. We mostly avoided wishes, but the predictability of the mechanics seemed like a problem. With a 40-point attribute cap, not so much, but if the rules are shifted to make it worthwhile to compel a wish except in extreme desperation of highly unusual circumstances, then it seems like an issue to me.

Astral Projection - This is a cool spell, but also one of those where the implications seemed to lead places I didn't want my game to go. The ease of travel and penetrating walls, and the potential for making and suffering insubstantial/invisible spying and/or attacks anywhere at any time, seems to me to potentially undermine otherwise-more-interesting limits, and also to be a bit much for GMs to think about the possibilities for more powerful campaign agents and countermeasures. (The Dominions games have an interesting countermeasure where if another wizard with the appropriate magic is physically present and detects an astral traveler, he can easily "cut the cord", which sends the astral traveler back and has severe traumatic consequences.)

Word of Command is really powerful, though cool and IQ 20, and if there's a 40-point cap, may mean DX 12 at most to cast it (unless attribute adders or Charms are available). "Surrender" is the easiest to use for direct overpowering.

Telepathy - Mostly ok, but I don't like how reliable it is as an interrogation technique.

Calling - Not really overpowered, but I don't really like the way it works. I'd rather it didn't guarantee to bring you the nearest one, or to always work even if you cast successfully, and I don't like the built-in path-finding ability. I'd rather it pick a somewhat random nearby target, and give them a resistance roll (3/IQ) initially and every so often thereafter, and have them drawn towards the wizard but not necessarily able to find their way.

Unnoticeability - I really LIKE this spell a lot, but I think it wants a tweak and/or example of how it works in combat, especially in the case of someone enemies already noticed before the spell was cast. i.e. I think it can be interpreted that you can cast it on someone your foes already saw and have it work, which I don't think it should. And I think there are cases where e.g. if someone is not distracted by other foes, and an unnoticeable person attacks someone else, then other people should notice, not just the one attacked. I think it's one of those cases where a strong GM can figure it out some (even good) GMs may suffer without stronger guidelines about the limits.

Insubstantiality - Another cool spell, but I had a player who coveted the idea of a self-powered insubstantiality item, which of course could be used to amazing world-subverting effect by a clever PC - well, sort of like Astral Projection can, except a non-wizard could do it, and you'd be there, and could steal things, etc. Again, if self-powered insubstantiality items exist, it brings up a GM consideration for campaigns about vaults and security.

Last edited by Skarg; 07-12-2018 at 12:20 PM.
Skarg is offline   Reply With Quote