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Old 07-13-2013, 07:27 AM   #1
Sunrunners_Fire
 
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Default Alternate Spells-as-Skills-as-Powers Riff

Okay. So. I'm toying around with an alternate skills-as-spells system for a low-tech fantasy setting that a conversation with my wife inspired. I don't know if I'm actually going to do anything with it or even detail the setting in more than the broadest strokes, but ... Riffing off the stuff in this thread and some other stuff I've been noodling about with for years ...

- - - - - - - - - -

The basics are really simple. Mages cast spells by learning and using special skills. Allow me to expand that a bit: Mages (people with the magery talent) cast spells (modified or unmodified advantages) by learning and using special skills (dedicated to each specific ability they know how to use). It redefines a few terms. ;)
  • Magery isn't a power talent, it doesn't come in levels starting with zero and it doesn't include a pseudo-detect magic ability. It is merely a large talent that costs [15 per level] due to the number of skills (13+) it can benefit and it provides the necessary oomph to cast spells as an alternate benefit instead of the normal reaction bonus. It has four levels just like all the other talents do. It happens to be both a trainable advantage as well as a naturally occurring one; it can be self-taught.
  • Spells are cinematic skills that range in difficulty from Easy to Very Hard, and aren't necessarily IQ-based skills either. The difficulty of a spell-skill is determined by how many points it provides to purchase advantages with. An Easy spell-skill gives 10 points, an Average spell-skill gives 15 points, a Hard spell-skill gives 25 points and a Very Hard spell-skill gives 45 points. Greater (and theoretical!) levels of difficulty may exist with a correspondingly greater point budget.
    • The advantage enabled by the spell-skill must cost no more than the spell-skill's budget allows. The cost of an ability is calculated by taking the base cost of the desired advantage and adding enhancements as per normal; adding limitations does not reduce this cost. You do not purchase the advantage; its' cost is calculated merely so that we can determine what skill difficulty to assign the spell that casts it.
    • Spell-skills have no default value. Spell-techniques do.
  • Spell-skills can have techniques. Spell-techniques allow for adding a desirable enhancement or limitation to the spell's advantage in a manner that don't impact its' budget cost and thereby in a manner that doesn't affect its' skill difficulty.
    • Enhancement Techniques default to their parent spell-skill at the greater of -2 or one-tenth the enhancement value. A spell-technique for Reduced Fatigue Cost 1 defaults to its' parent spell at -2. A spell-technique for Incendiary also defaults to its' parent spell at -2. A spell-technique for Malediction (-1/yard) defaults to its' parent spell at -10.
    • Limitation Techniques also default to their parent spell-skill at the greater of -2 or one-tenth of the enhancement value. A -5% limitation defaults at -2, a -15% limitation defaults at -2, a -50% limitation defaults at -5, etc.
    • Technique Penalties can be offset by spending fatigue points, removing up to -2 in penalties for every 1 fatigue point spent. This can never result in a bonus!
  • Spells cost fatigue points to cast. 2 of them. This can be reduced by adding the Reduced Fatigue Cost to the base advantage via enhancement (which impacts point budget) or via technique. Reduced Fatigue Cost can only be applied as an enhancement on the base advantage when the base advantage is something that is normally always on; all other advantages may only have Reduced Fatigue Cost applied via spell-technique.
  • Spell casting is a reflexive free action. Using the ability granted by the spell follows the normal rules; advantages that are normally always on simply flicker on, advantages that require a maneuver continue to require that maneuver, etc. You can "power block", "power parry" and "power dodge" with spells if the base advantage is appropriate to doing so.
  • Spell-skills can be upgraded in difficulty, and thereby point budget, if the underlying advantage is a leveled trait. This requires the character to spend the difference between their already invested points in the spell and the cost of purchasing the spell at the higher difficulty at the same relative skill level. If you know a spell as an easy skill at attribute+4 and wish to upgrade it to being an average skill, you must pay the difference in cost between attribute+4/easy and attribute+4/average. The increased point budget is usable only to purchase additional levels of the base advantage.
  • Power can compensate for a lack of skill. When casting a spell, spending extra fatigue gives a +1 bonus to the skill for every 1 fatigue spent for a single roll.

Fluff-wise, a spell is said to be for apprentices (easy spells), journeyman (average spells), masters (hard spells) and adepts (very hard spells). In practice, an apprentice is as capable of learning an adept-grade spell as it is capable of learning an apprentice-grade spell; they may have difficulty finding someone willing to teach them though ...



Some examples would probably help. Lets see ...
  • Energy Reserve (IQ/Easy)
    • Energy Reserve (Magic) 2 (Reduced Fatigue Cost 2, +40%) [9]
  • The apprentice version of Energy Reserve isn't especially useful, but its' better than nothing. Most apprentices are interested in upgrading this spell at the earliest opportunity. It costs no fatigue to cast and provides access to a pool of additional energy; said pool is rather limited in capacity but at least it recharges quickly! Energy Reserve recharges, active or not, at the normal rate of 1 point every 10 minutes. It is accessible for the duration of one minute.
  • Detect Magic (IQ/Easy)
    • Detect (Magic) [10]
  • The apprentice version of Detect Magic costs 2 fatigue and allows the mage to make Sense rolls in order to detect the presence or absence of magic in an area, the nearest significant source and a rough estimation on the quantity. Once detected, an IQ roll may be made in order to analyize the magic. It has a duration of one minute.
  • Fire Bolt (DX/Easy)
    • Burning Attack (Incendiary, +10%; Partial Dice (Per Level; +6), *1.8) [10]
  • The apprentice version of Fire Bolt creates a magical missile that does 6 bu inc damage to the target if they make a successful innate attack (projectile) skill roll to hit said target and the target doesn't otherwise defend themselves. It has a 10/100 range, an acc of 3, rof of 1 and rcl of 1.
  • No Cost (Fire Bolt) (Tech/H)
    • Reduced Fatigue Cost 2, +40%
    • Defaults to Fire Bolt at -4, Can be no higher than Fire Bolt.
  • Rapid Fire (Fire Bolt) (Tech/H)
    • Rapid Fire (RoF 3), +50%
    • Defaults to Fire Bolt at -5, Can be no higher than Fire Bolt.
  • Ghost Fire (Fire Bolt) (Tech/H)
    • No Wounding, -50%
    • Defaults to Fire Bolt at -5, Can be no higher than Fire Bolt.

- - - - - - - - - -

Given the above, with the note that it hasn't been playtested yet ... break it for me? If you would be so kind?
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Old 07-13-2013, 08:00 AM   #2
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Default Re: Alternate Spells-as-Skills-as-Powers Riff

Interesting.
I did a version of that using Skill penalties instead of a base set of points.
I just used the temporary enhancement model to determine points, yours is cleaner at least to build each spell.
More then that will require some thought its too early for.
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Old 07-13-2013, 08:22 AM   #3
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Default Re: Alternate Spells-as-Skills-as-Powers Riff

Quote:
Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
Interesting.
Thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
I did a version of that using Skill penalties instead of a base set of points. I just used the temporary enhancement model to determine points, yours is cleaner at least to build each spell.
The point budget was done as: ("cost for attribute+0 in skill" + "cost for unusual training perk") / (1 - 80%), as -80% is the net limitation floor. I'm just handwaving the details of what the limitations are for ease of use.
Easy +0 is [1], so: (1 + 1) / 0.2 = 10
Average +0 is [2], so: (2 + 1) / 0.2 = 15
Hard +0 is [4], so: (4 + 1) / 0.2= 25
Very Hard +0 is [8], so: (8 + 1) / 0.2 = 45
Hence the comment about greater levels of difficulty and the theoretical nature of such. A (Damn Hard) skill difficulty that costs [12] to reach attribute+0 would give a budget of 65 points, a (Very Damn Hard) that costs [16] for attribute+0 would give 85, a (Hard Like Woah) that costs [20] for attribute+0 would give 105.

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More then that will require some thought its too early for.
Heh. Late for me. I've been running a graveyard sleeping schedule lately.
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Old 07-13-2013, 08:54 AM   #4
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Default Re: Alternate Spells-as-Skills-as-Powers Riff

Ceremonial Magic using this system would essentially be the Combing Powers rules from (GURPS Powers, pg 170 - 172). Thats' easy enough.

I'm not sure how I'd handle enchanted people, places and things; my conversation with the beloved implied that small magics would be relatively common but the big stuff would possess an air of rarity and take some doing.

Hmm.
  • Enchant Item (IQ/Hard)
    • Gadgeteer [25]
... and ...
  • Enchant Item (IQ/Very Hard)
    • Gadgeteer (Reduced Fatigue Cost 2, +40%) [35]
... would allow for the expensive, time-consuming and permanent stuff. I don't imagine most would stay with the master-grade version given the sheer energy costs of paying fatigue every minute of every day of every month for however long it takes to make and debug a prototype. A setting feature declaring that one can't mass-produce the resulting prototype would stop the setting from being flooded with a magitech revolution. I'll have to chat with her about it some more; it may end up being appropriate!

The little magics like lightstones and healing potions and whatnot though. Affliction could work, as could a spell-technique to add the gadget limitations to a known spell and allow someone else to use the resulting gadget; however, both of those would result in the big stuff being made this way as well simply because it'd be cheaper and easier to do it this way.

Sideline the little magics as not being related to spell magic and declare it to be the province of alchemy and herbalism instead? That'd require a useful way to map out the alchemical formulas and herbal recipes given that I'm not especially happy with the published examples of such. I vaguely recall something in pyramid though ... *goes pdf hunting*
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Old 07-13-2013, 08:34 PM   #5
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Default Re: Alternate Spells-as-Skills-as-Powers Riff

OK, so what about the bigger point spells like say Warp or Jumper?
How do you determine their cost? Skill + a UB premium?
A bigger penalty to the skill roll?

For Enchantment Afflictions with perm have a terminating condition so coudl be considered temp magic and they can be counter magiced away.
Gadgets could represent a more permanent method of enchantment and also allow more flexibility as your not having to spend points on a spell.
I think both could work together in the campaign.
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Old 07-14-2013, 07:23 AM   #6
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Default Re: Alternate Spells-as-Skills-as-Powers Riff

Quote:
Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
OK, so what about the bigger point spells like say Warp or Jumper?
How do you determine their cost? Skill + a UB premium?
A bigger penalty to the skill roll?
The point budget given is based on the skill difficulty. So a spell that requires a greater budget to afford its' advantage + enhancements than given by a Very Hard skill would need to be based on a skill difficulty harder than Very Hard. So I'd either not allow them at all or I'd want to expand the skill difficulty chart.

Something like:
Code:
Difficulty		Attribute Penalty		Point Budget
Easy			-0				> 10
Average			-1				> 15
Hard			-2				> 25
Very Hard		-3				> 45
...			-4				> 65
...			-5				> 85
...			-6				> 105
...			-7				> 125
...			-8				> 145
...			-9				> 165
...			-10				> 185
...			...				...
... maybe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
For Enchantment Afflictions with perm have a terminating condition so coudl be considered temp magic and they can be counter magiced away.
Gadgets could represent a more permanent method of enchantment and also allow more flexibility as your not having to spend points on a spell.
I think both could work together in the campaign.
Possibly. I've built enchanting systems based on Afflictions before. It gets messy; fast. I've not tried building an enchanting system out of the gadget limitations before ... I suspect it'll get messy too. Heh.
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Old 07-23-2013, 09:45 PM   #7
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Default Re: Alternate Spells-as-Skills-as-Powers Riff

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunrunners_Fire View Post
I've not tried building an enchanting system out of the gadget limitations before ... I suspect it'll get messy too. Heh.
I think it's pretty trivial. There's no rule that says you can't just give a Gadget away (or sell it, or whatever) if it makes sense to do so (which probably means it has Can be Stolen). Just "enchant" things by buying the ability with the appropriate modifiers. Specific settings can require skill rolls for this (as makes sense in your case) and the points can come from sources other than earned CP like Meditation (probably at 1 point per 200 hours) and Raw Magic.
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Old 07-24-2013, 10:33 AM   #8
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Default Re: Alternate Spells-as-Skills-as-Powers Riff

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I think it's pretty trivial. There's no rule that says you can't just give a Gadget away (or sell it, or whatever) if it makes sense to do so (which probably means it has Can be Stolen). Just "enchant" things by buying the ability with the appropriate modifiers. Specific settings can require skill rolls for this (as makes sense in your case) and the points can come from sources other than earned CP like Meditation (probably at 1 point per 200 hours) and Raw Magic.
My apologies. I didn't mean "messy" as in "mechanically messy", I meant "messy" as in "makes the genre messy". The ability to create gadgets (apply the gadget limitations to an ability) is, theoretically, merely a technique.

I'm just not sure I like the results of permitting it.
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Old 07-25-2013, 12:03 AM   #9
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Default Re: Alternate Spells-as-Skills-as-Powers Riff

Interesting.

I've just started a psi campaign, so that's where my focus is, but I'll keep your idea on the backburner. I'm keen to see what you come up with for enchantment; it is a messy area for spells-as-powers and a good reason to use the standard magic system, but a good approach would theoretically work equally well for empowerment of psi crystals and holy relics. Unlike Sir Pudding, I found that game-mechanically simple notions generated unintuitive complexity in implementation.

The exception is one-use items (potions), which just take a Triggered Delay enhancement. Repeat for extra doses (or charges); that'd get you plenty of cheap-but-weak magic items. That apprentice could make a wand of Firebolts (Triggered Delay: Point wand and say boom) with 40 charges (shots) in a work day (based on fatigue recovery time and assuming an energy reserve). Market price, counting overhead and distribution costs, would be about three times an apprentice's daily wage. Sound like a good deal?

For major items, I predict you'll eventually settle on a skill for Make Specific Major Item, with prerequisites in the form of spell skills for every effect the major item incorporates. A major item skill would be developed per invention rules, each one would be a trade secret, and probably more difficult than very hard. While there's no theoretical limit on how many skills there could be, in practice there'd be a set list, standard products on the market, with a few new ones each year (or decade, depending on how rare wizards are and whether there's a patent system to protect inventors).



GEF

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Old 07-30-2013, 02:06 PM   #10
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Default Re: Alternate Spells-as-Skills-as-Powers Riff

Belatedly:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gef View Post
Interesting.
Thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gef View Post
The exception is one-use items (potions), which just take a Triggered Delay enhancement. Repeat for extra doses (or charges); that'd get you plenty of cheap-but-weak magic items. That apprentice could make a wand of Firebolts (Triggered Delay: Point wand and say boom) with 40 charges (shots) in a work day (based on fatigue recovery time and assuming an energy reserve). Market price, counting overhead and distribution costs, would be about three times an apprentice's daily wage. Sound like a good deal?
Assuming IQ 11, Magery 1:

{"Fire Bolt" (IQ/Easy; IQ+0; 12 or less) [1], "Delayed Trigger" (Tech/H; Fire Bolt -5; 7 or less) [0]}
... would have the apprentice succeed once every six attempts. Eww. Add a TDM of "Easy" (+4) and take thirty seconds per casting (Extra Time +5). That'd be a +9, taking that 7 to 16, which means its' normally not worth the bother of rolling as you're only really rolling to see if they critically fail.

However, thats' slow due to the fatigue costs. Adding {"No Cost" (Tech/H; Fire Bolt -4; 8 or less) [0]} ... would allow the apprentice to spam it every 30 seconds, succeeding on a 12 or less. Failure has no cost as you don't pay fatigue for miscast spells, and the success rate is high enough that specific failures aren't going to waste much time. 8 hours * 60 minutes * 60 seconds * (2/3 of the time casting) is 19,200 seconds. Divided by 30, is 640 attempts. With a success rate of 74.1%, they'd succeed 474 times a day. Six days a week.

That ... thats' a lot of firebolt charges. ;)

Hmm.



(Assuming an eight hour work day, one hour of education and two hours of self-teaching as the normal apprentice schedule; four hours of "study" per day, two on the spell being cast and two on learning new spells. Spells of reduced sleep {Less Sleep 3 (Reduced Fatigue Cost 2, +40%) [9]} are essentially mandatory if the apprentice wants to have time for anything else.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gef View Post
For major items, I predict you'll eventually settle on a skill for Make Specific Major Item, with prerequisites in the form of spell skills for every effect the major item incorporates. A major item skill would be developed per invention rules, each one would be a trade secret, and probably more difficult than very hard. While there's no theoretical limit on how many skills there could be, in practice there'd be a set list, standard products on the market, with a few new ones each year (or decade,
Maybe. I'd be happy to go with trade secrets, harder than very hard and a regular set of enchantments. I'm not sure if I'd be making the enchantments themselves a learnable skill. I'd have to look at the numbers for it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gef View Post
depending on how rare wizards are and whether there's a patent system to protect inventors).
This version of Magery is trainable. Outside social factors and given enough time, anything sapient they can communicate with can be taught. Most of them are going to be terrible at it, but they can at least try!

Training a 15 point advantage is time consuming though. If one uses the Improvement Through Study Rules, (which I sometimes do and sometimes don't!) even Intensive Training would require the instructor to have Teaching 12+ and Magery 2+ in order to train someone in Magery 1 and would take 94 days at 16 hours per day ... and have a lot of wash outs. 375 days with normal instruction, eight hours per day, every day. Etc.

Not many societies are going to be happy with their better mages being too busy turning out more mages to do anything else. At a year~ per newbie mage who doesn't know any spells to cast yet ...

Price tags, price tags.
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