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Old 06-13-2022, 12:07 AM   #1
hal
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Buffalo, New York
Default Spell backfire ideas

Hello Folks,
The purpose of this thread isn't to actively create a spell backfire table so much as brainstorm what ideas to PUT into those spell backfire tables.

For example, after taking a hard look at the original spell backfire table, the results were variants of:

Personal injury
spell results in mental stunning (subset of injury)

Misaligned spell target

Spell produces wrong effect
Spell produces reversed effect (subset of wrong effect)

Spell causes temporary amnesia regards to casting the spell being cast

Spell ports in a demon

But what if instead we had:

Spell drains caster of twice the required energy?

Spell drains hit points instead of fatigue - but otherwise works as normal.

Crit failure inflicts a minor phobia or nightmare upon caster for 2d6 weeks. Will saving roll to recover, crit failure on will saving roll means phobia or nightmare is permanent.

Crit failure results in any spell known by caster is cast 1d6 hours or days later unexpectedly. Good news is, the spell caster can learn to invent a new spell that allows for delayed spell casting results.

Crit failure results in a random creature (GM choice) who loves/hates the character. Roll 2d6-7 and character has this level of reaction roll. Thus all cats may come looking for affection, start to fight amongst themselves trying to get your affection or all cats hiss at you and stalk away angrily. Either way, people are going to look at you funny.

Crit failure results in your doppleganger being summoned from another dimension. he/you will need will saving rolls or be stunned.

Crit failure results in you being possessed by your doppleganger from another dimension. From time to time, when you are tired or drunk or anything that can reduce your will, the doppleganger will try to take over - resulting in a contest of wills to take over.

Crit failure temporarily lowers your appearance level by one. Save vs HT to recover level of appearance after 24 hours. A crit failure on your HT saving roll, results in a permanent loss in appearance.

Keep the ideas coming...
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Old 06-13-2022, 01:32 AM   #2
StevenH
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Portland, Oregon
Default Re: Spell backfire ideas

The table I use breaks the spell backfires into different effects based upon the college of the spell, and the amount of power the spell used. The more power used, the more damaging the spell failure can be.

But I am curious to see what other things could be added to it.

You can find it here, for those who are curious.
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Warmest regards,

StevenH

My current worldbuilding project. You can find the Adventure Logs of the campaign here. I try to write them up as narrative prose, with illustrations. As such, they are "embellished" accounts of the play sessions.


It is also the new home of the Alaconius Lectures, a series of essays about the various Colleges of Spells.
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Old 06-13-2022, 04:06 AM   #3
hal
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Buffalo, New York
Default Re: Spell backfire ideas

Looking at Steven's tables - sparked another thought...

What if Mana levels were rated as they are sort of now? No mana obviously can't produce any kind of magic, so no crit value there. But Low mana -9 through say, -6 is mana Very Low. Mana -5 to -1 is mana low. Mana 0 to 4 is normal, 5 to 9 is high, and mana 10+ is very high.

Each die roll on the critical table modifies the actual 3d6 table roll. It is safer to have a crit failure on a 3d6-9 result than it is to have a 3d6+10 result. Since the really NASTY critical failures can't occur past an 18 on 3d6 without a positive modifier - the only time someone has to worry about something specific is when they can start hitting numbers like 19+ on 3d6 rolls.

Just a thought. By making a spell power off of hit points instead of taking damage as a result of a spell, that is already baked into the results you want to have. If you want to go a little further - simply state "spell is powered off hit points, reroll on this table again, no modifiers". This way, you can do damage AND concequence.

That is strictly an organizational thing however. But, here is the thing. Metaphysics is a function of what rules the game works by where it comes to magic right? If mages can engage in spell casting in such a way as to mitigate the potential for avoiding critical failures, mages would do that right?

So, what if mages who cast spells using spell ritual rules where they take 10 times longer, etc - but also utilize silver chalices and sea water to ground the negative energies involved in spell casting - could work to avoid "Occupational based spell back fires"?

Put another way? Cast the spell fast and dirty and you're taking the built in safety out of spell casting and you are essentially a high wire act operating without a safety net - one slip can be deadly. On the other hand, use ceremonial casting to add in that safetry feature, and mages no longer have a 2.5% chance of a critical with a .5% chance of a critical failure resulting in a summoned demon.
__________________
Newest Alaconius Lecture now up:

https://www.worldanvil.com/w/scourge-of-shards-schpdx

Go to bottom of page to see lectures 1-11
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Old 06-13-2022, 04:16 AM   #4
hal
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Buffalo, New York
Default Re: Spell backfire ideas

Adding more "events" to the table...

Caster ages 1d6 years - unexpectedly.

Caster's hair turns pure white.

Caster's appearance improves for 1 year by 1d6 levels. After that, caster's appearance drops by the same level from the original appearance for 1 year. (how is this bad? If one reaches super human levels of appearance, what will that do to their lives? Then one night, it goes to super bad - what kind of roller coaster will that be?)

Character undergoes a gender change - can be fixed by a remove Curse spell. Dispell curse will be a temporary fix.

Keep in mind, that in may ways, shaping reality with spells is working with the energies of creation. It is only fair if the spell backfires result in some changes in reality for the spell caster. Although spell backfires are listed as being "Bad events" - why can't they simply be something that is so random that can at times, be good? When a player rolls a crit failure, and gets a result like:

"Produces a variant of the spell being cast" - such as costs 1 less energy than normal, or perhaps changes the effects from 1 minute to 1 hour..."

Results in the player being told "If you take the time to do spell research, having seen it happen and knowing how you originally tried to cast the spell means it will take less time/effor/money to research this new variant could be just the thing. Why? The players may have to fight between taking their character out of play for a while to do the research or simply getting back up and moving along despite their opportunity. Of course, this could instead, be added to the spell crit success table instead.

Funny that - we have back fire tables, but no crit success tables. why is that?
__________________
Newest Alaconius Lecture now up:

https://www.worldanvil.com/w/scourge-of-shards-schpdx

Go to bottom of page to see lectures 1-11
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Old 06-13-2022, 12:44 PM   #5
johndallman
Night Watchman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default Re: Spell backfire ideas

Quote:
Originally Posted by hal View Post
What if Mana levels were rated as they are sort of now? No mana obviously can't produce any kind of magic, so no crit value there. But Low mana -9 through say, -6 is mana Very Low. Mana -5 to -1 is mana low. Mana 0 to 4 is normal, 5 to 9 is high, and mana 10+ is very high.

Each die roll on the critical table modifies the actual 3d6 table roll. It is safer to have a crit failure on a 3d6-9 result than it is to have a 3d6+10 result. Since the really NASTY critical failures can't occur past an 18 on 3d6 without a positive modifier - the only time someone has to worry about something specific is when they can start hitting numbers like 19+ on 3d6 rolls.
That is a reasonable idea. It also suggests a strong reason why the Cabal likes low-mana worlds: they're operating at maybe -1 to -3 with their decanic modifiers, but that means they can't get 18+ critical failures.

Last edited by johndallman; 06-16-2022 at 06:40 AM. Reason: "reason"
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Old 06-13-2022, 06:17 PM   #6
KarlKost
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Brazil
Default Re: Spell backfire ideas

Quote:
Originally Posted by hal View Post
Looking at Steven's tables - sparked another thought...

What if Mana levels were rated as they are sort of now? No mana obviously can't produce any kind of magic, so no crit value there. But Low mana -9 through say, -6 is mana Very Low. Mana -5 to -1 is mana low. Mana 0 to 4 is normal, 5 to 9 is high, and mana 10+ is very high.

Each die roll on the critical table modifies the actual 3d6 table roll. It is safer to have a crit failure on a 3d6-9 result than it is to have a 3d6+10 result. Since the really NASTY critical failures can't occur past an 18 on 3d6 without a positive modifier - the only time someone has to worry about something specific is when they can start hitting numbers like 19+ on 3d6 rolls.

Just a thought. By making a spell power off of hit points instead of taking damage as a result of a spell, that is already baked into the results you want to have. If you want to go a little further - simply state "spell is powered off hit points, reroll on this table again, no modifiers". This way, you can do damage AND concequence.

That is strictly an organizational thing however. But, here is the thing. Metaphysics is a function of what rules the game works by where it comes to magic right? If mages can engage in spell casting in such a way as to mitigate the potential for avoiding critical failures, mages would do that right?

So, what if mages who cast spells using spell ritual rules where they take 10 times longer, etc - but also utilize silver chalices and sea water to ground the negative energies involved in spell casting - could work to avoid "Occupational based spell back fires"?

Put another way? Cast the spell fast and dirty and you're taking the built in safety out of spell casting and you are essentially a high wire act operating without a safety net - one slip can be deadly. On the other hand, use ceremonial casting to add in that safetry feature, and mages no longer have a 2.5% chance of a critical with a .5% chance of a critical failure resulting in a summoned demon.
I liked this
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Old 06-13-2022, 06:23 PM   #7
KarlKost
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Brazil
Default Re: Spell backfire ideas

Quote:
Originally Posted by hal View Post
Looking at Steven's tables - sparked another thought...

What if Mana levels were rated as they are sort of now? No mana obviously can't produce any kind of magic, so no crit value there. But Low mana -9 through say, -6 is mana Very Low. Mana -5 to -1 is mana low. Mana 0 to 4 is normal, 5 to 9 is high, and mana 10+ is very high.

Each die roll on the critical table modifies the actual 3d6 table roll. It is safer to have a crit failure on a 3d6-9 result than it is to have a 3d6+10 result. Since the really NASTY critical failures can't occur past an 18 on 3d6 without a positive modifier - the only time someone has to worry about something specific is when they can start hitting numbers like 19+ on 3d6 rolls.

Just a thought. By making a spell power off of hit points instead of taking damage as a result of a spell, that is already baked into the results you want to have. If you want to go a little further - simply state "spell is powered off hit points, reroll on this table again, no modifiers". This way, you can do damage AND concequence.

That is strictly an organizational thing however. But, here is the thing. Metaphysics is a function of what rules the game works by where it comes to magic right? If mages can engage in spell casting in such a way as to mitigate the potential for avoiding critical failures, mages would do that right?

So, what if mages who cast spells using spell ritual rules where they take 10 times longer, etc - but also utilize silver chalices and sea water to ground the negative energies involved in spell casting - could work to avoid "Occupational based spell back fires"?

Put another way? Cast the spell fast and dirty and you're taking the built in safety out of spell casting and you are essentially a high wire act operating without a safety net - one slip can be deadly. On the other hand, use ceremonial casting to add in that safetry feature, and mages no longer have a 2.5% chance of a critical with a .5% chance of a critical failure resulting in a summoned demon.
Quote:
Originally Posted by hal View Post
Adding more "events" to the table...

Caster ages 1d6 years - unexpectedly.

Caster's hair turns pure white.

Caster's appearance improves for 1 year by 1d6 levels. After that, caster's appearance drops by the same level from the original appearance for 1 year. (how is this bad? If one reaches super human levels of appearance, what will that do to their lives? Then one night, it goes to super bad - what kind of roller coaster will that be?)

Character undergoes a gender change - can be fixed by a remove Curse spell. Dispell curse will be a temporary fix.

Keep in mind, that in may ways, shaping reality with spells is working with the energies of creation. It is only fair if the spell backfires result in some changes in reality for the spell caster. Although spell backfires are listed as being "Bad events" - why can't they simply be something that is so random that can at times, be good? When a player rolls a crit failure, and gets a result like:

"Produces a variant of the spell being cast" - such as costs 1 less energy than normal, or perhaps changes the effects from 1 minute to 1 hour..."

Results in the player being told "If you take the time to do spell research, having seen it happen and knowing how you originally tried to cast the spell means it will take less time/effor/money to research this new variant could be just the thing. Why? The players may have to fight between taking their character out of play for a while to do the research or simply getting back up and moving along despite their opportunity. Of course, this could instead, be added to the spell crit success table instead.

Funny that - we have back fire tables, but no crit success tables. why is that?
I am a Mage the Ascension player (I use gurps system thou), and this game has "Paradox", which is something like "Treshold Magic" from Thaumatology, basically after a while of exaggerating in your "reality warping" powers, reality smacks back.

But I make that to be a RANDOM effect, rather than just simply a bad one. I had a table for it, but it has been lost.

Anyway, I would totally be in favor for a crit success table, and I would add the -9 to +10 from the Mana levels to it too.
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Old 06-13-2022, 06:28 PM   #8
KarlKost
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Brazil
Default Re: Spell backfire ideas

I would also add "random neutral" effects for the lower ends of BOTH tables

For example:

Both crit success or failure table:
3 - a bunch of voices start singing a magic song. It doesnt do anything else.
4 - dancing colors randomly fly nearby, with no other effects
5 - for 1d minutes, hair and clothes move on the opposite direction of wind.

Or even, have the player "Roll Neutral Table" if the player rolls a 3 or less in any of the other tables.
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Old 06-13-2022, 06:48 PM   #9
StevenH
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Portland, Oregon
Default Re: Spell backfire ideas

I can imagine a spell critical success along the lines of "All of the variables in the base thaumatology of the spell casting line up perfectly for you. You cast the spell as if you had +1d Magery levels, and the spell has 5x the area of effect."
Sounds pretty cool, right? Until you factor in collateral damage, and the fact that because it was a surprise effect, there was no chance to modify the shape of that area. Friendly fire, anyone?
So even critical successes can have deleterious effects, in the same way that a crit fail might have effects that could be beneficial.
__________________
Warmest regards,

StevenH

My current worldbuilding project. You can find the Adventure Logs of the campaign here. I try to write them up as narrative prose, with illustrations. As such, they are "embellished" accounts of the play sessions.


It is also the new home of the Alaconius Lectures, a series of essays about the various Colleges of Spells.
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Old 06-13-2022, 06:56 PM   #10
Pursuivant
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Default Re: Spell backfire ideas

Caster grows a useless/marginally useful body part, like a tail, boar-like tusks, or rabbit ears.

Caster acquires supernatural quirk (e.g., minor glowing aura, smoking coming from their ears, purple spotted skin).

Caster suffers irritating Affliction.

Caster can't cast, or has a penalty to cast, the same spell (or spells of the same college).

Severity of effects might vary depending on Magery level or prerequisite count of the spell or energy used to cast it. Duration of effects might be based similar factors (e.g., 1d + energy cost hours/days) or the caster's HT+Magery (e.g., 20-HT+Magery hours, minimum 1). Alternately, they might be permanent until cured using some form of magical "first aid" (e.g., Remove Curse).

If you want a Mage: The Ascension Paradox effect, you could assume that any CF results in a disadvantage worth -2d CP - energy cost of the spell, with the GM assigning suitable disadvantages like for badly failed Fright Checks.
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