Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Free-form magic via spell components

She didn't giggle much, but the birds teetered a bit.
People who have kept abreast of me for a while know a few things about me: I like humor in RPGs, I like resource management, I like free-form magic systems, and I giggle a little when I write words like "abreast."

Pause for giggle break.

Okay, so I'm combining some of those things into the following spell-casting system.
  • There are no spell slots, so you can cast all day.
  • Component casting is the only kind of casting. I want greedy wizards scouring dungeons and flea-markets alike.
  • To cast a spell, you sacrifice one or more spell components (they melt like cotton candy in the mouth of the æther). You also need the ability to speak and gesticulate.
  • You have to roll to see how effective your spell is.
    • The higher you roll, the better.
    • Rolling a 1 means the spell backfires or consumes more components than you were expecting. Also, I say have a table of like 120 spell mishaps and you have to re-roll that spell die on it, cause great hubris preceedeth the fall.
    • More valuable components give larger dice for you to roll. A whole fleece is better than a bit of wool. A dragon's blood is worth at least a d60, doncha think?
    • In D&Dish games, where some sort of spell save could be mustered, you can roll your spell die vs the target's relevant save inverted (old school) or 10+stat+level (new school) and try to roll high. If you do, the spell affects them.
  • Magic circles, sacrifices, extra casters, and cauldrons could bump up your spell's die-size. The costlier the better.
  • The caster tries to justify a magical effect (the spell) based on the components they sacrificed to it as well as their scarcity/value. Puns and jokes are absolutely allowed, nay, nigh-requisite. For instance (some of these are adapted from a popular RPG):
    • A copper penny to read someone's mind.
    •  Combining sulfur, charcoal, and saltpeter to make an explosion.
    • Socks to make an electric shock.
    • A tower model that helps you babble in any tongue.
    • Chalk or dust to see invisible things.
    • Sand to induce sleep.
    • A dousing rod to gain the favor of a water elemental.
    • A steak to command a carnivorous animal, or a leash to command any kind.
    • A whistle to summon the hounds .
    • A bit of fleece to trick someone or induce slumber.
    • Beans to create a gust of wind.
    • A bit of gold to create a zone of silence.
    • Wire or a mother's bell to create a message over great distance.
    • A log to make a shadow-clone.
    • An abacus might counter a  spell.
    • Shrooms to undergo an astral journey.
That's about it. Any component ideas or holes in the system? Make a comment!
Share good posts with good goblins. Claytonian at the gmails.


Eric Nieudan said...

It's a good framework! What kind of dice chain would you recommend? d10/d20/d30/d40/d50/d60/d80/d100/d120?

It's not a hole, but if I were to run this I'd have to give some serious thought to shopping scenes. Make sure they don't get repetitive, boring, or (even worse!) handwaved.

Autismo said...

i make a list of components here it is thank you

1.monkey skulls stringed on a leather cord
2.fist-sized crystal orb
3.normally poisonous mushrooms steeped in alcohol for 7 days
4.pickled pork nose
5.toe of a hanged man
6.powdered mithril and rust
7.cold-forged arrowhead
8.shed skin from an albino snake
9.chunk of petrified wood
10.just a big-ass handful of live bugs
11.sealed flask filled with dense yellow gas
12.writing quill made from peacock feather
13.clay beads, one each from 13 different nomad tribes
14.saffron crocus flowers
15.whole dried octopus
16.very tiny steel helmet
17.silver needle and golden thread
18.carcass of a seabird killed by a sailor
19.perfect cube of black marble
20.handle of a broken sword
21.cat whiskers
22.very long iron rod held towards the sky
23.large dead fish stored in horse manure
24.bundle of chamomile, lavender, and valerian flowers
25.bag full of human teeth
26.sock that has lost its pair
27.ground minotaur horn
28.crude fabric doll in the shape of a man stuck with multiple pins
29.broom made from a yew branch
30.spectacles with cracked lenses
31.small ball of string soaked in pitch
32.mummified goblin lips
33.large sea shell that whispers gibberish when you hold it up to your ear
34.jar full of crow feathers
35.lump of flesh-colored wax
36.pig’s bladder filled with horrible rotting foodstuffs
37.carved ivory figurine of a ram
38.leather glove stuffed with potpourri and sewn shut
39.thin metal sheet that makes noise when you wiggle it
40.whole sheepskin with black fleece
41.big handful of animal fat
42.painting of a table full of delicious-looking fruits
43.whistle that doesn’t work
44.delicate linen bed sheet with multiple holes cut into it
45.pair of worn bronze gears
46.bent silver spoon
47.heavy metal ring with an engraved horseshoe
48.big green banana leaf
49.candle contained within a polished metal tube
50.dried gecko feet
51.walnut shell with a small strip of rolled-up parchment inside
52.tin filled with mint scented ointment
53.small copper gong, striker included
54.bit of lava rock fished up from the bottom of the sea
55.stuffed rat with a pigeon sewn to its back
56.small obsidian knife that has tasted blood before
57.scrap of dragon hide
58.tiny model of throne, crown, and rod
59.stick scored with lines dividing it into 7 parts
60.pair of boots that are too large to be worn
61.bird’s nest filled with lizard eggs
62.mask depicting a horrifying creature
63.little wooden box full of salt
64.iron amulet with an engraved eye
65.playing card depicting two arrows facing away from each other
66.preserved goose head with a bell held in its beak
67.string of dried and very spicy peppers
68.insect encased in amber
69.dirt from a vampire’s tomb
70.troll’s ear that still wiggles from time to time
71.bits of an expensive ceramic vase smashed to pieces
72.bottle full of elf piss
73.little ball of gum arabic
74.tiny vial containing a very long fingernail
75.lemon with a nail and a copper piece stuck into it
76.live toad tattooed with runes
77.sprig of mistletoe
78.spyglass with the lens painted over in black
79.bowstring tied in intricate knots
80.pouch with the bottom cut out
81.simple wooden cup, inside coated in gold leaf
82.tiny twig with a red bulb at the end
83.flask filled with the first rain of springtime
84.giant’s gallstone
85.just a big slimy disgusting slug
86.pair of ivory dice that always roll 10
87.complete owl skeleton
88.small bellows
89.catnip stuffed inside a toy mouse
90.very small lead anvil
91.dried bat that’s missing its head
92.continuous loop of rope
93.strips of dried flesh from a man, a bear, and a pig
94.bottle of strong spirits with a large moth larvae at the bottom
95.entirely green but still perfectly edible potato
96.Very small model ship
97.dozen pearls, all different colors
98.fistful of vibrant powdered pigment
99.spool of copper wire
100.preserved and pickled head of another wizard stuffed into a jar

Claytonian said...

93, my ultimate form!

Noah S. said...

im stealing this Claytonian

Janet said...

Yeah this is the best post I've read in a while. Gonna adapt this a bit to my system. :)