Monday, May 30, 2016

Savage Dungeons: That Old Black Magic - Making the Magic-User Archetype



While the Fighter Archetype gains Edges common to their background, the Magic-User Archetype must always have the Arcane Background (Magic) and Power Points edges, so that their character flavor will be developed by the spells that they choose.

Since trappings seem to be a hard notion for some old school style gamers to grasp, I’ll be rewriting the spell descriptions from the Open Game License (OGL) and applying the appropriate Savage World Powers. The spell trappings will then become part of the Wildcard PC background by choosing from a prescribed list similar to Edges in the Fighter Archetype Quickdraw Wildcard character creation.

Vancian magic was at the core of the original dungeon crawling RPG, but I am more concerned with reproducing the effect of the spell rather than converting the original mechanics-- this is still a Savage Worlds setting and I do not want to recreate the “fire and forget” style of magic on the whole. There may be certain spells or circumstances that I may include Vancian style as an option or setting rule.

We’ll start with the first and second level Magic-User Spells for the Basic Rules:

First Level Magic-User Spells
Charm Person
Detect Magic
Floating Disc
Hold Portal
Light
Magic Missile
Magic Mouth
Protection from Evil
Read Languages
Shield
Sleep
Ventriloquism 
Second Level Magic-User Spells
Continual Light
Detect Evil
Detect Invisible
ESP
Invisibility
Knock
Levitate
Locate Object
Mirror Image
Phantasmal Force
Web
Wizard Lock


An example might look like this favorite first level spell, Magic Missile:

Magic Missile:
Rank: Novice
Power Points: 1 per missile
Range: 12/24/48
Duration: Instant

This spell causes a missile charged with magical energy to dart forth from the caster's hand and strike its target unerringly, as long as the target is at least partially visible to the caster, causing 2d6 damage per magic missile.  If multiple missiles are cast they can target a single creature or several creatures. A single missile can strike only one creature.

At 7 and 14 XP a magic user can cast an additional Magic Missile-- up to 3 per turn. 

Trappings (Choose one):
1.     You learned to cast this spell by careful study with the village fortune teller. Through careful use and manipulation of a special deck of cards you learned that you could send them slicing through the air like razors, hitting their mark every time.
2.     The crazy old hermit on the edge of town who was once the king's Mage has taught you supernatural secrets. By marking a small stone with the correct rune, it becomes magically charged and strikes your target as a bullet of pure energy.
3.     The old wizard showed you the arcane secrets of the universe. By opening your mind and body to the flow of energies around you, you create a glowing blue arrow made of pure energy that sings through the air unerringly hitting your target.
4.     While being pushed around by the village bullies one day you suddenly uttered words in a language unknown to you and while pointing your finger, conjured a bright stream of light energy that instantly struck one of them. You have since been able to remember the incantation and can cast magic missile at will.
5.     While exploring in the ancestral barrow mounds you found an antique book of strange notes and drawings. Most of the book seems incomprehensible, but as you spent months studying it you were able to decipher some of the writings and symbols. By carving an arcane symbol into the air and singing the correct notes, you cause space itself to ripple from your finger and instantly strike any visible creature.
6.     Magic has always been in your family. Your mother has it, your father has it, and you have been taught from birth how to harness the power inside of you and bend it to your will. By pointing your finger at a creature and forcefully speaking a single word, you release a green bolt of arcane energy at your target.


This approach will certainly take the most time when recreating the Basic spells for Savage Dungeons, but I think the results will be worth it.