Best magic system or spell library, etc.

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Willie the Duck

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Hi all,
My GM and I are working on converting our High Octane homebrew system into a Conan-esque sword and (low-fantasy) sorcery style game. I've looked through as many Conan ad Conan-esque RPGs (the 2d20 system, the d20 system, the 80s TSR games, ASSH, Barbarians of Lemuria) as I can find, and plumbed my library for ideas. I am looking for a different way of doing magic, looking at magic, or a new perspective on spells. Most of the systems I've looked at are straight up D&D clones (ASSH), exceedingly vague (I think BoL was the one where it was basically 'GM decides'), or incredibly wedded to the existing system (2d20 Conan is built around the momentum system in ways that seem to make the two inseperable. Even GURPS and Hero System magic seem to have been cut from very similar cloth as D&D (just with different avenues of powering the spells and how they recharge).

Does anyone have suggestions on a different system or framing device to help make a different magic system that feels genuinely different (and hopefully relatively appropriate for a Conan-esque game)?
Thanks in advance.
 

Ronnie Sanford

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Maelstrom from Arion Games and available on RPGNow.com had a simple but powerful free form magic system.

The Second Way (see my sig) is also freeform but it’s probably too high powered.
 

The Butcher

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The easy fix? Make all of it costly, time-consuming and morally dubious. Summon a demon, sacrifice a virgin. Cast a curse, requires a lock of the target's hair. And so on.

Instant effects are either one-shot magic items, or manifestations of otherworldy beings.
 

Edgewise

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This is my cue to mention DCC. It's not free-form, but there's a lot of variability via die rolls and tables. It's also extremely colorful and well thought out. Spells are not forgotten on most castings - you can lose a spell for that day, but that's due to a poor casting roll. A really poor casting roll can cause mishaps and a wide array of permanent mutations.

Depending on how well you roll, even a first-level spell can be ridiculously powerful. And you can amp your casting by temporarily burning your physical abilities. The really fun part of a lot of DCC sessions has been when the wizard decides to go all-in on one casting that's going to leave him nearly crippled for the next two weeks.

There's a fair bit more to it but that gives you a general sense.

I just realized that nobody mentioned the go-to: Ars Magica. I've been known to accuse it of being a tiny bit bland, but it's an extremely flexible system that is semi-free-form. There's a lot more rigor to its free-form approach than, as you mention, BoL.

There's also Mage: The Ascension (or whatever it's called in the WW line these days). I'm not a big fan of WW mechanics but a lot of other people like the magic system of this game.
 

Black Leaf

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Maelstrom from Arion Games and available on RPGNow.com had a simple but powerful free form magic system..

+ 1 to this. Maelstrom's magic system really was ahead of its time.

Alternatively, Fantasy Wargaming is worth mining for ideas. It's really good on things like correspondences, but unless you like remarkably high levels of complexity I wouldn't run as is.
 

TristramEvans

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Ars Magica is a pretty big paradigm shift from D&D magic, though it is a bit involved as written and perhaps not very analogous to the Sword and Sorcery genre. OTOH, Call of Cthulhu's Ritual Magic is pretty simple but evocative system that's very close in concept to Conan-esque magic.

Here's the big question though: are you wanting the player's to be magic users, or, in the tradition of Conan and that ilk, is magic going to be solely the domain of evil Sorcerers, seductive witches, foul necromancers, and diabolic warlocks? If so, I really suggest taking a look at Pendragon.
 

David Johansen

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I'm working on it: The Arcane Confabulation :grin:

Outside of that shameless bit of self promotion, I'm a big fan of Spell Law for Rolemaster. True it's very D&D like at a glance but powerful spells tend to be higher level than they are in D&D and there's more curious little spells to do things like running along branches or boiling a cup of water. If you only allow Warlocks and Sorcerers it will be very Conan like and not at all like D&D though the Warlocks are in the Channelling Companion.
 

Charlie D

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Warhammer 2E has Dark Lore for Chaos and Necromancy. There are side effects like Madness and Mutation. Each spell has optional ingrediants like the hand of a hanged man that could become mandatory. The system uses rolling d10s to determine success which is a different mechanic from the normal roll under d100 system. You would have to convert the Warhammer mechanics to whatever system you're using of course.

Example:
Summon Lesser Daemon
Casting Number: 12
Casting Time: 2 full actions
Ingredient: The fresh heart of a humanoid (+2)
Description: You summon one Lesser Daemon (see Chapter 11: The Bestiary), which appears in any unoccupied spot within 12 yards (6 squares) of you. The Daemon remains for 1d10 minutes.
 

Trippy

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Magic Systems of note:

Ars Magica was the game that really tried to create a more stylish form of magic, based upon a verb + noun system (not too dissimilar to what has since been used in Harry Potter magic actually), and differentiating between freeform spontaneous magic and the more powerful but rigid formulaic magic (spells) that a character still can design in a laboratory. If a character wanted to create fire, for example, they would have a certain level of ability in "Creo" and "Ignem" which would determine, along with a dice roll, what level of fire creation spell you could design. You had five verbs (Creo - create , Intellego - perceive, Muto - change, Perdo - destroy and Rego - control) and 10 Nouns (Animal - animals, Herbam - plants, Imagonem - images, Corpus - body, Ignem - fire, Auram - air, Aquam - water, Terram earth, Mentem - mind, Vis - magical force). The official names were latin, while individual spells (and there were lots) also had colourful names like "Frosty Breath of the Spoken Lie" and "Blade of Virulent Flame" merely to enhance a sense of wonder and style.

Ars Magica's main strength these days is attention to detail, both in the mythic medieval setting (which has PhD level of research behind it) and in the comprehensive overall flexibility of the magic system. It's a game where the character can have their own, entirely personalised style of magic.

Mage: The Ascension which is a classic World of Darkness game that was, in some ways a development of some of the ideas in Ars Magica. The system was based upon Spheres of Magick (sic.) - Correspondence, Entropy, Forces, Life, Matter, Mind, Prime, Spirit and Time - which were not to dissimilar to the idea behind Marvel's Infinity Stones in effect, as they were able to interact with each other in very freeform ways. Each Sphere was levelled in attainment from 1 to 5 dots, with each level allowing you some degree of competence which normally ran from perception (1 dot), through controlling, changing and creating effects. You could combine effects in any way you liked, but a bit like Champions, the effects could be interpreted in personalised ways. So, for example, one might use Forces 2 to affect an offensive blast on an individual, but the paradigm of character might describe it as a divine bolt of energy or an electrostatic discharge depending on what the character believed. Further to this, the premise of game had reality being mutable, but having a breaking point whereby one could get a 'paradox backlash' - which was normally bad news! To avoid this, characters would attempt to create coincidences that would explain away subtle effects that effectively kept reality in tact. The core idea of levelled effects could probably be sourced from the earlier Renaissance-styled game, Maelstrom, although this only used a single Sphere in effect, where probabilities could be affected to increasing degrees.

For something lighter, but equally colourful, Castle Falkenstein used a deck of playing cards to cast spells. This was a fantasy Victorian era setting where would-be sorcerers would join secret societies and learn ritual spells from books. Once a spell was cast, the player would draw a card from the deck each round and total up the requisite score of the spell before the effects could be unleashed. It represented a gathering of magical energy, if you like. However, each spell was classified by the suit (Hearts - Emotional and mental magic, Diamonds - Material and physical magic, Spades - Spiritual magic, Clubs - Elemental magic) and whenever you collected the wrong suit the card would be added to the effect to alter the spell in weird and colourful ways.

So, for example, say you had a Charm spell to cast and needed a 12 threshold to cast it, a player might draw in several rounds a 4 of Spades (spirit), a 9 of Clubs (elements), a Queen of Diamonds (material) and a 7 and 6 of Hearts (emotions meeting the 12 threshold) the overall effect would go off, but could also combine a summoned spirit of love, a dimming of the room's light and a nearby table altering it's shape into a cupids arrow. It was a wild ride.....

I might add a few more games to the list in a bit, but the above are some of my favourites.
 

Dumarest

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I don't have the stamina, time, or patience for it, but if I did, I'd prefer something like Fantasy Hero where you can create your own spells that are consistent in cost and power. It's nice because it feels to me more like wizards from books and mythology who would research and toss material into a cauldron and work up magic that is uniquely theirs.

I have never even seen a copy of Ars Magica, so I don't know about that one. I tend to dislike spell lists where everyone in the setting seems to have access to and used the same common spells everywhere you go.
 

Raleel

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Mythras's Sorcery is very good for this sort of thing. base spell might be something like "transmute", but the campaign type determines what possibilities exist for transmute, and how flexible the caster is for that (can you transmute anything? only into wood? only transmute wood into other things?) you have shaping points to determine how you can alter the parameters of the spell's area, duration, targets, etc. It's at least worth a look, especially in the context of Monster Island, which adds in slow ritual magic and how to munge the rules around to get a really solid S&S feel
 

Willie the Duck

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Here's the big question though: are you wanting the player's to be magic users, or, in the tradition of Conan and that ilk, is magic going to be solely the domain of evil Sorcerers, seductive witches, foul necromancers, and diabolic warlocks? If so, I really suggest taking a look at Pendragon.

I will look at Pendragon. he goal is PCs mostly as hedge mages or talisman-makers at most, unless maybe if one really wants to dedicate themselves full stop to magic.
 

Trippy

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I will look at Pendragon. he goal is PCs mostly as hedge mages or talisman-makers at most, unless maybe if one really wants to dedicate themselves full stop to magic.
If you do, note that the magic system is only to be found in the fourth edition of the game. It was removed in resultant editions because it was felt to be a detraction from the game's intended focus of playing Knights.
 

Trippy

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I have never even seen a copy of Ars Magica, so I don't know about that one. I tend to dislike spell lists where everyone in the setting seems to have access to and used the same common spells everywhere you go.
While there are spells listed, the emphasis of the game was to design your own spells and unique style. It was pretty much one of the first RPGs to allow for this type of creative design in magic, and is underlined by spontaneous magic.
 

TristramEvans

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In the early aughts, there was a free online RPG system called CINEFLEX that was highly influential on me as a game designer. Unfortunately long since lost from the web, I did archive it (though sadly not the wonderful Red Branch setting based on Celtic Irish myths). One of the things (among many) I really liked was its approach to magic. I'm going to paste that section from my files:

CINEFLEX MAGIC
In keeping with the conventions of cinema and myth, magic in Cineflex is powerful, yet inherently unpredictable and dangerous. It is also designed to encourage player creativity by being thematic and freeform - when you create a sorcerer character, you specify his magical motifs, and you can craft and cast any spell that fits within those themes. There is no set spell list in Cineflex.

Casting a spell in Cineflex is much like any other task; state what you want to happen, get the TN for it, and roll your Sorcery dice pool. Casting TNs are based on the speed at which a spell is cast; casting in slow and elaborate rituals is best, casting rapidly such as in combat is very risky.

Spell power and scope are measured by a scale or level system from 0 to 5 and up. Any spell that only affects a single character, creature or small object is considered Level 0; spells that can affect entire battlefields are at least Level 5. Sorcerers are normally able to work only Level 0 magic; to do anything grander, they must "burn" Fate Dice. Burned Fate Dice do not refresh as normal, but return only after the sorcerer fulfills some condition required by his source of power.

SORCERERS
All magic-wielding characters are termed "sorcerers." In your own games, sorcerers may have various titles unique to your own game world; we just use the word sorcerer here for ease of reference.

Creating a Sorcerer
Choose a Tradition of magic
Create a concept
Take Sorcery as an Ability
Choose up to 5 Motifs from your chosen tradition
Take any required Vows or Traits

Traditions
The various schools or paths of magic are called Traditions; to learn how to use magic, a would-be sorcerer must join one of these Traditions. Each Tradition will have its own brand of magic and a philosophy of how such power should and shouldn't be used. Each Tradition will have its own source of magic, from which members channel power, and its means of maintaining its ties with this source. The idea is magic is not just a power to use; it's a way of life.

Creating a Tradition
Name
Creed and purpose
Motifs
Keys
Vows
Repose

Motifs
Magic in Cineflex is thematic and improvisational. You may craft "on the fly" any sort of spell that is within the scope of your character's chosen Motifs. Some of many the possible Motifs you could choose for your character are:

fortune; countermagic, protection, banishing; earth, fire, air, water, sound, light, lightning; weather, wind, tides, the sea, volcanoes, desert, snow; emotions; dreams, nightmares; sex; machines (technomagic); animals; specific animals or animal families (e.g. reptiles, wolves); death, disease, decay

- and these are only a few of what is possible. Beginning characters are normally limited to 5 Motifs, first to encourage tight, solid concepts, and second to leave room for growth. The desire to learn a new Motif can be used as a story hook, and the new Motif can be given as a prize for succeeding in the quest for it.

Keys
A sorcerer's Keys are the means by which he works magic. Different Traditions are often distinguished by their Keys. For example the shamans of a primitive tribe may rely heavily on drums, fetishes made from animal parts, and the like; or a musical Tradition may rely on singing; and so on. Your character's Keys to magic will help you determine what kind of paraphernalia to equip your character with, and how to describe spellcasting. As a rule if you cannot use your Key, you cannot cast spells at all. For example, nearly all sorcerers will use a Key that requires speech; so a gagged sorcerer is not likely to be able to cast spells.

Vows
Often, one’s source of magic will require a vow or code of conduct of some sort. Typical vows include never harming a particular creature, never using a certain weapon, always giving food to the hungry, making a periodic pilgrimage (which the GM can use as an adventure in itself!) and so on. Keeping one’s vows maintains the connection to the source needed to work magic; breaking one’s vows thrice in a minor way, or once in a major and flagrant fashion, takes away the ability to work magic until the character renews his connection.

Fate Dice and Repose
Sorcerers have a special use for Fate Dice; in order to cast a spell of Level 1 or higher, a sorcerer must "burn" an equal number of Fate Dice. These burned Fate Dice are not rolled, but are sacrificed to power the spell. Burned Fate Dice do not come back until after the sorcerer has undergone Repose. Use a special notation of your choice to mark burned Fate Dice as opposed to normally spent Fate Dice; perhaps normal spending can be tracked with bars-and-slashes, while burned Fate Dice can be noted as x's.

Repose is the term for whatever activity a sorcerer must engage in to renew his connection to his source of power: sorcerous slumber, service in a temple, meditation, sleeping in a graveyard, etc etc. The Repose of a sorcerer should be tied in some way to his Motifs, rounding out the thematic nature of his magic. A sorcerer’s pattern of living is shaped in large part by his need for Repose. Remember the movie Excalibur? Merlin worked a great feat of magic to enable Uther to visit Ygraine, overtaxing his powers, and so requiring him to sleep in a magic cave for months.

Rule: every 10 days of game time spent in uninterrupted Repose restores one burned Fate Die. GMs may change the above rate as appropriate for their own game. Another way of handling Repose is for the GM to impose a relevant task or mini-quest on the character, for a stated amount of Fate Dice.
For example, in the last session you had your druid cast a Level 3 spell; this session, your Fate Die pool will only be 7d, as you "owe" the Otherworld three dice which you will regain only after you sleep 30 nights in a sacred oak grove

LAWS OF MAGIC
Knowing the laws of magic and using them to add color to how you describe your character's spellcasting can earn you bonus dice. The laws of magic also explain how spells are given a duration, and what happens when a sorcerer loses control of a spell (Flubs the casting roll).

Similarity
"Like begets like."
Actions and props that are similar to a spell's effect improve the chances of casting the spell successfully. For example, a whirling dance can help raise a whirlwind; wearing a wolfskin cloak helps shapechange into a wolf. Use this principle to get bonus dice for your casting roll.

Contagion
"Once together, always together."
A person or creature has a mystic bond to anything that has once been part of itself or was a close possession. Thus having some of a target's blood or spittle will aid in casting spells against that person. Having an item or part of your target gives you +1d to cast spells on that target.

Separation
"Magic requires a bridge."
You can affect with magic only that which you can make a psychic connection to. This connection can be established through touch, with anything in line of sight, and anything of which you have a possession, component, or extract of (e.g. someone's blood). There are no range penalties - either something is within your magical reach, or it is not. You get +1d to cast spells on a target you are touching, and to targets of which you have a part or possession as stated above. (The two bonuses are not cumulative, however)

True Name
"To know a Name is to have Power."
All things have a True Name. This is the foundation of the Motif idea: your Motifs are those things whose True Names you know. When casting spells on persons or supernatural creatures, you get +1d if you have their True Name. Very powerful magical beings may have long, multiple True Names as a sort of safeguard; for a mortal to gain power over them, the mortal must know their full Name - not an easy task. This can be used as an adventure hook, where a sorcerer who seeks to bend a certain genie to his will goes seeking all over the land for the fragments of the genie's Name.

Evanescence
"Kindled by magic, fed by magic."

A magical effect lasts only as long as it is sustained by magical energy. Without such sustenance, a spell's effect lasts only a moment. Spells may be sustained by concentration, or "anchored" to an object or condition. Frex, "you will sleep, never to wake unless you are kissed by a prince of the blood royal."

Untameability
Magic is a wild and highly unpredictable force. Losing one's "grip" on the strands of power being woven into a spell lets those strands snap and whip loose, with possibly disastrous effects. This is known as Backlash. Flubbing a spell triggers Backlash.
 

TristramEvans

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THE PRICE OF MAGIC

Spell Levels
The overall grandiosity and potency of a spell is measured by its Level. Spells that only affect a single character, creature or object are considered Level 0. Anything greater must be of higher Level, and costs Fate Dice to cast.
+1 affect an area the size of a room, or several targets
+2 affect a whole house, or about a dozen targets
+3 affect a whole mansion or ship, or up to about 50 targets
+4 affect a whole castle, or up to a hundred or so targets
+5 affect a great battlefield, or up to hundreds, even thousands

Sustaining Spells
A spell may be actively sustained to make its effect last longer; a sorcerer can sustain a spell for some time, but only at the cost of doing nothing else, not even speaking or moving (note that the sorcerer may be carried, or borne by a mount that continues moving on its own). The sorcerer can't eat or drink, relieve himself, rest cramped muscles, etc etc. - a terrible drain that puts a cap of at most several hours on a sustained spell. To have a spell continue independently, it must be Anchored.
For example, to protect yourself from the arrows of some pursuing bandits you decide to raise a magical barrier; the barrier stays up for as long as you do nothing else. Seeing the fixed look of concentration on your character's face, his friends take up the reins of his horse and try to make sure he does not fall while he is incapable of managing his mount himself.

Anchoring Spells
A spell may be "anchored" to a cycle, event, or contingency, such that until the condition is met the spell is sustained by the fabric of Reality itself, as in the classic example of Sleeping Beauty - "sleep until kissed by a prince of the blood royal." Other good anchor points are phases of the moon, cycles of the zodiac, the giving of a sign or password, and so on. Anchoring a spell for a short cycle (say up to a month) or to an easily met contingency adds +1 Level; anchoring to very long cycles or to very hard to meet contingencies adds +2 Levels.

Backlash
Backlash is the unintended, often highly disturbing or even dangerous result of a Flubbed casting roll. In game terms, it is a magical effect of the GM's choice, at a Level = Level of the spell that was Flubbed.Backlash can take many forms: the sorcerer may be knocked into coma, or a howling storm may be raised, or an otherworldly creature of Level = spell's Level may be inadvertently summoned but without the caster's control, to mention only a few possibilities. The form that Backlash will take is usually governed by two things: first, the sorcerer's Motifs, and second, the nature and intent of the spell that backfired. For example, a miscast weather spell is more likely to raise a storm or tornado than summon an angry demon, while a miscast summoning is more likely to accomplish the latter.

CASTING SPELLS
Describe the desired effect, and how you plan to cast the spell
Determine the Level of the spell
GM gives a TN; bonus dice may be awarded for:
good roleplaying
good description
good use of symbolism, similarity and contagion
use of a Trait relevant to the spell
Roll and resolve
Burn Fate Dice if required
The TN for the casting roll is based on the time and detail taken to cast the spell. A spell cast through a long and elaborate ritual is much more likely to succeed than a spell hastily cast in the heat of combat.

Casting Method / TN
Flash - 3
Quick - 6
Formula - 9
Brief Ritual - 12
Simple Ritual - 15
Grand Ritual - 18

A grand ritual takes at least a full day; a simple ritual, at least an hour; a brief ritual, at least a full minute - 6 10-second combat rounds. (Sacrifices are considered part of rituals; it's not just what is offered, it's also a matter of offering it correctly.) A formulaic casting - requiring at least the incantation of a short verse - is the most reliable way of casting that can be finished in a single combat round. Anything faster tends to be really difficult. This means it is not easy for sorcerers to function simply as walking artillery, as in other RPGs; Cineflex's magic system is meant to encourage subtlety and more imaginative use of spells, to more closely model how magic works in fairy tales and classic fantasy. If a GM wants lots of combat magic, though, he is free to change this time-TN correlation to fit his game.

Group Casting
Group casting gives bonus dice and allows sorcerers casting together to spend Fate Dice together as per the Group Effort rule.

MAGIC COMBAT & COUNTERMAGIC

Counterspells
Counterspells may be cast to frustrate another sorcerer's casting, at the same time and the same Target Number as the spell being countered. This requires having the Countermagic motif. The counterspelling sorcerer attempts to seize and wrest control of the threads of magic power being woven by his opponent; it is not a contest of power, but of skill. Thus a counterspell need not be cast at any specific Level, but it must be cast simultaneously. Three results are possible: Victory, Standoff, or Defeat.
Victory means the counterspell blasted the target spell totally, stopping the casting.
Standoff means the counterspell has held up the target spell, but its caster may continue trying to finish it.
Defeat means the counterspell failed, and the target spell can proceed unhindered.

Blocking and Counterattacking
Whereas a counterspell is an attempt to frustrate the action of casting, Blocking is an attempt to cast a spell whose effect can stop or shield against the effect of the enemy's spell. Battling sorcerers may also throw attack spells - "counterblasts" - at each other simultaneously, and the stronger attack will get through. (This gives you the anime image of wizards hurling blasts at each other that meet midway, if you want this in your game.) Like a counterspell, a blocking spell must be cast at the same time, and therefore the same Target Number, as the spell to be blocked. However, it must also be cast at the same or greater Level.

If both spells are successfully cast at the same Level, their effects cancel each other out. If both spells are successfully cast but one is of higher Level, the higher Level spell totally overwhelms the other and goes on to strike the target.

Counterspell or Counterattack?
It's your option. A counterspell doesn't have to match the opponent's Level, but does nothing to stop the opponent from casting again even if you are victorious. A counterblast on the other hand must match or exceed the opponent's Level, but if you overpower his spell you get to do damage.

Mind to Mind Combat
Another option is direct mind to mind combat. Two sorcerers, or two groups of sorcerers, may match wills against each other in a psychic battle fought entirely in the ether. Such combat is often accompanied by visualizations in the form of battling beasts or warriors representing the combatants. Mind to mind combat is resolved like a physical melee, but using Sorcery as the combat Ability. With every exchange, three results are possible: Victory, Standoff, or Defeat.
Victory means you penetrated the enemy's mental defenses. This is normally Finishing damage, but can be soaked with mental fortitude Traits such as Strong Will.
Standoff means neither side could get past the other's defense
Defeat means your defenses were penetrated, but you can soak this damage as above.

If performing mental combat as a group, hits are applied first against those with the lowest mental Health, then going upward. When the weakest member is eliminated, the next weakest takes the next "hit," and should he go down the next, and so on. Criticals will Finish the entire group immediately.

Dispelling Existing Effects
An existing spell effect may be dispelled by casting countermagic at it at an equal Level. Note that permanently anchored effects are one or two Levels higher. Dispelling requires the Countermagic motif (or whatever you chose to call it in your game).
 

TristramEvans

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SPECIAL RULES

Favorable Auspices
There are times and places where certain kinds of magic are favored. Sorcerers who seek these out and use them to cast their spells may gain +1-3 bonus dice depending on the power of the auspice. For example, a priest casting in a small town's temple may get +1d, and +3d if he were casting in the shrine of a highly revered saint. GMs can specify auspices that give even more dice, so you can have a "when the stars are right" type of scenario where the heroes race to stop a great summoning of evil that can only take place just a few days from now ...

Summoning and Banishing
Otherworldly beings may be summoned to the material plane, or banished from it, if one has sufficient power. In game terms, the Level required to summon or banish a creature is that creature's Level. Players may be allowed to define their own summoned supernatural creatures. To generate a summoned being, follow these guidelines:
The creature's Level = Level of the spell to summon/banish it
The creature's Size = Level
No attack or power may be > Level
Players may define specific beings that their characters know well and summon often; these must be defined beforehand, and the players get +1d to summon these creatures.

Shapeshifting
Transforming into an animal form requires that the caster has a very strong tie with that kind of animal. The forms available to a shapeshifting sorcerer should depend on his Tradition and personal leanings; for example, the boy raised in the jungle by a leopard cult will know how to transform into a leopard, but not an elephant. In game terms, each individual form should be taken as a Motif. GMs may decide to restrict certain animal forms as appropriate; for example a character capable of turning into a dragon might be too powerful for most fantasy game scenarios, but on the other hand a whole campaign could be constructed around a people who have this power. It is also inappropriate for a character to be able to turn into a form that does not exist on the game world - for example in an environment where there are no wolves, no natives should have the power to turn into a wolf.

The shapeshifting spell itself is a type of glamor, a "rewrite" of Reality. The outward form of an animal is "superimposed" upon a human self. The body does not physically transform into animal shape - and thus there is no limitation on mass or size. A shapeshifted character is physically that animal: for as long as he remains in that shape he will have all the powers and abilities of the animal. Characters in animal form of course cannot speak, or cast any spells that require speech - which precludes most methods of casting.

ENCHANTING ITEMS
Enchanting an item, to give it a magical power, requires that the sorcerer have the power in question and be able to afford the additional Level that it takes to permanently anchor a spell. An item may be given a power it would not normally have, or given a power that complements an existing function of the item; for example, a sword may be given power to aid in summoning spirits, or given a blessing to add to its damage. Augmentive powers are usually expressed as bonus dice = Level +1.

To enchant an item
Discuss the item desired with the GM
Create or have the item created
Cast the spell over the item
Burn Fate Dice as needed
Name the item - it's unique, and it's yours
You get a bonus die for using appropriate imagery, symbolisms and associations. For example, a necromancer wants to create a sword that can suck lifeforce out of his opponent and transfer it to himself; he makes the sword of black metal, with a sinister wavy blade, and a theme of skulls and serpents on its pommel and guard. The sword looks impressively eeeeevil - so the GM grants this necromancer a bonus die to enchant it. He also arranges for an encounter with a puritanical Crimson Templar sometime in the future ...

ALCHEMY
Alchemy is the art of finding and using the hidden magical properties of substances to create desired effects; it can be used to create poisons, healing potions, incendiaries and other chemical weapons, and most interestingly to create artificial life. Alchemy is taken as a separate Ability, since it works rather differently from spellcasting magic. Alchemical preparations require materials, specialized equipment, and much time to prepare, so an alchemist usually cannot practice his art in the field at all; in game terms, this puts a PC alchemist at quite a disadvantage if he does not practice any other magical art. PC alchemists may be allowed to create and take along a number of alchemical preparations if given time to prepare.

To create an alchemical preparation
Discuss the concept with the GM
GM will rule how long it should take, materials needed, etc.
Gather the materials
TN is 18 if working in optimal lab conditions; lower if not
 

David Johansen

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He's put mechanical concepts in for contagion, similarity, and so forth. It's just flavorful.
 

Willie the Duck

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Tristram, sounds interesting. The ritual vs. fast makes it sound like longer casting, but counterspelling and magic combat sounds like in-combat magic is a thing. Or is it both?
 

Willie the Duck

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I'd recommend looking at Beyond the Wall. Magic is split into three types: Cantrips, Spells, and Rituals. Cantrips are very minor at will effects. No direct damage. Spells are traditional Vancian D&D magic, although a curated spell list that is pretty subtle. Rituals are bigger effects, but take hours to cast and require costly or hard to obtain components.

Yes, I actually GM BtW weekly. I love the mechanism it uses, but I really need a method of thinking of magic past the Vancian/D&D mind-frame.
 

soltakss

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Mythras's Sorcery is very good for this sort of thing. base spell might be something like "transmute", but the campaign type determines what possibilities exist for transmute, and how flexible the caster is for that (can you transmute anything? only into wood? only transmute wood into other things?) you have shaping points to determine how you can alter the parameters of the spell's area, duration, targets, etc. It's at least worth a look, especially in the context of Monster Island, which adds in slow ritual magic and how to munge the rules around to get a really solid S&S feel

The magic systems of the various RuneQuest-like games would be useful in a Conan game.
Sorcery would suit the powerful sorcerers. cantrips are available through Common Magic. Worshippers of deities can get special magic through Divine Magic. Enchanters can make enchantments and can summon/bind creatures using Ritual Magic.
Revolution uses the same ideas but uses the same mechanics for each type of magic.
 

valgunn

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For magic, I think one that would be extremely fun is hacking Unknown Armies for fantasy/S&S. I think it’d fit a conanesque setting very well if done right.
 

Willie the Duck

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Maelstrom is indeed amazing. Seems like it is better for making non-combatants than combatants, so I know which upcoming game it will be used in (not this one). Mythras ad its' 5 magic systems seems pretty interesting. We'll probably port whole sections of that. Thanks for the suggestions everyone!
 
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