WOIN Some comments and questions about O.L.D.'s Magic system
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    Some comments and questions about O.L.D.'s Magic system

    I've recently been reading the Magic rules in O.L.D. The system is really neat! I love how you can adapt your spells or even design new spells on the fly.

    That said, I have a bunch of questions about certain rules and spell effects. Some things seem redundant, while others seem unbalanced in various ways. I may be misunderstanding them!

    First off, a comment: I missed the Skill Prerequisites section (one paragraph on page 167) on my first read through. I was very confused when I saw it on each item in the list of pre-made spells. That you need high skills for high-level effects should be much more prominently stated! For instance, it should be mentioned when magical skills are being introduced on page 161 (it mentions skills as prerequisites for exploits, but not for spell effects)! The designing a spell section on page 162 would also be a reasonable place for it to be briefly mentioned.

    The "spellcraft" skill is mentioned early in the section, but it's not on the main skill list, nor is it a career skill for any career. Is that an error, or is it referring to [magical] skills by that term?

    Spell durations are all specified in minutes (if the effect is not instant). But the combat rules explicitly leave unspecified how long a round is, and thus how many rounds there are in a minute. That seems like it will make it hard to distinguish the value of a 5 minute duration versus the 1 minute duration you get for free. If I summon a creature for a minute, will the fight be over by then or not? How can either the GM or I tell when the creature should go poof?

    Some of the magic skills have multiple spell Effects that seem very closely related. What are the differences between the Compulsion and Vocal Command effects (I think the former is ongoing, while the other is a one shot command, but I'm not sure)? Similarly, the Displacement effects Preternatural Celerity and Burst of Time seem to do almost the same thing (granting extra turns at an absurd MP cost). One cross skill similarity: Creation can create an elemental object that can deal 1 damage/round to anything it touches for 1MP, while Transformation can create patch of difficult and damaging elemental terrain for free that also does 1 damage/round. Is there any reason for this cost difference? The latter effect seems better in most cases when you want damage over time (e.g. to finish off an unconscious enemy).

    My last set of questions are about Creation spells: They seem massively OP compared to many other kinds of spells, since there's no cost to the creation effect (unless you want one of the weird special effects some elements can have). You only need to pay for an AOE if you're making something large. Small items, like clothing or hand-held weapons (up to longsword size) are nearly free! Just pay for the duration and it seems you're set, as long as the total cost of the spell is enough for the item's value. The option to pay nothing AOE (and the fact that the AOE cost contributes to the value you can create) makes the fact that elemental objects pay double AOE costs pretty trivial for small things. Double zero is still zero (or double of some small amount means more item value)!

    Rather than casting an exceedingly expensive "Abjure Self" spell to give you lots of SOAK, why not just use "Create Metal" and make yourself a nice set of armor? Why cast "Infuse [element]" to make your weapon deal elemental damage, when you can use "Create Element" to make a whole new weapon (perhaps of better quality than any you normally have) out of elemental force that deals that same elemental damage for less MP?

    It seems like you can create a mastercraft breastplate that lasts an hour for 3 MP (using either Create Object with the Secret of Metal or Elemental Object with any element, 3 MP for duration, zero MP for everything else including the creation effect, item value is 40*10+500=900 gc which fits exactly within the 300 gc/MP limit). Or a mastercraft short sword that lasts 10 minutes for 2 MP (Elemental Object, 2 MP duration, nothing for the rest, item value is 10*10+500=600 gc). You can of course extend those durations by casting more slowly (taking a minute to cast each spell and extending the durations two steps would makes the items last 8 and 4 hours respectively). The weapon can deal any elemental damage type you know the secret for.

    If you don't need mastercraft quality (perhaps because you don't have the skills to benefit from it), you can instead get a whole lot of more basic objects at once, if you pay for a small AOE. Did your party get thrown in prison and all your gear got taken by the guards? Spend a minute casting Create Metal with a 10' AOE and you can probably reequip everybody with high-quality temporary gear (lasting hours) for 4 MP or so. The 10' diameter "object" you created was a bucket full of swords and a big rack covered in armor!

    None of the spells I've described so far have a skill prerequisite of more than 1 (arguably, the skill prerequisite is actually zero, but I think you do actually need to have the skill at some level in order to cast spells with it). Indeed, as far as I can tell, you never need more than 1 rank of the Creation skill (unless you want one of the weird elemental effects like deafening sound or a force field). That's one pretty good skill rank!

    Am I fundamentally misunderstanding how the MP cost is supposed to work for Creation spells? Is there supposed to be some minimum MP cost for each creation effect (e.g. the item cost/300 rounded up)? Should the AOE cost be part of the creation effect cost (like the cost of Telekinesis comes from the size of the object to be moved)? The rules as written seem to suggest the opposite on both of these points: The gc cost limit is described as being based on the MP cost of the whole spell not just on the creation effect costs. And the AOE cost is just for the spell's AOE, not for the creation effect which is explicitly stated to not cost any extra. I just don't get it.

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    Wowzers. That will take a lot of unpacking! That's a LOT of questions!

    OK, here goes. I doubt I'll get to the end today, but I'll try to make a start. I'll skip the general comments and try to focus on the questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Barker View Post
    The "spellcraft" skill is mentioned early in the section, but it's not on the main skill list, nor is it a career skill for any career. Is that an error, or is it referring to [magical] skills by that term?
    The spellcraft skill has a section on page 156. It is knowledge about magic, as opposed to magical skill.

    Spell durations are all specified in minutes (if the effect is not instant). But the combat rules explicitly leave unspecified how long a round is, and thus how many rounds there are in a minute. That seems like it will make it hard to distinguish the value of a 5 minute duration versus the 1 minute duration you get for free. If I summon a creature for a minute, will the fight be over by then or not? How can either the GM or I tell when the creature should go poof?
    A minute is 10 rounds. I get asked that a lot, and it will be highlighted in v1.2 to make it clear.

    Some of the magic skills have multiple spell Effects that seem very closely related. What are the differences between the Compulsion and Vocal Command effects (I think the former is ongoing, while the other is a one shot command, but I'm not sure)?
    You are correct.

    Similarly, the Displacement effects Preternatural Celerity and Burst of Time seem to do almost the same thing (granting extra turns at an absurd MP cost). One cross skill similarity: Creation can create an elemental object that can deal 1 damage/round to anything it touches for 1MP, while Transformation can create patch of difficult and damaging elemental terrain for free that also does 1 damage/round. Is there any reason for this cost difference? The latter effect seems better in most cases when you want damage over time (e.g. to finish off an unconscious enemy).
    They're different effects. One creates an object you'd need to use in some way, the other creates an area which affects all who enter it.

    Rather than casting an exceedingly expensive "Abjure Self" spell to give you lots of SOAK, why not just use "Create Metal" and make yourself a nice set of armor?
    You could do either, sure, depending what type of mage you are.

    I'll try to get to the rest later.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
    Wowzers. That will take a lot of unpacking! That's a LOT of questions!
    Thanks for your answers so far!

    The spellcraft skill has a section on page 156. It is knowledge about magic, as opposed to magical skill.
    Yeah, that's the section were I saw it before. It's listed there, but not in Fantasy Careers anywhere. It's not in any of the skill categories, nor listed by any career as a career skill. So how do you learn spellcraft?

    A minute is 10 rounds. I get asked that a lot, and it will be highlighted in v1.2 to make it clear.
    This is very useful to know, thanks!

    (RE: creation vs transformation elemental damage effects) They're different effects. One creates an object you'd need to use in some way, the other creates an area which affects all who enter it.
    I think I understand that, but it seems like the prices are backwards. An item that can deal 1 damage/round if I can find a way to get you to touch it seems worse than terrain that does the same (especially difficult terrain, which is also free), but the terrain costs zero MP to make while the object costs 1 MP.

    (RE: creation vs abjuration for soak spells) You could do either, sure, depending what type of mage you are.
    The questions you haven't got to yet are asking about this in more detail. It just seems like even a mage specialized in Abjuration would be better off using Creation instead, some of the time (it doesn't require much investment in either the creation skill or in specific secrets to work, as far as I can tell). But maybe my calculation of how much MP creation effects cost is wrong, so there's more of a trade off than I think. I look forward to the rest of your answers when you have time!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Barker View Post
    Thanks for your answers so far!


    Yeah, that's the section were I saw it before. It's listed there, but not in Fantasy Careers anywhere. It's not in any of the skill categories, nor listed by any career as a career skill. So how do you learn spellcraft?
    Its a [magical] skill. Or you spend 3 XP.

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    I've just come up with a new question, and while it is not strictly magic related, that's the context it came up in, so I'll stick it in here.

    Can you use the free universal exploit you get during character creation as a prerequisite for one of your starting careers? The specific example I was considering is taking the Arcane Secret exploit to get the Secret of Undead so I can be a Necromancer. While I know that I could take the exploit in place of some other career exploit (e.g. as part of my origin), it would be nice for my character concept if I could use the free one instead.

    I'm also really hoping to better understand how the costs of Creation spells are supposed to work, as I asked about in the first post. Thanks!

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    So I just reread the O.L.D. errata and it seems to address a few of the things I was asking about. It specifically adds the spellcraft skill to the [lore] category. It's adjustments to spell durations may make my math above about MP costs for creation spells a little bit wrong, but they'd still be roughly correct for 2-action casting time spells, I think.

    The critical hits errata (which I thought I already knew about since I play N.E.W. with the 1.2 rules, but which does have some OLD specific stuff I'd not noticed before) raised one new question for me though. The sidebar about magic says:
    Spells which inflict conditions only use the Moderate (2 MP) and Extreme (4 MP) costs, which inflict the first and second bullet-pointed conditions respectively
    That mostly seems straightforward. But in the book, compulsion effects cost 2-5 MP, rather than 1-4 like the other magic skill effects that apply conditions. Do the elevated prices remain in the new system (so normal charm status is 3 MP and severe charm is 5 MP), or do they now use the same costs as all other effects (2 and 4 MP)?

    I've also been thinking some more about my questions about Creation spell costs. I think I have an idea of how it is intended to work, though the wording in the book still seems to be saying the opposite to me. The main hint is that it mentions rounding up, despite there not being any division in the rules as written and so no fractional numbers that would need rounding. Here's my guess at how it is actually supposed to work:

    The cost of an creation effect (Create Object or Elemental Object) is either based on the size of the creation (from the AOE table, with Elemental Object's cost getting doubled) or on the monetary value of the items being created (value / 300 gc, rounded up!), whichever is greater.

    Is that right?

    If so, there are still a few things that are not be entirely clear to me:
    • Does a small Elemental Object that's being paid for by value (e.g. a fire sword or a breastplate of shadow) still get a doubled cost, making it more like 1 MP / 150 gc? Or is the doubling only for the size based cost?
    • If I'm making a large creation (such as a bridge or a castle wall), do I need to estimate the value of the materials, to make sure I'm under 300 gc / MP? Or does the cost only need to be considered for character-scale items that have easy to assess prices?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Barker View Post
    I've just come up with a new question, and while it is not strictly magic related, that's the context it came up in, so I'll stick it in here.

    Can you use the free universal exploit you get during character creation as a prerequisite for one of your starting careers? The specific example I was considering is taking the Arcane Secret exploit to get the Secret of Undead so I can be a Necromancer. While I know that I could take the exploit in place of some other career exploit (e.g. as part of my origin), it would be nice for my character concept if I could use the free one instead.
    Technically no, as you don't get it until later, but if the GM were to allow it I don't think it would break anything.

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