Magic System

6E Magic System: Color-based (modified 1/15/14)

Magic is divided into five categories, each one corresponding to a color: Black, Blue, Green, Red, and White. Black magic covers necromancy, disease, and decay. Blue magic covers manipulation of magic itself as well as mind magic. Green magic covers nature, including wind and water. Red magic covers fire and earth, including lightning. White magic covers restorative magic and blessings. See Magic School Colors for details.

In order to cast spells, a character must possess the Talent for the color of magic associated with the spell s/he wants to cast. There is a separate Talent for each color of magic, and each costs 5 points per level. Each level increases the AP cap for the character’s spells by 20.

  • Example: One level in the Black Magic Talent costs 5 points and allows the character to cast Black Magic spells up to 20 AP. Three levels in Black Magic costs 15 points and gives a 60 AP cap.

There are five spellcasting skills, one for each of the five colors of magic. Each is an Intellect Skill, and none are considered related to another (meaning that a character cannot have a 3-point skill level that applies to any of the spellcasting skills).

Characters do not pay points for spells, instead purchasing each spell as a 1-point familiarity. Spell constructs are usually built with advantages only. If a spell has an inherent limitation (such as an Entangle built with the Set Effect limitation), then the END cost of the spell is reduced by two times the total value of all limitations, minimum 1 END.

  • Example: A 4d6 Entangle (40 AP) would cost 4 END to cast. If the Set Effect (-1) limitation is applied to the Entangle, the END cost drops to 2 (4 – [1×2] = 2). The AP remain the same so both versions apply a -4 penalty to the spellcasting roll.

All spells include RSR (-1 per 10 AP), Extra Time (Full Phase), Gestures, Incantations, and Concentration (½ DCV). All spells cost 1 END per 10 AP to cast, even if the power does not normally cost END. Constant spells costs END to maintain as normal, although such spells can be built with the Reduced END advantage (either ½ END or 0 END)—the advantage does increase the AP of the spell but does not reduce the END cost of casting the spell, only the cost of maintaining it. The Gestures, Incantations, Concentration, and Extra Time limitations can be ignored when a spell is cast, but the END cost multiplier increases by 1 for each limitation ignored (1x if none are ignored, 5x if all four are ignored) and the skill roll is subject to a -1 penalty for each limitation ignored.

  • Example: A 4d6 Entangle with Set Effect (-1) normally costs 2 END and has a -4 spellcasting penalty. If a character wanted to cast the spell as a ½ phase action (i.e. ignore the Extra Time limitation), the spell would cost 4 END (2 × 2 = 4) and the suffer a -5 penalty. If a character wanted to cast the spell without the Gestures, Incantations, or Concentration limitations, it would cost 8 END (2 × 4 = 8) and have a -7 penalty.

If a character takes longer than the normal full phase to cast a spell, s/he gets a +1 modifier to the spellcasting roll for each level down on the Time Chart (6E1, p. 59). The GM sets the limit on how much extra time a character can take when casting a spell.

Characters use normal END when casting spells and spellcasting conforms to all the normal rules for using END.

(NEW)The prohibited maneuvers listed on FH p. 276 (Combat Modifiers and Maneuvers section) apply to spells, however Martial Arts cannot be combined with spells. In addition, Combat Skill Levels cannot increase spell DCs (though all other uses of spell CSLs are permitted).

Options

Talents and XP: The five Talents can either represent a variable ability with magic than can change with experience, or be an absolute measure of a character’s potential. In the former case, a character’s level in any spellcasting Talent can be increased by spending XP. In the latter case, the character’s Talent levels are set during character creation and cannot be increased later.

GM preference: Characters can increase existing Talents by spending XP. This would represent continued practice with spells that use those colors. Using XP to purchase new Talents after character creation is possible, but should be justified story-wise. A teacher/trainer would be needed; the teacher would need one Talent level higher than the desired level to be learned (i.e., would need Black Magic II to teach Black Magic I, etc.); some sort of instructional skill to be able to impart that new talent in a reasonable amount of time.

Spontaneous Spells: A character with the appropriate spellcasting Talent and Skill can cast spells s/he hasn’t previously learned (i.e. doesn’t possess the 1-point Familiarity for that spell). The spellcasting roll would suffer an additional penalty of -3 (or more) and might cost additional END. (Maybe spontaneous spells have the -1 per 5 AP version of RSR.) If the GM allows a character to combine ignoring limitations with casting spontaneous spells, the additional END cost should increase the multiplier by 1 rather than doubling it (i.e. casting a spontaneous spell [x2 END] in a ½ phase [x2 END] should cost x3 END rather than x4 END).

GM preference: I like the idea of -1 per 5 AP version of RSR for spontaneous spells.

Near Misses: A spellcasting roll that fails by 1 can still be considered successful if the character pays double the normal END cost for the spell. In the case of near misses when ignoring limitations, the GM must decide if the multiplier increases by 1 or doubles.

GM preference: The multiplier will increase by 1, which seems consistent with the Spontaneous Spell rule, above.

Magic Pool: Rather than using normal END to cast spells, characters must purchase an Endurance Reserve. The GM determines if the character can also spend his/her normal END to cast spells (maybe at double the normal END cost). The Limited Recovery or Slow Recovery limitations are very appropriate (and might even be mandatory) in this case. Some examples of Limited Recovery are: Only While Meditating/Praying (-¼ if partially aware of surroundings, -½ if unaware of surroundings), Only With Blood Sacrifice (-½ to -2, depending on how much is required and if any ritual is required), and Only While Sleeping (-1, assuming the character only sleeps the normal amount during the day and does not have an easy means of forcing extra sleep).

GM preference: Characters can spend their normal END to cast spells at double the normal END cost.

Exertion: A character can spend double the normal END cost (or increase the multiplier by 1) to gain a +1 to his/her spellcasting roll. The GM might also allow a +2 bonus for x4 END, in which case this option should always double END cost rather than just increasing the multiplier when ignoring limitations.

GM preference: Characters can opt for a + 2 bonus for x4 END or double the END cost when ignoring limitations.

Fast Casting: For spells based on powers that can normally be used as zero-phase actions, a character can cast it as such by taking a -2 to the spellcasting roll and spending x3 END. In essence, this equates to ignoring two of the standard spell limitations.

Spell Constructs: When building a spell construct using a power with variable levels, the GM decides whether or not the actual power level of the spell needs to be defined. For example, a spell construct can either be “Entangle, Set Effect (-1): -1 and ½ END per 10 AP” or “4d6 Entangle, Set Effect (-1): -4 and 2 END.” The first construct allows a character to vary the levels of Entangle up to the AP cap set by his/her Talent levels. The second must always be a 4d6 Entangle (although the GM might allow the character to cast it at less than full strength, as per normal Hero System rules for using powers). Regardless of which option is used, all power advantages and limitations as well as the special effects must be set for the construct and cannot be changed. This means that “[4d6] Blast” and “[4d6] Blast, Armor Piercing” are two different spell constructs and must be purchased separately (unless the GM allows them to be purchased as a 2-point familiarity category called Blast spells, which might also include “[4d6] Blast, Autofire 5” or other similar spells).

Spell Costs: As a balancing factor for the low character point cost of spells, a mage must spend money to learn spells in addition to the character point cost. This could reflect the cost of accessing a library, buying a spell formula (though reselling a formula should not be allowed), purchasing research materials, etc. This also provides a practical limit to the number of spells a mage can learn at character creation. Spells should cost 2.5 SP per AP of the spell construct; a variable level spell would be bought based on the max of 100 AP (so 250sp).

GM preference: The monetary cost of spells during and after character creation is 1 SP per AP or 100 SP for spells with a variable level. The monetary cost of spells after character creation needs to be determined.

Counterspelling: An additional use for the Spellcasting skills is in counterspelling. This functions similarly to blocking an attack, except that it is a skill vs. skill contest instead of an OCV vs. OCV contest. The counterspeller either needs to delay his/her action or abort, then make a roll using the spellcasting skill appropriate to the spell being cast. This counterspelling roll is subject to the same -1 penalty per 10 AP as the spell, along with a penalty of -1 for every 1 point by which the caster succeeded on his/her spellcasting roll. If the counterspeller succeeds, the spell is countered.

* Example: Draco is trying to cast a Lightning Bolt (Red Magic, 40 AP) spell at Harry. Harry aborts his next phase to attempt to counterspell. Draco’s Red Magic skill is 17- and Harry’s is 19-. Draco rolls a 12 to cast the spell and succeeds by 1 (17 – 4 = 13 or less), meaning that Harry needs to roll a 14 or less to counter it (-4 for a 40 AP spell and an additional -1 based on Draco’s roll reduces Harry’s Red Magic skill roll from 19 or less to 14 or less).

Recognizing Spellcasting: Some characters can perceive when someone else is casting a spell and recognize the spell’s color. It must be determined if this is something that comes with the Talent and Skill (i.e. having the Red Magic Talent allows a character to make a Red Magic roll to detect that someone is casting a Red spell), or if the character must possess the Magesight Talent (FH p. 140). If a character must actually possess the Magesight Talent to recognize spellcasting, it should be the True Magesight option. Any penalty to the spellcasting roll for ignoring the standard limitations on spells should impose the same penalty to the recognition roll (e.g. if someone is casting a spell without gestures or incantations it should be harder to recognize that s/he is casting a spell). If the GM does allow spell recognition without Magesight, casting a spell without gestures or incantations might render that spell unrecognizable until the caster finishes casting it (though a character with True Magesight would still have a chance). When using both the Counterspelling and Recognizing Spellcasting options, a character would need to recognize the color of a spell before attempting to counter it.

Magic System

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