Thursday, December 10, 2009

Something for Nothing

One of the best features of T&T is how easy it is to creat new stuff. Here are a handful of magic items and a new take on a classic character type. Inspirations run the gamut on these, the Wizard of Oz, Vampire Hunter D, a long ago PC of mine, and REH Conan stories.

Time Still Candle: Time stops for all but the lighter while the candle flame burns.

Sun Candle: The light this candle gives is the same as full, direct sunlight. It has the same area of illumination as a regular candle however.

Midnight Candle: Instead of light, this candle gives off darkness.

Lotus Blossom Incense: Brings deep sleep to all who breathe its smoke. While the smoke lasts they cannot be wakened by any means. When not inhaling the smoke the sleep becomes a normal deep sleep.

The Ruby Slippers: The weare need only clap their heels together three times saying "There's no place like ___________" to be instantly transported to that place.

Tattooed Mages: These Rogue Wizards carry their spells recored in magical magical tattoos on their bodies. To activate a spell they tap the appropriate tattoo. In all respects they are treated as per Rogues in the rulebook. Memebers of their order can read each other's tattoos to know what spells each carries. They do not teach this to outsiders.

For the candles and insence above the GM may want to use actual candles and insence to determine the duration of effect. When it burns out the magic is finished. These items can be extinguished and relit as many times as desired.

I leave it as an exercise for those like extra crunch to work out which spells etc opperate these items. I have always liked magical items that were "magical" and just functioned the way they did... If a justification is needed for this, the item was crafted by a very high level NPC wizard. The Magical Item creation rules in the Monsters&Magic book are great for PCs who wish to craft similar items.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Hocus Pocus Focus!

Well, it has been pointed out to me that the "Hocus Focus" spell is for creating a makeshift staff or focus.

With that in mind I am revsing my spell.

Wittle Wand [Cosmic]
WIZ Cost:1
Duration:Permanent (but see below)
Power Up: No

Description: Enchants a stick of wood to serve as a temporary magic wand. The first time the wand is used to cast a spell the Wizard needs to make a Level 1 SR on WIZ to see if the wand is able to withstand the flow of magic. If the SR fails, the wand explodes. If the makeshift wand does not explode, the Wizard can cast spells through it with a total WIZ cost of up to the mage's INT. The final WIZ cost paid by the mage to cast the spell is what is counted, not the base cost of the spells. The wand provides a cost reduction of 1 point as well as doubling the cost reduction for casting spells at lower level.
When the total number of WIZ points has been cast through it the makeshift wand burns out and may no longer be used as a casting focus.

This is an apprentice spell. Thus the spell level of zero. The standard SR for spell casting is still needed, but the spell only fails if a 3 is rolled on the SR.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Makeshift Staff

One item from 5th edition that did not make the transition to 7th is the "makeshift staff". This handy little item allowed a Wizard to enchant any old piece of wood into a temporary magic staff.

Earthsea fans will doubtless remember the scene where Sparrowhawk grows a new staff from a blade of grass. I am not sure that the original intent was to allow quite this dramatic an effect, but I see no reason why it should not.

Not seeing any reason why 7th edition Wizards should miss out on the fun I have decided to write up a "Makeshift Staff" spell.

Makeshift Staff [Cosmic]
Level:1 WIZ Cost:1 Range:Touch
Duration:Permanent (but see below)

Description: Enchants any appropriate common object to serve as a temporary magic staff. For the duration of the spell the makeshift staff functions as a Staff Ordinaire.
The first time the obect is used to cast a spell the Wizard needs to make a Level 1 SR on WIZ to see if the object is able to withstand the flow of magic. If the SR fails, the object explodes. If the makeshift staff does not explode, the Wizard can cast spells with a total WIZ cost of up to twice the mage's INT. The final WIZ cost paid by the mage to cast the spell is what is counted, not the base cost of the spells. When the total number of WIZ points has been cast through it the makeshift staff burns out and may no longer be used as a casting focus.

In looking over the 7e magic rules I also becamemore aware of the subtle differences between a "Staff" and a "Wand". A staff provides a reduction in spell cost equal to the Wizard's level. A wand provides a reduction of 1 point as well as doubling the cost reduction for casting spells at lower level.

It is not specifically stated in the rules but I assume that either enchantment could be placed on an alternative focus object. Thus an enchanted brooch might be found that functioned as a Staff Ordinaire, or a rune inscribed ring might function as a Magic Wand.

T&T is your game now, fell free to adjust the "special effects" to suit your own taste.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A rose by any other name...

One of the most contentious elements of T&T is and always has been the spell names. These tend to be somewhat humerous and based on the effect of the spell.

"Take That, You Fiend!" (TTYF) is a perfect example. It sounds exactly like what it is, a combat spell that does damage to a single foe. The exact form of the spell is left to the individual player to describe.

A certain other game tends towards such rather prosaic names as 'Magic Missile". This conjures a glowing magical dart which never misses it's target.

Jack Vance in his Dying Earth gave us "The Excellent Prismatic Spray".

This last is the one I find most inspiring. It is a spell name to work magic with. A TTYF spell might be renamed "The Crawling Doom of Karnath" and summon a swarm of cockroach-like beatles to devour the target, stripping flesh from bone. "The Evervsion of Inards" would do damage by turning the target inside out. "The Acidic Arrow" would launch an arrow of acid to disolve the victim. All of these and more would function in game terms like a TTYF, only the name would be changed.

In a game I ran in college, which started as house rules for OD&D then slowly became a new game in it's own right, all spells had their own new and unique names. Part of the fun was creating new names for old favourites like "Fireball". All mage spells had spoken, gestural and material components. The material components could be prepared ahead of time and often bore a clear association with the magic of the related spell. Thus a "Tanglewebs" spell had as its material component a small ball of spiderweb.

If spells are considered to be a bit unique to eachg mage or guildhouse it is not a problem that they have different names than the ones in the rule book. As long as the mechanics are clear and at hand, it doesn't matter what the spell is called.

I found that re-naming spells, and giving players the option of doing so in T&T brought a lot more creativity to magic. Players took delight in developing "signature" styles of magic. One mage based all of his spells on insects, another playing an Ice Witch wrote up ice and cold based special effects and descriptions. When the Ice Witch cast a "Tanglewebs" spell it did not create a mass of sticky spiders web, but instead a wreath of hoarfrost and ice.

Is "Wall of Thorns" a bit to plain and generic for your game? How about "the Raising of the Impenitrable Bramble-hedge" in its place?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I don't think we're in Kansas anymore...

The more I work on my T&T Mythic Greek project the more it becomes clear that this is not Trollworld. It started out as being a sort of bolt-on Sword&Sandal T&T supplement. It has changed. It no longer feels like Trollworld, or the predecessor of some pseudo-medieval fantasy world.

This world is on the cusp of the iron age, but it is not going to develop the same way Earth did. The geography is very different for one thing. As I develop the world background it is coming clearer that this world is flat. It centers on Mount Olympus where the gods live. It is surrounded by Ocean, and if you dig deep enough you will enter the realm of Hades. Surrounding Olympus and Greece the world spreads out bearing less and less resemblance to our world the farther you go. In the far North lie Ultima Thule and Hyperboria lands of ice and fog. To the south beyond Aethiopia, Aegypt and Kush lie jungles and deserts. To the West the Atlantic named for the island continent of Atlantis. To the East Asia, the land of the Hittites, the Persians, and beyond that unknown realms of men with faces in their chests and other marvels.

Lemuria may or may not have a place in this world. The Norse lands and vikings of saga do not. They have their own Midgard, perhaps reachable from this world, but still a different world. Albion, which corresponds in this world to Britannia in Midgard or Great Britain in our world is the farthest reach of trade, beyond it lie seas of ice and endless ocean.

Pharaoh rules in his palace on the Nile, the Aegyptians worship their strange animal-headed gods, and lay their kings to rest in pyramids.

Amazons, a noble tribe of horse nomads ride the plains north of the Black Sea. They are a culture dominated by women.

There are rumours of snake-men in the jungles of Kush. Islands that drift about in the Ocean, castles in the clouds home to Titans and giants, and other wonders abound.

Goblins, Orcs, Trolls, Dwarves, Hobbits and many other common fantasy tropes are unknown in this world. Dragons do exist, as do various other serpentine monsters. Magical items exist, most being single objects imbued with unique magic.

World building is hobby with in a hobby for me. I have already concieved of several other related Mythic Worlds that can tie to this one. The cosmology is perhaps best explained by likening each world to a pocket universe hanging like a fruit on the Ygdrasil or World-tree. Travel between this group of related worlds is comparatively easy. Travelling to more distant worlds such as Michael Moorcock's Million Spheres, Tolkien's Middle Earth, Trollworld, Krynn, et al is possible but may require first travelling to an intermediary world with greater affinity for the two worlds one whishes to travel between.