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(TFT) Magnetic ink
Strange how sometimes a hugely complicated idea can be written down in
five minutes flat and I use it every time I play. Then a really simple idea
can stymie me for months. When I finally get the details hammered out, the
simple idea is both unimpressive and will see very very little actual use. And
on that note I give you the meandering musings of Magnetic Ink and the casting
of "Write Scroll."
Two schools of thought on armor. It helps. It hampers ones movement which
is bad. Taken to the ext ream we get fine plate, where many blows are rendered
totally harmless. And we get UC V where many attackers will never hit the
person at all. A quick comparison and contrast.
Fine Plate $5,000
UC V 11 points of IQ, 16 DX minimum
Which is better? I know, I know, we have an apples and oranges thing
going on here. Not fair to compare those two directly. I know, a character
_can_ have both at the same time so they are not mutually exclusive. Come
along with me on this one anyway.
Consider my own experience with UC V as a GM.
Personally I have always had the hardest time dealing with UCV. As a GM I
have never had a player go for it. Just too many IQ points to buy it. For my
monsters only dragons use it. This makes them fast, slippery, and hard to hit.
. . . In my campaign a humanoid was seen to use UCV it was assumed they were a
Consider my own experience with Fine Plate as a GM
"The three thugs drop their horse bows as they are doing zero damage to
you." A few turns later "they drop their daggers and start looking for clubs
to use with 2 hands." The player "I just stand there and laugh at them."
Yes yes David, but we've heard all this before. What does this have to do
with Magnetic ink. More to the point, what does UC V have to do with "write
Well... it turns out that there are two traditions about spell casters
wearing metal armor. The "magnetic" versions, of which TFT is one. And the
"flexibility" version of which the UC V verses Fine Plate is a part of as
well. That is to say that some game systems rule that Mages do not wear
"rigid" armor ( including leather ) because it interferes with one's
flexibility and movement. If you are not familiar with these two schools of
thought I reference you to NetHack.
Generally, game theorists are in agreement on one point about these two
schools of thought. That they are not useful and are just there as a form of
game balance. The theorist would have it that the only reason Magic Users are
not allowed to wear metal armor is so the Warriors will have an advantage left
to them. Without this, the theorists hold, everyone would play a Wizard in
I find it interesting that TFT (20 years in advance) finds itself on both
sides of this argument, and yet committed to neither one. TFT allows for
higher DX if one doesn't wear armor, and faster movement. TFT allows for metal
armor interfering with spell casting with additional DX minuses, but it also
allows the wearing of Silver and Gold armor without any of the "magnetic" DX
minuses. And TFT also contains this fascinating wording on the whole debate
"The nature of cold iron is such that it inhibits the formation of
magical spells. The reason is not known; but it appears to have something to
do with magnetism. The result, though, is simple. Iron ( as well as steel,
nickel, and cobalt) interferes with the casting of spells. A wizard ( or
anyone else attempting magic) must avoid having iron on or about his person. A
wizard wearing ordinary iron or steel armor, or carrying an ordinary weapon,
will suffer a -4 DX on any spell he attempts to cast.
"Oddly enough, this effect does not extend to spells cast ON an iron
- AW page 8.
I hope in my opening about this subject I gave sufficient warning that
this would be a long walk, for very little reward. And that the result, at
best, is a minor rule that would see very little use. So let me see if I can
bring this thing home.
"The cost of a scroll is determined by ....
IQ 8 - $300"
- AW page 8
That's an awful lot of money for a few pages of spell. Particularly when
one considers that the IQ 20 spell for command word costs $1,500 and seems to
take 20 pages to write that "one word." Not a big issue, but one that is
Allow highly expensive and consumable scrolls to be written in magnetic
ink. The key ingredient being difficult to refine and hence expensive. Namely
. . .
Additionally allow a ready scroll to be used as a Shield against thrown
spells. Not because it is magnetic, but because it is enchanted. It works as a
shield against the front hexes. It subtracts 1 from the DX of the attacking
wizard for each point of IQ difference between the casting wizard and the IQ
of the spell. I mean . . . come on. $1500 is a lot of money for a consumable
one time use, takes 20 days of perfect DX rolls to write kind-of-item. And the
wizard with a ready scroll can't cast other spells unless they have an IQ 2
points higher than the spell, to Speak it, or 5 points higher to cast it
p.s. for extra credit offer a house rule on why metal arrow heads, and other
weapons, sticking in the wizard do not cause a DX-4 for spell casting.
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