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Re: [Slope: Ch 10] Thrown Spell talent - change?

Peter - 

Great points. I especially like your observation that with SV, "a lot of power can't overpower the chance of resistance", i.e. SV provide a way to offset the "Conan the Caster" syndrome. I need to give this more thought.

If you're curious about how a system might be constructed that adds instability and unpredictability to magic, you might want to check out DCC RPG. Very different from TFT magic. The caster not only doesn't know if a foe will resist, he doesn't even know what the effect of his spell will be. Each cast roll is indexed against a table of spell effects: each spell has it's own table: hundreds and hundreds of pages of spell effects! That fireball might fail. It might backfire. It might fizzle. It might be pretty much what you expected. It might be a conflagration so huge that takes out the enemy, the party, and the entire forest!

Personally, that kind of randomness has little appeal for me beyond one-off dungeon crawls played mostly for comedy effects. But I gotta say, it models some magic systems really, really well. Jack Vance's ideas around magic spring to mind. So do Glen Cook's from his "Black Company" series. 

Interesting side effect: Considering some of the horrific effects of a spell backfire, and the potential for far greater, potentially calamitous effects on a huge success, DCC RPG magic builds in something no other does: the Wizard had better be sure he's willing to pay the price BEFORE he casts a spell! Magic becomes genuinely dangerous and alien -- and it's practitioners hideously mutated madmen. The idea of incredibly powerful Wizards who can -- and will -- blast entire kingdoms on a whim is very real in DCC RPG.  Such power is utterly beyond the scope of TFT.

Take care.

- Jack
On Sat, 05 May 2018 22:19:18 -0700, Peter von Kleinsmid  wrote:

At 10:31 AM 5/4/2018, Jack wrote:
>Rick -
>I agree that some thrown spells can "automatically mess up" a foe. 
>But only if successfully cast!
>So if the two Thrown spell resolution mechanics are "nicely 
>balanced" as you say, Peter, why replace caster DX with target 
>"resistance"? Why lose the tactical calculations behind getting your 
>glass canon in close enough to have an effect without him 
>shattering? Why convert player guile to a die roll?
>(Full disclosure: I hate saving throws. Too abstract. Too nebulous. 
>Too anti-Appendix N. Robert E Howard never wrote about Conan's 
>"resistance" to some spell. I don't recall a single Tarzan story 
>where "resistance" played a role. HPL would have had to throw out 
>the Mythos if he'd have had to contend with "resistance": "And Great 
>Cthulhu rose from the waves, casting sanity-blasting shadows in the 
>gibbous moon. But Bob just laughed, his resistance to fear holding...")
>Meh, just thinking out loud. What a wonderful game!
>- Jack

Well, saving throws are an option, and I don't think they're 
necessary or objectively better than TFT's lack of them. TFT magic 
has always been my reference magic system, and one of my favorites, 
and the knockout thrown spells have a charm to them that I also like.

And I totally get wanting a magic system with absolute and reliable 
effects. It's really a preference, though I tend to prefer less 
reliable magic, and for non-wizards to have more chances not to get 
taken out by spells regardless of their abilities.

What I meant was that I think Rick's combination of adding something 
that extends the range of Thrown spells, with something that makes 
thrown spells less reliable, seems (not having playtested it, though 
I do like the resistance rolls in GURPS Magic, which use a somewhat 
similar mechanic) a nice balance compared to just increasing the 
range of Thrown spells for some casters. That is, it would be a major 
balance shift to have some casters have several more hexes' range 
than would be expected (by people who understand the risk of standing 
near a wizard with Thrown spells). It changes the power dynamics of 
what wizards are likely to be able to do in what circumstances. But 
by adding another roll that adds an independent chance that the spell 
might fail even if the caster makes their roll, it shifts the balance 
in the other direction.

I like that the resistance roll is a separate independent roll from 
the caster's roll, because it means that while caster skill adds 
range, a lot of skill can't overpower than chance of resistance, so 
it shifts those near-certain knockout spells to a less certain outcome.

And, I also mainly like the reduced reliability of spells that have 
little recourse and take almost anyone out of action. And I like that 
it's a gradually increasing chance that takes the target's attributes 
into account, because I tend to like taking game stats into account 
and I like having it matter what the target is.

Seems interesting. There could also be charms, spells, and/or talents 
that affect how likely that resistance roll is.

(As for Conan and Tarzan, maybe they didn't resist, but I imagine 
they didn't have people casting Freeze on them and then cutting their 
throats, or Stop and then filling them full of spears & arrows, eh?)
(As for Cthulu, he can do fine in systems with resistance, as he has 
an abundance of power and patience.)


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