Spellcaster type: Sorcery

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koewn
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Spellcaster type: Sorcery
A while back I made up an "Ovatic" spellcaster type to bring the 1E-style Druidic casting into ACKS. I do the exact opposite here - combining Arcane and Divine into one progression and category: http://crowbarandbrick.blogspot.com/2013/10/acks-sorcery.html FASHION NEWS
Alex
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The Sorcerer spellcaster type is very cool.

I think building spells using the Divine costs will yield more S&S-type spells. I would probably "re-build" the spell list to include about 20 per level, hybrid mage and cleric, but with the mage spells costed as if divine (like I did with Witch).

Tywyll
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Cool stuff. I guess my question is, what cost do you assign spells? Or rather, what do you do with spells that exist on both lists but at different levels? Use the best? The worst? And what about building new spells, do you use the best (I assume this)? Anyway, very cool ideas!

koewn
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Depends on the feel you're going for.

If you're just wanting to unify magic as one thing, then use the best. That keeps the feel 'default DND'; and spell choice for a sorcerer becomes personal preference or ambition rather than class choice.

As Alex intimated, if you're looking for a more solid S&S flavor, rebuild at the worst.

Fireball, for example, is 27*2*1.2*0.75*(1 arcane) = 49, technically 4th level, but third because the breakthrough version is the common version. At divine costing, it's 110.25 - assuming the same breakthrough, it's a 9th level ritual.

That's a big change. Heck, even Magic Missile goes to 3rd level (10*2.25, 22.5) if barely.

Cure Light Wounds moves to 2nd level at arcane pricing (x1.5). Restore Life and Limb hits 7th, I believe, and Cure Poison is 6th.

I'd expect you'd be left with mostly utility-style spells at 1st level, maybe even 2nd, if you went through them all and repriced them all at their opposing worst multipliers.

One other common alternative is to penalize casters who use spells that 'break' the S&S mold - single them out as spellcasters using magic of an especially heinous source. Crypts & Things does that as a modification to the base Sword&Wizardry; DCC does it to everybody, and the post on my blog after the one I linked presents a conversion of Mongoose's d20 Conan Corruption rules that ties back a little into ACKS's various Mortality tables for using spells that break that mold.

That being said, it's not an easy thing to do, combining the S&S feel with Vancian casting, and I'm not qualified. :)

Alex
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Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

I've been puttering around with some rules for Conan-style sorcery.

Sorcery:
Casting a spell requires a magical research throw
Subtract level of spell from throw
Add INT modifier to throw
Modify the die roll based on time spent on the spell:
-2 attack
0 full round
+2 minute
+4 turn
+6 hour
+8 full day
+10 week
Using precious materials adds a bonus (takes minimum 1 full minute to use)
Using special components (minimum 1 full round) or human sacrifice (minimum 1 full turn) also adds a bonus
Using a foci adds a bonus
On a failed roll, the sorcerer loses 1hp per level of the spell.

Foci: Help sorcerers cast spells. They are created like scrolls/potions by sorcerers of any level. A lesser foci costs 100gp and takes 1 day per level to create. Each level of foci provides a +1 bonus to a specific spell. A greater foci costs 500gp and 1 week per level. Each level of foci provides a +1 bonus to a specific spell category. Foci are one use, but charged, multi-use, and permanent foci can be created by spending more time and money.

Foci can have precious materials to get a bonus. Foci require special components for the spell involved. Maximum level of foci is max level of spell the sorcerer can cast (6 for 11th level).

Foci can be powders and elixirs, staves, wands, rings, amulets, etc. For example: Smoke-powder (wall of smoke, +2 focus); Heart of Tammuz (restore life and limb, +5 focus); Serpent Ring of Set (all summoning spells, +6 focus)

Learning Spells: Spells knowable are defined by level + INT, as per mage.
Each time a new level of spells becomes accessible, gain a weakness (see below).
Learning spells requires a magic research roll and 2 weeks per spell level; time and cost halved and penalty halved if sample of spell is available. Add bonus from library as per spell research.
All spells are built as arcane spells, except for blast and wall spells, which must be built as divine spells.

Obsession: Each time a sorcerer learns a spell his Obsession increases by 1. (Obsession - Wisdom) is the target number against which a sorcerer must throw to:
•Physically slay a captured/helpless PC or NPC in lieu of keeping him for later use in human sacrifice/spell research
•Not go after a spell he has learned about
•Not go after a magic item he has learned about

Weakness: Each time a sorcerer learns a new level of spells he gains a weakness. Such as Disfigurement (like mortal wounds), Depravity, Madness, Animal Antipathy, Nocturnal, Enfeebled (drop to next lowest CON)

golan2072
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Has this been playtested? I am particularly concerned about the survivability of low-level Sorcerers. Maybe make them similar to Spellswords so that in low levels they rely on their sword more than on magicks.

Also, how many times a day a Sorcerer can try and cast spells, given the fact that spells can fail and cause damage?

Alex
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It has't been playtested in the slightest! It's a conceptual draft, and nothing more.

I share your concerns vis a vis low level Sorcerers. I'm not sure if hp damage is even a good way to go.

golan2072
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In a dark sword-and-sorcery variant of ACKS, this could be fun. Especially if you eliminate Clerics and have a single Sorcerer spell list; Sorcerers can learn healing spells just as well as fireballs (in other words, eliminate the Arcane/Divine division).

Also allow Experimentation on the Research throw to cast spells; success would mean a more powerful spell is cast; failure means bad consequences for the Sorcerer. Or maybe ALL spellcasting would REQUIRE experimentation of sorts?

But this needs some SERIOUS playtesting.

Dr Pete
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This could be going along the lines of "crypts and things" then? With their white/grey/black unified spell list?

Another element of that system I'd like to see acksified is the con/HP system. It seems like it would go well with the mortal wounds table.

Back in the old days, I played a version of dnd with opposing attack defense rolls that I miss, though it wasn't as involved as the d20 Conan system, I think.

Alex
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I've not read Crypts and Things but will check it out.

For S&S ACKS, we've discussed the following:
- When reduced to 3/4 HP, you are "Bruised"
- When reduced to 1/2 HP, you are "Bloodied"
- When reduced to 1/4 HP, you are "Brutalized"
Each hour you recuperate your level in HP, but if Bruised cannot recover to more than 3/4; if Bloodied, to more than 1/2; and if Brutalized more than 1/4.

Bruised condition heals after a night's sleep.
Bloodied condition heals after a week.
Brutalized condition heals after a month.

Dr Pete
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The relevant part of C&T is interpreting HP as fatigue/luck points. A stiff drink will restore a bit, but healing does not.

Once your HP are gone, you take con damage, real wounds, and must save to stay up. HP return with a good nights sleep, but con damage heals as wounds, with healing magic, proficiencies and such helping con damage only. Integrating that with the wounds table is either trivial or filled with hidden danger... Not sure :)

koewn
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Another thing Conan-d20 did was reduce the d20 massive damage threshold to 20 points from 50 points - the Fort save becomes 10 + (1/2 damage dealt) (so, 11 to 20).

It takes a "fatigue/skill" view of HP, in the ability to take a beating and stay up, and the ability to turn killing blows into minor scrapes (which goes along with the Dodge/Parry rules well). Lowering the Massive Damage cap that much helps keep the "one blow from death" feeling alive.

This is getting to be a complexly threaded thread. I'm glad there's more than a few S&S devotees around the ACKSverse.

Alex
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It's definitely getting to be a more complex thread, isn't it!

In any event, I love sword & sorcery. My own campaigns are (I think) quite sword-and-sorcery flavored, and we tried to give the ACKS rulebook a sword-and-sorcery vibe with our use of more Persian/Middle Eastern flavored art. Essentially we went as far towards S&S as we felt we could go without alienating the traditional fantasy enthusiast who likes elves and dwarves.

koewn
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I can see it in your play reports, and what amount of your campaign setting I've been able to see through these boards.

One one hand, the blog post on why Caesar had 70 HP shows how ACKS provides a "gamist" solution for why Conan was able to take Aquilonia - he was 13th or 14th level and had the personal power and reputation to do so - all he had to do was put his will to it.

On the other, we know that this Stygian sorcerer will be hard to topple directly because ACKS shows us how much divine/sorcerous power he has available to him due to the cult/population he controls (Auran campaign excerpts on divine spell cost/divine power of creatures), and we'll have to trick him into defeating himself, through his own hubris or obessions.

It's got a class-and-level based answer to the "Riddle of Steel", I guess is what I'm getting at.

I'd like to see what happens taking ACKS out of the box of Gygaxian expectations.

Alex
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Yeah. I keep coming back to the idea to publish a supplement called "Black Lore of Zahar" that transforms ACKS into a sword-and-sorcery game.

Kamard
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There's lots of excellent stuff out there that could easily help build ACKS into a S&S game.

I'd like to see a good rules set for building nonhuman races, so we can have our serpent/ape/catmen and/or Martians. :)

golan2072
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I'm doing something along these lines, though with (mostly) regular ACKS magic*:

http://spacecockroach.blogspot.co.il/search/label/Barbarian%20Conqueror%...

This is a setting called Barbarian Conqueror King, which is a sword & sorcery setting for ACKS. The Elevator Pitch is "Aztecs meet Ancient Near-East with Dinosaurs, Cthulhu and Sorcery".

It has lizardmen, geckomen and bugmen as the non-human races, and serpentmen as a past empire.

* The main house-rule for magic is that ALL magical research requires Experimentation of some kind, so item creation/research is a bit riskier.

Kamard
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What might be neat would be some modified Magical Research for every spell, so if you find one on a scroll it might be more or less powerful when you put it into your repertoire, depending on your roll. The drawback, of course, would be having to figure out every scroll for it's own individual power level.

Alex
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I've said it before, but I love your setting.

golan2072
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Thanks!

koewn
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Neat. I feel like you've also read d20 Conan. :)

I was actually fiddling about with making all spells rituals, but I'm having a hard time reconciling that with the magical item creation rules (so as it doesn't seem too outlandish/punitive/loose in either direction). I like the foci idea; it fits my mold of wanting my casters to be laden with strange concoctions and gross fetishes (items, not proclivities, though I guess one follows the other when you're a practitioner of the Art)

Alex
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I actually haven't read D20 Conan - I was actually inspired by TSR Conan (AKA ZEFRS) by David "Zeb" Cook. Is D20 Conan any good?

koewn
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Could have been Mongoose was pulling from TSR's Conan as well, I'd never gotten my hands on TSR's stuff.

It's fun. It's 3X turned up louder, everybody's a hard-ass Howard protagonist, and they make no apologies about it. Heck, there's rules for how long you can hold a blade in your mouth while climbing.

Pretty sure there's a rule for anything Frazetta ever painted. It's like the Heavy Metal-cover version of 3X.

Barbarian, soldier, nomad (horseman), pirate, scholar, thief, borderer (ranger), noble, and temptress in 2nd edition are the classes I recall. They split the various nations into races, 3X-style.

There's some light reputation and social rules, as well as 'code of honor'.

They mixed combat up a bit; everyone has a "base defense", then a Dodge and Parry defense they can pick from as a free action, Dodge is DEX based, obviously, then Parry is more STR/weapon based. Armor becomes damage reduction.

Shields either add to your Parry defense, or to your Dodge defense vs ranged attacks.

Sorcerers use Power Points to cast (and this would be so easy to turn into your divine/mana point thing you've posted elsewhere it's silly). You can regenerate them over time, you can get a pile of extra through sacrifice of anything from holy animals to extra-prepared virgins (this demon is into left-handed redheads).

They get morale bonuses to further actions when enemies are slain by their magic, they can be ruled as obsessed (losing power points until they resolve it, at which point they get a rush of bonus points).

Spells are done as feats, essentially, scholars get bonus ones. They're all extremely flavorful, very pulpy. There's expanded alchemy as well.

Healing is limited but more than usual; natural healing is 3 + Con mod + level per day or regular rest, double that with bedrest. A mouthful of strong liquor will bring you from zero to 1 HP.

There's some original stuff in the bestiary.

Pretty sure I'm rambling at this point. There's only two versions of DND I gush about to people and yours is the other one.

If you want to see it, the two PDFs I'd recommend are MGP7800, the base 2nd edition book, and MGP7805, Secrets of Skelos, the 2nd edition sorcery expansion.

Alex
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Wow, that does sound awesome. I'll have to pick it up.

Is it OGL? Maybe there's a way to make an ACKS-based rules package with it.

koewn
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It sure is OGL.

It's also a closed system; they lost the license sometime in 2010-ish, so what's out there is what's out there.

There's still smatterings of new content from their e-zine 'Signs & Portents', that's free online.

Alex
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That sounds superb. I went to buy the book on DrivethruRPG but it's out of print. I'll dig around on eBay and Amazon and see what I can find.

koewn
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Good luck. Noble Knight (.com) has some of the 2E books; the main rulebook is currently sold out (but was available as of October, maybe it shows up from time to time). They have the Pocket Edition (no art, no bestiary, first edition)

There's not a huge list of changes between 1E and 2E: http://hyboria.xoth.net/rules/changes_in_conan_second_edition.htm

Some Googling shows me Mongoose had a fire sale when they lost the rights; and they couldn't continue selling, which would explain the lack of PDF. Oughta be a law that OGL content gets released in the wild in those cases.

Though guess in theory anybody could re-release the OGL content.

bobloblah
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I'll also chime in to suggest you avoid the 1st edition, unless it's the Atlantean edition; lots of problems in the original printing.

As a whole, I'd say Conan D20 was among the very best D20 variants ever released.

koewn
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That is true; I forgot about that. It was fixes and the 3.5E update. The Pocket Edition was of the the Atlantean edition.

Alex
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OK I ordered both Conan 2nd Ed and Scrolls of Skelos from eBay.

koewn
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Awesome. I'm looking forward to hearing what you think of it.

koewn
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Scrolls or Secrets? Secrets is the 2E version.

Alex
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Secrets - 2E!

Dr Pete
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In some ways the opposite of acks... You never build anything, and in each adventure, you start out with some random gear that you've been kicking around in.

I like the sorcery rules, but how about some of the other old school sorcery mechanics, like losing con instead of HP? It might also be cool to have magic give you something to make the player want to do the obsessed thing, instead of a mechanic... Sacrifices giving benefits, etc. Make the awful behavior the system supported logical choice, and watch them choose to hobble themselves or be awful.

Dr Pete
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An idea for foci... Define them somewhat, give them an ancillary benefit similar to a weak version of the spell (like a charm person focus being an incense that improves reaction rolls for diplomacy/seduction) and make many of them alchemical, and you have an improved role for alchemists at the low/cheap end of the game... Healing, charming, luck/bad luck, etc.

Alex
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Good thought, Dr. Pete.