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  1. #1
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    Hmm. Insight. I really like the epic spell rules from the ELH. They`re
    good for ritual casting, big bads sacrificing victims over the course of a
    hundred days to power their dark rites, that kind of thing. But there`s
    really no reason to limit them to epic casters, right? Other than the
    feat which requires Spellcraft: 24 ranks and 21st level in some
    spellcasting class, but that`s easily ignored.

    So what if I made it a Source Casting feat, and then designed realm spells
    using epic spell seeds, and used source levels and RP as mitigating
    factors? This will have to wait until I get home this evening to check
    the relevant books, but offhand, mitigating the DC by 1 point per RP
    spent, and 5 or 10 per source holding level, feels like the way to go.
    I`ll post more tonight.
    --
    Daniel McSorley

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  2. #2
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    I'd been toying with pretty much the same idea for quite a while, as part of an alternate domain system.

    The main adjustments that need to be made is to apply some new categories for range and area and basic effects to seeds. For instance, an "Area: One province" spell would be different from a "Target: One population level" spell; balancing these out internally could be a bit of a headache (an area spell would basically be incredibly powerful). Some of the seeds would need adjusted effects for how they'd act on that scale, to account for domain differences. Basically, though, when I was toying with this system, the basic idea was to scale down the rules as much as possible so that the domain-level rules would be as similar to, and intertwined with, regular character rules as possible - giving domains or provinces skills, for instance, to reflect things such as more or less warlike domains (ranks in warcraft) or what the local livelihoods are and what level of quality the average product from a province is at.

    I think that the epic spell system, if boiled down a bit, could basically make a good substitute freeform spell system for D&D in general too.
    Jan E. Juvstad.

  3. #3
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    On Tue, 10 Jun 2003, Mark_Aurel wrote:
    > I think that the epic spell system, if boiled down a bit, could
    > basically make a good substitute freeform spell system for D&D in
    > general too.

    Here`s a first attempt for a couple of first level realm spells. 24 days
    is roughly equivalent to an action, I estimate. To be castable by a first
    level caster, the DC needs to be 14 or lower normally.

    _Alchemy_
    Spell Seed: Polymorph Any Object (DC 29) [Transform seemed insufficient]
    Into soft metal (hardness 6), DC +3
    A valuable material, DC +10 [ad hoc, based on Transform- grant special
    ability modifier]
    Instaneous Duration (ad hoc x2) [Permanent isn`t good enough, because it
    would be dispellable.]
    Total: 84

    Mitigating:
    Casting Time: +10 minutes (-20)
    +24 days (-48)
    Source 3 (-3) to cast [Doesn`t mitigate very much, so much as allow the
    caster to cast these types of spells at all.]

    DC 13. Costs 117,000 gp to develop, three days, and 4680 xps. Hmm. Epic
    spells are hella expensive to develop.


    _Subversion_
    Compel Seed (DC 19)
    Even unreasonable actions +10
    Duration from 20 hours to 24 days, approx. 2700% increase in duration.
    +54

    Mitigating:
    Casting Time +10 minutes (-20)
    Source 1 (-1)
    Casting time 24 days (-48)

    DC 14. Costs 126,000 gp, three days to develop, and 5040 xps.

    This seems like a cool idea, but mechanically it`s kind of a dead end,
    square pegs and all that.
    --
    Daniel McSorley

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  4. #4
    Senior Member ryancaveney's Avatar
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    On Wed, 11 Jun 2003, Daniel McSorley wrote:

    > Here`s a first attempt for a couple of first level realm spells.

    A reasonable first result, I think.

    > 24 days is roughly equivalent to an action, I estimate.

    Yes, with plenty of time to spare. Recall that every month on the
    Haelynite calendar has 32 days (plus the 4 intercalary ones, for a total
    of 388 days per year).

    > To be castable by a first
    > level caster, the DC needs to be 14 or lower normally.
    >
    > _Alchemy_
    > Spell Seed: Polymorph Any Object (DC 29) [Transform seemed insufficient]

    So, a first level caster has to know Polymorph Any Object? That seems
    like a significant problem. What exactly is the "Spell Seed" supposed to
    do/mean, and what substitutes/rules changes can we find?

    > Into soft metal (hardness 6), DC +3

    Not a bad choice. Recall, however, that since GBs usually aren`t
    literally bars of gold, transforming dirt and rocks into tapestries,
    spices or cows should also work.

    > Instaneous Duration (ad hoc x2) [Permanent isn`t good enough, because it
    > would be dispellable.]

    Yes, definitely.

    > DC 13. Costs 117,000 gp to develop, three days, and 4680 xps. Hmm. Epic
    > spells are hella expensive to develop.

    Well, all that really means is that we need to apply a scaling factor to
    the table. Divide by a thousand or ten and round normally, giving a cost
    of 12 GB and 5 RP (or perhaps, even better for poverty-stricken wizards,
    5 GB and 12 RP) for one (free?) Research Action, and it sounds fine.
    Not that I`m saying a GB isn`t by default 2,000 gp, but rather that for
    purposes of including this process in BR, the costs have to be scaled to
    roughly the range of ones the Rulebook and Book of Magecraft already give.

    > DC 14. Costs 126,000 gp, three days to develop, and 5040 xps.
    >
    > This seems like a cool idea, but mechanically it`s kind of a dead end,
    > square pegs and all that.

    The only real mechanical problem I see is the level requirement for the
    "Spell Seed". I think I`d call that spell 5 GB and 13 RP to research,
    which again sounds rather like the right range. I don`t have BoM with me
    at the moment... can anyone remind me what the usual realm spell research
    costs are?


    Ryan Caveney

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  5. #5
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    Originally posted by Dan McSorley:
    DC 13. Costs 117,000 gp to develop, three days, and 4680 xps. Hmm. Epic
    spells are hella expensive to develop.
    I dunno. How about reversing the epic magic item cost rules? The cost for developing epic spells below a certain DC would be 1/10th the ordinary cost. Since a wizard can have 23 ranks at 20th level, and assuming a +7 Int bonus (probably a bit low for a 20th level wizard), a DC of 40 seems like a good breaking point. That'd put the cost for that spell at 11,700 gp and 468 XP, which puts it in a somewhat reasonable cost range for Birthright.

    Originally posted by ryancaveney:
    Not a bad choice. Recall, however, that since GBs usually aren`t
    literally bars of gold, transforming dirt and rocks into tapestries,
    spices or cows should also work.
    I think that'd defeat the purpose of the concept of the spell itself - that of the medieval alchemist seeking to transform base metals into precious ones (IIRC, it was lead into gold and iron to silver). Transforming dirt to cows seems more like witchcraft than alchemy.
    Jan E. Juvstad.

  6. #6
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    On Wed, 11 Jun 2003, Ryan B. Caveney wrote:
    > > 24 days is roughly equivalent to an action, I estimate.
    >
    > Yes, with plenty of time to spare. Recall that every month on the
    > Haelynite calendar has 32 days (plus the 4 intercalary ones, for a total
    > of 388 days per year).

    Yeah, I always figure an action in an action round represents like the
    majority of your court`s effort for the four working weeks in that month.
    In Anuire, that`s 4 weeks at 6 days per week, leaving some time for free
    actions, a day off occasionally, and administrivia.

    > > _Alchemy_
    > > Spell Seed: Polymorph Any Object (DC 29) [Transform seemed insufficient]
    >
    > So, a first level caster has to know Polymorph Any Object? That seems
    > like a significant problem. What exactly is the "Spell Seed" supposed to
    > do/mean, and what substitutes/rules changes can we find?

    Sorry. In epic spellcasting, the spells are cast by making a spellcraft
    check versus the final DC of the spell. Thus the note above, that a 1st
    level caster has a max four ranks in spellcraft, so DC 14 is something to
    shoot for (taking 10 is allowed).

    The DCs are set based on spell seed, and any modifiers. The seed is
    basically the lowest level spell that approximates the effect, and the
    base DC is 10 + the number of spellcraft ranks a sorceror able to cast
    that spell would have. Turning stuff into gold is slightly beyond even
    the capabilities of Poly. Any Object, but it`s close enough. An 8th level
    spell, castable by a sorceror at 16th level, so spellcraft 19 + 10 gives
    29.

    The spellcaster doesn`t really have to know that spell, he`s effectively
    working with magical theory and raw energy at this point, but the amount
    of theory he would have to be capable of to do that effect normally is
    where they get the DC.

    > > Into soft metal (hardness 6), DC +3
    >
    > Not a bad choice. Recall, however, that since GBs usually aren`t
    > literally bars of gold, transforming dirt and rocks into tapestries,
    > spices or cows should also work.

    Yeah, and I like the "taxes in cabbage" interpretation myself, but it is
    Alchemy (lead into gold and all that), and coinage or bullion is pretty
    much the most useful form a wizard could make the wealth take anyway. If
    he creates artwork or a herd of cattle, he has to dispose of it somehow,
    if it`s precious metals he can just spend it.

    > > DC 13. Costs 117,000 gp to develop, three days, and 4680 xps. Hmm. Epic
    > > spells are hella expensive to develop.
    >
    > Well, all that really means is that we need to apply a scaling factor to
    > the table. Divide by a thousand or ten and round normally, giving a cost
    > of 12 GB and 5 RP (or perhaps, even better for poverty-stricken wizards,
    > 5 GB and 12 RP) for one (free?) Research Action, and it sounds fine.
    > Not that I`m saying a GB isn`t by default 2,000 gp, but rather that for
    > purposes of including this process in BR, the costs have to be scaled to
    > roughly the range of ones the Rulebook and Book of Magecraft already give.

    I like the other suggestion that we just un-epicify the spell costs. The
    default rules assume the default amount of wealth a character would have
    at that level. Divide everything back down to sane levels and we should
    be fine.

    Epic spellcasting requires a feat. This should too, and should also
    require a minimum source of 1 for every spell, to keep PCs from using it
    to develop non-realm-type spells that can be cast in normal adventuring.

    It does make it possible that a higher-level caster (higher spellcraft)
    with higher sources (for mitigation) could cast the spell faster, since he
    wouldn`t need as much mitigation from casting time. I kind of like that.

    > The only real mechanical problem I see is the level requirement for the
    > "Spell Seed". I think I`d call that spell 5 GB and 13 RP to research,
    > which again sounds rather like the right range. I don`t have BoM with me
    > at the moment... can anyone remind me what the usual realm spell research
    > costs are?

    Research is a GB/round, and after every round you got a check to see if
    you`d learned the spell, otherwise you could continue on and get a +1 for
    every unsuccessfuly round you`d researched before. Something like that.

    You know what, I`d do the same thing with this, since I`d like the
    mitigators to be somewhat variable, like I mentioned above. A wizard with
    a high source could cast alchemy faster, and a truly epic one might be
    able to manage it in a day.

    I`d probably disallow the backlash and XP cost mitigators, and only allow
    time ones, though, and make the maximum casting time one month, to put an
    effective cap on how powerful spells can be.
    --
    Daniel McSorley

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  7. #7
    Senior Member ryancaveney's Avatar
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    On Wed, 11 Jun 2003, Mark_Aurel wrote:

    > That`d put the cost for that spell at 11,700 gp and 468 XP, which puts
    > it in a somewhat reasonable cost range for Birthright.

    If what we`re doing is generating realm spells, the costs have to end up
    in GB and RP -- those, not gp and xp, are the standard currency of BR.

    > I think that`d defeat the purpose of the concept of the spell itself

    No, the concept of the spell is "Turn RP into GB." In in-character terms,
    whether the physical manifestation of the magic is lead into gold or weeds
    into saffron or dirt into cows is all just color text.

    > that of the medieval alchemist seeking to transform base metals into
    > precious ones (IIRC, it was lead into gold and iron to silver).

    That may work in some of the great cities, but in the backwoods, Rjurik
    chieftains would definitely rather have cows than gold, and Vos warlords
    would rather have iron weapons than gold! IMO, most of Cerilia operates
    on a barter economy, not a cash one. Brechtur is about the only place I
    think money is common. Even in places like Endier, most peasants barter
    with each other, and only hold coins at market, just long enough to carry
    them from the chicken buyer to the plow repairer. However, all of that is
    really irrelevant to the issue at hand. One of the great strengths of the
    GB system is that there isn`t any specific definition of what comprises
    them! They`re units of purchasing power, not of things.

    > Transforming dirt to cows seems more like witchcraft than alchemy.

    Among the Rjurik and the Sidhelien, who also have access to the spell, I`d
    say that`s exactly the flavor they`re supposed to have.


    Ryan Caveney

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  8. #8
    Senior Member ryancaveney's Avatar
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    On Wed, 11 Jun 2003, Daniel McSorley wrote:

    > Yeah, I always figure an action in an action round represents like the
    > majority of your court`s effort for the four working weeks in that
    > month. In Anuire, that`s 4 weeks at 6 days per week, leaving some time
    > for free actions, a day off occasionally, and administrivia.

    Yes, sounds good.

    > The spellcaster doesn`t really have to know that spell, he`s
    > effectively working with magical theory and raw energy at this point,
    > but the amount of theory he would have to be capable of to do that
    > effect normally is where they get the DC.

    Ah, OK then. No problem.

    > Yeah, and I like the "taxes in cabbage" interpretation myself, but it
    > is Alchemy (lead into gold and all that), and coinage or bullion is
    > pretty much the most useful form a wizard could make the wealth take
    > anyway. If he creates artwork or a herd of cattle, he has to dispose
    > of it somehow, if it`s precious metals he can just spend it.

    As I said in the other post I just sent, that depends entirely on who he
    thinks he`ll be trading with -- in some environments, spending food and
    clothing is much easier than spending coin. Happily, it`s not something
    we really need to worry about much at this level.

    > I like the other suggestion that we just un-epicify the spell costs.

    It is an improvement over the standard costs you started with; but I
    continue to feel strongly that when discussing realm spells, any cost
    that isn`t purely economic should be expressed as RP, not XP.

    > Divide everything back down to sane levels and we should be fine.

    =) There`s a lot of that going on.

    > Epic spellcasting requires a feat. This should too,

    But isn`t this all really just a system for working out a way to determine
    the powers of a reasonable player-invented realm spell? In which case,
    perhaps what the gp/xp costs really need to be converted into is the GB/RP
    cost for *casting*, not researching, the new realm spell.

    > It does make it possible that a higher-level caster (higher
    > spellcraft) with higher sources (for mitigation) could cast the spell
    > faster, since he wouldn`t need as much mitigation from casting time.

    Seems reasonable as a simulation, but what about the game rule effect?
    Are you going to allow a higher-level caster to perform multiple realm
    spells per action round? Not that I think that`s necessarily a bad idea,
    but it is worth worrying about.

    > I`d probably disallow the backlash and XP cost mitigators, and only
    > allow time ones, though, and make the maximum casting time one month,
    > to put an effective cap on how powerful spells can be.

    Good plan! Of course, allowing a major villain access to all those little
    tricks is a good campaign background goal / countdown -- e.g., the Magian
    is conducting a three-year ritual to turn every person on the continent
    into an undead being under his control; it`s now mostly complete, and the
    PCs have only four months left to figure out a way to stop him...


    Ryan Caveney

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  9. #9
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    On Wed, 11 Jun 2003, Ryan B. Caveney wrote:
    > > That`d put the cost for that spell at 11,700 gp and 468 XP, which puts
    > > it in a somewhat reasonable cost range for Birthright.
    >
    > If what we`re doing is generating realm spells, the costs have to end up
    > in GB and RP -- those, not gp and xp, are the standard currency of BR.

    Yes, well, in the past we`ve discussed at some length allowing regent
    wizards to substitute RPs for xp in various costs, so all that remains
    there is to determine the conversion factor :) 1 RP / 25 xp seemed
    reasonable to me at one point in the past, that would make this cost 19
    RPs to develop. A quick cut would be to allow the wizard to develop the
    spell without RP costs at all, but then pay them per use, which would
    recreate the spell as originally described quite well. 1/5 the creation
    cost to cast might be reasonable, so Alchemy would cost 6 GBs to develop,
    and then 4 RPs every time it was cast.
    --
    Daniel McSorley

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  10. #10
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    On Wed, 11 Jun 2003, Ryan B. Caveney wrote:
    > > I like the other suggestion that we just un-epicify the spell costs.
    >
    > It is an improvement over the standard costs you started with; but I
    > continue to feel strongly that when discussing realm spells, any cost
    > that isn`t purely economic should be expressed as RP, not XP.

    See other post re: subbing RPs for XPs.

    > > Epic spellcasting requires a feat. This should too,
    >
    > But isn`t this all really just a system for working out a way to determine
    > the powers of a reasonable player-invented realm spell? In which case,
    > perhaps what the gp/xp costs really need to be converted into is the GB/RP
    > cost for *casting*, not researching, the new realm spell.

    The other message also has a method for guesstimating a per-use RP cost.
    I`d set a flat 1 GB cost per time cast for all realm spells, and
    re-eyeball it later if it seems too cheap. The should be working mostly
    on power, after all, and that`s RPs.

    > > It does make it possible that a higher-level caster (higher
    > > spellcraft) with higher sources (for mitigation) could cast the spell
    > > faster, since he wouldn`t need as much mitigation from casting time.
    >
    > Seems reasonable as a simulation, but what about the game rule effect?
    > Are you going to allow a higher-level caster to perform multiple realm
    > spells per action round? Not that I think that`s necessarily a bad idea,
    > but it is worth worrying about.

    This is true, you`d have to track things more closely, but it could also
    be useful for, say, allowing a higher-level caster to do more powerful
    spells with lower sources, since he needs less mitigation from that
    source. That would be more immediately useful.

    > > I`d probably disallow the backlash and XP cost mitigators, and only
    > > allow time ones, though, and make the maximum casting time one month,
    > > to put an effective cap on how powerful spells can be.
    >
    > Good plan! Of course, allowing a major villain access to all those little
    > tricks is a good campaign background goal / countdown -- e.g., the Magian
    > is conducting a three-year ritual to turn every person on the continent
    > into an undead being under his control; it`s now mostly complete, and the
    > PCs have only four months left to figure out a way to stop him...

    NPCs, especially plot devices, don`t have to follow the same rules as PCs
    :)
    --
    Daniel McSorley

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