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Thread: Battle Spells

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    Senior Member Osprey's Avatar
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    Battle Spells

    Ah yes...our old friend, that most heated topic of furious debate...Battle Magic.

    While I have no interest to dredge up all the heated tempers and hard feelings of previous discussions, I'm also well aware that nothing conclusive was ever decided regarding battle magic and how to handle it. So rather than pussy-footing around the meat of the matter with abstract guidelines, I went ahead and began work on a list of battle spells.

    My working assumption is that Battle Spells are ritual versions of standard spells, using extended ritual casting times (around one minute or so is reasonable with 10-minute battle turns) and large amounts of components (500 gp per spell level) to achieve large-scale and extended duration effects. In essence, they combine effects similar to multiple metamagic feats (like Extend, Enlarge, Widen) - thus, I don't recommend allowing metamagic feats to affect Battle Spells.

    Design Notes:
    Scale: the spells assume a battle system in which 1" = 100' on a square grid of varying size, and that a battle square is a 100' x 100' square on the field (one unit's area). A battle turn is 10 minutes long.
    Conversion Suitability: In order to limit the potentially un-balancing power of battle magic, I imposed a strict limitation of conversion: only mass and area-affecting spells could be cast as battle spells. Spells that affect only a single person are unsuitable as battle spells, as expanding their effects to entire units seemed ridiculously over-powered to me. As a result, many of the "old school" 2e spells won't be showing up in this system...you know, the ones that did things like multiply spell effects times a hundred or so? Broken (Rain of Magic Missiles, Hammer Storm?, etc).

    [see following post for continuation]

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    Senior Member Osprey's Avatar
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    Sample Clerical Battle Spells

    So, here's a sample of what I've compiled so far (clerical battle spells, level 0-3). This is in a "short and sweet" format - as clear as possible, without much flavour text, since these are simple conversions of PHB spells into a battlesystem.

    Clerical Battle Spells

    Casting Time: Most battle spells have a ritual casting time of 1 battle action (approximately one minute). Duration: Most spells have a duration of either instantaneous or one battle turn. Exceptions are noted in individual descriptions.
    Target: Battle spells affect either the battle caster’s own unit, or one enemy unit, unless noted otherwise.
    Cost: All battle spells have a base material component cost of 500 gp per spell level. Some spells may have additional costs, as noted in the description.
    Save: Offensive spells typically grant a saving throw to reduce or negate the effect. A targeted unit may make a Morale save vs. the normal spell DC (10 + spell level + caster’s Wisdom modifier).
    Spell Resistance (SR): Most spells may be resisted by spell resistance. However, an entire unit receives the benefits of spell resistance only if every member of the unit possesses spell resistance. In such rare cases (such as a summoned celestial or infernal unit), the unit may make a single unit spell resistance check to overcome the effects of hostile battle (and realm) magic. Unit spell resistance equals the lowest SR of the unit’s members.


    0-level:
    Light: Calls forth a magical light that is affixed to either the caster’s unit, or a stationary object where the effect was cast. This spell illuminates a 1” radius around the caster’s unit (3” circle), negating the effects of non-magical darkness within the area.
    -Duration: 1 turn/level.
    -Cost: 250 gp
    Note: At night, units without low-light or darkvision suffer a –1 Move and –2 Morale penalty in darkened areas of the field. Missile fire is limited to illuminated target units (those within lighted areas), and any adjacent units in non-illuminated areas (at a –2 penalty). Even units with low-light or darkvision cannot fire missile attacks further than 1” away, though they suffer no penalty for such attacks in darkened areas.


    1st level:
    Bane: Enemy unit(s) suffer a –1 penalty to attack and morale.
    -Target: Affects all enemy units engaged with the caster’s unit.
    -Morale Save: negates
    -Duration: 1 battle turn, plus 1 turn per 5 levels over 1st (2 turns at 6th-10th level, 3 at 11th-15th, etc).
    Bless: Adds +1 to the caster unit’s attack and morale.
    -Duration: 1 battle turn, plus 1 turn per 5 levels over 1st (2 turns at 6th-10th level, 3 at 11th-15th, etc).

    2nd level:
    Consecrate: Blesses area, adding +3 to turning checks. Undead units suffer –2 attack and –1 morale saves. Undead may not be raised or summoned in a consecrated area.
    -Target: Affects the battlefield square (a 100’x100’ area) in which it was cast.
    -Duration: 24 hours
    -Special: A permanent shrine or altar to the caster’s deity in the target area doubles the effects (+6 turn, -4 undead unit attack, -2 undead saves).
    Desecrate: Clerics are at –3 to turn undead in a desecrated area. Undead units gain +2 attack and +1 morale saves in the area. Undead units created within a desecrated area have +1 Defense, and the effects of the animate dead battle spell are doubled within the desecrated area.
    -Target: Affects the battlefield square (a 100’x100’ area) in which it was cast.
    -Duration: 24 hours
    -Special: A permanent shrine or altar to the caster’s deity in the target area doubles the effects (-6 turn, +-4 undead unit attack, +2 undead saves).
    Darkness: Blankets a 1” radius area around the caster’s unit (3” circle) in magical darkness. The effect is anchored either on the caster’s unit, or on the battlefield square where the spell was cast. Units within this area are effectively blinded, suffering a –4 attack, -2 morale, and –2 move penalty while they remain within the area. Darkness negates magical light effects of equal or lower level.
    -Duration: 1 turn/level

    3rd level:
    Animate Dead:
    This spell may used to restore lost troops to undead units during a battle. The target undead unit must be within 1” of the battle caster (adjacent), and the caster must be within 1” of a battlefield square where any living unit took 1 or more hits of damage. When the spell is cast, the target undead unit heals 1 Hit of damage. For every 5 caster levels over 5th (10th, 15th, 20th), the battle caster may heal 1 additional Hit to a damaged unit, so long as an equal number of hits of damage were inflicted within 1” of the caster.
    -Cost: 1500 gp per Hit restored.
    -Duration: Permanent
    -Special: If cast within a desecrated area, the caster may restore 2 hits per 5 caster levels.
    Daylight: Illuminates a 2” radius around the caster’s unit (5” diameter circle). This effect may be placed upon either the caster’s unit (moving with the unit), or it may be placed as a stationary effect on the battlefield square where the spell was cast. Daylight negates magical darkness of equal or lower spell level within its area.
    -Duration: 1 turn/level
    Deeper Darkness: Engulfs a 2” radius (5” diameter circle) around the caster in impenetrable darkness: darkvision is useless here. Units within this area are effectively blinded, suffering a –4 attack, -2 morale, and –2 move penalty while they remain within the area. Darkness negates magical light of equal or lower spell level within its area.
    -Duration: 1 turn/level
    Dispel Battle Magic: May be used to dispel the effects of a single battle spell on the the target unit. The caster must make a caster level check, DC 11 + caster level of target spell (maximum +10 at 10th level).
    If successful, the battle dispel can achieve one of the following effects:
    - Negate a single battle spell with an ongoing effect.
    - Suppress the effects of a unit-affecting realm spell for 1d4 turns.
    - Banish a summoned or animated unit.
    Target: 1 unit
    Range: 2” + 1” per 5 caster levels
    Invisibility Purge: This spell instantly negates invisibility effects over a large area around the caster. All invisibility effects are negated within a radius around the caster’s unit of 1” per 5 levels (2” radius at 10th level, 3” r. at 15th, etc).
    Magic Circle Against Evil (Good/Chaos/Law): Creates a stationary circle of protection, warding the caster’s battle square against hostile magic and summoned creatures of an alignment opposed to the caster’s.
    Any unit protected by the circle gains a +2 deflection bonus to Defense and +2 resistance bonus to Morale vs. attacks or effects by evil creatures (including enemy units whose alignment is predominantly evil).
    Furthermore, the warded area (the battlefield square where the spell was cast) prevents any sort of mental control or possession (charm, domination, suggestion, magic jar, etc).
    Finally, any non-good summoned creatures cannot enter the area, preventing melee attacks against the unit within (if the entire summoned unit has spell resistance, they make one attempt to overcome the barrier and enter).
    -Duration: 1 turn/level
    Prayer: A burst of aligned energy is called forth, empowering friendly units and weakening nearby enemies. All affected friendly units (including the caster’s) gain a +2 luck bonus to Attack and +1 luck bonus to Morale. Enemy units receive a –2 luck penalty to Attack and –1 luck penalty to Morale. Individual characters also benefit from the usual effects of prayer (+1 luck bonus to attack, damage, saves, and skills, including Lead and Warcraft).
    -Duration: 1 battle turn
    -Area of Effect: 1” radius around the caster’s unit.
    -Morale Save: none
    Wind Wall: Creates a large curtain of roaring winds on the battlefield. The wall must be drawn as a continuous line along the edges of one or more battle squares in 1” sections. Any normal missile fire passing through this wall is deflected upward and automatically misses. Artillery fire, and magical ranged attacks, suffer a 20% miss chance due to poor visibility (the wall typically whips up dirt and debris).
    -Effect: 1” of wall per 5 caster levels (2” at 10th, 3” at 15th, 4” at 20th).
    -Range: 2” + 1” per 5 levels.
    -Duration: 1 battle turn





    That's it so far...I'll keep working on it, and hope to eventually complete lists for druids, mages, and possibly even bards and magicians, though allowing "lesser battle magic" may require some discussion as to its appropriateness in BR.

    Look it over, post your comments and criticism (negative AND positive please), and consider whether this sort of [simple] system will work for battle magic...'cause I sure would like to see something that most of us can live with for the BRCS.

    Osprey

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    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    A few questions:

    How do casters acquire these Battle Magics?

    Are they part of their normal spell list?
    Are they something else?
    Is there a restriction on how many they can know?

    If they are part of their normal spell list then this definitely penalizes spontaneous casters since the max number of spells they can know is limited via class level. IMO, a large number of elves are spontaneous casters (i.e, sorcerers and bards). This also greatly benefits divine casters since they "automatically" know every spell on their spell list while wizards must "learn" them in some manner.


    I would also question how much space in the BRCS this would end up taking - since it would be approx a paragraph (as shown in your example) hence IMO this would translate into roughly the same space (maybe a little less) than the normal spell. Note this is only a point if every or most standard spells are included.

    I'm not sure I'd botther with battle versions of 0-level spells. They are supposed to be very minor (and short lasting) spells in the first place so increasing their effectiveness to a battle environment seems counter to their design to me.

    I agree with the concepts of time, cost and such for battle spells. I also agree with not using metamagiced standard spells - it is jsut counter to the concept to me, those are best handled via the zoom in individual combat scenario, IMO.

    I'm not convinced we should be working on converting all (or even most) existing conventional magic to a battle environment though. It might be better, IMO, to come up with a "criteria" that describes how they work (like you did) and how to create/research them and then come up with a list of "common" battle spells that can be used. Something similar to how the realm spells were handled

    In regards to SR, that is a tricky one. But IMO I don't think that normal SR should apply to battle magic, just like it doesn't apply to realm spells - the nature and magnitude of battle magic is so much larger than normal magic I think it should require battle magic level SR (if we can even come up wome such thing).

    The spells consecrete and desecrete don't seem to fit, IMO, since they tie things into a class ability Turn Undead. Turn Undead should have no effect on the battlefield since it is so small an area of effect and is directly countered by offensive action - hey it is a war already right? IMO this was one of the worst things that TSR did when they added Turn Undead to the battlefield without attempting to come up with something to "justify" it. There are some spells that damage undead which could be substituted or a new spell that causes undead to lose their immunity to morale checks might be real useful.
    Duane Eggert

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    Senior Member Osprey's Avatar
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    A few questions:

    How do casters acquire these Battle Magics?

    Are they part of their normal spell list?
    Are they something else?
    Is there a restriction on how many they can know?
    I was working off an assumption that a caster took the Battle Magic feat, and this allowed him to prepare battle spells in place of regular spells per day. Any spell he already knows may be prepared as a battle spell, but it may only be cast with the proper ritual and material components.

    Hence the feat would allow battle versions of spells already known, rather than having battle spells be treated like mini-realm spells that must be learned/researched seperately. That was my assumption, if folks feel they should be researched seperately, they should speak up now.

    I would also question how much space in the BRCS this would end up taking - since it would be approx a paragraph (as shown in your example) hence IMO this would translate into roughly the same space (maybe a little less) than the normal spell. Note this is only a point if every or most standard spells are included.
    I think a sample list of a few "most typical" mage and clerical battle spells and a clear set of conversion guidelines would be just fine for a highlighted "battle magic" section in the BRCS. I would recommend then publishing a downloadable "complete" list of core (PHB-based) battle spells - many DMs would be grateful, I think.

    In regards to SR, that is a tricky one. But IMO I don't think that normal SR should apply to battle magic, just like it doesn't apply to realm spells - the nature and magnitude of battle magic is so much larger than normal magic I think it should require battle magic level SR (if we can even come up wome such thing).
    I disagree here. I think SR should apply to battle and realm magic equally well. In both cases, these magics aren't any more potent than personal magics, they are just much larger in scale. Otherwise their save DCs would be higher than normal for individuals affected by them, and they would get bonus caster levels for spell effects on individuals. But neither realm nor battle magics get this benefit, which means they are primarily normal spells but MUCH bigger.

    Normally, SR is limited to powerful individuals and magical beings, and as such only insulates that individual from the effects of an area or province-wide effect (assuming their SR is strong enough vs. the battle/realm-spell's caster level). IMC there are summoned divine units made up of outsiders, however, which means acording to the Monster manual they might all have SR, so a lowest number could be found (probably SR 10 or so...nothing too special).

    I'm not sure I'd botther with battle versions of 0-level spells. They are supposed to be very minor (and short lasting) spells in the first place so increasing their effectiveness to a battle environment seems counter to their design to me.
    Except that Light used to be a 1st-level spell, and its utility on a dark battlefield is pretty huge. Only reason I included it (and it's the only area-affecting spell on the 0-level list anyways).

    The spells consecrete and desecrete don't seem to fit, IMO, since they tie things into a class ability Turn Undead. Turn Undead should have no effect on the battlefield since it is so small an area of effect and is directly countered by offensive action - hey it is a war already right? IMO this was one of the worst things that TSR did when they added Turn Undead to the battlefield without attempting to come up with something to "justify" it. There are some spells that damage undead which could be substituted or a new spell that causes undead to lose their immunity to morale checks might be real useful.
    I've always been bummed that Turning couldn't somehow be adapted to a battlefield scale. I've often imagined temple units filled with paladins and clerics making a collective turning effort in place of a battle spell or even as its "attack" for a turn.

    Undeath to the Death is the ultimate zombie-killer vs. undead units. A battle version would easily crush an entire undead unit.

    IMC I give every undead unit a parenthetical "morale" rating (+4 for a Legion of Dead), representing its unit save vs. hostile magic. Being immune to routing and fear doesn't make them immune to any magic which requires a saving throw. Don't let the wording of rules ("immune to morale checks") pervert the spirit in which they were made.

    Consecrate and Desecrate wouldn't be in a BRCS sample list, but I think they're plenty feasible for, say, a fortified temple being assaulted by enemy troops. With its long duration, it could easily be cast at the start of the day or night if there were time.

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