Monday, August 17, 2015

The Magic-User Niche

Preparing a playtest session for "Secret Of The Spooky Old Warren," and I will be using pre-generated PCs.  One of the players wants to revive an old snake character of hers from a previous animal campaign I ran, who was a sorcerer  (using 3.5 edition rules).  To facilitate that, I'm introducing the Magic-User as an optional niche for campaigns with a classic fantasy (like the Trucewood Vale setting) or other supernatural angle (like Creepy Crawlies).  I've designed it to be "plug-&-play" with whatever OSR iteration the BM prefers, rather than trying to re-invent the wheel.

The Magic-User

Masters of the arcane, Magic-Users channel both the creative and destructive energies of nature to their own ends. Unlike Healers, who tend to be motivated by community support & defense, harmony with nature, and preservation of life, Magic-Users are typically self-interested, relishing the pursuit of knowledge and power for their own sake. This is not to say that Magic-Users are inherently evil, or that Healers are inherently good, only that they use the spiritual forces of nature in different ways.

Niche Ability: When you select Magic-User as your niche, you gain two special abilities: the power to read the magical writings of longpaws, and the ability to cast spells. 
  • Read Magic: With a successful Magic-User lore check, you can decipher magical inscriptions on objects – such as books, scrolls, weapons, tools, and so on – that have been crafted by humans or other longpaws (such as elves), even if you are otherwise incapable of reading at all. This is the main way you find and learn new spells. Reading the magic script does not normally activate the magic itself, though cursed scrolls may be an exception. 
  • Spells:  You learn, cast, and gain spells in a fashion identical to longpaws, according to whatever set of rules your BM has adapted for the purpose.
Other Abilities: Add your Magic-User level (and your Magic-User niche die result, if applicable) to all lore checks when attempting to research, understand, decipher, or recall ancient mysteries, magic traditions, arcane symbols, cryptic phrases, and so on.

Saving Throw: Spells

Threat: Easy (+9). This increases to Average (+6) at 2nd total level, Tough (+3) at 5th total level, and Challenging (+0) at 8th total level. 
When it comes to OSR magic, I much prefer the way it's handled in Flatland Games' Beyond The Wall and Other Adventures, and that is the system I'm assuming in the further design of Trucewood Vale.  But, I'm keeping things vague enough in the rules themselves that players and BMs can use a more traditional system if they choose.

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