Beeks' Cherry-Picked Role Playing Game
Part 4: Oh ho ho, it's magic, ya knowwww....
Magic is something normal mortals should not be toying with, but of course they will. Magic changes the very rules of reality, and thus is very dangerous. The average person doesn't have the gift, the brain capacity, the mental fortitude - whatever you want to call it - to bend the cosmos to their whims. Those that can are a rare breed.
The first part of this section is about the wizard class. There are separate subsections below about the other spellcasing classes, the cleric and witch. Their magic is quite similar, but different enough their own respective passages.
Also, in many spells or playbooks you will see "[dice]" or "[sum]". [dice] refers to how many dice you used to roll, and the total of all the numbers on the [dice] is your [sum].
Schools of Magic
All wizards are of the wizard class, but their school of magic is where they differ. Each school of magic comes with various perks and drawbacks (much like your character's race) and may even come with a few basic cantrips.
Each school of magic also comes with a spell list 12 spells long. As you gain more levels, you'll gain access to more of your school's spells.
Level 1 - First 6 spells
Level 3 - First 8 spells
Level 5 - First 10 spells
Level 7 - All 12 spells
When you start a character, you begin play with a spellbook containing two random spells, each chosen by rolling a d6.
Some spell casting classes will have cantrips. These are minor spells that do not do much in the grand scheme of things, but at least they do not cost Magic Dice and take up spell slots. Your wizard may cast them at will.
A wizard's brain can hold up to four spells. They will get one spell slot every other level. If you have a spell in one of your spell slots, you can cast it without issue.
Excess spells will have to be written down, on scrolls or in a wizard's spellbook. A spellbook can hold up to 10 spells and takes up 1 inventory slot, whereas a scroll can only hold one spell, but takes up a third of an inventory slot.
Spells can be moved from a scroll/spellbook to a wizard's brain and vice versa, but it will take an hour to do so. Think of this as the wizard memorizing the spell, or transcribing it down on paper.
Casting a Spell from Memory
- Pick a spell you have memorized.
- Choose how many Magic Dice you want to invest. A Magic Dice is a d6.
- Roll your dice.
- Dice that show 1-3 are returned to your casting pool. Dice that come up 4-6 are exhausted and can only be regained after a good night's sleep. Once your casting pool is empty, you cannot cast any more spells for the day.
You may roll as many Magic Dice as you wish, provided you have that many. The higher the sum of your casting dice, the more powerful the spell. But keep in mind that rolling more dice means the potential to suffer a Mishap or a Doom.
Casting a Spell from a Written Source
If you successfully cast a spell from a scroll or spellbook, the scroll or book page is destroyed in the casting. Casting from a written source adds one free Magic Die into the spell (so even a character with no available dice may use scrolls). You may still add your MD to the scroll's MD, but the scroll's MD will always be exhausted. In some rare occasions, scrolls may add more than one MD.
Mishaps and Dooms still apply when casting from a written source.
Mishaps and Dooms
If you rolls doubles with your casting dice, you incur a Mishap. Consult your Class sheet and roll on your Mishap table. The Mishap takes effect immediately.
If you roll triples, you incur a Doom. You can only suffer three Dooms.
The first time you roll triples, you suffer your first Doom.
The second time you roll triples, you suffer your second Doom.
The third time you roll triples, you suffer your third and final Doom.
There are no Dooms after that, because you are most likely dead.
You can avoid Mishaps by never rolling more than one Magic Die, and Dooms by never rolling more than two. But keep in mind this will hamstring your magic potential.
When Those Without The Gift Attempt to Cast Magic
It's finally happened: your magicly mundane buddy has snuck a peek into your spellbook while you were asleep and attempted to cast a spell. Maybe they had good intentions; maybe they thought they were helping you or the party.
When those without the knack for spellweaving dabble in realms they couldn't possibly comprehend, roll a d10. If they roll a 1, the character suffers a Doom. If they succeed, the spell works as if you the caster had cast it using a single Magic Die.
The next time they attempt to cast a spell, they will roll a d5. Rolling a 1 will result in their second Doom.
If they are still foolhardy enough to try a third time, they will flip a coin. Heads will result in their third Doom.
If they succeed all three times: Congrats! Maybe they have trace amounts of The Gift after all. Now get them the hell away from your spellbook. There is no getting lucky a fourth time.
Magic is scary, temperamental, and dangerous. To me, magic isn't something you just LET eleven year old British boarding school students do. I liken magic as a firearm, and this spell is what happens when a child finds daddy's hunting rifle.
There's a pretty good chance you will never use this rule in your game. It's high risk and fairly low reward. But hey, I wanted something to show just how risky meddling with magic is...and I really wanted a dice chain somewhere in the game.
The above subsections of Section 4 have been about wizards. Now we turn our eye to the second main spellcasting class, the witch. Witches are overwhelmingly female, but that doesn't mean there aren't exceptions.
Witches vs Wizards
There are a few differences between witches and wizards:
- Wizards have spells, witches have works.
- Wizards have cantrips, witches have signs.
- Wizards have schools, witches have traditions.
- Wizards have mishaps, witches gain attention.
- Wizards have dooms, witches lose their grip.
The Maiden, the Mother, the Crone
Witches come in three forms: a youthful Maiden, a robust Mother, and a wizened Crone. The Maiden has a Work Dice of 1d4, the Mother of 1d6, and the Crone 1d8. The Maiden has a significant perk, the Mother has a minor perk and a minor drawback, and the Crone has a significant drawback.
Each level, a witch can move one step, from Maiden <-> Mother <-> Crone. You may also stay the same. Witches always start at Maiden. Each form has a separate set of 2 signs, minor magics that cost no WD, like a wizards' cantrip.
Casting spells as a witch is no different from casting as a wizard, with the minor exception that witches may also store spells in Crafts, once they reach the second template.
Instead of witches immediately having their works take effect, they may 'store' them in a potion, a wicker doll, runes scrawled on a stone, etchings carved into a tree, etc.
Creating and imbuing an item with a work requires the amount of hours equal to the WD invested, and the item must be larger per WD that is invested. For example, a 1WD potion could easily fit inside a small bottle, whereas a 3 WD potion would fill an entire milk can.
The work is activated within the Craft when a certain thing happens to the Craft. The witch may choose what condition activates the Work, but it must involve direct interaction with the Craft, such as drinking a potion, touching a wicker doll, or stepping on a stone painted in runes.
Work Dice the witch spends to make a Craft cannot return to the witch's casting pool until the Craft has been activated or destroyed/exorcised. When the Craft is destroyed or exorcised, the WD contained within are depleted as though it had been activated.
Attentions and Losing One's Grip
A wizard's mishaps are the result of wizard magic being a dangerous force the wizard probably shouldn't be toying with. A witch's attentions mean powerful spirits, demons, or possibly even gods, have taken notice of the witch's actions have have "put her on their radar", so to speak.
Attentions can often be solved, not with a Save, but with a sacrifice. Some Attentions may ask for a sacrifice of blood (hp), items, or Work Dice.
Losing Grip implies that a witch's hold on their humanity is slipping. There are four levels of Losing Grip, with the last being a final and irrevocable descent into inhumanity, at which point the character is lost, not unlike the wizard's final Doom.
A Maiden can Lose her Grip four times before the final stage (going from stages 1-4), a Mother three times (stages 2, 3, and 4) and a Crone only twice (stages 3 and 4).
The Witch class is The Bottomless Sarcophagus' baby. I just stole it, because I am a baby thief. A thiever of babies, not a baby who is a thief. Hell, I might be that too.
Clerics may bristle at their class being called a spellcasting class. After all, they're not dabbling in arcane magic or heathen spirit crafts. No, they would say their abilities are blessed gifts straight from their god (or gods).
Well, tough tits, in the eyes of BCPRPG, clerics and wizards a actually quite similar.
Clerics vs Wizards
The biggest difference between clerics and wizards is that clerics don't choose their spells, their diety does. Cleric spells are unreliable, since the fickle gods may not choose to grant the spell when the cleric needs it most.
On the upside, however, is that clerics do not suffer anything similar to a mishap or doom.
Faith Dice, or FD, are just Magic Dice that can shrink and grow depending on the cleric's behavior. Faith Dice default to a d8.
Casting spells with Faith Dice is no different than wizards casting spells with Magic Dice, with one extra wrinkle:
On a roll of 7+, the FD is not depleted. The dice roll does not contribute to the spell. They 'fizzle out'.
Since clerics will typically be casting with d8s, it is not uncommon for cleric spells to fizzle out entirely (all dice above 7+) or be underpowered (some of the dice are above 7+).
Cleric Dice Chains and You
Faith Dice improve (shrink) or worsen (enlarge) depending on the cleric's actions in regards to their religion.
If a cleric doesn’t follow the tenets of their religion, the dice increase in size until the cleric attones.
The dice progression is this:
d6 (temporary) <-> d8 <-> d10 <-> d12 <-> d20 <-> d60 <-> Apostasy
If a cleric attones at a holy place of their religion, their dice are reset to d8. Attoning may include confessing their sins or paying a hefty tithe.
If a cleric receives a blessing from a high ranking member of their church, their FDs will be d6s until expended. Likewise, if the cleric is in a situation that is in favor of their deity (such as fighting demons, rescuing an innocent child), their FDs are also temporarily improved to d6s.
If you reach Apostasy, you may either abandon the cleric class entirely, or become a heretic and regain your powers. Note that becoming a heretic will make you an enemy of your former religion.
Identifying Magic Items
If you have at least one level in a spellcasting class, you can attempt to understand magical items.
One round of close examination (touching, sniffing, maybe even licking?) allows you to tell if the item is magical or not. Ten minutes of close examinination allows you to make an Intelligence check to learn more about it.
Potions will never tell you anything beyond "I'm a potion". Their effects must be determined by taking a sip.
Powerful artifacts require further study in a better environment that out in the field. They need to be studied in a wizard's library or a laboratory.
Wizards, witches, and clerics are free to wear armor without any kind of spellcasting penalty. However, if they wear magic robes, they get +1 Magic Die (or Work Die or Faith Die, respectively).