Sunday, May 27, 2018

Spells for Moon Rats, and thoughts on Spell Lists

This is a reference for the various Maze Rats style generated spells in my current game, in terms of how they're cast both in pseudo-vancian 1/day style, and how they'd be cast in GLOG style magic for anyone who delves into the Old Magic. They're mostly level 1-tier spells.

If you don't care about the spells, there's rambling about spell lists after them.

Earth Song
Sing to stone or earth to gain a reaction check from it. 2d6 if vancian, or 1d6 per magic die if GLOG.
1-5 Bad
6-8 Neutral
9+ Good
If 3+ dice are used, the stones may shift in ways that ignore gravity. Stones can collapse, trip people up, roll a little. Mud  and Earth may become firmer or softer, sand can avoid blowing into eyes, that sorta thing. Bad or Good reactions basically just indicate whether these effects favor the caster or not. Neutral effects indicate the stones trying to settle themselves more comfortably- worked stone tends to favor trying to maintain or repair its own architecture, while natural earth and stone just want to follow gravity.

Plague Amber
Lures a disease to inhabit some dried treesap instead of whoever is currently infected. Actual Amber is required to catch great spirits of plague. Breaking the amber releases the disease on whoever's nearest.
Dice Invested/Level of vancian spell
  1. Can catch non-lethal diseases
  2. Can catch lethal diseases.
  3. Can catch extremely virulent plagues ala Black Death, requires Amber
  4. Amber Prison become a permanent ward vs one disease, allowing all who touch it to be purged and immunized so long as the prison holds firm. Requires a large and quality piece of amber worth several thousand GP.
Gate of the Knife
Stab a knife into a doorframe, and anything passing through automatically takes damage as though being slashed by the knife. 1 Knife per level can remain active in this fashion, or if casting Glog style, one must roll higher than the # of currently active knives to place a new knife, and 3+ dice allows the placing of Swords.

Crow Scare-Summons a cawing, flapping crow in front of the face of the target. This is extremely shocking and the target must save or spend their next action attacking the crow, jumping back in shock, shielding their face, as opposed to any useful action.
This spell cannot be cast within line of sight of a scarecrow.
If cast with 3+ magic dice, an entire murder of crows will be summoned to scare as many targets as the caster wishes.

Transport Sunshard- Telekinetically shift existing fire or lightning to another place in sight at a rate equal to your own running speed. Once the target is picked the shard moves in a straight line to its destination. Any fire bigger than a bonfire(1d12 damage) is too big to move. The fire will likely go out upon hitting something unless the target was flammable.
With extra magic dice, it may be sent to strike multiple targets beyond the first. With vancian casting, it strikes +1 target per 5 levels of the caster.

Mesmeric Sphere-
Creates a hovering, gleaming bubble with 1HP and ac 10. Save or be unable to look away. Entranced people obliged to stare it it are easily flanked, as though they can continue to fight, they may be limited to peripheral vision. The caster need not save as they can look away, and anyone with forewarning can avoid catching a glimpse of it. Combat near the sphere forces extra saves each round(barring clever placement), much like trying to avoid a gaze attack. It lasts until someone pops it, or 1 minute per level(vancian) or [sum]minutes rolled (GLOG)

Oil Colossus- S
ummons 5-foot wide flame-eyed blob of oil(light as candlelight) to rise from the ground near the caster. If struck, degenerates into flaming pool of oil about 5 feet wide that burns for 2 rounds. The blob obeys commands, but can do little but scoot around at knee height and cannot climb stairs or steep slopes. If struck by an attack(it is automatically hit) or if it just jiggles too enthusiastically (1/6 chance every minute) it ignites and becomes a flaming pool of oil.

Compelling Touch-
Touch someone- they won't willingly break physical contact until you do, or outside forces separate you. No save. Also nothing prevents them from shanking you, but your death will not end the effect.
Each 3 levels or extra magic die invested allows an additional target to be compelled in this manner, either from your touch or the touch of someone currently under the spells effects.

Conceal psyche- your mind and spirit are shielded from detection. Nightmares and undead animated by Nightmare will be entirely unable to detect you, and mental effects from creatures that can see you will have a blindness penalty to hit (or a similar bonus to your saving throw). You also can probably bluff spirits into thinking you've already sold your soul. Last until you wake up from sleep. You can only conceal yourself.

Encoding Sand
 Sand whirls like a tiny tornado the size of a pen, etching [sum] words (or 2d6 for vancian casting) down in the blink of an eye.
Alternately, coded symbols or simple drawings can be etched, like a stick figure.
Using 3+ magic dice allows you to instead make complex drawings, like realistic art, copied maps, or as many words as can fit  in [sum] square feet.

Tendril of Screaming Blight, 
which sounds dreadful but what it does is rots some wood and grows a mushroom that will scream if something comes near it. Deals [effect level]d6 damage to tree monsters.
 Dice Used/Maximal effects at Level/2
  1. Rots something up to a door or chair. Mushroom as whistle.
  2. Rots something up to a wagon. Mushroom as flute
  3. Rots a large tree.  Mushroom the size and noisiness of shrieking child or trumpet
  4. Could rot an entire wooden wall. Mushroom tree-sized, a deafening siren wail.
Rainshaping You can make rain coalesce into various shapes with a high degree of precision and control. Lasts as long as the rain does. Douse people in water, create shadowy illusions out of rain. Each extra die or 3 levels allows an extra thing to be done simultaneously.

Water Cubes
Makes water adopt a resting position of a cube, instead of a puddle. Permanent. Works on solutions, but not purely non-water liquids.
Up to one 10x10x10 cube per level or [sum] can be formed

Thunderous Gate- Utterance of a Word of Power creates a pulse of air pressure strong enough to send small objects flying, slam doors shut, send projectiles off target, etc. It is cast via shouting a single word and can be done as a 'reaction' interrupting other actions regardless of initiative. If 3+ dice are used, it deafens those nearby and forces a morale check against anything afraid of thunder or with sensitive hearing.

Ember Cauldron- A way to keep a container heated without fire so long as you continue chanting. Heat will be up to 'Boiling' in the vancian style.

Dice Used
  1. Lukewarm
  2. Boiling
  3. Red Hot (may destroy nonmetal containers)
  4. White Hot (Will destroy most containers sooner or later)

Sealing Script-Creates a 'scroll' that activates when placed on something. If the name written on the scroll matches the true name of the being it is attached to, it activates. Truly nameless beings are immune so long as no one names them, but even animals may have 'names' in the form of specific cries/smells that are difficult, but not impossible to transcribe. All effects allow a saving throw to resist, and automatically end if the paper is removed or damaged to the point the name is marred.
Dice used/Difference between target HD and personal HD
  1. Sealed- Prevents use of spells or supernatural abilities like basilisk gazes, werewolf shapechanging, etc.
  2. Paralysis- Can think, breathe, etc, but can't move voluntary muscles.
  3. Stasis- Target untouched by passage of time. Does not breathe, eat, think, age, etc.
  4. Imprisonment- Target sealed inside nearby object, essentially ceasing to exist till seal is broken.
Speak to Crow
Allows you to speak to crows for a single conversation. Doesn't compel them to talk back, but they're gabby beasts you can bribe with scraps of food.

Throne of Foresight- Sit in a chair (or handy branch or rock) and determine who the next person to sit in that chair will be. Their name echoes in your mind and the casting is as subtle as a thought.

So in typical D&D, there's 'The Spell List.' If you're a wizard (hairy or otherwise), you have a pretty good idea of what spells you'll use, and why. You meet goblins, you cast sleep. You meet a high AC monster, you use Magic Missile. Known solutions to known problems.

So what I'm trying to do with the introduction of a bunch of weird spells that I make up off the top of my head from some words strung together is more of 'give the players weird shit to play with and see what they do.' The power level is definitely weaker than D&D spells, but the weakness of the spells has made being a 'wizard' more about creative application and combination of strange little cantrips than about having a set number of specific answers to specific problems per day.

Some of my favorite uses of the 'weird spell list' have been

A shrunken character using Crow Scare and Speak With Crow to arrange his rescue from being stranded in the sky.

Using the Throne Of Foresight to learn about a bunch of Sludge Vampires pretending to be elves in a giant dead treestump

Use of Crow Scare and Monsterize to get a save or stun + a quick monster

Thunderous Gate was used to blow a falling flying canoe onto a more favorable trajectory

Using Oil Colossus to scout ahead providing light and a nasty firetrap to any lurking monsters

Using Transport Sunshard to turn a burning oil trap against its creator

In any case, I'm not saying this approach to spells is 'better' than the D&D spell list, but it's certainly been an interesting one. I always liked the weird magic items like Immovable Rods that have no 'intended use' and are just potential 'ins' for creative plans, but they're often limited use or very rare, so shifting 'weird, possibly useless item' into 'weird, possibly useless spells' gives more opportunities to come up with a kooky scheme. Grease is one example of a D&D spell like this, though I wonder why it became a spell and not just a purchasable item.

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