Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Arduin Grimoire, part 5

The nest two sections of the Arduin Grimoire are entitled MAGIC IN ARDUIN and EVEN MORE MAGIC IN ARDUIN.  I will try to summarize all of Hargrave's house rules and interpretations in bullet points.
  • Memorizing a spell takes one hour per level, divided by the number of that level you can memorize per day.  In other words no matter what level you are it takes one hour to memorize all your first level spells, another hour to memorize all your second level spells, etc.  To memorize fewer spells, just do the division.  That is so dang simple I am going to start using it effective immediately.
  • Vancian style memorizing runs in parallel with a mana point system.  You memorize fireball once, but you can cast as many as your mana points will allow.  Basically your list of memorized spells tells you what you can spend mana on that day.  Am I right in thinking that's how HackMaster Basic works?  I love straight Vancian magic, but this is one of the few spellpoint systems that work as an interesting compromise.
  • Unless otherwise stated, multiply spell level by 1.5 to find its mana cost.  You can under or over power spells.  So if you only have 3 mana left and want to cast a 4th level spell (6 mana) you can throw it at half effect.  Slick.
  • Unless you are a weirdo like a Rune Weaver or a drum-playing Medicine Man, here's what your Mana points look like:  If your Int is 8 or less take your Int score, multiply it by your level and divide by 4.  If your Int is between 9 to 12, use Int X Level divided by 3.  If your Int is 13 or more, it's Int time Level divided by 2.  So a fifth level magic-user with a 14 Int gets 35 Mana per day.  With only a 12 Int that becomes 20 Mana.  So if I'm reading this right the Int 14 MU could conceivably throw 7 fullbore fireballs and one underpowered one, while the dumber mage could only throw four and a fraction.
  • Mages can't wear metal but they are allowed leather armor and wooden shields, though Hargrave notes that few use shields because it "cuts down their dexterity".
  • Here's what I call the Gandalf Rule, which I use in my own campaign: Starting at 5th level Magic-Users may wield a magic sword and at tenth level they may use any magic weapon.  They are only allowed to carry one magic weapon at a time.
  • At most you can use a spell scroll every other round, because of the time it takes to find, unroll, etc.
  • If you save against Bob's fireball you never have to roll a save against his fireball again.  Handy when it's a matter of accidentally flaming your own parties members, but a hassle when a recurring villain makes a save.
  • Wands, staffs, etc. are activated by holding and concentrating rather than command word.  Rings are activated by twisting them on your finger, which Hargrave notes is impossible if you are wearing it under a gauntlet.  Amulets must be fingered or cupped in the palm.
  • The base chance PHUMBLE PHACTOR (screwing up spells use or item activation in the heat of combat) is a whopping 50%, minus 2% per level above first and minus 5% per point of Dex above 12.  (Plus 5% per point of Dex below 9).
  • Touch attack effects are at +2.  Ranged touch attacks are +4 (Hargrave never uses the 3e-ism 'ranged touch', by the way.)  Splash effects, such as "a jar of magic shrinking potion" are at +6.
  • Most elemental-based attack spells splash kinda like burning oil, affecting nearby non-targets.
  • The maximum spell level you can use is equal to your Int divided by 2.  Since spells go over 9th level in Hargraves system, even an 18 isn't going to be enough for high level MUs.
Next up is two paragraphs called NOTES ON PLAYER CHARACTER TYPES, which is basically a exhortation to stop being a whimp and let the PCs play whatever they want.  This is where Hargrave's famous line "Don't be lonely, take a troll to lunch." first appears but it's also where you get his unfortunate mention of a Jewish kobold begging people for pennies.  Let us move on.

The next page is the CLERICAL TURN-AWAY CHART.  This looks a lot like the standard chart, except that it adds banshees and morghouls to the undead axis, the cleric level axis goes in wider increments (one clumn for levels 1-2, one for 3-4, one for 5-6, etc) and it is d20 based.  Also, it seems pretty harsh.  A first or second level cleric needs a 16+ to turn friggin' skeletons, man.  I'm hard on clerics (one of my players opines that I outright hat 'em) but this is unduly harsh.  The notes in the paragraph below do make it two points easier to turn undead of the same faith as you, but, amusing as the idea is, as a DM I don't want to have to keep in my notes whether every dang skeleton keeps kosher or not.  You also get a +1 bonus if this is your "final try", which I guess implies you can try to turn undead more than once per combat.  Turn range is limited to 10' plus 5' every other level.  Also, if you roll double the required number you disintegrate the undead.

Page 32 is devoted to HARGRAVE'S DETECT ABILITY CHART.  You think casting detect magic is a surefire deal, huh?  Think again.  A magic-user gets 70% +3% per level above first.  Items also get a percentage rating when they detecting poison, evil, traps, curses, weather, etc, etc.  Probably the most annoying entry on this chart is ACTUALITY (TRUE SEEING), which suggests that a Gem of True Seeing only sees true 33% of the time.

The following two pages are devoted to saving throw charts.  First we get saves for magical equipment.  Hargrave's save categories are Heat, Cold, Energy, Disintegrate, Negation, Triggers, Electricity, Acid, Crush and All Others.  'Triggers' looks interesting.  Maybe it's a separate roll that needs to be made to avoid setting an item off due to damage?  Per Hargrave everything must save when the owner is killed by one of the above categories.  Also if you are knocked out of the fight but not dead you must roll for all your "highly vulnerable items such as books, scrolls, and glass potions bottles".  This chart seems entirely reasonable and useful to me.

Hargrave's SPECIAL OR EXOTIC CHARACTER SAVING ROLL CHART is a little more dubious to me.  I like his save categories here: Dragon Breath, Psychic Attack, Polymorph, Disintegrate, Stoning, Paralysis, Poison/Venom/Acid, Spoken Spells, Rods/Wands, Staffs, All Not Covered.  The other axis of the chart is a slew of non-human races ranging from elves to centaurs to phraints to undead to slimes to demigods.  Elves and half-elves are broken down by gender.  Females elves have the smae or slightly worse saves than their male counterparts, except for Psychic Attack where they save at 1 point better.  Half-elves work much the same way except female half-elves are also slightly less prone to Disintegration and All Not Covered.  What isn't on this chart is a way for saves to improve with level.  Do humans use the standard OD&D charts, getting better saves as levels improve, while everone else is stuck where they started?  I don't know.  Demi-Gods unsurprisingly get the best saves in most categories, needing only a 6 or higher versus the dread All Not Covered.

Following these charts is a percentile system for generating random magic weapons.  Throw d100 six time for a magic weapon, with more rolls possible for Special Attributes of really high Int weapons.  So let's say I roll 23/42/66/13/99/07.  That would mean I've got a Falchion, +3 to-hit, +3 damage, 4 Int, 23 Ego, that Detects Alignments.  Pretty functional.

That's enough for now, I think.  Next time we'll start with Prismatic Walls and Hargarve's wacky spells.


  1. Basically your list of memorized spells tells you what you can spend mana on that day. Am I right in thinking that's how HackMaster Basic works?

    For mages, yes it is. You memorize your spells and can cast them as many times as your spell points allow. You can even cast spells that you didn't memorize, but it costs double the spell points.

    Clerics use the standard fire-and-forget Vancian system. Two systems for spellcasting in the same game may throw some people off, but I feel it gives the feeling of a difference between arcane studies and divine-granted miracles.

    /Kenzerco fanboy

  2. I would love to see that random magic weapons table. Is it huge? It sounds like fun!

  3. I love the "Gandalf Rules". I had been thinkgin about instituting a similar hosue rule for magic users using magic swords, and I already allow them to wear leather armor.