Sunday, November 27, 2011

two quick thoughts

1) Here's a new skill idea for Lamentations of the Flame Princess weird fantasy yadda-yadda: Jack-of-All-Trades.  Defaults to 1 in 6 for all adventurers, maybe 2 in 6 for whichever of the demi-humans in your campaign are likely to have a lot of jobs during their extended lifespans.  The basic deals is that J-o-T works like the language rules. You need to know if your PC can help sail the ship or make a horseshoe?  Roll JoT.  If successful, add "sailor" or "blacksmith" to your list of secondary skills. Not suitable for all campaigns.

2) Is wizardry systematic or ad hoc in your campaign? (Or maybe there once was a complete system of magic in the golden age and the present MU rules represent a fragmentary understanding of that system.) Are spells part of a metaphysical schema or are they just the list of known effects caused by certain words, gestures and cogitations? Do your NPC magic-users tend to have ability outside the core system of spell memorization?  Can PCs gain similar special abilities? One of the neat things about the feat system in 3.x was its potential to give individual MUs different relationships with the spell system.


  1. Jack of all trades - I like it. Maybe with an intelligence cap as with languages.

    I've been letting people fill skill slots ad hoc as needed during the game, but I like the randomness factor of this meta-skill. Then players have unexpected information to work into the character background, which is slowly discovered through play.

    It could also be modelled as a roll-under intelligence check, though that changes the probability. One less number to write down, that way.

  2. 1. I be stealin' JoT for the next time I run B/X. The idea is that you will be limited to a certain number of trades over their lifetime, (maybe 3...will work that out later) When the player makes a JoT roll, he is deciding to possibly commit permanently one of his trade slots.
    An optional thought: 1 in 6 base chance, possibly modified by a high ability score in a relevant stat. (13-15=+1, 16-17=+2, etc.) Your really strong guy might have had a better chance to have worked a trade reliant on strength in the past. Just a thought... about your thought.

    2. In my AD&D games, the true secrets of magic used to be more akin to the magic system in White Wolf's Mage RPG: mages study different schools of reality (life, entropy, time, etc.) and can do anything their understanding of the universe will allow. However, that knowledge was lost a looong time ago, and the men of today are simply not capable of rediscovering those secrets. Magic spells and spellbooks represent their limited understanding of true magic. The system is akin to having a cookbook full of tried-and-true recipes. You can become quite familiar with the recipes, but you don't have enough culinary savvy to create your own dishes.

  3. For jack-of-all-trades, should you note your failures? Like, a character fails the roll with regard to a blacksmith task. Later, should the character be allowed another roll for another blacksmith task or is it assumed that the character has no blacksmith talent?

  4. Anonymous11:21 AM

    1- I like it.

    2- Magic is a pretty well understood occult science for humans (for elves it's a bit more mystical). People invent new spells, and yes, can gain new abilities and such - that's one of the ways I like to reward players for good play.


  5. That Jack of All Trades idea is pretty damn elegant.

  6. 1: Been mulling over a very similar idea myself for my own D&D variant. Still haven't found a specific rule I really like, but with yours I might be a step closer.

    2: In my Into the Odd D&D variant magic is only accessible through items called Arcana. You don't understand these things, very few people can use them with any sort of reliability and their effects are unknown until you take the risk of experimenting with them. If anyone knows how you make an Arcanum they certainly aren't telling.

    Mechanically they use D&D spells but I usually put a twist on them.

  7. perdustin - Yes, note failures as well. The LOTFP language rules have you note what you don't speak.

  8. Definitely swiping Jack-of-all-Trades.

  9. Bwaaaa haaa haaa. More Traveller spreads to fantasy ! Soon, all shall bow down before Imperium !

  10. Anonymous10:24 AM

    2. Interesting idea: magic spells are the dreams of the gods. If you want to create a new one you have to tickle the fancy or inspire the imagination of some sleeping godlet by doing something interesting. But the resulting dream-spell is tinged by the demigod's sphere of interest because that's the kind of thing he dreams about. So if you want a combat spell you should probably not try to get the Love God's dreams a-stirring.

  11. Mechanically I'll be treating all magic about the same. With the exception of a few grandfathered-in class abilities (e.g. turning undead), it's used in one of the following three methods:

    * Spells - Or things that operate like spells. I'm using a low powered spell-point system.

    * Rituals - A system by which even non-magic-users can create magical effects, taking excessive time or resources to do so.

    * Magic items - Magic items are essentially created through rituals, so in theory anyone can do this, but they are tough or costly to do and magic-users or clerics are more likely to know how.

    Flavor-text-wise: there are several sources of power, some better understood than others, some maybe understood to no one in the current age:

    * Psionics - Mysticism & internalized quazi-science. Basically a reskinned version of the magic-user. With more limited abilities but no need for a spellbook.

    * Sorcery - Power in the blood. Essentially if you had the right ancestors, or if you are gradually becoming the avatar or entelechy of some metaphysical ideal, then there are certain things you can just DO as an extension of your self.

    * Divine magic - Power granted via intermediaries, both gods and lesser entities like familiar spirits.

    * Arcane magic - In theory arcane magic connotes power arising from an in-depth understanding of the natural laws of the physical universe. However there are two caveats:

    a) These days few actually understand the natural laws well enough to really understand arcane magic. Most magic-users and ritualists simply apply the techniques by rote to good effect without knowing why they work. To make things harder for any would-be "true masters of the arcane arts", it turns out that the workings of the universe are so convoluted that even in the hayday of arcane research, no one person really understood everything. And from what anyone can tell in the modern era various cosmologies and grand unification theories each describe certain things well, but have some blatantly unresolvable conflicts that no one has been able to explain away.

    b) In the modern era arcane magic is a hodge-podge of effects using different techniques. Some "arcane" magic may even be ritualized psionics or non-class-exclusive divine magic of a sort. Some techniques are simply so alien that no one has a good idea why they work.