Saturday, October 12, 2013

Questions of a Random Wizard - Part II

The next few posts are about some things that have been on my mind lately.

They are not meant to be deep or philosophical, although if you find them so be my guest. The posts are not necessarily my opinion, though some may be or my include my open.

More accurately, they contain things that have crossed my mind and which I felt would be fun or intriguing to consider, whether I agree with them or not.

Please feel free to discern for yourselves what you think on these subjects and what I think on the subjects if you so fancy such an exercise.

Once upon a time, I answered the questions of some Random Wizard I encountered in my travels.
Due to a most unusal rippling of the time/space continuum, it would seem I have come across this person once again and he has put forth a new set of questions. I will try to answer them as best I can but I fear this time his dimension and mine have drifted so far apart it is difficult to equate one with the other.

(1). Should energy drain take away one level of experience points from the character? Yes or No? If no, what should level drain do?

I have never liked or even understood this concept. You lose experience points? Do you lose your memories? I mean, do you forget the things you did to gain that experience and those levels in the first place? If so that would make it really interesting. If not it's just annoying and a waste.

What should level drain do? There shouldn't be level drain. There should be things that the undead actually did in stories.

(2). Should the oil used in lanterns do significant damage (more than 1 hp in damage) if thrown on an opponent and set on fire? Yes or No? If yes, how much damage should it do?
Should being doused with burning oil do more damage than getting nicked by a dagger. I am going to say yes. How much? Hmmm. I think I have it as 1D6, with half that (minimum 1) the next round and half again the round after unless you put out the flames or get rid of the oil.

(3). Should poison give a save or die roll, with a fail rolled indicating instant death? Yes or No? If no, how should game mechanics relating to poison work?

I hate 'save or die' in most cases and poison is one such case. At the same time, poison is poisonous and thematically, you should die if poisoned.

I would not give you a saving throw for fatal poisons. I would give members of your group Observation rolls to see if any of them recognize that you have been poisoned. Then, the character or characters with knowledge of poisons can attempt to make an antidote if they have the right materials to do so.

If not, you die.

This makes poison just as frightening but gives the non-afflicted PCs both a thematic and heroic opportunity to help their fellow adventurer. I originally came up with this mechanic while running FASA Star Trek (diseases and toxins to be cured by Medical Officers).

(4). Do characters die when they reach 0 hit points? Yes or No? If no, then at what point is a character dead?

Yes, they die at Zero. When you have Zero of something you have none of it. How people came up with the idea of surviving with less than no life is confusing to me.

(5). Does the primary spell mechanic for a magic user consist of a "memorize and forget system" (aka Vancian)? Yes or No? If no, what alternative do you use?

This question could take up a whole post by itself.

When playing D&D, even my D&D-But-Not system and setting, I use Vancian Magic because D&D uses Vancian Magic. That is the magic of D&D.

I have added and extrapolated a lot from the Vancian Magic template but I still use Vancian Magic for D&D.

When playing other games I use other, way better magic systems.

(6). Should all weapons do 1d6 damage or should different weapons have varying dice (1d4, 1d8, etc...) for damage?

In D&D I would think different weapons should do different types and numbers of dice of damage just as different classes use different hit dice.

Isn't the game all about random use of many sided dice? Yes! So go for it. Use them all.

(7). Should a character that has a high ability score in their prime requisite receive an experience point bonus? Yes or No?

No. I've never used that rule. What did being more Dexterous teach you about hiding in shadows Ms. Rogue? Nothing? Exactly.

(8). Should a character with an strength of 18 constitution get a +3 bonus to hit points, or a +2 bonus to hit points, or a +1 bonus to hit points or no bonus to hit points? And should other ability scores grant similar bonuses to other game mechanics?

Huh? I think this isn't written correctly. Or I am not understanding it correctly. That said, I think he means...actually I am really not sure exactly what the question is.

(9). Should a character have 1 unified saving throw number, or 3 saving throw types based on ability scores (reflex, fortitude, will), or 5 types based on potential game effects (magic wand, poison attacks)? or something else?

I like the Reflex, Fortitude, Will trinity if you are going to go with D&D style saves.

In most games I play saves as based either on the character's stats or skills. D&D always seems to use stats to add modifiers to do other things instead of just using the stats themselves. I wonder why.

(10). Should a cleric get (A) 1 spell at 1st level  (B) no spells at 1st level (C) more than 1 spell at 1st level?

Clerics should not have spells. Wizards have spells. Clerics perform miracles. Wait...that's in my D&D.

In regular D&D...ummm...sure, a spell at first level.

OK, for this first one, it is soley based on my opinion.
Barking Alien


  1. So question: what other magic systems do you like better and why? I'm looking to spice things up and go with something a little different in my next game and tweaking/changing the magic system seems like a good place to start so I'm looking for ideas. Besides that most of my experience lies with either Vancian spell casting from D&D or the point based system from most Palladium books.

  2. Two words that will change your life my friend - Ars Magica. The best magic system I have ever come across. It is versatile, atmospheric and relatively easy to get the hang of.

    Highly recommended.

    1. Thanks! Any particular edition of Ars Magica?

  3. While I personally prefer 3rd edition, any edition from 3rd onward will give you what you are looking for. I simply find the layout of 3rd easy to read and the art and writing very evocative of the setting without getting bogged down in too much information.

    Good luck and enjoy!