Friday, July 18, 2014

Sorcery (Final...?), Part 3

So enchanting items works differently than other magic in Hekinoe. Even in Pathfinder, you don't roll for misfire when you create an enchanted item, you do when the item is used. There is an entire college of enchantment spells, spells that modify and add magic to items. Some spells from the other colleges also have an option to place them on items as well, but that's more of a one use thing. I think. I need to research it. The rules I'll discuss here apply to those items as well.

I've shown that magic loot is more reliable than spells a sorcerer casts on the fly. This makes sense as the chaotic energy of sorcery is bound into a box of sorts, making it much more limited in scope and ability to overpower the structure of a spell. It's contained and safely bound and cut off from the endless supply of sorcerous energy that exists in Hekinoe. Magic items also just tend to explode instead of doing weird mostly dangerous things. The base misfire chance of a magic item is a 16. What constitutes as using the magic of an enchanted item is generally defined (but ultimately the GM's call) as any time its magic would be used. An enchanted sword is used to attack, an enchanted suit of armor absorbs damage for you, and so on. For enchanted items with constant effects, like something that protects you from fire while you are swimming through a lake of lava or something that purifies air while you are in toxic air, checking to see if the item misfires will be done once per minute.

Fun fact, if an item is enchanted to deal damage, it deals that damage before it explodes and the damage from the explosion is dealt to you and the target (assuming it's a melee weapon). The more you know!

Several factors can affect this reliability. The base unreliability of an enchanted item is 16, so you roll against 16 with 3d to see if it explodes and even with modifiers and factors and such you can never get it above 16. The first factor is the sorcerous unreliability of the region. The Known World's sorcerous unreliability of 13 reduces the item's reliability by -2. In Orcunraytrel there is no misfire chance when an enchanted item is used. So in The Known World, when you attack with a sword enchanted to hit better you roll 3d against 14. On a 15 or higher, the sword explodes in your hand. Bear in mind that the region an enchanted item was made is what determines this, not where it currently is. So enchanted items made in Orcunraytrel and brought to The Known World function just fine.

There is a factor of time to consider in enchanted items. The longer a magic item persists, the more unreliable its enchantments become. Which is why you don't find a lot of loot and ancient artifacts lying around in caves. It sits in a hole for three hundred years and an ant walks over it and activates the magic and the thing explodes. The sorcerous unreliability of a region also determines how often you check to see if the magic has degraded, in The Known World you check once a month. So you have a freshly created enchanted item with a base misfire of 16. It was made in The Known World, this reduces it to 14. When using its magic you roll against 14 to see if it explodes and once a month your roll against 14 to see if its enchantments degrade. If you fail that check, you reduce the 14 down to 13 and make all future checks against that. 

How much magic you cram into an item affects its reliability as well.

Sorcerous Energy Use Unreliability Penalties (Enchantment College)
  • 1 - 250: 0 (1 burn)
  • 251 - 3348: -1 (1d burn)
  • 3349 - 6441: -2 (1d burn 1d cr ex)
  • 6442 - 9534: -3 (1d+2 burn 1d+2 cr ex)
  • 9535 - 12627: -4 (1d+4 burn 1d+4 cr ex)
  • 12628 - 15720: -5 (2d burn, 2d cr ex)
  • 15721 - 18813: -6 (2d+2 burn 2d+2 cr ex)
  • 18814 - 21906: -7 (2d+4 burn 2d+4 cr ex)
  • 21907 - 24999: -8 (3d burn, 3d cr ex)
  • 25000+: -9 (8d cor ex)

You can see that a lot more energy goes into enchanting an item than into casting regular spells. In an area of normal sorcerous energies in The Known World you can pull 25,000 energy to you in like 42 minutes or so (assuming you only spend one concentrate maneuver a round) and then get on with casting the enchantment. Mind you, there are sixty rounds per minute, so enchanting isn't something you should do in the midst of combat. 

So what does all that crap on the list mean? 

If you put 250 energy or less into an enchanted item, it doesn't modify the unreliability at all. So in The Known World you enchant an item with a base unreliability of 14. If you go over 250 energy with an enchantment, you reduce that by the listed amount. If you do manage to pour 25,000 energy into an item, you're looking at rolling against 5 when you use it. The numbers and crap in the parentheses are damage notations. So when an enchanted item with 250 energy in it explodes, it just does 1 point of burning damage. Burn damage is fire, cr is crushing which is blunt force, and ex is explosion. So when you are figuring out all the damage on the notations with an ex on them everything nearby takes damage as well equal to the damage dealt to whoever is holding or wearing the item divided by 3 times the number of yards they are from the explosion site. So let's say you are holding an item and it has 251 energy in it and it goes off. You take 1d burn and 1d crushing. We'll go with 3 and 3 so it's simple. Everything within a yard of you takes 1 burning and 1 crushing damage, and anyone beyond that takes nothing. At the 25,000 level of energy you see the damage as 8d cor ex, which is corrosion and explosion. So when an item of that level goes off, it deals 8 - 48 corrosion damage, which is like disintegration. There's so much sorcerous energy bound into the object that when it goes off it just disintegrates stuff. It also degrades the damage resistance of targets as well. With an average roll for 28 damage, everyone within a yard of you takes 9 corrosion, two yards takes 4, three yards takes 3, four yards takes 2, and five to nine yards takes 1 corrosion damage. Enchanted items are dangerous, mkay.
One more thing has an impact on the reliability of enchanted items, the materials they are made out of. This is based on the general toughness and durability of the object's material.
Enchanted Item Material Reliability Modifier
  • -2: Paper
  • -1: Bone, glass, gold, Meroteth obsidian, obsidian, silver, tin.
  • 0: Leather, Necropolis obsidian, wood.
  • +1: Beast hide, brass, brick, bronze, concrete, greatwood, iron, steel, stone.
  • +2: Dragonhide, shipbronze, springsteel.
  • +3: Wolf-iron.
This is not a comprehensive list. Generally speaking, 0 and +1 modifier materials are normal relatively durable materials commonly used to create things. As we move up and below those two, I try to place materials based on their relation to items in the 0 and +1 category. So beast hide (super tough hide from the great beasts of The Beast Lands) is tougher than regular leather, and dragon scales and hide is tougher than beast hide. Iron and steel are different, but close enough in nature that they get lumped into the +1 category. Bronze and iron are close enough in durability (aside from bronze having a lower melting point) that I'm comfortable with them on the same level). Moving up, shipbronze and springsteel are tougher than bronze and steel. At the +3 level we have wolf-iron and its legendary durability. Like I said, not comprehensive and not necessarily finalized. I also plan on adding in some modifiers for quality of the weapon, but I have to research those in GURPS and figure them out before I do that. GURPS already has a system of modifying weapons and armor based on quality and materials, but I need to make it a little more comprehensive to account for special materials and such. 

So what does all this mean? So lets say we have a sword with the puissance enchantment on it. This provides a +1 to damage with the sword and requires 250 energy. We're in The Known World so we are starting with an unreliability of 14, and 250 energy doesn't decrease that. We're making the sword out of steel, so we jump up to 15. Every time you deal damage with the sword, you roll 3d against 15 to see if it explodes and deals 1 burning damage to the hand you are holding it in and whoever you just hit in the face with it. Wear a leather glove and you'll be fine.

So that's the gist of enchanting objects and their unreliability. 

I have some words on sorcery in general that I would like to share. After all of that crazy nonsense and tables and modifiers and whatnot from these three posts, you might have realized that sorcery is overly complicated and adds a lot of notations and record keeping to the game. This is deliberate. I have never made any secret of my dislike of magic in my Hekinoe campaign, nor have I made it a secret that there are specific background reasons it is the way it is. I have been known to rage about Eric calling magic broken, because it isn't. At least not to Karl Anglesmith. It works just like it always has. You will never find a sorcerous artifact or secret spell that doesn't follow these rules or a secret history record that says sorcery worked just fine once.

The reason the rules are overly complicated and clunky is because I want them to be. If I come up with an idea related to magic and immediately come up with a more refined and intuitive way of resolving it, I always opt for the more complicated and clunky and less intuitive option. This is because I am trying to use rules to convey the frustration and difficulty of becoming a sorcerer and commanding sorcery to do your bidding. I also have a tendency to just reshape the way misfires are done, or at least what the rolls mean in terms of the effect of a misfire. I do this because I am trying to convey the random chaos of a completely unpredictable force that mortals literally cannot hope to control. 

It's ultimately all about flavor. Yeah, there are less frustrating ways to make sorcery function that reduce the amount of extra rolls you make, but fuck that. Sorcery is fucked up and complicated and a pain in the dick to deal with. That's the choice you make when you decide you want to become a sorcerer.

Final note, if anyone has any questions or thoughts or feels like I didn't talk about something I should have, please ask me. 

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