To-Hit X, and the Heights of Magic

Ah, shit. Well, I was going to write all those posts and changes I mentioned, and I did for a few, but then something came up, and then another thing came up, and now here we are a couple months later. Damn, really. Can’t be helped. Well, it could’ve been, but let’s not dwell on it.

Note: This has a lot of systems talk, and almost all of it is untested. Proceed at your own risk. 

Sometime over the summer, I was having a discussion with my brother, who mentioned an interesting idea involving, of all damnable things, descending AC. The system mentioned basically entailed rolling 20 or greater for a combat roll. If you rolled a 20, you probably hit, and the enemies AC was a positive modifier to your roll, in addition to all the modifiers you get. The main benefit of this system is that it becomes obvious when a hit has been scored; you level 5 fighter rolled a 17 to hit this shitty goblin, so the goblin is in trouble. It also imposes a “natural” limit on Armor class, with anything below 0 being explicitly magical in nature. It also gives me a pretty good way to guess at what the AC of regular armor should be, and it should be exponentially more difficult to reach lower numbers. I’m thinking full plate would be a 4 at a minimum, and we could go from there. Base human AC would be 14.

I like it. I think there’s a lot of potential here for a more approachable system. And I think this system should be applied to most of the d20 rolls in the game, if I want to apply it to combat. So I’m also going to switch saves to ascending- the players still want to hit 20, but now add their saves instead of trying to hit that number.

Spell casting rolls probably also need to change to accommodate this, but for a variety of mathematical reasons and reliability, I think a d10 (hit 10) would be a better fit. The new schema would look something like this:

>=15: Spell Casts, retain if a wizard.  

>=10: Spell Casts

>=5: Spell Fails (Wizard), or Spell Casts and lose 1 Strata (Adept)

>=0: Spell Fails, lose 1 Strata, roll 1d6+6 on Mishaps.

<0: Spell Fails, Roll Mishaps, lose Strata equal to spell level. 

The spell level is a penalty to the SC roll. Now adepts just add  their Strata or Strain to the roll, no penalty for the level of the spell. For sorcerers, their critical mishap chance is now just equal to their strain.

The only other d20 mechanic I left to change is the surprise and initiative roll. From now on, initiative is officially back on the 1d6 roll. When surprise is possible, the general rule is 6+ for unaware creatures and 4+ for aware creatures. Awareness talents now give you an extra d6.

I went ahead and already remade my rule set with all these changes included. It was surprisingly quick: LINK


Actually, let’s talk about the wizards. In my last post where I mentioned them, I was considering moving them to 5e preparation, where you can cast a spell as long as you have an open spell slot with level equal to or greater than the level of the spell, and possibly expanding that to include casting with lower level slots at a penalty. Now I’m moving back towards prepared spells.

Why? The answer is distinction. I already have a class of spontaneous casters, and I don’t think they’re is much to be gained from another one. The Wizard should be somewhat inflexible by design (encouraging creativity in the players) but undoubtedly the most powerful caster at higher levels, and far more reliable to boot.

But then we run into another problem: no one wants to play them. We had two wizard characters the entire campaign, I think.

To start out, I’m no longer having wizards, or any character for that matter, roll their first level HP. You just get the maximum to start off. No more 1HP chumps. I’m also going to let wizards choose the two starting spells in their schools. Additionally, if they would gain a spell from leveling up, they can choose the spell if it’s in their school. Will this encourage metagaming? Yeah, but I don’t care that much. Most of my players aren’t metagamers anyway and I don’t think I want a system where optimization is completely invalid.

In general, I’m moving away from the whole “spell slot investment” aspect of panoply creation, with the exception of the foci and cabals. Wizards should use their spell slots, not trade them. The Novice/Journeyman/Adept/Expert/Master progression of the Raiment will now be standard across the talismans, foci, raiment, sanctums, and cabals of the panoply. In the case of sanctums, it’s just a measure of how much magical bullshit you’ve accumulated and even the lower level ones will be hugely powerful. The cabal’s rank is a measure of the average power of its members, which will hopefully keep them small and composed of wizards of similar level.

Talismans will now be specifically for preventing spell mishaps, and their effect will be fixed.

Servants and familiars are still being folded into one. The Cabal will be added as a panoply item, and will actually make the wizard weaker in exchange for a sudden rush of power when needed.

The wizard’s focus will be more geared towards altering how the spells are cast via Spell Harmonization. One type of harmonization will make casting incredibly safe and immediate, another will allow for a lot of casting, another will allow for even more casting but be dangerous, etc, etc. 

All of these changes and specific mechanical effects have already been put into a new Wizard class document: LINK

From now on, Wizard spells will have a fixed effect with no level scaling, in keeping with their internal definition as specific, unchanging formulae. This also makes lower level wizards more powerful and helps to curb the power of higher level wizards. I’ve also updated their spell list: LINK


I also want to add rituals as a distinct entity from spells. Rituals in my mind are more permanent, more variable, and more flexible than spells, while still falling explicitly under the label of wizard shit.

I’m adding in a body of rituals that each subclass of wizard may undertake. Abjuration gets Negative Infusion, Transmutation gets Positive Infusion, Elemental Infusion goes to Evocation, Conjuration gets Summoning, Enchantment gets Neuromancy, Animation gets Visamancy, Illusion gets Permanency, and Divination gets Sciomancy. 

These are pretty bare right now, but I do have a general idea of where I want to take each of them. Negative, Positive, and Elemental Infusion are all basically item/place enchantment, but limited to defensive, utilitarian/offensive, and elemental effects. The last type is also able to create elementals.

Summoning works basically like LotFP summoning, I think, but with specific rituals that summon specific entities that teach you a spell to bring them into combat. (see: this article). 

Visamancy is just creating golems or undead. Some spells will do stuff like this quicker, but the rituals are most efficient. Probably ACKS will serve as the skeleton for this. 

Permanency is weird one. The rituals will mostly make illusions permanent, but I think other spells could be made permanent as well although their effects won’t be as “real” as the other spells. 

Sciomancy is going to be a body of rituals that help you figure out shit. Scrying is the most obvious one, but stuff like Ideitfy or analyze dweomer will also fall in here, in addition to spells that answer questions about an object or person’s history, future, properties, etc.

Neuromancy is mostly going to be mind-alteration but permanent. Shit like mind-slavery, manchurian candidate gambits, and incepting memories and ideas fall under this.  

Categories: Uncategorized

2 replies

  1. It doesn’t matter for the idea, but adding ac to beat 20 is the basis of thac0. Target20, by Delta, generalizes the formula to d20+bonus+mods against 20, making it the core rule (where bonus is relevant level, such as fighter level for fighting). So that might be a great source of rules and insights from testing when developing your idea further.

    Liked by 1 person

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