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Mayhem.com • View topic - Spellstones

Spellstones

This is a place to post concepts for arcane items, as well as full item lists in the form of shops.

Spellstones

Postby Wazat » Mon Apr 21, 2014 5:05 pm

Hi Rob!

I've been considering a custom spell focus for my campaign, spellstones. I'd like your feedback (even if it's just a knee-jerk reaction) on whether it's going to be too powerful, too weak, too complex, etc. These will be an exotic spell focus found in a relatively isolated location that has knowledge and spells not known to outsiders (and they don't have trade connections that would have spread that knowledge sooner). If the players can convince this society to give or sell them some spell stones (or even teach them how to make their own), that's meant to be a big boon to the party. But if the party shares the knowledge and it spreads across the campaign world (I know I would, were I the player), it shouldn't be a focus that clearly out-shines the other options. It needs pros and cons.

This is meant to be a relatively high-magic item in a campaign with very few magical items or artifacts. There's no +7 flaming swords, for example. The most exotic artifact the players have acquired is an alchemical device which can produce gold, with the right input of materials and labor. It breaks down on occasion (and may break down a ton in the future -- there's a blighted in the party). So if the players start picking up spellstones, that's meant to be a cool and exotic find with a lot of usage options and story potential.

Focus: Spellstone
A spellstone can be anything ranging from a river pebble to a piece of amber, obsidian, quartz, or a fine jewel. You typically channel through one by holding the stone in the palm of your hand, or between your finger and thumb -- you must be touching the stone with your skin enough to channel through it.

Variations: A spellstone on a ring or chain or fitted into the palm of a glove is possible, if it's designed for the purpose, and so long as you are sufficiently clasping the stone itself when casting (the ring is commonly turned around to be inside the palm for this purpose). You cannot successfully use a spell stone in a hand that is carrying or holding something else, even if the stone is on a ring (no wielding both a dagger and spellstone in the same hand). Multiple spellstones in one hand interfere with each other and none will work until isolated and wielded properly.

Charges: A spell stone allows you to create and hold a charge for a +3 bonus on your next spell, as with a staff or wand.

A common spellstone doesn't offer an inherent bonus like a staff or wand, but quality spellstones can store spells in them to reduce the feedback cost of casting, or let you cast spells you don't know.

Magically Charged Spellstones
Higher-quality stones (e.g. polished amber, a ruby, darkeye quartz, etc) can be charged with the memory of a spell. This allows you to cast a spell you know more easily, or cast a spell you haven't learned.
-If you know the spell contained in the stone, you can cast that spell at -1 feedback (so if the spell would normally cost 7 feedback, you can cast it for 6; 4->3; etc).
-If you don't know the spell yourself, you can cast it for +2 feedback (7 becomes 9 feedback). (idea: maybe the added feedback is unnecessary, because of risky casting below)

The total feedback cost does not double as normal when you have 0 points in the associated skill; instead you cast as though your skill level was 1. (idea: when you do this, the stored spell will be lost on a natural 3 or less?)

Risky casting:
Whenever you use a stored spell you have not learned yourself, you must always make the spell power roll (even if one would not otherwise be necessary). A natural die roll of 1 (natural = before modifiers are added to the die roll) expends the stored spell. When this happens, the spell is lost and no longer stored in the stone. (idea: lose on 2 or less)

Detecting stored spells:
A spellstone with one or more stored spells will glow softly when touched by a living creature, or with some magic experimenting (an undead with some magic knowledge can make it glow). The color of the glow is naturally white, but may be modified during the imbuing process to be another color of visible light (this is sometimes done to help distinguish stones from one-another). Some stones also become warm to the touch while held, and quickly cool when released.

If the stone's contents are unknown, a corresponding elemental skill check as a very slow action is required to identify the spells it stores (e.g. pyromancy check for pyro spells, aeromancy for air spells). This attempt automatically succeeds for any spells you know. Otherwise, the check TN is 5 + double the spell's circle; any spells met or beaten by the roll become known to you (this is usually rolled in secret by the GM). You cannot perform this check for elements with less than 1 skill rank.

Learning esoteric spells:
If you discover an exotic spell in a stone that you could not normally learn because it's esoteric or hidden knowledge (typically custom, campaign-specific spells), you can learn the spell from the stone.
1) Spend 1 hour per spell circle examining the spell
2) Roll an intelligence-based element check (e.g. roll pyromancy for a fire spell, but use your intelligence die instead of intuition) to equal or beat 3 + double the spell's circle (so 5, 7 or 9). You cannot perform this check for elements with less than 1 rank.
3) Spend the spell's skill point cost.

If the intelligence check fails, no skill points are spent and you can start over again after a night's rest. For a tenacious player with sufficient freetime, just roll until he succeeds to determine how much of his week is spent obtusely staring at a rock or gem and making thoughtful noises.

Blind casting:
You can try to use a spellstone to cast or modify a spell without knowing whether it's stored. This kind of blind casting is risky though.

If you try to call upon a specific spell and it's not there (whether for reduced feedback, to cast a spell you don't know, etc), you take 4 feedback and nothing is cast, and the action's speed becomes Very Slow.

If you don't know which spells are stored in a stone, or suspect there are spells you haven't found, you can try to draw power from the stone blindly, and the spell you cast will be determined randomly from all spells it stores (and you will pay whatever feedback that spell costs... be warned, it can still overload and kill you).

Inert Casting:
Non-creatures like traps and automatons can activate a spellstone, with the right trigger mechanism and feedback reservoir. Constructing such a trap requires at least basic arcane knowledge and tinkering skill, to make something functional and reliable. The trigger determines how the stone is activated, how often, how reliably (in terms of workmanship), and sometimes even selects which spell to cast. The feedback reserve is a magical artifact designed to absorb a certain amount of spell feedback -- extra beyond its capacity can destroy the reserve, or simply be rejected, depending on construction. The reserve has a dispersion rate at which it can remove its feedback, e.g. 6/round.
(TODO: skill check TN and costs for constructing trigger, reservoir, etc. Probably an intelligence ability that can be bought to allow this sort of trap construction)

When the spell is cast, the feedback reservoir (if present) absorbs the feedback and any extra feedback returns to the stone, forcing it to roll overload checks (the stone itself has a feedback pool of 0; idea: it has a reserve of 1/5 its gold value?). Any damage dealt to the stone in this way reduces its gold value (and thus maximum spell capacity) by that amount, eliminating spells at random to make room. For this reason, the trigger mechanism is usually designed to regulate activations to not trigger overload, unless the stone is not meant to survive its first use. An automaton like a golem or jewel spider should be intelligent enough to regulate its use as well.

Pilfering spellstones used as traps is not a bad way of acquiring valuable treasure, assuming you can survive the process. Feedback reservoirs are also valuable for lifting, though they're often much less simple to remove and haul away.

Attribute Ability: Spellstone Crafter
Requires: Intelligence 10; and either a detailed book on the subject or a teacher who has this ability (classifies as esoteric or secret knowledge, depending on campaign).
Cost: 2 skill points

You can store a spell within a stone yourself, if you have a high enough quality stone. Doing so adds to any previously stored spells. The ritual requires intense concentration, and some elemental gold.
Cost: 1 gold per spell circle of the spell you're adding (the gold is expended as part of the ritual, and can be in coin or another refined form). The gold is placed in contact with the stone.
Duration: 1 hour per spell circle.
At the end of the duration, you cast the spell you want to store (gaining feedback etc). If your casting is successful (e.g. wasn't canceled by overload), the spell enters the stone instead of manifesting normally.

Capacity: A spellstone cannot store an unlimited number of spells. The limit is one spell circle per 5 gold in the stone's cost. Thus a stone that costs 25 gold can store 5 first-circle spells, or a third-circle and second circle spell, etc. Attempting to add a spell beyond capacity cancels the ritual after the first hour without spending any components (unless you continue, see below), and you learn the spell circle total currently in the stone and the stone's capacity.
Replace to Continue: You can choose to continue the ritual (instead of canceling) by replacing one or more spells you've identified within the stone, but not spells you have not detected yet. To continue this way, you must act within about a minute or the ritual ends and you start over.

Glow Color and Effects: You can change the glow color of the stone while imbuing a spell. Or you can change its glow by spending 1 hour holding it and passing an intelligence+2 check vs TN 5. Adding a warm glow increases the TN to 7.

Shop Note: A shop which is selling charged spellstones will expect you to pay, at a minimum, the cost of the stone and the cost of charging it, plus an extra 2 gold per spell circle total for the seller's own profit. That's if they're cutting you a nice deal. Shops often charge even more, should they think the customer will pay.

Attribute Ability: Spellstone Spy
Requires: Intelligence 10, basic experience with spellstones (e.g. used one before)
Cost: 2 skill points
When you cast blindly, you do not incur the feedback cost if the spell turns out to be missing. Furthermore, if you know the spell, you can proceed with the spell by paying normal feedback, or cancel before paying the feedback.
When a spell is determined randomly because you cast blindly, you can cancel casting once you realize what the spell is, but before paying the feedback cost. If you do so, the blind casting attempt becomes a Very Slow action.

Attribute Ability: Spellstone Master
Requires: Intelligence 12, basic experience with spellstones
Cost: 2 skill points
If you would lose a stored spell due to risky casting, you may gain 2 feedback to roll the skill check a second time and use the new result. This second roll affects losing the stored spell only -- your spell power check from casting stays the same for the purpose of making an attack, etc.

Attribute Ability: Spellstone Consumer
Requires: Intelligence 9, basic experience with spellstones
Cost: 2 skill points
You may expend a stored spell in a spellstone to cast it without spending any feedback. This removes the spell from the stone's memory.

----

Thoughts?
Wazat
 
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Re: Spellstones

Postby Maugh » Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:33 am

Overall, I really like the idea. I especially like the idea of mounting it on the palm of a glove. It's a neat visual. Like most foci, it should be specially crafted or treated for this purpose, and would need to be attuned to the wielder specifically, so that it can't be simply passed around in combat. I do have a couple of caveats, that I'll go through below, but there are some strong ideas in here.

Your rule about not using anything else in that hand is solid. That needs to be true. Handedness for weapons and such seems like a minor deal, but it is actually important for balancing effects.

Of course, it does open up the idea for mounting them into weapons for a magic weapon effect. A sword or shield that can be used as an elemental-specific focus would be neat. I'd just make sure that it's built in as a magic item, and not something easily reproducible.

If you're worried about them becoming too common, it might be interesting to limit these stones in terms of rarity. Here's one example of a lore that has worked for this. from Dark Souls: There was a single, great stone tablet, written by some old deity, which took on supernatural power. The tablet was struck down when that diety died, and fragmented into thousands of smaller shards. You can find those shards around the world, but their numbers are limited, since they all came from the first greater tablet, which was crafted beyond mortal means. Just an example. It's pretty cool lore, but represents a way that you could limit it from mass production.

Action speed on the charge should be Average or Slow, for the +3 bonus. Personally, I'd go slow, even though Average is the direct middle ground between the staff, (+4 for VS,) and the wand, (+2 for VF) +3 is a hefty bonus.


Magically Charged Stones:
Altering Feedback costs is dicey, since that's the limitation for skill level and casting. Doesn't mean you can't use it, but I'd be pretty cautious. -1 feedback cost seems minor, but on low-feedback cost spells, that means 1-2 extra castings of the spell, and on high-cost spells, it can mean a difference between taking major damage or not, based on overload difficulty.

Risky Casting:
I would drop this rule. It forces an extra check, and ruins a potentially expensive magic item. Seems like the kind of thing that would really bother players.

Detecting Stored Spells:
I would allow it to spark a little when touched, and to glow when charged, like the other foci. Check to determine spell is useful, although I would let them just cast it, too.

Learning Spells:
The check is not a bad idea, you could limit it to once per day, but I would stick with Intuition, rather than Intelligence. I realize that there's a great big hole in intelligence magics, but that will be filled with the arcane system. (I REALLY hope to have that released on saturday.)

Blind Casting
I would drop this. Players are likely going to be experimenting out of combat, in downtime, so most of these kinds of effects aren't going to make a difference anyway.

"and the spell you cast will be determined randomly from the all spells it stores."
That's a little different from what I was understanding up to this point. I would limit it to one spell per stone, as a hard limit. That makes it a sort of signature spell, and makes players collect several stones over time to build out their options. Having lots of spells in one object becomes REALLY powerful, substituting potentially dozens of skill points worth of character building into a stone.

That is also, however, because I'm building a spell-book mechanic into further content, that stores lots of spells in a similar way. There are drawbacks in that system, however, to balance the skill-point cost, but I'll get to that eventually.


Inert Casting
I actually use an item very similar to this in demos. I don't use a feedback reserve, but it's a good idea. Limiting the feedback reservoir is a really good idea. Free feedback costs are extremely strong, and although not necessarily impossible, shouldn't be readily available. This is especially true, considering it is a magic item that basically takes away the one major limitation of an entire branch of the system. Combine that with built-in spells and you've got a free mage-in-a-can. That makes entire characters irrelevant.


Attribute Ability: Spellstone Crafter
"Doing so adds to any previously stored spells." Dangerous. I would say, "This cannot be done if the stone already contains a spell." Multiple spells in one stone strikes me as potentially problematic. One spell per stone seems thematically much stronger to me, and does less to invalidate casters who are dedicating big chunks of their character to learning a variety of spells.

Gold Cost: I know we don't have much out there on magic items, but I haven't been using a gold cost for them. Instead, it's been thematically more useful to use specific components. More specifically, stuff that people get from specific monsters. A fire-based spellstone might require a phoenix feather or the scale of a dragon. I suppose you could buy components directly, but the purpose is to give players something to adventure for, or at least a side-quest that they can have in the back of their mind when they're doing quests.

Duration: I don't think the duration is necessary, if you're creating a limited magic item. Magic items should be semi-permanent if they're not limited use items like seals or potions.

Capacity: Find a dead horse. Beat it ruthlessly. Multiple spells is not the way I would take this, but it's your campaign. Do as you like.

Shop Note: Shops tend to work better when they have limited, pre-set inventories with pre-set prices. There is a table somewhere that I could dig up that lists out relative magic item cost, but I haven't gotten far on that. A shop with a variety of spell-stones would be cool.


Attribute Ability: Spellstone Spy
I wouldn't do the blind casting mechanic, but otherwise this ability looks fine.

Attribute Ability: Spellstone Master
Ditto, I wouldn't use the risky casting mechanic, but other than that this is fine. If I were to write this ability, I would make the requirement be based on the character's elemental magic skill for that kind of a stone, and I would allow it to reduce the feedback by 2 instead of one. This is extremely strong, but would need a stiff requirement to match.

Spellstone Consumer
Free feedback is generally problematic. I would say that instead of losing a stored spell, it destroys the stone. Destroying a magic item to cast one spell for free is huge, but may be worth it in case of emergency.


Good stuff. Thanks for posting this.
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Re: Spellstones

Postby Maugh » Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:35 am

One more thing.

There will be a group of abilities, sort of like the weapon techniques, for augmenting magics. The requirements will be largely skill-driven, but I haven't posted any of those in years. I will get to digging those up, eventually. Too little time, too many projects.
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Re: Spellstones

Postby Wazat » Wed Apr 23, 2014 1:28 pm

Altering feedback costs:
It's true, feedback-1 is potentially a crazy-good bonus. I suspect I'll have to playtest that out to see how big of a deal that will be.

Modifying feedback was one of two ideas I had for the bonus a player would receive. Instead, perhaps a character who knows the spell in the stone can cast it with a +1 to his element roll (which can be combined with the focus' charge), similar to staff. However, spells that don't need a spell power roll (e.g. bubble or flight) won't matter so much. Or the resist roll is rolled at 1 die step lower (e.g. enemy's Grit d6 would become a d4). Again, that favors certain spells.

One more option is that the player only gains the feedback reduction when he uses a slow action to charge the staff, then releases the charge when casting. This gives him the +3 charge bonus to spell power as normal, and he casts at -1 feedback. But it's not overly repeatable -- he has to charge the staff for the bonus. Then it becomes less scary to let him learn an ability for 2 skill points that improves the feedback reduction to 2. He could cast spells for crazy-cheap, but very slowly.

Another alternative is to place a minimum bound on the feedback cost (minimum 4, for example). That way you can reduce it a lot, but not down to 2 or 3 feedback per casting.


As for characters who don't know the spell stored within, they can cast the spell if they charge the focus first, but they don't get the feedback or spell power bonus from the charge (instead they get to cast a spell they don't know). I'm not sure whether this is too limiting, or just right.


Quick-store:
Yet another alternative (and a major departure from above) is to have empty spellstones that act as a short battery. They allow the player to cast a spell with the normal action speed and feedback etc, but it absorbs into the stone instead of manifesting. The player can hold the spell charge for up to one round before it dissipates. While the focus is charged in this way, the player can cast the stored spell as part of another spell, combining the two into one action.

In terms of power level, I don't know whether it would be too overpowered, but I'm hesitant. It basically gives the player the ability to dive for cover, prepare a spell, and then launch a double shot when he emerges from cover (intended effect). Or he could store a spell, reduce feedback, and launch two spells. Or he can combine two spells into one action in potentially hazardous ways... this could be especially hard to balance, and a munchkin's dream.

Feedback or spell power bonuses may be a safer bet, and they give each stone a certain character (because the spell stored in the stone is semi-permanent, and thus defining).


Mounting a spellstone into a weapon:
Here's how I imagine this working. The player reaches out and touches the spellstone crystal he's shaped into the speartip, casting the spell (with the necessary action speed and feedback) but charging the weapon with it instead of manifesting immediately. If the player attacks and hits a target within 1 round, the charged spell activates.

The player can also reach out and touch the spellstone to cast the spell normal, but it takes an immediate action to adjust his grip on the weapon and his stance for casting purposes.

I dunno if this is necessary for balance, or how you were imagining it. I don't want to trivialize staves and wands, for example, though staffs can be used very freely as both weapons and implements (interchangeably, no penalty). Maybe it's not such a big deal for a spellstone to be grafted into the weapon and used as either an implement or weapon, especially since the player doesn't enjoy any inherent bonus besides the ability to store a charge, and having a spell stored inside (no passive action speed or spell power bonus like wand or staff).

Risky Casting:
The idea here was to add some built-in risk in drawing upon the spell in-expertly, as a limit to how often the player would dare use the stone to cast a spell they don't know. An adept spellcaster doesn't have to be so afraid (1/12 or 1/14 chance), but an inept caster does (e.g. 1/6 chance). May not be necessary though, if I adjust in other ways.

When I made this rule, I kind of imagined the spellstones as like D&D wands or scrolls, which have limited usage but a lot of potential as a side asset (and to stop them from trivializing actually learning the spell). That said, for some reason I hate wands in D&D and always pass them by, even though people tell me they're really valuable. There's some mental block stopping me from taking something with limited charges. ;)

Detecting Stored Spells, and Blind Casting:
Ah, so this I'm more fond of than risky casting, particularly in stones that can store multiple spells. Players may find a diamond that can cast lightning and flight, but what they don't know is it can also cast Regeneration and Heat Wave III. They've figured out that the stone probably contains other spells, but they don't know which ones.

Do they gamble by trying to cast one? While experimenting in safety, or in an emergency in combat (and hope for a hail mary pass)? They have a chance of regenerating their enemy by accident, or casting lighting/flight, or blasting the foe and allies with a heat wave. And there's the risk that the feedback cost of heat wave could simply down the player in an instant, too.

This adds some risk, mystery and discovery to the spellstones. Players have ways of learning that there are more spells hidden in a stone, but they may not know what those are (and I may increase the DC for higher-circle spells so only advanced casters can discover those spells, or casters who have learned the spell themselves will auto-recognize them).

If I optionally tightened up the discovery rules so a player cannot simply have someone tell him about the spells stored in there (he has to detect and witness the spells himself to call them by name), then that means an inexpert character would have to blind-cast often, and that would be more risky.

However, I may need to limit stones to 1 spell each, or change the cost/skill of adding extra to be quadratic to avoid trivializing learning the spells yourself. But when a stone becomes insanely valuable, the players may decide to just sell it for an obscene windfall of cash instead of keeping their find. Maybe add a skillpoint cost to adding spells?

I imagined the hidden spells and the excitement/risk of blind casting as a fun mechanic, but I'll have to ponder over it. It may prove untenable, or need lots of adjustment.

Learning Spells (and intelligence-based abilities):
The reason I use intelligence for learning spells from a stone and for the related abilities the player can purchase, is because I imagine deeper investigation into the spellstone as more of a bookish, brainy endeavor. You have to be able to think through what you're seeing, rather than just feeling your way around intuitively. You can intuit your way through discovering and activating the spells, but altering or learning them takes a special skill of investigation. I also wanted to give spellcasters a potent reason to branch out and favor other attributes (intelligence and cunning are often trivialized as dump stats, tragically).

I'm doing this a lot in my campaign, including making multiple attributes affect a skill roll. For example, your intuition-based empathy roll will tell you what a person is feeling, but intelligence will affect your ability to put those feelings in context (political or social pressures, etc), while cunning lets you make the logical next step or steps to deduce more than what the situation alone is telling you. I want players to have incentive to nurture more than 1 attribute, and to feel how a deficit affects them. Right now one of my players has great intelligence, charisma, and intuition... but low cunning; it's neat to see how his character navigates situations when he can understand so much and interact/manipulate with such ease, but he doesn't always foresee or deduce the deeper machinations behind people's actions. ^_^

Err... long tangent.

Anyway, I may be going too far by assigning it to intelligence. If intuition is more balanced, I'm happy making these things intuition-based. That makes the stones very feel-based and exploratory, and favors the spellcasters who have invested in this stuff.

Spellstone Crafter:
Yea, I'm going to have to rework and rethink adding additional spells, if I allow it at all. It's neat to have stones with signature spells, something inherent to the stone that makes it what it is. Maybe you have to have extremely valuable gems to add more than 1 spell, and you pay for the cost of the spell you're adding plus each other existing spell you want to keep in the stone (so the price accumulates rapidly with each addition, plus the high cost of the gem). But at that point we start talking huge gold costs, and then a found gem becomes worth more for selling than keeping... Assuming they can find a buyer (not every shopkeeper or wizard has a fortune on hand for purchasing amazing treasures; those that do may just rob instead of trade).

Or I could require some skill points to imbue a spell into a stone... but then what does a shop charge? Or are they not for sale (can only be found in the world, awarded for quests, or crafted by the party).

Alternately, adding additional spells to a stone could require a rare component cost instead of gold, as you described above. And the components often must be used fresh -- you imbue the stone immediately after killing the drake, or on the spot at the bubbling springs or yardow dew plant (and it takes a while for the dew plant to regrow, so they can't just set up shop and farm the quest, so to speak).

This way, adding another spell to a stone would be an entire sidequest, not just a matter of accumulating enough wealth. If crafting a spellstone and each modification to it becomes a quest the players must embark upon, that adds tremendous emotional and story investment to each stone. Plus, if the players ever found a stone that contained secret spells, they may have a difficult time placing a gold worth on it for selling (the shop may not understand its worth, and refuse to pay -- the shopkeeper just sees a piece of amber; or may not have the amount the players want).

That would justify giving a stone the power to hold multiple spells... maybe? I'm not sure.

Spellstone Consumer:
Yea, I'll have to rethink this one. You're talking about a notable cost either way -- the price of grafting the spell into the stone may be devastating to lose. I'm not sure a player would be willing to spend 2 skill points to pick up this ability though, so maybe it should just be something inherent in the stone. Any user can destroy it to cast the spell contained within, paying a terrible cost to resolve an emergency.
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Re: Spellstones

Postby TheMatt » Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:59 am

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Re: Spellstones

Postby TheMatt » Fri Apr 25, 2014 4:25 am

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Re: Spellstones

Postby Wazat » Fri Apr 25, 2014 10:20 am

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Re: Spellstones

Postby Maugh » Fri Apr 25, 2014 11:44 am

The feedback track on the character sheet is accurate for the elemental system. Matt's going off of the feedback tables for the arcane magic system, which got as low as 2. Reducing that by 1 makes it 1. The design rule was "never zero." Of course, the arcane system had 5 circles of spells, instead of 3, and the first circle spells in that system were relatively much weaker than the first circle elemental spells. Their feedback cost was, by design, negligible. When the elemental system was introduced, the lowest possible feedback increased to 3, instead of 2.

You mentioned in another post that there were a few minor rules that were different between the First print revision last year and the text update we put out in september. Matt has seen a LOT of system revisions over the last decade, so it's easy to get mixed up in what is current.

Avoiding Christmas Trees
That's why it's good to use it as a focus. That's more about what kind of things you can do with the object than it is what base bonuses the object gives you. Avoiding too many magic-item based bonuses, or allowing them to be replaced by other abilities, means that mundane characters can still be cool. A 12th level dnd character, without any spells or gear, is horrifically underpowered compared to their environment. Magic items are cool, they should just focus on changing the way things play or adding strategy to the game, rather than giving simple numeric bonuses.


"Relevant"
Yeah, Matt is referencing a list of alternate foci that we had in an older draft of the game, particularly in spell tomes, "orbs," (which are similar to what you drafted as a spell-stone,) Seals, and a variety of others. Dark Souls uses "chimes," as well. There are lots of options for this. The spell-stones are a good option, and sounds, much cooler than "orbs."
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Re: Spellstones

Postby Wazat » Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:38 pm

Ah, I haven't delved into the arcane spells yet. In that case we should be careful about reducing feedback below, say, 3... or letting it stack with other effects that reduce feedback. It could be made a tech bonus or some such. Not sure.
"When you cast a spell the stone contains, if you know the spell, you may reduce the feedback cost by 1 if it is 4 or greater". That's awkward wording, but a start.

Maybe the spellstone is just a focus that lets you cast certain spells you don't know. No feedback bonus, just the ability to charge for a +3 bonus, and cast the spell(s) contained within the stone despite not knowing them.


BTW: I wish I could remember the fantasy series that gave me the idea for spellstones. It's from my childhood, but my childhood is a blur. :D Maybe I could ask my father.

But from what I remember, the magic was contained in pebble-sized stones you held it your hand. Each stone has a specific spell or spells it grants the user, empowering them in a world where they're dangerously outgunned.

A distinct part I can remember: One character had a stone that would absorb and copy the magics of others (permanently gaining that magic) any time you used it against them. It was dangerous to use against certain enemies because their power tended to be tainted or revolting. The main character acquired the stone from a mostly-petrified king who used it to connect with his son. The son had been turned into a wurm that petrified everything it touched, and basically burrowed through the city in search of more things to turn to rock. Each time the king used the spellstone, he got a brief sense of his son's soul in the wurm, but the use also petrified him a little further. Once he acquires the stone, he's hesitant to use it on certain enemies because he considers their magic corrupt -- gaining their magic wasn't worth fighting them (and using any spells in the stone against a foe would also add their magic to its arsenal). I'm fuzzy on the rest.

Long story short: I really liked the mental image I had of the spellcasters in these books holding a pebble in their hand and calling upon potent supernatural powers. I turned it into the generic idea of a spellcasting implement being a pebble or gem, one that could open the door for characters who don't themselves know any magic (or certain kinds of magic). So you can cast the spell even if you've never learned magic, but someone with experience does it better.
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Re: Spellstones

Postby TheMatt » Sun Apr 27, 2014 5:33 pm

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Re: Spellstones

Postby TheMatt » Sun Apr 27, 2014 5:38 pm

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Re: Spellstones

Postby Maugh » Sun Apr 27, 2014 7:38 pm

On "Gandalf".

Many games, *coughdarksoulscough* require you to purchase spells from an NPC like that. Not a bad idea for spell acquisition.

Also lends to a "closed game," kind of dynamic, where players have to explore to find new things, meet new people, etc. Very much like a video game world.
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Re: Spellstones

Postby Wazat » Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:10 am

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Re: Spellstones

Postby Wazat » Mon May 05, 2014 12:58 pm

I think it may be the Sword of Shannara series. My friend and I were talking about books and the scene I described (of the petrified city) came up during the conversation.
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Re: Spellstones

Postby TheMatt » Tue May 06, 2014 11:56 am

Coincidentally, I'm re-reading Shannara. The elf-stones do most of the things you describe for the spell-stones...with a stranger drawback. The elf-stones are meant to be used by elves, so whenever humans use them, it twists their DNA. There are some other associated effects as well.

The black elf-stone was different, but I forget how exactly. You may also be thinking of Mercedes Lackey...AH.
http://thebookbook.blogspot.com/2010/06 ... eythe.html

Co-op project between Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey--ELVENBANE.

Elves store magic in beryls, and the beryls can also be used to store magical effects, a sort of substrate for any enchantment you care to cast.
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