Magic is weird. I’ve already gone over how disorienting it is in the entire history of D&D, how it doesn’t make much sense, how the spells are traditionally rooted in some kind of random assortment of what “feels” right and trying to adjust how powerful a wizard is compared to their compatriots – usually hazarding on making the wizard extremely powerful after a few levels. So first I had to deconstruct that mess before I could get around to Arcanist job descriptions.

But get around to it I am!

So, we know that each Arcanist type will have access to new spell-pieces for making new spells. There’ll also be a list of example spells that show what that kind of Arcanist can do with the pieces they have. Arcanists will be, most likely, the most complex classes to play and have the most flexibility to them. This basically means that the Arcanist player is one who likes to do homework for their hobby. Everyone else will be more about an order of opperations question; when do I do things to get the thing done that I want done. How they do those things is different but it’s the same general idea. Arcanists, though, need to come to the table with these little proofs using weird logic gates that, when finished, we call spells.

So who weaves spells?

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Seeking the Form

June 22, 2017

So, we’ve already explored why magic in D&D, traditionally, is basically madness given form. The big reason for this is there’s no design format or structure for where spells go, what they do, and how powerful they are for each spell slot. In order to fix this, make my job easier as a designer, and empower players to make their own spells I’m giving each school Spell Forms rather than just spells directly, then building spells out of those rules. It’s like a video game designer first creating level creating tools or something similar then using those to build the elements of the game.

We’re going to start with the Universal school, things all Arcanists have access to intuitively. These are raw forms, things that are born out of feeling rather than direction, and are unrefined. When an Arcanist moves into their specialty, they start learning more structured forms that are informed by their schooling; Warlocks learn to shape their spells using the Forms granted by their patrons, Wizards learn to refine these basic forms into highly technical and specific forms, and even more esoteric spell casters learn even stranger systems.

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Back to School

June 7, 2017

So, the hard part. The real hard part. Schools.

Why are schools important? Well, look at literally all of D&D’s history – schools of magic have influenced what any magician can do as well as what they do well or poorly. This goes even to those that echew schools, like Mages, Warlocks, and Sorcerers. So schools must be addressed in any rewrite.

The problem is schools are so slapdash as a design element that they are nearly impossible to do without just adopting the bad system that already exists.

So I’m gonna have to change them a lot.

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Systems in Systems

June 6, 2017

Tyr’s Hand, everyone, D&D’s magic is obnoxiously complex. There’s, like, nine systems in here and none of them are talking to each other.

We’re gonna have to break this down; first system is the spells themselves and how they’re designed, the second system is how they’re allocated between levels based on their power, the third is how they scale, and the fourth is how they interact with other systems (like damage resistance, AC, HP, saves, etc).

Today we’re gonna start at the bottom – what a spell level is and what it’s worth.

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He’s a Magic Man

May 15, 2017

Oof, magic. The biggest elephant in any Dungeons and Dragons shaped 10×10 room with an orc in it.

The problems with D&D’s traditional magic system are both numerous and arcane (hah!) and there’s no silver bullet to them. The answer, I think, is both complicated and difficult but it starts very simply – we need to make each style of magic mechanically different. The two biggest ones, the ones I’m going to talk about here, are Divine and Arcane magic – the focus of the Accolyte and Arcanist classes and all the classes that spawn from them – clerics, wizards, warlocks, paladins, etc.

The first change, I think, goes into how the spells manifest. Arcane spells in this system are going to be mutable, modifiable, and customizable – a reflection of the experimentation and examination that goes into making Arcane magic work. Divine magic, though, is more rooted in the powers they come from. There is no changing the prayers that summon them, and there is no adjusting the expression of that power.

So, details wise, what does this mean?

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So, we’ve got to talk about combat, the wading into and the rivers of blood. The gritty crush of metal and wood, flesh and bone, rage and focus. Powerful mages firing spells into a melee of warriors and rogues deftly avoiding arrows fired from the rangers and snipers hiding on the edges. The rush of the cleric’s healing saving a brawler’s life before they throw a barbarian into the enemy’s paladin. The fast, brutal way combat must be portrayed.

It’s time to talk about combat economics.

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Dungeons and Dragons has shaped the way that roleplaying has developed. We can’t ignore that. It’s part of the reason that games are inherently simulationist in some fashion; we simulate a character’s abilities in a real-like world (skills, damage, ability scores, etc) rather than their effect on a story or their role in a party. That is, itself, left over from earlier war games that shaped D&D, but it’s something we can’t ignore. While this version of the game is much more about storytelling and engendering a roleplaying environment, it is still a Dungeons and Dragons game and will have a lot more to do with combat than most other things.

Which brings us to skills; how do we make a system that is both more complete than “NonWeapon Proficiencies with Difficulty Number” but isn’t needlessly complex or require tons of bookkeeping?

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