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[Channeling] Spell results

Started by Brian_W, September 21, 2006, 04:57:45 AM

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First of all, for a better (if more stream-of-conciousness) overview of my game, you can get a pdf or OpenOffice file at

In Channeling, your magical strength is based on captured spirits, which are bound to you and directly tapped as a power source, and rated in dice sizes. When you successfully cast a spell, you can allocate these spirits between the different parts of your spell, splitting the power as you want.

To pull an example straight out of my notes...
QuoteOur fearless hero casts an aoe iceball with a attack penalty attached (due to freezing temperatures). He has 5 spirits, 3 d4, 1 d6, and a d10. He needs to boost the range a bit, so he adds a d4 to it, bringing the range from, say, 40 meters to, say, 60m. For area of effect, he dumps 2 d4, and rolls a total of 7, bringing his radius (or diameter?) to 7 meters. The d6 goes into duration, and his 4 gives his freeze a 3 round duration, while his d10 goes into damage, hitting them all for 6 frost damage.

The resulting numbers are primarily based on ratios, based on the roll of the spirit's dice. The rough ratios i have right now are 1:1 for damage and radius (or diameter), 1:5 for range (1 point on roll for 5 meters), and 2:1 for duration.

My question for this post... are there any obivous flaws, and any suggestions to fine tune the ratios reasonably well without playtests? For example, i think duration is the most powerful (especially taking into account damage over time spells...) so thats why that is a 2:1.

Also, as a note, HP in this game is going to be a scale of about 7hp average. right now. if i change that, then i'll change the damage ratio to match.


I apologize that I suck with math and don't have anything valuable to add; but I did want to say that this game sounds really cool and I can't wait to see some playtests! (Forgive me if I missed an introduction post where this should have been)
Mythos Initiative
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It sounds like a lot of dice rolling to do every time someone casts a spell. Perhaps there's a way to streamline some of the elements.
Check out Fae Noir, a game of 1920's fantasy.


The system does require more rolls then i'd like... but the amount of rolling depends directly on the complexity of the spell. if you stick to straight elemental bolts or stuff like that, it's not bad. if you want to make a fireball that does three elements of damage, puts a curse on the enemy, and leaves a zone of darkness... well, you'll need to break out some extra dice.

Anders Larsen

Some question:

Because the range is determined random there will be some weird cases, like what happen if you overshoot you target? If you do not hit your target when you overshoot, the following will happen:

Because the ratio for range is 1:5, the ranges can be 5, 10, 15, 20 etc.. And the radius is 1:1. So if the radius come out as 1, you can not hit a person that stand between 6 and 9 meters away or 11 and 16 meters away etc., you can only hit in the range 4-6, 9-11, 14-16 etc. This seem a little weird.

In any case, a random determined range seem to me to be something that can become very frustrating for a player: The spell may succeed but the range may be too short to hit the target.

An other thing is: What if the radius is bigger that the range, will you then hit yourself? Is this intentional?

Apart from this I think there are some interesting ideas in this mechanic. But I would like to know what it is you want to archive with it? And how this tie into the rest of the game?

- Anders


the range i'm going to say is static... so if you use a d4 spirit to increase range, it will always increase by 20 meters. The radius... i may or may not do the same, but i'm tempted to keep it random, as part of the system is that all your doing is directing something elses power to your use. If you cut it close, and they put it more than you want to it... too bad.
Maybe i'll figure out a mechanic to lock a spirits effect at a set point, like saying you need it specific and it absolutely can't be random at all.


I think that's probably a better way to work it. Because even in the example you're using, the magician has to make 4 different dice assignments/rolls just to cast an area effect elemental damage spell. That's a "basic" fireball. And if there's any kind of resistance roll on the part of the target, say to a curse, then you're talking 5 dice rolls. I think that, in general, 3 rolls for each action is pretty much the maximum desirable unless the game is meant to be simulationist and take a long time to work through combat.
Check out Fae Noir, a game of 1920's fantasy.

Darcy Burgess

another thought -- cut out the ratios.  You actually already have, you're just not articulating it.

instead of working in real-world units (feet/meters/fathoms/whatever) work in units.  Range units, radius units, etc.

That way, you can say stuff like "he's five units away", and your system essentially boils down to different target numbers for different qualities.  Direct read from the dice, without any extra math.  That will reduce the handling time somewhat.
Black Cadillacs - Your soapbox about War.  Use it.


Darcy: Huh... that's a good way to cut out some more math... i like that idea... kinda wonder why i hadn't thought of it myself...

JustinB: Yeah, i need a way to trim down the rolls somewhat... maybe let them choose where to apply dice afterward? Seems kind of odd to me to basically let them choose how damage after the fact, but basically have them roll their dice pool, and then allocate dice. It would be one roll (assuming you had enough dice) and then simply moving the dice around... could even put a little cluster of boxes on the character sheet as a tool ("move dice into box A for effectiveness, B for range, C for duration..."). It's still technically rolling the same number of dice, but seems to me that might be a bit more mangeable.


I think that's a reasonable system and it's similar to what I did in the game I wrote. Why not allow the player to spend "damage" successes to increase the area of the spell or its range? It's rarely bad to encourage people to reduce the damage they do as an exchange for more tactical considerations.
Check out Fae Noir, a game of 1920's fantasy.


I was thinking of how to apply color and appropriate mood when using such a system. Here is what I would suggest.

Keep the area of effect as a fixed set of values. Either something like a 1:1 radius, or an easy to use table (1=10cm rad for affecting small object; 2=1m radius, can affect a single person; 3=2m and so on). The player will assign dice to try to create the desirable size of effect, and assign a base damage die/dice (or duration if the intent of the spell is not direct damage). The GM specifies the number of points needed to reach the target, using generic distance units, fixed range, variable range, whatever. The player only needs to know how many points are required to reach the target.

The first "phase" then is the player rolling the chosen dice to determine size of the spell, and for the base damage. The area and damage dice results are kept separate. I imagine this as a shaping of the spell. Next is it cast (as in thrown) at the target, with all the remaining unused dice being rolled together. If you do not achieve the target number for distance, the spell "falls short". Any points above the target number can get rolled over into extra damage/duration. Using your original example, assumed the target requires 2 points of area, and the GM specifies the target is 6 points worth of distance away. The player assigns 2d4 to the area to ensure the target will be affected, and 1d6 base of damage. Rolling he gets area of 7, and damage of 2. Next is the "throw", and the d10 and d4 are rolled. The total comes up 9, or 3 points above the needed distance, giving a +3 to the initial damage of 2. In essence, the spirits had more than enough power to deliver the spell the desired distance, thus allowing them to further bolster the damage. To me, this gives more of an impression of spell being carried out by a spirit instead of just some abstract force. And by splitting the process, it should feel more manageable in terms of dice allocation and rolling.

There can be all kinds of interesting results from spells that fall short, or are over extended. And what I see as an interesting tactical decision regarding how many resources are allocated between the two phases of the spell. The initial "formation phase" also allows for all kinds of neat tricks if you have dice rerolls (e.g. if the spell caster has an appropriate material component to affect the target (think lock of hair, true name, etc.), any of the declared base damage dice get re-rolled and the highest values are kept) or enable other spirits to be use as "fine tuning" modifies (so if the desired area was 2 but the roll shows 7, and there is an absolute need for better controlling the size of effect, a another spirit die is rolled and subtracted from the original 7).

Hopefully that is of use or can give you some ideas.


Hmm... i'd decided to just roll all the dice at once and then assign after, thus removing any chance of not reaching (unless you roll really, really bad), but when i read yours, i liked it... Magic in this system is intended as powerful, but risky, and your way is a nice balance between choosing everything beforehand (and falling short far too often) and choosing everything after (and making it very easy to hit)...


If the issue is that deciding on assignments takes too long for a simple spell, and ditto with the rolling, why not allow a sort of codification. Once you have successfully cast a spell (by assigning the dice as above and then rolling) you can codify the result as a fixed spell. When you cast the fixed spell it gets the same dice assignments and roll results as it did the first time, no varience.

To remove the temptation to keep rolling until you get the best result you could say that the fixed version either uses the average result on each dice, rather than a roll, or the roll for the first cast -1. That means there would still be an advantage on rolling if you wanted to take a risk on a future casting and try to get the maximum, or you could play safe (and quick mechanically) and use the fixed version with its predictable but less potent results.

If the character wants to do a different spirit assignment, though, then they have to assign and roll from scratch.

A final option, get them to assign from scratch each time, but for each spirit they can either have the average result of the die as the value or roll. So they only need to roll on results where they need to push the value.