Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Fantasy Hack Part IV: Magic

In this game there isn't a spell-casting class—any individual can learn to cast spells and become a sorcerer. Spells must be "discovered" by the character in order to be used, however, and are usually uncovered in ancient tomes and blasphemous texts. One side effect of this is that GMs have complete control over which spells appear in a game, because characters can't just go out and learn any spell that they want; they can only learn ones that the GM allows them to find. That said, if a player wants to learn spells, or even a specific spell, you should think long and hard about not allowing him to find it with some effort. The concept is one of "just say yes"—GMs tend to run games that players enjoy more if they get to indulge the things that they came to the table hoping to do, after all.

Casting a spell of any kind costs Hit Points, i.e. it physically tires or even damages the sorcerer. The cost is 1 + double the level of the spell being cast. A 5th level spell (the highest normal level in the game) would therefore cause 11 points of damage to the sorcerer upon casting. Casting spells is also damaging to the minds of sorcerers, since it involves breaking the fundamental laws of reality; a task for which the mind of mankind is not suited. Upon successfully casting a spell, a sorcerer must also make a MND + character level check, DC 12 + the level of the spell, or take MND damage equal to the level of the spell. This MND damage heals the same as any other type of stat damage, at a rate of 2 per night of rest. Therefore, for a 5th level spell, a sorcerer would need to make a MND + character level check with a DC of 17 or take 5 points of damage to his MND score. Ouch! Keep in mind that certain spells might have secondary MND damage as well—summoning a horrifying daemon causes MND damage as normal to cast the spell, but the sight of the daemon could well be a sanity rending event in its own right.

Any time a sorcerer rolls a natural 1 on this MND damage check, they take double MND damage, and have a 50% chance of attracting the attention of 1d4 hounds of Tindalos who attack them in three rounds from their extradimensional homes.

More than one sorcerer can attempt to cast a spell together, and both the hit point and MND damage cost are spread equally between the casters (although in most cases, the maximum number of sorcerers who can join together this way is three.) Sorcerers can also attempt to channel a portion of the hit point and sanity cost to a sacrifice or proxy. Up to 50% of the cost (rounded down) can be transferred this way if a sacrifice or proxy is included as an element of the ritual. This sacrifice is another character—either a player character, or a GM-run non-player character. The sacrifice makes a MND + level check, DC 15 + the spell level to resist this, although a willing sacrifice can willingly fail this saving throw. If the saving throw is successful, the sacrifice does not take any hit point or sanity damage, and it all reverts to the caster (or casters.) If the sacrifice fails, he takes 50% of both the Sanity and hit point damage and only the remainder is suffered by the caster (or casters.)

Some spells allow the target to make a check to avoid or mitigate the effects of the save. Whenever this happens, the check that the spell victim must make has a DC of 10 + the spell’s level + the caster’s MND bonus.

Blasphemous Tomes. The following is a list of tomes, texts, codices and books in which spells may be found. The list is not meant to be exhaustive, and you can follow the same format to create your own. To learn the spells included in such a source, a character must study the book for the length of time indicated and then succeed on MND + Knowledge check of the DC indicated. The character then takes MND (or Sanity) damage as indicated whether or not he is successful. If the check is successful, the character learns the spells that the book contains (the entries that follow give an idea of how many each book should contain) and can add the spells to his character sheet as spells that he can now cast. If the character is unsuccessful, he doesn't learn any spells and must repeat the entire process (although he still pays the Sanity cost.)

The Necronomicon. The most infamous of the blasphemous tomes available. Written by the mad foreigner Abdul Alhazred, this book comes in various translations of varying quality and faithfulness to the original.
Study period: 2d10 weeks
DC 24
MND damage 2d6
Contains 3d4 spells

Nameless Cults. Written by the northern scholar known only by the partial name of von Junzt, this is often called "the Black Book."
Study period: 2d8 weeks
DC 23
MND damage 1d10
Contains 3d4 spells

The Book of Eibon. Claimed to have been penned by a prehistoric sorcerer from a legendary land that is unidentifiable today, the earliest verified version still available is no more than 600 years old now. This book was never printed, so only hand-copied versions are known.
Study period: 1d12+1 weeks
DC 22
MND damage 2d6
Contains 2d6 spells

Cultes des Ghoules. Written by the notorious Comte d'Erlette, who was burned at the stake as a heretic, this foul manuscript survives in a few moldy copies here and there, although possession of it is highly illegal.
Study period: 1d8+2 weeks
DC 22
MND damage 2d4
Contains 1d8 spells

The Eltdown Shards. A questionable translation of mysterious hieroglyphs found on clay fragments near the small town of Eltdown.
Study period: 1d8 weeks
DC 21
MND damage 2d4
Contains 1d6 spells

Pnakotic Manuscripts. Also known as the Book of the Black Prince, this volume was transcribed by a southern scholar named Heironim Castellata. Along with an entire expeditionary group funded by the Academy, he explored the far reaches of unnamed and uncharted lands. Seven years later, he returned alone and delirious, clutching the book to his chest, written in his own blood. He died shortly after under mysterious circumstances. The Prince ordered everyone (besides himself) who heard Castellata’s last words put to death to ensure they would never plague future generations, yet somehow copies of his book were smuggled out to plague the lands around them for centuries. Only a few copies are rumored to exist still.
Study period: 2d6 weeks
DC 23
MND damage 2d6
Contains 2d4+1 spells

Spell List.  The following is the list of spells available to sorcerers, sorted by spell level. R: is for the range of the spell and D: is duration. The ranges are quite specific, and lacking detailed combat grids and tactical positioning, they may be much more specific than you need, but they do serve to give a good idea of what to expect the spell to do when viewed through the lens of GM interpretation.

1st Level

Banishment of Passing: Holds door/gate shut. R: 10 feet. D: 2d6 x 10 minutes.

Benevolence of Timar: Repairs a broken or torn small object. It does not restore expended or lost magic. R: 30 feet. D: instant but effects permanent.

Binding of the Poltergeist: Summons an invisible spirit that obeys the caster and is able to perform simple tasks and exert light amounts of force. It cannot attack and is ineffective beyond 30 feet from caster. R: caster. D: 1 hour + 10 minutes/caster level.

Cackling Breath of Moloch: A fan of flame shoots from caster’s hands, doing 1 hp/caster level damage to all hit. R: 3 feet. D: instant but effects permanent.

Cryptic Circle of Itrito: +2 to AC and checks against mind control, keeps out elementals and enchanted monsters. R: shell around caster. D: 1 hour.

Cushion of the Shantaks: Target creature or object falls slowly and takes no damage from landing. R: 60 feet. D: 1 minute/caster level.

Dormius Major: Puts 4d6 minion or guard type beings into magical slumber. Creatures with more than 4 hit dice are not affected. Range: 240 feet. D: GM’s discretion.

Eye of the Mi-Go: Caster can perceive in places, people, or things, the presence of a magical spell or enchantment. R: 60 feet. D: 20 minutes.

False Voice of the Wisp: allows caster to “throw his voice” absolutely convincingly. R: 60 feet. D: 20 minutes.

Mind Grab of Shaggai: Puts one living humanoid totally under your influence, although it does 1d4 point of MND damage to both the caster and the victim each hour. R: 120 feet. D: until dispelled or the caster releases the spell.

Peal of Clanging Woe: Sounds a mental or audible alarm (caster’s choice) each time a creature enters the warded area (about the size of a standard bedroom in a house) without speaking the password (set at casting). R: 60 feet. D: 2 hours/caster level.

Shield of the Angels: Improves caster’s armor class by +4 versus thrown weapon attacks and to +2 versus melee attacks. R: caster. D: 20 minutes.

Sickly Illumination of Tuma: Imbues an object with illumination that lights a circle with about the same radius and brightness as a lantern. R: 120 feet. D: 1 hour+10 min/caster level.

Strength of the Gug: One target per caster level instantly recovers 1d8+2 Hit Points. No effect on targets in combat or other heavy activity. This spell can only affect a specific target once per day. R: touch. D: instant.

Withering Blast of the Lliogor: Creates a magical attack which automatically hits its target for 1d6+1 damage. R: 150 feet. D: instant.

Understanding of Cadazzo: Read any written language. R: touch. D: 1 or 2 readings.

Voice of the Ghost: Caster points to any creature in range and whispers a short message that the creature (and only that creature) will hear. R: 60 feet + 10/caster level. D: 20 seconds.

2nd Level

Arachnidan detritus: Sticky webs fill a 10x10x20 foot area. Burning through the webs takes 6+1d4 minutes. They can be torn or broken with a DC 20 STR + Athletics check.  Otherwise they are stuck in place. R: 30 feet. D: 8 hours.

Blight of Alhazred: Magical absolute darkness which even blocks the night vision of creatures that have it. R: 120 feet. D: 1 hour.

Breath of Cthulhu: Creatures within 20 foot cloud must succeed on a STR + level check or be unable to act for 1d4+1 minutes. Those unaffected must save every round they are within cloud. R: 60 feet. D: 1 minute/caster level.

Burning Effects of the Witch: Caster creates either fireworks or blinding smoke from a normal fire. R: 240 feet. D: 1 hour.

Glance of Yog-Sothoth: Unlocks/unbars all locked or magically sealed doors or other door-like barriers. R: 60 feet. D: instant.

Grip of the Bloodspawned: Allows the character to cling to walls and ceilings and move across them as easily as he can walk. R: touch. D: 1 minute/caster level.

Hayaz’s Rupturing: Causes one normal item (up to 10 pounds/caster level) to shatter into pieces. R: 60 feet. D: instant but effects permanent.

Invocation of the Dweller in the Gate: Locks a door magically. Permanent until dispelled. The glance of Yog-Sothoth spell opens without dispelling. The caster can pass through without lifting the spell, and the door can still be broken open. R: 10 feet.

Light of Kuranes: Like the sickly illumination of Tuma spell, but it lasts until dispelled or cancelled. R: 120 feet. D: permanent.

Movement of the Byakhee: Caster floats up and down as he desires. Speed: 6 feet/minute. R: 20 feet up/down per level. D: 10 minute/caster level.

Phantasmal Mirage of Gaziyat: Vivid illusions of nearly anything the caster envisions, lasts as long as the caster concentrates. Damage caused is real if target believes illusion. R: 240 feet.

Power of the Gug’s Arms: Adds 1d6+1 to a single character’s STR temporarily. Maximum Strength is 21. R: touch D: 8 hours.

Stealth of Selvans: Subject is invisible until spell broken by caster, some outside force, or until subject attacks. R: 240 feet.

Unerring Vision of Ishtar: Senses direction toward an object (specific or generic type) D: level minutes. R: 60 + 10/caster level feet.

Vision of the Tcho-tcho: Detect invisible items and beings within 10 feet per caster level. D: 1 hour.

Voice of Vencança: Mouth appears on a target object and delivers a message of up to 30 words when conditions set by caster are met. R: touch. D: permanent until triggered or dispelled.

Withering From the Haunter: Target is temporarily weakened, and will lose 1d4 from his To Hit and Damage rolls. The target also feels weak and dizzy. R: 10 feet. D: 1 minute/caster level.

3rd Level

Breath of the Ancient Star: All subjects (except the spell caster) within a 20 foot burst take 1d6/caster level fire damage. R: 240 feet. D: instant.

Dagon’s Breath: Subject can breathe water. R: 30 feet. D: 2 hours.

Eyes of Lucifer: See in the dark, as if in possession of magical night vision goggles. R: touch. D: 1 day.

Glance of the Gorgon: Paralyzes a human (or humanoid) target. R: 120 feet. D: 1 hour plus 10 minutes/caster level.

Invocation of Ahm I: Caster summons monster(s) of a combined hit die of 3 or less (i.e., one 3 HD monster, or three 1 HD monsters, etc.) who appear 10 minutes after casting. They will then serve until slain or the spell expires. D: 60 minutes.

Leaden Limbs of the Gnophkeh: Subject becomes extraordinarily slow. All subjects involved in any chase scene suffer a -5 penalty to opposed chase rolls, and may take longer to accomplish other actions as well. R: 240 feet. D: 30 minutes.

Moloch’s Word: Deals 1d6 + character level damage when read. D: instantaneous. R: touch

Nightgaunt’s Mobility: Subject can fly at a speed of 120 feet per minute. R: Touch. D: 1d6 x 10 minutes plus 10 minutes/caster level. (GM rolls secretly.)

Perception of the Yith: See and hear events at a distance for 2 hours. R: 60 feet.

Perun's Smite: 1d6/caster level damage from a lightning bolt. R: 240 feet, bolt is 10 feet wide, 60 feet long. D: instant.

Tongue of Cadazzo: Grants the target the ability to speak and understand the language of any intelligent creature. R: touch. D: 10 minutes/caster level.

Tsatvii’s Horror: Subject can run extraordinarily fast. When involved in any chase actions, the subject gains a +7 to the opposed rolls made. R: touch. D: 10 minutes per caster level.

Vaktu’s Unraveling: Cancels magic effects and spells. (MND + Knowledge vs. the spell's DC for success) Duration: instant but effects permanent for spells or 10 minutes/caster level for items. Range: 120 feet.

Will of the Shan: Caster makes 1-2 sentence hypnotic suggestion to a target. If the resist check is failed, the target will carry out suggestion for as long as the duration of the spell. Only 1% chance target will obey suggestion that obviously would result in target’s death/extreme injury. R: 30 feet. D: 1 week.

4th Level

Blasphemous Piping of Azathoth: Creates an aura of fear around the caster that extends about 100 ft. Creatures within the aura must resist or flee in horror. R: as above. D: 1 hour of fear.

Curse of the Damned Ones: Change the target into the form of another being, both visually and vocally. The change is complete but does not include gaining special abilities or memories of creature. R: 60 feet. D: until dispelled.

Door of Susnacco: Teleports subject a short distance (up to 360 feet). D: instant.

Greater Invocation of Shaggai: Makes one monster (or NPC) of 3+ hit dice (or 3d6 monsters of less than 3 hit dice) believe they are the caster's strong ally. May attempt to resist every day or when asked to do something obviously against the being's interest. R: 60 feet.

Hejaz’s Cleansing Touch: Frees subject from a curse, poison or disease. R: touch. D: instant.

Invocation of Ahm II: Caster summons monster(s) of a combined hit dice of 5 or less (i.e., one 5 HD monster, or five 1 HD monsters, etc.) who appear 10 minutes after casting. They will then serve until slain or the spell expires. D: 60 minutes.

Ithaqua’s Arms: Creates wall of ice up to 20 feet long and 15 feet high. Wall lasts as long as it would take to melt; usually several days except in extreme heat, but can be broken by dealing 15 + caster’s character level in damage to it . R: 60 feet.

Mind-bond of Shaggai: Caster can speak mind-to-mind with any intelligent being he is in eye contact with. R: 30 feet D: 10 minutes plus 1 minute/caster level.

Moloch’s Arms: Creates a wall of flame that deals 2d4 fire damage out to 10 ft. and 1d4 out to 20 ft. Passing through the wall deals 2d6 damage +1 point/caster level. The wall lasts as long as caster concentrates on it. R: 60 feet.

Seeping of Kadath on the Mind: Subjects (up to 2d6 hit dice) behave oddly/cannot act effectively. Roll 1d4; on a 1, the target attacks the nearest other creature, even if it’s an ally, on a 2, the target flees the scene as quickly as he is able, on a 3, the target attempts to harm himself, and on a 4, the target simply babbles incoherently. R: 120 feet. D: 2 hours.

Summoning of Ithaqua: 30 foot cubic vortex of ice, snow, and hail appears doing 5d6 damage to all within. R: 120 feet. D: 1 minute.

Vaaktuka’s Cancerous Growth: Plants in an area up to 30x30 yards become overgrown and nearly impassable. Lasts until dispelled or plants killed. R: 120 feet.

5th Level

Alhazred’s Folly: Lets Caster ask yes/no question of otherworldly entity, 1 question/caster level. The chance of correct answer is 8%/caster level, maximum 80%.

Burrowing of the Dhole: Creates a human-sized passage up to 10 feet long through a wood or stone wall. R: 30 feet. D: 30 minutes.

Command of Tarush: Create undead skeletons or zombies under control of caster from dead bodies, 1d6 creatures/caster level. R: GM discretion. D: permanent.

Flanks of Shug-Niggurath: Creates a wall of stone in any shape. 1000 square feet (6 inches thick). R: 60 feet. D: until destroyed or dispelled.

Gate of Yog-Sothoth: Instantly transports subject up to 100 miles/caster level. Caster must know target location exactly.

Hand of Nyarlathotep: Moves object by mental power. Up to 50 pounds/caster level. R: 120 feet. D: 1 hour.

Horcrux of the Great Race: Moves caster's soul to a fixed object from which caster can try to possess others. Target may attempt to resist. R: 30 feet. D: until dispelled, the target makes his save (a new saving throw is allowed every caster level days), or the caster ends spell. A caster with a horcrux who is killed will recover in 1d4 weeks unless the horcrux is also destroyed.

Invocation of Ahm III: Caster summons monster(s) of a combined hit dice of 7 or less (i.e., one 7 HD monster, or seven 1 HD monsters, etc.) who appear 10 minutes after casting. They will then serve until slain or the spell expires. D: 60 minutes.

Mind Link of the Shan: Caster forms a telepathic connection with up to one other willing intelligent being per 3 caster levels. Those so linked can communicate via mental speech regardless of distance. Mental attacks on one member of the link does not affect others. R: touch. D: 1 hour/caster level.

Mindspike of the Mi-Go: Subject's MND score drops to -4. R: 240 feet. D: until dispelled.

Servant of Nodens: Conjures one 8 HD elemental who will serve the caster until dispelled or dismissed or the caster no longer concentrates. Caster can only summon one of each type in a day. R: 240 feet.

Sight of the Gorgon: As glance of the Gorgon, but any creature. R: 120 feet. D: 1 hour plus 10 minutes/caster level.

Summon the Colour Out of Space: Creates a moving, poisonous cloud of vapor which is deadly to all creatures with less than five hit dice (except those not truly alive, such as elementals, undead or constructs.) 30 feet in diameter, moves with wind or 6 feet per minute. D: 1 hour.

Vaaktuka’s Cancerous Swelling: 1d6 normal animals grow to giant size. R: 120 feet. D: 2 hours.

Ritual Only spells

Ritual spells do not have a normal level, although for purposes of figuring MND damage and DC, they are effectively 7th level spells. Ritual spells cannot be cast during combat, as their casting time is measured in hours (however long the GM needs.) They are usually cast in groups, and often with a sacrifice to absorb MND and physical damage from casting the spell.

Amrruk’s Fist: Caster can adjust weather. D: GM decision.

Arzana’s Shaping of the Earth: Move small hills, dig ditches and moats, other surface features, etc. Land moves at 6 feet per minute. R: 240 feet. D: permanent.

Change of Culsans: Spell allows any object to be turned into another object, animal, vegetable, or mineral. The degree of change will affect the spell’s duration. Animal-to-animal changes, vegetable-to-vegetable changes, and mineral-to mineral changes are all likely to remain permanent until dispelled. Thus, turning a human into a jann, or turning a wall into a pile of sand, would both result in a permanent change. On the other hand, turning a shrub into a thinking human being would last only a small number of turns. R: 240 feet. D: GM decides.

Denial of Azathoth’s Entropy: This spell makes the effect of another spell permanent—unless a sorcerer of twice the caster's level dispels it. No more than one permanency is ordinarily possible on any one object, and no more than two upon a creature. GM discretion required: many spells should not be subject to being made permanent. R: 10 feet.

Flesh of Shimut: This spell allows a piece of flesh, taken from a living person, to grow into an exact duplicate of the person at the time the flesh was removed. If a clone is created while its parent creature still lives, the clone will seek to kill its original if it becomes aware of his existence.

Gullet of Yog-Sothoth: Creates an opening to other dimensions or worlds that can either be used to travel through or can be used to summon a specified, tremendously powerful being from the other plane, including gods and daemon-princes. The caster must know the name of the creature he is attempting to summon, or the spell will fail. There is a 5% chance that the wrong being may be summoned, and (regardless whether the summoned being is the right one or not) there is a 5% chance that it will lack interest in the situation and return through the gate. The summoned being is not necessarily friendly to the caster, and may be extremely annoyed. R: 20 feet. D: 10 minutes.

Huudrazai’s Names: Creates a magical trap in the shape of an arcane symbol. The rune's magic is activated when any person or creature hostile to the caster reads it, or passes over, under, or past it.
Various different runes are known, and others may be possible:
- Symbol of Death: Deals 80 hit points of damage
- Symbol of Discord: Causes all creatures in the hostile group to begin arguing, and possibly fighting among themselves with lethal intent.
- Symbol of Fear: Casts a Blasphemous Piping of Azathoth spell, but this effect is a permanent curse.
- Symbol of Insanity: Up to 100 HD of creatures are driven insane by a curse.
- Symbol of Sleep: Casts a Sleep spell affecting double the normal number of creatures and with double the normal duration.
- Symbol of Stunning: 150 hit dice (HD) of creatures are completely stunned (unable to act) for 1d4 hours.

Invocation of Kadashman: Summons a powerful outsider or servitor from Outside of existence. The spell provides no protection against the summoned creature, so the magic user should use other spells or items of protection. As the summoned creature is not forced to aid or obey the caster, that is a matter of negotiations and threats between the caster and the fiend. R: 10 feet. D: variable.

Kefte’s Void: Makes the target immune to any form of detection by magic including the perception of Yith or any other form of scrying), etc. R: 10 feet. D: 1 day.

Many-Angled Assassin: Summons an invisible stalker, an extra dimensional monster, under the control of the sorcerer who may give it a single mission which it will carry out until it is finished.

Mennefer’s Curse: Force a creature to obey one long-term order. R: 30 feet. D: until order completed.

Nefererkare’s Wrath: Makes one creature or non-magical object vanish, turning it to fine dust. R: 60 feet. D: permanent.

Path of Dagon: Parts bodies of water up to 10 feet deep. R: 240 feet. D: 1 hour.

Susnacco’s Secret Passage: Creates an invisible door that can only be opened by the caster. Similar to a burrowing of the dhole but invisible and only the caster can open the door. R: 10 feet. D: 7 uses

Taraam’s Theft of the Soul: Restores dead person to life in a random (usually humanoid) form. R: touch. D: instant.  In addition to the random form to which the person is restored, the character comes back traumatized and just a touch insane from the experience (-2 permanently to MND, plus possible other role-playing effects, as determined between player and GM) and there is a 10% chance that the soul of the dead adventurer did not come back alone...

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