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Next Message: Re: Several topics
Month Index: July, 1995

From:     Michael Sandy <mehawk@????.org>
Date:     Wed, 12 Jul 1995 09:45:18 -0700
Subject:  Re: Several topics
My point about permanent spells, or spells that last a long time before
discharge is that if they are really useful the rest of the world _Should_
use them.  The PC's shouldn't be dissuaded from using clever ideas that
take advantage of common spells just because some kobold shaman might
send 400 AC6 kobolds instead of AC 7!

The fear of the monsters using your bright ideas always struck me as a
silly reason not to innovate, and it is a very weird club for the GM to
hold over people.

Likewise, worrying about people to use detect magic to pick you out and
kill you, silly!  Both Armor and Detect Magic are first level spells,
unless you drasticly increase the range of Detect Magic, or devise
an enchant that makes your arrows home in on magic or something, it
doesn't make sense to worry about it.

Perhaps the PC would be more of a target by magic detecting entities, but
at low level they are often more worried about ordinary swords and teeth
and the high cost of healing and armor.

On the subject of armor, I don't like the lower cost of Splint than banded.
I'm thinking of adjusting the costs and weights of certain armors to reflect
they must be worn over a suit of chain for full effectiveness.

I don't think cost should be set on how hard the GM wants it to be for the
players to get hold of stuff.  It should reflect the expense _other_ people
have to make, or are willing to make to get that stuff too.  Perhaps they
get discount because of good connections in court, or in magical circles.

What sort of things drive up the costs of spells?
Availability of spell:
If there is a really great and useful spell that everybody wants but only
a select group of mages know it and are willing to cast it, the price goes
Likewise, if it is a spell taught every apprentice who wishes to learn it
and doesn't flub it because it will guarantee them _some_ income, the
price should be pretty low, if only to force the PC mage to adventure rather
than setting up a storefront.
Difficulty of spell:  If the spell has a -50% chance to learn, and then only
if you get the full unexpurgated version, it will be rare.  On the other hand,
if the local specialist school can use that spell, expect all of those
specialists to have _tried_ to learn it.

On that subject, I have different percentages to learn spell based on whether
the character encounters it in scroll form, (-30% to roll, Spellcraft roll to
avoid destroying scroll on failure)  Travelling spell book form, (The
minimum text to ensure successful casting of the spell, -20%)  Book
form, with notations about what the spell does, its variants, the theory
behind it.  Library Form.  You find a whole book on the spell, explaining its
history, variants, techniques to use it.  Such a work may give a bonus to
researching a related spell. -0% to +10% depending on the quality of the work.

Some magical traditions are extremely obscure, and impose penalties both
on members of that tradition and higher ones on outsiders to learning
their spells.  It may take several levels before the wizard finally understands
the spell.

On the subject of difficulty of spells, since casting identify nearly
incapacitates the mage, it is basicly the only business he can do that day.
Other spells that are cast rarely, have hard to obtain or just expensive
to get on short notice components will be more expensive for everybody.
To make Armor less of a nuisance, have that 'piece of leather blessed by
a priest' be nonrenewable, and cutting it into hundreds of pieces negates
the blessing.

If that kobold shaman spent most of a year casting armor on all 400 tribe
members, recalling that non-lethal punching damage would still bring down
the Armor spell, is he going to waste all that effort sending them against
the PC's?
Armor shouldn't last forever, eventually the ordinary impacts of life will
wear it down.  My mage often took solace that he would die before his
Armor spell took enough damage to go down.

I agree with your analysis that Sepia Snake Sigil should not be a third
level mage spell.  In its defense, it requires 100gp worth of components
per spell.

The explosive runes variant indeed goes off by touch, although a previous
generation of the weapon went off with a variant of the Fire Trap trigger.
It was sort of a grenade with levers which would 'open' on impact once the
safety mechanism was removed.  A bit of a kludge, it was much more dangerous
to carry around, and failed somewhere between 1 and 10% of the time due
to craftsmanship or poor skill in using it.

The Fire Trap mechanism for the explosive bolts had the advantage of not
destroying itself, but was much less powerful.

Customised Alarm spells would cost more than the standard:
"Go off whenever planted in the ground and a humanoid crosses my orientation
without saying (Password)"  The magic mouth alarm sticks can be made in the
mages free time and sold as demand requires.  He can then free up more
spells for instant service of high paying customers.
Higher level mages can make more sensitive Magic Mouths, with a 5 yard/level
encounter range making them more valued.

The cost of each Magic Mouth alarm stick can be fairly cheap, but you need
a large number of them to be truly effective.  Even bandits might purchase
a few for their encampment.  Remember to include the password that enables
the sticks to be picked up!  And that a clever invader might disarm the
stick if it is visible and they are familiar with the trigger area of the
Magic Mouth.

Clever players will use detect magic on their scouting of enemy defenses,
but the range and duration of that spell are so small...
One somewhat common item in my campaign is a device made by the divinatory
school which increases the range and duration of divinatory spells
by quite a bit, more if a member of the divinatory school.  There is
an amulet which increases the range as an Extension spell.
There is also a wand which for a charge multiplies the range by 10 for
divination mages, 5 for non, likewise the duration, for a charge.  2
charges increase the range by 50 and 15, 3 charges, 100 and 25
for nondivination mages.
It can be recharged by a Divination mage of 12th level or other mage of
16th level.

The wand costs about 4-10,000 gp to recharge, depending on how powerful the
Divination school is in the area.

Michael Sandy

Previous Message: Net-jerks
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Month Index: July, 1995

SubjectFromDate (UTC)
Several topics    Skreyn@???.com    12 Jul 1995 02:37:10
Re: Several topics    Michael Sandy    12 Jul 1995 16:45:18
Re: Several topics    Skreyn@???.com    13 Jul 1995 02:46:47
Re: Several topics    Michael Sandy    13 Jul 1995 05:27:46
Re: Several topics    Skreyn@???.com    14 Jul 1995 03:48:17

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