Fantasy Wargaming, cover to cover (XIX)

The next section gives more detailed instructions for assigning the “Degree of Difficulty” (DD) for spells (and these will also apply to appeals for miracles in the religion rules).
The general types of spells covered are:

  • curing/disease&death;
  • illusion;
  • protection from magic;
  • absolute commands (which may be directed at living, Ethereal, or undead creatures);
  • elemental matters (instead of conjuring and commanding an elemental, a mage may just work sorcery using the four elements);
  • complex matter (using combinations of the four elements, such as metals and living matter);
  • transmutation (there are no specialist “alchemists” in FW but sorcerers do study alchemy).

There is also a list of 36 “miscellaneous spells,” some of which obviously fall into the above categories, but most of which are less clear-cut and in general all of them are similar to “D&D” spells (Evil eye, Lightning bolt, Weapon/armor enhancements, Stoppage of time, etc.)   These give some details of the effects they produce and the DD for each type of caster (Witches are better at Evil eye, while Cabalists are better at Stopping time, etc., according to the the adjustments for each caster type listed on the table given later in the rules).  In general, Cabalists are the strongest casters–most spells are relatively lower DD for them while the Cunning man/Wise woman is worse, although each has its strengths.
The factors determining DD are what you’d expect (area affected, duration, complexity, and so on, plus of course the astrological correspondences), and I think that in practice you’d also keep a record of the spells your character casts, so that in effect each mage will create their own spell list.

Published in: on August 14, 2010 at 10:00 am  Comments (6)  
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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You know, looking back, as a kid I think I half-believed that if I could simply raise enough mana and figure out the right spell components I might be able to pull off some magic using FW as a guide. Meditation seemed the way to go, as opposed to sacrifice.

    I remember when we played that it seemed to take a very long time to calculate the DD for what it was we wanted to do. We weren’t inclined to use the spells provided and suffered for it. Of course, we were pretty young too.

    • That’s awesome. I almost always made fighter/thief types. The few mages, as I recall it, tended to cast from the list. I don’t think I ever improvised, but we never really had an extended series of sessions with the same characters, it was all one-shot adventures. Actually mostly it was rolling up characters.

  2. As I point out on another comment. Using elemental magic as writen might be too out of scope with the rest of the whole “excalibur/jabborwoky” level of magic.

    • Yeah, the problem is they try to cover both very low-magic settings like Beowulf and very high magic settings like Celtic legends, as well as mid-level magic like medieval romances. I haven’t never read Malory so I can’t really say how powerful magic should be for Arthurian. The anecdotes in the text about summoning demons and encountering djinn make make wonder how the playtesting went.

  3. Well, if you want a “historicaly accurate” magic system their should be a risk of over reaching. Doing evil with magic shold carry a chance of backfire. Sure you can summon a demon but you better be ready for him to appear.

    • FW does this! Magic, especially black magic and conjuration, are sins. As I’ll cover in a later post on religion, low Piety will lead to visions of hellfire and visitation by the Devil himself, possibly to just kill the character & drag him to hell ala Faust. Summoning demons and elementals can have catastrophic consequences. One reason to love the game.

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