This is the second part of a two part series on ceremonial magic.
(If you have not read Part I of this article, please do).
Now that we have the foundation for ceremonial magic in The Fantasy Trip, we can put it all together. Part II of this series does just that.
How To Put It Together
The basic process for casting a ceremonial magic spell is this:
- Cast any Scrying spell needed to isolate or find the subject.
- Determine ST cost of the spell.
- Add up the total ST available from wizards and assistants involved.
- Determine DX modifiers.
- Roll for success.
- Determine effects–or backlash.
The first step is to cast any Scrying spell needed to find or view the subject or area affected. If the spell is to be cast near the group of wizards, Scrying would not be required. If the Scrying spell fails, then the main spell casting does not take place. If the Scrying spell fails badly enough that the GM lies to the player, then the casting would continue, with any appropriate bad effects. These could include a wrong target, wrong area, etc.
Next, determine how much energy is required for the spell, based on the spell and area to be affected. (See Part I).
Then, add up the available ST from all of the active wizards, apprentices and assistants available as follows:
– One wizard must be selected as the lead caster. This wizard MUST know the spell to be cast AND the Ceremonial Magic spell. The lead wizard can use as much ST as she wants.
– Any number of wizards may actively assist in casting the spell, but they must also know the spell AND the Ceremonial Magic spell. These wizards are all working together to cast the spell. They can lend as much strength as they want.
– Any number of wizards, such as apprentices, can also lend their strength through the Aid spell. These wizards do not have to know the spell, but are limited on how much they can assist the casting of the spell. These wizards can only lend 5 ST to the spell.
– Any number of willing observers or assistants can also aid the casting of the spell–chanting, holding candles, fetching ingredients, etc. These observers can lend 1 ST each, up to 100 ST.
– Each unwilling observers subtract 5 ST from the spell.
Add all of this ST up for the total amount of energy in the spell.
Next, determine the DX modifier for the success roll. Much of this comes from GURPS:
– If the total ST available is more than the cost of the spell, the lead wizard gets a DX bonus: +1 for 20% extra energy, +2 for 40%, +3 for 60%, +4 for 100%, and another +1 per additional 100% of the required ST.
– If the caster has an item from the target place, or a personal effect or part of the person who is the subject, add 5 to the DX bonus.
– For each of the wizards who know the spell and are actively participating in the casting, add 3 to the DX bonus.
– For spells cast from a long distance, use the following modifiers. Note: These modifiers are only available if the Scrying and Ceremonial Magic spells are used.
Less that 1/2 km: 0
1/2 to 1 km: -2 DX
1 to 3 km: -4 DX
3 to 10 km: -6 DX
10 to 30 km: -8 DX
30 to 100 km: -10 DX
100 to 300 km: -12 DX
Add all of these modifiers up to determine the final DX adjustment, then the lead wizard will roll for success. The more power involved, the better the chance for success. The further away, the worse chance.
If the spell succeeds, all ST is expended, all ingredients are used up and the spell takes effect.
What Happens When Everything Goes Wrong?
When large magical energies are involved, the risk of spectacular backlashes is appropriately high as well. When casting ceremonial magic, a 16 is always a failure, and a 17 or 18 is a critical failure. In either case, all of the ST is used and the spell fails. For a critical failure, roll on the following modified backlash table. Add 1 for each 100 ST used in the spell.
3-5. Spell fails completely. Everyone involved is stunned for 1d hours.
6-8. The spell succeeds, but the lead caster is wracked with pain for 1d weeks. These pains cause -3 DX.
9-10. The spell works, but it costs twice the normal amount. If there is not enough energy to cast the spell, a weakened version takes place using all of the ST available.
11-12. The spell succeeds, but all involved are stunned and lose 1 IQ point for 2d days.
13-15. The spell fails completely, and all active spell casters take 1d damage.
16. The spell fails entirely, and the lead caster dies spectacularly, with no chance for a Revival.
17. The spell fails entirely, and a demon appears, grabs the lead caster and disappears with him to Hell. This is final, short of a Wish.
18+. Spell fails and there is a spectacular magical explosion. Active spell casters take 2d damage for every 100 ST used. All others involved take 1d damage for every 100 ST used.
If these effects seem extreme, they are meant to be! Magic is serious enough–you can screw up and summon a demon–but large magics with huge energy levels MUST have high risks and penalties if they fail.
Impacts On the Game
All of this makes ritual casting required for any large magics possible–but increasingly risky as the power involved goes up. Large spells are extremely difficult to cast over a far distance, and adding wizards in rituals helps–but increases the chance of catastrophic failure. Only the desperate or the crazy would attempt anything that calls for that much magical energy.
The implication is that with enough wizards, grand magics can take over the “normal” processes in a given game world. The high risks in casting large magics should help limit that use. The Fantasy Trip is at its core a tactical-level game, and ritual magics bring magic into a higher strategic-level affair.
One way to control this is to put limits on how far a spell can be cast, or how much energy can be used. Trade-offs would have to be made: distance would have to be balanced against area size in order to get a reasonable success roll. Also, spells against individuals could have higher probabilities of success, with their smaller total ST requirements.
Another limitation on ceremonial magics is the possible limiting of the availability of the Ceremonial Magic spell. If only a small number of wizards have access to it, that would prevent players and NPCs from throwing monumental spells all over your worlds. I do this by having limiting it to only one school of magic (group of wizards).
That is a lot of information, folks. Again–sorry for the two-parter. I will summarize and post the rules in the House Rules section, without the editorial comments.
So–what do you think? Is this a smart way to handle ceremonial magics–or am I overthinking it? Let me know in the comments.