Monday, 11 February 2013

Arcane Academy: First Lesson

I ran a brief test for PowerFrame's new approach to mysticism yesterday. It only went for a couple of hours, but worked fairly well so far.

  • +Andrew played Bractus, a water-themed sorcerer.
  • +Melysa played Nadia, a mind-controlling sorcerer.
  • Rohin played Zarhell, an archer using enchanted arrows.


The student sorcerers were sent into a dark tunnel, with the briefing "get out a different way than you went in." The tunnel led into a large cylindrical chamber, 20 metres across, the floor of which was a pool of water 10 metres deep. Six tall, sheer, stone columns rose 10 metres out of the water in a circle in the middle of the pool, forming stepping-stones between two ledges at the same height on opposite sides of the chamber. Both of the ledges led into tunnels, but one was closed off by a barred gate.


Arcane Academy: Assignment 1 Map

Bractus used a couple of spells right away to allow himself to breathe water and swim faster. He scouted out the deep pool, easily evading a slow aquatic lizard and discovering an underwater tunnel in one of the far corners. He surfaced to guide the others through.

Meanwhile, Zarhell fired a couple of arrows at some lizards that were perched on columns or ledges, but didn't have much effect. He set one on fire, but it dove into the water. Nadia used a "suggestion" spell to command one of the lizards to help her across the pool. When it looked like Zarhell might be in trouble, she cast an area-effect version and persuaded all three lizards to help her.

At the tunnel entrance, Bractus cast a spell that allowed anyone adjacent to him to also breathe water, and began to lead the group through the tunnel. Since the lizards had helped Nadia across the pool, the command spell expired and she tried to suggest they ignore the group instead. Unfortunately her spell failed, and the lizards began attacking her on the way through the tunnel!

The group began fighting the lizards as they surfaced, and discovered that the corridor curved around and up to reach one of the ledges at the side of the pool. Nadia found a lever in the wall, which opened the gate on the other side, from which an armed homunculus emerged. She began leaping from pillar to pillar, but failed her second jump and landed back in the pool below.


At that point, Rohin had to go home, so we called an end to the lesson. Most of the characters were running low on Mana and Fortune, and they'd had very little success in neutralising the lizards (let alone the homunculi who had just been released). I think their instructor will probably call an end to the exercise there, although they can press on if they really want to. They may have better luck on a new run-through after some additional training.

The spell system itself worked fairly well, although I need to make sure I've explained clearly in the rules how Reserve spells work when they affect targets other than the caster. Normally, Duration:reserve must be paired with Range:self, and such a spell only affects others while they are inside the affected area. To place a spell on a target and have them be affected at any distance once cast, you need to use durationX to specify a number of Turns.

Andrew had several spells fully written up for Bractus with Parameters and Resistances already worked out; these were very simple to use, and also to modify. If he wanted to take longer to cast them, or increase the area, it was a simple matter of modifying the Resistance accordingly.

Rohin had a selection of equipment with pre-made spells Imbued into them, which also worked fine. Melysa had not assembled any spells as yet, so we had to make some quick calculations when the two of them wanted to cast new spells. With four Parameters and the Major and Minor Arcana, calculating spell Resistance on the fly does take a little work counting on your fingers, but it could be worse. It's certainly a lot easier to start with a fully-assembled spell and tweak it according to your current needs, than to build a spell from scratch every time.

On a couple of instances, Spells with Range:touch failed because they require an Unarmed vs Avoid roll to actually touch the intended Target. A miss means the spell fails and the Mana is wasted. I remember this being particularly annoying when I played AD&D 2nd Ed in the 90's, especially when you have a poor ability to hit and failure wastes resources, so I'm going to revise this rule. Range:touch spells will automatically affect Targets at a range of one Hex, which brings them in line with Spells that operate at range or in an area. I'll probably change the descriptor "touch" to "close." Time will tell if there are any unintended consequences of this new ruling.