Saturday, February 8, 2014

Stuff of Legends - More About Dice Mechanics

Apparently I still have a lot to say about dice mechanics that I didn't cover in the last post.

Effects and the Effect Ladder
How I failed to mention this, I do not know.
The effect in a roll is wide concept - it is damage, it is the amount of targets, it is a type of margin of success and essentially ties into most rolls. Below, there will also be a redux on contests, now that I remembered to mention effects.
The effect of a roll is always determined by an effect die, with one special case of the effect simply being 1 - 1 damage, 1 target, a margin of 1. This is where the ladder comes in, since there are ways to affect your effect. The effect ladder has two special notations - high die, or HD, and low die, or LD:

1 > LD > HD > HD+2

After you reach HD+2, each additional increment simply adds another +2. This does mean that you can go into an infinitely large result, but it is unlikely. There are also some special cases where you might regard several effects for the same roll. In that case, you never count the same die twice. If you have 2HD, you count to highest and then second highest.
An effect might also move backwards on the ladder. If an effect goes backwards from 1, it is Shut Down and does not go into effect, normally defeating the purpose of a roll. No effect may move backwards from being Shut Down.

Criticals, Boosts and Drops
Like in many RPGs, Stuff of Legends also has a notion of a critical success or failure.
Criticals happen when you roll the same result on several of your dice, the more of them meaning the greater the critical. A critical success (under the threshold) produces Boosts. A critical failure (above the threshold) produces Drops.
When a critical occurs, the player tallies the amount of identical dice as Boosts or Drops. If he has more than one identical set, he tallies that set separately. Each set may only be applied to one effect in the roll. If there is only 1 effect, only the set with the most tallies applies. For some titles, and in some specific cases, boosts and drops become "free" and may be applied freely. If multiple criticals are rolled for one effect and they are "free", all apply.
A boost moves the effect forwards by 1 step per boost. A drop does the opposite, moving the effect backwards. By the nature of getting criticals, a critical would always produce at least 2 boosts or 2 drops, causing any critical to be at least spectacular.

Contests, revised
I made contests needlessly complex in the last post. At least in hindsight.
New rules!
A contest happens any time two characters are certain goals, normally as opposing parties for the same one. Races, holding a door closed and other activities apply.
A contest has a length, measured in the amount of victories that are needed by one of the parties to succeed over the other. The more victories needed, the harder the goal should be to attain - a race from one end of the room to another is not a 5 victory affair, while a race across the city is unlikely to require just the 1 victory.
Each round in a contest assures a single victor for that round. Every round each participant, normally only 2 of them, rolls the respective skill. The victor is whoever rolled higher under his threshold. In ties, whoever has a higher effect wins. Effect is determined in advance, starting from LD. Certain traits may change the effect for certain skills. In the unlikely case that both roll and effect are tied, all tied score a victory. In the contest had a length of 1 victory, this will usually lead to another contest.

Now I'm fairly certain I've left nothing out.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Stuff of Legends - Magic Part 1

This post could be considered out of order in a way, given that I had said I would have a post dedicated to magic and I think this is a bit early for it. Won't be letting that stop me, though.

From the start, Stuff of Legends was designed with a specific setting in mind. While the rules have a toolbox nature, they are meant for use with the one setting. With that in mind, I looked at justifying some mechanical logic fluff wise. Most of the post below is fluff, with some pointers at mechanical implications.


The most basic thing to establish about magic in the setting is that it is very much a science. Mana, the fuel for magic, is an environmental resource that is used by way of spells and enchantments. Much in the same way the tools that humanity developed as it evolved, the tools the science of magic provides are coherent and predictable. In the same way language can be read and be understood, so can magic.

Magic was first introduced to the mortal races by the immortal First Wizard, shortly after the Dragon Empire had come to an end and with it humanity's subjugation. The First Wizard sent out his disciples and they taught magic to any who would listen. That said, other prominent cultures, notably to the south of the Empire, had already developed their own magics, although those magics saw infrequent use due to the rarity of those who practiced them.

The magic that the First Wizard gave unto the mortals is called Scripted Magic, in that it uses magical script as spells and enchantments. Spells are inscribed onto magically charged vessels, most normally the bodies of wizards, and then tapped into using mana in order to create predesignated effects. Spells inscribed so can be removed, but remain for as long as they are not disrupted. However, that is not to say there aren't limits: there is only so much space to inscribe on and mortals have a certain, inner tolerance to magic - any more strain than they can take, both magically and mentally, is dangerous.
Mechanical Pointer: spells inscribed are limited by 2 things - how much physical space is on the wizard's body, which is their race's size, and how tolerant they are, a number achieved by multiplying ESS with INT. The resulting tolerance is the upper limit of total spell weight that isn't dangerous. Spell weight is the amount of strain a spell has on the wizard.

The method of inscription was the first thing introduced by the First Wizard to his disciples and it has two methods - the first is a "spell-free" spell, it is the simpler of the two, but requires to have mana to spare in advance; the second is physical inscribing with magical reagents, which create a temporary tattoo. In either case, something that does look like a temporary tattoo appears on the skin of the wizard and glows when that spell is cast. Wizards are known to inscribe their arms, as that's the place easiest to reach and look at, and cover their arms well so that others may not know too quickly what spells they cast. The glow from a spell will always be a dead giveaway, since it can shine through clothing.
Mechanical Pointer: in the same way it's described, there are two ways for wizards to "prepare" spells in Stuff of Legends - they either cast a spell or use the Inscription skill. Those competent in either method act quicker and do a better job. High quality inscriptions have advantages, like making casting easier or less costly.

To ease the introduction of magic to the general populace, in particular to those aspiring to be wizards themselves, the First Wizard established what is now known as the Wizardly Academium. The largest school is at the place where the First Wizard resides, and many additional schools that belong to the Academium have been built since. The fast track to becoming a wizard is by studying, for a small fee, at the Academium. Beside the Academium, there are other, smaller schools that teach Scripted Magic of their own designs. The Academium itself has 6 avenues of studies: Fire Magery, Water Magery, Wind Magery, Earth Magery, Force Magery and Practical Magery. Each avenue has dedicated parts of each school.
Mechanical Pointer: nearly every single character that starts with a magic title is bound to belong to one of the Academium's avenues of magic. The graduate will receive a title that derives from that avenue - Fire Mage, Water Mage, Wind Mage, Earth Mage, Force Mage or Practical Mage. The first five focus on those specific magics, which are the most prevalent, while the last one focuses on casting a mix of the previous five in a way that relates to practical use. Practical Mages have an easy time finding jobs.

With the prevalence of magic, and its ease of acquiry, it has supplanted technology in many places and fast-forwarded advancement. Houses are warmed with special enchantments, decorations created with magic simple enough to be used by commoners and other such basic human needs made simple. The mages of the Academium sell their services as enchanters and inscribers and the general population benefits in many ways. Commerce, travel and everyday life have all been affected. The single most outstanding effect magic has had on everyday life is that nearly every commoners carries around at least a spell or two with them at all time, normally one to soothe pain and another that fits the season. The spells used by commoners expire after a time, by design, giving the profession of inscription a place in the economy. Learning to cast a spell is easier than to learn how to inscribe it, both of which wizards normally learn. Commoners find it adequate to not bother to learn how inscribe, even it means a regular money sink.
Mechanical Pointer: nearly every single character the players will play will have at least a spell or two, likely inscribed permanently (that is to say that they do not expire).


I don't recall what else I had to say about magic, so this ends part 1. Part 2 is likely to be a lot more about mechanics.

C&C welcome, as always.