[House Rules]Sorcery part 1

I’ve never been a fan of Vancian magic.  I think it was the fact that Gygax expected us to accept the idea of ‘forgetting’ spells once cast without laying any of the ground work to explain the concepts of Jack Vance’s magic system from Dying Earth.  To my young mind, the idea of Gandalf or Merlin ‘forgetting’ a spell was just ludicrous!

I always preferred skill based magic systems, or spell point systems.  Now, I understand some of the power-balancing that the system as written allowed for.  In some ways, it kept the mages from dominating the game as they would come to do in 3.X/PF.  But as a player, I freaking hate preparing spells.  Hates it!

So, I really like the trade off they created with the Sorcerer in 3.x, as well as the flavor.  Who wouldn’t want to play a character who literally has magic in their blood?  PF even did them one better with the Sorcerer bloodlines allowing the characters to really feel like your magic ancestry made you different.

Now, ACKS straddles an interesting line between Vancian and Sorcery, which is the ability to learn a small, hard to change list, but being able to freely cast from it.  I heartily approve this message!  But what if you want something different?  Well, it’s easy enough to re-skin a wizard as a sorcerer and simply say that his ‘master’ who teaches him spells between adventurers is actually him developing the powers on his own.  And instead of finding books to steal spells from, perhaps you steal the essences of certain monsters and they contain spells.

But what if you want the mechanics to feel different?  Ah, well, now, that’s a bit more tricky. However, ACKS also has some possible help for that, if you are willing to bend the rules a bit and don’t mind changing the way spell management is handled.

I’ll show you what I mean next week…

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5 thoughts on “[House Rules]Sorcery part 1

  1. Evan says:

    An interesting system…However, what happens when “Finger of Death”, “Energy Drain” or even something as simple as “Cone of Cold” enters your list? Freely casting even low level spells can be greatly unbalancing.

    • First off, thanks for reading, and thanks for the comments!

      A few points really:
      1) Nothing stops a wizard with multiple spells per day of memorizing the same spell multiple times.
      2) ACKS casters have a repertoire that they don’t have to prepare ahead of time, so if someone has 3 5th level slots, they can spam Cone of Cold three times if they want to.
      3) The spell-like abilities actually have less usability at higher levels than a pure caster does (like, cast a 5th level spell once a month).

      But, and I’ll try to address this in my next post…the ‘unbalance’ is really based on how you handle resource management. This is simply a different kind of management.

      • Evangelos says:

        Yeah of course, I enjoy reading your blogs.

        “2) ACKS casters have a repertoire that they don’t have to prepare ahead of time, so if someone has 3 5th level slots, they can spam Cone of Cold three times if they want to.”

        Ah, ok now I understand. So they do have a certain number of spells-castings they can cast per day, before they run out. It’s basically exactly like the Sorcerer system in 3.5E. Yes, that is certainly balanced. Essentially, you are sacrificing versatility (Wizard) for number of castings/level (level). The problem with the Wizard in 3.x arises from DMs (and the rules to an extend) that offer way to many spells to the character. If you keep the number of spells a wizard has in their spellbook at a reasonable level, they won’t turn out into a “swiss army knife” for your game.

        Personally, I like both the “wizardy” (Vancian) and the “sorcerery” systems. With the “Sorcery” you can have highly specialized mages that focus on specific schools of magic (if you add this restriction on top). As for the “flavour” issue of the Vancian system, doesn’t the ACKS system (or any point system) have a similar issue, ie. “why does a mage suddently cannot cast x spell after y castings? I guess maybe you can attribute that to some sort of physical fatigue, etc…

      • Hey Evan,

        I didn’t realize it was you!

        Yeah, ACKS mages (and clerics to a lesser extent) function very similarly to Sorcerers ala 3.X. The difference being that they can spend a lot of time and money to swap a spell out, so in that way, they aren’t completely ‘locked in’ like a Sorcerer (who can only change a spell as part of the leveling process and not in play). Yeah ACKS isn’t a spell point system (though Alex has released a spell point system on the forum for those who want to use it).

        As you say, the problem mostly comes into it when you keep releasing more and more spells…

        Luckily, ACKS with the players guide only has 24 spells of each Arcane level up to 6. Granted there are rules for creating your own spells (which I’ve used quite a bit…check out my Soul Knight for an example of that), but the players only get access to those rules at level 5+ and even then, making an entirely new spells is costly, time consuming, and possibly a huge waste of both those resources until you hit higher levels and have a good chance at success.

        Anyway, in the Players Guide there are rules for ‘Spell Like abilities’ that some classes have (Paladin’s Detect Evil for example) and how to make classes with other such abilities. What I’m proposing utilizes those rules to create an entire new class/system of magic.

      • Hey Evan,

        I didn’t realize it was you!

        Yeah, ACKS mages (and clerics to a lesser extent) function very similarly to Sorcerers ala 3.X. The difference being that they can spend a lot of time and money to swap a spell out, so in that way, they aren’t completely ‘locked in’ like a Sorcerer (who can only change a spell as part of the leveling process and not in play). Yeah ACKS isn’t a spell point system (though Alex has released a spell point system on the forum for those who want to use it).

        As you say, the problem mostly comes into it when you keep releasing more and more spells…

        Luckily, ACKS with the players guide only has 24 spells of each Arcane level up to 6. Granted there are rules for creating your own spells (which I’ve used quite a bit…check out my Soul Knight for an example of that), but the players only get access to those rules at level 5+ and even then, making an entirely new spells is costly, time consuming, and possibly a huge waste of both those resources until you hit higher levels and have a good chance at success.

        Anyway, in the Players Guide there are rules for ‘Spell Like abilities’ that some classes have (Paladin’s Detect Evil for example) and how to make classes with other such abilities. What I’m proposing utilizes those rules to create an entire new class/system of magic.

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