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Thoughts on magic: Spell timing; Kennoc [Jun. 27th, 2011|03:05 pm]
World Tree

So there are two things that have kind of nagged at my mind for a while concerning WT's magic system, and I'm wondering how some people reconcile them.

The first one, the one that's bugged me the longest, is (of course?) the chance of Kennoc spells to fail. Let's face it, one in twenty is horrible odds for anything of significance. Mere statistical prediction is generally considered unsound unless you can speak with at least 99% confidence, if not 99.9%. Granted, that's because you might at any time hit on the odd one out, and statistics never offer a guarantee of anything; but nevertheless... There are so many spells invoking Kennoc, and so many of them seem to be taken for granted (Measure the Life Force has its particular use; Eyes for the Small is specifically noted as making microscopes pointless) despite their chance of failing outright or, worse, giving completely misleading results.

Although I can understand not wanting to give reliable information for game-balance purposes, the expressed reason for Kennoc spell failure (Pararenenzu not paying attention) doesn't always make sense, either. The example in the rulebook about Am I Observed? is actually one of the rare cases when it makes perfect sense: Pararenenzu could just slip up in some silly way and give the wrong answer. In general, the main spells where it does make sense are those which ask a question and receive an answer.

Some informative spells get subtler information. It makes sense that the caster could interpret that information as though it's accurate when it isn't - Measure the Life Force and some other healing-assistive spells, for instance. But it doesn't make as much sense that it goes so wrong in the first place - not for the cited reason. Maybe Pararenenzu is playing a joke, but such spells produce awfully detailed and elaborate answers for it to just be a matter of not watching what zie's doing.

And then there are the spells which alter perception, but don't actually plant any information beyond that - I don't mean scrying, I mean things that change the way in which the subject perceives the whole world around them.

If you're trying to look through a wooden wall, or if you're greatly magnifying your vision, or if you're peering through fog, or if you cast a spell on someone that makes them see through dead Co/Hr material... how the heck does that go wrong outside of just plain not working? Even the base 1/20 chance of failure is a bit much for a discipline cited as a foundation of some branches of natural science - microscopes may be relatively crude, but they cost no cley (and the rulebook isn't always consistent on how willing your average person is to throw cley around, or how much they have...) and they always work to their full ability.

Not only does an inaccurate result from any of things require a very elaborate ruse on Pararenenzu's part, in many cases it should be blatantly obvious that something isn't working right. To make it consistent with what the caster or subject could otherwise see, yet have the things they normally couldn't, be flawed... yes, a god could probably read the subject's mind and make up bits for the things the subject wouldn't be aware of without the spell, but at that point it's becoming an extremely elaborate ruse, no accident.

Anyway... that's a bit of a digression. I guess the core question is, why the heck is Kennoc so common and apparently trusted, when it has such a crippling flaw? (1/20 chance of not working, well, that's a nuisance as long as you can tell that it didn't work. But a 1/400 chance of giving outright wrong information? That is crippling for any serious purposes. One spoiled cast could undo years of progress in research if it's taken as accurate.)


The second concern has partly been lurking around for some time as well, but also I recently had another thought about it, and that is the timing of building spells.

The first issue is targeted spells. In some cases they're described as being targeted by a gesture. A gesture to target e.g. a bound spell is specifically stated as requiring an action. But what about a Fire Dart? Or a Bone Dart, which I know can't be resisted because the dart is created near the caster and flung, not created near the subject? If it were a fast spell, that'd be fine and dandy; the spell is cast, it shoots forward at the caster's gesture/concentration. Fine.

But it has to build first. Which means that by the time the spell is ready to fling forward, the caster might well be in the middle of doing something else.

But if the caster doesn't retarget them, or have any need to keep concentrating on the spell, the dart will probably go completely the wrong place because the target will have moved.

How can this be reconciled?

Also, a somewhat bigger concern comes in the form of Heal the Awful Wound. If someone doesn't get healed within... some places say three initiative counts, at least one (the spell description for HTAW) says 2-6... that many seconds, anyway, HTAW alone won't do the trick.

But HTAW itself is a build spell. Which means that a bound HTAW has more than half odds of having no chance to work by timing alone, because it can randomly take up to 12/13 seconds(depending on whether you use cards or dice to count initiative).

Best rationale I can think of there is that while HTAW is itself building, its "signal" effect helps to anchor the spirit to the body. It remains, though, that it often seems to have been treated as a fast spell when it really shouldn't be; someone will generally be out for some seconds at least before the spell gets them back to consciousness (unless they're Gormoror, in which case the bound spell's usual conditions might not suffice in the first place).

Or should HTAW in fact be a fast spell? Much of the material kindasorta seems to assume it is...
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[OOC/meta] Cley Refresh Times? [Jan. 7th, 2011|03:03 pm]
World Tree

So I was looking over the common associations of when someone's cley is refreshed. Dawn, of course, is unremarkable; nothing to really consider there, it being the default.

It could be argued that a strong, good personality is latent in a child even before they really show it(noon), same with a cruel, evil one(midnight), and even a penchant for being awake at night(sunout). But what about sorrow(also sunout)?

Melancholy, certainly, could be an inherent tendency. But that's not quite the same.

Is cley refresh time somewhat mutable? Not on a conscious level, but according to the personality of the subject, and perhaps their relationship with others and with the gods?

Might a personal tragedy actually prompt someone who otherwise had cley refreshed at some other time to start getting their new cley at sunout? Might a person who gradually turns exceptionally good(or evil) similarly take up a new cley refresh time?

Obviously this wouldn't be a frequent thing(not least since not every good, evil, nocturnal, or sorrowful person gets cley at noon/midnight/sunout/sunout). No passing bout of emotion, no isolated deed, would have anything to do with it - but if someone's personality takes on a greatly distinct flavour, might that be a possible trigger for this sort of cosmic consequence?

My personal notion is "perhaps, in rare cases". The entry for "sorrow" is my precedent there. I'm not sure whether the shift would result in a short "day"(as defined by the interval between cley refresh), a long one, or a chance of either. For balance terms, my money would be on "long" - that is, if someone passes that threshold after getting their cley on the 19th of Lage, and starts getting cley at sunout, the next time they get cley will not be sunout on the 19th of Lage, but on the 20th. Of course, if they pass that threshold after sunout to begin with, it's a moot point.
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[Meta] Playing a Shifter Hybrid: Unofficial Addendum [Jul. 18th, 2010|01:39 pm]
World Tree

Brought to mind by Sythyry's recent post and my own thoughts therein about how shifter hybrids are presented in the sourcebook.

The sourcebook descriptions of the ailments suffered by shifter hybrids are somewhat vague. Herein I present my own efforts at defining some game-relevant portions of them. Specifically, this is meant to deal with shapeshifting, and the pain thereof, in the context of combat or other sensitive, time-critical tasks.

Shifting: Shifting takes d6 actions, during which the shifter hybrid is immobile and suffers Trouble d20. The shifter hybrid can attempt to force it to take a single action(see "Shapechanging Skill", below). After shifting, the shifter hybrid has Trouble (EDIT)1/2 d6, rounded down(/EDIT), which decays at 1 point per action. You may be suffering additional Trouble from clothing that no longer fits. If your forms are dissimilar enough that the clothing will not accommodate the new form at all, you suffer an additional 10 Trouble during the shift as you burst out of it. If you are wearing leather armour, it is similarly ruined. If you are wearing something stronger(including chain mail, which, while flexible, doesn't stretch without difficulty), you suffer d10 damage and additional Trouble - the Trouble also remaining after the shift - as it cuts into you. Borrowing someone else's armour is unwise.

Time Between Shifts: After spending a second hour in a given shape, roll d6 + Will. On a roll of 4 or more, nothing happens. On a roll of 1-3, suffer trouble 3. Every additional consecutive hour without shifting automatically adds Trouble 3(or 1 per third of an hour, if working with small time scales; in this case, you should roll to know if your first point of Trouble arrives after 1 1/3 hour, not Trouble 3 after 2 hours). Once the shifter hybrid does shift, the Trouble of the other form no longer applies, but is still there, decaying at 3 points every third of an hour until reaching zero(1 point per 3 WT minutes, 9 per hour), and finally being discarded after the next 1/3 hour(see "Early Shifting", below). You are aware of how "sore" the other form is(its accumulated Trouble).

Shapechanging skill: Shifter hybrids start with a special craft skill, Shapechanging. This starts with 15 points(level 5). I'm torn on whether or not I want to allow adding experience during character creation, but leaning toward "yes, allow it". This skill has two functions:
  • Trigger a shapechange. Either before your body is trying to do so, or to speed it up to take a single action. Roll Shapechanging + Will + d20 vs 10 + any Trouble remaining from the target shape(see above). If your roll meets or exceeds the target, you are able to change shape in a single action. If you do this under stress and the d20 botches, the pain from shifting will stay at d6 until you shift again, either naturally or, if deliberate, into a shape with no lingering Trouble. (That is, you can't get around this by changing back 5 minutes later unless you were in that form for little enough time that it has no Trouble.)
  • Resist a shapechange when the body is trying to do it. If your accumulated shifting-related Trouble is no greater than your Shapeshifting skill + Will, you are able to remain in your current shape against the urge to change. If that trouble is no more than half your Shapeshifting skill(rounded up) + your (full, unhalved) Will, you can change your mind and trigger a quick transformation without it necessarily counting as a stressful situation; if the Trouble is greater, any attempt to force a quick change will automatically roll a stress die. (This does not, of course, prevent the situation from being stressful for other reasons. If you're in the middle of a fight, triggering a transformation will be a stress die even if you're not feeling any shifter-pain at all.) Similar to hammer-casting, this does not involve any roll.

Early shifting: If you shift into a shape that still has Trouble associated with it, it immediately resumes accumulating. If you have resisted changing to the point that you have 18 Trouble, it will take two hours just to clear it. By that point, your other form will also have 3-6 Trouble. Once the Trouble associated with a form decays past zero, that form will have the usual hour before any chance to suffer Trouble; if it has only just reached zero, it's still too soon, and will begin accumulating trouble immediately. Pushing yourself too far may sometimes be necessary(to keep up a disguise, perhaps), but it will have lasting consequences as well as the immediate pain.


Life as a shifter need not be all bad. As an adventurer, the benefits are substantial, especially for a mage who will pick up at least one extra knack in a Verb.

How to deal with it? There are ways. Need to fight, want to shift during it, and want to stay lucid? Banish the Pain will reduce all related Trouble. Want good armour? Enchant it with Mu [Nn] to change when you do; or if your other form isn't suitable for armour, a more complex enchantment to morph it into a harness, or Mu [Nn] Co to meld it into your body, or Mu [Nn] Lo to shift it into a pocket realm for the duration. Hop around as a Sleeth with mighty claws and teeth, and when you're up against armour, shift into a bipedal shape and watch your armour grow back out of your hide, and your weapon come to hand. Want to cover up the time it takes to shift? A Quick Instant talisman is your best friend, and not that hard to get with a couple charges per day. There are ways to get around the main disadvantages of being a fighting shifter.

And that's part of why I don't think these rules are too much.
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Little thought experiment... [Jul. 16th, 2010|10:00 am]
World Tree

So I had a player who wanted to play a Zi Ri Pastry chef... this was too amusing to pass up but we needed an experience package to help him make it work see how this fits with all of you:

Baker's Guild Experience (+2) The Baker's guild covers many forms of cooking and baking. From the fried bun seller on any given corner to the high end chef to the local royal family. The official Baker's guild covers most forms of cooking and food preservation. Jellies, jams, cakes, sweet meats, and everything else is in their aegis. In some cities the Hostellers Guild absorbed or has absorbed the Bakers in others they are separate entities. The relative strength of this small guild varies from branch to branch town to town. None are truly powerful. In some cities it is impossible to own a restaurant or bakery without membership in the guild. In others only the wealthiest can afford a member of the guild, with commiserate higher training of course. While in others the guild only serves the middle and lower class. This can offer connections and training but really the guild's biggest offering is in recipes for fine foods and training with masters chefs. You are a dues paying member of the Guild and have five years experience in cooking and food preparation, often under highly capable teachers as the guild's only major selling point is quality, under your belt. Your training gave you experience in Crafts: Cooking (50 exp), Alertness (20 exp.), Search (5 exp.), Bargain (15 exp.), Judge Value (20 exp.), Natural Science (5 exp.) Edged (5 exp.) [all that expert cutting], Corpador (5 exp.), Durador (5 exp), Herbador (10 exp.), Creoc (5 exp.) and Sustenoc (5 exp.). Often the guild allows access to some useful spells so if they have the proper skill they might have picked up any or all of these. They are often free to members who know who to ask: Handful of Salt (Cr Su, Du 10), Fresh Water (Hl Aq 5), Chop the Delicious Veggies (De Hr 5), Fresh Meat ( Su Co, 10), Invisible Pot Holder (Ru Py 5)

Happy Yeast Home ([Cr]Mu He Py Sp 5): A minor cantrip that helps yeast feel highly comfortable as it works in bread. Considered very helpful as the spell will adjust to the Yeast's comfort giving it optimal rise.
Wondrous Lenhirrik's treat (Cr Su Hr 5): creates about P/2 lbs of sugar instantly. This is refined sugar but being magicked up it can be a tad bland.
Refined Gentlemen's Snack (De Co Hr [Du] 5): a spell that refines sugar out of a plant and removes impurities. Wonderful to removing bugs and grit as well as turning sugar cane, honey and beets into pure sugar.
Efforts of Kvarse (Cr Co He 10): Creates P ounces of pure golden honey. Kvarse prefers honey to sugar and so this spell makes very good quality honey.
Cool Preservation (De Py Sp 5): This spell is for preserving creams, custards and other treats and must be cast on a small enclosed display space this cantrip lasts an entire day and is often the first thing a baker casts to ensure the more finiky treats are preserved until purchase. the Spirador monitors and controls the temperature to better ensure the cakes and custards are safe. There are more complicated versions that can make entire rooms refrigerators but their duration is much shorter. Bakers pay handsomely for an enchanted space or item that refrigerates.

The spell Tasty Treat is considered verboten in this guild as a member should have the talent, skills and connections to not need such chicanery. Anyone proven to have used this on their wares is forced out of the guild and harried.

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[OOC] Craft Skill and Inventing Spells: Example [Jun. 8th, 2010|11:24 am]
World Tree

I belatedly realize that I should have made my post on the matter in this community, rather than my personal journal, but the short version is: Rather than have the caster's craft skill be involved in making something, have the spell inventor very carefully work their art into the actual pattern of the spell, thus using their skill (at the time) rather than the caster's(whenever it's cast).

Thus, a very excellent Rassimel baker who also had a significant hobby in magic theory produced this spell, with which she might spread her wares(if far from her best) even to those on the road, and, indeed, get some advertisement every time the spell was cast:

Melancthe's Marvellous Muffins - CrSuHr 5
Conjure P/5 small but moderately tasty muffins, as prepared by a baker of 20 10 Cooking skill. The herb-laced muffins are made with only Herbador materials, and are safe for anyone to eat(except that they will make Sleeth sick). A single muffin will be a filling meal for a Zi Ri; anyone else will likely find one muffin to be a light snack. The muffins thus produced are always the same; if you want a different flavour of muffin, buy a different flavour of spell. [Range: short, Speed: build, Dur: real, Resist: N/A]

Though not particularly useful as an adventurer skill(you don't get that much food for your power), they are good muffins. The spell also adds some, um... fla spi variety to a campaign.
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[OOC] Sample "Tree-mage" experience package [Mar. 24th, 2010|03:53 am]
World Tree

The one that was mentioned last year... didn't really work for me; so many points put here and there, rather than the concentrated study involved in some similar experience packages. It also felt like a package of adventure experience, rather than civilian, by way of including weapon skills and Ruloc(while useful, much of the value in RuHr is in aggressive spells; Carry the Log and Sort the Soil are very situational).

So this one is patterned off the "Smith experience" advantage(though with more spells, since Herbador spells are generally less restricted than the Durudor ones(edit - the spells are patterned more after Healer's Guild Training, with similar effects due to entailed guild membership).

Details follow...Collapse )
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[OOC] Looking forward... [Feb. 27th, 2010|08:18 pm]
World Tree

Narcissistic babbling ahead...Collapse )
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Open Call for Table-top Game Hosts for Anthrocon 2010! [Feb. 16th, 2010|09:49 am]
World Tree

Hello everyone!

Anthrocon is looking for attendees who are interested in hosting a table-top role playing game, collectible card game (CCG) demo, pick up game, or tournament, non-casino card games, board games, miniatures games, party games, and/or live action role playing (LARP) games.

Typically, depending on the game, sessions run from 1-4 hours. I also make every effort to not schedule folks during 2 Gryphon and Kage's Story Hour, as well as the Fursuit Parade and Masquerade, once I have firm day and times for those events.

If you are interested in sharing your talents with friends and attendees at Anthrocon please e-mail me at tabletop.gaming AT anthrocon.org.

Thank you!

Glen "Swift Fox" Rockhill
Table-top Gaming Track
Anthrocon 2010 "Modern Stone Age Furries"
tabletop.gaming AT anthrocon.org
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[OOC] Handy item for adventurers... [Dec. 21st, 2009|11:38 pm]
World Tree

One thing I haven't seen too much mention of is how adventurers get around the Verticals. Some of them, of course, have powerful magic that allows them to get around rather nimbly, flying and jumping; Zi Ri and Khtsoyis need no such artifice(and Sleeth can make do, albeit slowly if there's nowhere to jump to/from).

But not everyone has those advantages.


The Sideways Sandals, loose-fitting things, suitable to resize not only to the feet of anyone with the right shaped feet(no Sleeth, no Khtsoyis; Zi Ri are too small, but don't need them for the most part, anyway), but to go over armored boots. Must be worn as a pair to function. When activated by command word from their wearer and then either touched to a surface or(with a Finesse roll, perhaps, depending on the size of the surface) pointed at it, they activate a Wallwalk effect which lasts until cancelled. To pick a new wall to walk on, they must be disabled by command word, and commanded to work with a new surface.

The Sandals are not very extensive(meaning that there's not that much material to them), but they are well-made and decorated with symbols of Reluu and Kvarse. They are magically toughened, and unless they're horribly abused(or deliberately wrecked), should last forever. There is no limit to how many times they can be used in a day, nor how long.

Possible points of contention: How do they "shut off"? Can enchantment-based spells be annulled by the item at an arbitrary time? Or would the item have to periodically cast lower-power Wallwalk, and the command simply stops the next refresh from happening? In this case, perhaps another mechanism would be better: they don't need to be turned off, but if the wielder ever gets out of short range from the wall, the spell will lapse and will not automatically be renewed. Technically, on designating a new surface to wallwalk on, the wearer might have two eligible walls, but predicting exactly when the old spell wears off could be iffy - especially if it's cast at very low power.

A power of 10 on each individual cast is not trivial to dispel, but it could be done by a capable sorcerer, so relying on the Sandals without having firm ground nearby (or at least a sideways tree, or even a tether spiked into one) might not be wise. A skilled user could manage parkour that would make the Prince of Persia hang up his dusty boots.
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(no subject) [Oct. 4th, 2009|09:42 pm]
World Tree

Allykat, a friend of mine over at http://community.livejournal.com/freewee/ has a community set up where people can get free sketches. So of course I asked for a world tree sketch! Here is what I asked for:

"The basic idea is that Orren, the ottermorphs, sometimes when they get really really excited they get into a "Wild Rush", where they do whatever comes to mind very very quickly. Sometimes this is good for fighting (more actions!), sometimes this is bad. I want a picture of someOrren panicking in some kind of wild rush over something that, if She could stop to realize what was going on, would be No Big Deal... make it something cute! But, of course, she is busy wild rushing, of course she can't stop to realize that it ISN'T a real emergency! :)"

And this is the image that resulted!

...apparently I didn't explain the stellar mechanics of the world tree, with trunks in the horizon and a sunlamp at a specific angle such! aahhhhh well! *giggles* I still LOVE it!
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