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Creating or fixing roads


eepjr24
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So I am into considerations of prevalent low level magic in the new setting I am working on. There are lots of restrictions on magic as far as keeping it from being overwhelming in combat, but even low level magic can have lots of side effects in the economy and other areas like infrastructure. So in this setting I am working to figure out the best way to create earth based spells for repairing or creating roads.

 

First thoughts:

Change Environment with long lasting, either as damage to the high spots or as TK or both (seems... too much change for CE?)

Transform (rough road to smooth)

Telekinesis

Tunnelling? (Seems wonky) 

 

At the moment I am leaning toward TK. 18 STR would give you enough to completely lift 10 inches (.25m) of mixed soil in a hex area. That seems a bit high, but maybe? Thinking 13 STR TK would give enough to move around a 5 inches of soil (which would fix up to 10" of variations if roughly evenly distributed). 

 

13 STR TK (21 CP); AoE: Line - 16Lx2Hx4W (+1/2) (31 AP); Limited Target, Set Effect, Various Limitations for spells as appropriate.

 

Dirt has about 10 body per cubic hex, so if we conjecture that fixing the top .25m as above is sufficient, that's 3 Body per hex. Stone is about twice that for 5 body per hex area at .25m deep. As Transform it would be something like:

 

2d6 Minor Transform, standard effect: 6 Body (10 CP); AoE: Line - 16Lx2Hx4W (+1/2) (15 AP); Limited Target, Various Limitations for spells as appropriate.

 

I am on the fence because both seem reasonable and valid, but one is 2 times more AP. Any opinions out there one way or the other?

 

- E

 

 

 

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I have found that each persons idea of Low Magic is different, and not just regulated by point costs. 
 

To me, using spells to do things like building or repairing roads doesn’t fall into the category of low magic. But, that’s just me. 
 

As for your spells, if I had to choose one, I would go with the 15 AP Transform. It seems more like what you are trying to accomplish. Using TK or Tunneling seems a bit odd. 

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1 hour ago, Urlord said:

To me, using spells to do things like building or repairing roads doesn’t fall into the category of low magic. But, that’s just me. 
As for your spells, if I had to choose one, I would go with the 15 AP Transform. It seems more like what you are trying to accomplish. Using TK or Tunneling seems a bit odd. 

Perhaps low level is not what I should have said. The ability to use magic is commonplace (for me that means that it is likely at least one person in a 4 person family will have the ability to use some magic), but having the aptitude, discipline, etc. to excel is much less common. Take those things plus some luck, years of practice and you can become a powerful mage. Get a decade or two in and you can craft your own spells, etc. So that works out to something like 1 in 4 have a cantrip or two to make their families life easier. 1 in 50 can make a living doing nothing aside from their magic (likely still to make mundane tasks go faster). 1 in 10,000 could become a war mage, adventurer, court mage, etc. Those figures assume you have someone to teach you or you have access to assistive devices like tomes and spell books. World population at this point is in the 300-500 million range. So probably looking at something like 15-20,000 reasonably powerful mages in the world (some places are not as advanced or have restrictions, etc.). 

 

43 minutes ago, Chris Goodwin said:

Transform: ground into road, OAF (material components: wood and brick)

Chris (and Tom), this would be for truly simple roads, using whatever rock was in the ground and simply smoothing out a path for carts, horses and people. Or simply to use as a preparation for the spell that would lay brick, gravel or cobbles or maybe even just in prep for the manual labor since leveling is very time consuming.  

 

An advanced earth mage (see above) might cut a stone path from the side of a mountain to provide access to his keep.

 

- E

 

 

 

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7 hours ago, eepjr24 said:

So I am into considerations of prevalent low level magic in the new setting I am working on. There are lots of restrictions on magic as far as keeping it from being overwhelming in combat, but even low level magic can have lots of side effects in the economy and other areas like infrastructure. So in this setting I am working to figure out the best way to create earth based spells for repairing or creating roads.

 

First thoughts:

Change Environment with long lasting, either as damage to the high spots or as TK or both (seems... too much change for CE?)

Transform (rough road to smooth)

Telekinesis

Tunnelling? (Seems wonky) 

 

 

 

 

I'm going to be odd man out again (it's okay; I'm used to it ;)  ) and say that _were it me_  (heavy emphasis there), I'd go with Change Environment.  Why?  I find it more appropriate, easier, and frankly, game-wise, you're not getting a lot of bang for the buck.  Why over-build it?

 

Yes; you can certainly say "well what's going on here is _huge_!  Absolutely _enormous_!  Ground is being leveled, strips of swamp are being filled in, stones are being hauled---

 

At the end of the day, you can get a 3d6 RKA, and even without autofire you can wipe out a whole peasant village.  _That_ is significant.

 

You build a road, and eventually trade and the movement of soldiers, food, etc-- it gets easier.  Eventually.  Even then, the road will have to be maintained, etc.

 

What is the _immediate_ benefit of building a road?  Unless you are traveling with your elephants and cannons and trebuchets and such, not much.  You could be traveling with a caravan, and if you are right outside the city in which you will sell your goods for a princely sum.. again; there's no _immediate_ benefit.

 

When you look at everything in the powers that you can buy-- many of which _can_ be constructed or interpreted so as to do things like build roads---  all the more expensive things you spend points on are based on either immediate impact on the game (skills that solve problems in a matter of Phases, for example) or combat (which is about as immediate as it gets) or defense (usually a part of combat).  Unless you see building a road as being an immediate shift in the balance of the moment, then I think Change Environment and its ability to remove penalties to movement is more than sufficient to build a road.

 

But again, that's just me.

 

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35 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

<snip>

 

When you look at everything in the powers that you can buy-- many of which _can_ be constructed or interpreted so as to do things like build roads---  all the more expensive things you spend points on are based on either immediate impact on the game (skills that solve problems in a matter of Phases, for example) or combat (which is about as immediate as it gets) or defense (usually a part of combat).  Unless you see building a road as being an immediate shift in the balance of the moment, then I think Change Environment and its ability to remove penalties to movement is more than sufficient to build a road.

I don't have any disagreements with your reasoning. But Change Environment doesn't have anything to remove penalties (to movement or range modifiers, etc.). Technically, it can be used to remove penalties to harsh climates indirectly by controlling the temperature. The way I was thinking of using it was either with TK or 1 point of damage, either would not be very efficient and just seemed clunky. I am guessing you maybe have a house rule that you have used for so long that you think of it as being a rule that allows CE to remove penalties?

 

If I wanted to go that route... I guess you could buy Environmental Movement? But you'd have to figure what penalties rough terrain provides at the phase movement level, since I don't think that's anywhere in the Hero standard repertoire, unless you count the FH Unit Battle Terrain chart on FH 228 or the hourly movement rates on FH 388. Steve even says as much "the HERO System movement rules are designed for combat and crisis conditions, not long-distance travel." (FH, 386). 

 

- E

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Well, I am going to be "that guy" and ask "why"? :think:

 

Are the player characters going to be repairing the roads? 

All my fantasy games use swords and yet I have not written up one forge.  Or mine for that matter. 

I know that there is a write-up for a horse out there somewhere, but I have never used one.  I jot down a basic stat block with just the basic capability of the horse.  I don't need the entire point build, just movement, carry and basic damage needed to kill/disable the horse.

 

What I mean is, I write up items and magic that is used in play by PC's or NPC's/Creatures that the PC's face. 

 

While it can be fun to write up various things, exactly how much in session play actually needs specifics on road repair? 

The road people have a spell they use to fix the road. 

It is their secret.

It is hard. 

Done.

 

 

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Generally a peasant with a shovel costs almost nothing in a low magic pre-industrial setting.

 

A lord tells them after the harvest, "Go out and fix that road." The peasants, in force, go out and fix the road.

 

Promise to feed them twice a day and a few coppers at the end of it, and you'll have people lining up wanting to be on the road crews. They'll spend the money in the stores or the taverns or hide it away. The lord's tax collector gets almost all of it back in the end anyway.

 

 

Competent professional magicians, on the other hand...

 

You might get your road fixed but certainly for more cost than ordering your peasants to do it.

 

You might get ensorcelled into thinking your road is fixed when it wasn't. You might get robbed of everything you own and not even know how it happened. Your road might be fine for a week then the spell wears off after the magician leaves the area.

 

It can certainly be done by a variety of spells and quicker than peasants with shovels. But I wouldn't expect a lord to lay out the money unless he's needing to move his army from point A to point B quickly.

 

 

If you're going to have magically-improved roads, I'd suggest asking people here for several different write-ups using various powers. Then have the roadwork in-game be distinctive enough that even a layman could tell the difference between one magician's work and the next. It'd be a nice subtle way of marking boundaries between different nobles' territories.

 

And it'd give the nobles something to gossip about among themselves talking about the quality of the roadwork and getting recommendations on who to hire when the spellwork starts to get old and needs to be refreshed.

 

 

I'd imagine that magically-built roads could just as easily be magically un-built, which is something to keep in mind.

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I say go with Transformation-minor. Minor because good roads (or more precisely bad roads) affect your horses your your wagons and travel time. Now if they can also do the inverse- good road to bad, to answer @Spence’s question as to why the write up, I can see a scenario where the Earth mage casting the inverse so as to slow up pursuers. Of course depending on casting time and how close the pursers are.

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10 hours ago, Spence said:

Well, I am going to be "that guy" and ask "why"? :think:

Primarily because I want to know what amount of points a mid-level utility mage would need. I prefer to be at least close so figuring the points for 2-3 spells is all I need to do and then slap it on a template. If you read above you will see that these folks will be about 1 in 50 of the population in at least one of the starting countries, so to me that is significant enough to warrant it. To each their own, of course.

 

9 hours ago, archer said:

Competent professional magicians, on the other hand...

 

You might get your road fixed but certainly for more cost than ordering your peasants to do it.

If you have peasants, yes, that is exactly what happens. In one of the two starting countries that will be the way (well, generally slaves and indentured people, but close). In the more advanced country next door which is moving into more of a mercantile system, freemen are not as willing to jump when the local merchant magnate whistles and there is competition for labor. In those cases the higher wage of "utility" mage might well be exactly what you want to keep your best spice delivery road well maintained.

 

 

  

 

9 hours ago, archer said:

You might get ensorcelled into thinking your road is fixed when it wasn't. You might get robbed of everything you own and not even know how it happened. Your road might be fine for a week then the spell wears off after the magician leaves the area.

 

It can certainly be done by a variety of spells and quicker than peasants with shovels. But I wouldn't expect a lord to lay out the money unless he's needing to move his army from point A to point B quickly.

Earth mages have a pretty limited repertoire. And if they know enough spells to be able to hoodwink they are likely not for hire as road builders.

 

 

9 hours ago, archer said:

If you're going to have magically-improved roads, I'd suggest asking people here for several different write-ups using various powers. Then have the roadwork in-game be distinctive enough that even a layman could tell the difference between one magician's work and the next. It'd be a nice subtle way of marking boundaries between different nobles' territories.

 

And it'd give the nobles something to gossip about among themselves talking about the quality of the roadwork and getting recommendations on who to hire when the spellwork starts to get old and needs to be refreshed.

 

I'd imagine that magically-built roads could just as easily be magically un-built, which is something to keep in mind.

This idea I love. Competition for road work mages could be a prestige point among the merchant magnates. Favors of recommending someone to a particular earth mage. Mages consciously making their roads distinctive for the purpose of advertising.

 

And yes, war mages will certainly have that capability, it's unlikely most utility mages would spend the time to learn that type of thing unless they were in the employ of an army, which is also possible.

 

- E

 

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Transform is the most obvious choice and what I would use if I were building this spell.  And yeah, having a druid able to dispel your road and return it to nature has its own charm, although you can define a transform as being reversed by just time or wear or being dug up.

 

However, one of the fun parts of Hero is figuring out other ways to pull off the same power.  CE sounds like it would work but its designed to be temporary, even if bought with the extra time adder.  Again, this is a potential bonus: the mage creates a road for the soldiers to march down, then it fades away into the aether.

 

Tunneling is the other idea that occurred to me and it was cool to see eepjr suggest that in the original post.  How would it work?  Well you can build a tunneling power to return the material back to solid again, and while it is stretching things a bit, having the dug out area return as a different, but related surface is appealing and possible with GM cooperation.  Its probably a great deal more expensive, though.

 

Quote

Well, I am going to be "that guy" and ask "why"?

 

Actually I can think of a lot of reasons.  This actually hits  on my theories and ideas of how magic would actually be used in a real-life fantasy setting (work with me here).  Not blowing up dragons but engineering and technology replacements.  Jobbing mages doing things like building castles and repairing things. 

 

In a campaign where you're part of an army or have to move large numbers of allies, having an instant road through the jungle is a huge benefit.

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Change Environment is for adding penalties rather than removing them.  Someone asked Steve why that is; if you've followed the Rules Questions forum for any appreciable amount of time, you know he doesn't answer "why" questions... but he did in this case!

 

https://www.herogames.com/forums/topic/172-why-cant-change-environment-do-positive-effects/

 

Edit: I should add... feel free to ask a question in Rules Questions, but I'm likely to be the one to answer it, and I usually try to find past answers of Steve's that are relevant.  He's answered more than once that CE can't remove penalties, only add them.  If you can express a CE in terms of adding a penalty to something then it would work.  Otherwise, Transform would do it.  I like the suggestion of Tunneling as well.  Edit edit:  Aid to movement should work as well, but would also be temporary.

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Yep; now that you have jogged the memory I recall that conversation.

 

And I recall disagreeing with it mightily.  If you allow a CE: adding heat and light, ala desert-like conditions, and the PC casts it in a snow-filled park, it's going to be ridiculously difficult to explain why the walking on snow and ice penalties still exist.

 

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How about Barrier?

 

One of the oft-mentioned examples for that is mound of earth, etc.

 

Create a Barrier, lay it flat, and be done.

 

Barring that:

 

PSLs for Movement, Area Effect: Line(ish), usable by others.   Much like the Tunneling example (which, honestly, is my favorite idea so far; I'm just tossing out more stuff to play with).

 

"But you can't use skill levels / PSLs as a power" is something that--- well, frankly, I really can't tell you just how long I've ignored that.  Probably since I saw Marksman put Skill Levels into an OIF: Scope.   Since the company motto became "it's a toolkit to make exactly what you want," I don't even feel the need to justify what I ignore anymore.  :lol:

 

 

 

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Quote

Except for penalties caused by high winds.

 

Or excessive temperatures, etc.  They can be beneficial, its just not supposed to allow you to give stats.

 

Quote

How about Barrier?

 

Yeah that's another option.  I've used it to create bridges for spells in the past, an unsupported barrier makes a layer you can put over a chasm, a pit, etc.

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On 12/25/2020 at 7:46 AM, eepjr24 said:

Primarily because I want to know what amount of points a mid-level utility mage would need. I prefer to be at least close so figuring the points for 2-3 spells is all I need to do and then slap it on a template. If you read above you will see that these folks will be about 1 in 50 of the population in at least one of the starting countries, so to me that is significant enough to warrant it. To each their own, of course.

Thanks, I was curious.

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  • 3 weeks later...
8 hours ago, theinfn8 said:

This is the first thing that popped into my head and the route I would probably go.

I ended up going with Transform. It's much easier to figure the math using area of effect, I didn't have to play with Opaque or Configurable (for rougher terrain), and I don't have to worry about people arguing whether they could turn it sideways and use it as defenses. There is another spell for that already. 😃

 

I will likely design another one with Tunneling for use in creating tunnels, still have to figure some things as I don't want matter to be destroyed as part of the process.

 

- E

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On 12/26/2020 at 12:08 AM, Chris Goodwin said:

Change Environment is for adding penalties rather than removing them.  Someone asked Steve why that is; if you've followed the Rules Questions forum for any appreciable amount of time, you know he doesn't answer "why" questions... but he did in this case!

 

https://www.herogames.com/forums/topic/172-why-cant-change-environment-do-positive-effects/

 

Edit: I should add... feel free to ask a question in Rules Questions, but I'm likely to be the one to answer it, and I usually try to find past answers of Steve's that are relevant.  He's answered more than once that CE can't remove penalties, only add them.  If you can express a CE in terms of adding a penalty to something then it would work.  Otherwise, Transform would do it.  I like the suggestion of Tunneling as well.  Edit edit:  Aid to movement should work as well, but would also be temporary.

 

And if Chris doesn’t answer it first, I will, and odds are good I’ll go to the text exactly, rather than rely on a previously supplied answer. Bear in mind that CE is just that — it changes environment. If for some reason you have a CE +20 degrees, and it’s currently frozen, you could theoretically unfreeze it. But we’re talking super fringe cases. That aside.

 

Where’s my hat? Ah, here we are.

 

You’re talking about a Transform; damaged road to road, minor. Rough path to road is probably major, and “nothin’” to “road” is whatever 15 points is (I always forget the nomenclature). Now if you want to build a road through a mountain? Yeah, that’s Tunneling. 

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