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[sidebar: I don't normally allow the Focus Limitation for tattoos, as they can't usually be removed in 1 Turn short of cutting off a pound of flesh. (Unless you want to go there...) 

Don't get caught and held prisoner by someone who wants to disarm you of your Foci; you might be needing some skin grafts... I always thought that particular disadvantage was enough of a downside to balance the advantage of having the focus so convenient.

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For tattoo, foci, I have never ruled as a GM that you had to carve the whole thing away - just a cut is enough to disable it. You can heal back the damage and regain the focus. If somebody takes the time to scar you up, it is unusable until you get magical healing to remove the scar, or have it retattoo'ed over the scar.

 

This mimics the effect of a physical focus, which can be taken from you, but can be reconstructed at a later timepoint, as long as you are at leisure to do so, and also, in the second case, means that (just like with a regular focus) if you are tossed in jail, and your focus removed, that you can't just regenerate it while still in  jail.

 

cheers, Mark

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  • 2 weeks later...

I like this setting.  probably missed it, but have you given much thought to the Evil Overlords efforts to ensure control of his empire?

 

Real world examples are readily available.

 

 

Currency: Mint new coinage (the Overlord Gold Coin), pass laws banning the use of other forms of currency, including barter. Offer an amnesty period where old coins can be exchanged for new.

Economy: Encourage the expansion of industries, particularly those producing war materials, at the expense of others, award Overlord contracts to particular businesses, encourage competition amongst bidders for these contracts.

Land Onwership: Encourage or oversee the wholesale purchase of large tracts of farm or grazing land by the wealthy, (encourage the use of slave labour to run these large plantations etc.), disenfranchising the small farmholder (who is pretty much independent). This creates a large body of dispossessed persons who need a means to feed themselves and their families. Offer them, work on plantations or in factories at really shiity rates, to be paid in Overlord Gold Coins.

Religion: you cannot eradicate a religion, but you can subvert it, insist upon all religious positions being approved by the Evil Overlord. Gradually control of the church will shift o the Overlord as sycophants gain higher and higher church postions.

Language: Pass a law making one language the offical language of the empire, and conduct all business and have all documentation use this language and no other.

Literature: Pass a law prohibiting the publishing of any material unless The Evil Overlord has approved of it, the processing of the approval request and the issuing of an approval notice incur fees, (Overlord Gold only, no foreign coins).

Learning: "If you want to change (destroy) a culture in one generation, how would you do it?" "Change the way they educate their children." Introduce compulsory mass education, teaching only the offical language, the Overlords version of history, ensure that geographic knowledge is limited, mathematics and literacy should also be limited. Encourage rote learning, with correct and incorrect answers only.

Communications: Establish the Overlords Empire wide Postal Service, charging reasonable fees and ensuring timely delivery. In short order the Overlord will control all the majority, if not all communications and be able to limit the proliferation of ideas.

Consolidate: gradually introduce laws to reinforce or support the above, incidentally making counter or revolutionary activities illegal.

 

Education is the key, though. Conquerors who have sued some or all of these ideas successfully include:

Alexander the Great, he took greek philosphy with him

Rome, with the policy "all roads lead to Rome" The romans actively exported their culture, making everywhere they conquered "Rome".

The colonial powers used a combination of economic incentive backed up with military might followed by enforced education to destabilise the local culture then rebuild it as a satellite culture of the homeland.

and it continues to this day.

 

Make the Evil Overlord the consumate manipulator with a cadre of elite bureacrats under him :)

 

Then again this would be too hard to fight and your heroes would have to be teachers as well as warriors.

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Need a little help with the magic system. Magic is split into the five classic elements (Fire, Air, Earth, Water and Spirit). Mages are attuned to one element based on the season in which they are born. It is possible to be attuned to two elements if born on the cusp. All that is pretty traditional stuff.

 

Where it differs, is the element you are attuned to is not the special effect of your spells, but where you draw magical energies from. When you cast a spell, you consume (and destroy) an amount of the element you are attuned to. So, an mage attuned to earth could design a Blast power with any special effect they wanted, but the "Fuel" used to power it must be Earth based (metals, gems, etc). A mage attuned to Spirit (aka Blood Mage) must use BODY of a living sentient being, to power their spells instead of END. Either their BODY or someone else's.

 

The BODY for the Spirit element is actually the easiest to create in FH. Where I am needing help is mechanically how to structure the other four elements.

 

Any help will be most appreciated.

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Essentially, with Spirit, you are using BOD for END.

So why not use a similar mechanism for the other elements?

 

For physical materials such as Earth or water, objects have BOD. So a hex of dirt has 0 DEF and 10 BOD and Stone has 5 DEF, 19 BOD (IIRC) In this case, you could power your magic by simply turning the ground to a fine ash that blows away. It makes you incredibly powerful while standing on the ground, since you are rarely, if ever going to run out of END. But you can't cast magic while flying or swimming ... and it might pose some awkward questions about gravity and structural integrity, if you tried casting it inside a stone building ...

 

Water has a suggested 6 BOD per hex. Like Earth, that would make a water mage incredibly powerful when in large bodies of water .... and not so much anywhere else. There is water in the air, so you could perhaps sustain a trickle of power in humid environments.

 

Air is a bit trickier. Technically speaking it also has mass, and therefore also has BOD, but you would need (really rough extrapolation here) about 100 hexes of air to gain 1 BOD. That would let air mages gain END almost anywhere, but at a really slow rate.

 

Fire is the trickiest, since technically it has no BOD, but in this case, I would sub in active points.

 

So one way of doing this would be to link that mechanism to REC. If we assume that magic users can absorb END from their key element, then it is not direct END use that is key it is REC. In other words, all mages have a reservoir of power that they can fill, drawing on their key element.

 

Mechanically, I'd do that by putting a limitation on REC (only recovers by absorbing key element, -2 1/2) and then requiring a mechanism for destroying/absorbing your key element. Transform would be an obvious mechanism: essentially you are transforming your target into Mana. The exception would be fire mages who use Drain, to extinguish fire and draw mana from that. Mundane fires would have 5 active points per DC, for this purpose. The reason this approach appeals is not only is it simple to work out, but it leads to some very different dynamics for the different magic types, while still maintaining playability for all of the different elements.

 

The playability aspect is easy: given time to refill their Mana (or END) any mage could have a full reserve, which means in turn they can do magical stuff. You don't risk having some mages being totally useless out of their preferred area, and supreme while in it. But all mages will run out of Mana, which means they will also have to make choices about resource management - hard choices if they are away from their preferred source.

 

The difference between magic styles come from the fact that each source has different characteristics.

Spirit is reasonably easy to transport and is a concentrated energy source ... but using it involves killing (or at least maiming), which brings up the whole evil thing. It also has the effect that your magic-powering mechanism is a potential weapon, which goes great with the whole evil sorceror vibe - or, if you are into self mutilation, the sacred martyr, powering his spells with his own blood!

Earth is almost everywhere, but relatively hard to transport, unless you have guys carrying bags of rocks around for you. On the other hand, an earth mage would be death to a conventional fortification - given time, he could just disintegrate it.

Water is limited in distribution, and also hard to transport. Water mages get to be king of the Sea though. In a fantasy game, it'd kind of be like being Aquaman in the JLA - at sea, you can give even powerful bad guys a run for their money. On land .... not so much. On the other hand, people are largely made of water .... There's some slippery slope stuff right there.

Air mages can do their stuff almost everywhere, but the need to transform lots of hexes of air one after the other, or have a really big area effect on their transform, means that they have the slowest recovery mechanism. Either they need to devote lots of Xp to recovery, or husband their resources carefully to avoid running out of power ... or both.

Fire mages ... would be interesting. They could regain power by setting lots of fires, which is kind of noticeable (or hanging out around volcanoes) but their power-up mechanism also gives them a potential defense mechanism against fire powers. As an aside, they would make great firemen :)

 

cheers, Mark

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Where it differs, is the element you are attuned to is not the special effect of your spells, but where you draw magical energies from. When you cast a spell, you consume (and destroy) an amount of the element you are attuned to. So, an mage attuned to earth could design a Blast power with any special effect they wanted, but the "Fuel" used to power it must be Earth based (metals, gems, etc).

How much do you want this to be just a special effect, vs. being an detailed game mechanic? If the former, just be to throw on some sort of Limitation for "Only On The Ground," "Must Be Near Water," etc. Maybe tied to a Side Effect: does damage to surrounding area? (Or for Spirit/blood mage, Side Effect Drain BODY on self.) I've used that before, and as long as you don't mind a little handwaving in terms of exactly how much material is used it works pretty well.

 

Building it out as a more deliberate mechanism where it actually destroys/transforms existing earth, etc, could be neat. The catch is it could be prone to abuse if they essentially get a big RKA or Drain for free. And if they actually pay points for the RKA/Drain, then that's going to get expensive fast.

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I too have played/GM'd many low-point games in my day and the key is to create adventures that challenge the players and promote the flavor you are trying to get across.  If a lion has the potential of a total party kill, then i wouldn't place a lion there unless there were environmental advantages the players could potentially take advantage of.  If the players decide to stand toe-to-toe with the lion and all die, instead of use their environment, then perhaps they deserve to die.  But, my players would never do that - they are pretty smart old guys and gals in their 40's and 50's.

 

However, I do like the 25+50=75 build because 50 points in complications really helps promote the oppressive/messed-up nature of this world.  Character's will not be able to buy things common to everyone or are the key tenants of the campaign, such as "Hunted by Minions of the Overlord", "Slave", "Oppressed" or "Destitute/Poor".  They will have to come up with complications specific to their characters.

Very nice, maybe absorbed fragments are sensitive to lost bloodlines, and so they "call" replacement heroes (new PCs)

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Air mages can do their stuff almost everywhere, but the need to transform lots of hexes of air one after the other, or have a really big area effect on their transform, means that they have the slowest recovery mechanism. Either they need to devote lots of Xp to recovery, or husband their resources carefully to avoid running out of power ... or both.

 

 

 

Perhaps Air Mages are also dangerous in their recharging. If they are "destroying" 100 hexes of air, that could potentially lead to some interesting affects upon personnel/structures that are in that area. At the very least it might create a localized Flash to Hearing from the ensuing thunderclap (no idea how loud it would be compared to a lighting bolt).

 

It would also lead to some interesting moments, where you could hear the enemy army's Air Mages powering up before they continued the next day of a siege, for instance. Like artillery, almost.

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How much do you want this to be just a special effect, vs. being an detailed game mechanic? If the former, just be to throw on some sort of Limitation for "Only On The Ground," "Must Be Near Water," etc. Maybe tied to a Side Effect: does damage to surrounding area? (Or for Spirit/blood mage, Side Effect Drain BODY on self.) I've used that before, and as long as you don't mind a little hand-waving in terms of exactly how much material is used it works pretty well.

 

Building it out as a more deliberate mechanism where it actually destroys/transforms existing earth, etc, could be neat. The catch is it could be prone to abuse if they essentially get a big RKA or Drain for free. And if they actually pay points for the RKA Drain, then that's going to get expensive fast.

I want the use of magic to be destructive to the environment, which is why the game world is so messed up (Dystopian Fantasy World with toxic air & water, vast dry wastelands where there shouldn't be, lack of mineral resources, dehumanized population). This magic I call "Consumption Magic" meaning that it consumes much more than the benefits it offers. An example of this would be Healing someone from a Spirit source: It should take 2 BODY drained to heal 1 BODY of damage. A similar level of consumption should be seen with the other four elements.

 

I like Markdoc's idea of tying it to the REC of an END Reserve. But, after reading the Transform power, you cannot kill/destroy with Transform. The Drain power however states that if an object is Drained of all its BODY, it is destroyed - which is what I want. But, what would hexes of destroyed Air & Water look like, and how long would it linger?

 

How about this for the Spirit Element:

 

BLOOD MAGIC (Spirit Element)

Characters attuned to the Spirit Element must use the life-force (spirit) of sentient, living creatures to charge their Mana Pool. The Mana Pool Recharge Power must use Personal END. All Blood Magic spells must have:

 

Must Cost END (From Blood Magic Mana Pool); Requires A Magic Skill Roll (-1/2); Concentration, 1/2 DCV (-1/4); Gestures (-1/4); Incantations (-1/4)

Blood Magic Mana Pool: Endurance Reserve (30 END, 6 REC) Reserve: (12 Active Points); REC: (4 Active Points); Limited Recovery: 1 REC per BODY drained through Blood Magic Drain Ability (-2)

Cost (A/R): 16 / 9; END (1 per 5 AP): None

 

Blood Magic Drain Ability: Drain BODY 1d6 (10 Active Points); Only to recharge Blood Magic Mana Pool Power (-2); Extra Time, 1 Turn - Post-Segment 12, (-1 1/4); Gestures, Requires Gestures throughout, Requires both hands -1; No Range (-1/2); Incantations, Requires Incantations throughout (-1/2); Requires A Magic Skill Roll (-1/2); Concentration, 0 DCV (-1/2)

Cost (A/R): 10 / 1; END (1 per 5 AP): 2 (personal)

 

Body Mending: Healing BODY 2d6 (20 Active Points); Extra Time,1 Minute, Character May Take No Other Actions, (-1 3/4); Requires A Magic Skill Roll (-1/2); Concentration, 1/2 DCV, (-1/4); Gestures (-1/4); Incantations (-1/4)

Cost (A/R): 20 / 5; END (1 per 5 AP): 4 (Blood Magic Mana Pool)

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Ooh - good point about Drain vs. Transform. I had forgotten the 'can't kill' aspect of Transform. Drain for filling your END reserve across the board seems to be the route to go, then. As for special effects, that's up to the GM, but the visual images I had in mind were that for Spirit, you see the victim shrivelling until the corpse simply collapses into fine dust and blows away. For earth, a similar effect, with the soil turning to grey, soft power like talc. In both cases the 'dust' that is left is not fine dirt - the essential mana has been leached out of it, leaving a very, very fine choking powder in which nothing will grow. You have the source of your blasted wastelands and your choking, blinding duststorms right there.

 

Water and air are less impressive visually, but ultimately could have terrible effects - a mage draining the mana from water would simply generate a 'plughole' effect where the water was apparently draining off into nothingness. But do that enough and you could dry out lakes and rivers. And that water is gone. It doesn't get recycled in rain or snow to flow again. If a hex of water has 6 BOD, then to power a simple 12d6 Energy blast, you are using up the equivalent of two tonnes of water. A powerful mage could empty out a lake in a few months of magical tinkering, if it was not replenished by a decent flow of water. That's the next step towards your blasted wastelands.

 

And air - even less of a visual effect. A hundred hexes of air might sound like a lot, but it's a cube about 4.6 meters a side, and air flows easily - I'm thinking the visual effect is simply a strong wind or whirlwind around the caster. Visually impressive, and enough to move small or light objects, break nearby windows, etc, but not enough to do serious damage. If you've seen the 'powerup' of various anime psychics, you probably have the visuals you need. It might appear the least destructive magic - after all, it's just wind right? That might even leak over into an assumed moral superiority of aircasters. But think about it. The effects might be slower and less obvious, but aircasters are using up our air .... gasp, choke. A society with thousands of aircasters that lasted for centuries might end up have significant effects on the whole planet's atmosphere. That completes your blasted wastelands origin story.

 

Frankly, selling the 'Aircasting is the only morally acceptable form of magic, it doesn't blight the Earth or drain the waters or require the deaths of innocents" trope to the players, to try and get them to use that form of magic and then having the BBG or an evil lieutenant later do a reveal that "You people are the reason it hardly ever rains anymore"  would be very hard for me to resist as a GM. :) Particularly since the evil lieutenant could then point out that the only form of magic that doesn't desecrate the earth is spirit magic. Yeah, that's right. Killing people is the only ethical way to power your spells. Nothing makes players hate the bad guys like having them try to capture the moral high ground, and it would reinforce the ambiguous nature of a grimdark campaign. :)

 

Though that might be recycling, I guess, since I did something similar last campaign.

 

cheers, Mark

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"If a hex of water has 6 BOD, then to power a simple 12d6 Energy blast, you are using up the equivalent of two tonnes of water."

 

 

I found this statement to be very revealing and thought to myself... "Wow, that seems like a lot of water."  I then wanted to look the calculations.
 
I'm assuming, when you say HEX, you mean a standard 2m across hexagon by 2 meters tall?  Is a Hex different in.  If that assumption is correct, a hex volume is 10.4 cu. meters. Water weighs 1000kg (1 tonne) per cubic meter, so a single hex of water is 10.4 tonnes.
 
A 12d6 Blast is 60 active points and costs 12 END (1 END per 5 AP in my low magic campaign).  You were probably going on the standard 1/10 END cost. 
 
To charge a water caster's Mana Pool with 12 END would require the destruction of 2 hexes of water, given a standard of 6 BODY per hex.
 
That is even more water than I thought - its 20.8 tonnes of water or 5,492 gallons. That is over 100 standard whiskey barrels.
 
 
IS THAT RIGHT?
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I want the use of magic to be destructive to the environment, which is why the game world is so messed up

Gotcha. You could probably still accomplish the same thing with a Severe Side Effect, which would require less bookeeping and a bit more handwaving. But if you don't mind the bookeeping, what you have for the spirit/blood element looks great. A few observations:

 

The Blood Drain should probably have a Limitation for Only Works Against ____, whether you define that as only humans, humans & animals, whatever.

 

The character has the choice who/what to target with the Drain, right? That will limit the amount of collateral damage significantly, especially since with the 1 Turn Extra Time, recharging the pool will mostly be done outside of combat, right? So they can afford to be at least a bit selective about who/what they Drain.

 

Also as written there's no requirement that they actually destroy anything. They can drain someone/something of half their/its BODY and then let those lost points recover normally while they either move to another target or wait for the first target to recover before draining them again. I'm not saying it would be exactly fun for the target, but no destruction per se.

 

A nastier version could be to slap some level of Uncontrolled on it, so that maybe it triggers whenever their pool drops below a certain point and then they Drain whatever/whoever happens to be closest? And/or an "All Or Nothing" Lim, so they have to Drain something all the way down before they get any benefit? Depends how dark you want this to go.

 

Either way, sounds like a fun concept.

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I found this statement to be very revealing and thought to myself... "Wow, that seems like a lot of water."  I then wanted to look the calculations.

 

I'm assuming, when you say HEX, you mean a standard 2m across hexagon by 2 meters tall?  Is a Hex different in.  If that assumption is correct, a hex volume is 10.4 cu. meters. Water weighs 1000kg (1 tonne) per cubic meter, so a single hex of water is 10.4 tonnes.

 

A 12d6 Blast is 60 active points and costs 12 END (1 END per 5 AP in my low magic campaign).  You were probably going on the standard 1/10 END cost. 

 

To charge a water caster's Mana Pool with 12 END would require the destruction of 2 hexes of water, given a standard of 6 BODY per hex.

 

That is even more water than I thought - its 20.8 tonnes of water or 5,492 gallons. That is over 100 standard whiskey barrels.

 

 

IS THAT RIGHT?

Yeah, that's right. I messed up, by thinking in metres instead of hexes. It makes the point even more dramatically, no?

 

Cheers, Mark

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