Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Diamond Spear

The Magic of the Black Company

Recommended Posts

I'm trying to decide on how one would go about designing a magic system like that used in Glenn Cook's Black Company books. Variable Power Pools are the obvious answer and I'm fine with that but the size of those pools and how they can be utilized is what I'm struggling with. A cap of around 40 points for most "regular" sorcerers seems about right, perhaps with a 1/2 or x2 effect for illusions (based largely on how Goblin and One Eye's magic is described in the first three books). It's after that where things get tricky. For the most part the extremely powerful sorcerers in the books don't seem to use much "fast cast" magic and mostly weave spells that buff or debuff or protect an area. When they do cut loose with heavy duty magic it's usually when they have had time to prepare and it seems like they are mostly triggering prepared spells rather than casting them cold. My first thought was that for every "x" points over 40 you have to add one step on the time chart to reflect the amount of preparation that very powerful spells take. The problem there is that if I set "x" at 5 or 10 points then the kind of magic that the Taken or the Lady can wield would end up taking a month or more but if I raise "x" to 15 or 20 points per step on the time chart it doesn't limit lesser sorcerers like it should.

 

I'm stuck. So please HEROdom assembled, hit me with your best suggestions, thoughts and ramblings. Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There aren't many concrete examples; Cook doesn't write casters as point-of-view characters, which probably helps him write magic but doesn't help us play it.  It's not too dissimilar with his Garrett books.  

 

I think you could probably wing it with RSR, Gestures, Incantations, Focus, Extra Time.  I would imagine each caster has their own specialty; Goblin and One Eye are illusionists.  Taken are a whole different story, of course; I would almost put them at superhero level with a different magic system, while "PC" level characters are much lower.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been reading the series off and on (currently on) for the past year or two.

 

For PCs I would go with:

  • VPP
  • 40 active points with the possibility of growing to 60 active points
  • RSR, Gestures, Incantations, and Extra Time (bare minimum of full phase for al spells)
  • Focus - not sure about this one

Defensive spells in the books seem to take the most time to set up and they seem to be layered.  Also mages seem to be able to combine powers to get a greater effect than any single mage could (Aid?).

 

The Taken and Lady are definitely in a league of their own.  They all seem to be almost invulnerable to any non-magical attack.  Magical attacks also seem to barely impact them.  In their case I think they would have damage resistance + lots of rPD/rED + a giant sized PRE because they can presence attack huge groups of people into inaction or full blown retreat.  I think their VPP would be 60 to 90 active points.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't read the books but I've found when the spell casters go from heavily planned spells to off the cuff spells, the best way to simulate it is with variable limitation and then limit the types of limitations it can have.  If you make them stack -1 or -2 worth of limitations, out of combat to prepare, players will do the magic circle (OAF, immovable), gestures and incantations throughout, 0 DCV, Extra time, etc.  In combat, they will generally use increased end cost to cover the problem. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×