CKG's Mana and Spellcasting Option

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KeyIXTheHermit
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CKG's Mana and Spellcasting Option

Post by KeyIXTheHermit »

In preparation for the game I'm wanting to put together, I've been doing a lot of reading, and just now re-read the section in my Castle Keeper's Guide entitled "Mana and Spellcasting."

So that you don't have to hunt down your copies and read it to know what I'm talking about, here's a short version:
Casters have a number of mana points taken from a table. Your attribute bonus (for Int or Wis) is added to this total. Some sample Mana points are 6 at first level, 15 at fifth level, 60 at tenth level, 141 at 17th level.

Spells cost mana to cast, equal to their level number + 1 (so a 6th level spell costs 7 mana to cast).

Mana regenerates at points per hour equal to the caster's level, e.g. 5/hr for a fifth level caster.
Folks, I think I'm in love. That just reads like a really great system. The numbers seem really high at the upper end, but I have no reason to believe it's not balanced well; the writers of the game seem to really know their stuff.

My question is, has anyone ever tried this system, and how well did you like it? If you didn't like it, why not? What didn't work for you?

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Re: CKG's Mana and Spellcasting Option

Post by Rigon »

I have not tried it, but I know a couple of people have and they always said good things about it. I have thought about using it a time or two, but haven't gotten around to it.

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Re: CKG's Mana and Spellcasting Option

Post by alcyone »

You are making Jack Vance spin in his grave.
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Re: CKG's Mana and Spellcasting Option

Post by KeyIXTheHermit »

Aergraith wrote:You are making Jack Vance spin in his grave.
It's okay... he can only do it 3x a day. After that he forgets how.

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Re: CKG's Mana and Spellcasting Option

Post by serleran »

It works better when you have to, or can, spend points to modify the spell variables. Want to increase base damage from d6 to d8, add 35 mana. Or whatever. This allows a much wider "free casting" net.

Of course, I really hate having to track time so I would ignore the refresh rate. Instead, I would use something different... not sure what at the moment, since I'm not interested in developing it.

Anyway. No, I have not used this section. I don't even open my CKG.

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Re: CKG's Mana and Spellcasting Option

Post by Fizz »

KeyIXTheHermit wrote:
Aergraith wrote:You are making Jack Vance spin in his grave.
It's okay... he can only do it 3x a day. After that he forgets how.
LOL! Brilliant!

-Fizz

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Re: CKG's Mana and Spellcasting Option

Post by Fizz »

I have tried the CKG's version. While i am a fan of the principle, i am not of the numbers used. I find the number-keeping a bit too clunky.

A related version that i like is the one used in the Midnight campaign setting. There, an arcance caster had an amount of energy equal to their level plus modifier. A spell cost an amount of energy equal to its level- nice and simple. And you can get more by draining Constitution (if i recall).

Now, this does change the relative power levels- as magic in Midnight is more rare and special. And it also tends to change the relative strength of spells that a caster makes. But i am ok with this. Personally, i like magic being rare and special, and high level magic should be hard. But if that's too extreme for, you can tweak the numbers (say, energy equal to twice their level).

-Fizz

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Re: CKG's Mana and Spellcasting Option

Post by KeyIXTheHermit »

serleran wrote:It works better when you have to, or can, spend points to modify the spell variables. Want to increase base damage from d6 to d8, add 35 mana. Or whatever. This allows a much wider "free casting" net.

Of course, I really hate having to track time so I would ignore the refresh rate. Instead, I would use something different... not sure what at the moment,
It occurs to me that spells that improve at higher levels will need to be cast at higher levels, otherwise the point values will be completely unbalanced.

A simple example is the Magic Missile that gains an additional missile every two levels. When I play with the standard RAW, a Magic Missile always takes up a Level 1 Spell Slot, no matter how high the caster level or how many bolts the spell casts. This is, to my mind, simply a benefit of becoming more proficient with the spell. At 9th level the Magic Missile casts 5 missiles, but it doesn't take up a Level 9 spell slot... it still takes only the Level 1 Spell slot.

If we use this system, though, yeah, I already see that I'll want to charge 2 points per missile (starting at level 1) to a maximum of 10 points for 5 missiles at levels 9+. Allowing the Wizard to cast 5 missiles for 2 points sounds groovy, but it will clearly through PC balance out the window.

I agree with you on tracking time. I've always had to do it, because pretty much every game I've ever played has this same mechanic in place, but I don't like it. Like I said, I pretty much let my players do it for me.... they're always quick to note when an hour has passed, especially right before a combat begins!
Fizz wrote:
KeyIXTheHermit wrote:
Aergraith wrote:You are making Jack Vance spin in his grave.
It's okay... he can only do it 3x a day. After that he forgets how.
LOL! Brilliant!

-Fizz
Thanks! :D
Fizz wrote:I have tried the CKG's version. While i am a fan of the principle, i am not of the numbers used. I find the number-keeping a bit too clunky.

A related version that i like is the one used in the Midnight campaign setting. There, an arcance caster had an amount of energy equal to their level plus modifier. A spell cost an amount of energy equal to its level- nice and simple. And you can get more by draining Constitution (if i recall).

Now, this does change the relative power levels- as magic in Midnight is more rare and special. And it also tends to change the relative strength of spells that a caster makes. But i am ok with this. Personally, i like magic being rare and special, and high level magic should be hard. But if that's too extreme for, you can tweak the numbers (say, energy equal to twice their level).

-Fizz
Yeah, the numbers really seem waaaaaaaaay too extreme, especially at the upper end of things (110 points at level 15! The piddly +1 to +3 Int Bonus no longer has any meaning!). However, having never played it, I am willing to accept that it might seem more balanced in play than it appears on paper.

I really like your Midnight version, though. Like you, I prefer magic be minimal and mysterious, so small numbers like that sound far better to my ear. A 10th level caster can cast 10 1st level spells, or 5 second level spells, or 3 third level spells, etc, or any combination as long as it's not more than 10 (assuming no Int bonus). That *definitely* sounds better to my ears. I also toyed around with Int Bonus times Level, meaning you'd have to have at least an Int of 13 to have magic, and a Wizard with an Int of 13 at 10th level would have 10 Mana Points, while a Wizard with an Int of 18 at 10th level would have 30 Mana points.

That idea makes it important to have a high Int for Wizards, and you'll want that 18 Int whenever you can get it. Spells would cost equal to their Level number in this system.

The Everquest pen and paper rpg has a mana system, too. I should revisit it, as it might work in this game. It seemed a little overly complex, IIRC.

As for me, the Midnight version sounds fine! I fear, however, that my players would string me up. They most certainly wouldn't play Wizards, being somewhat munchkiny... and I want them to, or else I'm doomed to play the same campaign (Warrior and Rogue) for the rest of my life.

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Re: CKG's Mana and Spellcasting Option

Post by alcyone »

It's too bad they don't have the PHB as a Word document like Basic Fantasy does, because when you are done, you probably will only need 3 or 4 of the original pages.
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Re: CKG's Mana and Spellcasting Option

Post by Fizz »

KeyIXTheHermit wrote:As for me, the Midnight version sounds fine! I fear, however, that my players would string me up. They most certainly wouldn't play Wizards, being somewhat munchkiny... and I want them to, or else I'm doomed to play the same campaign (Warrior and Rogue) for the rest of my life.
Yes, i like it. Midnight itself was built for 3E, so there may be some differences there. And Midnight had it's own quirks (any class could learn magic via feats, for instance). So long as you accept that Midnight's system favors lower level spells over higher, it works pretty well.

I never tried it, but i was (am) intrigued, is the system used in the Sovereign Stone setting. In this system, every spell has a casting threshold (no levels). Each round of casting, a spellcaster collects d20+level (and +modifier iirc) in spell energy. Once they have collected enough energy to meet the casting threshold, the spell is cast. It means a 1st level caster could hypothetically cast a very powerful spell, but it would take them a long time to collect enough energy (hundreds required). But it does require some number tracking across rounds.

I also like the idea of a spellcheck system. Magic is a skill after all. Fighters make checks (attack rolls), rogues make checks (skill checks), so why not magic users?


-Fizz

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Re: CKG's Mana and Spellcasting Option

Post by Lurker »

KeyIXTheHermit wrote:
Aergraith wrote:You are making Jack Vance spin in his grave.
It's okay... he can only do it 3x a day. After that he forgets how.
:lol: :lol: :lol:

Perfect !

From that you can assume that I'm not a fan of Vance's fire & forget system.

However, no matter what I tried to come up with back in the day worked. They were either under powerful and overly hamstrung the caster, or they were way to powerful and let the mage become uber powerful compared to other classes at the same level - which is fine if you want a high fantasy high magic setting, but isn't my cup of tea - or it was tooooo book workie and turned the MU player into an accountant ...

I think the mana system will fall into the book work area and could become to powerful if you mess with the numbers to much.

From the CKG, I did like the spell point system - modified a bit.
serleran wrote:It works better when you have to, or can, spend points to modify the spell variables. Want to increase base damage from d6 to d8, add 35 mana. Or whatever. This allows a much wider "free casting" net.

Of course, I really hate having to track time so I would ignore the refresh rate. Instead, I would use something different... not sure what at the moment, since I'm not interested in developing it.

Anyway. No, I have not used this section. I don't even open my CKG.
I like that ... maybe tie it to a skill check (int for MU and wis for cleric) to change an attribute of the spell and tack on a point buy for the change ...

Fizz wrote: ...

A related version that i like is the one used in the Midnight campaign setting. ...

...
-Fizz
I love the idea of the midnight setting, and have a lot of the books, but never got to play in the setting. So, I'm not sure exactly how the magic was handled . I do remember it broke down the wall between cleric and wizard spells, but that is all I remember.
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KeyIXTheHermit
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Re: CKG's Mana and Spellcasting Option

Post by KeyIXTheHermit »

Fizz wrote: I never tried it, but i was (am) intrigued, is the system used in the Sovereign Stone setting. In this system, every spell has a casting threshold (no levels). Each round of casting, a spellcaster collects d20+level (and +modifier iirc) in spell energy. Once they have collected enough energy to meet the casting threshold, the spell is cast. It means a 1st level caster could hypothetically cast a very powerful spell, but it would take them a long time to collect enough energy (hundreds required). But it does require some number tracking across rounds.
That's cool... I have the original version of Sovereign Stone that uses what's now sometimes referred to as the Cortex System (although it's not exactly the same; the Cortex system got cleaned up before it got the name, which is why I usually refer to Sovereign Stone as "proto-Cortex"). In the original version of the game, spells are done basically the same way: Each spell has a Difficulty number, and the spellcaster has a Spell skill based on a die type for your Attribute and for your Skill (e.g. d10 Int + d8 Magic skill). The two dice are rolled, and once you equal or beat the difficulty number, the spell succeeds... but it may take many rounds for it to happen. So it does sound like the d20 version tried to stay true to the original game, which is cool.

I also like skill rolls for magic spells, and I like it when failed rolls cause really bad stuff to happen.

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Re: CKG's Mana and Spellcasting Option

Post by Captain_K »

We use a simple system. You have "slots" to memorize spells at a qty that is 1.5x (round up) what is in the spell table. Those are spells you can choose to cast from... you can only cast as many spells from that "memorized pool" as the spells per day table allows.. BUT you do not loose the memorized spells, thus you can cast the same spell as much as you want. Give breath and permits depth if needed. We also allow all healers to convert to healing spells.. not need to memorize those ever. Recovery of "cast spells per day" is improved to get it back faster.. not only once per day. Works well and simple.
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Re: CKG's Mana and Spellcasting Option

Post by Giant2005 »

If I were going to screw with the spell system, it wouldn't be to straight up increase the power of spellcasters. There would have to be an opportunity cost - in return for the increased versatility, the caster can cast less spells than they could before.
Something like level 0 spells cast free, all spells are memorized (up to the level you can learn as per your class table), but you can only cast a total number of spell levels each day equal to double the level of the highest level spell you have memorized.

So a level 7 Wizard could only cast a total of 8 levels worth of spells, but he could do whatever he wanted with them whether it be 8 Magic Missiles, or an Enhance Attribute plus 6 levels worth of whatever.

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Re: CKG's Mana and Spellcasting Option

Post by KeyIXTheHermit »

Giant2005 wrote:If I were going to screw with the spell system, it wouldn't be to straight up increase the power of spellcasters.
Yeah, I would never want to give Spellcasters more power, and I do realize that the system presented in the CKG will certainly do that, especially at the higher end of things. But I do like Power Points mostly out of familiarity, so I'm not opposed to it, although I definitely agree that the power point ranges given in the CKG are probably mondo powerful. I ask because I don't know for sure, having never played that level of C&C before. But the numbers seriously do look immense.

OTOH, I also don't want to cripple the class so low as to make them completely unplayable. If I was going to do that, I'd just ban the class and make them NPC's only. I've done that before, and since nobody in my group likes magic in games that much anyway, nobody really minded... but I'd like the option to be open, if for no other reason to allow players to have more options if they want them. The players may never want to play a Wizard, but I want the option to exist, if for no other reason but to keep the game alive longer.

It's a fine line without playtesting, and I'm not sure which is the best side to be on. OT1H, giving them too many PP will unbalance the class, but at least they'll have fun. OTOH, giving them too few will keep them from running over the other characters, but they'll be miserable being mostly useless, and then it was pointless having them play as Wizards anyway.

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