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Thread: Brainpicking for Alternate Magical Mechanics

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    Brainpicking for Alternate Magical Mechanics

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    Hello hello,

    I'm a n00b on the forum, so apologies in advance if this isn't the right place to ask this sort of question!

    Background: I have been building an original world on and off for a few years now, and it has become increasingly apparent that the standard D&D rules for magic wouldn't always apply. That's fine, and if I have to finagle some variation to fit my ideas, I'm happy enough to do it, but if there are rules I can coopt which already exist... weeelllll... why reinvent the wheel, right?

    To briefly describe the situation, the tack I have taken is that energy is not unlimited. You have your personal source of power, which grows as you learn how to harness it more efficiently (level up), and you have the power available in the outside world. Divinity is a nonentity. Divinity IS the world. There is no praying to a god/dess for spells, no "divine" casting. Life creates energy, death releases a lot of potential energy, etc. etc. Fairly standard metaphysical understandings, complete with the notion of "lines" of this power which flow over the world. Ley lines, for lack of better vocabulary. Lots of power in places with lots of life/activity, not so much power in places without it. You aren't going to find a crazy-strong Wizard in the middle of a desert unless they only work with other sources (elements, seismic activity/volcanic fire/winds). That kind of thing.

    In my case, what this means is that the standard spells-per-day progression plumb doesn't make sense.

    If a spell takes a lot of power, okay, you deplete a lot of what you personally have or you deplete part of the ambient energy. If you take too much, things sicken, die, etc., yourself included if you steal your own life force. Pool-based, not arbitrary-number-based. You can either cast a lot of small spells or a few bigger spells/one really big spell, and when your personal energy is gone, you draw from outside or, if you value your life, you stop casting. For ease of use, I'm assuming level 0/1 spells take negligible energy and the others take more as the spell levels go up.

    Now, I've heard that there are some Psionics mechanics which work similarly, but I'm not certain which resources would describe them, since I've never used Psionics in my campaigns and only vaguely interacted with a player using them in someone else's.

    --

    Question time:
    1. Is anyone familiar with a pool-based mechanic already in a D&D environment? Was what I heard about Psionics correct? I'm superficially familiar with "Vampire: the Masquerade" and similar (more recent) games along those lines, but while they have the pool concept, they aren't mechanically similar enough to D&D for my purposes.
    2. Is anyone familiar with D&D mechanics for forcibly drawing and/or lending power from/to other people? Something akin to A) a psychic vampire feeding on energy instead of blood, B) a Master Mage drawing from willing Apprentices to cast a powerful spell, C) donating a bit of personal power to a city-wide pool to keep up communal protections as a weekly tax, etc.


    Thank you in advance for any help you can send my way!
    We are what we repeatedly do.
    Excellence, then, is a habit.

    ~ Socrates

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    let's see, the reason for the existence for the spell slots and per day thing is that it was borrowed from vance's novels wholesale. the rational is that you have a limited amount of energy you can channel before it wears out for the day, a deep sleep is the only way to restore it. for casters, the packets of energy (daily slots) represent the maximum amount of power you can hold "at a moments notice" (wizards) "or available to you" (sorcerers/psionics) "or can channel from your connection" (divine) without losing it. the spell level thing is completely arbitrary.

    you are basically describing sorcerers, but without the spell level based slots, using the alternate spell point system (in the unearthed arcana), which is the same thing psionics uses - a power point system. you have x number of points, powers / spells of different levels cost a certain number of points, spend them how you will. there are feats which allow you to burn up your health/stats for extra power points on the psionic side. the only thing that occurs to me on the magical side for "over-casting" is resetting slots via magic items, and a few other tricks.

    if you reduce your casting to point based, then the only difference between psionic and magic would be the material, verbal, somatic, and focus components on the magical side as opposed to just manifesting it (and having to suppress your indicators if you want the 'think and it happens' effect).

    your (A) is the same as the spellthief and psithief prestige class, as well as a few powers which steal power points and/or knowledge of powers... and maybe a spell or two that do something similar.
    your (B) is the same as circle magic which is granted by a prestige class or two and a feat in... ghostwalk i think it was.
    your (C) is the same as the guild-wizard prestige class, and/or a mythal or mythallar, though those latter two are epic only items.

    lending power is done through the divine method of that one spell that grants the ability to spell cast one spell or so; the arcane method of a ring of spell storing, and the psionic method of bestow power which grants knowledge of a power and some power points to manifest it with.

    hope that helps. i'm more familiar with psionics, personally, but feel free to ask more questions. =D
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
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    Reply to nijineko, who obviously has more gamer cookies in the jar than I do!

    Holy moly! Thank you, haha. I can say with total honesty that while I am reassured that systems to cover my situations semi-exist, I now have to go look up what on earth all of the things you said ARE. I've never heard of most of them...

    I strooongly suspect that because all of my DMs in the past have been original writers, I have missed out on a lot of material!

    Starting small, what would you recommend as a good resource for looking up details on the psionics you mentioned? Is there a specific reference book? I don't own many D&D-related books (only a dozen or so) and none about the prestige classes other than the basics and what came in the planes/dragons/book of vile darkness.
    We are what we repeatedly do.
    Excellence, then, is a habit.

    ~ Socrates

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    Quote Originally Posted by Perspicacity View Post
    Holy moly! Thank you, haha. I can say with total honesty that while I am reassured that systems to cover my situations semi-exist, I now have to go look up what on earth all of the things you said ARE. I've never heard of most of them...

    I strooongly suspect that because all of my DMs in the past have been original writers, I have missed out on a lot of material!

    Starting small, what would you recommend as a good resource for looking up details on the psionics you mentioned? Is there a specific reference book? I don't own many D&D-related books (only a dozen or so) and none about the prestige classes other than the basics and what came in the planes/dragons/book of vile darkness.
    Quick point, not sure it matters in this circumstance as you're just looking for information, but the Book of Vile Darkness and Ghostwalk are 3.0 while most of the other things referenced so far I think are from 3.5. Not sure that it matters, but if it does, there you go.

    Also, yes Niji is pretty much awesome. An asset to P&PG for sure.

    As for being on topic, almost everything you want to look for or reference is listed here word for word from whatever sourcebook.

    Such as...

    Spellthief (Class)

    Psithief (feat)

    Red Wizard (prestige class who uses Circle Magic.)

    Guild-Wizard (The site says this is a work in progress, so not sure how helpful this one will be.)

    So there's some of the references made in online sources (but again, they come copied from the books.)

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    ah, not so sure about all that praise. *^^*

    anyhow, if you want access to free 3.5 d&d material, i suggest the official SRD. you can download the entire thing from wotc for free as rtf documents / zip file, but the online d20srd is easier to use.

    The SRD contains the majority of the Player's Handbook, the Dungeon Master's Guide, the Monster Manual 1, the Expanded Psionics Handbook, the Epic Level Handbook, the Deities and Demigods book, the Unearthed Arcana (optional and expanded rules), and the Planar Handbook; all released as Open Content under the stipulations of the OGL license document. all official, all free (for personal use). those are the core rules for any d&d game in 3.x.

    the psionics sources deemed official by WotC are:
    the Expanded Psionics Handbook (ignore the 3.0 psionics handbook as it is out of date and not well balanced yet),
    the Complete Psionic,
    the Secrets of Sarlona,
    the Dark Sun 3r7 pdf from Athas.org,
    the Mind's Eye web articles from WotC,
    and a smattering of other bits and pieces scattered throughout other source books here and there.


    and no worries, everyone allocates their cookies differently. i tend to be a psionics freak... it has reached the point that i don't play any non-psionic characters at all any more. as a dm, that is not the case, but as a player, no psionics = no play. ^^

    and original = good (usually ^^). after all, d&d itself is the result of two guys making modifications to chainmail, etc., and homebrewing their own stuff, brainstorming after getting together, and finally deciding to publish!
    Last edited by nijineko; 03-13-2013 at 12:00 PM.
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
    CrystalBallLite: the best dice roller on the planet! . nijineko the archivist: the 3.x archive

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    If you are still looking for psionics stuff, I have a wonderful homebrew source that converts all the core spellcasting classes(wizards, sorcerers, clerics and even "half casters" like Bards and Paladins) and many of the the game's spells to the psionics system, refluffing it as "magic" rather then psionics. If you want to take a look at this homebrew work once you get the gist of Psionics I can send it to you in pdf form. Since it's totally homebrewed, this isn't violating any kind of coppyright laws since it's creator released it for free on the net.

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