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The Burned Lands Part 2 – Magic…Magic is What Brings Us Together…Today

Continuing along with my entry into the RPG Blog Carnival, I thought I’d take a moment to share the Burned Lands magic system for a moment.  This is one place that I actually go way, way off from the core rules.  So far, I haven’t actually play tested it, and frankly it could suck major ass, but I’m going to try it anyways.  To start with, let me say that I have some issues with spell casters in general.  It’s simply that the classes are to under powered at lower levels, and to plentiful for the power they achieve at higher levels.  Of course, as with all things, this is just my opinion, but since it’s my world, I get to act on them ;).  Of course, this system actually changes all magic, not just wizards, but I digress.  Wizards makes a pretty good example class for this discussion.

The first thing I did was rip away all “fire and forget” spells.  Wizards have to make an attack roll on everything.  This was to balance out the other changes and take away any “game breaking” aspects.  Armor does protect a target from magical effects somewhat as well.  Wizards have two seperate attack bonuses to keep up with.  One is the BAB, but the other is their magical attack bonus.  Basically, it’s their level just like a fighter’s is.  Wizards can add their INT bonus, and Clerics add their WIS.  Bards add their CHA bonus obviously.  This is a 4th Edition rule that I actually like.  Frankly, it makes sense on all levels, so why not use it, right?

Another thing I’ve done is merge the Wizard and the Sorcerer classes.  I call the combined class “Mage”.  They have the known spells of a sorcerer and the spells per day of a wizard.  However, they have to study their spells each night to retain them.  If not, they have a 25% chance to forget.  The chance increases another 25% each day until it’s forgotten or they study the spell again.  The assumption is that the mage will study until it’s fully replenished.  The ability to forget a spell gives the mage a flexibility that I feel is important for the whole group.  After all, if they come across the Knock spell, but the mage already has all his spells for that level, he may want to learn that spell.  This mechanic is there for that reason.

Now, another thing that 4e does for wizards that I like is the at-will powers are spells that they can cast whenever, making it so a wizard will never run out of spells.  At low levels, that is fantastic!  I like that so well that I’m working on a feat called Ingrained Spell.  The mage has studied a spell so well, it has permenantly engrained itself into the mage’s mind so he can not forget it.  However, it takes up the slot of two (or possibly more) known spells.  This way, the mage will always have something like Magic Missile. (Can you tell that there’s a lot about 4e wizards that I like? ;)).

Lastly, the mage class has some fluff that must be dealt with.  In The Burned Lands, magic users are pretty rare.  Magic is just as powerful, and it’s not some epic quest to become a magic user, but there just aren’t to many of them left.  Most of them were killed during the God War that lasted a thousand years.  There are very, very few mages left.  In fact, there are only three high level mages still alive, and they don’t get along well enough to have a school.  As such, there are fewer spells just laying around and no magical items shops to speak of.  Higher level spells must be either researched all to hell and back, or a quest must be taken for these lost tomes of arcane lore.  This helps to keep higher levels in check just a bit…or at least I hope so.

The magical system here is still in the highly experimental stage.  This is just a rough outline to hopefully spur the imagination of some of you folks.  Any feedback is welcomed, as you may (and probably) see something I missed.  So enjoy! 😉

September 2, 2008 - Posted by | RPG | ,


  1. magic…ten time better than “Mawwage” lol.

    I like it. A little complex (at least it’s headed that way). I would replace the 25% with a d20 roll. Same percentage, fewer dice.

    Another cool schtick would be defilers/preservers. A little cliche, but it hasn’t been done at all since Dark sun, and it was a pretty darned good idea back then. That is, allow “natural born” mages to start as defilers. They must then make a decision at relatively low level (5th?) as to which path they will take.

    Eventually defilers become liches, and preservers become more…celestial like. That’s all I got 🙂

    Comment by Donny_the_DM | September 3, 2008 | Reply

  2. Yeah, a d20 can have the same percentage chance, but I don’t think we get to use 2d10 nearly enough anymore 😉

    I never really spent that much time with Dark Sun, so I’m not 100% certain how the defilers/perservers work. Despite the surface of this system, the spells are the exact same as PHB I spells, to make the transition easier.

    Comment by Tom | September 3, 2008 | Reply

  3. […] world be without magic?  The Arcane Path is made up of wizards and warlocks.  Based on the magic system I’ve outlined recently, there was no reason to keep around the sorcerer, so they’re […]

    Pingback by The Burned Lands Part 3 - Class Groups « The Geek Emporium | September 4, 2008 | Reply

  4. The defiler/preserver mechanic allowed heartless (evil) mages to supplement their powers by draining the life of all living things around them to fuel spells. The effect (aside from defiling itself) was a truly sweetheart XP progression.

    Preservers minimize their effects on the world around them, but suffer from terrible xp progression. Can’t remember what the offsetting perk was though…

    Comment by Donny_the_DM | September 26, 2008 | Reply

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