2d6 casting again

Nicholas Roerich - Snakes facing

Nicholas Roerich – Snakes facing (source)

On monday, I got to test out the petition system for cleric magic that uses a 2d6 casting roll. Here are my findings. I think they apply to other 2d6 casting systems that I have considered in the past as well.

Overall, I was pleased, but I would like to simplify the presentation somehow (the fourfold categorization did not seem immediately obvious to the players). I think there also needs to be some sort of exhaustion mechanic built in. There were no problems during the session exactly, but magic did feel a bit to accessible, especially compared to the party magic-user. Thus, I think I’m going to modify the 2 and 3-4-5 ranges to apply a cumulative penalty. So:

Spurned (further attempting this petition is at -1)

Becomes something like:

Spurned (failure, cumulative -1)

This is similar to a previous idea I had for accumulating arcane stress. It’s also related to this other recent post about another cleric magic system, which allocated “disfavor” points for successfully casting spells. I think the arcane stress post had the right of it by only causing cumulative penalties on lower rolls, as disfavor arising from success seems slightly strange.

Here is an adjusted cleric magic roll:

Petition Roll
2d6 Result
2 or less Abandoned (specific petition unavailable, any abjuration ends, cumulative -1)
3, 4, 5 Spurned (failure, cumulative -1)
6, 7, 8 Ignored (failure, may try again next turn)
9, 10, 11 Answered (standard success)
12 or more Rewarded (double effect, demons or undead destroyed, etc)

And a magic-user version:

Sorcery Roll
2d6 Result
2 or less Catastrophe (chaos surge/mutation/backfire, spell lost, cumulative -1)
3, 4, 5 Miscast (failure, chaos leak, cumulative -1)
6, 7, 8 Delayed (goes off at the end of all actions, may be interrupted)
9, 10, 11 Success
12 or more Puissant success (extended duration, full damage, or something similar)

Cumulative penalties go away and spells may be re-prepared after characters return to civilization and rest for a night, along with appropriate prayer or study.

The differences between cleric petitions and sorcery are as follows. Cleric magic need not be prepared, but is limited to the powers granted by a particular order or patron. It also is more ritualistic, and with the exception of a few limited combat effects (such as turn undead or hold person) requires at least an exploration turn (and often a full day) to attempt. Sorcery, on the other hand, requires preparation, but the set of effects to choose from is limited only by spells known. Sorcery is also more directly potent and more dangerous (potentially causing chaos leaks, mutations, backfires, and all kinds of nastiness). Both kinds of magic become harder to use as failures accumulate, which is important for the resource management aspect of game play.

13 thoughts on “2d6 casting again

  1. Gus L

    On Sorcery I would also allow the caster to “burn” the spell for a guaranteed effect (maybe still roll but worst result is “delayed”). That way arcane magic has an option to get of spells when absolutely necessary that divine lacks. Arcane casting being a lot more combat focused anyway.

    Is turning now treated as a spell? How does that scale with undead level?

    1. Brendan Post author


      I like the idea of burning a spell to guarantee casting, but I would probably still have the possibility of chaos leaks or surges… just in addition to the standard effect.

      Yeah, turning is a spell. 2d6 +L -M, where L is half level (round up) and M is monster HD. Number of HD affected is still sort of undefined, but my general approach is generally “all those near the cleric” though if I needed to I would also take a look at Nd6 (where N is cleric level) for how many HD are affected. Turn for success less than 12, destruction for success 12 or more.

  2. Alec Semicognito

    Would the patron’s favor or disfavor provide modifiers? So that Loviatar would be more likely to reward a cleric who’d recently caused great pain but to punish one who’d shown mercy, etc?

    I strongly agree that powers available should vary by patron — Loviatar wouldn’t be generous with healing, for instance.

    1. Brendan Post author


      That would be a totally reasonable addition. In fact, I really like that it preserves player choice. The character has acted against ethos, and so takes a penalty, but does not lose all access to spells or something like that which is what Gygax advocated.

      If I did this, I would be very explicit about action consequences. So, I would tell the player that an action was problematic (like the Loviatar/healing example) and then let the player decide if the cost was worth the benefit.

      1. Brendan Post author

        Also, for the ethos violation, perhaps getting rid of the penalty would require some sort of penance, not just the standard day of prayer or whatever.

  3. ramanan

    Being able to cast a never ending stream of Sticks to Snakes was a D&D dream I never knew I had.

    This does change the nature of the game a fair bit. The fact that the clerics were using the new mechanic while Beloch Shrike was not also made clerics feel extra magical. The failures didn’t feel like that big an impediment, especially since more occurred outside of combat, and because we have two clerics so we can double our odds so to speak.

    The new system is a win if you want people to be able to use more magic in general, and have magic be less predictable.

    I agree that with this change getting rid of plate mail for clerics is probably a fair trade off, but who wants to give up their AC 2?

    1. Brendan Post author


      Yeah, I expect that the standard Vancian 3 LBB cleric will remain an option for anyone that doesn’t want to bother parsing my scribblings or prefers the standard model.

      Between this version of cleric magic (with the cumulative penalty for results of 5 or less) and the original one, which do you think Parna would choose, if additionally plate proficiency was changed to chain?

      Also, I should make the magic-user variety an active option.

      1. ramanan

        I’d use the chain mail and more-magic option, I think. It seems like a better fit for how I imagine the character after playing a few sessions: full of himself super-cleric.

  4. Gus L.

    Parna is a bit full of himself – trying to give filthy Imperial last rights for an honest ratling. Like the poor ‘lil guy go back to his brothers and sisters gnawing at the pillars of the world…

    I don’t know about the mu version of this, I like that divine & arcane magic are different and feel like arcane should be more controlled. Also maybe limit petition recharge more – like every return to civilzation for a day of prayer/ritual rather than every day?

    1. Brendan Post author


      Could you expand on this?

      like every return to civilzation for a day of prayer/ritual rather than every day?

      Do you mean that multiple days would be required to get back to full strength? Maybe 1 per point of penalty accumulated?

      Many of the rituals already require a full day to attempt. Check the original post — some are one dungeon exploration turn per try and some are one wilderness exploration turn (that is, one day) per try.

      1. Gus L.

        @ Brendan

        What I mean is that clerics would require extra effort beyond a nap to restore divine favor. A full day of prayer/ritual/penance – at a shrine if one felt extra cruel. The full day is to prevent jaunts to town for new spells.

        In general clerics – now that they have infinicast don’t need the vancian limitation. Heck you could make favor return with whatever the god want … blood for the bloid god, the purchase of indulgence, hours of dervish like spinning. Use a carosuing system…

  5. Gus L.

    Also if you keep mu’s vancian – less time for spell recharge. An hour of study (barricaded in a dungeon, chilling in a cart rolling down the road) per spell level rememorized. 6 random encounter checks – is it worth a sleep spell?

    1. 2x Backslap

      Gus: wouldn’t that be a lot more time for spell recharge than normal?

      (You might be talking about some other approach than what I’m thinking of, which is along the lines of B/X and most other “rest, study, regain” spell models)

      Or are you saying that Vancian MU’s should here be given less time to recharge spells (by extending the time needed to do so?)


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