Sunday, October 03, 2010

Magic in the World Within: Nothing Is Ever Free...

Good Morning, All:

Today, I wanted to briefly go over one of my core concepts for the Pact Gifts of the Ritualist: nothing is free. In essence, every special ability has some kind of sacrifice associated with it. My reasons for doing so are numerous. First, as spirits from the Spirit Realms are entities unto themselves, they are not inclined to give anything away for free. They want something in return. Second, spirits cannot create something out of nothing. They can convert one thing to another of a like nature, but they cannot create something where nothing once existed. Third, they want back into the Physical Realm, and consider opportunities that bring a spirit's influence into the Physical Realm to be adequate compensation for their gifts. When a Ritualist makes such requests, they are providing access to this realm, and thus trading access for power. Fourth, since things cannot be created, having a source of an appropriate material or energy nearby becomes very important, particularly for damaging effects like fire or acid. Thus, we have more cinematic flavor when the Ritualist creates a fireball effect, pulling from a large nearby source of fire to direct it to the target area. Fifth, and perhaps the most important to me, it creates a consistent flavor to the special abilities of the Ritualist that promotes actions of the kind associated with sorcerers from the Swords & Sorcery pulp adventures that serve as one of the sources of inspiration for the World Within.

As an example, let's consider healing for a moment. An example of a first level Pact Gift related to healing one's comrades would be Empathic Healing. For this power, I envision that the Ritualist could invoke the name of the spirit itself, and then transfer hitpoints from a willing donor to the intended target on a one-to-one basis (i.e. for every hitpoint the target heals, the donor loses one hitpoint.) If the Ritualist uses multiple donors, the transfer rate is three-to-two (i.e. for every two hitpoints the target heals, three hitpoints are lost among the multiple donors, divided as the willing donors agree.

Now, Empathic Healing may not sound very great from a player perspective, but it has a lot of flavor, and it lends itself well to the concept of a second level Pact Gift, Vampiric Healing. In the case of Vampiric Healing, the Ritualist may use unwilling donors to drain hitpoints from and transfer to the intended target. Unwilling donors are allowed a saving throw, and if successful, only lose half the desired hitpoints, which results in half the healing effect on the intended target. Now we have an ability that increases the Ritualist's use of captives and slaves as a power source, and promotes this concept for adventuring opportunities through reinforcement via the rules.

The ultimate healing ability, Raise Dead/Resurrection, can then be envisioned as a fifth level Pact Gift that requires the death of one or more intelligent creatures to bring life back to the intended target. The sacrifice must have at least as many hit dice/levels as the target, or at least 150% of the target's hit dice/levels if multiple sacrifices are made. Of course, unwilling donors may attempt a saving throw that, if successful, halves their effective hit dice donation, which in turn might require more sacrifices to accomplish this ritual's goal. Thus, a tenth level Warrior would require the sacrifice of fifteen or more slaves in order to bring this one back from the dead. Non-intelligent creatures may be sacrificed, but they only add one-quarter of their hit dice toward the accumulated total.

As I start to create my list of Pact Gifts or Rituals, I will keep this concept in mind. I hope to see some pretty interesting and flavorful concepts emerge as I continue down this path. As I create them, I'll try to post examples to this blog in hopes of getting some feedback that will help this become a better element for my next campaign.

With Regards,


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Flynn said...

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With Regards,