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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Fist Full of Magic: Game Theory and Clarification

Some posters from Dragonsfoot pointed out some serious gaps and lack of clarification.

This is what I was hoping for. I am always looking for feedback.

From Alex: I'm sad that I just can't picture how this system works. The way you wrote it up assumes a prior understanding of the other games' magic systems it seems. Can you add some examples of a day full of spell casting? I'm having trouble with the ebb and flow of PD throughout a day of casting. Does this system end up limiting spell casting or making it less limiting? To cast a spell is the sum of pips on the PD supposed to exceed the target difficulty to cast? I thought this was modeled after Shadowrun but Shadowrun counts "successes" not "pips". Why would a caster ever use less than all his PD to cast a spell if the chance of success is greater with more dice? The way you word the system it sounds like the caster [i]chooses[/i] how many PD to use, but what is the incentive/trade-off for using more/less PD?
From Uriel: Eli, your post doesn't explain how PD are lost on a daily basis.
When a caster uses 2 PD on a spell, and fails, does he lose the PD that day? If he succeeds does he lose?

For example:My 1st level MU (middle magic), casts Magic Missile (requires a 4+). He rolls his single PD and gets a 5! Yaay, it works. Does he lose his PD that day? Or can he cast magic missile later? What happens if he fails to roll a 4+? Does he lose his PD for that day?
My assumption is yes, because he regenerates PD while resting, but I am unclear of what constitutes a loss of PD, with the exception of a critical failure.

Also, would a critical failure ALWAYS happen on a snake eyes, even with 3+ PD are used (i.e. the more PD used, the more likely you'll have a snake eyes...and...by the same token...a 12).

My Response

Thanks for all of the comments and questions. It is clear to me that I need to seriously revise the document to make it more clear.

I also should have noted that one of my primary influences was Advanced Heroquest.

General Theory

A spell caster has a limited pool of power dice that are expended as they attempt to cast spells. 

Each spell has a Target Number that needs to be meet in order to successfully cast it 

Regardless if the spell is successful or a failure, the power dice are expended.

Theoretical Example of Game Play

Ruleset: Sword & Wizardry
Magic: Standard Spell System
Setting: High Magic Setting 

Windjammer, a 2nd Level Magic-User, has had the unfortunate luck to run into a trio of hungry kobolds.

He is full rested so he has 4 Power Dice plus he has a Solar Wand (2 for level, +1 for High INT, +1 for Wand). He has learned and mastered two spells: Magic Missile and Light.

He manages to win initiative and declares he is casting Magic Missile with 1 PD.

He rolls 1d6 and rolls a 4, Success!! a magic missile strikes one of the kobolds inflicting 4 points of damage killing it. 

He has 3 PD remaining

The remaining kobolds charge Windjammer but fail to strike him.

Windjammer back pedals to avoid there attacks. He casts another Magic Missile using 1 PD. 

He rolls a 2, Failure! He now only has two PD left and the Kobolds press their attack.

One of the kobolds land a hit, injuring the mage.

Windjammer decides to cast Light using 1 PD in the eyes of one the kobolds to even the odds.

He rolls a 6, Success!!. One of the kobold screams and grabs his face as light pours out of his eyes.

He only has 1 PD but there is only kobold left. He decides to save his PD and engages the kobold in hand-to-hand combat.

Theory of Critical Failure

Alex wrote:
Urieal wrote:
Also, would a critical failure ALWAYS happen on a snake eyes, even with 3+ PD are used (i.e. the more PD used, the more likely you'll have a snake eyes...and...by the same token...a 12).

This is the one part I think I understood! Let me try to explain what I think the answer is. You cannot critically fail UNLESS you use 3+ PD and all the dice are 1s. Used only 2 PD? Impossible to critically fail! Used 3 PD? Critically fail only on { 1, 1, 1 }. Used 5 PD? Critically fail only on { 1, 1, 1, 1, 1 }. So the more dice you use, the less your chance of a critical failure, but for low-level spells that you use only 1 or 2 PD for, you never risk critical failure.

If I'm wrong, then Eli did not explain this well and I really got NOTHING out of the whole document. :(

No Alex you go it right. You summed it up better than I did.

Please let me know if what I posted above makes sense.