Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wizards of Eldritch America

This isn't a real blog post.

I killed +Alex Chalk's PC in my House of Hours game a couple of hours ago, and he wants to make a wizard to replace him.

Localization being important, I mentioned that I have pages and pages written up about the mechanics and rules for wizards in my Eldritch Americana (prosperous, post-apocalyptic Cthuloid 1920's American America).

Which is true, but I just need to convert them into something retroclone compatible.  So here's some of that conversion.

Mages of the Noxious Continent

There are 8 types.  Not of spells (spells are weird and defy categorization), but of wizards.  There are 8 schools of wizardry, and pretty much all wizards come out of one of those traditions.

Each school has a boon, a bane, a cantrip, and a doom (technically 3 dooms).

Boons are conditions where you get +1 caster level.

Banes are conditions where you get -1 caster level (minimum caster level = 1).

Cantrips are minor magical effects that you can do at any time, simply by virtue of being that type of wizard.  There's no limit to how many times you can use these.

Dooms are the price that you will ultimately pay for your hubris in attempting to meddle with the raw power of the gods.  They won't be detailed on this page, but you can read about them here.  How do you get doom points?  Shit, I dunno.  Maybe whenever you cast a spell you have a 1-in-12 chance to gain 1d4 doom points?  I'll revisit this.  Get 30 doom point and you suffer a unique form of Game Over, unless you can subvert it.

The Eight Types of Magi

  1. Biomancy - Healing, poison, growth, mutation
    1. Bane: Injured.
    2. Boon: At full health and haven't taken HP damage today.
    3. Cantrips: Create or relieve pain with a touch.  Put people or animals to sleep by rubbing their heads for a couple of turns.  Turn scars into raw scabs.  Turn raw scabs into smooth scars.  Add or remove bodily blemishes (freckles, pimples, etc).  Can automatically diagnose mundane injuries or diseases.
  2. Cosmomancy - Time, space, probability
    1. Bane: It's a new moon. (1 week out of every 4.)
    2. Boon: It's a full moon.  (1 week out of every 4.)
    3. Cantrips: You always know how far you've traveled and in what direction, unless something disorients you (drunkeness, blindness, long falls, etc).  Likewise, you can keep perfect time, down to the second.  Can also cause the palm of your left hand to shine out light like a flashlight.
  3. Cthonomancy - Stone, steel, gravity
    1. Bane: Not touching the earth, or something that is solidly connected to the earth.
    2. Boon: If you sleep at least X feet under ground, where X = 10 * level.
    3. Cantrips: By touching a surface and concentrating for a couple of rounds, you can sense all things within 10' that are also touching the surface.  Good for finding secret doors, doing ultrasounds on pregnant ladies, and maybe safe cracking?
  4. Calomancy - Heat, Fire, Cold, Ice
    1. Bane: You haven't cast any spells today.
    2. Boon: You've cast at least 3 spells today.
    3. Cantrips: Heat or cool things by holding them in your hands, or by blowing on them.  Can heat things up to barely frozen or barely boiling.  Can also light cigarettes by breathing through them.
  5. Electromancy - Electricity, magnetism
    1. Bane: Casting without your electro-focus in hand (usually a flashlight, multimeter, Geiger counter, etc.)
    2. Boon: Taken at least 1 point of electrical damage in the last 24 hours.  Damage from your own spells never counts toward this.
    3. Cantrips: Can conduct electricity through your body without harm.  Can sense magnetic north, and tell how much voltage a wire is carrying.  Can generate small shocks or power tiny devices (like a watch or little radio).
    4. BONUS: I wrote about some electromancers here.  (Tesla and Edison.)
  6. Metamancy - Magic (especially fucking with existing magic)
    1. Bane: You've cast more than half of your daily MP/spells.
    2. Boon: You are covered in the traditional glow-paint of the metamancer and exposing at least 80% of your skin.  (Traditional metamancer glow paint glows in the dark.)
    3. Cantrips: You can tell if something is magical by looking at it.  Can tell if someone can cast spells by touching them.  Can spontaneously convert any prepared spell into identify.
  7. Necromancy - Death, disease, curses
    1. Bane: You've been healed today.
    2. Boon: You've performed a gruesome ritual in the last 24 hours (such as eating a baby).
    3. Cantrips: You can kill little things by stroking them.  Vermin (rats, insects) die automatically.  Creatures with less than 1 HD (goblins, cats) get a saving throw.  Has no effect on creatures with 1 HD or more.
  8. Psychomancy - Telepathy, Minds, Communication
    1. Bane: You haven't meditated with your mentor in the last 7 days.  (Every psychomancer has a mentor, who must be another psychomancer with more HD than them.)
    2. Boon: You have at least 1 insanity.
    3. Cantrips: You can cast certain spells silently and without waving your hands.  (These spells are psychomancy spells--it's a pretty short list.)  Can use telepathy freely with other psychomancers within sight.  Can pick up strong thoughts that someone (within sight range) is intentionally trying to send to you.  

There's some custom spell lists that go along with this, but I'll post those later, I guess?

The easiest way to integrate this into your game is to just apply it like a template on a wizard from your favorite rule set.  Banes and boons cancel out (sorta).  Cantrips are cool little things, because none of them are going to break your game, but they sure add a hell of a lot of flavor.

Like, being able to light a cigarette by breathing through it is fucking awesome, but it doesn't do anything a lighter doesn't.  And being able to shine light out of your palm is also hell sweet, but it doesn't do anything a flashlight couldn't.

I wrote up rules for a more flexible Vancian mage, so maybe you want to apply that as well?

Closing Notes

Biomancers can cast healing spells.  I don't think it'll break the game.  (Originally, all magical healing in Eldritch Americana carried with it a tiny, eensy-meensy chance of mutation.  I'm still debating whether I should keep that or not.  If you want to bring biomancers into your game, maybe include a 1-in-30 chance of a mutation whenever they heal someone.)

Most mages worship the moon, but Cosmomancers especially.  On August 20th, 1890, the moon hatched, birthing Yosganeth, the first of the elder gods that grace American shores.  They get teleport spells, and haste/slow, etc.

Cthonomancers are unique among magi, because their dooms are beneficial, instead of immediately destructive.  The first two give them stat boosts, and their final doom just turns them into crystal and gives them an eventually-overwhelming urge to go to Australia, where they will join with Cascrysmagog (the elder god that sleeps beneath Australia).

Yes, Calomancers can shoot both fire and ice.  They're probably the coolest ones if you are a 13-year-old boy.  They're hotshots, and they give each other nicknames like "Maverick" and "Iceman".  A bunch of them are bounty hunters.

Electromancers are the coolest ones if you happen to be Arnold.  They can learn to magnetically accelerate objects and shoot them like railguns.  Their final doom can be subverted into something that isn't so bad.  A lot of them are engineers or inventors.

Metamancers are the wizards that other wizards fear, since they can shut down spellcasting and pull other cheap shit like that.  They're less useful when they aren't fighting magic stuff, though.  They're also the dirty ones, who run around in loin cloths, covered in glowing, radioactive paint while on several experimental forms of drugs.

Necromancers can heal undead dudes.  So, if you've got a ghoul in your party, the cleric and biomancer can't heal it (although they can harm it), but the necromancer can heal the undead freak.

Psychomancers are pretty much just psychics.  Psychomancers have no hair.  None.  Anywhere.


  1. I need to ask, what got you to pick these eight categories? Also boons and banes are fantastic. I know if I was a necromancer I'd go out of my way to wear men's skins and eat kittens.

  2. need to add this to my Gamma world campaign (the "Big Mistake" opened up their universe to ours... campaign is ~700 years later).