True Sorcery

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True Sorcery

Postby Akrasia » Sat Feb 18, 2006 3:23 pm

I'm curious about 'True Sorcery'. From the GR title page:

June brings us Robert J. Schwalb's True Sorcery. This 128-page softback presents a revised and expanded magic system based on the award-winning Black Company Campaign Setting rules. Rob has really outdone himself with this alternate magic system that gives you complete flexibility and customizability. Appropriately enough, True Sorcery includes all the info you need to incorporate the system with a slew of different games and settings. It works for not only True20, but also Thieves' World, Black Company, d20 fantasy and d20 Modern. We've also gotten permission from Malhavoc Press to include conversion info for their Iron Heroes game. True Sorcery indeed!


Can anyone give me a quick overview of what this system is like (based on the Black Company version)? How does it differ from the standard True20 system (or the standard d20 system)?

I am contemplating using True20 for a possible Wilderlands campaign. I'm wondering whether I should wait for this to be released first ...

Thanks for any information that is available! :D
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Postby skywalker » Sun Feb 19, 2006 11:02 am

My memory of BCCS may be a little fuzzy but there are some similarities and some differences.

BCCS magic was essentially skill and feat based like True 20. However, you could construct your own effects (forming a DC based on a variety of factors) or use default effects.

It will differ in feel in the following ways:

1. Magic gets really powerful. BCCS magic goes from being relatively low powered to immensely powerful.

2. Magic can be dangerous and you can push yourself.

3. Rituals and taking one's time with magic can be rewarded.
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Re: True Sorcery

Postby Jonathan Moyer » Sun Feb 19, 2006 11:25 am

Akrasia wrote:Can anyone give me a quick overview of what this system is like (based on the Black Company version)? How does it differ from the standard True20 system (or the standard d20 system)?

I am contemplating using True20 for a possible Wilderlands campaign. I'm wondering whether I should wait for this to be released first ...

Thanks for any information that is available! :D

Here's a blurb from Soulmage's review on enworld.org (I think it's pretty good):

Soulmage wrote:Chapter 10
The chapter is certainly the centerpiece of the book. What's presented over 41 pages is a fully developed, well balanced, flexible skill based casting system. Anything done in the books by Golbin, One-Eye, one of the Ten Who Were Taken, or any of the other sundry wizard types can be replicated by this system.

At the root of the system, each spell is basically a feat called a "Talent." Each talent can be used to produce a variety of magical effects. At their base level the effects are generally the equivalent of a zero through second level spell. However, the spellcaster then applies augmentations to the effects range, damage, duration, targets/area, or props (spell components) to make it into the spell effect they desire.

Spellcasting is done by making a Magic Use skill check against the DC of the effect you wish to create. The more augmentations you apply to a spell, the higher the DC to cast it is.

So, for instance, with the Create Energy [Fire] talent, I can create anything from a ray of heat that damages one target, to a wall of fire effect shaped any way I choose, to a normal D&D fireball spell, to sheets of flame raining from the sky over a 1000 foot radius. I can cause the spell to do damage of d4s - d12s with no limit (except my casting ability) to the number of dice of damage I can inflict with the spell.

An example: the normal effect of the Create Energy [Fire] spell is a 5' radius burst of flame that inflicts 1d4 damage. It has a base Magic Use casting DC of 15. For each +5 I add to the casting DC, I can increase the die size by one step (from a d4 to a D6). In addition, for each +2 I add to the casting DC I can add an additional die of the current size to the damage.

So, for an 8d6 effect I would get:

Base DC 15
Add'l Dice +14 (7 extra dice @ +2 DC per die)
Die Size +5 (Increase d4 to d6)
Total Casting DC = 34

The range, duration, and area/targets augmentations work the same way. By adding additional spell components to the spell I can reduce the casting DC, or by getting rid of them the casting DC increases.

Its a completely new system that takes some getting used to. They suggest index cards to start out with, but we found that after using it for a bit, it becomes second nature and you're casting modified spells on the fly in no time.

The wonderful thing about this system is that its a) Incredibly flexible yet easy to use once you get used to it, b) Scales infinitely - there's no artificial spell level cap or anything - this is important in games where you have 75th level wizards like The Dominator using the same magic system as the PCs c) it does a wonderful job replicating the magic used in the books. In fact, at the start of each Talent write-up as a little snippet from the book that shows the talent in action.

All told there are 47 or so separate talents and each one can generally produce a couple different baseline effects. In addition, there are rules for blending two effects from different talents together to create a single effect. Very slick. Very cool.

You could easily import this magic system to any other setting, although it will definitely have the effect of reducing the amount of magical gear in the world because items are so costly to the spellcaster to create.

Also included in the magic chapter are rules for True Names, the Rituals of Naming and Taking, a template for Taken, Magical Null Fields, a template for The White Rose and the use of aids to spellcasting including tainted objects like the Silver Spike, or the harvesting of souls from living or dead creatures.

Included in the back of the book is an appendix with all the tables you'll need for casting spells. I've found that by photocopying them onto a double sided piece of paper and laminating it, I've created quite a handy quick reference.
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Postby FickleGM » Sun Feb 19, 2006 5:14 pm

I am really looking forward to getting this. I don't dislike the base True20 magic, but would like to see other variants and what they would feel like.
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Postby skywalker » Sun Feb 19, 2006 5:56 pm

FickleGM wrote:I am really looking forward to getting this. I don't dislike the base True20 magic, but would like to see other variants and what they would feel like.


Yeah a Black Company style magic system would even be good for sorcery in Blue Rose, to make it distinct from arcana. John Snead suggested something along this line with D&D magic but this seems to be a more satisfactory outcome.
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Postby DnDChick » Sun Feb 19, 2006 6:18 pm

Very nice!

I like the sound of this magic system. Something like this has been long in coming for RPGs. I had heard about the BC RPG and was intrigued by the magic system, but had never read any of the novels. I didn't want to get the whole book just for the magic.

Having it in its own book, adaptable for True20, definately puts it high up on my "gimme gimme" list. :D
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Re: True Sorcery

Postby Spike Y Jones » Mon Feb 20, 2006 7:56 am

Akrasia wrote:I'm curious about 'True Sorcery'. Can anyone give me a quick overview of what this system is like (based on the Black Company version)? How does it differ from the standard True20 system (or the standard d20 system)?


You can find more information about True Sorcery in the Advanced Sorcery (the title of an earlier draft of the manuscript) thread of the Advanced Rulebooks forum.

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Postby Jonathan Moyer » Mon Feb 20, 2006 9:40 am

What I'm kind of interested in is the possibility of using a feat to "memorize" a spell, basically allowing a PC to cast a particular application of the spell more easily/less fatiguing, much like a rote in Mage the Awakening.

In fact, over the weekend I observed that BCCS and MtAw have broadly similar mechanics for their magic systems. In both you make a skill roll of some kind, and in both you can make the roll more difficult for increased effect (in MtAw it's a penalty, in BCCS it's increasing the difficulty). However, unlike in MtAw, where what you can do is based on your Arcana (you magic skill), in BCCS a caster can *try* anything. But if the piddling apprentice tries to cast the powerful "Doom of Abu al-Hol", he's going to become severely fatigued or hurt, and possibly even die.

While I think the BCCS system is great, it's very involved and may be too much for some people. Mostly the "problem" is calculating the cost of various augmentations, but because True20 uses a damage save I suspect it will be easier to do on the fly than using damage dice. Even for all it's calculation, the BCCS magic system has a great sword n' sorcery feel and, once you get the effects sorted out, is a great way to stat up a demi-god.
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Postby Michael Tree » Mon Feb 20, 2006 10:57 am

That sounds cool. A bit like the Mage system, but focusing on different spell effects rather than different spheres/arcana.

How specific are the talents? With there being almost 50 talents, how much flexibility will a given low-mid level sorcerer actually have?
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Postby Spike Y Jones » Mon Feb 20, 2006 12:50 pm

Michael Tree wrote:How specific are the talents? With there being almost 50 talents, how much flexibility will a given low-mid level sorcerer actually have?


The talents are moderately broad: Earth Lore, Sound Lore, Language Lore, Summoning, Enhance Person. Each talent covers at least a handful of standard D&D spells/effects, so if you take, for example, Enhance Person, it's the equivalent of taking all the spells that give characteristic bonuses (the Bear Strength, etc. spells), plus some more. And since you can also come up with new effects within the ambit of the talent, modify the way a particular spell works, or combine two talents together, there's plenty of flexibility within a single category of spells.

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Postby The Shadow » Mon Feb 20, 2006 3:05 pm

Is there any way to limit how a talent works for a particular character?

Like, let's take the case of a Summoner. He wants to be able to bind summoned creatures to an extended form of service, so he takes, I don't know what it would be called, let's say Enchantment. But it doesn't make sense for him to be able to enchant anybody, only summoned creatures.

Or take the case of a guy heavily specialized into fire... he only wants to be able to summon fire elementals and other fiery beings.

Is this handled as an extension of the Fire Lore talent? Or does he get some limited version of the Summon talent? Or what?

EDIT: Another example: Someone only wants to be able to enhance physical attributes, not mental ones, and only on himself.

I think I see a way to do this... basically, voluntarily limiting yourself this way gives you a permanent bonus to rolls on that talent. The nice part is that if you ever want to branch out, you don't have to "buy off" the limitation - you just (permanently) give up the bonus.
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Postby The Shadow » Mon Feb 20, 2006 3:25 pm

Another question:

Does True Sorcery still depend on a Magic Use skill, or is it now based on Adept level?
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Postby Jonathan Moyer » Mon Feb 20, 2006 3:31 pm

The Shadow wrote:Is there any way to limit how a talent works for a particular character?

At least for the BCCS, there aren't any limiting mechanics for spells. That is, if you have an Augment spell, you can Augment any character trait (Str, Dex, Will, natural armor, etc.).

In M&M, Augment would be the 2 pp/rank version of Boost, and to limit it for a particular type of effect would just be a 1pp/rank Flaw. I don't know exactly how to translate that to True20. In M&M, 1 pp is basically worth one Feat - perhaps give a character an extra feat if they limit their "Augment" spell? That seems like a little much, but that's all I got right now.

Another option could be a Feat that gives a bonus to rolls involving a character's specialty. Like, a feat that gives +4 to summoning fire elementals. So while the summoner can still summon elementals with the best of them, he's really good at summoning fire elementals.

I guess we'll just have to wait for TPTB on this one ...
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Postby The Shadow » Mon Feb 20, 2006 4:35 pm

Jonathan Moyer wrote:In M&M, Augment would be the 2 pp/rank version of Boost, and to limit it for a particular type of effect would just be a 1pp/rank Flaw. I don't know exactly how to translate that to True20. In M&M, 1 pp is basically worth one Feat - perhaps give a character an extra feat if they limit their "Augment" spell? That seems like a little much, but that's all I got right now.


It's more than a "little" much - it means they basically got Augment for free! :)

Assuming the book doesn't tell us how to do this, my idea of a bonus seems like a good way to go. There may be others.
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Postby Spike Y Jones » Tue Feb 21, 2006 4:19 am

The Shadow wrote:Is there any way to limit how a talent works for a particular character?

Like, let's take the case of a Summoner. He wants to be able to bind summoned creatures to an extended form of service, so he takes, I don't know what it would be called, let's say Enchantment. But it doesn't make sense for him to be able to enchant anybody, only summoned creatures.

Or take the case of a guy heavily specialized into fire... he only wants to be able to summon fire elementals and other fiery beings.


Hmmm. The idea behind the system is to bring more flexibility to spellcasting, not less. So no, there aren't really rules to cover this sort of restriction.

On the other hand, the player and the GM should be able to work something out between them. The one caution is going to be avoiding giving a bonus to a player who wants to be "limited" to using fire spells, and then expects a bonus when the first Talent he takes is plain old-fashioned Fire Lore.

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Postby Spike Y Jones » Tue Feb 21, 2006 4:39 am

The Shadow wrote:Does True Sorcery still depend on a Magic Use skill, or is it now based on Adept level?


You use Spellcraft skill to cast spells, and Adept level determines things like how many Talents you can take and how much spell energy you have to play around with.

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Postby Jonathan Moyer » Tue Feb 21, 2006 9:25 am

The Shadow wrote:It's more than a "little" much - it means they basically got Augment for free! :)

Indeed it would. :) I need something like a "half-feat."
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Postby The Shadow » Tue Feb 21, 2006 12:48 pm

Spike Y Jones wrote:On the other hand, the player and the GM should be able to work something out between them. The one caution is going to be avoiding giving a bonus to a player who wants to be "limited" to using fire spells, and then expects a bonus when the first Talent he takes is plain old-fashioned Fire Lore.


Heh. Yeah, I figured that out on my own. :) Thanks for your replies!
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Postby Korzon » Wed Feb 22, 2006 1:41 am

I have a few questions-- the first one is, how many differences are there between this sysem and it's basis from the Black Company book?

The second is how easy would it be to use it for a point based setting-- I.E., I was thinking of using M&M for a fantasy games-- could you simply buy hte talents as feats and the skills as usual, perhaps with another "talent" to show how much energy you had?
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Postby Strand0 » Wed Feb 22, 2006 6:54 pm

Korzon wrote:I have a few questions-- the first one is, how many differences are there between this sysem and it's basis from the Black Company book?
Question for Mythic Vistas section I think.
My Guess...
The Black Company is d20 so the spell system should be like normal D&D. Ie: Memerized, then fired.
The second is how easy would it be to use it for a point based setting-- I.E., I was thinking of using M&M for a fantasy games-- could you simply buy hte talents as feats and the skills as usual, perhaps with another "talent" to show how much energy you had?
This must be a question for the designer... :-?
Last edited by Strand0 on Thu Feb 23, 2006 7:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Jonathan Moyer » Wed Feb 22, 2006 7:11 pm

Strand0 wrote:
Korzon wrote:I have a few questions-- the first one is, how many differences are there between this sysem and it's basis from the Black Company book?
Question for Mythic Vistas section I think.
My Guess...
The Black Company is d20 so the spell system should be like normal D&D. Ie: Memerized, then fired.

No, the Black Company Campaign Setting does not have a fire and forget spell system, like D&D does. It's totally different. The magic system in Black Company forms the basis for the magic system in True Sorcery.

Check out the first page of this thread - I posted a blurb from a review of Black Company that explains the Black Company magic system.
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Postby Spike Y Jones » Thu Feb 23, 2006 6:13 am

Strand0 wrote:My Guess...
The Black Company is d20 so the spell system should be like normal D&D. Ie: Memerized, then fired.


In True Sorcery you can cast as many spells as you want, but casting spells is physically draining so you may collapse from fatigue if you overdo it. When you select a Talent, you can cast any spell effects related to that Talent, and you can modify the spells to make them more powerful, given them longer range, increase their duration, etc., but the more powerful a spell is, the more draining it is as well, so you can choose to cast a lot of little spells, a handful of medium-level spells, or one or two biggies, and then rest up.

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Postby Strand0 » Thu Feb 23, 2006 7:11 pm

Spike Y Jones wrote:
Strand0 wrote:My Guess...
The Black Company is d20 so the spell system should be like normal D&D. Ie: Memerized, then fired.
In True Sorcery you can cast as many spells as you want, but casting spells is physically draining so you may collapse from fatigue if you overdo it. When you select a Talent, you can cast any spell effects related to that Talent, and you can modify the spells to make them more powerful, given them longer range, increase their duration, etc., but the more powerful a spell is, the more draining it is as well, so you can choose to cast a lot of little spells, a handful of medium-level spells, or one or two biggies, and then rest up.

Spike Y Jones, editor, True Sorcery
Cool!
Sounds great.

Nice to see a A&E allumnist working with Green Ronin.
:green:
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Postby Nikchick » Thu Feb 23, 2006 10:24 pm

Strand0 wrote:
Nice to see a A&E allumnist working with Green Ronin.
:green:


Hey! I'm an A&E alumnus, too! (Ok, ok, so I didn't last as long as Spike...)

Nicole :yar:
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Postby Spike Y Jones » Fri Feb 24, 2006 4:33 am

Nikchick wrote:
Strand0 wrote:
Nice to see a A&E allumnist working with Green Ronin.
:green:


Hey! I'm an A&E alumnus, too! (Ok, ok, so I didn't last as long as Spike...)

Nicole :yar:


And Pramas too.

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