2009-04-16 : GM fiat put to work for the good
This is a dicecloud post, but no diagrams, and generally off the topic of that one arrow I'm in love with. It's about a particular example of an arrangement of players' vs GM's self-interests and responsibilities. I think it may be less pointlessly provocative (to Ralph, at least) than the "+2 for the high ground" one.
Here's an example of a spell in Storming the Wizard's Tower:
Shelter of Vines
Domain: the household. Medium: plant; effect: protection.
Area: nearby; default duration: no time; default protection: none.
_ no miscast
Duration: _ 1hr _ 12hr _ 24hr
Protection: _ alarm _ hinder (-2white) _ prevent
For the spell to have any effect, you must put at least one hit in both duration and protection.
Alarm: the shelter of vines will alert you to anyoneâ€™s approach. Hinder: the shelter of vines gives -2 white dice to anyone trying to fight their way in. Prevent: the shelter of vines simply prevents anyone from coming in.
When your spellcaster character casts a spell, you roll a batch of dice and count up your hits. You'll probably get 2-5 hits or so, if your character's a normal starting spellcaster. You spend your hits on the various effects of the spell - no miscast, duration, and protection, in the case of Shelter of Vines. Each hit lets you check off an option, left to right; you decide now, when you cast the spell. So if you have 4 hits, you might cast it like this:
12hr _ 24hr
alarm _ hinder (-2white) _ prevent
...Which would mean that you don't miscast the spell, the shelter lasts for 12 hours, and during those 12 hours anyone coming into the shelter will wake you up in time to respond.
Now, say that your character wants to create a new spell. Let's say, a barrier of flame that burns whoever tries to pass through.
Ultimately, the new spell needs the same writeup as any existing spell. It needs a domain, a medium, an effect, an area, default duration, protection and damage, a description, and of course a series of effect checklists.
The game text lists many effect checklists, and then suggests also that you create your own. For example, here are the ones it lists for duration:
Duration: _ 1round _ 1battle _ 1session
Duration: _ 1hr _ 12hr _ 24hr
Duration: _ 1day _ 1week _ 1month
What duration checklist should your barrier of flame spell use? One of those, or a new one made up just for it?
If you always just get to choose the one you like, the spellcaster's player, what will happen? Most likely, spell effects will creep upward, or rocket upward, across the board. I mean heck, you get to make up your own? Why not Duration: _ a year _ a year and a day _ a year and 2 days?
How about instead you have to buy your spell's checklists with some kind of spell creation resource? That'd put it in my hands, as the designer. Which would be fine, except (1) which should cost more, Duration: _ 1round _ 1battle _ 1session, or Protection: _ alarm _ hinder (-2white) _ prevent, or Subjects: _ 1 subject _ a small group _ a large group _ a population? Or should they all cost the same? (2) Should Duration: _ a year _ a year and a day _ a year and 2 days cost 365 times as much as Duration: _ 1day _ 1week _ 1month, or 12 times as much, or what? And (3) come to think of it, you're going to be making checklists up all over the place. How do I make sure that they cost you the right amount?
Some designers, for some games, take these problems on and solve them. JAGS, for instance, I bet. But ... not me, not this game.
So, what then? The answer, for Storming the Wizard's Tower, is: you, the player, write the description of the spell and choose its effect categories, and then hand those as specs to your GM. Your GM finalizes the spell by giving it its checklists and hands it back to you.
Your GM's agenda for the game is to make its world seem real, and to create and play interesting monsters, without caring whether the monsters win or lose. Given that, creating fun, balanced spells to your specifications poses no kind of conflict of interest for your GM.
1. On 2009-04-16, Ed Heil said:
2. On 2009-04-16, Moreno R. said:
3. On 2009-04-16, Mark Woodhouse said:
4. On 2009-04-16, Callan said:
5. On 2009-04-16, Vincent said:
6. On 2009-04-17, Robert Bohl said:
7. On 2009-04-17, Callan said:
8. On 2009-04-17, Vincent said:
9. On 2009-04-17, Moreno R. said:
10. On 2009-04-17, Seth Ben-Ezra said:
11. On 2009-04-17, Callan said:
12. On 2009-04-17, Vincent said:
13. On 2009-04-17, John Adams said:
14. On 2009-04-17, timfire said:
15. On 2009-04-18, Callan said:
16. On 2009-04-18, Jim Henley said:
17. On 2009-04-18, Marco said:
18. On 2009-04-19, Joshua A.C. Newman said:
19. On 2009-04-19, BG Josh said:
20. On 2009-04-20, Vincent said:
21. On 2009-04-20, Eero Tuovinen said:
22. On 2009-05-05, David Berg said:
23. On 2009-05-05, Vincent said:
24. On 2009-05-05, David Berg said:
25. On 2009-05-05, Mark Woodhouse said: