Natural Mage

Post Reply
User avatar
SkinnyOrc
Hero
Posts: 562
Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2014 10:53 am
Contact:

Natural Mage

Post by SkinnyOrc » Sat May 21, 2016 12:45 pm

I've been giving the Natural Mage Talent sideways looks for a while now. The "Hero has an instinctive understanding of the less demanding spells in their repertoire" concept is good but I'm not so keen on the way it works. The prob with taking away any chance of failure is you can come up with situations where it doesn't make a lot of sense.

So okay I have this instinctive thing and never make a mistake casting my simpler spells. What about when someone's swinging a sword at my head, I can still do it then? The rules say the cast is at -2 but it doesn't matter because I never fail. What about if I've fallen off a cliff and I'm plummeting to my death? That's serious pressure, must be worth at least a -4 penalty but of course it doesn't matter because I never fail. What about if a demon is pulling my entrails out through my chest? Okay it's getting silly, but the point is a big bonus or penalty is always better than automatic success or failure.

Then there's the inconsistency it causes with Minor Magic. You have no chance of failure casting 1 point spells but can still fail with the even simpler Cantrips? That seems to be what it says. But if you instead extend the no fail to Cantrips they never cost MP to cast, which also isn't great.

So the case against the accused was building anyway. But the kicker for me was noticing what happens with Natural Mage and a Sorcerer. A Wizard with 5 in the Special Skill automatically succeeds with 1, 2 and 4 point spells but still has to roll for 6 and 8 point spells. But with Sorcerers their spells all cost less than 5 STAMINA with the exception of ZED! So that's not fitting "the less demanding spells in their repertoire" description very well, although personally I don't think 4 point Wizard spells like Lightning Blast fit it either.

So this is my suggestion:
Natural Mage
A Hero must have at least one point in the Magic-Wizardry or Magic-Sorcery Special Skill in order to choose this Talent. If chosen, the Hero has an instinctive understanding of the less demanding spells in their repertoire. The Hero has a +4 bonus to the spellcasting roll for all 1 and 2 MP Wizardry spells or 1 STAMINA point Sorcery spells.
Simple as that. It only affects the easier spells and gives a competent mage almost automatic success as long as they're not trying it in difficult circumstances. If +4 isn't enough for you it could be +5 or even +6 like Cantrips. 1 and 2 MP Wizard spells make up roughly the same proportion of all the spells available to them as 1 STAMINA spells do for Sorcerers so it's even there too.

As a side note I'd also change the Focus Talent to a +2 casting bonus. At +1 Focus was seriously underpowered compared to the old Natural Mage. But with Focus being +2 for all spells and Natural Mage at +4 but only for the simpler ones, the two balance against each other nicely.

Slloyd14
Site Admin
Posts: 556
Joined: Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:39 pm
Contact:

Re: Natural Mage

Post by Slloyd14 » Sun May 22, 2016 3:21 pm

I like this. First of all, it stops Natural Mage being an auto add for any wizard or sorcerer and leaving Focus being forgotten. Second of all, you're right that auro success at casting spells is too much of a game breatker. It won't take long for a wizard or sorcerer to get 5 points in their skill at which point they can fling around ZAP spells and Lightning blasts with impunity. Being able to deal about 9-10 damage automatically is enough to ruin any great boss encounter.

I think with your rules, Focus is better for the "career" wizard or sorcerer, whose prime MO is magic. They have a higher MAGIC score, so they don't need a huge bonus to reliably cast spells. They are also aiming to cast 4 and 6 cost spells a lot more.

Natural Mage is more for someone who takes magic as a secondary attribute. The sort of person who goes for a skill of 6, a stamina of 10 and a magic of 4. They rely more on steal or wits and use magic to supplement this. For this reason, they will rarely need super powerful spells. This way, I think a +6 bonus is fine. This means they reliably cast 1 (and 2 for a wizard) cost spells without having to put any more points into magic, which they probably won't want to do, but there is still a chance of failure.

I guess for this reason, maybe the term Natural Mage might need to be changed as it implies that someone is good at all magic. Maybe something like Dabbler could be more appropriate.
http://virtualfantasies.blogspot.com/

A blog about writing gamebooks. My musings on how to write a gamebook and what makes a good gamebook.

Slloyd14
Site Admin
Posts: 556
Joined: Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:39 pm
Contact:

Re: Natural Mage

Post by Slloyd14 » Sun May 22, 2016 5:42 pm

I've just remembered that the skill also adds to the roll, so +4 is fine.

This talent is also great for sorcerers who have to split their points between magic and stamina to be effective.

I presume it also works for cantrips too? That way, someone with both this and 1 point in magic can only fail a cantrip spell on a 12 (which is fine because they are not game breaking).

Also, this talent is now great for chaos mages who get a penalty equal to the cost of the spell when they cast one and gives a bonus without being broken (in the current rules, chaos mages with natural mage can cast any wizard or sorcery spell automatically as long as the cost is less than the points they have in chaos magic. They roll anyway to see if there are any crazy effects, but the whole point of being a chaos mage is that there is a high rate of failure in spellcasting as pay off for being able to cast any spell and Natural Mage ruined that point).
http://virtualfantasies.blogspot.com/

A blog about writing gamebooks. My musings on how to write a gamebook and what makes a good gamebook.

Slloyd14
Site Admin
Posts: 556
Joined: Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:39 pm
Contact:

Re: Natural Mage

Post by Slloyd14 » Sun May 22, 2016 7:00 pm

Just to clarify the point about chaos mages - the new version is good for them and not as broken as the old version.
http://virtualfantasies.blogspot.com/

A blog about writing gamebooks. My musings on how to write a gamebook and what makes a good gamebook.

User avatar
SkinnyOrc
Hero
Posts: 562
Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2014 10:53 am
Contact:

Re: Natural Mage

Post by SkinnyOrc » Mon May 23, 2016 3:44 pm

Slloyd14 wrote:Focus is better for the "career" wizard or sorcerer, whose prime MO is magic. Natural Mage is more for someone who takes magic as a secondary attribute.
Yeah exactly, both Talents become equally useful starting out, but for different sorts of spellcasters.
Slloyd14 wrote:This talent is also great for sorcerers who have to split their points between magic and stamina to be effective.
I've only noticed recently that Sorcerers have the toughest choices of anyone with where to put their points starting out. NM does help them by not needing so many going into MAGIC and maybe even leaving some for SKILL so they're more like the hero from the Sorcery books. The old version did too of course but with the balance issues at higher experience.
Slloyd14 wrote:this talent is now great for chaos mages who get a penalty equal to the cost of the spell when they cast one and gives a bonus without being broken
It's an interesting one that, I looked up the old thread on it. Definitely NM just works with chaos mages now without having to change anything else.
Slloyd14 wrote:I presume it also works for cantrips too?
It could but I was thinking that as cantrips already get a +6 that NM didn't add to it. You could rationalise that as they're already so easy to cast that having an instinctive feeling for magic doesn't make them any easier. I was thinking it would add together with Focus though if you had both, which I guess most serious spellcasters will want in the long run.
Slloyd14 wrote:maybe the term Natural Mage might need to be changed as it implies that someone is good at all magic.
Well you could always look at it that natural talent only gets you so far and at some point you still have to do some hard work to improve :)

Post Reply