Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Savage GMing: The Sorcerer (An Alternative Magic System)

I love Savage Worlds' powers system and all the ways it can be tweaked for this setting or that.  Personally I like settings where magic is inherently dangerous and loved the ritual systems from the Horror Companion and the ETU setting.  The thing is I wanted a system where magic wasn't cast instantly, but rituals didn't take longer than a minute or two either.  I also wanted a way to let my magic users be free form, but also not have a single blanket skill for every spell out there.  My solution turned out to be a bit of a mix of the supers rules, a bit of the ritual magic from ETU, and my own devilish Backlash system.

Arcane Background: Sorcerer 
Arcane Skill: Special (Smarts)
Power Points: Special
Starting Powers: 2 at D4

Sorcerers have the ability to tap directly into the magics of the universe, but at great risk.  Every spell cast has the potential to turn back on them much more often and much harder than other forms of magic. These casters can potentially cast any spell, but still benefit from study.  Sorcerers have individual skills for each spell they may cast, but do not need to purchase new powers through edges.  They can simply train in a new skill, additionally a sorcerer my attempt any spell they do not know as an untrained skill as long as they meet the rank requirements.

Backlash: Sorcerers do not use power points, instead for each point they would normally spend they instead draw a card from the action deck.  For every club drawn the sorcerer will suffer a D6 in backlash for casting the spell.  When a Sorcerer rolls a 1 on their skill die they are also Shaken (this is before any backlash damage takes effect).  If a sorcerer rolls double 1s they are shaken and 2d6 damage is added to their backlash.  Conversely, if a Joker is drawn during the casting phase of a spell the backlash is reduced by 2d6 and the caster gains +2 to their roll.

Maintaining Spells: Sorcerers main maintain spell the same as casters that use power points, however rather than spending points they draw an equal number of cards.  As with casting drawing clubs deals a D6 damage per club drawn.  If this damage leaves the caster shaken the spells effect ends.  If the caster draws a Joker while maintaining a spell they gain +2 to all their rolls for the round.

Here are a couple feats to help flesh out this casting style.

Spell Focus
Requirements: Seasoned, Spell Skill D8
Select one spell that your character has at least a D8 skill level in.  You and the GM decide an appropriate item to function as a spell component or focus for that particular spell.  When using that item you only take half damage from backlash caused by casting that spell.  This edge may be taken multiple times selecting a different spell each time.  This edge may only be taken once per rank.

Sacrificial Magic
Requirements: Seasoned, Spirit D8
Sorcerers with this edge may sacrifice an animal as part of their casting to reduce potential backlash.  Sacrificing an animal in this way reduces a number of dice fro your backlash equal to the animal's size +3.  The GM may determine magical or unique animals provide more or less protection.  Additionally a caster may choose to sacrifice a human (or intelligent humanoid) to remove all backlash, but at a cost.  Any time a caster performs such a sacrifice they gain a point of corruption on their soul.  If a caster's corruption equals or exceeds twice their Spirit Dice they are completely corrupted by dark forces, either having their soul claimed by demons or simply becoming an evil NPC.  The GM may invent quests or tasks for players to remove their corruption, though these should be rare and difficult to achieve.

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