Tunnels & Trolls: House Rules III
In this post, I'm going to talk about the various Mental Attributes, Talents, and Spellcasting.
Intelligence is a tricky one, because for typical uses of cunning and guile I will rely on the Player's own ingenuity. However, Intelligence is a vital attribute nonetheless. For certain styles of play, it is arguably the most important. Firstly, Intelligence will control the use of a great many Talents. It covers much of what would be controlled by Wisdom in Dungeons and Dragons, and so includes the character's perceptual abilities. Attempts to craft objects and so forth will involve a talent and an Intelligence SR. It is also vital to the practice of magic, because it determines the damage of the most basic attack spell and is also a prerequisite for the use of higher-level magic. Further, it determines starting languages. A character will be able to roll on the Languages table once for each point of Intelligence over 12. In order to give some variety, duplicate results are wasted in T&T. In this campaign, due to the characters' affliction with Amnesia, they will be unable to recall any of their languages other than Common until they encounter them in the field, and suddenly realize they comprehend and can speak that language.
Wizardry represents the character's psychic or mental "strength." The vast majority of humans and other creatures simply do not have this statistic. At character generation, they may roll it as an "extra" score, and then switch it with any other attribute which is lower. Then, they cross it off their character sheet forever. It is easiest to think of characters without Wizardry as being insubstantial ghosts in the Psychic realm. They have no psychic force, and cannot touch or be touched. There are a few spells that simply do not work on anyone without a Wizardry attribute, which will be specifically noted. Also, there are a few simple techniques that anyone with a Wizardry attribute can learn, which do not require the use of a spell. All PCs are assumed to know all of them. NPCs who have a Wizardry attribute but have no training can be taught these simple techniques in a matter of days at most, less time if they have a good IQ. Further, a character has Spirit points equal to their Wizardry attribute. These are spent to power Spells.
Light: The Will-o-Wisp spell is replaced by this ability. With the expenditure of one point of Spirit and a successful SR at a difficulty of the player's choice, they can make a light (attached to their person or item of power) which lasts for ten minutes. An SR of 1 gives a light equivalent to a candle. An SR2 gives a light equivalent to a torch. An SR3 gives a light equivalent to a good lantern. An SR4 gives a light equivalent to a bonfire. An SR5 gives a light equivalent to strong artificial lighting, of the kind that doesn't exist in a fantasy world. The player may add +1 to the SR to double the duration of the effect, repeatedly if they so desire, but they must select the SR and effects they wish before rolling. So, a player could roll an SR5 to make a lantern-equivalent light of quadruple duration (40 minutes.)
Breaching Magical Seals: A character can use their raw magical ability to breach magical seals on doors, items, enchanted portals, etc. This costs a number of points of Spirit to attempt equal to the level of the SR that is required to breach the seal. A simple magical locking spell might require an SR1. A powerful forbiddance on an enchanted castle might require an SR5.
The Challenge of Wizardry: With the expenditure of 1 spirit and an SR of any level of their choosing, a character can determine whether another character or creature has a Wizardry attribute at all, and whether it is stronger or weaker than the challenging character. The challenged character may choose to attempt a Wizardry SR of 1 level higher, and if they succeed they may choose to appear weaker than they really are (although they cannot hide that they do have a Wizardry attribute.)
Luck is an actual psychic or mental attribute, which represents a character's ability to be favored by destiny. It is not an attribute that has a real-world equivalent. It probably has some use in gambling, although I am not certain what. The best use of Luck is in avoiding misfortune. A character may always choose to use a Luck SR to resist any spell, at one level higher of the SR. So, if a spell requires a Constitution SR4 to resist, a character who is much luckier than they are tough can attempt an SR5 against Luck instead. They must choose before rolling, and cannot then attempt the other attribute. It is similarly useful for avoiding traps or other hazards.
Because educated people in the game world know that Luck is a thing that some people have much more of than others (much the same way some people are much stronger than others!) this does have effects on society and culture. A sailing ship, for example, will always endeavor to have at least one "lucky" sailor, to help them avoid dangerous storms.
Charisma represents both the character's force of will and personality. It may or may not indicate physical attractiveness, but it does indicate a powerful personal magnetism if it is very high, or something indefinably repellent about the character if it is very low. A character may make Charisma SRs to gain the favor of or to frighten characters or creatures. The target may make their own Charisma SR to resist, as their own will-force opposes the character attempting to dominate the situation. The aggressor selects an SR level to roll against. The target should select an SR of at least equal level. They may be able to turn the tables if they roll against an even higher SR than the initial aggressor...being made to look ridiculous in front of a crowd you hoped to impress is a serious hazard if you endeavor to sway the masses.
Spells are learned techniques for using the forces of Magic to affect the world in specific ways. Each character begins play knowing three first-level spells, and they may learn a maximum number of spells equal to five times their current level. Additional spells beyond those known at the start must be gained by research, fortunate happenstance, or training by other magic-capable characters. The character may learn spells of any level, provided they meet the prerequisites. When a spell is cast, the character must expend the appropriate number of points of Spirit, and one point of Strength. Both are recovered over time, although the loss of Strength does affect carrying capacity and combat adds.
Points of Spirit return at the rate of one point per ten minutes, if the character does nothing more strenuous than move at a walking pace. Points of expended Strength return with a night's rest.
There are two ways to reduce the Spirit point cost of Spells. A character may reduce by one point the Spirit cost of a spell for each character level he has attained above the level at which the spell is being cast. Additionally, a caster with an Item of Power (often a staff, but can be a ring or whatever) can reduce the cost of the spell by one point per his character level. This never reduces the Spirit cost below 1.
The typical spell requires no roll to cast, although if for some reason a roll is required the caster still expends at least some Spirit and one point of Strength if the spell fails.
They may "Know" their three starting spells even if they do not have the prerequisites, but cannot cast them until their attributes are raised to the necessary level. The following are some of the lower-level spells:
1st Level Spells: IQ 10, Dex 8
Lock Tight: This magically seals a door or object that can be opened or closed. It costs 1 point of spirit to cast, and lasts for half an hour. It is an SR1 to breach it open with Wizardry. The character may double the duration or raise the SR required to open it by one level, each doubling or increase of the SR requires doubling the expenditure of Spirit, and the character must meet the prerequisites to cast higher-level spells. Each increase of duration or SR counts as the spell being one level higher. Breaching a magically sealed door with main Strength requires an SR three levels higher than breaching it with Wizardry.
Knock Knock: This spell opens locks, doors, etc. It requires two points of Spirit to cast, and has no effect on magically sealed locks or objects. It may need to be cast as a higher-level spell to open particularly complex or large locks, those enchanted in some way, or to open barred doors. For example, raising a portcullis is probably at least an SR4.
Oh There It Is: This reveals concealed things such as pit traps or secret doors. It requires four points of spirit to cast, and the caster must be relatively close to the area to be searched.
Take That You Fiend: This is the basic attack spell. It has a range of 250', and inflicts damage equal to the caster's IQ. It works only on a single creature (although the shock of the damage does count towards the party's HPT regardless), and has no effect on inanimate objects. It has a cost of six spirit points. It may be cast at a higher level than first. Add half again the caster's IQ for each additional level of the spell to determine the damage amount. It costs six points more spirit for each level of the spell, and the caster must meet the prerequisites for higher-level spells.
Vorpal Blade: This doubles the number of dice rolled for any bladed weapon used to attack. It lasts for one round, and costs five points of Spirit to cast. It may be cast at a higher level than first, in which case the spell lasts for double the length of time for each increase of the level. Additionally, the cost of the spell increases by five for each additional level. A character may attempt to cast this spell and attack in the same turn! This requires an IQ SR of a level equal to the level of the spell, and if it is failed the character both expends the Spirit required and loses their attack for the round.
Oh Go Away: The caster adds up his Intelligence, Charisma, and Wizardry attributes, and compares them to the Monster's MR. If the caster's total is the greater, the monster is driven to flee. This costs 5 points of spirit, and the GM is not obligated to inform the caster of the monster's MR beforehand. The caster may attempt to cast the spell at a higher level. Each increased level requires the caster to spend 5 more points of spirit, to meet the prerequisites of the higher spell level, and doubles the number of targets they may affect. If an opponent does not have an MR, then use their Intelligence, Charisma, and Wizardry total to oppose the character's own.
Hocus Pocus: This creates a makeshift magical implement from some object. It costs one point of Spirit, and the object is likely to burn out and break after only a few uses. It requires a Level 1 Luck SR to not burn out on the first use. A fumble may cause it to explode or otherwise destroy itself in an inconvenient way. In any event, it may channel a total amount of Wizardry equal to twice the user's IQ before becoming useless.
Alarum: This spell costs four spirit to cast, and lasts for 24 hours. It allows the character to designate a ten-foot-radius area. If the area is crossed or disturbed, the character receives a psychic "ping" that informs them of this. The character has some discretion over what counts as "crossed" or "disturbed" at the time of casting, but does not know what caused the disturbance if she is "pinged." The area or duration may be doubled by increasing the level of the spell, using the usual conditions.
Blank Script: This spell causes writing on a page to disappear or be encrypted or scrambled. It requires 3 Spirit to cast, plus 1 for each page to be concealed. It conceals a number of pages equal to the caster's level, and that number may be doubled by increasing the level of the spell.
Blast of [Element]: This is a wide variety of spells, each element being a separate spell. The character must select the element when the spell is learned. It costs 8 Spirit to cast, and deals 1d6 damage per level of the caster. Its range is only 50 feet, but it can affect inanimate objects.
Cloud of Dust: This creates a cloud of choking particulate ten feet across. It requires 4 Spirit to cast, and lasts for one combat round. Targets must make an L2SR against Constitution or begin choking, which reduces their effective Strength by half for the duration of the round. It cuts visibility in half in any case.
Cold Drunk: This spell thoroughly inebriates the target. It requires 4 Spirit plus 1 for every full or fractional ten points of the target's constitution. The caster selects a level of Wizardry SR at the time of casting, and rolls against it. The spell fails if the SR fails. If it succeeds, the target must make a Constitution SR of equal level to resist the spell. This does not work on creatures that are for reasons of their physical characteristics unable to be intoxicated by chemical means.
Complete Drip: This spell conjures 20 gallons of water and, if the spellcaster wishes, dumps it atop a target. It requires 3 Spirit to cast. If the spellcaster wishes to target a creature with this effect, she should choose a level of Intelligence SR and roll against it. A failure misses automatically. Otherwise the target must make a Speed SR of equivalent level to dodge the spell, or a Luck SR of one level higher to somehow avoid it by fortunate happenstance.
Copycat: The caster can emulate the voice of a target perfectly for the cost of 4 spirit. They must have heard the target speak, this allows inflection and accent but does not allow the speaker to use languages they do not know. It lasts for two minutes. The duration may be doubled by increasing the level of the spell under the usual conditions.
Determine Topic: This allows the character to gain an understanding of the general topic of any single body of text or book, whether he understands the language or not. It is akin to examining the table of contents and index. It costs 1 point of Spirit and has a range of thirty feet.
Good Night: This spell creates magical darkness. It has a radius of fifteen feet, which must contain the spellcaster but need not be centered on him. It costs 3 Spirit and lasts for five minutes. Each level increase of the spell doubles either the size or duration of the effect, using the normal rules for level increases.
Match: For a cost of 1 Spirit, the caster produces a flame from his hand or staff or whatever. It is nearly useless in combat, but lasts for up to a minute and is very effective at lighting flammables.
Luck Charm: This spell costs 10 Spirit to cast and lasts for up to a day. When cast, the user selects either SR to resist spells or misfortune, or SRs to use a talent or accomplish a task. (These are two distinct and inclusive categories, and should cover all 2d6 die rolls between the two of them.) The caster can only ever have one Luck Charm in effect. The first time after casting that the user makes the appropriate type of SR for any reason, the lower of the two die is changed to match the higher one, giving an single automatic DARO on the first roll.
Hello Sunshine: For a cost of 1 Wizardry, the Caster emits a beam of pure light from his hand or item of power, which may be shined into a creature's eyes to dazzle them for one combat round. The caster makes a Dexterity SR at the time of casting, at a level of their choosing. A failure misses automatically. The target may make an SR against Speed at the same level to avoid the effect. They may also attempt to tough it out by checking against Constitution, at an SR two levels higher.
Hotfoot: This spell affects a single target for two combat rounds, within a range of 30 feet and for a cost of 7 Spirit. The target feels a terrible burning sensation, and is thus distracted. The caster selects a level of Intelligence SR they must pass in order to succeed with the spell, the target must succeed on a Charisma SR of equal level to resist its effects. Increasing the level of the spell doubles the number of targets, or the range. Each target is rendered unable to deal Spite Damage if the spell affects them, and their HPT is also reduced by one per level the spell is cast at.
Illuminated Manuscript: This spell causes any body of writing to become visible to the caster, regardless of the lighting conditions or indeed if the caster is blind. It costs 1 Wizardry and lasts for ten minutes. The duration may be doubled by increasing the spell's level under the usual rules. It does not have any effect on anyone besides the caster.
Confabulation: This spell causes a slight mental hiccup or strange idea in the mind of a single target. It does not allow commands or the creation of illusions, but does allow the target to be convinced of some fact that is not directly against the evidence of their senses and does not fly in the face of their capacity for reason. It can be tricky to adjudicate. It costs 6 points of Spirit and has a range of 20 feet. Increasing the level of the spell doubles the range or number of targets (all targets must receive the same confabulated idea.) Upon casting, the user selects an SR level, which they must succeed against with Charisma in order for the spell to work. The target may attempt to resist the spell with a Charisma SR of equal level. If they fail to resist, they do not know they have been targeted by the spell. If they do resist, they can realize what has happened with an Intelligence SR against the same level. If the caster is within sight, and the target has a Wizardry score, they will know who attempted the spell on them. Targets without Wizardry might infer the identity of the caster from other evidence if they are clever enough to do so.
Itch: The target is plagued by itching for one combat turn, at a cost of four spirit, at a range of ten feet. This halves the creature's combat adds, but not dice. The duration may be doubled for each level increase of the spell. The caster must make an Intelligence SR at the time of casting, and the target can attempt to save against the spell with a Constitution SR of the same level, or a Charisma SR of two levels higher.
Mask: This spell renders the single touched target anonymous for ten minutes, at a cost of 1 Spirit per ten points of the target's Charisma, fractions being rounded up. It will not hide genuinely unusual characteristics or the target's voice, but it will make his face, body type, clothing, and most equipment completely unremarkable and impossible to remember. The target is impossible to notice in a crowd if he does not behave in an abnormal manner. The duration or number of targets can be doubled for each increase of the level of the spell (base the cost on the highest Charisma among any of the targets). At the time of casting the caster selects a level of Intelligence SR and must succeed against it to cast the spell. Any onlooker who does notice the target and wishes to pierce the glamour and see the target for what they truly are must make an SR of the same level. If they attempt and fail, they cannot recall even the target's voice, unusual characteristics, ostentatious or unusual equipment, etc.
Hair it is: At a cost of 4 spirit and a range of 20 feet, the caster can alter the head, facial, and body hair of the target to any degree that is plausibly within the normal variation of the species. Generally, the GM should be generous with any suggestion which does not have a direct mechanical impact. This can include full-body denudement, the growth of a ZZ Top beard, the replacement of the target's normal hairstyle with an ostentatiously-colored mohawk, etc. The range or number of targets can be doubled by increasing the level of the spell. The caster must choose a level of Intelligence SR which she must pass to cast the spell successfully. The target may attempt a Constitution SR of the equivalent level to avoid the effect. This spell may be reversed with another casting, even if the new caster does not know the target's original hair configuration.
Assassination Sanitation: A target corpse within 20 feet is totally and instantaneously disintegrated at a cost of 3 spirit. The range or number of targets can be doubled by increasing the spell level by 1.
Power Strike: The caster's staff or other blunt instrument deals 4d6 extra damage in melee for two combat turns at a cost of 5 Spirit. The caster may double the duration or add another 4d6 damage with each increase in level of the spell. This spell may be cast in the same round as an attack.
Compass: The touched target immediately knows the direction of true North (or the direction to any other place they have visited and have knowledge of), regardless of circumstances, at a cost of 3 Spirit.
Bartleby's Blessing: The caster enchants a quill by touch, which becomes magically animated and able to take dictation in a neat and tidy script. It will cover approximately one page per ten minutes of dictation. The spell costs two Spirit per page.
Skylight: The caster, at a cost of 3 spirit, makes a hole in the clouds directly between himself and the best available source of celestial light (sun, moon, stars, world-destroying comet, etc.) It will typically last for two minutes, which can be doubled by increasing the level of the spell. It is ridiculously impressive, and will provide the normal illumination of a cloudless sky for a radius of around thirty feet centered on the caster.
Cleansing: All surfaces and creatures within ten feet of the caster are magically cleansed and made hygienic, for a cost of 3 Spirit. The radius can be doubled by increasing the level of the spell.
Whisper: The caster can whisper a sentence of up to his Wizardry in words into the ear of any visible target within 50 feet, at a cost of 1 Spirit. Each increase of the level of the spell doubles the range or number of targets. No one other than the targets can hear the whisper, which is enchanted to be audible above environmental noise. However, it is not telepathic and is not effective to communicate with the deaf.
Nonsanguination: This causes the immediate halt of any blood loss by a single target within 10 feet, at a cost of 1 Spirit. The range or number of targets can be doubled by increasing the level of the spell as normal. It is often used to frustrate the purpose of Vampires or Giant Leeches, who must re-establish their hold if this spell is used.