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Subject: New Spell Ideas rss

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Chris Magoun
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I have been thinking about new spells and figured I would post here to get some feedback. These are just rough ideas. I would need to polish and play test them.

CONVERSION (I/White), one native group, Permanent: The targeted native group becomes friendly to the character for the remainder of the game.

Thoughts: A powerful spell, mitigated by the fact that it is permanent and thus ties up a chit. I could see the Pilgrim taking this as his second spell based on the layout of the board, but he would have to use it very sparingly. Using enhanced magic rules makes this way better, but you still need to energize it.

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LEVITATE (VII/Any), one character, Day: The targeted character can change paths on bridges.

Thoughts: Any spell that allows you to move more freely is very powerful. This would be a great choice for the Elf, Woods Girl, Magician or Pilgrim. I thought of making it VII/Gold, but decided to open it up.

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MIRROR IMAGES (III/Gold), spellcaster, Instant: 1-6 (roll & consult chart) duplicates of the caster are created. Each duplicate immediately pulls a single enemy from the spellcaster's sheet onto its own sheet, as though the duplicate had lured the target in the luring step of the encounter phase. Duplicates that do not lure a target disappear and are lost.

The caster designates one of his MOVE chits and a move direction. All duplicates "play" this move during combat resolution. The caster is not forced to play the same move (chit or direction) as the duplicates and the MOVE chit played by the duplicates does not count against the caster's usage or fatigue for the round.

Duplicates have -- vulnerability and any hit will destroy them.

Duplicate Chart
1 -- 6 duplicates
2 -- 5 duplicates
3 -- 4 duplicates
4 -- 3 duplicates
5 -- 2 duplicates
6 -- 1 duplicate

Thoughts: I am not 100% sure about this one because the mechanic is clunky. Still, this is a potential life saver for the Elf or Wizard who runs into a space they can't handle.

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SERPENT TONGUE (VIII/Any), all the Serpents in the spellcaster's clearing, Day: The spellcaster controls all of the Serpents and Vipers in his clearing.

Thoughts: Same as Control Bats, but I changed the ritual to VIII because talking to snakes seems vaguely sinister. I am not sure about this one, as I am not sure anyone would ever take it over the other VIII options that exist. An option would be to move it to VII.

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SUMMON AID (VI/Any), one native, Combat: The spellcaster sacrifices 1 gold and then summons the top native from any group that has been discovered and is at least friendly to him. The native will fight with the character until the combat ends. If the native is killed, the group's relationship drops by one level.

Thoughts: A neat idea, but it favors the Magician heavily, because he if the only mage that has access to VI rituals with friends on the board. Ultimately, Transform might always be a better bet for the three characters that have access to this spell.

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TORCH BEARER (II/Grey), one character, Instant: The caster must be in a cave clearing to cast this spell. The character converts a chit into a "Torch Bearer" chit which represents a cave spirit summoned to aid the target. As long as the Torch Bearer chit is held by the character, he gets one extra phase/day in the caves.

As soon as the character ends a phase in an outdoor clearing, the chit is fatigued.

Thoughts: Like many, I am not a fan of the various "extra phase" spells, as they are almost never worth the effort. This spell allows a character who plans to make an extended journey into the caves to cast once early on, and gain a benefit for several days. Taking this spell allows a character other than the Dwarf to play a "get to the caves" strategy.

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WALK THE WOODS (II/Grey), one character, Day: The target is able to walk the woods for the day.

Thoughts: This is pretty darn powerful, but no more than Transform or Broomstick. Still, I am concerned that it would be a must-have for anyone who could take it. It would definitely be in my Druid's picks. Another option would be VII/Grey which takes it off the Druid and Witch lists, and gives it to the Magician and Wizard (who needs it less). The Elf, Woods Girl and Pilgrim would be able to cast it, but would need Grey magic.

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WARP WOOD (II/Grey), spellcaster's clearing, Combat: No bow, crossbow, staff, pike, or spear can be played on their alerted side. No natives or monsters with these weapons are immediately flipped to their non-attacking sides and can no longer change tactics.

Thoughts: I like this idea, but I am not sure how much use it would get. There are only a couple of cases where this spell would save you. Great against the Woodfolk and the Spear Goblins and overly-antagonistic Elf players. The Lancers ought to be devastated by this spell, but they aren't. Of course, I am not sure the natives need any more trouble from pesky characters.

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WISP GUIDE (VII/Gold), spellcaster, Day: The caster can use all hidden paths for the day, but he doesn't learn any of them.

Thoughts: A good spell for the Elf and the Woods Girl.

I am still trying to think of more. I am interested in hearing your thoughts and ideas on these.
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Jay Richardson
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Chris Magoun wrote:
I have been thinking about new spells and figured I would post here to get some feedback. These are just rough ideas. I would need to polish and play test them.

CONVERSION (I/White), one native group, Permanent: The targeted native group becomes friendly to the character for the remainder of the game.

This one bothers me on a thematic level. To illustrate what I'm talking about, assume that the Pilgrim casts this spell on the Bashkars or the Company... they'll be friendly to him when the spell is energized by White magic, but otherwise they are unfriendly to him, and they can bounce back-and-forth between the two states repeatedly. What exactly is the spell doing? The only explanation that I can see is that the Pilgrim is "tricking" them into liking him, but that doesn't seem to be an appropriate effect for a Type I spell (Righteous invocations).

On a practical level, I think a spell like this would work better as an Instant spell with a permanent effect, rather than a Permanent spell that is only in effect when it is energized. The trick then would be to keep it from being overused. Just off of the top of my head, maybe something like this, for instance:

RESURRECT (I/White), one native group, Instant: If the targeted native group has any members who are currently dead, those dead members are immediately regenerated, and the native group becomes Friendly to the spellcaster for the remainder of the game. Dead native horses can never be resurrected (they must regenerate normally). If the targeted native group does not have any members who are dead, the spell has no effect. This spell cannot be cast on any native group that the spellcaster has battled.

That is, thematically, if you want a Type I spell that will make a native group Friendly to the spellcaster, that spell should provide some tangible benefit to the native group rather than just trick them.

Chris Magoun wrote:
LEVITATE (VII/Any), one character, Day: The targeted character can change paths on bridges.

Hmmm... I wrote a somewhat similar spell for possible use in our Book of Quests variant. It's kind of interesting to compare the two. My version could be used in a much wider set of circumstances than your version, and, as a Type II spell, it benefits a different set of characters than your Type VII spell:

LEVITATION (II/Grey), one character, native, or monster, Instant: The spellcaster may immediately move the target into any clearing in the spellcaster's hex tile. When a target levitates, all his belongings, including his horses, levitate with him. Exception: This spell cannot be cast in a cave clearing, and the target may not be moved into a cave clearing.

But both of these spells may be too powerful for the basic game: the fact that the roads in valleys cross without connecting is a key part of what makes a Magic Realm map so interesting. A character that could change roadways at will in a valley would have a huge advantage.

This would not be a problem for our Book of Quests variant, as the Quest designer can ensure that the Quest remains challenging even if the character receives an over-powered spell.

Chris Magoun wrote:
MIRROR IMAGES (III/Gold), spellcaster, Instant: 1-6 (roll & consult chart) duplicates of the caster are created...

Thoughts: I am not 100% sure about this one because the mechanic is clunky.

Yeah, it seems way too fiddly and awkward.

Chris Magoun wrote:
Still, this is a potential life saver for the Elf or Wizard who runs into a space they can't handle.

The Elf doesn't need any help, and while the Wizard could certainly use it, I think it provides too much benefit for too little cost. As a general rule, you don't improve Magic Realm by making it easier.

Another comparison spell from our Book of Quests, which is much simpler, much more limited, and is a Type VI spell, which seems absolutely correct (Conjuring techniques):

CREATE SPECTER (VI/Purple), the spellcaster's clearing, Combat: The spellcaster creates a specter in his clearing. The specter receives a Melee Section of its own. It may lure one uncontrolled denizen in each round of combat. Combat is never resolved between the specter and any denizen it lures; the specter serves only to keep that denizen from attacking someone else.

Note: these comparison spells from the Book of Quests that I'm presenting here have not been playtested or used in a game, so I make no guarantees that they are useful or will even work correctly. Just like your list of new spells, these are rough drafts that we worked up for possible later use. Also, we never thought about specific characters when designing these spells. Thus, when we wondered about what would make good Type VI spells, Create Specter was one of the ideas that we came up with. Whether or not it could be used by any specific character never entered into the process at all.

Chris Magoun wrote:
SERPENT TONGUE (VIII/Any), all the Serpents in the spellcaster's clearing, Day: The spellcaster controls all of the Serpents and Vipers in his clearing.

Thoughts: Same as Control Bats, but I changed the ritual to VIII because talking to snakes seems vaguely sinister. I am not sure about this one, as I am not sure anyone would ever take it over the other VIII options that exist. An option would be to move it to VII.

I like this one, and I agree that Type VIII seems appropriate.

One suggestion that would make the spell more interesting, and thus more likely to be used: allow the spellcaster to ride the Serpents (just like Control Bats allows you to ride the Bats). If you ride a Serpent, you can use walking the woods! Limit this to Serpents; I think the Vipers would be too small to be ridden like a horse.

Chris Magoun wrote:
SUMMON AID (VI/Any), one native, Combat: The spellcaster sacrifices 1 gold and then summons the top native from any group that has been discovered and is at least friendly to him. The native will fight with the character until the combat ends. If the native is killed, the group's relationship drops by one level.

Another good one. I especially like the gold "sacrifice"... that's a nice touch!

To make the spell simpler and more likely to be used, just have it summon the top unhired Rogue. If all of the unhired Rogues are dead, then it summons the top dead Rogue, who will regenerate if he survives the battle.

Chris Magoun wrote:
Ultimately, Transform might always be a better bet for the three characters that have access to this spell.

Transform is unpredictable and can backfire badly on you, so I think Summon Aid could be an appealing spell.

Chris Magoun wrote:
TORCH BEARER (II/Grey), one character, Instant: The caster must be in a cave clearing to cast this spell. The character converts a chit into a "Torch Bearer" chit which represents a cave spirit summoned to aid the target. As long as the Torch Bearer chit is held by the character, he gets one extra phase/day in the caves.

As soon as the character ends a phase in an outdoor clearing, the chit is fatigued.

Thoughts: Like many, I am not a fan of the various "extra phase" spells, as they are almost never worth the effort.

Here I disagree. The spells that give extra phases can be incredibly useful in the right situation. Granted, you may only cast such a spell once or twice in the course of a game, and you probably wouldn't choose one as a starting spell (unless you are playing with the Book of Quests), but I don't see any of that as a problem. Finding the proper way to use odd spells is one of the interesting problems that the game poses; it wouldn't be nearly as interesting if it was easy.

The problem that you *will* encounter in making an extra phase spell persistent is that it will only benefit certain characters, which could introduce play balance problems. In other words, a treasure that grants an extra phase in caves can be used by any character, but this Torch Bearer spell could only be used by characters with Type II Magic chits. Why should they be given a significant advantage that the other characters can't match?

Spells need to be beneficial, yes, but I think this goes too far and is too beneficial.

Chris Magoun wrote:
WALK THE WOODS (II/Grey), one character, Day: The target is able to walk the woods for the day.

Too powerful, especially since Transform and Broomstick don't always work exactly the way you want, but there's no way for this spell to malfunction or give an unintended result. I prefer my much more limited version from the Book of Quests:

REVEAL TRAIL (II/Grey), the spellcaster's clearing, Day: This spell may only be cast in a non-cave clearing. The spellcaster creates a temporary hidden path from his clearing to any other non-cave clearing on the same hex tile. The spellcaster, and anyone following him, may move along this hidden path during his turn (he does not need to search for it). The hidden path may be used by anyone else who can discover it. It disappears when the spell expires.

Chris Magoun wrote:
WARP WOOD (II/Grey), spellcaster's clearing, Combat: No bow, crossbow, staff, pike, or spear can be played on their alerted side. No natives or monsters with these weapons are immediately flipped to their non-attacking sides and can no longer change tactics.

I don't care for this one, for the reasons that you noted: it gives inconsistent results, and it will just make the natives even weaker and more vulnerable.

Chris Magoun wrote:
WISP GUIDE (VII/Gold), spellcaster, Day: The caster can use all hidden paths for the day, but he doesn't learn any of them.

Thoughts: A good spell for the Elf and the Woods Girl.

I don't have any strong feelings one way or the other on this one, other than the Elf not needing any help.

References:

The Book of Quests
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/76484/magic-realm-book...
(includes nearly six pages of potential new spells)

Revised Spells
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/107925/revised-spells
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Chris Magoun
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Jay,

Thanks for the comments.

In the case of the Conversion spell, I was not picturing the Pilgrim tricking the native, but instead cowing them with a show of holy power. My god's miracles can beat up your god's miracles... that sort of thing. I like the Resurrect idea a great deal as well.

I agree that Levitate (either of them) might be too powerful for the basic game, but I am not sure. I think the problem I see is that too often the spells you base your strategy on are the same handful of "tier 1" spells. I would really like to see a few more tier 1-2 spells in the game to allow some new gambits to come into play.

Having said that, movement IS very powerful and thus being able to use bridges as a crossroads might be too good to pass up. What if there was an extra cost associated with the spell -- perhaps the chance to wound 1 or more chits when you lept from the bridge? I will need to playtest Levitate in any case.

I am still iffy on Mirror Images for various reasons. I don't mind a fiddly spell (I am still thinking about how to streamline it), and I think the illusion aspect fits thematically with elven magic, but yeah, the elf doesn't need much help. Unfortunately, that means that any other type III spellcaster that could use a few more interesting options is screwed. Have to think on this more and/or scrap it entirely.

On Torch Bearer, you wrote:

Quote:
Here I disagree. The spells that give extra phases can be incredibly useful in the right situation. Granted, you may only cast such a spell once or twice in the course of a game, and you probably wouldn't choose one as a starting spell (unless you are playing with the Book of Quests), but I don't see any of that as a problem. Finding the proper way to use odd spells is one of the interesting problems that the game poses; it wouldn't be nearly as interesting if it was easy.

The problem that you *will* encounter in making an extra phase spell persistent is that it will only benefit certain characters, which could introduce play balance problems. In other words, a treasure that grants an extra phase in caves can be used by any character, but this Torch Bearer spell could only be used by characters with Type II Magic chits. Why should they be given a significant advantage that the other characters can't match?

Spells need to be beneficial, yes, but I think this goes too far and is too beneficial.


Interesting. I read a post by you some time ago where you said that the problem wasn't with the spells, but with the victory conditions themselves. I thought that was a very good point, and I agree with you. (And I really do need to run some Book of Quests games because they look amazing.)

Still, I think it bears saying that in the basic game, the extra phase spells are, if not useless (and mind you, I picked the most nearly useful of them to replace), are nothing you would take at start and are almost certainly not something you would create a strategy around. I wanted a spell that you could choose at the start with the idea of getting to the caves and staying there. There is a cost and risk associated with this strategy -- you are giving up another spell pick, committing to the troll & goblin infested caves, and you are still giving up 1 phase a day to your sunlight-bound opponents.

So I am not convinced that this is horribly overpowered. Perhaps there needs to be an additional cost -- a fatigue each day to appease the spirits, perhaps? I don't know... must playtest

In any case, I appreciate the feedback and the discussion. I will think about the spells and your comments some more over the next couple of days. Thanks again.
 
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Jay Richardson
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Chris Magoun wrote:
In the case of the Conversion spell, I was not picturing the Pilgrim tricking the native, but instead cowing them with a show of holy power. My god's miracles can beat up your god's miracles... that sort of thing.

Well, that makes more sense, but it still doesn't quite match my perception of what Type I spells should be. But that's just me. I've always envisioned the Pilgrim as a humble missionary type so, to me, this spell as you describe it seems really out of character for him. Other players might not have a problem with it.

In any case, I think you might need a better name, since it doesn't really seem as if you are converting anything here. Maybe something along the lines of "Reveal Power" or "Perform Miracle", etc.

Chris Magoun wrote:
I think the problem I see is that too often the spells you base your strategy on are the same handful of "tier 1" spells.

I agree, except that I see this as a problem with the victory conditions rather than with the spells themselves.

Chris Magoun wrote:
Having said that, movement IS very powerful and thus being able to use bridges as a crossroads might be too good to pass up. What if there was an extra cost associated with the spell -- perhaps the chance to wound 1 or more chits when you lept from the bridge?

For the basic game, I think the simplest solution might be to treat levitation as a form of flying and require the spellcaster to roll to see which clearing he levitates to. Thus a character that desperately needs to switch roads will eventually be able to do so, but the 50% chance of failure on each casting will prevent the spell from being unduly abused.

Chris Magoun wrote:
I wanted a spell that you could choose at the start with the idea of getting to the caves and staying there. There is a cost and risk associated with this strategy -- you are giving up another spell pick, committing to the troll & goblin infested caves, and you are still giving up 1 phase a day to your sunlight-bound opponents.

But you are also gaining one phase per day in caves compared to everyone else, who can't possibly match that unless they find the one treasure that does the same thing. This would be a huge advantage that comes at little cost and no risk. The very fact that casting this spell would be a "no-brainer" decision for a spellcaster entering a cave suggests that the spell might be flawed and overpowered.

Chris Magoun wrote:
So I am not convinced that this is horribly overpowered. Perhaps there needs to be an additional cost -- a fatigue each day to appease the spirits, perhaps?

I would try changing the spell's name to "Summon Cave Spirit" and require a roll on a table to see what kind of spirit is summoned:

Cave Spirit Table

1 - roll one die when Looting (this spirit reveals hidden treasures)
2 - roll one die when Looting
3 - extra phase of any kind (your original spirit; provides illumination)
4 - extra Hide phase (this spirit provides concealment)
5 - extra Alert phase (this spirit warns of approaching danger)
6 - no effect (no spirit answers your summons)

Only one spirit may be active at a time. The spirit disappears if you cast the spell again to try to summon a different spirit, or if you move to a non-cave clearing.
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Chris Magoun
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Sorry I haven't been back to this in a few days. You bring up interesting points and I will consider them as I continue to add spells to the game.

One thing you have got me thinking about is what exactly is overpowered in a game like Magic Realm... Once I have some coherent thoughts I will post them here.

Thanks again for working through these spells with me.
 
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