Thursday, October 11, 2018

Special Combat Magic Pt. II

This article continues from Pt. I, addressing holy symbols and magical wands as personally attuned devices.

Clerical Symbols: If the symbol is a weapon (a bow, a sword, a spear, a hammer, a staff, etc.), then use the weapon guidelines in the previous article (click here). If the symbol is something else, the following guidelines apply instead. Immortal patrons or their more powerful servants typically provide these personal devices to worthy clerics. They enable their owners to focus the power of their faiths and engender a numinous manifestation in one of three ways.
         1. Tower of Faith: The device is brandished toward one attacker. From this point forward, its owner's armor class and saving throws receive a bonus equal to the symbol’s magical rating against attacks from the targeted foe. Though it requires a combat action to invoke, this protection remains in power until the owner dismisses it, the foe is felled, or the encounter ends.
         2. Lordly Supremacy: As above, the symbol must be brandished before the owner’s foes, which requires one combat action. Supremacy is comparable to turning undead, except it may be used against living foes with alignments directly opposite the owner’s, or against sworn-enemies of the owner’s faith. In the case of BECMI (which has only 3 alignments), use only against enemies of the faith or at the DM’s discretion. Foes are turned as undead with the same or higher number of HD. Add the symbol’s magical bonus to the turning score and to the number of HD turned. A “D” result destroys undead only; other foes drop to their knees and prostrate themselves in awe/fear before the cleric (player characters and monstrous beings are stunned instead). Unless some mechanics are in place to convert groveling foes, treat as a Charm spell. Supremacy can only be attempted once per encounter.
         3. Mystical Shield: This action is similar to deflecting a spell with a weapon (click here for the earlier article). As with previous options, the holy symbol must be held up ostensibly toward the spellcaster for the deflection to take place

Top Illustration: Pathfinder - Kyra v Undead by FilKearney
Digital Art / Drawings & Paintings / Fantasy©2014-2018 FilKearney.

Wands and Rods: Rods are much more uncommon than wands in this context, though they work like wands. Staves are considered weapons and should be treated as such. The personal device of a magic-user, such as the one Captain Isledemer d’Alberran carries, bears three main functions.
         1. Spell Enhancing: Though magic-users in the world of Calidar can weave magic without relying on enchanted items, they can use personal wands to improve one aspect of spell-casting. Aspects include range, area of effect, duration, and damage. At the player’s discretion (subject to the DM’s agreement), one aspect can be improved +5% for each “plus” of the personal wand’s enchantment (thus +5% to +20% for wands +1 to +4). As regards BECMI game mechanics, the established rule that no spell can inflict more than 20 dice of damage (a maximum of 20x6=120 points) should remain in force (see Rules Cyclopedia, page 32). An alternative aspect can also lower a target’s saving throw by the wand’s number of “plusses.”
         2. Deflection: A personal wand may deflect direct attacks like weapons do (see previous article for details). Used in this manner, the owner is considered having “Basic” combat skill; Expertise, Mastery, and Grand Mastery combat skills only apply to wands when deflecting spells (as opposed to melee and other ranged attacks).
         3. Wizardly Dueling: Personal wands (and the more common dueling wands found in schools of magic) can be used within the context of non-lethal dueling, calling forth a combination of their owners’ moves and short range, instantaneous telekinetic effects. Maximum range is 30’ between the two contestants. A personal device does not use magical charges during wizardly duels. Each round, contestants secretly pick one of six moves and reveal their choices simultaneously.
        Cross reference these choices on the Wizardly Dueling chart below to determine which move succeeds. For example: “Dodge” vs. “Lunge” results in the “Dodge’s” success, the “Lunge” being entirely foiled. Moves are simultaneous, unless an “Initiative” result comes up; roll for initiative—the faster moves then succeeds (reroll ties). Both moves fail with a “Nil.” outcome. Colors are only for cosmetic effect (red is a defensive move, green is an attack). “NPC” moves are numbered to allow for random DM rolls.

Wizardly Dueling

V NPC
PC >
Dodge
Feint
Parry
Flick
Lunge
Swish
      1.  Dodge
Nil.
Feint
Nil.
Flick
Dodge
Dodge
      2.  Feint
Feint
Initiative
Parry
Flick
Feint
Swish
      3.  Parry
Nil.
Parry
Nil.
Flick
Parry
Swish
      4.  Flick
Flick
Flick
Flick
Initiative
Lunge
Initiative
      5.  Lunge
Dodge
Feint
Parry
Lunge
Initiative
Lunge
      6.  Swish
Dodge
Swish
Swish
Initiative
Lunge
Initiative

Combat Results: Successful moves result in three possible effects: Prestige, Advantage, and Damage. In a dueling contest, the first opponent to reach +7 Prestige wins the match. Advantage can be a bonus (+) or a penalty (–) to initiative during the next round, if any, or some other outcome at the DM’s discretion. Damage: It is non-lethal and applies to the contestant failing a move; 1 hit equals 1/10 the winner’s total hit points rounded up (the "winner" being the author of a successful move). The first contestant to reach or exceed his/her original total is stunned, and therefore eliminated. Treat a personal wand’s magical “plusses” as damage bonuses (actual hit points—not the number of “hits.”)
         Certain moves require a specific follow-up maneuver. The move following a “Feint” must be an attack. The move following a “Lunge” must be a defense. An incorrect move following a “Feint” or a “Lunge” results in this move failing altogether (essentially a fumble). Called the Scorpion, a “Feint-Lunge-Parry” sequence is deemed a “master stroke” that will earn a +1 Prestige bonus if completed successfully. Called a Pixie Kiss, “Swish-Dodge-Flick” is another.

Combat Results

Definitions
Effect when Successful
Dodge
Defeats swishes and lunges.
Prestige: –1 for dodge, –2 to opponent
Advantage: None
Damage: None
Feint
Foils lunges and dodges.
Prestige: +1 for feint, –1 to opponent
Advantage: +2 bonus to initiative on next round
Damage: 1 hit on opponent
Parry
Deflects feints and lunges.
Prestige: –1 to opponent
Advantage: +1 bonus to initiative on next round
Damage: None
Flick
Small attack with good chances of success.
Prestige: None
Advantage: None
Damage: 1 hit on opponent
Lunge
A risky but powerful attack to disarm.
Prestige: +2 for lunge
Advantage: Opponent must dodge on the next round to recover the dislodged wand.
Damage: 3 hits on opponent
Swish
An attack knocking an opponent off balance.
Prestige: +1 for swish
Advantage: –2 to opponent’s initiative on next round
Damage: 2 hits on opponent
Nil.
Both maneuvers cancel each other.
Prestige: –1 for both
Advantage: None
Damage: None

Special Competition Rules: Among other rules that a DM could invent, it is generally accepted among Caldwen wizards that one must use all six moves before repeating one, or incur a –1 Prestige penalty. Another house rule among gentlefolk adds another penalty for using the same move twice in a row. Mandatory moves and attempts to complete master strokes imply that contestants might incur penalties either deliberately or unavoidably. Using ESP effects on a contestant is grounds for disqualification.

Dueling Expertise: Wizardly dueling can be considered a “General Skill” (see Rules Cyclopedia, page 81). Any magic-user with a personal wand is deemed to possess at least “Basic” dueling skills. These aptitudes can be improved to “Skilled, Expert, Master,” and “Grand Master.”
  • Skilled: A wand owner who won at least 5 duels, or the holder of a Spellcraft License*. A skilled duelist wins tied initiative rolls (void if opponent is also skilled).
  • Expert: A wand owner with twice as many victories as defeats, or a Bachelor* alumnus. An expert wins all initiative rolls (void if opponent is also an expert).
  • Master: A wand owner with three times as many victories as defeats, or a Master* alumnus. A master can combine two moves each round (unopposed attacks automatically succeed).
  • Grand Master: A wand owner with four times as many victories as defeats, or a PHD* alumnus. A grand master always knows whether the opponent’s next move is an attack or a defense (void if opponent is also a grand master).
(*) Diplomas obtained from accredited schools of magic such as those in the Magiocracy of Caldwen.

Beyond Dueling: Taken out of their dueling context, the three attack moves can be used at any time as harmless effects available to wand owners up to a 30’ range, such as: “Flick,” which produces a flick of the fingers against a target; “Lunge” is equivalent to a poke in the nose, and “Swish” is a slap in the face, none of which inflict actual damage.

This concludes the articles on personal devices. Do playtest the dueling mechanics if you have an opportunity and send feedback on what 
works or doesn’t. Thanks!