Magic: Game Mechanics

Now that we have a basic grasp upon the theory behind the magical system and all of its Elements, it is time to get down to the nuts and bolts of game mechanics. First off we will take a look at the Character's attributes that affect their ability to cast spells, Affinity and Acuity. 

  • Affinity: The base rating for the body's "affinity" to spinning the elements: Affects Burn Limit and the Elemental Conductivity rating (EC) of the Character.
  • Acuity: The base rating for the mind's ability to grasp not only the spinning of an element, but that special something that creates the structure of the spell: Affects Burn Limit and gives the character points to spend toward increasing their chance to learn a base list, as well as boosting their spell research. 

ACUITY AND AFFINITY

Acuity and Affinity are special Attributes that dictate how efficiently and effectively the Character manipulates the magical energies known as the Elements. In addition to standard Stat Bonuses that affect skills, Acuity and Affinity have their own specific bonuses as seen in Table CC2 which shapes what is for some characters a vitally important aspect, their Burn Limit (BL) and Elemental Conductivity (EC).

A Character’s Burn Limit represents the innate ability of the body to channel Elemental Energy (EE) in the form of spells through the body without stress and damage over time, while Elemental Conductivity represents how well the body handles EE during a single cast (see Overchanneling in the chapter dealing with Spells and Magic). For a Character to have greater than zero for their EC is to say that they are better conduits of EE than the average person. EC is trainable, but it is slow and expensive in Training Points to do so, and can only be trained after 10th Level by certain Professions.

So just what do these Bonuses mean and what do they do for the Character?

Basically speaking, at first level every character starts with a BL equal to their Affinity Bonus. Nice and simple. Acuity Bonus is how much the BL improves each time the character trains their Elemental Prowess Skill (see the Skills Chapter), which is most often a dice roll rather than a set number. Upon achieving a new level, every character has the option to train their Elemental Prowess Skill, and upon doing so, immediately increase their BL equal to their current Affinity Bonus, in addition to the Acuity Bonus Roll from the training itself. This addition from the Affinity Bonus only occurs the first time the EPS is trained per level, not on any subsequent training during that level.

It might be best to illustrate as an example.

Samplarêus Dundirhed is a first level Elementalist who’s Affinity and Acuity are 86 and 90. Despite his name, a youngster with promise. With 86 Affinity, he begins his career with a BL of 4, but that of course won’t suffice for someone who is dedicating his life to the elemental arts. So, at first level he decides to expend TP (Training Points, we’re not covering a house you ingrates) and trains his Elemental Prowess Skill 3 times. Costly to his TP to get that third level of training, but he thinks it is worth it! With a 90 Acuity, you will note in Table CC2, that his Acuity Bonus is D3. What this represents is that each time he trains his Elemental Prowess Skill, Samplarêus rolls a D6/2 (always round up) and adds that result to his BL. His adjusted rolls are a 2, 2, and 3, for a total of 7. Add this to his Affinity Bonus of 4, and 11 is Samplarêus’ starting BL at Level One.

Upon achieving Level Two, Samplarêus DOES NOT automatically increase his BL. All characters must train the Elemental Prowess Skill at least once per level in order to gain BL. So, being wise, Samplarêus trains his EPS, and immediately gains 4 points from his Affinity Stat Bonus, raising him to 15 BL, and because he trains his EPS twice, he rolls D3 two times (1 and 3), to bring his total BL to 19 for Level Two.

In the SCRPG Players with Characters who cast spells will often be faced with a decision: to Overcast, or not to Overcast? In order to assist Players in weighing the risks and benefits of this practice, this section will provide an overview of how the Overcast System works.

Mechanics of Overcasting

 
There are three categories of Overcasting, all of which require the Player to roll on the Overcast Results Chart to determine if their Character successfully casts the spell, and whether the Character sustains ill effects from the attempt. Attempting to Overcast in all three categories is a likely prescription for trouble, but it can be done.
 

Overcasting Proficiency:

 
When a Character first learns a Spell Tree they automatically become Proficient in casting the first spell on that Tree’s Trunk. Proficiency means that they have practiced this spell sufficiently enough that their body has become totally accustomed to channeling sufficient Elemental Energy in the unique form of that particular spell and hence there is no real risk in casting the spell. The Character is considered non-proficient with every other spell on the Trunk of the Tree, but this does not mean that they can not attempt to cast those spells, what it means is that it gets progressively more dangerous to cast spells requiring more Elemental Energy. 
  • Every step up the Tree above their highest Proficiency equals a +1 to the Character’s Overcast Roll. A Character may never attempt to cast any Branch spells that they do not have Proficiency in, as they are considered spells that require special study.

Overcasting Burn Limit:

 
A Character’s Burn Limit is basically how much Elemental Energy that can be channeled through the Character’s body without rest over a span of time. A Character may be able to cast twenty spells before reaching their Burn Limit or one, but casting any spells after reaching their Burn Limit will require an Overcast Roll. A Character’s Burn Limit is based upon Affinity and Acuity, as well as training in their Elemental Prowess Skill. 
  • Every EE utilized beyond the Character’s Burn Limit gains a +1 to their overcast roll. For instance, if a Character has reached their Burn Limit and casts a 2EE spell, they add +2 to their Overcast Roll, and if they then proceed to cast a 4EE spell without rest, they will incur a +6 to their Overcast Roll.

Overcasting Elemental Conductivity:


In some cases a Character may be casting a Proficient Spell while not having surpassed their Burn Limit and still have to make an Overcast Roll. This results when a Character attempts to cast a spell while trying to increase the range or duration or when attempting an additional effect as indicated by the Scaling Options that every spell has. 

Every Character has an Elemental Conductivity rating (EC) that is based solely upon their Affinity. This rating is in turn effected by how many Proficiencies the Character has in that particular Spell Tree. How much EE the Character can pump into a spell beyond its base EE cost before having to make an Overcasting roll is determined simply by adding the Tier of their highest Proficient Spell in that Tree to their EC, and subtracting the Base EE of the spell they are attempting to cast from this total. 

  • For instance, at first level Castalot has an EC of 2, trained the Mental Subversion Tree and was immediately Proficient in the Twitch Spell. Twitch is Tier 1 plus his EC of 2, equals 3. Therefore, if he is going to add effects to his cast of Twitch, he can use 2 additional EE before having to make an Overcast Roll.
  • If Castalot at fifth level has continued to steadily train the mental Subversion Tree, giving him Proficiency in the Taste/Smell Spell (5EE to cast) he could then cast the Twitch Spell using 7EE (assuming his EC has not changed). Having Proficiency in the 5th level spell, he adds his EC of 2 for a total of 7. Twitch being Tier 1, he subtracts 1 from that, to indicate he can add 6 EE to the cast safely. If he were to cast Dull Wits (Tier 3) the total EE he could add to the base spell without Overcasting would be 7 − 3 = 4.

Background Art by Jon Gibbons

© 2018 L. James Rice