Saturday, 19 March 2016

DCC Vivimancer: Vats of Creation

I've been reading the DCC book again, recently, especially the section on magic. I'm really taken by the magic system, with all its variable randomness, outlandish effects, and nasty risks. So, naturally, I have been wondering what it's like to create spells for the system. Here's my first attempt, a conversion of one of my old vivimancer spells (originally written for the Labyrinth Lord rules in Theorems & Thaumaturgy). I'd be very interested to hear what experienced DCCers make of this! (By the way, the spell assumes the presence of random tables of beneficial and hampering mutations.)

Vats of Creation
Level: 3    Range: Touch        Duration: Varies    Casting Time: One week
Save: N/A

General: This spell enables a wizard, with the use of a specially prepared vat, to create any life-form which he can dream up. Before the casting can begin, the wizard must construct a laboratory containing a suitable vat (see Manifestation). The cost of the vat is variable, but determines the size/power (i.e. the maximum Hit Dice) of the creatures which may be spawned in it -- 1,000gp per maximum Hit Die. (For example, if 5,000gp are spent constructing the vat, then creatures of up to 5 Hit Dice may be grown within it.) Once constructed, the vat may be used for multiple castings of this spell. Each casting also requires material components (nutrient solutions, DNA buffers, plasma, etc) to the tune of 100gp per Hit Die of the planned creature.

Once the vat is prepared, the caster must determine the qualities of the desired creature, including its physical form and appearance, its personality and instinctual behaviour, its form of locomotion and native environment (i.e. either water- or air-breathing), any attack forms (claws, fangs, tentacles, spines, etc) it may have, and its Hit Dice. Generally speaking, anything which the wizard dreams up -- whether plant, fungus, or animal -- is possible. In addition to natural attack forms, the caster may attempt to imbue one or more special qualities into the creature. Examples include: flight, the ability to breathe water and air, a breath weapon, poison, and so on. For each such planned quality, the spell check is penalised by -2.

Caveats:
  • Attempts to replicate an existing individual will fail.
  • The creation of intelligent (i.e. of human or greater mental capability) life is possible but elusive. Only spell check results of 32 or higher allow this. Otherwise, the spawned life-form possesses at most animal intelligence.
  • Creatures spawned with this spell are not bound to obey their creator’s commands -- they have minds of their own and behave according to their own instincts and whims.

Manifestation: Roll 1d5: (1) the creature is spawned in a gel-filled vat of crystal; (2) the creature is spawned in the bubbling, sulfurous waters of a natural spring; (3) the creature is spawned in a vacuum, contained within a brass vessel; (4) the creature is spawned in the distended womb of a specially bred, giant primate; (5) the creature is spawned in a floating sphere of radiance.

Corruption: Roll 1d6: (1) the caster becomes obsessed with the desired creature but can never succeed in realising his vision; (2) the caster’s physical appearance takes on something of the form of the intended creature; (3) small, jellified life-forms emerge from the orifices of the caster’s body on a daily basis; (4-5) major; (6) greater.

Misfire: Roll 1d4: (1) the intended creature is spawned -- with Hit Dice equal to the caster’s level, AC 14, an attack at +4 (1d8 damage), and any planned special qualities -- but it is hateful and immediately attacks its creator, upon emerging from the vat; (2) on the 1d7th day, the vat explodes, dealing 3d6 damage to the caster and anyone else within 15’; (3) instead of the intended creature, a hideously deformed twin of the caster grows in the vat; the caster is soul-bound to the wretched twin, such that damage (disease, poison, etc) to one affects both; (4) while monitoring the procedure, the caster is sucked into vat and floats there for the casting time.

1: Lost, failure, and worse! Roll 1d6 modified by Luck: (0 or less) corruption + misfire + patron taint, (1-2) corruption, (3) patron taint (or corruption if no patron), (4+) misfire.

2-11: Lost. Failure.

12-15: Failure, but spell is not lost.

16-17: The caster creates a creature of up to one Hit Die per level, with AC 1d4+10 and a single attack at +4 (1d4 damage). The creature is genetically unstable and dies after 1 week. There is also a 50% chance of the creature being flawed in an unexpected way (roll 1d3 disabling mutations).

18-21: The caster creates a creature of up to one Hit Die per level, with AC 1d4+11 and a single attack at +5 (1d6 damage). The creature is genetically unstable and dies after 1d3 weeks. There is also a 30% chance of the creature being flawed in an unexpected way (roll 1d3 disabling mutations).

22-23: The caster creates a creature of up to one Hit Die per level, with AC 1d4+12 and either a single attack at +6 (1d8 damage) or two attacks at +4 (1d6 damage). There is a 20% chance of the creature possessing an unexpected quality (roll a beneficial mutation). The creature is genetically unstable and dies after 1d4 months.

24-26: The caster creates a creature of up to one Hit Die per level, with AC 1d4+13 and either a single attack at +7 (1d10 damage) or two attacks at +5 (1d8 damage). There is a 40% chance of the creature possessing unexpected qualities (roll 1d2 beneficial mutations). The creature is genetically stable and has a natural lifespan of 1d6 years.

27-31: The caster creates a creature of up to one Hit Die per level, with AC 1d4+14 and either a single attack at +8 (1d12 damage), two attacks at +6 (1d10 damage), or three attacks at +4 (1d8 damage). The creature possesses 1d3 unexpected qualities (beneficial mutations). The creature is genetically stable and has a natural lifespan of 2d6 years.

32-33: The caster creates an intelligent creature of up to one Hit Die per level, with AC 1d4+15 and either a single attack at +8 (1d12 damage), two attacks at +6 (1d10 damage), or three attacks at +4 (1d8 damage). The creature has an Intelligence of 2d6 and possesses 1d3 unexpected qualities (beneficial mutations). The creature is genetically stable and has a natural lifespan of 3d10 years.

34-35: The spawning processes produces twins: two identical, intelligent creatures of up to one Hit Die per level, with AC 1d4+15 and either a single attack at +8 (1d12 damage), two attacks at +6 (1d10 damage), or three attacks at +4 (1d8 damage). The creatures have an Intelligence of 2d6 and possess 1d3 unexpected qualities (beneficial mutations). The creatures are genetically stable and have a natural lifespan of 4d10 years.

36+: The caster creates a supra-intelligent creature of up to one Hit Die per level, with AC 1d4+15 and either a single attack at +8 (1d12 damage), two attacks at +6 (1d10 damage), or three attacks at +4 (1d8 damage). The creature has an Intelligence of 2d6+12 and possesses 1d5 unexpected qualities (beneficial mutations). The creature is genetically stable and has a natural lifespan of 6d10 years.

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