Saturday 1 June 2013

Wild Magic -- Take III

As a DM I am renowned for my love of randomness and for my love of tables, so it's no surprise that I'm very much enamoured with the idea of a class of magic-user whose enchantments lack the technical reliability of the standard D&D spells.

The topic of wild magic is something I've mused on several times before, but which I've never really reached a very satisfying conclusion with.

I started work a while back on a new concept for a wild magic-user class, but forgot to post it. So here we go.

The basic concept I had in mind is that wild magic would, purely from a game rules point of view, work identically to the normal, time-honoured magic-user class. A set list of spells, of which a fixed number may be memorized by a wizard, the quantity depending on his level. No random tables of spell effects, no wild surges, etc. The standard D&D rules for Vancian magic are simple, elegant and (relatively) fast in-play, all features which wild magic systems, with their frequent profusion of random tables, often threaten to quash.

So without random tables or wild surges where then does the wildness come into play? My idea was that the nature of the spells themselves would provoke wildness and chaos. So these spells often wouldn't be valued  for their practical application, but rather for their ability to alter existing situations by introducing a random or unexpected element.

My guideline is that the randomness of these spells should not be purely of the "it might be good or bad" variety -- for example a spell which deals damage to a random target within range (caster or allies included). Spells like that aren't fun to cast. It's just Russian roulette, and if the "bad" result comes up the caster feels like he's wasted one of his precious spell slots.

Instead, wild spells should focus on effects which throw unpredictable curve balls into the game.

Here are a few ideas along these kind of lines.

I'm very interested to hear anyone's thoughts on this idea, and if you think it sounds like a feasible and fun approach.

Existential Instability
Level: 2
Duration: 1d6 rounds, +1 per level
Range: 60'

A targeted object begins to randomly fluctuate in and out of existence. The affected object must be within range, visible to the caster, and have no dimension larger than 1' per caster level. If the target is in the possession of another creature, the owner may make a save versus spells to resist the instability.
At the beginning of each combat round, the Labyrinth Lord should roll a die. If the die comes up odd, the target disappears; if the die comes up even, the target exists as normal.
Doors, walls, weapons, suits of armour, magic items, etc are all viable targets for this spell.

Level: 1
Duration: Instant
Range: 30'

This spell causes the objects held in the hands of all creatures within range to take on a life of their own, leap into the air, and fly into the hands of someone else in the affected area.
For each held item, the target may make a saving throw versus spells to keep hold of it. If the save fails, the Labyrinth Lord should randomly determine to whom the objects flies. The receiver automatically catches the item.
Wise casters make sure to stow away any important items before casting this spell.

Mood Modifier
Level: 1
Duration: Instant
Range: 30'

All intelligent creatures within range are affected by a sudden change of mood. The following chart can be used to determine what mood strikes. If the randomly selected mood is too close in character to the prevailing mood before the spell was cast, the Labyrinth Lord may allow a re-roll.
Creatures of higher than 4HD (or 4th level) are allowed a saving throw to resist the spell's effects.

Mood modifier, result
1d10 Mood
1 Anger
2 Conviviality
3 Fear
4 Boredom
5 Lust
6 Earnestness
7 Whimsy
8 Ecstasy
9 Aggression
10 Capriciousness