Friday, March 11, 2016

Magic in the Blood and Other Ruminations [Blood & Treasure]

The main reason I wrote Blood & Treasure was that I got tired of converting material to Swords & Wizardry, which was the first system I used in my hex crawls. I decided, rather than make a clone, I would make a rules lite version of the game that stuffed 30+ years of monsters, classes, spells, etc. into the main rules so I would spend less time converting on the fly, and so my OGL statements wouldn't be so darn long.

To that end, I included the 3rd edition sorcerer among the classes. After all, some folks who played 3E and Pathfinder probably loved the class, and they might be looking for a rules lite game that would support it.

Now, I'm working on the 2nd edition of Blood & Treasure. The goal is still to have a rules lite game that throws everything into the pot and allows folks to pick and choose what they want to use, but I'm also trying to give the game a bit more character of its own. Part of that involves making sure the character classes have something cool about them that makes people really want to play them. These are generally things inspired by folklore or fantasy literature or movies - things that are part of fantasy, but not necessarily part of D&D. Fighters, for example, are going to get a little boost in the form of being able to subdue monsters and turn them into mounts. We see tons of fantasy art and miniatures with warriors riding all sorts of animals and monsters, and D&D had something like this in terms of subduing dragons, so I'm expanding that concept.

The sorcerer ... well, the sorcerer needs some help. The entire class is really just an alternate magic system for magic-users - it has no real character of its own. To help the sorcerer stand on its own two feet, I've added two abilities that work well with the "magic in the blood" theme.

In my current draft of Blood & Treasure Second Edition, they have an inborn ability to pick up on "magical vibrations", which means they know when they're in the presence of spells, illusions and monsters, but they don't know what is magical around them or how - kind of like Spider-Man's spidey sense.

Sorcerers also have a way to increase their spell use through dangerous means, somewhat like the spell casting rules in Pars Fortuna. Sorcerers can attempt to cast spells they do not know, but must make a roll to do so, and if they fail may end up doing themselves irreparable harm, or being visited by powerful outsiders, who are accidentally gated in and might be angry about it, or just casting the opposite of what they meant to cast.

They also gather cult-like followers at higher levels, rather than building strongholds. Sorcerers strike me as eccentric wanderers, rather than conservative castle builders.

I've also written some variant bloodline sorcerers that are comparable to the variant specialist magic-users, that give them a chance to be related to some of the monsters they meet, and give them some other boosts.

Other Tropes

Sorcerers get the biggest face lift in the game, but a few other fantasy tropes have found a home with other classes.

Fighters have a way of subduing monsters and turning them into mounts (think of all those warriors riding on weird animals and monsters in fantasy art).

Paladins pick up some knightly honors as they advance in level, giving them access to noble and royal courts and improving their reaction rolls (except with chaotic evil monsters, who become more likely to attack them).

Duelists pick up a lackey to be used and abused.

Magic-users pick up odd bits of pseudo-scientific lore as they learn new spell levels - bits of alchemy, knowledge of parachutes, how to build clockworks and a few tips for slight increases in the potency of their spells.

Druids can sacrifice "despoilers of the wilderness" to pick up some extra elemental power, with the extra power depending on the means of sacrifice (blade, drowning, hanging, etc.)

Thieves at mid-level can assemble teams of lesser rogues for dungeon heists - essentially a quick way to pick up some henchmen for a job (but can they be trusted?)

Assassins can now brew some interesting poisons.

You get the idea. Hopefully, these abilities will prove fun and interesting during game play, and will give Blood & Treasure a bit more character of its own.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I like both of your additions to the Sorceror. Pathfinder introduced the concept of Bloodlines (Draconic, Demonic, Angelic, Diabolic, Fae, Elemental, etc.) to the class, and it immediately went from "Wizards whose players hate bookkeeping" to "I wanna play this so bad!" Why can you cast magic spontaneously, when the scholastic Wizard has to spend hours pouring over a musty tome to memorize arcane formulae?...ask Mom why you have golden eyes and cloven hoofs for feet, just like Baron Sinister did, before they stormed the castle and burned him at the stake.

    You got a couple of bloodline-specific abilities here and there as you went up in level, but it was mostly a flavor thing, and so, so cool.

    1. Yeah, the bloodlines here don't provide huge bonuses to the class - mostly for flavor here as well.


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