Our sword and sorcery homebrew has had 4 settings, each with their own game system. For the record, and in order, Ironsworn, Swords of the Serpentine, Stonetop and my own homebrew game.
Conan 2d20 is the 5th. Because the homebrew setting has evolved over time, the magic in the world has a very specific feel. Here is my attempt to get that feel into our Conan 2d20 game.
Magic is rare. Magic can be powerful. Magic always has a cost. There are 3 realms of magic, Divine (that granted by the gods), Nature (beseeching natural spirits), and Sorcery (tapping into other dimensional powers, subverting the natural order). Within each realm are all kinds of disciplines. Nature users (shamans), might call upon the Spirits of Wood, Wind and Earth. Sorcerers might call upon Chaos, Dimensional, Demonic magics.
Using Magic changes the user, no matter the realm. Over time, physically, mentally, the Mystic (generic title for all three types of practioner) distances themselves from humanity. Divine Mystics might glow uncontrollably, or have halos, eventually ascending to help the Gods vs the cosmic horrors which wish to devour the planet. Nature Mystics might take on aspect of animal or plant, get more and more wild, eventually leaving civilization to be “one with the wild”. Sorcerers get more and more aloof, taking on hideous, chaotic physical changes like glowing eyes, horns, scales.
Magic is somewhat freeform, it can be shaped to the will of the user. The Difficulty level depends on what the caster is trying to accomplish. They are intentionally vague and up for interpertation. Note: attacking someone with magic automatically starts at D2. This is intentional. The natural order, like our bodies, have natural resistance to otherwordly abilities. It is hard to hurt someone.
- D1: Small magics, cantrips, chip away at a problem, get or grant a bonus die in order to do something else. Small curses and blessings. Divine and Nature can heal 1 die towards Resolve or Vigor, for every Focus in Sorcery
- D2: Gain some armor for a scene. Solve a small problem outright. Do Resolve or Vigor damage equal to 2 dice + 1 die for every Focus in Sorcery. Create a new aspect in the scene that garners a bonus die for the entire scene.
- D3: Hit two targets with spell effects, hit an entire Squad of minions. Solve a significant problem outright with your magic. Force the enemy to take on +D1 for the entire scene.
- D4: Big magics! Affect a city block or football size area.
- D5: Earth shattering event.
- D6: (probably need a Ritual)
Roll 2 damage dice + Focus of Sorcery skill. This is the power of the spell cast. A spell must always have at least 1 pt generated for the spell to work. Yes, there are two ways a spell can fail, either missing the Difficulty level or failing to generate 1 point of Magic Power. If doing damage, these become damage dice. Spell Effects can be triggered (see below). 2 Spell points generated can eliminate 1 point of Change (see below), as long as 1 Spell Power remains. This reflects skill, expert weaving or sheer luck and prevents 1 point of Change.
This is similar to weapon effects, but there are two differences.
For each Effect rolled, only 1 Spell Effect is triggered.
Each Effect MUST be “powered” by 1 Resolve spent/reduced. To reflect the extra effort.
- Chain effect: Affect 2 Targets, both take equal amount of the spell outcome.
- Invoke Weakness: Get +2 damage in a target that is the opposite of your Discipline
- Unexpected Boon: Gain some kind of unforeseen fictional positioning because of the spell’s impact on the immediate vicinity.
- Tap into Power: Connect tightly with that other wordly power, gain +2 Focus for follow spells for the scene.
Whenever a 20 is rolled and there is complication, the Caster must take on 1 point of The Change. This reflects the impact of using these otherworldly powers when things go a bit sideways for the caster. GM chooses the Complication(s), magic is a chaotic affair. The following list is just a few common Complications, Complications can be made up on the spot that fit the fiction as well or instead.
- Hit add’l target, but it is the wrong one. Enemies gain the benefit of benevolent spells, friends and allies and innocent bystanders suffer the impact of curses and violent energies…
- Change the environment, things shatter, or come into being, the nearby area is shaped in unexpected ways. This might create bonuses or increased difficulties for everyone or specific characters depending on the nature of the magic.
- Spell awakens! Alerts entities that are attuned or opposed to that particular magic. They do not arrive on the scene immediately, but the clock is ticking.
- Feedback!: Take the Power Dice outcome in Resolve damage. Ouch!
Every time a caster brings a spell into being, they suffer the Change equal to the DL of the spell. Each Complication also generates 1 Change. Eventually, the Change will make the PC non-playable and will either shuffle off the stage or become an NPC. Note, a caster can trade 2 points of Spell Power (as long as there is 1 pt remaing) to stop 1 pt of Change from happening.
Keep track of the Change Points. For each 10 pts, 1 Rank is generated and with those Ranks come problems.
- 10 Pts: The Mystic gains some small, unobtrusive, physical oddity. This can be something easily disguised or covered up if the player chooses… or it can be noticeable. No mechanic effect for now.
- 20 Pts: The Mystic’s mutations or deformatities no longer can be hidden. Common people will see these Changes and react accordlingly. At times, Social DLs might be increased, depending on the fiction.
- 30 pts: The Mystic is loosing their grip on what it means to be human. All social interactions are now a base D2, except for intimidation.
- 40 pts: The Mystic’s mind and soul is often somewhere else. The connection to humanity is tenuous at best. All social intereactions are now a D3, except for intimidation.
- 50 pts. The PC is retired, becomes an NPC, exits stage left or simply is consumed by the power they are trying to channel (player choice). Divine Mystics are “called to the Gods” to serve in the war vs. Cosmic Horrors. Nature Mystics succumb to the call of the wild, leaving civilization to be among the Natural Spirits. Sorcerers go mad, build dark, arcane towers or secretive lairs, far from humans.
The Change can be forestalled. It takes being human. Doing things with other humans. Taking care of the small, having a life, tasks.
When Carousing/Downtime is happening, the Mystic may choose Real Life. The Mystic describes a small scene in where they intereact with family, friends, take care of life’s usual business…stuff that is decidely not arcane or mystical in nature.
Make a Society Roll. May spend up to 3 Gold to generate a +1 for each Gold spent. Each Success eliminates 1 pt of Change.
Note: If Real Life reduces The Change below a Change Rank 1 or 2, it is up to the Player if mutations and alterations minimize or disappear.
If you want a link to a better formated Google Doc, go here: Alternate Magic (Conan) - Google Docs