Friday, October 19, 2012

Magic in Sertorius

I talked a little bit about the concept behind Sertorius, now I would like to discuss magic in the setting.

Most characters in the game will be Sertori which are the reincarnated fragments of a god's soul, they are also spellcasters. The game is deliberately designed so spellcasters are better than the other inhabitants of the setting. While you can play a mundane or an ogre, you are much better off being a Sertorius.

A Sertorius's spells are powered by one of four emotions and he has a ranking of zero to three in each one. This determines how powerful a spell's effects are when cast and its risks.

Each spell can be cast in one of two ways, and both may be done all day long, over and over untilt he Sertorius is blue in the face. The first way, is a low-powered version of the spell that yields a smaller effect but poses no danger to the caster. The second way is a much more volatile and dangerous channeling of spell energy that does amazing things but at a cost.

Anytime a spell is cast in the latter manner, the Sertorius risks his body and mind. Initially this is nothing more than small quirks of personality. He may develop temper or a deep obsession, but the problem is quite manageable. The more the Sertorius exposes himself to powerful magic, the greater the transformation. This reaches a final stage where he becomes something new.

To give you an example of what a spell looks like in our game, I am posting this initial version of The Glimmering Rupture of Karima. It is one of the more colorful examples and still in a very early state. Most likley it will change as we crunch some numbers and playtest it further.

Just so readers understand how the spell operates. Each spell is keyed to a particular skill, which you use during casting. In this case, the player must make an Endurance roll. The skill is also keyed to one of four emotions, in this case Penthos. Catharsis is just a description of how the spell changes when cast at full power (which presents a not insubstantial risk to the caster).

Type: Penthos
Skill: Endurance
Casting time: 1 Action
Duration: 1 Round per rank of Penthos
Area: Self
Effect: Duration

Through painful effort the Sertorius extrudes a glimmering mass of diamonds through his skin, creating a protective layer against attacks. Highly effective as a defensive measure, Glimmering Rupture of Karima is potentially hazardous to the caster.

To cast Glimmering Rupture of Karima, the Sertorius must make an Endurance Roll against TN 6. On a success scores of diamonds burst through his skin, deflecting most forms of attack and lasting one round per rank of Penthos. On a Total Success the duration lasts one additional round. Casting this visibly alters the Sertorius’ appearance, as thick clusters of reflective gemstone perforate and shield his body. When  the spell ends, the diamonds disappear.

While Glimmering Rupture of Karima is in effect, the Sertorius is nigh-indestructible. His Hardiness is treated as 10, and even Total Successes on damage rolls against him only inflict one wound. He is immune to fire and does not need to breath. For the Duration of the Spell, the caster’s weight doubles, causing him to sink in bodies of water.

Though Glimmering Rupture of Karima is highly beneficial to one’s defenses it comes at great cost. When the spell’s duration ends, he takes one wound due to diamonds ripping his skin. While the spell is in effect, his movement is reduced by half and all skill rolls are made at -2d10 penalty.

Cathartic: This doubles the duration of the spell, removes the skill roll penalty completely, and casting time becomes Instant.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sertorius Playtest and Update

We playtested Sertorius this month, running a full scenario. Things went well. The changes we made to the system work for what we are trying to achieve. Sertorius are more durable than standard Network system characters and this allowed the players to take on multiple combats without too muh risk. In the adventure we ran, the party was trying to track down and destroy a Monstra, a kind of magical beast driven to the brink by its powers. This led them through perilous forests where they encountered undead and hostile humanoids similar to goblins. It was interesting to see our spell system in action for an extended period. Every spell can be cast endlessly, so characters never run out of juice. But casting a spell at a high level of power comes with some risk. In one instance a player character was able to summon an avalanche of flame against their foes, and in another one character went mad from channeling too much magical energy.

The adventure culimnated in an ancient ogre temple dedicated to a dead lion god. There they fought a Monstra inhabiting a giant lion, with all kinds of magical abilities (its roar unleashed a tide a thorns that ripped the party's flesh for example). In the end, the characters were victorious but wounded.

So far we are pleased with the game. It has 20 spells so far, and that list is going to grow considerably (we want to playtest in small batches though). Character creation works great.

Most characters are assumed to be powerful people called Sertorius. In the ancient history of the setting (called Gamandria) a powerful god named Senga (the lion god from our playtest scenario) was killed by his Ogre worshippers. This resulted (after some other developments) with the scattering of his soul which was then reborn into living creatures as fragments (rebirth plays an important role in the Gamandrian cosmology).

So a Sertorius is simply the reincarnated fragment of a shattered god. This sets them apart from other characters, giving them more health and access to magic. However players have the option of playing mundane people or creatures as well. In most cases this means an inferior character, which we clearly state to the readers of the book. But in the case of Ogres, things are a bit different. They are a cursed race because their ancestors killed a god. As a result Sertori are never born among them. Ogres have no access to magic. While they were the first to establish civilization, inventing agriculture, writing and engineering, they no longer excel at these things (due to the curse) and live mostly on the outskirts of other societies (this is expressed mechanically as a penalty to related Trade skills). However they have one small benefit from their curse: resistance to magic. As an Ogre grows in power, his ability to withstand spells (and therefore fight Sertori) goes up. Ogres also have a large amount of health.

We are quite excited by the game so far and looking forward to developing it over the next year.