Introducing Magic to AIME

The place for discussion of Cubicle 7 and Sophisticated Games' "Adventures in Middle-earth" OGL setting.
Stardust
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Introducing Magic to AIME

Post by Stardust » Sun Jan 01, 2017 1:11 am

Hello everyone. This is my first post here in the forums. I haven't had a chance to play the game yet, but I noticed there was a Magician background but no magic using class in the Player's Guide. I'm assuming this was intentional. The scholar is very close in some ways.

But thinking on this Magician idea and (at least if one looks at the films) the possibility of lesser magic users than the Istari is a very real one, I thought of introducing the Magician concept from the Dungeons & Dragons Birthright setting. In that game, the magician practices lesser magics that do not rely on power from lei lines. I thought of using one here too, as it is a more roleplay centered character.

Basically this is a 5th edition wizard who only has access to divination and illusion spells, although I gave them the light cantrip as well. At second level, the magician can choose to be a Conjurer (Illusionist) or Seer (Diviner).

Does anyone think that this might unbalance the game, or is anti-thematic for Middle Earth?

I'm not sure if this forces the Magician to take the Magician background though. Maybe I'll call the class something else so then at least we won't have the Magician class confused with the Magician background.

Gwaithador
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Re: Introducing Magic to AIME

Post by Gwaithador » Sun Jan 01, 2017 6:38 am

I think there's room to create a spellcasting class. The films show clear uses of magic, and the books allude to or sometimes illustrate powerful magical practices (The roaring waters shaped to resembling horses that washes the Nazgul away, for example). The flavor of the setting changes though, so you'll have to carefully consider what you incorporate and how it might affect the feel of Middle-Earth. I'd be careful with incorporating a Seer, if you over 5e spells in the school of divination, I think it steps on the toes of scholars and some of the spells really change the nature of the setting, if you've spell casters directly communing with the Valar.

I wonder if using the structure of the warlock class is a the way to go? The class grants very specific powers as the character gain levels, it offers a limited number of spells, spells designed to scale, and the whole chassis is connected to a certain theme. Spellcasting should also be tied to resisting exhaustion levels, "weariness" should be a hazard of using such powers, which further restricts the employment of spells.

I've the old Decipher LOTR game. That game had spell specialties: "Air and Storm", "Beasts and Birds", "Fire, Smoke and Light", "Secret Fire", "Sorcery" (a source of corruption by the Shadow) and "Water." Spells were cast using either Words of Command, Runes or Songs of Power. These elements could be turned into level based benefits or abilities.

Alternatively, if you make the spellcasting class an archetype of the scholar, the aforementioned elements could be the key level benefits of the archetype. Perhaps the archetype is the "Loremaster"? which was a type of class in Decipher's game that could learn some spells.

Stardust
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Re: Introducing Magic to AIME

Post by Stardust » Sun Jan 01, 2017 1:08 pm

Yeah, a Scholar who takes the Master Scholar branch gains access to Words of Command at 18th level. So that is what I meant when I said that Scholars have access to some "spells", but it seems an awful long time to wait to use magic.

Of course, this spell casting issue might be introduced in the Loremaster's Guide, but I'd like to create something now for a campaign I'm intending to run. I'm converting The Lost Mine of Phandelver to Middle Earth, and the "boss" for the second level is a magic user. This magic user doesn't feel particularly middle-earthy, so I'm doing what I can to create a magic using villain that would fit the genre.

The Illusion and Divination spells seemed to fit in. Conjurers and Seers feel very Tolkienesque. Especially if the Seers used runes as an arcane focus. There may be a few spells that need to be thrown out, so it might be better to come up with a magician spell list that is fitting with the game.

Perhaps it would be better if we divided the spells into branches of lore instead of schools: Elven, Dwarven, Shadow, Beasts, Fire, Works of Elder Days, Air. But, at least for my campaign, it feels very much like these types of magic are tied to artefacts: the Rings of Power, the Star of Ealendil. So it might be possible that artefacts are the only way to grant spells. That could work for the boss in The Lost Mine of Phandelver, as he already has a magic item. I can possibly just grant him a more powerful one, but it will not replenish charges unless the user wills his or her life force into it, possibly requiring hit dice or levels of exhaustion (or both).

EDIT: Actually, now that I think about it, in the films almost all spell casting is tied to physical objects in some way. The wizards' staves, Elrond's ring, Galadriel's ring and mirror. Maybe Channeling is the only way to cast magic, and that might be the name of the class: Channeler.

Otaku-sempai
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Re: Introducing Magic to AIME

Post by Otaku-sempai » Sun Jan 01, 2017 2:54 pm

The Mouth of Sauron, speculated to be a renegade Black Númenórean, is described as having learned great sorcery. And the Nine, when they were still human, included great kings, lords, heroes and sorcerers even before they were given Rings. But Mannish spell-casters do seem to be few, far between, and mostly associated with the Enemy. The nature and source of Beorn's powers as a skin-changer remain mysterious; perhaps he was once a student of Radagast. However, the abilities of the skin-changer seem to be passed down through future generations by blood, not instruction.

Tolkien suggested that one or both of the Blue Wizards might have passed on magical traditions in the South or East of Middle-earth, but he wasn't very committal on the subject or on the ultimate fates of the pair. And we can speculate that Morgoth cults in Harad and Rhûn might be led by shamans or priests able to use at least minor magics.
DR. MANHATTAN: I'm leaving this galaxy for one less complicated.
OZYMANDIAS: But you'd regained interest in human life...
DR. MANHATTAN: Yes, I have. I think perhaps I'll create some. Goodbye, Adrian.

Gwaithador
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Re: Introducing Magic to AIME

Post by Gwaithador » Sun Jan 01, 2017 4:37 pm

I agree Otaku-Sempai, there could be other magical traditions not tied to just channeling magical power through some sort of artifact. I think there's room though Stardust, for your idea of a channeler, maybe as a scholar archetype?

If you're only plotting this for an NPC, then I don't think you need to worry too much about the class mechanics. I think it only matters if you intend to open up the possibility to the players.

Otaku-sempai
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Re: Introducing Magic to AIME

Post by Otaku-sempai » Sun Jan 01, 2017 6:22 pm

Yeah, Stardust definitely seems interested in PC spell-casters beyond those who can use the minor magics already written into certain character types. I won't say that it can't be done, however it could easily spin out of control.
DR. MANHATTAN: I'm leaving this galaxy for one less complicated.
OZYMANDIAS: But you'd regained interest in human life...
DR. MANHATTAN: Yes, I have. I think perhaps I'll create some. Goodbye, Adrian.

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Mim
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Re: Introducing Magic to AIME

Post by Mim » Sun Jan 01, 2017 7:47 pm

Yes, this is certainly a recurring theme and concern for many players in Middle-earth. Heck, I've lost count how many times someone's raised this point on the TOR forums. :) :shock: :? There are some great references on there, BTW, that you can tweak for AIME.

I agree mostly with what they're doing with the game, and check out their great descriptions in the Forward and on pp 25 and 27 of the Player's Guide. Magic permeates Middle-earth but it's usually more subtle than the Jack Vance-type influences on D&D. Otaku-sempai raises a valid point that you'll have to treat this subject carefully if you intend to develop the "feel" of Middle-earth. That said, however, there are multiple references of powerful spells, even in the waning magic of the Third Age.

So, much like yourself, I'm working on adding a few minor spells to the Scholar class for players (who I believe will inevitably) request 'em. For example, I'm tentatively adding a few already in AIME, as well as from 5th Edition and Decipher, such as Broken Spells, Elf Magic, cantrips, etc. This is just my interpretation and hedging my bets for players who prefer a bit of a splash.

Finally, if you're ever in doubt about the powerful magic, there are a number of references in the books - admittedly from LMCs like Gandalf and not what we might consider companions, but as they say in the RAW, it's your game. :)

As Frodo lay, tired but unable to close his eyes, it seemed to him that far away there came a light in the eastern sky: it flashed and faded many times. It was not the dawn, for that was still some hours off.
‘What is the light?’ he said to Strider, who had risen, and was standing, gazing ahead into the night.
‘I do not know,’ Strider answered. ‘It is too distant to make out. It is like lightning that leaps up from the hill-tops.’
Frodo lay down again, but for a long while he could still see the white flashes, and against them the tall dark figure of Strider, standing silent and watchful. At last he passed into uneasy sleep.

Red Book of Westmarch, I, A Knife in the Dark, 183.

Glorelendil
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Re: Introducing Magic to AIME

Post by Glorelendil » Sun Jan 01, 2017 8:08 pm

Maybe there was a thunderstorm on Weathertop.
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Mim
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Re: Introducing Magic to AIME

Post by Mim » Sun Jan 01, 2017 8:51 pm

:lol:

Otaku-sempai
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Re: Introducing Magic to AIME

Post by Otaku-sempai » Sun Jan 01, 2017 9:01 pm

Yes, Mim, we know that Gandalf was capable of a few D&D-like spells. There's also the one he used in The Hobbit to slay a number of goblins in the High Pass on their Front Porch--very much like the flashes Frodo saw on Weathertop. And there was the pure, strong light that he used to drive the Ring-wraiths away from Faramir's soldiers. But the Istari are treated in-game as NPCs. The question is whether player-heroes should be capable of such feats.
DR. MANHATTAN: I'm leaving this galaxy for one less complicated.
OZYMANDIAS: But you'd regained interest in human life...
DR. MANHATTAN: Yes, I have. I think perhaps I'll create some. Goodbye, Adrian.

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