Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Book of War: The Book of Miracles

It's almost done. I've been working on it since about May this year and just got back into finishing it off in the last few weeks. I pretty much have a working draft now. There are some big differences to my original ideas... but then I'm likely the only one who actually looked at that original partial draft. I've got a full Ljósálfar (Elves) list done, and also the magic rules. The magic rules were the sticking point, being the reason I went to the trouble of writing my own rules in the first place. However, I had to find some practical way to make my ideas work. Here they are in outline form, with the Ljósálfar spell list as an example. At this point, I have one done for Druids and will do a Holy War list and a Necromancy list once those armies are fleshed out. It all needs testing, tweaking and recosting so constructive feedback welcome.

The Book of Miracles (excerpted)

In the Book of War, practitioners of the Arcane Arts have both an above average Will and understanding how to Channel and direct magical spells. The typical caster is Will 4 (Apprentice, Adept) and Will 5 (Mage, Archmage). 

Channeling: Every turn, before any order dice are drawn, all models of Apprentice level or higher channel their Will value worth of mana dice into the pool for their side. They then add an amount to this based on their skill: Apprentice +1/ Adept +2 / Mage +4 / Archmage +6. Note: Channeling skill also impacts on spell range and protects against magical backlash. Those models that have 'Fey blood' channel an additional +1d3. This is, understandably, a widespread trait amongst magicians; and while it is very useful, it does expose to the magician to Iron sickness.

Weaving Spells: All these dice form the mana pool that can be used for casting/dispelling in that turn. Once an order is assigned to a caster's unit, then any casters first perform their magic, then the rest of the unit acts. To weave a spell, the caster chooses a number of mana dice and rolls them. The caster makes a Will test, and successes power the spell. If there is too little Mana, that partially woven spell remains in play until the next turn. A caster must complete the casting of one spell before beginning another. The caster may only attempt each spell once per turn. If the spell's target resists the spell, then the caster may not cast that spell again in this turn. A caster may cast as many spells as they know, and that there are mana for in their side's pool.

Unbinding: Mages may also draw from their mana pool to seek to Unbind any spell being woven within 6 x their casting skill in inches. They do this when the unit they are in is activated for an order, just like weaving spells. Roll against Will and each success draws one die or mana away from that spell, through the principle of  mutual annihilation. Failures can lead to magical feedback. Caster's may also Unbind an active spell. In this case, they must equal the number of success used to cast it, and may do this over multiple turns. Note: an 'active spell' is one with a fixed duration, permanent effects created from spells may not be unbound. Certain Items can also be used for this purpose.

Disjunction: Models may attempt to negate any spell that affects their own unit. This is done by testing against the lowest Will in the unit. If there is a caster in the unit, the unit may use that caster's Will. Some spells target Will directly. In these cases, the spell will allow no separate disjunction roll.

Backlash: Failing the casting roll turns a mana die into dangerous 'loose mana'. When weaving a spell you can safely contain your magical skill in such loose mana. Any more than this get rolled together to generate a score on the backlash table. Results are cumulative.

Magical Backlash.
Roll 1-2
Splitting headaches and minor burns. No more casting this turn.
Roll 3-6
Magical mutual annihilation, lose mana dice from the pool equal to failed casting dice.
Roll 7-11
Magical material annihilation. 1d6 automatic hits, at -2 T on caster's unit. On a 6, caster takes one of the hits. Any hits on the caster wound automatically.
Roll 12-17
A Daemonic horror entered the caster's mind. Roll a Will save, pass and the caster dies, fail and it belongs to the enemy now...
Roll 18+
Astral rift. Place the blast template over the caster's position. Every model touched (except the caster, who is immune all game) takes an automatic hit and saves on T-3. This rift remains for the rest of the game and travels randomly 2d6 at the start of each turn. If two 1s are rolled, then it collapsed in on itself.

Magicians have access to one spell circle equal per their casting level. Apprentices know one, Adepts two, Mages three and the Archmagi may know four. To know the spells from a given circle, you must know those from earlier circles in the same type. However, these may be otherwise freely mixed so a Ljósálfar mage may know two circles of Druidic spells, and two of Ljósálfar spells.  This would give access to circles one and two in each.

Magic of the Ljósálfar (alignment grey)

First Circle

Glamour: May not be cast on a unit already in melee.Caster's unit is woven with illusions and actually occupies a space touching its current footprint. These illusions have no effect on distant missile fire but will confuse an enemy at close quarters. After charges are carried out, the player may reposition the unit affected by this spell so long as it keeps the same footprint and this footprint touches it's original footprint. Units benefiting from this spell may initiate charges. Cost 3 Mana.

Elven draught: Unit removes 1d3 stress. Cost 2 Mana.

Second Circle
Seelie mirrors: Creates d2 duplicate images of the target unit within 12" of the caster. These duplicates are positioned adjacent and touching the unit, facing in the same direction. They may not overlap another unit. For the rest of that turn, and the following turn, the target unit is for practical purposes either in its original footprint or one of the duplicates. Where it is will be randomly determined when successfully charged (though the unit may opt to drop the illusion to get a charge reaction) or hit with missiles or spells. If the actual unit is hit, all mirror images vanish. Engaging in melee always ends this illusion thought casting spells or firing missiles will not. Cost 4 Mana

Enshrouding Mists: Weakens the boundaries of the Otherland and draws it's encircling mists to the battlefield. Creates 1d3 6" square areas of mist that must be arranged so they touch. These are obscuring terrain. The mist is too dense to be seen through and any models at least partially within may only be targeted for shooting/spells within 16" Cost 5 Mana

Third Circle

Faerie Vitality: Fallen models in the unit are revived if they roll over their Toughness. Any heroes regain a lost wound when they roll equal or over their toughness. Cost 8 Mana.

Vainglorious Hubris: When cast, this spell afflicts 1d3 enemy units with visions of glorious triumph. The units so affected must roll equal or over the highest will in the unit to avoid giving into fatal pride. Or, if the owning player prefers, they may give in voluntarily. If they pass the roll they take 3 stress and they continue to be afflicted with visions as long as the spell remains. This means they test at the beginning of every turn. In subsequent turns, giving up on glory only costs 1d3 stress per turn. If they fail, or choose to fail, they become impetuous and immediately remove their orders from the order pool. Further, they so driven by unnatural pride that they must take two actions (they always succeed on the command test atand take one stress) and their commanders may spend no orders to restrain them. Once they succumb, only unbinding the spell will end the effect. Cost 6 Mana.

Fourth Circle


The Fae are deathless. Those fallen in battle return upon the wheel of rebirth to carry on their fated role. The greatest of their spell-weavers can bridge one life into another and so and double the Hits of the targeted hero. Cost 9 Mana.

Sleep of ages:
There are those here who remember when Humanity appeared in these lands and there are those here who will be present when all men alive have passed beyond dust and memory. Time has a different meaning for the Ljósálfar and sometimes they lead others aside from history, to sleep until a time after humanity has passed. This spell requires line of light between the caster and the target at some point from when begun, to when unleashed. All models in the targeted unit must test against Will -1 or accept the Ljosalffar's gift. Those that accept immediately pass to the Otherland. Note: This gift is so enticing that it attracts undead, spirits, daemons and elementals. However, they do not sleep. Rather they are blasted to dust, banished or scattered to the aether. Cost 12 Mana.

What do you think? I've tried to put some randomness in spell-casting and there are a number of hurdles to clear to get a spell off successfully. I've also tried have both relatively minor spells and the odd spell that could potentially turn a battle. Players also get a choice between keeping it safe (ie only trying to weave their casting skill plus one or two mana) and going all out but opening themselves to serious magical backlash. At this point, an Archmage is intended to be one per list (maximum) only, though this may change. Thanks for reading.

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