Bell Digest vol05p02.txt

Subject:  The Big 5-0,  Volume 5,  Number 2

First Distribution:  June 7,  1990

This issue:
	Re: RQ III Sorcery and New Sorcery		(Jeff Okamoto)
	Re: RQ III Sorcery				(Andrew Bell)
	Reply to comments on DB, Sympathetic Magic, Phases
							(Paul Reilly)

Ed's note:  This is the 50th issue of the RuneQuest Digest (not including
supplements).  This total has been achieved in just over two years,  and
there are 129 subscribers.

From: Jeff Okamoto 

Subject:  Re: RQ III Sorcery and New Sorcery

>Subject:  Is Frothing at the Mouth a Storm Bull Skill?,  Volume 5,  Number 1
>From: (Michael Colligon)
>Subject:  Re:  RQ III Sorcery
>Yes, a sorcerer can cast spells that last a long time, but the more
>free int he puts into duration, the less he can put into intensity.

Unless he has a magic item that contains points of the spell (either
intensity or duration).  Then he can combine the points in the magic
item with his own Free INT and come up with Intensity 20, Duration 20
Damage Resistances.

>I don't like the way the sorcery treat wounds spell works.  The spirit
>and divine heal spells are instantaneous.  The sorcery treat wounds
>spell takes one hour per point to be healed.

Not true.  It restores one point instantaneously.

My favorite spell is the Rokari school's Neutralize Damage.  If your
DEX SR is 2, you can crank off two 1-point spells in a melee round.
Attempting to neutralize a 5-point wound, you have a 51% chance of
COMPLETELY eliminating the wound.

>Casting of divine magic is 95% successful and casting of spirit magic
>is successful on POWx5%. [less encumbrance penalty -- ACB]

Actually divine magic is 100% - encumbrance.  A roll of 96-00 is an
automatic failure.

>[Only one?  Given a decent POW spirit or two, or a familiar, you could
>be putting up multiple damage boosts a day.  -- ACB]

Actually, I just realized that you'd need to duration every DB.  But
if you know a battle's coming, just spend enough duration for 2 days,
using up every crystal, familiar, POW spirit, etc. before hand.  Betcha
you could get 20 or more DB 6's on a sword.

>From:  (Andrew Bell)
>Subject:  New Sorcery:  Absorb Magic and Absorb Spell
>Absorb Magic
>ranged,  temporal,  passive
>If not,  the magic points in the spell are "absorbed" by the target,
>who then has these magic points available as if he/she had them in a
>magic point storage matrix or the like.

Is there an upper limit to the amount of MP stored?

[No,  no more than there is on Absorption.  The loss of 10% of the MPs
every 10 minutes should make it impossible to use it as a magic point
matrix,  however.]

>Absorb Spell
>ranged,  temporal,  passive
>When this spell is in effect,  spells cast at the target must make a
>resistance roll against the intensity of this spell.  If the roll
>succeeds,  the spell is treated as normal.  If not,  the spell is
>absorbed by the target,  and no further spells can be absorbed.

I assume that divine spells count as double the actual POW cost with
respect to intensity?

[This seems to be the default,  and I see no reason to change it. --ACB]

This spell seems too powerful to me.  There's a minimum 50-50 chance
of a 1-point spell being retargettable.  I'd say you match the points
of the incoming spell against the (Intensity - 3) of the Absorb spell.
That seems more fair.

[I agree that it is probably too powerful as is.  I assume with your
change,  you would need at least a 4 point spell?  -- ACB]



From:  Andrew Bell (

Subject: Re: RQ III Sorcery

In issue 5#1,  Mike Colligon indicates that he thinks my proposed changes
to the sorcery rules weaken sorcerers too much.

>Your system makes palsy a completely useless spell until the caster gets
>to be at least 40%, because you have to manipulate the intensity to
>overcome the target's location hit points, then you probably want to use
>range as well (unless you like getting within 10 meters of your target).

If we assume our target has 5 point limbs,  we need a 6 intensity spell to
palsy it.  This would require 30% skill,  or with the correction in issue
5#1,  a 25% skill.  I don't think that's excessively high.  As for getting
within 10 meters of your target,  that is a fairly good distance,  albeit
much shorter than the range of spirit or divine magic.
   If you are wimp sorcerer,  why not cast hinder?  It works on monsters
of all sizes,  and doesn't need much intensity to be very useful.

>A few questions:

>Have you modified the chance for successful casting to offset this handicap?

As a GM,  I would make sorcery skills require only half the training time
of other skills,  and I would want to include "related" skills bonuses to
spells of the same or similar type.  Maybe one day I'll get the free time to
actually work out the modifiers...

If you find this rule weakens sorcerers too much,  I have an alternate rule:
A sorcerer can only boost a spell by 1 point per 5% he has in the relevant
skill,  with no input from his/her skill in the particular spell.  Thus,
for example,  a sorcerer with 37% intensity,  24% range,  and 40% duration
could boost a spell by 8 points of intensity,  4 points of range,  and 8
points of duration.

Now,  one last bit of new sorcery magic:

Steal Spell
ranged,  instant

This spell allows the caster to "take" a spell from a target and make its
target him or herself.  The caster must be able to see the spell through
magical means (Second sight,  soul sight,  or mystic vision).  The spell
must be at least twice the intensity of the target spell,  and must succeed
in a resistance roll of 1/2 the spell's intensity versus the intensity of
the target spell.  Defensive magic will affect the Steal Spell spell.

Again,  this hasn't been playtested,  and all comments are welcome.



From: (Paul Reilly)

Subject:  Reply to comments on DB, Sympathetic Magic, Phases

 About Damage Boosting, I said:
>>The first spell to be discussed is the grossest (sorcery) spell:
>>	Damage Boosting
>>We changed it to: Damage Boosting "stores" an amount of Death Rune
>>Magic in something which already contains an aspect of the Death Rune.
>>This Death magic goes into the target along with the "regular" Death
>>carried by the weapon and the spell is used up.  Any number of Damage
>>Boosts may be stored in a single weapon, but they "come out" one at a
>>time, starting with the Boost of greatest Intensity.
>I like this idea, but I certainly hope there's some kind of limit to
>how much Damage Boosting an object can store.  I can just see my
>sorcerer, wandering around the Wastes, storing an 8-point Damage Boost
>every day for a year....

>[Only one?  Given a decent POW spirit or two,  or a familiar,  you could
>be putting up multiple damage boosts a day.  It seems like with this
>method,  you get bigger damage per boosted blow,  but fewer strikes.
>If your combats are reasonably small,  and your party usually has time
>to rest for a few days between fights,  it seems like this method would
>be *more* powerful.  Need to kill a dream dragon?  Wait until you've got
>damage boost 12 or so on every arrow and weapon,  and off you go... -- ACB]

  By "one at a time", I meant "per strike".  Thus you keep track of the
number of stored DB's in the weapon and expend them when you hit. (whether
or not the hit is parried)
  Thus the man who spends all year filling his sword with DB 8 gets 280* uses
of DB 8, one for each of 280 strikes.  Less gross than one DB per round until
your duration runs out.
  Here we see the problem with old DB: he could also cast 280 DB's onto 280
swords in a year, at only one per day.  More, if he has the MP's.

[Question:  is duration necessary to your new damage boost?  If so,  I
withdraw my objections.  If not,  however,  you can cast a much bigger
spell in advance than you can during a battle or if you need to boost
duration.  One DB 14 is generally all you need to take out a foe... -- ACB]

  You have to keep track of the DB's in your sword, but you have to keep
track of spent MP's, arrows, etc. already.
*280 - not counting Sacred Time.

>>New Spells:
>>Set Phase to A (Ranged; Temporal, Passive)

>I'm confused about this spell.  Call the base "phase" of an object
>phase zero.  Now I cast "Set Phase to A" on something.  Can I still
>touch/interact with it?  Now I cast "Set Phase to B" on something else.
>What happens when I bring the two objects together?  Do they "merge"?
>What happens then if I cancel one or both of the two spells?

  Think of these spells as setting the "polarization" of matter, and ordinary
matter as "unpolarized".  Now think of a sorcerer setting the phase angle of
something to 0 degrees with a Set Phase to A spell.  It can still interact
with ordinary matter, and few experiments would show any difference.
  (Actually, bremstrahlung, etc. would be different - hard to do with
medieval technology)
  Now Set Phase to B on something else.  This sets the "angle" to 90 degrees
relative to Set Phase to A.
  Objects in Phase A can pass through those in Phase B without touching, and
vice versa, i.e., they appear to "merge".  If you stuck your head in a wall,
for example, people would see your head go in.  You would also find no air in
the wall. For a fantasy campaign, I wouldn't worry about air pressure and
such things - except that you can't breathe if no air comes into an object
with you.  For physics sticklers, assume that the "phases" are not exactly
perpendicular, and that objects present a resistance to merging equal to
air pressure.
  If you cancel one or both spells, the natural high energy state of merged
objects provides the necessary energy to keep them out of phase with each
other until they are un-merged.  However, the combination is unstable, and
the objects will be "squirted out" of each other.  If one object is
completely inside another and in a stable position, it might stay there until
the larger object is shaken or vibrated.

  Sample Uses:
  A Sorcerer knows both spells.  He sets his own phase and that of his
clothing, etc. to A, and sets up a shut door in his Tower whose phase is
set to B. Just in front of the door is a tripwire whose phase is also set
to B; the wire triggers the classic 16-ton weight.
  Additionally, he has set some of the flagstones in his floor to A.
Under these stones are the usual spiked pits, boiling oil, etc.
  He also carries a sword of normal, "unpolarized" matter.
  Now three warriors come in to attack him.  He spots them miles off.
  He surreptitiously Sets Phase to B on the smallest of the attackers
as they approach his stronghold, and overcomes the enemy's POW.  He
Sets Phase to B on the two-handed sword of the second attacker.  He
fails to overcome the POW of the third attacker once or twice and gives
up on him.
  When they come in, they start the spiel about how his foul sorcery
plagues the land, offends the gods, etc. He astounds them by offering
to meet them in single combat one at a time.
  The first warrior comes forward.  The sorcerer has positioned himself
so that the warrior steps onto a flagstone whose phase is set to A.
Since his own is set to B, he falls through with a surprised expression
on his face.  The other two think. "Ah, the old illusionary floor trick,"
and avoid the spot.
  The second warrior comes forward.  His two-handed sword is already set
to Phase B.  Since the sorcerer is Set to A, he knows the sword cannot
touch him.  His own sword, however, is unensorcelled and can touch objects
in either Phase.
  The warrior swings.  The Sorcerer, being a Hrestoli type, easily parries
with a ring of steel.  (Rune level attackers, by the way.)
  The fight goes on for a few round. Finally the sorcerer gives the warrior
an opening at his body and the foe swings.  His Phase B sword simply passes
through the Phase A body as if it wasn't there.  While he is overbalanced,
the sorcerer brings his Damage Boosted sword down on the foe's head in a
mighty and fatal chop.
  The third and mightiest Rune Lord comes forward.  Knowing magic is useless
against a foe with this much Shield on, and that he cannot beat him, he
drops his sword and says "Catch me if you can!"  He races through his tower,
letting the warrior stay about ten feet behind him.  He goes to the door
whose Phase is B.  He passes through the tripwire in front of the door, and
through the door, as if they weren't there.
  The Rune Lord is hot on his trail.  He tries to run through the
"illusionary" door.  Since he is of normal (unpolarized) phase, he trips the
wire and tens of milliseconds later bangs into the door.  He bounces off,
falls flat on his back, and looks up only to see a 16-ton weight falling.
Perhaps he has time for Divine Intervention; perhaps not.

  The "symbolic" use would be to paint a door on a wall, for example, and
then to set its Phase at right angles to your own, and then walk through.

  These spells also form the ultimate in "secret doors".

>>Sympathetic Targeting (Ritual Ceremony; Ranged, Instant)
>>[...] both the Sympathetic Targeting
>>spell and any spells "carried" with it in a Multispell must have
>>sufficient Range to reach the target.

>Does the sorcerer casting this spell know ahead of time what the
>range is?

  Only if he knows where his target is.  Otherwise he makes his best guess
and hopes he used enough Range.  The Magic Points are expended even if he
"falls short".

>Umm, perhaps I'm counting wrong, but unless you've got some matrices
>for these, not only will you need 93 MP, but a 93 Free Int....

>[I believe use of the multispell skill allows you to use your full
>free int on every spell multispelled.  Thus he "only" needs 18 points
>of free int. -- ACB]

  Multispell is written ambiguously.  However, the Phantom (Sense) spells
are clearly intended to be used together in a Multispell to form a decent
illusion.  If the total points of all the spells is limited by free INT,
the illusion will be really pitiful.  Thus I side with Mr. Bell on this

[Actually,  multispell was rewritten in the Errata.  I intend to get my
hands on the Errata,  type it in,  and distribute it if I can find the

  However, after seeing some of the things you can do if you have the MP's,
we suggested a "house rule" on Multispell:  the first spell uses your
full Free INT.  The second spell uses your Free INT - 1, the third your
Free INT - 2, etc.  You might think people would always be limited by Magic
Points, but 20 POW spirits will be over 200 MPs.  Don't scoff at the idea
of 20 points of enchantment dedicated to POW; most of us have seen characters
in a campaign with 30 points of Rune Magic.

  I think POW spirits give entirely the wrong flavor for sorcerers, but that's
a topic for another post.

>>Note:  The most common spell to Multispell with Sympathetic Targeting
>>is (Sense) Projection....

>>Why waste points?
>[With sense projection,  the range is calculated from the projection,
>not the caster.  Thus you can cast a higher intensity spell. -- ACB]
  Right.  Also note that the Sympathetic Targeting gives no "feedback" -
you have to read about it in the paper the next day.

>[questions about play balance]

  This stuff has had only a little playtesting.  It seemed to work.  Modify
for your campaign as you see fit.
  Compared to the Doom Portals commonly referred to as Sense Projection, this
spell is a clear lose.  See my upcoming post on Sense Projection, if it hasn't
appeared already.
  I like the Targeting spell for several reasons.  The main one is that it
gives people a reason to behave as if they are living in a magical universe:
guarding their True or Secret Names, worrying when their hairbrush is missing,
collecting nail parings from the enemies' garbage, etc.
  You could make this a "special" spell, known mainly on a a few sub-tropical
islands.  I like it throughout the campaign however.  Just rumoring its
existence will start to make people leery about whom they give their names

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