Grimoires, Other People's Grimoires, & You

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The Undying
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Grimoires, Other People's Grimoires, & You

Postby The Undying » Wed Aug 31, 2016 5:47 am

You down with OPG? (yeah, you know me)

Facts about grimoires in ED4:
- Copying a spell into one's grimoire is the final stage in learning a spell. As such, I think it's safe to say, if it's in your grimoire, then you paid the LP and have learned it.
- You can cast from other's grimoire. There's a penalty to it, but this opens up your spell options outside of combat considerably.
- You can get copies of spells that aren't in a grimoire. 'Some organizations sell written copies of spells' (straight from the book), and even aside from that, a Patterncraft test can be used to make a copy of a spell, regardless of whether it's on a piece of paper or your grimoire.

Now, the foolish metaphysics:
- Is there something specific about a GRIMOIRE that makes it a casting source? The grimoire basically acts like a slow-to-use matrix, assuming attunement. Grimoires are significant items to their owners, which CAN make them EVENTUALLY become Pattern Items (they certainly don't start that way). However, especially if you find some newly-advanced-from-Initiate Circle 1 Adept's grimoire, which you can DEFINITELY cast from but which has almost zero real presence, is that really any different from casting from a stack of papers you either personally wrote spells on or which you purchased?
- Assuming there isn't something inherently special about a "grimoire" versus a written copy of the spell, can a magician cast from written copies of spells not technically written in a grimoire but using the "grimoire" process?

All that aside, the real question: Why is this important?

ED4 got rid of "LP for spells" as an optional rule, it's now a mandate. HOWEVER, there are some really interesting spells that are really JUST FLUFF. "Thrive" and "Nutritious Earth" are I think the shining examples - fun spells, flavorful, but at the end of the day, I really can't think of why anyone would pay LP for them. There are a lot of other useful spell that will NEVER be cast in combat, and many spells that are very much downtime spells ("Plant Feast" comes to mind).

Additionally, magicians are honestly missing a money sink to improve their value. Close and Range combatants can improve their damage throught Forge Weapon, something which has no real value to a magician unless they're a battlemage concept. Magicians don't have any comparable "Forge Effect" (though I really feel there should be). So, it stands to reason that magicians really should have a way to improve their casting, either power or utility, in a money-only way.

Resolution: Magicians should be able to, in essence, keep two 'grimoires' - one is their true pattern grimoire, which contains all their learned spells and anything else they keep in their true grimoire (research notes, etc), and one is their 'spell book', which contains random spells they want access to but don't know (and maybe backup copies of their grimoire spells in case they somehow misplace that).
- It gives magicians access to spells they otherwise wouldn't buy, with an associated penalty (can never be in matrix just like a spell accessible through someone else's grimoire, and requires additional time for grimoire attunement or risk backlash).
- It eliminates what I consider a foolish loophole in the system where a player may be crossing their finger that the random grimoire they found happens to contain a spell they want to grimoire-cast.
- It provides a money sink for magicians to be better at their job.
- The one stipulation I would add is that, while the magician can add anything they want to this spell book (assuming they can find someone from which to purchase or copy it), the spell book does NOT count as "their grimoire," meaning they get the -2 penalty and do not receive the bonus success.

Maybe this was the intent all along for ED4 and it was just not well described in the rulebook.

Anyways, with this change/interpretation, spells "learned" (i.e., spent LP on them, actually in grimoire) really become more of a "what do I want to have access to in combat or immediately ahead of combat."

Thoughts?
Last edited by The Undying on Wed Aug 31, 2016 8:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

The Undying
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Re: Grimoires, Other People's Grimoires, & You

Postby The Undying » Wed Aug 31, 2016 8:00 pm

For those mulling this over, here's how I think it could affect the game:

- Assuming infinite money, it's possible for an Adept to have every spell for his Discipline in his spell book. This is definitely a problem since it could give easy access to much higher Circle spells than appropriate. FIX: Spell book can only contain Circle or lower spells. It's a weird limitation, given all the context I used to justify the existence of a spell book, I think it's necessary. Realistically, even found grimoire through adventuring would likely be approximately Circle-appropriate, so even casting from someone else's grimoire shouldn't have high likelihood of giving significantly higher Circle spell access.

- Greater access to buff as part of combat preparation. I personally don't think this is a significant problem. Gimoire attunement takes 10 minutes and is specific to the spell being attuned. Therefore, for combat-relevant spells with duration in rounds, you're only getting one off. Meanwhile, for combat-relevant spells with duration in minutes, it is possible to have multiple spells active from the grimoire casting at higher Circle, although you need to be rushing straight in to combat as one of them will be expiring very soon. FIX: Personally, I don't think one is necessary. Magicians are now being positioned as shining with preparation, this further reinforces that.

- Greater access to environmental-affecting spells. Some spells are highly useful but are also never meant to see the light of combat. Nethermancer has a variety of these, many of which build off of "Bone Circle", which itself would never be done in-combat. FIX: Personally, I don't think one is necessary. Yes, some of them build in ways that may provide some unintended utility, but I don't think it's anything problematic.

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Tattered Rags
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Re: Grimoires, Other People's Grimoires, & You

Postby Tattered Rags » Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:24 pm

On your first issue, page 253 of ED4PG notes:
To cast a spell from a matrix, your character must have achieved a Circle at least equal to the Circle of the spell being cast. Spells being cast from a grimoire or with raw magic can be of any Circle, including a Circle higher than your character’s current Discipline Circle.


And page 251:
If a magician knows the appropriate Thread Weaving tal-ent, he can learn spells of any Circle, even those higher than his own, though he may not be able to cast those spells using his spell matrices.


So your fix is a bit artificial and smacks of unfairness, in my opinion. If they can learn any Circle spell, and they can cast any Circle from OPG's, it's very weird if they can't also get a higher Circle spell in their second grimoire.

Really, the best fix is to simply control what spells they get. That's the GM's job, anyway. And why would a high Circle Adept sell a Circle 8 spell to a Circle 1 Adept? Others might, or they might find the spell in a Kaer, or something, but the GM has control.

What form would this secondary grimoire take? Not every magician uses pages, and even if they did, the second grimoire is going to look like a loosely bound sheaf of papers, some bark, and maybe a carved rock or two. Kinda neat, actually. As for spells from a Grimoire, perhaps ripping the page to add to your collection should destroy the Pattern and make it uncastable. I would also argue that copying a castable version requires learning it and paying LP.

Edit: I'm imagining that a single page sold to a Player as a spell counts as a grimoire, this the Player's secondary grimoire is, in my mind, more like a collection of mini-grimoires.

Telarus_KSC
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Re: Grimoires, Other People's Grimoires, & You

Postby Telarus_KSC » Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:43 pm

I agree that in-game "political" reasons for spell-control would limit availability sharply. This is an interesting discussion, and this gets to the heart of it:

Anyways, with this change/interpretation, spells "learned" (i.e., spent LP on them, actually in grimoire) really become more of a "what do I want to have access to in combat or immediately ahead of combat."


There are some metaphysics in the 1st edition supplements that may help here, and I also tend to consider the J'role's trilogy (The Longing Ring, etc) to be cannon in regards to how Earthdawn metaphysics works. J'role (a young Thief Adept at this point) meets his future wife Releana (both captives of the Blood Queen) is a young human Elementalist girl. Some good portrayal of spellcasting from that series of books.

Let me look some of that up, and how it may have changes with the 4E descriptions. Ok... So, the Grimoire description in 4E has part of the 1E MAgic: A Manual of Mystic Secrets stuff in there. Hm...

Ok, the big difference (and I see this as a big improvement) is that in 4E you can cast from your own personal grimoire, while in earlier editions you could not, because you had no need to. By writing a spell-pattern into your personal grimoire(s), you also inscribe it into your long-term memory (and your own pattern). Thus, you can raw-magic cast any spell you have "learned" (copied into your personal grimoire) without resorting to Grimiore Casting, and can re-attune on-the-fly without needed your books on you. This led to a lot of metaphysical confusion in earlier editions, as it was safer to push raw magic through an object (spell matrix object) or some-one else's grimoire than raw cast. :P

So, now in 4E everyone can cast any spell they have locked into their long term memory ("learned/placed in their personal grimoire") in 3 ways: matrix casting (including matrix objects), raw-magic casting (no grimoire needed, pushing the mana through the copy of the spell pattern in your OWN body/pattern), and grimoire casting (pushing the mana through the copy of the spell in any written form of it). If the grimoire was not your personal one, take a -2 modifier (p. 263).

Here's my idea: for "free floating" copies of spells, treat them as Grimoire Casting from another's grimoire (-2 mod), but change the Attunement phase so that if you do attune to the single "spell-scroll" then IT takes the Raw Magic damage (possibly destroying the spell-copy). Failing to attune means you still take the raw magic damage. Use the Circle of the spell to determine Warping and Damage steps via that table on p. 261, then roll against the Dispell Difficulty (based on Circle) as the Warping Difficulty. If successful, roll damage, subtract the spell's circle as Mystic Armor. If it does damage above a rating based on the material, *wooof* up in flames. Paper could have a very low Death rating, runes carved on stone a bit higher, etc. Still "temporary", and will probably self-destruct after a few uses in Open, Tainted, or Corrupt areas.

Bam, now your loot tables can have "spell scrolls" (roll on another table to determine the actual "form").
Last edited by Telarus_KSC on Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Grimoires, Other People's Grimoires, & You

Postby Tattered Rags » Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:53 pm

Telarus_KSC wrote:Here's my idea: for "free floating" copies of spells, treat them as Grimoire Casting from another's grimoire (-2 mod), but change the Attunement phase so that if you do attune to the single "spell-scroll" then IT takes the Raw Magic damage (possibly destroying the spell-copy). Failing to attune means you still take the raw magic damage. Use the Circle of the spell to determine Warping and Damage steps via that table on p. 261, then roll against the Dispell Difficulty (based on Circle) as the Warping Difficulty. If successful, roll damage, subtract the spell's circle as Mystic Armor. If it does damage above a rating based on the material, *wooof* up in flames. Paper could have a very low Death rating, runes carved on stone a bit higher, etc. Still "temporary", and will probably self-destruct after a few uses in Open, Tainted, or Corrupt areas.

Bam, now your loot tables can have "spell scrolls (roll on another table to determine the actual "form").


If you're going to provide tons of spells and want to avoid destabilizing your game world, yeah, I like this. But I don't see a difference between a grimoire with 1 spell and no notes and one with dozens of spells and copious research. The main point is that writing the spell down creates a Pattern similar to (and the basis of) a spell matrix.

The Undying
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Re: Grimoires, Other People's Grimoires, & You

Postby The Undying » Wed Aug 31, 2016 10:19 pm

The cost is pretty prohibitive if the written spell takes the Raw Magic damage. 100 silver x Circle is sufficiently costed for a persistent benefit, I think, maybe a bit cheap. 100 silver x Circle that has a decent probably of blowing up every time you use it? Too expensive, IMHO.

Maybe I'm just not considering the risk enough with this suggestion. My goal going into this was "there are a bunch of spells that simply aren't worth the LP but are fun - what can we do about that?" The downside is that you can't categorize spells as "these aren't worth LP" because that's highly debatable. Thus, mechanizing the system in the way I've described leaves it open for abuse. Not willing to pay LP for a buff spell? Well, by paying money for it, you can still have access to it if you have the opportunity to set up, which may be a bit overpowered. Leave it to GM discretion? I can see way too many conversations, and maybe hurt feelings, if a GM says "you can have this one but not this one and that's the way it goes."

Again, though, I don't really think that money-based access to buffs is all that big a deal if magicians are supposed to shine given time to prepare. Otherwise, it seems like a lot of spells are just left on the chopping block as "not worth it."

Maybe there's a middle ground here? What about a Novice-tier cost Thread Item that is a "spell book". It's Novice-tier cost in the same way that a Standard Matrix object is Novice-tier cost: they both follow the cheapest advancement (100/200/300/etc) but are single purpose and full scale up to Rank 15. This "spell book" item confers no rank benefits other than "Can be used to record spells up to Circle RANK" and "Counts as a player's grimoire for purpose of grimoire-casting."
- Some LP cost is reintroduced, which I'm not THRILLED about, but it's MUCH more accessible.
- We've solved the problem of "is there something special about a grimoire versus randomly written spells" - this is a Thread Item, which has a Pattern, and therefore can handle the rigors of acting like a temporary Spell Matrix like a standard grimoire does.
- Because the RANK bounds what Circle spells can be put in the book, we've naturally capped availability to high-level spells in a way that makes sense and is formulaic.
- The LP cost justifies the access to combat-relevant spells, given sufficient planning.
- As an additional benefit to offset the LP investment, we've scrapped the penalty for casting out of something other than the player's grimoire.

I'm REALLY liking this idea. I could easily see this as an item that magician Novices are provided out of the gate, or something inherent that magicians can create outside of all the cumbersome rules and restrictions of "Enchanting." However, I am NOT liking the LP cost, and I am especially not liking the fact that it eats one of the Adept's available threads. Maybe that latter problem can be avoided by just saying this doesn't consume a thread?

Maybe this is just a special purpose object in the ED universe instead?

Magicians may keep a "Spell Book" object for the purpose of recording grimoire-casting spells that they do not know as part of their standard grimoire. Writing spells into the Spell Book follows standard Patterncraft test rules but does not involve an LP cost. The magician can only write spells into the Spell Book that are less than or equal to their current Circle for their relevant magician Discipline. Spells written into a Spell Book can only be cast using the "Casting from a grimoire" spellcasting process, during which the Spell Book counts as the Adept's grimoire for the purpose of removing the penalty and receive the extra success.
Last edited by The Undying on Wed Aug 31, 2016 10:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Grimoires, Other People's Grimoires, & You

Postby Tattered Rags » Wed Aug 31, 2016 10:31 pm

As the GM, you need to carefully control what you hand out to keep from destabilizing the game or letting one player constantly outshine the others. This extends from Thread Items to spells to contacts and so forth. But if a player wants something small, why not provide it? I see the GM saying yes more often than no.

The Undying
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Re: Grimoires, Other People's Grimoires, & You

Postby The Undying » Wed Aug 31, 2016 10:43 pm

Definitely agree, TR (Mr Rags?). I just tend to like clear, repeatable rules versus off-the-cuff solutions. I guess it's definitely arguable if the time spent engineering a robust solution once outweighs the shorter as needed ad-hoc request/reply - as long as the ad-hoc doesn't quickly turn into more time via discussion.

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Re: Grimoires, Other People's Grimoires, & You

Postby Tattered Rags » Wed Aug 31, 2016 11:34 pm

"Rule of Fun" and avoiding one more rule and all that, TU...Undy?...The?


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