Help in balancing ritual magic and named spells

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Far Scholar
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Help in balancing ritual magic and named spells

Post by Far Scholar » Sat Aug 10, 2019 2:35 pm

Hi there.

In my Earthdawn group my players have found an ancient magical book with information about how to name spells (a 1st edition way of making a spell permanent) and a couple of ritual spells. Imprison Spirit (circle 8 nethermancer) and Imprison Horror (circle 10 nethermancer.)

I am in need of ideas to help balance balance the name spell rule and would appreciate som help in making the rules for ritual magic.

My thoughts:

On named spells: A talent knack for spell casting or thread weaving with a high talent rank and a legend point cost equal of some sort.

On Ritual magic: Should include a lot of threads, some blood magic cost, maybe a legend point cost and something that makes it preferable to be more than one mage to cast.

So if you have ideas I would love to hear them out!


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Re: Help in balancing ritual magic and named spells

Post by Mataxes » Sat Aug 10, 2019 5:14 pm

For ritual spells (assuming it's not permanent), I wouldn't bother with the Legend Point cost. Multiple spell threads, yes. Instead of the normal single-action thread weaving, have each thread take a longer period of time (10 minutes, 30 minutes, etc.) to weave. Blood magic would be optional depending on the flavor of the ritual, but Strain could also work (to reflect the difficulty of an extended casting like that). Unusual components might be required.

To make it something worth doing as a group... a blood magic/strain cost that could be shared around those participating. Possible bonuses to thread weaving/spellcasting.

Basically, "ritual" spells fall more on the "narrative/storytelling" end of the spectrum, and as long as you mostly follow the general guidelines for spellcasting you can feel free to bend and twist things to suit.

As for Named spells, there's a reason we haven't introduced them into ED4 (yet). There are potential balance issues. Legend Points are certainly needed, possibly blood magic. Part of the issue is that some spells would have a bigger impact than others, and from a development standpoint you need to look at not only how it might affect at-the-table play balance, but how it might shape the broader society of the setting if certain things are available.
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Tattered Rags
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Re: Help in balancing ritual magic and named spells

Post by Tattered Rags » Sat Aug 10, 2019 7:48 pm

May I suggest a completely random chance of failure for Naming spells? Roll a percentile with a threshold determined by the circle of the spell (higher more likely to fail). You do everything with the spell, spend all the costs (except maybe LP), roll the necessary talents, and then if you succeed, roll the percentile against the circle threshold (maybe 30 plus 5 times the circle). If it passes, then the universe has accepted you imposing your will on it by Naming the spell. But sometimes the astral energy level of the world isn't quite high enough to support what you're trying to Name. This gives some leeway for certain spells to just have a blanket "no", or explain why Naming is rarer now than it was.

The purpose of the randomness is to make Naming even costlier without necessarily raising the absolute cost.

Number of threads in the spell could also affect the threshold, since those are often more powerful spells.
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