Wow, it's been a long time since I've updated this. I guess sparse internet access will do that. So, my job with WorldTeach started, so I've been back teaching high school in a village in Africa. I won't say “loving every minute of it,” (and I dare you to find me a teacher in the world who would describe their job that way), but very much glad to be back. I don't know, it's actually kind of easier the second time around.
Anyways, term 1 ended about a month ago, and I had 3 weeks off for the winter holiday, and started thinking about Illeria again. I started considering old problems that I had been having, and wanted to share a few of them.
The big one I wanted to talk about was magic. During the last game I playtested, my roommate started saying that the magic system seemed to be broken, and that making one of each character's doppelgangers (remember, in this game each character is linked to a being in another world, a “doppelganger” is the term I use to refer to that other being), but not both, a spellcaster seemed to be the optimal strategy. I guess I should step back and explain my magic system first. As I think I already described, each character gets 2 abilities in each world. For 1 ability point, a character could become a spellcaster, and gain access to 1 group of spells (for 2 points, they could further improve their magic-using abilities). A spell group gives you access to 5 different spells, and there are 7 groups. Without getting into the nitty-gritty, spells are not cast automatically (the way they are in, say, D&D), but rather they have a failure chance. The harder the spell, the higher the failure chance. Also, each time a character casts a spell, she gains something called Residual Magic (RM), which increases her failure chance for all future spells. Thus, if I throw a fireball on turn 1, I have a 50% chance of casting it correctly. If I throw another one, I have a 25% chance, and so on. I have it arranged so that your first spell is nearly an automatic success (unless it is something like a big summon or a fireball), but after that it starts getting harder. Also, whenever you fail to cast a spell, something bad might happen (from taking damage, to having your target redirected, to summoning an evil monster). I keep toying between something bad happening 33% or 44% of the time, though am heavily leaning towards the later (unless it really is way too much).
So, my roommate complained that this was too good, because for 1 ability point, you effectively got 5 abilities. As he put it, if you wanted someone with a bow and a the ability to summon wolves, that costs 2 points. If you chose Metal Magic, you got that, plus a curse-type spell, and it only cost you 1 point. Also, because RM is shared between both doppelgangers, it is too much of a deterrent for a player to make both a spellcaster. I think he had a good point, so here is what I've thought about.
The changes I'm proposing thus far are this: If you only spend 1 ability point on being a spellcaster, you can casts spells, but are rather crappy. To gain the ability to cast spells at any decent level, you'll need to spend both points. However, spellcasting ability is cumulative, so if you spend 1 point in each world, it's the same as spending 2 in one world. Thus, if you want to either be a very good spellcaster, or else to gain any other type of magic ability, you'll need to be a spellcaster in both worlds. Along with that, I'm thinking of making it that you have some ability to share spells between worlds, and to make it easier to cast spells which you can use in both, which I hope should offset the fact that you share your RM with both doppelgangers.
I'm debating whether I want to do more than that. I've considered increasing the difficult of all spells slightly, although I'm not sure if I want to go that far. The way I feel is that if you get Fire Magic, sure you have access to 5 different abilities, however every time you use them you risk blowing yourself up, so perhaps that balances things out. I don't know, that's the one annoying thing about this continent, all of my gaming buddies are an ocean away, so mostly I am just stuck with theory.
Anyways though, thanks for listening. I need to stop taking a break and get back to grading homework. Next time I'll mention group actions, and a few other small-ish changes.