Author Topic: Wizardbane - how to avoid godlike spellcasters  (Read 1549 times)

Iltaran

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Wizardbane - how to avoid godlike spellcasters
« Topic Start: August 23, 2011, 09:46:51 AM »
I can say that without any magical skill you will be in a very tough spot to do anything beyond simply standing around at the right point in time.

Lets say for instance that eventually a master of fire finds you.  He throws a village size fire ball as hot as the sun at you, how do you survive?  I'd be hard pressed to find a way to write out of that one.  You'd be burnt to ash in moments.

I've been thinking about this point for awhile now, spurred on a bit by the latest posts in Rise of the Merchant Prince. Not the least because it's a fairly common problem in fantasy settings. Someone capable of throwing around fireballs, or creating twenty metre long walls of ice or any of the classic mage abilities is going to be a literal army unto themselves. Even one Master wizard could kill hundreds of "mundane" soldiers. Indeed, it becomes nearly impossible for a magic user to be countered by anything except another magic user or a mythical creature. This tends to make a fairly boring story; all problems can be solved by simply throwing a simply large fireball at them. The obvious solutions are to either make magic users so common that every group has a few of them (in which case "Spell, Counter-Spell, Counter-Counter-Spell, Stabbed-while-attempting-Counter-Spell^3" becomes possible) or so rare that there's only a handful in the entire world.

Neither of these solutions are really feasible for Spellmaster. It's already established that the great powers of the Spellmaster world not only dont have any magic users, they actively hunt them down and burn them at the stake. Many are presumably caught before they can learn how to toss around fireballs, but if even one magic user survived to achieve a reasonable degree of power they'd be impossible to hunt down; any force large enough to kill them would be so large that it'd be easy to evade.

This is my suggestion to get around it.
________
Of all the relics and treasures know to the men of the south, none are as rare, as precious or as powerful as Wizardbane. Traditionally noble families would sell their daughters into slavery before parting with one and kings would transform an illiterate peasant to a mighty lord in exchange for the least potent of such trickets. Wizardbane are always made of plain metal and while the exact form taken varies, amulets or rings are the most common. In all but one respect they are indistinguishable from simple jewellry; they can be broken with sufficient force or melted by great heat.

The common and defining characteristic of Wizardbanes is their resistance to magic. Just as their shape varies, so too will the exact way in which they resist magic; some of the lesser Magebane will work only against a single varient, such a water based magic, other provide a degree of protection against all types. Each Wizardbane is unique in its powers and many are the subject of carefully recorded histories, detailing their effect  on different types of sorcery. Since only trial and error is the only known way to determine the protection granted by each artifact, more than one weakness has only been discovered after it proved fatal to the wielder. Generally speaking though, a single Wizardbane will be enough to protect a knight or witchhunter (and his warhorse) from the direct effects of an average spell. While a man wearing a Wizardbane may walk unharmed through a fireball, it will grant no such protection to a mundane housefire begun by a sorcerous spark

Generally speaking, only two groups have access to Wizardbanes, the nobility (of both mercantile and landed varieties) and the most powerful religions. In most cases they are treasured family heirlooms, handed down from father to son. During antiquity, when magic was more common, the possession of Wizardbanes was a major factor in warfare, but for contemporary lords the possession of these artifacts is more a matter of tradition and prestige. Now when marching to battle, many will choose to leave such priceless relics at home rather than chancing damage or loss in combat. Since the only way to actually test the provenance of a Wizardbane is through magic, more than a few fakes are held by the less principled. Today the main "users" of Wizardbane are the myriad Militant Orders and Witchhunter Sects. Fanatical hatred of sorcery and all its users unites the the religions of the South (although little else does). For them, perhaps even more important than the protection afforded by Wizardbanes is the effect they have on those with magical talent.

As a side effect of their ability to disrupt magic, Wizardbane produce a variety of ill effects on those who wield magic when in close proximity. A magic user touching a Wizardbane will generally experience immediate nausea and suffer a rash on any exposed skin that comes into contact. Prolonged exposure will eventually result in death, often after considerable agony. Every year thousands upon thousands will be tested by being forced to hold an artifact; those who react to it will be killed immediately by the Inquisitors if they are lucky, while others are taken away to suffer worse fates. In those areas where the Witchhunters are the most influential and numerous such rituals are practically universal, with each settlement visited according to a schedule and every child tested. Most of those with magical abilities are caught in this net; as are some who, due to fear, or sickness or simple bad luck (or even corruption amongst those who administer the tests) are mistakenly identified.

Inevitably though, some will escape. While in rural villages and small towns everyone is known to everyone else and attempting to avoid the Witchhunter's trials would see one lynched by their neighbours, anonymity is possible in the cities. The age at which magical talents develop is also variable; some only come into their abilities after having tested. Even the effects of Wizardbane on individuals can be variable and those who react less severely can disguise the signs. Of those who survive the initial culling, most will either never realize their abilities, or else avoid ever using them in mortal terror. Those few who choose to walk the path of the sorcerer live in constant risk, not only from the Witchhunters, but from their own neighbours and even their own self-taught skills.

For most people, Wizardbane are gifts from the gods. Even those few who own them know nothing of the real secrets behind their existance.

Spoiler follows: highlight to read
The greatest weapons against magic, the Wizardbane are in fact the works of magic themselves. While most of those with magical talent are executed, a handful of the very youngest are instead brought up in secret monastries. Tutored by the very Orders who seek to destroy their kin, they are carefully monitored for signs of rebellion, but also given a limited education in the magical arts. At the end of their training, they will undertake rituals to create the Wizardbane, enchanting an item with the disruptive properties necessary to continue the supression of magic. The ritual will usually prove fatal, partly by design of their religious masters, but also due to the very nature of the magic being performed. The process is not only theologically difficult to accept, but also dangerous. If control was lost, it would unleash not just a single magic user, but an entire school of trained mages with intimate knowledge of the only weapon against them.

Only a few of the oldest and most powerful sects continue to produce Wizardbane and even they do so in the utmost secrecy.
[Solari] it's generally understood that OG survives by some compact with the devil

Askarn - Maedros - Savra - Faed - Vanimus

Tom

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Re: Wizardbane - how to avoid godlike spellcasters
« Reply #1: August 23, 2011, 11:20:45 AM »
I've been thinking about this point for awhile now, spurred on a bit by the latest posts in Rise of the Merchant Prince. Not the least because it's a fairly common problem in fantasy settings. Someone capable of throwing around fireballs, or creating twenty metre long walls of ice or any of the classic mage abilities is going to be a literal army unto themselves. Even one Master wizard could kill hundreds of "mundane" soldiers. Indeed, it becomes nearly impossible for a magic user to be countered by anything except another magic user or a mythical creature. This tends to make a fairly boring story;

It is fully intentional that magic users are very, very powerful in the world of SpellMaster. Frankly, I find the AD&D type wizards boring and uninspiring. You study for years in order to do what? Open a door and light a campfire? Yeah, right.

SpellMaster is a PvP game, not a PvE game. Yes, after some time mundanes will not be worthwhile opponents anymore. Never completely underestimate them, though. There are assassins, poison, siege engines - with great power comes a great number of determined enemies, and humans can be very, very creative when it comes to killing. We're not on top of the food chain for no reason.

But your main opponents will be other players, and that is intentional.

As is the power-trip. SpellMaster is one of the few games in which you can play a really powerful character, because we don't even try to balance wizards with fighters and thieves.

Zakath

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Re: Wizardbane - how to avoid godlike spellcasters
« Reply #2: August 23, 2011, 01:09:28 PM »
Of course Tom also steps in and squashes your more, uhm, extreme actions with logic. Way back in SM1 I got a lil annoyed with the nobles of some city, I think it was Sirion, and my sneaky mage went on a weee killing spree. Tom ruled that my somewhat excessive solution to the loyalty issue was seen by more than a few servants, who promptly spread the tale. In the end neither me nor the council to which I belonged were all that welcome in that city.

Even if Tom doesn't step in someone else is bound to rein you in. A power mad spellcaster isn't good for the reputation after all so unless the councils manage to establish themselves like they were in the good old days the power hungry ones are bound to get some player opposition.

JPierreD

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Re: Wizardbane - how to avoid godlike spellcasters
« Reply #3: August 23, 2011, 01:36:16 PM »
Would the Wizardbanes be feasible, and is there a possibility for characters to try to RP their creation? Perhaps what was worked in here might not be core, but its creation-attempt could certainly make some interesting RP...

loren

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Re: Wizardbane - how to avoid godlike spellcasters
« Reply #4: August 23, 2011, 05:52:24 PM »
There was an anti magic device (arclis) in SM1.  The intro to SM2 describes how it was used.  Whether any remains is up for GM consideration, I don't believe Tom ever indicated how it was made.

« Last Edit: August 23, 2011, 10:34:47 PM by loren »

Tom

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Re: Wizardbane - how to avoid godlike spellcasters
« Reply #5: August 23, 2011, 08:15:17 PM »
Would the Wizardbanes be feasible, and is there a possibility for characters to try to RP their creation? Perhaps what was worked in here might not be core, but its creation-attempt could certainly make some interesting RP...

You can try. There is, after all, a research aspect in the game. New Intents and Bases can theoretically be created/invented/found.

As for artifacts - I don't yet have any rules on those, I have not yet decided if I want them at all.

Zakilevo

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Re: Wizardbane - how to avoid godlike spellcasters
« Reply #6: August 23, 2011, 08:51:32 PM »
instead of making artifacts maybe you can put an enchantment that will last like a certain period of time? Weren't we going to add 'creation' as intent?

Tom

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Re: Wizardbane - how to avoid godlike spellcasters
« Reply #7: August 23, 2011, 09:56:03 PM »
instead of making artifacts maybe you can put an enchantment that will last like a certain period of time? Weren't we going to add 'creation' as intent?

We could have Enchantment somehow. Then again, maybe that should simply be covered by rituals.

Iltaran

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Re: Wizardbane - how to avoid godlike spellcasters
« Reply #8: August 24, 2011, 07:40:45 AM »
It is fully intentional that magic users are very, very powerful in the world of SpellMaster. Frankly, I find the AD&D type wizards boring and uninspiring. You study for years in order to do what? Open a door and light a campfire? Yeah, right.

SpellMaster is a PvP game, not a PvE game. Yes, after some time mundanes will not be worthwhile opponents anymore. Never completely underestimate them, though. There are assassins, poison, siege engines - with great power comes a great number of determined enemies, and humans can be very, very creative when it comes to killing. We're not on top of the food chain for no reason.

But your main opponents will be other players, and that is intentional.

As is the power-trip. SpellMaster is one of the few games in which you can play a really powerful character, because we don't even try to balance wizards with fighters and thieves.

Ah, seems  I misinterpreted your intentions regarding where you wanted Spellmaster to go. I thought that since quite a lot of background information focused on magic users being outlawed in most of the "civilized" world, the central conflict was going to be between the Witchhunters and the Mages, with PCs playing both sides. For what its worth, I'd probably prefer that kind of setting because of the greater moral ambiguity, but you're the GM.

On the enchantments topic, my suggestion is to divide it between enhancement spells (which only work for a limited time) and creation of actual magic items (which has to be done via rituals). So I may be able to cast the spell "Flaming Sword" (Enhance/Fire) and wander around with a flaming sword for an hour, or I could spend six weeks performing a ritual to create a "Sword of Fire" that always works.
[Solari] it's generally understood that OG survives by some compact with the devil

Askarn - Maedros - Savra - Faed - Vanimus