New Talent: Arcane Bolts

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cragglerock
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New Talent: Arcane Bolts

Post by cragglerock » Tue May 24, 2011 2:25 pm

The concept of wizards and sorcerers resorting to crossbows and daggers because they've "run out of spells" has always been a bit bothersome to me. Yes, you get some stories where the protagonist gets so burnt out that even generating a small light is crippling to them, but this tends to be more an exception than a rule. So, with that in mind, my idea was to create a sort of "At Will" (to borrow 4E parlance) attack for magic users. This involves a new Talent (Arcane Bolts) and a new Special Skill (Arcane Weaponry, which falls under the Magic Special Skills subcategory).

Arcane Bolts

A Hero must have a least one point in the Magic-Wizardry or Magic-Sorcery Special Skills, at least one point in the Arcane Weaponry Special Skill, and have a MAGIC score that exceeds their SKILL score in order to take this Talent. If chosen, the Hero may create small bolts of energy to attack their enemies with, the damage of which is given in the table below and is based upon the Hero's Arcane Weaponry Skill.

The Arcane Bolts are used as a weapon attack, but rather than using the Hero's SKILL and weapon Special Skill, the attack rolls are based on the Hero's MAGIC + Magic-Wizardry or Magic-Sorcery. Rolls of double 6 in this case are treated as normal Critical Hits, while a roll of double 1 requires a roll on the Oops! table.

The following table gives the damage results for the Arcane Bolts attacks, the left column being the Arcane Weaponry Special Skill vaule
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7+
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2
2 1 1 1 1 2 2 3
3 1 1 2 2 2 2 3
4 1 2 2 2 2 3 4
5 2 2 2 3 3 3 4
6 2 3 3 3 3 4 5

aduial
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Post by aduial » Mon May 30, 2011 12:35 pm

I love the idea - flavourful actions for mages that are out of spells are one of the few things I liked about 4e.

But I think maybe the damage is a bit high here. Okay, the potential rolls on the admittedly nasty "Ouch!"-table balances things slightly, but it isn't THAT much worse than a normal fumble.

The talent gives the mage a weapon that seems superior to a ranged weapon wielded by a normal archer (in that no ammunition is needed). It's also arguably cooler. And it uses a statistic he will develop anyway (magic-wizardry or magic-sorcery).

I suggest the following changes:

Add range increments similar to those posessed by normal weapons. Let these start out very short and then increase rather rapidly as you increase in Arcane Weaponry. If used in melee, arcane weaponry counts as fighting with an improvised weapon (giving the -4 penalty to attack score when fighting against people using large weaponry).

Let the to-hit-roll be based on Arcane Weaponry instead of MW or MS.

Remove the need for a talent. Arcane Weaponry doesn't do anything else, so let investment in that skill be enough to do this.

Reduce the damage progression severly, maybe something like:

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7+
1 0 0 1 1 1 1 2
2 0 1 1 1 1 2 2
3 1 1 1 1 2 2 3
4 1 1 1 2 2 3 3
5 1 1 2 2 3 3 3
6 1 2 2 3 3 3 3

Then introduce a talent called "Improved Arcane Weaponry" that gives a +2 to damage rolls with arcane weaponry and which removes the penalty to attack score when using arcane weaponry in melee.[/b]

aduial
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Post by aduial » Mon May 30, 2011 1:42 pm

Some justifications for my suggested changes are in order, I guess.

First of all, I think my version is slightly better balanced. But I've mentioned that already. The balancing is especially in the fact that upgrading his spellcasting skill - which he WILL do anyway - no longer improves his arcane bolts.

Another thing about my version i consider an improvement is that you can get it without otherwise being a spellcaster - suitable for some rather weird character concepts such as an "arcane warrior". More importantly, it's available to conjurers and others who specialize only in minor magic. And it's available to priests. The latter MAY not be flavourful (at least not for all gods), but I prefer the option to be available. And for priests, it could be viewed as a "smite infidel"-power.

Having the talent improve the skill (instead of actually being required) is also something I like, as it gives the option of investing a little bit in order to get a cool feature, or invest a lot to be REALLY good at it. The talent would be suitable for really militaristic wizards and sorcerers (and some priests), while conjurers and "library-mages" could just put a point or two in the skill for an extra trick up their sleeve.

My version may still be overpowered, as investing in a skill is actually quite cheap. So maybe the damage should be decreased a bit further.

Slloyd14
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Post by Slloyd14 » Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:16 pm

I like the ideas that mages can do things other than cast spells. It opens up a whole new range of character development as long as they are balanced. It is easy to create a powerful infinite ability or an ability that is so weak that it's irrelevant.

Maybe have talents that allow the character to use their magic score for at will effects. Talents are quite expensive in terms of XP so each talent allows the hero to have two or three effects?

I also like the idea of the Arcane weaponry skill. Maybe also have an arcane defence skill?
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Robin Low
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Post by Robin Low » Sat Jun 04, 2011 3:51 pm

I've been working on a variant version of the game, and I've included this sort of Talent too. I'm dealing with armour and damge somewhat differently, so I've included a mystic armour Talent as well.

I've thought about but not included an arcane weaponary Talent, as yet - I wanted to differentiate wizards from the warriors types who get up close and personal. I may yet succumb and add one, though.


Regards

Robin

Robin Low
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Post by Robin Low » Sat Jun 04, 2011 3:58 pm

Slloyd14 wrote: Maybe have talents that allow the character to use their magic score for at will effects. Talents are quite expensive in terms of XP so each talent allows the hero to have two or three effects?
I've done something similar. Rather than lots of spells, I have Talents that bundle related effects (Elementalism, Necromancy, Nature, Light and Darkness, that sort of thing). Some of these effects are arguably straight spells, but other effects modify or benefit effects in different Talents (for example, my Elementalism Talent provides advantages when summoning elemental useing the Summoning Talent). I think this might provide a measure of niche protection for wizard characters, so you could potentially have a party of all wizards who wouldn't be stepping on one another's toes.

Regards

Robin

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Post by Skyrock » Sat Aug 27, 2011 2:09 pm

Personally, I'd only create as much mechanical overhead as needed. AFF already has rules for a kind of magic that is easy to pull off and costs virtually no magic points - cantrips.

Here's what I would come up with:

New Cantrip: Arcane Bolt
The caster points with at his target, sending a flurry of beams from his index finger that strike the target.
Use the Unarmed (Human Size) column from p.60 to determine damage. Armor rolls do not apply.
The range is limited to 10m.



That results in the following pros and cons compared to regular missile attacks:

+ bypasses Skill+Weapon in favour of Magic+Magic-Minor
+ high to-hit (+6 to casting check for cantrip) - there might also be penalties for being attacked, but they are far outweighed by this bonus
+ magical weapon
+ armor doesn't apply
+ no ammo costs

- low damage
- low range
- acts after missile attacks in combat (missile - magic - melee)

What you get is an attack that is very valuable for nerdy spellcaster types, as its saves them attribute and skill points they'd normally need to get good with a missile weapon. It also has special situations where it is on par or even superior to regular missile weapons (namely foes with strong armor or foes that can only be damaged by magic).
However, it does neither steal the thunder from dedicated archer types, nor does it completely eliminate the usefulness of learning proper missile weapons for casters.

If a spell-caster needs more damage and range on short term, he can always go with Fire Bolt, Force Bolt, ZAP or HOT, or apply Smite on his Magic Missile (which will effectively double the damage output of the cantrip).

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Dawndeath
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Re: New Talent: Arcane Bolts

Post by Dawndeath » Thu Oct 18, 2018 5:51 am

I'm in the process of looking back through this forum for any gems of ideas that I can borrow for my game. I actually really like both of these versions of the Arcane Bolt idea - the special skill and talent as originally described, and the cantrip. Does anyone think it would be unbalancing to include both in the game? That way a hero has the choice of whether to take the low-power version as a simple cantrip, or spend the extra experience points for the talent and skill in return for an attack with a bit more wallop.

Ruffnut
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Re: New Talent: Arcane Bolts

Post by Ruffnut » Thu Oct 18, 2018 8:27 am

Sounds good!
He just sits there tapping away all day on a tiny screen. But he tells everyone that he is slaying Orcs.

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SkinnyOrc
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Re: New Talent: Arcane Bolts

Post by SkinnyOrc » Mon Oct 22, 2018 11:01 am

Thanks for pointing this out, I'd missed it when I've looked back through the old threads. It's a great idea to allow wizards a magical way to stand back but be involved in fights between casting spells. Right now they can have a brace of throwing knives or a bow or something (even if they may not have the SKILL to be very good with them) but a magical equivalent is just more interesting and more fitting.

Okay so IMO the goals here are:
1. It shouldn't make wizards any more powerful than they are now.
2. It should use standard AFF2 rules as far as possible. That means not having a damage table that increases with experience, none of the weapons do that.
3. Using MAGIC rather than SKILL for the attack roll is too powerful, it would give many specialist wizards a better chance to hit than specialist warriors (who have to split points between SKILL and STAMINA).
4. I don't believe it should be available to Sorcerers, it's better to have another difference between them and wizards. Also with being able to wear armour and needing high STAMINA a sorcerer is more likely to carry and use physical weapons.
5. It doesn't fit a Talent, they make it too uncommon and Talents are instinctive abilities or divine rewards while this seems more like a learnt skill.
6. It just about works as a Minor Magic cantrip but this isn't ideal either. The effect is powerful for a cantrip and yet even only costing a MP on a casting fail you get through MPs too fast casting each round.

So putting all that together I believe it should be a normal Wizard spell:

Magic Dart (2)

A glowing dart appears in the hands of the wizard, which may be thrown as a weapon with the same damage as a throwing knife. The attack is handled as normal with the Thrown Weapon Special Skill applying, and +1 to the attack roll due to the dart's perfect balance and weight. The glowing dart is able to hit creatures immune to non-magical attacks and when thrown disappears at the end of the round to reappear in the hands of the caster. It may be stored on the wizard's person but if it leaves them in any way it returns as when thrown. After 24 hours the dart will disappear completely.


Looking at game balance this is almost the same as the wizard carrying missile weapons but more "wizardly". Both rely on developing SKILL and a Weapon Special Skill to be more effective, something even adventuring wizards will only do somewhat. The disadvantage is the cost of 2 MPs (possibly more if the casting fails, although it will usually be cast with no pressure). The advantage to balance that is +1 attack roll, hits as a magical weapon, unlimited ammo, and of course it looks cool. The +1 to attack roll could be dropped but without that it may well not be seen as worth 2 precious MPs.

Ruffnut
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Re: New Talent: Arcane Bolts

Post by Ruffnut » Mon Oct 22, 2018 11:31 am

Looks good!
He just sits there tapping away all day on a tiny screen. But he tells everyone that he is slaying Orcs.

HedgeWizard
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Re: New Talent: Arcane Bolts

Post by HedgeWizard » Mon Oct 22, 2018 12:08 pm

Isn’t that a bit underpowered? Fire ball (1) and Force Bolt (2) both do d6 damage but with the dart you are only doing 1-2 damage.

I understand that it has other advantages (being out of magic round, infinite ammo) but it still seems a bit low.

I agree that you can’t have it as a Cantrap as the closest thing to that is Spark which hurts but does no damage. Appart from Burn where you have a flame in your hand you can’t cause stamina loss with Minor Magic.

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SkinnyOrc
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Re: New Talent: Arcane Bolts

Post by SkinnyOrc » Mon Oct 22, 2018 12:23 pm

HedgeWizard wrote:Isn’t that a bit underpowered? Fire ball (1) and Force Bolt (2) both do d6 damage but with the dart you are only doing 1-2 damage.
Well they're d6 once. This is throwing knife damage minus armour for as many times as you manage to hit with it in a day. So if it's a busy day you're getting way more points of damage out of your 2 MP with Magic Dart. This is for something to do in combat in between casting spells like those.

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Re: New Talent: Arcane Bolts

Post by HedgeWizard » Mon Oct 22, 2018 12:42 pm

Ok, then I can follow your logic

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Dawndeath
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Re: New Talent: Arcane Bolts

Post by Dawndeath » Mon Oct 22, 2018 4:09 pm

I have to say, I'm really loving the fact that this community exists - small though it is - where ideas can be shared and discussed, and a great base game system tuned to individual gaming groups' preferences.

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