Wednesday 30 September 2015

Middleheim - Magic // Grey Order Warband

After looking over magic systems, I'm going to keep with my original idea:

1. Mana is a stat - only for mages - (which can be resisted by Will amongst non-mage troops)

2. Like all other stats, you roll under the TN to succeed on D10.
I.e. A mage with a Mana of 6 needs a 6 or less to succeed  to cast an ordinary spell.

3. The spell difficulty modifies this TN. (-2 very difficult, -1 difficult, +1 easy, +2 very easy)
If the mage casts a very difficult spell he would need a 4 or less, rather than a 6 or less.

4. If the spell fails, you are out of Mana and receive a "out of mana" token.

5. You can regain mana by forfeiting 2 actions next turn.

My own personal "game world" is a 100-Years-War with magic.

Optional Thoughts:
You can instantly regain mana by sacrificing a wound/losing stamina (or maybe merely rolling against the Physique stat to see if you do)

Spell limits.  Extra spells are (-1 or -2) to cast/maintain; you can cast or maintain 2 spells during any given turn.  I.e. if you are maintaining "magic armour" from last turn then you can only cast one other spell this turn.

Maintenance.  You still must make a "Mana" roll to see if you successfully maintain a spell from last turn/run out of mana, but simply maintaining a spell (as opposed to casting a new one) is a free action and does not count against your action limit.

Reactions.  Single-action spells can be cast in reaction, with an appropriate modifier (-2?) to show the mage is rushed in his casting.  Attempts to "dispel" other magic has no such penalty.

Prepared Spells.  A spell can be "prepared" (taking an extra action) which then doubles its range or AoE or effectiveness/damage.  This will only be once the other stuff is sorted.

The knights of "Grey Order" have taken vows of poverty, and to defend Christendom against witches, demons and the unquiet dead. Plate armour is quite effective at blocking vampire fangs...
Whilst not the "best" method (I'd have preferred a resource "pool" of magic tokens a la Warmachine or Savage Worlds) I've gone with it for a few reasons:
1. Ease of balancing.  There's two variables - the spell itself, and the modifier to cast it.  This makes it easy to balance "overpowered" or "weak" spells: I either reduce/increase the difficulty modifier, or (at last resort) alter the spell itself.   Having a separate "casting cost" would add a third variable and make it much harder to work out the "right" thing to do.
"Larry uses his mage to cast fireballs EVERY action, and ignores all the other spells." 
"OK, then let's make it a -2 modifier to cast them"
"Now no-one uses fireball, but are spamming "Mage Armour"
"Ok, let's make fireball a bit easier - change it to -1 and also give a -1 to mage armour and see if people start using other spells"

2. Consistency. Using the "fail a roll, get a token to show you've run out" mechanic keeps it consistent with other mechanics like Stamina   
The Brothers of the Order wield both a mace (so they may not spill the blood of fellow man) and a silver sword (for battling the forces of Darkness).  Torches are handy, as many species of undead are surprisingly flammable.
I am starting to ready supernatural forces for Middlehiem; demons, a pack of ghouls, a pair of vampires, werewolves and some gargoyles are all undercoated and sitting on my paint table. 

Crossbows, with blessed silver-tipped (or explosive) bolts, are also a sensible weapon

I've been playing with my pulp spin-off rules, but I'm ready to return to Middlehiem.  Hopefully I can get some magic playtests posted up before the holidays end.  (When you have a 12-week-old, nothing is guaranteed)


  1. Hi, where I can find template\terrain like in tour pictures? Thanks

    1. It's called Terraclips, by WorldWorks Games.

      My Review:

      While very solid and hard wearing, and quite pretty, it is an absolute pain to assemble - so it isn't very mobile for taking to gaming days etc.

  2. You can generalize the "prepared spell" concept to all kind of actions as a "Focus" action.
    For example, if your miniature does the "Focus" action, you can get a re-roll (or anything else) to the next Melee or Ranged attack he does in the present turn. Then, you can complete the description of the action with the advantages to the spells you comment before.

    Other subject, you are mixing two different dice mechanisms into your game: throwing a dice and get a number minor or equal to the attribute, and throwing a dice, add the corresponding attribute and get a number equal or greater than a target number.
    Although mixing different mechanisms is not catastrophic, I think a game is neater if you use the less you can, simply because it's easier to remember one mechanism than the list of situations you have to apply each of them.
    I recommend the use of d10+stat mechanism. You can mark a "universal TN" for every non-confronted test (10, for example), and, if you want, add some modifiers.

  3. "......You can generalize the "prepared spell" concept to all kind of actions as a "Focus" action".....

    I was originally using a simple +1/+2 any action if you "prepared" but I've broadened the choices in melee etc to special moves like grapple, flip, power swing, aimed shot etc with varying effects, as I want to mimic PC RPGs.

    ......."Other subject, you are mixing two different dice mechanisms into your game"

    I'm not. Perhaps I worded the OP poorly. Everything is "roll under TN".

    Funnily enough, I originally used a d10+stat, but after playtesting I switched to "roll under TN" as it significantly sped up play, and resolved some issues when rolling multiple opposed dice.

    Thanks for the feedback!

    1. Then, how do you make to break draws in the multiple opposed dice? Are you using the Infinity mechanism (you have to get a result minor or equal to your attribute AND a result greater than your opponents)? Or is it a sequential process, like GW games (the classic "hit, then hurt, then armour")?