Nights In Lankhmar
House Rules - Magic
Sorcery vs. Supplication
Sorcery is the craft of wizards, hedge witches, runeshapers and so forth. It’s the act of taking the raw material of reality and molding it into new shapes using willpower applied with skill and precision. Supplication is the act of asking a divine power (usually a god, sometimes a demon) for supernatural aid, with an (usually implied) offer of worship and servitude in return. Both acts are considered “magic.”
People who use Sorcery are called Sorcerers. (Shocking but true.) Similarly, people who use Supplication are Supplicants. There are plenty of priests who cannot perform miracles; all Supplicants are priests but not all priests are Supplicants. Please note that both Supplicants and Sorcerers are fairly rare.
Since spellcasters aren’t necessarily good pickpockets or adroit at card tricks, you can specialize your slight of hand skill in arcane gestures.
For every full die of armor a caster wears, they increase the difficulty of their magic skill roll by 1 if the spell requires gestures. Any other physical skill check required to cast the spell is also increased by 1. (Note: Most Sorcery spells require gestures, many Supplication spells do not.)
Example: Bongo is wearing ringmail over a quilted silk hauberk and so has a 2D+1 armor value. Bongo tries to cast a difficulty 12 Evocation spell that has complex gestures, requiring a Sleight of Hand roll diff. 11 on top of the casting roll. Bongo’s target difficulties are increased by two because of the armor dice and so has target difficulties of 14 and 13, respectively.
No spell can improve the raw Intellect attribute, with the exception of spells that create otherwise mindless servitors: golems, zombie minions, etc. Similarly, no spell can improve Sorcery or Supplication including the related Skills (Divination, Strife, etc.). Basically, you can’t cast a spell that makes you better at casting spells.
Only certain powerful priests of Vacha can bring the dead back to life. (However, both sorcerers and priests can heal wounds, cure diseases, and such-like.)
Sorcery House Rules
A character’s Sorcery attribute (an Extranormal attribute) cannot exceed their Intellect attribute.
There are three (not four) Sorcery skills: Divination, Alteration and Evocation. Evocation covers spells that fall under the rulebooks’ “Conjuration” or “Apportation”.
A sorcerer has a number of starting spells equal to their dice in Sorcery times two, plus two. Example: A character with a Sorcery skill of 4D+1 has (4 * 2) + 2, or 10 starting spells.
At least half of those spells (rounded up) must have a difficulty of 11 or less.
If a character wishes to know spells of a different culture than the sorcerer’s native culture they must have either a minimum +1D specialty die in that culture or (the more expensive alternative) the Advantage Culture (R1) in that culture. They may purchase additional culture knowledges after character creation presuming they have a reason to learn the new culture.
Creating new spells is quite difficult (compared to the rules as written) and thus a character is strongly encouraged to belong to an organization or have a mentor willing to teach them new spells. Contacts (R2) for a guild/league or Patron (R2) for an individual instructor works, although the character is encouraged to take Disadvantages that reflect obligations and restrictions imposed by the relationship.
New Intellect skill: Sorcerous Lore. This is the knowledge of how magic functions, its rules and history. A character can take this skill without having the Sorcery attribute; it just means the character knows how Sorcery operates. A character with Sorcery uses the skill Sorcerous Lore to target spells that require targeting unless the spell is designed otherwise. A character may roll Sorcerous Lore instead of the base skill (Alteration, Evocation or Divination) to learn a new spell.
If a sorcerer wishes to learn a spell from a different culture they must have at least the Culture advantage at R1 for that culture.
When a character gains a pip in a Sorcery skill (Divination, Evocation, Alteration), their mentoring group will teach them an spell that matches the appropriate skill. It takes a number of days equal to: ((Spell Difficulty – Dice in Skill) / 5), rounded up, to learn the spell.
The guild/mentor may teach the character additional spells at any time, but the price should be relatively steep and eventually they’ll shoo the sorcerer away — they’re supposed to be out adventuring after all.
EXAMPLE: Bongo wants to learn Camel Stench, a difficulty 27 Alteration spell. Bongo has 3d+1 in Alteration, so it takes Bongo ((27 – 3) / 5) = 4.8, or five total days to learn the spell. If Bongo had just gained an extra pip in Alteration he’d learn the spell as part of his mentor/student relationship, otherwise he’d have to pay for the new spell. (Given the spell’s difficulty Bongo’s going to have a rough time actually casting it, but that’s a problem for another day.)
If the character is attempting to learn the spell on their own they must also successfully “cast” the new spell or succeed a Sorcerous Lore roll vs. the spell’s difficulty. If they fail they must spend half the original time to relearn (round down) — and then retry again.
EXAMPLE: Bongo finds the spell Wombat Teeth in a tome and tries to learn it on his own. It’s a difficulty 10 Alteration spell. Using his 3d+1 Alteration skill, Bongo spends ((10 – 3) /5) = 2.3, or three days studying the spell. After three days Bongo tries to cast the spell but only rolls a 7, so Bongo must spend (3 / 2) = 1.5, or an additional day. After a day of study he tries again but rolls a 6 this time, so he takes another day… and eventually he learns the spell.
When casting a spell, if the caster rolls a 1 on the wild die the effort of casting has put a strain on the sorcerer. (This is the sole penalty for rolling a wild die 1 on a Sorcery roll.) The sorcerer gain a +1 difficulty to subsequent Sorcery rolls. This penalty is cumulative. If the penalty exceeds twice the caster’s Sorcery dice (ignoring pips) then the sorcerer is too drained to cast. To recover a Sorcerer must have a complete rest for four hours to recover from the exhaustion — they cannot do anything else during this time (study, keep watch, etc.) After four hours of rest the sorcerer is back to their full Sorcery attribute.
Example: Bongo has been casting a lot. Bongo’s Sorcery skill is normally 3D+2 but after a lot of casting they’ve got a +5 difficulty to casting. Bongo rolls another 1 on the Wild Die when casting and now has a penalty of +6. This is twice the number of Bongo’s Sorcery dice and Bongo can no longer cast until they’ve rested.
As per the rules, improving a Sorcery skill (or the Sorcery attribute itself) costs twice the normal cost, and that’s doubled again if you don’t have a mentor.
Supplication House Rules
When the rules refer to the “Miracles” attribute, we’re calling that “Supplication.” Just to be ornery. The spells themselves are commonly referred to as Miracles.
A Supplicant has a number of starting Miracles equal to their Supplication attribute dice times two. Example: A character with a Supplication score of 3D + 2 will start with (3 * 2) six Miracles.
Each god has a miracle focus, corresponding to the three Supplication skills (Divination, Favor, and Strife). One-third of a priest’s known miracles (rounded up) must relate to that focus, and the priest cannot have more spells in another focus.
EXAMPLE: Slurp is a priest of Rassos. Rassos’ miracle focus is Divination. Slurp has eight miracles. Of those eight, (8 / 3) = 2.7, or three of the miracles must be Divination, and Slurp cannot have more than three miracles in Favor or Strife.
When a character gains a pip in a Supplication skill (Divination, Favor, Strife), their Order will teach them a new spell. The restrictions about miracle focus still apply: One-third of a priest’s known miracles (rounded up) must relate to that focus, and the priest cannot have more spells in another focus.
Miracles do not need an additional targeting roll, although the subject’s whereabouts must be known within a hex.
EXAMPLE: Slurp wants to cast Cheek Pinchy on a ratkin. Even though the ratkin’s taken cover behind a stump and isn’t visible Slurp knows which hex the ratkin occupies and so can target the ratkin. There’s a swath of underbrush nearby and there are several more ratkin somewhere within, but since Slurp doesn’t know precisely where any of those raktin are Slurp can’t target them.
Every time a Supplication roll fails the supplicant experiences Doubt and temporarily loses a pip from their Supplication attribute. This loss is cumulative. The penalty cascades down to the related skills. If the Supplication attribute drops below 1D the priest is unable to perform miracles. If the priest is reasonably well-rested they can spend 15 minutes per point of Doubt (penalty) performing devotionals.
Example: After a day of requesting miracles while wandering around Lankhmar, Slurp’s accrued a Doubt penalty of -4 pips. (This equates to 1D+1.) Slurp normally has 3D in Supplication and a total of 4D in the Favor skill; with the penalty Slurp now has 1D+2 in Supplication and thus 2D+2 in Favor. Slurp is only slightly tired and the GM decides that, after an hour’s relaxation, Slurp can meditate on the power of Rassos. After only a half-hour someone kicks in Slurp’s door. Slurp’s had enough time to drop 2 points of Doubt, so now Slurp’s at 2D+1 in Supplication and 3D+1 in Favor.