Monday, August 21, 2017

On Arcane Background (Ritual Magic), and the Cold and Heat Trappings

Since we're talking about powers and magic anyways, I wanted to bring up a couple of small things that I'd noticed for the benefit of my good readers.

In the Fantasy Companion, one of the new Arcane Backgrounds is Ritual Magic: the idea is that a chracter is slower and less powerful than a full-blown wizard or sorcerer, but is far more safe and consistent in the use of his abilities. Unfortunately, the mechanics that back this up are that these casters have fewer power points, a lot more penalties, and are less likely to recieve backlash—overall, they're strictly worse than other casters.

I address this by adding a new mechanic: Ritual Preparation. Ritualists may concentrate for a full round (taking no movement or any other actions)—if a character is Shaken, wounded, or Fatigued during this time, he must make a Smarts roll to maintain his concentration. If he's successful in his concentration, the ritualist may add +2 to cast any power on his next Action. This change presents ritualists with 2 casting options every round: they can rush their casting to simply cast the power as usual, or they can exercise a smidge of patience to make their spell practically guaranteed to fire or increase their chances of getting a raise. This also makes a good ritualist more position-oriented, as their spells are more consistent and powerful (due to a higher raise chance and lower Backlash chance), but they are far less mobile then their counterparts.

If this isn't enough to make Ritual Magic viable, GMs might consider allowing the user to utilize one of the Ritual Casting options from the Horror Companion when casting his abilities, specifically the extended range, duration, or effect. If including the damage option, the GM may wish to halve the effect from +2d6/4d6 to +1d6/2d6.

The other thing I have recently discovered is a likely misprint in SWD, possibly due to rushed inclusion: the section on Trappings in Chapter 5 of Savage Worlds Deluxe was based on a similar section from the Fantasy Companion, but was formatted to be cleaner to read. In it, Cold/Ice and Fire/Heat both include options to Fatigue an enemy. However, the Cold/Ice Fatigue notes the downside of either halving range or doubling the PP cost, while the Fire/Heat Fatigue does not. This has led to some confusion as to why the Heat Fatigue Trapping is strictly better than the Cold Fatigue Trapping.

The short answer is that it isn't. The original wording from the Fantasy Companion states that the Fatigue caused by Fire/Heat functions identically to the Cold Trapping—this detail simply didn't translate into SWD. [This has been verified by the publishers to not be the case; the Vigor roll or suffering Fatigue apparently is a "free" Trapping, whereas the ability to suffer a –2 to the roll on a raise is the "expensive" part. Personally that feels backwards to me—a Vigor roll for Fatigue is a very powerful effect to get for free, at least comparable to an entire new power, but I don't want to spread misinformation.]

I know this post was short, but I wanted to mention it before I forgot. I may do an entire post on Trappings later on but for now I hope this helps someone somewhere out there.


  1. To clarify, with a raise on the roll, the Cold/Ice Fatigue Trapping inflicts a -2 to the Vigor roll to resist that the Heat Trapping does not, so while it has a drawback Heat does not have, it also has an advantage it does not have as well.

    It's not a misprint, simply an option for a different Fatigue trapping rather than listing the exact same one as Cold/Ice (which was unnecessary in the FC since it already stated Trappings for one effect could be used for another).

    1. Oh, interesting. Thank you for the insight, Clint!