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Blood Magic, Souls as Currency, True Names [3.5/Pathfinder]

 
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Frankto
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 6:37 pm    Post subject: Blood Magic, Souls as Currency, True Names [3.5/Pathfinder] Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

It took a while to come up with a decent system to make these things work, but now that I finally did I'm looking for outside thoughts and opinions on a few plot devices I coughed up. If you've got a second, I'd appreciate it if you'd check them out and give me some feedback. The reason for these is to spruce up spellcasting a bit and give casters more interesting options without completely throwing balance out the window, or adding enormous bonuses to damage.

The system is built around pathfinder at its core, but works just the same in 3.5.
The 3.5 Hack: Find and replace any instance of Linguistics with Decipher Script. The Words of Worlds feat requires Decipher Script 9 ranks.
Further Notes: These are intended for an urban fantasy setting. While they can be used in any context, you might find some artifacts in the text, like a conversion from GP to US Dollar.



Blood Magic
A mage is deadly by any definition, but he or she becomes considerably more so in possession of some of its target's blood. When casting a spell that affects one or more targets within range, the caster can channel the magic through fresh blood and affect the target with the spell without having line of sight or line of effect to it. In order to do so, he or she must have a clear mental image of the target.

This picture doesn't have to be accurate to any specific degree, but it must match the creature as she knows it. For example, a wizard having encountered a red dragon in disguise could target it with a spell in its true form even if she had never seen it, as long as she has a vial of its blood. This spell can only be used to direct magic that doesn't directly affect an area (so, for example, it could be used as part of inflict light wounds, but not to aim a fireball spell).

Blood can only be used for this purpose once, because it burns up after magic is channeled through it, leaving behind only very distinctive, dull brown ashes. A subject under the effect of a protection from evil spell, a magic circle against evil spell, a hallow spell or a similar effect, can apply the benefits of the protection against blood magic and receive a second saving throw against the effect. Those creatures also always know they are being targeted by blood magic.


Souls as Currency
Many claim that the soul is the core of one's being, and they aren't far from the truth. After all, there is a very good reason why so many demons and devils want nothing more than to own it, and for why angels want nothing more than to protect it. This section doesn't delve into the myriad of different ways to sell one's soul, like making a deal with a contract devil, for instance. Rather, it deals with the complications involved after the transaction is complete. There are two stages to this problem: the Before and the After.

During the Before stage, the character's soul is in escrow, but he or she still retains the full benefits of possessing a soul. However, the creature to whom the soul was promised, the true owner of the soul, gains unholy power over the character. That creature gains a +10 circumstance bonus on any skill check made to compel or alter the attitude of the character, and a +5 circumstance bonus on the saving throw DC of any compulsion, charm or enchantment spell or effect it uses against the character. Despite this, a general and prevalent sense of unease and a mild aversion to holy grounds, the character suffers no other negative effects for having sold his or her soul.

The After stage, on the other hand, is not only very rare, but also dramatically more nefarious. This condition occurs after the character has already lost his or her soul, either after having sold it, died and been brought back to life without it, or through a freak accident. In a case where a character sold his or her soul, the creature it was sold to has already taken possession of the soul and no longer has any special power over the character. As a result, however, the character becomes as an empty shell and loses his or her alignment, effectively becoming completely unaligned. All access to feats and class abilities that require an alignment is lost. Any spell or effect that affects a particular alignment always affects the character in the worse possible way. Furthermore, the character becomes completely immune to emotion and fear effects, and gains no benefit from morale bonuses. Finally, the character always fails saving throws made to resist possession.

All of these conditions last until the deal is broken or a lost soul is recovered, something which is typically beyond the scope of normal miracle and wish spells.


The Power of True Names
The true name of a creature is a metaphyscial representation of its nature. As such, it is an ever changing construct that can only be captured for a short amount of time. There are two steps required to properly make use of a creature's true name: the Discovery, and the Invocation. They are described below.

The Discovery: The process of learning a creature's true name is an involved and complicated one that requires an extensive study of the subject's life up to this point. Because true understanding of the subject is required, this step cannot be delegated. The character must succeed on a number of Diplomacy checks to gather information equal to the subject's challenge rating, minimum one check. The DC for these checks is 30, and is modified by the character's familiarity with the subject (+10 to the DC if the character has little or no knowledge of the subject, +5 with secondhand knowledge of the subject and –5 if the character is familiar with the subject). Failing one or more of these checks might draw unwanted attention on the character, and failing two checks consecutively causes the process to fail entirely and forces the character to start again from the beginning. Each attempt takes one day.

Once enough information has been gathered, the character must immediately undergo a divination ritual that takes 24 hours to complete and requires 100 gp ($2,000) per hit die of the subject in material components. To complete this ritual, the character must succeed on a Knowledge check of the appropriate specialty relating to the subject. The DC for this check is 20+the subject's CR, and it cannot be retried without first completing the first step over again.

Completing this ritual imbues the character with powerful divination magic for exactly seven days. The next time the character lays eye on the subject, he or she will innately know its true name.

The Invocation: When a true name is known, it is known on a level that goes beyond physical. It cannot be written, or passed down or simply picked up by hearing another creature speak it. In fact, the mere ability to invoke a true name requires knowledge of a magical language, a universal tongue that all sentient creatures can understand on a subconscious level. This language is known by scholars simply as words of worlds, and is thought to be the language spoken by God, if such a being truly exists.

Invoking a creature's true name has one of three effect, and all require the character to make a Linguistics check. The DC of this check is 25+the creature's CR. The first invocation allows the character to compel the creature as a standard action. This has the effect of a suggestion spell cast by a 20th level character. The DC to resist this effect is 10+one-half the character's level+the character's key spellcasting ability bonus. A successful save renders the creature immune to any further compulsions by the character for 10 minutes.

The second invocation can be accomplished when casting a spell with a vocal component. Invoking a true name this way imposes a –5 penalty on any saving throw the creature might need to make against the spell, and allows the character to automatically overcome the creature's spell resistance.

Finally, the third and last invocation is simply a byproduct of the first two. Whenever a creature hears its true name spoken aloud, it is struck by a sense of dread and becomes shaken for 1 hour. These invocations are spell-like abilities.

Ephemereal Power: For all of its dreadful power, a true name is a highly mutable metaphysical construct, and only stays useful for so long. A creature's true name can be invoked for up to 1 year, or until it gains a level or hit dice, or until it undergoes a life-changing event, whichever comes first. From that point on, its true name changes forever and its history must be studied all over again.


Words of Worlds
You have a limited ability to speak the words of worlds, the magical language the universe was written in.
Prerequisites: Polyglot, Linguistics 5 ranks, ability to cast 3rd level arcane or divine spells.
Benefit: You gain the ability to speak a powerful magical language that can be understood by any creature capable of language. To do this, you must first succeed on a Linguistics check as a standard action, the DC of which varies depending on the complexity of the idea conveyed.

The DC is 25 for simple messages, and 35 for complex messages. This check must be repeated every round the character wishes to speak the words of worlds. Having the power to speak the words of worlds doesn't grant you the ability to understand languages you do not know.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 7:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

If you want to have true names be a thing, they need to really be a thing. Having it be ephemeral shit you can't tell people makes it not a name. It's just spending time to supercharge yourself against a specific opponent or some shit at that point, which doesn't feel like a "name" in any real sense.

True names have to go in on the ground floor, day one. Everyone has to have a name, know their name, and be able to tell people their name. If it doesn't work like that, it's not a fucking name. As to what it does, my suggestion would be simply to put a [Name] requirement on certain spells like raise dead, and then put a [Name] requirement on some other nasty spells like demand (and possibly drop its level so that it matters) to make people reticent about putting their name out to people they don't trust.

That's really all you have to do to make true names work. But you have to do it across the board. It doesn't work as an optional subsystem that people can start interacting with by taking a feat.

-Frank
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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 7:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Monte Cook's Arcana Unearthed/Evolved basically did what Frank's advocating, and it worked pretty well. It's well worth a look.
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Frankto
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
If you want to have true names be a thing, they need to really be a thing. Having it be ephemeral shit you can't tell people makes it not a name. It's just spending time to supercharge yourself against a specific opponent or some shit at that point, which doesn't feel like a "name" in any real sense.

True names have to go in on the ground floor, day one. Everyone has to have a name, know their name, and be able to tell people their name. If it doesn't work like that, it's not a fucking name. As to what it does, my suggestion would be simply to put a [Name] requirement on certain spells like raise dead, and then put a [Name] requirement on some other nasty spells like demand (and possibly drop its level so that it matters) to make people reticent about putting their name out to people they don't trust.
I see where you're coming from and I considered doing something like this in an early draft, but I decided not to because I felt it trivialized the concept of true names by making it too prevalent.


Quote:
That's really all you have to do to make true names work. But you have to do it across the board. It doesn't work as an optional subsystem that people can start interacting with by taking a feat.
In point of fact, it's not an optional system at all—at least, no more than an entire chapter on setting-specific information is an optional system.

Still, you make some pretty good points and I added a second draft to take them into consideration. Nothing definite, but I appreciate the feedback. I've included it at the end of this post.

Quote:
Monte Cook's Arcana Unearthed/Evolved basically did what Frank's advocating, and it worked pretty well. It's well worth a look.
I'll have to give that a look.



The Power of True Names v0.2b
The true name is somewhat of a misnomer in that while it is an appellation that refers to a specific and unique creature, it is also a composite of its entire life's experience up to a certain point, a metaphysical construct that is everchanging and can only be captured for a short amount of time. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule. Some steps are required to learn and properly make use of a creature's true name: the Discovery, and the Invocation. They are described below.

...

The Exceptions: Some creatures are born with a true name that is immutable and will never change, for the duration of its entire life. These creatures are generally either of a higher order of beings, or not intelligent enough to be considered a sapient being. At his or her discretion, the GM may declare a certain creature's true name to be especially difficult to find, thus increasing the DC of checks made during the Discovery phase by 5.
  • Animals, Magical Beasts and Vermins: Any animal, magical or vermin with an Intellgence score of 2 or lower is born with an immutable true name that will never change during the course of its entire life.
  • Dragons and Outsiders: The true name of a dragon or an outsider is a closely-kept secret, often considered taboo or too dangerous to be left in the wrong hands. Although a dragon or outsider's true name is immutable, it is also much harder to come by. The DC of all checks made during the Discovery phase increases by 5.

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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
I see where you're coming from and I considered doing something like this in an early draft, but I decided not to because I felt it trivialized the concept of true names by making it too prevalent.


That's the opposite of something that makes any sense. Names are universal. Everyone has one. If true names aren't universal, they aren't "names" in any meaningful sense. It is literally impossible for true names to be too prevalent, because by definition everyone has one. True names cannot be trivialized by people having them. They can only be trivialized by it not mattering that people have them. You know, like your original fucking draft.

-Frank
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Frankto
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 10:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
That's the opposite of something that makes any sense. Names are universal. Everyone has one. If true names aren't universal, they aren't "names" in any meaningful sense. It is literally impossible for true names to be too prevalent, because by definition everyone has one. True names cannot be trivialized by people having them. They can only be trivialized by it not mattering that people have them. You know, like your original fucking draft.


It's not the trivialization of names that concerns me, it's the trivialization of the usage of true names that does. Since you seem comfortable with candor, the reason I didn't go that route is because if everyone has the ability to know and invoke a true name, then the benefits of doing so have to be mitigated to maintain any sense of game balance, to the point where, in your example, they become completely and utterly irrelevant.

Making the learning and speaking of true names the same as any other word diminishes any flavor and mysticism involved in the act to the point where it seems hardly worth the trouble.

In other words, boring and pointless as hell, and unmemorable to boot.
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...You Lost Me
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

That isn't true at all. The rarity of something does not in any way need to correlate to the power it provides. Improved Initiative would need a buff from +4 to +6 if only rogues could take it, Spellcraft DCs would not need to go up if Spellcraft became a skill for Barbarians, etc.
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Again, look at this fucking map you moron. Take your finger and trace each country's coast, then trace its claim line. Even you - and I say that as someone who could not think less of your intelligence - should be able to tell that one of these things is not like the other.
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Frankto
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I think I must be explaining myself poorly. The idea behind The Power of True Names is that the act of invoking a creature's true name is in no way trivial, and that hearing somebody invoke your true name should be a jarring experience at the very least.

Adding it as a descriptor to some spell and removing any inherent complexity involved in the process makes it no more significant than, say, making Bestow Curse a spell with the Curse descriptor. When Paizo did that, I'm sure it must have been a welcome change, but nobody applauded or thought "That's interesting! I should make that a plot device in my game."

As for the rarity of a thing impacting its significance, I can make that point with only two words: Magic Items. If learning and invoking a true name was as simple as hearing it and practicing a few times to get it right, any game designer who makes it as powerful and considerable a benefit as illustrated above justly deserves an oar to the face.

The chief concept behind the entire segment was, and still is, "Whosoever knows your true name has power over you."

EDIT: At this point I believe I'm just repeating myself.

TL;DR: If true names become the new +1 longsword, then this was an exercise in futility.
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...You Lost Me
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 4:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'm still not seeing the connection. If using raise dead required knowing someone's truename, that wouldn't suddenly make truenaming easier to do or less powerful. It would just make casting raise dead as difficult as obtaining a truename, which you can make as difficult as you like. If you (for example) had the stronger SoD spells require casters to know the truename of their target, that would make truenames super important and plot-relevant, because knowing someone's truename means you can dominate them or kill their family with love's pain.

But if you just make truenames into "Take some downtime to shake any enemy you can recognize a free action" then they will not be interesting like you want them to be.
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DSMatticus wrote:
Again, look at this fucking map you moron. Take your finger and trace each country's coast, then trace its claim line. Even you - and I say that as someone who could not think less of your intelligence - should be able to tell that one of these things is not like the other.
Kaelik wrote:
I invented saying mean things about Tussock.


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zeruslord
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 5:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Honestly, I think true names are more likely to be the new +1 longsword if learning one is a matter of rolls rather than shenanigans. I'd rather see true names be, y'know, names. If you need a certain level of power or non-name knowledge to exploit them, then they really can be everyday names for people who don't have powerful enemies. Maybe it's what your mother called you, and so wizards have to be cut off from all connection to their past in order to be safe - hence their adoption as apprentices at a young age. Maybe it's a name given to you in a ceremony, and so peasants go down to the pond to be dunked and named, while kings are named in secret in the catacombs. In any case, learning the true name of anyone worthy of being the subject of a mid-level adventure should be an adventure in itself, while learning the true name of Orc #247 is probably easy, but not very useful.
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Frankto
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 6:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Well, I'll certainly take all of this into consideration. Thanks for the feedback, guys. More is always welcome—especially about the other two sections of the post that have been ignored thus far!
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Laertes
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 6:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

If I understand you correctly, your intention behind having True Names was "you can beat up a boss better if you spend some time researching them." The problem is that the research system itself is dull. Making some rolls and spending some gold is not fun: it's a thing one player does during downtime. If they succeed then the fight becomes easier, if they fail then the rest of the players glare at them.

If you turn it into an adventure - for example, the equivalent of a phylactery hunt - then it becomes much more fun. The boss has hidden their true name somewhere, and you need to find out where it is, do a dungeon crawl, and then reemerge armed with the true name so you can kick the boss's teeth in. That's interesting. It involves the whole party, allows you to have a pocket dungeon guarding an interesting brass ring, and most importantly means that the players have a personal investment in that adventure.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 1:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The other two sections work the same way. You have to incorporate them into the game.

So having a vial of blood from a creature being a way to target a creature, that needs mechanics for obtaining blood, actual time limits on freshness, which spells you can use to draw blood (careful, I seem to recall there's a few out there). Because it's bullshit as it is, and obviously open to massive abuse without mechanics.

Thematically, blood magic is a bit humanocentric. Lots of things don't have blood in D&D, other things have vast quantities of it. It's a fetish mechanic that's probably overly specific and you might want to consider just using fetishes instead. Voodoo dolls, basically, and strongly limit spells that work via fetish to the sort that already work outside LOE, Nightmare and Scry and so on.


For souls you need to start with the spell list and note everything that already clearly uses souls. So Raise Dead and such. Then go through the Monster Manual and check out the undead and outsiders that are thematically "cursed souls" and incorporate them into your mechanics for selling or last-word-cursing your soul into action. Be specific, take notes about what stops things being raised already and see what you want to keep.

Soulless not-undead creatures are a stupid concept and you should not use them.

But also you can't ignore all the fluff around fiend hierarchies, or how fallen angels work, or whatever remnants there are of petitioners in 3e/PF. The stuff from the FR about their wall of souls, or however Pathfinder deals with that concept. Well, you can ignore it, but you need to say so, in a considered manner.
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zeruslord
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'm with tussock as far as blood magic being a bit humanocentric - a more general fetish system would be better: a dragon's scales, a lock of hair, etc. I'm not sure what I'd do in terms of spells that usually require LOS/LOE. Typically I picture fetish magic as being slower and more ritual-oriented than the kinds of spells that it would actually be used for in a D&D-based game.

I missed the urban fantasy bit. Depending on how the fantasy and mundane worlds intersect, my advice may have been total bullshit - a mundane-origin character will have been slinging their true name around like crazy, and unless they are read in to the fantasy side by someone friendly before they ever encounter anyone hostile, they're going to have real trouble keeping it hidden. I think I remember some settings where your true name isn't just the string of words, it's the actual way that you say it, so unless you saying your true name is actually recorded somewhere, you can just avoid ever saying it as a unit. When someone needs your full name for official purposes, say "Jingleheimerschmitt, John Jacob". Use-names would still be popular in the magical side, because it helps avoid accidentally introducing yourself with your True Name.
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Frankto
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

zeruslord wrote:
I'm with tussock as far as blood magic being a bit humanocentric - a more general fetish system would be better: a dragon's scales, a lock of hair, etc. I'm not sure what I'd do in terms of spells that usually require LOS/LOE. Typically I picture fetish magic as being slower and more ritual-oriented than the kinds of spells that it would actually be used for in a D&D-based game.
Oh ho! This is excellent. Fetish Magic! With your permission, I'm going to be making use of that.

zeruslord wrote:
I missed the urban fantasy bit. Depending on how the fantasy and mundane worlds intersect, my advice may have been total bullshit - a mundane-origin character will have been slinging their true name around like crazy, and unless they are read in to the fantasy side by someone friendly before they ever encounter anyone hostile, they're going to have real trouble keeping it hidden. I think I remember some settings where your true name isn't just the string of words, it's the actual way that you say it, so unless you saying your true name is actually recorded somewhere, you can just avoid ever saying it as a unit. When someone needs your full name for official purposes, say "Jingleheimerschmitt, John Jacob". Use-names would still be popular in the magical side, because it helps avoid accidentally introducing yourself with your True Name.
You're thinking Dreseden Files as far as true names, which has had an undeniable effect on putting together those rules.

The setting is pretty vanilla, as it were. There's the mundane, vanilla mortal world, the scary magical superplane where everything is possible (a la Nightside, Nevernever, the Grey, etc.) and the place in-between where there's nothing. There's the magical government, the magical police and the church police that handles heretics and such. Nothing too incredibly out of the ordinary, I suppose. Part of the reason it's so compex is because of the prevalence of information, and because even by a conservative estinate the number of mortal spellcasters is still in the hundreds of thousand, if not millions (which still accounts for an infinitesimally small portion of the population).

It definitely qualifies as low magic, and the concept of the Sleeping Tiger from Unknown Armies is in full effect (although I've never actually read it, I'm told it applies).

Anyway, something to consider at the very least.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The blood magic is basically bullshit. First of all, D&D distinguishes between "target" spells, "effect" spells, and "area" spells. Fireball doesn't fucking "target an area," it is an area spell. Fuck.

But really, all you got going there is basic Shadowrun style remote casting. That's almost meaningless in a standard D&D adventure, because the traditional way to get blood out of someone's body is by stabbing them with a fucking sword. There aren't blood banks or refrigerators or hypodermic needles. Blood pretty much just gets spilled on battlefields.

Which is the big conceptual problem here. Battlefields are filthy places where the blood soaks into the soil. And D&D style wounds are fucking abstract. There's no concrete way to determine whether 13 points of damage was enough to send drops of blood onto the ground in the first place. The place you'd want to collect blood from in 99.9% of the cases is destined to cause a giant argument.

It's a huge clusterfuck, and the voodoo curses it lets you do aren't even particularly relevant in most cases.

-Frank
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zeruslord
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 9:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Frankto wrote:
Oh ho! This is excellent. Fetish Magic! With your permission, I'm going to be making use of that.

Go for it. It's a pretty standard idea, really.

Quote:
The setting is pretty vanilla, as it were. There's the mundane, vanilla mortal world, the scary magical superplane where everything is possible (a la Nightside, Nevernever, the Grey, etc.) and the place in-between where there's nothing. There's the magical government, the magical police and the church police that handles heretics and such. Nothing too incredibly out of the ordinary, I suppose. Part of the reason it's so compex is because of the prevalence of information, and because even by a conservative estinate the number of mortal spellcasters is still in the hundreds of thousand, if not millions (which still accounts for an infinitesimally small portion of the population).

Which side of the divide are PCs expected to come from? If they're all on the magical side, then they're already doing whatever it is you need to do to avoid having your true name out there. If they aren't, and you end up going with name-like true names, there will be some PCs whose legal names are already out there when they find out about the magic side of things, so the true name system needs to take that into account somehow.

Also, be sure your players don't want to knock over the applecart. Modern masquerade settings are really fragile if you've got thousands of people involved, let alone millions.
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Frankto
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2014 12:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
The blood magic is basically bullshit. First of all, D&D distinguishes between "target" spells, "effect" spells, and "area" spells. Fireball doesn't fucking "target an area," it is an area spell. Fuck.


Fireball spell wrote:
You point your finger and determine the range (distance and height) at which the fireball is to burst. A glowing, pea-sized bead streaks from the pointing digit and, unless it impacts upon a material body or solid barrier prior to attaining the prescribed range, blossoms into the fireball at that point. (An early impact results in an early detonation.) If you attempt to send the bead through a narrow passage, such as through an arrow slit, you must “hit” the opening with a ranged touch attack, or else the bead strikes the barrier and detonates prematurely.


I've been playing D&D for 15 years and doing game design for 10. If you're going to assume I'm an idiot and start throwing profanity at me, you might as well save your energy and move on.

FrankTrollman wrote:
There's no concrete way to determine whether 13 points of damage was enough to send drops of blood onto the ground in the first place.
I'm addressing that issue in Fetish Magic.




zeruslord wrote:
Go for it. It's a pretty standard idea, really.
Obliged.

Quote:
Which side of the divide are PCs expected to come from? If they're all on the magical side, then they're already doing whatever it is you need to do to avoid having your true name out there. If they aren't, and you end up going with name-like true names, there will be some PCs whose legal names are already out there when they find out about the magic side of things, so the true name system needs to take that into account somehow.

Also, be sure your players don't want to knock over the applecart. Modern masquerade settings are really fragile if you've got thousands of people involved, let alone millions.


I'm not sure you could print out the language the universe was programmed in on laminated paper. That aside, the PCs are coming from the non-magical world working as a sort of M.I.B. organization, a third party, that deals with supernatural stuff on behalf of a Higher Power. They understand the stakes.
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