Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Spells, Power, and Rank, Oh My!

When you cast a spell in Shadow of the Demon Lord, you produce a unique magical effect. To cast a spell, you must have either learned it or possess it in a written form as an incantation. If you learned it, you must also have at least one casting of the spell that is expended when the spell takes effect. Here is how spells work.

Power and Rank
Power describes the amount of will, knowledge, and magical energy a character can harness. The game assumes all creatures have 0 Power. Characters may increase their Power from the paths. Players that choose magician or priest for their novice path at level 1 increase their Power by 1.

Power does two things. First, it tells you the highest rank spell you can learn. (I’ll explain ranks below.) Second, it tells you how many castings of a spell you have for any given rank. At Power 1, you have 1 casting for all rank 1 spells you know. At rank 2, you have 2 castings of rank 1 spells and 1 casting of rank 2 spells. It goes on from there. A table in the Magic chapter shows you how castings increase. Rank 0 spells, minor spells, have unlimited castings.

Learning Spells
Your path tells you when you can learn spells and how many spells you can learn. You can choose any spell you like when you learn a spell provided the spell’s rank is equal to or less than your Power and you have learned the rank 0 spell from the tradition.

Let’s say you have Power 1 and your path lets you learn two spells. You can learn up to rank 1 spells. If you wanted to learn a rank 1 spell from the Air tradition, flensing wind for example, you would first have to learn the rank 0 spell, direct wind, from the Air tradition. Once you learn direct wind, whenever you learn a spell, you can freely learn spells from the Air tradition.
In short, to learn spells from any tradition, you must first learn the rank 0 spell from that tradition.

Casting a Spell
A spell is a set of instructions. When you would cast the spell, you expend 1 casting of the spell and then follow the instructions to resolve its effects. Here’s an example spell.

Unspeakable Choice
Black Magic Attack 1
You use an action to cast this spell on one creature within medium range of you. The target takes 2d6 damage. If the damage would incapacitate it, the target may choose a creature friendly to it that it can see. The target reduces the damage it would have taken from this spell to 0 and gains 1 corruption. The creature the target chose then takes damage equal to one-half its Health.

The Name: The top line of a spell is the spell's common name. You can call a spell whatever you like, though. A caster might give spells learned more evocative and personalized names.
Tradition: The first bit on the second line is the tradition. This is an organizational/sorting keyword, generally, but some creatures have special resistances or vulnerabilities to spells of a particular tradition.
Attack or Utility: The second bit designates a spell as an attack or a utility. It's an important distinction for casting spells in combat. When you use an action to make an attack, you might make that attack by casting a spell, attack with a weapon, charge, or do something else. For warriors dabbling in magic, a warrior at level 5 can attack twice when using an action to attack. So, a warrior might attack twice with a sword or might attack with a sword and cast an attack spell or might cast two attack spells.
Rank: The last bit on the line tells you the spell’s rank. The core game will have spells from rank 0 to rank 5. Future products will expand the ranks up to 10.

The Effect: The effect explains how the spell works. Just do what it says to resolve its effects.

Regaining Castings
Once you expend the last casting of a spell, you cannot cast it again until you regain at least one casting for that spell. Talents from paths may allow you to regain castings during play, but everyone regains all expended castings after they complete a rest. 

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