Spell Casting as a “Power”

Here we expand upon the use of Hack100’s “Powers” (i.e. Specialities that are extraordinary or supernatural in some way) by looking at a particular set of examples: spell casting.

Firstly, with regards to the specific wording of a spell caster’s Power, it is recommended that very broad definitions (e.g. “Magic”) are avoided in favour of narrower areas of focus (e.g. “Fire Magic”, “Illusionism”, “Necromancy”, etc.). This will help to keep the range of a given spell caster’s ability within well-defined boundaries, and also ensure that their magic use has a distinctive flavour.

Below are some examples of typical magical effects. For each, I’ve provided suggestions as to how they might be handled in Hack100, particularly concerning their Difficulty and Health cost. All, of course, require a successful Task Roll against the relevant Power.

  • Create a magical light equivalent to a torch or lantern. Easy (+20%) Difficulty. Costs 1 Health per hour.
  • Magically move an object. Easy (+20%) Difficulty. Costs 1 Health per kg per minute.
  • Magically increase a weapon’s damage or armour’s protection. Normal Difficulty. Costs 2 Health per additional point of damage/protection. Lasts for one encounter.
  • Restore Health to someone else. Normal Difficulty. Costs 1 Health per 2 points of Health restored. Instantaneous. A caster cannot heal themselves in this way.
  • Perform a magical attack (e.g. fireball, lightning bolt). Normal Difficulty. Costs 1 Health per point of Damage (ignores the target’s armour). Instantaneous.
  • Magically influence someone to do something. Normal Difficulty. Opposed Task Roll: caster’s Power vs target’s Willpower. Cost 2 Health. Each additional 2 Health provides a +10% Difficulty Modifier to the caster’s Task Roll. Lasts for one encounter. 

All of the above are just illustrative examples. Players and Referees should negotiate their own spell effects and their associated costs as they occur in the game. In general, effects that don’t permanently physically alter the world should be easier to perform and should have a lower Health cost. Otherwise, the Difficulty and Health cost should be proportional to the effect whilst remaining consistent with the Referee’s approach to magic within their campaign. High fantasy settings in which magic is commonplace should be more generous when it comes to Health cost than low fantasy worlds where magic is rare. 

Optionally, the Referee might decide that there are additional requirements for successful spell casting – wands, staves, spell books, ingredients, the ability to voice or gesticulate, etc. The presence or absence of such factors would probably affect the Difficulty Modifier of the associated Task Roll. 

Finally, a similar approach can be taken with other abilities that manipulate the world around a character – miracles bestowed by deities, psionics, etc.

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