Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sunshine in a Bag

Okay, so this is an idea for a spell point system that has a little suspense built into it.  It won't work in online play, though, so I doubt I'll give it a try anytime soon.  Consider this just an idea I'm running up the flagpole.

Here's the basic idea.  You need a crapton of glass beads or tokens of some sort in a two or three colors.  Pick one color as your base.  That will be the "color of magic."  We'll say magic is purple.  Purple is a great color.  Then you have a color that indicates something bad (Like orange.  Orange is a sucky color.) and maybe a color that indicates something good (green maybe).  Each spellcaster using this system needs a small bag like an extra dice bag, to keep their beads in.

At the beginning of the session the DM takes the beads and bags behind the screen.  Roll 1d6 for each level of the caster and put that many purple beads (or whatever) in the bag.  That's the player's spell point reservoir.  The player is not allowed to count how many beads are in the bag nor should the player touch the bag except to pull out beads when casting a spell.  I.e. you're not allowed grope the bag long enough to suss out the number of beads.  You can only best guess by eyeballing the thing.  Pull out a number of beads equal to the level of the spell.  If you come up short--like you want to cast fireball and it turns out you only have 2 beads left--the DM should mess with the spell's parameters appropriately.
Kinda like this, but I think
they're cheaper at the craft store.

Fun times #1: When the DM rolls your initial pool of spell points, each six indicates that they should put 5 purple beads in the bag and one orange one (that is to say, a bad bead).  Drawing an orange bead sends you to some sort of spell fumble chart, which should have some results ranging from the inconvenient to the disastrous, some of which can be avoided or ameliorated with a saving throw or ability check of some sort.  Basically, some days your character is overflowing with magical energy and occasionally it gets away from you.

Fun times #2: Every time the DM rolls a 1, they put a green (good) bead in the bag.  When a green bean is drawn, immediately put a purple bead back into the bag.  The spell was slightly easier to cast than you thought it would be.  Don't put the green bead back.  That's a one time bonus bead, not an infinite engine of magical energy.

For more confusion, select a fourth color, maybe clear or white, to represent blanks.  When a blank is drawn, discard it but draw another bead immediately to replace it.  Keep drawing until you get a non-blank bead.  Add 1d6 blanks to every bag at the start of the session to keep the players guessing as to how many good and useful beads are in the bag.

So obviously a lot of the time more/bigger spells are going to be fired off under this system than canonical D&D.  I'm willing to accept that, given the possibility of fumbling with an orange bead and the inability to gauge exactly how many spells you have left, but your mileage may vary.  Note that I would still have people memorize spells, you can just cast more of the spells you have memorized.  Or you can re-study to change your choices.

The one part of this cockamamie scheme I'm still struggling with is what to do when rests happen.  I don't want the DM to have to pour out all the beads and re-roll every time an MU takes a nap.  Since you start the session with more power, I might slow down the regen rate for spell points.  Say you get 1d6 beads back for a good night's rest, but it takes a whole week to bump it to 2d6.  But I worry about the possibility of exceeding 6 times level beads in the bag (not counting blanks).  Not sure how to handle that without the DM tracking the beads behind the screen.  Any thoughts?  Is this idea just nonsense?

I feel like I should end with a Hermann Hesse joke but nothing's happening.