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13 Chapters in 13 Weeks — Chapter 6

June 15, 2009

Six weeks in, and I am still plugging away at telling you what is new in Colonial Gothic Revised. This week we turn our attention to one of the big chapters of the game, and one of the examples of how I weaved background and rules together.

So what does Chapter 6 cover? Magic.

The changes to magic is not great, but are important. The big change is that Alchemy is in the book. From day one Alchemy was always suppose to be in the Rulebook, but was cut during the later stages of editing/layout. This never sat right with me, and though I put the rules in Secrets, for me, the Rulebook is where they should have been. They are now there. Other than bringing the rules into compliance to the game, there is little changes made to them.

The area that sees the most changes is Spells, or as they were once known, Rituals. Rituals are no longer associated with magic, in their place is Spells. This change will make sense when you see a future product, but the magic in the Rulebook was always intended to be known as Spells. Hence, Common Rituals are now Common Spells, and Arcane Rituals are now Arcane Spells. Here is an excerpt from the Rulebook:

Spells

Spells are the magical feats that some Heroes, Villains, and even Supporting Characters are able to perform. Spells are divided into two groups, and though they have the same rules covering their use, these groups differ in the power they call upon.The first group is Common spells. These are the spells that most spellcasters learn.Though powerful, Common spells’ effects are not long lasting and do not have the potential to cause much harm.

The second group is Arcane spells, which are more powerful, and when successfully cast, have the potential to cause a lot of harm. In addition, to cast an Arcane spell, a price must be paid; casting Arcane spells slowly eats away at the sanity of the caster. Every time an arcane spell is cast, the caster sacrifices a little bit of their Sanity.

Notice something about Arcane spells?

That’s right, it costs you Sanity to cast those type of spells. Arcane spells are taxing to the caster’s sanity which is why all arcane spells have a Sanity Cost associated with them. When casting the spell, regardless if the Test succeeds or fails, the spell’s Sanity cost must be deducted from the caster’s Sanity total. This change was done for two reason. The first was to make Sanity more important (a topic I have talked about before). The second reason the change has taken place is so Arcane spells have a cost to them. These are powerful spells, because of this a risk must be present for the casting of them.

At first my group hated the change, but once they thought about the tone of the game, the change made sense. Reading through the playtest notes, the change was liked by the groups as well.

So how do the spells look? Take a look:

Awake

Action: 1
Range: Touch
Duration: Days equal to caster’s Resolution
Performed On: Self, Others
Sanity Cost: 0

This spell was first reported in 1564 by French agents on a member of the Queen’s Privy Council in hopes that they would drive him mad. Discovery of this spell by an English mage led to the knowledge of it being published in the small folio titled Wakeful Mind, written by Wallis Scott in 1578. Rumors persist that dark practitioners have found a way to use a variant of Awake on multiple enemies at a time, clouding their judgment and making them easy prey.

By performing this clever spell, the intended person is unable to fall asleep for a number of days equal to the caster’s Resolution. A person who cannot fall asleep is unable to replenish their Vitality without the use of magic; in addition, they lose 2 Sanity every day they are unable to sleep. For each additional Rank in this spell the number of targets a caster is able to affect increases by 1. Thus, having 4 Ranks in this spell, the caster is able to affect 3 people.

Dramatic Success in casting this spell doubles the duration of the spell. Failing to cast the spell has the intended target unaffected by the spell. A Dramatic Failure, on the other hand, has repercussions on the caster. Instead of causing the target to be unable to sleep, the caster suffers the effect of the spell.

So a few changes to how spells are presented have taken place as well. So why these changes? I have gotten a lot of email from players and GMs wanting to know how long it would take a Hero to cast Align in combat, and what I wanted to do was address this. That is why I added Time. In the spell above, it takes 1 Action to cast the spell. However, if you must have ingredients and perform certain tasks, these still must be done. The Time only comes into play with actual casting of the spell.

Another change is one that I really like, and that is giving the history behind the spell in the description. This is one of the things many loved about Poor Wizard’s Grimoire, and this is something I really wanted to add to the Rulebook. The reason is that it adds to the flavor and color of the game, and helps set the game into context. Also, all of these little bits of history are hooks ready for you to use for adventures and plot ideas.

So there you go, another chapter done. This is the last “rules” chapter for awhile. The next few (Chapter 7 to 11) are background heavy. These chapters are filled with things to help you run and play the game.

Anyway, more to come. As always questions, comments and the like, please speak up, I want to hear them!

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