My mind has continued to dwell on the topic of Stunts and this time around it has turned to how magic interacts with this game mechanic. We already have Spell Stunts in the game that allow Mages to enhance their spellcasting as it happens with various effects (d20 players know these as metamagic feats) and those are really good. I mean, I have seen Mages cast Stunts-enhanced spells that have stopped entire combat encounters cold in one action. Given the flexibility of Stunts, however, I have kept wondering how these could further couple with magic to create interesting and neat effects for the game.
I have two people to blame for this post, Mark Miller (@mrkmllr) and contributor Josh Jarman (@joja_rpg). Every so often I see Mark and Josh chatting back and forth on Twitter about Dragon Age and the AGE System as they hash out ideas and mechanics for their games and for Josh’s project, Dragon Hack. One night I saw a tweet fly by that captured my attention, talking about having a kind of Stunt that allowed a character to cast a spell. Hmm… I chimed in, told them I liked that idea, and they went on. It’s a concept that has come up in conversation a couple times now, but none of us has done anything with it yet. I’d like to change that and Brian Molix’s recent update to the Improvised Magic rules for AGE gave me a great idea.
There are many ways to approach the idea of “cast magic via Stunts,” so this is only one of them and I’m hoping that Mark and Josh will get cracking and give us their take on the same idea so we can see how else it could be done.
The first thing that came to mind was a sorcerer, and I readily admit that I am talking about the D&D kind here, whose magic is innate, not learned. Taking that as a jumping-off point, I really like the concept of a character who has magic in her veins, her blood, but is not trained enough to call on it at will. In AGE, the easiest way to handle such a character ability is via a Talent, with the added bonus that the built-in progression also would serve to dole out power in increments. With that in mind, let’s create a new Talent.
Classes: Mage, Rogue and Warrior.
Novice: You may perform spellblood stunts costing up to 2 SP.
There is a spellblood stunt for each spell listed in the book, except for glyphs. Spellblood stunts cost as many SP as the spell it is based on costs mana points (so, for example, the Arcane Bolt spellblood stunt costs 2 SP). A spellblooded can theoretically call upon any spell to perform as a spellblood stunt, though the GM may designate some spells as being too rare for a spellblooded to know instinctively and require that they seek a mentor who can teach them.
Using a spellblood stunt counts as casting a spell for all intents and purposes of the rules (armor strain, making a casting roll, using spell stunts to enhance them, etc). Once a spellblood stunt is used, the spellblooded must pay the mana cost for the spell, either with mana points (if the the character has any) or with Health points on a 2:1 basis.
It’s a bit rough around the edges, I admit, and it requires some amount of record-keeping on the part of the spellblooded to keep track of the various spellblood stunts, SP costs, and mana costs of the stunts once performed. That said, I think it is a workable solution to the idea and one that can be easily integrated into a game with little issue. Give it a shot in your game and let me know how it works out.