Vancian Magic Redux

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Recently I took the time to read through the entirety of Dragon Age Set 1. I’m talking cover-to-cover. Not many games have read as easily as this one did. It fired me up to start talking DARPG again. So looking back at my first post and all the comments that resulted from it, I want to take another stab at the beast that is Vancian magic.

Before I go too far, let me be clear that this work is being done toward a home-brewed setting that I’ve been struggling to find a system for. This setting is steeped in the Elric stories of Michael Moorcock, seen through the lens of Jack Vance with a dash of H.P. Lovecraft thrown in for spice. I know that many gamers today are not into the fire-and-forget style of spells, but it is near and dear to my heart. So here it is…

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A Review of the Dragon Age Forge

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The other day I sat down to think about how I could contribute to the Dragon Age community. My first thought was regarding a form-fillable character sheet for easy tracking, updating and printing of PCs for the game. Before beginning such an endeavor I thought it wise to check out the Dragon Age forums to see if someone had already started such a project. Lo and behold, someone already beat me to the punch and did me one better at that.

Forum poster Sync, from Melbourne, Australia, had started a thread regarding building an Excel spreadsheet character generator similar to the Heroforge project for D&D. This sounded really exciting. I’m a fan of the Heroforge sheets for 3.5 and found them a great help in keeping things up-to-date on my characters. Even thought the forum thread was from a couple of months ago, Sync had updated the first post with a link to the completed version for download. So I downloaded version 1.01 (apparently it had already gone through one revision) and started playing.

Download:

Dragon Age Forge (ZIP; .6 MB) External Link

This file is an Excel spreadsheet of the 97-2003 variety. You will need Microsoft Excel to make use of this spreadsheet. I have not tried to upload it to Google Docs nor open it in OpenOffice (both freely available software) to see if they would see if the file would still work. I also did not try to convert it to a newer version of Excel, but ran it in compatibility mode. If you are running Excel 2007 or later, you may have to enable macros in order to get the full functionality of the character sheet.

How does the Dragon Age Forge do after playing with it for a while? Read on.

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Fire and Forget: Vancian Magic for Dragon Age

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I was struck by a thought as I was driving home last night (no one was hurt and I was able to maintain control of my vehicle). I was thinking about the AGE system used in the Dragon Age Dark Fantasy Roleplaying Game and how it felt like an Old School game. While I haven’t played it yet, what I’ve read so far suggests this to be true, except for one thing: spell casting.

DARPG uses a mana point (MP) system for casting spells. Mages have an allotment of MPs to spend on the casting of each spell. This is a dynamic and free-form system that plays very much like a video game: pick a spell and spend your MPs, keep casting until you run out of MPs, rest to recover MPs, repeat. I’ve watched my son do this when he plays a spell-casting character in World of Warcraft.

But it doesn’t feel Old School enough for me. I come from the “fire and forget” school of D&D and think that is a perfectly natural way for magic to work, especially if you’ve read Jack Vance’s Dying Earth series. So, I began a little thought experiment as I drove: could you use the AGE system to mimic the F&F approach to magic.

My first thought was to have the mage characters spend their MPs each day “memorizing” spells. I think the number of MPs might need to change a little bit and stress from armor also has to be taken into account. I haven’t been able to allot much time to this thought exercise so here is my first pass.

Please leave any and all feedback in the comments. Based on it, a revision could be issued down the line.

Vancian Magic for Dragon Age & AGE System

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