I am currently running a BitD game set in Sigil (Planescape), in a more traditional adventuring setting. While I do love A LOT of the things about Blades (factions, flashbacks, the simple but flexible resolution mechanic) I wish there were more traditional fantasy playbooks available. I understand that they were more tied to the steampunk setting though.
So I have been trying to rack my brain to come up with playbooks for Wizard and Cleric.
I have come up with these (see link above).
My main ideas here were:
- allow for spells to be tag-based 1
- have a list of tags that the player can choose from (and expand at level-up)
- allow for a separate, smaller pool of stress that can be burned for casting magic (both cleric and wizard)
- the Wizard will have more variety of spells but will be more fragile (only one level 2 harm allowed)
I haven’t play-tested these yet, but I am here asking for feedback. What do you think would be the problem with these? Would you use these?
1: Based on the DW playbooks by Anthony Giovannetti, from here : https://www.dropbox.com/sh/vdpv5x83v87lsza/AAA9EUnIU51g_jRzwJw9ec0oa?dl=0
I don’t think these things have to cause problems as such. What it takes is laborious play-testing to get the balancing right.
If you want to use a separate stress pool, it needs a different and cool name, e.g. mana (like in Call of Cthulhu). How big that pool should be, needs a lot of testing.
I’ve thought about spells myself and defining spells might be tricky. You can take the classic D&D route and work out very specific, detailed spell descriptions; but I don’t think that’s really in the vein of BitD. I’d keep it short and simple and define a limit, such as no more than level 2 harm can be caused. I like that. Though, players will find many ways to use spells creatively, especially if the descriptions, requirements and limitations are flimsy.
Changing up the default harm levels available rubs me the wrong way. I would suggest instead making it so they can’t use armor and cast spells (like D&D or other fantasy games). That way they’re still fragile, but you don’t have to change up that core mechanic.
I’m not sure I get what you mean by having spells be tag-based. Could you elaborate on that some more?
Elvatuar is exactly right that if you do the second stress tack it needs a distinctive name.
Not to shamelessly plug my own FitD hack, but let me shamelessly plug Dungeons in the Dark. I’ve made up the classic D&D classes including Wizard and Cleric. The approach I took to it was to just simply use the Ritual special ability with some tweaks.
Spells don’t need to take downtime to cast (or precast), being usable on the fly in the moment. Instead of making all spells cost stress, I have them require a risky or desperate action to generate an additional resource they use to pay for the magnitude (calling it hold for now cause I love hold from PbtA games). I likewise haven’t play-tested it out yet, but my intention is to make it easy enough to pull out the ‘low level’ spells and use them regularly. For stronger spells the caster will need to generate more hold, and therefore they’ll need to open themselves up to more consequences.
Here’s a link to what I’m working on (feel free to use anything there as inspiration): https://community.bladesinthedark.com/t/dungeons-in-the-dark/1617
Hm I like your approach too. Giving the Wizard more options to choose from in terms of what resources they can expend in casting spells. I like that.
How do you scale effect levels? Are you working on a pre-written list of spells?
One other idea I’ve been toying with is to transform Spells from 3.5 SRD (just because it’s free and offers a wide variety of effects), using a formula. And then requiring the Wizard to generate the required Hold (or other resource). Of course the problem then arises for how to transform them all mechanically. My main idea is to just use Magnitude as an approximation. And eye-ball it for each new spell the Wizard player would like to learn/cast.
Edit: have now expanded to use a new resource, named Flow, in a similar way to your Hold. The cost of the spell is the sum of its magnitudes on the magnitude chart.
I’ve been working on this in here https://www.notion.so/Wizard-2-0-ec3d5c86b7a043af87ec1d4792c39e0e
Would love some feedback
I’m scaling effect levels using magnitude. The hold cost is equal to the sum of magnitudes. So it can get high, but since hold is generated on the spot it just means that it will take additional actions (exposing to more risk). Depending on how that plays out, I might do something like what Runners in the Shadows does and have a base line Spell Factor. So it might be that each Cast action gives the 1,2,3,5 hold + Tier + Cast, or have spell costs reduced by Tier + Cast. Or some variation of that.
I’m not working with a pre-written list of spells. I’m planning on taking some iconic spells (that aren’t covered by other special abilities) and writing them up as example spells though. So that there’s a good baseline to work with.
When I ran Blades in a a sword-and-sorcery setting I used spells as items in inventory. Worked great and pretty close to Vancian magic.
I’ll rummage through my notes later, maybe I still have that playbook.
I condensed some of these ideas into a new version of the playbook, available here
Let me know what you think