Saturday, June 14, 2014

Conversion Machine: D20 SRD spells to Talislanta 4th/5th ed Part II

In my last Conversion Machine, we looked at the differences between Talislantan magic and D20 SRD (DnD) magic as it relates to the most widely used spell, Magic Missile.  We looked at converting the basics of the spell into the Talislanta framework and also a direct conversion that had to use Sorcery elements, making this magical staple into a very hard to cast bee sting.  This time, we continue with Magic Missile and way to get not only the same sort of effect, but make it even more powerful for our beginning Cymrillian Magician.

To recap, this is the spell we want to convert:
Magic Missile
Evocation [Force]
Level: Sor/Wiz 1
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Targets: Up to five creatures, no two of which can be more than 15 ft. apart
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: Yes
A missile of magical energy darts forth from your fingertip and strikes its target, dealing 1d4+1 points of force damage.
The missile strikes unerringly, even if the target is in melee combat or has less than total cover or total concealment. Specific parts of a creature can’t be singled out. Inanimate objects are not damaged by the spell.
For every two caster levels beyond 1st, you gain an additional missile—two at 3rd level, three at 5th, four at 7th, and the maximum of five missiles at 9th level or higher. If you shoot multiple missiles, you can have them strike a single creature or several creatures. A single missile can strike only one creature. You must designate targets before you check for spell resistance or roll damage.

What we are working with here is obviously an offensive, or Attack, spell.  When we look at the Attack mode in Talislanta we actually have a couple of options:

Damage: 1 Hit Point of damage per Spell Level
Range: 50 feet (-1 to casting roll per 10 extra feet of range)
Duration: Instant / 1 round per level (no range)
Area: -1 to casting roll per foot of radius

In accordance with the rules in the book, we can make this a standard, single target spell, or an area effect spell.  Something more along the lines of the following:


Base Spell Level: 1 (Dynamic)
Range: 50 feet
Area: 0
Duration: Instant
Base Difficulty: -1 per additional HP damage
Example Spells: Arcane Bolt, Necromantic Assault

Or, for the AoE version:


Base Spell Level: 1 (Dynamic)
Range: 50 feet
Area: 5 feet radius (10 ft diameter)
Duration: Instant
Base Difficulty: -6 (-1 per additional HP damage)
Example Spells: Geomantic Blast, Fireball

Depending on description, and house rules, your Bolt spell you use for the single target effect, and your Blast spell you use for multiple opponents, I would definitely allow my players to state that the spell will only effect a maximum of 5 targets, no problem.  Also, this removes the bee-sting effect and can make this simple spell a feared part of any magicians arsenal.  That 3pt damage just became 9 for our Cymrillian friend with a straight d20 roll.

"Wait...he mentioned the rules in the book, what about the house rules he was talking about!"

Never fear!

There are various house rules that I have heard of regarding spells and their usage.  The rules that I personally use have the Spell Level as the only thing that can be changed after learning the spell (as shown above, the Area and Range are static.)  Although I prefer a more static spell, my players do not always like that idea.

For the conversions, I will be using Dynamic and Static spell levels depending on the mode and the spell itself and I will do my best to keep the feel of the spell as written.  This means, of course, that there will likely be 3 or more versions of some of the spells, Magic Missile, for example.

To keep the overall feel of the spell, and not make it horribly difficult to cause minimal damage, let us attack this a different way.

We look at the qualities of the original spell:
  1. It is simple
  2. At base it is single target
  3. It never misses
  4. Just about everyone who casts spells knows it

So, we can use the following for the base:

Magic Missle
Attack Mode
Base Spell Level:  1 (dynamic - meaning we can pump it for more damage)
Range: 50 feet (it halves the range, but we want to keep it as simple as possible)
Duration:  Instant
Special:  Qualitas, unerring, -15
Base Difficulty:  -16 (-1 per additional HP damage)

Hmm...still seems pretty difficulty, but with our +9 to cast it only comes out to a d20-7, still pretty hard for 1 HP damage.  Let us bend the rules a little.  So far I have been using the 'unerring' aspect of the spell as a 'Major Change' to the mode's capabilities, let me drop that to 'Moderate' which will save us -5 and make the Base Difficulty -11 instead.

That still puts our Magician at d20+9-11, or d20-2, but it also gives him the opportunity to boost the damage a little.  To do 5 damage it will put him at that d20-7, and as long as he does not mishap he will hit.

But there is another way...

You can dodge an Arcane Bolt, you cannot dodge a magic missile, so we meet in the middle a little.

Magic Missle
Attack Mode
Base Spell Level: 1 (dynamic)
Range: 50ft
Duration: Instant
Special:  Qualitas, Minor Change, hard to dodge, target dodges at -1/3 spell level, -5
Base Difficulty:  -6

Now we have it set up a bit differently, still having to use Sorcery, but at a much lower difficulty.  While still not the unfailing hit that the d20 version has, this does make it a bit harder to dodge and helps to keep the feel of the spell.  But what about the additional missiles and targets?

Well, a 3rd level Wizard in DnD is actually pretty accomplished when you think about it.  I believe in 3rd edition it breaks down to about 13 encounters per level, lets figure 6-7 encounters per session, so about 4 sessions.

I usually run a 'Heroic' campaign in Talislanta, so the PCs will be getting approximately 20 xp per session.  A decent amount of 80 experience can be given to our young hero and we can get him casting the unerring version without too much difficulty, or we can use Qualitas again...

Magic Missile
Attack Mode
Base Spell Level: 1 (dynamic)
Range: 50ft
Duration: Instant
Special:  Qualitas, Minor Change, hard to dodge -1/3 spell level, -5; Qualitas, additional target -1 per additional target, Minor Change, -5
Base Difficulty:  -11

Still not too shabby, keeps the basic feel of the spell.  Main caveat here though, is the damage would have to be split between the two targets, unless you up the additional target to a Major Change for an additional -5 difficulty.

Granted, that is starting to get very unwieldy, even for our experienced Magician.  Personally, I think the best bet is to leave it single target and use a blast style spell for multiple targets just to keep it simple.

Well, I hope this little venture gave you something to think about, even though it was aimed specifically at d20 and the Talislanta system the thought objects are going to be pretty close with any kind of conversion.

How much CAN we keep from the original?
Can we make it feel the same?
What are the different ways to accomplish the same goal, and which one works best for what we want to do?