Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Spell Research Mini-Game by Foot of the Mountain Adventures

Recently I mentioned in a post about magical monasteries that I was participating in a spell research mini-game run by Pat Eyler of Foot of the Mountain Adventures. Well, Pat's only gone and written it up!

I wanted in inspirational quote from a real magician.
This is much better than anything I found from Crowley...

Thought I'd try a run-through again, using Pat's system which I don't think he has yet published, so I will allude to the rules rather than state them outright! I'll link back here as soon as Mountain Foot finalises them... the playthrough assumes first edition rules or variant thereof.

Right. One year after committing her spell Ilse's invisible Arrow to print, Ilse is returning to the cloister of St. Vincent in order to research a new spell.

In the intervening year Ilse has not only gained a level (she is now a 5th level magic-user, at thaumaturgist) but also an apprentice... Greta, a 1st level magic-user.

During her adventures Ilse fought a murderous druid cult, nearly losing her life when she was overcome by a swarm of insects the druid had summoned. Though her retinue managed to take the druid alive, he was unwilling or unable to share the secrets of his magic. The druid killed himself by ingesting poisonous berries rather than continue as a prisoner. Ilse retrieved his brain and keeps it in a jar of vinegar, hopeful that it might yield some insight into his magic.

Hopefully the library of St. Vincent will yield some insight into the druid spell Summon Insects.  She is already certain that the invocation utilises mistletoe, as the druid had been clutching that before he conjured the insect swarm and it was vaporised, alongside at least one as yet unidentified component. She has brought some with her to St. Vincent's. Additionally, her party procured a tome in a foreign tongue during an otherwise disastrous excursion into the Stygian Library. The tome contains many etchings depicting druids, but so far the language has not been identified. This will form part of her research.

Initial Research

Ilse has 3 prep points (1 for the book, one for the brain, one for the mistletoe). 

  • She will spend 2 in the initial stage of her research so gains +2.
  • She has intelligence of 16 gains +1 to her initial roll.
  • Ilse is assisted by Greta, a caster, so gains +1.
Her initial roll is 2d4+4...

She rolls 7! Plus 4 equals 11! This means a roll on the boost table, which is just what I wanted...

Ilse rolls 2d4, achieving 2 & 2... the table says she gains 2 research points.

The Druid? Art by Christopher Lovell

Research Week One

The sisters are pleased to see Ilse and her new apprentice, Greta. It has been nearly a whole year since last she was here, and they are intrigued to learn of her latest project. Ilse is opaque, but happy to silence their concerns with a donation to the order, for which she is given unrestricted access to the library and the cells, wherein the research is to be conducted.

As before, she spares no expense or materials. In total (including the donation to St. Vincents) she has spent about 2400 GP (about twice the amount needed for two weeks worth of research into a 3rd level spell.

  • -2 (as it's a 3rd level spell: 1/2 spell level and roundup)
  • +2 (she spends the 2RP she gained at the initial stage from the boost; she still has 1 prep point).
  • +1 for her intelligence of 16.
  • +1 for increase in expenses...
Overall, that makes 2d4+2. I rolled 7 again! So once more she gains a boost! Once again, a roll on the boost table delivers 2 further  research points.

Ilse has successfully translated the tome she found in the Stygian Library, using a very old text about philology. She has been unable to identify the language, and can only surmise that it comes from a parallel world. Nonetheless, it contained many detailed descriptions of druidic rituals and practices, and combined with the books in St Vincents' library, she has a clearer idea of the source of druidic magic, recognising that it is closer to divine magic than her own arcane magic.

From her research Ilse learns the additional components needed to produce the spell effect: where she hits a stumbling block is in working out how arcane magic can replicate the power of the divine...


(I spend Ilse's last prep-point to convert this roll... she is really looking into the druid brain for answers...)

The roll is 2d4 +1. The result is 5. Ilse is able to continue... but she will carry out one further week of research (this is covered by her initial  expenses).

This has nothing to do with anything but t's by the same guy as the druid and I think it's cool.

Research Week Two

The procedure now repeats.
  • -2 (as it's a 3rd level spell: 1/2 spell level and roundup)
  • +2 (she spends the 2RP she gained at the research stage from the boost; she has spent her final prep point already).
  • +1 for her intelligence of 16.
  • +1 for the extra money she spent.
The biggest breakthrough with the brain of the druid came indirectly: Ilse's insights helped her realise that she was going about things the wrong way round... she wasn't trying to recreate druidic magic, she was trying to recreate its effects. Greta and Ilse focused their efforts in the second week on conjuration and summoning, attempting to manifest individual insectoid creatures in ever greater numbers.

I roll an 8! The boost table rewards Ilse with one additional RP.


(I spend Ilse's only research point to increase this roll... she is really hoping her conjurations manifest into something powerful)

The roll is 2d4 +1. The result is 7. Ilse is able to move to the conclusion of her research, but she has not gained any spell points from all her research, reducing her chance of success.


The outcome of all Ilse's hard work hinges one final 2d4 roll, with 5 or more required to succeed (though a partial success is offered with a 4). The following modifiers apply:
  • -2 (as it's a 3rd level spell: 1/2 spell level and roundup)
  • +1 for the additional week of research.
That makes 2d4-1... uh oh... I rolled 5! Sadly, it's modified to a "4" meaning success at cost...

There's a table for costs and, again, I can modify the cost with Spell Points if I have any (I don't). The table is a flat 2d4... this time I roll 7.

After a fortnight of intense research, the spell is weaker than anticipated. Ilse cannot launch the spell at range (the creatures manifest on a target she is touching) and the insects seem fewer in number... nonetheless, she is pleased to add another new spell of her own creation to her grimoire, and looks forward to teaching it to Greta when she attains sufficient power.

Ilse's Insect Swarm

Level: 2 [reduced from 3 as weakened]
Range: Touch
Duration: 1 round/level
Area of Effect: Special
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: I round
Saving Throw: None

When Ilse's Insect Swarm is cast by a magic-user, a swarm of flying insects (70% of the time) or crawling insects (30% of the time) is summoned. The exact insects called will be bees, biting flies, hornets, or wasps if flying insects are indicated, or biting ants or pinching beetles if non-flying insects are determined. A cloud of the flying type, or a swarm of the crawling sort, will appear after
the spell is cast. They will appear upon any creature the magic-user has touched as part of the casting of the spell and begin to attack the target.

The target will sustain 1 hit points of damage [reduced from 2 as weakened] per melee round, and
it can do nothing but attempt to fend off these insects during the time it is so attacked. The summoned insects can be caused to attack another opponent, but there will be at least a 1 round delay while they leave the former recipient and attack the new victim, and crawling insects can travel only about 12' per round (maximum speed over smooth ground). 

The materials needed for this spell are mistletoe, a flower petal, and a bit of mud or wet clay.

Finally, I'd like to leave you with this inspiring meme from Thelemite Moms of Facebook!

I lied about the Crowley quote... it's much better than Jeff McBride's!
Looks a lot like Infinite Mao though...