I’ve got two dozen pieces of art being worked on Dragon Heresy. I am starting to get either final products or color Wcore-b-finalIP. I thought I’d tease some examples.

The first is a small illustration that will likely appear next to a table on setting difficulty for tasks. My art direction asked for a dented helmet. Oh, it called for a lot more than that, but it’s a tiny picture, and it was the helmet that was key.

The artwork is by Gennifer Bone – I like the color palette used here, and the blend of the metal helmet and the mail face and neck guard. The final illustration will only be 1.5 x 2″ or so, so it’s a lot larger in this image than it will be in the book.

She’s working three more images for me. My 7yo daughter saw the two big ones (full-column illustrations that end the Core Concepts chapter) and went nuts. So mission accomplished there!

The second sneak peek is a Work in Progress by Juan Ochoa. He’s working the basic Races chapter, and we’ve been interacting very heavily to ensure that the culture and look I’ve written for each race gets imaged on the page.teaser02

The excerpt is a screen shot from what is starting to look like four of my “iconic” characters in the book. It shows a barbarian, ranger, druid, and monk. The barbarian has his hands on a longship he’s commissioned. The druid is not so sure this is all a good idea. The picture shows a zoom-in of the detail on the characters.

The scene is in winter, and while the three characters on the left are dressed fairly warmly, the only concession our monk makes to the cold is pretty much socks underneath her wrestling sandals. There’s a lot of character to each individual, and we’ll be seeing these four again.

A while back, I asked for help on choosing arcane traditions for the Wizard for the Dragon Heresy RPG. I created four schools of magic – doors, essences, might, and mischief, which are themselves combinations of two of the spell types from SRD5.1.

Since the game’s launching zone is Norse-flavored, the schools are flavored by futhark runes, with the following associations:

Magic and the Runes of Power

Magic flows through the world in many forms, and some forms have been studied and refined such that particular flavors or applications of power can be manipulated. These are described by the meaning of some of the runes of power. There may be other schools or methods of magic in other lands, but the mages of Torengar classify them this way – it is very likely as much a case of the tools (the runes) shaping the thought patterns of the arcane practitioners, which thus shapes the spells themselves.
As such, these runic categories are applied to all spells, in the belief that all magic functions in essentially the same way, whether it derives from rigorous study or is bestowed by a deity.

The runic names help describe spells; they have no rules of their own, although some rules refer to the runes.
  • Algiz (Abjuration). The rune magic of Algiz is protective in nature, though some spells have aggressive uses. They create magical barriers, negate harmful effects, harm trespassers, or banish creatures to other planes of existence. The rune Algiz means protection, or a shield, used defensively.
  • Ansuz (Divination). The magic focused through the Ansuz rune reveals information, whether in the form of secrets long forgotten, glimpses of the future, the locations of hidden things, the truth behind illusions, or visions of distant people or places. The meaning of Ansuz is a revealing message or insight, and (not coincidentally) is also the rune of Woden, who specializes in far-seeing and deep knowledge.
  • Dagaz (Illusion). The rune magic of Dagaz is invoked to deceive the senses or minds of others. These spells cause people to see things that are not there, to miss things that are there, to hear phantom noises, or to remember things that never happened. Some illusions create phantom images that any creature can see, but the most insidious illusions plant an image directly in the mind of a creature. The meaning of Dagaz includes both awareness and blindness.
  • Ehwaz (Conjuration). The spells of Ehwaz involve the transportation of objects and creatures from one location to another. Some spells summon creatures or objects to the caster’s side, whereas others allow the caster to teleport to another location. Some Ehwazs create objects or effects out of nothing. The rune Ehwaz represents a horse or horses, and connotes travel and journeys.
  • Gebo (Transmutation). Spells invoked with the knowledge gained through study of the Gebo rune change the properties of a creature, object, or environment. They might turn an enemy into a harmless creature, bolster the strength of an ally, make an object move at the caster’s command, or enhance a creature’s innate healing abilities to rapidly recover from injury. Gebo has the connotation of a gift, sacrifice, or fair exchange – giving up one thing to gain another of equal or higher value.
  • Jera (Necromancy). The rune Jera signifies the life cycle and the harvest. Jeran spells manipulate the energies of life and death. Such spells can grant an extra reserve of life force, drain the life energy from another creature, create the undead, or even bring the dead back to life. A complicated rune, Jera’s association with necromancy is only part of its meaning, and the rune magic of Jera includes birth, life, death, and life-from-death (which can be as broad as ‘resurrection’ but is also ‘fertilizer’). Creating undead through the use of Jeran rune magic is not a good act, and only neutral or evil casters use such spells frequently.
  • Mannaz (Enchantment). Spells cast with the Mannaz rune affect the minds of others, influencing or controlling their behavior. Such spells can make enemies see the caster as a friend, force creatures to take a course of action, or even control another creature like a puppet. Mannaz means “mankind” or “people,” and has a particular connotation relating to the attitudes of others to you and relationships in general.
  • Thurisaz (Evocation). The primal energy of magic, the directed force of destruction and defense, is symbolized by Thurisaz. Such spells manipulate magical energy to produce a desired effect. Some call up blasts of fire or lightning. Others channel positive energy to heal wounds. Thurisaz has many connotations, all of which derive from power used with consciousness and wisdom in matters that must be resolved using force, violence, or physical compulsion.

With that introduction, I wanted to list out the current ideas for the schools of magic, to provoke comment and discussion. Appropriate abilities per level are a bit of an art form, so a broad commentary will save angst later. Any and all commentary is appreciated, especially suggestions to modify or replace abilities. 

One caveat: this will be an OGL/SRD5.1 game, so avoiding abilities from official material is a good thing. Not only for the usual reasons, but keeping the flavor of the game unique makes it more interesting!

ARCANE TRADITIONS

The study of wizardry is ancient, stretching back to the earliest mortal discoveries of magic. It is firmly established in fantasy gaming worlds, with various traditions dedicated to its complex study.

The most common arcane traditions in the multiverse revolve around the schools of magic. Wizards through the ages have cataloged thousands of spells, grouping them into eight categories called schools. In some places, these traditions are literally schools; a wizard might study at the School of Illusion while another studies across town at the School of Mannaz rune. In other institutions, the schools are more like academic departments, with rival faculties competing for students and funding. Even wizards who train apprentices in the solitude of their own towers use the division of magic into schools as a learning device, since the spells of each school require mastery of different techniques.

Savant

No matter which tradition you select at 2nd level, the gold and time you must spend to copy spells with the runes incorporated by that tradition into your spellbook are halved.

SCHOOL OF MISCHIEF

The school of mischief delves deeply into the workings of the minds of all creatures, the better to deceive and fool them. It is the school of illusion and deception, of keen and dull senses. With deep study, the control of others can be accomplished, both in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. The mischief school focuses on the runes of dagaz and mannaz.

Verisimilitude
When you cast cantrips or 1st-level spells using dagaz and mannaz that are only meant to convince or fool a single sense (such as minor illusion or silent image), you may add a low-fidelity second layer to the illusion or deception, such as a sound or a coarse feeling.

Subjects trying to see through or otherwise detect the presence of unreality due to these spells will, instead of automatically discovering the illusion, make a Wisdom saving throw, with advantage, against your spell save DC.

Mind Lock
Starting at 6th level, you gain the ability to fascinate and trap the mind of a single targeted creature, who will tend to fixate on your gaze, distracted. Use your action to stare at your target, and if the creature (who must be able to see your eyes) fails a Wisdom saving throw versus your Spell Save DC, it gains the Demoralized condition.

So long as the wizard spends his action to maintain the mind lock, the target creature’s attempts to shed the demoralized condition have disadvantage. If the wizard chooses to break the lock by looking away, or cannot main concentration on the target, the effect ends immediately.

Mischievous Hellion
Beginning at 10th level, your usage of the magic of dagaz and mannaz is so sophisticated that creatures targeted or influenced by these spells have disadvantage on attempts to resist, disbelieve, or detect them.

Strength of Mind
Starting at 14th level, your mind and sense of self are so strong, you gain the following benefits:

  • You have advantage on all saving throws to resist spells that use dagaz or mannaz rune magic.
  • You have resistance to psychic damage from any source.

A while back, I asked for help on choosing arcane traditions for the Wizard for the Dragon Heresy RPG. I created four schools of magic – doors, essences, might, and mischief, which are themselves combinations of two of the spell types from SRD5.1.

Since the game’s launching zone is Norse-flavored, the schools are flavored by futhark runes, with the following associations:

Magic and the Runes of Power

Magic flows through the world in many forms, and some forms have been studied and refined such that particular flavors or applications of power can be manipulated. These are described by the meaning of some of the runes of power. There may be other schools or methods of magic in other lands, but the mages of Torengar classify them this way – it is very likely as much a case of the tools (the runes) shaping the thought patterns of the arcane practitioners, which thus shapes the spells themselves.
As such, these runic categories are applied to all spells, in the belief that all magic functions in essentially the same way, whether it derives from rigorous study or is bestowed by a deity.

The runic names help describe spells; they have no rules of their own, although some rules refer to the runes.
  • Algiz (Abjuration). The rune magic of Algiz is protective in nature, though some spells have aggressive uses. They create magical barriers, negate harmful effects, harm trespassers, or banish creatures to other planes of existence. The rune Algiz means protection, or a shield, used defensively.
  • Ansuz (Divination). The magic focused through the Ansuz rune reveals information, whether in the form of secrets long forgotten, glimpses of the future, the locations of hidden things, the truth behind illusions, or visions of distant people or places. The meaning of Ansuz is a revealing message or insight, and (not coincidentally) is also the rune of Woden, who specializes in far-seeing and deep knowledge.
  • Dagaz (Illusion). The rune magic of Dagaz is invoked to deceive the senses or minds of others. These spells cause people to see things that are not there, to miss things that are there, to hear phantom noises, or to remember things that never happened. Some illusions create phantom images that any creature can see, but the most insidious illusions plant an image directly in the mind of a creature. The meaning of Dagaz includes both awareness and blindness.
  • Ehwaz (Conjuration). The spells of Ehwaz involve the transportation of objects and creatures from one location to another. Some spells summon creatures or objects to the caster’s side, whereas others allow the caster to teleport to another location. Some Ehwazs create objects or effects out of nothing. The rune Ehwaz represents a horse or horses, and connotes travel and journeys.
  • Gebo (Transmutation). Spells invoked with the knowledge gained through study of the Gebo rune change the properties of a creature, object, or environment. They might turn an enemy into a harmless creature, bolster the strength of an ally, make an object move at the caster’s command, or enhance a creature’s innate healing abilities to rapidly recover from injury. Gebo has the connotation of a gift, sacrifice, or fair exchange – giving up one thing to gain another of equal or higher value.
  • Jera (Necromancy). The rune Jera signifies the life cycle and the harvest. Jeran spells manipulate the energies of life and death. Such spells can grant an extra reserve of life force, drain the life energy from another creature, create the undead, or even bring the dead back to life. A complicated rune, Jera’s association with necromancy is only part of its meaning, and the rune magic of Jera includes birth, life, death, and life-from-death (which can be as broad as ‘resurrection’ but is also ‘fertilizer’). Creating undead through the use of Jeran rune magic is not a good act, and only neutral or evil casters use such spells frequently.
  • Mannaz (Enchantment). Spells cast with the Mannaz rune affect the minds of others, influencing or controlling their behavior. Such spells can make enemies see the caster as a friend, force creatures to take a course of action, or even control another creature like a puppet. Mannaz means “mankind” or “people,” and has a particular connotation relating to the attitudes of others to you and relationships in general.
  • Thurisaz (Evocation). The primal energy of magic, the directed force of destruction and defense, is symbolized by Thurisaz. Such spells manipulate magical energy to produce a desired effect. Some call up blasts of fire or lightning. Others channel positive energy to heal wounds. Thurisaz has many connotations, all of which derive from power used with consciousness and wisdom in matters that must be resolved using force, violence, or physical compulsion.

With that introduction, I wanted to list out the current ideas for the schools of magic, to provoke comment and discussion. Appropriate abilities per level are a bit of an art form, so a broad commentary will save angst later. Any and all commentary is appreciated, especially suggestions to modify or replace abilities. 

One caveat: this will be an OGL/SRD5.1 game, so avoiding abilities from official material is a good thing. Not only for the usual reasons, but keeping the flavor of the game unique makes it more interesting!

ARCANE TRADITIONS

The study of wizardry is ancient, stretching back to the earliest mortal discoveries of magic. It is firmly established in fantasy gaming worlds, with various traditions dedicated to its complex study.

The most common arcane traditions in the multiverse revolve around the schools of magic. Wizards through the ages have cataloged thousands of spells, grouping them into eight categories called schools. In some places, these traditions are literally schools; a wizard might study at the School of Illusion while another studies across town at the School of Mannaz rune. In other institutions, the schools are more like academic departments, with rival faculties competing for students and funding. Even wizards who train apprentices in the solitude of their own towers use the division of magic into schools as a learning device, since the spells of each school require mastery of different techniques.

Savant

No matter which tradition you select at 2nd level, the gold and time you must spend to copy spells with the runes incorporated by that tradition into your spellbook are halved.

SCHOOL OF MIGHT

You focus your study on magic that creates powerful elemental effects such as bitter cold, searing flame, rolling thunder, crackling lightning, and burning acid, and specializes in both aggressive (thurisaz) and defensive (algiz) magic. Some from the school of might find employment in military forces, serving as artillery to blast enemy armies from afar. Others use their spectacular power to protect the weak, while some seek their own gain as bandits, adventurers, or aspiring tyrants.

Sculpt Spells
Beginning at 2nd level, you can create pockets of relative safety within the effects of your spells. When you cast a thurisaz spell that affects other creatures that you can see, you can choose a number of them equal to 1 + the spell’s level. The chosen creatures automatically succeed on their saving throws against the spell, and they take no damage if they would normally take half damage on a successful save.

Arcane Ward
Starting at 6th level, your understanding of the protection runes has grown such that you may create a magical barrier, which can absorb any kind of damage by absorbing wounds or vigor caused by the attack. You may absorb damage up to your wizard level plus your Intelligence modifier. You may divide this protection among any number of targets within 30’ of your position, including yourself.

The ward can be replenished so long as it has even a single point of protection remaining, either by casting an algiz-rune spell (which increases the strength of the ward by an amount equal to the spell’s level) or by spending a spell slot simply to repower the ward, which adds points equal to triple the spell’s level.

Augmented Spell
Beginning at 10th level, you can add your Intelligence modifier to one damage roll of any spell with the thurisaz or algiz rune that you cast, or boost the defensive abilities of a magical shield by the same amount.

Penetrating Spell
Starting at 14th level, your abilities to channel your spells’ energies has increased to the point where you halve the damage resistance of any defenses in place. This includes magical defenses (spell-based shields and arcane wards) as well as non-magical barriers (armor). This only works on spells up to 3rd level.

A while back, I asked for help on choosing arcane traditions for the Wizard for the Dragon Heresy RPG. I created four schools of magic – doors, essences, might, and mischief, which are themselves combinations of two of the spell types from SRD5.1.

Since the game’s launching zone is Norse-flavored, the schools are flavored by futhark runes, with the following associations:

Magic and the Runes of Power

Magic flows through the world in many forms, and some forms
have been studied and refined such that particular flavors or applications of
power can be manipulated. These are described by the meaning of some of the
runes of power. There may be other schools or methods of magic in other lands,
but the mages of Torengar classify them this way – it is very likely as much a
case of the tools (the runes) shaping the thought patterns of the arcane
practitioners, which thus shapes the spells themselves.
As such, these runic categories are applied to all spells, in
the belief that all magic functions in essentially the same way, whether it
derives from rigorous study or is bestowed by a deity.

The runic names help describe spells; they have no rules of
their own, although some rules refer to the runes.
  • Algiz (Abjuration).
    The rune magic of Algiz is protective in nature, though some spells have
    aggressive uses. They create magical barriers, negate harmful effects, harm
    trespassers, or banish creatures to other planes of existence. The rune Algiz
    means protection, or a shield, used
    defensively.
  • Ansuz (Divination).
    The magic focused through the Ansuz rune reveals information, whether in the
    form of secrets long forgotten, glimpses of the future, the locations of hidden
    things, the truth behind illusions, or visions of distant people or places. The
    meaning of Ansuz is a revealing message or insight, and (not coincidentally) is
    also the rune of Woden, who specializes in far-seeing
    and deep knowledge
    .
  • Dagaz (Illusion).
    The rune magic of Dagaz is invoked to deceive the senses or minds of others.
    These spells cause people to see things that are not there, to miss things that
    are there, to hear phantom noises, or to remember things that never happened.
    Some illusions create phantom images that any creature can see, but the most
    insidious illusions plant an image directly in the mind of a creature. The
    meaning of Dagaz includes both awareness
    and blindness
    .
  • Ehwaz (Conjuration).
    The spells of Ehwaz involve the transportation of objects and creatures from
    one location to another. Some spells summon creatures or objects to the
    caster’s side, whereas others allow the caster to teleport to another location.
    Some Ehwazs create objects or effects out of nothing. The rune Ehwaz represents
    a horse or horses, and connotes travel
    and journeys
    .
  • Gebo (Transmutation).
    Spells invoked with the knowledge gained through study of the Gebo rune change
    the properties of a creature, object, or environment. They might turn an enemy
    into a harmless creature, bolster the strength of an ally, make an object move
    at the caster’s command, or enhance a creature’s innate healing abilities to
    rapidly recover from injury. Gebo has the connotation of a gift, sacrifice, or
    fair exchange – giving up one thing to
    gain another
    of equal or higher value.
  • Jera (Necromancy).
    The rune Jera signifies the life cycle
    and the harvest. Jeran spells manipulate the energies of life and death. Such
    spells can grant an extra reserve of life force, drain the life energy from
    another creature, create the undead, or even bring the dead back to life. A
    complicated rune, Jera’s association with necromancy is only part of its
    meaning, and the rune magic of Jera includes birth, life, death, and
    life-from-death (which can be as broad as ‘resurrection’ but is also
    ‘fertilizer’). Creating undead through the use of Jeran rune magic is not a
    good act, and only neutral or evil casters use such spells frequently.
  • Mannaz (Enchantment).
    Spells cast with the Mannaz rune affect the minds of others, influencing or
    controlling their behavior. Such spells can make enemies see the caster as a
    friend, force creatures to take a course of action, or even control another
    creature like a puppet. Mannaz means “mankind” or “people,”
    and has a particular connotation relating to the attitudes of others to you and
    relationships in general.
  • Thurisaz (Evocation).
    The primal energy of magic, the directed
    force
    of destruction and defense, is symbolized by Thurisaz. Such spells
    manipulate magical energy to produce a desired effect. Some call up blasts of
    fire or lightning. Others channel positive energy to heal wounds. Thurisaz has
    many connotations, all of which derive from power used with consciousness and wisdom
    in matters that must be resolved using force, violence, or physical compulsion.

With that introduction, I wanted to list out the current ideas for the schools of magic, to provoke comment and discussion. Appropriate abilities per level are a bit of an art form, so a broad commentary will save angst later. Any and all commentary is appreciated, especially suggestions to modify or replace abilities. 

One caveat: this will be an OGL/SRD5.1 game, so avoiding abilities from official material is a good thing. Not only for the usual reasons, but keeping the flavor of the game unique makes it more interesting!

ARCANE TRADITIONS


The study of wizardry is ancient, stretching back to the earliest mortal discoveries of magic. It is firmly established in fantasy gaming worlds, with various traditions dedicated to its complex study.

The most common arcane traditions in the multiverse revolve around the schools of magic. Wizards through the ages have cataloged thousands of spells, grouping them into eight categories called schools. In some places, these traditions are literally schools; a wizard might study at the School of Illusion while another studies across town at the School of Mannaz rune. In other institutions, the schools are more like academic departments, with rival faculties competing for students and funding. Even wizards who train apprentices in the solitude of their own towers use the division of magic into schools as a learning device, since the spells of each school require mastery of different techniques.

Savant

No matter which tradition you select at 2nd level, the gold and time you must spend to copy spells with the runes incorporated by that tradition into your spellbook are halved.

SCHOOL OF ESSENCE

The school of essence concerns itself with how things are, and how they might be. Practioners develop an affinity for the runes of ehwaz and gebo, which allows for the creation and transformation of many types of matter and beings.

Control Essences
Starting at 2nd level, you may subtly manipulate the effects of your spells, as well as performing minor workings of ehwaz and gebo rune magic.

  • When you cast a spell that usually has an effect in a symmetric area, you may instead shape the area so that it occupies an equivalent area, so long as it is contiguous. The smallest increment is 5’x5’. This does not work on spells that impact a volume (such as a 20’-radius sphere).
  • You may create a simple object weighing not more than a pound that has no complicated moving parts and is made essentially of one material. Iron pliers, a wooden rod, or a pound of water would all qualify. This construct will detect as magical and exudes a weak magical aura (but is not a magical weapon!) and will disappear in 10 minutes. Created water could thus be used to put out a small fire or wash one’s hands, but cannot provide hydration.
  • You may also alter the properties of a simple object weighing not more than one pound, changing it from one material to another. This could include valuable metals, such as turning a wooden ring into gold, but again the object exudes a faint magical aura and will revert back to its true form in ten minutes.

Skinchanger

When you reach 6th level, your understanding of the fundamental nature of creatures has increased to the point where you can bestow some of the abilities of one creature upon another.

By taking the pelt of a person, creature, monster, or animal and spending a day and 100 GP, you can construct a Skin. A Skin can be used by anyone whose size class is not less than one level below that of the being that gave the skin, and who has spent the time to become attuned to the skin.

When you don a Skin, you take on some of the the physical attributes of the being whose pelt was used for as long as the Skin is worn. To change back, you have but to remove the Skin and you return to your original form.

When using a Skin, you have the speed, DR, vulnerabilities, resistances, and immunities, senses, and skills, of the being whose skin was taken. You also gain the being’s Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution scores, but retain your Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores. Using a Skin’s form, you cannot speak if the original form could speak; cannot wear your armor if the original form could not fit into it; and cannot hold items, wield weapons, or use equipment if the original form could not do these things. If you cannot speak you cannot cast spells with verbal components; if your Skin form does not have grasping hands you cannot cast spells with Somatic components.

The Skin is exactly that – a skin. You retain your own wounds and vigor.

Destroying the Skin. The Skin is subject to Dispel Magic, and behaves as if it is a 3rd level spell. It may also be physically destroyed, and it takes damage along with the wielder – treat it as having a wound maximum equal to the creature whose skin was used to make the device. Healing magic, rather than the mending cantrip, is required to restore wounds on a Skin.

Durable Essence
Beginning at 10th level, any spells cast using ehwaz or gebo have their duration extended by 10×, though of course such spells can be dismissed at any time. Spells that require concentration to maintain still require concentration, though you have advantage on attempts to maintain your focus for these spells.

Dismissal

When you reach 14th level, you can recognize and overwhelm or dismiss lesser ehwaz and gebo effects. When casting Dispel Magic and the spell or effect you are trying to dismiss was created by an ehwaz or gebo rune, the spell slot you must expend is two levels lower than the spell you are trying to dismiss. Note that you may not have a dismissal effect higher than 9th-level – while it will only cost you a 7th-level slot to attempt to dismiss a 9th-level spell, spending an 8th- or 9th-level slot will not automatically dismiss a 9th-level target spell.

Example: you wish to dismiss a 4th level spell, so you must usually expend a 5th level spell slot to automatically dismiss the spell, or a lower-level slot which requires a saving throw. If you are trying to dispel ehwaz or gebo rune magic, you expend a 3rd level slot to achieve a 5th-level effect.

A while back, I asked for help on choosing arcane traditions for the Wizard for the Dragon Heresy RPG. I created four schools of magic – doors, essences, might, and mischief, which are themselves combinations of two of the spell types from SRD5.1.

Since the game’s launching zone is Norse-flavored, the schools are flavored by futhark runes, with the following associations:

Magic and the Runes of Power

Magic flows through the world in many forms, and some forms
have been studied and refined such that particular flavors or applications of
power can be manipulated. These are described by the meaning of some of the
runes of power. There may be other schools or methods of magic in other lands,
but the mages of Torengar classify them this way – it is very likely as much a
case of the tools (the runes) shaping the thought patterns of the arcane
practitioners, which thus shapes the spells themselves.
As such, these runic categories are applied to all spells, in
the belief that all magic functions in essentially the same way, whether it
derives from rigorous study or is bestowed by a deity.

The runic names help describe spells; they have no rules of
their own, although some rules refer to the runes.
  • Algiz (Abjuration).
    The rune magic of Algiz is protective in nature, though some spells have
    aggressive uses. They create magical barriers, negate harmful effects, harm
    trespassers, or banish creatures to other planes of existence. The rune Algiz
    means protection, or a shield, used
    defensively.
  • Ansuz (Divination).
    The magic focused through the Ansuz rune reveals information, whether in the
    form of secrets long forgotten, glimpses of the future, the locations of hidden
    things, the truth behind illusions, or visions of distant people or places. The
    meaning of Ansuz is a revealing message or insight, and (not coincidentally) is
    also the rune of Woden, who specializes in far-seeing
    and deep knowledge
    .
  • Dagaz (Illusion).
    The rune magic of Dagaz is invoked to deceive the senses or minds of others.
    These spells cause people to see things that are not there, to miss things that
    are there, to hear phantom noises, or to remember things that never happened.
    Some illusions create phantom images that any creature can see, but the most
    insidious illusions plant an image directly in the mind of a creature. The
    meaning of Dagaz includes both awareness
    and blindness
    .
  • Ehwaz (Conjuration).
    The spells of Ehwaz involve the transportation of objects and creatures from
    one location to another. Some spells summon creatures or objects to the
    caster’s side, whereas others allow the caster to teleport to another location.
    Some Ehwazs create objects or effects out of nothing. The rune Ehwaz represents
    a horse or horses, and connotes travel
    and journeys
    .
  • Gebo (Transmutation).
    Spells invoked with the knowledge gained through study of the Gebo rune change
    the properties of a creature, object, or environment. They might turn an enemy
    into a harmless creature, bolster the strength of an ally, make an object move
    at the caster’s command, or enhance a creature’s innate healing abilities to
    rapidly recover from injury. Gebo has the connotation of a gift, sacrifice, or
    fair exchange – giving up one thing to
    gain another
    of equal or higher value.
  • Jera (Necromancy).
    The rune Jera signifies the life cycle
    and the harvest. Jeran spells manipulate the energies of life and death. Such
    spells can grant an extra reserve of life force, drain the life energy from
    another creature, create the undead, or even bring the dead back to life. A
    complicated rune, Jera’s association with necromancy is only part of its
    meaning, and the rune magic of Jera includes birth, life, death, and
    life-from-death (which can be as broad as ‘resurrection’ but is also
    ‘fertilizer’). Creating undead through the use of Jeran rune magic is not a
    good act, and only neutral or evil casters use such spells frequently.
  • Mannaz (Enchantment).
    Spells cast with the Mannaz rune affect the minds of others, influencing or
    controlling their behavior. Such spells can make enemies see the caster as a
    friend, force creatures to take a course of action, or even control another
    creature like a puppet. Mannaz means “mankind” or “people,”
    and has a particular connotation relating to the attitudes of others to you and
    relationships in general.
  • Thurisaz (Evocation).
    The primal energy of magic, the directed
    force
    of destruction and defense, is symbolized by Thurisaz. Such spells
    manipulate magical energy to produce a desired effect. Some call up blasts of
    fire or lightning. Others channel positive energy to heal wounds. Thurisaz has
    many connotations, all of which derive from power used with consciousness and wisdom
    in matters that must be resolved using force, violence, or physical compulsion.

With that introduction, I wanted to list out the current ideas for the schools of magic, to provoke comment and discussion. Appropriate abilities per level are a bit of an art form, so a broad commentary will save angst later. Any and all commentary is appreciated, especially suggestions to modify or replace abilities. 

One caveat: this will be an OGL/SRD5.1 game, so avoiding abilities from official material is a good thing. Not only for the usual reasons, but keeping the flavor of the game unique makes it more interesting!

ARCANE TRADITIONS


The study of wizardry is ancient, stretching back to the earliest mortal discoveries of magic. It is firmly established in fantasy gaming worlds, with various traditions dedicated to its complex study.

The most common arcane traditions in the multiverse revolve around the schools of magic. Wizards through the ages have cataloged thousands of spells, grouping them into eight categories called schools. In some places, these traditions are literally schools; a wizard might study at the School of Illusion while another studies across town at the School of Mannaz rune. In other institutions, the schools are more like academic departments, with rival faculties competing for students and funding. Even wizards who train apprentices in the solitude of their own towers use the division of magic into schools as a learning device, since the spells of each school require mastery of different techniques.

Savant

No matter which tradition you select at 2nd level, the gold and time you must spend to copy spells with the runes incorporated by that tradition into your spellbook are halved.

SCHOOL OF DOORS


You focus your study on magic that transcends the here and now, opening up mystical doors through time, space, and dimensions to examine the past and the future, to heal and harm, and even to interact with the dead. You have mastered the study of the runes of ansuz (to divine the future and probe the past) and jera (life cycles from birth to death and back again).

Read Auras

Beginning at 2nd level, you gain the ability to read emanations of power. This ability has two uses, one active, one passive.

Your ability to read auras will automatically detect and identify any active auras that a creature is maintaining. This includes spells, aura’s induced by magical items, as well as abilities such as the paladin’s aura of devotion or the fear aura of a pit fiend. It will tell you the source and type of the aura, but not it’s range.

You may also attempt to deliberately discern an aura. By concentrating on a creature for one minute, you may attempt a DC 15 Intelligence (Arcana) check, and if that is successful, you may receive the answer to one of the questions below. You may also keep trying to read the aura, spending an additional minute per use. The GM will make these rolls for you – should you fail, you will gain no further information with more study.

If the creature is actually a projection from another realm of a powerful entity such as a god, this will become immediately obvious, with no roll required.

When you reach 8th level, instead of taking a minute of concentration, you may deliberately read an aura as an action.

The following information may be obtained through active study:

  • Creature Type. Dragon (usually obvious), aberration, fiend, undead, etc.
  • Magical Ability. Does the creature have the ability to cast spells, or is the creature innately magical.
  • Immunities and Resistances. Is the creature immune to a damage type? Roll once per immunity/resistance!
  • Vulnerabilities. Will the creature take extra damage from a particular damage type? This includes only being damaged by magical weapons.

Cycle Lore

Starting at 6th level, your understanding of the paths of life and death improve.

You may add your spellcasting ability bonus to the effect roll (a damage roll or a healing roll) for any spell using the jera rune.

If summoning or creating creatures using necromantic magic, you may increase the ability scores of your created beings – apply the full bonus to one statistic, but each created or summoned creature may have a different statistic increased. If you increase the target’s Strength or Constitution, the creature’s vigor and wounds may also increase.

Self-fulfilling Prophecy

Beginning at 10th level, you can pronounce the fate of others, whether a blessing or doom. Choose a creature that can hear and understand you, and loudly and confidently proclaim its fate. If the fate is beneficial, the creature gains a point of Inspiration; if baleful, the creature must make a Wisdom saving throw against your Spell Save DC or else gain the Demoralized condition.

If you wish, you can prophecy about your subject’s fate at a particular challenge (an upcoming battle or contest, solving a puzzle, or wooing a lady). In this case, the Inspiration or Demoralized Condition only applies to actions taken to complete the challenge. 

If the subject of your prophecy experiences dismal failure (if you prophecy success and greatness) or escapes grievous harm (if you prophecy doom and failure), the effects of your prophecy vanish. Thereafter, that subject will view you as a fraud. You get one chance to win a contest of your Charisma versus their Wisdom (“Of course you failed! You did not believe!”), and if you fail at this, then forever after that subject will be unaffected by your prophecies.

Once you make a self-fulfilling prophecy, you cannot do so again until you finish a long rest.

Command Undead

Starting at 14th level, your knowledge and power over the undead increases to the point that you may now use the command spell to attempt to rule their actions. You may choose one target or several, up to your Intelligence modifier (minimum 2), but if you choose more than one target, those undead have advantage on their Wisdom saving throw.

If you do not already know the command spell, add it to your spell list; it does not count against the total spells known. Using this ability expends a 1st level spell slot, as does casting command on non-undead.

I have now finished all 39 subclasses for Dragon Heresy.

Thusly, I will drink wine.

Afterwards, I will soldier on and work on the 57,136-word spell list, since every spell in the SRD5.1, plus a few I and my playtesting team have invented, must be scrubbed to be consistent with the new rules concepts.

But the characters are at least at the first draft stage. My playtesters may well (and hopefully will) rip up the 16 abilities that I’ve written. But that will be replacing content with better content. Not “oh, gee, this isn’t done.”

Recently, +Peter V. Dell’Orto went on a fun tear about Fit and Very Fit. 

I commented on his post that I’d run into some issues myself with Fit/Very Fit when writing The Last Gasp.

Now, partly, anything I have to say about Health (HT), Fit, Very Fit, and related issues will be biased, very much so, by my being convinced that while HT is, as they say, “priced to move.”

HT is worth less than the sum of its parts, and that’s somewhat deliberate to keep PCs alive. However, it also means that you get crap like “HT!” as a recurring concept, because when you break out the bits of it you find that Fatigue is worth 3/level, Basic Speed is worth 5/level, which means all HT-based skills and rolls to not-die, not-KO, and not other things are worth a collective 2/level.

As they say, “Vat a bahgain!”

Anyway, back to The Last Gasp.

I still think it holds up as a concept. But what struck my memory is how I had to more or less shrug at the pricing of Fit.

Let’s go to the article:

Fit and Very FitThese two advantages give bonuses to HT rolls for mostpurposes (but don’t increase the underlying attribute or skills).They also alter the rate at which FP are recovered and lost.Logically, being more fit should apply to Action Points as well. . . but Fit only costs 5 points, and AP are purchased for 2points each. Fit and Very Fit thus add their HT bonuses (+1 forFit, and +2 for Very Fit) to recovery rolls, but that’s the onlybenefit they give to AP recovery.

So I basically have to shrug and say “Fit is just too cheap to give it any more utility.”

I still think that my “Defend vs Death!” concept has some utility, too. 

The problem, such as it is, that I have with high values of HT is that they’re a bit immersion-breaking. That being said, people can and do take ridiculous punishment before expiring (or sometimes not expiring) from massive injuries. It’s just with GURPS high HT makes it a mathematically certainty, and a certainty available with a fairly modest point budget.

I am looking for some help with finding appropriate level advancements
for four “new” schools of magic for Wizards.
The four schools each combine two of the existing traditions,
which themselves have been associated with a particular futhark rune as part of
the setting.
  • The School of Doors includes the rune-magic of ansuz (divination)
    and jera (necromancy, which will also include most of the currently
    evocation-based healing spells).
  • The School of Essence includes the rune-magic of ehwaz (conjuration)
    and gebo(transmutation).
  • The School of Might encompasses the rune-magic of thurisaz
    (evocation) and algiz (abjuration).
  • The School of Mischief includes the rune-magic of dagaz
    (illusion) and mannaz (enchantment).

What I’m looking for would be appropriately encompassing
boosts for each school for 2nd, 6th, 10th, and
14th level.


Thematically, I’m going for the following:
  • The 2nd-level ability should involve finesse or
    control over your runes. The evocation example is being able to selectively
    exempt folks from damage spells, while a conjuration example might be being
    able to take a normally-symmetrical area-effect spell and make it any shape.
  • The 6th-level ability should reflect a deeper
    understanding of the magic at your command. Divination might allow an Arcana
    roll in order to gain awareness of an area of immunity or resistance for a foe.
  • The 10th-level ability I’d like to have a “power”
    theme, such that (for example) damage spells might either get max damage or be
    rolled twice, take the better one. Or add your Spell Ability Modifier to damage
    spells. Both are appropriate.
  • Finally, the 14th-level ability should feel like
    you’ve mastered the magics so well that you can either resist or overcome
    similar magic. So you might be able to punch through a magic shield better, or
    overcome a foe’s resistance to fire with your own fire magic because of your
    knowledge and skill with the runes.

The existing 5e magic classes each have a very distinct feel
to them, so finding a good level ability that embraces (for example) both conjuration
and transmutation, of the School of Essence, has proved to be thematically
difficult for me – which is why I’m looking for help from this resource!
I am certainly willing to have cases such as: “Upon reaching
2nd level, students of the School of Might must choose from the following
two options. Thurisaz (Evocation): you may exempt a number of allies up to your
INT bonus from your area effect spells. Algiz (Abjuration): Spells that are
normally cast with an action can be cast as a bonus action; spells that can be
cast with a bonus action can instead be cast as a reaction, and spells that are
currently cast as a reaction still enable a different
reaction, so long as that reaction isn’t also a spell or magical effect.”
In short, if we’re desperate, “choose between the very
different A and B” is a good way to sever the Gordian knot here.
Thanks in advance for any help or ideas. Particularly clever
suggestions will get you playtest credit when Dragon Heresy is released – that’s
a free copy of the black-and-white PDF right away, possibly more depending on
how well crowdfunding goes.

One of the more challenging and enjoyable parts of writing Dragon Heresy is creating subclasses. Don’t get me wrong – the basic subclasses provided with the SRD5.1 are nice, and a good start.
But the defining of additional sub-classes isn’t just an exercise of “ooh, cool powers.” I have done more world-building in defining these than I have in trying to build the history of the setting. Who the adventurers can be needs to be a reflection of the world in which they live, and these subclasses are a gateway to that.
I teased +James Spahn the other day about a paladin ability I made with a tie in to his personal fondness for a particular animal. Here’s the completed draft, which has not yet been torn asunder by my playtesters. But I thought it would be fun to share.
Paladin Oath of Yggdrasil
The Oath of Yggdrasil places the paladin directly in the service
of the protection of the World Tree against those that would do it harm. This
includes all “outsiders” such as demons, devils, dragons, and other creatures
from beyond the universe that would seek to unmake the tree and remake the
world to their own image.
The paladin of Yggdrasil is of the world in a profound way, and
seeks both to protect and to know all that lies under its branches. They consider
themselves the personal servants and warriors of Woden, who sacrificed himself
upon the branches of Yggdrasil to gain the wisdom of runes. More aggressive
followers of the druidic gods may also be paladins of Yggdrasil.
Tenets of Yggdrasil
Though the path of the followers of Yggdrasil can be as varied as
the worlds that shelter under its branches, paladins hold generally to these
tenets.
Fight the Dragons. Wherever
chromatic dragons are encountered, they are a threat to the world tree and must
be fought and slain. This is doubly true for fiends and outsiders, whom the
tree is said to exclude from the world.
Protect the Tree. Always
act to protect the tree from harm.
Serve Woden. Regardless
of your call to other Aesir, always remember the sacrifice of Woden, who hung
speared upon Yggdrasil to bring the light and wisdom of the runes to the world.
Travel. To serve the
tree you must know the tree. Wander far, learn much, and take pleasure and joy
in the many branches of the tree.
Oath Spells
You gain oath spells at the paladin levels listed.
Oath of Yggdrasil Spells
Paladin Level
Spells
3rd
faerie fire, longstrider
5th
misty step, moonbeam
9th
call lightning, protection from energy
13th
dimension door, freedom of movement
17th
legend lore, teleportation circle
Channel Divinity
When you take this oath at 3rd level, you gain the following two
Channel Divinity options.

Ward of Yggdrasil. As
an action, you present your holy symbol and speak a prayer censuring aberrations,
dragons, or fiends using your Channel Divinity. Each affected creature that can
see or hear you within 30 feet of you must make a Wisdom saving throw. If the
creature fails its saving throw, it is turned for 1 minute or until it takes
damage.
A turned creature must spend its turns trying to move as far away
from you as it can, and it can’t willingly move to a space within 30 feet of
you. It also can’t take reactions. For its action, it can use only the Dash
action or try to escape from an effect that prevents it from moving. If there’s
nowhere to move, the creature can use the Dodge action.

Branch of Yggdrasil. By
invoking your connection to the World Tree, you cause 20 contiguous square feet
(four 5’ squares, which must touch) to turn into difficult terrain. Any that
start in, or cross this area suffer 1d8 + your Charisma bonus as Control damage.
Use the paladin’s Spell Save DC as the target to overcome the difficult terrain
by attacking to break free.
Word of Ratatosk
Starting at 7th level, you gain the powers of the messenger being
Ratatosk, and the ability to use the sending spell at will. Dogs and wolves within
120’ must make a DC 15 Wisdom save or else they will stop whatever they are
doing and suddenly look towards the target of your communication, wherever it
may be, because SQUIRREL!
Woden’s Sacrifice
Beginning at 15th level, you may perform an echo of Woden’s
sacrifice of himself to gain power, knowledge, and foresight by voluntarily reducing
you vigor maximum by 15, you gain a
point of inspiration that you may use yourself, or bestow upon others, by
spending your reaction. When you take a long rest, the lost vigor is restored,
and any unused points of inspiration are lost.
Root of the World Tree

At 20th level, your connection to the World Tree increases to the
point where you never need to eat or drink, as you derive sustenance from
Yggdrasil itself. You may also invoke an Aura of Vigor that allows you, as a
bonus action, to bestow an additional 3d6 temporary vigor to another creature.
The aura lasts for one minute, while the vigor lasts for one hour. This power
will not affect aberrations, dragons or any creature with chromatic dragon
blood or bloodline, or fiends. Once you invoke the aura, you must take a long
rest before you do it again.
Image from Forgot My Dice, Backgrounds for the Wild

Over at Forgot My Dice, the proprietors published a few new backgrounds.

For various reasons, I’ve been on a background kick recently, and I posted a guide to using points to balance backgrounds. Seeing his backgrounds, the first thing that struck me is that the first one had three skills . . . which is a supposed no-no.

But I like it, and sometimes that makes sense. So, given the guidelines (especially in the after-the-parting-shot version from the bottom of my post, how do his backgrounds work out?

Chieftain (Variant Noble)

Skills: Three of them (12 points)
Languages: One, and no tool proficiencies (2 points)
Class Feature: One (5 points)

That leaves 1 point for equipment, but the only thing you get is a token of authority, and if we say that’s worth 10gp or less, this background meets the 20-point guideline.

Sweet.

Hunter (Variant Soldier)


This one just trades out the class feature, so there’s no way to ascertain balance.


Shaman (Variant Acolyte)


Skills: Two of them (6 points)
Languages: One tool proficiency (2 points)
Class Feature: One (5 points)

That leaves 7 point for equipment, which should get you 60gp worth. Herbalism kit is only 5gp, a dagger is 2gp. Based on the prices of trade goods, you’re probably looking at 1-3 gp worth of herbs, tops. So maybe 10gp of equipment, meaning there’s room for 50gp of stuff and still not crazy-town.

You can’t get a third skill (that’s 6 points, which is the equivalent of 55gp or so), or a second feature (that’s 10 points required). You could get a language (2 points) and still have 50gp, but not two more.

But this one should probably be plussed up by a bit more.