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Armor and Spellcasting
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SeeleyOne
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 5:24 pm    Post subject: Armor and Spellcasting Reply with quote

The Jedi in Star Wars do not wear armor. Or at least I never saw any of them do so on the movies. I assume that this is because they want to stay unencumbered so that they can more easily jump and fly around in cool ways. Hmmm, well Darth Vader DOES wear armor, but you don't see him jumping around. In the video games where you can be Darth Vader he tends to be more of a slower-moving tank-like person of immense power and impending doom to his enemies.

In all of the wizard storues that I have read, I don't recall a single one of them wearing armor. No armor for Harry Dresden, nor for those wizards from fantasy settings. Harry has a big coat with armor enchantments on it, but otherwise it would be considered "leather armor" at best -- with the enchantments it seems to be fairly powerful.

Earlier versions of Dungeons and Dragons had it so that a Magic-User aka Wizard could not cast spells in armor at all. AD&D 1st edition allowed a multi-classed Figher/Mage or Fighter/Mage/Thief to cast spells in armor, even plate mail. 2nd Edition AD&D reduced it to "only Elven Chain", which eventually became "mithril armor works for Fighter/Mages".

Third Edition Dungeons and Dragons introduced Armor classifications (light, medium, heavy) and gave their armors an Arcane Spell Failure rating. Certain armors, such as Elven Chain, had a reduced rating for Arcane Spell Failure. As there is no roll to cast a spell successfully, instead of granting a penalty to the casting skill roll the Arcane Spell Failure was just that, a percantage chance that your spell would not work.

One idea would be to make up a penalty to cast Magic spells based on armor, making that Failure be a penalty to the roll. But I have to wonder why that would be the case. I mean, some people say that it is from being hindered. I don't like that idea, otherwise we would just use an encumbrance penalty. So maybe it is that the character has a harder time with channeling the magic. But if this is the case, I could see a character wearing things that are designed to actually assist the channeling of magic. Maybe those wizard robes actually have some alchemical components to them and they actually grant a Spellcasting roll bonus. I can also see wands and staves being used to enhance spellcasting in a similar way.

What do you guys think?
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Cryonic
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 5:47 pm    Post subject: Re: Armor and Spellcasting Reply with quote

SeeleyOne wrote:
The Jedi in Star Wars do not wear armor. Or at least I never saw any of them do so on the movies. I assume that this is because they want to stay unencumbered so that they can more easily jump and fly around in cool ways. Hmmm, well Darth Vader DOES wear armor, but you don't see him jumping around. In the video games where you can be Darth Vader he tends to be more of a slower-moving tank-like person of immense power and impending doom to his enemies.


That's more to do with the fact that he is badly injured inside all that cybernetics and less to do with him being armored.

Quote:
In all of the wizard storues that I have read, I don't recall a single one of them wearing armor. No armor for Harry Dresden, nor for those wizards from fantasy settings. Harry has a big coat with armor enchantments on it, but otherwise it would be considered "leather armor" at best -- with the enchantments it seems to be fairly powerful.


Re-read the Dresden Files. He does wear armor. That heavy duster is his armor and those coats aren't light. There are a few references from him about wearing it even when it is the summer heat out as it has saved his life more than once.

Quote:
Earlier versions of Dungeons and Dragons had it so that a Magic-User aka Wizard could not cast spells in armor at all. AD&D 1st edition allowed a multi-classed Figher/Mage or Fighter/Mage/Thief to cast spells in armor, even plate mail. 2nd Edition AD&D reduced it to "only Elven Chain", which eventually became "mithril armor works for Fighter/Mages".

Third Edition Dungeons and Dragons introduced Armor classifications (light, medium, heavy) and gave their armors an Arcane Spell Failure rating. Certain armors, such as Elven Chain, had a reduced rating for Arcane Spell Failure. As there is no roll to cast a spell successfully, instead of granting a penalty to the casting skill roll the Arcane Spell Failure was just that, a percantage chance that your spell would not work.


More specifically, the Arcane Spell Failure chance only applied to spells with a Somatic component (S in the VSM list). If you used the Still Spell Metamagic Feat or cast a spell that lacked the S, then you suffered no chance of arcane failure regardless of the armor worn.

Quote:
One idea would be to make up a penalty to cast Magic spells based on armor, making that Failure be a penalty to the roll. But I have to wonder why that would be the case. I mean, some people say that it is from being hindered. I don't like that idea, otherwise we would just use an encumbrance penalty. So maybe it is that the character has a harder time with channeling the magic. But if this is the case, I could see a character wearing things that are designed to actually assist the channeling of magic. Maybe those wizard robes actually have some alchemical components to them and they actually grant a Spellcasting roll bonus. I can also see wands and staves being used to enhance spellcasting in a similar way.


I don't see the point in encumbering spellcasters in this way. It doesn't really serve any purpose other than the D&D trope of spellcasters can't wear armor. To me it is a silly thing to do that just creates one more headache of a circumstantial modifier.
Shadowrun mages can wear full combat suits and still cast, they just have to have natural eyes (or paid the essence cost for cyberwear) to target the spell (prevents the whole casting at a target via a satellite uplinked camera view from the other side of the world).
As for Wands/Staves. Sure. Let the use of one be either the trapping of one's spellcasting or give them a bonus (+1 or +2) when casting spells while wielding such an item.
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Zadmar
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Squishy Wizards are more of a game balance thing, and because spellcasters in SW have more of a linear development (compared to certain other roleplaying games) it's not really an issue.

If the player wanted such a restriction I'd probably handle it as a hindrance, perhaps based on Vow and/or the Protector drawback of AB (Miracles).
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Drue
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 6:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Armor and Spellcasting Reply with quote

SeeleyOne wrote:

One idea would be to make up a penalty to cast Magic spells based on armor, making that Failure be a penalty to the roll. But I have to wonder why that would be the case. I mean, some people say that it is from being hindered. I don't like that idea, otherwise we would just use an encumbrance penalty.

What do you dislike about the encumbrance penalties?

From a non-setting specific point of view, they seem to be sufficient to provide "interesting choices"; after all, advances spent toward reducing or eliminating encumbrance penalties are advances not spent toward new powers, improved casting skills, more power points, etc. Also, not all casters are wizards; e.g. the classic d&d paladin was well armed and armoured and is easy to Savage by taking the AB:Faith and not investing much past a decent casting die.

If a player thinks they can build the invulnerable tank mage by buying up strength & smarts and neglecting everything else then they will find themselves very vulnerable to tricks. A perma-shaken caster is no threat and can be disregarded by reasonably tactically minded opponents.

Certainly a house-rule for inflicting additional penalties is an option, but not an option that should be baked into the common rules I think. If you have a game world in mind that an excess of metal interferes with magic, then more power to you. My only advice is to apply those penalties consistently. A fantasy world can have any rules of reality, but once established, those rules must be recognized or the story falls apart. When those rules of reality are casually tossed aside, it can be quite jarring for the participants in the shared suspension of disbelief, be they players or audience.
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SeeleyOne
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cryonic: Harry has what amounts to be "leather armor" before the enchantment effectt. I was not aware that the Arcane Spell Failure was so relatively simple to circumvent in 3rd edition. Either that, or I forgot as it has been at least 8 years since I played it last. But you are right, simply adding "no armor" to the Magic background serves no purpose.

Zadmar: Those were some good links.

I am thinking that IF I had a group of wizards that wore robes, it would be a Tradition thing, and that it would be some sort of robe that was actually a magical item of some sort. It would not be free, but a character in that tradition could get their own special magical robes.

Having various traditions of magic is an appealing idea, actually. Why should the clerics get all the fun for choosing their deity?
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SeeleyOne
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did not see Drue's post while I was replying. It isn't that I dislike encumbramce, just that it is a high value in regards to wearing armor and affecting spellcasting. Or rather, I don't necessarily see it making as large of an impact as, at least in my mind, I see hand gestures being hindered by things that hinder the arms at worst, but maybe just the hands. You can still do a lot with your arms if you are weighed down. Unless, of course, your arms are full.
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SeeleyOne
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 6:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am actually working with a specific setting in mind. In this setting there is actually a lot of enchanted items, much like our modern culture, instead having enchantments instead of electronics or mechanical wonders.

The enchantment process has four basic steps: alchemical preparation of the matierals, using those materials to create a given item (piece of clothing, sword, whatever), etching of runes (to create a sort of circuitry and programming of the magic, this is the enchantment phase), and then the actual application of mana (the "spark" of magic, the only part of the process that actually takes a spellcaster).

The item either containts its own mana, like a battery, or it gets it from another source. The sunlight radiates mana, but because of it mana is pretty much everywhere within a certain distance from the sun (some things can recharge better in direct sunlight).

People activate these items by force of will. As it is so commonplace it is assumed that people know how to activate items, and it is a hindrance to do it only after a Spirit roll.
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Drue
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Removed due to inaccuracies.

Last edited by Drue on Tue Oct 09, 2012 4:48 am; edited 1 time in total
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Vinzent
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you think about it, a wizard is just another type of nerd (spoken as a confirmed nerd myself). He spends his time in libraries, nose buried in books, while hanging out in dark basement labs.

Armor needs some level of physical fitness to wear for prolonged periods, and even knights rarely wore their full-plate all day long unless they were on a campaign in enemy territory.

So I'd say Wizards were robes because they're dang comfortable. Also as Terry Pratchett points out, the pointy hat is part of the uniform. You see a pointy hat, you show respect unless you want to hop home on little webbed feet.

But as was said before, the real reason for a lack of armor for wizards in D&D was game balance. Encumbrance rules should take care of the rest as odds are Strength will be a dump stat for a Wizard. If he does have a decent strength and wants to wear armor, it doesn't really break the game.
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Clash957
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm with Cryonic that wizards not wearing armor is largely a D&D (and its many clones) trope some what supported by the Lord of the Rings character Gandalf. I also believe that is was largely a mechanics balencing issue for D&D, and for the Gray/White Wizards the fact he was an old man.

As for Harry Dresden, Harry is by most accounts a private detective in the modern world. Just claiming that he wears a duster heavy and armored enough to be considered leather armor is more than enough for any cop (and even security guard) think he is trouble. I mean when was the last time you strapped on your interceptor vest to pick up so milk and eggs? Anyone that does tends to be watched by law enforcement and that's if it isn't banned entirely. Wearing armor is a clear indicator that you are either expecting trouble or about to cause trouble.

I would say the same thing goes for the Jedi. They are not soldiers (not really anyway) more like intergalactic troubleshooters. Most of the time there just isn't a need to scare the common folk by wearing armor, or clear danger to need to bother with it. Doubly so, their light saber can protect them far better than even bulky imperial storm trooper armor.

Same goes for the real world. I've worn modern body armor many times. The stuff will make you sweat with minimal exertion even on cold days, and it makes some simple tasks a little annoying to accomplish in it. Especially after 8-12 hours in it. If there isn't a need to wear it, and I have the option not to, I don't wear it.

As for Savage Worlds Arcane Backgrounds, I don't think armor would seriously impact their spell casting ability. That said, Encumbrance is good to actually affect wizards. You have to be fairly strong to wear even light armor (with all your other equipment). Seeing that the Strength Attribute really has nothing a wizard character would need. I could easily see them keeping it a d4 in favor of Smarts boost. Players just don't get that many advances for niceties Robes now becomes a good option as they are light and comfortable and easy to convince others you are in fact a wizard. Plus, like you said, robes are the article of clothing most likely to be enchanted with something favoring a spell caster and the Armor Spell can do just or better if they are good spellcaster.
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SeeleyOne
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Once again, thanks guys for the insight.

I am working on a modular spellcasting system for my setting. So far it is working pretty good (and still roughly in-line with the Powers in SWD) but I wondered about the whole armor thing.

The thought of the Traditions thing was a nice lightbulb moment tnat I may not have had for a bit longer (mayber a lot longer) had this discussion, and overall understanding, of the whole arcane wearing armor thing.

Adding the Encumbrance penalty to casting spells is a good idea, too. I can see the group running away with some stolen treasure, and the mage yelling to take a quick spell break.

One more thought that came to mind while reading some replies was that I am under the impression that Backlash only happens when you roll a 1 on the spellcasting die. In one of the posts it seemsed inferred that penalties to the die roll make this margin larger. I agree that it should, especially as my magic system doesn't use power points and the harder spells are more tempting, but I do not recall having seen such a rule. I have a lot of SW books, but I have only seriosuly looked over but a few of them.
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Drue
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, that's what I get for not checking the book first Embarassed

"The penalty applies to all Agility and Strength totals, as well as skills linked to either of those two attributes." SWDE49

Encumbrance penalties would not apply to casting rolls by RAW.
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SeeleyOne
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That was why at first I had a hard time trying to figure out why it would affect Spellcasting. Oh well, the reference to concentration does have merit as it could be distracting or at least fatiguing.
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ValhallaGH
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 7:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This thread series may be exactly what you're looking for.

Enjoy, and good luck. Cool
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SeeleyOne
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 7:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ValhallaGH wrote:
This thread series may be exactly what you're looking for.

Enjoy, and good luck. Cool

Thanks, that thread does indeed have a lot of good ideas in it.
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Lord Karick
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 11:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zadmar wrote:
I think Squishy Wizards are more of a game balance thing...

LOL!Never heard that expression before, but I like it!
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It could be just as simple as "why should I weigh myself down with heavy armor when I can just cast the Armor spell and get better protection from that?"

Just for the sake of having something to protect him when he's surprised, a wizard might wear leather, or, if his strength is decent, chain, but in most cases, a wizard would probably prefer to use magic to solve a problem.
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SeeleyOne
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SavageGamerGirl wrote:
It could be just as simple as "why should I weigh myself down with heavy armor when I can just cast the Armor spell and get better protection from that?"

Just for the sake of having something to protect him when he's surprised, a wizard might wear leather, or, if his strength is decent, chain, but in most cases, a wizard would probably prefer to use magic to solve a problem.

I have played a character that had such a conceit. He felt that every situation had a spell. Granted, in D&D there ARE a lot of spells, and since we were using spell points instead of memorizing spells, it was a valid conceit.

In Savage Worlds, while the spells have more options available for their exact effects while casting them, there really are not that many spells. Most characters really only know a few of them, as each new spell costs an Advance. Such a conceit is not as likely.

I have been working on a modular system that gives you all of the capabilities within a Power Category. So a character with Fire can do any of the varous Fire effects. The catch is that certain effects are harder than others, especially when you stack those effects. A mere Flame Bolt is far simpler than a blast of flame that covers a burst template (of any size).

While characters can do any of the things possible, and mix them with other Power Categories, "on the fly", they can also get specific spells that are both easier for them to cast (+1) and also have the benefit of a Raise result. So while everyone with fire can whip up a Flame Bolt, Byron the Boltmaster has a Flame Bolt that will do an extra die of damage on a raise.

I am thinking that I will go the pointy hat, robes, and pointy shoes route, plus add in that iron is an anti-magic metal. It will give armor with iron an inherent arcane resistance to magic, but it, with the aforementioned "pointy hat" rule, makes a better solution given the setting in mind.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the first concern should be how magic works according to world design and then figure out what mechanics fit with it.

Dresden is a perfect example really. Harry states that wearing clothing that isn't "natural" (cotton, leather, etc.) interferes with magic. Part of it is the tie between magic and nature and part is belief, where belief has such a strong impact on the effect of magic.

Once the mechanics are set then how they would realistically affect the setting in other ways has to be considered too.

For instance, if iron interferes with magic, then why don't wizards wear bronze armor? There's a reason for iron to replace bronze in the "real world," but in a world where there would still be a demand for it, it would still be around. Even if magic is rare, that only makes its users more powerful for their rarity, and powerful rare things are worth protecting.

Heck, would the discovery that iron interferes with magic cause wizards to unite to prevent its discovery and use? How would that affect society or its views of magic?

And if iron disrupts magic, then do mundane people without magic start devising iron weapons with barbs to use against magicians?

There's really a domino effect of potential setting influence there.

Alternatively, say from a setting standpoint that casting a spell requires a precise replication of a runic symbol with a hand gesture.

From that, some quick mechanics can be determined:

Spellcasting requires the use of one free hand (it also likely suffers a penalty for offhand use).
Spellcasting requires precise movements, so any penalty to Agility also affects Spellcasting (so now encumbrance affects Spellcasting).

Again, effects that could occur from that should be considered. For instance, there will likely be some form of shackles specifically to keep a wizard from casting, or at least people would know to bind their hands tightly. Wizards may suffer a form of capital punishment where their hands are cut off. An organization of wizards may oversee such punishments to insure wizards aren't persecuted unfairly. That organization could be extra-national, which could offer interesting political effects.

Anyway, just some thoughts and considerations.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If iron interferes with spellcasting, then nothing with hemoglobin (oxygen carrier in most creatures blood) can cast spells as blood uses iron to loosely attach with oxygen.
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