Hedge Magic Heroes Part III

   Here we have the five remaining level zero spells on this list. Next up; level one.

   Unless otherwise noted:

  • Level: Zero
  • Components: V, S
  • Casting Time: One Standard Action
  • Saving Throw: Will Negates
  • Spell Resistance: Yes (Harmless)

   Transmutation

   Cure Hide

  • Range: Touch, Target: One animal carcass, Duration: Instantaneous.
  • Cure Hide turns the hide of an already-deceased animal into leather or a cured pelt. Since this involves stripping away the underlayer of the skin, and thus breaking the connective tissues which hold the skin on, it also means that such a hide can be easily and quickly removed from the animal’s body, with little risk of damage. While additional, skilled, work will be required to convert such a pelt into truly fine leather or fur, it will be quite usable for basic purposes – or salable – as-is. In fact, the lack of holes, even preservation, and reduced decay mean that hides or pelts prepared with the aid of this spell are worth an average of 25% more than those prepared manually. Of course, if you’re caught out in the cold and attacked by some wild animal, it can be very handy to be able to turn its hide into a warm and comfortable robe with a quick spell and a few minutes work.

   Extract (Butter)

  • Range: Close, Targets: up to two gallons per level of unliving organic material, Duration: Instantaneous.
  • Extract is most widely known for it’s use in extracting butter or cream from milk, but it can also be used to extract nectar or perfume essences from flowers, oil from nuts, naphtha from crude oil, dyes from insect shells, and flavoring extracts from plants, among other uses – although the user is advised to have a suitable container handy to hold whatever he or she is extracting. In the hands of adventurer’s, Extract is most commonly used to collect special resources – whether for sale, for some esoteric use, or simply (like a vial of skunk oil) to trouble opponents.

   Mage Hand (Standard Spell)

   Message (Standard Spell)

   Mill

  • Range: Close, Target: One large bag or basket of unliving grindable material, Duration: Instantaneous.
  • Mill reduces material to grains or powder at the option of the caster, turning grain to flour or meal, pumice to scrubbing powder, coal to dust, and bone to bone meal. While this is an immense timesaver in many household and industrial tasks, adventurers tend to be interested in things like scattering dust to reveal invisible creatures, creating fuel-air explosions (flour or coal works very nicely), and disposing of inconvenient bones (easily done, once you have them gathered up).

   Purify Food and Drink (Standard Spell)

   Sharpen

  • Range: Close, Targets: Up to a dozen tools or weapons, Duration: Instantaneous.
  • Sharpen puts a fine edge on tools and weapons, saving a good deal of time with a sharpening stone or strop. Where this is relevant – such as for chefs, butchers, barners, woodcutters, and so on – possessing this spell is worth a +3 bonus on skill checks made to see how much money you make and to avoid accidents. While normal wear and tear – such as being sheathed and unsheathed – will swiftly reduce such a honed edge to normal sharpness, for the first few moments, a Sharpened edge is preternaturally keen. Piercing and cutting weapons so treated gain a +1 circumstance bonus to damage on their first hit against an opponent during the round in which they were sharpened.

   Universal

   Mnemonic

  • Range: Touch, Target: Creature Touched, Duration: Three Minutes/Special.
  • Mnemonic allows the target to briefly study a scene or document, listen to a speech or directions, or otherwise pay close attention to his or her sensory impressions during it’s three-minute duration, and then recall them in exacting detail for up to a week afterwards. Even after the immediate impression fades, the user will enjoy a +5 bonus on any rolls needed to recall details afterwards. While this is useful to any student, adventurers tend to use it to memorize secret documents, listen to battle plans, recall routes through labyrinths, and for similar daring undertakings.

   Prestidigitation (Standard Spell)

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RPG Design – Eclipse Spell Progressions

   This basic question about Eclipse: The Codex Persona, and how it was designed, has come up a couple of times – so I thought I’d answer it:

   “Did you use some sort of formula to come up with the costs of the various classes magic levels? Eclipse has rules for buying individual spells and powers, and how much caster/manifestor levels cost, but only limited rules for how to price out the spells or power points per day – and trying to reverse engineer the math is giving conflicting results”

   I did use formulas to come up with the costs of the manifesting / casting progressions – but to maintain compatibility with 3.0, 3.5, Modern, and various third-party publications, it had to be a retrofit. In writing Eclipse, I took it that – since 3.0 and 3.5 both worked pretty well for a great many people – the systems were passably “balanced”. There were plenty of arguments about what class was best in combat, but I’ve seen a lot of games where combat was rarely a good idea. In any case, those arguments tended to be over classes like the Cleric and Druid – where the fact that members of other classes could take similar duties and obligations, and so jack up their own powers a bit if necessary, provided a built-in counterbalance.

   Ergo, I simply expressed each of the 3.0 and 3.5 SRD classes as an equation – so many skill points at cost unknown cost “x”, so many feats at unknown cost “y”, so many levels of spellcasting at unknown cost “z”, so many drawbacks in the form of duties and restrictions, and so on – and then solved them as a set of simultaneous equations. That took some tweaking, since the classes hadn’t been set up systematically to begin with, but it provided some usable starting values to use as a basis.

   I could construct some complicated arguments – “Well, once you can cast eighth level spells, a few more per day is not a big deal and they do get them later” to cover things like the relatively small cost difference between the Wizard and Sorcerer spell progressions – but it would still be empirical. After all, a lot of the basics were legacies from earlier editions, right back to Chainmail.

   For good or ill, however, when it came to spell and power progressions, empiricism was largely unavoidable. The structures of the SRD tables – how many spell slots or how much power a character got, how high a level of effects they gained access to, and how many effects they were capable of using – were interacting with a purely subjective measurement; how versatile or broad was the list of abilities they were gaining access to and how useful were the individual abilities?

   There’s a discussion on the details of that over here:

   Since there was no way to precisely price subjective notions like “versatility” and “breadth of theme”, there really wasn’t a good way to provide a formula.

   You can build your own spellcasting system though; simply buy a Base Caster Level (page 10) and buy Mana (page 36) as Generic Spell Levels or Power. Then buy some Spells or Psionic Abilities (page 11), paying double if you want to be a spontaneous caster and triple if buying spontaneous powers that can be augmented.

   For example, a sixteenth level sorcerer has 188 levels of spells available and knows 32.5 spells (counting level zero spells as 1/2, as usual). It would cost 226 points (on the average) to buy that many Generic Spell Levels, 96 points to buy 16 Caster Levels (these really can’t be Specialized or Corrupted easily, since our freestyle caster here has no restrictions on the kinds of spells he can choose), and 65 CP to buy the spell formula for a spontaneous caster – a total of 387 points versus the 256 it would cost to buy those Sorcerer levels.

   Of course, our freestyle caster isn’t bound to a table or to a theme; if he wants to throw 188 first level spells today, or twenty-three eighth level ones, so be it. If he wants to learn Cure Moderate Wounds and Heal to go with Fireball and Teleport, so be it. Those extra points have bought him a lot of flexability.

   If he does restrict himself to a theme, he can cut down on the cost of those Base Caster Levels – all the way down to a mere 48 points.

   If he wants to be bound to a table, it will corrupt the cost of his generic spell levels – but the table will probably be fairly strict; he’ll be saving quite a chunk of points there. Enough, in fact, to bring the cost down to 151 points.

   That will take his total down to 264 points – just a little bit more than the 256 that a standard sorcerer would be paying.

   That’s actually somewhat coincidental; the main point is that building your own, freestyle, power pool or spellcasting progression is normally a bit more expensive than using an existing one. That’s intentional; characters who are building personalized progressions will invariably build them to support the character they have in mind as efficiently as possibly. Ergo, it will cost them a bit more – forcing them to trim back on the bits that they don’t need to match that concept.