The cabal of sorcerers combine their skills, binding the arcane powers into a greater whole…
The trio of witches repeats the chant over and over, until a dread curse takes shape…
The priest and his flock call divine power as a thousand voices pray as one…
So you want to boost your magic with your teammates, eh? Well, that works. But you need to take note of some very important issues. First and most important – keep in mind that other players might not exactly agree. Group magic is going to require something from them, whether it’s time or character points or interest. Before you go down the road of using group magic, you’d be well advised to talk to the other players.
But let’s say they agree, or you’re interested regardless. Where do you take it from here? As always the question when playing Eclipse is: “What do I actually want to do?” So, what do you want to do? What do you want to use it for? When do you want to use it? In combat? What kind of game are you playing? How strong is magic in general? How much are you willing to sacrifice for it?
Now, onto more mechanical fare:
Rituals provide a great way to work the entire group into spellcasting. Everyone can cooperate to make the ritual a success, by going on adventures, using they character skills to get needed resources, or having the expertise needed to do the ritual in the first place. The downside is that the rituals themselves aren’t usually that exciting. Unless you’ve got enemies coming after you, all the fun lies in the prep-work, not the handfuls O’ dice rolls at the very end.
Mechanically, this doesn’t take any changes whatsoever. All the ritual magic rules are already there, and the party can participate as much as they individually care to. However, Ritual Magic isn’t well-detailed in Eclipse, so you may have to add The Practical Enchanter to fully cover the system.
Specialty Magical Talents
Focused magical talents can give you a boost for working in a group. These are pretty easy to do. Just buy Specialized: Another character must give up his or her Action to assist (using Aid Another). Caster levels, a couple extra levels of spellcasting, metamagic and some bonuses to use them – all make you more powerful in a group.
This is normally only Specialized, not both Specialized and Corrupted. If you have to sacrifice something on top of the action used up, that might be both. Of course, you can also go for increased effect instead.
The upside here is that it’s extremely easy to take this talent and it works flexibly in a lot of situations. The downside is that another player likely isn’t going to want to sacrifice all their actions so you can look MOAR SPESHUL! But as always it’s up to your group’s style and preference.
Let’s say you want to buy abilities that really benefit the whole party – well, why not be the one ot buy them yourself? If you buy boosting talents and hand out the goodies to other people when convenient, you get to be the hero while letting someone else have the the heroic moment. Whether you’re enhancing manipulation of esoteric forces, shoving extra magic power into your friends’ hands, or using the Seven Seals of Agrammor, the outcome is the same – you hand a big upgrade to somebody right when they need it.
Mechanically, you first buy a few key abilities. There’s always Glory and a Metamagic feat of some type, but you can do more than that. Ability Focus, Augmented Magic, Berzerker, Countermagic, Eldritch, Mana, and Shadowmaster are all convenient possibilities. Now take Blessing just for that ability: voila, you’re all done.
A more flexible version of the above, and one which involves the entire party. In this trick, the entire party breaks down some spellcasting tools and bonuses, divides them up amongst themselves, and buys Blessing just for that ability. The team can then effectively use those abilities – it doesn’t matter who actually uses the effect as long as its only one character at a time.
The method has a number of advantages. First, it’s spread throughout the party, so your group spellcasting doesn’t instantly vanish if the Wizard leaves. It does get weakened, however, and you may need a couple people to buy the basics even if it results in duplication.
The downside is that everybody has to agree ahead of time on what to buy and who gets it, and it could cause arguments between players who want to increase the team spellcasting and those who want to buy individual abilities. Depending on your team composition, or if a player chooses to change characters, you may end up buying abilities which don’t fit just because the group needs them.
If you go this route, it’s a good idea to have someone buy Mana and another player take Inherent Spell. This provides with some level of backup, so if one player can’t make it you still have sime basic spellcasting ability. Alternatively, you can take a massively limited form of Spellcasting to get the cost down to a reasonable level. Otherwise, you’re basically looking at the same pile of Blessing abilities as the above.
Ah, Witchcraft. People love to envision witches gathering at mystically-important times to cast their spells together, or living in covens devoted to study and advancements in their practice. Well, why not?
Mechanically, WItchcraft doesn’t gain any benefits from working in groups. Your magic does what it does, and you can’t stack up bonuses nearly as easily. That said, you can still gain a decent percentage from assistance.
The two major ways of adapting Witchcraft to funciton better in groups involves buying extra Power that you can give to others, or taking Pacts such Spell Failure (when not working in groups). This gives you a convenient way to ramp up your abilities beyond what you could normally sustain, as long as you have people helping.
This is an awkward tool, but one you might give a try. I’m warning you going in that I don’t recommend this path, because it’s got some annoying issues and doesn’t make the slightest lick of sense, but you can use it if you so choose. (Fortunately, there are a few ways to retrofit it)
Before, we discussed ways you could have the party group their talents and work together to cast spells. This time around, we’re going to put the party’s Character Points to work directly. In essence, the aprty si going to build themselves a non-existent spellcaster. That is, we’re going to put points to a character which doesn’t actually exist, shove spellcasting on ‘im, and let that guy do the hard work of magic.
Mechanically, every active character has to pay one or two Character Points per level, but the Virtual Spellcaster can only benefit from three points per player, or 3 if it’s a small party. Levels aren’t important to the Virtual Spellcaster.
These points are grouped and provide the Character Points for this Virtual Spellcaster (VS for short). VS doesn’t have a name, personality, body, and can’t be attacked or affected… but also doesn’t get any actions or benefits. You can’t target VS for anything, and VS does nothing by himself. All VS has is a character level and spellcasting-based abilities, which caninclude metamagic feats, spell levels, mana and feats which alter the spellcasting in various ways. VS doesn’t have to obey any Framework and can’t be attacked.
The upshot is that you only buy spellcasting and spellcasting bonuses for VS. Note that you can’t purchase abilities which improve VS’s ability scores or save DC’s – he doesn’t have any. Instead, characters can borrow VS’s spellcasting on a per round basis. Using that spellcasting requires a certain number of characters, based on the level of the spell and the character. A single character can use a spell up to [Character Level/2-4]. Two characters can use a spell up to [Character Level/2-2]. A trio can use spells up to [Character Level/2]. This is where some of the benefit comes into play, because working together you can cast spells above the normal level for characters.
When casting spells, you have to use the best attributes of any character doing the casting, and anyone who wants to cast or help cast needs also has to meet any attribute requirements of the spells in question. So a party who all used Charisma as the dunp stat shouldn’t be buying Bardic casting. However, it’s not all punishment and limitations. The above restrictions mean that everything the Virtual Spellcaster buys is Corrupted, and you can layer other Specializations on top of that.
Now that you have the basic rules for this, you likely need a World Law to actually put it into play. While a group fo really powerful character might be able to create their own Astral Construct to do the above, it’s pretty unlikely except as a weird experiment. Therefore, it’s going to happen if characters have access to a World Law making it so. And this means your enemies will also likely make use of it, so don’t be surprised if the Dark Lord calls forth his most terrible minions and throws a spell at you even if he’s a Fighter-type.
If you’re getting into The Practical Enchanter, there’s an easier way to do the above: buy a hearthstone and keep upgrading it. You can pay experience points, and requiring groups to use the most useful spells is an easy way of keeping costs down with limitations. It doesn’t work exactly the same, but it’s a lot easier to deal with and goes a long way to binding a party together.
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