Gaming Harry Potter III – Blood And Fire

For today, it’s an offline question, summarized as “are there any more really problematic pieces of magic in the Potterverse outside of the “Deathly Hallows” themselves?”

Yes indeed, there is at least one more really major problematic magical effect or spell in the Harry Potter universe – but I didn’t see much point in addressing it the last time around since you have to replace it to make the story work. The series just… kind of falls apart without it. Now I’m hardly the first to point it out, and there are doubtless some in-depth analysis of the problem out there – but here we go anyway.

The problem lies in the (nameless) blood protection effect that protects Harry through his childhood and which and forces him to keep going back to the Dursleys.

“While you can still call home the place where your mother’s blood dwells, there you cannot be touched or harmed by Voldemort. He shed her blood, but it lives on in you and her sister. Her blood became your refuge. You need return there only once a year, but as long as you can still call it home, there he cannot hurt you. Your aunt knows this. I explained what I had done in the letter I left, with you, on her doorstep. She knows that allowing you houseroom may well have kept you alive for the past fifteen years.”

-Dumbledore, in The Order Of The Pheonix.

It is this mysterious force that keeps Harry Potter safe as long as he lives with Petunia occasionally.

What’s problematic there?

Well… do those forces keep the rest of the household safe when they’re away from home? If not… why not just eliminate Vernon, Petunia, and Dudley? They go to work, shopping, and school don’t they? Kill them – or even just Petunia – and the protection soon ends. It’s not like Harry’s location, or the existence of the Dursleys, is a well-protected secret either. The sheer number of people who were hanging around when Harry was brought to the Dursleys tells us that.

They definitely don’t stop muggle aggression or non-magical forces or monsters. Otherwise other kids couldn’t join Dudley in “Harry Hunting”, the Dementor couldn’t have attacked, and Harry would be immune to household accidents (and to Dudley repeatedly punching him in the nose). So why not hire a muggle hit squad, or load a truck with something explosive and blow up the entire block, or drop a plane on the house, or send some monsters, or any of a million other ploys?

There are supposed to be LOTS of magical families which fell victim to the war. Was Harry’s mother the ONLY parent or grandparent or other relative who sacrificed themselves to try to save someone when they could have escaped? Why isn’t this kind of protection a reasonably common thing? Even if the activation spell Dumbledore used was rare (acceptance by a relative is not going to be all that hard to come by), why aren’t there plenty of related charms? Since reflecting the Killing Curse (and apparently a variety of lesser curses) and destroying the user didn’t call for anything but the sacrifice… why isn’t the death curse known for occasionally backfiring?

What kind of relationship is sufficiently close for the general protection spell anyway? Isn’t everyone in the world related? Why wasn’t a blood relationship and an activating spell and acceptance into a household required when Harry made a personal sacrifice to protect the other students at Hogwarts? After all, that apparently worked just fine and he didn’t even have to actually die. He just had to offer himself.

These mysterious forces suddenly stop working when Harry “comes of age”. But isn’t “coming of age” a legal fiction that varies between cultures and times? Why does the magic of love and sacrifice pay down-to-the-minute attention to a technicality?

According to some sources, the effect only protects Harry, and only while he’s actually at the house. That just makes it worse. Harry went to school before Hogwarts and surely spent as much time as possible away from the Dursleys. Of what use was this much-vaunted protection then? Why was having it worth a childhood full of abuse if there were other ways to provide a safehouse?

If visiting “home” briefly once a year is enough to recharge these mysterious forces… why not board Harry at Hogwarts for most of the year much earlier? After all, acceptance letters came addressed to the “Cupboard Under The Stairs” so they KNEW that Harry was being mistreated and – at the least – had intentionally avoided looking into it. What makes “growing up famous” more problematic than growing up “being physically (at the least we have in-book confirmation for Dudley beating him, pretty much necessarily with Vernon and Petunias approval – and abuse from them is very strongly implied) and emotionally abused and being chronically malnourished?” Why not at least pay the Dursleys to treat Harry better? Are they incorruptibly above bribes but not above mistreating a child?

Of course, this also allows Harry to unquestioningly turn his back on the “muggle” world – allowing him to (among many similar items) ignore the moral problems of actively erasing awareness of magic among muggles – thus preventing them from taking any measures to protect themselves against magical conflicts and monsters, treating them as second-class citizens at best (and as chattel at worst), and condemning people to death rather than sharing those fabulous magical cures with them – without bringing his “noble good guy” status into question.

Like it or not, those mysterious forces are a pretty basic part of the series setup and drive a number of major plot points down the line – and they don’t make a lot of sense. While the target audience will probably never notice the problem, gamers tend to want a lot more detail. Unfortunately, given that this bit of magic reeks of “poorly thought out plot device” there really isn’t one to give them.

Is there anything which works better?

Perhaps. Let us start from the beginning. We’re outright told that no one knows what happened the night that Harry’s parents died. Even Voldemort apparently didn’t fully understand and he didn’t seem all that interested in explaining what he did know anyway – and there were no other witnesses who were willing to talk about it. (Voldemort might have had an aide or something along – but if he did, and Harry was actually the target, then disposing of an injured baby doesn’t call for magic. Babies are fragile).

What was known to the magical authorities of the time was that Voldemort personally attacked two other high-powered magic users and – at the end – a baby who was in the house had suffered a non-lethal magical injury and all three of the people fighting were apparently dead.

So… like it or not, the “innocent baby survives a terrible magical attack and defeats the dark lord!” story was invented for public consumption, whether by the magical authorities or by someone at the Daily Prophet. The fact that authorial fiat made that story turn out to be more or less correct doesn’t change the fact that it was invented out of whole cloth.

Given the evidence they actually had… any sane investigator would have concluded that “Voldemort and the Potters took each other out and the baby was bloody lucky that he only got grazed by some nasty magic – likely a rebounding spell, corona effect, something that got interrupted during casting, or a part of a disrupted spell – instead of being killed”.

After all, “the power of love” would have done !@#$ all against the ceiling falling in, or the house burning down, or some such.

So why didn’t the surviving Death Eaters go after Harry as a small child?

Because the surviving Death Eaters were not outrageously stupid (that sort of goes along with “surviving” part) and were not inclined to accept the statements of the authorities or the newspapers at face value or they wouldn’t have been Death Eaters in the first place. They looked at the actual evidence… and concluded that the baby was a completely unimportant bystander, and had possibly been set up as a trap. Sure, killing the kid might have been satisfying – but they didn’t know that Voldemort would be coming back or that he would care.

Letting the public have their charming little story cost them nothing at all. It might even benefit them; having the public put their faith in miraculous child-saviors meant fewer calls for actual effective investigations and precautions.

And so they did not give a damn about Harry until Voldemort returned and started issuing orders again.

Oh, the prophecy?

Well, first up… Prophecies are kept secret. So nobody except a few individuals with high ranks in the government and an interest are going to know about it. Secondarily, that “prophecy”… is pretty vague.

The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches. Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies. And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not. And either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives.

Couldn’t anyone vanquish a Dark Lord if they just got REALLY lucky? Which Dark Lord? Approaches in time, in space, or from another dimension? What does it take to defy him? What calendar? What kind of mark? Maybe on a magic test? What power? Is “the other” a third party? Why not? Neither can live while the other survives? Doesn’t that let out anyone who is alive?

So… Dumbledore, with a war to finish, a country to rebuild, Death Eaters to catch, a school and a government to run, and a thousand other tasks… schluffed off Harry on his relatives (as he was probably legally required to do anyway) using “otherwise he will die!” as a reason to get them to take the unwanted kid. The Death Eaters stayed away because there was no reason for them to bother – and if there WAS, the prophecy implied that they’d be unable to do anything anyway, as it wasn’t their destiny. And so Harry was neglected, and fell through the cracks, and the story could pretty much proceed as written whether those mysterious forces beyond his Mothers blessing ever actually existed or not.

Explaining “He turned seventeen and was suddenly attacked”? Well… Voldemort was back and “The Order got wind of an upcoming attack and decided to move him” actually covers that well enough.

If I ever run a Potterverse game… I think that I’ll just go with that. It will make things SO much simpler.

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Hero System – Animate Object

Animate Object is a bit of a mess even in d20, where the spell and the resulting creatures are standardized. In the hero System, where no such standardization applies, such effects are a bit of a nightmare. Ergo, here we have Blueblood’s version – which summons up some wisps of magical telekinetic force which wrap themselves around relevant items and infuse them with a standardized amount of power – turning them into thirty point items of equipment.

While there is some enhancement involved, these are, however, fairly normal items; you can’t animate a doctors bag and expect it to heal your wounds. You can, however, animate a slab of rock and expect it to block attacks on you.

In game terms, the “Animation” is a “summon” effect – although it’s “summon an animating force” rather than “summon a creature”.

Animate Object Spell

  • STR o (-10 CP)
  • DEX 18 (24 CP): OCV 6, DCV 6 + 6 (Shrinking)
  • CON 0 (-20 CP)
  • BODY 2 (-16 CP)
  • INT 3 (-7 CP)
  • EGO 2 (-16 CP)
  • PRE 10 (0 CP
  • COM 0 (-5 CP)
  • PD 0 (0 CP)
  • ED 0 (0 CP)
  • SPD 4 (12 CP)
  • REC 0 (0 CP)
  • END 0 (0 CP)
  • STUN 2 (0 CP)

Elemental Control: Animate Object Spell (10-pt reserve); Entire creature dispelled if one or more powers disrupted or runs out): -1; Visible (Eldritch glow around item being animated. ): -¼ (4 CP)

  • Telekinesis (STR 20) with Fine Manipulation, +10; Charges: 1, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 lev; Only to wield the item they are conjured to animate): -1; (8 CP).
  • Shrinking-3 (DCV +6, Height 15 cm/6″); Knockback Increase: 9; PER Bonus: -6; Charges: 1, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 levels (7 CP).
  • 2d6 Aid to Equipment Allowance (Item being animated) (Fade/hour, Max. 30); Range: 0; Generic Limitation (Only to pay for a specific piece of more-or-less conventional gear): -1; Autofire: 10 shots, ¾; Charges: 10, -¼; Affects: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼; Generic Limitation (Only GM-Approved Equipment): -1 (9 CP).
  • Force Field (15 PD/15 ED); Charges: 1, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 levels (7 CP).
  • Power Defense (20 pts); Charges: 1, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 levels (4 CP).
  • Mental Defense (20 pts); Add to Total; Charges: 1, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 levels (4 CP).
  • +22 PRE Defense; Generic Limitation (Only to defend against presence attacks) (4 CP).
  • 12″ Flight (NC: 24″); Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0; Non-Combat (MPH): 36; Charges: 1, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 levels (5 CP).

This could be considered cheese – after all, this packs everything that the “creature” does into a single elemental control and includes several “special” powers at that – but they do all effectively cost endurance (thus the one continuing charge limitation) and it’s hard to get much more of a tightly-linked group of powers than “these are the effects of a single spell, if any part of it fails, the entire spell does” and “it’s reasonably difficult to break”.

Run 0 (-12 CP), Swim 0 (-2 CP)

Disadvantage: No limbs, speech, or normal reflexes (All the Time, Fully) (-25 CP).

Net Cost: (-38) Attributes, 38 (Powers), -25 (Disadvantage).

Basically the spell is a wisp of light that wraps itself around the item being animated and causes it to fly around and act “on it’s own”. The “Aid” power basically means that all such objects have a standard (30) point base cost and are OAF. Animated objects are generally helpful, if not too bright, and so are purchased with a +1/4’th advantage for being reasonably cooperative.

Possible Animated Objects

Large Furniture (Sofa, Dining Table, Lounge):

  • Hand-to-Hand Attack (10d6, Total 14d6) 0; Range: 0; Reduced END: Zero, +½ (22 CP)
  • Armor (3 PD/3 ED) ; Usable By Others: Simultaneous Use, +½; Usable by Others Number: 2, +¼ (8 CP).

Large furniture can kick or ram quite effectively and provides a certain amount of cover. Unfortunately, most attacks will go straight through them, with very little loss of power.

Net / Bush / Tree / Rope / Carpet / Cloth / Chain

  • +6 DC for Martial Attacks (12 CP).
    • Fast Strike (OCV +2, DCV +0, 12d6) (2 CP).
    • Flying Tackle (OCV +0, DCV -1, 10+v/5) (1 CP).
    • Choke Hold (OCV -2, DCV +0, Grab, 5d6 NND) (2 CP).
    • Martial Grab (OCV -1, DCV -1, STR 60) (1 CP).
    • Martial Disarm (OCV -1, DCV +1) (2 CP).
    • Nerve Strike (OCV -1, DCV +1, 5d6 NND) (2 CP).
    • Martial Throw (OCV +0, DCV +1, 10d6+v/5) (1 CP).
    • Weapon Bind (OCV +1, DCV +0, STR 60) (2 CP).
  • +2 levels with HTH Combat (5 CP).

Items like these are surprisingly effective, especially when “wielded” with a telekinetic strength of twenty. With multiple ends and flexibility they can strike, entangle, and squeeze in a bewildering variety of ways.

Shield / Slabs of Rock / Interposing Objects

  • Armor (10 PD/10 ED) Usable By Others: Simultaneous Use, +½ (22 CP).
  • Flash Defense (Sight, 6 pts); Usable By Others: Simultaneous Use, +½ (4 CP).
  • Power Defense (6 pts); Usable By Others: Simultaneous Use, +½ (4 CP).

Large solid objects that get in the way of attacks are simple, straightforward, and surprisingly effective. They may not be able to stop heavy attacks, but they can certainly blunt them.

Axe, Sword, Spear, Pole Arm, Etc.

  • 1½d6 Killing Attack (HTH) (3d6 with telekinetic strength); Reduced END: Zero, +½ (18 CP).
  • +2 levels with All Combat; Usable By Others: Simultaneous Use, +½ (12 CP).

Animated melee weapons are simple, straightforward, and quite dangerous – partially in their own right and partially because they are pretty good at supporting another fighter.

Statue / Manaquin / Tin Man / Scarecrow / Large Doll / Etc

  • +20 STR; Doesn’t Affect Figured: -½; Charges: 1, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 levels (7 CP).
  • +20 STR (Only for HTH Combat); -½, Doesn’t Affect Figured: -½; Charges: 1, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 levels (6 CP).
  • +1 level w/Overall Level (Aide); Usable By Others: Simultaneous Use, +½ (7 CP)
  • +5 levels with HTH Combat; Generic Limitation (OCV Only): -½ (10 CP).

Perhaps the most classic of all animated objects, humanoid (or at least vaguely humanoid) automatons are versatile and know no pain or hesitation, making them surprisingly good in a fight and even of some use as aides.

Fire Extinguisher

  • Multipower (45-pt reserve); Fire Extinguisher Functions Only: -½, 2 Hex Maximum Range -¼ (16 CP).
    • u-1: 3d6 Flash (Normal Sight); Area Effect (One-hex) +½; Charges: +16.
    • u-1: 6d6 Suppress (Fire); Affect: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼; Charges: 8, +¼; Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 levels.
    • u-1: 4d6 Transform Air to a coating of Ice (Minor, Single Object); Charges: 16, +0.
    • u-1: Darkness 3″ Radius (Extinguisher Powder) versus Smell and the Sight Sense Group, 8 Charges lasting 1 Turn Each.
  • +4 levels with Extinguisher (6 CP).
  • Hand-To-Hand Attack +2d6 at 0 End Cost (4 CP).

The Fire Extinguisher is a bit silly, but it can actually be fairly effective in making life awkward for many opponents. And if all else fails, it can simply bludgeon people.

Kevlar Clothing / Light Armor / Superhero Costume

  • +10 STR; Charges: 1, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 levels, Usable By Others: Power Lost, +¼ (4 CP).
  • Armor (8 PD/8 ED); Usable By Others: Simultaneous Use, +½; Charges: 1, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 levels (12 CP).
  • Running (+12″); Charges: 1, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 levels; Usable By Others: Power Lost, +¼ (10 CP).
  • Superleap (+14″); Charges: 1, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 levels (4 CP).

The Living Clothing / Armor is an old joke, but if it’s durable enough, it can actually be a surprisingly effective boost.

Heavy Pistol/Bow/Crossbow/Gyrojet Pistol/Etc

  • 2d6 Ranged Killing Attack (RKA); Range: 225; Reduced END: Zero, +½ (22 CP).
  • +3 levels with Ranged Combat (8 CP).

Simple and effective, the job of this object is simply to shoot at its targets. Why the ammunition never runs out is something of a mystery, but it IS magic.

Grenade Launcher

  • Multipower (45-pt reserve); Generic Limitation (Grenades only): -½ (18 CP).
    • u-1: 2d6 Fragmentation Grenade: Ranged Killing Attack; Range: 225; Explosion: +½; Charges: 12, -¼.
    • u-1: 6d6 Concussion Grenade: Stun Only Energy Blast. Range: 225; Versus: PD; Explosion: +½; Charges: 12, -¼.
    • u-1: 6d6 Inciendary Grenade: Energy Blast, Range: 225; Versus: ED; Explosion: +½; Charges: 12, -¼
    • u-1: Smoke Grenade: Darkness (Smell, Sight, 3″ radius); Range: 225; Charges: 4, -¼; Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 levels.
    • u-1: 3d6 Tangler Grenade: Entangle (DEF 3): Range: 225; Explosion: +½; Charges: 12, -¼.
  • +4 level w/Grenades (10 CP).

The Grenade Launcher isn’t a very powerful weapon by Hero System standards – but it’s reasonably versatile surprisingly accurate at hitting a target hex (that telekinetic control again), and is great for dealing with crowds of mooks.

Missile Launcher / Anti-Tank Weapon

  • Multipower (60-pt reserve); Generic Limitation (Missles Only): -½ (24 CP).
    • u-2: 4d6 Shaped Charge Missile Killing Attack (RKA); Range: 300; Charges: 16, +0.
    • u-2: 12d6 Plasma Jet Missile Fire Energy Blast; Range: 300; Versus: ED; Charges: 16, +0.
    • u-2: 8d6 Inciendary Energy Blast: Range: 300; Versus: ED; Explosion: +½; Charges: 16, +0.

The Missile Launcher is one of the most powerful conventional personal weapons around, but is – of course – meant to target vehicles. Trying to shoot people is surprisingly hard. Normal missile launchers don’t usually have forty-eight missiles available, but once again, magic.

Confronted with a hostile army, Blueblood has opted to learn a spell to let him deploy the equivalent of his own platoon. It isn’t – and really can’t be – enough to handle an army, but it should be useful in a variety of lesser situations.

Eclipse d20 – Dweomer, Thaumaturgy, and Wizardry

I was playing around with ‘what would a high level dweomer based primary caster look like and blanked. I was able to maybe get something somewhat workable by multiplying what the Karthos build had but…

I generally understand how the system is supposed to work, but what a ‘dweomer wizard’ looks like is something that I don’t really know. I feel that I could probably design a specific character, but would likely require frustrating fiddling around with no real ‘baseline’ for how much mana to buy etc.

Could a dweomer based caster do something similar to what the Runesmith does with making Lerandors Rule spells just based off a single skill (since the descriptions for making a fireball with Lerandor’s Rule seem to indicate that there are a number of essentially “metamagic adding effects”) and what skill a dweomer user would use for that (spellcraft, the relevant dweomer skill?)?

-Jirachi

The most basic question here is what should a high level Dweomer-based caster look like if they spend about what a Wizard does on spellcasting?

Well, the Wizard spends 286 CP on Spellcasting over twenty levels – gaining a Wizard Caster Level of Twenty, a total of 180 spell levels plus 34 spell levels for having a high Intelligence (assuming a “24″, which is likely enough for a straight wizard at level twenty) plus cantrips worth of magic to use each day and a selection of spell formula. They have access to an extremely wide array of spells of levels one through nine. On the other hand…

  • They have to prepare their spells in advance, and so can only equip themselves with a limited selection of them at the same time.
  • They are limited by spell levels, rather than just having a pool of magic to work with.
  • They have to maintain and back up their spell books – an expensive proposition.
  • They have to find or research and record their spells. This also gets expensive.
  • They require components. Dweomerists do to of course, but it’s not so strict.

A moderately optimized twentieth level Dweormist might look something like this:

  • 20 Caster Levels, Specialized in Dweomer = 60 CP. Basic, straightforward, and required. It is important to remember that the rule on page ten – “Casting a spell or using a power normally requires a minimum Caster Level equal to (twice its level -1). The Game Master may or may not enforce this. If not, it may be possible to cast very powerful spells with very low Caster Levels and spells with fixed, rather than per-level, effects become far more valuable.” still applies; simply being capable of producing an effect does not guarantee full control or being able to do so safely.
  • Rite of Chi with 8 instances of Bonus Uses = 56 CP. That allows the user to recover an average of 115.5 Mana (+1 for natural recovery) each day – enough for a Dweomerist to match the Wizards daily spell allotment.
  • 16d6 (52.5) Mana = 90 CP. This is a bit different from a Wizard. Our Dweomerist has just as many spell levels available daily as the Wizard (even more if he or she starts off well-rested), but only has about half of those spell levels available at any given moment; then they’ll have to spend a little time recovering. On the other hand, they won’t have any slots full of spells that aren’t currently useful or which aren’t of high enough level to be useful. This also has a subtle advantage; Mana can be used to power Hysteria or a lot of other special abilities, and so can provide a useful power-up. Having a lot of Mana available is a good thing.
  • Dweomer x 2 (12 CP). Select two fields.
  • Adept x 2 (12 CP). Select eight of your sixteen available Dweomer skills.
  • Mastery (6 CP): May “Take 10” while under pressure for (3 x Int Mod) skills.
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for +2 SP/Level (6 CP).
  • Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus (Use Int Mod as a base for your Dweomer skills) 18 CP:
  • Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus (Add (Another Attribute Modifier) to (Int Mod) when computing skills points, Specialized for Reduced Cost / the extra skill points may only be used to buy Dweomer skills (9 CP).
  • Luck with +12 Bonus Uses, Specialized for Reduced Cost / only for Dweomer (12 CP). The makes sure that your upper-end spells work reliably. That’s more important at low levels than high ones, but will remain reasonably useful. It’s even better if you later buy off the limitation and start using it to make critical saves and such.

That comes out to 281 CP rather than 286 – but that’s quite close enough. Buy a few more skill points or something.

OK: Presuming that same 24 Int and a chosen secondary attribute (probably constitution) boosted to 18, this means 12 “free” skill points per level – with Adept, enough to keep all sixteen available Dweomer skills maxed out. In practice, there will probably be a few that any given character doesn’t use very much, so there will be at least a few skill points left for buying other things, even before buying any. In any case… our twentieth level Dweomerist has a +29 and can “take 10” under pressure for all of his or her Dweomer skills.

So, the Dweomerist can reliably produce “Grandiose” effects in his or her two Dweomer fields at a cost of 5 Mana. They can’t find ways to stack on “free” metamagic like a Wizard, but they’re free to invent their effects on the fly – albeit only within the limits of their skills. They also get first level effects for free at level 16+ – not that huge a benefit at that level, but still pretty convenient.

There are plenty of ways to optimize further of course; even just working with this build. You can Specialize the Mana and Rite of Chi so that they can only be used for Dweomer – but then you miss out on whatever form of natural magic you would have selected and lose all of the versatility that comes of working with a Mana pool. Of course, once you go that far… you might as well go with TommyNihil’s suggestion and use the Wilder progression to power things – although the actual savings aren’t that large in the long run simply because Mana is a very efficient power source for the Dweomer/Thaumaturgy system. You can even use skill boosters to pump up a particular Dweomer skill or two – likely whatever you usually use to attack or defend.

Still, in general, a Wizard has a much wider range of effects available than a Dweomerist, and – given time to prepare – may use metamagic and other boosting effects to prepare far more highly-optimized special tricks. On the other hand, a Dweomerist is using a freeform system. While he or she is admittedly focused on immediate effects and can’t play with metamagic beyond simply making higher-level spells, within his or her fields he or she is free to come up with just the effect needed – often allowing them to get along with clever use of lower-powered magic.

Overall, a Dweomerist is roughly equivalent to a Wizard of similar levels of optimization – but requires more coming-up-with-clever-stuff-on-the-fly than research and pre-planning to play well. On the game masters side, a Dweomerist (unlike a Thaumaturgist using the same mechanics) calls for some pre-planning. After all, if you let a character mess around with – say – nucleokinesis, you’ll need to have a fair idea of how atoms, radiation, and atomic nuclei work in your setting to decide what happens.

Now in actual play, the fields such a character selects are far more important than most of the details of the build. A little more mana? A little less? That kind of thing pales before the differences between a character who’s using Forest Mastery and Weather Control (probably with Leadership to command a force of Ents and forest beasts, a wilderness sanctum, and a few forest-themed tricks) and a Lensman using Psychokinesis, Telepathy, and the Pulp Hero Template to get his own starship in which to bring justice to the galaxy and fight the evil Empire of Boskone – and neither of them will much resemble the often-incorporeal Planewalker who uses Warping and Mysticism as he walks the dimensions in search of the fabled pan-dimensional city of Cynosure.

From my point of view… that’s one of the major advantages of Thaumaturgy and Dweomer. It’s so EASY to build a unique character with highly distinctive abilities that way.

As for Lerandors Rule? Well… according to that, a higher level effect can be built up from lower level ones with the number required being 2 to the (Level to be accomplished – Level of spells being used) power.

So it’s perfectly possible to – say – string together a mere 256 first level spells to duplicate a ninth level effect (presuming 100% efficiency. You might need quite a few more than that if your sequence is less than optimal). Of course, the effect produced by each such spell must be stable enough so that you can build on it with the next spell, must be within the power of a first level effect, must be in an appropriate order, and must fit under one or more of your skills.

Presuming that the player can figure out a sequence of low level spells to accomplish his or her goal… it shouldn’t be more than a ten to twenty page writeup. Once they’ve come up with it, and you’ve had time to go over it, and see what you think what they’ve come up with will actually do… then they can start casting!

I have had players do that – one healer / spiritualist came up with a series of eighteen well-chosen first level spells (as I recall it went something like re-assemble body, preserve body, repair body, restore blood, freshen body (getting to very freshly dead with several repetitions), clear lungs, remove bacteria, oxygenate, feed (adding cellular nutrients), transfuse life force, remove preservation, start heart, restart respiration, contact spirit, let spirit speak through body, enhance body-spirit link (repeated several times), ease spirit travel, and anchor spirit) to push his freeform first level spells up to the equivalent of a fifth level “raise dead” – but that was really quite exceptional. Most players simply do not want to bother with that sort of thing.

Equally unfortunately, you need the proper skill for each individual subspell. You could do a straight Fireball with just the Pyrotics skill. To do one from string of first level spells… you’d probably want something like Summon Fire (Pyrotics), Project Fire (Telekinesis), Boost Spell (Amplification, from Mysticism), and Expand Effect (Spatial Warping, under Warping). There are other sequences that could do the same thing of course – but it’s going to be difficult to squeeze everything together under a single skill.

And I hope that helps!