Hexcrafting, Eclipse, and Magical Design

And for today, it’s another question…

There’s a bit of a lack of builds for Hexcraft, and it does seem like you could totally use it as a base system for spellcasting. (The ‘Class build’ style stuff I find especially helpful).

I’m writing a fanfic that use some concepts from Eclipse to provide additional setting flavor, and I’m not sure how to translate the ‘per session’ limitations into something I can use. The chapters are ~1000 words, often cover small bits, so there is not any super obvious things I can use as reference.

Any thoughts?


Well, to go in reverse order…

Hexcraft functions on a “Per Session” basis for several reasons.

  • The system allows fairly low level characters to cast powerful spells – but ensures that they won’t be casting very many of them in any one session. That makes it easy for the mage to shine while still leaving plenty for the other characters to do.
  • It simulates the “My magic is not to be wasted on trivial things!” school of fantasy, where spellcasting is reserved for important things instead of everyone having a batch of trivial spells that allow them to get along without matches, avoid washing dishes, and handle minor opponents.
  • It makes resource management important again. The players can’t simply announce that the characters are resting to get the Hexcrafter’s spells back, so if the Hexcrafter player blows them all in the first hour of the session they won’t be doing any spellcasting for the rest of the evening.
  • The limited numbers and themes of spells makes it much easier for the game master to manage a freeform system – while also ensuring that a clever hexcrafter will never be unable to come up with an appropriate spell.
  • The cards a Hexcrafter draws at the start of a session are also an easy bit of foreshadowing. All you have to do is fan them out and everyone will have some idea of what kind of spells will be available and how much power a Hexcrafter has left – unless they are, quite literally, holding a few cards in reserve.

It’s less obvious how “per session” translates into the setting outside of the gamist prospective though. It’s not like “the beginning of the session” has any effect on the setting.

  • The most direct interpretation is simply that Hexcrafting is literally powered by narrative. Dramatic events, the moments when the gods / mysterious higher powers (players/readers) are paying attention, or the moments on which destiny turns, have their own magic that a hexcrafter taps into to recharge their reserves. A long, dull, sea voyage (that gets skipped over in a few sentences in the game or story)? There’s no magic in THAT. You have defeated the lesser minions and broken into the throne room for (next chapter or sessions) epic confrontation with the big bad guy? That’s definitely a dramatic moment for a hexcrafter to draw power from.
  • Slightly less directly (if more suited to short chapters) you can presume that a Hexcrafter draws power from rare mystical events – celestial conjunctions, when some entity channels it’s power into the material world, whenever there is a nova in the galaxy, when exotic meteorites fall, whenever the ley lines flare up, whenever a great wizard dies and releases their power back into the world, or whatever suits the story. Under this kind of assumption the rule is basically “when you want it to happen” – which can be a bit heavy-handed in a game if you’re not careful but is just the way things are when you’re writing something.
    • If you want story inspiration… you can always make a quick little chart for your story – for short chapters perhaps 1d10: 1) The Hexcrafters Power is Renewed. 2) An event other mystical heroes can tap into occurs, 3-9) Nothing happens, and 10) The Villain gets a sudden power boost for a bit.
  • You could Corrupt or Specialize Hexcrafting to make it require specific deeds to “recharge”. Perhaps it requires visiting a great nexus of power, conducting an elaborate ritual, making great offerings to mystical beings, or undertaking some quest. That would probably work best for a hybrid caster – someone who would be buying Specialized caster levels anyway, and so would only need to spend a little more to gain occasional access to much greater spells. It could be awfully limiting for a primary caster though. Still, visiting the Great Fane of your God, and there being granted a mighty power to call forth when the time is right, is very classical. If you want to make it Corrupted (takes several turns to cast) AND Specialized… You can have the occasional mighty spell rather cheaply. It’s just that it WILL be an occasional thing.
    • If you happen to have some second edition sources for things like Quest Spells (Tome of Magic), or Netheril’s Super-Spells, or Dark Sun’s Psionic Enchantments (Mostly Dragon Kings), or Elven High Magic from the Forgotten Realms sourcebooks… well, here’s an easy way to put those sources to use while keeping them rare and special.

On the social side… In a lot of ways, Hexcrafting is a thematic return to earlier editions. Once upon a time, back when First and Second Edition quarreled over who would dominate the kingdom and the Grognards roamed wild and free, casting a powerful spell was a really big deal.

Powerful spells had long casting times, any interruption at all would ruin them, it required an hour or two of downtime to prepare just one of them, and defending the caster long enough to get one successfully cast in the chaos of battle was a tricky project for the entire party that often failed. Parties worked hard to make it happen anyway for the same reason that they shepherded the Wizard through those vulnerable early levels. It was because those big spells could turn the tides of major battles. They were Dramatic, they were Important, and they were Rare. Even when they didn’t seem relevant, a clever mage could often use them. Sword Of Ogre Decapitation anyone?

“You have delayed too long Foul One! My companions have bought the time I needed to call forth the favor of the Ones Beyond! A power great enough to end your dark menace FOREVER!”

Now I hope that helps!

Secondarily, and just for Jirachi… do let me know if and when you publish. That sort of thing is always of interest – even if I keep winding up putting off reading Alzrius’s Lateral Movement. (While I do read quickly I’m almost always badly pressed for time these days, and 650,000+ words will likely take a while).

4 Responses

  1. *Blush*. Currently, there isn’t a ton of material (10 k words off top of head). Will Send link once I get more done.
    Thanks for the interest!

    • Well, the whole point of Eclipse was “Use this to build your own stuff. You should not need much of anything else” – so it’s always interesting to see someone else doing something unusual with it!

  2. Thanks for the shout-out regarding my story! No worries about finding time to read it all; back when I started writing it, I had no idea it would grow this massive…and STILL not be finished!

    • Well, I wrote Eclipse to be as versatile as I could make it, so it’s always nice to see people putting it to use in unusual ways – and a story that large is quite an impressive project on it’s own.

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