Sunday, January 27, 2013

More Magic with Zorin Greystar

copyright 1984 by V Autumn, S Scherf, and K Autumn

Scherf and Autumn 'supplement' the 1e AD&D rules in their The Complete Works of Zorin Greystar - Book One.  Their efforts extend to the handling of saving throws, although in the Greystar system they are called 'saving rolls' and they are categorized differently.  The 'Saving Roll Table' on page 69 lists nine categories of saving rolls which, one presumes, are meant to replace the five types of saving throws.  These nine categories are:  Magic/Spell, Poison, Breath, Gaze, Magic Item, Small Missile, Large Missile, Cleric Spell, and Illusion.  Indexed against these categories are rows of numbers for each of the eleven classes/sub-classes from the Players Handbook (and a twelfth row for 'Normal').  Saving rolls improve by one for every three levels of experience.  Also, saving rolls are penalized by one for every three levels of the spell being saved against.  Finally, the difference in levels between the spellcaster and the saving character influences the roll.

If a mage uses all (or more) mana that he or she currently has available, the 'Overmana Chart' on pages 37 - 38 is to be consulted.  Going down to '0 mana' causes “Extreme lassitude, mage must rest no less than 10 hours and regains lost mana at 1/2 normal speed.”  Starting at negative seven mana, the mage enters a coma for a variable amount of time and there is a possibility of losing a percentage of mana permanently.  Using even more mana can result in permanent loss of spell casting ability, insanity, Constitution loss, and Intelligence loss.  Going to -31 mana is not recommended, death ensues with no apparent saving throw roll.

By reading it from a spellbook, a mage can attempt to cast a spell that he or she has not learned.  If the attempt fails, a roll is made on the 'Overlevel Attempt Chart.'  If a mage is interrupted during casting, the 'Spellcaster's Fumble Chart' is used.  The fumble can be avoided if the mage succeeds in a Dexterity roll (for physical interruptions) or a save vs magic (for mental interruptions).  The Overlevel Chart and the Fumble Chart are consolidated on pages 34 - 35 because they share many of the same effects, but with different chances.  For instance, on the Fumble Chart there is a 40% chance of the spell simply failing and the mana consumed; the same can happen on the Overlevel Chart, but the chance is only 20%.  Not all effects are necessarily bad.  It's possible that, although the spell fails, the mage's mana is replenished.  Results from the Overlevel Chart can be more severe than what can happen with the Fumble Chart; results such as insanity, level loss, Intelligence loss, or death are possible.  My favorite result (4% chance on either chart) is “chance of a disturbance of the planes, resulting in an ethereal encounter.”

In Chapter V, Zorin states that he has “composed thirty-nine new spells” for mages (some of which can be used by clerics).  The back cover of the book says, “This supplement contains 39 spells” (without referring to said spells as 'new').  The back cover claim is more accurate; while many of the spells are new, some are merely 'alternative.'  For instance, Zorin describes “Magical Missile Type I” and “Magical Missile Type II.”  Sound familiar?  (I would have gone with Prestidigitator's Projectile, but that's just me.)  Type I is just like our old friend Magic Missile, except the range is limited to 5" and only one missile is generated.  Type II (a 2nd level spell) increases the range and number of missiles to the usual Magic Missile extent.  So, dividing Magic Missile into two 'new' spells – one of which is second level – is an 'improvement' by Zorin.  Thanks Zorin...NOT.  We will examine some of Zorin's other spells in next week's exciting column!

copyright 1984 by V Autumn, S Scherf, and K Autumn

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