Let us now continue our discussion of magic in Tunnels and Trolls. Remember that bold type is an exact quote from the 7.5 rules and italic is a gloss or further explanation of that text. I hesitate to call them rules—they are more like guidelines, really. (that’s a joke.)
Every spell has a base “cost,” a measure of the energy expended in casting that spell at its lowest effective level without any kind of assistance (such as that from a magical wand). To cast a spell at its base level costs a number of points of WIZ equal to its base cost. For example, a basic TAKE THAT YOU FIEND! spell (commonly noted as TTYF) has a cost of 6 WIZ points.
Just as Wizard may cast spells for less WIZ points as they increase in character level (the 7.5 rules state that as a Wizard increases in character level, he may cast lower-level spells at a reduced cost, with the amount of the reduction as shown by the following formula (no spell can be reduced to a cost of less than 1 WIZ by this means); Wizard level minus the effective level of the spell.), so too can Wizards cast their spells at a higher level of efficacy—but at a greater cost in kremm. The cost of casting spells at higher levels increases in a linear fashion, so that the increase in the cost of the spell is equal to its base cost times the number of levels by which it is increased: Thus a TTYF cast at 2nd level of effect cost 6 + (6×1) = 12 WIZ; at 3rd, 6 + (6×2) = 18; at 4th, 6 + (6×3) = 24; etc. However, the efficacy of the spell usually doubles from its previous effect with each level of increase (so if a level 1 TTYF would do 15 points of damage, a level 2 would do 30 points of damage, a level 3 would do 60 points of damage, a level 4 would do 120 points of damage, etc.). Each spell’s description includes a “Power up?” entry that explains whether the spell can be increased in this way, and what effect such an increase brings with it.
However, to cast spells at increased efficacy in this way also requires higher INT and DEX attribute scores. (Minimum attributes required for spell casting are shown in the spell books.) For example, a minimum Intelligence and Dexterity of 15 are required to cast anyt 3rd level spell, such as the 3rd level version of TTYF noted above.
Wizards have developed a great many tools to help with spell-casting since Khazan first established the Wizards Guild in 400 A.K. This equipment is dealt with separately elsewhere. The third installment of this series on T & T magic will talk about tools of the trade in more detail.
Wizards may use a focusing device such as a staff, a wand, a ring, or the like to channel their thoughts and reduce the cost of a spell. A 1st-level wizard reduces the spell cost by 1 point, second level gets 2 points off, third level gets 3 points off, and so forth. Thus, you would think that a 10th level wizard could cast all first level spells for free, but there is a limiting factor. No spell will take effect unless one whole point of magical energy (kremm) is poured into it. In fact, it is the minimum amount of energy needed to energize any spell that defines what a point of kremm represents. Paragons and Specialist Mages can also use focusing devices, though Rogues cannot—they were never trained for it, and such training is one of the most difficult things that true Wizards learn. Rogues cannot cast spells at higher levels, nor do they reduce the spell-casting cost when casting at lower levels.
(This can produce a bit of a problem for rogues. How then does a rogue ever learn the Power-ups that make some spells like TTYF so effective or deadly? In effect, Rogues learn and understand different versions of the same spell. A Level 1 TTYF spell does the caster’s INT rating in damage to the victim and costs 6 points of kremm. A Level 2 TTYF spell does double the caster’s INT rating in damage and costs 12 points of kremm—clearly two different spells requiring two different mental patterns to shape. A Level 3 TTYF spell does 4 times the caster’s INT rating in damage and costs 18 points of kremm. And so forth. It’s like playing the same song with more than one instrument at a time. Level 1 is just a flute. Level 2 is a flute and a clarinet. Level 3 is a flute, clarinet, and banjo. The Rogue mind insists that these are similar but totally different things; the Wizard mind sees no real difference, just a matter of knowing the Music. If you understand this analogy, you may be a Wizard; if you don’t, you are probably a Rogue; if you say “what the hell are you babbling about?”, then you are probably a Warrior. Grin.)
The major obstacle in spell-casting is that higher kremm levels resist change by lower kremm levels. In effect, this means that a character with a lower Wizardry score can’t normally cast spells directly upon beings with higher Wizardry scores. If they wish to try it, they automatically get a “Bad Feeling” (which allows them to abort their casting without penalty and try some other action or target instead); if the cast anyway, the simply lose the WIZ cost and the spell doesn’t take effect. The casting does, however, reduce the WIZ score of the target by the number of WIZ points used in casting the spell. In the case of ties in WIZ ratings, both spells go off, assuming both Wizards make their INT saving rolls. (Let’s do a hypothetical. Two Wizards, Eeny and Meeny, twin brothers with the same exact attributes, get mad at each other. They both have INT ratings of 12, CON ratings of 8, and WIZ ratings of 15. They see each other at the same time, and cast TTYF spells at each other. They both make a L1SR on INT, and they both succeed. Then they both die. Now if Meeny had cast a 1-point spell earlier and not recovered the kremm yet, he would have had a WIZ rating of 14 when they faced off. In that case, Meeny would get a “Bad Feeling”, while Eeny would simply blast his brother into the next life.)
It should be understood that when we talk about WIZ scores, we are always talking about CURRENT scores. If Abb and Costel have maximum WIZ scores of 24 and 17 respectively, but Abb’s current WIZ is 9 while Costel’s current WIZ is 13, then Abb gets a Bad Feeling about casting a spell on Costel, while Costel has no problem casting on Abb. Thus, a team of lower level Wizards might take down a higher level Wizard by casting enough spells to deplete the superior Wizard’s kremm to the point where he couldn’t resist any more. Got it? Good!
You might wonder, then, how beneficial spells can be cast on oneself, or on beings of higher magical aptitude. In the first place, there is no resistance to casting spells on yourself, ever! A Wizard doesn’t have to overcome his own kremm power to cast a spell on himself. In the case of other beings of higher power, though, you have to find a way to temporarily reduce or suppress the higher kremm. There are potions, spells, and amulets for such things.
Oddly enough, Warrior societies and guilds understand this fact about spell-users. In order to counterbalance magical power, they deliberately train the ability to visualize psychic patterns out of their students (i.e. choosing those with relatively low INT) while, on the other hand, training them to build up as much kremm energy as they can (a high WIZ score is a good thing for anyone!) (Often, the kremm energy is called something else, something like Durga energy and the warriors are told that it is a form of inner strength and will power useful in making them better fighters. Since they believe this to be true, it becomes true for them.) Without the ability to cast spells, but with natural resistance to magic, they can be fairly effective against Wizards and other spell-casters.
Of course, there are all sorts of ways around the problem of attacking people who have higher WIZ attributes. One strategy is to be indirect—have the spell attack their clothing, or weapon, or a companion, or the ground under their feet. Another strategy is to first deplete the enemy’s kremm. There are spells designed specifically to drain away attributes, whether STR, LK, WIZ, or otherwise. Get an object enchanted with such a spell into the hands of a foe and he might be weakened to the point of vulnerability. That is why magical items are so commonly available, and so often sold to Warriors. It’s all part of the power struggle between the various guilds and factions.
(Imagine a magic sword that does double damage against foes. The magic that powers that sword has to come from somewhere. The magic can be infused into the weapon from the outside, by a spell like Vorpal Blade. Or, it can be leached into the weapon by contact with the wielder. So, Khrudd the Barbarian has a magic sword. Whenever he wishes, it will do double damage getting 6D6 + 6 in combat instead of its normal 3D6 + 3. It does that by temporarily taking 4 of Khrudd’s WIZ points away from him. He doesn’t notice, although if he fights for a long time he may note that the sword doesn’t seem to be its magical self any more. A wizardly foe, however, would notice that Khrudd doesn’t have much magical resistance. Better get that TTYF spell cast before Khrudd manages to hit something.)
Kremm resistance is easy enough to handle in a game when all the combatants have attribute values, but for quick play, most monsters simply have a Monster Rating. Thus, you don’t really know if that Ogre has a WIZ rating of 1 or 101.
Rule of thumb: (really the rule of unknown WIZ ratings): the WIZ rating of a monster always equals 1/10th of its Monster Rating, rounded up. (Always is a poor choice of words—it doesn’t have to always be that fraction. If you are a GM and you want to have Goblins with low Monster Ratings but high WIZ ratings, go ahead and define them that way. It will just give you one extra thing to keep track of. Koblins are short, purple, with big teeth and long claws. Each one has a Monster Rating of 30 and a WIZ rating of 10 (instead of the 3 you would expect from the M.R.—they all know Burn spells that cost 5 WIZ to cast and do 5 points of damage to the target. You see how easy it is to make this stuff up. Don’t get hung up on words like “always”. The Game Master can do what he or she wants to do.)
There are plenty of other aspects of magic use in Tunnels and Trolls that can be talked about, but this essay is long enough (and has taken me 3 days to do it). Next time, I will talk about wizardly tools: staffs, wands, amulets, power batteries, and so forth. Trollworld is a high magic environment, and these gizmos are everywhere.
to be continued.