Monday, June 26, 2017

Crazy Idea? Or is this basically what DCC does?

I sometimes feel like I'm the only OSR guy that doesn't have Dungeon Crawl Classics. I've gotten some modules for it, but don't have the game itself. I've of course heard about the spell system, where every spell has a random table to go with it.

What I'm proposing is a bit different from my perception of DCC's spell system, but somewhat similar. I'm not sure how well this would work in play, it's just a random idea I had. But enough blather, what was my shower thought last week?*

So, using a TSR version of D&D, or a retroclone of the same, here's an idea for Magic-Users (I probably wouldn't allow it for Clerics, but then again, maybe I might) that might give them a bit more oomph. Once they've cast all of their prepared spells for the day (or if a situation calls for a spell in their spellbook but not prepared), they can cast it, but need to make a roll using the Chainmail spell chances (2d6 rolls) to see if the spell goes off or fizzles.

Probably too powerful if it's just "cast or fail" so (like DCC) it would need some chance of misfire of some sort (Wild Magic tables? Reverse effects or targets? Page in the spellbook is burned and the spell is lost?) to make it a gamble to keep casting spells when you've exhausted your spells per day or are casting something you didn't prepare. Higher level spells would also incur a higher chance of a negative effect besides just not casting the spell.

It might be fun to try this some day.

*Or was it 2 weeks ago? I'm so behind on blogging. We've had two sessions of Dean's game that I haven't posted about. I've also been doing the West Marches for 2 months now, and it's going well. Chanbara is nearly ready for publication. And I've seen a movie or two I could review. No time for any of that recently.


  1. DCC has misfire if I remember correctly...

  2. Having tried DCC, I don't think a "spell success" roll meshes with OSR "Spell X per Level" design. I'd be more interested in new wizard research, beyond scrolls but not jumping into 3.5 Ed class specialization. Maybe more items/treasure that affects spell performance?

  3. Actually, that is very close to what the designer does with arcane magic in the Five Ancient Kingdoms OD&D semi-clone.

    A similar rule was proposed in the new VAM Free RPG-day book from LotFP, though this one uses a saving throw versus Magic when casting more than your daily allotment of spells...

    I'm adapting the VAM and DCC rules for use with my next Labyrinth Lord campaign.

    So there must be something in the air...

  4. My memory of DCC is that each spell had its own random table that you would roll on when casting. Low rolls had humorous/dangerous failures while high rolls resulted in spectacular successes. Fairly neat, but a bit cumbersome for my taste.

    As James said, I used a variation of Chainmail's spell-casting for wizard folk in my Five Ancient Kingdoms that is similar to what you suggest. It works well enough in play, though I don't think I'd go that route with future designs.

  5. I experimented with a Chainmail inspired spellcasting roll in Chanbara but in the end I didn't like it. I think I may have made it too easy to keep casting spells in that system. If I implemented the above idea, it would be for use after Vancian slots are used up or for spells that weren't prepared, so I'd be more comfortable making the numbers difficult to succeed.

    Thanks for the feedback, everyone!