Prism Appendix A Spell Law™

A.1 What is Spell Law™?

Spell Law™ is a magic system produced by Iron Crown Enterprises as part of its Rolemaster™ system.  The psionics system in Spacemaster™ can be considered an extension of it.  Since Prism uses other parts of these systems, namely Arms Law & Claw Law™ and Spacemaster™ combat, their magic system is the simplest to use with Prism.

Art copyright  Robin Wood 1997, used by permissionThe principle behind Spell Law™ is the concept of a spell list.  (Or a psion list.  Psions are basically equivalent to spells but have a more technological feel to them.  Throughout this appendix I'll just refer to them as spells, but it all applies to both types.)  Spellcasters invest a certain amount of effort to learn an entire list of spells, all on a common theme.  Many lists are composed of spells that are really variant ways of using a single force.  Spellcasters only know spell lists to a certain level, and can cast any spell on the list up to that level.

Besides learning spell lists, spellcasters must also build up a reserve of power points (also known as spell points; Spell Law™ prefers the former term, but we will use the latter here to avoid confusion with other types of points.)  These represent the amount of magic energy the caster has available per day, and are expended as spells are cast.  The cost of a spell is proportional to its level.  Spell points can be enhanced by magic items or special crystals.

Finally, a spellcaster may develop skill in a number of secondary skills such as reading runes (spells stored in written form for later casting) or detecting the flows of essence.

Spell Law™ divides magic up into three (or more, if using the Rolemaster Companion™ series) realms which represent different approaches to magic.  The main three realms are Essence (the basic "wizardly" magic, which concentrates on manipulating the elements and things physical), Channeling (magic derived from the gods, with an emphasis on life and death), and Mentalism (magic from one's own mind, with an emphasis on the mind and self-control).  Spacemaster™ adds what is essentially a fourth realm, Psionics, which is very similar to Mentalism but even more emphasized on development of the mind with a de-emphasis on "mysticism" it is thus more suitable for use in high-tech situations.

Most spellcasters work exclusively in one realm and may only learn the spell lists within that realm.  Some spellcasters may split their talents across multiple realms, though they are never as good as a specialist.

Within each realm, spell lists fall into three categories: open lists (referred to herein as "easy lists"), closed lists (referred to as "medium lists"), and base lists (referred to as "hard lists").  Each profession within a realm has its own selection of base lists which only they can study (except under special circumstances).  For instance, magicians can study the Fire Law and Wind Law lists while illusionists can study the Illusions and Sound Molding lists.  Open lists are the easiest and are available even to non-spellcasters (in a limited way), while Closed lists are available primarily to spellcasters only, but to any spellcaster within that realm.

A.2 Character Creation

A.2.1 Stats

Will and Resistance are, of course, the primary stats for spellcasters.  These stats are used the same in all realms (unlike Spell Law™ where there is a separate stat for each realm).

A.2.2 Abilities and Weaknesses

The special ability Archmage is something you may wish to consider.  In the next section you'll see how your MIND AV will be split up among the available realms.  Since the best MIND AV you can buy is normally a 1, it is not possible to have very good aptitudes in more than one realm without using this ability, which essentially lets you reduce your MIND AV even further.  If this isn't making sense, read the next section and then come back and reread this.

A.2.3 Aptitudes

Your GM will decide what realms exist in his/her world.  Here are a few possibilities:

The important point is that there may be any number of realms.  If there is more than one realm available, you'll have to split your MIND AV up among the realms as follows.

First note that, in a sense, each realm will become a "sub-aptitude" and you'll have a different AV in each.  For instance, in a four-realm game there will be four new aptitudes, MIC, MIE, MIM, and MIP, representing your aptitude in Channeling, Essence, Mentalism, and Psionics respectively.  When training in almost all magic skills you would use one of these, and nearly never use your original MIND AV.

Take the number of realms that exist in this game, subtract one, and multiply the result by 9.  Now add your MIND AV to this number.  Distribute the result over the available realms.  For instance, in a four-realm game, I start off with a MIND AV of 2.  Four realms minus one is three, multiplied by nine is 27, plus my MIND AV of 2 is 29.  Now I must split up 29 points among the four realms.  I might become a pure user of Essence and buy MIE=2, MIC=9, MIM=9, MIP=9.  Or I could become a hybrid spellcaster and buy MIE=5, MIC=5, MIM=9, and MIP=10.  You may never buy a value lower than 1 or higher than 10 in this process.

Suppose I had bought a MIND AV of 1 and then used the Archmage ability to buy it down further to -1.  (This would cost 120 points!)  Then in the four-realm situation above, I would have to distribute 26 points, so I could buy MIE=3, MIC=3, MIM=10, MIP=10 and be a full spellcaster of each of two realms.  I still couldn't buy MIE=0, MIC=8, MIM=9, MIP=9 because I can never end up with an aptitude in a realm of better than 1.

Next, you have to choose your "base lists."  In each realm where your AV is 8 or better, you can choose a number of spell lists which will be treated as if they were "easy" (that is, the same difficulty as an open list) even if they are in fact closed or base lists.  Subtract your AV in each realm from 9; that's the number of base lists you can choose.  Since these lists will probably be the most powerful ones you have access to that are not prohibitively hard to develop, choose them carefully.  Your choice helps determine your "theme."  If you choose all healing lists, you are obviously going to become something of a healer, but if you choose elemental lists, you will become a mage of the elements.

Art copyright  Lou Frank, used by permissionA.2.4 Skills

Listed below are a number of supplementary skills, some of which are of vital importance to the spellcaster (such as Spell Point Development) while others can be omitted (such as Spellthrow).  Many of them are listed with categories assuming the basic four-realm system.  Your GM will let you know which ones are available, and in which realms, if you're not using this system.

The most important skills to develop, however, are the spell lists themselves.  Each list is its own skill, and the amount of training you have in that skill determines how effective you are in that list, and how many spells you can cast from it.  Spell list skills have no similar skills, use the Will stat, and have an untrained value of -50.  The difficulty modifier depends on whether the list is "easy" (i.e., either an open list or one of the lists you chose as your "base lists"), "medium" (a closed list), or "hard" (a base list you didn't choose as one of your own).  Diff mods are 0, +1, and +6 for these categories respectively.

A.3 Magic Skills

Attunement
  (C=MIE, S=W, D=+2, U=-30)
  SIM: Identification:1/3, Runes:1/3
This is the skill necessary to use staves, wands, and other magical items not self-attuning (that is, those items mages make to be used by mages).  See Spell Law™ for more details on when you'd use this skill and what it does.

Channeling
  (C=MIC, S=W, D=+1, U=-30)
  SIM: Circle Magic:1/3, Meditation:1/5
This skill is used to transfer spell points, or even spells, between characters.  Make a roll on the MM column of the maneuver chart, and multiply the number of points sent by the percentage result; this is how many spell points are transmitted.  The receiver must do this as well.  (Thus, both sender and receiver must have high Channeling skills to make a reasonably efficient transfer.)  When transferring spells, you are essentially casting a spell through someone else.  Effectively, you must channel as above, making sure enough spell points are received to cast the spell; it doesn't matter if the receiver can cast the spell himself.  The GM may allot bonuses if the channeling is at a predetermined time and/or place, or penalties if the channelers do not know the precise location of their partners.

Circle Magic
  (C=MI, S=WR, D=+1, U=-15)
  SIM: Channeling:1/4
This skill is used to have a group of spellcasters join to cast a spell as a unit that the individual members may not be capable of casting.  One spellcaster is the "focus" of the circle and must know the list that the spell is on to at least a level equal to half the level of the desired spell.

Each spellcaster contributing joins the circle (the GM may require that ceremonies be performed, hands be linked, or whatnot) and contributes their energy.  Each caster (including the focus) will then decide a number of spell points to put into the circle, and make a roll on their Circle Magic skill using the MM column of the maneuver chart.  Multiply the percentage result by the spell points put in to find the number of spell points received by the focus.  The focus must end up with at least as many spell points as the spell requires, and preferably a lot more, if a good chance of success is desired.

Any casters in the circle who are also skilled in the relevant spell list can contribute some of their skill.  The same percentage result that was used to provide spell lists is multiplied by half their SV in that spell list skill, and the result is added to the focus' effective SV in that skill for the one spellcasting.

The focus (acting on behalf of everyone) then rolls to see if the circle spell is cast.  Roll dô and add the focus' SV in the spell list skill (optionally buoyed up by other casters).  Each additional spell point received by the caster also adds in 2 points to this roll.  Subtract the level of the intended spell times five, and any modifiers the GM assigns, and consult the SM column of the maneuver chart to see if the spell succeeds.

Fumbles mean that each caster in the circle will take a spell failure roll with a modifier equal to twice the number of spell points they originally invested in the spell (the focus also receives a +50 to the roll).  Failure means the spell just didn't form, and the spell points are all lost.  Partial Success means the spell didn't form but the spell points are not lost.  The GM will determine the results of Near Success, which usually means success but in a limited or restricted way (e.g., the spell may work but not exactly as intended), and Unrelated Success.  Success means the spell is cast (by the "focus" who is considered the same level as the spell for the moment).  Critical Success means that the spell points are returned to the casters at the end of the spell (the energy came from the world around them or the gods).  Extraordinary Success implies additionally that the spell works more effectively than originally intended.

Art copyright  Doug Beekman, used by permissionDetect Good/Evil
  (C=MIC, S=PW, D=0, U=-25)
  SIM: none
This is the magical or psionic ability to read the emanations from a living soul and detect its moral alignment.  This skill only makes sense in certain worlds.

Detect Illusion
  (C=MIM, S=PW, D=0, U=-25)
  SIM: none
This is the magical ability to detect the interferences and imperfections that indicate an illusion being created.  This skill only makes sense in certain worlds.

Detect Magic
  (C=MIE, S=PW, D=0, U=-25)
  SIM: Detect Psionics:1/3
This is the ability to detect the disturbance of the essence that accompanies the use of magic or psionics.  This skill only makes sense in certain worlds.

Detect Psionics
  (C=MIP, S=PW, D=0, U=-25)
  SIM: Detect Magic:1/3
This skill is used by trained psionicists to detect whether other people are psionically gifted, and whether the gift is developed.  Depending on the GM's world description, it may require the cooperation of the target.

Identification
  (C=MIE, S=PW, D=+4, U=-40)
  SIM: Attunement:1/4, Detect Magic:1/4
This skill is used to determine the function and powers of a magical item.  A successful roll gives a hint about one power or ability and allows you to roll for another one.  Near success gives an valid hint, but allows no reroll.  Partial success just allows a reroll.  Failure gives no information and allows no reroll.  Fumbles give an invalid hint and allow no reroll.  Critical successes will reveal the actual power and give a reroll.  The roll will be modified by power and complexity of the magic.

Magic Resistance
  (C=MI, S=R, D=+3, U=0)
  SIM: none
This skill gives you a resistance to magic.  Not all GMs will allow this skill to be developed.  Unlike many skills in this section this skill uses the original MIND AV rather than the AV from one of the realms.  This skill's SV becomes the character's Resistance to Magic/Psi.

Runes
  (C=MIE, S=W, D=0, U=-15)
  SIM: Attunement:1/3, Detect Magic:1/5
This skill is used to read, identify, and use runes.  Any time your character tries to read a rune, she must make a roll against this skill to determine what realm it is from and possibly what spell it is.  If she fails, she simply does not know, and cannot reroll until she develops her Runes skill further or has access to reference works.  The skill is also used to cast a rune.  In this case, not knowing what the rune is makes it quite difficult (-40), and of course, you do not know who to cast it on!  Modifiers for casting runes include: -10 if caster does not know what realm the rune is; +20 if caster knows what the spell is; +20 if caster knows the same spell himself.

Art copyright  Eyal F., used by permissionSpell Point Development
  (C=MI, S=W, D=0, U=-50)
  SIM: none
This skill determines how many SP (spell points) you have available.  Simply divide the SV by 5.  If the result isn't a round number, roll d% every morning against the fractional part to see if you gained that extra point.  E.g., if you had an SV of 67, you would have 13 points and a 60% chance each day of having a fourteenth (since 67 / 5 = 13.6).  You should always use the unmodified original MIND AV rather than the AV for an individual realm.

Spellthrow
  (C=MI, S=DW, D=-1, U=0)
  SIM: other Spellthrow:1/4
This skill must be specialized for each type of attack spell or psion it is used for.  It can only be used for directed attacks, and you must be able to cast the spell regularly in order to train in it.  Apply it as a bonus to the attack roll, if the spell is successfully cast.  See below and Spell Law™ for more details.  You should always use the unmodified original MIND AV rather than the AV for an individual realm.

A.4 Using Spells

A.4.1 Available Spells

For each spell list that you developed as a skill, divide that skill's SV by 10 and round off.  The result is your effective level in that spell list.  You can cast spells up to that level, but not spells above that level.  (Some GMs may use the optional ESF rules in Spell Law™ to make it possible to cast spells above that level at some risk to yourself; see also the Circle Magic skill.)  When you cast spells that use your level in some way, such as having a duration of one minute per level, you also use this number.  (Of course, you will be different levels in different lists, but that shouldn't matter.)

A.4.2 Spellcast Procedure

Basically, if you have the spell points, you know the spell, and you are high enough level in that list to cast it, you can simply cast it without further ado.  Your GM should roll d% and on a roll of 01-02 you will get a spell fumble instead.  Depending on the world background, certain factors such as metal in proximity to the caster, low mana levels, etc. may increase the range of rolls that produce a fumble.

A.4.3 Spell Points

The Spell Point Development skill is used to determine how many spell points you have.  Whenever you cast a spell, it costs a number of spell points equal to its level.  Using up spell points has no other side effects like exhaustion (unless your GM says it does).

A.4.4 Requirements To Cast A Spell

Some realms may have specific requirements to be able to cast a spell.  Spell Law™ requires that essence spellcasters not be wearing or carrying much metal, for instance.  Some GMs may declare that essence magic uses ritual words so a spellcaster cannot cast a spell if gagged or in the area of effect of a Silence spell.  This is up to the individual GM.

A.4.5 Spell Attacks

There are two types of spells that involve an attack on a foe: elemental attacks and all others.  Elemental attacks involve the creation (perhaps temporarily) of some elemental force which then carries out the attack physically.  Elemental attacks are resolved as normal combat attacks using their respective attack charts.  The caster may add any Spellthrow skill in the relevant spell to the attack roll.

Other spell attacks include things like mind control, sleep spells, etc.  These attack in the same way as poisons do; they make a maneuver roll against their target (or targets).  The potency of such a spell is equal to the SV of the caster in the corresponding spell list, plus a Spellthrow SV if the caster is trained for that attack.  If the attack affects multiple targets it should be rerolled for each one.  Targets, of course, may use their resistance to magic/psionics against this roll.

Art copyright  Robin Wood 1995, used by permissionA.4.6 Interpreting Spells

Most of the spells are pretty straightforward to interpret.  Some may make specific references to Rolemaster™ or Spacemaster™ terms; the GM will interpret these appropriately.

Some spells have a duration or range equal to some value per some percentage failure.  For instance, a spell may be listed as having a duration of 1 rnd/5% failure.  In this case, when you make the spell attack roll, it's not only important to see if the spell succeeds, but also by how much.  See how many percentage points over the minimum value for success you are, and use that as the percentage points of failure in the spell description.  For example, suppose your attack roll is 169 and you needed 111 to succeed (as is usually the case).  That means you succeeded with a margin of 58.  The spell's duration is 1 rnd/5% spell failure, so it lasts 12 rounds (58 / 5 = 11.6 which rounds to 12).

Many times, durations, ranges, and areas of effect are indicated in terms of the caster's level.  Remember when interpreting spells that the caster's level is based on the individual spell list and varies from list to list.

Spells describing specific combat factors such as hit points can be used without modification if you are using Arms Law & Claw Law™ and Spacemaster™ for your combat system.


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