Okay. So I am sitting 50/50 on writing a new game under the OGL or just doing a book of house rule supplements for Forbidden Lands. One of the elements I am looking to tackle and change is the magic system. I have some ideas and I am looking for some input and feedback.
So I dug into some other year zero/free league systems for some inspiration and I think I have a rough outline for a system that SHOULD work. But I am happy to hear what others have to say and look forward to any ones input. The system would work something like this...
Magics Corrupting Effect
-Players will be able to accumulate Corruption (a place holder name. It could also be Mana Poisoning or some such. I have a big list of ideas I am working through). A characters Corruption Threshold is Strength + Wits.
-Players will acquire temporary Corruption from a number of sources including being in magically dense environments, casting spells, some rare attacks from particular creatures, and other such things.
-If Temporary Corruption ever reaches your Threshold you immediately change 1 point of corruption to Permanent Corruption. There will be a table for Permanent Corruption effects which can include mental and physical manifestations (hair turning white, permanent attribute loss, paranoia and other mental issues. It will be a range of things. But not death/loss of the character). As soon as you gain a point of Permanent Corruption you roll on the table.
-If total Corruption ever equals double your Threshold you just flat out die or effectively become an insane NPC. The corruption simply overtakes you.
-Corruption will function mechanically similar to panic dice in Alien. You will add "Magic dice" (again, a place holder.) to your rolls. All rolls. Your natural abilities are being fueled by this swell of power as well. Any 1s you roll on magic dice, pushed or not, will add temporary corruption (thus making you more powerful but also tipping you closer to permanent corruption and the edge of insanity and death).
Removing Temporary Corruption
-For emphasis, Permanent Corruption is permanent and cannot be removed.
-When a player Rests for at least 1/4 day they make an Endurance roll with each success removing 1 point of temporary Corruption. (For clarity. Yes, being a skill roll you will add magic dice to the roll and the 1s on the magic dice can cause more temporary corruption either canceling out successes or maybe even leaving you worse off then when you started. Magic and it's corrupting influence is a slippery slope and it can start to snow ball.)
Casting a Spell
-You will spend Willpower not unlike now, but instead of the spell automatically working they will add "Magic Dice" to your roll for the spell. As above with corruption. Any 1s you roll will add temporary corruption.
-You will roll a Attribute + Skill roll like any other skill to fish for success. Using materials will provide equipment dice to the roll instead of automatic successes. The spell itself will tell you what Stat+Skill to roll. Think shooting a "Melf's Acid Arrow" would be Agi + Marksman + Equipment Dice (if you used the material component) + Magic Dice (for any Will Power spent + corruption).
-No spell will automatically cause damage the way that some spells do in Forbidden Lands now. They will be changed to always allow for an opposed roll. Dehydration will allow a endurance roll as an example.
-Spell ranks and spell tomes will work as they do now with safe casting. Allowing you to subtract magic dice from the roll and thus saving you or minimizing the risk of Corruption.
Some Other Stuff
-Artifact items can still add artifact dice. But MAGIC items can also add MAGIC dice. Wielding a cursed sword can literally empower you and slowly (or quickly!) drive you mad.
-Items with spells bound to them will have Magic Dice bound to the item itself. They will require a WP (minimum) to cast the spell, grant the magic dice to your own, and thus make for powerful spells but also the risk for corruption.
My goal with these changes is to...
-reduce the potential lethality and the sheer randomness from using magic.
-build regular incremental impacts to using magic. I want it to scale up. I want players to FEEL empowered by it. But also see the edge they are approaching and understand and fear it.
-get it to work a bit closer to the way the rest of the game works where talents for melee allow you to do things and enhance what you do but doesn't make you automatically succeed at any of it.
I think thats about it from my notes right now... Let me know if you have any questions. Please, all feedback welcome. Do you like it? Dislike it? Why? Any issues you see?