Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Work continues on Chanbara

Yesterday and today, I decided that I didn't like the way I'd done magic in Chanbara.

Well, that's not 100% accurate.  I've got spell casting with Chainmail style casting rolls to pull off spells, rather than traditional Vancian D&D magic or even the 3E Sorcerer style that I used in Flying Swordsmen.  That stayed.

What I changed was access to spells.  As revisions have gone on, I've reduced the number of special abilities each class gets as they level up.  It just seemed like too much stuff.  But that meant that spell casters had very few spells known.

So, instead, again taking a cue from Chainmail, each spell casting class in Chanbara has a list of spell types (schools if you will) that they have access to.  Well, now they just have blanket access to all of those spells, although they need to be of appropriate level to cast higher level spells.  Jury's still out on a "risking mishaps to cast higher level spells" mechanic.

And to fill the gap, I came up with a list of Secrets, or feat-like special abilities for spell-casters to choose from, similar to the Combat Maneuvers and Tricks. 

The other big change was dropping race-as-class and making the Yokai into racial options, with limited class access.  This adds a small additional choice to character creation, but removes three classes from the game - so down to nine.

Coming up with the Secrets was fairly quick and painless, so I've no doubt there are some problems here and there (less powerful ones high on the level list, or vice versa) but that's what play testing is for, right?


  1. Sounds kind of like how Rolemaster worked. You learn a spell list instead of just one spell. As you level, you automatically gain access to higher level spells on the list.

  2. Have you considered leveled access? Say your magic levels are 1/1/2/etc? This will keep certain classes better (and flavoured) at certain types of magic, while giving each caster a great deal of variety.

  3. Dan - I never played Rolemaster, but this seems like a way to keep the focus on the action, and not overly gimp the casters. Also, some of the Secrets special abilities allow access to other schools' spells, if someone feels that they really need something from another list.

    Evil Garden Gnome - Do you mean leveling in each school individually? That might be a bit too fiddly for what I think is a game already on the border of OSR style rules-lite gaming. But it's something to keep in mind as I go into the playtest. Thanks for the idea.

    1. Looking at your post from today, I see you've actually already done something similar to this by giving certain classes access to certain 'schools'.

      Really, my idea just goes one step further and says that, at a given level, your character has access to each school at an independent level.

      Say a Sohei at level 2 has spell levels 1/2/1 (Spirit, Ki, Protection). They still know all the spells at those levels. No more fiddly than DnD having x level 3 spells known at character level y.

      If you do want a fiddly bit (or optional rule), you could say that (again, merely examples) a level 2 Sohei has 4 spell levels to distribute among the three schools, max of character level in any one. This is very fiddly, but allows each Sohei to play differently.

    2. I could do that, but I don't think I will. First of all, the Secrets, Combat Maneuvers and Tricks are ways for players to customize their characters. And if a player wants to limit themselves to only certain types of magic for thematic reasons, they certainly don't need to cast other spells.

      If I want every character to play differently, I wouldn't be designing a class/level game. I'd be designing a skill-based game of some sort. Saying your character is a Sohei or a Ninja or a Yamabushi brings with it certain connotations. Maneuvers/Tricks/Secrets allow you to vary your PC a bit, but it will still fit the general mold.

      For me, that's a feature, not a bug.