Copyright 2012 Peter Maranci
I've been running a multi-genre classic RuneQuest III campaign for a year now, and one of the PCs is playing a sorceress. We've been using the standard sorcery rules. I know all the objections to the standard sorcery system, and my campaign has a number of alternate magic systems in use (including ones that transcend the system, operating on a strictly conceptual basis).
But the sorceress is basically crippled. It takes her more than a round to cast a single spell, since a decent Venom or Palsy requires a fairly high number of magic points. She stands there, trying to cast, and at best only gets off one or two spells before the combat is over - and often, her spells have no meaningful impact on the combat at all. Her long-term enhancement spells are very helpful to the party, of course, but those don't require her presence in dangerous situations. And she's not getting a shot at power gain rolls.
So I recently added two new sorcery skills to try to balance sorcery. Both are treated in the same way as the other standard sorcery spells; they don't increase from experience, for example, and the casting roll must be under the skill as well the spell in order to apply the skill to the spell.
Speedcast allows a sorcerer to cast spells more quickly. Each magic point used in Speedcast halves the casting time of the spell, with a minimum casting time of one strike rank. The maximum number of points of Speedcast that can be used is limited to 1 MP per full 10% in the skill, so a sorcerer with a Speedcast of 37% would be limited to no more than three points of Speedcast - allowing him to reduce casting time to 1/8th of the original time needed. Of course, each magic point spent on Speedcast does count towards the total casting time!
Example: A Venom spell is cast with Intensity 10 and Range 3 by a sorcerer whose Dex SR is 1. By adding Speedcast 3 to the spell, he ups the total cost of the spell to to 16 MP, but if his casting roll is under his Speedcast percentage he halves the casting time (9 SR), halves it again (4 SR), and halves it again for a final casting time of 2 SR. If his roll is over his Speedcast skill percentage but under all other skills used in the spell, the spell takes 17 SR. The MP spent on Speedcast must still be paid for even if the skill fails. Each additional magic point expended on Speedcast increases the total casting time by 1 SR per MP, whether or not the skill succeeds. Of course, the effects of Speedcast apply to those added strike ranks as well!
The standard Multispell skill allows a sorcerer to combine multiple spells into a single cast. Multitarget allows the sorcerer to cast the same spell simultaneously onto more than one target at a time.
Each magic point spent on Multitarget increases the number of targets by one. As with Speedcast, the points that may be spent are capped to full 10% increments of the skill, so a caster with Multitarget at 43% (for example) can't target more than five enemies total in a single casting.
The spell being cast must be the same for all targets, including all sorcery manipulations; in other words, Intensity, Range, Duration, and anything else must be the identical. The full MP cost is required for each target, i.e. if a Palsy spell is being cast on two targets with Intensity 6 and Range 2, the total magic point cast is (17 - 8 = ) 9 magic points for each spell, plus an additional MP for the Multitarget itself. The caster must designate the primary target before casting, since if they fail their Multitarget roll but succeed otherwise the spell will be cast on the primary target only.
Alternatively, at the gamemaster's option, the sorcerer may only have to spend the MP for the spell and other manipulations once (excluding Multitarget, of course) - but this may make sorcerers too powerful, and should be handled very carefully.
Only one POW vs. POW roll is made. It is applied against all targets, so it's possible that not all targets will be overcome. If combined with Speedcast, the Speedcast skill is applied to the combined spells rather than to each spell individually.
Multitarget can be used to simulate an area of effect spell. A Glow spell could be cast on five enemies simultaneously, for example.
If used with a spell that requires concentration, a successful Multitarget roll must be made for each target at the end of each round after the first. Failure means that that particular spell has lapsed; however, if the roll is successful on other targets, those iterations of the spell stay in effect normally. A standard concentration roll is also required each time that the caster is injured or takes any action which would normally break concentration. Failure means that 1d4 randomly-selected targets are freed of the spell; a fumble ends all active concentration spells currently maintained by the sorcerer.
Since these skills are quite new I'd be very interested in hearing how they work in anyone else's campaign. Please drop me a line if you try them!
Copyright 2012 by Peter Maranci. Revised: September 11, 2012. v.1.0