Saturday, October 23, 2010

What spells can say about the setting.

I hate to harp on these obvious things but going over the spell lists really brings home how the rules, and especially how spells rely on features of the game setting.  For example here's a pretty simple 4th level Cleric spell from Beacon:
Ethereal Ward:
Range:  Radius 25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels.
Duration: 10 min/level.
Area is impassable to Ethereal creatures and effects (including spells such as invisibility and Mage Sight, but not greater invisibility).  When the spell is cast, ethereal creatures already in the area are ejected and Ethereal based spells stop working.
So what does this say about the setting?  Well it says that the Ethereal plane is pretty damn important for magic users since it appears that the invisibility spell utilizes it in some way (It wraps the target in Etherealness to be specific).  So Arcane mages (or at least the high level ones or the sages) are probably pretty somewhat versed in Ethereal lore or mechanics to have come up with something like this.   You may not want to do anything with planes in you game (inner or outer) but there it is in the rules and your players are going to be exposed to it.  They are going to want to know what other Ethereal based spells and creatures are out there.

I put this spell in Beacon to replace the SRD spell Dimensional Anchor because that spell made a whole different assumption about the setting - namely that there are a butt-tonne of creatures called outsiders zipping around all these exotic planes and you might want to nab one of them before they flit off to the Lawful Indifferent Plane of Left-handed Smoke Elementals.  Having a 409 alternate planes might be great for your Pathfinder campaign but I DO NOT WANT.

Ok this is a bit of a straw-man argument because Dimensional Anchor is a pretty nice spell and does not necessitate having a lot of planes of existence - you could just use it for a Demon bashing campaign (I will probably do this actually, just with a different set of spells).  But the basic idea is I'm trying to remove some of the baggage.  That's the other reason I am reworking the spells instead of just using the SRD.  The main reason is just a rebalance because you have more spells per day in Beacon and a lot of SRD spells get pretty powerful if they are usable on demand and aren't taking up a precious spell slot.  Also there is a hell of a lot of overlap in the SRD and that's just lazy.

SO, you might not agree on my idea of a fantasy setting but if you use the Beacon spell lists there will be no adventures to the Lawful Indifferent Plane of Left-handed Smoke Elementals like you get when you use those nasty SRD spells.

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