Utility Spells

Discuss our dark fantasy adventure tabletop roleplaying game based on BioWare's computer game, Dragon Age Origins.

Utility Spells

Postby face p0lluti0n » Thu Dec 24, 2009 12:01 am

Heya. Excuse my newness to the forums. I am a longtime fan of GR, specifically True20, and checking out the new Dragon Age RPG previews (magic, in particular) I am incredibly excited about this game. I love what I've seen of the new mechanics. However, one thing has worried me about the game as I have seen it thus far - I've seen little to no mention of utility spells so far. Stuff like charm person or flying or telekinesis or invisibility. I understand that outright mind control stuff is blood magic and therefore a specialty, but in the reviews and previews so far, I've seen little of any illusions, divinations, or other noncombat type spells. Is this something that the pre/reviews have just missed, and do exist in the game? Do they not exist in set 1, but are coming in a later book/box? Or have they been left out due to a deliberate design decision? Or something else? I'm dying to play this game, but I tend to run low or non combat games as a GM, so a telekinesis or invisibility or telepathy spell will be more important - more magical, to my players - than ice bolts or heal spells, and important to me as a world-builder and GM.

Sorry to be a bother. I really *love* everything else I have seen and read about this game - I mean to the level of "I may very well quit my current western fantasy RPG of choice to play Dragon Age Tabletop" but a deep utility spell system is a deal maker/breaker for my group, a group that is otherwise willing to accept more elegant solutions to other gameplay concerns such as stats/skills/combat.

If utility spells are being delayed/excluded and this is motivated by a design philosophy, I would *love* to read about it, being an amateur game designer who really likes to look behind the curtain whenever allowed to.

Anybody who reads this, and anybody who responds to this: Thank you very, very much for your time.

-Andrew
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Postby Riggswolfe » Thu Dec 24, 2009 12:18 am

The computer game this is based on doesn't really have any utility spells so unless the designers get permission to expand on the magic stuff I'd expect this game won't either.
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Postby PaintOnASign » Thu Dec 24, 2009 1:16 am

Yeah, what Riggswolfe said. There's really nothing like that in the CRPG. Most "utility" spells are simply just support spells, like Haste. Granted, the CRPG has very little use of utility spells like that, so who knows, we may see that in the tabletop game, where they would definitely be a lot more useful.
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Postby IzualTheMighty » Thu Dec 24, 2009 1:36 am

I would say the reason anything like that isn't in either game is the background settings of mages in general. The Chantry really doesn't trust them and has them all out in a tower in the middle of Lake Calenhad, after all. On top of that they are very closely watched by templars, so anything like a mage learning to cast invisibility on himself or use telekenetic powers would certainly make them a lot more suspicious, and even more closely watched or possibly worse, like made tranquil perhaps?
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Re: Utility Spells

Postby psychodrive » Thu Dec 24, 2009 3:54 am

face p0lluti0n wrote:Stuff like charm person or flying or telekinesis or invisibility. I understand that outright mind control stuff is blood magic and therefore a specialty, but in the reviews and previews so far, I've seen little of any illusions, divinations, or other noncombat type spells.


I point you to the DA (CRPG) Codex Entry #83 - http://www.gamebanshee.com/cgi-bin/sear ... odex.id=83

You must not be under the misimpression that magic is all-powerful. There are limits, and not even the greatest mages may overcome them.

No one, for instance, has found any means of traveling--either over great distances or small ones--beyond putting one foot in front of the other. The immutable nature of the physical world prevents this. So no, you may not simply pop over to Minrathous to borrow a cup of sugar, nor may you magic the essay you "forgot" in the apprentice dormitory to your desk. You will simply have to be prepared.

Similarly, even when you send your mind into the Fade, your body remains behind. Only once has this barrier been overcome, and reputedly the spell required two-thirds of the lyrium in the Tevinter Imperium as well as the lifeblood of several hundred slaves. The results were utterly disastrous.

Finally, life is finite. A truly great healer may bring someone back from the very precipice of death, when breath and heartbeat have ceased but the spirit still clings to life. But once the spirit has fled the body, it cannot be recalled. That is no failing of your skills or power, it is simple reality.
--From The Lectures of First Enchanter Wenselus.


The important thing is that it (teleportation/flight) hasn't been found. It would probably make a brilliant campaign goal for one of your players.
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Postby Ryngard » Thu Dec 24, 2009 4:44 am

Yeah it is because those HIGH MAGIC type of spells that abound in the Forgotten Realms don't exist in Thedas. Magic is more direct and brutal and warlike.

There ARE support/utility spells, but they aren't flashy and all mighty. You have buffs mostly, with a few others mixed in.
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Postby Aldaris » Thu Dec 24, 2009 4:54 am

To be fair, there is some minor utility stuff gained from the magic talents. But that isn't exactly expansive.
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Postby extrakun » Thu Dec 24, 2009 5:16 am

To be truthful, I am glad that there is no utility spell. It just make the setting too hokey at times.
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Re: Utility Spells

Postby Zapp » Thu Dec 24, 2009 5:35 am

Hi and welcome to the forums, Andrew!

Here's a link describing the spells of the computer game. We should expect this list of form the bulk of the spells coming for the pen and paper game too.

http://dragonage.wikia.com/wiki/Spells
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Postby DocEldritch » Thu Dec 24, 2009 8:46 am

The lack of utility spells is somewhat of an issue as well, as I truly doubt that magic was relegated purely to combat magics (especially in the Imperium). The CRPG only has that, because that is all that is important in a CRPG.

I already plan to add in more spells, if I run the game (maybe when a couple more of the sets are out), things like minor divinations, some illusions, limited flight (yes, teleportation is not possible in the setting, by the known abilities of magic, but flight? It does not instantly move you from one place to another, so no problem, to me), perhaps some other things.

To keep the "setting rules", I don't think I would do things like Charm spells, that were not blood magic related, but an equivalent effect could occur with some kind of "buff" spell that makes you seem more impressive or trustworthy (ie a focus bonus or something).

But limiting the game to just combat spells, well, limits the game! Hopefully we will see some more in future sets that expand magic out from "I point and the monster blows up", but until then, make your own!
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Postby Zapp » Thu Dec 24, 2009 3:28 pm

At the same time, I hope Dragon Age won't become another D&D, especially of previous editions, where everything a warrior or rogue could do, a mage can do better, where Charm is an ridiculously easily available spell, and where Fly and Invisibility are commonplace.

But I'm not overly worried - I trust Green Ronin to keep to the atmosphere of the CRPG. :)
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Postby Balgin Stondraeg » Thu Dec 24, 2009 4:47 pm

DocEldritch wrote:I already plan to add in more spells, if I run the game (maybe when a couple more of the sets are out), things like minor divinations, some illusions, limited flight (yes, teleportation is not possible in the setting, by the known abilities of magic, but flight? It does not instantly move you from one place to another, so no problem, to me), perhaps some other things.


Rather than divination spells, might I suggest a sensitivity to the Fade? The mage being highly sensitive would be able to pick up on things taking place in the fade and basicaly ghet the "mood" of current background events driving things taking place in the real world before him. This could also work as a kind of foretelling (foreboding, if you will). I'd rather see this as a talent rather than a spell.

That way you wouldn't really be breaking established world lore so much as expanding on it.
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Postby Gairten » Thu Dec 24, 2009 6:48 pm

Balgin Stondraeg wrote:Rather than divination spells, might I suggest a sensitivity to the Fade? The mage being highly sensitive would be able to pick up on things taking place in the fade and basicaly ghet the "mood" of current background events driving things taking place in the real world before him. This could also work as a kind of foretelling (foreboding, if you will). I'd rather see this as a talent rather than a spell.

That way you wouldn't really be breaking established world lore so much as expanding on it.



*Minor DA:O video game spoiler*

This sounds fairly similar to how Wynne was handled and some of her backstory unfolded. The Fade could easily be adapted to handle something like this.
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