In Casting Mechanics Pt. 2 we discussed our reworking of the Essence spell lists. In this post we’ll tackle our deconstruction and rebuild of the Channeling lists. Recent posts by Peter talked about his difficulties with the Channeling realm. For Project BASil we rewrote Channeling spells (rather than eliminate it), but I agree that the Channeling realm presents some problems. In short, the Channeling realm is dependent on the setting, world build and presence and type of Dieties. D&D and Spell Law deal with this by making Channeling spells fairly generic and “vanilla”—it took the Channeling Companion to really dig into “Aspect Lists” and rules for more flexibility for Clerics and other Channeling Professions.
First, let’s look at Channeling in the original rule set:
- Casting Time. Like all realms, spells take 1-3 rounds to cast.
- Metal armor interferes with casting.
- Spells require a verbal and hand gesture component.
- Spell Powers. Spells cover a very broad range of power but generally exclude elemental attacks spells.
Our deconstruction of Spell Law forced us to look at each aspect of Channeling spells and casting mechanisms.
Spell Access. If the very nature of Channeling implies access to, or permission from, a “higher power” than that also implies that not everyone can access Channeling spells. Unlike Essence where even a non-spell user could make an effort to learn an Open list, we must assume that the potential caster must at least worship a god and that the god allows that person to cast. (an atheist couldn’t learn Channeling spells) This assumption throws away the whole concept of Open, Closed and Base for the Channeling realm. Instead we reclassified/renamed the 3 categories. “Holy Believers” (Open) are less powerful, general spells available to faithful followers of the diety that put the time and devotion into studies and are granted access to some basic powers. “Holy Followers” (closed) are specialized or aspect themed spells that are only accessible to the priests and clerics or to special servants or high ranking members of the religion. “Holy Servant” (Base) spells are lists for Priests/Clerics and Holy Warriors of the religion. In short, spell access is driven by the casters role in the religion or church.
Channeling Mechanics. Given the need for a Diety to justify the Channeling Realm we also wanted to define the god’s role in actual spell casting. Spell Law touches upon the concept but it’s all a little vague. Are Power Points drawn from the Diety? If so, then why have PP limits for Channelers? Are the spells themselves drawn from the god? SL mentions that higher level spells may need tacit permission from the god or at least their awareness, but it’s not built into the game mechanics in any real way. Since we defined spell power (power points) as being single-sourced (the Essaence) and individual, it’s not the power that’s drawn from the god. Instead we see channeling as working like an app download. The caster prays and the god/diety provides the spell template to create the magical effect.
Casting Components. Given the above definition for Channeling mechanics, the channeling user doesn’t need to use a magical language or arcane hand gestures to generate spell effects. Instead, the caster just recites a specific prayer, “asking” for a certain spell effect. The prayer/spellcast doesn’t even need to be spoken but we do add a SCR bonus for praying out loud. We added a Prayer skill that is used for the SCR. The prayer skill measure the level of devotion and connection of the caster and also determines the highest level of spell that can be cast.
Channeling Spell Powers. Because the spell framework is provided by the god, we felt that Channeling spells didn’t need to be as logical or linear as the Essence lists They could manifest as more miraculous, wondrous or illogical. From a realm differentiation standpoint, channeling spells are better with the intangible: souls, spirits, auras and similar non-physical aspects. Because they are tied to a higher being, channeling is also better at divination/augury and other “fuzzy logic” spells.
Encumbrance. We eliminated the encumbrance and armor effect for Channelers. As discussed in another blog, the Transcend Armor work around is just rules for rules. I don’t see a balance issue.
Casting Time. Channeling spells can be more miraculous and powerful than other realms, we eliminated casting penalties for armor—so are Channelers now too powerful? We chose to balance these benefits with longer casting times. Since the caster needs to pray for a spell effect it might take some time. Our casting rule for Channeling is 1 rnd per spell lvl. A caster can cast quicker, by “rushing” the prayer but there are casting penalties. So yes, a 50th lvl spell would take 50 rnds (just over 4 minutes) to cast without a penalty.