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10 thoughts on “Rolemaster Spell Law Deconstructed: Are Summoning Spell mechanics broken?

  1. The problem with your summoning definition being real creatures being called to the caster is that it does not fit with the spell descriptions in Spell Law. Unless you are going to rewrite the spells to fit your description.

    One issue is that with summoning the caster desires a type of creature but has no actual control over the exact creature. You want a hoofed creature and you may get a horse, camel or zebra.

    If the creature needs to travel to you then a Zebra would need to set out months or years before the caster cast the spell to arrive at the time of casting.

    Another point is maybe not an issue at all. It may be your intention. I was once an 18th level illusionist. I was confronted with a charging column of cavalry intent on turning me into a kebab. The one spell I got off was to summon a large whale about 90′ above and slightly in front of the column. The GM made me make some math skill rolls which I made easily and the I ended up summoning a blue whale the decimated the front of the column and certainly surprised and disrupted the charge of the rear. Under your rules there was little chance of summoning a whale if it had to swim to me and they are terribly at flying so getting it 90′ up in the air would be hard.

    Even if I built a huge water tank I could never summon a whale to fill it.

    1. All good points. I think “summoning” maybe better named “calling” which works well with animists and similar spell lists and works well with lower level spells. I just have an issue with gating in creatures at very low levels–from a process standpoint its much more powerful than Long Door 100′. The spell needs to detect a creature and then gate it in over a much longer range; I don’t see that as a 2nd level spell. Then the idea that at the end of duration their is another latent spell that gates the creature back to where it was seems problematic.
      Or you could argue that it’s a “conjuration” spell–the creature is magically created. That also seems incredibly powerful–maybe only possible through divine/channeling magic?
      I’m just starting a dialogue on the HOWS of these spells in retrospect. Of course I’m staying away from RMU which may have addressed some of these issues with summoning/illusions.

      1. I have always imagined summoning and gating spells using two different mechanisms.

        In summoning I don’t think the creature is real. It is probably the ‘soul’ or consciousness of a sleeping creature who just has a bit of a vivid nightmare that night. The body is little more than a subconscious illusion created from magic and it dissipates as the end of the spell. The shape and form of the magical body is formed from the bodily awareness of the summoned creature. That is why the caster has little control over what creature they actually get.

        Gating on the the other hand works like a transistor in electronics. With a transistor a very small current can be used to switch a much larger current. When you cast a gate spell you are only applying the very small current. The demons are by their very nature trying to invade our plane anyway so when the small current is applied on this plane it is sufficient to allow the much greater magical force to open the gate from the other side.

        At the end of a summoning spell the consciousness of the animal is released and the magical body disperses.

        A gate spell on the other hand just as with a transistor taking away the small current switches the greater current off. So by setting the ending condition for the small current/magic you can control the greater magic even though it is not yours.

  2. This might be another leftover from D&D. I was looking at the Pathfinder Summon Monster I spell. This is a 1st level spell that summons the actual creature from another plane of existence. Which, when you think about it, is pretty powerful.

  3. I have had a thought about the deconstruction and the issues you are highlighting. Possibly this deserves a post in its own right but here is the idea.

    Imagine you junk all the game mechanics for all the spells. All you are left with is a structure of labels organised from Magic->Realm->List Type (open/closed/base)->List->Spell.

    Now if you took a game like Champions/Hero System that just lists ‘effects’ and a point buy system where you can construct super powers by buying combination of effects you could start to reconstruct all the spells with 1st level spells being bought with 10pts, 2nd level spells 20pts, up to 50th level being 500pts. You are absolutely guaranteed that all the spells on all the lists will be of equal power.

    This leads me down a chain of thought. If these point buy powers were published as a drop in alternative magic system for D&D and Pathfinder and was also compatible with RM and shadow world you are completely free from ICE intellectual property issues. In a similar way that Creature Law for RMU has the archetypes so a GM can construct any creature so an alternative Spell Law could have all the magical effects and the point costs so any player could research any spell in the same way that Hero System players can construct any super hero.

    That way you get your balance built in from the ground up.

      1. Yes, I have played Morrowwind and that would work just as well.

        The thing is that it is extremely hard to make a magic system that is independent of setting. Almost all magic comes with some kind of emotional baggage. You cannot Gate in a demon if you don’t have demons or planes of existence. There are lots of things you cannot do if you don’t have a souls or spirits.

  4. I think the distinctions Brian makes between summoning/calling vs. gating and controlling vs. mastery are very useful ones. I believe that RMU Spell Law is not finished yet, so perhaps these can be consistently applied to the spell descriptions in it.

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