Druids & Demons

I have been musing on this today after my comment on Hurin’s PowerPoint post this morning.

Imagine this setting.

The characters come from an agricultural society situated in a long fertile valley. It supports many villages and even a few market towns. The social structure is held together by Druids who provide all the spiritual support for the society.

Beyond the valley are hostile tribal nations lead by their own Druids.

Beyond those tribes the world is ruled by demons. This is a literal hell on earth setting.

In game mechanics terms the only spell casters are Druids on both the friendly and hostile sides of the coin. There is no magic except that which can be cast or forged by druids or demons.

Players may play druids only with the GMs consent because of their ruling class status.

Further details could be defined but this will suffice for now.

Would RMu work in this setting? This is a very restricted magic world. If you allowed a druid PC how would you stop them grabbing every available list?

With so little magical healing could anyone survive in hostile territory?

My first thoughts were in almost any set of rules this would be easy to run and play but under RMu it becomes exceptionally difficult.

Is this me just struggling with the RMu rules being spread over so many forum threads and the books being virtually obsolete, which means I cannot retain the information?

14 Replies to “Druids & Demons”

  1. hmm … interresting setting, reminds me a little bit about Rifts:England with its (Evil) French Blood Druids.

    i think you must think outside of the standard RMu box here and separate setting wise labelling from mechanical labelling.

    that being said it seams than not all druids are created equally.

    * Your “fertile lands druid” is probably a standard out-of-the-box RMu Druid.

    * Your “savage tribes druid” is surely a RMu Cleric/Bard rebranded as shaman and only called a druid for lack of better understanding.

    * Your “demonic cultist druid” may be one of RMu Magician/Dabbler/Sorcerer/Alchemist/Magent again only called a druid for lack of better understanding.

    as for the issue of “grabbing every available list”, i think that RMu/Spell Law/Beta2 — “3.1 Learning Existing Spells/Access to Spell Lists” and “Table 3-1: Spell List Availability” provides a good starting point to reason limitations.

    1. one thing also comes to mind (since it is a hell on earth setting) that most of the “fertile lands druids” arent actually RMu Druids, but rather recruited No-Prof/Scholar/Bard/Ranger/Healer that have access to 1-2 druidic base lists.

    2. I cannot reference the beta rules here easily. Can you quote 3.1 for me?

      You are right in that Druid is a notional label but what I want to explore is RMu rules for a low magic setting.

      May be one where most magic is accessed via item and artifact rather than learned spells. Also one where the magic that there is is denied to the players by social authority on one hand and wielded by the evil forces on the other.

      1. 3.1.Learning Existing Spells
        Spell Lists can be learned from other spell casters (including supernatural beings and “monsters”),
        magical writings (an appropriate Rune [see Rune Mastery list] might be studied, for example, or books
        providing instructions on the casting of spells (tomes and grimoires: see Treasure Law for more on
        written materials). Most religious orders will require learning to cast new spells, unless the GM
        determines the spells are granted solely by the Channeller’s deity or focus. Various devotional acts or
        offerings may then be necessary for the gaining of additional Channeling spell knowledge. Mentalism
        spells, especially, might be learned through study of the subject with which the spell list deals (e.g.,
        studying texts on physics of motion in order to gain a spell on the Telekinesis list). Of course, the GM is
        the arbiter whether a spell list is available or not and what the source of it is.
        If the spell caster is traveling and is carrying magical texts, he will obviously be limited in the number of
        lists that are available. Alternatively, if the character has been an apprentice at a large wizard’s guild,
        then he will have access to a great many more.

        Access to Spell Lists
        Simply because a spell list exists does not mean it is readily accessible. Wizards’ guilds would guard their
        secrets, as would an underground association of Magents. Religious orders share their magical skills with
        the devout, or at least those that have been initiated into the religion. There are some cases where
        organizations will want spells to be widely available and make them easy to obtain. For example, many
        city governments might ensure that the low level spells creating light are freely available to encourage
        their use instead of fire for illumination in order to prevent urban fires.
        Guilds and organizations may have a particular focus, with skilled spell casters in certain types of lists,
        and the types of spells available to a channeling user will depend on his god’s (or other power source’s)
        sphere of influence. Spellcaster organizations will typically have all of a spell caster’s base lists, assuming
        the Profession is one that the organization accepts (a wizard’s guild might accept Mentalists, but exclude
        Illusionists). Organizations can be rated according to their focus and knowledge of the magical arts:

        Minor: Minor groups are quite small (a single Druid acting as a ‘group’ of one, a trio of Sorceresses on an
        isolated moor, etc.), poorly resourced, and/or less focused on magic. An organization of criminals might
        be large and financially able, but only dabble in magically assisting their operations, thus making them a
        minor group.

        Average: Average groups will tend to be larger, better resourced, and more focused on magic than
        minor groups, but still have limitations in some area. A major university would likely be an average
        group, with considerable resources, but with a focus spread over many fields, not just magic. A local
        guild of spellcasters or an order of Paladins is likely to constitute an average group.

        Major: Major groups are large, have excellent resources, and are highly concerned with magic. This
        would be the level of a national guild of spellcasters, a whole order of Druids, or a university of magic.
        With the most to offer, such groups will generally demand the most of those to whom they grant access
        to their knowledge.

        If the GM has not already decided how spells are shared in the setting, then use Table 3-1 to determine
        how many Open and Closed spell lists a guild has access to (and that the character may learn). The # of
        spell lists that are available is based on the campaign’s Power Level and the type of group the character
        is affiliated with. The actual number within the range can be determined by the GM or by a random roll.
        These are only guidelines and may not apply to all cases. The GM must consider various factors, and the
        most important of these are how common magic is in the setting and how secretive or open the keepers
        of magical knowledge are. Availability of spell lists may vary by region/culture and by realm of magic.

  2. I would think the best way to model this kind of setting using RMU would be to basically make all casting Channeling, and since that has a deity point of origin a GM could easily restrict spell availability. 3.1 in the beta goes into availability based on the type of group that controls spell access and learning, limiting it more by power level than anything else (so for a minor group as defined in those rules characters could learn 1-2 open lists in Average or 8-10 in Epic). They make an exception for Evil spells, saying casters have access to all spells. There are exceptions, and the rules are actually pretty vague here with much being left up to the GM.

    1. as this is supposed to be a low-magic setting, the GM could simply double/triple some/all magical skill costs.

      as a direct result this impacts both spell list and power point availability, making power enhancing items more important.

      if pp multipliers are eliminated from the setting entirely, pp/spell adders and runes might be highly priced tho.

      1. Obviously that would work but if RMu is supposedly setting neutral, having to arbitrarily change DP costs is a bit rough. Without any guidance for new GMs, RMu needs official rule support and guidance on how to tweak the rules to match settings.

  3. Clarification for the setting needed.
    Druid are we talking RMu Class or the label for magic user in the setting?

    1. Druid would be the label in common usage for the population. Game mechanically I would say the GM can be as elastic as they please.

      The thought experiment is all about a world where the characters have little or no access to magic and to get access would be a challenge beyond the ability of most people.

      1. So in this experiment at game development, we are looking at something akin to Ars Magica in reverse. The players are all beholden to the Druid. A Gandalf figure without the need for subterfuge.
        From the GMs perspective as both the demons and the druids are under my control the spell lists and powerpoints are irrelevant, it’s just the effects I need to consider on the players. However, I suspect that the players would need certain talismanic items to accomplish their defence to the fertile realms which could still be linked to the usual RMu (or any system of magic).

      2. You’re right that RMU needs much more in the way of GM guidance. Right now a newcomer would be totally lost, especially without a grounding setting.

        I still think the easiest way to restrict spells and magic is to make the entire setting Channeling under the RAW limitations. In other words, all spells come from divine beings or sources of some kind, meaning the PCs must be “worthy” to cast and restricting spells is quite easy. In my setting I had Rituals of Ascension in place for Paladins in particular. If they passed, they got access to Noble Warrior spells in addition to Paladin ones (RM2 was the base rules set). They could try once at fifth level and again at tenth. If they failed, they never gained Noble Warrior spells and were not considered full paladins. I had something similar for clerics to gain access to deity-based spells (Fire Law for clerics of the god of the sun, for example).

        If you leave the other realms in play it becomes harder to restrict casting in my view. Especially for a new GM.

  4. You have several questions layered into this single post. The elephant in the room is the lack of anything at all that resembles concrete evidence that RMu actually exists and that it will be published anytime soon in either hardcopy or PDF.

    So to answer your last question, it’s not that you are having difficulty remembering material, it’s that there isn’t any solid material any longer. The Beta PDFs are so outdated now, they’re not viable. The changes are spread out over all the threads in the forums. It’s not possible to retain all of those posts and house rules or what’s going to be adopted into the final product. At the very least, things would be easier if a Gamma version (pre-release) version were released so the folks could have another look at what RMu will become and to see what changes have been made.

    RM, in all of its incarnations has been adaptable to any game world. The “u-version” of RM should be no exception. The game world you propose, futuristic space setting, medieval setting, etc. wouldn’t be an issue.

    Lack of magical healing is not an issue at all, especially in a Druid-rich environment. If you recall, my world is purely Elemental Companion. No other magic spells at all. Healing herbs, potions, apothecaries, are all in big supply. Certain towns have a better supply of some types of medicines while having a shortage of other types based on locale and what herbs are indigenous to the area. This opens up a good amount of trade and adventures/quests for players. As you are in a Druid-rich environment, plants and herbs should be very easy to cultivate and to boost effects.

    Druid spell lists shouldn’t be an issue either. You can restrict available lists based on villages or region. Just as different churches or religious influence pop up in different areas, the same can hold true for the Druids. One group could focus one set of similarly themed spell lists, another group could share some lists in common, but may have focused on a couple of different lists. Regionally restricted spell lists would work well here.

    You could allow all lists. Why not? Players will be restricted by DP for list acquisition. If they do have a lot of lists (and therefore fewer skills), they are certainly restricted by PP as to what they are able to cast anyway. It’s never been good to have a single-focus PC who can do only 1 thing. It’s going to be a little self-governing in that sense.

    You can balance spell list acquisition by taking advantage of the extremely hostile environment by requiring the PCs to have certain survival skills, or to be less heavy handed, make use of situations that require the PCs to have had invested in survival skills. When my players don’t heed my advice and choose to be too focused on a single direction, I bring up situations where Acting would have helped them, or Lie Perception (this is a big one), Detect Poison, Sense Ambush Assassin (another big one), etc. As they level up, they start to invest in other skills to round out their PC.

  5. I don’t really see what the issue is. As Spectre noted, you have herbs, and those alone go a long way to making healing viable. And then even if you have to cut out all the alchemical professions, you’ve still got the best healing realm (Channeling) available — you’ve even got lifekeeping and lifegiving. The Druid class in RMU can make a passable healer (access to all Closed Channeling lists, and even some herb-boosting for extra help).

    What am I missing?

    1. I was envisioning ‘healer as quest giver’ to be prominent in this setting. The Druids will always have an agenda and are the gatekeepers to most of the healing magic.

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