Revisiting Spell Law. Spell casting mechanisms Pt. 4 Mentalism.

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The changes we made to casting mechanics for Essence and Channeling seemed obvious (to us) and were fairly straightforward, but we really struggled with the Mentalism realm. It could be argued that mentalism is the least restrictive of the realms: no armor penalties, a broad range of spell abilities and not much for casting requirements. One of our goals with Project BASiL was to increase the differentiation between realms and build some specific advantages and disadvantages for each.

Based on how we saw Mentalism working we kept the basics and then added 1 major advantage and 1 major disadvantage

The basics:

  1. Helmets or head coverings interferes with casting. There are no other armor or encumbrance penalties for casting Mentalism.
  2. Spells don’t seem to require a verbal or gesture component. Mentalism casting is purely a thinking exercise of forming “mental frameworks”.

Major Advantage: Casting Time. Since Mentalism spells can be formed and cast at the “speed of thought” we’ve made all Mentalism spells casting time either Instantaneous of 1 rnd. That may sound extreme or unbalancing but this is offset by the disadvantage.

Major Disadvantage: Concentration Requirement. While Mentalism spells are quick to cast, those that work over a duration require the caster to maintain concentration while the spell is in effect. Concentration is a -50% to all actions, so maintaining a spell can have a real impact on the caster.

We made Magical Language skill a requirement for Essence Casting and Prayer skill a requirement for Channeling. For Mentalism we use “Mental Focus” skill. This skill allows the caster to not only offset the concentration penalty, but “partition” their mind to allow concentrating on multiple tasks. That means that Mentalism spell casters can cast and concentrate on multiple spells (not to exceed -100% and total spell levels not to exceed Mental Focus skill ranks).

As an example, Caylis the Monk 10 ranks, +60 in Mental Focus. He decides to cast Nightvision (3rd lvl) and then Waterwalking (5th lvl). Since he is concentrating on 2 spells, he would be at –100 to all actions, but the penalty is offset by his 60 skill bonus. Therefore Caylis is at -40 for the duration of the 2 spells.

Overall, we’ve been happy with our revised casting mechanics. The various realms offer real plusses and minuses for the players and greatly changed the calculation when choosing spells.

3 thoughts on “Revisiting Spell Law. Spell casting mechanisms Pt. 4 Mentalism.”

  1. an arms master can easily have 11 spells running just from base lists. just to be functional , as armoured as some one in magical armour, and as good with a weapon as a fighter with a good magical weapon. do you expect me to use a -550 to his skill ? you make some classes unusable at medium levels and above.

  2. That is an interesting take on Mentalism, and definitely makes it feel different than the other realms.

    I’m trying to figure out how this might work in RMU. The major advantage you give to Mentalism spells is undercut by the fact that in RMU, all spells now only take one round; you only need to prep if you are worried about the failure chance (e.g. if you are casting a spell higher than your level, or you have big penalties, etc.). So that advantage is essentially mooted.

    Conversely, the disadvantage of requiring concentration for all Mentalism spells will be quite crippling in RMU, especially for a semi like a monk or armsmaster (as aa notes), since they combine arms and spells. Concentration works differently in RMU: instead of being a blanket -50 to all action, it instead just doubles the action point cost of all actions. However, that will cripple semis, who need to be able to spend 4 ap per round on an attack (concentration would limit them to 2). So their attacks would be at -50 in a best-case scenario. They would be unplayable.

    I like the idea of making Mental Focus important for spell users of mentalism. I especially like the idea of making it the PP Development skill for them. I’m just not sure how to handle concentration in the new action economy.

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