The root of the system was my admiration for the simple Hit Die as a general measure for fighting ability. I learned D&D in the third edition era, so it wasn't until I started exploring older editions and retro-clones that I realized how much value there could be in a single number. I'd love to be able to work with something similar for magic. "Magic Dice" of sorts. I guess. So here's what I'm working with:
A character with X Magic Dice can cast spells up to level X and begins each day with a pool of X dice to use in casting. When attempting to cast a spell, roll all of your magic dice; if the result is equal to or greater than the spell's difficulty (5x the spell's level), you succeed in casting the spell. Whenever a character fails at casting a spell, add one die to their pool; when they succeed, remove one die from their pool (minimum of one).
Aside from my horrible use of pronouns in that paragraph, my biggest concern is probably that such a system could be exploited to cast low-level spells too often...although I guess that possibility is there with high-Intelligence Conjurers in The Black Hack, and it doesn't seem to break anything.
The spell list could be as broad or narrow as desired for the game, and it would be easy to add in "exploding" sixes...and rolls of "one" not counting for anything...to ensure that every instance of spellcasting has the chance to succeed or fail...
At any rate, I could imagine a really simple character advancement/construction system in which Hit Dice and Magic Dice are basically equivalent, so with each level, you just choose which one to add to your character.
UPDATE: Joel Priddy over at An Abominable Fancy has done an excellent breakdown of success rates with this system using a couple of different target number progressions. Be sure to head over there...not only does Joel use real-life mathematics to analyze this (rather than my typical "yeah, maybe that'll work..."), but his blog is always a great read...!
|Margo the Magician. Because I wanted a picture in this post, and this one kind of fit the theme.|