So, I seem to have agreed to run a Nobilis one-shot next week, in addition to playing Shieldhaven's Yearly One-Shot, a Song of Ice and Fire hack set in his homebrew setting of Aurikesh. So I am focusing on that, and on other writing projects, and yeah.
So anyway, go read This very thoughtful look at Vancian Magic which does a really good job of covering what I actually like about playing a Magister in AE. Though I do agree with Shieldhaven's comment that seeking and finding spells would be super awesome-- I've just never played a game where the DM actually cared about running that kind of thing, or offering that kind of treasure.
...And I still think that 4e isn't bad for doing this, I mean, there's actually rules for handing out powers as Training Treasure, and I imagine that there are ways to make rituals cooler, and more of this kind of flavor.
Which kind of gives me an idea for how I'd run a 4e game, the next time I try (my current game notwithstanding, I am hoping to pick that up in Jan.)... but Shieldhaven's been making noises about wanting some heroic adventure, and I've been making noises about wanting to run something he could play in.
Basically, I'd probably do one of those hacks where either bonuses are built in and divorced from gear (so that gear can be just cool abilities/powers, instead of What You Need To Hit/Not be Hit more), create an interesting list of maybe 12 magical components that have to be combined variously to create different effects for crafting/spell creation, and have them be real things that the players are actively seeking in-game. Also, I'd consider severely limiting the either all Arcane Classes, or maybe just Wizards, to just their At-Wills, and maybe 1 Encounter.
Daily Powers would come soley from rituals, which could be created via a recipe (a certain combination of materials related to the kind of effect one wants), or discovered in play. A Ritual would need to be performed at the end of an Extended Rest, and grants the Wizard their daily for the day. You could only prepare one a day, of course, though you could have a pretty hefty spell-book of Rituals. Perhaps at very high levels, one could have more, and I suppose one could do this for Dailies and Encounters and have lesser and greater Rituals, but I dunno.
I also kind of like the idea of Rituals that would allow you to, say, swap out a power for a multi-charge power that's better, but costs you something, materially.
The big problem I always had with Vancian Magic in D&D wasn't that you had a spell book, and had to prepare spells, it's that the components were undefined and were just, "I dunno, components." and later ones seemed to just assign arbitrary, random components without rhyme or reason... incense, or a 500 gp bowl had no contextual connection to anything, you just know you need them. What I would need to make me happy there would be context. Not unlike the Oblivion alchemy system, where you know, for example, that a certain mushroom cap is super useful in invisibility potions, or strength, or whatnot.
Anyway. I'll think about that more when I don't have a story due today, and you know, actual work. Though it's awesome how I only really have ideas when I've got deadlines.
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