Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Magic is Not Science
Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG reintroduces that danger. You'll never see a Wizard or an Elf cast a spell to illuminate a room. They'll never cast Cantrip (Prestidigitation) to impress their slow-witted friends by levitating their mugs of ale at the tavern. The risk is simply too great. When the time comes to invoke their arcane powers, Wizards will make pacts with demons, cut off fingers, cast aside prized possession to ensure they achieve the maximum effect.
Unlike D&D, you make a spell check each and every time you cast a spell in Dungeon Crawl Classics. Rolling less than twelve is always a failure. Rolling a natural 1 means dire consequences. You will lose that spell for the day, suffer a misfire, and you may gain corruption. Conversely, the higher your roll, the more powerful the effect, which allows the lower level spells to remain useful for the entire game.
I find this take refreshing. The versions in Pathfinder and D&D feel too much like an exact science. Perhaps the best way to sum up this representation of arcane power comes from Joseph Goodman himself: "Low level wizards fear for their lives whereas high level Wizards fear for their souls."