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Monday, 24 December 2007

The New Era # 1 - Time Scale & New Spell Use


Because we will be using real-time combat in NWN2, I am considering changing the time scale into something that may be better for us to work with. This will also tie in with the way spells are recovered and the introduction of a new spell system brought about at the coming of the new era after the party return from playing the Soul Shaker module.


In NWN1 we used 1 minute real time = 1 minute game time, and I used to move forward time as required. However, personally, I now prefer to use a new method which will not only add a new dimension to the game, but also give control back to the player. As you know, the general idea for me writing new material in NWN2 is to return closer to some of the original D&D rules to reduce the amount of coding for "normal" events, and because "resting" in D&D can be done every 8 hours, this is my new proposal:-

1 minute real time = 15 minutes game time.

This will then allow me to ignore most time shifts and adjustments to allow PCs to rest as they feel fit. I will be able to concentrate on moving "large chunks" of time only, for when it comes to other issue such as long-term study or travel in some way. Furthermore, it adds an element of "excitement" or "tactical planning" required by the player, in that they will be able to judge how better to use spells and when to reserve them for possible encounters that may occur before they get the chance to rest. In real terms, it means a player will be able to use the REST button (to recover spells) every 24 minutes real time - and the player must now be aware of this fact and try to be careful not to use all spells within the first few minutes of play. If they do, then they must be ready to hide up until they can rest and recover. Note, this means the actual REST time (or night-time) is "absorbed" into the faster time scale, and means we only "play" relevant game time. In other words, time in this sense is "flexible" representation of the events the PCs can do within a given time period. This also has the following advantages:-

1) It removes "time blocks" that (in the past) have had to be observed because that was the way PnP did it. In PnP, it was immaterial and an abstract concept. This way allows play to be "continuous" and simply recognises the PC's ability to recover said spells in the given time frames.
2) Time will take care of itself and players will be able to know just how long they have until they can rest. The DM only has to work large time shifts. I believe this will also make for some exciting play.

Note, 24 minutes is *not* a very long time to wait for the possibility to relearn the spells (and rest). However, I believe that it is about the right amount of time to allow for potential "we need to rest soon!" anxiety that I believe the game requires to not make resting the "quick fix" for all issues. The idea is to get the balance right between what the rules say, what would be too easy, and what would be too difficult. If players have any preferences to make this time longer, then please let me know in this thread. Or, if any players have any questions, please raise them here for discussion.


Along with the new time-scale, I propose to introduce a new spell use concept, called "Arcaene Lore". This will be in reference to the ways spells were cast prior to "The Darkening", which is what the event is called after the PCs return from the demi-plane. In this case, Arcaene Lore is rediscovered knowledge from the "old ways" of casting magik spells. In game terms, this simply means the PCs will discover scrolls and pages with knowledge of how to cast a spell like they did prior to The Darkening. This means being able to repeat cast the same spell without having to learn it first.

How does this work in game terms?

Basically, as the PCs explore the changed world, they may come across scrolls (or simple pages) of magik written in such a way that its powers have been embedded into the page itself. Then, a PC with the right ability can mix their own powers with that of the scroll and release the magik contained within its pages. The page is *not* expired with use, because the main power to unleash the magik within the page is transferred from the caster themselves (if they are strong enough to cast the magik in the first place).

E.g. To start off with, a wizard will gain new spells in the usual D&D 3.5 rules way. If they learn Magic Missile, then they will have to specify how many times a day they wish to have it memorized to use and be governed by their choice. However, if the same wizard then finds an Arcaene Lore scroll with Magic Missile inscribed upon it, then they will be able to use the scroll to focus the power of the spell as many times as they use the scroll. However, they are still limited by their own powers, which means with each use of the scroll, the number of first level spells they can cast in 8 hours is reduced by one. The only side effect of using a scroll in this way, is that the spell lost to give power to the scroll is not known until they check their remaining spells. (There may be a pattern as to which spells are lost first, but I leave this to the player to discover.) This new system is still fresh in my mind, but please not the following:-

1) As the PC acquires more of these Arcaene Lore scrolls, so they will be able to rely less on original spells learned and arrange their pages as they see best.
2) Arcaene Lore pages can be given to any PC that has the ability to cast them, which means spells can be more easily managed between the party.
3) Arcaene Lore is not copyable by PCs, as it is lore and magik from a time past. Only Vol judges when and what pages may be found.

Again, if there are any questions relating to the topic, then please reply here and we can discuss it as a group.

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