Freebooter Help - Summoning Magic

New to Freebooters and ran session one of a funnel this past Tuesday. One of my players rolled a ‘61’ which is a Hedge Wizard who has 1 spell. I hadn’t prepped for how magic works as I wasn’t expecting a spell to come into play during the funnel but quickly pulled up the pdf and found the tables.

He rolled randomly and got “Beast” of “Dimension”. I wasn’t sure how this would work as the hedge wizard didn’t have a spell book per se (looking back I probably should have just said it was on a scroll). Anyway he was excited, I was terrified.

He and I interpreted it as allowing him to summon a beast. He wanted a flying creature that would be able to pick him up and carry him to reach something that was out of reach. I pretended like I knew what I was doing and quickly looked up the Magic User play sheet. He is level 0 with +2 INT, so 2 power. I had to make a call and just went with what he wanted; a Giant Bird with a duration of 3 (based on the 2 power).

Once home and re-reading the book its clear this is pretty overpowered. I would appreciate some veteran feedback on how to manage something like this. Specifically Summoning in general in this magic system. I think I probably should just have said, “You summon a Giant Bird right in front of you! It picks you up and drops you off on the cliff shelf above, then fades away…”. Does this sound close?

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow 'Mericans!

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I’m not a veteran but from my perspective magic in FotF should be wondrous and dangerous, so don’t hold back with the good and the bad. If a spell effect sounds cool and the cost matches your expectations, go for it: There is always the danger that the player rolls a 6-. and the repercussions are based on the scale of the spell, so the more powerful the spell the more disastrous the Arcane Accident (Good luck with dealing with a giant bird if things go sideways). Also remember that the spell cost has to be spent on all the aspects (effect, duration, range and area). I think summoning a giant bird that takes the caster somewhere close sounds reasonable: at least 1p for effect (transportation), 1 for duration, 0 for range (touch) and 1 for area (single target). Ultimately it is for the player to suggest what the spell is supposed to do and for you to decide the cost. Also paging @jasonlutes for a more informed view.

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Thank you @HorstWurst, gives me something to think about.

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Hi Warden,

Ha! Looks like you got an edge case there with the hedge wizard. First of all, kudos for adapting on the fly. Second of all, I wouldn’t worry too much about something being “overpowered” – balance is not a major design concern and I find that much fun tends to emerge from situations where PCs end up with more than they bargained for, such as an unexpected spell at level zero. In my experience the right approach here is to lean into to and look forward to seeing just how crazy things might get.

I cosign Horst’s advice to “not hold back with the good and the bad.” There are all kinds of potential drawbacks to spellcasting. You can summon a giant extradimensional bird? Awesome! But once it shows up, who says it’s going to be friendly? Even if you and the player agree that control of a summoned creature should be a default clause in the spell’s EULA, there are all kinds of drawbacks to introducing such a powerful and potentially chaotic force into a given situation.

Leaving aside that, though, and looking at your hedge wizard’s power budget, the best he can manage is a minor effect for duration 1. You and your wizard player have to come to an agreement about what that means, but if you think of the “effect” column applying to a summoned creatures, starting at say, making a dove appear at parlor trick level, perhaps a summoned bird big enough to carry a person from one place to another is a minor effect if that’s ALL that it does; if the PC wants it to fight and do other things, it might call for a greater effect level.

Finally, regardless of how powerful a spell may seem, with each casting there is always the chance it may go wrong. Let your player enjoy whatever advantage they can squeeze out of their apparent windfall, because there will probably come a time when the tide turns against them.

In case you aren’t using the latest Freebooters files, you can find them here.

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