Last time we talked about the rules for Delve, I was discussing the basics of spellcasting using divine spellcasting as examples. You prepare spells each day. You can cast those spells using component actions, and you can continue to cast those spells unless they are disrupted, you fumble a roll for a spell, or you decided to sacrifice a spell, which empowers a spell.
Arcane spells work the same way. They have a set of similar spellcasting actions, but you can’t use divine spellcasting actions to cast arcane spells and vice versa. Later I’ll introduce psychic magic, which has its own set of spell casting actions, and so on. Arcane spells tend to be more forceful and offensive than divine spells which tend to focus on healings and buffs. That doesn’t mean that divine spells can’t be offensive nor does it mean that arcane spells cannot buff, though they typically do not heal … at least not in the normal sense.
For instance, let’s take a look at the cantrip system shock. This is a spell that the sample halfling wizard, Geldon Brightbrow, gains by way of channeling through his crackling staff. Geldon—who focuses on electricity and some force magic—may cast this spell in the attempts to save a companion’s life. But there is a cost. If he doesn’t sacrifice it, he might kill the target. When a magical discipline features a spell that attempts to accomplish something outside its bailiwick, there’s a greater danger of catastrophe. In this case, if Geldon casts the spell without sacrificing it, he has a 25% chance of killing the patient.
I mentioned that Geldon can gain this spell through channeling. Casters in general love channeling items. They expand the number of spells they can cast, but at some cost. Typically channeling items have limitations. For instance, the channeling staff features two spells—lightning aura and system shock—that can be cast as long as another spell with the electricity element is channeled through the staff. For instance, if I wanted to cast system shock, I need to channel another electricity spell of the same level of mastery through the staff. That means that I have to have an electricity cantrip and that I lose access to that cantrip for as long as system shock is in effect. Now, this is no biggy, because system shock has an instantaneous effect. You zot, and you’re done. But in the case of lightning aura, things get a little tricky.
Lighting aura has a duration of, “until the end of your next turn.” You can also continue casting with it, which means that if you use Focusing Gesture, you can extend the duration until the end of your very next turn, thus gaining the spell’s effects for longer. But, it sequesters the electricity spell you channeled for as long as you keep up the effect. In Geldon’s case, he would channel his lightning lash—a 1st mastery offensive spell with the electricity element—and then could not cast that spell until lightning aura’s duration has ended.
It’s also worth noting that if you sacrifice a spell, you gain from channeling it also sacrifices the spell you channeled. So, in the case of system shock, if Geldon wanted to save a friend without the risk of death, he would have to sacrifice both system shock (losing the ability to channel it until he prepares again) and the cantrip with the electricity element that he channeled into the crackling staff. The same is true if a channeled spell is disrupted or its resolution fumbled. In these cases, both the spell channeled into the item and the spell gained are disrupted, and you can’t cast them again until you prepare. Like many things in Delve, an exploit typically comes with greater risk.
Unlike similar games, spells-in-a-can are rarer in Delve and tend to be higher level than their base effect. Spells in a can have always felt a tad cheaty to me, and thus have been priced (in all the economies) at a higher rate. None of this spamming wands of cure light wounds bullshit.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’m off to OwlCon next week to chuck dice with the wonderful folks of Houston, Texas courtesy of Rice University and fantastic OwlCon staff. I have to say I’m looking forward to enjoying a little Texan warmth and hospitality. I’m also itching to run some Pathfinder and Delve for folks. Before I leave, I’m going to talk a bit about races and the progression in Delve, so talk at you next week.