The Junk Drawer

The Junk Drawer

(All the @#$%-ing Rules That Don’t Fit Anywhere Else)

The “69 Rule”: When rolling % dice (d100), a result of a 69 is an automatic success, or results in the best-possible rolled result. A character can always substitute a d100 roll for a d20 roll, but in these cases only a d100 roll of “69” matters. This is one way to allow for some chance in hell when otherwise there is no hope for making the d20 roll: the choice to substitute the d100 roll for the d20 must come before the d20 check is made. Note that is it NOT possible to use character points on d100 rolls to enact the “69 Rule”.

The “Roll to Win”: This unusual mechanic comes into play when a character asks the DM for something ridiculous and the DM doesn’t want to flat-out say no, such as “can I get another defense roll this segment?, the one I rolled sucks..” or “I’m hoping the local star will go nova, so I can have my revenge..”. In these cases the DM might ask the player for a Roll to Win, whereby the player selects a number between 1 and 1,000 and tries to roll it on d1000. if the number comes up, the player “wins”…whatever the fuck that means.

Falling Damage: As the gravitational force represents an acceleration, the standard d6 per 10’ fallen concept is right out. A Cinematic fall is more dangerous: the number of d6s rolled for damage are determined by Pascal’s Triangle: each horizontal “level” of the triangle represents a 10’ fall. To determine the number of d6s to roll, count the number of coefficients up to that level of the triangle. An example is called for: for a 40’ fall we examine line 4 of Pascal’s Triangle (the one with 4 coefficients), and count the number of coefficients up to that point, which is 4 + 3 + 2 + 1 = 10d6 damage. Thus, a 70’ fall would result in 7 + 6 + 5 + 4 + 3 + 2 + 1 = 28d6 damage! If this seems extreme, consider that 30’ falls are, in the desert of the real, often fatal, resulting in something like a 30 mph collision with the ground. While terminal velocity depends on such things as the orientation of the falling character, let’s assume that a fall of 1,200’ is the limit for damage calculation. The Cinematic damage from this height would be 120 + 119 + 118… (or simply [1 + 120] x [120/2] = 7,260d6 or, a whole hell of a lot. For some reason, players get upset when you roll this much damage (or when their DM says “hand me a lot of dice..”). Restricting the maximum fall damage to 200d6 isn’t unreasonable, but honestly it doesn’t often come up. The Potential For Critical Hits: making matters worse for Cinematic characters, any fall of 20’ or more might result in a critical hit as well. To avoid this grim possibility, a Fortitude save DC 10 + 1 per 10’ fallen beyond 10’ is required. Thus, a 90’ fall requires a Fortitude save DC 10 + 8 = 18 to avoid taking a critical hit from the ground. A 160’ fall would require a Fortitude save DC 25. if a critical hit is indicated by a missed Fort save, the DM will roll on a d100 blunt weapon critical hit table (allowing for broken bones and such).

The Concept of “the local scene”: Several bits of rules in the Cinematic System refer to “the local scene”, such as the Bystanding Body Count Production feat and the texts of various wild surges. The exact boundaries of any given “local scene” are DM-determined and somewhat vague. Imagine that the PCs are actors in a film, in a specific scene, surrounded by props and extras and scenery – the “local scene” includes everything relevant to the on-camera view. Thus, if the PCs-as-main-characters are walking down a dusty street in an Old West town, the NPCs they encounter in the street are in the “local scene.” The NPCs yelling at the PCs from open windows are in the “local scene.” However, NPCs doing things off camera, out of the perception of the PCs, out of the camera’s field of view and the director’s interest, are not in the “local scene.”

The Definition of a “Session”: Certain Cinematic feats and powers have “per game session..” parameters, such as the Cinematic Fudging feat. Given the HUGE amount of potential variation in the length of time a game session could run for, we recommend resetting “per game session..” abilities after 10-12 hours of game play. Of course, it is the DM’s call when, and if, another “session” begins.

House Rules of Death and Dying

“Death from massive damage”: To hell with this concept, combat is lethal enough.

The Stabilization Roll: When a Cinematic System character is at negative hit points, their chance to stabilize is a percentage chance equal to their Constitution score. This roll is made on their unmodified (by the Speed stat) initiative roll each round, since quickness and skill are not factors. When loosing hit points (at negative hit point totals) due to “bleeding” a character loses (bleeds) one hit point on the same initiative number as the original source of the damage that took them negative. If this number is unavailable, roll a d12 instead (each round) and use that result.

Negative hit point limit: A character can survive in negative hit points until their hit points drop to negative 8 minus their constitution modifier. Thus, a character with a Constitution of 12 (+1 modifier) can survive to -9 hit points and a character with a Constitution modifier of -2 could only survive to -6 hit points. Death occurs the meta-game moment after the character reaches their negative hit point limit (allowing said character to react to being at their limit and save themselves with, for example, character points). The negative hit point calculation is always made with a character’s current Constitution score, enhanced or damaged as it may be. A character with temporary Constitution damage who dies at an unusually disadvantageous negative hit point total does not come back to life when said Con damage is later removed. Cinematic Cavaliers are the exception to this general rule: they die when their negative hit point total equals their hit point total at level 1.

Recovery of Hit Points: A character recovers its level plus its Constitution modifier (but at least 1) in hit points per 8 hours of rest; 150% of this if the rest was comfortable sleep. Characters receiving first aid care (with heal checks DC 15 and adequate supplies such as bandages and clean water) recover an additional 50% more hit points than usual per unit time. Note that the Fast Healing feat modifies these rules.

Thoughts on Resurrection and Coming Back to Life: The Cinematic System evolved out of a gaming context where resurrection magic and other forms of escaping the great beyond were unavailable – the concepts of special points, of burning your luck, of many elements of the Cinematic System are designed to make characters unusually durable. The threat of death can be an element of excitement and interesting tension. Thus, it is recommended that Cinematic campaigns factor out the availability of resurrection – dead is dead.

House Rules Relevant to Skills

Critical Success or Failure With Skill Checks: The Cinematic System incorporates this idea: a natural 1 on a skill check potentially results in a critical failure (depending on the confirmation roll), whereas a natural 20 potentially results in a critical success.

“Hey! Why not, I roll that check too!”: As is often the case with listen or spot checks, one player’s good idea to make a skill check is often followed by multiple other players chiming-in to make the same roll, at the same time. In these cases, the Cinematic DM will generally penalize these “tagged-on” skill checks by 4, as if they were Passive Skill Checks.

“Natural 20 is a 30” and “Natural 1 is a -10” Rule: For many purposes, including confirmation rolls, defense rolls, hit rolls, skill and ability checks, saving throws, and any d20 rolled to set a DC (such as when a Psion uses a psionic power), a natural 20 is counted as a “30” and a natural 1 is counted as a -10. Thus, with enough bonuses to hit one might still hit an opponent with a natural 1. This also means that a character with only +2 to hit could not make a successful melee attack against an opponent with an AC of 33, since a natural 20 would mean a hit roll of 30+2 = 32; in this case the character would have to create some sort of situational modifier to assist with their attack (like launching an attack from higher ground).

“Passive Skill Checks”: In certain situations where a DM asks a player to make a skill check in response to something the player is not aware of, or has not prepared for in-game, the DM will penalize this Passive Skill Check by 4. Consider the following example: the heroes stumble upon a cairn of stones with one entrance – some of the party investigates inside, while two character post a watch outside (one on top of the cairn, one in front of the entrance). The player guiding the character on top of the cairn tells the DM, “I’m going into mild paranoia mode, listening for danger, keeping a rotating glance off to the tree line, taking note of which way the wind is blowing..”. The player in charge of the character guarding the entrance says nothing and isn’t necessarily paying attention to the in-game story. Soon after, an invisible giant tries to sneak up to the cairn – the DM asks the player character on top of the cairn (who was role-playing her guard duty) for a listen check opposed to the giant’s move silently. The DM also asks the player character in front of the cairn for the same listen check, but at a passive penalty of 4.

Cinematic Rules of Magic and Psionics

The Cinematic 12 Second Combat Round: the Cinematic System combat round represents 12 seconds of in-game time. However, when employing non-Cinematic spells and psionics (and other powers), pretend that the combat round is actually 6 seconds in terms of THEIR listed durations.

The “Spells Per Day” Concept is Toast: As previously mentioned, Cinematic spell casters do not prepare “spells per day”, but rather “spells in their mind at any given time.” The best way to explain this is by using an example – consider a level 3 Cinematic generalist wizard (who did not choose to specialize in a school of magic, an element, in wild magic, etc.) with an Intelligence of 12; the wizard gets 4 level 0, 3 level 1 (one for Int), and 1 level 2 spell slot. Normally, this would be the “spells per day” the wizard would prepare sometime in the morning. In the Cinematic system, these slots represent the maximum amount of magic that the wizard can keep in her head at once – when a spell is cast it disappears from the wizard’s mind (the spell slot is emptied), but it can be refilled many times throughout any given “day.” In order to fill an empty spell slot, a wizard needs to study her spell book (divine spell casters pray or meditate for the same amount of time) for 15 minutes per spell level (possibly requiring concentration checks if molested or distracted). A wizard memorizing from a “borrowed” or “captured” spellbook requires 20 minutes per spell level [Idea from Matt Enga]. Level 0 spells take just as long as level 1 spells: 15 minutes. Thus, for our average level 3 wizard to fill her mind with spells it would take 9 (levels of spells) x 15 minutes = 2.25 hours of memorization. If in her first “encounter” of the game session, the wizard cast her level 2 spell, she could pause and spend 30 minutes of memorization (in-game time) to fill this level 2 spell slot again.

The process of memorizing a spell, for arcane or divine spell users, needs to be continuous. The wizard in our example who studies her book to regain a level 2 spell, who spends 29 minutes and 50 seconds and who is then interrupted by a party member asking her a question (and the wizard botches her concentration check), would lose her spell and need to start the process over again (unless she had the Pause Button feat). Spell users who have not adequately slept or who attempt to memorize spells in uncomfortable situations should have to pass concentration checks (of a DM-determined DC) to memorize their spells, as these factors are just as distracting as having a party member repetitively asking “Hey, what are you doing? I’m talking to you, hey! What are you doing?”

Spell Slot Thought: Cinematic spell casters can always memorize a lower level spell in a higher level spell slot. The time required is equal to the level of the spell memorized, not that of the actual spell slot. Characters with the Zero is One feat “can memorize as many level zero spells in a higher level spell slot as the level of that spell slot divided by 1.”

Spell/Power resistance: In the Cinematic System, spell resistance is expressed as +X and 10 is not taken on the roll. Thus, a non-Cinematic creature with a spell resistance of 27 has a spell resistance of +17 in these rules. Resistance against psionic powers, termed “power resistance”, works the same way. When a caster or psion tries to overcome a creatures spell or power resistance, they make an opposed roll, pitting their d20 level check against the d20 spell or power resistance roll. Ties reroll – there must be a winner.

Magic resistance: Old-school, percent-based magic resistance still exists, as powerful as ever. Note that psionic resistance as a flat percentage also exists. Both of these work the same way as spell resistance and power resistance: only the die rolling mechanic is different. Magic and psionic resistance are usually expressed as a percentage, such as 24% magic resistance or 42% psionic resistance. In the case of magic/psionic resistance, one d100 roll checked against the resistance percentage determines success or failure – there is no opposed roll as in the case of spell resistance. Thus, magic/psionic resistance is harder to defeat.

It is not usually possible for a character to employ both spell resistance and magic resistance at the same time – they have to choose one or the other in the rare event that they have both. Consequently, a character can not employ power and psionic resistance at the same time. The exception to these rules is provided by the Zone Defense and Psychic Zone Defense feats.

Aptitude Matters: In order to use arcane or divine magic, a character needs to have the Magical Aptitude feat. Not everyone will have the magical aptitude feat, because magic using individuals in the Cinematic System are rare – less than 1% of local populations. If a character starts play with a divine or arcane magic using class they get the Magical Aptitude feat for free. Otherwise, they need to acquire the feat before they can use magic. Thus, a barbarian who starts at level 1 and gains enough experience to raise to level two can choose to become a barbarian/1 wizard/1, but they won’t get to use spells unless this character acquired the magical aptitude feat. Under these rules, there is a clear connection between arcane and divine magic; indeed, the control skill can be used interchangeably between divine and arcane effects. Psionics, which are clearly not “some other kind of magic” in the Cinematic System, require the Psionic Aptitude feat, and psions who enter play automatically gain this feat.

Magic is hard to master: When an arcane or divine spell caster gains a new level of spells, they need to make concentration checks to properly cast them. The DC to cast a spell of a newly acquired level is 12 + (two times the spell level). If this check critically succeeds, the DC goes down 2 in regard to that particular spell, and if the check critically fails the DC raises 2 in regard to that spell. If the check is failed, the spell is ruined, having been improperly cast (this has potential consequences – see below). After a spell using character has had the ability to cast a given spell for 1 level (that is, they raised level after gaining access to that spell level), they no longer need to make these checks, unless they have the Persisting Focus feat (which costs 0.00 XP at level 1).

Psionics are also hard to master: Much like arcane Cinematic spell casters, Psions with power points must make concentration skill checks to use their powers: the DC of these checks is always 10 + [2 times the psionic power’s level]. Unlike arcane spell casters, Psions always have to make these checks, even after having a given power for more than one level, because the DC of their psionic powers are potentially modified by them. If the concentration skill check is failed, the power does not activate and the power points are not lost. For every 4 the concentration skill check is made by, the DC of the activated power gains a +1 bonus. The save DC of a Power Point fueled psionic power is set by a d20 roll + [the level of the power] + [any DC modifiers caused by a good concentration skill check] + [the character’s relevant stat]. The relevant stat might be set by the character’s class (in the case of Psions who might be “egoists” or “nomads” for example), but otherwise is set to Intelligence.

Now let’s consider psions who use P.S.P.s (Psionic Strength Points) rather than Power Points. These characters do not make concentration skill checks to activate their powers, but rather make activate psionic power skill checks to do so. The DC of this check is always 10 + [2 times the psionic power’s level] + [negative one times the modifier listed in the ‘Power Score” heading of the power’s description]. The standard skills section describes, in greater detail, the activate psionic power skill. The save DC of a PSP-fueled psionic power is set by a d20 roll + [the power’s set “level”] + [any DC modifiers caused by a good activate psionic power skill check] + [the relevant stat of the power in question].

Backlash when spells/psionics fail: Whenever a spell caster or psion tries to cast/enact a spell or power and it fails there is a magical/psionic backlash of energy requiring a Constitution check DC 12 + [the level of the spell or power]. If this check fails the character takes non-lethal (subdual) damage equal to 2 times the spell/power level or d4 per spell/power level (DM’s choice).

Spell components: there is a difference between material spell components (which get destroyed/consumed to fuel the spell) and focus spell components (which simply help the spell user concentrate). As magic using characters gain levels, they learn how to overcome the need for certain components, until eventually their spells come with but raw desire with no outward display (except possibly a really scary, intense look). Material and focus components are easier to overcome than verbal or somatic components. Starting the second level a character has had a level of spells, they can attempt a concentration check to avoid the requirement of a focus material component. This check has a DC of 14 + (two times the spell level), and if missed, spell failure occurs. Starting the third level a character has had a level of spells, that character can ignore focus material components for that entire level of spells. With the Imagined Somatic Motions feat, a spell caster can overcome the need for somatic gestures as well, which are the next hardest type of component to transcend. With this feat, a character can make concentration checks to avoid somatic gestures with a level of spells she has had for 4 levels. The DC of these checks are 16 + (two times the spell level), and if missed, spell failure occurs. With the Imagined Somatic Motions feat, these checks are unnecessary once a spell level has been available for 5 levels. Starting with the 6th level a given level of spells has been available, the verbal components of these spells can start to be transcended using the Mentamagical Transcendence feat and associated concentration skill checks. The DC of these concentration checks are 22 + (two times the spell level), and if missed, spell failure occurs. Following the pattern thus far, with the Mentamagical Transcendence feat, at the 7th level a given level of spells has been available, concentration checks are not required to enact spells with verbal components silently. The biggest exception to these rules occurs when the somatic or verbal components are unavoidable. I just can’t see Power Word spells functioning without a caster uttering the significant word for others to hear (for example).

As far as the casting times go, when a (V, S, or M) component is removed the spell casts quicker by one segment, with an initiative modifier of zero as the limit. Thus, a level one spell with a casting time of 5 that otherwise was V,S,M (verbal, somatic, material) cast with no material or somatic component would have an effective casting time of 3.

Increasing the DC of spells: Other than by putting skill points in particular spells, the DC of spells increase as their casters gain levels. Starting the third level a spell caster has had a level of spells, the DC of this level of spells increases 1, coinciding with the ability to ignore focus material components. Consider the table below, constructed for the Wizard spell level progression. Notice that a level 9 Wizard has a +1 DC boost with her levels 3 and 4 spells, a +2 DC boost with her level 2 spells, and a +3 DC boost with her levels 0 and 1 spells. This 9th level wizard can ignore her focus material components with her level 1-4 spells.

Wizard Level

Spell Levels Receiving A DC Boost for WIZARD

+1 DC Boost

+2 DC Boost

+3 DC Boost

+4 DC Boost

+5 DC Boost

+6 DC Boost

+7 DC Boost

0

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

1

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

2

L0

No

No

No

No

No

No

3

L1

No

No

No

No

No

No

4

 

No

No

No

No

No

No

5

L2

L0

No

No

No

No

No

6

 

L1

No

No

No

No

No

7

L3

 

No

No

No

No

No

8

 

L2

L0

No

No

No

No

9

L4

 

L1

No

No

No

No

10

 

L3

 

No

No

No

No

11

L5

 

L2

L0

No

No

No

12

 

L4

 

L1

No

No

No

13

L6

 

L3

 

No

No

No

14

 

L5

 

L2

L0

No

No

15

L7

 

L4

 

L1

No

No

16

 

L6

 

L3

 

No

No

17

L8

 

L5

 

L2

L0

No

18

 

L7

 

L4

 

L1

No

19

L9

 

L6

 

L3

 

No

20

 

L8

 

L5

 

L2

L0

 

Now Consider the table below, constructed for the Sorcerer spell progression. Notice that a level 10 Sorcerer gets a +1 DC boost with his level 4 spells, a +2 DC boost with his level 2 spells, and a +3 DC boost with his level 0 and 1 spells. This 10th level sorcerer can ignore the focus material components of his level 1-4 spells.

Sorcerer Level

Spell Levels Receiving A DC Boost for SORCERER

+1 DC Boost

+2 DC Boost

+3 DC Boost

+4 DC Boost

+5 DC Boost

+6 DC Boost

+7 DC Boost

0

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

1

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

2

L0

No

No

No

No

No

No

3

L1

No

No

No

No

No

No

4

 

No

No

No

No

No

No

5

 

L0

No

No

No

No

No

6

L2

L1

No

No

No

No

No

7

 

 

No

No

No

No

No

8

L3

 

L0

No

No

No

No

9

 

L2

L1

No

No

No

No

10

L4

 

 

No

No

No

No

11

 

L3

 

L0

No

No

No

12

L5

 

L2

L1

No

No

No

13

 

L4

 

 

No

No

No

14

L6

 

L3

 

L0

No

No

15

 

L5

 

L2

L1

No

No

16

L7

 

L4

 

 

No

No

17

 

L6

 

L3

 

L0

No

18

L8

 

L5

 

L2

L1

No

19

 

L7

 

L4

 

 

No

20

L9

 

L6

 

L3

 

L0

 

Now consider the table below, constructed for the Bard spell progression..

Bard Level

Spell Levels Receiving A DC Boost for BARD

+1 DC Boost

+2 DC Boost

+3 DC Boost

+4 DC Boost

+5 DC Boost

+6 DC Boost

+7 DC Boost

0

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

1

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

2

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

3

L0

No

No

No

No

No

No

4

L1

No

No

No

No

No

No

5

 

No

No

No

No

No

No

6

L2

L0

No

No

No

No

No

7

 

L1

No

No

No

No

No

8

 

 

No

No

No

No

No

9

L3

 

L0

No

No

No

No

10

 

 

L1

No

No

No

No

11

 

 

 

No

No

No

No

12

L4

L3

 

L0

No

No

No

13

 

 

 

L1

No

No

No

14

 

 

 

 

No

No

No

15

L5

L4

L3

 

L0

No

No

16

 

 

 

 

L1

No

No

17

 

 

 

 

 

No

No

18

L6

L5

L4

L3

 

L0

No

19

 

 

 

 

 

L1

No

20

 

 

 

 

 

 

No

 

Now consider the table below, constructed for the Paladin and Ranger spell progression. That these two spell progression tables start a level of spells with “0 spells per day” influences this table’s construction – if a character does not receive any bonus spells of a level of spells that starts with “0 spells per day”, shift that level or spells down one row for each level this is true (even if a character later improves their ability to the point that they then do get bonus spells based on that ability mid-level).

Character Level

Spell Levels Receiving A DC Boost for Paladin and Rangers

+1 DC Boost

+2 DC Boost

+3 DC Boost

+4 DC Boost

+5 DC Boost

+6 DC Boost

+7 DC Boost

0

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

1

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

2

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

3

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

4

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

5

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

6

L1

No

No

No

No

No

No

7

 

No

No

No

No

No

No

8

 

No

No

No

No

No

No

9

 

L1

No

No

No

No

No

10

L2

 

No

No

No

No

No

11

 

 

No

No

No

No

No

12

 

 

L1

No

No

No

No

13

L3

L2

 

No

No

No

No

14

 

 

 

No

No

No

No

15

 

 

 

L1

No

No

No

16

L4

L3

L2

 

No

No

No

17

 

 

 

 

No

No

No

18

 

 

 

 

L1

No

No

19

L5

L4

L3

L2

 

No

No

20

 

 

 

 

 

No

No

 

Applying metamagical feats: Characters who use the Silent Spell or Still Spell feats need to make control checks at the time of casting the modified spells in order to properly apply the effects of these feats. The DC of these checks is equal to 20 + [the spell level]. Other metamagical feats do not require control checks to function.

Spells eventually become intuitive: When a character has had access to a level of spells for 7 levels and they select the Intuitive Transformation Feat. This feat’s text explains the concept of “intuitive” magic.

Meta-Embodied Pattern Magic: There are a few “perfect somatic/verbal/material” combinations which always “unlock” magical effects, and these combinations transcend magical aptitude, spell points, limitations on spells per day, etc. These combinations are difficult to express, and always require skill and ability checks to perform properly. They do, however, tax the body and are increasingly difficult to perform repetitively. Each meta-embodied pattern magic requires a feat to learn, and must be learned from a master; they are rare and precious.

Circinations and the craft (circination) skill: In the original iteration of these overly-complex rules, circinations were a type of “Meta-Embodied Pattern Magic” which took-on a magical quality whenever properly drawn, regardless of the arcane skill of the crafter. However, this idea got shot all to hell by the retooling of the  Cinematic Wizard class (in a good way).

As noted in the Standard Skills section of these rules, circinations can be drawn on a number of different surfaces, using a wide variety of methods (chalk, dripped wax, scratches in stone, etc.). When a circination’s duration is over it is said to “disenchant”. A circination that disenchants with an active spell mapped onto it will typically destroy itself in a visually-impressive way (designed by the crafter and approved by the DM) unless it is designed out a semi-permanent medium, such as tool-carved stone, tool-carved wood, size-small or larger placed stones (such as Sarsens), etc. A Wizard who created a circination is its owner; this ownership can be controlled away. A Wizard who owns a given circination can attempt to prevent its destruction on disenchantment with a DC 25 control check – if successful the energy is discharged in some other way (that can be directed for DM-approved effects), and the circle is saved. A Wizard can direct any circination they own to disenchant with a DC 20 control check.

Circinations crafted on floors encounter an interesting consideration: what about the gaps in wooden floorboards? What about the gaps between stones of a stone floor, or between tiles? These will not inhibit a circination (and its need for continuity of form) but do add +1 to the craft DC. The 10% rule: A circination crafted on a wooden plank floor that was drawn over the gaps between planks would disenchant if the spacing between planks were to increase more than 10%. This idea applies to all imperfections and gaps in surfaces holding circinations.

Can circinations be drawn on walls and ceilings? Sure, but as a general rule they do not function “in the air” or in a zone above themselves – they only work for things resting/standing on the surfaces they are drawn on. Thus, a circination with a mapped mending effect drawn on a vertical wall would not mend a broken sword that was touched to its inner-area, but it would mend it if it were stuck into the wall, inside the circle, and was hanging there. I would also mend the blade if it were held in the circle, against the wall, for 1 round.

Spells as skills!: If desired, a spell casting character can put ranks in a given individual spell (spending skill points), representing a particular regimen of practice using that one specific form of magic. These “spell skills” are treated as standard skills and have max ranks by character level as usual (equal to the character’s level + 3). The effects of putting ranks in skills are as follows…

  1. If the spell is offensive, such as in the case of ray spells, each rank provides a +1 synergy to the offensive power weapon skill. Thus, 5 ranks in magic missile comes with 5 ranks in offensive spell: magic missile. Multiple attacks might not apply if the limitations of the spell would restrict multiple uses, but in some cases this isn’t true. Flaming spheres for example keep rolling, and could attack multiple times if their movement isn’t violated.
  2. These ranks stack with control skill ranks in regard to this particular spell, even if someone else cast it.
  3. For every 4 ranks you have in a given spell, the DC of the spell increases 1.
  4. Ranks in spells stack with spellcraft, concentration, and knowledge (arcana) skill checks in regard to that particular spell.

Automatic proficiency in all powers: Even if a spell or psionic using character has no ranks in a given spell or psionic power (equating to zero ranks in the corresponding offensive spell or offensive power weapon skill), they are still considered to be proficient with that power. Thus, a wizard using a shockingly good grasp does not require proficiency in offensive spell: shockingly good grasp in order to avoid a non-proficiency penalty, because they have none.

Touch spells reconsidered: Considering the logic of having offensive spell and offensive power weapon skill progressions, it was necessary to retool the way in which touch spells in combat provoke attacks of opportunity. Unless a character has the Improved Unarmed Strike feat, or 1 rank in a given touch-delivered spell, they will provoke attacks of opportunity with this spell’s touches.

Turning undead reconsidered: In the Cinematic System, turn attempts are always opposed rolls. Each character able to direct their faith into a turn, rebuke, or command effect now gains the class skill channel faith, which is based on Wisdom. Thus, the turn roll is simply a channel faith skill check. This check is opposed to a turn resistance roll made by the undead in question, and all Cinematic undead have at least a +0 turn resistance. For more on this topic, see the standard skill description of channel faith on page X of this tome. As channel faith skill checks are supernatural effects, control checks can be used to modify them.

How to calculate a creature’s turn resistance: A creature’s turn resistance is equal to [their hit dice] + [the modifier of their most relevant stat for resisting channel faith, which is usually Charisma] + [any “turn resistance” as mentioned in the monster description]. As certain divine spell users, such as druids, are likely to be able to affect non-undead with their channel faith skill checks, the DM will have to rule what modifiers to turn resistance something like a werefrog would have.

Adding Spells to Spellbooks and Magical Ink Considerations: [Mad slightly agitated props to Matt Enga for his contributions to this section]: Wizards and Bards in the Cinematic System keep their arcane spell notes in magic books. It is assumed that spell notation is rather like physics notes – no two characters record their spells in the same exact way (hence the need for spellcraft checks to decipher borrowed/captured spell books).

A Cinematic spellbook should be a highly unique item, not the standardized “100 page” generic tome. Players are encouraged to cooperatively develop their books with the DM, fitting their specializations and other characteristics. A necromancer is definitely going to want a spellbook associated with the dead – perhaps the pages are dried skin and the cover is a mish-mash of undead body parts. In those cases where a player wants something extra special for their “spellbooks”, such as an air elementalist who wants their book to be a smoke-filled hookah (they smoke to memorize and burn scrolls to “add” to their books), or a necromancer that wants their book to be a skeleton she carves tiny glyphs into, the Tome Transcendence feat awaits. The point is, a spellbook can become a kind of character in its own right – complete with its own quirks, history, and special features (if this seems like fun).

Before a spell can be entered into a character’s spellbook, it needs to have been deciphered (either you consult the author, you use read magic, or you break out the decoder ring and make a spellcraft check). In the Cinematic System, if the deciphering spellcraft check fails it can be attempted again in the same day, with a +2 cumulative modifier to the DC (this penalty resets after the character has slept/rested and had time to refocus). The process of deciphering with a spellcraft check requires 4d4 minutes + d4 minutes per spell level, adequate space (a table), something to write with and to scribble notes on, as well as relative quiet – lacking these the DM may require concentration skill checks and may modify the deciphering spellcraft DC according to the following table (which includes other considerations as well):

DC Mod.

Context of the Spellcraft Check

-2

5 or more ranks in cryptography (providing synergy)

+2

Nothing else to scribble notes on – no other paper, a wax tablet, etc.

+1 per missing aspect

Inadequate work space – no table, chair, adequate light. 

Requires concentration check as well

Personal discomfort exists: too hot, too cold, danger is looming, hunger, lack of sleep, etc.

+5 + [spell level]

Try a rushed job – spending only ½ of the time.

-4

Spend double the time to get it right.

+4

Wizard trying to decipher Bardic spell notation, no ranks in musical composition.

+2

Wizard trying to decipher Bardic spell notation, 1 or more ranks in musical composition.

+X

Quality of the spell notation [where X = 18 - the author’s Intelligence score; X can be negative for extremely intelligent authors] 

-2

Spell is in the character’s specialty school (sound-based spell for a Bard, divination spell for a diviner, etc.)

 

Once a spell’s notation is deciphered, the spell must first be learned before it can be copied into a character’s book (the character needs to be familiar enough with this new magic to write it into her own notation). This requires a DC 15 + [the spell level] spellcraft check, and requires 4 hours + [1 hour per spell level] + [the casting time of the spell] – [1 hour for every 3 the spellcraft check was made by] of time, with a minimum of 4 hours. Learning a spell also requires 1 “use” of spell components, if any are consumed by the casting. If the spellcraft check fails, then the spell-slinger in question is baffled by the spell, and must acquire +1 more rank in spellcraft in order to memorize or transfer the spell to another medium.

If the spellcraft check succeeds, the character can copy the spell into his book, a process taking 1 hour per spell level and requiring sufficient magical ink. As usual, spells take up 1 “page” of a spellbook per spell level (with level 0 spells taking up ½ a page), unless the author has the Abbreviated Notation feat.

Magical Ink: In order for arcane spells to have any power in a Cinematic spellbook, they have to be written in the appropriate kind of magical ink. It is possible to copy spells into a spellbook using plain, non-magical ink (for later recopying), but it is not possible to memorize from them. In the Cinematic System, any given quantity of magic ink has an associated level. Let’s say a vial of ink is “level 3 ink” – this ink can be used to record arcane spells of level 3 or under, but it is useless for recording spells above its level. Magical ink is measured in “units”: each unit is enough ink for 1 full page of text (which could record 2 level 0 spells, 1 level 1 spell, ½ a level 2 spell, and so on). Thus, 20 units of level 5 ink can fill just as many pages of a spellbook as 20 units of level zero ink.

The relevant skill for creating magical ink is spellcraft. Before creating units of ink, a character gathers the required ingredients, typically using other skills such as search, various knowledge skills to know where to look, etc. At least one of the ingredients must have an arcane or specially magical property by sympathetic association – the inky blood of a magical monster, the sap from a plant feeding from a magical pool, the ashes of a burned magical whatever. A character trying to know “is X a good potential magic ink component?” makes knowledge (arcana) checks.

With all ingredients gathered and the work space set-up, a spellcraft check is made to determine the quality and quantity of the magical ink produced. The base DCs and XP cost to make the magic ink are as follows…

DC

Potential Level of Ink Produced

XP Cost to Produce

15

Level 0

25

17

Level 1

50

19

Level 2

75

21

Level 3

100

23

Level 4

125

25

Level 5

150

27

Level 6

175

29

Level 7

200

31

Level 8

225

33

Level 9

250

 

After the spellcraft check is made, the player decides if they want to create the ink of the achieved DC, or if they want to produce a lesser variety of ink (spending less XP in the process). Each production attempt creates enough units of ink to scribe that ink’s level of spells d10 times, +1 more time for every 3 above the required DC you achieve. Thus, if a DC 30 spellcraft check is made, and the player opts for “level 1 ink”, their character would create enough “units of level 1 ink” to copy [d10 + 3] level 1 spells (which just happens to be d10+3 units), costing them 50 XP. If the same player opted for “level 5 ink”, they would create enough ink to scribe level 5 spells d10+1 times (working out to [d10+1] x 5 units of ink). The ink-creation spellcraft check is modified by the following relevant factors..

Check Modifier

Relevant Factor Involved With Ink Creation

+0

Ink ingredients are adequate for the task at hand: at least one ingredient has a sympathetically magical association.

-50

Not even 1 ink ingredient has a magical association.

+2 per

One ink ingredient is directly magical – a potion, a magical oil, a lower level magic ink, some kind of blood that if tasted turns you into a zombie, etc.

+1 per

An extra ingredient has a sympathetically magical association (beyond the one having this association that the mixture is based on).

+ ½ per

A secondary ingredient is unusually good quality or pure.

-6

Character is using their own blood (or bodily fluids) for the required sympathetically magical association. 

-2

Equipment used to create the ink is crude: helmets and camping gear.

+2

Equipment used to create the ink is superior – laboratory grade glassware, etc.

-2

Equipment to be used to create ink is not magically cleaned (even with prestidigitation or other cantrips)

-1 per

Space used lacks one of the following (or the equivalent): a table, chair, fire source, inadequate room, etc.

+2 synergy

Character has 5 or more ranks in craft (alchemy), knowledge (basic chemistry), knowledge (apothecary), or a similar skill.

 

It is possible to create ink that is specially aligned to a particular school specialization using the Specialization Inklination feat (worship the name!). When ink is aligned in this way, each “unit” created can copy 2 pages of spells of the correct school. A school specialist can not use ink aligned to a “prohibited school” of magic.

The amount of time it takes to “brew ink” (once all the ingredients are gathered and the brewing space is set up) is approximately one hour per “ink level.”

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