I have to admit that, were not for CinderellaManJJ’s recent post on Vancian Magic, I would never have gotten to this concept, especially as a blog post. While I quite enjoy the mana system used in the Dragon Age Dark Fantasy Roleplaying Game, there is yet another magic system to which I lean more favorably: High Adventure Role Playing from Iron Crown. Within HARP’s magic system, which also uses points (Power Points to be exact), each spellcaster is able to manipulate their spells in such a way as to evoke truly epic scenes from fantasy literate. But always at a cost.

In Dragon Age, a Mage chooses which spell he will cast, makes the spell casting roll against the target number, designates the appropriate test if any, and applies the results. But what if, say, rather than simply utilizing spell stunts to effect minimal changes to the spell, the Mage elected to power it with more mana up front? This of course is not as simple as sacrificing more mana, as the target numbers would change, as would the requisite tests. But all to a greater and far more provocative system of spell casting.

As for the target number, this would be a straightforward increase of +1 to the TN per MP exhausted beyond the stated requirement. A Mage pushing four extra MPs into a spell would take the TN from say, 10 to 14. It makes the promise of the spell succeeding as intended, but the effects of these extra points may well be worth it if the livelihood of the Mage or a companion are in jeopardy. Let us take an example spell, one more than likely used by every Mage in a game of Dragon Age, Arcane Bolt.

Magic School: Spirit; Spell Type: Attack; Mana Cost: 2 MP
Casting Time: Major Action; Target Number: 10
Test: Dexterity (Acrobatics) vs. Spellpower

The spell’s description informs the player that, “A bolt of arcane energy springs from your hand or your staff and streaks towards a visible target within 30 yards. The arcane bolt inflicts 2d6 damage, with bonus damage equal to the casting roll’s Dragon Die. If the target makes a successful Dexterity (Acrobatics) test vs. your Spellpower, the spell only inflicts 1d6 damage.”

For the purposes of scaling, there are several options which could be used. The range extends +2 yards for every MP. It may not seem like a huge distance, but it is effectively one battle square further, and one or two squares (several yards) might just make a difference in combat. But what of the other options? Adding a an extra point of damage for two MPs, adding a second target (third if desperate enough to try) for five MPs, or perhaps adding a Knock Prone or Disarm additive for five MPs. The imagination, and the good will/judgement of the GM, is the limit.

Another spell which I think most players will find interesting in its application under this method is the Heal spell. Let’s take a look at the base spell:

Magic School: Creation; Spell Type: Utility; Mana Cost: 1-3 MP
Casting Time: Major Action; Target Number: 10
Test: None

With the flavor text as, “Your touch seals wounds and restores vigor to one wounded target. You can choose to spend up to 3 mana points when you cast this spell. For each mana point spent, the target gets back 1d6 Health. You can cast this on yourself.”

I know the spell already allows extra MPs to be used in an effort to increase the amount of Health recovered, but what about the Mage being able to Heal at a distance? For two MPs the Mage could affect a companion lying just four yards away in trouble. Or perhaps the Mage might add second target to the Heal for five MPs as quick means to stabilize both of the party’s warriors at once.

While I can add many more examples to the wide variety of spells in the Dragon Age core rules, I think these two examples give an ample boost to the imagination. And these are by no means limits in and of themselves; the Mage could choose to add six MPs, thereby increasing the TN to 16, the cost of the spell to nine MP, all in a chance to heal two companions in desperate need all the while maintaining a safe distance from melee.

I very much look forward to any and all feedback.