Approximate time to read: 3 minutes.
Someone put forward the following question on Reddit around the use of Mystical Powers in Symbaroum.
Hey guys. Quick question regarding PCs and the use of spells: does the activation of every single spell require a successful Resolute check? What happens if the Resolute check fails? The PC still takes the temporary corruption, I presume?
It seemed clear from the initial response that many people had a similar train of thought, likely a hold over from their experience in other games. Some had required that a Mystic make a roll to cast.
However, I think it worth going back to the text – specifically page 130 in the English text and, more generally, the Abilities chapter.
What Is A Spell?
You should keep in mind what a “spell” is in Symbaroum; each “spell” is an Ability, one of Mystical Power. Depending on training in the Traditions, a practitioner suffers one point of permanent Corruption when learning a new Mystical Power. Further, the character also suffers 1D4 temporary Corruption each time this power is used. That’s a standard – whatever happens; unless modified by Tradition, the PC takes temporary Corruption.
Now, casting just happens. It just happens in the same way Abilities like Equestrian, Marksman, Natural Warrior or Two-Handed Force happen – none of which require a specific roll to see if they deliver their effect. Yes, you may need to make a successful attack, just as a magic-wielding character might need line of sight, peace of mind, or unrestrained movement – otherwise, they just happen.
It Just Happens
If a Mystical Ability cites no precursor to success, it happens. Some Powers might be resisted later – after the first turn – while others require concentration if the power persists and the caster comes under attack. Otherwise, it just happens and they suffer Corruption.
So, Revenant Strike just happens – the caster’s weapon becomes wreathed with unholy flames and the Mystic suffers 1D4 temporary Corruption. Thereafter, each turn, if the Mystic suffers damage she will need to concentrate by making a successful roll against [Resolute–Damage] in order to stay focused and maintain the effect. However, there’s no casting test.
The Price You Pay
A lot of Mystical Powers do have tests straight away – but that’s the first test made. No precursor test exists to simply cast the Power – that’s what the player spent 10XP for to acquire the Novice Ability; the Ability covers the training involved in knowing how to summon up the energies and focus them.
What About Adversaries?
The business of rolling and the GM comes up often, because so many other role-playing games spread the dice across the table.
If a GM character has one or more Mystical Powers – like the oft cited Mal-Rogan and his Curses – you can absolutely roll them yourself if you feel more comfortable doing that.
However, in the spirit of the game you can take a different approach and leave the dice with the players.
If a GM character does something that targets a player character that allows resistance, the player rolls the dice (e.g. Willpower vs Willpower).
If a GM character does something that targets a player character but which does not allow any (or immediate) resistance, I suggest they always succeed.
You’re playing the game for the excitement and the challenge, so why make a GM character less challenging than it might be by introducing a measure of failure?
Why in the midst of an exciting adventure or an adrenaline-packed battle sequence would you spoil the flow and the pace by having your enemy Mystic fail a roll?
Point of Discussion
I hope that makes sense? I’m open to thoughts and discussion, as this is my interpretation of Mystical Powers and their use, based upon reading the Core Book.
So, can I carry this forward as my “C” entry for next month’s A-to-Z Challenge?
Yep! I agree. Although many powers suffer from the issue that they don’t seem to have been written with the NPC perspective in mind, leaving sizable grey areas in some spells.