Saturday, 2 August 2014

Monitors: the continuing story of side-effects

Based on the spell categories I've outlined, I'm going to try whipping up some more specific tables, so that significant side-effects can be themed to the spell being cast.

Main Table

When a spell is cast, roll 2d6 and consult the following table. The first line gives a brief indication of the kind of effect produced, while subsequent entries are examples. The GM or players could invent alternatives if they wish. On a 2 or 12, roll on the appropriate sub-table.

Note that while some side-effects have specific mechanical implications, these are not the only or primary results. As always in Monitors, common sense takes precedence. For example, if a wizard gains uncontrolled telepathy and senses the thoughts of those around them, and if this results in them sensing that the shrew police officer is in the pay of EvilCorp, they can use this fact in conversation. If a wizard becomes emotionless, they still understand that tending the injured or rescuing the endangered is their duty, nor do they become sociopathic killers. Many of the manifestations are enough to alert antagonists or civilians alike that something is going on.

2 Major Influence
Roll on the major table for the spell type
3 Strong Influence
The spell causes barely-controlled telepathy, precognition or emotion.
The wizard is granted a moment's glimpse of the future.  Once during the next Tick, they may reroll any dice from their hand to represent this prescience, keeping the best result, but are immediately pinned from the shock.
An antagonist within 30 feet receives a glimpse of the wizard's mind.  They may learn intentions, emotions or the wizard's current preoccupations, gaining a temporary or one-off bonus if appropriate.
The thoughts of all nearby creatures flood the wizard's mind. For 3 rounds they gain a die whenever this insight might help, but also incur a 1d4 Distracted die. Both effects end together.
The wizard's mind becomes utterly calm, a stone fortress of order. They ignore Pinning and feel no emotion for one Tick. Effects on conversation should be determined by the GM.
Uncontrolled telepathy turns the wizard's inner monologue into a psychic narration heard by all nearby. Recipients do not necessarily know the wizard is responsible, nor their location, and will find it unnerving.
4 Influence
The wizard is subject to flows of energy, empathic overspill or lingering transmutation.
A surge of magic briefly lifts the wizard 1d6 feet into the air. This may attract attention or require a Physical roll to land upright when the surge fades.
In their mind, the wizard can feel the heartbeat of every nearby creature.  This ability is both useful and distracting; apply 1 die modifiers as appropriate.  The ability fades after one Tick.
Fierce hatred or resentment courses through the wizard's mind for 1d3 rounds. The player may determine the object of the emotion and should act accordingly, but is not forced to violence.
The wizard feels watched, as though ancient and inscrutable eyes were drawn to them in the casting.  (the GM might make a side-plot out of this)
5 Minor Influence
The wizard is struck with visions, temporary weakness or superficial transformation.
Coruscating clouds form across the wizard's eyes, casting everything they see in strange and opulent colours.
Strange lines etch themselves into the wizard's skin, fading slowly over the coming days.  They may carry some meaning or be simply disturbing.
The wizard's hands harden into mineral for several seconds, slowly reverting to normal.
As energy leeches from their body, the wizard appears haggard, even skeletal.
6 Trivial Influence
The wizard experiences a mild sensation or emotion, or a minor aesthetic change.
The wizard feels a great sense of loss, as though some poignant dream has slipped from their grasp forever.
Visions of a strange landscape flash before the wizard's eyes.
The acrid taste of bile fills the wizard's throat as the strange syllables of the spell are spoken.
The wizard senses a hostile presence nearby, but cannot locate its source.
A faint glow briefly emanates from the wizard's breath or eyes.
7 Negligible
There is no effect other than a momentary dizziness.
8 Trivial Manifestation
The immediate environment is mildly disrupted.
Unearthly calm spills through the minds of all nearby, stilling thoughts of hostility or strong emotions.
Metal objects resonate eerily to some unheard harmonic of the spell.  Determine the volume of the resonance randomly.
A flash of witchfire traces wild patterns across the floor, leaving behind scorched trails.
A swarm of insects gathers around the focus of the spell, whirling and humming.
9 Minor Manifestation
Mental or sensory impressions spill around the wizard.
Intangible glittering motes float through the air, casting a faint and unearthly light.  These might give away the wizard's presence, provide light in a dark room, distract or alarm NPCs.
All creatures within 30 feet receive a haunting vision.  They gain a 1d3 Distracted die and will sleep badly for several nights, whispering as they stir and shift.
Ghostly figures and structures fade into view, intangible but haunting.  These might provide a distraction or cover.
Something seems to squirm and boil into life in the shadows, darting out of sight before you can focus on it. The GM might use this minor entity or ignore it.
10 Manifestation
Physical, emotional or magical effects hinder nearby creatures.
Giddiness spreads from the wizard like a wave, leaving all creatures within 50 feet Pinned.
Skirling spirits whirl and dance through the air around the wizard. (the GM might have these interact with nearby objects, distract creatures, attract attention or even pose a mild threat)
A pulse of gravity threatens to knock everyone to their knees (Might 2 to resist).  Small objects go flying.
Nearby electrical devices flicker and groan as their energies are disrupted, increasing the difficulty of associated actions by 1.  Very sensitive devices may malfunction or their programs reboot.
11 Strong Manifestation
The spell is not fully controlled, or there are major localised changes to physical laws.
Time seems to slow down, as though the world were moving through treacle.  Everyone can roll an extra die until the wizard's next turn, as they have extra time to think and prepare.
The spell lingers on regardless of the wizard's wishes.  Its effects continue for an additional 1d3 rounds, but remain in the wizard's control.  (The GM determines whether this makes sense in context).
Distances and proportions in the immediate vicinity fluctuate wildly for 1d3 rounds. Movement, attacks and similar complex physical actions will fail 50% of the time.
12 Major Manifestation
Roll on the major table for the spell type

Major Influence

Roll 1d6:

  1. The wizard is obsessed with one other person or object, and must focus on them for 1d3 rounds. Alternatives: compulsive behaviour.
  2. A sense of insatiable hunger leaves the wizard Distracted (1d4). Alternatives: tranquility, euphoria, crawling dread, nausea.
  3. The wizard is overcome by vivid recollections of some past event. They suffer a -1 die penalty until the end of their next turn, but may recall valuable information or shake off one Penalty Die at this time.
  4. A surge of arcane energy leaves the wizard invigorated and confident - roll one additional die next time they roll.
  5. The wizard shatters into jigsaw fragments, then reforms; it is painless, but disconcerting. Alternatives: freeze and thaw, shrink and regrow, become 2-dimensional.
  6. Choose an effect by spell type.

Major Manifestation

Roll 1d6:

  1. The gathering of magical energy has drawn a creature to the wizard. Summon one Minor entity, which is neutral to the wizard.
  2. Excess energy disperses itself as arcs of lightning. 1d6 random creatures are knocked prone and lights flicker for a few seconds. Alternatives: localised earthquake, gust of wind, mini-tornado, thunderclap, gravity decreases, gravity increases.
  3. Matter randomly forms as the spell is cast, creating a wall of twisted glass near the wizard. Alternatives: stalactites, tree, writhing tendrils, bone tower.
  4. Utter silence washes across the room, so that even implants cannot make a sound. Alternatives: sound is amplified massively, light is muted, colours shift.
  5. One nearby creature is wreathed in green fire, which they can control. It does not burn the wearer. Alternatives: sprout wings, cloak of frost, radiance.
  6. Choose an effect by spell type.


  • Influence: The sigil is malformed and traps part of the wizard's life-force. The wizard gains a 1d3 Distracted die that cannot be lost until the sigil is destroyed.
  • Manifestation: The sigil is incomplete, and its power uncontained. Roll a d6 each subsequent round; on a 5+ the sigil explodes, Pinning all creatures within short range with a burst of arcane energy.
  • Manifestation: The sigil is crooked, warping its effects. The GM should determine an alternative effect of similar potency.


  • Influence: The summoning was flawed, and the creature's bond to its maker remains unsevered. On each subsequent round, the wizard must roll Mind 3. On a failure, the creature will drain one additional heat point from the wizard and convert it to an additional Wound, point of Might or point of Speed. On a success, the bond is severed and the spell functions normally.
  • Influence: Rather than summoning an entity, something surfaces within the wizard's mind. The wizard gains some arbitrary abilities, enhancements or knowledge determined by the GM. The spell ends after 2d3 Ticks.
  • Manifestation: A falter during the summoning distorted the intention and called forth the wrong creature. The wrong entity is summoned, although the substitute must be of a similar or lesser potency and remains loyal to the wizard.
  • Manifestation: Stumbling over the invocation, the wizard leaves her summons unbound. An unbound summons behaves as it wishes, though it is not initially hostile to the wizard.


  • Influence: The wizard flickers out of existence, only to rematerialise the following round a short distance away, unaware of their disappearance. They might travel a short distance or be facing the opposite direction, but should not generally teleport out of cells or into furnaces, chasms or hungry mouths.

Yeah, unless I come up with some actual transformation spells, I'm not going to get any more ideas in that line. As far as the others go, I'm reasonably happy with this. It will call for multiple rolls one time in 18, but I'm sort of okay with that. My only concern really at the moment is the balance between general and specific effects, in terms of whether I should be having Sigil effects and so on come in earlier or be a higher proportion of the Major results. I may also need to revise these to try and minimise any complexity in mechanical effects.

Any comments or thoughts? Twould be much appreciated.

No comments:

Post a Comment