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Summoning Elementals - magical gameplay mechanic

PostPosted: Wednesday April 17th, 2019 12:32pm
by Kurgan
Summon the Elementals! So I'm not the first one to try this, obviously... but I never really spent any time until now modifying the ideas of others to come up with something I'd actually want to use in game play.

To me this is one of those "higher level" magic feats that should come after the heroes have really been through a lot, and pulling this sort of thing out should be rare, and marvelous (but hopefully not completely game breaking).

So here is my proposal and how I plan to handle it:

Four New "Elemental" cards.

Each card is for an element, and yes, it's the big monster you see on the front of the Spell Cards that is the general idea of that figure (using Reaper Bones miniatures of "Large" Elementals for these).

The ability to summon an Elemental is open only to a Magic type character (in my case, Wizard, Alchemist or Mystic) who has completed a certain number of Quests (my basic ranking system). I didn't leave it open to the Elf, because I feel he already has enough advantages over the Wizard, and have given him other upgrades to make him unique at that level.

They must sacrifice 3 unused Element cards (here I am counting Spells, Skills, and even Spell Scrolls) of the same type in order to do the Summoning.

Here lets say a character has only two Earth spells but has used up the third already in the quest. Another character could "give" their Earth spell scroll to the would-be caster to allow them to accomplish the feat, just like exchanging any other item between characters. I didn't plan to allow two Magic users to combine spells (on separate turns) to accomplish the same feat, however.

Roll 1 Red Die. Add 1 to the Total. This determines the number of turns (interpreted as rounds of turns) the figure will last. Instead of Body Points, they last for turns, and certain things can diminish the total number of turns. So the max any Elemental could be on the board would be 7 rounds of turns, but it could be as little as 2.

The Elemental figure is placed near the Summoner, on an unoccupied square (or two, in the case of the larger figures) within their line of sight. In this case, they won't be able to appear until there is enough "room" to place them.

The Elemental moves on the board after the one who summoned it, under their exclusive control. They all roll 2 Red Dice, except the Earth Elemental, which rolls 1.

Basically the thing is invincible... except if it passes through another Elemental, OR if certain spells are used on them. I haven't hammered this out fully, but the obvious one comes to mind is that the Fire Elemental could be damaged by a Water spell. IF two Elementals pass through one another, both are instantly removed from the board.

The Elementals do their thing by passing through other figures. Water, Air and Fire are obvious. The "Earth" Elemental steamrolls over somebody similar to the Rolling Boulder in Kellar's Keep. Notice I said figures, so it would do the same to Heroes as it would do to Monsters or Mercenaries. I think I will have it so that the Elemental has to end their turn in an unoccupied square, rather than stopping on a figure to potentially do more damage if they don't immediately move (which they may not be able to anyway).

What I won't allow, is for the figure to "double back" while moving, otherwise they could in theory "run over" the same bad guy multiple times, ensuring his destruction which would really be cheap.

When the Fire Elemental passes through a figure, that figure rolls 3 Combat Dice, taking 1 Body Point of Damage per Skull rolled. No defense. Similar to the Wall of Fire spell.
This elemental can use "Ball of Flame" but that uses up another "turn" from its life.

When the Water Elemental passes through a figure, it has the same effect as the Fire (based on the Wall of Water spell). It can use "Sleep" spell but this diminishes the turns by an addition one each time.

When the Air Elemental passes through a figure, that figure loses a turn (Tempest effect). It can attack adjacent or diagonal figures on a turn with 5 Combat Dice (like a Genie). It can also attack with 5 Dice at a distance but this extinguishes another turn.

When the Earth Elemental passes through a figure, the victim rolls 5 Combat Dice. When the Earth Elemental is not moving, it basically turns into a blocked square. The miniatures I am using take up about 2 squares each, so call it a double blocked square. Someone could "pass through rock" on it in safety. Unlike the other Elementals, the Earth type only rolls 1 Red Die to move. Actually he CAN roll two Red Dice, but this act reduces his lifetime by 1 additional turn.

The whole "passing through" mechanic for the other elementals implies that a figure trying to pass through them would get the same effects if they were acted upon. I guess in that case, a figure trying to pass through the Air Elemental would stop one square after them and that is the end of their turn (skip the next one).

The Elementals are under the control of the Summoner, but otherwise they are big dumb brutes. They are not affected by traps, can't open doors, and do not search for anything.

So these Elementals to me, barring any unforeseen effects, give the Heroes a chance to wreck havoc on the bad guys for a short time, which would be only fair when making such a sacrifice in terms of spell usage in a single quest. Now what might complicate things are artifacts or searches that let you regain used spells, but even these I would think would be limited under the circumstances.

Can the bad guys summon their own Elementals? I haven't really thought that far ahead on it.

Re: Summoning Elementals - magical gameplay mechanic

PostPosted: Thursday April 18th, 2019 9:44am
by mitchiemasha
I'm all for ideas that involve Elementals, utilising the image on the front of the card. Especially "to wreck havoc on the bad guys". Using the Fire Elemental and the Giant from Dragon Strike make good miniatures.

Re: Summoning Elementals - magical gameplay mechanic

PostPosted: Thursday April 18th, 2019 3:03pm
by DullandRusty
if you search ebay you can find figures that look just like the elementals from the cards.

Re: Summoning Elementals - magical gameplay mechanic

PostPosted: Thursday April 18th, 2019 7:40pm
by Kurgan
Really? Cool. I already have the Reaper Bones series of "Large" Elementals, but if anyone has better matches, please post pics or links!
(that's not my paint job on the Earth Elemental by the way)

Re: Summoning Elementals - magical gameplay mechanic

PostPosted: Thursday April 18th, 2019 7:41pm
by Kurgan
Here are some photos of the cards I created:

Re: Summoning Elementals - magical gameplay mechanic

PostPosted: Monday July 15th, 2019 6:19pm
by Stig
This looks brilliant, thanks! Love the idea of a big sacrifice to get it in play. I always look for an opportunity to use mind points, so potentially in addition to giving up elemental cards you could spend mind points as an alternative?

If you want to make the movement a bit more random (who can control an elemental after all?) you could move them like a goblin fanatic in blood bowl:

Choose 3 adjacent squares next to the elemental (ie 3 squares NSE or W of the elemental) then roll a D6 to determine which one the elemental moves to. Then pick 3 more squares and repeat until it runs out of movement or hits a wall or something. It’s so hard to move back over the original square. See the template attached, but imagine the ball is the elemental

It’s a lot easier than it sounds! Also runs the risk of running over your own heroes, but they do say if you’re magically summoning a giant raging fire elemental deep in haunted catacombs, it’s best to give it a wide berth.

I like the semi random nature of the movement, super idea with elementals, thanks!

I have seen rules for summoning by Zargon somewhere, they required a group of chaos cultists to all spend a turn alone in a room and one would be sacrificed or something. Looked awesome.

Re: Summoning Elementals - magical gameplay mechanic

PostPosted: Monday July 15th, 2019 9:54pm
by mitchiemasha
So you can control it, just minimally. I think that fits perfectly.