Magical Addiction
Copyright 1997 by Tim Dugger
 

In many fantasy roleplaying games magic is a powerful force. It requires extensive study and dedication to master even the most rudimentary of spells or abilities. A person has to wonder why somebody would want to go through such a rigorous course of learning, and the extensive drudgery associated with being an apprentice in such a profession.

The answer to this is simple. There is a thrill that comes with being able to control the very forces of reality, to bend and shape to one's own will. The user of magic feels as if he were a god or the ultimate being in those instants when he is shaping the forces of chaos to produce a desired effect. Raw magical power fills his being, and for that instant, he is one with it, and in control of it at the same time. The only drawback to this feeling that the user of magic experiences is that it can be addictive. It can take control of his life if he is not careful.

Certain theories expound that too much use of magic can corrupt the individual, but this is normally only possible if there is some great evil force watching and waiting to corrupt those who can harness the powers of magic. This document is dedicated to another proposition, one that finds the use of magic itself to be addictive.

This document details certain game rules that can be used to simulate the inherent addictive nature of magic, and how they work. It will cover becoming addicted from the use of spells, from research or the use of certain magic related skills. It also includes becoming addicted to the use of magical items.

NOTE: This system for handling Magical Addiction is designed for use with a game system that uses a percentile based skill resolution system.

Before starting in on the mechanics of this system, we should take a look at the roleplaying or descriptive aspects of magical addiction. Here is a description of the process of becoming addicted to magic.

A character casts a spell by directing mana from one or more of several possible sources through his mind and body to empower a pattern he has created with his mind. Once empowered, this pattern alters reality in some manner. This is known as casting a spell. The only problem is that the use of this mana leaves a residual trace inside the character. This trace amount builds up as the magic is used each day, and the body can only absorb so much of this residual mana. Once this absorption point has been reached, the residual mana starts having a more permanent and lingering effect, which manifests as Magical Addiction. The residual mana drains away as the character sleeps, but the overflow of this has already caused the accumulation of addiction points.
 

Addiction Factor

In order to determine an addiction to magic, you must first determine how addictive magic is in your campaign setting. This should be done prior to any actual game play in the setting, and not changed once play has begun.

The Addiction Factor (AF) determines how addictive magic is by giving you a number with which to determine how much magic may be used or handled in a given day prior to the addictive effects. The higher the AF, the more magic that can be used in a given day prior to being affected by addiction.

It is recommended that you set the AF somewhere between 3 and 10. If you use a magic system that uses individual spells with a limited number of levels, then you would most likely want to use a lower AF which reduces the amount of magic usable in a given day prior to the accruement of Addiction Points (AP). If you use a system with many levels of spells then you may want to set the AF higher, allowing more spells to be cast prior to the accrual of AP.
 

Daily Spell Level
 

Once you have decided the AF, you will need to determine how much magic a character may use in a given day. This is easily done by multiplying the character's level by the AF to give the Daily Spell Level (DSL).

Example: The GM has determined that the campaign setting has an AF of 5. Your character is fifth level so this gives him a DSL of 25 (5*5). He can use up to 25 spell levels before acquiring any AP.

NOTE: The DSL in no way has any affect on the number or type of spells that may be cast in a single day. It is used solely to determine when a character starts accumulating Addiction Points.

 
Spell Levels
 

Spell Levels (SL) is the term used to describe how powerful the magic being used is in association with the DSL and the number of AP acquired by the character. Each SL gained above the DSL in a given day contributes one AP to the character's total AP number. SL may be gained in any combination of the following methods.

Spells – When casting a spell, the character gains one SL per level of the spell, thus a fifth level spell would give the character 5 SL towards his DSL. If the game system allows for variable power spells, or uses spell points of some sort, then the level of the spell should be considered to be equal to the number of spell point put into the casting of the spell.

Research – When a character is doing magical research, it is assumed that he expends some minor amounts of magic, thus for each hour spent in research the character acquires 1 SL towards his DSL. If the character is researching a specific spell or list, it is assumed that he also casts each spell at least once on the final day of his research, so the SL from these spells are also added towards his DSL on the final day of research.

Skills – Many systems have skills that are used in the pursuit of either researching or casting spells. The use of these special power manipulation skills also add towards the DSL of the character one a 1 SL per skill use basis. It does not matter if the use of the skill was successful or not, the character still gains the 1 SL per use, though an exceptional failure could conceivably double or triple the amount of SL received if the GM were cruel.

Rituals – Rituals are often used to cast spells that a character does not know, or that are too powerful to cast normally. They are also often used to combine the effects of two or more spells together for an easier casting. All persons involved in the casting of the spell will receive a number of SL equal to the total cumulative level of the ritual, or the total number of spell points placed into the ritual.

Magical Items – Magical items are often overlooked in many systems that have some detrimental effect to users of magic, but not here. Use the chart below to determine the general rating of the main power or ability of the magical item in question, then use the column on the right as the number of SL the character receives each time he uses the item. If the item has more than one ability or special power, then just add 1 SL to the items base SL for every ability beyond the first.

The character receives the SL for the item every time it gets used. For items that operate continuously, the character receives the SL from the item at the start of every day as long as the item is still in effect.

 

Item Power Level
Base SL
Trivial
1
Weak
3
Modest
5
Minor
7
Major
9
Artifact
11
Legendary Artifact
15
 

 

For every SL above the DSL that a character receives, the character gains one Addiction Point (AP). Although the characters total SL drops to zero when he sleeps, any AP gained during any day remain unless otherwise removed (see below).

Example: Jorg the Mage has a DSL of 15, but unfortunately he has also had a very busy day. During this one day he spent 3 hours studying an ancient magical text in an attempt to glean knowledge for a rare list. Jorg then went to lunch down in a disreputable tavern, where a fight broke out while he was trying to eat. He ended up having to cast 5 Shock Bolts, and using his magical ring to create a shield to aid him in defending himself. During this battle, he also used Spell Mastery to have one of his bolts strike two targets.

Artwork Copyright by Dika Wolf

Thus for today, Jorg acquired the following: 3 SL for the study time; 10 SL for the 5 Shock Bolts (2 spell points each – 2nd level spell); 7 SL for the use of his ring (a Minor item); and 1 SL for his use of the Spell Mastery. This means that Jorg has received a total of 21 SL. This exceeds his DSL of 15 by 6, so Jorg has acquired 6 AP for himself today. If he does any more magic today, he will gain all further SL acquired as AP. The next day Jorg starts off again with zero SL, but he retains the 6AP he has acquired.
 

Addiction Effects

For every AP that a character has acquired, he receives a special –1 to all skill rolls and maneuvers not associated with the methods of gaining SL listed above.

Example: Jorg, as given in the above example now receives a –6 to all skills and maneuvers not associated with the research or casting of magic.

If the character should acquire 50 or more AP he will then be required to make a roll to be able to do anything other than the actions that gain SL for him. This roll is as follows, with results of 100+ being successful:

 

D100 + (Will – AP)

 

For the purposes of this roll, Will is defined as the stat or stat bonus associated with the characters self-control or discipline. In game systems that use stats ranging from 1-20, use the stat itself. In game system which use stat with a range of 1-100 and a smaller number as a stat bonus, then use the stat bonus as the characters will.

Should the character ever reach an AP of 100 or more, then he will shortly die from starvation and dehydration, as he is so totally consumed for his addiction to the magic.

 
Removing Addiction Points

There are only a two ways known to successfully remove AP once they have been acquired. The first method is usable only on the day in which the AP were gained, and it must be performed within one hour of the time that the AP were gained or it is not usable. This method of removing the AP requires that the caster use a meditative trance to cleanse themselves of the AP.

The other method of removing AP is through total nonuse of magic or magical skills for a specified length of time, The amount of time needed is dependant upon the amount of AP the character has acquired.

For a character that has less than 50 AP, three days of total magic inactivity is required to remove one AP. For those with 50 or more AP, two weeks of total magical activity is required to remove one AP. Any character with 75 or more AP will have to be forcibly restrained in order to adhere to the total magical inactivity.

Total magical inactivity means that the character performs no actions which can earn him a SL.