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One thing about combat spells, and many other sorts of spells, is the lack of flavor to them. A manabolt kills, but how does it kill? Of course, the how is unnecessary but it is useful. There are dozens of different manabolt formulas floating around, which are all fundamentally the same according to the game mechanics, but which should have fundamentally different flavors. And, of course, with some magicians flavor does matter a great deal, especially if you're going with a theme. So I've decided to think up a way to spice up some spells with a house rule.

Flavor Effects - When buying a spell, a player must describe how this spell's effects will manifest. The player is not limited in choice of flavor effects, except that flavor effects can't change the game mechanics of the spell. Normally, each spell can only have one flavor effect, but a GM may allow a magician to learn a new flavor of a spell that he already knows without any karma or BP cost, if he has access to the spell formula for this new flavor.

Sample Spell Flavors


Hemorrhage - Hemorrhage causes damage via loss of blood and other vital bodily fluid. When used on a living being, it causes blood to violently issue from the target's pores and ducts. If the target doesn't have blood, substitute some other fluid or fluid-like material.

Heartrend - Heartrend slices into vital internal organs without disrupting the skin. Creatures without internal organs still suffer damage to the insides of their bodies


Perforate - Perforate makes many, many small holes in the target.

Shatter - Shatter causes the target to break apart from the inside, as if some sort of explosive was detonated within it.

Burn - Burn simulates the damage caused by heat or acid, but is not an elemental spell and thus does not provide any elemental effects. No actual heat or acid is produced.


Eyeburn - Eyeburn creates the illusion that a strong irritant is being sprayed into the target's eyes.

GutPunch - GutPunch makes the target feel like he is being pummeled in the abdomen by a very strong troll.

Headfirst Lye Dip - Headfirst Lye Dip makes the target feel as if he is being dipped in a vat of Lye, head first.

Eaten Alive By Army Ants - Makes the target feel like he's being eaten by a swarm of Army Ants
I thoroughly agree that 'flavour' makes the game more alive and interesting, particularly to players for whom the 'min-max' aspects of roleplaying hold less interest. Your examples are cool, hyzmarca. I will try this idea out for some of my characters. Perhaps I could report those ideas here to help flesh out the thread?

Maybe off topic, but :
Years ago, in that game that causes cancer, I had a wizard who primarily used fire-related spells. I called him Flammo Benzene. Rather than use standard names for spells, or even standard spells, I renamed spells for him and developed a few new ones. For example: "Benzene Ring" or "Torch Bearer". He also had a side business, a bakery and cafe, in which he was continually experimenting with cooking in ovens of his own design... using fireballs. A lot of his treasure went into continually rebuilding the cafe.

As the campaign approached its epic ending, Flammo found himself trapped by hordes of the evil enemy, hopelessly outnumbered and doomed. Flammo used a Wish he had saved for years, and as the enemy closed in on him on a deserted mountain path, he used the Wish to set off all of his memorized fire-related spells at once. The fireball immolated the enemy, and of course Flammo too. I thought...

... but the DM was foxy, she was, and Flammo's Wish and near-nuclear strike (with the help of the Deity we were serving at the time) opened up a time-space warp (Yeah, yeah, I know.. fuggedaboudit), and Flammo appeared in our Shadowrun campaign, a perplexed stranger in a strange land. Ah, those were heady times.

QUOTE (pbangarth @ Oct 28 2008, 09:21 PM) *
... but the DM was foxy, she was, and Flammo's Wish and near-nuclear strike (with the help of the Deity we were serving at the time) opened up a time-space warp (Yeah, yeah, I know.. fuggedaboudit), and Flammo appeared in our Shadowrun campaign, a perplexed stranger in a strange land. Ah, those were heady times.

And that is the mark of good GM.


Re: OP

Personally I thought customization of that nature was standard; however, I am more actor at times than role player.
We haven't done anything to the spells, but the GM has agreed to let me take a metamagic involving regeants, which I'm currently trying to puzzle out from a variety of sources and failing miserably. Mostly because it's not canon, and he's trying to develop it with the use of fantasy books. Clutch the regeants in sweaty palm, cast the spell, they're consumed and the DV goes down. Can cause addiction, though, so I'm sure in a few sessions I'll feel the need to cast with them rather strongly.

Just to move the feeling of my characters magic to a more medieval and "natural" theme, flashy as it is in the first place. The regeants are anything - natural radicals, roots of certain plants, black pearls, etc. Depending on the rarity, how tainted they are by the modern world, the GM just lets me know how much the DV goes down by.

Edit: Should also point out he is a Shaman. Breaks a bit with Shadowrun canon, but it's a lot more fun.
For one of my characters, the torture/rape hobbiest, I have Pleasure & Agony.

Pleasure functions identically to Orgasm from a mechanics standpoint, but is simply not limited purely to sexual stimulation - any form of pleasure can be created.

Agony functions identically to Orgasm from a mechanics standpoint, but does so by inflicting excruciating pain of a nondescript nature, which can be localized to a single part or area of the body, or affect the body as a whole (I believe the RAW Agony is crap - although it can be useful in some specific circumstances).

This character also has a decent Psychology knowledge skill - she knows how to seriously fuck people up, both in body & mind.

I have a few miscellaneous changes to the descriptions of spells for other characters, with no mechanical alterations.
I don't think a house rule is even needed.
Most mages have their own paradigms through which they learn and improve their magic.
For our ease we have standardized names but it is already implied that mages add their own fluff to the spells they cast.

As a GM I try never to explicitely name the spell a mage is casting.
So instead off simply telling them 'The enemy mage casts a Manabolt on your character.
I try something like:

The Amerindian looking fellow's eyes glaze over and you feel a chill running down your spine. The air smells of ozon as a Tomahawk of pure energy appears in his hands. With a casual gesture and a hint of glee on his face he sends the Tomahawk spinning your way.

It would be very useful to have a list of variations on the most common combat spells.
My imagination only goes so far and after a 2 year campaign, inspiration can be hard to come by.

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