In 1884, Edwin Abbott wrote a novella called Flatland, and a hundred years later, I read it with delight. The novella’s characters are squares and triangles, sliding around a two-dimensional world called Flatland. The Flatlanders have no concept of “up” or “down,” and the existence of a third-dimension is left to philosophers and clerics. That is, until one day when a sphere pulls a square out of Flatland and into Spaceland. From his new vantage point “above” Flatland, the square sees not just the skin of his Flatlander friends as before, but inside them as well. He can reach down and touch someone’s heart. He can pull someone into Spaceland, flip him over, and place him back down as his own mirror image. He can peer inside locked chests inside closed rooms and pilfer what he likes. He can teleport by moving into Spaceland at one point and out of Spaceland at another. In short, he can perform what Flatlanders would call “magic.”
As a long-time D&D player, I realized that incorporating this kind of “magic” into the game promised fantastic opportunities for players and GMs alike. Just as Spaceland granted the square “powers” beyond the comprehension of the Flatlanders, a new school of Dimensional Magic could empower a caster to skewer an enemy’s heart from afar and view the world as only the gods can. Ignorant PCs would seem like helpless Flatlanders against a villain with such novel powers. That is, until they learn the magic too.
Today the Deep Magic Kickstarter launches. It’s pretty much my dream project for RPG crunch, which is to say: it’s all about the fire spells, baby!
I’ve always loved wizards and clerics, and nothing makes me happier than fireballs coming online, that flame strike spell hitting, or (if I’m feeling especially sneaky) casting the fire shield one round before the orcish hordes overrun the front line. Yes, I’m a pyromaniac when I play a wizard. (There’s a little of that in the project video.) But I swear, hardly any structures burned down mysteriously in my youthful stomping grounds.
But this isn’t all about making things burst into flame. The Deep Magic projectcollects literally hundreds of spells. It offers variant magic systems. It updates familiar material, gathers new spells from a list of RPG designers you won’t believe, and it does it all at a very reasonable price. There are a lot of Kickstarters out there, but this one is already largely written and edited, and the result is a great big monster TOME of SPELLS. If that doesn’t get your heart beating faster, you clearly play fighters.
Wolfgang Baur is a noted game designer and the publisher here at Kobold Press. We swear he’s even more of a pyro at the gaming table than he lets on here. Ask him about kerosene that one time in Call of Cthulhu. Or the sea of fire spell he proposed for dragon magic. You know, that spell’s probably in the book.
One of my favorite things about 4th Edition is how easy it is for the GM to assemble groups of monsters of a single theme or type and create a fun encounter for the players. Having goblins, kobolds, or undead of different roles, or with varying powers, appearing together keeps things interesting. I hope that this is something that carries over into D&D Next.
At the end of the alphabet comes the zmey. Originally found within the tales of the Old Margreve, the zmey is a creature of legend. These massive forest guardians have three dragonlike heads and a powerful tail, and they breathe fire down on their foes. It was a natural choice to make it a solo creature. Solo creatures that are far too easy for a party to defeat have also become stuff of legend, so we had to make sure our own would stand up to assault without being too powerful to provide a fair challenge. We continually tweaked it from inception to the very end of playtesting.