Sorcery nerfed?

It looks like sorcery has been nerfed quite a bit in the latest version. Aside from several spells such as Fear, Chameleon, and White Fire all being reduced in power quite a bit, sorcerers no longer roll Sorcery + Will, they just roll Sorcery. This is actually quite a substantial nerf. Someone with a skill of 6 trying to cast Chameleon, casting patiently for two extra dice, would still have roughly a 1/3 chance of failure, which carries a 1/3 chance of horrible disaster. It seems like a sorcerer now needs to be someone who almost never uses sorcery except when they have a ton of artha to burn. Is that the intent?

Some of the spells don’t even seem viable any more. White Fire, for example, has a 1/6 chance of frying the caster in any one-on-one situation. How would anyone who learns that spell ever live long enough to get good at it? Storm of Lightning is similar. If a caster with a skill of 6 casts patiently for the maximum time, that would still mean just slightly better than 50/50 odds of casting successfully or failing.


First: Sorcery is Open-Ended.
Second: Sorcery has a good chance of actually advancing as a skill now.
Third: The Fear was broken in Revised.


Fourth: There are many magic items that can add dice to a Sorcery test.

Also, FoRKs now matter, when before they were generally just icing on the cake. Relatively specific Call-Ons wouldn’t be terribly broken, as they would be in Revised. Help is useful for more than just the most epic of spells. I’m certainly more likely to spend Persona on Sorcery now too, which boosts my shot at grey shading.

All in all, I figure it’s much less a problem than it looks. We’ll see in play :wink:

The bit about FoRKs is particularly interesting to me. The relevant section at the bottom of p. 499 names Aura Reading, Symbology and Astrology as applicable FoRKs, but prefaces that with “such as.” That implies that these aren’t the only skills you can FoRK into Sorcery, which begs the question of how wide a net we can cast for FoRK dice. If I’m trying to bring down a wall with magic, can I FoRK in Fortifications? How about Acting or Disguise into Mask, or the Persuasion Skill into Persuasion ?

The Fear was definitely broken in the last revision.

However, I don’t see how sorcery advances as a skill past 5 or 6. You still won’t get any challenging tests, aside from tests trying to learn new spells, which are now suicide. Almost guaranteed failure, with a 1/6 chance of summoning a demon or ghost and a 1/6 chance of casting a dangerous random spell? No thanks…

Open ended does give a little boost, but I already included that in the probabilities quoted earlier.

What forks into a Fire Breath casting? Astrology for +1D? Are you going to spend 6 actions casting carefully to get another +1D? At that point, say you have B6 skill, so you have a total of 8 die. The odds are that 11% of the time you just fail, assuming no one interrupted you during those 6 rounds of prep. Given that a failure is a 1/3 chance of a disaster, that means Fire Breath is basically useless as a combat spell. White Fire, assuming you hate your friends, is a 26% chance of failure under the same circumstances.

Want to cast Chameleon? Of course you do, everyone loves being invisible. Hopefully you read the fine print where it says that if you prepare for +4D, with your B6 skill and +1D fork from Astrology, you still have an 8% chance of failure. Say you don’t fail; you then get an expected bonus of +3.6D to your stealthy roll. What’s that? Your Stealthy skill is only B3 because you’ve spent your whole life training sorcery instead, and your fellow adventurer with a B6 stealthy is naturally just as effective as hiding as you are? That’s okay, maybe the demons you summon 1.5% of the time you cast this spell can be your friends.

All the discussions about probabilities end when dice hit the table (at least in my case).

I like the fact that Sorcerers now have to setup in game situations to benefit themselves if they want to cast more powerful spells. Finally those Sorcerer Circles will come in handy while you look for help on your next sorcerous project.

Also Sorcerer do not have to worry about Unwanted summoning form his failed castings until he passes Tax test. :smiley:

Plus, BW characters fail rolls all of the time, which makes things more “interesting”. (And I don’t think it gets much more interesting than demons, ghosts and random magical effects.) :slight_smile:

BW characters fail rolls all of the time

True, but there’s a difference between missing with an arrow, or being seen when sneaking somewhere, and breaking out the Wheel of WTF Was That Spell or the 2d6 Summoning Oops Table. In the combat example I presented, that happens 1/25 times for a decent sorcerer casting Fire Breath, which I think would be a problem.

Perhaps there could be some middle ground between not being successful and causing a disaster. For example, perhaps failing by 2 or more causes a disaster, whereas failing by 1 just means you don’t incinerate your opponent or turn invisible.

I don’t have my books with me. Is a failed sorcery roll always an autofumble? Oh well. Even then, that’s what you get for toying with the fabric of reality. Maybe you’re right, but, as the saying goes, it might just work out fine in actual play.

Do you play a Sorcerer, AngledLuffa?

Do you play a Sorcerer, AngledLuffa?

No, but full disclosure, my sister does. I just like crunching numbers and thinking about play balance, and dislike running away from the demons her spell failures summon…

Overall, I like the revisions very much, but as you might guess from the two threads I’ve posted, I find swimming a bit ambiguous and sorcery underpowered, whereas before it was very overpowered. Then again, we haven’t playtested the new sorcery yet.

I think it’s a pretty big thing to just have a spell that makes you as good, or better, than a dedicated sneaker while you’ve still spent your skill points on other things (and increasing Sorcery makes you better at a lot of different things thanks to various spells). The risk of failing and making something strange happen is pretty small for this spell and if I played a sorcerer I’d be more happy when that happened than when I just failed and nothing came out of it at all.

As for combat spells, I think it’s a good thing that they are situational. I always felt that the fireball throwing wizards were pretty unrealistic. If you want to kill things, why not hire some warriors to do it for you? That way you can spend your time learning things that can’t be done (or is at least very hard) without magic, the things that really matters to a mind brilliant enough to have the capability of wielding magic. A wizard challenging the boundaries of life, that can alone build things that it takes tons of slaves to do over decades, that barters with creatures from beyond the world etc is to me more interesting than a wizard that just wants creative ways to kill. But that’s of course down to opinion.

Sorcery works fine. Sorcerous characters now must simply step up and obey the same odds as everyone else. They have to advance their skill like everyone else.

Yes, their consequences are greater, but so are the benefits. It’d dangerous, but the power makes it worth it.

And if these new rules make a sorcerer think twice about casting a spell, well then I have accomplished my aim.

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I am still waiting for the post to delivery my new book but I was wondering whether Burning Wheel Gold Sorcery is on par in terms of the risk/reward ratio with Art Magic from the Magic Burner?

I don’t really see this as a nerf. I mean… can a sorcerer still incinerate someone? Chance willing, yeah. Therefore they are just as lethal, now the only difference is that there’s struggle.

Also, demons/ghosts/etc and the Wheel of Magic are just ways to move the game forward. It’s a failure consequence in the same vein of the Enmity Clause or The Gift of Kindness, just in a different part of the character sheet.

I have an issue with random failure consequences. I see you failed your club strike in fight. Let’s roll on the wheel of combat whiffs to see what happens. Rolls a couple dice… You cut your own head off. Yeah people wouldn’t like that in a bw game. Why is it that if I cast falcon skin I can end up with a permanent 100’s of mile area that has permanently had all it’s air destroyed and that’s a good failure consequence for someone who just wanted to fly.

Which I admit is not new to BWG

My understanding of that is that while anyone can swing a club and hit, or miss. With sorcery, you’ve gotta step up. These are not mortal forces you are dealing with. You’re twisting nature to do something that only a select few with the Gift can do.

Shit goes wrong. See Wizard of Earthsea, The Dresden Files, etc for proof of this.

Sure, I agree that magic consequences should be more extreme then someone swinging a club but a campaign ender because of one failed test?

Sure if it’s the climactic scene of the campaign arc but instead the wizard needs to fly in through that window to find the clue to get us that much closer to finding the big bad. Oops he flubberd his casting and now 100’s of miles around has no air permanently.

And if you want magic that’s a little more high powered, Art Sorcery is still great for that! Waaaay easier to get massive dice pools there.