I’ve been thinking about revisions and re-treads of the DragonQuest rules for a long time. I’ll spell out some further thoughts on the topic as a whole in an upcoming post. But for now, here’s a proposal to reduce the number of counterspells in DQ and revise the rules for counterspells.
There are a lot of counterspells to learn in the DQ world. Probably too many. It’s possible to speculate on how that came about, and there may have been good reasons for it, but in practice, it seems cumbersome and difficult, particularly in that there are two counterspells for each College. Are the flows of mana somehow different between General and Special knowledge spells? Why does the esoteric organization of a College’s magic determine which of two counterspells will affect a particular spell?
Instead, why not take a cue from Naming Magics, with the Generic and Individual True Names for things, and have counterspells at the level of Branch and College, rather than General and Special Knowledge?
In practice, this would give 3 generic counterspells (one each for Thaumaturgies, Elementals, and Entities), plus a specific counterspell for each particular College. The Branch counterspells would be less effective than the specific counterspell for each College, but would be useful against any magic of that particular Branch. Instead of having at least 24 counterspells (General/Special for each of the original 12 Colleges, plus 2 more for each additional College introduced into a particular campaign, there would be 15, plus one for each additional College. This would work much more fluidly in a campaign where some Colleges may not exist, at the outset, or where additional Colleges are included in the game.
As a matter of play balance, it seems more correct to me that, when faced with magic from a previously unknown College, a caster should have at least some small chance of being able to dispel the magical effect. Counterspells are presumably based on the workings of mana, rather than being reverse-engineerings of spells. So something that will disrupt the flow and effects of mana to one kind of spell should have a good chance to be able to disrupt a similar, though perhaps slightly different, one.