PDA

View Full Version : Damn it man i want MAGIC!



Kaun
2011-09-14, 07:09 PM
Hi Playground,

Which game has your favourite magic system and what makes it so?

I am all about the crunch here, I have seen plenty of well fluffed magic that plays out blah.

Tell me the bits that make you love it. What you have done with it and what you would like to do given the opportunity.


All so if you want tell me which game has the magic system that you like the least.

To start i have always had a thing for gurps's magic. I havenít revisited it for 4e but i liked the fact that you had to work through the more basic levels of the schools before getting to the overly powerful stuff.

I all so liked that the more skilled you were with a spell the less it took to cast.

I all so remember enjoying the Ad&d wild magic.

I always like my magic to be powerful with big risks involved.

I guess thatís why i enjoy Dark heresy's psyker power system also.

EvilDM
2011-09-14, 07:21 PM
I run a system where players create personalized spells based on their class choices and later get to combine those spells with others to create even more powerful effects.

A couple simple examples,

Fire Elementalist with fireball combined with Air Elementalist and windstorm = firestorm that does the damage of both but is only usable on a limited basis.

Fire Elementalist and Traveler Mage might have teleporting fireballs available.

Spell effects can also be added to melee attacks, combining the weapon and spell damage on that strike.

It's only limited by a players creativity.

Lord Vampyre
2011-09-14, 07:36 PM
Mage: the Ascension


Honestly, you could do anything. You had a huge amount of risk, but could perform the most godly of feats with the correct spheres.

The dot system was perfect for describing how skilled you were with a particular area of magic.

Kaun
2011-09-14, 07:45 PM
Forgive my ignorance but is that oWoD or nWoD?

WitchSlayer
2011-09-14, 07:48 PM
Forgive my ignorance but is that oWoD or nWoD?

oWoD, nWoD is Mage: The Awakening which is also pretty good.

I like Warhammer Fantasy 2e a lot.

ragingrage
2011-09-14, 07:49 PM
Forgive my ignorance but is that oWoD or nWoD?

Old/New World of Darkness, I believe.

Tvtyrant
2011-09-14, 08:04 PM
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/psionic/classes/wilder.htm

Allow this to stack with the Overchannel Feat and you have a system for wildly fluctuating power levels the likes of Bleach, while also allowing you to actually do things with magic.

Jude_H
2011-09-14, 08:08 PM
Am I a bad person if I say kill puppies for satan?
Actually, don't answer that.

Edit for substance:

Casting a spell involves a plot hook. Players have to go and do something, making magic an incentive to action, rather than a shortcut to resolving action (like D&D).

Magic is weak. The effects are things like turning into a mangy seagull, summoning a Demon who'd rather watch TV than help your no-good hijinks, or making characters small bad.

Magic is ambiguous. You might find an ancient tome of evilness, but you probably don't know what it does, and it probably has a side effect that you don't want to deal with.

Lord Vampyre
2011-09-14, 08:11 PM
It is old world of darkness. For some reason, I just can't get into the new world of darkness. I've read the books, and there is just something I don't like about them.

I've always loved the oWoD Mage. The fact that you can do literally anything with the system. Fireball = Forces. Teleport = Correspondence. And if you really want to overpower it, just mix and match.

Knaight
2011-09-14, 08:52 PM
Ars Magica is a very well put together system, and focuses heavily on magic. It is probably my favorite system in that regard, though Burning Wheel does a pretty good job as well. FATE does better than either, but only when using the Door to Shadow subsystem, the Dresden Files system is terrible, and as a whole FATE averages out pretty low.

Arbane
2011-09-14, 08:59 PM
Mage: the Ascension

Honestly, you could do anything.

...But what you could mainly do is get into enormous arguments over whether any given effect was Vulgar or Coincidental, or how many dots in which Sphere you needed to do some effect. :smallamused:


{Scrub the post, scrub the quote}

Well, DUH.

My favorites? Hmmm...

Weapons of the Gods has an interesting magic system which lets you curse people by making them strong at one thing and weak at another - and depending on the nature of the curse, they can get bonuses for going along with whatever annoying effect it inflicts.

Unknown Armies is basically Quentin Tarantino's Tim Powers: The RPG, and the magic system largely revolves around obsession. Being an Adept means you are a crazy person, and your obsession with things like booze, money, TV or sex lets you warp reality itself. But being sane still has advantages...

Ravens_cry
2011-09-14, 09:35 PM
It really depends on what kind of magic.
I like psionics for its subtlety. Instead of flashy powers, its a case of thought becoming act. Classy.
I like Pathfinders Word system because it feels . . .clicky and do-it-yourself. Noun+Verb=POWAH! With a versatile and improvisation friendly DM, you can get a wonderful range of effects that feels creative and individual.
I like Incarnum for it's "call up spirits to aid you" feel, very primal, the power rides you as much as you ride it. Good for old timey shamanistic characters who don't want to be druids.
So, again, it depends on character and world.

Quietus
2011-09-14, 10:07 PM
...But what you could mainly do is get into enormous arguments over whether any given effect was Vulgar or Coincidental, or how many dots in which Sphere you needed to do some effect. :smallamused:

This is exactly why I think Mage : The Awakening (New World of Darkness) is better. Not only do you still have a solid ability to Do Anything, but it's broken down much more clearly. You can use the pre-defined spells in the book as a guideline to what's possible, and what's vulgar/covert, and once you're familiar with that, you can look at what each Practices dot of Arcana gives you and fairly reasonably figure out what's possible at that stage.

Also fun is how the stronger your raw magical ability (Gnosis) is, the more likely you are to tear open reality by accident when you cast vulgar magic.. I like that aspect of things. The stronger mages, for their own good, HAVE to stay low-key, or they draw attention to themselves and possibly blow themselves up.

Rockphed
2011-09-14, 10:34 PM
...But what you could mainly do is get into enormous arguments over whether any given effect was Vulgar or Coincidental, or how many dots in which Sphere you needed to do some effect. :smallamused:



Well, DUH.

You say that like the forces running the universe wouldn't get into fantastical arguments about how magic works.

I don't have a favorite magic mechanics, unfortunately.

hiryuu
2011-09-14, 11:24 PM
After spending over fifteen years trying to shoehorn D&D's magic system into countless homebrew settings, I find the best magic systems are tailored to the world or system. Deadlands: Hell on Earth and Deadlands Classic Revised is among my favorites. I also like the Shadowrun system, though it has a lot of 90s design baggage.

jseah
2011-09-14, 11:48 PM
My own! =P

Incredibly crunchy magic system. If you want to, examining the variables that make up a fireball spell is totally possible.
How much heat does it make? What does the fire like to stick to?

You can do "science" with it in-game. And if the GM understands the fundamentals of the system, answers are possible to extrapolate from given material.

Or calculate. If you can be bothered to do so. >.>

hangedman1984
2011-09-15, 12:45 AM
Mage: the Ascension


Honestly, you could do anything. You had a huge amount of risk, but could perform the most godly of feats with the correct spheres.

The dot system was perfect for describing how skilled you were with a particular area of magic.

i second this sooo hard, also loved how you decided the how and why your magick worked

Emmerask
2011-09-15, 08:17 AM
Dark eye by a mile!

First of, you get a leather bound spellbook, all the spells are in there (and only spells) which is awesome...

It works a bit similar to gurps magic system overall.

The most fun part is that you can get a "metamagic" which completely reverses the spells effect which practically doubles the number of spells (and you already have a lot)

For most spells you have an incantation you have to say out loud ("Flim Flam Funkel" for example a light spell), if you reverse it you have to say the incantation backwards.

What I mostly like aout the system, is that it is far more balanced then d&d, yes you can go nova and do some extraordinary stuff with it but afterwards you will be out of power for a long time

Surgo
2011-09-15, 12:52 PM
I really liked the magic system outlined in the Wheel of Time (if not a lot of other things the series has done). I made a couple similar systems in HERO 6e. So that would have to be my favorite.

Lord Vampyre
2011-09-15, 01:34 PM
...But what you could mainly do is get into enormous arguments over whether any given effect was Vulgar or Coincidental, or how many dots in which Sphere you needed to do some effect. :smallamused:

True. Very True. The storytelling system has never been perfect, but if you and the storyteller are on the same page, it was fantastic. :smallsmile:

stainboy
2011-09-15, 02:09 PM
Mage: the Ascension reminds you over and over that science is another form of faith. Regardless of how good or bad it is as a game system it was written to validate the real-world opinions of idiot mouthbreathers.

Vampire managed to include Biblical themes without making Christianity either literally true or a strawman, but somehow when it's time to write Mage the explicit literal truth is the world view of a fifteen-year-old "chaos mage" they met in the Occult section of Half Price Books.

navar100
2011-09-15, 02:18 PM
Ars Magica

It has a logical structure of what makes a spell (Forms and Techniques).
While you can't do everything you do have flexibility in how strong or weak you want to be in the various Forms and Techniques.

You can cast specific powerful spells as well as minor spontaneous on the fly make up the spell effects right then and there when you need it.

At character creation you can already cast very powerful spells as a matter of natural course because you are a Magus, no duh you cast very powerful spells. It is even possible to do so without getting fatigued. The game does not presume you are pathetic weakling who can't do anything because you just created the character at game session 1.

Kaun
2011-09-15, 08:45 PM
Ars magica sounds interesting, i havn't heard of it before

Gavinfoxx
2011-09-15, 10:30 PM
Any Noun Verb magic systems are great! The one in Gurps magic, Ars Magica, World Tree, anyone know any others?

meschlum
2011-09-16, 01:05 AM
I'm fond of the magic system in Reve, though it is rather clunky at times.

If you're a mage (and why not be one?) you know a few spells, and can learn more via the study of nature (including alchemy, so you can increase your talent for spells via blowing things (and yourself) up).

In order to cast a spell, you shift your awareness to an alternate realm (which is idiosyncratic, not an analog to Shadowrun's Astral plane), and travel there until you find the right environment. This takes real time. Once you get to the proper place, you can cast the spell, and either move on to cast more or head back. When you emerge, the spell tied to the area you're in happens - so it's possible to 'hang' a few spells in reserve, though they'll be rather varied.

Where does this get extra fun?

- While 'traveling' to reach the proper land, you can meet dream-things, with beneficial or negative effects (including getting lost, which can cause you to cast spells at random...), so it's somewhat exciting (if time consuming).

- You can meet dragons, either while trying to cast a spell (risky) or while recovering from casting one (VERY risky). When this happens, you pick up varied short lived and entertaining forms of insanity. From "Must learn to fish!" to "I'll cheerfully give all my money to the next stranger I meet." So it's fun and (usually) lighthearted, with a chance at gaining interesting bonuses if your encounter goes well.

- The spells are fairly diverse and creative. Create an area where all air that goes in is transmuted into wood, and build a huge pillar. Summon and bind vengeful spirits. Create a flute that plays by itself. Disguise your party as a pile of radishes. Make anything purple almost impossible to damage, temporarily. Make anything purple, permanently.

- A neat magic item creation system which lets you design your items to a fair extent, and then research spells for advanced special effects.

- Decent fluff setting the spells and themes - there are four schools of magic, linked to changing the world, tampering with minds, imbuing things with magical power, and curses (from necromancy to polymorph).

- As a fun aside, the better a mage you are, the more trouble you have using some magic items, as you inherently resist their attempts at tampering with you. This never grows into a majot problem, but it's a neat bit of fluff and mechanics interaction.

Ravens_cry
2011-09-16, 01:41 AM
Any Noun Verb magic systems are great! The one in Gurps magic, Ars Magica, World Tree, anyone know any others?
Pathfinder introduced one in Ultimate Magic. (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/words-of-power) I can't say how it plays, but I love the idea.

stainboy
2011-09-16, 10:21 AM
Any Noun Verb magic systems are great! The one in Gurps magic, Ars Magica, World Tree, anyone know any others?

Changeling: the Dreaming, kinda. Arts define what you can do, Realms define what you can do them to. Bunks define what you have to do to make it work.

It's pretty cool, although it'd take some work to adapt it to anything else. For a classic fantasy wizard you'd want a defined list of foci instead of bunks you make up on the spot. You'd probably need to de-fiat the whole thing a bit too; Changeling tolerates fiat better than other settings because the disbelief mechanic forces the GM to keep the players happy.

(And regarding what I said earlier about Mage, Changeling has just as much anti-rationalism author wank. It's less integral to the magic system - Changeling "our thing works because you believe in it" vs Mage "everything works because you believe in it" - but it's still there.)

Knaight
2011-09-16, 01:53 PM
Any Noun Verb magic systems are great! The one in Gurps magic, Ars Magica, World Tree, anyone know any others?

Fudge's Four By Five and various adaptations thereof. Its just one of many magic systems in it however.

GungHo
2011-09-16, 02:12 PM
Ars Magica for being able to do things on the fly.

Mage for being able to do things on the fly (Mage was built off of Ars, just like White Wolf was built out of Lion Rampant), and then kicking you in the teeth for being stupid about it.

(Strangely) Shadowrun for providing tools and parameters for players to come up with their own spells with hard and fast limits.

Captain Six
2011-09-16, 02:46 PM
I think it's based on 3.0 psions but I'm not perfectly sure, but my favorite magic system is the Wizrobe from a fan-made Legend of Zelda d20 system. (I can't seem to find it anymore but I do have the PDFs for it) I haven't seen the 3.0 psion but from what I've heard there are at least some similarities. At the very least I enjoy the change in fluff.

There are six elements (Fire, Forest, Water, Spirit, Shadow and Light) and the class starts with two of them, slowly gaining the rest as they level. Each element has it's own MP pool and wizrobe gains a static amount of MP every level to split between them. Also each elemental school has it's own spellcasting stat for determining saves, highest spell level and bonus MP to that pool. What I love about this class is that it is a single universal mage class that requires specialization to function at its peak but doesn't have the hard division of representing magic through several different classes. Most class-based systems have hard limits on what spells any class can learn, and almost all point-buy systems I've seen are too loose in giving access to all spells. The Wizrobe just seems to hit a sweet spot between the two for me.

GolemsVoice
2011-09-17, 05:33 AM
Savage World's magic system is quite nice, especially the modified one found in the Hellfrost setting.

There is a unifed spell list, and each kind of caster has access to some of them. Rolling a one means you're siphoned and suffer some effects ranging from fatigue to completely forgetting a spell if you're really unlucky. You can also choose to take penalties on your roll for better effects, and if you roll particulary well, you might also get additional effects. This way, spellcasting isn't needlessly complicated and will work most of the time, but luck can still help or hinder you.

The spells are balanced, powerful enough to make playing a mage fun (as opposed to some systems, where magic means you get penalized until magic's no longer viable), but not powerful enough to outshine mundane warriors.

shaddy_24
2011-09-17, 09:25 AM
Savage World's magic system is quite nice, especially the modified one found in the Hellfrost setting.

There is a unifed spell list, and each kind of caster has access to some of them. Rolling a one means you're siphoned and suffer some effects ranging from fatigue to completely forgetting a spell if you're really unlucky. You can also choose to take penalties on your roll for better effects, and if you roll particulary well, you might also get additional effects. This way, spellcasting isn't needlessly complicated and will work most of the time, but luck can still help or hinder you.

The spells are balanced, powerful enough to make playing a mage fun (as opposed to some systems, where magic means you get penalized until magic's no longer viable), but not powerful enough to outshine mundane warriors.

I was just about to add Savage Worlds myself. I enjoy the feel of it, where spells can greatly change the course of a battle, but if you use it too much you risk hurting yourself. The homebrew setting I'm creating uses Savage Worlds mostly because of the magic system.

horngeek
2011-09-18, 02:52 AM
Mutants & masterminds.

Tyrrell
2011-09-18, 02:31 PM
..
Originally Posted by Lord Vampyre View Post
Mage: the Ascension

Honestly, you could do anything..But what you could mainly do is get into enormous arguments over whether any given effect was Vulgar or Coincidental, or how many dots in which Sphere you needed to do some effect. :smallamused:
That was my experience with it as well. I did love the way that coincidental magic made magic feel mysterious, no other game did that. On the other hand to me, Mage always felt like the epitome of the original posters: "plenty of well fluffed magic that plays out blah.".

Ars Magica's magic and advancement systems are in my opinion the greatest pair of subsystems ever developed for a game. Here are three reasons why it rocks.

One thing that makes Ars Magica feel really magical to me is that all of the mechanics that the players deal with are the same entities that the characters are dealing with. The players deal with arcane connections, sympathetic connections, texts about the magical art of control, laboratory notes regarding the creation of an enchanted device and how to store the magical energies of a fire drake's heart and so do the characters.

Another thing that sets it apart from other verb-noun systems and or cast on the fly systems where you combine abilities to get an effect, is that characters can make up spells on the spot but these are, as a rule, fairly weak outside of the character's specialties. It delays the problem of some other games where if a character gets their abilities up to a certain level they are able to do most anything on the spot. To counter this exceptionally useful but not earthshaking powerful on the fly magic the characters get a spell list of spells that they know and these spells are fairly powerful. This makes characters with really interesting sets of abilities (also a game about wizards where the characters didn't actually study spells, oWoD Mage, Talislanta, etc. never felt right to me).

Ars Magica has detail in its crunch. This allows tremendous variation in character concepts. Four hermetic mages (the default tradition presented in the core book) who all specialize in and are optimized for something even as narrow as for instance bees or fear or clothing could be created that have very few overlapping virtues and no overlapping spells (characters and players are expected to create their own spells) .

Kaun
2011-09-18, 05:03 PM
Ars Magica is sounding more and more interesting, why i orignaly asked this questions is i have an idea for a game loosely based of magic the gathering. I sort of wanted the players to be massivly powerfull magic users battling other massivly powerfull magic users.

A loot of the rule systems i read don't suit the direction i am trying to go tho unfortunatly.

Eric Tolle
2011-09-19, 12:11 AM
Mage: the Ascension reminds you over and over that science is another form of faith. Regardless of how good or bad it is as a game system it was written to validate the real-world opinions of idiot mouthbreathers.

Actually it's based on Pirsig. Also, if the game reality is fundamentally an illusion who's form is determined by consensus, then by definition science is going to be as equally "real" as any other mass faith. It's not like Werewolf, which was actively calling Western culture and science evil.

Also, amusingly enough, Coincidental Magic was based on how modern occultists claim their spells work.

As for magic systems I like:

Dresden Files: perfectly captures the flavor of magic in the books, very flexible, and let's you use magic to"tag" opponents and scenery with effects such as "on fire" or "buffeted by high winds". Awesome.

Jaws of the Six Serpents: sorcery really gives the S&S flavor, as it is powerful and flexible, but hazardous if you try to reach for too much power. There's a trade-off between speed and power, and be careful what you call, ambitious mage...

Some combination between the mechanics of Mage the Awakening (sans the Tower limitation), and the fluff of Mage the Ascension, 1st. Edition.

Changeling the Lost: where magic is making and enforcing contacts. It gives a very fey feeling to the game.

Gavinfoxx
2011-09-19, 12:43 AM
I would strongly suggest that if you like the IDEA of Ars Magica, you don't limit yourself to just that one particular verb-noun system -- verb noun systems have a LOT going for them in general.

...Also, World Tree needs more love on these forums...

stainboy
2011-09-19, 02:29 AM
Actually it's based on Pirsig. Also, if the game reality is fundamentally an illusion who's form is determined by consensus, then by definition science is going to be as equally "real" as any other mass faith. It's not like Werewolf, which was actively calling Western culture and science evil.

Also, amusingly enough, Coincidental Magic was based on how modern occultists claim their spells work.


E: You know what, this rant is long, I'm spoilering it for length.


Yeah, I did notice that second bit. That's the difference. Mage is based on things some neo-pagans believe in the real world. Werewolf doesn't do that: the mythology is too surreal for anyone to try to apply to real life, and the anti-urbanization stuff is mostly just misanthropy and fatalism. There's no message to it.

I'm not trying to get into an argument about real-world religion so I'll just talk about the paradigm thing as a game system.

In Mage, your character is supposed to have to operate within the rules of a "paradigm." The problem is that paradigms don't have any rules. The game invites you to play characters from esoteric real-world magic traditions you probably don't know anything about, then does nothing to help you pull it off. All the rotes and foci are such a paper-thin excuse that we constantly have to wonder why our characters aren't in on the secret. The game doesn't even distinguish between a real magical tradition and some excuse crap you made up. The example Hollow One in Mage 2e just has random trinkets as foci - her focus for Time is her pocketwatch. That would save me some research trying to figure out how a neo-Romantic occultist might think time travel works, but it means my character's big spiritual discovery at Arete 4 is "wow, I had the power all along and never needed this completely ordinary pocketwatch."

And if the writers had to actually define their paradigms, they might have realized that some of them straight-up don't work. There's an entire tradition based being a Gibsonian console cowboy because the writers never noticed that the internet in Mage works like the real world and not Neuromancer. But it's not a total loss, because we can get some laughs out of the hippie waterheads who think math is some kind of mass delusion trying to write about computers. (Did you know that base-3 computers spontaneously become sentient? It's true! They understand "maybe!") Anyway it's basically impossible to imagine how a virtual adept doesn't know that what they're doing is "magic," but they don't. At least not until Arete 6. Not four, six, because rational scientific people are more deluded than everyone else.

Kerrin
2011-09-19, 11:19 AM
I had picked up Ars Magica when it first came out because it sounded different and interesting.

Unfortunately, the other players at the time weren't interested in it because not all of them wanted to play spell slingers. Some of the players preferred to be the thief, paladin, or whatever but didn't want to be b-level characters in the story.

So, we never played but it was an interesting and fun read.

I'm assuming there have been more versions of the game since then, but I haven't gone looking.

GungHo
2011-09-19, 02:18 PM
They're up to 5th Edition (last issued in 2004). Editions 1-4 ('87-'96) came out pretty quickly, White Wolf switched to WoD almost exclusively and sold it to WotC who published a few books before sending it to Atlas. Atlas still puts out source books now and again, so it's not a dead game by any means.

Kerrin
2011-09-19, 07:32 PM
Thanks for the rundown on the publishing history of the game.

Interesting how some games go through so many hands.

Knaight
2011-09-20, 05:41 PM
They're up to 5th Edition (last issued in 2004). Editions 1-4 ('87-'96) came out pretty quickly, White Wolf switched to WoD almost exclusively and sold it to WotC who published a few books before sending it to Atlas. Atlas still puts out source books now and again, so it's not a dead game by any means.

Also, 4th edition was released for free around the time 5th came out.