View Full Version : Malazan Empire RPG System [Halp]

2011-10-17, 11:26 AM
So then, I've been eyeing the GURPS system after reading through my Malazan Empire books again these past few days. It has been... quite a read, and I feel overwhelmed again by the setting that I'd like to try and see if there isn't some way to make a gaming system that can, at the very least, set up a simple version of it.

So I took to GURPS Lite. I do have access to the basic set and all, having bought them on a whim quite some time ago, but I've always liked the simplicity in systems that are easy to understand. When you need to first do research in the umpteenth degree just to be able to join an RPG, it becomes a bit of a joke to me.

So then. GURPS Lite. I think the standard set of stats will work just admirably, and indeed, so long as the races are restricted enough it should work fine. Meaning, no Thelomen Toblakai, no T'lann Imass, no Jaghut or Tiste. Probably a bunch of others I'm forgetting, although those are likely the most fierce offenders of the balance inherent to any system!

Right then. Regular stat system, people are Humans. None of this D'ivers business or other legendary figures. Squalid humans.

All of this works out admirably and, indeed, I think it's possible to host a game based on it... but I stumble at the Magic system. I've done the following:

All Magic is drawn from Warrens.
Warrens are headed by Ascendants (human Warrens), Gods (Elder Warrens) and Primal Spirits (Wickan Warrens). Of these, there are Mages (AscWar), Sorcerers (GodWar) and Warlocks (Wickan). Of these, there are also Priests: whereas the three aforementioned casters draw out the power, the Priests kneel down for that power and receive it as a gift, as they ask for.

Typically priests need less talent as they can receive as appropriate from their Gods, etcetera.

Anyway, that's not the crux of the problem: rather, it's the diverse magic. I want to emulate that without bogging down the players with a rules system complex enough to rival the history omnibus of 0 to 2000 AD.

So then, is there anyone who has knowledge of an elegant way to provide players a wide range of powers while at the same time regulating the powers they can bring to bear so that it is not too restricting (creativity should be duly awarded) without making it limitless and boundless.

I am at a loss.

2011-10-17, 10:45 PM
Servbot, this is a great idea (although I'm sure it's been posed and possibly answered several times). Totally agree with you on excluding the non-human races for now at least. They flat out aren't meant to be balanced!

I think the question you're trying to answer is how to control/limit magic? The trouble is, what limits does magic seem to actually have in the books?

When it comes to defining power, there are a bunch of metrics:

- Power of a single 'casting'
- Sustainability
- Variety. What can they actually do with that power

Trying to find a good fit from the more common types of magic is hard:

Vancian DnD style - No evidence of spell levels in the book, although some casters are referred to as 'Hedge-mages' vs High mages in the army, that seems to be more to do with how they use their magic and their ranks, rather than power levels.

Mana based systems - Analogy would be just about every video game with a little blue bar, or PP if you want something from DnD. I see virtually no evidence of this, except the fact that more practiced mages seem to have more power. Then again, not always.

'Blood' casting - Magic is limited by lifeforce. This seems fairly appropriate, especially for the aspected and elder warrens. How many times have we seen mages become fatigued, ill or dead from drawing too much power (either in a single instance, or over a day)? Overall from the books we got a very strong impression that - for mortals at least - "raw" power was the worst possible way to be casting spells, as the cost was just too high.

'Paradox' limitations - Closest analogy would be Mage:The Ascension. Only place this fits is when people were drawing on warrens that didn't belong to them. I won't go into further detail without creating spoilers, but hopefully you can provide your own examples of this. What does fit from these kind of systems is the idea of the warrens as "seeds" of spellcasting, rather than spells in and of themselves.

My advice would be to go out looking for as many magic systems as possible, and try to find something which pulls together:

blood magic
warrens as seeds
arcane and clerical magic coming from the same source

While still allowing flexibility to make it work for warrens. There may also be multiple types of magic. The malazan style differs from the tribal/shamanistic style of others, which differs further from the "Holds" style of Lether.