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Thread: Magic School

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Magic School

    So, hey, what sorts of RPG systems out there would be good for running a game set in a magic school? Assume your standard fantasy world and that everyone will be a spellcaster.

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    It's not quite a "standard fantasy world", but Ars Magica I am given to understand is basically this.
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    I tried to imagine what a wizard school would be like as an adventuring area in 3.5. Fireballs everywhere. Now I can't stop picturing hogwarts burning to the ground
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    Sigil Prep did this with D&D. First 3.5, then they converted to 4e. Google it.
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    Default Re: Magic School

    Harry potter D20?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heliomance View Post
    Sigil Prep did this with D&D. First 3.5, then they converted to 4e. Google it.
    I'm looking for systems, not settings. I've read Sigil Prep before, and while it's good, I'm looking to do something a little more serious than that. I mean, one of the caveats of the setting is that magic is focused through your own hardship and suffering, and what magic isn't happens to be powered by the life force of the people you care about the most. Demon summoning is stigmatized is that they're physical manifestations of personal trauma (which leads most demon summoners to keep horrible torture chambers to use on themselves). They can happen accidentally, too, and it will be one of the "slow reveals" through the campaign. The idea is to get them into using magic while they're young and believe they're aiding the kingdom, fighting evils, and so on, slowly revealing the truth once they're effectively trapped in the patterns and downward spiral of magic use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hiryuu View Post
    I'm looking for systems, not settings. I've read Sigil Prep before, and while it's good, I'm looking to do something a little more serious than that. I mean, one of the caveats of the setting is that magic is focused through your own hardship and suffering, and what magic isn't happens to be powered by the life force of the people you care about the most. Demon summoning is stigmatized is that they're physical manifestations of personal trauma (which leads most demon summoners to keep horrible torture chambers to use on themselves). They can happen accidentally, too, and it will be one of the "slow reveals" through the campaign. The idea is to get them into using magic while they're young and believe they're aiding the kingdom, fighting evils, and so on, slowly revealing the truth once they're effectively trapped in the patterns and downward spiral of magic use.
    That's the kind of bleakness World of Darkness lives and breathes.

    Ironically, I would not recommend Mage, being far too lighthearted for such a setting. Look around the splats (Vampire, Changeling, Geist, etc) and see which mechanics you like the most, then get rid of the fluff and replace it with your own.

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    D&d 3.5 seems like a pretty solid option. To list all of the spellcasting classes (classes with some spellcasting anyways, not all are full casters) or classes with some sort of magic I can think of from the top of my head: wizards, sorcerers, clerics, druids, paladins, rangers, beguilers, warmages, dread necromancers, duskblades, dragon shamen, dragonfire adepts, shadowcasters, binders, truenamers, wu-jen, warlocks, favoured souls, shugenja, spirit shamen, hexblades, bards and last but not least factotums.

    That's just about every single roll in a five man band there is, even with only full casters.

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    Burning Wheel has College of Magic lifepaths in the Magic Burner. I want to do a game where everyone knows magic.
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    D&D 3.5 with gestalt; everyone is a wizard with another class gestalted on it to make each character feel unique. Basically use the Veritas line; the mainstream abilities (wizard) are taught by the school and all of the others are family secrets or personal abilities you bring in with you.
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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Not a system, but go read Lev Grossmans' The Magicians.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hiryuu View Post
    I'm looking for systems, not settings. I've read Sigil Prep before, and while it's good, I'm looking to do something a little more serious than that. I mean, one of the caveats of the setting is that magic is focused through your own hardship and suffering, and what magic isn't happens to be powered by the life force of the people you care about the most. Demon summoning is stigmatized is that they're physical manifestations of personal trauma (which leads most demon summoners to keep horrible torture chambers to use on themselves). They can happen accidentally, too, and it will be one of the "slow reveals" through the campaign. The idea is to get them into using magic while they're young and believe they're aiding the kingdom, fighting evils, and so on, slowly revealing the truth once they're effectively trapped in the patterns and downward spiral of magic use.
    I suggest Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu. Magic (and heck, even just knowledge) has a cost in sanity to the player characters. It's a nice little d100 system that should prove somewhat adaptable for your needs. You'll need to strip out the modern stuff, and might have to change the specifics of how magic works to achieve your effect, in the end it might work out well.

    Mutants and Masterminds might also work; you can use the mechanics to represent a wide variety of things, and you can also attach caveats and costs to them to, and best of all, it's also no fluff by default, so it's less work for you.

    nWoD might also work. Might; the specific splat mechanics tend to be tied into their flavor. I think it'll be more work, and in the end it might not work as well. As an odd digression, in comparison to nWod splats, your premise is probably more grimdark than Geist, Werewolf, and Mage, and equal to/slightly lesser than Changeling, Vampire, and maybe Hunter. Prometheus is worse. Warhammer 40k is also somewhat more grimdark.

    Quote Originally Posted by KineticDiplomat View Post
    Not a system, but go read Lev Grossmans' The Magicians.
    I'm not certain how an urban fantasy novel is supposed to help someone looking for a mechanical system to represent their setting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowknight12 View Post
    Ironically, I would not recommend Mage, being far too lighthearted for such a setting. Look around the splats (Vampire, Changeling, Geist, etc) and see which mechanics you like the most, then get rid of the fluff and replace it with your own.
    I would use mage, but modify/strengthen the paradox system into something to reflect how magic acts in your world.

    Alternately, you could use GURPS, with an automatic disadvantage on magical aptitude to reflect the bad stuff that goes with it. (Or skip the extra math, just require every player to spend at least x creation points on spells or magical advantages, and raise the starting point total if desired.)

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    Warhammer Fantasy RP? It got enough magical traditions for there to be different types of magical apprentices, and magic is serious stuff, and abuse of it would be serious, and most in the world wants as little to do with it as possible, akin to how Uranium is one of our most powerfull substances, but none actually WANT it.
    Magic in the warhammer world, is actually the stuff of chaos, leaking trough a defect, destroyed gateway on the northern end of the world, the energy of magic is actually seeping trough the hole in the fabric of the world, and the magic users of the world, fight the evil powers of Chaos, using the power from their wery enemy!
    And, this mean magic can go horribly wrong, of course.

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    Sigil Prep: greatest game of all time.

    OF ALL TIME.


    Anyway, I'd been considering something similar using New World of Darkness myself. Skill/Dice Pool-based magic seems especially appropriate for people who are still learning it. I guess the modified Mage suggested above would work, or just have mortals with some Supernatural Stat (equivalent to Gnosis/Wyrd/Blood Potency/whatever) to indicate their strength as a mage and add to the dice pools of their spells.
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    GURPS could, with appropriate rule selection, probably work.

    RISUS is kind of rules light for what you seem to want.

    Wuthering Heights deals with depression, madness, ennui, and other problems of the idle upper class. It might work, but it has no mechanics for magic.

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    I admit it, I entertained GURPS, but I've no real desire to have the rest of the group drag me into the street and beat me with sticks.

    RISUS sounds pretty good, it could work. FATE is something I'm looking at, too.

    I ran a variant of the "demon summoning" rules as "Traumas Team International," about a group of abuse victims who used dream tulpas forged from their past experiences to hunt "traumas," monsters created accidentally through suffering using ORE. I may go drag that out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hydroplatypus View Post
    I tried to imagine what a wizard school would be like as an adventuring area in 3.5. Fireballs everywhere. Now I can't stop picturing hogwarts burning to the ground
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    You could run it as 4e, provided you had access to enough books (if it's all arcane, you'll need the FRPG and either the PHB2 or the Eberron Player's Guide in addition to either the Essentials or PHB1 to cover all the roles). Then tack on the White Lotus Academy stuff from Dragon 374...

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    Quote Originally Posted by hiryuu View Post
    I'm looking for systems, not settings. I've read Sigil Prep before, and while it's good, I'm looking to do something a little more serious than that. I mean, one of the caveats of the setting is that magic is focused through your own hardship and suffering, and what magic isn't happens to be powered by the life force of the people you care about the most. Demon summoning is stigmatized is that they're physical manifestations of personal trauma (which leads most demon summoners to keep horrible torture chambers to use on themselves). They can happen accidentally, too, and it will be one of the "slow reveals" through the campaign. The idea is to get them into using magic while they're young and believe they're aiding the kingdom, fighting evils, and so on, slowly revealing the truth once they're effectively trapped in the patterns and downward spiral of magic use.
    Ron Edwards' Sorcerer might be a good fit for this. It's rather rules-light, mind you.
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    It would in my opinion be foolish to not run this with Ars Magica

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neon Knight View Post
    nWoD might also work. Might; the specific splat mechanics tend to be tied into their flavor. I think it'll be more work, and in the end it might not work as well. As an odd digression, in comparison to nWod splats, your premise is probably more grimdark than Geist, Werewolf, and Mage, and equal to/slightly lesser than Changeling, Vampire, and maybe Hunter. Prometheus is worse. Warhammer 40k is also somewhat more grimdark.
    Just as an aside, you read Changeling as anything but the GRIMDARKEST of the nWoD splats?
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    Ars Magica! I mean, it is just the best.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Random_person View Post
    Just as an aside, you read Changeling as anything but the GRIMDARKEST of the nWoD splats?
    It's close to being the most grimdark. It really wants to be (well, they all want to be. Every book tries to sell its subject matter as having the suckiest time.) The thing that robs it of the award is that Changelings get some of the coolest powers in all of WoD. Sin-Eaters and Mages beat them out (and have to pay far less for them), but otherwise, Changelings have it good. Werewolves are... a thing (no WoD take on Werewolves has ever interested me enough, so I never remember anything about them.) Vamps have a raw deal, but some pretty nice power too.

    Hunter kinda depends on how you run it. I've done everything from a short one shot that ended up with the whole cell committing suicide to a game were we didn't use Morality and just played characters from Team Fortress 2.

    Promethians, though... that stuff is just damn depressing. I honestly think it's equal to or worse than the Changeling's deal, and they don't quite get the same benefits from it. It is personal opinion, but I really feel that Promethians get the shortest straw out of nWoD.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ravens_cry View Post
    It's not quite a "standard fantasy world", but Ars Magica I am given to understand is basically this.
    Ars Magica (the 4th edition is available for free from the publisher, Atlas Games) does work very well for this. Because you have a variety of techniques and forms, you can have some spread in abilities ("But you know that Markus never COULD cast an Herbam spell!"), as well as all sorts of oddities. Giving everyone a different house (with their different focuses), and running it more like HP houses than Ars Magica houses (i.e. "Academic distinction" rather than "major political force"), would also up the differences.

    You would probably want to tweak the rules a little bit... characters can likely, in this version, get XP in multiple types of spells in a given "quarter" (i.e. Ars Magica season), and learn spells more quickly, but the basic guts would work quite well.
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