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  1. - Top - End - #181
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    Default Re: Different RPG systems

    RE: subsystems - I actually really like games that have a variety of subsystems in general (it's nice when they're well-done, too). Different organizations of powers and resolution mechanics make different kinds of powers feel different at char-gen and at the table. Unified mechanics for are clean and pretty, but it gets a little stale when a large portion of the game's mechanics are basically the same.

    D&D 3.5 (the system I'm most familiar with) hits both sides of that coin pretty hard, too. Magic (and magic-adjacent) subsystems? It has those in spades - and a lot of them are really interesting, too. Combat is a well-supported, wonderfully complex challenge for players, and even has its own sub-subsystems (grappling!). A crafting system exists, even though it's pretty bare-bones. On the other hand, most non-combat challenges are meant to be resolved purely with roleplaying, or with one (or more) d20+modifier rolls, and not much else. There's no "chase scene" subsystem (though one of the supplemental books did at least briefly mention this one), "stealth" subsystem (beyond "noticed or not"), or "social combat/persuasion" subsystem (there are rules for being a lawyer in Hell, though it is just 3 skill checks).

    ----

    Not a ttrpg, but the board game Root captures a lot of what I want from a game in this regard. It's an asymmetric faction-based strategy game, and each faction plays very differently. Some are combat-heavy and focused on expansion; some are passive but more difficult to disrupt; some are very mobile but unable to effectively capture and hold territory; some are weak but mercantile, with incentives to get other players to trade with them.

    There are some unified rules for the game (what counts as ruling a clearing, what happens when you craft an item, combat resolution), but certain factions can and do break some of those rules (or add exceptions under certain circumstances). Everything else is totally different from faction to faction - from how those factions gain victory points (what they care about), to how they generate and spend resources, and even how they interact with other factions.

    The downside, of course, is that having one (or more) subsystems per faction makes learning how to play the game a lot slower. You effectively need to learn the rules 4 times the first time you sit down to play - once for your own faction, and once for each of your opponents - and you usually can't watch what they're doing to learn how your own actions work.

    ----

    That carries over to ttrpgs with a lot of subsystems - the more rules there are, the more everyone has to learn to participate (obviously). Fewer shared mechanics between players means the learning curve is steeper for each player, too.
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  2. - Top - End - #182
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    Quote Originally Posted by Telwar View Post
    And frankly 3.5 psionics was probably my favorite version ever...but again, it came in later when there was more developed system expertise.
    3.5 psionics worked very well because they were, in practice (and yes with enough caveats that I can understand someone flat out disagreeing), the same basic system as magic, but with some of the more problematic spells omitted or rebuilt. 'Spells' were paid for from a universal pool rather than slots/spell level, but otherwise psions were mechanically almost the same as sorcerers. Other than the case of the DM ruling against magic-psionic transparency would leave anything built with core-only books wouldn't have a Dispel Psionics option, there wasn't much downside inflicted by it coming to the game late. Mind you, the worldbuilding aspect for the premade campaign settings was still there, and other than Dark Sun, most game worlds never really did much with where psionics were a big thing or the like, iconic psionic NPCs, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Amidus Drexel View Post
    RE: subsystems - I actually really like games that have a variety of subsystems in general (it's nice when they're well-done, too). Different organizations of powers and resolution mechanics make different kinds of powers feel different at char-gen and at the table. Unified mechanics for are clean and pretty, but it gets a little stale when a large portion of the game's mechanics are basically the same.

    D&D 3.5 (the system I'm most familiar with) hits both sides of that coin pretty hard, too. Magic (and magic-adjacent) subsystems? It has those in spades - and a lot of them are really interesting, too. Combat is a well-supported, wonderfully complex challenge for players, and even has its own sub-subsystems (grappling!). A crafting system exists, even though it's pretty bare-bones. On the other hand, most non-combat challenges are meant to be resolved purely with roleplaying, or with one (or more) d20+modifier rolls, and not much else. There's no "chase scene" subsystem (though one of the supplemental books did at least briefly mention this one), "stealth" subsystem (beyond "noticed or not"), or "social combat/persuasion" subsystem (there are rules for being a lawyer in Hell, though it is just 3 skill checks).
    3e reminds me of lots of late 80s-90s trad games like GURPS or similar. There are lots of charts and tables and specific DC allocation and rules for physical objects and interaction with them (you know exactly how much you can lift, drag, or throw, there are rules for hacking through a wooden door, you know the penalty that moderate wind or dim lighting conditions or one or both you and target moving will have on you hitting a target with a thrown object). Likewise, lots of rules for giving your characters (or NPCs) real world abilities such as crafting and knowledge and professional skills (so you can make a character who devotes some resources to being a cook instead of simply more combat or dungeoneering abilities, etc.). However, once you run into situations that those things can't solve*, or skill situations where Boolean success/failure related to direct physical health or location or lifting capacity or crafting speed aren't the relevant qualities, the systems tend to not have much to say**. Social rules and Chases are common examples, but skills like psychology or profession: cook or similar work equally well -- mostly the rules at best will be 'make a check' or 'make a contested check' with possibly degree of success adding some nuance to the outcome.
    *or solve in a pretty unrewarding way, like a 3e chase where PC and opponent both determine (via Con score and maybe endurance feats) how long they can keep going, do a pure duration x speed calculation, and determine whether any speed difference would mean that the chaser would catch the chasee before that point.
    **GURPS and the like tend to have add-on supplements which cover these, which are fine and all, but it still speaks to a specific mindset that trad games seemed to have

  3. - Top - End - #183
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    Default Re: Different RPG systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie the Duck View Post
    3.5 psionics worked very well because they were, in practice (and yes with enough caveats that I can understand someone flat out disagreeing), the same basic system as magic, but with some of the more problematic spells omitted or rebuilt. 'Spells' were paid for from a universal pool rather than slots/spell level, but otherwise psions were mechanically almost the same as sorcerers. Other than the case of the DM ruling against magic-psionic transparency would leave anything built with core-only books wouldn't have a Dispel Psionics option, there wasn't much downside inflicted by it coming to the game late. Mind you, the worldbuilding aspect for the premade campaign settings was still there, and other than Dark Sun, most game worlds never really did much with where psionics were a big thing or the like, iconic psionic NPCs, etc.
    The lack of smooth interaction between magic and psionics is one of the repeated issues, and one of the symptoms of the lack of original integration of psionics in each edition.

    But then, that lack of original integration of concepts, of thinking ahead to leave space for new concepts and mechanics, is a broader issue with both D&D editions and other game systems.

    IE, the introduction of crafting rules, counter-magic, etc in supplemental books for L5R 4ed, that clearly were not taken into consideration AT ALL when the original rules were written.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    The lack of smooth interaction between magic and psionics is one of the repeated issues
    Thats a strange thing to say. What interaction between magic* and psionics do you think is not smooth?

    *I take you mean arcane and divine magic here. Because by all accounts psionics in 3.5 IS a form of magic.

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    Default Re: Different RPG systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Zombimode View Post
    Thats a strange thing to say. What interaction between magic* and psionics do you think is not smooth?

    *I take you mean arcane and divine magic here. Because by all accounts psionics in 3.5 IS a form of magic.
    If you treat psionics as magic in different clothes, it works very smoothly. But then you have.. well, magic in different clothes. Which, mechanically, is a tried and tested solution - 3.5 has tons of 'magic in different clothes' subsystems, and they pretty much all work. It is a problem if you want the play experience of a Psion, or a Shadowcaster, or any of the other "this totally isn't just a themed Wizard, honestly" classes to feel different to the base Wizard, tho. Because then you have to sort out mechanical distinctions that support that, and 3.5 does not like that much. For better or worse the game is built around magic working the way Wizards and Clerics use it and doing it any other way starts to run into a variety of oddities and potential balancing issues.

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    Default Re: Different RPG systems

    I believe 3.5 outright stated that the DM would have to decide how much psionics "was" magic and whether things like Detect ____ and Dispel _____ would cross-cooperate, with a statement that there would be consequences if there was no such transparency. I guess, 'they mention an option that could cause disorder' could be a valid critique, it is worthwhile to note that there aren't many permanent effects which the inability to dispel them would be a significant issue (if there were a bunch of permanent psionic curses, such that a psionic-free party would be just-plain boned for not having a psion, this would be more of an issue). Third edition had a few situations where 'I just got a new expansion, and it completely invalidates your plans/the challenge of your adventure/etc.,' but I don't think psionics was a major hitter there.

    I'd put 2nd edition as the height of tack-on-ness. Psionics had a whole bunch of mental link and psionic combat rules which turned every round of combat into a nightmare where you figured out what was going on with the normal combat, then read the rules on psion vs. psion (/psionic monster) combat, plus possibly having to figure out what happened if you used said abilities on a non-psionicist/psionic monster. It was not pretty (which was too bad, as it The Complete Psionicist Handbook was the first time they actually made the psionics thematic and inviting).

    Quote Originally Posted by tyckspoon View Post
    If you treat psionics as magic in different clothes, it works very smoothly. But then you have.. well, magic in different clothes. Which, mechanically, is a tried and tested solution - 3.5 has tons of 'magic in different clothes' subsystems, and they pretty much all work. It is a problem if you want the play experience of a Psion, or a Shadowcaster, or any of the other "this totally isn't just a themed Wizard, honestly" classes to feel different to the base Wizard, tho. Because then you have to sort out mechanical distinctions that support that, and 3.5 does not like that much. For better or worse the game is built around magic working the way Wizards and Clerics use it and doing it any other way starts to run into a variety of oddities and potential balancing issues.
    And yeah, when you do use a wildly different system, it really helps to have to have them planned out ahead of time, with the cross-interactions figured out. Although, let's be honest, plenty of game systems had the sub-system/alt-interaction mode planned from the start and it still be a problem. I'm thinking any of the various cyberpunk-genre games where hacking or web-dwelling is pretty much that think one player does while everyone else grabs drinks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Which takes us back to "do we really need three systems of magic?" It's a design question worth asking. (Interestingly, there's a guy (see Delta's hot spot) who has removed clerics from the OD&D game and it works. One system of magic is perhaps a better design parameter).
    yep.
    I would see it as four.
    Prepared casting
    Spells known spontaneous casting
    Pact magic
    -hypothetical psionics (probably a points system)

    Warlocks are a good example of a weird class with its own system that has gone over well. So I could see a psionics class working with the same amount of design attention.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Witty Username View Post
    I would see it as four.
    Prepared casting
    Spells known spontaneous casting
    Pact magic
    -hypothetical psionics (probably a points system)

    Warlocks are a good example of a weird class with its own system that has gone over well. So I could see a psionics class working with the same amount of design attention.
    I disagre that those are separate systems. Warlock's magic system is the same as a wizard's. They use arcane spells and cantrips. Their spell regeneration and acquisition method is what is different.

    I will meet you half way, though, in that the idea of prepared versus spontaneous being significantly different thematic approaches to magic. And now we get to the concept phase: is magic inherently external or internal to the caster?

    Psionics and spontaneous, and ki for a 5e monk in D&D, lean toward "internal to the caster" while Prepared (the charged capacitor model) leans more toward 'external to the caster'
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    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    I disagre that those are separate systems. Warlock's magic system is the same as a wizard's. They use arcane spells and cantrips. Their spell regeneration and acquisition method is what is different.

    I will meet you half way, though, in that the idea of prepared versus spontaneous being significantly different thematic approaches to magic. And now we get to the concept phase: is magic inherently external or internal to the caster?

    Psionics and spontaneous, and ki for a 5e monk in D&D, lean toward "internal to the caster" while Prepared (the charged capacitor model) leans more toward 'external to the caster'
    Divine Magic would be external, right?
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    Default Re: Different RPG systems

    Personally, I like different magic systems so long as they are different. A lot of AD&D magic is the same, or only slightly different.

    For example, priests and wizards both memorize spells exactly the same way. The difference is that wizards have to seek out and learn spells, while priests have a large list they can choose from. Psionics is different because it uses points, and requires activation rolls.

    If you look at new Hackmaster, though, clerics and mages are really different. Mages still learn spells, while clerics have a set list. But clerics prepare 1 spell per level per day (with some bonuses for wisdom), and can cast only those that day, and only in those numbers, and each for a fixed effect, regardless of your level (though the target sometimes matters; anointed followers of a given deity get benefits). Mages prepare 1 spell per level per day, plus Apprentice and Journeyman spells, but they can cast those in any combination, enhance them by spending more spell points, and cast any spell they know at double the base spell point cost. This results in the two classes feeling very different, even if they wind up casting the same spell (many clerics have certain mage spells on their list).

    When I made new systems for Hackmaster? I make sure they're different. Shamans work on reaction rolls. Sorcerers can do anything, but have a skill check (and possibly cause themselves damage). It enhances the feel that they are different classes, not just slight variations on a theme.
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    Default Re: Different RPG systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Divine Magic would be external, right?
    I am not sure.
    Prepared divine spells would be, but something like a 3.5e Favored Soul or the 5e Divine Sorcerer it might be internal. (More so if the character is an aasmiar ...)
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    I mean, I honestly never understood what exactly is meaningfully different about a psion compared to an arcane caster. So, their power comes from their own mind instead of external forces that are just shaped by the wizard, sure. But in the end, how is that actually different? They both need discipline and to study their powers and the effects they create are very similar. It's not like the psion can damage their mind by casting too much, or the wizard cut off from the external power field (at least not in ways a psion can't also be, i.e. antimagic field.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    It's not like the psion can damage their mind by casting too much, or the wizard cut off from the external power field (at least not in ways a psion can't also be, i.e. antimagic field.)
    Actually, those would be cool ways to differentiate them. Use something like the GURPS mana rules for magic: you're only really caring about None, Not Enough, Enough, Plenty. Then make psionics'abilities at-will but charge HP or Ability Score points to empower them (maybe give a small buffer).

    It's not impossible to make magic and psionics'abilities meaningfully different and yet roughly balanced. However it is a lot of work, which I suspect is why the best-received version of D&D psychics are so close to magic.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    I mean, I honestly never understood what exactly is meaningfully different about a psion compared to an arcane caster. So, their power comes from their own mind instead of external forces that are just shaped by the wizard, sure. But in the end, how is that actually different? They both need discipline and to study their powers and the effects they create are very similar. It's not like the psion can damage their mind by casting too much, or the wizard cut off from the external power field (at least not in ways a psion can't also be, i.e. antimagic field.)
    So, I actually laid some of this out for Hackmaster, when I was creating a bunch of different systems of magic for them. There are, IMO, three things that make an alternate system of powers work:

    0) Are they good, playable rules, neither so powerful as to be necessary, or so weak as to be useless or fluff?
    1) Mechanical uniqueness. Does this magic feel like its own thing, or just another name for the same stuff?
    2) Mechanical integration. Do these mechanics work with the rest of the system?
    3) World integration: Does this have a place in the game world?

    0, of course, is just decent game design. If psionics completely destroys all other magic systems, then it's too powerful. If it sucks, then it's too weak, and no one will play it (except folks who want the challenge). An example here might be the 3e adept, which was intentionally built weak... but people didn't really opt for the adept if they could be a wizard or cleric, because those characters were better at doing what the adept did.

    1 and 2 can be very hard to balance; the standard D&D mage and cleric, for example, only really differentiate in how one acquires spells (learning from a book v. list from your deity), which leads to a certain sameness of magic... they don't have mechanical uniqueness. Then you throw in the warlock, who has just a few spell slots, always casts at maximum level, and mostly runs off special powers and cantrips. These feel unique, even if they're using pretty much the same spells.

    3.5's psionics was, IMO, sufficiently different, without being so different that the mechanics were difficult to follow... you "manifest your power", spend a set number of points, and improve it by spending more points, up to a max of your level, if you want. Simple, straightforward, but different than either mage or cleric. 2e psionics straddled a line... their use was similar to the existing proficiency system (roll d20 under a number, higher is better), but unique from the other magic systems, but the frequent double-jeopardy of power scores and saves made them a bit questionable, and psionics didn't integrate into the system in other ways... it was difficult to integrate psionic combat into games where you didn't have both psionic opponents and psionic characters, and many psychics could not participate actively in psionic combat (since they didn't have any psychic attack powers).

    Point 3 can be a hard one if you don't design with psionics in mind... how does this fit into the world? In 2e, most world were not designed with psionics in mind... they're an afterthought in the Realms, with little said about them. Greyhawk is, I believe, similar. Dragonlance outright forbids them, as does Birthright. Dark Sun went whole-hog on including them, though, built the world from the ground up to include psionics, so psionics works there, because it's supposed to work there. It still has its mechanical problems, of course, but it works because the world allows it to work.

    I think those four are necessary to integrate a new magic system. If you don't have all four, your new magic system will fail.
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    Default Re: Different RPG systems

    I actually think "1) Mechanical Uniqueness" is actually a bit less significant than people might think. Or put a different way, you can get a lot done with a little uniqueness. My favourite example is Bringer of Dreams and Nightmares from Spirit Island which has a special rules where it can never do any damage (it gets converted to other effects). I think having a good expressive framework, that allows you to create changes that feel more significant without having to redo as many rules.

    Of course I have no magic formula for this, nor a way to actually measure anything involved. But I think creating whole new frameworks for things should be a larger change than you need. And smaller rules changes are easier to pick-up than a complete rework.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    I actually think "1) Mechanical Uniqueness" is actually a bit less significant than people might think. Or put a different way, you can get a lot done with a little uniqueness. My favourite example is Bringer of Dreams and Nightmares from Spirit Island which has a special rules where it can never do any damage (it gets converted to other effects). I think having a good expressive framework, that allows you to create changes that feel more significant without having to redo as many rules.

    Of course I have no magic formula for this, nor a way to actually measure anything involved. But I think creating whole new frameworks for things should be a larger change than you need. And smaller rules changes are easier to pick-up than a complete rework.
    I mean, Arcane and Divine magic in D&D should probably have more differences than different spell lists, but that's been the tend for at least the last three editions. But at the same time that's not an inherent issue.

    Although maybe the best place to put differences is in the secondary effects. Pull a Barebones Fantasy, say 'major miracles work as spells, but you can only pick from this sublist, but you also get this set of powers'.

    Psionics might not the sweet spot on being too similar to feel different but too different to feel like it's using the same rules. You still have a list of 'spells' you can do and resources you have to spend too do them that primarily recharge by not being conscious, but instead of slots it's points! So different! I'm not even sure there's many people were in 3e+ psionics that do things magic came, and some of the powers have exactly the same rules text.

    The name might also be a problem, witch is easily solvable. We have Arcane and Divine magic, now we also have Psychic magic. Didn't 4e do this? Maybe instead of making the Monk a Psionics'abilities class it should have made the Psion a Ki(/Chi) class.
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    Default Re: Different RPG systems

    It's been a long, long dream of mine to one day sit down and rewrite the divine rules from the ground up. In my mind, they'd work a lot more like binding or warlocks (in the fluff).
    Mechanically, I would have seen it as the cleric getting some kind of (mostly roleplaying) taboo for the day in exchange for a power. Something like "not touching dead bodies", "must wash three times a day", "may not lie" or "must donate 10% of their income to charity". (Those being good/lawful ones. Evil ones would be interesting to come up with as well.)
    Like a binder, you'd choose which ones you commit to at certain ritual times, and they each come with an array of powers.
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    For 3.5 D&D clerics what I came up with was ditching the cleric class and using a modified favored soul. They picked a god and got 4/5 of that gods domains as spells known and powers. There were a couple domains you had to add basic turn undead to. Turned the stupid wings into a "pick one of your domains, you are now immune to those spells if you want to be, decided at the time of effect".

    No more generic & athiest clerics, nice downgrade in the power cap and an upgrade to the favored soul power level.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    It's been a long, long dream of mine to one day sit down and rewrite the divine rules from the ground up. In my mind, they'd work a lot more like binding or warlocks (in the fluff).
    Mechanically, I would have seen it as the cleric getting some kind of (mostly roleplaying) taboo for the day in exchange for a power. Something like "not touching dead bodies", "must wash three times a day", "may not lie" or "must donate 10% of their income to charity". (Those being good/lawful ones. Evil ones would be interesting to come up with as well.)
    Like a binder, you'd choose which ones you commit to at certain ritual times, and they each come with an array of powers.
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    In all seriousness, sounds like a fun way to build them. I'd go more for a sacrificing angle (no payment no magic). Although id also focus on a more morally neutral variety of God.


    I like the way the Cultist in Low Fastest Gaming work. So things to get Favour, if you have Favour you can spend it to do miracles safely, if you don't spend fair make a check to see if your god takes offence. You only get one slot per level, but all your miracles are theoretically balanced.

    Divine Rebukes are equivalent to mages (who use D&D Sorcerer style casting) miscasting, but had a certain way to avoid it (spend your Favour), and Favour is relatively easy to get. It mostly limits using Blessings in quick succession, as Favour is a state rather than a resource (your can only have it or not have it).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: Different RPG systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    It's been a long, long dream of mine to one day sit down and rewrite the divine rules from the ground up. In my mind, they'd work a lot more like binding or warlocks (in the fluff).
    Mechanically, I would have seen it as the cleric getting some kind of (mostly roleplaying) taboo for the day in exchange for a power. Something like "not touching dead bodies", "must wash three times a day", "may not lie" or "must donate 10% of their income to charity". (Those being good/lawful ones. Evil ones would be interesting to come up with as well.)
    Like a binder, you'd choose which ones you commit to at certain ritual times, and they each come with an array of powers.
    My position is that warlocks work really well as a priest of a very low-powered deity. The God can't give you much, but they can give you their all.

    Like Telok, I also liked the idea of clerics not having a set list of cleric spells, but just a bunch of domains... I might have the Magic, Healing, and Rune domains. Maybe at 5th level I can add Fire or Nature.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    My position is that warlocks work really well as a priest of a very low-powered deity. The God can't give you much, but they can give you their all.
    I actually run almost all my "priests" as effectively warlocks. Whether of gods (who can also empower clerics, but that's a more involved, higher-trust process) or of ascendants (who can't empower clerics, but have freer rein in the mortal plane) or of demons or of devils or even of fey--the vast majority of NPC "priests" are actually warlocks. Part of the initiation/training is being taught those scraps of knowledge. Except with even fewer spells known--most have one or two at most. Most of their "miracles" are asking for divine intervention, which comes at the god's (or ascendant's) will.

    Actual clerics are rare, and are called for specific purposes directly by the god in question. They stand outside the hierarchies (generally) and are often at odds with them. They're all crusaders, militants, defenders, or otherwise martial types, chosen to fight on the god's behalf, but given extreme latitude in how they exercise the power delegated to them. They don't pray for their spells; they are delegated authority at the same source as the god's source (effectively given limited access to the universal OS in the god's name and on his power budget).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    My position is that warlocks work really well as a priest of a very low-powered deity. The God can't give you much, but they can give you their all.

    Like Telok, I also liked the idea of clerics not having a set list of cleric spells, but just a bunch of domains... I might have the Magic, Healing, and Rune domains. Maybe at 5th level I can add Fire or Nature.
    I'd honestly just combine Warlocks and Clerics together. A note powerful deity can provide more power, but they're also likely spreading that power over more followers to have greater influence, so I don't see the need to have multiple grades (which is what levels/skill totals are for anyway).

    Also yes, divine caster spells not having a centralised list but being more specific to the fruity I always fun. I've got a good number of games that do that through a variety of methods, but it does tend to tie your game down more setting-wise. The alternative is to go the Domains/Spheres/Purviews route, which also works.

    Honestly, at the end of the day I'd love to start work on a fantasy game that completely drops 'arcane' magic and focuses entirely on the divine/pact side. You want magic you'd better find yourself a patron and better not displease you. It's very much not what the fantasy game I'm trying to write does, but that games been essentially shelved because I kept wanting to change how the basis of the magic rules work.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: Different RPG systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Honestly, at the end of the day I'd love to start work on a fantasy game that completely drops 'arcane' magic and focuses entirely on the divine/pact side. You want magic you'd better find yourself a patron and better not displease you. It's very much not what the fantasy game I'm trying to write does, but that games been essentially shelved because I kept wanting to change how the basis of the magic rules work.
    Funnily enough, that's a fairly common conception of magic throughout history... not studying books and chanting formulas to create magic ex nihilo, or tap into an existing natural force, but connecting to some supernatural being who does the spell you want done.

    In a way, that's also what Dragonlance does. While you've got some rogue wizards, the vast majority are in the equivalent of broad clerical orders, devoted to one of three gods of magic.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    Funnily enough, that's a fairly common conception of magic throughout history... not studying books and chanting formulas to create magic ex nihilo, or tap into an existing natural force, but connecting to some supernatural being who does the spell you want done.

    In a way, that's also what Dragonlance does. While you've got some rogue wizards, the vast majority are in the equivalent of broad clerical orders, devoted to one of three gods of magic.
    That is a consideration. I'm personally finding myself drawn more towards divine magic, animist magic, and alchemy/enchaqnting in games for similar reasons. Plus ritualists. It just feels better to me partially because of such connections.

    I don't want the mighty wizard in their tower, I want the village magician who wards off disease and brings fortune, the sinister cultist summoning demons, the revered priest asking their god to heal wounds, and the desparate souls who bargained their afterlife away for a chance to change the world./ Plus ideally I'd like all of them to be playable.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Ah yes, the wizard in their tower doing research into the mystic secrets of the universe. Unfortunately for the concept of D&D they had to talk them out of the tower and put them into the field. Then people realised they didn't really want to do research so they cut that out. Flavour wise the wizard is interchangeable with an unsalted cracker. They are however much crunchier when you bit them.

    Another thing I learned from other systems, you can give them flavour to magic users so they aren't a simple dispenser of whatever effect the player wants. Actually the flavour also helps with giving them a mechanical focus as well, although I suppose a mechanical focus gives a bit of flavour too. Its one big happy circle D&D style spell casting just opted out of. (Or so it feels to me, I know some people like it but I just don't get it.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Ah yes, the wizard in their tower doing research into the mystic secrets of the universe. Unfortunately for the concept of D&D they had to talk them out of the tower and put them into the field. Then people realised they didn't really want to do research so they cut that out. Flavour wise the wizard is interchangeable with an unsalted cracker. They are however much crunchier when you bit them.

    Another thing I learned from other systems, you can give them flavour to magic users so they aren't a simple dispenser of whatever effect the player wants. Actually the flavour also helps with giving them a mechanical focus as well, although I suppose a mechanical focus gives a bit of flavour too. Its one big happy circle D&D style spell casting just opted out of. (Or so it feels to me, I know some people like it but I just don't get it.)
    To be fair, I've seen some other systems with magicians asfluffless as modern D&D's. They just tend to be so without all the fluff as D&D has.

    It seems to me that in many games magic might be closer to paying local spirits energy for them to do something for you. This would be really fun to expand on, but by going the way of material components or have angry spirits lash out on critically failed spellcasting rolls (creating relatively harmless environmental affects). Then you could have big, powerful spirits able to empower mortals and let them do some magic stuff without dealing with local spirits.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Ah yes, the wizard in their tower doing research into the mystic secrets of the universe. Unfortunately for the concept of D&D they had to talk them out of the tower and put them into the field. Then people realised they didn't really want to do research so they cut that out. Flavour wise the wizard is interchangeable with an unsalted cracker. They are however much crunchier when you bit them.
    Ars Magica is a game that puts the wizard back into the tower, researching magic and exploring the secrets of the universe. It's a great example of a system that takes the burden of adjudicating research on its shoulders, with an incredible amount of crunch about how magical researching and experimentation and making new spells works. It's also has, surprise of surprises for me, rules for writing magical tomes of obscure lore that other people can read and gain experience points from. You can play a character who holds political clout by being so damn good at writing books that people will do anything to own a copy. It's a really fun game!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I've long wondered if a rework of D&D magic could separate source and methodology.

    That is, what determines what system a character uses as a caster is based on their approach, not on where the power comes from. And the power could come from more than one place for the same method -- internal, planar, divine, pacts with entities, forcefully bound entities, etc, or a mix of sources.

    So the sorcerer becomes a freeform caster, the wizard becomes an academic caster, the monk becomes a meditative caster with lots of physical effects, the warlock becomes a wildcard, or whatever.
    There's Pathfinder 2e for you, where Sorcerers and Witches are no longer always Arcane casters -- they can belong to any spellcasting tradition depending on the Sorcerer's bloodline or the Witch's patron.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Ah yes, the wizard in their tower doing research into the mystic secrets of the universe. Unfortunately for the concept of D&D they had to talk them out of the tower and put them into the field. Then people realised they didn't really want to do research so they cut that out. Flavour wise the wizard is interchangeable with an unsalted cracker. They are however much crunchier when you bit them.

    Another thing I learned from other systems, you can give them flavour to magic users so they aren't a simple dispenser of whatever effect the player wants. Actually the flavour also helps with giving them a mechanical focus as well, although I suppose a mechanical focus gives a bit of flavour too. Its one big happy circle D&D style spell casting just opted out of. (Or so it feels to me, I know some people like it but I just don't get it.)
    One of the tricky things I've found is to get flavour while still making the result feel universal in scope enough to feel like it really deserves to represent a fundamental force of nature or even a replacement for all the fundamental forces of nature one would normally expect. That universality doesn't necessarily have to be at a single character's fingertips from the get-go, but somehow (for me) the limited things characters can do at a given point of time should feel connected to each-other. Something like 7th Sea for example has a bunch of different kinds of magic, one per nation, and a given character can really only access one of them or maybe have weak access to two, because it's hereditary. But that also makes it feel arbitrary to me, just as much as 'magic can immediately do anything you can name' feels arbitrary to me on the other side.

    I think the core of the 'wizard in the tower' fantasy for me is something like 'there's a lot of stuff out there that could be possible, and you can spend mental effort and time and study to pursue any of it or any combination of it, so your limits are limits of dedication not limits of locked-in choices or prior relationships'. D&D wizards hit that at least a bit because even if you never get another point of experience again, you can in principle go from an illusion-focused character to one who decides to become obsessed with necromancy mid-career, and that can be driven by in-character effort rather than via metagame progression mechanics.

    I suppose a more extreme version of that archetype would be a system where the ability to express magic is accessed not through any kind of build points, skills, or stats, but is purely driven by access to information and tools. Something where e.g. any random person who stumbles upon the accessories and instructions to the Ritual of Ashk-Ente could potentially manage to summon Death. But if you wanted to make a new ritual or adapt one or something like that, then that might rely on build attributes. A character might internalize some magical effects through particular rituals or preparations, and maybe those preparations would be necessary in order to safely perform large workings or use combat magic or something, but in principle you could take an untrained commoner and put them through that entire sequence and get the same result.

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    To Anonymouswizard: D&D certainly doesn't have a monopoly on wizard crackers. I don't know what the tricks are exactly to make a magic feel flavourful, but I've definitely seen it done. Actually assembling a list of those tricks would probably be a good thread topic in its own right.

    To Kymme: Yes, I agree, Ars Magica is the system that decided to lean into the tower as opposed to out of it. I think there is just a mismatch between the type of story D&D wanted to tell (about going through a dungeon to fight a dragon) and the wizard archetype it used.

    To NichG: That's definitely also a problem. The best implementation of that I played shifted the burden from skills (some skills were still required) to equipment. In one scene I was the group's only "healer" but someone else wanted to do healing so I just handed them one of my healing foci. My character was also the only one who could uncover non-standard spells, again no particular ability to use them as every PC had that level of training, but I was the only one to pick up the research skills to go through a library full of strange rituals and find a useful one. Inventing new spells was possible in lore but I believe there were no rules for it as the PCs were assumed to not have the time or resources for it.

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