27 October, 2015

A Magic System



Light and Witchy Ars Magica 3
So, having looked at a lot of bits, I think I have the shape of the magic I want, now.  it goes like this.

1. You decide on what you want to do!  You'll describe it, and get a combination of a verb, a noun, and a form.  You'll have a rating from 1-4 in each (dots, probably).

The Verbs Are: Banishing, Conjuring, Divining, Dominating, Invoking, Warding.

The Nouns Are: Beast, Blood, Dream, Earth, Fire, Hex, Name, Plant, Shade, Water, Wind.

The Forms Are: Poppet, Brew, Rite, Taglock, Circle, Tool.

2. The Guide tells you about materials: Poppets need to be sewn or sculpted, Brews need to be brewed, Rites need participants and a formula, Taglocks need a sample of the noun or target, Circles need a circle of a material that suits, Tools need a tool custom-made for the job.  You put that stuff together.

3. The Guide presents some dangers: Dangers include the spell failing, you being doomed to also suffer the effect of a negative spell in future or the reverse of a positive one (up to three times), becoming exhausted, a collateral effect hitting similar or linked targets, a ban on use of the created thing (like your tool spell giving you a divining rod that only works under the full moon, or a knife that banishes hexes but can never touch blood).

4. You roll: This is a pool of d10s; you roll a number equal to your verb + noun scores.  Each die that comes up equal or less than your score in the form cancels a danger.  You suffer the others.



This popped up in my stream today, it's almost a ready made set of components to develop magic in System 4. It uses verbs (much like the core mechanisms of the game system), it it modular allowing for a more free-wheeling style of magic that fits the type of game I enjoy. It might need a few tweaks, but it's so close that it feels like cheating to adapt this into my game.

The major change that I'd need to make is to adapt the die mechanism to match the remainder of the game, but that's not a hard fix. I'm thinking that each verb and noun comes in basic/intermediate/advanced levels (d2/d4/d6 respectively). When you want to perform magic, you add together the relevant noun and verb to get your "power die" (which could therefore range from d4 to d12). The power die gets added to whatever else you are doing, it provides extra magical successes to the action. The form is more like a Mage: the Ascension focus, a specific way of doing things that defines your magical practice, these might be traditionally linked to specific verbs or nouns, they might provide bonuses when used with some, or might be banned from usage with others. If you have access to two forms that might work with a certain verb/noun combination you might get automatic successes on the action.  

I've already started adapting the system to fit into the mystical paradigm of the Darkhive. A single asterisk described a common magical word or form for one of the three mystic forms, a double asterisk indicates an uncommon word or form, and no asterisk means that this word or form is not associated with that style of mystic influence at all. I've also started working on a simple system to flavour these words to work in different ways, simply (I'm not sure if I'll keep this though).

Speed = How long it takes to manifest the effect
Duration = How long the effect tends to last
Range = How far to the epicenter of the effect
Area = How wide a radius the effect has around that epicenter
Effect = How potent the specific effect is 

A mystical effect has a baseline that manifests with a single success, this baseline is set with the bonuses and penalties of the words and forms comprising the effect. Extra successes increase one of the categories defining the outcome, typically the "Duration", the "Area" or the "Effect" level. Players define the spells that their characters have memorised, or they can create effects on the fly.  

Word
Fungal
Mutagenic
Psionic
Bonus
Penalty
Verbs





Ward
*

**
Duration
Speed
Invoke

**
*
Speed
Duration
Transform
**
*

Duration
Area
Dominate

**
*
Effect
Range
Summon

**
*
Range
Area
Divine
**

*
Speed
Area
Corrupt
*
**

Duration
Speed
Purify
*
**

Duration
Speed
Compel
**

*
Speed
Effect
Banish
**

*
Range
Area
Manifest
**
*

Effect
Speed
Perceive

*
*
Speed
Effect
Mutate
**
*

Effect
Speed
Nouns





Air
**
**
*
Area
Effect
Earth
*
**
**
Duration
Speed
Fire
**
*
**
Effect
Duration
Water
**
*
**
Range
Speed
Fungus
*
**

Duration
Speed
Beast

*
**
Area
Speed
Blood
**
*
**
Effect
Range
Plant
**
**

Duration
Speed
Thought


*
Speed
Duration
Curse

*

Duration
Area
Light
**
**
**
Speed
Effect
Darkness
**
*
**
Speed
Effect






Forms





Brew
*


Effect
Area
Circle


*
Area
Speed
Tool


*
Speed
Duration
Ritual


*
Duration
Speed
Symbiosis
*


Effect
Range
Mutagen

*

Duration
Area
Warp

*

Speed
Effect
The whole thing needs more work and a bit more refinement, but it feels really good. Much like I was aiming for when I was developing the Storified Mage. Maybe it's time to revisit that project.
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