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Get 2nd ed or tweak 1st ed?

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#41 Covered in Weasels

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Posted 17 June 2014 - 04:56 AM

WoD's Mage line has my favorite magic system of any RPG system. There are 10 Arcana representing different areas of magical influence (Fate, Force, Matter, Spirit, etc.) that you advance separately, and as you do so your power over that arcana grows. You also have a stat called Gnosis that represents your overall magical power (like Psy Rating in 40k). When you want to casst a spell, you literally just come up with whatever you want the spell to do (within the limits of your power -- a starting mage won't be stopping time or summoning armies of the dead) and roll dice to see how well it works. There are a number of example effects to choose from, but if you think up a cool new use for your power you can work with the GM to figure out the in-game effects.


That said, there would be some problems with porting such a free-form system to a crunch-heavy game like DH. A central theme in Mage is hubris, and some high-level effects really blur the line between mortal and god. A person with a single dot in Life magic can detect other life forms or interpret an animal's feeling, while a five-dot master of Life can transform their enemies into insects or create mythological creatures like dragons or manticores. A master of Fate can call down Biblical plagues of locusts, a master of Space can create their own (permanent) pocket dimensions, and a master of Matter can -- 100% literally -- turn military helicopters to Swiss cheese. DH Psykers are already crazy enough at high levels; Mage is a good starting point for designing a new power system, but directly copying it will not work in a DH setting.


EDIT: Here are the utility powers I'm currently considering for my game:

  • Biomancy -- Alter the bodies of you and your fellow Acolytes to survive in extreme heat/cold, breathe underwater, withstand pressure from vacuum or deep ocean, etc.
  • Divination -- This is the most utility-focused discipline in the game, so it doesn't need any help in this department.
  • Pyromancy -- Use "precision pyromancy" as a melta-cutter, letting you cut through armored bulkheads... with your MIND!
  • Telekinesis -- A super-strength version of Telekinesis that lets you lift very heavy loads, say 100kg per PR (the standard version is only 2kg per PR). Would only function on immobile objects and take an extended amount of time for the sake of balance.
  • Telepathy -- Mind Probe ability that lets you conduct in-depth interrogations of a target, or the ability to plant a suggestion in a target's subconscious that will be triggered later (for example: "The next time you see the governor, shoot him").

Edited by Covered in Weasels, 17 June 2014 - 07:42 AM.

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#42 Tenebrae



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Posted 18 June 2014 - 08:42 AM

That would be nWoD then.

Mage the Ascencion (oWoD) had only 9 spheres, and a score called Arete (not exactly 'Enlightenment', but close enough), that you actually rolled. Very strong magic system, but could at times be so vaguely defined that we spent more times figuring out what was meant than actually playing.


Shadowrun* had spells, but also had guidelines for designing new spells. Maybe something could be adopted from there?


My favorite though, has to be Ars Magica, which I play more than the 40k systems put together.

With spells and spontaneous magic, even limitations on what magic can and cannot do, it's probably the strongest magic system currently in print. Certainly the best I have ever seen. It can take a bit of getting used to though.



* 2nd and 3rd editions anyway. I never got around to reading the newer ones.

#43 Simsum



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Posted 18 June 2014 - 10:50 AM

Meanwhile, I just finished porting all 50 Minor Powers - now called Potestas Minoris ("powers minor"... I hope think) - to our warp powers sub-system. Now to the fun of creating a Phenomena table for the minors Discipline.


... The hours of my life I'll never get back :P




For the curious, we've turned all Warp-fuelled powers into Disciplines, regardless of whether they're sorcerous or psychic, miraculous or ruinous.


Disciplines basically work the same way Skills do, except they start with a base value equal to their governing Characteristic, and each Rank - called Mastery - adds a +10 modifier. In other words: they start off a bit better than Skills, that's essentially the difference.


Manifestation rolls - using a power - works like Skill rolls too, except a psyker (or whatever) has the option to add their Mastery to the roll. And the more bad-ass powers tend to come with an inherent penalty to the roll (basically, if it's DH RAW Threshold is 10+, there's probably a penalty).


When psykers aren't adding their mastery, the only way to get a Phenomena roll, is to fail the Manifestation roll. If they are adding their Mastery, then Phenomena (and Perils) may happen regardless of Manifestation success or failure.

Basically, roll over Manifestation DoF on the ones die to avoid Phenomena. Add Mastery, if you add Mastery.


In addition to general re-jiggering of the Phenomena tables, we've upped the value you need to fail by, to cause Perils. Basically, you now can't Peril unless you added Mastery to the Manifestation roll.

It's contrary to the fluff that sucky psykers are less likely to cause major calamities, but we couldn't come up with anything better that was as playable at the actual table. To off-set that slightly, we've designed Phenomena so that low rolls tend to be worse than moderately high ones.


We're also designing the powers to have different values depending on whether you're playing abstract or with minis & terrain. And IMO that really is the way to go. A flashbang shouldn't use anything larger than the pie plate on the tabletop. Which translates to 3 meters in abstract play, which would be laughable.




That last bit is probably the ultimate reason our group is bothering trying to come up with something that suits us better than RAW. If only the actual professionals hadn't completely disregarded tabletop play, and in the process ruined it in a million ways, I don't think I could have been talked into all this work.


I kind of wish FFG would give people like us a 50% refund for making us do half the job we paid them to do for us. I'd be a whole lot kindlier disposed towards them if they did. But really, I'd just appreciate if they didn't piss all over the tabletop crowd.

#44 ak-73



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Posted 20 June 2014 - 02:35 PM

The only reason I took Perform (Singer) as a Sister back then was because I thought it fits to the character. I could've skipped it entirely, just like I'd take it again in a Freeform system. So in my opinion this particular problem rests with the player, not the system.


I see what you did there...



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#45 Darth Smeg

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 05:28 AM

On the topic of free-form magic systems, Strands of Fate introduced a mechanic (or rather a sub-sytem) called Control.


You would choose an element to control, and for 40K this would likely be the various psychic disciplines. Then there are rules for "building" the effects of powers within this area, both on-the-fly and with options for "rotes", which are basically pre-defined sets for which you use repeatedly (fireball), and for which you can gain a bonus to use.


I never used this in real-play, but I really liked what I read.


I found a Dark Heresy to Strands of Fate conversion on-line once, which mentioned the way to handle the various powers. Good stuff :)

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