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Hexnwolf

Thoughts on magic systems

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The usual declarative here: obviously subject to change when the book drops. 

I was replying to a post in the Midnight thread, and figured on just starting another one on magic systems....

What type of magic systems are you all thinking of, just looking at the SWRPG? 

I've been verbal on these forums about tinkering with Rolemaster Standard Systems set of "Law" magic, and converting them once the book drops... but I was also looking at the Ritual Path magic in GURPS, and started thinking what about building your own spells magic. 

There are a few ways I see this. 

Single skill: To me this "Feels" more like SWRPG. I mean we have ranged Light and Heavy, that cover everything from Thrown, to bow, to slug thrower, to blaster, so why go all complex.

Though You could.

Wide skill: This would be something like "Fire magic" or even "Elemental magic" or even broken down in D&D terms; "Evocation Magic," "Necromancy Magic," "Divination Magic," etc.

Or one could get very fine: Per spell... "Fireball Spell Skill" For this system and the way we've seen the SWRPG stuff, this doesn't seem to fit very well, as your skill list is going to skyrocket...but... maybe this is a good way for your game. *shrug*

Now, here's where the "cool stuff" comes into my mind. changing the perimeters of a spell. 

This is really basing off the first example the "Single skill" spells. 

Pick your power level..  (Not even really sure what that means, maybe someone can toss in an idea or two here).  but difficulty will be based on this element. Since destructive spells are easy, let's just go with "base damage" set in 5's Easy = 5, Average = 10, Hard 15, Difficult = 20.

Since I want to do some decent damage I'll go for Hard: 3 purple.

Now, I've got a damage of 10. But I want range. so let's say they start off with engaged... but Close range: 1 upgrade, Medium: 2 upgrade, Long: 3 upgrade, etc.

Maybe I want medium... that's two upgrade. So now I'm casting with a difficulty of RRP

Now... the complications: Gestures: +1Blue, Vocal: +1Blue, Backlash = 2 strain per threat: +1Blue

Now we've got RRPBluBluBlu.

And maybe a few perks: chance for explosion: +1 Black, Fire (set secondary effects a-flame): +1 black.

So now, other than our spell skill, let's go starting character: YYGGRRPBluBluBluBlaBla: 12 die thrown... maybe someone can help me clean this up, if they like it, or even go on and suggest other systems.

I never got the FFGWHFRP, so I don't really know that system. 

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Magic is a tough one as there are so many ways to go at it. Start from scratch or mod the force powers stuff.

I think the biggest thing missing is not knowing how they are doing careers and specialties. Going off of the current SW system I think I'd just keep things simple and have the magic work off of a talent tree. 6 magic specialties split up how ever you like with the correspondingly themed spells/talents.

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WHFRP had spells purchased and then a Difficulty assigned for successfully casting them.  A number of effects could typically be triggered, good and bad, based on results, in addition to a basic effect for a successful roll.

Given there is no Force die in their dice set, I expect something along that line.

Edited by 2P51

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3 minutes ago, Darksyde said:

Magic is a tough one as there are so many ways to go at it. Start from scratch or mod the force powers stuff.

I think the biggest thing missing is not knowing how they are doing careers and specialties. Going off of the current SW system I think I'd just keep things simple and have the magic work off of a talent tree. 6 magic specialties split up how ever you like with the correspondingly themed spells/talents.

Yah, I realize I'm jumping the shark a good bit, like a lot, and because it's one of the things that I'm burning to figure out, I'm just kinda riffing on it. but I was kinda inspired by RPM work, and thought it'd basically transfer well, no matter the base system.

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3 minutes ago, 2P51 said:

WHFRP had spells purchased and then a Difficulty assigned for successfully casting them.  A number of effects could typically be triggered, good and bad, based on results, in addition to a basic effect for a successful roll.

Given there is no Force die in their dice set, I expect something along that line.

And I can really see that as a base, not to mention it seems like the least amount of work, even if they only have two systems (or one) in the core book... it would probably take slight modifications as opposed to whole cloth development of a new system... or even a "Force" inspired system, and a "Winds of magic" inspired system.. with a new look thrown in for good measure (though I don't really see this, it's still possible)... Again, I'm hoping for, at least eventually, multiple magic systems in the game.

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1 minute ago, Hexnwolf said:

And I can really see that as a base, not to mention it seems like the least amount of work, even if they only have two systems (or one) in the core book... it would probably take slight modifications as opposed to whole cloth development of a new system... or even a "Force" inspired system, and a "Winds of magic" inspired system.. with a new look thrown in for good measure (though I don't really see this, it's still possible)... Again, I'm hoping for, at least eventually, multiple magic systems in the game.

I didn't care for the magic points and channeling aspect in WHFRP.  I think they might use Strain for that aspect, much in the same way Strain is used to 'power' up, or add to, skills/combat in SW.

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Something I've always wanted to try with a magic system is "Power is easy; Control is hard". For example, the classic D&D fireball spell does 5d6 damage in a 15 foot radius, but as you go up in level, the spell automatically does more damage and the range increases. But it always detonates exactly where you want. I'd like to try the reverse: the basic fireball does its maximum 20d6 damage but it deviates a random amount in a random direction so it's really hard to aim. It's possible to use at a low level, but you might blow yourself up with it, so it's better to wait until you have enough control to safely aim it. Instead of gaining more damage as you level up, you decrease the amount of deviation and can choose to make the blast smaller and weaker if you want.

Basically, I want the fireball spell to be less like a laser-guided smart bomb with a simple point-and-click interface and more like a big pile of nitroglycerin: anyone can blow up themselves and the rest of the neighborhood in a huge explosion but you have to know what you're doing to only blow up what you want. Nobody is impressed by a backhoe driver who swings around and knocks down a brick wall with his digger bucket, but everyone is impressed by the one who can use it to flip a coin.

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Which is all doable with the NDS.  Use it against a Nemesis that has upgraded the Difficulty with a bunch of Challenge dice, roll a Despair or 2, and it goes off all right, too well, or catches something very bad on fire, or blows a bunch of debris back in the party's face, etc.

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2 hours ago, 2P51 said:

I didn't care for the magic points and channeling aspect in WHFRP.  I think they might use Strain for that aspect, much in the same way Strain is used to 'power' up, or add to, skills/combat in SW.

Actually I kind of liked their system.  Each spell had a cost, and a way to spend the narrative dice results.  The mage had a base "pool" of points to spend on demand (based on an attribute, like Willpower) which slowly recovered over time.  If you needed more points, you had a skill for Channelling, and successes added to your pool.  But if your pool got too big you'd risk a backlash, and it could be painful to fully drain yourself.  (my books are stowed away, so that might not be exact, but it's the gist of it)

Now granted, I never got to play it, so it might have been cumbersome and too many rolls, but I did like the core concepts of having a base pool, and of using a skill to generate more power.

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I did play it, and it was a lot of bookkeeping and bogged down combat with 2 dice rolls for casters.  What it was doing was providing more for the Warhammer universe and its approach to magic, as opposed to a needed mechanic for magic use overall in a RPG.  To me a simple concentration rule like 5E for preventing too many active spells, and the incorporation of Strain for fueling the upgrades to spells, coupled with bad results impacting Strain pools would be sufficient for that being overloaded by power feel.  I think since we saw FFG ditch the notion of multiple rolls for Actions in SWs they didn't like that mechanic much either.

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8 hours ago, Hexnwolf said:

Now, here's where the "cool stuff" comes into my mind. changing the perimeters of a spell. 

This is really basing off the first example the "Single skill" spells. 

Pick your power level..  (Not even really sure what that means, maybe someone can toss in an idea or two here).  but difficulty will be based on this element. Since destructive spells are easy, let's just go with "base damage" set in 5's Easy = 5, Average = 10, Hard 15, Difficult = 20.. 

You might want to take a look at Ars Magica if you can get a chance ;)

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I've got a copy rolling around here... I don't think I've read any of the rules since the late 90's. I'm the kind of gamer that never gets rid of my books. :P But I'll check it out again, thank you.

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So there's as many answers to this question as there are setting with magic. Does the setting have inherent risks involved such as the Warhammer setting? Or is it more high fantasy where extraordinary is ordinary and risks are unheard of?

First question is "Are their limits on how much you can cast and what sets those limits?" This can mostly be left up to individual Themes but I hope it's taken into consideration when FFG design the basic system. Things like is it your own reserves such as Strain or do you channel to gain Magic Points? Or perhaps theres a set limit like Star Wars has for Stim Packs? Perhaps your magic is Divine in its origin and your god only gifts you so much each day, or you draw upon items that store the magic, or ingredients. Any of these are possible with enough sculpting of the rules.

The next question is "how does casting a spell function?" This seems fairly obvious, a skill check.

But to follow on from that you need to answer the question "What Skill?" And again this will depend on the Theme, but more importantly the type of magic you're using within your Theme. A Scholarly Wizard will likely need a Spellcraft or Invocation skill that's linked to Intellect. A Priest may need a Prayer skill based on Willpower. A Druid may use some kind of Cunning based Nature Lore skill, while a self trained Witch or Warlock uses Spellcraft like the Wizard but it's linked to Willpower instead. A Bard uses Presence to Sing.

For a completely vanilla system then a single Invocation Skill is the simplest thing. Linked to Intellect normally there could be certain talents that change the Characteristic used (similar to the Lightsaber Forms).

So what could the actual Spells look like? Talents is one option, and certainly a possibility, but Spell Trees would be far more interesting. A basic spell would have certain requirements, perhaps an Intellect of X or Invocation Rank Y, even certain Talents could be used to unlock them with a "Increase Spell Rank" talent where previously a Force Rating talent would have been. Then Upgrades are based upon using Success, Advantage & Triumph to trigger upgrades, or adding new ways to use the Spell. Strain could easily be a currency you can use to increase the power of a spell too.

As an example looking at the Unleash part of the Protect/Unleash Force Power. It makes for a really great Elemental Attack spell. "Make an Invocation skill check at Average Difficulty. If you succeed you cause damage equal to Intellect to a target within Short" was it a Fireball? Magic Dart? Frost Bolt? Doesn't matter! You decide.

Then with upgrades you can do things like "Suffer 2 Strain to increase damage by number of strength upgrades purchased" or "Attack gains Ensnare 3, spend 2 Advantage to activate it". Mastery: "Spend a Triumph to cause a Critical with +10 to the roll per un-cancelled Success"

It would be simple, narrative, and easy to port to different settings.

TLDR: A Spellcasting Skill, perhaps multiple. Spells could be Talents, but Spell Trees similar to Force Powers would be cooler. Spend Advantage, Triumph and Strain to trigger upgrades.

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I do like the idea of spell trees, one of the fan-made conversions does that.  I wouldn't mind either if they broke down the trees into common areas, like Illusion, Elemental, Thaumaturgy, Transmutation, Command, etc.  The only real issue is how to scale it.  A low magic campaign would have completely different XP costs for effects than a high magic campaign.  In the former, a mage would be expected to have other roles (guide, face, etc); in the latter, magic is the main tool.  It will be interesting to see how they approach this, whether they have different source books, or different trees...

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3 hours ago, whafrog said:

I do like the idea of spell trees, one of the fan-made conversions does that.  I wouldn't mind either if they broke down the trees into common areas, like Illusion, Elemental, Thaumaturgy, Transmutation, Command, etc.  The only real issue is how to scale it.  A low magic campaign would have completely different XP costs for effects than a high magic campaign.  In the former, a mage would be expected to have other roles (guide, face, etc); in the latter, magic is the main tool.  It will be interesting to see how they approach this, whether they have different source books, or different trees...

This is the interesting part.  It won't just be spells either though I would think it will be how they approach the notion of Skills/Talents overall.  I'm thinking though since they need to keep career/class paths fairly broad spells may be mini trees, or things purchased individually with ascending ranks requiring the previous lower rank like WHFRP.  This way they can make spells, psionics, etc for each genre.

So the broad career will add Talents that modify something generic sounding that would span Psionics/Magic and be setting neutral for whatever genre, and they'll use a generic sounding Skill, like Concentration, Focus, Whatever, and then Talents will be "Upgrade all Focus chex once per rank of Mental Giant for 1 Strain per rank".  The spells in their mini trees or included in each incarnation bought will have additional effects or possibilities linked to dice pool results, and/or ranks of 'Focus' in regards to what they can be used to do.

Edited by 2P51

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My idea so far is something with some similarities to how they did most special powers in New World of Darkness. Seeing as there no force dice in Genesys, I am guessing magic will be done with a skill roll of some kind. You could have them just hit the the target if you manage to succeed on the roll or make them opposed by certain skills, like the social skills are.   Lets take a basic ranged damage spell:

Magic/psionic/holy etc-Bolt
Deal X damage + succsess rolled to 1 target at short range
Spend X Advantage to hit 1 more target for the same damage result or the same target for double the damage result
Spend X Advantage to increase the range one step
Spend X Triumph to ignore X soak on 1 target

Then you could have a single table for all magic where the GM can spend Threat and Despair on bad stuff effects, similar to when a psyker would roll for bad stuff in the Warhammer 40K games or wild magic in D&D. Stuff like the spell hitting an ally or the caster himself too or the spell only fireing a round or two later.  The spells could also be modified for each setting or even given more descriptors in the same setting, that add unique ways to spend advantage and triumph: a Fire Bolt could apply a damage over time effect or a Necrotic Bolt that adds a setback die on certain skills/attributes on the target, for the rest of the encounter.
 

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I think a good start to a magic system would perhaps be a look at the Signature abilities from the various Star Wars career books.  Offer a straightforward spell or effect (Produce a quantity of fire for example).  That costs X xp at character creation, or through later expenditures.  Then from there you can further enhance, improve, and/or specialize the base spell with Control, Magnitude, and Strength effects that form a tree for just that spell.  Each of these builds on the original effect, or maybe make it more efficient.  This way you can have baseline powers with plenty of customization to make your wizard or sorcerer stand out from the others.

 

From there you could have interlocking Spells.  Say you have mastered 2 of these spell trees, each doing a different effect, you could now master a third, which can perhaps modify or even merge those other two spells.  It could allow for both great power as well as interesting spell effects; the kind you might see the most powerful heroes you see in stories or anime, movies etc.

 

A side note, since someone mentioned Ars Magica, it has possibly the best magic system ever made, but then again, it is a game that is absolutely built around magic, not game balance with people who don't use magic.  But...it is awesome, I'm a huge fan of it.

 

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The dice set hasn't a Force dice, so I can think that the magic system will be different. I am really really curious about the magic system in Genesys.

Yesterday I was thinking that the magic can be as simple as any weapon and talent in the system instead of a tree of spells like force powers. A lot of spells have statics similar to a weapon if you agree with me (skill used, base damage, critical rating, range, hard points to be improved and customized, special effects) but probably they also has a xp cost (to be learned) and a strain cost to be used. E.g.:

1) Fireball (Arcana; Damage 12; Crit 2; Range [Long]; HP 3; XP 15; Special Burn 1, Blast 8). Each time this spell is casted, the caster suffers 3 strain.
2) Paralyzing Bolt (Arcana; Damage 5; Crit 4; Range [Short]; HP 2; XP 5; Special Concusive 2, Stun Damage. Each time this spell is casted, the caster suffers 1 strain.
3) Constriction (Nature; Damage 7; Crit 3; Range [Medium]; HP 2; XP 10; Special Esnare 3). Each time this spell is casted, the caster suffers 2 strain.
4) Death Ray (Divine; Damage 14; Crit 1; Range [Short]; HP 1; XP 25; Special Vicious 6, Breach 5). Each time this spell is casted, the caster suffers 6 strain.

Of course they could create much more special effects to create more spells or an entirely new system, but doing spells in this way is more... simple I guess.

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I'm thinking more in lines of how FFG will do it as opposed to how I would want a generic fantasy magic to work with the narrative dice. With this in mind, an important place to start is Setting and so I will use Runewars (Terrinoth) as the Setting since it is what is being used at Gen Con and therefore probably one of the templates used in the Beta and then Core book.

Runewars is unusual because of the need for Runes. Not as funny as the 'Winds of Magic' in Warhammer Fantasy yet not typical fantasy. To me the best place to look is how Magic work in their RPG board game Descent. In Descent you have 5 classes of the Archetyoe Wizard thus far. To me the Runemaster would be the most generic. If you look at its advancement tree, represented by Class Cards one can acquire by spending XP, a lot of their abilities are tied into Runic Weapons that are Ranged Weapons that they can equip. This may be a good place for FFG to start and work from there. You have a Ranged Magical (Runic) Weapon that you make an Attack with and using Range, cover, etc you set the # of Difficulty Die. Like in Descent, Damage Done will not only be net Successes but also modifiers from Abilities, Runes acquired and placed in the Weapon (modifications) and the Wepon itself.  The amount of green/yellow dice will be from the usual innate ability vs skill determination. 

This is my jab at how they just may place the most basic forms of Magical Damage in the game.

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On 18.7.2017 at 6:17 PM, Bellyon said:

The dice set hasn't a Force dice, so I can think that the magic system will be different. I am really really curious about the magic system in Genesys.

Yesterday I was thinking that the magic can be as simple as any weapon and talent in the system instead of a tree of spells like force powers. A lot of spells have statics similar to a weapon if you agree with me (skill used, base damage, critical rating, range, hard points to be improved and customized, special effects) but probably they also has a xp cost (to be learned) and a strain cost to be used. E.g.:

1) Fireball (Arcana; Damage 12; Crit 2; Range [Long]; HP 3; XP 15; Special Burn 1, Blast 8). Each time this spell is casted, the caster suffers 3 strain.
2) Paralyzing Bolt (Arcana; Damage 5; Crit 4; Range [Short]; HP 2; XP 5; Special Concusive 2, Stun Damage. Each time this spell is casted, the caster suffers 1 strain.
3) Constriction (Nature; Damage 7; Crit 3; Range [Medium]; HP 2; XP 10; Special Esnare 3). Each time this spell is casted, the caster suffers 2 strain.
4) Death Ray (Divine; Damage 14; Crit 1; Range [Short]; HP 1; XP 25; Special Vicious 6, Breach 5). Each time this spell is casted, the caster suffers 6 strain.

Of course they could create much more special effects to create more spells or an entirely new system, but doing spells in this way is more... simple I guess.

I like this approach which can be likely a shoe that fits all, if it is magic, biotics, psionics. It is an approach like Open Legend for example does. You want to create an effect and instead of using fixed spells you assign traits (or in your case "specials") to the action which achieves it, like elemental type, AoE (which makes the check to cast more difficult) or single target, persistent damage and the like. The more powerful the effects are, the more difficult the checks become. 

So if Arcana would be the skill to cast spells , creating an area of effect spell like Fireball would increase by one per 5 feet radius. The range would also matter, increasing the difficultly by one per additional range increment. If you want to include more than one elemental type every additional elemental type would also increase the fifficulty by one.

Example:  Fireball with 10 feet radius will increase the difficulty by one. If you want it do be shocking in addition to burning, difficulty would increase another step. So you could end up with difficulty 3 or 4 depending ion the range. And yeah, I guess a strain cost per trait used could fit in nicely as well.

Edited by DarthDude

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