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Philnicau

Magic in an urban fantasy setting

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I'm thinking of creating an urban fantasy setting using genesys, I want it to be based on th real world, but including fantasy races, monsters etc, similar to the d20 modern urban arcana setting.

with the idea that most people (mundanes) don't realise what actually going on, they see an ogre as a big human, goblins as children, a fireball as a gas main explosion etc.

but I want to make magic rarer, I was thinking of requiring PCs to purchase a talent (magical aptitude?) so they could purchase the Arcane Skill, which would then make it a career skill.

what do people think of this?

 

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Two things I’m planning for a setting I’m working on:

1. The base difficulty of every spell is increased by two. This can be avoided by purchasing talents, one talent for each spell.

2. Some “Additional Effects” are not available from the beginning, they are unlocked through “Improved Spell” talents.

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Paying for a talent won't make magic feel rare, just somewhat more expensive. It is next to impossible to make magic feel unusual once you allow a PC to purchase it. To them it'll just be another tool, and one they use every session at that. In fact, the more you make them pay for magic, the more useful they'll expect magic to be, and the fewer points they'll be able to invest in other avenues.

In order to make magic feel unusual, you simply need to frame the results appropriately. People who've never seen real magic before will most likely either overreact to, or dismiss magical events (depending upon the strength of the world's veil). People who've had to deal with mundanes exposed to the wizarding world would know better than to cast obvious spells in public, or have learned methods of dispersing the public beforehand so as to create 'safe' battlefields...

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18 hours ago, Cantriped said:

Paying for a talent won't make magic feel rare, just somewhat more expensive. It is next to impossible to make magic feel unusual once you allow a PC to purchase it. To them it'll just be another tool, and one they use every session at that. In fact, the more you make them pay for magic, the more useful they'll expect magic to be, and the fewer points they'll be able to invest in other avenues.

In order to make magic feel unusual, you simply need to frame the results appropriately. People who've never seen real magic before will most likely either overreact to, or dismiss magical events (depending upon the strength of the world's veil). People who've had to deal with mundanes exposed to the wizarding world would know better than to cast obvious spells in public, or have learned methods of dispersing the public beforehand so as to create 'safe' battlefields...

Totally agree with this. Dont put a xp penalty on magic try and find a narrative way. Maybe many mundanes causes setback dice and you can reward players with boost if they Come up with creative and narrative ways to explain the magic. 

 

If you want to make magic abit more difficulty perhaps limit the implements or give them as super magic rewards like magic items etc. 

 

If you dont want All your players to be magic users set that expectation in session 0. Like say i only want 1 or 2 magic users rest Will be something else

Edited by Archellus

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You probably should have a good discussion with your players about what magic can and cannot do in your system. Can it make fireballs? Or is a magic attack an invisible force acting on an opponent? Can you fly? Teleport? Summon material things? 

Coming up with that sort of outline will help guide players decisions at the table, and reduce the chance of you having to tell them in the middle of a session that they can’t cast a certain spell.

The discussion will probably naturally lead into the consequences of non magicals seeing you use magic. Also what kind of magic police are there, and how do other magic users congregate? 

If it’s all done as a group rather than you laying down pre written specifics then tge players are more likely to buy into it.

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On 10/16/2018 at 6:36 AM, Philnicau said:

but I want to make magic rarer, I was thinking of requiring PCs to purchase a talent (magical aptitude?) so they could purchase the Arcane Skill, which would then make it a career skill.

what do people think of this?

 

Hi!

Maybe it worth trying hero points from RoT as a source of points in magic skills? This will slow down the progress of gaining magic power and you can add some home-made options if you see them useful.

For unwanted attention threats and dispairs are working fine. Smth like:

1 for a hobo who will tell drunken stories

2 threats for sane bystander noticing smth strange

3 for a blogger/fan of UFO, MiB and such stuff

Despair? Look for the news on cable channel this evening - you're on a camera.

This both can bring more fun and plot hooks.

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If you want to make magic rare why not make the user have to flip a story point in order to use it, the idea being that it requires such a force of will to cast a spell that it is a big moment?

You could also use a talent for villains that allows them to use magic without flipping a story point but make this rare and only for powerful NPCs

 

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I would agree with those who say look at mage.  The main thing from that is that it forces mages to prioritize more subtle (Coincidental) magic over flashy (vulgar) magic.  basically reality pushes back when mages do stuff that is obviously magical especially when in the sight of muggles (sleepers) and mages are forced to seriously consider the consequences of doing flashy obvious magic.  That way magic isn't rare as much as it is less obvious.  So rather than throw a bolt of electricity the mage can make it so that their target is electrocuted by a stray cable or "faulty" electrical system.  Or rather than slinging a fireball the mage mages an exploding gas leak explosion.  Still magic but not so flashy.  

The other thing is to increase the elements needed to make magic work - sure you can inflict damage on an enemy but you need some of their blood or their hair.  Or you can increase time requirements - e.g. magic needs mana to cast which is collected by the mage from the environment and the more powerful the spell the longer it takes.  making even reasonably simple spells require 2-3 rounds to collect the required mana makes magic less of a flashy combat thing and more of a preparation thing.  

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Another thing to consider is to have the Magic Career Skill be linked to an Archetype.

This is similar to Harry Potter and Harry Dresden universes, where only those with the right lineage can have magic in the first place.  Then they have to train to use it properly.

Stressing rarity of magic is much more on the Setting and the GM portrayal of the world than mechanical effects.  PC's will always be the exception to the status quo, that's why the story is about them.  However, if the world lacks magical mentors, research materials, gear upgrades, etc. that will give the feel of rarity.

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In Harry Potter, Mundane people can practice magic. Harry's mother and Hermione Granger weren't from a wizarding family. Voldemor was the offspring off a mundane family if I remember correctly. I don't think lineage has any value to determine if someone can have magic in this universe. Except for Voldemor's followers.

It's been to many years since I've read the Harry Dresden's books, and only the 6 translated in french, but I remember that what made Harry special as a wizard was his faery lineage. Something very uncommon amongst the human able to use magic.

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I'm not much of a Potter expert.  I thought it was that the "dormant gene" popped up in them out of an otherwise muggle family.

Dresden, I'm much more familiar with.  It's been established that Wizard potential is passed down from parents, mostly through the mother's side of the family.  One of the older wizards keeps tabs on her descended family for this reason, as well as more personal ones.

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In the english version Harry Potter and Voldemort were both half-blooded wizards (with one wizarding parent, and one muggle parent). The potter family was prestigous even before the Boy Who Lived. Voldemort's lineage was even more powerful. I don't recall the source of Hermione's magical potential, both of her parents were very much mundane. So while it is certainly an inherited trait, it may or may not be genetic.

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I have been seriously thinking of porting over MAGE to Genesys  I started out thinking about "The Ascension",  but  something keeps drawing me to the orders and paths of Awakening. I suppose my mind thinks in terms of "Druid" and "Warlock" and "Enchanter" and gravitates to that, even though I like the idea of fighting the technocracy as a general game idea. I am digressing, so let me write my following "First Principles" for this idea....

WHY PORT MAGE?  Both Ascension and Awakening place emphasis on the unintended results of using powers. I think the 2 axis system of Genesys has the potential to bring this to the forefront in interesting ways. I think the dice mechanic could add an extra dimension of awesomeness. Since I keep going back to AWAKENING I will be referencing it mostly, but much of this could apply to Ascension....

While it may seem counter-intuitive,  I see PATHS as determining what attribute you use to cast spells, and your ORDER will determine your starting attributes. I see a PATH as HOW one uses magic and is therefore more like a class in Star Wars Force and Destiny

The 1-5 scale on attribute and skills seem like a  perfect fit between the 2 systems. Both of them combine 2 scales of 5 in different ways.  Nothing need be done I will miss the idea of 9 main attributes - 2 active and 1 passive for each of Physical/Mental/Social That is my favorite part of the Storyteller system. But I can let that go...

Questions I have been pondering... Do I keep all 9 arcanum? Are they individual skills or something else?. I am tempted to keep all 9 as skills and have various paths use Presence or Intelligence or Cunning as the primary attribute for their spell casting.  MAGE Spells in GENESYS would only have difficulty,  not  a requirement. Perhaps if you are casting a spell of a difficulty higher than your skill level it gets upgraded. and vulgar magic is always upgraded.

The ability to combine spells could be a talent, depending on how hard one wishes to make it the talent could be stringent (You can only combine spells of arcanum x and y together) or broad (You can combine arcanum x with any other  arcanum for spell casting).

Even though part of me hates it, I see paradox as a third derived stat akin to wounds and strain. Casting vulgar magic requires paradox as well as strain and allows threats to be used to accrue paradox. A despair on a covert magic may make it vulgar. Once enough Paradox is accrued you get some serious backlash and problems. Skilled magicians might be able to minimize the problems of vulgar spells. Enough triumph on a vulgar magic might allow a mage to reduce paradox to the point where it becomes a covert spell. You see where I am going with this.

I really could go on, but these are my initial thoughts. and I have only gone a little bit further down the rabbit hole. I just see the mechanics of Genesys as a great fit for a MAGE campaign....

 

 

Edited by GM_Michael
Typos and unfinished thoughts

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