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yeti1069

An Idea for access to Magic via Careers and Talents

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One thing that has bothered my about Genesys (which I otherwise LOVE) is the lack of clarity (or options) on how characters gain access to magic. The implication in the rulebook is that ranks in a Magic skill are sufficient to cast any spells of the type associated with the chosen skill, along with all of their Additional Effects. This doesn't sit well with me, if for no other reason than that spells are similar to talents, with Additional Effects representing Improved and Supreme versions of talents, more or less, yet with 5 XP, a character gains access to a huge degree of flexibility.

 

That all aside, onto my ideas!

 

First, I was thinking that, similar to the Force in Edge of the Empire and Force and Destiny, the first "gating" of magic could come in the form of Careers. Genesys core has a series of careers that provide 8 class skills, 4 of which grant a starting rank at character creation, which on its own results in fewer career skills and fewer starting skill ranks than EotE and F&D presented, which had careers (again 8/4 for most characters), and specializations, which had 4 skills, 2 of which you gained a rank in at character creation. Obviously, Genesys did away with specializations. In F&D, Force-sensitive careers began with only 6 skills, allowing for a pick of 3, but also granted access to the Force with a Force Rating of 1. The specializations still had the 4/2 model.

 

My starting point here is to do something similar. Create a few (thinking 2 per magic skill) careers that grant access to a particular Magic skill, but they come with only 6 career skills, from which characters get 3 ranks.

Next, make a longer list of specializations, some of which are the usual 4/2 skill breakdown, but make some others that are 2/1, while also granting access to a Magic skill. In this way, all non-magical characters would have 12 career skills with 6 starting free ranks, while mages would have 10 career skills with 5 starting free ranks. The thought here was that players can mix and match a bit--someone could choose a merchantile career and add to it some weapons training, or pick a career as a soldier then add to it some magical ability.

A character with "Magical Training" automatically gains the Utility spell, and can cast other spells that they have access to...

 

New Talent

Basic Spell: Tier I <ranked>

Prerequisite: Magical Training

Upon selecting this talent choose one basic spell to add to your list of spells known.

 

That seems like a good balance for gating access to magic. Characters who want to be mages can spend their first 5 XP (likely during character creation) to pick up their first spell. The second spell isn't too hard to get, but the 3rd and beyond are going to take some time.

 

New Talent

Advanced Spellcasting: Tier I <ranked>

Prerequisite: Basic Spell

Upon selecting this talent for the first time, choose one Additional Effect for a spell you know to gain access to. Each further rank grants access to two Additional Effects.

 

Again, this seems like it sets a low bar for a little variety and flexibility, but ensures that characters don't have all the options right away.

 

New Talent

Magical Training: Tier III (considering 4, or 5 as well)

Choose one Magic skill. It becomes a career skill for you, gain access to the Utility spell.

 

This is for characters who want to pick up magic later in their adventuring careers. It may require calling out that it cannot be selected if the character already has Magical Training. Wondering whether this should be a higher tier.

 

New Talent

Mystic Mastery: Tier V

Prerequisite: Magical Training

Choose one Magic skill that you do not already have access to as a career skill. It is now a career skill for you, and you may cast spells associated with that skill.

 

 

What do you all think? Are these too restrictive? No restrictive enough?

 

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IMO way to retrictive. They did tie in magic with careers in Realms of Terrinoth. So you have to start with a career that has a magic skill as a career skill. But they other sounds very restrictive unless thats what your going for. So if your setting has less magic or its super rare go for it :)

Have you tried running a game with magic as it is in the corebook ? 

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Magic is already pretty restrictive since you need the Arcane/Divine/Primal skill just to cast them. And you need Knowledge skill since most of the damage is based on that.  And the types of spells are limited by the type of Magic skill as well. 

 

If if you wanted to limit spells I would do it based on the Magic and/or Knowledge rank.  So max at creation would be 4 spells. 

 

I have been working on converting some of the magical implements to talents because they don’t really fit into my setting. So A Spell Sniper talent would let you increase range by one without increasing difficulty. It allows for some customization to fit the character concept. 

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I just noticed that you are also limiting the added effects too. And you have to take that for each different spell?  That is really going to make it unfun imo.  You will be really ineffective. 

If you want to limit options I would design some specific spells with limited options. Like a Force Bolt that you can add Close Combat and Manipulative but not Burn for instance. 

But they could also cast Inferno with Blast and Burn but you can’t Empower. Or something like that. 

Edited by bigbucky

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The issues I have with the default system are that casters have access to the entire repertoire of magic from the outset, while every non-magical character has to build up their abilities via talents: combatants start with an attack skill, then have to invest in talents to gain other options in combat; social characters have skill checks, and invest in talents for more social options, etc... Mages begin with all the options, then take talents to get better at those. 

Meanwhile, after having played in a couple of Star Wars campaigns, both before and after F&D I never really felt like I was way behind the rest of the party because I had to invest in Force powers and had to chase an increase to my Force Rating while they were gunning directly for Dedication. 

To clarify the Additional Effects talent I posted, on purchased ranks beyond the first, a character could learn 2 effects for one spell, or 1 effect for each of two spells. 

Numbers-wise, what I'm looking at is 2-3 game sessions' worth of XP devoted to casting results in 3 spells known and 3 additional effects known divided among those spells. Does that really seem much too restrictive? (tier 1 for a spell, tier 1 for additional effect, tier 2 for another spell, tier 1 whatever, tier 2 for 2 additional effects, tier 3 for another spell). 

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On 2/14/2019 at 4:02 PM, bigbucky said:

Magic is already pretty restrictive since you need the Arcane/Divine/Primal skill just to cast them. And you need Knowledge skill since most of the damage is based on that.  And the types of spells are limited by the type of Magic skill as well. 

 

If if you wanted to limit spells I would do it based on the Magic and/or Knowledge rank.  So max at creation would be 4 spells. 

That's not restrictive, it's how every character works: want to be good at sneaking, buy ranks in Stealth. Want to be a strong melee fighter, buy ranks in Melee or Brawl.  There are few effects that rely on Knowledge ranks, and Knowledge is useful beyond as an augment for a few spell effects. Players can ignore Knowledge, and ore make it part of their character otherwise. 

 

I had considered limiting spells by rank, but that's still easy access double-dipping, and nothing else in the game works that way: you don't get Dodge talents just because you invested in Coordination, or Frenzied Attack because you invested in Brawl...

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On top of all that, while I do want characters to be flexible and have options, by giving every caster all of the spells and effects at once, there's nothing mechanically to differentiate one from the other: everyone has all the spells, whereas if they are making choices on what to learn, that further defines their character. 

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Have you seen this. It seems to work well to mechanically differentiate casters mechanically. If you want to limit further, perhaps the ranks in each magic action also determine the specific number of effects the casters know.

 

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57 minutes ago, lyinggod said:

Have you seen this. It seems to work well to mechanically differentiate casters mechanically. If you want to limit further, perhaps the ranks in each magic action also determine the specific number of effects the casters know.

 

That's interesting...took a couple of read-throughs to realize how the Disciplines actually worked: ranks in <Magic> become ranks for individual spells. Power-level-wise, this looks pretty good...

 

...but I still don't think that addresses the options issue where everyone else is saying at "level 1": "Okay, situation X comes up. I haven't bought any talents yet, but I have a few ranks in skills scattered about, so I'll roll this 'naked' skill check." Then the mage says, "Well, I can upgrade my skills, or your skills, or summon a creature to address this situation, or an object, or grow wings, or simply stop that guy in place, or..."

 

 

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As I am currently playing a caster in a Genesys fantasy game, and having been GM for several casters prior to my well-earned hiatus from GMing, I can verify that the magic system as written is sufficiently self-regulating: while you do have access to a lot of options, what you can actually do is very much limited by your ranks in your magical skill, and your ranks in Knowledge/Lore. You can certainly try to cast a Formidable difficulty spell with 2 ranks in Arcane, but chances are you will fail hard. If you want to cast a basic Augment on your group (for example), that's Daunting difficulty right there: 2 Difficulty for Augment, +2 Difficulty for Additional Targets. If you want Haste, you're now at Formidable (5) difficulty.

The other balancing aspect is strain. Each spell costs a base of 2 strain, and can be more if you generate Threat and the GM is feeling generous (meaning, they don't decide to damage your implement, delay your spell, or otherwise hamper you with the Threat you generated). Failing to cast a spell and suffering 4 strain is a heavy burden on a starting character who likely has no more than 12-14 strain to start with.

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Grit, Desperate Recovery, Heroic Recovery, Signature Spell are all good early talent choices. Dominion of the Dimora is arguably the most damaging talent, as you can use it as written to fling targets into the air, and let them fall from Short range for significant damage (on top of whatever damage the spell did to them). This assumes you have a GM who will allow you to repeatedly throw his monsters around like ping-pong balls, of course. :)

Edited by Direach

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The problem to me is not really a matter of mechanics (the system works just fine, mechanically speaking) but instead it's a matter of theme.

It just doesn't make much sense to use the magic system as presented on the book for every setting.

Do you wanna try D&D? Well Wizards learns their spells one by one and add them to the spellbook. It's part of the lore in every D&D world.

Do you wanna try a setting such as the world of Harry Potter? Does it make sense to you that every single student will have learned every single spell that there is to learn right at the first year in Hogwarts?

How about something like Arkham Horror/Call of Cthulhu? Spells function almost as a magic item of their own. Investigators find lost dusty tomes and spend a significant amount of time studying it in order to learn them. And it's a secret they treasure and protect with all they got.

 

So, to me, it's not a question of "How do I change this system to be better balanced to my tastes?" instead, it's more like "How do I make it so it fits the theme of my setting without breaking the balance?"

Let's also keep in mind that it's a nightmare, for beginners, to remember everything they can do with the magic system, which sometimes could bog down the game, or worse, you might see the player neglecting their ability to cast spells simply because they don't wanna stop the game.

In that case, it's easier for the GM, when the player is building the character, to say "Hey, I'm seeing that you are a spellcaster, great! Now let's make up some spells you might like and write it down on your character sheet". Or you, as a GM, could be more strict and elaborate a number (formula) for how many spells each character should have (say, for instance, the number of spells known equals Willpower + 2x Magic Skill, so a mage character with 3 willpower and 1 rank in Arcana would know 5 spells).

You could also play with the idea that characters could improvise, that is, casting a spell that is not on the chosen spells, but making it so is harder (increase (or upgrade?) difficulty by one).

There's also the Signature Spell Talent. You could play around with it and make it work for what you're trying to do.

 

Whatever you do, just keep in mind that the current system, mechanically speaking, works just fine, and there's nothing broken about it. But if you do want to change it in order to fit the theme you want, if you restrict it, you'll have to give something extra in return, to keep it balanced.

In my adaptation of Arkham Horror, I made the following changes:

  • There's only one Magic Skill (I called it Mysticism), with access to all Magic Actions;
  • No single career has the Magic Skill as a career skill (it can be bought via talent);
  • Each spell must be found and learned individually;
  • Each spell has it's difficulty decreased by one (it's as if each spell has the Signature Spell added to it);
  • Spells have a trait that functions like the Adversary trait (as if each spell is an entity with the adversary trait, and when the player casts it, difficulty is upgraded);
  • Spells can trigger fear/sanity effects on the caster...and bystanders.

As you can see, some changes make the spellcasting system more powerful, others make it more restrictive. Overall, I think it balances it out, I need more testing though...

Edited by Zsig

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Thanks for that, Zsig!

 

It's not so much that I feel like the Magic system as written is too strong, but it doesn't fit thematically, my idea of the world (and also, I feel like it doesn't fit the rest of Genesys' character development options) in giving all casters all their spells immediately. Yes, they have to improve to use the more difficult effects, but that's not the same thing. 

My issues with tying learning new spells (or any spells) to ranks in Magic, or a characteristic, are that A) no one else in Genesys gets to advance a character in that way--if anyone else wants more options, they buy talents, and if they want to get better at their primary focus, they invest in skill ranks and pick up Dedication, while B) it always looks like heavy double-dipping, since casters need skill ranks to improve, and buying those ranks grants more spells as well... 

Giving a mage all the spells right off the bat removes any sense of progression from the character: yeah, they can succeed at more difficult checks, but even a "novice" with a 2 in their characteristic and 1 rank can succeed on a 5 difficulty check some of the time, they'll just have a ton of threat. 

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On 2/26/2019 at 10:39 PM, yeti1069 said:

How are Spells found and learned in your system? 

They are found in tomes, and in order for someone to learn a spell, they need to succeed at a Knowledge (Cthulhu Mythos) check.

 

Difficulty and time varies from spell to spell (some are harder than others), and extra successes are used to reduce the amount of time needed... on the other hand, particularly bad results could turn the reader insane.

Edited by Zsig

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Just came up with a new idea!

When taking first rank in a Magic skill, learn a number of spells equal to casting characteristic and for each rank in Magic you possess. 

Spells are specific combinations of a basic spell and some number of additional effects (the basic spell with no effects counts as one of these choices). 

Characters gain a new spell known each time they buy a rank in their magic skill.

In addition, a character can flip a Story Point to attempt to cast a new spell in the heat of the moment. If they succeed, they may spend 2 Advantage or a Triumph to add that to their spells known. 

Spells cast that you don't already know have their difficulty upgraded twice.

 

How does that look? 

Casters don't begin with all the options already, but they can progress and learn dynamically at need. Thoughts?

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