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Kommissar

"High Magic" Alternate system balance question

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Alright, so in the setting I'm playing in, there is a notion of high magic. It's like what arcane would be, but is distinctly different. It also is noted as being more difficult to perform, but produces stronger results.

To represent this difficulty, it would seem appropriate to cause high magic to have an increased difficulty (or at least setback).

Given the nature of canceling results in this system, it doesn't seem like increasing the difficulty would be beneficial towards a strong result. If difficulty is to be increased, there need to be some meaningful benefit. I've considered improving the flat numeric results, but that tends to really only benefit attacks, also, what would be an appropriate increase?

One idea that has also been presented is that it halves the total amount of difficulty die added by modifying the spell. That a default attack is now 2p, but you can add 2p "worth" of upgrades for only 1p.

 

Any thoughts on how to handle some like this?

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Just an observation but if High Magic is more powerful, you may wish to decrease the difficulty.

The potency of Magic is caused by the use of Advantages. If you increase the difficulty, you remove the ability to obtain advantages since the system is designed to come up with with Success with Threat, or Failure with Advantage. So when you fail, the spell fails.

i hope that makes sense

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Posted (edited)

not knowing what that "notion of high magic" is, it is a bit hard to coin down some suggestions.

if its harder to perform, than the difficulty should be higher, but that minimizes away the Threat-Advantage axis -- so no stronger results.

* one way to implement it having a "high magic" skill that is more costly to buy, but uses the +2p effects for +1p difficulty system.

* another way to implement "high magic" with existing skills, would be +2p effects for an upgrade to the difficulty pool.
that does not necessarily rise the dice pool but makes fails more spectacular.

* or have a +2p effect cost two strain or wounds.

* or require "high magic" to flip a story point.

 

T

Edited by Terefang

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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, Kommissar said:

Alright, so in the setting I'm playing in, there is a notion of high magic. It's like what arcane would be, but is distinctly different. It also is noted as being more difficult to perform, but produces stronger results.

What makes high Magic’s different than normal, I guess “low”, magic? With nothing to go on we can’t give suggestions on how to model it.

Edited by c__beck

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So again guessing is that there are different magic approaches in your setting one being high magic ?

I like @GM Hooly suggestion in upgrade. Again advantages is where the power comes from usually so maybe 1 free advantage per upgrade. 

Or in SW rpg they had some talents like Double or Nothing. 

"Suffer 2 strain to perform the Double or Nothing incidental to increase the difficulty of the next
check by one. Then, after canceling opposing symbols, double the amount of remaining advantages"

That might work. This would make the cost of the spell 4 strain but yield higher results. There is a improved and supreme version of those talents as well lets you double your success and triumph and despairs for the supreme. 

They might work for what you asking for. You can adjust the tiers to whatever you like. 

 

DOUBLE OR NOTHING
Tier: 3
Activation: Passive
Ranked: No
Suffer 2 strain to perform the Double or Nothing incidental to increase the difficulty of the next
check by one. Then, after canceling opposing symbols, double the amount of remaining advantages

DOUBLE OR NOTHING (IMPROVED)
Tier: 4
Activation: Passive
Ranked: No
Your character must have purchased the Double or Nothing talent to benefit from this talent. When performing the Double or Nothing incidental, after canceling opposing symbols, also double the amount of remaining success, 

DOUBLE OR NOTHING (SUPREME)
Tier: 5
Activation: Passive
Ranked: No
Your character must have purchased the Double or Nothing talent to benefit from this talent. When performing the Double or Nothing incidental, also double the number of  1 triumph and 1 despair.

 

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Rather than costing Strain or requiring a Talent, just have this version of magic double uncancelled Advantages and Threat (maybe Triumphs and Despairs too). So now when it goes well, it goes really well, but when it goes bad, it goes really bad.

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Usually High Magic is described as rare, powerful, but slow to actually cast. So perhaps you could simply introduce a talent that emulates that:

High Magic

Tier: 3

Ranked: Yes

Activation: Manoeuvre 

Your character may perform a High Magic Manoeuvre, reduce the difficulty of the next Arcane Spell Action by one, to a minimum of Average. You may perform this Manoeuvre multiple times, even over multiple rounds, but the total difficulty removed in this way may never exceed your ranks in this talent. If your concentration is broken, such as being knocked unconscious, you loose all benefits of this Manoeuvre.

 

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The difference between "High" and "Low" magic settings is usually less about the difficulty and more about the scarcity or abundance of magic. If what you're talking about is supposed to be "super magic" then I'd suggest lowering the cost for activating additional effects. Many of them require 2 advantage to use, even if you successfully cast the spell. Otherwise, a talent or set of talents along the lines of what @Richardbuxton or @Archellus suggested above is probably the easiest way to go. In any case, if this kind of magic is more powerful, then it should almost certainly be limited by cost, either in strain or XP spent on talents.

If you want to make things more customizable and more limited, you could make this a talent that gives access to a heroic ability or an ability tree of your own design. I'm doing something similar in a campaign I'm converting from Pathfinder that involves Mythic Abilities, which grants some god-like powers to players.

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Perhaps give High Magic Prepare 2?

Meaning they can suffer extra strain for a second maneuver or they have to go over 2 rounds as such can be struck or stopped.

 

Or possibly; once you have set the difficulty of the spell upgrade all difficulty dice to challenge dice, you could then do an improved and supreme version of the talent that reduces the number of dice upgraded or adds boost

 

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