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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 70 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: A New Kind of Magic System  (Read 15110 times)
Valamir
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« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2007, 10:28:08 AM »

You just have to back it up from the specific to the metaphorical.

What are you accomplishing with your campfire?

Is it to keep you from freezing to death...then the balance is someone else freezing to death.

If you're just trying to make a fire to be a bit more comfortable...bring a pack of matches :-)


Basically you just have to pass equivalent good to an enemy or equivalent bad to a loved one.

So say you were trying to get a junkie friend clean...you could do so by making sure some other friend got hooked...but that sort of defeats the purpose...so instead you balance this by making an enemy healthy.

So what effect do you have on the enemy?  You make it so the enemy spends the day eating vegetables and drinking lots of water...well ok...that might make him feel a bit better today from not having carbo loaded, but long term - one day of vegetables will do nothing for his overall health...so the junkie friend feels ok without withdrawal for a day...and then back to usual.  Instead you make it so the enemy is never sick another day in his life...now your friend is clean every day of his life voila.

So the power you can do is directly proportional to how close you are to the person you're affecting and the person you're balancing that with.  But yeah...its a pretty inexact process, not easily "statted", but I suspect pretty easy to play.
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J. Scott Timmerman
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Posts: 164


« Reply #16 on: June 29, 2007, 12:45:05 PM »

That leaves open the option of a character who has no compunctions about aiding those that would seek to destroy him/her to be a sort of Gandhi.  Magically causing net good to the world, with the only negative consequence meaning my enemy gets some perk?  That's awesome power.  I can understand having a moral compunction with killing someone I don't know in order to save my wife, but choosing instead to save the life of someone who would kill me if they had the chance for the same effect?  That's hardly a price at all.

-Jason T.
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Valamir
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« Reply #17 on: June 29, 2007, 12:52:38 PM »

Are you suggesting that's a problem?
I think that's a fantastically impactful statement...yeah...I can do net good in the world...but also if I do net good to my enemies.  So all of the sudden Al Qaida is getting huge, The Nazi Party is back in action, some warlord in Nambia just massacred 30,000 people...all so you could end the homeless problem in NYC...yeah...I think that makes for an awesome story.
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J. Scott Timmerman
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Posts: 164


« Reply #18 on: June 29, 2007, 04:13:36 PM »

I see.  I was under the impression that you meant a more 1:1 conversion ratio.

Jason T.
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Valamir
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« Reply #19 on: June 29, 2007, 08:51:36 PM »

I would envision the ratio to be directly proportional to how close / personal / important to you the other party is.  Closing the door on the future of your son's dreams...yeah that's powerful mojo.  Closing the door on the future of someone you've never met...not so much. 

Giving a gift of success health and happiness to generic "badguys" not so much.  Giving a gift of success health and happiness to the guy who raped your wife and murdered your parents...yeah...you can generate some powerful mojo off of that...if you can bring yourself to do it.  I mean think about it..."you can cast this spell, but that guy will live to a ripe old age and die free and happy having obtained his life's dream".  Could you live with that?  That's a game I'd totally be into playing.
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chris_moore
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« Reply #20 on: June 30, 2007, 03:55:44 AM »

So, I imagine my group having incredible fun playing this game by:

-inventing clever combinations of Doors, Sights, Charms, and Wards to answer "How will they do it?"

-making heart-wrenching sacrifices to answer the question "At what cost?"

And it's all about magic, right??!!

Please, please make this game!

unhelpful but enthusiastic Chris
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simon_hibbs
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Posts: 678


« Reply #21 on: June 30, 2007, 01:57:46 PM »

It seems to me that all this isn't specifically to do with magic, it's about dramatically appropriate stakes in the scenario. Whether you sacrifice your friend to destroy a demon isn't intrinsically any different from the question of do you blow up the terrorists even though they are holding your friend hostage.

Game mechanics aren't going to help you create situations like this. An understanding of metaphysics and the technical language of occultism can help you construct convincing situations featuring magic in the game, but only in the same way that researching counter terrorist techniques can make a War on Terror game more believable and therefore more immersive.


Simon Hibbs
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Simon Hibbs
J. Scott Timmerman
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Posts: 164


« Reply #22 on: June 30, 2007, 06:56:12 PM »

It seems to me that all this isn't specifically to do with magic, it's about dramatically appropriate stakes in the scenario. Whether you sacrifice your friend to destroy a demon isn't intrinsically any different from the question of do you blow up the terrorists even though they are holding your friend hostage.

Game mechanics aren't going to help you create situations like this. An understanding of metaphysics and the technical language of occultism can help you construct convincing situations featuring magic in the game, but only in the same way that researching counter terrorist techniques can make a War on Terror game more believable and therefore more immersive.

I think you misunderstand the thread, simon.  The point of this thread is not about understanding how cultists think metaphysics works.  It's about creating a NEW metaphysics for the purposes of playing a fun game within them.  We are determining the rules for a fun game, which does not necessarily require research into how hokey religious people attempt mumbo jumbo in the real world.  At least as far as I know, rules that define magic in this particular way do not yet exist.  The thread up until now has been about proposing the creation of fun setting elements, and by necessity integrating them into game mechanics so that they produce the game effect we want, not using a setting that already exists whole-cloth. 

-Jason T.
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Noclue
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Posts: 304


« Reply #23 on: June 30, 2007, 11:23:03 PM »

Like, um, like, Constantine's stringing out his friend is an important part of the magic, but is not itself a magical act.

I'll disagree on this point. In a world imbued with magic, I don't think there is such a thing as a non-magical act. For example, in Kaballah the sphere of Malkuth is associated with matter and the physical. However, its still considered "spiritual" and actions in the physical world still resonate in the upper worlds. I think RPGs tend to create too much of a divide between magical and non-magical acts. Its more a question of intent. Crossing a threshold can be a magical act. Marriage is a magical act.

We might also take a moment to look at what Constantine really sacrificed in the example. His friend? Sure. But also his humanity and his soul (such as it is). Constantine had to out demon the demon in order to trap it. One might even ask if Constantine isn't worse then the Demon, given what he did to his "friend."
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James R.
Justin Nichol - BFG
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Posts: 95


« Reply #24 on: July 01, 2007, 01:43:49 AM »

Wow, I'm glad to see so many posts. It's given me a lot of food for though. Let me try to field a few misconceptions about my idea first.

BigElvis- Revolve around makes much more sense, and that's a lot of what I'm aiming at doing. Also I see what you're saying about giving the players the ability to determine what is a clever option, but I tend as a storyteller to have a specific story in mind and I and other storytellers I play with are not simply referees. I do think that the storyteller should be lenient, and there should be mechanics in place for the players to "work their will" and narrate for themselves at times. But if a storyteller has a way they would like the pplayers to move within the story or would like to make a particular feat of magic more difficult because they do not find it clever or appropriate for the tone of the story. I'm fine with that.

Agleos- I disagree very much. I hope I dont offend anyone, but have you played hero system? A good storyteller can tell a good story using hero but the rules get in the way of that because it takes so long to get through combat and resolution oftentimes. It's not all a matter of this is roleplaying, trust your GM. System can foster or hinder good storytelling, most especially in the creation of certain concepts or moods in games. Adding metaphysical components in a deep but easy to use fashion I think can increase it's use as a storytelling tool, and can also serve to make it more crunchy.

Valamir- wow thanks a lot for the suggestions, sort of like the to light a candle is to cast a shadow idea in Earthsea. Although I think the idea is great, I do think it muddled a bit of what Simon thought I intended with my original idea, and partially through my use of the Hellblazer example. While I definitely love this idea and will probably try to implement it to some degree, I don't necessarily want that to be the only or primary metaphysical law. Although stakes, sacrifice, balance in magic are all wonderful concepts, my original postulate was just to let the why be the impotus in a story for the characters to act, the what be the solution to a problem, and the how be the actual semi-mechanical ways that characters can go about achieveing the what. Stakes can be a part of that, but my fundamental point is not about stakes in Magic, but focusing on how magic is done in one way or the other, rather than what specifically can be done with it. But yea, your suggestions are great, the only thing I could see as a problem is that it seems to necessitate some sort of spiritual nemesis, while certainly possible, I mean what if a mage does not necessarily have an enemy worthy of it. Still, I really think this needs to be implemented as a metaphysical component somehow. I mean *shivers* just imagine, a power-crazed young necromancer on the verge of reaching a new level of understanding in the black arts shedding his fetters, by ritually killing his family and loved ones with the inverse of course being that pain unto those he loves might in turn cast powerful curses or even outright kill his enemies. Interesting stuff either way and really worthy of consideration.

VoidDragon- Yea, I think you hit it, although I don't necessarily have any problem with drawing inspiration from how magic is considered to work in real world ways (silly but useful for inspiration). For instance, it might be helpful to read more on how real life "magicians" use magic circles or sigils etc. just as much as it can be useful to use certain myths about faeries as the basis for characters in an Urban Fantasy setting. Thats one thing thats kind of been lost, but doesnt really have anything to do with the thread is that it's a contemporary fantasy setting and there are things out there aside from wizards, but with the idea I had, I dont mind the focus on magic thrusting Magi to center stage.

Chris- Thanks, I hope you'll consider maybe giving it a spin when it's finished.

NoClue- Crossing a threshold is a magical act, definitely, good stuff. And yea, actually in the story, Constantine is haunted by the ghosts of friends who die in his escapades, so while he certainly wasnt quite so bad as a marauding demon, and the junkie friend was directly responsible for the deaths of many and so the most appropriate candidate, you're right, it does have so much to do with his humanity or loss of it.


Thanks again everyone for all the food of thought. Keep it coming, I'll try and post next a quick rundown of all the fifferent components I'm consider, some simply magical others more ephemeral.

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Creatures of Destiny
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Posts: 66


« Reply #25 on: July 01, 2007, 02:32:17 AM »

This is a great read. I'm new here and pleased to see attempts at a narrative magic system. I'm working on a system with a destiny mechanic (kinda like fate points, karma and so forth). Everyone uses destiny - it's a charater shield but also used to say - create a work of art. The idea is that magic burns destiny, a side effect of this is that the would be a negative effect.
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Noclue
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Posts: 304


« Reply #26 on: July 01, 2007, 09:14:01 AM »

Rereading the OP, I started to think a few new thoughts. The idea proposed by Justin is to make the ritual of casting a magic spell an integral part of the story. What I like about this is it tends to self regulate the use of magic for trivial acts. If you need to light a fire, you aren't going to travel to upper mongolia to steal the eye from the icon of the demon queen, you'll rub two sticks together. By making magic the centerpiece of the story, it limits it to important things and limits mages to being mages. You can't just roll out the magic user when you want to cast magic missile at the goblin hordes. The magic user is busy.

However, if the spell is the narrative, then the spell has to have all the stuff of narrative. It has to provide conflict and risk and loss. If the spells are being compiled from a relatively simple list of mix and match systems, the narrative needs to carry the freight or things will get routine. What I'm thinking is as a mage there should be a certain level of choice. Do you want to just draw a magic sygil, or do you draw the sygil from the blood of your victim's mother (as a morbid example). Their needs to be incentive to make the trade-off between easy (and dull) and difficult (but rich) make sense. That's where risk comes in. If magic has a price, then all of this narrative can be about ways that the mage lowers that personal cost, or deflects it, to get what he wants. And if failure is risky, then you have even more reason to stack the odds in your favor. What you get is some kind of trade off between expediency and time.

Two other thoughts. First, it would be cool if the mage never could be certain if he'd done enough. So he's his decision to actually cast the spell or whatever, brings a certain level of suspense. Secondly, all this running around to upper mongolia or killing your victim's mother, or whatever is not, without risk and cost itself. So, maybe you're just in a zero sum game where you're just trading one type of danger for another. Like, you avoid getting eaten by demons and get eaten by tigers instead.
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James R.
Justin Nichol - BFG
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Posts: 95


« Reply #27 on: July 01, 2007, 08:47:27 PM »

Exactly. I had had similar thoughts, basically what I suspect I'll end up doing in addition to trying to find novel ways for metaphysical laws to work is have it so as aforementioned, all magic, even the lowliest charms are at a high difficulty. So a competent Magus if they wanted could possibly do small things, but would likely still fail at them if they weren't doing something dramatic, roleplaying it well and trying to be clever. I mean the game might get a bit tedious or difficult if Magi could never cast anything spontaneous but even then they have to be fun, intelligent and try to move the story forward, and they couldn't much beyond give themselves an edge. For instnace, when we played a playtest session, the only person playing a straight Magi was walking behind the veil astrally and came upon an alley filled with darkness. The player investigated a bit, tried to call upon his Lore to see if he could figure anything out but wasn't specifically able to recall shrouds of darkness. He did however discover that the alley did represent the actual space of the alley in the physical world. So he described how he pulled a magic marker from his satchel and proceeded to draw a detailed eye on his palm and thrust his hand into the darkness, this allowed him to see sort of a cartoonish tunnel vision spotlight sort of a view of the alley. The magic was semi-spontaneous, not an extended ritual but it was a novel, approach with description  and a clever magical symbol to help in the casting. Contrast that with your typical AD&D see in darkness or dispel and you can quickly see how with a little effort, even spontaneous magic can be more narrative, balanced and interesting. What's better is that later, when he discovered through consulting a crazed seer that the darkness was a portent of a murder to come, and knowing that he had sent another character there who was looking for a missing person, he rushed back and was confronted by an enemy in the blackness, and that enemy dropped sand in his hand, the player looked perplexed in a second and then roleplayed yelling in pain as he realized the enemy had just thrown sand in his eye.

With more difficult spells though yea, I want it to be so ridiculously difficult that it's a longshot if you don't use these components, and I want the components by definition to not really be usable totally by rote. For instance a sigil is a magical symbol tailored to a specific magical purpose, if the character were trying to summon a Faerie in the wood, he would have to make a sigil perhaps for just that purpose, and might not be able to if unknowledgable or unresearched in the symbols of the Fae, or if for instance the spirit were powerful enough that the sigil would be uneffective without knowing at least an Alias of the being to work into the sigil. So instead of just have Use of symbology -1 difficulty, it would be something that the character would need to sink their teeth into in the narrative. And of course one of the most important modifiers of difficulty is how it moved forward the story. For instance, if the characters were investigating the disappearance of a friend, it might not move ths story forward for a character to spend a half an hour of playtime enchanting a dagger, but going to the friends apartment and finding their favorite book as a sympathetic component in the casting of a Location spell would be appropriate and might gain additional positive modifiers because after all the location of their friend is exactly where the storyteller wants the party to go.

I'll post everything I've come up with so far soon, and we'll see if we can add to it.
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Justin Nichol - BFG
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Posts: 95


« Reply #28 on: July 02, 2007, 02:58:55 AM »

Here's a really rough write up on the basic ideas I've been having. It's all very rough and crude, and I expect it will have to change quite a bit before it really achieves what I want it to. Hope its at least a good read.



Magick in "The World Behind"

Sights- Sights is the ability to see that which normal people cannot, to see the world behind the veil. Those with sights can see beings of supernatural origin, and can notice the pattened coincidences of the metaphysical world. It can also be used in instances for divinatory purposes. It's greatest practitioners are called Seers.

Doors- Doors is the ability to travel in the wainscotting, to enter the world behind the world. The world behind the veil is comprised of extra-spatial places that exist in relation to the physical world that the average person exists in, although not in a way that obeys any commonly accepted physical laws. For instance, a wardrobe may actually be a tesseract which contains a land within it, or instead, it may be so that all Main streets are connected, and those who can find the way may travel great distances in physical space by walking along this great road. Despite it's correlation to phsyical space, Doors cannot be seen by anyone not possessing Sights. It's greatest practitioners are called Sojourners.

Charms- The casting of spells and charms to enact change or achieve some effect. Any conceivable effect not otherwise covered by Sights, Doors or Wards, can be achieved using Charms. The focus in Magick and the use of Charms is not on the what but on the how, that which is conceivably possible may be functionally or practically impossible simply because no proper symbology exists to create such spells, or because the effect itself is so dangerous or difficult. It's greatest practitioners are called Magi.

Wards- Wards is itself a separate dscipline and is far more widely used than Charms, some so-called Magi practice the art of Warding exclusively. It is used to protect against and suppress magical effects or events, or to hold at bay beings based on Attunement or other elements. It can also be used in certain instances to hold closed paths that can be travelled via Doors. It's greatest practitioners are called Guardians.

Magick is the ability, through the manipulation of metaphysical principles to enact change in the world, both naturally and spiritually. But will is not enough as all Magic demands at it's most basic level an Impetus. There are many ways of achieving Impetus in Magic, through the use of symbology or other Arcana, or through the use of spontaenous and impulsive connective Impetus. All impetus have metaphysical consequences that must be averted or else suffered through. Impetus describes both the internal logic and appropriateness of a magical act, and also the narrative aspects of how the Magick serves the story.

Methods of gaining Impetus

Sympathetic- This concept is best described by the Axiom "like affects like". It imparts Impetus on a magical act by making the cause of the Magick resemble the effect desired. Voodoo dolls are an example of Sympathetic Magick.

Contagious- Contagious Magick is related to sympathetic impetus in that it functions by relating the cause of the effect to the subject of the effect. A contagious impetus is the idea that those things which were once in contact may stay in contact through emotional and spiritual connection, and thus an impetus for Magick can be gained using those things that are connected to eachother. A location spell using a lock of someones hair is an example of a contagious impetus.

Formulaic- Formulaic is the use of pure symbology and magical rote to provide impetus, it is the most rigorous and time-consumin impetus, but it is also that which can best incorporate and thus be strengthened by the inclusion of other forms of Impetus.

Superstition- Supertitious impetus uses ideas that have been strengthened through ages of belief to provide the force behind an effect. Superstitions are numerous and they do not necessarily act on their own but can be used to help fuel the casting of a Charm.

Impulsive- Impulsive impetus is the most volatile of them all and is performed spontaneously through the use of clever connective Symbolism, Irony, and turns of phrase/ play on words.



Following are several Arcana and other metaphysical concepts.

Attunements- Attunements are special elements that describe the spiritual resonance of a person, object, place or even event. Attunements can be manipulated to aid in the casting of Charms or in Warding against certain creatures.

Attunements can be temporarily granted to a subject through consecration.

Purification/ Desecration- Used to clear temporary Attunements gained through consecration or interaction with powerful Magickal resonance.

Possession- The ability of a spirit to enter and control the body of a mortal horse. It can be done through force or it can be offered to the spirit temporarily as payment or in the performance of certain rituals.

Summoning- Summoning is the act to call on the denizens of the spirit world.

Binding- Binding is the act of binding through evocation or invocation, a spirit to perform a task or else to remain held in bondage.

Banishing/ Exorcism- Banishing is the act of banishing or dismissing a summoned or possessing spirit.

Other ideas I'm working on/ trying to figure out

Symbology- Formulae, Circles / Squares, Sanctums, Foci / Sigils / Magic Words
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J. Scott Timmerman
Member

Posts: 164


« Reply #29 on: July 02, 2007, 01:45:32 PM »

I think it's definitely workable.  One thing I'm curious about are the actual step-by-step game mechanics that mediate how certain things are done.  I suppose we could just create a sort of syntactical vocabulary, where the "sentence" of a spell is built upon words of magick that are earned through the proper means/impetuses/steps/attunements based on the structure you've presented.

Another idea, which could integrate the formulae, circles, squares, sigils, etc. would be to set up the spell effect as a sub-game or overlay game within the game.  To explain what I'm trying to say, you could have, for instance, a grid, which would represent an entire spell, upon which circles and lines could be drawn to represent the formulae, which, as I understand it, could connect the elements (impetuses, attunements, and targets) in a logical fashion to create an effect.  Elements themselves could be game pieces (like chess pieces).

The types of lines, circles, and other symbols the character could scribe would depend upon the character's level of understanding of magick; but the character's access to pieces would be part of the game accessible to all characters, mystic or not (though I suppose knowledge of magick would be required to know which pieces would help in any given situation).

The entire spell would take a substantial amount of time to build, as each element or symbol could take up to a scene or more to obtain.

A setup like this would also allow for competetive magic; i.e., warding, counterspelling and redirecting.  In that manner, the competetors could both move pieces and draw lines on the same board, based on in-game actions.  If you're not careful, however, the act of redirecting could spell out a magic paradox if the spellboard is not logically interpretable at spell conclusion (which would be the equivalent of checkmate or stalemate).

If you wanted to put a good deal of work into such a system, it may be possible to create it so that interpretation of the sigils followed a logical process that described the spell in terms of what kinds of lines connected the different elements, so that the grid could be read from a starting point just as if it were the sentence built upon the vocabulary of magick that I mentioned earlier.  Lines would be followed and interpreted to find the next word in the sentence.  And like I said, uninterpretability may lead to paradox.

Thoughts on this?

-Jason Timmerman
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