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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 15111 times)
Noclue
Member

Posts: 304


« Reply #30 on: July 02, 2007, 09:47:32 PM »

Ok. So, cool. I'm loving this discussion because I've been working on a magic system based off of kaballah and looking for ways to keep magic magical and still be able to keep magic from becoming freeform craziness. At the moment, the conceptual framework isn't cooperating. Actually, its been kicking my ass pretty good.

As for what you're doing, I like the way you've broken down magical effects, but I'm interested in why these four.  The first three are relatively discreet categories: Sights for getting info, Doors for astral projectiony stuff, Wards for protection magic. Then you have Charms which is a grab bag for everything else. My first thought is to look at Charms and see if the grab bag is too big there. What stuff really goes in Charms? Is it really just one or two or three more discreet categories, or is it actually wide open? So some things that I think you can do with charms are what we would actually call charms (i.e. manipulate emotions), but it would also include other manipulations as well (weather, telekinesis, death rays, evil eyes, fire, etc.). Is it too wide, I wonder? Or is it ok?

Next, Impeti.You have the law of Contagion and the law of sympathetic magic. These are two ways that magic "works." The effect is targeted either by using a foci that was once actually part of the intended target or which represents the intended target symbolically. Then you have three ways that magic rituals can be structured - essentially by rote, spontaneously, or by what people believe works. These three seem to be in a different category.

Lastly, attunements. I admit to a little confusion here. These look like different kinds of Charms. Why do you need attunements for these particular charms and how is your goal (ritual = narrative) furthered in adding attunements?
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James R.
simon_hibbs
Member

Posts: 678


« Reply #31 on: July 03, 2007, 11:22:43 AM »

Jason - I think I've got a good grip on what the thread is about, perhaps I didn't explain myself clearly. Having to sacrifice a loved one in order to bind a daemon is a reality rule for the setting, not a game mechanic of the rules system. Such a sacrifice and binding could be resolved using any number of different game mechanics.

Ralph's take on sacrifice is very perceptive. It could be implemented mechanically a number of ways, one of which would be to use such sacrifices to generate a pool of points of some kind that can  be spent to either power up a magical working, or to give a bonus on the casting roll, depending on what resolution system you decide upon.


Simon Hibbs
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Simon Hibbs
J. Scott Timmerman
Member

Posts: 164


« Reply #32 on: July 03, 2007, 01:59:29 PM »

Simon, I don't really want to start a whole conversation about this (which would probably constitute a new thread), but I think we're just drawing different lines on how we define the word "Game".  I do respect your views on the subject, but I don't want to continue an argument on the definitions of terms.

You are correct in saying that a statement such as "B is a consequence of choice A" is a setting mechanic.  In my view, since the Setting is part of the Game, however, it is also a game mechanic.

As I (mis)understood your initial post, you were saying that such a setting mechanic is unimportant as long as we understand the real world.  My apparently unnecessary retort was based on the idea that we were creating a game, not using ideas that already exist.

I'm basically saying that I interpreted your post of:

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.

as:

"We should look at how people deal with terrorists and practice hocus pocus in real life in order to find out how we want to play a game."

And in doing so, I seem to have taken your statement out of proportion.

-Jason T.
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Justin Nichol - BFG
Member

Posts: 95


« Reply #33 on: July 03, 2007, 03:06:54 PM »

VoidDragon- Yea I had had ideas along similar lines but nothing so specific, I wanted there to be some way to take individual sigils and put them together like a puzzle. Unfortunately, I can't think of any way to do that without it becomeing unnecessarily complex. I think it would be a really cool board game and it's really enticing to dive into it, but I just think I gotta go simpler.

The reason for this is also an answer to noclue partially. Basically, in the first iteration of the setting, using my CORE system that I'm developing, Sights, Doors, Charms and Wards were all the same thing, we decided pretty shortly after starting chargen that we should split them into separate abilities because while being a Mage was certainly an enticing prospect, you didn't have to be a mage to play, there are other character types, hopefully there will be many, and those other character types had to be able A. to use Sights and Doors without knowing Magic, and B. be able to ward against magic and dispel effects without necessarily being able to cast them, basically a wizened old guy who doesn't use magic but knows how to avert curses. But again I wanted to focus on how not what, so I still wanted all spell casting to be contianed under spell, I don't want any further compartmentalization, if I were making a game about wizards purely, I would not even distinguish the four abilities, but as it is, even as it seems Magi will take a precedence because of the attention thats being paid to them, I want their to be characters who can walk bhind the veil but are not Magi.

Sights and Doors are going to be similar in cost to one another, and so are Charms and Wards, my rationale for this is that wards can do things charms cant (hold creatures at bay, lock doors in the veil etc.) but can also do conceivably what Charms can do only inverse, in other words Wards has at least as many uses as Charms because it can defend against any Charm. So Sights and Doors will be cheaper and Charms and Wards will cost a bit more because they're broader, it may still turn out that Charms is more of a bargain in the long run than other abilities, but I guess that's the price of . So to make a long rant shorter, I don't want to have such a complex system no matter how great the idea is simply because it would make it inconceivable and boring to play something other than a Mage because you'd be twiddling your thumbs while the mages put together their cool sigil puzzles. If only we could come up with something that had the same spirit but was simpler to implement.

Noclue- As far as the Impeti crit, yea you're right, I might be able to still figure it out keeping those, but as I was writing them I had the thought that I'd probably need to change the stuff later, but I just wanted to show something on the thread that sort've described my idea in ways.

Another idea I've been having lately is to introduce Taboos, basically at some points the process of figuring out what sort've metaphysics your character is good at manipulating you also barred from using some. This could be used to create some variation between Magi, and to explain the different styles of Magic like Vodoun, Hermeticism, Chaos Magick etc. It also makes sense to me because despite the fact that some things magic can do that affect game mechanics may need to be described, when you have Magick that can do anything, it makes more sense to describe what your character cannot do, than what your character can because, well it's anything right?
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Dan Maruschak
Member

Posts: 41


WWW
« Reply #34 on: July 04, 2007, 12:02:08 AM »

I'm not sure this fits into the system you're envisioning, but some ideas popped into my head as I was reading the initial post, so I thought I'd toss them out to see if they're helpful.  In the initial post, the stuff that seemed most intriguing to me was making symbolism and metaphor a major component of magic.  So what I'm envisioning is that you take the "effect" you want your spell to have, and you then need to decompose it into some parts.  And then you take those individual parts and you build them up in a metaphorical way to complete your spell. 

So to take the hunger demon example:  The player wants to lure the demon in and imprison him.  So the GM says "OK, what's a prison"?  The player says "a place, surrounded by bars".  The GM says "OK, what's your 'place'?".  The player says "I know he can jump from person to person, so I don't want something like a building with different people going in and out... hmm... I know, I'll pick one particular person as the location".  The GM says, "alright, what are the bars on your prison?".  The player says "Hmm... Bars surround the location, but they're sort of built into it, too.  I need something analogous for a person.  I know, I'll give the person some magical tattoos all over his body, those are the bars on the prison".  The GM says "Cool.  You said you wanted to lure the demon.  How do you 'lure'?"  The player says "I get his attention, and I have some bait he finds irresistible".  The GM says "OK, how do you get his attention?"  The player says "ummm...  I get a shaman from his native land to do a ritual".  The GM says "that could be fun, get some exotic locale in the mix.  And what's your bait?"  The player says "well, I know he likes people with 'hunger'.  Hey, my junkie friend -- I keep him off the stuff for a while, and he'll be really 'hungry'!  And hey, that's the person I'll use as my prison!".  The GM says, "excellent.  Let's figure out what we need to do to make it all happen.  What do you want to do first?".  The player says "let's hop a plane to Africa."  And now you've got some scenes to play out.

In practice, I don't know how hard it would be to come up with creative metaphors like that on the fly.  I'm also sort of seeing that you would introduce complications with each element of the spell.  Like "we can use magical tattoos...  But the only tattoo artist I know who's skillful enough to pull something like that off happens to be the junkie's brother, and he's not going to be too keen on a plan that ends up killing the junkie".  Doing this might also give you the "discuss how to best achieve the effect" interactions you mentioned.  The players could exchange ideas until they hit on a metaphor and a complication that sounded fun to the group.  Stuff like "we need to use the demon's secret name as part of the ritual, so we'll have to track down the cult leader and beat it out of him" -- "I don't know, we've been beating people up a lot lately and I'm kind of burnt out on it.  How about the demon's secret name is also written down in the Necronomicon, but the only known copy is in a private collection in Istanbul?  We'll have to figure out some way to get the book.  We can cook up some kind of elaborate heist!"

So, basically, the idea is that the spell construction makes the players put a lot of metaphysical color into the game, and also creates a sort of through-line for the adventure, with the individual elements of the spell setting up some scenes and conflicts that lead to the climax.

Again, not sure if that idea is useful to you with the more mechanical way you seem to be headed, but I thought I'd toss it out.
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Spooky Fanboy
Member

Posts: 585


« Reply #35 on: July 08, 2007, 01:45:10 PM »

It seems to me we're talking about two different magic systems here, and trying to find a way to compress them into one.

The first is the standard bippity-boppety-boo we see in a lot of traditional rpgs: the type of magic that substitutes as a weapon or a skill that the character doesn't have, something to get the characters ahead and move the story along. The second type is more of an extended ritual type, one that has the potential to alter the game-world and/or solve the Big Problem of the story. This second one is best served by a setup similar to what Valamir mentioned, and/or by involving a lot of legwork on it's own to complete.

I think the question is, correct me if I'm wrong, how to get both types out of the same magic system. Unfortunately, I do not have a solution for that question. If anyone does, I'd be eager to hear it.
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Justin Nichol - BFG
Member

Posts: 95


« Reply #36 on: July 09, 2007, 04:09:33 AM »

I wouldn't say thats the case fanboy. Like I said before, while I have my own ideas that this thread is primarily to discuss ways to focus game mechanics on how magic is done rather than what is being done with it. It isn't necessary to the thread to marry spontaneous magic and ritual magic although we have discussed both. What is important at least in the original context is how do you have the flavor and metaphysics of mechanics matter to the system in any kind of magic.

Dan I really like all the stuff you mentioned, the only thing is that I'd like some standardized way of determining that sort of thing, something that was more general or expansive. That would work in a really freeform game, and could be a handy idea to work off of, but I think it might just be too specific.

I have been working on this and I'll try and post something new soon.
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JustinB
Member

Posts: 106


WWW
« Reply #37 on: July 09, 2007, 10:35:22 AM »

Justin,
Your goal of enforcing creativity in spell-casting is definitely praiseworthy and, I think, can be reasonably applied to large problems such as the demon you used as an example. However, in your real-play example of the dark alley and eye-hand: now that a player has stated that his special vision spell is achieved by drawing an eye on his hand, why should he change that description? Is it desirable to force players to re-describe the actions for casting "standard" spells over and over? What does this add to story-telling?
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Justin Nichol - BFG
Member

Posts: 95


« Reply #38 on: July 09, 2007, 11:14:11 AM »

Well, what I'm basically thinking of having is a sliding scale of difficulty based on the difficulty of the spell and the level of these metaphysics you've employed and how clever/ important to the story your actions are. Without any prep, doing some intensive, would be next to impossible. In later episodes the character may reuse the vision spell, it may even become regular, and that's not too much of a problem, lots of wizard characters have signature spells and abilities, but what it will not recieve is the same spontaneous reudction in difficulty from it being clever and being specially suited to solving the problem of that story which was finding out what the darkness was and what it represented. So in other words, the character may still get a reduction in difficulty from doing something in preparation, a personal sigil of sorts, and if it were again central to the story, it may further reduce in difficulty, but it would never again regain the reduction for being clever because it would not be new. It's not the hugest incentive in the world, I'm not trying to create the perfect magic system where all players are inspired to be amazingly creative and never use the same spell twice, but it does at least provide some incentive in a substantive way to make something new in difficult situations, to try to be clever, to not use magic when it isn't suited to the story, and to focus on how they're achieving their effects in the story. By all I just said, I think you have probably inferred that yea I do think redescribing spells or coming up with new methods in a good thing, but it's not required, only encouraged.
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J. Scott Timmerman
Member

Posts: 164


« Reply #39 on: July 09, 2007, 12:45:29 PM »

Justin Nichol - BFG, if we want to encourage creativity to that extent, that a creative ritual repeated no longer gets the bonus for being creative, I just think it should have some in-game explanation for why a ritual performed a second time is less likely to have the desired result.

My thoughts may sound like an answer to Mage: The Ascension here, but humor me.  In M:tA, the enforcing force was the Tellurian's resistance to magic (of course there were other factors).  It didn't enforce creativity; it rewarded monotony (the game actually encouraged rote repetition).  If we want to do the opposite, perhaps we could tie the reward to diminishing returns, especially in Impetus?

The universe might have some way of recognizing a spell that has already been cast, and block out the Impetus, Attunements and such from having further effect.  Mages that want to cast the same spell twice and still receive their nifty bonus have to find a way around this, usually by creatively coming up with another Impetus. 

Basically, the Universe already understands that you've spent that idea, and the idea's creative value is gone.  Finding another abstract connection in order to achieve the same result may also reduce difficulty somewhat; but taking a different route entirely may reduce it even more.

The words aren't coming out right.  Am I just stating the already apparent here?

-Jason T.
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J. Scott Timmerman
Member

Posts: 164


« Reply #40 on: July 10, 2007, 12:52:35 PM »

I thought of a better way to word my last comment:

Magick fundamentally changes the universe.  The act of casting the spell itself engraves the spell into the fabric of reality.  Using the same Impetuses and Attunements again is just like going over those already-engraved grooves again with the chisel: It does not add anything new, and cannot again aid in casting a spell. 

On the note of sacrifice, when a magick user (Mage or otherwise) decides to sacrifice something in their life, the user has taken that path of sacrifice, and cannot turn back.  Neither does choosing to take the path one is already on change the fact that one has taken it; a like sacrifice cannot be made again.

-Jason T.
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