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umlauthuth

Building a "Magic" System for BRP OGC

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The BRP SRD currently lacks a generic magic/psi/powers system for authors of BRP SRD-derived works to use. In this thread I will be looking at where to start in writing up a generic magic system, post some rough notes, and hopefully provide feedback from the community, particularly GMs/new game authors, as to what will be useful in such a system.

This "magic" system is intended to exist solely as a game-mechanical procedure (a la FATE), which may be re-skinned by authors (or players, I guess) using it in various different settings. To that end, I'll probably include a number of variants that allow later authors to cut-and-paste the version they most prefer. I won't be addressing any "magical theories" of why it operates in-setting; just the assumption that it's a system for representing abilities PCs and NPCs have to affect themselves, others, and the world around them that are not covered by the usual rules for normal physical and social interactions. 

Starting Points

The SRD currently only has a few references to magic: 

  • Power Points: Power points are equal to POW and are spent to use magic or other powers. When a character reaches 0 power points, they fall unconscious. All power points regenerate after one full day that includes a night’s rest.
  • Projection (DEX×2): If powers (magic, super, psychic, etc.) are used in a game, this is the ability to direct a powered attack at a target.
  • Knowledge (various) (05% or 01%): Familiarity with a specific branch of study. For characters from the modern or future eras, the base skill is 05%; for historical periods it’s 01%. Each type of Knowledge skill is a specialty. Specialties are numerous, and include Anthropology, Archaeology, Area (a region), Folklore, Group (an organization), History, Linguistics, Literature, Mythology, Occult, Politics, Streetwise, etc.

No other skills relating to magic are included, although a couple (like Martial Arts and Fly) might be important to remember for potential powers. 

Drawing on Other SRDs

To streamline the system design process, it may be a good idea to look at and borrow (or, you know, copy and paste) elements from other extant open game content. Prime candidates for this are: 

- 3e SRD (including spell seeds, incantations, and psionics

- 5e SRD.

- Pathfinder Occult Magic

- The Psychic's Handbook (not available as an SRD, but released as OGC by Green Ronin)

I'd like to include the D6 System in this list but I'm having a hard time finding a "primary source" of Gibson releasing it as OGC. 

I mention these first because they come from systems where many of the basic concepts (HP, skill rolls, rechargable-resource management) are similar to BRP. Things like the WaRP SRD are potentially useful, but are coming from a slightly different place design-wise. 

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2 minutes ago, David Scott said:

You could also use the magic system in the BGB as the basis as it's not prohibited material.

If you want to use the Magic World system, I think it would make more sense to ask Chaosium to add that to the SRD themselves,

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1 hour ago, umlauthuth said:

The BRP SRD currently lacks a generic magic/psi/powers system for authors of BRP SRD-derived works to use. In this thread I will be looking at where to start in writing up a generic magic system, post some rough notes, and hopefully provide feedback from the community, particularly GMs/new game authors, as to what will be useful in such a system.

This "magic" system is intended to exist solely as a game-mechanical procedure (a la FATE), which may be re-skinned by authors (or players, I guess) using it in various different settings. To that end, I'll probably include a number of variants that allow later authors to cut-and-paste the version they most prefer. I won't be addressing any "magical theories" of why it operates in-setting; just the assumption that it's a system for representing abilities PCs and NPCs have to affect themselves, others, and the world around them that are not covered by the usual rules for normal physical and social interactions. 

Starting Points

The SRD currently only has a few references to magic: 

  • Power Points: Power points are equal to POW and are spent to use magic or other powers. When a character reaches 0 power points, they fall unconscious. All power points regenerate after one full day that includes a night’s rest.
  • Projection (DEX×2): If powers (magic, super, psychic, etc.) are used in a game, this is the ability to direct a powered attack at a target.
  • Knowledge (various) (05% or 01%): Familiarity with a specific branch of study. For characters from the modern or future eras, the base skill is 05%; for historical periods it’s 01%. Each type of Knowledge skill is a specialty. Specialties are numerous, and include Anthropology, Archaeology, Area (a region), Folklore, Group (an organization), History, Linguistics, Literature, Mythology, Occult, Politics, Streetwise, etc.

No other skills relating to magic are included, although a couple (like Martial Arts and Fly) might be important to remember for potential powers. 

Drawing on Other SRDs

To streamline the system design process, it may be a good idea to look at and borrow (or, you know, copy and paste) elements from other extant open game content. Prime candidates for this are: 

- 3e SRD (including spell seeds, incantations, and psionics

- 5e SRD.

- Pathfinder Occult Magic

- The Psychic's Handbook (not available as an SRD, but released as OGC by Green Ronin)

I'd like to include the D6 System in this list but I'm having a hard time finding a "primary source" of Gibson releasing it as OGC. 

I mention these first because they come from systems where many of the basic concepts (HP, skill rolls, rechargable-resource management) are similar to BRP. Things like the WaRP SRD are potentially useful, but are coming from a slightly different place design-wise. 

Cool! To me, magic should always be tightly linked to the assumptions of the setting - which is why there is no default magic system in BRP. But I have no problem with others coming up with something.

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1 hour ago, David Scott said:

You could also use the magic system in the BGB as the basis as it's not prohibited material.

REALLY? I do not believe the BGB is Open Content? One can emulate its rules (except where they fall under the Prohibited Content definitions), but nothing in the current license details makes that work Open Content as I understand it?

Could you comment on this @Jeff

Cheers,

Nick

Edited by NickMiddleton

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3 hours ago, David Scott said:

You could also use the magic system in the BGB as the basis as it's not prohibited material.

Really?
Oh that's good! :) 


The BGB magic system of all D100 version. The RuneQuest/Mythras/Legend family is too exponential in nature for me... (though I like the Mythras intensity = %/10).
Thouh I dont like the elemntal spell as is and I have a tweak.. :) 

One thing that is extremely different from D&D.. there is no level per in BRP... a lot of D&D spell are the variation of the same with different power level / refinement.... to give an example; Dimension Door, Blink, Teleportation, Teleportation Circle, Work of Recall...
Havent seen a BRP system that graceful reproduce that mad variety. Beside, do we want to?! (though having a longer power list in BRP, all source merged, would be nice. Much like in the Revolution D100 book)

Edited by Lloyd Dupont

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5 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

The RuneQuest/Mythras/Legend family is too exponential in nature for me... though I like the Mythras intensity = %/10).
Thouh I dont like the elemntal spell as is and I have a tweak.. :) 

One thing that is extremely different from D&D.. there is no level per in BRP... a lot of D&D spell are the variation of the same with different power level / refinement....

As you've mentioned MYTHRAS:
MYTHRAS Core has no levels for spells, but you've cited the relation between magic skill and Intensity.
If you look in the individual spells for MYTHRAS you'll find out that  many of them have power levels in relation to the Intensity score.
This is something like a spell-level in D100-form.

CLASSIC FANTASY, which is MYTHRAS-D&D, takes this concept a lot further and integrates spell power level simply while using the key concept from above.

Edited by prinz.slasar

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You misunderstand me....

In D&D there tons of spell... But many are like "minor illusion, level 3", "major illusion, level 7" (though this has improved in D&D5e)
Obviously in BRP you will have only one spell "Illusion" instead of those 2. Hence there is inherently less spell in BRP magic system...

Though sometime I am thinking to give cultural / unique spell to specific culture... which might be just a tweak of an exiting spell, much like many D&D spell are in relation to others.

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9 hours ago, NickMiddleton said:

REALLY? I do not believe the BGB is Open Content? One can emulate its rules (except where they fall under the Prohibited Content definitions), but nothing in the current license details makes that work Open Content as I understand it?

Could you comment on this @Jeff

Cheers,

Nick

I think that's right... there's Open Content, and Prohibited Content, and "Everything Else."

But David was only pointing out that the BGB is NOT Prohibited Content (except insofar as bits in the BGB may be listed in the BOGL, which... I don't recall? ) .

 

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19 hours ago, NickMiddleton said:

REALLY? I do not believe the BGB is Open Content? One can emulate its rules (except where they fall under the Prohibited Content definitions), but nothing in the current license details makes that work Open Content as I understand it?

Could you comment on this @Jeff

Jeff has commented in the BRP OGL thread. BGB is not prohibited Content, so you can use bits from it, except not the Sanity or Madness rules.

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15 hours ago, soltakss said:

... except not the Sanity or Madness rules.

Back when it first came out, CoC's SAN mechanics seemed awesome.

These days, I'd do something different anyhow, even if I was running otherwise-RAW CoC.

Edited by g33k
clarity

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On 3/30/2020 at 9:02 AM, Lloyd Dupont said:

One thing that is extremely different from D&D.. there is no level per in BRP... a lot of D&D spell are the variation of the same with different power level / refinement.... to give an example; Dimension Door, Blink, Teleportation, Teleportation Circle, Work of Recall...

Could you perhaps tie it into having a minimum skill requirement (perhaps it relates to understanding the bizarre language of arcane writings). The Spell Levels of D&D could also translate into 10% increments. So you need Occult 30% to understand Level 3 spells, Occult 50% to cast Level 5 spells, Occult 90% to cast Level 9 spells. It could cause balance issues, but it creates an easy mathematical solution to conversion. The Level system could even be tied into a GM's world lore, with each level considered a new understanding of the universe and reshaping the forces that bind reality. Just a thought.

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1 hour ago, Bran said:

Could you perhaps tie it into having a minimum skill requirement (perhaps it relates to understanding the bizarre language of arcane writings). The Spell Levels of D&D could also translate into 10% increments. So you need Occult 30% to understand Level 3 spells, Occult 50% to cast Level 5 spells, Occult 90% to cast Level 9 spells. It could cause balance issues, but it creates an easy mathematical solution to conversion. The Level system could even be tied into a GM's world lore, with each level considered a new understanding of the universe and reshaping the forces that bind reality. Just a thought.

Here's an idea, to cross-over the trad 9-level D&D spell-list with really dire CoC-ish implications for advanced (high-level) spells.

Yes, this DOES gimp magic from the trad-D&D POV.  It's much more "magic is F'ing dangerous!" in the trad-CoC model.  I presume spell lists (the effects) wouldn't look much like D&D spells! 

 

Anyhow, the idea I just had:

You cast at (Skill / Spell-Level)...

  • Level 1 spells cast at full skill
  • Level 2 spells cast at Skill/2
  • ... etc...
  • Level 9 spells cast at Skill/9

Add in some stuff about corruption & madness...

 

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I think it's related to much like there is no level (and increased HP) in BRP.... spell level feels awkward. Why can't I learn this, one would say? This is not BRP like!

However, there is some sort of technological level in BRP, for example if you play a fantasy campaign, you can't go into a shop and buy an automatic machine gun, even though the gun stat is in the book!

Me think we could still have multiple slightly different and not really fairly balanced spell.. but just segregated them by culture. Yes this spell is ridiculously weak and overpriced (in MP) compare to that one.. but hey, that's the only one you can get!
Or maybe this one power could be an innate ability, where as this other one is a learned magic spell...

About the idea of using an Occult skill for gating some spell.. sure, though it's not to my taste... But your number are wrong, because, usually, either player have base value (which is fine) or they jump to 70% (typical starting value of favored professional skill) in which case you directly start (too easily) with high tier powers... And going from 70% to 90% is relatively quick...
What Classic Fantasy did.. Common, Uncommon (requires Knowledge Arcane 100%) and Rare (require Knowledge Arcane 150%, I think) is better...

(BTW, when I say too easily I mean an occultist / wizard character - even a staring character one - has little XP investment and huge power compare to anyone else, and beg the question, why isn't everyone a wizard? Why wouldn't nobility make a mage army instead of stupid swordsmen? Better bang for bucks! no need to buy any gear and much more damage and toughness!)

Edited by Lloyd Dupont
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8 hours ago, MoonRightRomantic said:

I thought Legend, OpenQuest, GORE, etc already had OGL magic systems?

OGL =/= BRP OGL - I am not a legal expert, but I would strongly advise seeking a professional legal opinion before mixing WotC OGL licensed open content and BRP OGL licensed open content in the same "work".

I have read opinions from people with experience with the WotC and other well established Open Content licenses that suggest there are issue combining Open Content released under the BRP OGL with other open licenses and vice versa.

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14 minutes ago, NickMiddleton said:

OGL =/= BRP OGL - I am not a legal expert, but I would strongly advise seeking a professional legal opinion before mixing WotC OGL licensed open content and BRP OGL licensed open content in the same "work".

I agree. I am not sure if the various other OGLs allow the use of more than one OGL.

However, people who have already produced things for those systems might be able to reskin them and produce them for BRP, as long as it isn't too close to Spirit Magic/Runemagic.

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9 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

What Classic Fantasy did.. Common, Uncommon (requires Knowledge Arcane 100%) and Rare (require Knowledge Arcane 150%, I think) is better...

Actually, that is a far better approach. Only glanced at Classic Fantasy. But that it definitely a great approach.

The use of Occult was just a random skill I picked, but could be any. I was working off a concept to adapt a similar feel to D&D without actually adapting the system. Spell Level could also be adapted as 'spheres' or 'circles' depending on how someone wanted to dress up any surrounding lore around the concept.

Also, my connecting 10% skill increments to each spell level was based on the idea that the skill would work similar to the Cthulhu Mythos skill, where players cannot put points into it immediately, but would increase the skill through play. In fact, a rule could be used that Wizards can have starting % in the skill equal to INT. The skill would be used to identify spells, as well as gauge particular knowledge of the arcane. And that each Circle, Sphere, Level (however you wanna call it) would need a particular minimum % to understand spells of that level.

It was just an idea. Though, as you pointed out, Classic Fantasy seems to have done a better job of organizing them better.

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7 hours ago, NickMiddleton said:

I am not a legal expert, but I would strongly advise seeking a professional legal opinion before mixing WotC OGL licensed open content and BRP OGL licensed open content in the same "work".

I have read opinions from people with experience with the WotC and other well established Open Content licenses that suggest there are issue combining Open Content released under the BRP OGL with other open licenses and vice versa.

This is unexpected, to me.

Can you tl;dr the argument, or point / link to discussions?

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Speaking of BRP magic systems, I wonder if the rules in the "Enlightened Magic" supplement would be okay to use for BOGL products. A full game based on it could be cool.

Edited by Richard S.

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1 hour ago, g33k said:

Can you tl;dr the argument, or point / link to discussions?

Section 2 of the WotC OGL specifies that no other terms and conditions may be applied to Open Gaming Content governed by that license. Open Gaming Content governed by the BRP-OGL terms thus cannot simultaneously comply with that mandate.

One could, in theory, if one were very careful, aggregate Open Game Content governed by each license side by side in the same work. One would have to clearly and unambiguously designate which OGC is governed by which license, and ensure that no cross-pollination takes place. That is to say, no OGL-OGC can derive from BRPOGL-OCG, nor vice-versa.

I could see it being practical for something like a dual-statted setting guide, where most of the book is proprietary IP rather than OGC anyway. Building a blended ruleset OTOH would be rather difficult. At best, you might be able to do something very modular, like grafting Aspects from OGL Fate onto BRP. That wouldn't have to intertwine with the rest of the mechanics, so you could probably steer clear of cross-pollination. I can't see it being worth the effort that double-compliance would require (or the risk of it being challenged) when there are regular OGL D100 rulesets already available though.

Edited by JonL

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8 hours ago, soltakss said:

I agree. I am not sure if the various other OGLs allow the use of more than one OGL.

Something that is more commonly done is for the owner of an original work to do parallel releases under different licenses. Fate for example is available under both the OGL & Creative Commons licenses. Works that derive from it must select one or the other license, and may thus intermingle with other content governed by the same license. 

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50 minutes ago, g33k said:

This is unexpected, to me.

Can you tl;dr the argument, or point / link to discussions?

See JonLs post. Section 2 of the WotC OGL and it’s equivalent in the BRP OGL (section 3 iirc) can be read as precluding “mingling content”, and “mingling content” between sources is one of the fundamental strengths / benefits of Open Licensed Content.

51 minutes ago, Richard S. said:

Speaking of BRP magic systems, I wonder if the rules in the "Enlightened Magic" supplement would be okay to use for BOGL products. A full game based on it could be cool.

I defer to Chaosium or a professional legal expert for a definitive answer, but my understanding would be you would be free to rewrite the Enlightened Magic rules in your own words (it is NOT “open content” under this license, but nor is any of it Prohibited Content that Chaosium have excluded from the scope of the BRP-OGL).

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8 hours ago, JonL said:

Section 2 of the WotC OGL specifies that no other terms and conditions may be applied to Open Gaming Content governed by that license. Open Gaming Content governed by the BRP-OGL terms thus cannot simultaneously comply with that mandate.

One could, in theory, if one were very careful, aggregate Open Game Content governed by each license side by side in the same work. One would have to clearly and unambiguously designate which OGC is governed by which license, and ensure that no cross-pollination takes place. That is to say, no OGL-OGC can derive from BRPOGL-OCG, nor vice-versa.
...

 

8 hours ago, NickMiddleton said:

See JonLs post. Section 2 of the WotC OGL and it’s equivalent in the BRP OGL (section 3 iirc) can be read as precluding “mingling content”, ...

I see...  But frankly that "in theory" clause (of JonL's) actually looks awfully practical, to me... 

The WotC-style OGL already allow mixing OGC and non-OGC content in a single work, after all; as does the BRP OGL.

Let's add a "W" (for WotC) and repeat that; then a "B" for BRP:  the WOGL already allows mixing WOGC and non-WOGC content.  So it allows mixing WOGC and "BOGC" content, correct?  And vice versa, the BOGL allows mixing BOGC and non-BOGC content.  All as per the terms of the respective licenses.

(I mean... unless you want to make a version of Camelot where Arthur and Lancelot are Beholders.  Then Jeff Richards and Mike Mason drink a few beers, have a laugh, and come over to beat the living shi-- ... erm, play in your game.)

I'm not seeing a dramatic problem here...  You include BOTH license in the front matter, and indicate that neither licence applies to OGC of the other.

What am I missing? 

Edited by g33k
crossover

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