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fmitchell

Grand Unified Magic System

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While most of us like the variety of d100 magic systems, sometimes a setting or set of players would like one system that stretches from the minor buffs and curses of Battle Magic to the heights of Sorcery (or Divine Magic).

Battle Magic at first blush seems like a good basis for such a system; just convert spells from Sorcery or elsewhere to a fixed or variable MP cost.  However that cost may be huge, and a master magician will need pockets full of Magic Point Stores.  Ways to mitigate that cost that I've thought of (i.e. stolen) include:

  • Instead of using their own MP, master magicians can draw power from their surroundings, at a cost.  See S. John Ross's Unlimited Mana for one such system, originally designed for GURPS.
  • Master magicians have a special skill that reduces the MP cost of all spells by 1 MP per 10%, to a minimum of 1, much like Wizard levels in Tunnels & Trolls.
  • Master magicians cast more powerful spells in downtime, then "freeze" them before they go off.  At dire need, they "thaw" the spell and direct it at the necessary target.  There's probably some limit to the number and strength of frozen spells, based on, oh I don't know, their "level" ...

BTW, I started with Magic World but ran into the same conceptual difficulties as with Battle Magic.  Their solution is to summon and bind demons, as in Stormbringer.

Sorcery is the next candidate: simply port Battle Magic spells without Sorcery equivalents (e.g. Create Magic Point Store) to Sorcery, and build from there.  Sorcery is a little more fiddly, though, so it's probably suited only for worlds where only a few people know magic, and sorcerers are specialists.

I'll skip Divine Magic.  A world of only priests sounds kind of dreary, but it might be some people's cup of tea.

More exotic possibilities include stealing the Witchcraft/Island Magic/Dragon Magic/Mythos Magic base mechanic from Renaissance, porting Chaosium's Enlightened Magic, or creating yet another variation of Ars Magica/Mage improvised magic.  I could also rip the systems from Classic Fantasy, either the original Chaosium release or the new Mythras version.  All of those sound like a lot of work, both in ensuring they have a good spread of spells (or equivalent) and in documenting them for players.

Is there some other OpenQuest-ready magic system I missed?  Are one of the possibilities above not as clunky as they seem?  Or should I start with the first principles of the setting -- in my case, an Arabian Nights / Crusades / Indiana Jones mashup with a few powerful sorcerers and a larger set of apprentices and "natural talents" -- and Frankenstein something together?

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The power chapter in Revolution D100 is essentially OpenQuest magic made generic and usable also for divine and psionics. It is not dependent on hit locations, so you can use it for OQ very easily.

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I have a version of OpenQuest Magic which is One Spell List for all magicians.

Basically it starts with Battle Magic as a base list and I added spells which were unique from the Sorcery and Divine lists.

I then stripped out magic point costs, because I realised in my games that I no longer could be bothered enforcing the bean counting that comes along with tracking magic point spends,

Variable spells got a dice type added to their descriptions to determine their effects, where the point cost of the spell used to. So for example Protection gives 1d8 points of Armour. You can't stack spells, you have to cast more powerful spells if you  want to increase the effect.

To manage the availablity of spells, I broke them into three categories.

Common - Spells that you can learn easily from friends, family, the old wise woman who sells charms for a few silvers etc. Low powered stuff that is common knowledge, that the players pick up at character generation and without much explaination. At the moment this has about 28 spells.

Taught- Spells that you need a tutor from an established tradtion (magic school, cult, shaman etc) or you learn from finding it in a lost respositry of magical knowledge, ie. from a scroll in a treasure trove.  This is the list of more powerfull spells that dedicated magician characters will want to learn. There's 58 spells on this list, but players can't just pick directly from the list, they need to find a teacher who knows the spell and be in good standing with them. This is where if you are using RQ style cults they come into play.

Secret - This list has 24 high powered spells, such as Skybolt (lighting bolt), Summoning spells and Resurrect. These spells are only taught to high level disciples who are have the complete confiedence of their tradition or found at the climax of a long and hard quest.

Every spell requires a successful Casting Skill test. Casting starts at POW x3 and starting characters get three spells from the common spell lists.

At moment this is a quick dirty hack and probably needs refining thorugh playtesting.

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Hey, Newt:

Very interesting! If you would/could/should find the time and the inclination, the spell titles in those three lists would be super. 

So...if there's no longer a MP economy, casting a more powerful spell version of say, well, "Protection" would simply be a matter of degree; for example, Protection renders a 1d8 variable; Protection 2 offers 2d8; Protection 3, 3d8, etc. ...correct? If you know it/learned it, you can cast it at whatever your casting skill might be at the time.

I'd like to explore this "...quick dirty hack..." of yours further ;-).

Cheers!

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On 26/02/2017 at 3:02 AM, Sunwolfe said:

Hey, Newt:

Very interesting! If you would/could/should find the time and the inclination, the spell titles in those three lists would be super. 

So...if there's no longer a MP economy, casting a more powerful spell version of say, well, "Protection" would simply be a matter of degree; for example, Protection renders a 1d8 variable; Protection 2 offers 2d8; Protection 3, 3d8, etc. ...correct? If you know it/learned it, you can cast it at whatever your casting skill might be at the time.

I'd like to explore this "...quick dirty hack..." of yours further ;-).

Cheers!

Nope its a case of Protection offers 1d8, that's it. If you want more than 1d8 you learn different spell say "Bob's Amazing Shield" which gives you an increased amount of protection that overrides the Protection spell. 

 

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Nope its a case of Protection offers 1d8, that's it. If you want more than 1d8 you learn different spell say "Bob's Amazing Shield" which gives you an increased amount of protection that overrides the Protection spell. 

Oh, I see. Interesting...hmmm (Sunwolfe muses). Thanks for the reply, Newt!

Cheers!

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Barbarians of Lemuria has nice simple magic system. It does not have defined spells, rather it's more open-ended. I'll check later how it works.

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