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Freeform power system

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Is there a way to a freeform powers system that combines magic, psionics and other types of powers for BRP? I personally do not like spells/psi-powers as skills for any rpg and was there might a variant or alternate system for it.

Edited by technoshaman
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I'm using a system where there's only one skill for magic/psi (rather than one skill for each individual spell/ability) and if the roll fails then they have half effect (rather than none). Is that the sort of thing you mean?

Britain has been infiltrated by soviet agents to the highest levels. They control the BBC, the main political party leaderships, NHS & local council executives, much of the police, most newspapers and the utility companies. Of course the EU is theirs, through-and-through. And they are among us - a pervasive evil, like Stasi.

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I'm not familiar with either of those. How do they work?

Britain has been infiltrated by soviet agents to the highest levels. They control the BBC, the main political party leaderships, NHS & local council executives, much of the police, most newspapers and the utility companies. Of course the EU is theirs, through-and-through. And they are among us - a pervasive evil, like Stasi.

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Depends what you mean by "is there a way". You could likely make a freeform skill based approach, but depending on what degree you expect it to give you real guidance to result, its not going to be easy, and to the best of my knowledge there's no such thing currently extent.

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The ones i have played and like that was freeform is Mage: The Ascension and Omni System which i only read but felt similar to Mage.

I have the Talislanta 4th ed. (ie. Omni) magic system and it seems like it'd be extremely easy to port over to BRP. I haven't done it yet, so have no details. However, I think just taking the skills directly from Tal4 and using them in BRP would work great. I'd probably skip counting Power Points, and instead use the Tal4 way of reducing chances at each subsequence attempt at magic by 5%.

I like the current magic systems, but they're a bit too formulamatic for me. I've been meaning to put a post out there for discussions of other magic ideas. It may or may not address what you're after though. I'm after unpredictability and sacrifice...with possible consquences to the user of magic.

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Hello everyone,

First of all, forgive my mistakes, for english is not my native language, and this is my first post...

I've done a kind of freeform magic system, with no pre-definite spell or power. This may be not what technoshaman's looking for, but this is how it works :

- one skill per domain, i.e. Fire, Water, or telepathy, telekinesis... whatever, choose here a large domain, large enough for your purpose. Even only one for all kind of powers if you want.

- use a simple table, in which you will find all the parameters of the power/superpower/spell/nindo... : casting time, range, damage, duration...

Each parameter gives a malus, add all, roll your skill with the appropriate malus. I can give you more explanations if you want.

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Please do! And welcome to the forum ayelin! :)


Thanks ! OK, let's go !


So, you have several magic skills. Which one ? It depends on your setting, the origin of magic, and so on. For example :

* Arcane magic : air, animal, body, water, enchantment, electricity, fire, force, ice, light, mind, metamagic, morphing, death, time, earth, flora. [you can even reduce these skills, for example with a "elements" skill instead of air, electricity, fire... and a nature one instead of animal and flora]

* Miracles : the magic comes from the gods. Here are the skills, only for the Spheres of influence of the god. Destruction, Summon, Creation, Protection, Perception, Binding, Translation, Transmutation, Speak

* Psychic powers : Clairvoyance, Telepathy, Telekinesis, Body, Metapsychism.

You spend your skill points between the skills you've chosen. Now, how to use it ? With this table :

Difficulty table


Cast. : casting time (I use a different initiative system)

Range : time and space

Duration : obvious

Zone : area of effect, roughly speaking

Charac : if the spell must overcome one of its target characteristic (or you can use a characteristic roll to simulate target resistance)

Bon : bonus, if the spell purpose is to enhance a characteristic, x5 for a skill bonus

Diff : the difficulty of each parameter.

Magic point cost ? 1/10 the final difficulty.

[NB : you can change the value of the first line to 0, instead of +1


1) I want to turn this ugly goblin, there, into ashes. I will burn him with my famous fireball :

- Casting time 1 round (I'm not in a hurry) :+20

- Range : 10 meters : +15

- Duration Instantaneous, +1

- Target 1, +5

- Damages 2d8+1 (enough for a goblin) +20.

20+15+1+5+20 : 61. I roll my Fire skill with -61%, I spend 6 mp.

2) As a priest of Asclepios, I must heal my faithful friend, who is badly injured after a terrible battle :

Casting time : 1 tr, +15

Range : 0 (I touch him) +1

Duration : instantaneous +1

Heal : 3d6+1, +25

I roll my Creation (Heal) skill with -42%, and I spend 4 mp.

3) The governor of Olympia III require my help to discover the assassin of General Kur'tho, killed 5 days ago in his own spaceship. I will use my well known psychic powers, especially Clairvoyance (combining all perception and divination powers). I enter his cabin, and :

Casting time : 1 hour (I'm always cautious) +1

Range : 0, +1

Range : 5 days, +20

Duration : 1 hr, +25

I roll my Clairvoyance skill with -47%, I spend 5 mp, and if I don't fail, I will see what happened in this room, 5 days ago, during one hour.


How to reduce difficulty ?

Several ways :

- spending more mp : for each mp added to the cost of the spell, reduce the difficulty by 5%.

- using material components : depending the value of the component

- creating a ritual : casting time becomes irrelevant. You cast your spell using a complex a very long ritual, the more longer, the more the difficulty is reduced.

- benefit of a "normal" skill : for instance, I want to cast an animal language spell, using my "animal" magical skill. But i have also a "handling animal" skill, 80%. I have a bonus of 1/4, so +20%.

Opposing 2 spells

Simply compares the roll quality, or the margin of success.

Other options

Well, much to long to translate, maybe later if you want : creating magic objects, summoning creatures, building creatures (golem, undead...), memorizing spells, writing scrolls...

Hoping my English is understandable...

I'm waiting for your opinions.


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Well for Mage from oWoD, Magical aptitude is measured in two stats: Arete, which is a measure of a mage's magical strength and overall ability, and the Spheres (separate list from skills), which are the facets of reality that a mage can manipulate: Correspondence (spacial), Entropy (chaos), Forces, Life, Matter, Mind, Prime, Spirit and Time.

There are no spell lists in the game. Imaginative players can come up with countless spells by playing with the range of power allowed by their spheres. Intermediate players will soon learn to combine spheres to create even more complex effects, lending the game a ton of options and variety.

The mechanics are rolling a magical stat and spending spell points to get an extra effect and you roll skill+stat for certain difficulty.

Paradigm however, is the hardest concept for most people to wrap their heads around. A mage's paradigm is his "magical style" a means by which he casts magic. This is not merely relegated to "I wave a wand" but rather, a complex explanation of what belief his magic springs from, and how much his belief will allow him to do. For example, a mad-scientist type of character can create a lightning gun, or perhaps a pair of hover boots, but if his "science" does not believe in ghosts, no number of dots in his Spirit Sphere will grant him the ability to zap ghosts. However, paradigms change with the mage, so if the said mad-scientist gets a harrowing encounter in what he cannot explain, then he might be able to develop some understanding of the Spirit Sphere, and then begin working on a "ghostbuster" weapon.

Edited by technoshaman
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Thanks ! OK, let's go !


I'm waiting for your opinions.


Very nice, Ayelin. I've been working on a Mage-esque freeform system linked in with the mythology of my personal campaign world (based on mastery of the various fundamental runes of my world), but frankly, much of this looks far more manageable. If you don't mind, I may borrow some ideas for my own... :)

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Thanks ! OK, let's go ![snip]

[/snip]Hoping my English is understandable...

I'm waiting for your opinions.


That's a great system and looks like it would be easy to incorporate into a BRP game. Thanks for sharing!

It gives me inspiration for my campaign!

Skunk - 285/420 BRP book

You wanna be alright you gotta walk tall

Long Beach Dub Allstars & Black Eyed Peas

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  • 1 year later...

I would absolutely welcome a freeform magic system, and possibly even setting, like Mage: the Ascension, (or maybe Nobilis). I miss consensual reality as a game concept, and I miss the ability to create your own magical style in a game. Ars Magica's Verb and Noun/Spontaneous casting ideas could also be used too.

It could be done with percentile Spheres - although the debate would be how do you categories 'reality'. Personally, I would possibly use effects:










Mage the Awakening also has Fate, although I'd condense it to go with Time. The levels of effects could be graded by levels <15% <35%, <50%, <70%, <90% or something, which new effects/understanding dealt out at each level. While an overall Arete (or whatever), that can't be higher than the lowest Sphere rating used in the effect, could be rolled against to achieve the success. Critical failures (or failed matching dice) could lead to a Paradox.

Actually, you could do an entire make over of the Mage game in BRP and I'd be very happy.

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I missed this thread first time around but I have three suggestions to add to the list. The first is Loz's excellent system from Unknown East. It's kind of similar to my memories of the system in Ars Magica. It's very flexible and I've had good experiences with it.

The second is to borrow the Maelstrom system. It's composed of 5 levels of ritual magic. A first level spell would be something that could easily be chalked up to chance. A foe trips at an inopportune time. The sun hits someone's eyes wrong at a crucial moment. etc. Fifth level spells are spells that make the impossible possible.

A fellow named Questbird put this system to good use in his Lankhmar game. I took it from him and added some descriptive qualifiers. The rules work the same but an Elementalist uses different descriptions and effects than an Hedge Wizard than a Diviner then a High Sorcerer.

Thirdly, one of the supplements for Nephilim had a ritual freeform magic system. Unfortunately, I don't have any practical experience with it but the rules seem sound.


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One possibility might be to draw some inspiration from RQII magic where generally there are two skills involved. 1 to cast magic and 2 to determine the strength of the magic.

Back in the day I used to use a variant of verb/noun magic in RQ3 but was never happy with it. You were stuck with no really good way to deal with two skills at once. If I were doing it now though I might think of nouns as determining the strength while verbs show your ability to cast (and maybe to manipulate).

E.g. "Transform" as a verb and "body" as a noun. If you wish to cast a spell to transform the body then the effect of the spell would be proportionate to your skill with Body magic while your skill at casting it would be your Transform skill. This saves having multiple skills to roll against and also allows you have spells with one verb and two nouns where needs be. There are other ways. So, as an example.

Verbs: cast chance for a spell and effect level of the spell.

Noun: limits to manipulation.

So if Transform is 63% then maybe you could use critical chance to determine effective level of the spell when cast spontaneously and double critical when cast as part of a "formula."

If Body is 63% then maybe you could have one level of manipulation for each 10% of Body: that would be 6 levels to split between duration, range, targets, magnitude and so on.

If I were thinking of doing spontaneous/free form effects now, I think that's where I would start.

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