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Q about Magic


islan

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I notice that there really isn't any requirement for a PC to become a magician; couldn't and wouldn't every PC just become a magician just for the hell of it (though I'm sure some will be more devoted to raising their magic skills than others)? I'm wondering if I should institute a rule like Sorcery's requirement of a 16+ POW, though maybe it would be more like 14+ POW.

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I notice that there really isn't any requirement for a PC to become a magician; couldn't and wouldn't every PC just become a magician just for the hell of it (though I'm sure some will be more devoted to raising their magic skills than others)? I'm wondering if I should institute a rule like Sorcery's requirement of a 16+ POW, though maybe it would be more like 14+ POW.

You could include such a rule, but bear in mind that a Magician has to have separate skills in each spell, which all require development if they are to be a well rounded caster - and that's time they cannot devote to training their non-magical skills... Plus becoming a Magician after character creation is a considerable undertaking, and without that training, a character's spell casting capability will be limited at best.

The nice thing about Magic (as opposed to to Sorcery), is that Magic allows the possibility of dabblers like the Gray Mouser, who know a little magic.

Cheers,

Nick

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Generally, in BRP games magic use is available to anybody who is physically/mentally capable.

Historically, in RQ/Glorantha anyone could use magic and everyone does.

Since BRP is not class-based, the only real restrictions on the use of magic are:

  • Physical/Mental ability
  • Inherent magical ability
  • Social Restrictions/Taboos
  • Cult/Guild Restrictions
  • Racial/Species
  • GM Restrictions

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You could include such a rule, but bear in mind that a Magician has to have separate skills in each spell, which all require development if they are to be a well rounded caster

Yeah, but just declaring yourself a magician at chargen automatically grants you four spells with base skill equal to your POW. In a sense it is free skill points. And even if they don't spend downtime training in them, they can still increase them by normal means of use.

I should note that I'm not so much concerned about game balance as I am concerned about everyone and their dog getting to be a magician. Just doesn't fit my notion of magic as something only some are gifted at, I guess.

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Yeah, but just declaring yourself a magician at chargen automatically grants you four spells with base skill equal to your POW. In a sense it is free skill points. And even if they don't spend downtime training in them, they can still increase them by normal means of use.

I should note that I'm not so much concerned about game balance as I am concerned about everyone and their dog getting to be a magician. Just doesn't fit my notion of magic as something only some are gifted at, I guess.

A couple of options you could steal from older BRP games:

  • Award those same number of skill points to everyone and just let them choose where to put them. It'd take away some of the incentive to start as a mage just to get the extra skills.
  • Give an actual bonus to someone who doesn't choose magic (possibly in addition to the above). For example, give 3 extra point to assign to stats, give out an extra piece of equipment, or similar.
  • Make minimum levels of certain stats for magic. For example, in old Stormbringer a character had to have both POW and INT of 16. This did have the disadvantage of "making the rich richer" as it were, but if game balance isn't an issue at all to you then it fits a lot of people's perception of what it should take to be a mage.
  • Make other skills important prerequisites to be able to do magic. For example, if magic is tied to a diety, make characters have a skill in Theology, Worship, or similar for the diety of at least the level of the spells. Or make characters be literate to a certain level, perhaps in ancient uncommon languages. This means mages would have more overall skills, but it'd take a concentration of skills in "non-adventuring" skills to be able to gain the magic. It also has the bonus of having characters around with esoteric skills that come in very handy for certain types of adventures: languages, lores, research, etc.
  • Not a rule anywhere, but you could play it like Ars Magica where all the PCs are expected to be mages. They're the exceptions and most people don't have magic, but the PCs are those special few all brought together (because of it?). Since BRP doesn't limit other skills, some will concentrate on magic, while others will concentrate on other skills and just occasionally use their magic or let it just develop through play.

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I hit on this problem from a slightly different angle a while back – basically as I read the Core Rules the balance for having Magic is that you start one power level lower; in a heroic level campaign your wizard starts as a normal level wizard (I’m looking at page 87 Powered Characters vs. Non-Powered Characters). This is a problem if you are running a normal-level game, as there is no lower level to drop the powered character to. I have been fiddling with this, and for my post-apoc game I have settled on letting everyone have access to the same laundry-list of powers, but adding to the list some “non-power” powers.

For Example: All PCs get POW/2 points to spend on the following:

[list of cool cyberware with point cost]

[list of biological modifications with point cost]

1 Point: +25% in one skill

1 Point: Expert: The character can raise one skill to 90% rather then the usual cap of 75% during character generation.

1 Point: Gifted, the character gains a +3% special bonus to one skill category (Combat, Communication etc.)

This way, if I do not want to run a cyborg or a mutant I can just dump my POW points into skills.

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I gave my players free run to create their own professions (spend their skill points anyway they wanted) unless, they wanted to be a magician-- in which case I had them use a profession template that basically required them to purchase a ton of Knowledge-type skills.

Edited by LivingTriskele

"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales."

"When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking."

~Albert Einstein~

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This is a strange element of character generation if BRP is being used for settings in which magic is unusual and it should cost you something to learn it. While I've never done a formal survey, I'll bet that is a good description of most people's fantasy campaigns. On the other hand, maybe they didn't want to create a BRP that prevents you from running a classing Runequest campaign, where everyone really does know a little magic. Whatever the explanation, I think the way to handle this is through the benevolent dictatorship of the game master. Either impose a tax on the magic using character's other starting skills, or give everyone else a little extra juice to balance things out. Or just don't allow non-wizard backgrounds to know any magic.

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OK, some thoughts:

In Elric!/SB5, the only requirement for being a sorceror was POW >= 16.

If you opted to know spells at character creation, you gained Chaos Points

per spell known.

In SB1-4, the requirement was INT+POW >= 32 and POW >= 16. So, you

could have wildly powerful sorcerors (high POW) with little capacity (lower INT),

or moderately powerful sorcerors (POW around 16) who were the book-wizened

type (high INT). Or, just plain badass sorcerors (INT and POW both high).

I prefer the SB1-4 for my personal Stormbringer rules.

For straight wizardy, where you are not facing otherworldly creatures, you could

just require INT+POW >= 32. Again, you could have wild native magic wielders

(say, witch doctors and shamans) with raw POW to cast spells, or very

learned wizards who have to research their spells (high INT). You could set

secondary limits as well, maybe POW >=14 to ensure enough MP. But, that

would require an INT of 18.

-V

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I hit on this problem from a slightly different angle a while back – basically as I read the Core Rules the balance for having Magic is that you start one power level lower; in a heroic level campaign your wizard

One thing I never could figure out was what to do if you started with bottom level characters (as I was considering for one campaign idea I had) with this rule.

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I notice that there really isn't any requirement for a PC to become a magician; couldn't and wouldn't every PC just become a magician just for the hell of it (though I'm sure some will be more devoted to raising their magic skills than others)? I'm wondering if I should institute a rule like Sorcery's requirement of a 16+ POW, though maybe it would be more like 14+ POW.

The starting Magician/non-Magician issue can be balanced using the non-powered heroes skills increase. It means that other characters will have an edge in their areas of non-magical expertise as a balance.

If that contradicts any preference of having all characters start at a low kill level (Mage or non-Mage), then the issue of whether you want balance becomes a question. If trying to keep skill levels low, then perhaps simply forgo the spell-skill benefits of Mages (ie the POW x 1 starting level on the starting spells) and simply have all characters purchase the magic skills from normal skill points, perhaps devising a range of appropriate magic professions to incorporate a selction of spells for each.

Edited by leonmallett

Very slowly working towards completing my monograph.

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The starting Magician/non-Magician issue can be balanced using the non-powered heroes skills increase. It means that other characters will have an edge in their areas of non-magical expertise as a balance.

Though I have to note that unless a lot of your advancement comes from training, this sort of modest differential tends to flatten out pretty fast in BRP style systems because of the way advancement is done.

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Though I have to note that unless a lot of your advancement comes from training, this sort of modest differential tends to flatten out pretty fast in BRP style systems because of the way advancement is done.

Good point, but then training seems to be well (better?) emphasized in the BRP rules now.

Very slowly working towards completing my monograph.

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Sure. But its very dependent on the amount of downtime that events (and the GM) permit the players, and as such is at least a little hard to assess in the abstract.

The good thing about training time/downtime is that a GM can arguably fine tune it better than basic experience systems, but I agree that such fine-tuning is hard to assess fully since there is typically a random element to the outcome.

Very slowly working towards completing my monograph.

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