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Tertius

MW vs. BGB - Differences / Comparison

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Hello, everyone! 

Bit of a newbie question regarding MW: I have recently had the occasion to have a look at the book (since I had bought Advanced Sorcery and saw that it references MW), and noticed that there are more sorcery spells in MW than in the core BRP book. Seeing as how I'm planning to host a fantasy campaign with sorcery as the only form of magic, and noticing the differences, this has led me to wonder if there are any other fundamental differences between MW and the BGB. 

Having the BGB, should I also invest in MW? What would I be getting? If I have the core rules, could I just pick the ones used in MW and run my game like that? Beside the extra spells, is there any more content that might be of interest? 

Basically, any information regarding the comparison between these two books would be of use, rules- and content-wise, since I plan on doing the setting myself. 

Thanks for your time and patience with someone who's a bit lost! 

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I think the answer is "it depends". The BGB can provide a complete roleplaying expereince but it's a toolbox that requires you to make a lot of decisions and select the elements you want for a complete game. MW doesn't present nearly so many options. Rather it is a single set of simplified BRP rules in a small volume. For me I got MW first, studied it thoroughly and then after running it for a while bought the BGB for some of its added details and rules. However it you start with the BGB I am not sure MW offers anything new. Really MW advantages is that is has packaged a single set of useful rules that are ready to go.

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There are a bunch of minor differnces between the two games Generally speaking that's true for all Chasoium RPGs. The BGB was assembled from the various RPGs Chaosium produced over the years. That why it has several different magic systems, and both fixed a variable armor. Magic World, on the other hand, is geared towards a specific genre and style of play. It doesn't has as many optional rules or variants to it, and is more focused towards being a particular type of FRPG. So, with the BGB you get a lot more options, and a lot greater ability to customize things to suit your tastes, as nearly every rule has a couple of variants you can pick from. Magic World, doesn't have that. The authors have picked which variants to use that they feel would best fit the MW setting. 

Now as to if you should invest in MW or not depends on two things. First off, is there anything you need or want for your campaign that isn't covered in the BGB that you believe would be in MW? That's the primary question. The second one is how interested are you in MW to begin with? 

 

IMO if you have the BGB you don't need MW to run, but if you want to run something in the MW style then MW is better, if for no other reason that you don't have to port around a big rulebook where at least half of the contents wont apply to your game.

Edited by Atgxtg
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Magic World is primarily based on the Elric/Stormbringer/Hawkmoon games. The most recent BRP (BGB) is based on Call of Cthulhu, Elric/Stormbringer/Hawkmoon and RQ3.

 

Whereas BRP is more of a toolkit,. allowing you to mix and match various rules, including some found in Magic World, Magic World itself is more of a single rules set, not a toolkit.

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So, okay, I just need the extra sorcery content that MW has, then. 

Is there a magic-only resource (by which I mean book, website, whatever have you) to update my BRP to the MW standard or do I need to buy the whole thing? 😁

Thanks! 

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Sounds like we are done here. I’d just like to add the caution to pick and choose which magic rules you use and think about how your choice would logically effect the cultures of your world.  

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15 hours ago, tooley1chris said:

Some good materials I'd recommend are

 

The Magic Book 

https://www.chaosium.com/the-magic-book/

And

Advanced Sorcery

https://www.chaosium.com/advanced-sorcery/

 

Chris,

Do you happen to know if the magic systems described in The Magic Book is the same as that described in RuneQuest 6? I am laboring under the assumption that I don't need The Magic Book beause I have RQ6...

BTW - Nice to see you on this site again. Been a while!

 

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I wrote a review of Magic World a few years back. I somehow managed to mess up character generation in the review but the rest of it is still valid. It provides a good bit of info on Magic World. You can find it here. https://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/16/16300.phtml

Edited by rsanford
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On 1/7/2019 at 5:01 AM, Tertius said:

Hello, everyone! 

Bit of a newbie question regarding MW: I have recently had the occasion to have a look at the book (since I had bought Advanced Sorcery and saw that it references MW), and noticed that there are more sorcery spells in MW than in the core BRP book. Seeing as how I'm planning to host a fantasy campaign with sorcery as the only form of magic, and noticing the differences, this has led me to wonder if there are any other fundamental differences between MW and the BGB. 

Having the BGB, should I also invest in MW? What would I be getting? If I have the core rules, could I just pick the ones used in MW and run my game like that? Beside the extra spells, is there any more content that might be of interest? 

Basically, any information regarding the comparison between these two books would be of use, rules- and content-wise, since I plan on doing the setting myself. 

Thanks for your time and patience with someone who's a bit lost! 

Tertius are you the guy that wrote the new Magic World review on the big purple (Can be found here -> https://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/17/17905.phtml) If so good job!  It's nice to see Magic World getting some attention!

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'fraid not, chief. Most days I can't even get on RPG.net because it appears to hate my Romanian ISP for some unfathomable reason. 

I'll probably end up buying it though, and running more BRP. Lord knows my country needs it. 😂

Edited by Tertius

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4 hours ago, Tertius said:

'fraid not, chief. Most days I can't even get on RPG.net because it appears to hate my Romanian ISP for some unfathomable reason. 

I'll probably end up buying it though, and running more BRP. Lord knows my country needs it. 😂

I had a similar problem after a trip to India. Many sites block users whose signal originates from a country with a lot of internet scammers. 

Here is the text of the review...

Magic World (2012) is a generic fantasy game by Chaosium using the a variant of the Basic Roleplaying (BRP) system that also powers Call of Cthulhu, Runequest, and many other games. Here I review the game. In subsequent articles I’ll offer a few clarifications and house rules then give you a summary of my setting as an example of the kinds of world Magic World (MW) can support. When I refer to things one of the authors, Ben Monroe, has said my source is this thread https://forum.rpg.net/index.php?threads/a-thread-for-chaosiums-magic-world.787461/
This article copyright Karl David Brown 2018.
Poor First Impressions
The physical book is a perfect bound paperback with a dynamic colour illustration of adventurers fighting a giant on the cover. However, inside the art is of varied style and quality giving the book a dis-joined appearance. Chaosium fans will recognise re-used art from older publications, sometimes poorly scanned and visibly pixelated. The physical book also has a glossy map of the Southern Reaches setting which is missing from the PDF. Inside the text is mostly slightly larger font double column which I like because I’m often reading game books late in the evening when eyes and brain are tired. There are a good number of typos and a few rules explanations that are not quite up to the level of clarity we expect today. The typos that give some weapons the wrong Weapon Class (skill used) or price are particularly annoying. Partially, these complaints are because the text was assembled from portions of earlier out of print publications, such as “Elric!”, with references to the works of renowned novelist Michael Moorcock removed. The book really should have undergone another round of editing and polishing to create a seamless whole before being released. Ideally, Chaosium would have shelled out for new art of a coherent style. The Sorcerous Heritage rule is example of a niggling issue that could have been solved by polishing the text taken from previous publications into a seamless whole; the option to switch points into POW at character generation should be in the the rolling characteristics sections of the character generation chapter not hidden half a book away. The PDF does not have bookmarks. Frankly, the whole thing gives the impression of being done on a low budget and in a hurry.
Why did Chaosium create Magic World when Runequest has been such a hit?
Chaosium has undergone a recent revival as a company. Before that they embarrassingly lost the rights to Runequest. This was the period of the editions of Runequest by other companies, Mongoose and The Design Mechanism. Thus Chaosium found itself in an industry dominated by the fantasy genre with no fantasy game. Maybe this is why after releasing the “Basic Roleplaying ” (BRP) generic version of the system that powers Chaosium games they then produced “Magic World” as generic fantasy game. Despite sporting the BRP logo this is a stand alone game. A couple of years later Chaosium was taken over by folks who owned Runequest and the new management stopped further development of Magic World after only two supplements, “Advanced Sorcery” and the “Magic World Quickstart Rules”. Several others were at various stages of development but are unlikely to see the light of day now. Although, development of new “Magic World” books has stopped Magic World is still available as softcover book and PDF from Chaosium and has a small dedicated fan base including a forum at BRP Central (https://basicroleplaying.org/forum/24-magic-world/ ).
Why is it called ‘Magic World’?
In 1982 Chaosium released “Worlds of Wonder” a boxed set of generic BRP rules that included a few genre books. One of these was “Magic World”. The title of the new Magic World is therefore a shout out to its distant ancestor. Some people don’t like the name because it is too bland. For me Magic World isn’t magical enough for the name. One might expect Magic World to be especially magical and contain even more incredible creatures, places, and items than usual and for wizards to be especially common. This is not the case; Magic World supports settings with the usual amount of magic you might expect for standard fantasy faire.
Why Magic World?
Despite all this Magic World is a great game.
Why should I play Magic World when there are so many other Fantasy or BRP games?
Firstly, there is no one true best fantasy RPG. D&D is good for swashbuckling Saturday matinee type stories of roguish heroes laughing as they cut through hoards of goblins and spit in the eyes of dragons. In D&D its either flesh wounds, unconsciousness, or clean death. Nothing too gruesome for kids’ TV. Other games are more or less gritty, emulate different sub-genres of fantasy or even the works of specific authors. No RPG is the best choice, it depends on the kind of world you want to portray and kind of games you and your players enjoy. It’s a matter of the right tool for the job.
One Book
Though branded BRP, Magic World is a stand-alone game; you don’t need the Basic Roleplaying ‘Big Gold Book’. Monroe has said that he tried to make the core book Magic World as complete as possible. I’d say he succeeded. You could buy this one book and have everything you need to create and play a lifetime’s worth of adventures. 
BRP compatibility
I will play it with just this book and its two supplements “Advanced Sorcery” and the quick-start free PDF. However, since Magic World is built on the BRP system it is very compatible with other BRP games (including those who don’t have the BRP branding). The core BRP ‘Big Gold Book’ (BGB) is not needed for play but all the generic systems in that book are compatible, want mutants and superheroes from a crashed spaceship in your world? No problem, use the BGB. Magic World supports pre-gunpowder Iron Age to early medieval technology but it would be easy to import Age of Sail technology from the old Runequest Pirates or Mongoose’s Pirates of Legend. There is a good bestiary in Magic World but if you need need more monsters it is easy to import monsters from Call of Cthulhu or any other BRP game. BRP veterans who like things more complicated could easily import the magic system from their favourite BRP game but to my mind that negates one of the features that differentiates Magic World from other BRP fantasy games.
Generic
While the last chapter of the book provides an example setting, Magic World is presented as a generic rule set not tightly bound to the reality of a particular fictional world and therefore perfect for building your own world with. Sure, the book has its origins in out of print material from the Elric! franchise but after cutting out the specific references a fairly adaptable generic game remains. Personally, I prefer generic RPGs because part of the fun is building your own world. If you don’t want to do that work well the last chapter has a setting for you. If you want to buy into an unusual and fully described setting with lots of supplements, well Magic World is not for you and that’s cool too.
Gritty
No generic RPG can do everything well. Magic World is suited to the grittier end of fantasy. Combat is arguably more realistic than D&D and for the ill equipped or untrained downright deadly. The rules for major wounds are simple enough to be fast playing but should make PCs hesitate before drawing swords. If you want to emulate the fight scenes from TV shows like Vikings, Britannia or Game of Thrones then Magic World is a good choice. Other hat-tips to realism and real risks are scattered throughout the book including disease and seasickness. When was the last time you saw a swashbuckling D&D hero get sea sick?
Not every encounter will end in a deadly fight but battles will happen and you should create a PC prepared to survive one way or another. Be pragmatic, even the most scholarly wizard might consider a shield or perhaps armour under that voluminous robe before heading towards a battle. Alternatively, a really high dodge skill might be good enough.
If this level of grit isn’t to taste there are optional rules such as heroic hit points that make things a bit less grim.
Just easy enough
Games of the BRP family, including Magic World, all have a unified rule to resolve all tasks, had it for over a decade before D&D caught up and invented its own unified mechanic. BRP games use % roll under that is even more intuitive and easier to teach to beginners than D&D’s D20 roll over. There are degrees of success and failure that add a little more granularity to outcomes. 
BRP games don’t have classes and levels with hundreds of unique abilities to look up. Instead characters simply increase their skills and characteristics. In Magic World the few spell casters might learn new spells and very rarely a character might gain a few abilities by becoming a champion of a cosmic force but that’s the extent of new material to learn. 
Monroe has said that Magic World was intended as a “streamlined intro game to the BRP line”. Everyone has their own ‘sweet-spot’ of complexity, which may change depending on the project. Magic World is very close to my current sweet-spot. It is simpler than most BRP games except Open Quest by D101 Games which is too simple for my taste. One place where streamlining is obvious is in the magic rules. In other BRP fantasy games there are typically several different kinds of magic each with its own skills, systems, and quirks. The core Magic World book presents a single streamlined system used by all spellcasters. It’s easy to learn and fast playing at the table. I like it a lot. 
Although there aren’t character classes players choose a species, culture, and occupation which guide their skill choices preventing choice paralysis. They also have a few free choice points for skills to customise the new PC. Character generation is fast and flexible taking about 15-30 minutes to complete. 
Nautical Adventure
Magic world includes a pretty complete set of seafaring rules. Sailing provides a wealth of adventure possibilities including exploration, pirates, naval battles, sea monsters, riding out storms, and mutiny. If you want the sea to feature prominently in your campaign then Magic World is a good choice. Go away and watch the old Sinbad matinee’s and HBO’s Vikings then read Le Guin’s Wizard of Earthsea and you’ll have lots of ideas to play with. The author of Magic World has said that one reason the nautical rules are in the core book was because his kids loved Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis. You’ll note that there are also rules for talking beast PCs.
Overall
Magic World has some presentation issues but remains my favourite iteration of the BRP rules for fantasy. It is a stand-alone book with lots of spells, monsters, travel and everything you need for a lifetime of play. The rules within are a streamlined version of the intuitive BRP rules providing fast play and are suitable for those new to BRP or even RPG. Magic World provides a grittier more threatening environment for PCs while maintaining fairly fast play. 

 

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23 hours ago, rsanford said:

Chris,

Do you happen to know if the magic systems described in The Magic Book is the same as that described in RuneQuest 6? I am laboring under the assumption that I don't need The Magic Book beause I have RQ6...

BTW - Nice to see you on this site again. Been a while!

 

Sorry but I'm not at all familiar with RQ

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On 1/8/2019 at 2:30 PM, rsanford said:

Chris,

Do you happen to know if the magic systems described in The Magic Book is the same as that described in RuneQuest 6? I am laboring under the assumption that I don't need The Magic Book beause I have RQ6...

Not Chris, but I have the Magic Book... it is the RQIII Magic Book translated (not as rigorously as it should have been, alas) in to compatibility with the BRP BGB.

Cheers,

Nick

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3 minutes ago, NickMiddleton said:

Not Chris, but I have the Magic Book... it is the RQIII Magic Book translated (not as rigorously as it should have been, alas) in to compatibility with the BRP BGB.

Cheers,

Nick

Does it have a lot of useful spells? Coming from D&D I haven’t been happy with the number of spells available to Magic World Gamer’s.

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53 minutes ago, rsanford said:

Does it have a lot of useful spells? Coming from D&D I haven’t been happy with the number of spells available to Magic World Gamer’s.

Yea, but nothing on the D&D scale. Something like a D&D fireball is somewhat possible with RQ3 Sorcery, but the Magic Point requirements would be prohibitive. You get a lot more options and flexibility with RQ3 magic, but its geared to a one target, item type of spell. It's much easier to burn a single opponent to cinders than it is to give a dozen opponents a hot foot.

But there is lots of stuff that can be used very effectively if someone is clever, especially if they have time to prepare and cast long term spells.

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