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amgodtic
2010-04-27, 01:17 PM
I'm trying to piece together a SUPER simple magic system, which allows for plenty of creativity-at the cost of needing a moderate-to-heavy amount of on-the-spot DM adjudication.

The monosyllabic naming convention was kinda inspired by the movie "push" (hey, I didn't wanna watch it, the HR rep deemed watching a random bootleg movie a "teamwork building exercise"

Channeling:
1: Guide: designate effects of another spell (your own only)
2: Stop: prevent effects of another spell
3: Change: change effects of another spell (can program other's spells)
4: Sap: Reduce another's resistance to magic
5: Breathe: Manipulate life (kill, animate, resurrect, potentially more)

Conjuration: Able to produce/remove (Rank2) kilograms of material per round of casting (touching caster) (amount of energy to be determined)
1: Make: Create elemental matter
2: Move: Create energy (heat, radiation, kinesis)
3: Void: Remove matter and energy
4: Shape: Create any form of matter with relevant knowledge (including complex machines and biological forms-HOWEVER, conjured biological organisms are NOT ALIVE)
5: Form: Conjure within line of sight

Divination:
1: Read: Hear thoughts, probe memories. Within line of sight.
2: Write: Send mental message within line of sight (no roll neccesary).
3: Hear: Read mind, no range limit
4: Say: Mental Missive, no range limit
5: Know: Roll divination + ? to learn a piece of information

Enchantment: Able to affect (Rank) minds per round of casting.
1: Sway: Manipulate emotion
2: Tell: Suggestion
3: Trick: Illusions
4: Switch: Manipulate memories
5: Take: Supplant conciousness

Teleportation: Able to teleport (Rank2) kilograms of material per round of casting; self always requires exactly one round.
1: Hop: Move self within line of sight
2: Toss: Move other FROM within line of sight TO within line of sight
3: Leap: Move self to anywhere
4: Throw: Move other FROM within line of sight TO anywhere
5: Pull: Move other FROM anywhere TO line of sight

Transmutation: Able to transmute (Rank2) kilograms of material per round of casting.
1: Break: Reduce to component elements
2: Switch: Change from one element to another
3: Fuse: Combine elements into composite chemicals
4: Build: Arrange matter into any form with relevant knowledge (including complex machines and biological forms-HOWEVER, transmuted biological organisms are NOT ALIVE unless object animate immediately before assuming this form)
5: Mold: Transmute within line of sight

A few clarifying notes about the functions of the various schools:

Conjuration: Make or unmake matter or energy (Yes, apparently breaking the Law of Conservation)
With a relevant Knowledge skill check, can create a complex object (Chemical, mechanical or biological. Biological creations are dead upon creation).
<OR>: 1 calorie of heat, or equivalent amount of electricity, radiation or kinetic force. +5 to generate enough energy to deal 1 damage to 1 m3

Teleportation: Anything, from anywhere, to anywhere
Duration: Instantaneous

Transmutation: Anything, to anything else
Effect: With a relevant Knowledge skill check, can transform matter of one form into another. Must always have knowledge skill relevant to intended form; must have knowledge skill relevant to original form, unless original form is raw materials. (Animal into machine requires biology and mechanics; elements into specific chemicals requires only chemistry; skyscraper into fortress requires only architecture-besides a high DC for all that mass!)

Channeling: Manipulate and modify magic and life
Effect: Can "program" effects of other spells; cause an illusion or telekinetic force to continue to follow a script without your attention; cause magical force to shape to accommodate your movements, but not the movements of projectiles aimed AT your body (i.e., mage armor); can adjust, counter, or even redirect, the effects of other spells. In addition, this is the school of magic that proves the soul; you may use it to interact with living souls; calling them back to their bodies, potentially creating a soul (and possibly using it to energize a biological conjuration), etc.

Divination: Rank 5 draws information from an infallible, omnisicient source.

Run each school of magic more or less like a vampire discipline. I figure this is a world where conjurers build robot servants, transmuters turn themselves or their friends into hulks or cyborgs, teleporters are above the rules, enchanters are behind everything, and NOBODY knows what the diviners are up to-not to mention you're not restricted to taking only one school, and I expect lots of creative spell invention by combining them. Think of it kinda like the 5 colors of magic (eh...channeling is colorless.), in that there's benefits to specializing, and there's benefits to diversifying.

One of the main problems I'm wrestling with is that offensive spellcasting is inherently overpowered. Only high-rank conjurers/transmuters can work their effects beyond touch range, but how much "damage" can they do? More importantly, what can I use to resist spells, OTHER than willpower, so that willpower doesn't become an overpowered stat. Being teleported off a cliff, transmuted to goo, enchanted into suicide...if Willpower resists it all, no one in the universe will have less than 10 willpower.

Knaight
2010-04-27, 05:15 PM
Go read Ars Magica. Now. 4th edition is free.

The Tygre
2010-04-27, 06:52 PM
Go read Ars Magica. Now. 4th edition is free.
Hell, go -play- Ars Magica. I don't care if you weren't looking for a new system. For cripes' sake, it's Ars Magica.

amgodtic
2010-04-27, 09:11 PM
Hooly...alright. Lot more rules-heavy than what I wanted, but at the very least I'll make a lot faster progress houseruling this than building my own system. Thank you, very much.

Knaight
2010-04-27, 10:17 PM
Hell, go -play- Ars Magica. I don't care if you weren't looking for a new system. For cripes' sake, it's Ars Magica.

See this post above mine? We call this the result of us being amazing.:smalltongue:

Lord Raziere
2010-04-27, 10:38 PM
I actually came up with an even simpler system than this like months ago, but since it wasn't as thought out, it would probably be overpowered.

the system? just describe what you want the magic to do, let the DM set a DC rating for it, then roll a 1d20 and add your intelligence modifier.

that's it.

The Tygre
2010-04-27, 10:58 PM
See this post above mine? We call this the result of us being amazing.:smalltongue:

Hermetic high five!

In all seriousness, my one question with this system is how does one go about summoning demons and spirits and other beasties? Or would that be more drawn out and involve stuff like rituals and bindings?

lesser_minion
2010-04-27, 11:32 PM
Atlas seem to have a really bizarre approach to marketing.

If you get the chance, I'd recommend grabbing the 5th edition book at some point - it really does improve things.

Oh, also check out Maelstrom if you can find it. It was a 'stats+class' only game, and the magic rules were incredibly simple - determine category of spell, roll intelligence to remember the incantation, roll willpower to cast it.

amgodtic
2010-04-28, 09:57 AM
In my system? Or Ars magica?

In my system, assuming demons exist, its primarily a teleportation effect, probably requiring divination to get a "fix", and some channeling to pull a "inverted magic circle" type control-effect wouldn't go amiss.

In Ars Magica, from what I've skimmed so far, I'm assuming the ritual would involve the latin phrase "I move power", because I have to assume teleportation is covered under the "I move" thing, and it said that demons are covered under "power", because they're inherently magical entities.

Fayd
2010-04-28, 10:04 AM
My DM is currently in the alpha stage of building a magic system designed for pretty much exactly your purpose (I think.) Mortals tend to cap out at level 10 or so (demigods start at about level 11) which is what I'm interpreting the d10 to mean... I could be wrong.

I have posted the current alpha version of the rules in my campaign journal. I believe I have a direct link to the relevant post in the first or second post. Essentially we use a flexible 'mana point' based system, with a very fluid spell-building process. You might want to check it out... I'll try to answer any questions you have (this thread or the journal) to the best of my ability.

Good luck finding something though!

mikeejimbo
2010-04-28, 10:13 AM
Hermetic high five!

In all seriousness, my one question with this system is how does one go about summoning demons and spirits and other beasties? Or would that be more drawn out and involve stuff like rituals and bindings?

Wait, Hermetics? I'm sold.

cnsvnc
2010-04-28, 12:09 PM
describe what you want the magic to do, let the DM set a DC rating for it, then roll a 1d20 and add your intelligence modifier.
We have a winner.

amgodtic
2010-04-28, 12:51 PM
Fayd, is there a link to the journal in your post?

As for d10, I was referring to the die-I really liked the way rolls in World of Darkness bell curve with a pool of d10's, so that was what I wanted to build in-plus, I was looking for a system without levels. While they make designing encounter levels easier, they straightjacket character abilities. Fine for combat balance, forces characters to have a minimum of combat effectiveness, in addition to whatever else they do-but unrealistic.

Sometimes, its okay to have a character who's a genius with computers, academics, social skills, whatever, but who doesn't have much to contribute to combat-watch any movie with a cast that could be described as a "rag-tag group of adventurers", and I guarantee you, at least half the cast are non-combatants. This obviously excludes movies about soldiers and mercenaries, but even then, sometimes, this will hold, between medics, specialists, refugees, etc.

Ravens_cry
2010-04-28, 01:02 PM
We have a winner.
Trouble is, it's so arbitrary. And it puts a lot of leg work on the DM, deciding for every magical effect the DC, practically on the fly.

Zeta Kai
2010-04-28, 01:05 PM
My DM is currently in the alpha stage of building a magic system designed for pretty much exactly your purpose (I think.) Mortals tend to cap out at level 10 or so (demigods start at about level 11) which is what I'm interpreting the d10 to mean... I could be wrong.

I'm working on a system that uses the same basic premise, but uses a d12. The demigods are at "level" 13.

Great minds, I hope...

Fayd
2010-04-28, 01:15 PM
*facepalm* Yeah, a link WOULD be helpful, wouldn't it? It's been an... interesting... week.

http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=125072

Couple of things, we still are based on the d20 system for rolls and such, so this may not be exactly what you're looking for, but...

amgodtic
2010-04-28, 02:51 PM
@Fayd, My systems gone through a dozen drafts since the original idea, in which it was d20. This magic system looks a lot like one of the versions it went through when I was trying to make it model the Magic the Gathering world. I had spellcraft, rather than a skill, basically being the same as BAB-wizards got 1/level, clerics/rogues. got .75/level, fighters got .5/level.

The goal was a system where the difference between a wizard and a barbarian wasn't fireball vs. sword; it was fireball and sword vs. complicated enchantments and intellect.

But the overall goal was to get rid of the arbitrary, prescribed, pre-packaged concept of a "spell". Basically, being a programmer, I want object-oriented magic. I want modularity. I want elegance. And I want physics to play a part. The same spell in two situations should not have the same effect.

I want a character to be able to break the windows with a sonic wave, then hurl the broken glass-and I want his opponent to invent a spell on-the-fly that dissolves glass into sand.* I want a wizard to look around and take advantage of the inherent power of the acorns in a tree, combined with his talent, to make impromptu bombs.** I want a spell that just covers a hill with a thick layer of mud, combined with a spell that creates a wall of water, to result in an even more unstoppable mudslide.***

A major reason for creativity is environment. If you live your life in one environment, solving one problem, you don't need modularity. You need one program, run over and over. But the world isn't like that, and neither should magic be.

Ars Magica looks like its definitely on the right track. I think I'm going to work toward incorporating what I've got into it.

*Dumbledore vs. Voldemort
**Gandalf in cartoon Hobbit
***Trick from Naruto, they used it at least twice I think.

Fayd
2010-04-28, 05:03 PM
Sounds good to me! I THINK that's the direction we're headed, actually... but we're still in early alpha, so we have to hammer out basic mechanics before we can get to the cool stuff.

Good luck though, this looks like this will be a very fun project to watch develop! Designing systems is a difficult task, so I admire the people who can do it. I'll be keeping an eye on this.

Tyrrell
2010-04-29, 07:40 AM
In Ars Magica, from what I've skimmed so far, I'm assuming the ritual would involve the latin phrase "I move power", because I have to assume teleportation is covered under the "I move" thing, and it said that demons are covered under "power", because they're inherently magical entities.

If you're just looking at the fourth edition core book download,... boy it's been awhile. Rego vim is the pair of arts you'd use to sum on demons, the spells are specifically not spelled out in the core book but they might be somewhere. You'd use mentem for ghosts and rego ignem/auram/terram/aquam for elementals.

In fifth ed to control a disembodied spirit of a given form is base 5 (adjustments for duration and range, so range voice duration diameter would be level 20) but naturally you'd need to exceed the creature's might with your penetration.

To summon a disembodied spirit is base 15 , you probably won't need a duration greater than instantaneous but you probably will need range arcane connection so a typical final level would be 35, (the example in the book is duration concentration at level 40.)

Of course there is always more than one way to get a job done in ars Magica. Rather than directly summoning you could use a mentem spell and force them to show up themselves, you could use an imaginem spell to convey a message to your target (such as "get your mystical rear end right here right now our I'll smack you around like a pinata"). You could deliver the same message with creo herbam (creating paper and ink) or, if you're the type, you could deliver this message on a worked piece of leather using animal or on human skin in blood using corpus.

amgodtic
2010-04-29, 08:26 AM
just noticed that this is the same company that made uknown armies. played that once. REALLY loose character generation and skill/ability rolling.

Like I said, I only even skimmed the 4th ed book. And I'm not 100% sure if I'm ready to shell out the 35 bucks for the 5th ed book yet, considering I'm not sure how much I'm going to pull from it. For one thing, I want a modern setting- which is the same as a medieval setting, except with some more stuff added in. I don't know how well the rules for a 1200's europe setting are going to cope with a 2000's america campaign world. One of the major things I hope to get out of the established rules are a balanced combat system to work around the magic system-but if the balance can't cope with guns, I don't know how helpful it'll be.

Tyrrell
2010-04-29, 09:30 AM
just noticed that this is the same company that made uknown armies. played that once. REALLY loose character generation and skill/ability rolling.

Like I said, I only even skimmed the 4th ed book. And I'm not 100% sure if I'm ready to shell out the 35 bucks for the 5th ed book yet, considering I'm not sure how much I'm going to pull from it. For one thing, I want a modern setting- which is the same as a medieval setting, except with some more stuff added in. I don't know how well the rules for a 1200's europe setting are going to cope with a 2000's america campaign world. One of the major things I hope to get out of the established rules are a balanced combat system to work around the magic system-but if the balance can't cope with guns, I don't know how helpful it'll be.
Might not be the game for you then.
The order of hermes magic doesn't have any way of handling electricity, it can do atmospheric phenomena including lightning but adding electricity would involve some system changes. (I suppose you could play a game where magicians use an ancient system of magic that was codified before the discovery of electricity and the magical understanding has so declined over the years that the magicians don't know how to alter their system or it is so developed that it wouldn't be worth it to start over- something like the 640 K problem).

Also (this might be good or bad) the system makes no attempt whatsoever to balance magic users with other people, magic is more powerful than non magic and the Order of Hermes magi are for the most part more powerful than other magicians, balance isn't even considered.

The Tygre
2010-04-29, 09:49 AM
Also (this might be good or bad) the system makes no attempt whatsoever to balance magic users with other people, magic is more powerful than non magic and the Order of Hermes magi are for the most part more powerful than other magicians, balance isn't even considered.

To be fair, the main characters are -supposed- to be mages. Other characters are just kind of afterthoughts compared to them. But yeah, that is one of Ars Magica's few flaws. Stray away from Dark Ages Mage, and things start to break down.

amgodtic
2010-04-29, 10:02 AM
I don't know. Forms and techniques can get kinda weird. There's a difference between controlling the movement of a rock and the mind of a man, and I don't like that specializing in a single discipline grants proficiency in both. Much as I hate to admit it, Ars may be a tad *too* abstract for my blood. I still want discrete character builds, that have different power sets, and tactics to fall back on.

The details of the environment (location, situation, target, etc.) should be a factor in deciding what sort of spell to cast. So, however, should the distinct abilities of the caster. If the caster specializes in affecting minds, he should have to either find a way to use his skills in the situation he's in, or fall back on some other, less developed skill. He should not have his skills in controlling minds translate 100% into skill with telekinesis.

Too much room for creativity means there's no difference between 2 characters, because any character can simply do anything. Too *little* room for creativity means there's STILL no difference between 2 characters, because, well, to put it in terms of an example: As a rule, every 5th-level wizard learns Fireball.

There IS a happy medium, and I will find it-or build it, as the case may be :smallbiggrin:

Knaight
2010-04-29, 05:55 PM
Well, you still need the mind and earth separately, and the concept of a verb-noun system is a very solid one, so I would keep it.

amgodtic
2010-04-30, 07:26 AM
I think I disagree, only because of what I'm going for. I'm going for a system of magic that cooperates with physics-it breaks 1 rule for the duration of the casting time, that's it. If I create something, I'm breaking the law of conservation of mass and energy-but once I create it, its just more mass, and the laws of physics apply normally. What I'm trying to say is, there's no verb-noun in a system like this because, as far as magic is concerned, all nouns are the same thing: Energy.

How much difference does it really make what configurations of subatomic particles you're creating/rearranging/teleporting/heating up/whatever? Mass is mass. And all mass is really just condensed energy...kinda...so mass is energy, too. So no matter what I'm affecting, if I'm affecting it at it's most basic level, it's the same-just configurations of energy.

EDIT: This is why I figured it takes knowledge checks to create/transmute matter. Because you need to understand, at some level, what you're creating. So, you could say, the required knowledges are taking the place of "-noun", but I'm not certain if all schools of magic will require knowledge rolls; it could just be conj/trans.

Tyrrell
2010-05-03, 08:30 AM
To be fair, the main characters are -supposed- to be mages. Other characters are just kind of afterthoughts compared to them. But yeah, that is one of Ars Magica's few flaws.

I've never had a game where the players didn't love their companions and some of the grogs at least as much as they did their magi. I don't consider having different power levels to be a flaw. Nor do I consider having characters who aren't wizards in a game that's about wizards to be any sort of problem.

Tyrrell
2010-05-03, 08:58 AM
I don't know. Forms and techniques can get kinda weird. There's a difference between controlling the movement of a rock and the mind of a man, and I don't like that specializing in a single discipline grants proficiency in both.

Ars grants you a multitude of choices to work on here but they can be divided into three categories, being good with controlling, being good with rocks, and being good with brains. Why is the idea that that being good with rocks makes you good with moving the rocks, carving the rocks, prospecting for different sorts of rocks, changing the rocks into gold or steel or destroying rocks, creating rocks, and so on less distasteful to you than the idea that being good with controlling makes you good at both controlling rocks and controlling minds?

To say more about Knaight's comment getting a single technique high enough to become competent in using it with all forms is exceedingly difficult. It is a whole lot easier (about 5/8ths the xp investiture) to study some rocks and brains than it is to do it all with control.



The details of the environment (location, situation, target, etc.) should be a factor in deciding what sort of spell to cast. So, however, should the distinct abilities of the caster. If the caster specializes in affecting minds, he should have to either find a way to use his skills in the situation he's in, or fall back on some other, less developed skill. He should not have his skills in controlling minds translate 100% into skill with telekinesis.

Um, that's precisely what Ars does, skill with mentem will only ever move something if you cajole someone else's mind into making their body go over and move that thing.


Too much room for creativity means there's no difference between 2 characters, because any character can simply do anything. Too *little* room for creativity means there's STILL no difference between 2 characters, because, well, to put it in terms of an example: As a rule, every 5th-level wizard learns Fireball.

I think you overestimate the power available to Ars Magica characters. starting characters will be very lucky spont a level 15 spell using their two best arts. you go outside of these arts and you're looking at level 5 for most combinations. level 5 creo ignem isn't "build a bridge of flame", it's "light a candle from across the room" or "make yourself warm and comfortable on a cool day", and that level 5 spell comes with fatigue when you cast it.

My experience with the game is just the opposite as your fear. In Ars More than any other game characters are forced to play to their strengths, magic really reflects the caster. Here's an example, in a game I played shortly after fifth edition came out at some point in the game each of the magi characters wanted to cross a particular steep sided ravine that had something unknown and threatening at the bottom. The merinita muto master changed herself and her companions into birds and flew across. My Intellego specialist's second best form was corpus so using ceremonial magic taking hours and costing him long term fatigue he created a large rope of human hair and used magic to craft a crude rope bridge out of it. the animal specialist filled the ravine with the corpses of elephants and then walked across on them, the vim specialist couldn't figure out a way to cross so she didn't and the perdo specialist collapsed the ravine and strolled across the rubble.


Edit: It looks like you have other reasons for forging ahead with a system of your own, I just wanted to respond to what I perceived as an inaccurate portrayal of my favorite game

m7stic
2010-05-03, 10:39 AM
I have been developing a game system from scratch over the past two years, and this discussion seems to highlight some of the concerns i had while building my own magic system.

The base concepts for the magic system are as follows:


Spell points based

your number of spell points are directly related to your stats
the cost (in points)of individual spells goes down as casting proficiency goes up
compares to being able to d20 as 1lvl wiz casting ONLY 3 1st lvl spells before rest
allows for "mana batteries" to let casters use more points than they have
casting time is based on # of points in spell

-classless

you have to purchase improvements in your casting ability (training is not automatic)

-effect oriented

spells are built "on the fly," by the caster (players are encouraged to build as many spells before hand as possible)
players work off of a table of "effects" to build the spells. Examples:


# of die (1 pt ea.)
size of die (starts at d2, 1 pt per upgrade, std progression applies)
illusion (1 pt/sense, 1pt/difficulty rating)
modify roll +/- (point for point)


-feedback system

more powerful spells have the ability to damage the caster
percentile based
can kill the caster (don't use 4x your max spell points in one spell)



There is much more to the system than what I've listed above, but sadly I haven't had the time to type out the game system (it's all hand-written) or balance it. If anyone is interested in examining the system more closely or even willing to help balance it PM me

amgodtic
2010-05-03, 12:28 PM
Balance between characters with and without magic isn't too big of a concern, though it does make creating challenges for the characters that aren't just other mages a bit more creatively taxing.

At this point, I'd say Ars is the sort of game I'm looking for, but I'm not making this game in order to play it-I have no idea who I'd play it with, frankly-it's more of a thought exercise. A challenge to myself to come up with the best possible balance between rules that are abstract enough that the players have room for invention, and at the same time are thorough enough that the dm doesn't need to "invent" the results-just plug in numbers. And Ars is definitely along the right lines-I simply want to see if I can push it further.

I've realized that the verb-noun is mechanically analogous to the WoD physical stat/skill or discipline stat dice pool. And I've realized that I prefer that Ars method of setting difficulty levels for degrees of success, rather than my present layout of "an ability or set of abilities per rank". I need to start nailing down what those numbers would be next.

Knaight
2010-05-03, 07:29 PM
There are a few other similar systems scattered around as well. Fudge has an incredibly basic "4 by 5" system the author has up online, though it is incomplete without connection to another part of a magic system (Various other things plug in easily), WoD has something close, though it isn't really Verb Noun, and there are others.