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sos1 wrote:
So what I want in a magic system is one in which NF (Intuition Feeling) types have an advantage over the more scientifically minded ST personality types.


This is how I would characterize sympathetic magic in whole. The formula and fetishes are symbolic and the purpose is to gain influence over a person or thing. Maybe we can gamify some Castaneda.
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I suppose in most games they are treated as such, yes.
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How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

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What dance? Square, mashed potatoe, disco (not that is the devils music)?
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sos1 wrote:
Perhaps I can best explain what I want in a magic "system" by using Myers/Briggs psychological terms.


Incidentally, we have microbadges for that - sixteen like this (2x2) mb, and eight like this mb

Edit: I, myself, am like this mb

For aspiring MB designers - Marcus Buckingham has a similar thing that's quite in vogue among businesses these days. Good series of microbadges in that, I'm sure.
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sos1 wrote:
So what I want in a magic system is one in which NF (Intuition Feeling) types have an advantage over the more scientifically minded ST personality types.


Use the foundational mechanic of Wushu Open.
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cosine wrote:
sos1 wrote:
So what I want in a magic system is one in which NF (Intuition Feeling) types have an advantage over the more scientifically minded ST personality types.


Use the foundational mechanic of Wushu Open.

??? The dice pool mechanic? That does nothing for me at all - I dislike dice pools.
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sos1 wrote:
I dislike dice pools.


The suggestion ties creative player expression to performance in task resolution. Instead of statistics, which can be min/maxed. Free form effects give it an open nature.

Suppose mages choose a type of magic, a keyword or qualifier. All mystical feats must incorporate that. Keyword is "Fire"? "I hurl a flaming orb at him, igniting his boots." "I light the area with a clear, piercing white incandescence hovering just over us." "I form a wall of hellish red tongues of fire, seething with heat."

Add a mana system to limit it. Assign "difficulties" to the effects in a contested attack by describing how the enemy dodges or endures and forming an opposing pool.
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ctimmins wrote:
sos1 wrote:
Perhaps I can best explain what I want in a magic "system" by using Myers/Briggs psychological terms.


Incidentally, we have microbadges for that - sixteen like this (2x2) mb, and eight like this mb

Edit: I, myself, am like this mb

For aspiring MB designers - Marcus Buckingham has a similar thing that's quite in vogue among businesses these days. Good series of microbadges in that, I'm sure.


More microbadges to buy... thanks!
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I have two simple ideas for a more intuition based system.

First, assign everyone a partner who will serve as their "servant", a demon or spirit contractually bound. These two players then must negotiate on the terms of the pact, perhaps for something discrete (spirit points, etc) or perhaps just for fun. I understand there is a narrative game about demon pacts and this may be the premise, I have only read about it.

Secondly, a tarot based system where trumps are separated from suits. DM and player can play some given amount, effects of spell are adjudicated by one or both. This could be more or less explicit, but follows the "yes, but/and" style that I prefer aspire to. For dueling, you could have suits or elements opposed to one another. This might risk become too gamey, I suppose.

I tried to use Imajica CCG cards as "vision" cards in a Stars without Number game but it fell pretty flat. Good idea, but wrong type of game and/or players.
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cosine wrote:
sos1 wrote:
I dislike dice pools.


The suggestion ties creative player expression to performance in task resolution. Instead of statistics, which can be min/maxed. Free form effects give it an open nature.

Suppose mages choose a type of magic, a keyword or qualifier. All mystical feats must incorporate that. Keyword is "Fire"? "I hurl a flaming orb at him, igniting his boots." "I light the area with a clear, piercing white incandescence hovering just over us." "I form a wall of hellish red tongues of fire, seething with heat."

Add a mana system to limit it. Assign "difficulties" to the effects in a contested attack by describing how the enemy dodges or endures and forming an opposing pool.

Okay, thanks. Except for the last sentence, I've actually done that in Fudge - heck, that's how Melanda: Land of Mystery (1st edition) did it in 1980. It's just hard to write up. The more you want to clarify, the less freeform it gets...
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I suggest making magic a character (or even better, multiple characters). If aspects of possible magic are characters then they can be studied, but in practice this will be very much like kremlinology. Perhaps Fire is generally jovial, capricious and exuberant, but highly transactional. Space & Time is short tempered and clinical. Except, only the DM knows this, the players just know that Fire and Space & Time are the two available aspects of magic that they know.

A wizard to cast a spell might quickly describe the effect and the way they are trying to coax Fire and Space & Time into producing it. Depending on their performance, offering (components) and other local factors the DM assigns difficulty, etc. So, it is played out much more like a social interaction.

Of course, it is also possible that there are other undiscovered aspects to magic and they all interact in the background. Perhaps Fire and Water got into a fight and suddenly Fire is feeling quite insecure and shy. Now the exact ritual which worked splendidly before won't anymore, until master magicians figure out that they need to add an element of boosting Fire's confidence to make things work. Which starts to backfire when Fire starts feeling like that is condescending...

Definitely more work for the GM. But in the right campaign could be marvelous fun.
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charek wrote:
I like to think of a lot of magic systems as working like using the linux shell / DOS. An initiate has no idea why anything they do does what it does, they just work by memorization. A craftsman knows practically all the commands and how to string them together, but perhaps only has glimpses of why they work. A master understands what's going on behind the commands and might even be able to 'abuse' some of the commands to do things they shouldn't be able to.

Science is a methodology of learning about things, and how scientifically advanced in the study of magic a society is can determine whether they have any craftsmen or masters of the art.


The book "The Wizardry Compiled" has a computer programmer nerd from our reality drawn through to a more fantasy world to fight evil. The hero discovers that magic can be systematised and starts creating a linux like command shell for it, including a spell called GREP that looks like R2D2 when invoked and it goes and finds people and objects.
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My preference when I run 4th Edition D&D games is that magic is not a science... but also that nothing else is a science either. There are no hard and fast physical laws at all, which allows for lots of cool stuff to happen and also makes the world dark and terrifying. That doesn't mean that everything is magical, simply that it's not as understandable and widely exploitable as in the real world.
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DanDare2050 wrote:
charek wrote:
I like to think of a lot of magic systems as working like using the linux shell / DOS. An initiate has no idea why anything they do does what it does, they just work by memorization. A craftsman knows practically all the commands and how to string them together, but perhaps only has glimpses of why they work. A master understands what's going on behind the commands and might even be able to 'abuse' some of the commands to do things they shouldn't be able to.

Science is a methodology of learning about things, and how scientifically advanced in the study of magic a society is can determine whether they have any craftsmen or masters of the art.


The book "The Wizardry Compiled" has a computer programmer nerd from our reality drawn through to a more fantasy world to fight evil. The hero discovers that magic can be systematised and starts creating a linux like command shell for it, including a spell called GREP that looks like R2D2 when invoked and it goes and finds people and objects.

I love those books, campy as they are. I also like that idea of magic - and how those in the world have used it by stumbling across the right commands every so often for it to be useful.
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Is RPG magic simply a science based on different laws of nature?

That is, does a mage casting a spell yield consistently predictable results with a successful casting (which is no difference from science, except the basic laws of nature they're calling on wouldn't work in our world.) Or is the result more variable while achieving the same effect?


In most games, I'd say yes, magic is just another word for science that can't easily be explained, or that runs on different rules from reality, but still has rules.

The best "traditional" system for magic not behaving as a science for me was Tunnels & Trolls (5th - 5.5 Edition). When casting a spell there is a chance it will work, a change it won't, and a chance that doing it will cause my character to pass out from the strain. Those aren't great odds, but it feels far less reliable than say, magic in Shadowrun.

I also have a memory of magic in Dungeon World feeling more like magic than science because of the possible outcomes based on the Apocalypse World engine.

Of course, once you get into lighter story games, where there are less rules overall, magic really flourishes as being less science and more random. I've been reading up on Polaris: Chivalric Tragedy at Utmost North to run it later this year, and the magic truly feels magical in that game - because there are so few rules around it.
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adularia25 wrote:


The best "traditional" system for magic not behaving as a science for me was Tunnels & Trolls (5th - 5.5 Edition). When casting a spell there is a chance it will work, a change it won't, and a chance that doing it will cause my character to pass out from the strain. Those aren't great odds, but it feels far less reliable than say, magic in Shadowrun.

That's not 5E RAW..If your level is not lower than the spell, and you have the Strength† to spend, it goes off, no roll needed.
If you lack the Strength†, you die in the attempt.
If it's too high for you, the St Cost goes up by the difference.

†or Power/kremm/mana if using the option in 5.5.
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