This is a site for discussing roleplaying games. Have fun doing so, but there is one major rule: do not discuss political issues that aren't directly and uniquely related to the subject of the thread and about gaming. While this site is dedicated to free speech, the following will not be tolerated: devolving a thread into unrelated political discussion, sockpuppeting (using multiple and/or bogus accounts), disrupting topics without contributing to them, and posting images that could get someone fired in the workplace (an external link is OK, but clearly mark it as Not Safe For Work, or NSFW). If you receive a warning, please take it seriously and either move on to another topic or steer the discussion back to its original RPG-related theme.
NOTICE: Some online security services are reporting that information for a limited number of users from this site is for sale on the "dark web." As of right now, there is no direct evidence of this, but change your password just to be safe.

Author Topic: Alternative Magic Systems  (Read 10536 times)

Zalmoxis

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 595
Alternative Magic Systems
« on: February 28, 2006, 05:03:34 PM »
I have to admit to you that the magic systems used in the D&D games have never been fulfilling to me. The whole concept of 9 spell levels, the artificial break between arcane and divine magic, the whole way the system works in general. What other magic systems out there strike your fancy, and what do you recommend for the casual gamer?

Reefer Madness

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 149
Alternative Magic Systems
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2006, 05:15:55 PM »
spell points i susually what we end up using...you get x amount of points per level and we use the spell level list as the pont cost (level one spell is 1 point, level 9 spell is 9 points) which gives the ability to cast tons more lower level spells and such instead of ok you cast 2 spells and rest 8 hours...
Turning all of our children into hooligans and whores its Reefer Madness.
Anti-wrinkle cream there may be, but anti-fat-bastard cream there is not.  -Dave

kryyst

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1682
    • http://www.forgedrpg.com
Alternative Magic Systems
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2006, 05:20:48 PM »
I think it really depends.   I don't think you can endorse the magic system of Ars Magica to someone who only wants to play D20.  The whole mix match thing will work for some people but more often then not you are begging for a huge pile of hurt.

It also really depends on the current type of game you are running.  If high fantasy hack n' slash is what you are going for, well D&D magic actually suites that genre pretty good.  If you want the game to focus on the abilities of the magic users and have the actual act of casting magic to be as important as what's being cased then a game like Ars Magica, WW's Mage or even Riddle of Steel is something I'd recomend.  

Personally I like Warhammer's Magic system.  It's not my favorite magic system if you are only looking at that (Ars Magica wins hands down).  But in terms of a game where the setting, the mechanics and everything else fit together Warhammers Magic does a nice job of it.

Riddle of Steel has a very good magic system, open ended free form and huge potential.  But the personal cost of using magic is extreemly high and neuters the system.   Though if you wanted to do a huge magic based game that could be corrected easily enough.

WW's magic system is about in the middle between Ars Magic and Riddle of Steel in terms of freedom and intricacy of spell casting.  The original rules with flashback were annoying.  I haven't read the nWOD rules yet, but I've heard they are greatly improved.  Also Mage The Crusades did a much better job with the original rules because the setting is much better.
AccidentalSurvivors.com : The blood will put out the fire.

Humanophile

  • Newbie
  • *
  • H
  • Posts: 8
Alternative Magic Systems
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2006, 06:01:59 PM »
Quote from: Reefer Madness
spell points i susually what we end up using...you get x amount of points per level and we use the spell level list as the pont cost (level one spell is 1 point, level 9 spell is 9 points) which gives the ability to cast tons more lower level spells and such instead of ok you cast 2 spells and rest 8 hours...


I remember that sort of system from my 2e days.  The problem with it was that it let the characters turn into uber-sorcerers, only picking up multiple copies of the spells they think they'd use.  If you feel like sticking with D&D/D20, it's not that hard to use a modified sorcerer for most of your spellcasters.  Or if you're happy changing flavor text for your own purposes (and can get over how sci-fi the name sounds), psionics are a good, flexible magic system.

Past that, Zalmoxis really isn't giving us enough information to go on.  As Kryyst said, the best magic system depends on one's play style.  If we know what you like (and what you can't stand), we can help you zero in on a good match that much better.
 

ColonelHardisson

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2584
Alternative Magic Systems
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2006, 06:11:51 PM »
Decipher's Lord of the Rings game has a magic system that could be fairly easily adapted to D&D. It's based on rolling against a Target Number to avoid becoming fatigued. You can cast as much as you want as long as you don't pass out from exhaustion. More powerful spells have a higher TN to avoid Fatigue. I'd say make the Fatigue roll a Fort save using the Target Number as the DC (they're equivalent, but I'd adjust it up; they're too low in the LotR game), and then applying a succession of the various D&D conditions (shaken, etc.) as Fatigue rolls are missed, until after the worst one, the character passes out.
"Illegitimis non carborundum." - General Joseph "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell

4e definitely has an Old School feel. If you disagree, cool. I won't throw any hyperbole out to prove the point.

Zalmoxis

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 595
Alternative Magic Systems
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2006, 06:34:32 PM »
Quote from: Humanophile
I remember that sort of system from my 2e days.  The problem with it was that it let the characters turn into uber-sorcerers, only picking up multiple copies of the spells they think they'd use.  If you feel like sticking with D&D/D20, it's not that hard to use a modified sorcerer for most of your spellcasters.  Or if you're happy changing flavor text for your own purposes (and can get over how sci-fi the name sounds), psionics are a good, flexible magic system.

Past that, Zalmoxis really isn't giving us enough information to go on.  As Kryyst said, the best magic system depends on one's play style.  If we know what you like (and what you can't stand), we can help you zero in on a good match that much better.


I am not looking for a magic system to fit any specific genre or style, other than fantasy. I am merely soliciting a variety of magic systems as a starting point, so I can check them out and find one I like the best.

Zalmoxis

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 595
Alternative Magic Systems
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2006, 06:35:38 PM »
By the way I have already gotten some examples I will have to look at at from this thread; thank you all for that. Please though, continue.

Vermicious Knid

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • V
  • Posts: 131
Alternative Magic Systems
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2006, 08:34:01 PM »
I actually like the 3.5 psionics system; if you scrape the serial numbers off you have a pretty nifty spell points sytem. My project to translate all the SRD spells into powers has bogged down to time limitations, sadly.

The Arcana Evolved system is pretty nice. Sorta like sorcery, but you can change your spells known (readied) every day. Also has some fun ways to play with spell slots. I recommend taking a look.
 

obryn

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1124
Alternative Magic Systems
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2006, 09:54:58 PM »
Check out Arcana Evolved.

It's flexible, powerful, balanced, and unified.  There's no arcane/divine distinction; instead, there's a simple/complex/exotic distinction.

Spells can be cast a level higher or a level lower to improve options.

Low-level slots can be combined to cast high-level spells and vice-versa.

"Templates" can be gained with feats to modify spells and add or remove effects.

Overall, it's complex but a hell of a lot of fun.


Although I haven't tried it in play yet, the Blue Rose/True20 spellcasting system looks pretty impressive, too.  It's skill-based rather than spell-based.

-O
 

Maximum Fu

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • M
  • Posts: 51
Alternative Magic Systems
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2006, 10:27:36 PM »
If you haven't looked at it already, you might check out Unearthed Arcana.  There is a variant spell point system there.

Personally, I really like the spell point system found in FFG's Midnight setting.  By  making sure that everything revolves around points (as opposed to something a bit more complex like spell slots), it seems like adding additional magic subsystems becomes a lot easier potentially making the magic system richer.  One example from Midnight is the use of ritual casting.  Adding additional casters simply reduces the spell point cost.

Of course, some of the magic system in Midnight is inherently tied to the premise of the setting so take that example with kind of a grain of salt.
Their prison is only in their own minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out.

-The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

Cyberzombie

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 723
    • http://www.circvsmaximvs.com/
Alternative Magic Systems
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2006, 12:20:06 AM »
Arcan Unearthed has a neat system, though it is inherently lowered powered than the standard D&D system.  I've never played it, but it's a great read.
 

Zalmoxis

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 595
Alternative Magic Systems
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2006, 01:42:41 AM »
One thing I have been thinking about is a fatigue-based casting system, by which spellcasting wears a caster down mentally without causing any loss to actual hit points. Such a state would leave the caster vulnerable to attack by other spellcasters, because spell duels would be handled like combat, with opposing rolls. Spellcasters with "full" slots would be unfatigued, and thus able to better defend themselves against attacks by other casters. Hmm. Just brainstorming today.

obryn

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1124
Alternative Magic Systems
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2006, 01:45:13 AM »
That sounds okay in theory.  My big gripe with systems like that is in-play transparency.  I don't want to have to recalculate & manage any more stats during gameplay than absolutely necessary.

The AE spellcasting system pushes it for me; that's basically my high-water mark for complexity.

-O
 

kryyst

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1682
    • http://www.forgedrpg.com
Alternative Magic Systems
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2006, 06:29:59 AM »
Quote from: obryn
That sounds okay in theory.  My big gripe with systems like that is in-play transparency.  I don't want to have to recalculate & manage any more stats during gameplay than absolutely necessary.

The AE spellcasting system pushes it for me; that's basically my high-water mark for complexity.

-O


I don't think it'd be that hard to track.  Regardless if it effects you mentally or both mentally and physically.  You wouldn't have to endlessly recalculate stats.  Just have an accumulator that rises, every so many points you get a penalty to any saves that are required.
AccidentalSurvivors.com : The blood will put out the fire.

willpax

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • w
  • Posts: 128
Alternative Magic Systems
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2006, 08:33:47 AM »
Quote
One thing I have been thinking about is a fatigue-based casting system, by which spellcasting wears a caster down mentally without causing any loss to actual hit points. Such a state would leave the caster vulnerable to attack by other spellcasters, because spell duels would be handled like combat, with opposing rolls. Spellcasters with "full" slots would be unfatigued, and thus able to better defend themselves against attacks by other casters. Hmm. Just brainstorming today.


My own homebrew system uses this kind of a mechanic, combined with spells-as-skills similar to the Star Wars force rules.

Fatigue-based systems are neat in that they give spellcasters the chance to cast many more spells, so long as they stay low powered. When they really need the big spell, it can pretty much end their day. Also, by making the fatigue tied to a roll, it removes some of the predictability from things, which I personally like.
Cherish those who seek the truth, but beware of those who find it. (Voltaire)