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Alternative Magic Systems

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Zalmoxis:
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:
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...

kryyst:
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.

Humanophile:

--- 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...
--- End quote ---


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:
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.

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