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Help me decide on, or design, a magic system for Pendragon 
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Joined: Tue Sep 07, 2010 7:02 am
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Post Help me decide on, or design, a magic system for Pendragon
I looked at Ars Magica, and that didn't feel right. I read PDP's RuneQuest merge, and that didn't either.

I am now at a loss. Pendragon is such a superb game, and using it for fantasy in general appeals very much. Easier said than done, as I have begun to discover.

What do you suggest?


Tue Sep 07, 2010 7:27 am
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Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2009 11:32 pm
Posts: 295
Post Re: Help me decide on, or design, a magic system for Pendrag
Pendragon 4e included one or more magic systems, but I can't tell you anything about it. You might hunt that down, or research some of the other BRP and/or Mongoose RQ magic systems, to see which one(s) appeal to you.

Personally I would examine how I want magic to work first (in terms of feel) and then see how to achieve that in a way that meshes with the base system. Others might do things the other way around, developing something that just "works" based on the existing mechanics and then tweaking it for feel.


Tue Sep 07, 2010 12:33 pm
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Joined: Tue Sep 07, 2010 7:02 am
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Post Re: Help me decide on, or design, a magic system for Pendrag
ewilen wrote:
Pendragon 4e included one or more magic systems, but I can't tell you anything about it.
That's the one I have, but while the magic system in that is great for Arthurian NPCs, and possibly the odd PC of dubious usefulness, I'd rather find or figure out something else that better suits heroic fantasy in general. The "low magic" kind in particular, if anything.


Quote:
Personally I would examine how I want magic to work first (in terms of feel) and then see how to achieve that in a way that meshes with the base system. Others might do things the other way around, developing something that just "works" based on the existing mechanics and then tweaking it for feel.
It's hard to explain, precisely. I only know for sure that Pendragon's magic system doesn't work for what I have in mind, and neither PDP nor Ars Magica looked as though they would.

What worries me is that no magic system I've come across in my gaming has really impressed me. Most often, it's been the weakest point of the game's mechanics. And, I must admit, magic must be the most difficult thing to represent with hard coded rules. Or even guidelines.

Thanks for responding, ewilen. I'll give it some more thought, as I'm still in a bit of a rut.


Wed Sep 08, 2010 6:57 am
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Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2009 11:32 pm
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Post Re: Help me decide on, or design, a magic system for Pendrag
I definitely agree that magic systems are often the weakest part of any game from the perspective of "representing" fantasy.

There are magic systems I really like because they work well in the game they're designed for. For example, The Fantasy Trip balances magic users and fighters extremely well in combat, without making them seem like reskinned twins of each other. (The same probably goes for GURPS using the default rules.) It's very much magic in the cinematic or even cartoon/comic book S&S mode, where magic is a "power".

It's not "low magic", though, and it doesn't particularly fit the style of literary fantasy prior to the backwash-influence of RPGs onto fantasy fiction.

I would really suggest having a leaf through Avalon Hill Runequest III or Mongoose Runequest II, not because they have THE ANSWER but because the approach taken in those games entails a critical look at the relationship between magic, culture, and cosmology. It might help you develop your own thoughts.


Wed Sep 08, 2010 3:30 pm
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