The Magic System Toolkit was released in draft form to us yesterday. Oh wow, this thing is just filled to the brim with unadulterated awesome sauce! Seriously, if you have not have not donated to the Kickstarter, now is a perfect time to do so. Now, having had a look at how some other magic systems were built I can see a few areas that helped me figure out how to present the magic system for Magi.
In the Magic System Toolkit +Rob Donoghue puts forward a series of defining traits of magic. I have decided to question my game using those traits. I hope to end up with my magic system a bit more defined than it was before. Here goes:
What is the tone of magic? Magic is basically neutral. It is the stuff of the universe, and thus has no will, desires or influence of its own. It has no will or personality, there is no light or darkness in it, though it can be influenced by those who use it. Magic is the turning point between the three pillars of the universe: Stasis, Destruction, and Creation. Without using magic, these forces tend to remain balanced, magic allows the Magus to tip that balance.
What is the cost of magic? Magic has no inherent price. Anyone with the belief, can do it. Even somethings without belief can do magic, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. Magic does have a great deal of risk. Altering the world to suit your beliefs is dangerous work. You may come away from it changed beyond recognition.
What are the limits of magic? Theoretically magic might have limits. But for all practical purposes it does not. Only the skill of the magic user limits the magic. Most limits are those imposed by the mind. The skills themselves limit magic in a way. They only allow for control of a piece of the universe. The skills you choose will effect what you can do.
How available is magic? Anyone can have magic. Most people don't. there appears to be very little difference between a Shadow and a Magus, yet the difference is vast. Why some people can do it and some can't is a mystery, though a thousand theories exist. There probably all wrong too.
What is the source of magic? Magic comes from the beliefs of people(however that is defined). Before there was consciousness, there was nothing. Before belief, there was unity. Magic comes from that initial conflict. When the first world view argued with the second. Where belief met doubt for the first time. That is where magic comes from. It may have a deeper source as well.The Other seem to have no beliefs, no purpose. Yet they work magic as great(maybe greater) than any Magus. Magic is the power of creation, and it steps from and channels through the true believers, the Magi.
.I hope that helps with the understanding of magic. I know I found it useful. The questions allowed me to look at Magi and magic from a different angle and see where the edges are. I wish to talk about how casting works for Magi. I do not yet have the whole system laid out, though. I am still having a great deal of difficulty with nodes. They are crucial to my game and I have hit a bit of a wall on how they work.
When using magic the default difficulty is +2, the node can spend one of its fate points(it gets as many as there are players in the game) to increase this difficulty as a passive defense/obstacle. At any point you can be compelled to allow the Node to actively defend and attack. The fiction of how this happens is dependent on the node. If it adheres to Methodical Naturalism, the attack and defense would have to follow the conservation of energy so creation ex nihilo becomes much harder. Whereas in a node that follows an ancient Egyptian world view would allow for that easily, provided you were channeling the power of the gods(Heka) and met with the metaphysical balance(Ma'at). It gets a bit iffy in some cases, and corner cases abound. I am still working on a way to make the system of adjudicating what magic works where.
I have this idea to give magic a cost like property and add to the players power base at the same time. I got this idea from the Magic System Toolkit. You can take a Discord consequence and add the shifts of damage it would normally avoid directly to your magic roll. this allows for you to purposefully cut loose with your magic but you are creating a great deal of dissonance in the world. I think this will work well, I will have to play test it to be sure though.
I also had a few random, incomplete, thoughts on how magic will work, sort of. These are just one sentence explanations for something that will probably be its own post once I have worked them out a bit.
Slow and big, makes permanent things, not for combat magic, easier way to get around Discord.
Very quick, but nothing it makes is permanent and it has more of a tendency to generate Discord
And that is what I have on the magic so far. I will be refining skills and stunts tomorrow. Hopefully by Monday I will know how nodes work.