Other magic systems


I've had a post about different types of magic that could coexist in a Runequest Modern world. Now I've been thinking about how to make rules for them.

I realize, of course, that my system of providing advantages and disadvantages in Runequest is controversial, but I bet my rules for wizardry will be even more controversial.

What I'm thinking is adapting a lot of D&D rules. Characters can spend hero points to gain levels of wizardry, probably 10 or 20 hero points per level (I'm not sure). Every other level of wizardry allows them to cast spells of a new school of magic, and allows them to cast higher magnitude spells, as well as potentially memorize more spells, although PCs need to spend 5 hero points per magnitude to memorize a spell (it's not automatic), and they don't forget spells when they're cast. (It's not quite like AD&D.)

The Wizardry skill is used to learn and cast spells. A successful Wizardry roll allows a spell to be cast from a spellbook, provided the wizard is capable of casting it and has the spellbook with him. It typically takes one combat round per spell magnitude to read a spell from a book, while memorized spells can be cast in just one or a few combat actions. Wizard spells cost Manna to cast just like Runecasting.

(I decided that I'd rather call "Magic Points" "Manna" because the latter sounds better, IMHO.)

In Runequest Modern, Wizardry coexists with Runecasting, but Runecasting is a legendary ability that costs 10 hero points and requires 90% skill in the Occult, 90% skill in Archeology Lore, and 90% skill in an Archeology specialty. Runecasting works as specified in the MRQ rulebook, except as modified by the campaign and house rules.

The major change is that in Runequest Modern, runecasters can make their own runes by investing the power points and incorporating at least 1/4 ounce of gold per magnitude of spell that can be cast through that particular rune. A lesser change is that the runes are variable and based on the archeology specialty of the runecaster (nordic, chinese, mayan, etc).

As further heresy, I'll probably base psionics on the 1st edition D&D psionics rules. :shock:
There was a good Nephilim/BRP magic system for modern magic, it was called Liber Ka, By John Snead - simulated ritual magic (not really heroic) but it had bags of flavour and potential... didn't really work with Neph though.
Wouldn't take much to get it working with MRQ.

Level base dsystem are great for realy simple game systems, where you want to abstract away a lot of details. You want to know how good a character is a combat? One number tells you - the level. Same thing for magic - you just know that a level 5 magician is going to be more competent than a level 2 magician. If you want a realy simple system, then that's fine.

What I like about the runequest approach to game systems is that you have the freedom to create or develop a character in a natural way. For example in a level-based progression system it's generaly possible to have a character that's crap at combat attacks but realy good at parrying because it's all abstracted into a generalised rating. The same goes for magic. If you want to be able to generate characters with natural-seeming ranges of abilities a skills and ability ratings does that very well.

Now you can have a levels based system that provides the ability to customise characters, but the cost of that is complexity. You're taking a simple basic one-rating system and tweaking it. That's fine to an extent, but if you try to extend that to as much customisability as a system that rates different abilities seperately, you end up with a system that's actualy even more complicated.

So realy it depends what you want from your system. If you want to package magic up into a simple, easy to use on-scale-fits-all system then a levels based system should serve very well. If you want a system with more detail and greater flexibility, I'd go for a system based on seperate skills and powers. The default RQ approach is of course the latter.

Finaly, another question is are you trying to simulate real-world magic. That is, magic as real world magicians practice it, that works the way they believe it works, and ccording to the extensive occult, religious and ethnographic traditions of the real world. Or are you making up a completely orriginal style of magic, or adapting an existing modern synthetic one such as that of D&D?

Simon Hibbs