beta testers?

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    Herr D

    In June, I am going to finish cleaning out a roomful of old papers, and among them is a partial RPG system of my own design. To make a long story short, the system of magic is completely different from anything I’ve ever seen. I didn’t like D & D’s approach, which seemed to be just a list of possible spells, and I didn’t like the psionic or elemental systems I’ve seen either. What I WOULD like is a group, 3-4 beta testers willing to test the magic system itself. Please reply here. Synopsis below.

    All players are human, but the definition of human is a bit broader. People range from 3′-9′ tall, have varying skin tones and textures, and what we would call low-power mutations. Extra fingers and toes are common. Extra UNUSABLE limbs are common. Not many geniuses left–a panicky despot exterminated all geniuses and ‘superwizards’ recently. The animal kingdom is not as diverse as ours. There are, however, monsters, special npc human types and cultures that range into sheer wackiness. The most difficult things for any player to adjust to will be that in this world, there is no iron, and no night. Bronze age plus supercrude steampunk plus magery–oh my.

    Spells are individually invented, attempted, researched, shared, and rarely archived. Minimum levels of Magery, Memory, and Casting Weight are required for reasonable safety. Mageroot is broken into pieces, each piece touched to an ingredient, and desired traits must be focused upon. The result will have desired traits, and NOT have undesirable traits based on success of cast. And be as heavy as the total weight of ingredients.
    Example: Vobo shot an arrow with a half pc attached at a tree ahead of quarry. Dropped other half of mageroot into lantern. His casting weight max is less than a pound, but the leaf and the lantern wick are very light–with perfect success, the leaf blinded his quarry with a flash of light when he lit it and did not burn up the tree. Vobo had to catch up one-eyed, because he had to keep the root halves in view . . .


    Herr D

    I have found the first copy already. From here I could begin. I need people to pit their wits with certain scores.
    Magery=M, Memory=mm, Casting Weight Tier=T
    Ingredients=i1,i2,i3 . . .

    If two ingredients, pick 4 traits you want and 4 you don’t. With 3 i, 9 each for 18. Like below.
    M16,mm8,T–3 pounds

    Vobo rolled a 17M, lost one trait. Luckily he had 2 repeats.
    i1–straw, i2–unmeasured sand–He already had a mm8 (total = traits,) so he didn’t have to roll for

    a minus to his M roll. And the leftover sand? Was just leftover.
    want burns burns

    Neat result. . . he invented straw that he can POUR
    want burns falls like sand

    after he lights it. It’ll just fall, not subject to wind.
    don’t rises doesn’t burn

    He didn’t pick a color. He got 3 pounds of pink straw.
    don’t noisy blows away

    Only a fist-sized bundle. This took one action.
    Do I have a volunteer to use Vobo’s stats?



    I just got your PM… I really should check my inbox more often. Anyway…

    I’m not entirely sure what, exactly, you meant with most of the things you said. In your first post, most of the last two paragraphs were hard to understand. You had completely undefined terms such as “Casting Weight,” and you have “Mageroot,” which I’m assuming is a type of spell component, but you need to define certain things about it. For example…

    -Will the amount of mageroot used influence the spell in any way (I am assuming yes)?
    -You mentioned desired and undesired traits – how do those depend on the ingredients that the mageroot is touched to?
    -How much mageroot is usually required for the purposes of most spells?

    As for your second paragraph, you need to format it better. I hate to be rude or anything, but with the lack of attention to grammar and no description of the variables involved, I couldn’t make heads or tails of what you typed. What does “i1,i2,i3 . . . ” refer to? It seems to have something to do with the ingredients for casting spells, but what do the numbers mean, and why are there different ‘numbers’ of ingredients at all? “With 3 i, 9 each for 18” sounds like it has something to do with multiplication, but 3 times 9 is 27, not 18, so I can only guess you’re not multiplying 3 by 9. The only thing I got from the rest of your second post was that something was rolled, and even that is vague; what type of die or dice (I’m assuming it was a die or some dice) was/were rolled, what sort of results on the roll give what sort of results in the game, are there separate rolls for whether or not one succeeds vs. how much one succeeds by (i.e., if you hit with an attack vs. how much damage you deal), etc.?


    Herr D

    mmm–this is an old format that I’m used to, putting the chart to the left and a ‘text box’ to the right.
    It dates back to DOS and the old BBS system (pre-net.) I’ll expound and see if that’s clearer. As for the grammar, I was casual, but I’m wondering if the text box was what was confusing instead?

    Magery would be an attribute like strength but in magic. Roll lower with a d20 to make it.
    Memory would be a capacity score. A Magery roll too high subtracts from the quantity of details you can manage.
    In this system, details are traits that your result will have.
    Casting Weight is the maximum weight your result can have, and is therefore one of the limits of what you can make and / or use as ingredients.
    Every mage would pick up a bloom of mageroot per spell, break it into pieces (one piece per ingredient,) and touch a piece to each ingredient. The mageroot bloom then disappears, and the result of all combined ingredients appears at the intended place (within area of ingredients touched.)
    Ingredients * ingredients * 2 = traits. Half you want, and half you don’t.
    Gotta go–lunch over.


    Herr D

    So, chart, as above, with ingredients being i1, i2, i3, etc. Traits you want being A1,A2,A3; traits you don’t want being B1,B2,B3.
    With 2 ingredients:
    Trait totals will always be double the square of ingredients. More later when there’s time.


    Herr D

    With a memory (mm) of 8, there is just enough for a two-ingredient result. Rolling a 17 on the d20 with a 16 in Magery means only 7 traits come true. Players are allowed to repeat traits as ‘sacrificials’ to better their odds. The GM may choose random traits not specified or ‘lost’ by bad roll.
    All results will weigh a total of ingredients, so deliberately having too much of a ‘non-whole’ ingredient like sand or water will simply cause the leftovers to stay ‘unmixed.’ Having a 5-lb turtle as an ingredient with a 3-lb Casting Weight will either cancel the spell or cause random effects.
    I’ve generally decided a player will know whether weight will be a problem.
    A bad spell to come later. This lunch is over.


    Herr D

    A mage was faced with about 12 archers. He dove into some tall grass. He knew the cover wouldn’t last, tossed his shield up onto his back and curled under it. He plucked a mageroot bloom, broke it into 3 pieces, pulled off his right sandal, fished a feather out of a pocket, and opened his lantern. He touched one bloom piece to each ingredient. Player rolls with the following chart and stats.

    i1-i3: lantern


    A1-3: burns


    crushes what it touches
    A4-6: portable


    A7-9: oil-powered—-breath-directed–smells of feet
    B1-3: tips over


    B4-6: black


    runs from enemy
    B7-9: metal


    Casting Weight Tier: 1 pound<3.5 lbs total ingredients; Memory (mm): 17; Magery: 15; Player rolled a 9.

    So, the mage made his magery roll–but wait–18 traits to keep track of with a 17 mm and an insufficient casting weight.
    The roll made means the spell worked. The GM chooses ‘portable’ as a trait that the result lost. As a random effect, the result is invisible (Reasonable, because the only colors chosen were colors NOT to be.)
    Yikes. The result is an invisible thing that can’t be held. It is made of hardened fire which burns and crushes. The mage, not yet realizing the problem, blows on it. It doesn’t run from the enemy, so it ‘kicks’ and sets fire to the nearest archer and flutters randomly downwind like a feather, ‘kicking’ and setting fire to the next archer. They would roll for fire damage. In this example they die quickly.
    The third archer makes an intelligence roll and starts huffing and puffing. The others do also and so catch on. The field catches fire and kills the mage. The forest catches fire and burns the village the mage was protecting. The smell of feet becomes overpowering. 3 hours later the 7 surviving archers escape, having taken turns huffing and puffing over each other and fanning vigorously. The lantern had only had 3 hours of oil in it. A field hand found it a month later and turned it in — an invisible lantern? They caged it for study. The point of this system is that creativity, thoughtfulness, and good choices make the difference.



    At this point, I’m still not entirely sure if I understand what you’re trying to say with your descriptions, but I’ll try to critique it anyway…

    I’m assuming that magic, in your game’s world, would be rarely used? If it were to be used often enough to allow for “mages” in a traditional sense (as in, people who primarily use magic) to be anything other than rare or nonexistent, one would need a far simpler system, with far greater predictability. I get that you’re trying to create a system in which spells can be designed on-the-fly, and that as an idea is both great and rare, but I don’t think this is the right way to do it. You’ve got players having to make charts for their spell components in which they try to define the properties of their spell by picking and choosing traits from their components – that in itself is far too complex – and then choosing an undesired trait for each desired trait, thus increasing complexity further. The fact that an insufficient roll makes a spell partially succeed by only applying some of the desired effects puts far too much work on the shoulders of everyone involved, both on the part of a player who must plan ahead with each spell in order to minimize the risk while maximizing the reward, and on the GM who must, for each bad roll, consider which of the player’s decisions should be kept and which shouldn’t be kept, and also consider not only the immediate effects of what gets kept and what doesn’t but also the long-term effects and how each would influence not only the campaign’s plot but also how the players themselves would react.

    If I were to play this game, I know I wouldn’t ever want to play a mage. Being the mage would mean that you’d probably take far too long above the table to cast the spells, thus making the other players resent you for hogging too much time which should, ideally, be evenly divided among the players; being the mage would also make the other players resent you because, well, when the fighter rolls bad, he simply misses when swinging his sword (I’m assuming), but when the mage rolls bad, the game could easily end with a localized (or maybe not) apocalypse. If the flavor of the world were to reflect this, practicing magic would certainly be done by only the most nihilistic of villains, and any mage who would for whatever reason not fall under that category would conceal his identity as a mage, for knowledge that a mage was nearby would cause everyone to immediately try to A. kill the mage, B. run to safety, or C. commit suicide so at least they could die on their own terms.

    Of course, this is all assuming that I’m interpreting what I read correctly. Now, just so that there’s more of a degree of constructiveness to my criticism, I actually had my own idea for instant spell engineering which, unfortunately, would not be implemented in my own system for various reasons, but which might be useable in a different system (not necessarily yours, but you might be able to use or adapt it). It’s actually based on the flavor of how magic works in the setting of my game, which is why it’s quite shameful that I can’t think of a way to properly implement it mechanically. Anyway…

    The system I’m proposing for instant spell engineering is that each overall “spell” is actually a combination of multiple smaller spells. Say you wanted to cast a fireball to throw at your enemies. You’d first cast a spell to flood a volume containing air particles with arcane energy (to act as fuel), then you’d cast another spell to increase the rate of collisions between those air particles in order to drastically increase the heat in that volume. The oxygen is already there, so you now have a fire, floating conveniently in the air. Assuming the fire was big or hot enough to satisfy what you wanted to throw at your enemies, you’d then cast yet another spell to move the effects of the previous two spells toward your enemies at a high velocity.

    This system would allow you to mix-and-match spells to produce different effects based on the spells you use. Players would, of course, have to learn spells to apply certain effects. It would be a lot simpler, because the effects of each spell are already determined, rather than having to think of each and every effect that would be associated with a component. It would be less risky, as you would roll for each spell, and if you failed on any individual spell, you’d know exactly how your “overall” spell “partially succeeds” by simply not including the smaller spell that you failed to cast, and if you had enough time and energy to do so, you might even try again. Unpredictable effects would only happen on a critical failure. It would still be more complex than what most people are accustomed to, but it would also still be easier than what you were going with. I hate to make it sound like I’m insulting you, or that I’m bragging, but ultimately (and again, assuming I’m understanding what you’re saying correctly) I think a lot of people would prefer the system I proposed to the system you’ve got going as a system of instant magical engineering.



    Sounds a lot simpler to me, but then I don’t know much about gaming. Sorry Herr D, but like Jadebrain said, your idea sounds like it would be very difficult to actually use.


    Herr D

    Valid points. Your way of templating does sound like an improvement on the ‘old fixed list of recipes’ approach. I am actually thinking of having all characters capable of a half pound total as a base level, and the casting take 1-3 rounds. In exchange for regular casting ability, the players may choose Uncast with their casting weight–which might mean the whole party will be necessary to cancel a spell. . .of course, using fire is probably unwise, like calling down mortar fire on your own position. Doubtless counter-spells would have been thought of by experienced battle mages: putting out fires or things made of fire would be an interesting problem.
    My system is intended for people who want fewer limits on possibilities of magic, like your comments on fantasy races. I only have three interested players at this time, and none of us will have time to play for, likely, another calendar year. (This is the point of testing, though, to make sure it works before then.)

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