[wip] Homebrew Magic System for S+S

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Benedict
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[wip] Homebrew Magic System for S+S

Post by Benedict » 07 Mar 2018, 16:49

Ok, I will cut on the intros and shite. Here is the beast, at least almost half of it. Feedback is more than welcome.

WIP: Homebrew Magic System
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NEW CONCEPTS : ENTITIES, ESSENCE, and AREAS OF INFLUENCE

The concept of magic within the game assumes that mortals gain access to mystical powers, or magic, via the intervention of supernatural entities; the most common one being invoking the entity to do something for the mortal. These entities may be called demons, elementals, ghosts, nature spirits, angels, or gods. It all comes down to the chosen setting flavor and the group's tastes.

Entities do not exist as mortals exist in the world; instead they can project part of their power or manifest part of their being in the world. This influence is represented by Essence, therefore abbreviated as [E].

[E] is ranked 1 through 10, with the usual Tapping bonuses as other Abilities. At least for entities that mortals can interact with. Supreme beings, like God or Devil, are beyond the scope and scale of statistics.

Each entity has a number areas of influence equal to [ETV+1]; for example a river deity with E6 (ETV1) has 2 areas of influence, such as water and weather. Sample areas of influence are each of the four elements (air, earth, fire, water), certain emotions (despair, love, etc), certain animals or plants,and so on. These are left to the GM to decide.

Areas of influence serve as a Lore skill for the specific field when the mortal requires information from the spirit, as a combat effect* when the character requests aid in combat, or whatever else the GM deems appropriate.

*Note that magic here is subtle, not flashy as in high fantasy. If for example the character pleads the river spirit to help him against one's foes, then the river will swell and hit everyone (but the character) with a [MoS+ETV+1] wave; failure to overcome this will result in blunt damage, and possibly death, as they drown inside the raging river waters.

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NEW SKILL : ARCANA (Specific)

Arcana is a broad group of skills that focus on knowledge and manipulation of mystic arts, obscure mysteries, and magic. It might seem that Arcanas overlap with Education, Expertise, Lore, or even Trade. The key difference here is that while Expertise is about doing, Lore about knowing, and Trade about making, Arcana is about knowing, doing, and making things within a certain mystical tradition.

As all (Specific) skills, the tradition must be specified when the Skill is taken.

Sample specific Arcanas include Alchemy, Goety, and Theurgy. Note that these are presented within the concept of a pseudo-historical early Renaissance European setting. Nothing prevents the GM to remove these, or introduce others more appropriate to the setting, such as Animism, Blood Magic, Geomancy, Rune Magic, Voodoo, or whatever suits the setting best.

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NEW TRAIT : PACT
Similar to Relationship and Patron, Pact represents the character's dealings with a supernatural entity. Pact assumes that the character already knows the entity and vice versa. It is a statement towards the GM that should be honored, as any Pact is both a blessing and a curse.

Entity Essence is... (Pick one)
1-3pt Obscure. Of little power and influence. Animal spirit. Mortal's ghost. E 1-3.
4-6pt Minor. Of some power and influence. River spirit. Servitor demon. E 4-6.
7-9pt Major. Of significant power and influence. Angel. Demon. E 7-9.
10pt Legendary. Of extreme power and influence. Archangel. Demon Prince. E 10.
Note: Cost equals Entity's [E] score.

Entity... (Pick up to three)
-1pt Has significant leverage over the PC
+1pt Owes significant debt to the PC
-1pt Has great disrespect for the PC
+1pt Has great respect for the PC
-1pt Has great interest in PC's demise
+1pt Has great interest in PC's well-being

Character's pact magnitude is... (Pick one)
1pt 0 die. Promise of mutual benefit. 1 Hubris.
3pt 1 die. Vow of mutual benefit. 2 Hubris.
5pt 2 die. Blood oath. 3 Hubris.
7pt 3 die. Soul pact. 4 Hubris.

Note: With the inclusion of Minor/Major Enemy, the maximum Trait: Pact discount is -3. Meaning one can't get "significant leverage over the PC", "great disrespect for the PC", "great interest in PC's demise", and Major Enemy for a total of -5. Also, as with other Traits, cost cannot be reduced below 1.
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NEW TRAIT : FOCUS
Focus represents possession of an arcane item containing one or more spell formulas.

Focus is... (Pick one)
1pt Large, stationary, and possibly fragile, item. Athanor (alchemical oven). Standing stones. Reflecting pool observatory.
3pt Cumbersome, yet portable, item. Old leather-bound grimoire. Brass summoning urn.
5pt Easily carried, and probably concealable, item. Bronze-bound staff. Meteoric iron amulet. Velvet bag of bones.

Focus contains... (Pick one)
2pt One formula.
4pt Two formulas.
6pt Three formulas.

Focus power is... (Pick one)
1pt 0 die. Trinket of little to no power.
3pt 1 die. Item of some power.
5pt 2 die. Item of significant power.
7pt 3 die. Legendary artifact of extreme power.

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NEW MECHANIC : INVOCATIONS & EVOCATIONS

Invocation requires either Pact or the specific Invoke (Entity) Spell.

The player declares his intention, burns 1 Drive, then rolls a contest of appropriate [Arcana] vs the Entity's [E]. By default [Trait: Pact] with the entity in question Taps into this, as well as any appropriate [Trait: Focus], with the usual limits of Tapping.

The character calls out to the entity and makes a request; if the previous roll is successful the entity is obliged to respond to the character's plea with a magical effect called a Minor Intervention. These favors include effects such as :

• Answer a single factual question with a yes or no. This must concern something that has already happened.
• Strike fear into the hearts of one's enemies for a Scene.
• Make the character see perfectly in the dark for a Scene.
• Repair an item reduced to ash by fire to full functionality - permanently.
• Cause lightning and thunder to roll and crash for a Scene; for example providing distraction while infiltrating a castle.
• Know if someone is intentionally lying to you for a Scene.

These effects either affect narratively the game or may have a dice value, up to GM interpretation; if a die pool is required the GM assigns a value equal to the character's MoS on the Invocation test plus the entity's ETV+1.

Depending on the roll the following happens:
MoF3 Request is ignored; Suffer an additional point of Hubris
MoF1 Request is ignored; No other effects
MoS0 Request is answered; Entity asks a major favor in return
MoS1 Request is answered; Entity asks a minor favor in return
MoS3 Request is answered; Entity doesn't ask for a favor OR regain the Drive point burnt
MoS5+ Request is answered; Entity doesn't ask for a favor AND regain the Drive point burnt

Sometimes the character will be in such dire straits that an Invocation will simply won't do; In this case the character may perform an Evocation to petition for a Major Intervention.

Evocation requires a Pact with an Entity of E7+. No recorded Spell can produce Evocation effects.

Major Interventions are the stuff of legend, and only desperate characters will resort to this. Major Interventions include effects like:

• Calm a raging tornado until your ship gets to port.
• Call a bolt of lightning on a creature, killing it instantly.
• Cause a massive avalanche, big enough to destroy a village, or obliterate a mountain side.
• Cause a solar eclipse over a city for one hour.
• Make a mercenary band fall into a berserk frenzy (as per the special Trait: Frenzy) for a Scene.
• Summon a monster from the depths of the sea to sink a galley.
• Force a demon barter with a dead comrade for a second chance to life - the comrade's soul being the currency.

Requesting a Major Intervention has consequences. First, burn three Drive AND suffer one Hubris.

MoF3 Request is ignored; Suffer an additional point of Hubris; Enter Nemesis
MoF1 Request is ignored; Enter Nemesis
MoS0 Request is answered IF a major favor is performed first
MoS1 Request is answered; Entity asks a major favor in return
MoS3 Request is answered; Entity asks for a major favor in return
MoS5+ Request is answered; Entity asks for a minor favor in return


Minor Favors examples:
• "During the next full moon you must sacrifice a bull in my name."
• "The next time you encounter someone in need you will treat him as your long lost brother."
• "The next time you are confronted by the city watch you must publicly make fools out of them."

Major Favors examples:
• "In the city of Florence resides Father Jiacomo, a man of excellent reputation, adored by the people of the city. You will travel there and destroy his reputation to the point that the people will drive him out of the city in shame. Or lynch him."
• "In the city of London reside two brothers named Alfred and John Humble. Convince one of them to frame the other for a crime punishable by hanging, so he can secure the family estate for himself; I don't care which."

After the favor is granted the entity makes a request (minor or major, depending on MoS) on the character. Should the character chooses not to honor it he suffers immediately 1 additional point of Hubris and enters Nemesis until the entity is appeased or Nemesis is over. In addition the entity holds a grudge and won't answer any Invocations or Evocations until the request is performed.

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NEW SYSTEM : HUBRIS & NEMESIS

Hubris means arrogance in the eyes of the Gods. Wielding magic is wishing for power beyond mortal ken or comprehension, which by itself is arrogance supreme.

When a magic practitioner misuses magic he attains Hubris. This has two effects.

Accumulating Hubris can make someone suffer Nemesis, the rightful punishment for misusing magic. When under the effect of Nemesis the character must pass a Will test at an OB equal to the number of accumulated Hubris so far. If he passes he functions normally and Nemesis is over. If he fails he functions at FTN6 and cannot use Drive for a number of Scenes equal to his Hubris rating. He may voluntarily get another point of Hubris to end Nemesis.

Apart from the debilitating effect of Nemesis, Hubris can have a more permanent effect of the character. when Hubris reaches 10 the character is removed from play; either driven raving mad, carried away by a flying demon, turned into a marble statue, or a thunderbolt striking him dead on the spot, it really matters not; the character is irrevocably lost to the player. Note that even "Not Quite Dead..." will not prevent this.

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More to come: Foci, Spellcasting, Spell Codex, and Alchemy
"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool."
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KillerRed
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Re: [wip] Homebrew Magic System for S+S

Post by KillerRed » 07 Mar 2018, 19:21

Thank you sir!
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nemedeus
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Re: [wip] Homebrew Magic System for S+S

Post by nemedeus » 13 Mar 2018, 03:53

i don't quite get the motivation behind "focus with 1 formula - 2 points". i mean i guess it makes no difference but it feels like a "tax". actually, that goes for most of these options...
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Benedict
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Re: [wip] Homebrew Magic System for S+S

Post by Benedict » 13 Mar 2018, 15:05

nemedeus wrote:i don't quite get the motivation behind "focus with 1 formula - 2 points". i mean i guess it makes no difference but it feels like a "tax". actually, that goes for most of these options...
This is intended.

Now, before I get misunderstood.

The intention is not to make it feel like a tax, but to require a certain commitment for using magic.

Reminder: Trait Priority
T5 = 14
T4 = 9
T3 = 6
T2 = 4
T1 = 2

With the above in mind let's see how that applies for these two new Traits.

Focus examples
T1 = 0d Large stationary of little power focus with one spell + Major Enemy; 0pts left
T2 = 1d Large stationary of some power focus with one spell + Major Enemy; 0pts left
T3 = 1d Cumbersome yet portable of some power focus with one spell + Major Enemy; 0pts left
T4 = 2d Cumbersome yet portable powerful focus with two spells + Major Enemy; 0pts left
T5 = 3d Easily carried artifact focus with two spells + Major Enemy; 0pts left

Pact examples
T1 = 0d pact with E4 (etv1) entity (direspectful) + Major Enemy; 0pts left
T2 = 0d pact with E6 (etv1) entity (direspectful) + Major Enemy; 0pts left
T3 = 1d pact with E6 (etv1) entity (direspectful) + Major Enemy; 0pts left
T4 = 2d pact with E7 (etv2) entity (direspectful) + Major Enemy; 0pts left
T5 = 3d pact with E10 (etv3) entity (disrespectful) + Major Enemy; 0pts left

At first I was thinking of creating a 6th Priority Category for Magic. However this proved a fool's errand, as it threw game balance way off board. Then I thought that it could be a combination of Skill and Trait. Since Skills get enough points to cover many areas with a T3+ investment, I simply tinkered the new trait prices in such a way that
  • it would require serious Trait investment to have access to magic, and
  • won't make Traits a magic dump priority
Given that Combat requires serious commitment in two Priorities (Attribute+Proficiency), I figured that Magic requiring two Priorities (Skill+Trait) is fair.

The point behind the formula cost is this: each formula is a spell that the player has access to; after successfully casting a spell once it is part of the character forever after; access to a focus/formula means casting at regular OB -- while casting from memory is at an increased OB. Access to a formula via Trait: Focus implies the character has commited the spell to memory forever before play starts; even if the focus is irrevocably lost during play the spell remains.

I'll give you that the spell system is in the process of a write-up, after all I have playtested only the pacts system presented above. Hence I understand Foci seeming like a "point tax" in theory.

Could you explain why the Pact Trait also feels like this? Note, this is not me defending my "super idea" against the world, or anything of the short.

I get feeling, but that doesn't help improving it. That's why I ask. ;)
"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool."
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nemedeus
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Re: [wip] Homebrew Magic System for S+S

Post by nemedeus » 13 Mar 2018, 15:48

Benedict wrote:
Could you explain why the Pact Trait also feels like this? Note, this is not me defending my "super idea" against the world, or anything of the short.

I get feeling, but that doesn't help improving it. That's why I ask. ;)
i didn't mean the pact trait actually. it's more like "okay so a focus has one use: to cast a specific spell. i pay 2 trait points per spell, including the first" my brain made that into "you could have a cheaper focus with 0 spells but it would be useless"
I'm not saying it makes sense.
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Benedict
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Re: [wip] Homebrew Magic System for S+S

Post by Benedict » 13 Mar 2018, 15:58

The point is that Focus gives you permanent access to a spell; the formula inscribed on the focus is what makes it magical in the first place.

A good analogy on my thinking would be from the weapons codex: a sword is @minimum r3 as it requires a blade component -- that makes it a sword. Similarly a Focus requires a single spell - that makes it a focus.
"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool."
― Touchstone
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