A few days back after talking to Will about the need to codify and identify development issues on this blog, and my desire to work out magic on Garnia World (which I refer to frequently as GW, despite the fact that Gamma World had that way before me, oh well) I sort of reverse engineered the backbone of a rules lite system that is probably based on numerous stuff I've played sometime in my past. I don't remember things so good - things like names of games and whatnot. Someone will, I'm sure, tell me what this is similar too...that's ok - maybe I can check those ideas out too.
My notes are kind of disjointed. I'll present now the whole of what I sent, then at the bottom some more of what I just wrote down tonight. This will be very long and probably confusing. If no one reads any further that's ok :) As I look at this, a lot of it needs to be worked out in better detail - so I welcome feedback and questions...
Players will create characters. Each character will have 4 abilities. For each ability the player will assign either a d4, d6, d8 or d10. Each die must be used only once and each ability must have a different die. The 4 abilities are:
Mana Attenuation (INT sort of):
Presence (CHR/WIS sort of):
Health = class dice x level (roll number of HD (char dice) times the level)
Fighter: d8 (class dice) physical combat, d4 magic
Spell caster (Holy, educated or wild): d8 (class dice) magic use, d4 combat
Items, situational mods can alter some or all of dice type.
Armor absorbs damage
Tie goes to defender
Levels = Max # of dice – up to current pool (like action points) (idea - players buy tiers of pool max for xp modifier? – higher pool max = less xp for adventure?)
Class = type of dice
Ability = Bonus die
Oppose rolls. Type vs type. (combat) Some spells/items can allow to flip type)
Unopposed rolls GM set difficulty of task based on ability. If class type task player can use class dice instead of ability die.
Saving throws are typically just opposed rolls between NPC and PC, PC and PC (oh noes!) or GM event and PC. Adjudicate accordingly.
magic:(added after) All spell type magic effects (or simply spells I suppose) are the result of a caster focusing the flow of magical energy (called mana long before diablo or whatever made it popular and impossible for me to use here, but until we rename it, along with damn near everything else, its mana [and in my games it always will...]). Mages, magic-users, evokirs, enchantirs, divinirs, wizards, sorcerers, clerics, priests, holy spell casters, shaman, acolytes, whatever - all magic comes from the same place. Wizards trained in arcane arts learn mystical enchantments and spells to trigger and shape the mana. Wild mages and sorcerers "see" the flow and intuitively force it to their will. Priests rely on their faith in their divine deity to find the clarity of mind to allow them the understanding of how to manipulate the mana to work the will of god. No matter the shape of the final product, all spell casters share a common link - mana
How that is rule-ified can vary. If you like lists, use them. Even the wild mages probably chant command words to evoke their magicks. If you don't like lists, don't use them. Examples on how to use this fledgling system to adjudicate spells is below.
Focus (general v specific)
Scale (mundane to fantastic)
spells will have pt values determined by those 4 factors, modified by any special items, devices or circumstances. Mana rich areas lower the value (1 pt spells may be free in these areas – hell in very rich areas maybe even 2 pt spells free…), mana poor raise it. Casting spells costs pool pts = to pt value, and cost cannot exceed caster character level or the current pool dice available.
(for example: Create Food/Drink for a single nearby person would be a general, short range, single target, mundane kind of magic spell, so cost it at 0 pt (or say 1 is minimum for any spell). A short ranged, single target energy blast (general, short, fantastic, single) could cost 1 pt if low damage, or up to as many points for damage as caster can throw. Resurrection on a nearby fallen comrade would be specific, short ranged, fantastic on a single target, and would cost at least 2 points + target level. The sticking point (and really its the best answer ever - GM discretion) is where things fall on the fantastic scale and what the range of that scale should be to give basic min and max points for spell costs. If the desired spell effects exceed either the caster's level or his current available pool dice he can't cast spell without some help.)
Fighters can use pool pts to parry, dodge or otherwise influence attack results, values for actions dependent upon rp of action and GM discretion. Maybe allow to use for offensive adjustments as well.
System is self scalable. For example – spell crunchiness – GM can have spell caster describe effects of spell and how powerful he (caster) wants ti to be and assigns a SP (spell point) value. If value is equal to or lower than the caster’s level AND current pool value, the spell goes off. If player doesn’t have enough pool dice or is not high enough level, perhaps spell can be scaled back. This interchange can be role-played very easily like this example:
Xastor (lvl 7 evokir mage): I’m going to launch a fireball at the pursuing horde of orcs. That should get them off our trail.
GM: Ok, the orc horde is at close range in hot (so to speak) pursuit. To get all of them you’ll need a decent sized fireball, medium at least. Call it 7 SP.
Xastor’s Player: Ok, I’m 7th level so no worries, but I’ve only got 6 pool points. Maybe a slightly smaller fireball that will shock and disrupt the pursuit instead of incinerating them all would work. Can I do that for 6 SP.
GM: That could work. Xastor’s fireball explodes with modest fury in the midst of the bloodthirsty beasts. Those who are not thrown asunder by the blast are confused long enough for the party to make good its escape.
In a rules lite game, I'd figure that SP value quickly by determining it is a 1. general (non-specific) spell (1 pt), 2. It is determined to be short range (1 pt), 3. It is fantastic - the degree of which is up to the GM. In this case, I assigned (3 pts), 4. it has multiple targets (2 pts) for the 7SP quoted to the player. By scaling it back to 6 pts, it will target fewer targets, be a little less fantastic, or both to some degree - in this case still scattering the pursuers if not destroying them...
If you are playing GW as a rules light game, the GM and player can simply and relatively quickly determine the SP value of any particular magic “spell” by breaking the desired effect down the into four basic magic elements: focus, range, scale and target. These can all be arbitrarily determined by GM in the scope of the game, or a more formal scale can be agreed and established in advance. If you want to get D&D crunchy, feel free to create a pre-determined list of actual spells and use the 4 element guidelines to determine their values ahead. That way if you like memorizing spells off a list, you’ve got it – it wouldn’t be very hard to assign values to the existing D&D list – if I’m forced to I could do it as an appendix. In this way I can go forward with presenting this system (if we ever get it silky) as my preferred way to play GW, while making it very simple to swap out this magic system into most existing D&D and play GW that way if that’s what the user desires.
The thing I don’t know yet for certain (although the tying experience awards into max pool size is a fun crunchy rule (that I won’t use coz I probably will have a very loose XP system in GW lite) – anyway the thing I don’t know is what the initial pool size should be (unless tied to xp) and how does the pool get replenished. No matter how you do it D&D and any of its alts are going to at some level be a resource management game. If we keep the main resource (pool points) constantly fluid it gives a lot of opportunity for rewards, for generating conflict (and conflict drives plot – always a good thing) maybe for xp too…
I know that some of this system is similar to something – I played something somewhat (in that it used progressive dice) similar with that other group – but you know I cannot ever remember the names of what I play. I have absolutely no idea what it was. I’m also taking the pool thing from Lady Blackbird maybe…whatever…let legal figure it out…
I’m going to try to post this in some coherent fashion now.
(note - this was my best attempt at doing so)