Tuesday 5 April 2016

Magic: Mechanics

Three of Wands

Magic rules are the fiddliest thing of any fantasy game, and how your magic rules work are a major part of the flavour of the game, and so they were the biggest headache for me in all sorts of ways. In the end, though, this is what I came up with and I'm pretty happy with it. It's going to make more sense if read in conjunction with my previous post on magic systems.

Of course, there's only a few days to go of the Chariot Crowdfunder! You can still support me and I would really like it if you did.

Working magic

A magician can access magic at any time. Any technique can, theoretically, affect any of the five elements.

In the framework of the game, this is how magic works.

(For the sake of simplicity, I'm calling the Suit on your character sheet that matches the Technique you're using the Technique Suit, and the Suit that matches the Essence you're affecting the Essence Suit. The exception is Akâsha – to affect Akâsha or to use Qlippoth or Vril, you can spend points from any Suits, any way you want.)

What Technique are you using? Spend a point from the Technique Suit. For example, if you're using Nurturing to heal someone, you spend a point of Cups. You can't use a Technique you haven't learned.

What Essence are you affecting? If the Essence is in harmony with the Technique, you don't have to spend another point; if it's not, you need to spend a point of the Essence Suit as well. For example, if you're using Harnessing and you're using it to control a fire, they're both connected to Tejas and since you've already spent a point from Wands you don't need to spend another one. But if you're using Harnessing to levitate a large rock, Harnessing is from Tejas, which uses Wands, and controlling the matter is under Prithivi, which uses Pentacles, so you have to spend a point of Pentacles as well.

Is it big? If what you're trying to do is large or spectacular – and use your discretion for this – spend another point from the Essence Suit. If it's really big, spend two. For example, if you're hiding a tower from sight, that's Projection, because it's an illusion (so you spend a point of Swords for the Technique), and it affects an inanimate object, the tower (so you spend a point of Pentacles for the Essence) and it's big (so you spend a second point of Pentacles). On the other hand, if you're creating an illusion of an entire army to fool an entire army on the other side of the field, that's still a point of Swords (for the Technique of Projection) and three points of Cups, one for the Essence, and two more because it's a huge effect.

Is it lasting? If you want what you're doing to have a permanent effect, spend another point of the Technique Suit. That includes magic that destroys things, and magic that fixes and restores things, and heals, but not magic that might cause things to break or be destroyed through what it creates (that is, if you shoot a bolt of energy from your hand and it blows a door to pieces, that doesn't count as lasting because it wasn't your magic that destroyed the door, it was the momentary blast of energy that your magic created that did it). Some effects have to be lasting, or won't work at all: when you crumble the foundations of a wall to dust, for example, that isn't going to reverse itself, so it has to be lasting by definition and needs you to spend that extra point.

Are you creating a completely new thing? If you're making something from nothing, spend another point of the Essence Suit. You don't have to do spend this point if you're remaking or repairing a thing, or using materials from elsewhere (as you would, for example, when precipitating a letter written by a comrade far away).

Are you opposed? If your magic is going to affect someone negatively, you need to initiate a Conflict, after you spend the points. This usually uses Psychic as the Attribute you're using for the Stake, but doesn't have to.

Once you've spent the points, the magic is done (unless there's a Conflict). That's all there is to it. If you're trying to do magic that impacts another, even indirectly, they have the right to initiate a Conflict scene, however. If they win, your magic might be wasted.

You can make a magic effect happen in the middle of a Conflict instead of playing a card – for you it's the same as Stalling, in that you put the card down and don't turn it over, but instead of paying the point for Stalling and losing the round, you pay the points for the magic and win the round, meaning you narrate what happens and your opponent pays the Suit point for losing.

The sort of magic that works straight away just works. No one directly suffers from it (although the indirect suffering might be great) and no one is trying to stop it.

The sort of magic that initiates a Conflict is complicated, difficult, and initiates a battle of wills, strength or spiritual power.

The sort of magic that you use in the middle of a Conflict is immediate and off-the-cuff.

Magic is costly! It feeds from you, draws from you.

Think carefully before you use it.