World of Esaene (ENWorld)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Thinking outside the box

Too many magic systems are outside of the normal rules. That is to say you have a base mechanic that works a certain way (attack/skill system for D20 for instance) and your magic system works differently (spell slot with saving throws). Some systems are a bit more unified, but most have magic as being completely separate from the rest of the character.


I've seen some systems use a skill or pseudo-skill system for magic, which is not a bad idea but still seems a little off. I was brainstorming the other day and came up with an interesting idea.

What if a character's magic abilities were feats that allowed him to modify his base abilities. Specifically, say your magic allows you to modify your bluff skill outside of "normal" boundaries.

With bluff, you can convince someone of a lie or trick them. With bluff backed by magic, you can convince them of things they would never believe normally, fascinate them into a stupor, or any number of things. Magic-backed intimidate could cause fear and panic, decipher script could allow you to read dead or alien languages, Gather Information could allow you to commune with spirits for ancient lore, etc.

The point is that magic becomes a seamless part of the skill system. The mechanic from that point could be similar to the base - d20+modifier (even a skill) vs. DC.

This puts a premium on skills, which is what wizards were supposed to be about. They were wise men who valued knowledge. If someone wants to turn lead into gold, instead of learning a transmutation spell, they take ranks in Craft (Alchemy). The magic allows them to increase their skill bonus to perform things that would otherwise be improbable.

Therefore, if a wizard needs to perform a dangerous spell on a demon, he would either need to know about demons already or go research it.

There would be higher magics as well - basically new feats that allow him to modify skills in new ways and ones that allow him basic powers that he could use with effort.

I really loathe spell memorization and want to get away from that. Wizards should be powerful because of their knowledge and skill, not because they have two wish spells memorized, or they have a ring that gives them three extra fireballs per day.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Balancing world & rules

So a few questions for any readers out there:

What should be the intial balances of rules v worldbook in the initial release?
How integrated should the rules be into the worldbook?
Should they be completely separate parts of the book, a la Castle Falkenstein?
How much of the rules should depend on the use of Esaene as the game world?

Just some random musings as we wait for Chris's next big burst of creativity...

Story theories

I will start GMing a game of Mutants and Masterminds soon with my normal gaming group. I haven't run a game in some time and I was going to try out a lot of the story and theme ideas I have read about on many sites, as well as some basic story structure elements I have read about while persuing my dream of fiction writing.

We'll see how it goes. I'm curious to see how the fiction structure will compliment or clash when you have multiple points of view all shouldering each other aside for screen time. It will have to be managed.