thread: 2005-07-28 : The Ars Magica Knock-off Fishbowl

On 2005-08-04, Vincent wrote:


I'll want to change the names of spontaneous, formulaic and ritual spells. Probably.

Spontaneous spells are like unassigned relationship dice: positioning. You'll have a pool of dice you can spend from when you use spontaneous magic to raise or see, the pool'll refresh under some circumstances, that's always what it was gonna be.

For formulaic spells, it's hard to see them as anything other than traits, mechanically - you cast Pilum of Flame as your raise or see, you get the 1d8 you have listed next to it on your character sheet, wham bam - and that's fine, BUT. It's fine but I don't want a) wizards to get way more trait dice than anybody else, nor b) wizards to get the same number of trait dice, yet they have to spend most of them on spells. So really it's not fine. I have a couple of alternatives I'm considering, but let me think about them more before I share.

Rest assured that however the particulars work, there'll be a list of spells, it'll be an obviously incomplete list, and the wizards and players will be able to create new ones in a fun and interesting way.

Ritual spells are the cool though. Check this: casting a ritual spell is a conflict. Your opponent is the inverse of the resources available to you - that'll be a mechanical known thing, like demonic influence in Dogs, attached to the sanctuary. 4d6+4d10 or whatever. 4d6 base plus 3d8 per participant, maybe.

Anyway, each ritual spell will have a list of component effects, with a weak/strong. Like "duration: month/year; area within its bounds: one building/the whole sanctuary; shared trait: all within its bounds are protected from magic 1d4/2d6; requires ritual maintenance: costly/trivial" or something for Aegis of the Hearth, for instance. Again I'll make a list, it'll be obviously incomplete, and I'll provide for you to add to it.

Now, each participant in the ritual takes one of the component effects as her goal in the conflict. If she wins her goal, the stronger of the two. If she loses it, or if there aren't enough wizards participating so no one took it as their goal, the weaker of the two. (Plus if no one at all wins their goal the spell fails.)

I also want to play some fallout games with magic, but I'm'a think about that more before sharing too.


This makes CRN go "Formulaic considered harmful"
Dude, why even use formulaic? (Besides trying to emulate Ars Magica?) Or, better, you have this pool of spontaneous dice. Spend them and they're gone until you get some refreshment. Spend them for a formulaic spell, and you can use it forever, and your pool refreshes still.

This makes Chris go "Formulaic spells cost"
What if you can't cast formulaic spells until you're taking D8 fallout or worse? You can have'em, and you can pull 'em out, but man, they won't count until you're hurting anyway... Though it gives a slight edge for the wizards, it keeps it from being an all-out domination. Plus it means wizards will be taking some serious costs whenever they do pull out their magic like that.

This makes JN go "Spontaneous become Formulaic"
What if all magi start knowing no Formulaics? Only spontaneous spells that you've cast a few times and have gotten reall good at become available as formulaics? One way to model this is to say that the memorization occurs only if you roll a 10 or better on any die when casting that spell. Mark that spell down on your list when that happens: you've mastered it! Note that this would have players picking and chosing which spells to apply those precious d10 and d12s to, in play. The benefit of formulaics? Take a spont die of your choice, and bump it up to the next size for free! Or: cast the spell with a d6, without dipping into your spont pool. (Like family relationships in Dogs!)

This makes JN go "Dramatic rituals"
V, the idea of making rituals really worthwhile is totally appealing. Really like how you've modeled goals against spell scope pairs.

This makes JN go "Hard Spells and Botches"
I'm in the school of players who like to have their characters attempt difficult magics and risk botches and Twilight when everything is on the line. It's fun! ...But we don't have spell magnitudes here, and casting a spell is as simple as scooping up dice and rolling. Is attempting hard magic possible here -- risking dramatic success, or spectacular failure?

This makes Chris go "Ooh!"
That makes me think of another variant- whenever you cast a formulaic, you bump up your fallout automatically. While this means you can cast it earlier in, it also means everytime you do it, it has some cost and drama to it.

This makes HS go "Spontaneous to Formulaic"
Following up on JN's idea, what if turning a spontaneous spell used during the conflict into a Formulaic one was a possible result for "experience Fallout?"

This makes SJF go "Use arts as traits?"
I.e. instead of "Pilum of Fire 1d8," you'd have "Creo 1d6" and "Ignem 2d4."

This makes XP go "What's magic for?"
I don't mean inside the game. I mean for the meaning of the game. What does magic mean? I think the answer to that will help in how to handle it.

This makes JN go "Wizards should defy God!"
Magic is about power and its costs and temptations. And it's a heresy because it's unnatural for men to try to become gods themselves. This is unavoidable, and I think we should embrace it for its wonderful payload of Premise! A change to the original setting which would make this choice actually interesting is to change the Divine from its obviously superior power and actively involved participation on Earth to something quite rare and subtle. Such a setting would actually require faith from the faithful, instead of whacking us over the head with a God that *clearly* exists. But most importantly - it makes Magic (and religion!) a real choice. Wizards aren't idiots who are throwing away their immortal souls for a shot at an lesser powers.

This makes GJS go "Belongings/components/props"
I'm not familar enough with AM to know whether this applies, but I would expect material components/props/whatever to be key to rituals. Have you thought about how to handle this in terms of the Dogs rules about Belongings? You'd need to limit the dice if you want to make it a challenge to win. But you may not want to; it may be all about the fallout.

This makes VB go "duh!"
Spells will be belongings. Like guns with the +d4. Duh on me!

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