What's Your Favorite Magic System in a Table Top RPG?

Discussion in 'Gaming' started by Jun, Jun 15, 2018.

  1. Jun

    Jun Level 7 (Cutpurse) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    So the video game thread, and now I'm asking the same question for table top RPGs since I identify more as a TT gamer than a video one.

    What's your favorite pen and paper magic system and why?

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  2. Jun

    Jun Level 7 (Cutpurse) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    To answer this question for myself I have two favorites.

    #1 - Mage: The Ascension

    I love that this is a game where literally anything can happen if you're willing to pay the cost. You have to come up with a belief system explaining -why- your magic works which is fun and enhances immersion. A system where players can literally design their own spells, within the parameters of what their stats say they can influence makes the game more creative than most by a considerable margin.

    It also does a better job of explaining metaphysics than most real world pagan, new age, and occult texts.

    #2 - Dark Ages: Fae

    This system is AWESOME, it's a shame it never became more popular. The thing that makes it fun for me is that it's not only about -if- you can cast the spell you need, but if you can control it once you summon the magic. It's the most beautiful "Wild Magic" style system I've ever seen, and you have to balance how much power you can draw on with your ability to reign it in. Min-Max your way to the most power, and you'll find yourself with less than ideal results the next time you try to magically light a candle and end up burning down the whole village.

    Honorable mention: Changeling: The Dreaming (Second Edition)

    I'd call this a cousin of Mage since both systems require you to do something that could reasonably be used to cause/justify the effect as opposed to just saying "I will it to be," but CtD is more structured in that there are specific effects for each level of power. The thing that makes CtD unique from most other magic systems out there, is that you have "realms" which determine -what- you can effect with your magic.

    Quicksilver, for example, allows the target to gain speed in the form of extra actions per turn (in the case of movement it'd just increase the rate of travel per one turn). Most people think of using that on their own character (Fae realm) or an ally (usually actor or fae), but the system also opens up the possibility of using it on a crafted object like a motorcycle (prop realm) for a NOS like boost of speed, or a tsunami or Tornado (nature realm) if you wanted to trap someone in an unfortunate circumstance. Which realms you can use, and how skillfully depends on your stats and how much you've leveled them.
     
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  3. AuthorJHWoods

    AuthorJHWoods Level 4 (Warrior) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Yes, that magic system was amazing. I am also really liking the Genesys system from Fantasy flight games. D&D magic is all well and good, but man is it easy to make things overpowered. If your group uses logic, or role playing at all Tashas Hideous laughter, and Aquitus Orb is pretty much an insta-gib, and Palladium system is just as bad or worse for combos. Then again maybe I just prefer free form magic.
     
  4. Jun

    Jun Level 7 (Cutpurse) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    The thing that I like about Mage is the simple act of killing someone or removing them from gameplay is so easy with magic, that it ceases to become the 'point' of the game for gamers who usually think in these terms.

    It's like "RWAH! I've got my combat monkey and I'm gonna do 432534523452 damage in one hit."

    Mage: f**k you, your blood is now orange juice. Survive that biotch.

    "RWAH! I've got my combat monkey and I'm gonna do 432534523452 damage in one hit."

    Mage: "Sorry you just stepped into a portal to the shadowlands. Didn't use forces to give it a nice glowing frame for you to avoid. Good luck getting back. I forget, do they have food and water over there?"

    ... and so on.

    Once you realize how simple it is to do all that stuff, it becomes a lot more about creativity, and coming up with new ideas to solve the story conflicts.
     
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  5. AuthorJHWoods

    AuthorJHWoods Level 4 (Warrior) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I agree, in Mage you could go so over the top. At one point one of my players (A brother of Aether I think... its been 15 years or so) was immortal, not because he magiced himself immortal, but because he designed a way to down load his mind, and soul, and kept a back up copy. If he died, a cloning vat made a new one, and downloaded his mind to it.... The mad scientist schtick for that tradition was amazing.
     
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  6. Simon Fiasco

    Simon Fiasco Patron Saint of Snickerdoodles Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Despite a history of playing RPGs that reaches back to the early eighties, I have never played Mage: The Ascension, though plenty of people have recommended it. I've just never found myself with a group who wanted to play. I've always been a fan of the verb/noun (technique/form) system of Ars Magica. Lately, I've become quite enamored of the magic system in Fantasy Flight Games' Genesys RPG, though I feel like it could use some more work, as it's a bit skeletal.
     
  7. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Level 9 (Burgler) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    The Rolemaster RPG had a good and 'realistic' magic system, which was far less complex than its combat system.

    I liked it because you could run a character that was out of the norm for adventuring, but still useful to the party. For example, I ran an astrologer character, and some of his spells helped guide the party to success even though his prowess in combat (magical and weapon) was anything but legendary. It enabled far more complexity and subtly, and thus variety than other RPGs back in the 1980s and 90s when I played it. It also added another dimension for 'in town roleplaying and adventuring.
     




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