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Old 10-31-2015, 09:25 PM   #21
Shostak
 
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Default Re: What Makes a Great Magic System?

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Originally Posted by Michael Cule View Post
Well, that's something I've heard said often but I don't really think it reflects the way mechanics help the players immerse themselves in what the character is doing and having a feel of how the world works.

'One mechanic fits all' games feel flavourless to me....

But this is getting way off the point of magic systems. Well, fairly off the point.
Not at all, if having different mechanics for different types of magic makes playing a given system really satisfying. Having different mechanics does lead to a sort of cosmological issue for the GM: are there different types of magic, or just one type that is misunderstood (yet somehow succesfully utilized) by some/most/all practitioners? It could be cool whether the answer is yea or nay. That probably is subject for an separate thread.
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Old 10-31-2015, 09:31 PM   #22
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Default Re: What Makes a Great Magic System?

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Ability to be applied intelligently, logically, and innovatively. This probably, but not necessarily, encourages picking MtA-like or Realm Magic-like systems, as they're very flexible. .
YES! But I'd want it to be able to also support the bookish types of magic, as well.
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Old 11-01-2015, 05:27 AM   #23
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Default Re: What Makes a Great Magic System?

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Not at all, if having different mechanics for different types of magic makes playing a given system really satisfying. Having different mechanics does lead to a sort of cosmological issue for the GM: are there different types of magic, or just one type that is misunderstood (yet somehow succesfully utilized) by some/most/all practitioners? It could be cool whether the answer is yea or nay. That probably is subject for an separate thread.
Well, if the GM resolves 'it's all the same in the end' then he's pulling a deception, a bait-and-switch on the players and giving them duff information. I think that what the players will want is a universe where they can have some sort of handle on what is going on and how their characters will exploit it. A world where they can meaningfully experiment with, expand and refine magic not just repeat what previous generations did. One of the things I find wrong with NUMENERA is that the magic is just there: it's quite incomprehensible to the players though their characters may have theories. They can't refine it, just collect it and use it.

One possible counter example might be a world where the powers of evil (Satan or whoever) are behind all magic. It's all sinful and damns your soul no matter how beneficial the effects are. The GM might be justified in holding that back in a game that is about that discovery, a game of accumulating horror. But not otherwise.
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Old 11-01-2015, 04:29 PM   #24
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Default Re: What Makes a Great Magic System?

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Not at all, if having different mechanics for different types of magic makes playing a given system really satisfying. Having different mechanics does lead to a sort of cosmological issue for the GM: are there different types of magic, or just one type that is misunderstood (yet somehow successfully utilized) by some/most/all practitioners? It could be cool whether the answer is yea or nay. That probably is subject for an separate thread.
...dunno. I reckon it would make for a really good magic system if you had, say, (Runequest style) shamanism, sorcery and theurgy, each with different mechanics and a different range of effects so that they actually felt different ... as opposed to being the same thing with different hats on.
The (A)D&D magic system always seemed to me an example of how not to do it ... leaving aside any hate for Vancian magic, and acknowledging that the fireball flinging flavour is fine for the genre, they managed to establish a way for "divine" and "arcane" magic to be tediously similar ... and in later editions made psionics (which always seemed sort of out of place in a setting with magic) just another version of the same thing. (Fair play, in old style AD&D psionics was fearsomely wierd as well as sort of out of place and so didn't used to be such a big offender).
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Old 11-01-2015, 04:34 PM   #25
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Default Re: What Makes a Great Magic System?

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Originally Posted by Michael Cule View Post
Well, if the GM resolves 'it's all the same in the end' then he's pulling a deception, a bait-and-switch on the players and giving them duff information. I think that what the players will want is a universe where they can have some sort of handle on what is going on and how their characters will exploit it. A world where they can meaningfully experiment with, expand and refine magic not just repeat what previous generations did. One of the things I find wrong with NUMENERA is that the magic is just there: it's quite incomprehensible to the players though their characters may have theories. They can't refine it, just collect it and use it.
I would suggest that "magic is fundamentally chaotic and undefinable" is an acceptable premise - just as magic being something that can be refined and experimented with is. Magic might be about understanding the underlying reality of the universe, or it might be about imposing your will on reality by any means you have to hand.
It should give a very different feel to the universe either way...
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Old 11-03-2015, 04:04 PM   #26
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Default Re: What Makes a Great Magic System?

This has all been very helpful; thanks to all who responded. The desire for a logical system which can be improvised upon resonates with me, as does the desire for a system that provides lots of support for the poor GM. I still wonder about the cosmological implications of competing magic systems in a single setting.
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Old 11-09-2015, 07:58 PM   #27
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Default Re: What Makes a Great Magic System?

Mystery, Awe. It should not be just a substitute for the internal combustion engine. And no midoclorines please!

Atavistic feeling. It should feel, OLD.

It should feel uncanny and numinous. Certain things give off that sense. Old women, battered old trees, forests, springs, night, stars, etc.

In other words it should be Gothic, Romantic, and in general from a part of this world that we like to put out of our minds except when we are "visiting". It should be from the Unconscious.

In other words there needs to be a formulaic sensibility to make it but a poetic sensibility to make it great.
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Old 11-09-2015, 08:34 PM   #28
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Default Re: What Makes a Great Magic System?

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Originally Posted by Shostak View Post
Not at all, if having different mechanics for different types of magic makes playing a given system really satisfying. Having different mechanics does lead to a sort of cosmological issue for the GM: are there different types of magic, or just one type that is misunderstood (yet somehow succesfully utilized) by some/most/all practitioners? It could be cool whether the answer is yea or nay. That probably is subject for an separate thread.
There's a third option, that the different kinds of magic are no more connected than physics and chemistry.
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Old 11-09-2015, 10:26 PM   #29
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Default Re: What Makes a Great Magic System?

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There's a third option, that the different kinds of magic are no more connected than physics and chemistry.
Chemistry and nuclear physics are intimately interrelated. As in, Chemistry is nuclear physics as observed from a blurry distance.

Chemicals exist the way they do because of nuclear physics. Their interactions are all, fundamentally, just nuclear physics in useful combinations for the macro scales.
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Old 11-09-2015, 10:57 PM   #30
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Chemistry and nuclear physics are intimately interrelated. As in, Chemistry is nuclear physics as observed from a blurry distance.
Well, really, no. The only property of the nucleus that matters for most chemistry is its charge. The actual chemical processes involve rearrangements of electron clouds surrounding nuclei. This is much lower energy than nuclear processes: the typical chemical reaction involves energy comparable to that of visible light, the typical nuclear reaction is up in gamma ray energy levels.
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