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Old 11-21-2015, 08:18 AM   #81
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: What Makes a Great Magic System?

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Originally Posted by David Johnston2 View Post
That came later.
It's in the core book of the edition I have.
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Old 11-21-2015, 02:44 PM   #82
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default Re: What Makes a Great Magic System?

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Originally Posted by Peter Knutsen View Post
The Pendragon RPG I know had a magic system, as well as support for players creating and playing several different types of characters, not just various flavours of fighty fighty.
The edition I played didn't have that, and yet this was not a problem. Yes, all knights were warriors, of somewhat variable style, and you had to fight sometimes, because the setting is one where important issues are often settled that way.

But it's a mistake to think of Pendragon as being either a semi-historical fantasy game, or a postmodern fantasy game. It's a game that is quite focussed on emulating a particular literary genre, that of Thomas Malory and his imitators.

That genre is quite narrativist; it is not at all surprising to knights that adventures come along that they are suited for, and that the problems they face are ones that they can address, and hope to succeed with. That's how the genre works, and what they expect.

The reason for that is based in the original purpose of the genre, which was romantic pro-Plantagenet propaganda. Knights, as essentially the only people in the society with money, freedom to travel, and some authority, are thereby the only people available to right the many wrongs and evils that a complex world creates. And that's what Pendragon knights do: as well as being warriors, they investigate crimes, find missing persons, and basically do the village- and town-level policing of society. They also do quests for legendary and numinous things, such as the Holy Grail, visit faire realms and come back still sane, and generally keep the world running.

They do this because it's their duty, and their role in society, and because their ultimate liege is King Arthur. He is a wise ruler, a noble man in all senses of the term, and a work of propaganda who is deliberately superior to those kings whose reputations he was intended to support. He creates an example of what kings should be, as an encouragement to them - this propaganda isn't entirely one-sided.

Arthur's rule provides the ideal of a just and reasonable society, and makes the adventures of his knights into examples of restoring the proper state of things, rather than struggling against a chaotic world full of evils. Again, this is comforting propaganda in the 1400s, but it isn't simple-minded. Lastly, Arthur's rule addresses the fundamental British political problem, which is thousands of years old: that of making an "us" out of several sets of "them", which varies according to which groups have recently arrived from Europe, but never quite goes away. The imaginary Arthur addresses it in the best, if not the easiest way: by accepting anyone who will obey the laws, and behave honourably, which builds a unified society, albeit one that inexorably changes, rather than a fractured one.

Incidentally, Tolkien seems to have failed to understand that. Few do, but he might have. One of the motivations behind his creation of Middle-Earth was to create a mythology for the British, because he felt that they lacked one like that of the Norse, Finns or Greeks. It's true that British mythology is very different and rather newer, but that's because it's political allegory rather than, for example, the lessons about men and women that the myth of the Judgement of Paris teaches.
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Old 11-22-2015, 10:25 AM   #83
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: What Makes a Great Magic System?

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The edition I played didn't have that, and yet this was not a problem.
A narrow-thinking brain, a few-track brain, is always a problem.
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Old 11-22-2015, 10:51 AM   #84
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: What Makes a Great Magic System?

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Originally Posted by Peter Knutsen View Post
A narrow-thinking brain, a few-track brain, is always a problem.
There is nothing narrow thinking, when you are writing a set of rules to replicate a literary source, in leaving out story elements that are not present in that literary source. And the Arthurian story cycles have no mages as heroes. They're about the adventures of noble knights.

It's also not any problem to run a campaign where all the characters have the same niche. I did that with my French swasubuckling campaign, where everyone was a fencing student. They differed in background and personality—a young musician who was the favorite of a duke, the son of an estate owner in the West Indies, an exiled Scots soldier, and an actress who had run away from a convent—but what the campaign was about was fencing and savoir-faire, and they were all roughly comparable there.
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Old 11-22-2015, 11:27 AM   #85
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
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Default Re: What Makes a Great Magic System?

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Originally Posted by Peter Knutsen View Post
A narrow-thinking brain, a few-track brain, is always a problem.
Even were that so - and you're making a huge generalisation in claiming it - Pendragon knights are not all the same. Their fighting skills don't eat a large part of their "character creation currency", nor of their development potential.

What differentiates them as characters are their traits and passions, which are an unusual feature of Pendragon, and require a bit of play to get used to, and their skills, which vary widely. You don't need as many skills to be an effective fighter as you do under GURPS, and different knights in the campaign I played had very different skill-sets.
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Old 11-22-2015, 03:02 PM   #86
David Johnston2
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Default Re: What Makes a Great Magic System?

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Originally Posted by Peter Knutsen View Post
A narrow-thinking brain, a few-track brain, is always a problem.
The only magician-protagonist in the Matter of Britain is Merlin, and only before Arthur takes the throne. Other than that, they are all opponents or somewhat helpful bystanders. While I personally am not interested in Pendragon roleplaying I can't fault the first edition for it's faithfulness to the source material.
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