Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Magic in the Enchanted Isles, Part 1: Introductory Materials

In my initial post on Wizards, I may not have emphasized one of the key appeals to me.  Just like the name says on the box, the game is about playing a wizard.  It really doesn't take much more than that to interest me.  I see a number of posts on rpg.net from people who want "historical" games with no magic.  Not me; I want magic (in it's broadest sense, which includes psychic powers and super-powers and Jedi and whatnot) in every game I play.  Two of my favourite books of all time are A Wizard of Earthsea and The Dark is Rising, both of which are about boys who find themselves to be magical (my other favourite is A Princess of Mars, which would be only that much better if Burroughs hadn't lost interest in the telepathy part of the story early on). And more than just being a wizard, in Wizards you get to choose whether to be a Wizard, a Sorcerer, or a Druid.  That plenitude of magic was just irresistible to young me and remains so to old me (also part of why I loved Stephan Michael Secchi's The Compleat Enchanter and even more loved his Arcanum).

Thus, while I could approach this project in lots of ways, working on the magic is the natural place for me to start.  My jumping off point will be what we learn from the board-game on each Magical Order and then start extrapolating from there.  I'm also going to start playing around with some ideas for mechanics.  I should mention that I'm very undecided on the system I want to use, but two are calling to me at the moment:

  1. Some iteration of Ye Auld Game (probably Spellcraft & Swordplay) + the magic of my beloved Arcanum
  2. Runequest II/Legend
The appeal of No. 1 should be fairly obvious.  The appeal of No. 2 is two-fold: not only do Combat Maneuvers rock at providing a "warrior alternative" (to quote an old article about an entirely different game), but it has great, distinct magic systems that could really handle differentiating the Orders.  So, for now at least, my thoughts on mechanics will be for both systems.

My biggest goal is to figure out a way to distinguish the various magics from each other in both cause (which the game sort of does) and effect (which it barely does at all).  Regarding the former, the game gives us some information in the Introduction, a tiny bit more in the spell lists, and some implicit suggestions via the advancement mechanic.  Regarding that last one: Wizards uses a simple, level-based advancement, in which you accumulate three different types of experience points: Knowledge, Power, and Perception.  Each of the three Orders prioritizes one of these types of XP and requires that for advancement.  These points have no other effect in the board-game, as expected, but I want them to be more meaningful in this rpg-version.

Post-script: Yeah, I said that the next post was going to be about my previous experience rping in the Enchanted Isles.  I'll probably get back to that later, but it isn't, maybe, as interesting to anyone else as I had initially thought.


  1. I think it is the difference in small ways that makes flavor work differently. Example: Sorcery and Wizardry in High Valor both give a possible method of "invisibility."

    Under Wizardry one gets a spell that makes one invisible. It manipulates energy to sever lights relationship with you. Sure since its magic you can still see.

    Under Sorcery one gets a spell that makes people ignore your presence, being unable to do so.

    Effectively they do the same thing. Make one invisible, sort of super stealth.

    Yet the nature of each is influenced greatly by the flavor of magic.

    Wizardry in High Valor is the ability to manipulation elemental (energy) forces and physical matter.

    Sorcery is the ability to effect the mind or bodies of others.

    If you wanted to shapeshift? You'd use sorcery, if you wanted to blow a hole in something? Wizardry. Summon an Elemental? Wizardry. Transform someone to a toad? Sorcery. And so on and so forth.

    Tying magic to certain thematic (and often classical) concepts helps.

  2. I agree, Tim. We'll see if I can ever get back to this. ;)