Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Character Creation - Pre-requisites for Magic Use (Part III) - Magic Stunt

Faithful readers of this blog may see that much of the following information looks kind of familiar. That's because the basis for much of SoG's Magic Stunt is based upon what Mike has already written elsewhere in this blog:

http://spiritoftheblank.blogspot.com/2008/04/fantasy-magic-basics.html
http://spiritoftheblank.blogspot.com/2009/03/fantasy-incantation-magic.html

This entry will focus more specifically on the following:

  • What differentiates the Magic Stunt from the Magic Skill
  • Applications of the Magic Stunt within SoG

First off, within SoG I generically use the term "Sorcery" to describe the generation of magical effects via the use of the Magic Stunt. "Wizardry" is the skill-based generation of magical effects.

In my opinion, the term "sorcery" is probably most used by Wizards as a derogatory term. Sorcerors would likely consider that stunt-based magic is perhaps the purest expression of magic: the instinctual ability to generate magical effects at a moment’s notice, with little or no prior preparation. Wizards would probably scoff at the notion, considering the (ab)use of Magic (with a capital M) without sufficient study as ignorant folly... ;)

Magic Stunt Overview
  • The Magic Stunt and the Magic Skill are not mutually exclusive. Someone could choose to take both. In fact, I suspect many of the REALLY powerful Wizards probably do have both, in order to allow them the maximum flexibility in generating magical effects. This would be akin to a "Master" craftsman saying something like, "You have to KNOW the rules, before you can BREAK them..."
  • The character must still have a Magic-related Aspect in order to generate magical effects.
  • The Magic Stunt allows the user to create magical effects on the fly, without having to memorize spells.
  • Generating magical effects via the Magic Stunt requires the user to roll the normal 4dF (versus the 2dF+2 of the Magic Skill). This also means that Stunt-based magic is also more prone to failure.
  • When using the Magic Stunt to generate Magical effects, the user can elect to expend as many FATE points as desired (up to what they have available) per casting to gain the necessary effect. Obviously, this can make things rather easy for a Sorceror to get in over his head in a tough situation.

OPEN ISSUE/VARIANT:
Should the Magic Stunt require a FATE point to activate the Stunt? Many powerful stunts in SotC RAW require the expenditure of a FATE point to activate them--should the Magic Stunt? My current feeling is NO, the Magic stunt should not require a FATE point to activate it.
  • Based upon what little play we've done with SoG and reading other people's experiences, I think I would rather players use FATE points to have fun and bring the awesome, not as the basis of how many spells their character can cast.
  • Even if it was a requirement, I would be inclined to give the player the benefit of having expended that FATE point as if they had elected to spend it in the normal fashion.
  • This decision might also be dependent upon the realm where this is being applied. In a realm where magic is rarer (or the ability to cast it is rare), it might be more appropriate.

Important Difference between the Magic Stunt versus other SotC Stunts

Within SotC RAW, most (if not all) other Stunts are tied to a pre-set Skill requirement. However within the High Fantasy realm of Greyhawk, the PLAYER will determine what skill is tied to the Magical Stunt. Some examples are:
  • A Bard capable of generating magic effects via his song would tie his Art Skill to the Magic Stunt.
  • A dwarven blacksmith creating magic armor or weapons would tie her Art Skill (broken out as the "Craft" skill in SoG) to her Magic Stunt.
  • Healers or Alchemists could generate magical healing effects by combining the Science (known as the "Physick" skill in SoG) to their Magic Stunt.
  • High "level" thieves with the Magic Stunt could combine the Magic Stunt with Stealth or Burglary
  • Rangers could combine the Survival skill with the Magic Stunt.
  • A "pure" Sorceror would likely combine the Magic Stunt with the Resolve skill--the gift/curse to generate magic effects purely by willpower.
  • Many powers of the Monk class might be translated by combining the Magic Stunt with Athletics or Fists skills.

So I think this provides a convenient method by which we can translate the magical effects attributed to higher levels of a particular class in the source material, without having to get too rule-crunchy.

DESIGN CONSIDERATION: Can a player tie the Magic Stunt to more than one skill? In other words, could a player have a character with both Art Skill and the Craft Skill be able to sing magical songs AND create magic weapons? On the surface, I don't see why not. At least in the High Fantasy realm of common magic. I think it might present some challenges to the player as to having a clear picture of the character--but that would be common to any sort of "multi-class" type.


Gameplay Implications

A Sorceror (or someone using the Magic Stunt as their primary method of surviving combat) could find himself running out of FATE points pretty quick in a conflict.

This was on purpose. Sorcerors (and Wizards) are supposed to be smart folks: whether that's expressed as "book smart" or "street smart" or "crazy to tamper with forces beyond their reckoning" is up to the player.

So if a player is to effectively run this kind of character, this setup encourages a player to really pay attention to Aspects (whether in their opponents, themselves or in the scene) and work to tag them as much as possible and thus avoid having to tap into their own FATE points.

Literary Example: The Dresden Files. Consider how much more effective magic users are in a conflict when they have the opportunity to research their opponent, dictate the conditions, or otherwise are able to "tag the aspects"!
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