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Ars Magica CRPG Kickstarter Update: Spells and Magic

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Ars Magica CRPG Kickstarter Update: Spells and Magic

Development Info - posted by Crooked Bee on Mon 22 October 2012, 08:44:18

Tags: Ars Magica; Black Chicken Studios; Kickstarter

The folks behind the Ars Magica CRPG have put up the first update to their Kickstarter campaign, dealing with spells and magic in the PnP system and their implementation in the game:

Now, down to business: what is this Magic System all Ars Magica players love?

In the Ars Magica tabletop game, magic is divided into 5 Techniques and 10 Forms, and the combination of these are how spells are classified. At its simplest, you choose a Technique (for instance, ‘Perdo’, which means ‘I destroy’) and apply it to a Form (‘Corpus’, which means ‘Body’) and get a result- in this case, something that destroys humans or human-like bodies. The actual effect depends on the spell you’re casting, and could range (in this case) from tearing a large wound open in a foe, to starting a deadly plague in an entire city. Don’t cross Ars Magica wizards. Seriously. Don’t.

You can create almost any spell you can imagine using these rules, and pretty much every Ars Magica player has a story about an amazing spell they’ve created, and what it did. One of our patrons mentioned that he had once created a spell which turned a person’s memories of evil deeds into fire...an excellent reason to be good, boys and girls. ; )

The power of this System can be applied almost everywhere you need it, great or small. Local lord being difficult? Pull down his castle walls. Need to get a message somewhere? Let dreams carry it for you. Not strong enough to lift that boulder? There’s a spell for that.

What’s even better is that you don’t even need to know the Spell- you can do it all at a moment’s notice, through Spontaneous Magic! It’s just a whole lot easier if you know the Spell.

So, how will this kind of, frankly unlimited, power be implemented in the game?

We don't need to tell you that this is THE problem of an Ars Magica game- undoubtedly, it's the reason why any designer or developer that has looked at this has shivered, and slowly backed away in horror. Firstly, and most importantly, we're including only the Spells in the 5E rulebook (along with KS Spells created by Players) in the launch game. This has the critical benefit of allowing us to know what's going to be possible with Spells before we ever begin to implement.

These Spells, and more importantly, their Spell Effects, are divided into three categories: Covenant, Adventure and Battle gameplay. Spells don't necessarily neatly fit, either- they can (and often do) belong to one or more categories.

Covenant Spells contain all the Spell Effects you use to upgrade your demesne and provide long-term boosts. This category also contains information gathering and quality of life Spells, which affect the Covenant overall, or which may provide information you need to unlock actions and opportunities. These you can cast instantly, in some cases, or ritually in others, paying the costs as required.

Adventure Spells are those which can directly affect the course of a dialogue, an exploration or in some way provide investigational tools. These Spells include the ability to read minds, boost Abilities, and find new ways to collect information. As before, you can cast these whenever you feel useful. And, if you don't, you can miss important information- so there's a bit of a puzzle aspect to your adventures, especially in investigations.

Battle Spells are those which deal damage, apply states, boosts and change the environment. These kinds of Spells are fairly straightforward, but it's important to note that Battle does not just refer to simply physical combat; it could also be a tense diplomatic exchange, finding your way through a savage forest or struggling with your inner demons. Our engine is built to be flexible for these kinds of story needs, and you'll see Spells that you wouldn't normally consider 'Battle' Spells having a crossover for certain kinds of Battle.

...so, where does this leave Spontaneous Magic? First, Spontaneous Magic can replicate the Effects of any Spell in the game, whether you know it or not. Secondly, Spontaneous Magic can appear as a special (scripted) option in any portion of the game, for especially those areas where simple magic is called for that doesn't have a Spell analogue.

We think this is the best approximation we can get to the deep and encompassing grimoire that makes up the 15 Arts of Ars Magica. It preserves the flexibility, the power and the sheer variety of Spells, while preserving the most important thing to a game: their usefulness!​

You can find the original update here.

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