The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Magic is supposed to be … well, magical! Not scientific!

RPG magic systems can roughly be divided up into "fixed spell" and "freeform" mechanics. Fixed spell systems are often highly mechanistic, where the operation of each spell is exactly calculable. Freeform mechanics, on the other hand, call for the GM to judge the difficulty of a spell based on little information as well as a large degree of randomness.

Neither of these, however, is "mysterious". A mystery means that no pattern is obviously visible – but there is a hidden pattern. For a magic system to be mysterious, there must be hidden patterns which the magician character does not know at first, but which can with effort be discovered. In a game, this means that there must be either hidden variables or even hidden rules. An extreme of this would be that the GM secretly designs the magic system and only lets the player learn it a bit at a time (i.e. completely hidden rules). However, mystery can be injected by having hidden variables. i.e. How a PC's magic works depends on factors which are defined by GM, but which the player must deduce from other clues.

Via Hacker News, Breaking Out of Scientific Magic Systems

This is more observations about magic in role playing systems than it is a system to use to replace an existing magic system. The author is right that we (modern players) tend to be reductionist about magic systems because of modern science in today's world (I know I am a reductionist when it comes to magic systems as a player—I never did get a good grip on the magic system in Mage, probably the closest role playing system where “magic” is still mysterious and needs to be discovered because the system was so vague and contradictory) and maybe we need to loosen up a bit. I don't know … it sounds like it would be a lot of work for the GM, and possibly alienate the players.

Obligatory Picture

[It's the most wonderful time of the year!]

Obligatory Links

Obligatory Miscellaneous

You have my permission to link freely to any entry here. Go ahead, I won't bite. I promise.

The dates are the permanent links to that day's entries (or entry, if there is only one entry). The titles are the permanent links to that entry only. The format for the links are simple: Start with the base link for this site: http://boston.conman.org/, then add the date you are interested in, say 2000/08/01, so that would make the final URL:

http://boston.conman.org/2000/08/01

You can also specify the entire month by leaving off the day portion. You can even select an arbitrary portion of time.

You may also note subtle shading of the links and that's intentional: the “closer” the link is (relative to the page) the “brighter” it appears. It's an experiment in using color shading to denote the distance a link is from here. If you don't notice it, don't worry; it's not all that important.

It is assumed that every brand name, slogan, corporate name, symbol, design element, et cetera mentioned in these pages is a protected and/or trademarked entity, the sole property of its owner(s), and acknowledgement of this status is implied.

Copyright © 1999-2019 by Sean Conner. All Rights Reserved.