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harmyn

The Dumb Wizard or Why Can't I have 3D in Magic and 1D in Intelligence?

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As I do the typing to bring an earlier set of magic notes I recently found from hard copy back to digital copy (the old hard drive these notes are from died like 6 years ago) I had an errant thought about the disconnect between supernatural attributes and the normal array in OpenD6.

 

In the Simple Magic System we put into Mini Six we made Magic a skill under Wit. In D6 Fantasy and many other games, Magic is split out as a 7th attribute with magic skills under that. Now I do also like this method as the deminished other attributes works as a balance against the power of magic. For reference on this balancing aspect look at a beginning Jedi character in Star Wars Expanded and Revised with all three force skills vs. a Bounty Hunter for combat abilities. However, when you split it out as a 7th attribute you can be dumb but powerful in magic.

 

By the rules a character could easily spend their 18D in starting dice as follows:

 

Strength 4D

Dexterity 4D

Intellect 1D

Awareness 3D

Presence 2D

Craft 1D

Magic 3D

 

This makes for a magic using character, who is an idiot in all things scholarly but can still access the arcane arts of the universe. In many fantasy games this really does not fit a good archetype.

 

Also, do you limit Magic or similar paranormal abilties to only 3D at character creation or can the player spend 4D in it (or whatever your highest dice allowed is) so they can "max" out their magic.

 

What do you think of limiting the Magic Attribute to be no higher than the character's Intellect/Knowledge/Wit attribute at character creation? Basically to have 3D in Magic you would need to bump that Intellect up to at least 3D as well. Would this be something you would consider in your games? Have you ever seen people do this sort of oddity with their magic/paranormal abilities outside the classic Jedi examples?

 

I am just curious so I thought I would ask my mates here.

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I think this really depends on the campaign setting more than anything else. Want the unschooled natural born mage? If the answer is yes obviously you won't impose a real limit. Want the intuitive natural? It does not matter how smart he is. If you don't like those archetypes don't use them.

 

As to limiting Magic to some maximum based on the character "Intelligence" attributes, it would depend entirely on the setting. For instance in the setting I am currently working on no one starts off with more than 1D. It is more about learning the skills associated with using the power than any knowledge outside of that. Of course since the Magic Attribute I am using is based on perceiving truths about the universe the idiot might have a problem advancing. Part of the game is having the GM limiting things via roleplaying concerns not just straight point cost.

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I handled magic differently in my Magic & Miracles. So with that system, it's entirely possible you could have a magic user who isn't real bright. The biggest drawback that a magic user would have in my system is amount of spells that could be cast in a battle. But with adequate growth in skill and in Magic, they could cast just as potent of magical spells as any other magic user.

 

For a faith based person, intelligence really has no bearing, in my system. So it's possible to have a less intelligent person.

 

Of course, when designing your own, you can pattern it however you want. Plus, you can set a limit at the level you want for the power level of your game. I don't take dice away from the attributes for my magic, but if you do, you'll probably have to decide if you want a high or low maximum set for how much they can boost the Magic attribute.

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A very simple approach is looking at it the way most large scale video game developers do:

 

While magic can include augmentations due to intelligence or wisdom or will, generally a good rule of thumb is to place it under its own cognizant stat or some kind of similar mechanic. Successful games typically include a supernatural stat of some kind, something that changes the odds or effects "supernatural" results. In Fallout we had Luck, in Star Wars we had Sense, Control, and Alter, in Mass Effect there is this idea of Biotics. I emphasize the science fiction genres, as we don't typically associate them with "magic" but the idea is still magic/supernatural, nonetheless. It is a greater comomentary on RPGs as a whole: would they still be exciting without some kind of supernatural aspect?

 

I have seen and played few that would, but not many. It is the varying levels of fiction people see, and the construct around that, which forces a game developer to contemplate "supernatural" affinity. Indeed, but the sheer design of OpenD6, it lends to "cinematic" gameplay, making success, especially in stressful and exciting situations a little bit easier, and more fun. The Wild Die is a "magic" luck/supernatural component, and something I enjoy as a powerful and intentional game mechanic. That said, having gone off topic a little, it seems essential and neccesary to ground the use of magic/supernatural powers/super powers in something inherent native a role playing game system. It does not have to be a stat, but where there is not a stat, it becomes more vital that the game system itself is a little "magical" by design and allows for fictional gameplay.

 

Inherently, intelligence-type attributes should remain unrealted to the affinity to "use" magic or any kind of supernatural powers. Otherwise, when it comes time to create and design stupid monsters, i.e. Orc Shamans, Sprites, or perhaps even a Giant, the effectiveness of these creatures and their magic might often fail miserably. Typically when magic-related rules tend to evolve, they discover that doing this often fails.

 

For instance, D&D dealt with it by using two separate Attributes, Intelligence and Wisdom, justifying that sometimes creatures might not have intelligence, but retain some level wisdom (in their case it is representative of the animalistic idea of instincts). Regardless of the "attribute" associated with using magic, I have always felt that it is a struggle trying to find some kind of consistency to make it all work. Probably the absolute greatest achievement from d20 3.0 are the advanced classes, specifically the Shadowdancer who epitomizes this example. The Shadowdancer represents a separate class whose "training" allowed them access to magic powers, but also emphasized the use of an appropriately separate Attribute: Dexterity to

manipulate and interact with shadows. This was also seen in very early AD&D in Kara-Tur, with the character class, Sentai (-sp?), who used the

attack roll to defend and attack.

 

At any rate, it really depends on the game, the system, and the GM, ultimately relying on a lot of subjective pieces. This is all an overcomplication of how it all works out, but this is the kind of stuff I do when I start thinking about game design. Sorry for the long-windedness!

 

- J.

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A little thread necromancy perhaps? I'm rethinking my d6 Fantasy approach and came across this thread and wanted to share why this isn't an issue for what I'm doing.

 

First, I'm keeping the old 2D-4D range for human attributes (although I'm tweaking them for custom human races, few will go as low as 1D).

 

Second,I am keeping Magic as an attribute, for the reasons harmyn lists. Casting magic will burn CP, and this thread(and some story points I'm considering) has made me think that magic will be some kind of inborn type of power. So, a dumb but magically adept character is OK, and an orc or lizard man spellcaster will often be prime examples of this in my world.

 

But the human wizard template will feature high INT and scholar, language, etc. type default skills. Mostly because this will balance out parties somewhat and make it more likely the group will have attributes and skills in something other than brawling/melee. There will also be a "hedge wizard" type of character too, with less emphasis on INT but in that case the INT skills will be more like survival and alchemy.

 

Just a few thoughts, happy new year all.

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