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Campaign Setting & Mechanics

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Campaign Setting & Mechanics

Postby Thinker » Tue Feb 08, 2011 8:44 am

I have been working for several months now on a large-scale campaign setting and now that I have most of that content completed, I am hitting a stumbling block with mechanics. On the one hand I could spend a long time creating mechanics that would likely be duplicative with other RPG systems, but on the other I have a larger degree of flexibility with my own mechanics. I already have a few base mechanics together, but I'm not entirely satisfied with them. The other issue is that I've considered attempting to get this setting published and might run into copyright issues if I were to use another system. Now I'm looking around to see if there are a set of mechanics that can work for this setting and are publishable under various licenses.

The mechanics of such a system need to support a few things:
  • Magic that is ubiquitous throughout the world. Basically the answer to most questions without an easy explanation is "magic". This means that a spell like detect magic would always find that everything is magical and an anti-magic field may as well be tearing a hole in reality.
  • Magic that is somewhat open-ended. In folktales, those who use magic and can create a fireball can also do any number of other things with fire, not simply that one thing. In this vein, I would like some sort of component-style casting to create more of an open-ended feel. Something like starting with the right focus (a piece of flint for fire), creating a flame and then doing anything the caster would like with that flame.
  • Magical rituals. I don't dislike the idea of easy magic and there should be a place for it, but for more powerful effects (such as raising the dead), there should be a longer and more involved process that may even be turned into a quest.
  • Non-leveling system. I am not typically a fan of systems where characters get a large bump in power and prefer systems that support gradual progressions. This does not necessarily have to be point-buy.
  • Gritty combat. The system needs to make combat a very real threat that makes either avoiding combat or setting up in a favorable situation be much preferred. Even an amazing swordsman should feel threatened by a crazed peasant with a pitchfork.
  • Bonus based on motivations & values. I would like mechanics that allow characters to pick a motivation and add a bonus when s/he acts in accordance with that motivation or a penalty when s/he does something directly opposed to it. Similarly, acting in accordance with a character's values should provide some bonus.
  • Reputation system. The game should support some sort of honor/glory/reputation system that can go up or down based on character interactions.
  • No alignment system. I haven't seen an alignment system that I liked and would prefer to avoid it altogether.

Those are my criteria for a system right now to work with my campaign setting. Has anyone seen anything that could fulfill all of this (or get close to it) and does not have licensing issues? Once I find what I am looking for I will be posting material to this forum, hopefully with others willing to critique.
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Re: Campaign Setting & Mechanics

Postby TheCripple » Tue Feb 08, 2011 7:35 pm

It would be pretty easy to make a Fudge build that did all of this. As far as magic is concerned, any noun-verb system should work.
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Re: Campaign Setting & Mechanics

Postby Thinker » Wed Feb 09, 2011 6:15 am

I have heard of Fudge, but haven't used it before. Can you give any examples of how it plays?
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Re: Campaign Setting & Mechanics

Postby Draz » Wed Feb 09, 2011 9:35 am

From what little I know about non-D&D systems, your desires sound a LOT like The Burning Wheel, only with bad consequences for failed magic toned way down.

Apologies for the unhelpful comment if you already knew that, and Burning Wheel just has the licensing issues you're worried about.

Fudge is pretty rules-light compared to what it sounds like you want. (Same with Risus, which is another system that's pretty easy to adapt to a lot of what you've specified. Either of them will involve a lot of work to e.g. homebrew the specific magic effects.)
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Re: Campaign Setting & Mechanics

Postby Thinker » Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:10 pm

Draz wrote:From what little I know about non-D&D systems, your desires sound a LOT like The Burning Wheel, only with bad consequences for failed magic toned way down.

Apologies for the unhelpful comment if you already knew that, and Burning Wheel just has the licensing issues you're worried about.

Fudge is pretty rules-light compared to what it sounds like you want. (Same with Risus, which is another system that's pretty easy to adapt to a lot of what you've specified. Either of them will involve a lot of work to e.g. homebrew the specific magic effects.)

I looked into The Burning Wheel, but decided against it because of the licensing issues and a few other disagreements from the rules perspective. I'm also not opposed to penalties for failed magic. The main problem with a lot of systems is that their magic system is an attached feature of a world that largely follows our ideas of physics. That's something I would like to avoid.

My brief reading about Fudge is that it is as rules-light or heavy as the designer would like. I haven't gotten to the meat of the system yet, but I plan to tonight. I'm not opposed to doing a lot of work to complete my efforts, but customizing from the ground up lends itself to overlooking important side-effects, missing important themes, and severe balance issues. At least from a framework I don't have those issues to as large a degree.

Thanks for your comments.
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