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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Dirty Street Magic: Part One

I grew up with games that had levels and spell lists and then games that atomised magic and made it another science. 

While these approaches certainly work mechanically I want a magic system that is curious, esoteric and unfathomable. One where the impossible is possible but understated; and at the same time one that is not overpowering. 

I've kicked around a few different ideas under a number of different systems but I think the best shot I have of getting close to where I want to be is using FATE Core. 

The Kickstarter is (here) and until it finishes a dollar will get you access to a whole lot of goodies in the backer updates including the rules.

Street Magic (SM) is a modern day implementation of some of these ideas, and draws on a number of inspirations including Pat Mills' Finn, Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, Mike Carey's Felix Castor novels and a host of talented street magicians whose names I will never know.

Knowledge is the key to unlock the magical, hidden mysteries of the world, skills that might otherwise be mundane turned to magical purposes by a hidden talent.

In terms of FATE this means that a character wishing to use magic in the game requires a high concept aspect that justifies magical talent along with stunts and relevant skills to make it happen.

Changes to the core skill list

Street Magic adds a new skill to the list presented in FATE core and re-skins Lore into two separate skills. All of these can be learned by people without magical talent but have their true potential unlocked by those with the gift.

Academics (Lore)
Lore is renamed Academics but otherwise functions as written and deals with matter mundane.

Gnosis (Lore)
Gnosis is greek for knowledge. In Street Magic it represents knowledge on occult, mystical and supernatural topics. 

Overcome:
Gnosis is the go to skill for understanding anything arcane, occult, magical or supernatural and can be used to overcome any obstacle that relies on your knowledge of one of these topics such as recognising the signs of possession, deciphering ancient grimoires, brewing up a potion or the languages of spirits.

Create an Advantage:
Like Academics and investigation Gnosis provides all sorts of opportunities to create and uncover aspects based on your knowledge of the magical arts.

Gnosis is not used to Attack or Defend

Legerdemain
Legerdemain is the skill of prestidigitators, shell game con-men and others who rely on sleight of hand and misdirection. Often used to entertain, it can also be used to great effect in other circumstances.

Overcome:
Legerdemain can be used to overcome any obstacle requiring nimble hands, such as palming objects, picking pockets and stealing small objects within plain sight if they are in the same zone as you.

Create an Advantage:
Legerdemain can be used to confuse, beguile and befuddle onlookers, slip your hidden ace into your hand of cards or conceal a small weapon. In fact anything that can be affected by concealing, revealing or moving small objects can be leveraged using legerdemain.

Legerdemain is not used to attack or defend.

New Stunts

Third Eye Open (Notice)
You may use the notice skill to observe magical, mystical or supernatural phenomena which would otherwise be invisible; kirillian auras, magical wards etc. You may now also use the notice skill to overcome magical concealments or create advantages based on your observations. For example a notice test might now reveal that a room in a house was "Magically Warded"

Incantation (Gnosis)
The incantation stunt allows you to use your occult knowledge to formulate magical spells, Anything from the creation of a bobbing candle flame to light your way to the summoning of creatures from beyond the mortal world.

Spell Slinger (Gnosis) requires Incantation
+2 to any off the cuff spell casting test. These are tests when you just need to cast the spell right now and don't have time to do any advance preparation setting up free invocations.

Summoner (Gnosis) requires Incantation
+2 to any attempt to summon creatures from beyond into the mortal realm. Additionally your Will counts as two higher for purposes of controlling and commanding summoned entities.

Ritualist (Gnosis) required Incantation
Allows you to add +1 to any spell casting test for each additional participant who also has the incantation stunt and/or +1 for every additional three participants that have the Gnosis skill but not the Incantation stunt. The extra participants must be actively involved in the casting ritual and so it counts as their action for the phase.

Master of Misdirection (Legerdemain)
Your use of body language and fast hands enable you to distract onlookers enough to conceal or reveal large objects that could not normally be palmed. You can also use your Legerdemain to sneak past sentries and the like.

No. It's Over Here (Legerdemain)
Your mastery of is such that you may retrospectively move any small object in the same zone as you.