'The Magicians' mechanics with FS3


  • Pitcrew

    So, how would you do it?



  • @Auspice may have some ideas.


  • Pitcrew

    Personally I'd be tempted to basically have pre-set general spell groups and utilize wizard magic as a background skill. Do it skill v skill for magical combat - admittedly figuring out armor class for magic hurts my head.

    X-Factor used this skill base for using mutations and I thought it worked really well. Gives the players room to explain what or how they are doing a thing and then roll for how well in play it happens. (Or apply some handwave if it is basic).


  • Pitcrew

    @zz said in 'The Magicians' mechanics with FS3:

    Personally I'd be tempted to basically have pre-set general spell groups and utilize wizard magic as a background skill. Do it skill v skill for magical combat - admittedly figuring out armor class for magic hurts my head.

    X-Factor used this skill base for using mutations and I thought it worked really well. Gives the players room to explain what or how they are doing a thing and then roll for how well in play it happens. (Or apply some handwave if it is basic).

    My plan was to have the general 'classes' of magic (Natural, Healing, Telekinetic, etc etc) as Action skills, then specializations (meditation, elemental, etc) as background skills to show further practice/study in a particular field.

    Honestly, there's not much magical combat that occurs. I mean, even in the books combat magic is a rare thing. It's more about using what magic you have and your wits to get things done. Bring down that wall on the enemy! Throw that bust at him! etc. and I'd prefer to see that played up. So it'd likely be a game where rolls guide RP rather than govern it.


  • Pitcrew

    @auspice

    Yeah, but spells are sort of integral to the setting ('theme' if you must) -- hedges are fighting to get access to even some pretty dumb shit, written spells-wise.

    They are also complicated as fuck, yet there are numerous ways of doing the same thing ("Popper 45"). But you need weird skills. Eg, in order to cast Evnard's Black Testicles you have to know a certain amount of Old High German, have skills Finger-Wiggling 2 and Mathematics 5, and have in your possession an eight inch length of string. Tenseturd's Darkened Gonads does the same thing but takes Finger-Wiggling 3 and Figure Drawing 4, and you get a +1 if you have a stale peanut.

    But there's also the on-the-fly wild-magic stuff...


  • Pitcrew

    Hedge Witches won't be allowed on my game. Full stop. Mostly because they're too separate from Brakebills. I don't want two separate groups that largely don't get to interact at all without breaking theme a lot.

    But to make up for that, the attributes will be stuff like raw intelligence, raw magical ability, etc... then in background skills, you can add in a few other Circumstances as well. Emphasis on a few. I'm talking broad-stroke (Astronomy, Astrology, FS3 has a whole separate category for Languages, etc.).

    If you start to go too far into the Circumstances, you're going to make way, way too complicated a magic system and while some people might enjoy that, your majority of players don't want to juggle 15 different stats/skills/settings just to cast one spell.


  • Pitcrew

    Not having hedges as PCs is one thing. Not having them /exist/ is something else. I think the setting would lose a great deal if magic is too simple, or too Mage-style open.


  • Pitcrew

    @il-volpe said in 'The Magicians' mechanics with FS3:

    Not having hedges as PCs is one thing. Not having them /exist/ is something else. I think the setting would lose a great deal if magic is too simple, or too Mage-style open.

    That's what I mean. They won't be there as PCs.

    But I think you want an insanely crunchy system. You want a system that would probably have 20, 30 stats that players need to buy into, keep track of, etc. And then likely be adding up/rolling 4-5 of those each turn. FS3 will never be able to do that accurately for you. Not with the amount of XP people get or are able to spend.

    Additionally, you'd need a +weather system for what you have in mind that simply doesn't exist. One that tracks weather and astronomical systems both, displaying them to PCs. Furthest I've seen is weather + moon phases.

    2nd Edit: Oh, don't forget tides. You'd need those, too.



  • @auspice said in 'The Magicians' mechanics with FS3:

    Additionally, you'd need a +weather system for what you have in mind that simply doesn't exist. One that tracks weather and astronomical systems both, displaying them to PCs. Furthest I've seen is weather + moon phases.

    2nd Edit: Oh, don't forget tides. You'd need those, too.

    This would actually be really cool if someone had the time and inclination to code it up. Agreed it's not what FS3 is built for, though.


  • Pitcrew

    My thought was that the /roll/ might remain the same as your standard FS3 roll, (something like magical ability + Physical magic, for instance) but you need to have certain prerequisites to even try, unless you spend Luck to do a 'wild' effect.

    I wasn't even getting into the whole circumstances thing. Possibly a spell might require two rolls, one to calculate for circumstances, and another to cast, with success on the one being required for success on the other.

    It would probably be simple enough to make a version of the existent weather system that gave you a number for how difficult the circumstances are at the moment.


  • Pitcrew

    @il-volpe said in 'The Magicians' mechanics with FS3:

    My thought was that the /roll/ might remain the same as your standard FS3 roll, (something like magical ability + Physical magic, for instance) but you need to have certain prerequisites to even try, unless you spend Luck to do a 'wild' effect.

    With how FS3 works, it'd be Base Attribute + Action Skill for Magic Type + # Bonus (ST directed based on your Background skills), but we're talking sheets that would probably have 30+ action skills or more.

    Now remember, FS3 accrues XP very slowly and people spend very slowly. I just don't think players would have a lot of fun in this method because they'd basically start at one level...... and remain there save for one or two skills, maybe. I mean, overall FS3 increases slowly and The Magicians doesn't see a huge power creep anyway, but you'd be basically negating it altogether.

    You're also talking having to craft a huge list of action skills and from my work on The 8th Sea, I found this to be detrimental to a game rather than beneficial. I fought hard to trim the list of action skills we had because I found it had no benefit to have a bigger list of skills. In Alpha, it was hurting the game, the sheets, and people building characters.

    From having played on and helped dev an Ares game, I honestly think the best structure is to focus on a Magic system being supplemental. If you want it to be the guiding force, FS3 is probably not the system for you.

    The breakdown I think works best is:
    Rebalance the core 6 attributes. Some will have to remain (Brawn/Strength for physical, but Grit, which is used when opportunity to be KO'd could be renamed Stamina and also used to represent your mental fortitude). Presence could become Aura and represent raw Magical ability while Intelligence could represent things like how Alice may not have had the raw power of Quentin, but was so fucking smart that she outdid him. Wits could be how fast a thinker you are, like Eliot.... etc.

    You have to have those, because they tie into the backend of the FS3 system. If you go renaming them into the magical 'Houses' (like Physical, Natural, etc..)... You could, but you'd have to find out which ties into where, tell players which goes where, and you risk people min-maxing their sheets counter to what they're actually playing as a PC. 'I'm a Mental kid but my primary Attribute is Physical because...'

    Meh! I am not gonna build a system that encourages people to play that way. NEWP.

    So that's why, for me, Attributes will remain true to FS3, but named with more magic flair.

    Which brings us to Action skills. Action skills will be focused on the Houses (Physical, Natural, Illusion, Knowledge, Healing, Psychic - whichever one is your highest -- and you must pick one! -- dictates where your character 'lives'), physical skills (Melee, Stealth, and so on), Welters, and any other major things 'anyone is likely to have.'

    Background skills in FS3 are freeform. They're whatever you decide to pick for your character. So people would get to flesh out their PC from here. Psychic kid? You might go with Astrology, Meditation, etc. These would be where you'd pick the skills you know above and beyond the standard school teaching. Everyone knows the standard Circumstances! This shows what you've studied specially! This is where your character fucking shines. Runes. Symbology. Demonology. etc.

    Then in a scene, you're casting X-spell, you can say 'Hey, ST, can I add my BG skill for Demonology to this since we're doing a summoning? I have it at Good?'

    'Sure, roll Physical+2' (and the Physical skill already ties to its appropriate Attribute since that's how FS3 works).


  • Pitcrew

    There's one other big thing.

    I am looking at eventually running this place solo. There's very few STs out there as it is. I have asked people if they'd be willing to regularly ST on this game. Not 'I'd ST once in a while for my friends,' but to regularly run plot, like a couple times a month.

    No one. Everyone wants to play and that is totally cool! But I am so far facing the fact that when I open this game, I am going to be doing pretty much everything solo. Faraday has built a system that can be run solo (she's done so for about a year and a half on BSU!), but the more complicated I make shit, the harder it becomes to actually do.

    And the harder it becomes for other players to ST, the less chance there is of seeing anyone else STing. :\

    Right now I have one person who may help me get the site and files together (which is my biggest roadblock because I am garbage at organizing that shit in any way that makes sense to anyone other than me).

    I still plan to make this game. It still brews in the back of my head. I still get people asking for it. The metaplot I came up with still excites me. All it's waiting for, really, is me to finish school... which will be the end of May. What will likely happen is I'll finish school, get a week into ERMG FREE TIME, and then boot up AresMUSH and get working. I've got a notebook with a grid mapped out, metaplot drafted, @Lotherio already helped a lot with a basic site design (that would get moved over to Fara's lovely Ares web portal), etc.

    So, really, look for it this summer?

    But yeah. I want to keep things streamlined because I want people to be able to ST, too, without a huge learning curve.


  • Pitcrew

    I can't fathom why you think a sheet would have 30 action skills for magic types. There are seven magic types, they would be action skills. If it's not actually possible to make 'magical ability' a core attribute (and maybe it's not really all that desirable?) then using the core skills to as proxies makes perfect sense for all but physical magic, which is mathy and intelligence-based, because it's physics, not phys. ed.

    I'm not talking huge lists of action skills, but rather, huge lists of background skills (which happens anyway) which are not rolled but which you need to buy to have a chance to roll without fucking up. This would make it hard as fuck to min-max, and also mean that after the game's been around for a while and you get inflated sheet dinos you can still easily write story that allows a Brakebills Freshman to do shit that the dinos cannot do, simply because she grew up speaking Cantonese at home and they haven't learned that one.

    And be consistent with the source material, where doing magic demands that you have a very broad education.

    The way it describes circumstances, yeah, everybody knows them after studying a while, but it translates to me not as 'unimportant colourful setting element to be ignored' but as 'No earthly circumstances are so difficult that characters who have Adjusting for Circumstances to 5 won't have an automatic success unless the GM says it's raining frogs or something' sort of deal.

    Btw, I've got four cores, not six.


  • Pitcrew

    Current Ares has 6.

    And FS3 doesn't get sheet dinos. Even games that have been open for 3, 4 years don't have massive power creep like, say, an nWoD game does.

    My sniper on BSU is wholly focused on one thing. I have driven my XP (and I can only raise my Firearms skill once every 30 days) into that one thing... and people still outshoot me half the time.

    You simply cannot do this thing you want to do with FS3. These sheet dinos you speak of? Might happen if the game lasts 4 years. Sort of. If you get some of those people who have done nothing but focus on a single area of expertise and nothing else (which not many people do, admittedly).

    And even then, because of how Faraday has built FS3, it's not going to really be this 'Here's these people who are massively more powerful than these other people.'

    It'd also be so much more work for everyone involved to go: 'BTW, you must buy this list of background skills in CG. Yes, there's a lot of them, but it's absolutely required and it's going to take up the vast majority of your XP.'

    I mean, if it's what you want, go ahead. Make the game yourself. I'm not saying there can't be multiple games out there, but having worked with the current iteration of FS3... and reading what you want...

    you want a crunchy system. You want a system with math and charts and much more than the 'RP supplemental' that FS3 is built to be.


  • Coder

    @auspice said in 'The Magicians' mechanics with FS3:

    You're also talking having to craft a huge list of action skills and from my work on The 8th Sea, I found this to be detrimental to a game rather than beneficial.

    I don't know jack about Magicians so I can't really weigh in on whether there would be 7 or 30 action skills for the magic stuff. What I can say is that you're right in general - FS3 doesn't work well at all with a big action skill list.

    TL;DR; - Putting in too many Action Skills for folks to deal with is really up-ending the game balance apple cart. The whole point of calling them out special as "Action Skills" is to highlight what your game is about. It brings focus to the skills that are likely to be useful in conflict situations so people don't accidentally hamstring themselves or get overwhelmed trying to figure out what they should spend points on. It charges people more for "useful" things and provides some limits so they can't be good at All The Action-y Things.

    @auspice said in 'The Magicians' mechanics with FS3:

    it'd be Base Attribute + Action Skill for Magic Type + # Bonus (ST directed based on your Background skills)

    Just a caution... FS3 is balanced for Attr+Skill+Occasional Situational Modifiers. If the bonus you talk about takes the place of situational modifiers, are only used occasionally, and falls within the same range (-3 to +3) then you should be fine. But if you intend for the bonus to be on top of other situational modifiers, or to add in another skill on top, it can throw the entire balance of the dice mechanic out of whack. Novices would get boosted into the Pro range, Pros would get boosted into the Expert range, and the already-fine line between Pros and Experts would become almost irrelevant. It's the same advice I gave to @Ganymede when talking about factoring in some kind of Mass Effect class skills. Changing the underlying dice mechanic rarely ends well.


  • Pitcrew

    @faraday said in 'The Magicians' mechanics with FS3:

    @auspice said in 'The Magicians' mechanics with FS3:

    it'd be Base Attribute + Action Skill for Magic Type + # Bonus (ST directed based on your Background skills)

    Just a caution... FS3 is balanced for Attr+Skill+Occasional Situational Modifiers. If the bonus you talk about takes the place of situational modifiers, are only used occasionally, and falls within the same range (-3 to +3) then you should be fine. But if you intend for the bonus to be on top of other situational modifiers, or to add in another skill on top, it can throw the entire balance of the dice mechanic out of whack. Novices would get boosted into the Pro range, Pros would get boosted into the Expert range, and the already-fine line between Pros and Experts would become almost irrelevant. It's the same advice I gave to @Ganymede when talking about factoring in some kind of Mass Effect class skills. Changing the underlying dice mechanic rarely ends well.

    Yeah, my goal here would be to offer examples of BG skills. Things like the ones above. Meditation, Demonology, Symbology, etc... then leave it to players to think of situations where it might apply (above and beyond when an ST might specifically call out major ones). Overall the action skills defined in the system would be an umbrella consideration for the school of magic and players would know their basic Circumstances, etc.

    Everyone could cast, some were just better (more finessed) than others. I think FS3 can manage to reflect this and be supplemental to RP for it.

    But I want a game that focuses more (outside of the partying, school, etc.) on the investigative parts of Magicians. For the TV watchers (since there's more of you than people like me who read the books, which is when I began considering a MU), think of the episode The Writing Room in which they're at Plover's House. The ghost story. I want to focus on stories like that in addition to the exploration once the Neitherlands open.

    This system I have in mind would be perfect for plots like that.


  • Pitcrew

    @auspice said in 'The Magicians' mechanics with FS3:

    This system I have in mind would be perfect for plots like that.

    What you described, or some other system?

    @faraday Keeping in mind that this huge huge list of action skills is not, actually, a thing that I or anybody suggested and what I'm contemplating has, mmm, 12, is this still honestly a hairy deal?

    GoB has sheet dinos. Not like WoD sheet dinos with big blocks of maxed-out stats, but nevertheless.


  • Pitcrew

    @il-volpe said in 'The Magicians' mechanics with FS3:

    @auspice said in 'The Magicians' mechanics with FS3:

    This system I have in mind would be perfect for plots like that.

    What you described, or some other system?

    The one I have in mind.

    GoB is also on old FS3. A far bit has changed with AresMUSH.


  • Pitcrew

    @auspice I am aware of that. I thought that Ares and its dice-mechanics were called Ares and not FS3.

    I'm not speaking of Ares, since I don't know much about it and suspect I may not wish to use it.


  • Pitcrew

    @il-volpe said in 'The Magicians' mechanics with FS3:

    @auspice I am aware of that. I thought that Ares and its dice-mechanics were called Ares and not FS3.

    I'm not speaking of Ares, since I don't know much about it and suspect I may not wish to use it.

    The overall game core is Ares. Like Evennia, Rhost, Penn, etc. The game system (for sheet/dice mechanics) is FS3.