Saturday, 2 May 2015

Theory of Magic, Pt 3

Planes of Existence

A Plane is a large manifested reality. For the sake of instruction it is necessary to define two terms. The first, “Reality-Plane” refers to a Plane of existence with emphasis on the fact that it is a Reality. The second term, “Planar-Reality" refers to the environment created by a Reality-Plane. This environment includes physical laws and other foundations of existence.

It is helpful to think of a Reality-Plane as a container for a Planar-Reality. A Reality-Plane gives rise to a Planar-Reality by creating the physical laws and materials that make existence possible, such as: matter, energy, gravity, electro-magnetism, force, acceleration, mass, inertia, and so on. This means that a change in the Essence that affects the Reality-Plane will directly affect the Planar-Reality. The objects contained in a Planar-Reality are manifestations of the essence.

Planes classification

The difference between Planes depends upon their stability and their types of Planar-Realities. Many times Reality-Planes can intersect and give rise to other Reality-Planes with higher degrees of Strong Order. Some Planes can exist only as unions or intersections between different planes within a Nexus.

Physical plane

This is the kind of world and universe we know of as material. Physical planes are shaped and governed by the physical laws of the reality plane in which they reside. A Physical Plane has the greatest level of Order and stability but is a Reality that emerges only by an intersection of Ethereal and Spiritual Planes.

Ethereal plane

The Ethereal Plane arises from a combination of two or more Spiritual Planes with an increased amount of Mana and a higher order that emerges as a result. On the Ethereal Plane a type of Spiritual Matter emerges that envelops spiritual entities and Psyches, clothing them in Spiritual forms. It is here that the Soul manifests and can access Mana in preparation to being manifested in a corporeal form on a Physical Plane.

Spiritual plane

The Spiritual Plane is not manifested with materially as is the Physical and Ethereal Planes. Within the Spiritual Plane there is no true matter, only Psyche (the intelligent consciousness of an entity,) perceptions and emotions. It is in such a Plane that the identity, consciousness and personality of a Psyche can have a sensible manifestation. The lack of true matter means that an experience on a Spiritual Plane is shaped almost exclusively by the beliefs and perceptions of the consciousness’s of those residing on the Plane. Depending on the personality of each being, the Planar-Reality can be quite different. In fact, it is shaped dynamically by the intelligences that inhabit it.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Theory of Magic, Pt2

Reality Manifestation

When a Strong Order arises a Reality may be born. Realities are the most important manifestations because they are the vessels for all other higher order manifestations. Realities provide the structures and laws that allow the existence, growth and change of all other things. Without a reality there can be no existence as we know it.

A Reality is formed when multiple Streams of Essence converge and intersect at a point known as a Nexus. When a Reality is first formed it must attain stability. Nothing we know of can force a Nexus to become stable. It either remains or, in an instant, dissipates, descending back into chaos. Nexus are continually born and die, but every so often, one remains. Some survive for a day, some a year, some a millennium, other have persisted for eons or longer; eventually they will all perish.

Once a Reality becomes stable it is very difficult to effect permanent change in it without an equally permanent intervention in the Streams that give rise to the Reality. One way to think of a Reality is as an island of stability in an ocean of chaos.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Theory of Magic, pt1

Mana and the Essence

Magic is the substance of all things, of all life and of all manifestations. Magic, also called Mana or “the Essence,” (as in the essence of all creation) is the primal energy of the universe; the stuff from which the universe itself sprung. Many believe that Mana is a part of the original Creator or is itself the Creator. It is true that in our lands there have been a great number of god-like creatures and supernatural beings. In the heavens many say that there are a great number of Gods; but none of them created the Essence. The great truth as taught by the ancient arch mage KuKulcan is that Magic existed before all. This truth was the reason the ancient sorcerers rebelled against him. Devout to their gods they considered it a great heresy. Thankfully this heresy has freed us to pursue magic in its pure form, according to our own desires.

The apprentice may ask, “What does Mana look like?” The Essence itself cannot be seen, instead it can only be imagined by as an infinite sea with countless waves and ripples moving across its surface. All things are made from the Essence and it continues to move through all things.
The true nature of Mana or the Essence is a pure and infinite chaos of potentialities in an eternal state of flux. It surrounds us, permeates us, it is us. Two of the great mysteries are that from this chaos there arises order and that by magnifying this chaos greater order arises. As order is produced the Essence manifests itself by creating a reality or something within an existing reality.

The Essence can exist in an infinite number of states from pure chaos to strict order. Pure chaos is really an ocean of potentialities that always produces some small amounts of order. We call these the Weak Orders. The Weak Orders continually form and dissipate back into the seas of chaos in an instant; only when they become stronger, Strong Orders, do they remain as manifestations as realities or manifestations within the realities that we inhabit.

In between the pure Chaos and Weak Orders are phenomenon known as the Streams of Essence. These Streams are the currents in the Essence that move around and through us. They are organized, but not strongly enough to produce true order; hovering at the edge of manifestation. These streams of essence can create specific manifestations. Only the manifestations of the Essence can be observed because all of the observers are themselves manifestations. 

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Theory of Magic Revision

Moving on from revising the mechanics around Magic to the Theory of Magic. Is it too much to have delve into the details of how magic works and why?

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Magic Rules Revision

Quick update... just about finished updating the rules for Magic. With Attribute Pools and the switch to d20 for Feat rolls it just got a whole lot simpler.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Attribute Pools

Recently I've started the move towards streamlining modifiers. The previous versions of Lycadican were very much reminiscent of AD&D 2nd Edition. Moving forward I'm incorporating more modern trends in gaming and one of the things I've done is to remove many modifiers by introducing Attribute Pools. With the attributes themselves I've merged a couple and dropped a couple. The remaining Attributes that do have modifiers are based on the value of the attribute itself and apply once, at character creation time. Modifiers that use to be based on attributes, such as a bonus to skill rolls for a high intelligence have been removed.

Each Attribute now has a pool (equal to the value of the Attribute.) Points in the pool can be used to reduce the difficulty of actions or to increase the chances of success by providing bonuses to rolls. This reflects effort being used to ensure success. I've also gotten rid of my version of 'Saving Throws' and made them attribute checks against the current value of the attribute pool. So if you've really exerted yourself that day, and you need a resistance roll versus poison it will be more challenging than if you had just taken it easy.

Here is an example. A character with a Constitution Attribute value of 9 would have 9 points in the Pool. If during play on one particular day that player used 3 points form the Constitution Pool to lower the difficulty level of a Feat (which would have had to be Constitution related) then his Constitution Pool is sitting at 6. Suppose this character unwittingly drinks some poison and needs to make a Constitution Check to avoid becoming paralyzed. Normally he would have had to roll under a 9, but now he has to roll under at 6.

In addition, I'm considering requiring abilities and powers to have a cost in Attribute Points. The only challenge here is that because I have no level system (beyond individual skills, abilities and powers) if I do this there may need to be some mechanism to increase the maximum value of an Attribute Pool as characters become more powerful.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Narrating Magic

I like magic, almost any time I've played an RPG I've been some kind of magic user. It's unsurprising then that Lycadican has a very rich magic system. In fact, there is an entire philosophical framework behind how magic works, but the Cole's Notes version is basically that there is an energy field that permeates all things and represents all potentialities simultaneously (like a quantum particle.) Specifically this is all of the potentialities of things which already exist within the current environment. Something that is completely from out of left field or doesn't exist at all, while a possibility, would be be extremely unlikely to manifest and therefore much more difficult to accomplish. In my mind I see the mage reaching into a flow of those potentialities and using his skill and talent to select the version of reality that is most likely and closest to what he wants and increase its potential until it manifests.

Well, last night that got me thinking. If magic represents this slight warping of the potential possibilities of this reality how would it actually manifest? How would you are a GM/DM/RM describe spell effects to the players?

For one, the spell effects should almost never originate with the caster. They should originate in the environment around the caster. So, if we take for example the very venerable 'lightning bold' spell, instead of this scene:

"You mutter the incantation and make the arcane gestures; Bolts of lightning emanate from your hands and fly towards the gibbering goblins electrocuting them and singing their green skin"

you'd have this scene:

"You mutter the incantation and your mind pierces through the fabric of reality calling forth the energies of nature. You feel united with all things and pour your energies in calling down the energies you feel gathering in the storm clouds above you. When you open your eyes your notice your hair standing on end, you can feel the air charging with ever greater amounts of static electricity. Then you loose your focus on the charging goblins and bolts of lightning burst as if rent from the air itself to electrocute them, leaving their green skin singed and smoking."

It's not that the lightning couldn't originate from the Wizards hands, but that's far less likely and as a result would be far more difficult to accomplish, requiring a much more powerful character.

How'd that work for a fireball? Well, instead of a ball of fire that emanates from the caster and flies towards his enemies you could instead have a nearby tree spontaneously combust, bursting and hurling fire and shards of wood at the enemy with great force. Or, perhaps as in the previous example the tree was hit with lightning, igniting in flames with explosive force and injuring the enemy.

What if there isn't a tree nearby you ask? Well, then you move to something that is less probably, spontaneous combustion, or a small meteor fragment, or perhaps the sword or arrow of a fellow adventurer bursts into flame somewhat explosively as it hits your target. Perhaps the sword or the arrow are redirected to your target instead of its originally intended target...

There are a lot of possibilities for a creative referee, and it goes well with the current magic system which, as it happens, contains no pre-generated or pre-defined spells. Only a framework to quickly create magical effects during play.