Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Spotlight on Magic World

I remember the first time I encountered an RPG system using percentiles. It was so clear and easy to understand: I have a 60% to Climb, 55% to shoot a Bow, 45% to Dodge. It just made sense.

The first Chaosium game I owned was Stormbringer as it was given to me as a gift and I had never read Moorcock (I grew up on comic books, cartoons, and action movies) and the game grabbed me. Unfortunately, the Demon Summoning magic system wasn't my cup of tea (I'm a mid-western Catholic boy and its hard to let that go when you are a young lad), but it led me to the Eternal Champion and it led me to other Chaosium gems, including Magic World.

While RuneQuest and Glorantha are cool, neither is my cup of tea. I'm not a big fan of Hit Locations and Glorantha just doesn't grab me. However, I'm a huge fan of the Basic Role Playing Big Gold Book and that led me to check out Magic World.

What I like about it is that it is closer to Call of Cthulhu and Stormbringer's version of the BRP and not so close to RuneQuest/Mythras. It's more straight forward in my opinion, yes, it might make sense that Climb defaults to your Dexterity + Strength as a Percentage chance of success, but I'm cool with handwaving it at 40% as the default.

While Magic World isn't Dungeons and Dragons it does take all the cool bits of Stormbringer, RuneQuest, and decades worth of BRP and finely tunes them to heroic fantasy without classes.

Even though you probably know how to play a BRP game most take one or two things here and there and make them their own.

One of the things that caught me about Magic World is that while you can have a pool of points to spend amongst Skills you also have the option of assigning fixed percentages to a fixed number of Skill which helps to make sure that your character is competent in the things they want to do best instead of falling into the trap of a bunch of Skills at 40%. This same idea was used in Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition and I think it's just brilliant.

Another cool idea is that if your Power attribute is 15 or higher you can cast spells and have Power Points to fuel Sorcery. Basically, you ready spells in memory and then you spend the appropriate amount of Power Points and the spell is cast. If the spell can be resisted there is a contest between the Caster and the Target. The spells aren't as destructive as DnD, but they work and fit with the more subtle nature of Magic World. There are also other Magic Systems in the Advanced Sorcery supplement.

I can't say when the next time I run Magic World will be, but I think it could a nice change from the Class and Levels of DnD and other OSR games. Chaosium makes good stuff and Ben Monroe who edited MW did a great job. He took all the various parts from some very talented designers and worked them into a cohesive and appealing whole. Its a shame that Chaosium doesn't have plans to support it as several supplements were in production at one time.

If you are looking for a different fantasy game, please think about giving Magic World a try.

Chaosium hosts a free Quick-Start here.


Brian I said...

I have two copies - one spiraled for table use, and a second, signed, for the shelf. Ben's a good friend of mine, and I was thrilled to be able to run some Magic World for him when the game game out. We used the CoC Dreamlands map as a fantasy world. Ben played a crow, I believe ...

Cross Planes said...

That sounds awesome. I've interacted with him a bit on RPG.NET as we seem to like similar games. I wish he'd gotten to produce the projects already in the pipeline.

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