Saturday, February 7, 2015

FATEsy Heartbreaker: Stunt Trees and Magic Systems

I have been working on Heartbreaker now for more than a year and I had been stumped on how to do a few key items that failed to come together. First I really dislike the magic system I originally came up with. It works, it's serviceable, but it didn't really evoke the feel I was going for. Another issue I have been having is a method of building a mechanism for procedurally generating setting and history. I want there to be certain themes and elements of the setting without having to nail down every detail. This becomes problematic, but I believe I am getting closer to a solution on that end. My final issue is the name of the hack. Back when I started Heartbreaker worked, it was kind of funny and kind of close to what I was trying to do. Now that I am at something like 24 posts into Heartbreaker, the name doesn't really work anymore. There is a lesson in that, do not make light of naming things. You never know when it will come back to bite you in the butt.

Earlier today I was out walking, I do that sometimes to work through a problem, and I got to thinking about my magic system problem. I wanted a system that would work with the cosmology I had constructed earlier. It is a world of many gods, each with their own idea on how the world should work and what it should look like. The world that exists is a compromise between the the biggest and most powerful gods. The laws of physics operate as they do here on earth. Magic is the ability to circumvent that in some way. The gods use magic to alter the world to fit their needs. The drive their power from the great non-personifications, order and chaos, from which the gods sprang at the dawning of reality. Mortals cannot do magic without a great deal of help. They can draw their power from the gods or from order and chaos themselves.

That in mind, there are three forms of magic that can be learned/harnessed by mortals. Haake allows practitioners to control the very forces of order and chaos themselves to create temporary, but powerful, effects. It is the most difficult form of magic, but it is exceptionally versatile. Bargomen is the making of deals with spirits, gods, and powerful entities with the purpose of gaining information or a permanent magical boon. Deurgy is similar in some ways to Bargomen in that it allows for the channeling of godly magic. It is somewhat more flexible than Bargomen though less so than Haake. It involves making a deal with a specific spirit or god to gain a permanent power that can be refocused as desired, when one has the time. The downside to Deurgy is that you must follow the rules set down in the agreement, usually a set of taboos, though it can become something like a geis or curse. There are two other forms of magic, but they are a bit funky, so I thought to leave them off for the moment. They are items of power and supernal skill. I will work on them in a future post.

I think what I would like to do with the magic systems here is to use a modified version of Jadepunk's asset rules. Here are my initial thoughts:
You may spend one point of permanent refresh to gain the ability to create one temporary spell using the asset creation rules with intelligence as the key attribute. You may gain more spells by spending more refresh. You can only use these spells for one scene, all other rules apply. You cannot gain any of the other magical systems. They simply do not work on you anymore as you are meddling with the source magic. Digging deep into the underpinnings of creation itself.
To gain a godly boon you must make a bargain with a god or spirit. You use the asset creation rules utilizing Charisma as the key attribute. However once the bargain is struck you must spend permanent refresh to turn the created asset into a permanent asset. You may start the game with assets created in this way, though you must still make the rolls required. These are permanent spells etched into your soul and body. They may alter your perception or your body. There are those who have bargained away everything for power and have become monstrous and strange in the process.
Deurgy is a bit strange. The refresh cost is variable as you gain access to a power set or spell theme that is thematically linked to to the god or spirit that you channel. The power is fixed, but can be altered at any refresh scene(when you would gain back your refresh, generally the milestones, though it is possible to have a refresh scene without the milestone. You must take a taboo, geis, or curse aspect to represent your pact with the being. This must be one of your character aspects other than your high concept or trouble. Essentially this gives you a second trouble aspect. Should you go against the taboo aspect, your GM can compel the aspect to remove your power set or spell theme. The only way to get it back is to atone. Generally atonement will be a quest that brings glory or recognition to the god or spirit that grants the power.

Magic spells and powers can be created using any of the features of devices and techniques. Features unique to allies remain so. Finding gods and spirits is an adventure in and of itself. Gods and spirits are not omnipresent, nor are they fully omniscient. They exist in a singular place at any given time. However their power is based, to some degree, on how much control and how known they are throughout the world. This tends to mean that one can find spirits and gods if you do the right research or know the right folks.

So that is my initial take on the magic systems for Heartbreaker. What do you think? Also anyone have any thoughts on what I should rename this project?