We will discuss how magic functions in the Genesis Roleplaying System, but first: I like to personally thank all those supporting us yesterday in our Kickstarter launch. So, if you haven't yet - check it out HERE.

Want to Learn More About the Game?
We've started a few threads to help introduce this new and innovative marriage between deck building games, like Dominion and Eminent Domain, and Roleplaying Games.

Design Goals
When designing a magic system, there are a plethora of systems available: Vancian, Spell Points (or Mana Points), Slots per Day, Sanity, etc. While they are solid, each in their own way, magic in most systems never felt dramatic - like watching a movie (Willow is a guilty pleasure of mine and served as minor inspiration as well as the heavy hitters).
  • Magic needed to be universal - meaning the same system for all classes, but different on how each class manipulated it. Therefore . . .
  • Magic needed to be flexible - we want Game Masters to tweak it to their liking and campaign style. Thus . . .
  • Magic needed to be dramatic and mysterious.

The Basics: How Magic Works
The Genesis Roleplaying System has Major Spells, Minor Spells, and Rituals.
  • To empower these spells, a caster must evoke energy and gather mana or have mana already in reserve.
  • Major Spells are spells that the caster is familiar, however has a chance of failure. It is a contested check.
  • Minor Spells are also spells the caster knows, though always succeed.
  • Rituals are spells that the caster is unfamiliar with and could cause a backlash if not invoked properly or too quickly.

What makes this system different from other systems?
Though, it sounds like a spell point system, it really is not.
  • First, there is no limit to how many spells a character can cast. As long as the character takes time to evoke energy, they can cast spells.
  • Second, there are no restrictions what spell a character can cast (though it must fit within their theme). A character casting a spell he or she doesn't know - it then becomes a ritual - they may need special components or it may take longer to cast unless they want to risk becoming wounded.
  • Third, there are no spell levels.
  • Lastly, spells are adjustable. The more mana or energy a caster puts into the spell, the powerful it becomes. Likewise, the more energy a caster has in reserve, the longer it lasts.

As a Game Master, how can I manipulate it?
There are many ways to change how magic works to suit your campaign setting and style of play.
  • The key is when and how a player may evoke energy - though the system presented has no restrictions, you may choose to alter that - it is your game, after all.
  • A necromancer might only evoke energy after a foe or ally has fallen or becomes wounded.
  • A magician drawing from the fairy realm, might make monthly pacts or rituals.
  • Priests might have to tithe regularly.
  • Maybe a druid cannot evoke energy while in a city.
  • A pyromancer must first burn effigies or keep an eternal flame from burning out (like a runner with the Olympic torch).

Those are five quick examples to show how a Game Master can make a unique feel for their campaign by manipulating one aspect of the system.

You can also change what ability a caster needs to evoke energy:
  • A sorcerer or witch who relies on demons or fairies must use Charm.
  • A studious wizard uses Insight to evoke energy.
  • A shaman or priest may use Willpower.
  • Or a priest dedicated to a god of war, might use Strength.

An Example of Casting a Minor Spell
First, the spell

LIGHT (Light Check)
Prime Ability: Insight
Difficulty: 0 (this means you do not have to have a card in hand)
Duration: Reserve (you must have mana in your reserve to sustain the spell)
  • Expend 1 mana
  • 10-foot radius light for each point of mana in your mana reserve to a maximum equal to your Insight score.

So, the caster wants to cast light - she has a Insight score of 4 and 3 mana in reserve.
  • She casts the spell and expends 1 mana.
  • She now has 2 mana in reserve, therefore her light has a 20-foot radius and lasts as long as she is conscious and has mana in her reserve.
  • Should she cast another spell, she may deplete her mana reserve and her light may reduce to a 10-foot radius or extinguish all together.

An Example of a Major Spell

Let's use another basic spell.

Armor (Advanced Check)
Prime Ability: Willpower
Difficulty: Strength (This requires a contested check against Strength)
Duration: Reserve
Target: Personal
  • Each time you would gain a wound, you may expend a mana to negate the wound.

Before the caster casts the spell, she must first make a contested Willpower check against a generic Strength check.
  • She can boosts her results, depending on the cards in hand, and allies that can also cast magic may also boost her result.
  • If she is successful, the spell is cast.
  • If not, she may expend mana to make up the difference or let the spell fail.

Now, if this was not one of her chosen spells, then it becomes a ritual.
  • If successful, the spell is cast.
  • If not, it takes an increment of time to make up the difference depending on the amount of mana she wishes to spend and allies aiding her or . . .
  • She can take the difference in wound cards to cast it immediately.

As you can see, magic is fickle and mysterious, that requires rigorous study and at times, personal sacrifice. The caster, as well as the player, becomes involved.

Feel free to ask any questions or comments and help us spread the word to get the Genesis Roleplaying System Kickstarter Project funded.

Next time, we will continue looking at magic among the races.