Your favorite magic system


from any system. I'd love to hear it.

Naturally, as a game designer my favorite system is one I came up with :p But I borrowed bits and pieces from other systems that I liked.

For a basic caster in a basic system, I prefer at-will magic. No Vanician magic or spell points. If you're experienced enough to cast it, you can do it. This often leads to a lower magic setting unless you have some sort of limitation put in place (like fatigue for the more powerful spells).

For a more robust system, I prefer a sort of hybrid spell point system that pulls a little from Earthdawn, where you have varying levels of success based on how well you made a contested dice pool check. This is a system I use for the "sorcerer" type classes.

How it works
You have a pool of stamina that you fuel your spells with. You can boost your spells by investing more stamina. When making attack rolls or a creature is trying to resist a spell of yours, you both roll your appropriate dice pools and compare the highest dice. For every one of your dice beyond the first that is higher than their highest dice, you get an additional effect (more damage, longer duration, etc.)

My other favorite system is a rune system, where each rune has a magical effect and you decide which runes to combine together to get a final spell effect. This offers a ton of flexibility to creative players.

How it works
Let's say you combine a burst rune, fire rune, and gust rune together. The result is a glowing flame rune that shoots out to range and then explodes. Fireball! Or you combine a healing rune, dividing rune, and gust rune to send out a rune that splits in two, hitting two targets and healing them both. The more experienced you get, the more runes you can combine into one spell, and with greater affect. One actual play interesting example was combining a portal rune, gust, and explode to create a series of portals in a large area, so each PC could enter the portal in one turn rather than spend two rounds of movement to reach it.

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B/X Known World
Different systems for different reasons.

DCC RPG and WFRP2E for the sheer terror-inducing chaos of the results, up to and including mutations.

Mage 20 and Changeling 20 for the mix-and-match variety of weird you can get up to.


A suffusion of yellow
I like skill based magic systems and the free form the better (tick to Ars Magica). WOINs system is good,Ryan Nocks Elements of Magic had some nice ideas.

Just started reading and quite liking the look of Beyond the Walls system so far - separating Cantrips, Spells and Rituals and using a ability check system.
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I actually liked 4e D&D spells with at-will, encounter, and daily spells. It made making monsters with spells much more easy than 3e and I could easily just give a monster a single spell if I wanted, like a frost giant having cold blast as a daily. I still carry some of this over into my 5e games.

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