What is magic?

Hi all…

This is the beginning of a series of articles/discussions that will ultimately result in publishing a new Moebius Adventures book that includes rules for magic as well as magical races such as elves or dwarves.

Lightning strikes during the eruption of the G...Image via WikipediaAt a very high level, magic is simply an observable instance of the usage of forces existing in a particular world, belief system, universe, or plane of existence. Magic may be used by nature, gods, wizards, priests, spirits, or anything or anyone else naturally or skillfully adept at using a particular type of magic in a particular context.

For example, let’s take the ever popular “ball of fire” spell. This could manifest in a number of ways, but I’ll just list three here for discussion purposes.

  1. A person might be born with the innate ability to draw heat from the air around them to ignite a small fire and control it long enough to throw it short distances. Sort of a Pyro (X-Men) kind of approach to fire abilities.
  2. Perhaps an alchemist has managed to find a recipe for a small bag of combustible materials to be lit and tossed at a target.
  3. Or maybe it’s not a person at all. Maybe in a particular desert during a particular time of year, conditions are so hot as to ignite the very sand. Winds can then blow such a fire storm across the lands, leaving trails of glass in its wake.

What I want to avoid doing is assuming that all magic works the same. Initially in Moebius Adventures, we went the common route of creating 100s of spells in a variety of different schools of magic. This is great if you want a laundry list of possibilities, but not great for having a fluid, more adaptable and creative magic system.

The goal for the revised magic system is to provide methods for defining what the goal is to be (i.e. setting fire to something), a context (i.e. a wizard, alchemist, or magical naturally-occurring storm), and a method (i.e. willpower, knowledge and ingenuity, or the randomness of nature).

How we make these fit together into a coherent whole is a topic for another day.

That said, I’m interested in what YOU think. How should magic work? GMs and Players often have very different views on this topic. 🙂

Leave me a comment and let’s get the discussion rolling!

–Fitz

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