gladiusdei
 member, 572 posts
Tue 12 Sep 2017
at 20:41
What is the best system for a magical academy game? And how?
I have tried to run a magical academy game of sorts a few time in the past, with less than spectacular results.  I used D&D 3.5 because I like the Eberron setting and it allowed me to place the school in a premade world.  But D&D's magic system makes it hard to give students anything but the most basic abilities without them requiring a ton of experience to progress.  It just makes a game centered on exploring magic difficult.

I wonder now if there is a different system that would work better.  Freeform seems like the best fit for the general feel of an academy game and allows for me to control the magic system myself.  This would allow basic students to delve into powerful magic (with results that are great for story building) instead of higher levels of magic being restricted to only high level adventurers.  But that would require a LOT of world building on my part.

I guess I am unsure what is more important in this type game, the setting providing a variable level of magic challenge, or having a more rigid, defined magic system and setting.
Cygnia
 member, 276 posts
 Amoral Paladin
Tue 12 Sep 2017
at 20:51
What is the best system for a magical academy game? And how?
Have you looked at Ars Magica?
tmagann
 member, 493 posts
Tue 12 Sep 2017
at 20:53
What is the best system for a magical academy game? And how?
In reply to gladiusdei (msg # 1):

Gurps has a perk that allows for learning PART of up to 8 spells per point. The more spells you know, the lower the chance for success. You can use multiple perks as you learn more of each spell, up to 2 spells per perk/point.  After that, you've learned the spell.

There is a skill perk that does thee same for learning Thaumaturgy, Alchemy, and the like, as well. (Any skill, really, but you have a specific goal here).

AT the beginning of the shool year, you assign the fractions of the perk to whatever spells/skills are being taught, and boost points allotted to them over time to reflect training and experience. every 200 hours of course work and study (4-5 weeks) is another point.


The down side here is that time governs point gains, rather than experience, although experience could be earned to spend on non school taught skills, or spell breakthroughs.
biscuit
 member, 15 posts
Tue 12 Sep 2017
at 20:56
What is the best system for a magical academy game? And how?
I would second GURPS as you can not only make learning spells a spell-by-spell method, but you can add in different styles, the prerequisites mean students have to learn lower spells before higher, the different magery requirements mean some students won't be as good, ever, as others. It offers a lot of flexibility.

On the downside, it offers a lot of flexibility, which means the GM has to decide which options to use.

And you can pace how fast students progress by how frequently you award CP. You can award CP for time spent in class, or for time spent adventuring in old ruins, or whatever you think is appropriate.
CaesarCV
 member, 273 posts
Tue 12 Sep 2017
at 21:15
What is the best system for a magical academy game? And how?
I don't think there is any sort of definitive answer to your question. There are a great deal of systems that are built primarily around spellcasting though, so I'll list a few ideas that might work here!

Mage the Awakening: This might be a bit too crunchy for your tastes, but it easily provides for a great deal of player agency in spell creation and the like. To better fit the school setting you could easily restrict player's access to the different levels of the Arcana as well. I'd recommend this over Mage the Ascension since that game has lots of extra baggage up to and including consensual reality that would muck up a game about a magic school.

Cj Carella's Witchcraft: While Unisystem is rather obscure these days, Withcraft is a rather well put together game. It has quite a few different types of magic that allow for very different approaches to magic and the like. Admittedly the system is more of a modern fantasy one, but it could definitely work well.

Savage Worlds: A relatively popular and light system with fast combat and some rather slick rules. It has a power system that is pretty easy to understand, and with modifiers known as 'trapping's that allow players to personalize their spells. You could easily grant players new powers and perhaps change the amounts of power points available.

Freeform/Rules Lite: I could recommend a rather simple system such as The Window or even to just have a very simple die rolling system. The main advantage of a freeform system in this sort of game is that you get to define how magic works. Do you want to have magic be somewhat lovecraftian with mysterious rules? Do you want magic to rely on deals with supernatural creatures? Do you want it to be a sort of mystic science? A freeform/rules-lite system gives you the most opportunity to play around with such things. Since your teachers will be giving lessons based on how magic works in the world, it may be best to follow such a system. Glad to discuss more ideas though! I love magical schools!

This message was last edited by the user at 21:16, Tue 12 Sept.

Rothos1
 member, 481 posts
Tue 12 Sep 2017
at 21:42
What is the best system for a magical academy game? And how?
Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 can work, however you need to restrict it to arcane classes with full progression or you can get bogged down in the rules with bards, hexblades and others like the spellthief.
witchdoctor
 member, 160 posts
Tue 12 Sep 2017
at 21:51
Re: What is the best system for a magical academy game? And how?
Cygnia:
Have you looked at Ars Magica?



I second the recommendation.  There's even a supplement specifically for that very scenario.
gladiusdei
 member, 573 posts
Tue 12 Sep 2017
at 22:22
Re: What is the best system for a magical academy game? And how?
I am familiar with ars magica and have a few of the books, but have never played it.  Does it allow for young mages to explore many aspects of the magic system, or are they largely limited until they gain a lot of experience?

I also know mage quite well.  I guess my hesitance to use that system and setting is how modern it is, and the system is much more grounded in science.  It would need to be adapted quite a bit to fit a more high fantasy viewpoint.

I've never played gurps or savage worlds.  I have a feeling they are pretty crunchy systems to pick up and learn in order to run one game, but maybe they are worth it.

I like the idea of making it freeform, but it would be a lot of work on my end to plan out the system and setting.

I tried 3.5.  I know it is possible, but the large experience difference between a first level character and, say, summoning a demon or creating things with magic makes a good magic centered game hard.  Especially in a slow format like rpol.

This message was last edited by the user at 22:30, Tue 12 Sept.

witchdoctor
 member, 161 posts
Tue 12 Sep 2017
at 22:52
Re: What is the best system for a magical academy game? And how?
Ars Magica has a wonderful magic system and the Apprentices are allowed to explore magic pretty freely although at a much lower potency than their fully trained peers.  It's a whimsical and terrifying time that the rules adapt well to.  I highly recommend you take a look at the Apprentices book.  It's not a huge supplement but it covers the bases well with more than enough wiggle room to adapt play as you might like.
gladiusdei
 member, 574 posts
Wed 13 Sep 2017
at 03:31
Re: What is the best system for a magical academy game? And how?
does it have a large player base on rpol?
witchdoctor
 member, 162 posts
Wed 13 Sep 2017
at 03:38
Re: What is the best system for a magical academy game? And how?
That depends on how you define large.  There are quite a few people that play Ars Magica, some casually, some more seriously.  There would be plenty to play in a game like you're suggesting.
gladiusdei
 member, 575 posts
Wed 13 Sep 2017
at 04:06
Re: What is the best system for a magical academy game? And how?
hmmm.  I'll look it over.  The 'mythic Europe' setting isn't quite what I had in mind, but it might work.
mediiic
 member, 144 posts
Wed 13 Sep 2017
at 06:48
Re: What is the best system for a magical academy game? And how?
Fate Core with some hacks would probably work more than nicely. It is flexible enough and provides the possibility of making unique magic by narration, much like the magic in Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea stories. Being more story- than rule-drawn, but still having rules, it has a good balance between roleplaying and rollplaying.
nauthiz
 member, 537 posts
Wed 13 Sep 2017
at 07:02
Re: What is the best system for a magical academy game? And how?
There's no reason you couldn't steal a setting you like, and lay the system you prefer over top of it.

A guard with a sword is still just a fighting type with a sword regardless of whether he has X levels in "fighter" or combat oriented Fate Aspects.
Caranamon
 member, 162 posts
Wed 13 Sep 2017
at 07:23
Re: What is the best system for a magical academy game? And how?
Well, ARS MAGICA was already mentioned. I haven't played it yet (to much to read without a group ready to play), but if there is a sourcebook for apprentices, it may be exactly what you were asking for. Personally I don't like the "mythical europe" setting, but you can always define your own world, or just put the magic system from Ars Magica into the world of your choice.

GURPS might work as well, like some said.

SAVAGE WORLDS is a nice system, I like it. But without modifying it heavily it wouldn't be able to simulate the exploration of magic using. So I don't think that system is a good choice (and no, its not one of the crunchier systems, but GURPS is).
Ramidel
 member, 1344 posts
 Err on the side
 of awesome.
Wed 13 Sep 2017
at 09:55
Re: What is the best system for a magical academy game? And how?
One thing with Ars Magica is that an academy, specifically, would require some houseruling. Magic in-setting has to be taught one-on-one, mechanically-speaking, and the Order of Hermes requires every apprentice to be personally taught by one parens.

(That said, yes there is an Apprentices sourcebook.)

Witch Girls Adventures is also designed for this, though I'd recommend it only with caveats. The system is functional (AFAIK, never played), though the math behind progression needs to be reworked, but later material is not proofread at all, and the franchise has a rather unsavory reputation on the net for various reasons.
Knight_Vassal
 member, 350 posts
Sat 16 Sep 2017
at 21:49
Re: What is the best system for a magical academy game? And how?
In reply to Ramidel (msg # 16):

Just curious. Exalted 2nd Edition just for the base system. Give everybody 2 dots of Essence and Terrestrial Circle Sorcery and boom mave academy.
Manticore
 member, 427 posts
 Cthulhu gamed with me
 HE lost 2d6 SAN points
Sat 16 Sep 2017
at 21:56
Re: What is the best system for a magical academy game? And how?
Knight_Vassal:
In reply to Ramidel (msg # 16):

Just curious. Exalted 2nd Edition just for the base system. Give everybody 2 dots of Essence and Terrestrial Circle Sorcery and boom mave academy.


Don't even need that much. A couple of dots in Lore and Occult (skills) and you can access Thaumaturgy. Not nearly as powerful as Sorcery, but far more useful for students and the general population. Doesn't need awakened essence, either.
CaesarCV
 member, 274 posts
Sat 16 Sep 2017
at 21:59
Re: What is the best system for a magical academy game? And how?
I'm not sure if Exalted is the best choice for a magical academy game to be honest though. So much of the game is based around martial arts, charms, and other natural and mystical powers. There is thaumaturgy yes, but there are lots of other games that have magic as well. Not to mention the flashy, over the top, godly action that comes with Exalted might make the scope a bit too great.
gladiusdei
 member, 580 posts
Sat 16 Sep 2017
at 23:18
Re: What is the best system for a magical academy game? And how?
not to mention the system itself is so unbelievably crunchy when it comes to combat that it makes it extremely difficult to even consider running it on PbP.

I am going to read over Ars Magica, there's a lot to read, and consider running it.

For now, I decided to revamp and restart one of my older DND Academy-esque games, it's set in the Arcane Congress and will have a group of Magical characters working to deal with the many mysteries of the Eberron setting.

if that interests any of you, feel free to apply.

link to another game