Thursday, January 17, 2013

Urban Fantasy: Wizardry Examined

On last Friday, the preview of the magic system toolbox for FATE Core was released. In addition to some great magic systems, it also contained an introduction that gets you to think about magic in terms of the fiction not the rules. I suddenly noticed what I was missing from my own look at magic.

So, let's take another swipe at Wizardry/Sorcery/Witchcraft, this time trying to answer the five magic questions about tone, costs, limits, availability, source.

1. Tone: As currently written, magic doesn't have a flavor. Magic doesn't kill things. People do. Magic represents a way to circumvent the natural laws. Magic is like knowing the keyboard short-cuts of the universe. You save yourself a lot of time using them.

2. Costs: Magic is mentally taxing. You are using short-cuts to circumvent natural law, this is mind-boggling, even if you know what you are doing. Unless you are exceptionally headstrong, you won't do much of it.

3. Limits: I want the magic of the setting to be a bit low-key. Sure, you can overcome obstacles with it and create advantages with it, but you'll probably not sling around big fireballs (unless you are a Warlock). Magic will be able to affect people and small areas, but nothing bigger than a room or the handful of people in it. Anything beyond that will drastically increase difficulties beyond the FATE ladder.

4. Availability: I mentioned that you had to be born a wizard/sorcerer/witch. Not just anyone can learn the keyboard short-cuts of the universe. In a mid-sized town there are probably about a handful practioners, not more.

Note: I usually don't like the idea of entitlement through blood, but that seems to fit the urban fantasy genre.

5. Source: Unknown. Nobody knows who discovered magic, why it is there in the first place or what purpose it is suppossed to have. Magic runs in the blood of family lines that stretch back to the dawn of humanity. If someone in the setting would try to follow the ancestral lines, they would discover the great wizards and sorceresses from legend within those lines.

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