Having more than 1 magic system is a good thing



Heya folks!

You might be familiar with the soft and hard magic system concepts like described here https://www.campfirewriting.com/learn/how-to-choose-between-a-hard-or-soft-magic-system and thought “hey, both soft and hard can be good in their own right” and you might be right as well.

What it means in your TTRPG game ?

You know how magic works in its own way and is mysterious and all? Hard to feel like this when every spell mecanicaly works the same. So what are we doing? We use more than one system at the same time!

Example :
There’s a blood magic user at my table. Her character has a “classic” spell with a rigid form, Blood Cloud, that makes a cloud of blood that drains vitality and block vision + wet the air and ground in an area.

She also has spell element like Blood, Harden, Range, Projectile, Water. She can combines them to create a spell with a less rigid form than Blood Cloud by doing things like Blood + Projectile to throw blood projectile from her body or even Blood + Projectile + Range to throw them from a separate blood source than herself… like her Blood Cloud! She can also Harden the projectile to make them harder hitting and blunt, or Harden the blood surface under a Blood Cloud to make it slipery.

You can play with this idea in a lot of ways. The idea is that making them mecanicaly different make them more distinct and more unique while allowing fun stuff to happen.

Let’s imagine you have a system where some spell cost Mana, some cost HP, some are free. Having a spell cost both Mana and HP might be a good way to make it “the big one”, the juicy one even, the one your player really wants an excuse to use.

There’s lot of official and homebrew magic systems all around, and I just gave you a legit reason to use them. Go ham!


this is something that Skate Wizards does to pretty cool effect with having 3 types of magic.


I’ve been working on my own RPG system for some time, called “Tapestry RPG System”. The magic system is an elemental-based, spell points system, and life points (or hit points) can be substituted for spell points, once a caster’s spell points are exhausted, even to the point of death. The types of spells that can be cast are limited to the ability of the caster to create a mental construct of the intended effect. The more complex, the more powerful, the more wide-ranging the effects, the higher the level of the spell, and spell levels cost the square of the spell level in skill points to acquire, and the square of the spell level in spell points to cast, but may be cast at will once learned. This means that by and large, magic in Tapestry is going to be limited for mere mortals to energy/force projection, and only gods will be able to shape reality to their will.


I posted my primary magic system/mechanic on a similar topic, but the game world will have more than just one flavor of magic. While the players will have access to “Word Based Magic” and pull mana from their personal pool, other regions/kingdoms have tapped into divine geometry or rune casting that pulls its power (mana) from other sources (extraplanar or lay lines), then there is the magic of exchange where the caster sacrifices or gives something in exchange for an effect (like blood magic or alchemy equivalent exchange from Fullmetal Alchemist).


Brilliant. I’ve been running with an EZD6 style formless magic, and letting players find spells as they go. So you get the specific effects from the Lightning Bolt spell you found in the temple, plus the formless possibilities of your Illusion Circle. This really clarifies the ideas I’ve been stumbling into!


An idea that I haven’t explored, but that seems cool, is having different cultural forms of magic. Goblin magic vs Gnome magic seems really cool.


With the formless magic, is it ever a problem to stop the flow of the game and adjudicate a new spell for the caster? I had a post a while ago which suggested using formless to build spells between sessions to avoid this, but I haven’t played with either system.


I don’t think it’s ever been a real problem. I’ve had to pull back a couple times and say “That doesn’t really seem to fit in your circle.” Or, “That’s a few too many effects for one cast.” But I don’t think it’s been an issue. We’re all figuring it out as we go though, and I let them play pretty fast and loose.

We have had to retcon a couple things, or nail things down and then go back later and tighten them up, but that’s not just with magic. We decided last session to swap out Dying Timers for a Darkest Dungeon style Death’s Door status effect, and then no one hit 0 HP that session :laughing:

I definitely need to get better at adjudicating magic, but I just have to take some time and figure it out. One issue is that I’ve been giving my Alchemist ranged attacks that deal Magic Effort. I’ve kinda been thinking that the attack should scale back to Weapon, because he doesn’t have any sort of aggressive magic in his Circle. He does have a Lightning Bolt spell, and Fireball. So I think it’s reasonable to use his stone-shaping Alchemy to make a weapon that causes damage, not sure it’s reasonable to give it MAGIC Effort though.