[TSOY] Magic and mechanics

edited October 2007 in Story Games
What fun mechanics can I use for TSOY magic?

* Secrets, as written (as per the words of Zu/Uz).
* Unlockable secrets and/or secrets that have prerequisites (Secret of Elements > Secret of Fire, Air).
* Secrets that unlock abilities (Secret of Psionics lets you buy the Telepathy ability).
* Abilities, and abilities that unlock or have prereqs (everyone can buy Telepathy, no Secret required).
* NPC spirits bargained with or exploited.

What else is out there?


  • In the game book itself, we have

    a) additional skills that you can learn, fettered by secrets that make wizards capital W Wizards (three corner magic). Various mechanical include but are not limited to pool switching, pool point destruction, activation or neutralization of secrets, and the trusty creation of elemental matter…

    b) a magical language you learn by way of secrets (Zu, as you noted) and pseudo-secrets, that give out bonus or penalty dice and can create fully-formed things and/or beings.

    c) drugs, potions and poisons that can be produced through skill use and improved by a special skill and abilities (Ammenite alchemy)

    d) A secret that conveys abilities (Moon silver) and is fettered by secret(s) (Moon Heart or what's it called)

    e) A skill that opens up passages to another world

    NB: d and e are exclusive to each other to a point. This is also a fun mechanic as you have to decide for the cool witchblade like power or the cool otherwordly place eventually.

    f) Secrets that change what you can use mundane skills for (Qek spirit magics)

    g) Secrets that change usage of certain skills (magical craftwork)

    In addition to that, most magical effects can be handled mechanically by the core Secrets Clinton recently identified on this board (see here) ("Use Secret of Imbuement for almost everything, and the Secrets of Blessing, Enhancement, and Specialty for everything else.").

    More important than the mechanics is the relation to the game world. Three Corner Magic is not cool because you roll a dice to get an effect, it's because it's a hermetic philosophy that tries to explain and change the world all at once, and is possibly tied to the great climax that almost destroyed everything. Zu is cool because it's a language anyone can learn, and by using it you make a statement about your responsibility for the world. Moon Silver is cool because it is alien to Near and you can form it with your mind alone; the green world is full of history and past – a perfect match to the fleeting, ever changing nature of Moon Silver. Alchemy is the bad ass stuff the ammenites use and enjoy, even if they're not trying to kill someone; and Qek spirit magic is the foundation for an ever growing mass of zombie encounters and out of body experiences.

    On the Forge, Eero Tuovinen once showed that the magical nature of an act can also be no more – or no less – than a key.
  • Fine work there, Oliof. I'd completely forgotten about the Ammeni and their odd little poisons, and I've played them. Twice!

    I'm writing up small setting documents using TSOY. They're terrifically fun to write, and one of the settings has a couple of types of magic. One of the systems I was thinking about will have prerequisite Keys, broadly encouraging certain behavior in the magician. Another is built like an NPC with its own agenda, pools and secrets unlocked by an entire culture.

    The connections between Keys/Secrets/Abilities build some pretty interesting systems for magic, weird science and so on.
  • Hey, Joe. I've been fiddling with the idea of making a sort of magic that can create temporary Keys or temporarily suppress existing Keys. These Keys could be placed on people, objects (to affect anyone touching the object) or places (to affect anyone in the place). I was envisioning some sort of fate or destiny weaving color to slap onto it.

  • Suppress keys??

    If you have the time to explain more, I'm all ears, Daniel.
  • Joe,

    I'm thinking of, say, a Witch who, angry at the proprietor of a slave-fighting pit, casts magic upon it that suppresses the Key of Bloodlust belonging to anyone inside it.

    The slaves grow lazy, failing to kill one another with the gusto they showed in the past, and the proprietor starts to loose business all while muttering about a curse.

  • Ooh. TSOY magic by way of SotC Aspect maneuvers? Nice!
  • Posted By: SabreCatOoh. TSOY magic by way of SotC Aspect maneuvers? Nice!
    Yeah, fairly close. I was thinking about ways of inserting scene aspects into Key scenes because I'm not crazy about how Key scenes work right now.

    This idea was ripped off Weapons of the Gods and Seventh Sea more than SotC, I think.

  • In Principia, we've got secrets that give you an additional pool that you can power up. You can then expend that pool to do things appropriate to your culture. So an astrologer, for example, makes a reading on a person or event, which fills up their astrology pool. They can then spend those points to reveal facts about their reading, influence events, and that sort of thing.

    Brandon (Judaicdiablo) is primarily in charge of this part of the design, and he has done some really amazing things with the TSOY system.

    Coffeestain: we've been experimenting with temporary keys too. We're trying a system where you can put a temporary key on someone and compell them to an action. If they decline, you get a bonus die in compensation. I'm not sure this is exactly the right way to go. If you get a system that you like, let me know!
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