Carpe Blogiem: The Middle Kingdom Primer – Magic

Exhales. Ok. Magic. Chinese magic is weird. It’s mixed up so much with the religion(s), regions, and other systems of supernatural influence. Honestly, it’s a mess and capturing the exact feel has been rather difficult. And that’s not even getting into Japanese magic which is more animistic then anything else. So where did I start. Well, like I’ve been saying when adapting a source go to other game adaptations first. Chances are another game designer has done the work for you – or at least got somewhere you can start from. Starting from scratch is always harder than adapting source material, except when you’re adapting source material. This applies doubly so when you’re pulling strictly from the real world. I know. It looks like an epileptic muppet wrote that. But it’s true. Working real world material into a campaign can bring a lot of flavor, but it has to be the right material. It has to be something anyone can understand about the adaptation. You can’t just adapt a magic system fully without its warts. And the less artificial a system is the more full of conflicting points there will be. These conflicts can be the cause of headaches for the poor GM doing the adaptation. I knew as soon as I started delving into traditional Chinese sorcery/magic that I would need to a) come up with a good workable source of flavor and b) not get too in the weeds.

Thus, my first mission was to see how much I could expand the Bagua modifiers from GURPS Thaumatology. Phil did such a wonderful job with that book that I felt it would be a waste to note use it as a base at least. Next, I decided not to go crazy with rewriting RPM like I did with Ceteri. The results of that were (and remain) pretty damn amazing, but I didn’t want to put but so much effort in a brand new campaign. I like to iterate and let accumulate campaign lore and materials as it goes round and round on the campaign wheel. I made the mistake of trying to write EVERYTHING with Halcyon and my failed cyberpunk campaign. I won’t (or at least I’ll try) not to do that again.

The system I ended up with was base Ritual Path Magic using the bagua modifiers to assist casting spells with a variation of the Decanic Trappings rule to do so. I did make one moderate change: I borrowed Incantation Magic‘s rules for incantations to allow for rapid spellcasting of prepared spells. This seemed to fit the flavor of the campaign and it made my (one) PC sorcerer happy.

Picking Over the Bones

And that’s it for magic. Given that there are no other supernatural powers in the campaign setting this part of the primer is done. Next up, Optional Rules being used and then final thoughts on the campaign premise itself.

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