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Next Project: Very, Very Close

The thing about Open Design Kobold Press projects is that they rarely stick with the original title. I think Northlands was called Frozen Empires for a time. Sunken Empires was a latecomer, I think the first title was Shore to Sea. Even things like the Zobeck Gazetteer were originally just "the city book."

So, you know, sometimes the name sticks, and sometimes there's a Secret Code Name that hangs around for a while. The next big project from Kobold Press is going to be about magic, which to me is the heart of what makes fantasy its own genre, rather than a type of alternate history. And hey, I love alternate history too, but in a non-magical and more Platonic sort of way than my abiding love for fantasy.

I've worked hard figuring out what elements to include and how to structure it, and now it's very, very close. I'm announcing it here a little early, because hey, secret clubhouse folks get to see a preview. While the Big Book of Magic has got me working overtime to figure out how to deliver the most magic possible, there's always room for magic.

What would you like to see in a Big Book of Pure Eldritchness?


( 40 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 9th, 2013 02:12 am (UTC)
My shadow whispers that things of interest are being spoken here...

I'd love to see the glyph/rune system extended a bit more, because it's got an alien feel to it.

And because it came up in a conversation recently, I might like to see an archetype/alternate class list for things like rangers and inquisitors that was arcane, rather than divine.

I also loved 2E/Dark Sun's living magic items. They were just so unique.

Jun. 9th, 2013 02:14 am (UTC)
Well, we recently did an arcane paladin, so an arcane inquistior or ranger doesn't seem too far afield.

Man, rangers are crazy popular.
Jun. 9th, 2013 02:28 am (UTC)
Oh, this is exciting!

I'll have to check out the arcane paladin, but I wouldn't mind seeing some more things that help differentiate arcane magic from the divine. Too often I feel like clerics and wizards (in terms of magic) are little more than spell casters with different spell lists in the same way rangers and paladins have different lists.
Jun. 9th, 2013 02:36 am (UTC)
Good point. The trouble is that most of the good ways to make clerical spells feel more divine impose a little on the player's style: the DM has to arbitrate or encourage more mystical and divine elements. Not every player feels comfortable with it, but it's awesome when a player just embraces whatever creed it is.

The arcane paladin is actually called the Battle Scion, and is up on the Paizo store.
Jun. 9th, 2013 02:48 am (UTC)
I need to go look at Ultimate Campaign, too, because, apparently, it has research rules, which even cover spell research.

And I need to be all over that.

(who is secretly loving the ability to select his userpic each time.)
Jun. 9th, 2013 04:06 am (UTC)
If wishes were fishes...

1,) An organic flexible magical system, like Words of Power or what Ars Magica uses. Dale McCoy Jr. came up with some undead words of power and asked for suggestions. I suggested that he clean up words of power, explain them clearly, and use that as a foundation. I even said that would be a cool little niche for him. He encouraged me to buy his undead words, and he would see if it was feasible. That was a fair response and I did. Just one time I asked him if he considered what I suggested and he got huffy with me.

I got no use for that.

Still, the idea is attractive to me. I have discussed this with terraleon, and many people seem to think there is something solid to Words of Power that is just lost in presentation. Like the Ultimate Magic prototype actually works, but it was never really brought up to something release worthy before it was slapped in the book.

2.) I like runes and gyphs too. Especially as a means for non-magical types to use a little magic, not unlike Words of Power. Some attempts to do them seem too much like magic item construction. That's fine, but when players start having to pay for access with Feats, I find them they stick with conventional feats and systems.

3.) Psychic magic. If Paizo doesn't want to move on it, then too bad. Dreamscarred Press has traditional psionics sewn up, but I'd love to see psionics treated as a sorcerer base class (or multiple base classes), that rely on slots and uses per day. That way if I want to make a psychic serpent man or a psychic neh-thalggu I just give them levels in a psychic base class, and it works mechanically like a sorcerer.

For all I know this may be something Paizo is kicking around but I don't know. Design and Development have a goofy relationship over there. Bulmahn recently said he had "65%" interest in ever doing it, even though Development would like to see it.. and they deliberately avoid Vudra because they don't have it.
Jun. 9th, 2013 08:02 am (UTC)
Ah, didn't know that's why we haven't seen a Vudra book from Paizo! Been waiting and waiting....

Can you explain what you mean by psychic magic vs psionics please.

Ben - agree with you about the userpics. One of the cool things about LJ ;)
Jun. 9th, 2013 05:43 pm (UTC)
Sure Rich!

And yes, they have specifically avoided Vudra because that is a place where in Golarion where psionics is canonically more common. And without in-house psionics rules, they're avoiding it. Which makes a strong argument for doing it. Except NOT EVERYBODY actually wants to do it. Hence some of my frustration.

Okay, I am not an expert on DSP's Psionics (and you may be for all I know) but I'll explain enough to contrast that two. DSP uses a point driven system for psionics. So you have psionic powers and you spend an allotment of your psi points to activate and use them. There is an advantage in that you're only limited in how many times you use a power by the number of points you have. You don't have to conserve your points for a high level power if you don't think you need to—you can use lower level powers more often, if that is your choice. Conversely you can use a high level power more often at the risk of emptying out your mental fuel tank quicker. THere are obvious flexibility advantages to that. It is also another thing to keep track of, and it is a unique mechanic that is unlike any other system in the game, save for the monk ki pools, barbarian rage uses, and magus arcane pools. One might argue the "point pool" is not unlike the existing game at all, because of those three cited examples—except those point pools are small. You can tick them off with one or two hands and only a few powers and abilities draw upon them. A psionic point power system has powers in nine tiers and at high levels has a fairly large pool to keep track of.

If Paizo developed their own system they have intimated that they would treat the powers like a vancian system, specifically like a sorcerer. No material components obviously. You would have powers broken into level tiers (like spells, and its worth noting that even DSP's psionics do this), and you would gain access to specific powers which you would choose at certain levels. When you activated a specific power, it would subtracted one of your uses of your powers at that level for the day.

So for example, you might have four 2nd level psionic powers and you have 8 uses of your 2nd level powers per day. Like a sorcerer you would choose which of those 2nd level powers to use at any time, and you could mix and match which ones you use up to 8 times per day. Vancian spell casting implies that you "forget" a magical spell till you study again, but it ALSO implies a number of uses per day. In that respect they would want to adhere to a vancian model.

Why? The argument is that they don't want to introduce a radically different set of mechanics when the existing ones work fairly well right now. If they did this, then psionics would work comparably to arcane and divine magic. In a sense, the largest difference would be in the types of powers available and the flavor. Seamless mechanics.

Now, please no one argue with me personally about this. I am fairly neutral on this. I have not had time to read or study DSP's system, but I have enough people I trust vouch for it that I respect it. I literally just have not had the time to delve into it.

The attractive thing about Paizo's approach is that:
A.) They would actually use it, and therefore I would have some element of psychic powers in the game when I freelance for them. I mean for right or for wrong, I don't foresee them EVER using a large 3PP mechanic. The most they're going to adopt is a bestiary creature. My opinion based on their comments.
B. It probably wouldn't take me very long (like an afternoon or a few days) to adopt the mechanics in my existing games.

As for power point pools. I personally don't see what the f@$ckin' deal is myself. You have to keep track of your hit points, right? Then again, they might feel that one such a pool of points is enough for any game.

Hope this helps!

Jun. 10th, 2013 05:58 am (UTC)
Cheers – all makes sense!
Jun. 13th, 2013 02:15 pm (UTC)
Psychic magic sounds completely awesome. How do I get me some of that!?

I totally want the psychic sorcerer archetype or base class to happen, perhaps with Dreamscarred at the helm. Or maybe it's not their sort of thing.
Jun. 9th, 2013 04:24 am (UTC)
This is going to be a little esoteric, but I am going to throw it out there anyway.

I'd love a magic system where you made a choice in your powers and magic every time you leveled. Of course, when I think about it—that is White Wolf's Mage.

Editorial: As a thought experiment I have been thinking of a style of campaign where the Players actually know far less about the adventure going in. The current fashion seems to be a lot of background material, traits, and "builds". I have no objection to wanting an effective character, but as Reign of Winter is entering its final releases, I find myself wanting to recommending to GMs "Tell them nothing.. Tell them make to characters from Taldor and to to show up for game night. Don't tell them it's called Reign of Winter. Don't show them the covers. Don't talk about Baba Yaga. Don't say the name Rasputin. Just make character from Talfor and prepare for endless wonder."

In some ways I'd love to a magic system to be like that. Where every level is like unwrapping a present, with surprising new possibilities.

I don't know how you do something like that without rejigging your whole game system or campaign though.
Jun. 13th, 2013 02:17 pm (UTC)
Yeah, this is glorious but it's a whole new game system. You can build your engine around this for fighters, wizards, anyone.

I guess someday soon I gotta write the base system that I keep that big folder full of notes for.
Jun. 9th, 2013 07:58 am (UTC)
This sounds like it will be good fun!

I'm hoping this will be a Midgard-focused book with lots of story/fluff sitting alongside the mechanics/crunch and giving us more on clockwork, shadow, glyph and ink magic, as well as things we haven't seen before. I have a soft spot for genies and Al-Qadim so anything Arabian-flavoured would be great.

I'd also like to see some fun, no-holds barred, 2e Tome of Magic style innovation, rather than something that is constrained by the Pathfinder/3.5 shackles around spells and items. Monte Cook did some really interesting stuff in the Books of Eldritch Might like soul magic that stepped outside the norm and that would be cool in this book too. Not everything should be content for player characters.

I'd also like to see some really cool magic items with plenty of interesting backstory and unique powers. I've been reading a lot of older D&D books recently and they just don't make 'em like they used to!

As I don't DM Pathfinder, I'd be looking for lots of ideas that can be adapted to other editions of D&D, particularly D&D Next. If it's a crunchy player-focused Pathfinder supplement, it won't be for me.
Jun. 10th, 2013 05:38 pm (UTC)
Doesn't look like there are any magic items in the Deep Magic book but it does look like like it's going to have plenty of cool Midgard lore in it, and all the schools etc are included. Fingers crossed there will room for some genies!

Jun. 13th, 2013 02:19 pm (UTC)
There is plenty of Midgard lore on the academies, ley lines, various flavor, though all that is secondary to a huge core of spells spells spells.

No magic items unless we hit a completely nutty stretch goal.

Genies.... I keep thinking the genies belong in the Southlands book. But maybe that's just me.
Jun. 13th, 2013 03:26 pm (UTC)
Ah, the Southlands book! It gets mentioned from time to time but then it goes very quiet ;)

Is it on the schedule/being worked on?
Jun. 9th, 2013 01:37 pm (UTC)
I also found the Words of Power to be fascinating. Clearly for more experienced players, but still very interesting, and it would be awesome to go further with it.

I'd also like to see variations of magic based on locale. If you're on the negative energy plane, or in the Brass City, or any of a myriad of other places, magic should just BE different.

I'd also like to see alternatives to metamagic feats for altering spells: alternate components, spell templates, spell infusions, symbiotic spells ... these are to some extent just names I'm throwing out, but the classic "Increase spell by N levels to gain power M" can't be the only way to modify spells.

As for psychic magic, I would not be averse to somethign like the 3.5e psionics, where there's spell points instead of spells/day, but structured in such a way that it's harder to go nova.

Anyways, if this book were structured in such a way that it was more campaign-setting neutral (like Dark Roads was) I'd be all over it in a second. Awesome :)
Jun. 9th, 2013 02:05 pm (UTC)
Oh, I agree with this part:

"I'd also like to see variations of magic based on locale. If you're on the negative energy plane, or in the Brass City, or any of a myriad of other places, magic should just BE different.

I'd also like to see alternatives to metamagic feats for altering spells: alternate components, spell templates, spell infusions, symbiotic spells ... these are to some extent just names I'm throwing out, but the classic "Increase spell by N levels to gain power M" can't be the only way to modify spells."

While the planar stuff is lower priority to me, I've seen a few instances of the alchemical components that do some interesting bits to spells, and I"d love to see that done up, too. (Part of me worries about overcomplicating the magic system, then I remember it's the magic system, and it's complicated to begin with.)

Jun. 9th, 2013 05:25 pm (UTC)
It was less an issue of planar stuff to me than of locations having an effect on magic. Remember that earth node magic from Forgotten Realms? It wasn't planar, but was location based, and I thought that was pretty cool.

As for overcomplicating things, I agree whole-heartedly on both accounts, that additional systems can increase the complexity and that's it's already complex, but that's one of the things I've always liked about the Pathfinder/3.5e system ... there's ways for experienced players to do additional interesting things at the expense of added complexity.

We're retiring our years-long campaign this month and starting up a new one (largely due to the influence of the ARG), and one of the players wants to use Words of Power, which is fine by me - in my opinion he has the experience to handle it.

It's always worst for the GM, who has to deal with some bizarro system someone found as an option in some obscure book; that's why I've always ruled that I only allow material from books I actually own. Thankfully for Pathfinder (at least non-3PP stuff), that's not an issue :)
Jun. 9th, 2013 05:53 pm (UTC)
As for psychic magic, I would not be averse to somethign like the 3.5e psionics, where there's spell points instead of spells/day, but structured in such a way that it's harder to go nova.

Ironically, Paizo thinks spell points are too complex not just for advanced players, but for anybody—including themselves.

I don't know.
Jun. 9th, 2013 05:55 pm (UTC)
I used to be a big planar advocate, but lately I have been down on that content without large piece of planar campaign setting to go with it. It seems like the market creates outsiders and planar content just to see it go unused, or underutilized at best. I am thinking more of the Golem than brave 3PP however.
Jun. 10th, 2013 03:03 am (UTC)
A functional index. Oh, wait, I'm already working on that for you!
-L. (DE)
Jun. 13th, 2013 02:19 pm (UTC)
And hurray!
Jun. 10th, 2013 06:47 am (UTC)
I really like the kind of "magic item that grows with you" system that Earthdawn has and "Legacy Weapons" tried to do. Would love to see some of that kind of stuff in a Midgard Magic book.
Jun. 10th, 2013 02:02 pm (UTC)
Incantations. Incantations. Incantations.

I want (Need?), need! a ritual magic system, and incantations fit the bill. Things like the ceremony feats, pact magic from Tome of Magic/Secrets of Pact Magic, and dragonpacts from Dragon Magic are examples of what I like; somthing anybody can do. A functional system of folk magic would fit perfectly. Zombie Sky Press's incantation stuff is a good example of what I like.

A full blown skill and feat magic system would be great. I'm in love with Green Ronin's True Sorcery and the Black Company campaign setting. I'm told the d20 Star Wars Saga rules are something similar, but simpler. I haven't seen those yet.

Something similar to the truenaming system in Tome of Magic would be really cool. The Pathfinder words of power might fit that bill; I'm not familiar with it.

For psychic powers, skill and feat based would be ideal for me. The sensitve from d20 Call of Cthulhu on the low end, or the d20 B5 telepathy rules from Mongoose would be idea.

ETA: I like the Magic of Incarnum, Weapons of Legacy, and Ghostwalk subsystems, too.

Of course, a good expansion of the current Vancian system would always be a good read. An expansion of grudge magic would be uniquely Midgadian; glyph magic would also work. Maybe create something similar to the corrupt spells and santcified magic (Book of Vile Deeds/Heroes of Horror and Book of Exalted Deeds, respectively) to allow new options for current casters.

While I'm firmly in the OGL/3.5 ED camp, I realize I'm a dwindling minority. My current gaming reading has been the Fate Core kickstarter and SJG's In Nomine. My favorite fantasy authors/series are Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, Lois Bujold's Spirit Ring, Chalion, and Sharing Knife series, and Glen Cook's (best fantasy auhor of our times!) Black Company, Garrett PI, and Instrumentalities of the Night series.

Edited at 2013-06-10 02:04 pm (UTC)
Jun. 10th, 2013 06:44 pm (UTC)
Words of Power are not a True Naming system. True Names are actually covered in Ultimate Magic, iirc.

Words of power is more of an alternate casting option.

And I'd have to second you on the Glen Cook opinion. His Black Company/Garrett Files series are big inspirations.

Jun. 12th, 2013 06:01 pm (UTC)
Good to know. Need to look that up sometime.
Jun. 10th, 2013 02:17 pm (UTC)
So I'm guessing the Deep Magic Kickstarter is this project?

If so, in some sense I find it to be kind of a shame. I'm quite positive it will be more successful than one of the old school patronage projects like OD used to do, but I know I'll miss the feeling of comraderie among the patrons; I find it a shame that it's been replaced by "you can pay $50 extra to include a spell" and a pre-selected development staff.

Don't get me wrong, I totally understand the business reality of the situation, it just makes me doubly glad that I was able to take part in a few of the old-style patronage projects.
Jun. 10th, 2013 03:05 pm (UTC)
I wonder if that would be an option in a future project-- do the initial, smaller design in an LJ format, like this, for those folks who enjoy that process and want to participate in it, and then, when the manuscript is complete, offer those folks the final PDF/POD-at-cost option, and then take it to Kickstarter for a larger support run-- because that close-knit design/discussion phase is where a certain part of the value lies, where the patrons want to get their hands dirty and make with the creation process. The book, in those cases, is the end result, but it's as important as the journey.

What do folks think of that?

Jun. 10th, 2013 05:32 pm (UTC)
I really like that idea. I miss the old days.....

I can totally see why Wolfgang is using Kickstarter though – the project is 88% funded already ;)
Jun. 10th, 2013 05:43 pm (UTC)
90%! I'm in!
Jun. 10th, 2013 06:29 pm (UTC)
96% now.

This is a long way from thumping it for a month, trying to hit greenlight.

Jun. 10th, 2013 06:33 pm (UTC)
Yeah, not knocking it. After all, there wouldn't have been a 4e Bestiary without Kickstarter ;)
Jun. 10th, 2013 09:17 pm (UTC)
I agree, it's made getting projects going a much easier process. I think it's also been a learning process finding the best methods for funding/running them as the whole shebang evolves.

Jun. 11th, 2013 12:57 pm (UTC)
Hell, that was my exact point. While the old Open Design model may have been nicer for the patrons, clearly the Kickstarter model is better for the actual business owner. Not really much that can be done about that.
Jun. 11th, 2013 01:05 pm (UTC)
But a combination of the two-- where the project was developed ahead of time here, or in the forums, and then taken to KS when complete might just bridge the gap, because people who like this creative process are somewhat different from the people who just like to get a new book via KS. And it could be that going old school first, then taking it to KS could be the perfect solution.

Jun. 13th, 2013 02:22 pm (UTC)
It *is* a million times easier and better for the business owner.

It is also better for most customers, because the fact that I can raise 5x or 10x more funding via Kickstarter than I could doing it separately means there is a lot more ability to commission the best text, art, design, etc. I hope you'll agree that the projects done with Kickstarter have been a step up in terms of pagecount, presentation, etc.

That said, I have plans for this Secret Hideout.
Jun. 13th, 2013 09:28 pm (UTC)
Jun. 11th, 2013 04:14 pm (UTC)
I would love to support the previous patronage model. To me, the process is just as rewarding - if not more so - than the final product.
Jun. 12th, 2013 12:55 pm (UTC)
I'd love to support it too. But we keep looking at it from our end, where of course it's cool. I suspect that Wolfgang has an entirely different view of patronage vs. Kickstarter than we do, based on having to actually run the projects.

What @terraleon is suggesting would, of course work, but it would also be a lot more work for Wolfgang, with no concrete gain for him other than all of us enjoying the process more.

I'd support it of course, I'm just not holding my breath :)

Edited at 2013-06-12 12:55 pm (UTC)
( 40 comments — Leave a comment )