View Full Version : Which is more low fantasy

12-20-2008, 06:12 PM
So I decided that I fell into a High fantasy rut when working on my setting material. I want a more low fantasy feel so I'm looking at my special powers. Since I'm using Unisystem I have a couple different options. What do you guys feel is the most low fantasy in both feel and mechanic.

Seer Powers as per Witchcraft

Invocations as per witchcraft

Sorcery as seen in Buffy RPG

Sorcery as seen in Buffy RPG using the the essence expenditure variant rule.

12-21-2008, 08:37 AM
My first choice would be Buffy-style Sorcery, without essence burn. If you make magical rituals rare and dangerous, and restrict or remove the Sorcery advantage, you can make every casting almost an adventure in and of itself: find the right forbidden tome, gather ingredients, elude inquisitors or other authorities, and finally work the ritual, perhaps negotiating with some summoned entity.

If you'd rather limit the scope of magic instead of its process, I'd go for Seer powers, possibly restricted and certainly renamed. (_Terra Primate_, if you have it, presents Seer powers as "telepathy", "telekinesis", etc.)

I'm working up the first style of magic for a BRP game.

12-21-2008, 12:28 PM
For me, the difference between high and low fantasy is less about what the characters can do, and more about what they are doing. Whether you want to go with ritual magic or psi doesn't matter so much.

So, no quests, no epic storylines, do the job, get paid, survive another day.

12-21-2008, 02:40 PM
True, Tolkien is a prime example of high fantasy with low magic, and I believe there are several series (_Lord D'Arcy_?) which are high magic but low fantasy. So it really depends on what you're trying to do.

Here was my take on the systems presented:

WitchCraft Invocations: I've only read the Witchcraft PDF, but the powers look like standard spell-casting in other systems. This opens up a whole can of worms, in that NPCs who know magic exist will have their own magical defenses and magicians on their payroll, and NPCs who don't have magic are at a disadvantage (unless they're somehow magically resistant or superhumanly tough). This sort of power escalation tends toward high fantasy.

Witchcraft Seer Powers: The limited scope of "psychic" powers lends itself more to subtle magic, but a telepath can run roughshod through the non-telepathic populace.

Buffy Sorcery: If you limit magic to rituals taking minutes or hours, then it becomes much less of a factor in combat. If, furthermore, you make the rituals hard to find, and dangerous to improvise, you can effectively control PCs access to magic. Since magic becomes more of a plot hook than an everyday tool, you probably want to keep the actual casting rules simple, e.g. no essence drain.

12-21-2008, 08:47 PM
Buffy sorcery could definitely give me that gritty low fantasy feel with having to take time casting rituals. Especially if I limit them to only one level of the sorcery quality. I don't think I would leave it out entirely because I do want a magical character to be able to quick cast if they need to, and so there is some distinction between a sorcerer and some one who casts spells. That is if I want non-sorcery people casting spells. This could also act as an encouragement for my players to cross into Elfland, as you called it in my other thread, in order to get higher levels of sorcery or just more access to spells.
I really did not want my magic users to have to carry various volumes of text in their back pack but that may be a larger problem in my head than it is in practice. Plus since I want magic hard to come by maybe it's not in books maybe it is carved onto a wall or stone tablet so a character could be making the first spell book ever.
So far my only problem with Buffy style sorcery is that I would need to spend time writing up more spells since I feel that many of the examples in The Magic Box don't really apply in a 600 a.d. setting.