Developing a 5 Color Magic system - ala MtG
- In my current fantasy game, I've been using the Ironclaw system in the
Birthright setting. One of my old GMs in a previous game had used
Magic the Gathering as an inspiration for a magic system and I've
decided to adopt the idea for the campaign.
I'd like to get some ideas from the group on fleshing out the outlines
of this magic system. I've been spending most of my time developing
campaign material and I haven't wanted to get bogged down in designing
a detailed magic system. At this point tho, I need to get more meat
into the system.
My first idea was to divide up the spells in the various Wizardly
careers into the 5 colors of magic. Since I have two magical
characters in the party (a Khinasi mage of the Red, an Aerenwean druid
of the Green) I've split up the Elementalist spells : fire spells for
Red, earth spells for Green. I've gotten some feedback from my two
players and they've been a bit unhappy with the spell selection
(deservedly so IMO). They're finding that the spells they're getting
are a bit limiting. I'm not sure if they're complaining that the
spells are too combat-specific or not combat-specific enough. One
player mentioned that the AD&D spell lists were much better(?)
My idea so far is to assign the existing spells as such:
Red Magic: Elementalist (fire spells)
Green Magic: Elementalist (earth spells)
Blue Magic: mostly Green&Purple Mage spells, some Elementalist (air
Black Magic: Black Mage (duh! :)
White Magic: White Magic (ditto duh! :)
- I want to leverage the existing spells and structure of the wizard
careers in Ironclaw as much as possible.
- I'd like to develop some guidelines for Apprentice, Journeyman, and
Master level spells so that my players can do more of the work in
designing spells (leaving me free to worry about campaign plots and
- I'd like to expand the list of spells so that they don't seem to be
copies of each other. A lot of the Elementalist spells look very
similar but with a different element being used.
- I'd like to use the various cards from MtG as inspiration for
spells. Some of these effects are more wide-reaching than what is
typical for a Master level spell in the existing system.
Here is what I've come up with so far. Please feel free to comment
(but please be gentle :)
The Five Magic Colors
This magic system is based on the collectable card game: Magic the
Gathering® for use with the Ironclaw® rules. Like the card
game, this system utilizes a system of five colors to divide all
magical effects. A wizardly career is based on each of the five
colors and defines the types of spell effects that the wizard can
The Magic Point pool in Ironclaw® is replaced with up to five
pools of Mana Points (MPs) which are used to power spells. Mana costs
for spells are listed in their descriptions if a specific color
of mana is specified it must be drawn from the appropriate pool. The
mana cost (or a portion) may be specified as colorless - Mana of any
color may be used to satisfy this colorless mana requirement.
[Designer's Note: I'm of half a mind to drop the colored mana and just
use regular Magic points. It does add some flavor to magic but I'm
not sure it would be worth the bookeeping and hassle]
The Will Dice is also divided among the mana pools available to a
wizard. The pool size may not exceed the appropriate career dice and
the Will Dice.
Mana may be considered "Colorless" if it is not aligned with
any particular color. Colorless mana may be produced when any colored
mana is stripped of it's color aspect. Colorless mana may not be
used to satisfy any colored mana requirement in a spell. Artifacts
and constructs are often powered by this purified type of mana.
[Note: I'm finding the Will trait/Colorless mana a little clunky. I
don't know if I should just drop this].
Mana is regained in a similar manner as magic points by resting
or meditation. The wizardly career dice adds the appropriately
colored mana to the corresponding pool. When meditating, the wizard
may only gain colored mana according to his wizardly traits and he
must specify which type of mana he is attempting to regain.
Magical creatures summoned by a spell based on a color of magic are
generally "tainted" by that color unless the spell specifies
otherwise. For example, a creature summoned with a Red magic spell
(usually with a red mana requirement) would be considered a "red
creature". Magical effects can affect certain colored creatures
Creatures who are not magical or who do not have a strong connection
to a color of magic may not posses this color taint at the GM's
option. Generally, this applies to ordinary and mundane creatures.
The sections on each color of magic indicates which creatures should
be associated with it.
Spells that enchant a creature or being do not usually impart this
color taint unless specifically indicated by the spell. A creature
may have more than one taint at the same time. Magical constructs and
artifacts do not carry a color taint unless otherwise specified.
[Note: Since I only have the Ironclaw rulebook and a lot of the MtG
cards are creature summoning-heavy, I'm finding that I'd need to make
up a lot of stats. Are there any good creature resources out there or
am I SOL? ]
Spells are still divided into three lists Apprentice,
Journeyman, and Master. In general, these correspond to the common,
uncommon, and rare cards in Magic the Gathering®. A spell may not
be cast until at least one point of experience has been spent on it.
A spell is learned in the usual manner (by book or teacher). You
must become Adept at the required number of spells in a list to unlock
and begin learning another the next spell list.
[Note: It looks like this mapping is assigning some spells that are
too powerful to a category like Apprentice.]
Below are some descriptions of the 5 types of magic - based on stuff
from the WotC site :)
This is the magic of law, order, structure, healing and protection.
This color is associated with the elements of the Sun and Light -
environments of expansive plains and deep deserts. Divine and holy
creatures have a strong affinity for this color.
This is the magic of trickery and manipulation. This color is
associated with the elements of Water and Air and the environments of
Ocean and Sky. Creatures residing in these areas have a strong
affinity for this color.
This is the magic of death, disease, decay and corruption. This color
is associated with the elements of Darkness and Void
environments such as swamps, old battlefields, graveyards, and places
of decay. Creatures such as undead, minions of darkness, and
unspeakable horrors have a strong affinity for this color.
This is the magic of chaos, destruction, frenzy, wild emotion and war.
This color is associated with the elements of Fire, Lava & Rock, and
Energy. Creatures such as dragons and rampaging sub-human hordes have
a strong affinity for this color.
This is the magic of growth, life, and brute force. This color is
associated with the element of Nature environments of heavy
forests and steaming jungles. Large and powerful creatures in these
areas have a strong affinity for this color.
- Just a quick note:IIRC, MTG's red magic included 'mountain' magic, stuff that was very rock-based. So Red should probably actually contain Ironclaw's Fire and Earth magic.Green had a lot of fury-of-nature type things, so it might include some of the more powerful Water and Air spells. (Lightning, for example.)Blue was mostly mana-type stuff and should have a lot of G&P and Thaumaturgic spells. (Don't forget about Thaumaturgy!)The only thing I might suggest is that the MTG magic setup is a little too restrictive for such a political setting as Birthright. Again, IIRC, Birthright is about as political as Calabria, whereas MTG's magic is mostly concerned with war, battle, and doing damage. Spells that manipulate minds and feelings are going to be more important in a political setting, and they're going to be heavily blue-biased with a magic system based on MTG.But you've already set the campaign up that way, so that criticism isn't very helpful. Sorry.If I were you, and had time, I think I would do the following: go through the D&D list of spells, divide them into the five categories, remove inappropriate spells, and then translate what you've got into Ironclaw, but that would probably take a lot of time and effort. I encourage you to get your players involved in this (together, preferably, so they don't end up with overlaps that they then fight over).LP
> Green had a lot of fury-of-nature type things, so it might includesome of the more powerful Water and Air spells. (Lightning, for example.)
>uh... lightning was a Red spell...
> If I were you, and had time, I think I would do the following: gothrough the D&D list of spells, divide them into the five categories,
remove inappropriate spells, and then translate what you've got into
Ironclaw, but that would probably take a lot of time and effort. I
encourage you to get your players involved in this (together,
preferably, so they don't end up with overlaps that they then fight over).
>that's prolly the best way to go about it...
summoning animals is a bit of a hassle...
ok.. start at the basics.. .
how prominent are you going to make magic...
if you're going full-blown MtG... then very...
so double everyone's magic pool from the start... or give additional
points/trait dice that can be put only into wizardly careers...
my suggestion would be, make each color it's own career path (similar
skills, but generates a different Manna type if you want to deal with
the color costs...)
you could keep the cards fairly basic...
with the cost the same...
say all 1-3 Manna cost cards are your Apprentice level
and everything above 9 being an all new "Planeswalker" level...
Everything: Manna = MP cost, 1 for one (you could impose a color
scheme if you want) ... might add in the focus bit from jade claw...
allow the player to "Tap Manna" at their wizardly trait (whichever
they're focusing on that round) each round they use to focus...
Monster Summons :
Power = Strength, and attack dice
toughness = body, and "animal trait" die
summons require concentration to maintain.
(create extra gifts which allow maintaining multiple summons)
Damage listed => same number of dice
if spell is cast as targeted dice equal wizardly trait
if spell is case as homing dice are one less than wiz trait
if spell is cluster (affects multiple targets) is a total of two
less than trait.
might as well keep the (must learn it as usual) bit, but give a twist,
as part of the wizardly trait, give them say 20 points for spells,
have them build a deck,
for each copy of a card in the deck, they've put 1 point into learning
then when playing they can draw a hand when they begin tapping manna,
this hand being what the flow of manna will allow them to cast on the
as for usefulness of this whole thing.. .
yeah, in a politially oriented game this really won't fly to well,
MtG is battle-mages (as previously mentioned) not you're courtly types...
you might start applying either other uses for magic... or make the
"wizard's duel" a common method of settling arguments... or a common