Saturday, March 15, 2014

This Ain’t D&D ‘March Madness’ Blogsploitation – Day 16 & 17, Tech vs Magic

Other blogs can be found HERE.

The questions can be found HERE.

16 Which RPG besides D&D has the best magic system? Give details.

Honestly, I cannot overstate how much I dislike D&D magic. The levels have no clear taxonomy or power differences – Charm Person started as a 1st level skill. Add to that the arbitrary nature of spells (which ones are touch versus gaze; save vs death versus no save versus save for half; etc etc) and I have a hard time wrapping my head around them. D&D lovers might see spells as crafted by tinkerers with a fine eye for balance, but I find them needlessly complicated enough that I have never played a spellcaster.

When I found the demon summoning rules for Stormbringer, I knew I was on the right track for me. Using Power points to buy demon abilities, with just a few subjective limits on how much of those points you could allocate based on your caster level, resulted in a mix of control and surprise that I felt emulated how magic should feel and especially how it was presented in the Elric books. I also had experiences with GURPS magic, but if D&D was too arbitrary, GURPS by comparison was too logical for me and sucked some of the magic out of magic use.

17 Which RPG has the best high tech rules? Why?

Although my experience with and memory of the old Shadowrun game was limited, I found that its simple way of allocating dice pools for the effects of tech was much more eloquent than trying to nail down every ability conferred by a technological device. Given that real world tech develops so fast and every high scifi from a few decades back is laughably outdated (look at the original Traveller’s computer size rules for example), this approach of tech-as-bonus instead of tech as a set of descriptions makes much more sense.


  1. It's funny, I have a BRP player who looks fondly back on GURPS magic specifically for the reason that it was so logical. Her explanation is that the higher-tier spells all had prerequisites you had to take, so (in her example) in order to gain levels in necromancy and raise the dead, you had to take healing magic first.

    It's an interesting take on the system of learning magic, and possibly something I may homebrew into my own BRP games, depending on what appears with Advanced Sorcery when it arrives in my mailbox in the coming days.

    1. I see BRP as GURPS super lite, so I suppose porting in rules wouldn't be that much of a headache. I may have to reread my GURPS Magic - sadly I only have a Japanese copy and no desire to tackle that...