Tuesday, 8 November 2016

New Players and Magic

Lister: All we've got is us guys, us and our own resourcefulness.
I play with new players a lot. As well as players of some experience who are seemingly unable to read a rulebook. I can’t blame them. Rulebooks are for GMs. The trend to producing player-focussed rulebooks – AD&D2e, you started the rot! – has exploded the crunch on both sides of the table. That’s not for me, or for my players.
One of the things that I find hardest to deal with in any game is magic. And high-technology, but, let’s face it, that is the same thing as far as matters in a sci-fi RPG. It is particularly difficult with new players. It is one thing for a player to say, ‘My character does X, where X is something within the ranges of human potential’ as a GM and the players can use a combination of common expectations and a – hopefully – straightforward resolution system to adjudicate the success of this action. Magic tends to create ‘exceptional’ rules, introduce new resolution systems, and threaten the common understanding shared by the table, at least until the table has absorbed both the rules and the setting.
This is just a long way round to saying that I tend to find it easier to GM games for my group in which access to magic (for PCs and NPCs) is pretty restricted, at least at the start of a campaign.
So, you know, WFRP!
Cat: My God, it's worse than I thought!

1 comment:

  1. When I had DnD 3.5 stuff, I fiddled with making all magic using classes prestige classes for this very reason - I also included the Master class from Dragonlance as a nonmagic skill based class. I also discussed doing this for AFF2 on the forums. In fact, my instinct seems to be to do this. I agree that magic can threaten the common understanding. The non magic users might be working out how to pick a lock, when the wizard decides to cast an open spell. Cue the GM and wizard player talking about stuff the nonmagic users don't know about and possibly making their discussion about getting through the door redundant. Yes, magic using prestige classes it is. Or another idea I had was to make magic a plot device. Magic is only possible as rituals which have big effects but require adventures to collect the ingredients and the spells and they do things to resolve problems such as cure plagues and curses or commune with a supernatural creature for a clue. Not just a way to open a door and make a thief character feel like he has wasted his life.