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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Black Magic

One thing that is missing in most fantasy games is the concept of Black Magic vs. White Magic. I think it would be interesting if players were only able to use White Magic (heals, blesses, even holy fire), but Black Magic would  be NPC-only. Stuff like zombie creation, curses, and magical diseases would not be available to players at all (or they would be heavily penalized for using it).

Older D&D sorta does this, with reversible cleric spells, but it has no implications if your player uses these spells (other than clerics possibly losing access to magic, but no issue for mages).

The best version I've seen of the split between White and Black magic is the various Star Wars games. Seriously. The various mechanics for turning to the Dark Side would be a fantastic baseline for a fantasy rpg. Instead, games tend towards the cthulhuesque penalty (a la Dungeon Crawl Classics), if they have any penalty at all.

4 comments:

Tedankhamen said...

There was a blog post waaaay back that suggested using OD&D, dropping clerics altogether (none in LotR at any rate), then giving white mages cleric spells and dark mages regular spells. Would seem a good ad hoc solution to get that feel. I'll have to reread Star Wars now...

dave baymiller (baran_i_kanu, DaveB) said...

Dan I agree completely. I have touched on the concept of more folkloric black magic options with with my Witch class and Infernal options. http://theosrlibrary.blogspot.com/2012/02/magic-in-averoigne-and-osr-colonial-and.html

Dan said...

Good ideas, you guys. I seem to remember that split from before, as well.

Jeff Russell said...

"Crypts & Things" - which uses the whole package of Akrasia's Sword & Sorcery house rules from Akratic Wizardry - eliminates clerics and instead splits all spells into "White, Grey, and Black" magic, but it's a little more "Cthulhu-esque" - you get physically drained by using any magic, but fastest from black magic, and if you get drained enough you lose sanity (which is what Wisdom is under those rules).

http://akraticwizardry.blogspot.com/2009/07/swords-sorcery-house-rules-index.html