Categorized | RPGs

Shadowrun: Digital Grimoire Review

Posted on November 19, 2009 by Megan

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    After a brief short story demonstrating how a diverse group of different backgrounds might come together and meet foes known to at least one of them, this work dives straight in to present some new magical traditions. These traditions incorporate the underlying philosophy that a magic user might study, different ways of thinking about magic, and suggest the sorts of ritual practices suitable for a student of that tradition.

    The first one is the Egyptian tradition. Magic users raised in this tradition base their beliefs on those of Ancient Egypt, using imagery and items from that period, scribing hieroglyphs and visualising their powers as emanating from an appropriate deity of the Ancient Egyptian pantheon. A quite different – and newer! – tradition is the Rastafarian one. Practitioners adhere to Rastafarian religious ideas, call on spirits and are know to make use of mind-altering substances. A different approach is taken by followers of the Psionic Tradition, who see magic as a manifestation of the practitioner’s own will rather than drawn in from external sources.

    Magic users who do not follow a tradition can be those who learned their magic on their own, or who lack the discipline to stick to a particular set of beliefs; and optional rules are introduced which could make it harder for them to gain powers or limit what they can cast. Even without such restrictions, traditions are to be encouraged as it gives scope for role-playing such as the devising of tradition-appropriate rituals and a whole outlook, not just magic but the character’s world-view, can be coloured by the tradition he has chosen to follow.

    Next comes a few sample magic groups. These can provide many opportunities for the magic using character to develop contacts, gain resources… and can cause a wealth of opportunity for the GM to create adventures than can involve not only that character but the whole group. The discussion then moves on to the actual practise of magic, with skills such as the evaluation of materials which might prove useful in the creation of magic items and the creation of different types of focii… and the dangers of becoming too reliant on a focus!

    Another very real danger in the Awakened World is that of possession, and there are some details of how this should be handled and how spirits interact with the world and with magic-users in particular… which of course depends on the tradition the magic-user follows. Up until now the rules have tended to focus on what a spirit can do rather than on how – or why – it chooses to do those things, so ideas are presented here for weaving your magic-using character’s tradition, his world-view, into his interactions with the spirits. Some excellent thoughts if you want to take magic beyond mere die-rolling and effects to give greater flavour to your game. The work rounds up with some new magical threats and, of course, some additional spells and adept powers.

    There’s a lot packed into a few pages, and all of it of interest for players and GMs who want to take magic beyond mere game mechanics, to make it a living part of their world.

    Review by Megan Robertson

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