Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fatefinder - Spells and Magic

Progress is coming along in the Pathfinder to Fate conversion.  Today I did some thinking on how I would want magic to work in the game.  The first thing I wanted to do, is try to balance the spell casters with the non-spell casters.  If the front line guy can attack over and over with his weapon, than the wizard should be able to do the same with her spells.  So I got rid of the idea that there were a limited number of spells that someone could cast 'per day.'  This will require me to pay attention to what spells someone creates so that they don't have world changing magic that can be cast over and over and over again.

In the next couple days, I'll set out some rules for creating spells, and the arcane/divine difference.  But what follows will be the bare-bones of the magic system.

I have also changed up my skill list a little bit.  So I will post my changes made after the section dealing with magic.


 For a person to use magic, they must have an aspect that shows where that magic comes from, how they got it.  They also must take either the Arcane or Divine skill.  Finally, they will have an Extra which will define how many spells a spell caster has at their disposal.

 That extra will likely mirror a pathfinder counterpart.  For instance, a spellbook, a familiar, a bloodline, a gift from a god, etc.  This extra should be consistent with the aspect that gave the character her magic.

 You will then define spells that will be ‘stored’ in that extra. The extra acts as your spell repository.  When creating and adding spells to your extra, it must be clear which of the four actions from the  Fate CRB the spell will do for you.

 Your extra may only house a certain number of spells.  The number of spells stored in your extra should be the total of your Arcane or Divine skill modifer, and add how many milestones your character has completed.   A significant milestone will add an additional spell to the extra.

Kiera is a witch, who stores her spells in a familiar.  She has an arcane skill at +4.  Before completing any milestones, Keira may have 4 spells in her familiar.  Once she has completed her first milestone, she may have 5, 6 after the second, and so on.

 If a character has skill in both arcane and divine, you add the two skills together, and divide by two to determine the number of  spells known.

Ayr is a mystic theurge with a +4 in divine and a +3 in arcane.  Before completing any milestones, he would be able to know 3 spells.


Acumen (Knowledge Skills, Appraise, Linguistics)
Allure (Diplomacy, Perform)
Aptitude (Craft: all non-magic, Profession: all)
Arcane (Arcane Magic, Spellcraft)
Athletics (Climb, Swim)
Ballistics (Ranged Attack/Defense)
Burglary (Stealth, Sleight of Hand, Disable Device)
Celerity (Reflex Saves, Initiative)
Deceive (Disguise, Bluff)
Divine (Divine Magic, Spellcraft)
Finesse (Fly, Acrobatics, Escape Artist)
Investigate (Perception)
Mend (Heal)
Nature (Handle Animal, Survival, Ride)
Physique (Fortitude Saves, CMD)
Resolve (Will Saves, Sense Motive)
Tenacity (Melee Attack/Defense, and CMB)
Thaumaturgy (UMD, Craft Magic Items/Potions/Scrolls)

These changes were to spread things out a little more, and allow for some more specialization.  I think I like this list a little better than the first draft.


  1. Since FATE does everything with aspects, you can get away with a really coarse magic system. On a fundamental level the aspect "I'm Invisible" isn't so different from "I'm Hidden Really Well."

    We discussed having explicit spell rules, different skills for different kinds of magic, a "magic" skill with a pyramid of subskills, and a bunch of different options that can be found online. Some of them are bad. Some of them are clever. But they all add additional rules baggage on the very elegant FATE package.

    Ultimately we settled on this: if you want to shoot a fireball, attack with Shoot to inflict physical stress; if you want to become invisible, create an advantage with Stealth; depending on what you're after you could think of Color Spray or Charm Monster as creating an advantage or inflicting mental stress; etc. We added no extra rules for magic because you NEED no other rules for magic (beyond skills I mean -- you do have to put some thought into those).

    We threw Vancian magic out the door along with daily spell quotas and it feels great... though if you wanted some extra bookkeeping you could certainly "prepare spells" under this system.

    This system piggybacks on the balance inherent in the FATE system -- you don't need to limit casters with quotas because they no longer run the risk of becoming gods. At the same time this system keeps the creative burden/freedom on the players, and becomes intuitive very quickly.

  2. I think I like your ideas on this one. I am going to change the magic system so something a little lighter.