Private Beta Test Beginning

Welcome!  If you are here looking to join the private beta test beginning soon, please follow the link to the Renaissance facebook page, join the page and join the discussion.  We will be testing in the Houston, Texas area (specifically, Humble) so if you're in that area, or close to it, join up!  For those of you who are either too far away or not available in the time-slots we end up settling on, never fear, as soon as everything has been confirmed to be running as smoothly as hoped Renaissance will enter Public Beta Testing and I will be looking for groups to run single-sessions, short adventures and even medium campaigns in order to collect feedback and tweak the mechanics for the best play experience possible!

Magic in Society: Accessibility

It's time for the next installment in this series, Accessibility, so lets get straight to it tonight!  When working on the aspects of magic in society one of the questions that kept coming to my mind was "How accessible is magic to the local populous?".  Are spells and the associated knowledge and materials freely available in every general store a'la Final Fantasy or The Elder Scrolls games or are they carefully guarded secrets, known only to initiates who closely guard their secrets and share them only with those who know the right symbol or word to gain recognition/admittance.

So, without further ado, here are the 5 degrees of accessibility I came up with to describe this aspect:

  • Passive Sharers:  Willing to share spells (maybe for a price) but neither hoards nor actively seeks to share the knowledge.
  • Active Sharers:  Generally part of a guild or order, these people make their spells available to others.  I further break Active Sharers down into Open Active Sharers (OAS) and Closed Active Sharers (CAS). OAS make their material available to anybody who wants access and may even advertise their material.  CAS only make their materials available to members (possibly with even further restrictions) or impose other (financial?) restrictions.
  • Regulated Sharing:  Under this method the government of the city/state/nation/etc. restricts access to magical materials in one or more ways.  This category is also broken down into two sub-categories:  "Open" Regulated Sharing (ORS) and Closed Regulated Sharing (CRS).  In ORS the government requires casters to register themselves and/or their spell research and may require that any sharing that is done be only with equally permitted members of society.  Under the CRS system  there is even heavier governmental involvement and in addition to the restrictions of the ORS system those seeking registration or permits must meet certain requirements or possibly even government (military?) rank.
  • Hoarded:  Wizards do not share their knowledge.  They may fear/guard against theft or they may be driven by selfishness, power lust or a concern for the damage the knowledge could do in the wrong hands.
  • Outlawed:  This final category can actually be combined with a few of the above mentioned options.  Under this category the city/state/national/etc. government makes the study/use/trade of magic illegal.  It is either the sole realm of government use or not tolerated at all at any level.  Casters must either hide or declare themselves and be hunted down.  Foreign casters entering the country may either be hunted down as well or simply tracked and discouraged from attempting to settle down depending on the feelings of the region.  Or they could be denied entrance outright.

Magic in Society: Caster Personalities

HAHA!  You thought I forgot about this series already.  Well, you were right, but I'm back now with the next installment.  You can find the previous installment here, where I give the overview of what inspired this series and what it's about.

The information in this particular article in the series will be somewhat proprietary since I developed it for my specific world setting.  However, I'm confident you'll be able to adapt it to your own if you choose to use it.  That being said, let's move on to the meat of this article!

When I say Caster "Personalities" I'm really using the word "personality" as a filler for another word that's actually on the tip of my tongue but can't quite identify.  I'm not referring to whether they are lazy or excitable, gruff or caring.  I am really referring to the depth of their involvement with magic and how they use it.  I considered Caster Dedication, but "Dedicated" is used with a specific meaning in settings magical definitions so I wanted to avoid any confusion.  There are only 3 Caster Personalities that I have identified so far.  They are, in order:

  • Common John - This character does not dedicate his whole life to magic.  Instead, he learns a few spells intended to make his life easier (such as Ignite, Extinguish, Cool, Warm, etc.) but typically with no combat applications.  Craftsmen in this category might learn Haste spells as well in order to improve their productivity while Farmers might learn an Insect Ward ritual to protect his crops.
  • Dedicated Wizard - This character has made the pursuit of magic his whole life.  Whether he or she pursues magic for power, to help others, for knowledge or wisdom is irrelevant; they all fall under this category - Healers, Warlocks, Thaumaturges, etc.  Some of these become adventurers, some set up shop and offer their services to a community while others hide away in their homes (secluded or not) and practice quietly by themselves or as part of an organization.  
  • Hybrid/Military - This character is a blending of the first two categories.  Magic alone does not define their life, rather it serves to enhance their primary goal of combat, subterfuge, etc.  However, the pursuit of magic towards their ends is much more involved and ongoing than the level of knowledge and pursuit of Common John.

I use this information primarily to help me identify how magically involved a particular NPC is going to be, assuming they aren't completely non-magical like your standard fighter, rogue, farmer, merchant, etc.  Next time I will begin looking at the other three aspects of magic in society which I use as a guide when laying down information about a new location.

In the meantime, please tell me in the comments below what you think of my three divisions.  Have I missed any?  Does this mesh well with magic in your own setting or would it need additional tweaking to be useful?

Magic in Society: Introduction

Things have been pretty quiet for nearly 8 months now.  I'm running an on-and-off post apocalyptic game that re-started in early January.  Schedules have forced us to miss a few sessions but we hope to be getting together again in another couple of weeks.  The system is pretty much done, but lacks a little tweaking, a lot of testing, and a setting.

Technically Renaissance can be used in any setting; heck, it's designed for medieval-fantasy role-playing and I'm using it for a post-apocalyptic sci-fi game.  However, there are some features about it that lend itself to a particular setting.  One I've always had kicking around in the back of my mind and could never quite get out on paper satisfactorily.  You know the one, you probably all have one kicking around the back of your mind too.

Well, I've been studying a lot of geography (a little) and doing a lot of mapping and re-mapping and re-re-mapping and a lot of personal debating about world features, feel, etc.  At the moment I'm working on pinning down exactly how much presence magic has in society and how it is felt.  I've formulated a series of notes, personal guides you might say, regarding the various aspects of magic within society.  Over the next week or so I'll be posting those notes for your review, enjoyment and opinions.  I plan a total of 5 articles, one for each aspect and a final one to bring it all together and discuss the "so what"; the worth and use of the guides.  From what I'm looking at in the notes right now, I think they're going to be very helpful in my setting building.  Hopefully they will be helpful to you as well.

Before I go, here is a summary of the aspects of magic in society I have noted and will be posting:

  • Caster Personalities/Purpose
  • Accessibility
  • Attitudes and Reactions (of the populous)
  • Saturation Levels

The Testing

When you're editing and proofreading a work of fiction, I imagine it would be useful to keep a set of notes to track consistency with character descriptions, events, behaviors, etc. When editing a game, however, this doesn't work as well, because there is so much that needs to be tracked. The only way (that I've found) to make sure your editing is sufficiently extensive is to play-test the material.

One Small Step...

... for me, one giant leap for Renaissance. Over the holiday weekend I finalized the latest editing of Renaissance: The Rebirth, 2nd ed., completed the rough table of contents, converted to PDF and have ordered my first test printing! I'm now working on designing a number of adventures to test the system with and a condensed rule-set for play-testers to use. Once those are complete I will be looking for people who are able and willing to run test games and provide me with feedback on their experiences. Once that process has begun, I will also be looking for an artist who can draw in the desired style and within my price-range for keeping the final book affordable.

If you're interested in running a few test games and think you and your group can provide effective feedback please contact me at renaissancetherebirth (at) gmail dot com.

You know what grinds my gears?

It really grinds my gears when ... I'm at work, and I call someone in response to an e-mail I received just minutes after receiving it and then have a conversation with them answering all their questions... and then I get another e-mail from them just a few minutes later, asking the questions again but now with multiple punctuation, as if I've been ignoring them. That really grinds my gears.