Unknown Armies: Adept Magick

  • 8 Replies
Unknown Armies: Adept Magick
« on: December 27, 2011, 02:47:57 PM »
This is for the same hack as THIS. I'm starting a new topic because that thread is already full of a bunch of really wordy posts and I wanted to pull magick out and discuss it separately.

I'm not going to repeat some of the basics I already mentioned in the other thread, so you should read that before reading this. The first and second posts have the stuff on magick, so you can read just those if you aren't interested in other UA hack related topics...

Magick Moves

First off, there will be four basic magick moves. Really, there are three magick moves, but the Creation adepts (mechanomancers and narco-alchemists) have a separate move instead of the three the other kinds of adepts have).

Every school (except the Creation schools) will have the first two options but only some will have Blasts. The Creation schools don't have blasts or formula spells. They always have their magick creation move and they might or might not have random spells.

  • Formula spells
  • Random spells
  • Blasts
  • Creation

Formula spells

These are the most predictable and familiar spells. They're probably what will be used most often by most adepts. These are selected at character creation (see below) and new formulas can be created and/or purchased later with advances.

Each formula spell you know will have a cost (sometimes multiple costs for different variations) and an effect that you can spend Charges on (similar to how you spend Hold). I'll talk more about formula spells and how they're set up later.

The move will be based on seize by force and will look something like this (this is a very rough draft with some placeholders that need to be filled in later):

When you cast a formula spell that you know, roll+weird. On a hit, you cast the spell successfully (spend the indicated charges), and choose options. On a 10+, pick 3. On a 7-9, pick 2:
  • there are no unintended minor unnatural phenomena
  • you don't suffer a minor backlash
  • unhardened witnesses freeze or run (GM's choice) at the unnatural display
  • you do not leave yourself vulnerable or draw unwanted attention
  • you succeed particularly well (I'll list some of the options from spell casting "cherries" from UA)
On a miss, either the spell fails (no charges are spent) or it succeeds and choose 2:
  • the spell costs double the regular charges
  • suffer a major backlash
  • significant unnatural phenomena occurs

The "backlash" and "unnatural phenomena" choices above aren't spelled out yet. Unnatural phenomena is basically handing the GM an unnatural move on a silver platter. Backlash is probably a list of choices based on the spell casting "sour cherries" list from UA. I need to flesh that list out.

Basically, if you get a minor hit (7-9), something bad is going to happen--either one consequence (vulnerable/unwanted attention, backlash, or minor unnatural phenomena), or two consequences if you want to go for a bonus (they freak out or you succeed strongly). If you get a strong hit (10+), you can either choose that nothing bad happens (which usually also means that you blocked your opponent's move, if applicable) or else you can go for bonuses at the cost of one or more consequences.

Random spells

Random spells are different from formula spells in two main ways: You make up an effect that fits within the random magickal domain of your school (which is more limited in many ways), and it's significantly harder and more prone to unnatural phenomena, even when successful.

I need to give some more guidance about what random spells can do. I also need to give some guidelines for how much charges they should cost. Like UA, this will be pretty flexible in what it can do (within the narrow confines of the school's random magick domain) and will tend to be more expensive than formula spells would be.

Again, this is a rough draft of the move and it may change:

When you cast a random spell, roll+weird. On a 10+, you cast the spell (spend charges), plus a minor unnatural phenomena occurs. On a 7-9, you cast the spell (spend charges), but also choose 2:
  • the unnatural phenomena is only minor instead of significant
  • you don't suffer a minor backlash
  • you do not leave yourself vulnerable or draw unwanted attention
On a miss, either the spell fails (no charges are spent) or it succeeds and choose 2:
  • the spell costs double the regular charges
  • suffer a major backlash
  • significant unnatural phenomena occurs


Blasts are a combat move; charges are spent, basically, to create a weapon with harm (and tags?). This move is usually used in place of seize by force, where the blast spell is your "force" and the consequences are expanded to include magickal mayhem. For situations outside of toe-to-toe combat (like using a blast spell to strike from ambush or to kill a tied-up and helpless target, etc., cast a formula spell and spend charges to determine the harm.

My current idea is that you use the seize by force move as written, with two differences:
  • spend charges to determine the harm (and tags?), and
  • on a failure, you suffer backlash or unnatural phenomena, in addition to whatever other moves the GM chooses to make.

I expect that I'll wind up writing a custom move to use, rather than modifying seize by force, but I'm running out of time and I'll have to come back to it.


I haven't really worked on this one as much and don't have a draft of a move yet. Mechanomancers make clockwork machines that have stats and moves of their own. Narco-alchemists imbue special magickal effects into drugs (which still have their innate effect). Any new "Creation" schools might do something similar but different.

It seems to me like you create a thing and then imbue something special into it (whether that's autonomous action, magickal effects if imbibed, etc.)

I'll have to flesh it out later.

Formula Spells

I'm out of time, so I'll make this my next reply.

Re: Unknown Armies: Adept Magick
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2011, 04:32:44 PM »
Formula Spells

At the most basic level, formula spells work like they do in UA. Each has a cost in charges (e.g. "1 minor charge", "2 significant charges", etc.) and each has an effect. The effects are descriptions of what happens if you cast the spell successfully; the moves to cast formula spells are covered in the first post above.

Effects and Sympathies (DIY Spells)

One of my goals is to make it pretty straight-forward to invent new schools and new formula spells. This is all still in the rough draft phase, but I'm thinking something like this:

There are a limited number of spell effects that cover the most common uses of magick in UA. It's possible for the GM or players to come up with new effects if it's really necessary, but try not to.

Each school has a list of Sympathies that are part of its Domain (a Domain is the core concept of a school's magick). Sympathies are what formula spells can be done to or with. If you're familiar with Ars Magica, they're sort of like the Forms, except that they're more limited and work more along thematic lines than taxonomic lines (e.g. Ars Magica has Forms like animals, plants, mental, fire, but the plutomancy school has Sympathies like money, bargains, prices/values, money-related machines, etc.).

Each formula spell is a combination of a basic effect (sort of like the Technique or  "verb" in Ars Magica) and a Sympathy. The same basic effect with a different Sympathy (e.g. an urbanomancer spell to look into a window and see what that window has "seen" in the last 24 hours vs. a spell to catch a rat, bond it, then send it off and control it and see through its eyes are the same basic effect with different Sympathies and they are different formula spells).

Another note is that there will be minor effects (which cost minor charges) and significant effects (which cost significant charges). Like UA, there won't be a list of major effects, but rather some ideas of the kinds of things a major charge could be used for.

Effects by School Theme

There will be a number of effects (such as seeing through the eyes--literal or figurative--of a sympathetic connection) and there will be considerable overlap between the five themes of schools (see the other UA thread linked above for a list of the school Themes). However, each Theme will have a different set of options and there can be differences between the  same effect for different Themes (e.g. the same effect might cost a Control school 2 minor charges but cost an Acquisition or Hierarchy school 1 significant charge, while not being available at all to the other two Themes).

Also, not every school will have every effect (e.g Dipsomancers, Entropomancers, and Epideromancers are all "Control" Theme schools and there is overlap in their formula spell effects, but each of the three schools only has a subset of the Control Theme effects).

When creating a new school, you'll pick a certain number of the effects from that Theme (it probably won't be an exact number--more like "pick 7-9 of the following"). Then you'll assign a single Sympathy to that particular effect (defining the Sympathies of the School is another step of school creation). Then you'll name that effect and describe it. Viola! You've made a list of formula spells for your new school.

The DIY formula spell lists are also handy because as advanced advancement options, adepts can create new formula spells beyond the normal options available for their School.

Core Schools' Spells

My assumption is that the majority of players will pick one of the twelve core schools in the UA 2nd ed. core book.

Accordingly, I'm going to create the formula spell lists for the main 12 schools. This means that if you play a core school, you don't have to make a formula spell list and it also acts as examples for creating new schools.


I'm currently working on deconstructing the formula spells in UA, converting them to AW mechanics, and making a list of effects. Then I'll need to split them among the Themes (who has what effects?), etc. I'll post my work-in-progress as I go.

As always, comments welcome...

Re: Unknown Armies: Adept Magick
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2011, 11:52:14 AM »
More on casting moves

Revised casting moves

In the first post above, I roughly drafted out three casting moves (I'm ignoring the creation magic, like mechanomancers and narco-alchemists, because they're a separate thing). As I've been thinking about it, I've revised it a little. There's still 3 different casting moves, but the conditions when you use them has been tweaked:

  • cast under fire: when you cast a formula spell while the shit's raining down on you and it's do-or-die (basically like the blast move above, except the key isn't what kind of spell you're casting, but whether someone or something's trying to harm you or screw you over right the fuck now)
  • bitch slap reality: when cast a formula spell to get what you want and no one and nothing is breathing right down your neck (identical to the cast a formula spell move above--it's all about whether you cast successfully and what are the consequences from the magick itself)
  • winging it: when you try to cast a spell that isn't a formula spell (identical to the cast a random spell move above--it's similar to formula spells except it's pretty much a given things go at least a little wonky and the question is how much)

In case it isn't clear from the above descriptions, my thinking here is based on the consequences of weak hits and strong hits. Random spells almost always have unwanted unnatural phenomena, and are harder to pull off successfully. If you're being shot at, then (like seize by force) the questions of whether you succeed and whether you avoid what they're doing are both included in the same roll. If you have a relatively calm moment and you're casting a formula spell, then the focus of the move is on how well you cast and how much you keep down the consequences.

Stats for moves

I was originally thinking that Weird would be rolled for all magic, but I've changed my mind. Weird is still a big part of the unnatural in the setting and is important to adepts; it represents their grasp of the weird, how well they can think contradictory, paradoxical thoughts at the same time, etc.. It's used for casting random spells, but not formula spells (which are internalized beyond the point where you're making it up as you go).

Here's what I'm thinking about stats for each move:

  • cast under fire: roll+cool (bullets are flying, but you better not let that make you sloppy, chump)
  • bitch slap reality: roll+sharp* (perception and brains are key here--you know what to do, so do it right, you know?)
  • winging it: roll+weird (it's all about gonzo thinking and wrestling reality into shape on-the-fly)

* I'm thinking about making bitch slap reality use different stats depending on which Theme of school you have. If I do that, I think Acquisition and Hierarchy schools use sharp, Control schools use hard(?) (I also considered cool, but like it being different than winging it ), and Hierarchy schools use hot.

Re: Unknown Armies: Adept Magick
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2011, 01:53:58 PM »
Charging Moves

I've taken a first stab at charging moves. I started with Control schools (Dipsomancy, Entropomancy, and Epideromancy), because they seem the most complicated in many ways (the others I think will all be variants of gigs and/or the other surplus/want moves).

All schools have a charging move and each charging move has two parts ("on-screen" and "downtime", basically). Control schools emphasize the on-screen stuff (you make a move in a scene and get charges), while the downtime stuff is really only for when there's a week or more of downtime. Also, "downtime" charging isn't cumulative (i.e. entropomancers don't roll for each week of downtime, they can roll once if it's been a week or more--whether that's a week or ten years).

Control School Charging Moves

One of the reasons that I did the Control schools first, is that each of the three is pretty different, even though the underlying concept is the same.

Note: To start, I'm basically using the same charge structure as UA (the number of charges they can get and the costs of spells), meaning that a Dipsomancer can get 20 or more charges in a day. I may simplify that by shrinking the pools (everyone gets fewer charges, but spells are cheaper). Honestly, I want to get things worked out first by translating UA, then I'll have a better idea of all the moving pieces so I can make it fit AW better.

Dipsomancy Charging

Get drunk. Every drink (as long as it impacts you, basically meaning ignoring the first drink) gives a minor charge. This is a really simple move:

When you take a drink that increases your impairment, gain a charge. This is a minor charge unless you are drinking out of a historically significant or potent vessel*, in which case it's a significant charge, or if you're drinking a unique liquor*, in which case it's a major charge. Dipsomancers have no "downtime" charging because every time the sober up they lose all charges so they aren't able build up charges over extended periods.

* using the same criteria as UA

Taboo: If you ever sober up, you immediately lose all charges.

Simple enough, except that it means I had to come up with a system for how being drunk impairs you. Here's my first stab (I'm fairly happy with it, but I think there's room for improvement).

Getting Drunk

Alright, so there's a "drunk clock". In theory anyone can use this, but it's really meant for dipsomancers, who are always walking this tightrope between getting more charges without impairing themselves to the point of uselessness or passing out and waking up sober (and stripped of all charges). (For other characters, this level of detail usually isn't necessary--just slap a penalty on them or assign them a rating on the drunk clock without counting individual drinks.)

  • 3:00: (2 drinks) buzzed; -1sharp & -1cool
  • 6:00: (6 drinks) drunk; -2sharp & -2cool, -1 every other stat
  • 9:00: (10 drinks) smashed; -2 all stats
  • 10:00: (13 drinks) plastered; must act under fire every hour or so not to pass out (consequences from weak hits should play on being plastered: terrible judgment, lack of coordination, social blunders, etc., or they can cause 1-harm, bump you up +1-drunk, etc.)--if you pass out, you wake up sober (losing all charges if you're a dipsomancer)
  • 11:00: (16 drinks) bombed; -3 all stats; black-out (you don't remember anything that happens until you sober up)
  • 12:00:(18 drinks) alcohol poisoning; you automatically pass out, take 2-harm  (plus another 1-harm if not treated within an hour)--if this puts you to 9:00 harm or beyond, you are unstable as normal and likely to die if you don't get treatment

Number of drinks

One of the key concepts in the above chart is the "number of drinks". This is included because dipsomancers get a charge for each drink. Basically the first drink is "free", the second drink bumps you up to 3:00, around the 6th drink you move to 6:00, and so on.

It isn't quite as simple as that, though, because you sober up slowly if you aren't drinking. Every hour that you drink nothing, your "number of drinks" drops by one. Note that you only drop if you have no drinks. You can't drink one drink an hour and simply maintain your current level; you're either going up (if you have any drinks) or down (if you have no drinks at all for an hour).

(Note that the number of drinks is based on UA's alcohol impairment chart so that it will balance roughly the number of charges gained--I make no claims that it's medically accurate. Also note that it reflects how much a dipsomancer--obviously a hard drinker--can consume and makes no attempts to incorporate things like body mass or other factors that affect how much you can drink. For anyone but a dipsomancer, ignore the number of drinks and just use the clock, moving them as feels right.)

(It would be simpler to do something like say "every time you move up a drunk clock segment you gain a charge", rather than using number of drinks, but then the number of charges dipsomancers get would drop dramatically. I may decide to make spells cheaper and go that way, but as I mentioned above, right now I'm try to keep charges on the same scale as they are in UA until I have a better idea what the whole magick system will look like.)


I haven't really thought about this in detail, so this is just quick thoughts. I'd lean towards saying that if you reach 6:00 or later on the drunk clock, you wake up with a -1ongoing that clears as soon as the hangover clears (GM discretion).

Entropomancer Charging

Entropomancers are about taking pointless risks (that aren't for any reason except getting charges); stuff like playing catch with a knife, driving blind, playing Russian roulette, doing nothing when someone shoots at you, etc. There's also a trade-off between the size of the stakes and the odds. A 10% chance of something really bad can get you a charge similar to a high chance of something minor happening.

Here's the move:

When you take a pointless risk, gain 1 charge of the type indicated by the stakes and roll+stakes. On a 10+, both. On a 7-9, choose 1:
  • you don't lose the stakes
  • you are invigorated, take +1forward
On a miss, you lose the stakes.

When you have a week or more of downtime in the fiction, pick a minor stakes and roll+stakes. On a 10+, take 3 minor charges or 1 significant charge (you choose). On a 7-9, choose 1:
  • take 3 minor charges and lose the stakes
  • get no charges and don't lose the stakes
On a miss, you get no charges and you lose the stakes.

Taboo: If you ever let another take a risk you aren't willing to take, you immediately lose all charges.

Minor Stakes:
  • -1: pain or minor embarrasment (-1forward)
  • =0: 1-cash, 1-harm
  • +1: 2-cash, painful injury (-1ongoing for several days), humiliation
  • +2: 3-cash, 2-harm, a piece of gear you care about, very public humiliation, etc.
  • add +1 to the stakes if someone you care about or 5+ innocent bystanders will also suffer if you fail (note: if they are also an entropomancer, you can't take this bonus)

Significant Stakes:
  • +1: 3-harm
  • +2: all your cash, lose something very valuable and irreplaceable
  • +3: death or debility (permanent injury)
  • add +1 to the stakes (except for death or debility) if someone you care about or 5+ innocent bystanders will also suffer if you fail (note: if they are also an entropomancer, you can't take this bonus)

Major Stakes:
  • +1: death for you* and 10 innocent bystanders
  • +2: death for you* and someone you truly love

* This is a very real risk; you can't take a debility--if you lose, you all die, no weaseling out

Magick and other moves can never be used to modify this move--you have to take the risk; if you don't actually take the risk, you don't get the charge. Similarly, if you think you're at risk but actually aren't (e.g. you play Russian roulette with a gun you think is loaded, but it actually isn't) then you don't get the charge (and also don't need to roll, since there's no real danger).

Epideromancer Charging

Epideromancers hurt themselves in exchange for charges. Similar to dipsomancers (who suffer -5% to all skills per drink in the original UA rules), there's a bit of a challenge because the harm clock in AW is far less granular than wound points in UA. Like drinks, saying "every charge requires 1-harm" would dramatically cut down the number of charges an epideromancer could get.

Here's my rough draft of a move that hopefully make each injuries count and still work with AW.

When you hurt yourself deliberately, choose an option below and gain charges as indicated:
  • Small injury: Take 1 minor charge per injury Hold taken (max 4 Hold at a time). You may spend Hold at any time to (choose 1): Take -1 right now or choose an option from the 7-9 list of the suffer harm choices. Healing: Every two days, remove one Hold.
  • Deliberate injury: Take 1 significant charge for each 1-harm taken.  Healing: Harm heals normally, but you can't get medical care from others (that breaks your taboo) and you can't use magick to heal it, so time is the only way to heal these injuries (note that this means going about 6:00 harm means you're going to have to stabilize yourself with mundane first aid to avoid getting worse, meaning there's pretty real practical cap on how much you can do to yourself... assuming you plan on living through it, of course).
  • Permanent injury: Take 1 major charge if you permanently injure yourself (take a debility; -1 to a stat). You may not take more than one debility to the same stat. Healing: You can't. It's permanent, duh.

When you have a week or more of downtime in the fiction, roll+cool. On a 10+, gain +3 minor or +1 significant charges. On a 7-9, gain +1 injury Hold and 3 minor charges. On a miss, choose +1 injury Hold or lose 1 minor charge.

Taboo: If you ever let another modify your body (including medical attention, pedicures, hair cuts, etc.), you immediately lose all charges.


Like I said, everything above is still in a rough form, but I'm pleased with how it's coming together. I think that the other schools will be easier to do charging moves (though I'm not sure how to handle giving up memories for mechanomancers yet...)

Re: Unknown Armies: Adept Magick
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2011, 01:15:42 AM »
As I mentioned in the main UA hack thread (HERE), I've been reading Postmodern Magick for the first time tonight and it's gotten my brain looking at adept moves from a different angle.

Charging Moves (revised thinking)

Here's an excerpt from the "Daily Grind" section in Postmodern Magick:

Quote from: Postmodern Magick, "The Daily Grind" (pg. 14)
The first order of daily business for the competent adept is to build up a charge. When he gets up in the morning, the adept has to assess how much power he has on hand and what sort of threats the day may bring his way[...] Depending on your mystic predilections, the early part of the day is spent on historical tours of the city, a few well-placed sales on the stock market, a quick shag or two, hitting the bottle early, jaywalking through rush hour traffic, or slamming your fingers in the car door a few times[...] The exact method of charge harvesting is going to vary according to the adept’s personal tastes and habits. In its own little way, though, regardless of who the mage is, the process of picking up a mystic charge takes on a sort of work-a-day ritual, though without all of the formalized trappings of the classic, hermetic methods.

I love that vibe of gathering charges being a ritual of sorts that's part of their daily life.

In the post above about charging moves, I talk about some rough ideas for charging moves for the Control schools (dipsomancers, entropomancers, and epideromancers). I like a lot of the stuff in there, but I'm mulling over the idea of moving away from "charge counting" and going to a more streamlined system. I keep thinking that surplus/want and profit/catastrophe are the best model here (maybe combined with some charge counting as an expendable resource like barter?).

Some cautions to myself is that charges need to feel like a limited resource and also the combination of charging rituals and taboos needs to be part of what separates adepts from the rest of the (sane) population. No magickal effects for free, you know? It's one of the 3 core principles of adept magick in UA.

Like I said, I'm still mulling it over.

Re: Unknown Armies: Adept Magick
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2012, 12:53:26 AM »
This last week or so I've been focusing on adept magick. I don't want to just straight across convert UA (if I was going to do that, I'd just play UA with AW techniques--something I've thought about doing more than once). What I want is to make an AW hack that plays like how I've always wanted to run a UA campaign. Accordingly, I'm perfectly willing to take liberties and make changes if I think they get me closer to the essence of what I love about UA.

Formula Spells

Some Thoughts on Spells

  • Formula spells aren't separate rolls--there are separate casting moves (see above) that you roll and if you're successful then you can spend charges for the formula's effect--it's not unlike spending jingle to get the results of having rolled 10+ on a manipulate or seduce move in AW
  • I don't want as many charges as UA has--I want closer to 3 or less minor charges and 3 or less significant charges at a time, and correlated to that, all spells cost a single charge
  • For most spells, you cast the spell instead of making another move (or in some cases to alter a move you just made)--with the casting roll and the charging roll, magick certainly isn't free, but in that moment, it's sort of like cheating, which is the point
  • A minor charge is roughly on par to a automatic weak hit while a significant charge is roughly on par with a strong hit (usually meaning more targets, longer duration, more profound effects, etc.)

Common Patterns Emerging

As a first step, I'm going through and converting each formula spells one-be-one to AW. Next I'll go through it again and clean it up and streamline it. Then I'll go through it again and streamline it again. There's a fair amount of redundancy (especially as I'm converting things to AW mechanics), so I expect there to be less than the roughly 13 formula spells on average per school.

As I'm going through the list, some common types of effects are starting to emerge:

A very common effect is basically doing the effects of a basic move without doing the basic move but ignoring a requirement (like leverage to manipulate) or allowing an effect broader or deeper than normally allowed (like asking questions about the future or seeing things far away through the eyes of a rat)
  • Let Me Check My Books lets a bookworm instantly know a fact in one of their books--they may ask 1 question about a topic in their library (for a significant charge, a blank book is filled up with a cross-referenced dissertation of all the knowledge on the topic in their library)
  • Familiar Face makes anyone who meets the cobweb farmer feel like they know them and be generally inclined to trust and help them--this counts as manipulate or seduce at the weak hit level (they have to give some proof now), but they don't require any leverage (i.e. they can walk up to a total stranger and just ask, but have it count as leverage) or for a significant charge it's as if they rolled 10+ (i.e. they just have to promise)
  • Vermin's Eyes lets the city rat control a rat's movements and see through it's eyes (though switching back to her own senses breaks the connection)--she gets to see things far away and get a question from the read a sitch list

Another common effect is either (very similar to the above, really) is to declare that a move is a success without rolling (a weak hit with a minor charge or a strong hit with a significant charge) or else to retroactively turn a miss into a hit (this one is mostly limited to entropomancers).
  • Hold My Liquor lets the boozehound perform a task without impairment (getting a weak hit for a minor charge or a strong hit for a significant charge), despite being drunkenly impaired otherwise
  • Fortune's Fool lets a bodybag turn a miss into a weak hit after the fact (I win is the significant charge version that turns a miss into a total success, i.e. a strong hit)
  • Common Knowledge lets the cobweb farmer perform a task with fair competence (a weak hit) after looking at someone skilled at that task

Other spells take away a target's action(s).
  • Taste of Chaos by a bodybag makes the target extraordinarily unlucky for an action; they "lose" their next action since they stumble and fail (other consequences depend on the narrative and the GM)
  • Dazzle lets a pornomancer force a target to stand there for an action doing nothing (not really even thinking); Paralysis is the significant charge version and keeps them frozen for up to several hours (both versions allow a PC to try to act anyway, but they are acting under fire
  • The mirror crack'd is an odd and powerful spell by a thespian that cause the target to completely forget themselves (complete amnesia), causes every living thing around her to ignore her, and keeps her from interact with animate or even inanimate objects if the results would be observed (this effect can not be overcome by the target, like some others, but there are still other actions or choices they can make)

Defensive spells are modeled either by giving armor or reducing damage to 0.
  • Drunken Stagger gives the boozehound +1armor for a fight for a minor charge (this stacks with other armor)
  • Luck of the Damned is the significant charge defensive spell of bodybags and reduces a single attack to 0-harm after the fact (as long as there's any possible way to explain the lack of harm as a coincidence(
  • Body Like a Still Pond reduces damage to a fleshworker to 1-harm (combined) for either the three hits or all attacks in the next minute (whichever happens first)--this is also a significant charge spell)

Yet another common type of spell imposes behavior or restricts types of behaviors--these are usually modeled on go aggro (in terms of what the target's choices are and the sense that the caster is forcing behaviors by force)
  • Just a Harmless Drunk keeps others from paying attention to or attacking the boozehound (PCs can still act against them, but they're acting under fire)
  • Aphasia lets a bookworm strip the ability to read, talk, or understand language from a target for a period of time
  • Family Drama lets a vidiot impose the "rules" of a family drama on a situation--the target becomes intensely emotionally interested in the focus (usually the caster); everything focus says is interpreted in the most emotionally-laden way possible (something like "please pass me a drink" gets a response like "it's always about you, isn't it? maybe the rest of us work hard all day, too!")

Sometimes those impositions affect everyone around the target.
  • Gnostic Gossip lets the cobweb farmer implant a rumor that everyone "remembers hearing" about the target (whether they believe it or not is a spearate question)
  • Alone in a Crowd lets the city rat cause the target to be treated as an outsider by everyone they meet except their closest family and friends

Sometimes those impositions affect reality itself.
  • Laff Riot lets a vidiot twist reality for awhile so that serious harm and danger are unlikely (but that embarrassing gaffes and comic falls are much more common)
  • Napoleon of Notting Hill lets the city rat pick a target (they can pick themselves) and that target will rise to a position of authority and respect in their community in the next few months (though the rat can't control or pick what the position will be)

Next, another big category are spells that cause something to happen; it's less about mechanics than it is about being a way to make that thing happen, if that makes sense. You do a thing...
  • Long-distance Call lets a bodybag randomly dial 10 numbers on a phone and the nearest phone to the desired target will start ringing.
  • Face Shift lets the bodybag change several of their features permanently (significant charge versions allow either more dramatic changes or else allow you to mimic specific people temporarily, etc.)
  • Narrowcast and Spraypaint let the vidiot or city rat (respectively) send a message just to their intended recipients.

Then, of course, there are blasts, which do a certain amount of damage, possibly with certain tags attached.

Finally, there's the unique stuff, like changing history, healing, astral projection, soul-sipping, demon summoning, etc., that will probably all be handled as one-offs[/li][/list]

One thing I'm still undecided on is permanent bonuses or changes (especially common for epediromancers and narco-alchemists, though others have them, too). I'm currently leaning towards either just cutting them completely and replaceing them with temporary equivalents (note that effects like changing your appearance can be permanent, no problem) or else making them part of advancement (e.g. the epideromancer has advancement choices that others simply don't, possibly costing charges and advances, but perhaps having less spells). My concern with permanent bonuses from spells is that it seems to mess with the advancement system and changes in AW aren't fine enough to allow lots of small bonuses like UA (where adding a couple percent to a stat or skill is nice, but not huge).

Note that the above list isn't comprehensive by any means. Like I said, I am working on a document, but it's still a total mess and very incomplete.

Anyway, I'm out of time but I wanted to get something down to prove I'm still hacking away :-)

Re: Unknown Armies: Adept Magick
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2012, 01:47:12 AM »
I have to say, I'm confused.

It looks like you're recreating UA completely, using AW resolution in place of UA's mechanics. But, deep down, it's still exactly UA. Same setting, same characters, same play style, same everything. So... I'm confused. Why do all this work?

If you're not doing something different, why not just play UA? It's a really good game.

I don't get it.

Re: Unknown Armies: Adept Magick
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2012, 07:02:18 PM »
If you're not doing something different, why not just play UA? It's a really good game.

Excellent question, John. I've asked myself several times since starting this. I agree that Unknown Armies is a great game as it is and you're right that it isn't worth the work to simply convert it over to the Apocalypse World dice mechanics.

There are several reasons I could give for why I want to hack Unknown Armies into Apocalypse World instead of just playing Unknown Armies with some Apocalypse World techniques--the two biggest being: a) some of my players really hate percentile systems (enough that they've been resistant to playing UA in the past) and b) working on this hack has been fun.

...but neither of those reasons is enough to justify the amount of work (especially since I could get those players to try it anyway if I pushed and pleaded).

To your point, my goal is to not just convert UA straight over. I do want to do something different, even though that hasn't come across in my threads so far.

Part of it is that I've been intentionally taking the approach of thinking about how I would convert it straight over first to give myself a starting point so that I can see more clearly what the core parts are that I want to rip out and then re-envision. I have a tendency to get stuck at the abstract level and never get the details done. Starting with basically a straight-over conversion has been a technique to try and force some discipline on myself. And it's been useful both in refreshing my familiarity with the UA material and improving how well I actually understand how the AW mechanics work under the hood.

But your question brought home that--in spite of my intentions--I have been falling into the rut of simply converting instead of making an AW game that plays like I've always wanted UA to play (and that does things that UA doesn't do or at least doesn't do as well).

Since reading your post, I started almost fresh to create something different than UA with AW dice mechanics. I'm working on the rough draft of my new take on it and I'll link to it in a new thread as soon as its far enough along to be useful. I think that it will be more clear at that point what I'm trying to do. I'm pretty excited about how it's coming along. While a lot of what I'm doing builds on some ideas I've thrown out here, it's pretty different now.

Once I get that up, it will be a lot easier for people to see what I'm doing and make specific comments without wading through my overly-wordy posts... :-P

And I really hope I'll get more comments like this when I'm being unecessarily derivitive of UA instead of doing something different. Your post has pushed me to make a lot better stuff than I would have if I had just continued along as I was going.


Re: Unknown Armies: Adept Magick
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2012, 03:42:16 AM »
Cool. It seems like you're thinking deeply about this and are excited to keep going, so rock on. I totally get where you're coming from and I'm glad my question proved helpful.