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Introducing Magic to your Universe

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  • Introducing Magic to your Universe

    Presumably like many on this forum, my group and I went to see Dr. Strange when it debuted. And (half) of us absolutely loved it. We loved the magic, we loved how different the action felt, we loved how creative it was, etc.

    We were fans.

    And, naturally, it got us thinking. Up until now, our homebrew setting had not included "magic". Oh, we had demons and cults and pseudo-mystical artifacts, but there were no spells, no wizards, or anything else that couldn't be explained away as some form of super-science or cosmic power. There was plenty of foundation there, but nothing close to full on magic.

    After seeing Strange, we knew this had to be changed. With our current campaign coming to an end, and another player wanting to GM his own setting, now seemed like a good time for those who wanted to explore superhero magic to have our own little "mini-group" that could do that.

    I have been chosen as GM, and I was wondering if anyone had any advice for how to do magic in Mutants and Masterminds. From a rules perspective it seems simple enough, but is there anything I should watch out for? Things to avoid? Things to seek out?

    I understand setting can be a big part of a magic system, so for those who want to know how we plan to begin our "Magic Campaign", here are the deets:

    In our homebrew universe, the Cosmos is comprised of the Realms of Order and Chaos. Order is considered to be the "traditional" universe we live in, while Chaos is the home of lesser demons and Demon Lords who are the personifications of the Nine Sins. For time immemorial the forces of Order have had to deal with the occasional disturbances caused by Chaos. Until this point, Order and Chaos have been understood to be the only two realities and that they were very distinct. Black and White. One of the concepts we plan to introduce in our new campaign is the concept of the Grey Realms. Those worlds caught between the two ends of the spectrum, where orderly things like "physics" are more open to interpretation and chaotic elements like magic are more prevalent.

    In our lore, around 25 years ago a demonic incursion resulted in the destruction of Denver (though fortunately most of the civilians were evacuated, yay PCs). Our new campaign will start during this attack. Amidst this influx of demonic energy and portals to the realm of Chaos, one human will be caught up in the fallout of the event and sucked into passages betweens Order and Chaos. He will awaken in one the Grey Realms (a traditional fantasy setting to ease into the concept of magic before traveling to others) and there be taught about magic and the nature of reality.

    Our ultimate goal for the campaign is that when it is through this magic superhero will be able to return to Earth, in our current timeline, and help introduce the concept of magic into the day to day superheroism we already have in place.

  • #2
    Re: Introducing Magic to your Universe

    SURPRISE PLOT TWIST: Superpowers don't occur in the real Realm of Pure Order, so your setting was a Grey Realm all along! All things beyond the mundane only exist because of the Chaos in its given universe; the more Chaotic the universe is, the wilder and less bound to science these things may be. Superscience and cosmic powers are possible with relatively little Chaos, making your setting a Light Grey Realm. Darker Grey Realms will have magic; they might have superscience and cosmic powers as well, but those will likely be overlooked or ignored. Whatever universe you're in, you have to play by it's rules. You can't use a power in a certain universe if it doesn't have that descriptor and this has some important consequences:
    1. When you go to a universe more Orderly than your home universe (or at the very least, the universe you obtained your powers in), you're very likely to lose some or all of your powers. The greater the difference in Orderliness, the chances of you losing power increase, as does the amount of power you'd lose. This power loss can result in getting wrecked by muggle scrubs, sudden death or complete failure to exist; not even the great Demon Lords are safe from this.
    2. On the other hand, going to a more Chaotic universe will almost never increase your power, though there is still a non-zero chance of it occurring.
    3. The comparative Ordliness between universes is a good rule of thumb to determine whether power loss is likely, but it's not a perfect method and going to another universe can cause power loss regardless of how Chaotic it is relative to yours. If it doesn't have the proper descriptors, then you don't get use your powers, though as explained below this actually happens less than you think it would.
    4. The multiverse is actually pretty accommodating, and "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" is true in a way Arthur C. Clarke couldn't have predicted. If you go to another universe that doesn't contain the descriptors for your power but is still has descriptors that can do something very, very close to your power (which usually means it's equally or more Chaotic, but occasionally a less Chaotic universe will do), then the descriptor of your power will change to an appropriate one that exists in the other universe. Sometimes this is as subtle as exchanging one type of magic for another, but sometimes it's more extreme, like turning superscience into magic. For instance, a large brick that gets his powers from a mutation travels to a universe where magic is the only power descriptor. When he gets there, he isn't a mutant anymore, he's an ogre of above average intelligence and possibly looks as well.
    5. You can only travel to another universe using descriptors found in that universe. Since, of course, you can only start the process on your end if your universe has those descriptors as well, you can only travel to a universe without any descriptors that your universe has by traveling to one or more intermediate universes first. Furthermore, it's a big question whether or not it's even possible to travel to another universe by "mundane" means. If it is, then you can jump to any universe from any universe in one trip, even from the Realm of Pure Order to the Realm of Pure Chaos. If it isn't, then some trips will take multiple jumps, and no one will ever be able to travel to or from the Realm of Pure Order unless Chaos manages to overtake the entire multiverse.

    Now, you may be looking at that list and thinking "So how did the demons get to my setting if there's no magic in it?" Well, short version is that the demons want the entire multiverse to be their domain, which means they need to make every realm 100% Chaotic. 25 years ago the demons, after a whole lot of hard work, managed to temporarily 'darken' your setting enough so that magic could exist alongside superscience and cosmic powers. This time, though, they've permanently darkened it, so unless the PCs find a way to undo what they've done (assuming they even want to), magic is here to stay.

    I dunno, that's just what I came up with.


    • #3
      Re: Introducing Magic to your Universe

      Holy crap . . . wow, thank you so much for all the many wonderful (and super interesting) ideas. Number 5 in particular is one of the things you could build an entire campaign around. Really appreciate all the great ideas, thank you.