PLOT POINT OPTIONS: DETERMINISTIC MAGIC SYSTEM
If your game calls for a magic system that features a technology-like
predictabiliity and scientific metaphysics, then the Deterministic
Magic System (DMS) might be the option for you. If you're a refugee
from a system like D&D or Pathfinder, this might be for you.
There is a spell list of spells with set in-game effects, which is
organized according to the power of the spell. (When I say "There is
a spell list," I mean: go create a spell list.) The simplest spells,
with the least effect, are called cantrips. Spells of correspondingly
higher and higher complexity and effect are grouped into "Spells of
the First Circle", "Incantations of the Second Circle," etc.
Each grouping of spells becomes a TRAIT for the character. So for
example, Tim the Enchanter might have traits of: Cantrips (Good +3/5D)
and Initiate of the First Circle (Fair +2/4D).
Under each of these TRAITS, individual spells are TWEAKS. To continue
the example with Tim:
- Cantrips (Good +3/5D) [Ghostly Butler, Impressive Visage, Rave Lights]
- First Circle (Fair +2/4D) [Smiting Fist, Legs of the Grasshopper, Read
In the DMS, casting a spell works like resolving any other character
action, using any other TWEAK. The Success Target of a spell casting
is equal to its "Circle" in successes, with the lowest grouping of
spells (Cantrips) needing one success.
Thus for Tim to cast Read Arcane Runes, he could elect to spend a PLOT
POINT to tap the TWEAK (see the ACTION RESOLUTION section of PPC), or
he would roll 5D (4D TRAIT + 1D TWEAK), hoping to achieve at least 2
successes, since the spell is a First Circle spell (one above the
When the attempt fails or achieves a marginal success, the GM and
player narrate an appropriate arcane complication to the resolution of
- A surge of uncontrolled magical energy stuns everyone in the room.
- The spell strikes the caster or an ally instead of the intended
- The spell takes effect at a random location within the spell's
- The spell's effect on the target is contrary to the spell's
- The spellcaster suffers some minor but bizarre effect related
to the spell in some way.
- A random innocuous item or items suddenly appear in the
- The spell's effect is delayed. Sometime within the next few hours,
the spell activates. The spell goes off in the general direction of
the original target, up to the spell's maximum range if the target
has moved away.
- The caster can't cast spells for 1D rounds.
- The caster is dazed for 1 round.
- The caster is knocked unconscious.
- The casters hair stands on end for 1D rounds.
- The caster aquires a squeaky voice.
- There is a very loud noise, like a bang, in addition to
the failure to cast the spell.
- An enormous shower of lights appears around the caster
illuminating him for all to see.
- Anything held by the caster explodes into fire and forces
her to drop it (no damage though).
- The caster turns a neon color for 1D hours.
- A random location on the caster's body is rendered paralyzed for
1D rounds. If this is the head or chest the character is prone but
- A spirit, demon or extraplanar entity is summoned to the area.
- A person, object, building or portion of the terrain is teleported
from some other part of the game world to the caster's location.
- The caster's mind is slowed, and further castings take 1D times
longer than normal.
- The spell works twice as well as expected.
- The caster ages a full year in an instant.
- Wild magical energy bursts forth, disfiguring the caster and
stunning her for 1D rounds.
- The caster attracts the enmity of a demon, who attacks
- All of the hair on the caster's body falls out.
- Some hideous monstrosity from the Underworld or Outer Void becomes
greatly enamored of the caster.
- The caster gains some previously unknown arcane knowledge, but
loses some currently held.
- Every being in the game world who died on this day is suddenly
alive again, having spent a few hours in the Underworld.
- Ooops, caster dies.