Concept: one of those tabletop RPG settings where the Big Shiny Artifact is the source of all magic, except the Big Shiny Artifact got blown up hundreds of years ago, and in the intervening span individual communities figured out how to make their own Little Shiny Artifacts, so in the setting’s present day, each community has its own idiosyncratic magic system that only works in that community and its immediate environs.

This is all a framing device for a roguelike-style campaign where the player characters and their basic traits are persistent from scenario to scenario, but they start each scenario at “level one” (or its system-specific equivalent) because the game’s character advancement mechanics entirely revolve around mastering the local magic system, and magic items acquired in one community don’t work anywhere else, so the party has to start over from scratch advancement-wise each time they move on to a new town.

(The player characters are, of course, presumed to be exceptionally rapid at picking up on new magic systems, allowing them to speedrun the customary zero-to-hero trajectory over the course of each adventure, but there will always be a few locals who’ve had much longer than they have to get the hang of it and have made good use of that time, handily explaining why every random-ass village has some sort of godlike boss monster living in that cave over there.)

The unique nature of each community’s magic system and the player characters’ scattershot approach to mastering it would be mechanically reflected by the traits/moves/feats/spells/etc. that are available to each character on level-up being randomly determined. These traits would be drawn from a “deck” of options (which may be implemented as a literal card deck if you have a printer, some cardstock, and a lot of time to kill), with each scenario specifying a unique “deck list” for the community in which it takes place. This is, of course, entirely a pretext for implementing roguelike-style drops in a conventional gain-XP-to-level-up advancement system.

(Possibly there could be some sort of metaprogression mechanic that allows player characters to purchase persistent traits which allow the player to manipulate their trait draws in some way?)

@shinobicyrus replied:

oooh this is quite the plotbunny. Do the local Artifacts *have* to stay in a particular place or can they be moved? Stolen and put somewhere else. Have a Mobile village wandering about with its own weird magic system?

For sanity’s sake, let us presume that the Artifacts can be moved, but that they don’t generate a local magic system until they’ve been properly placed in a suitable shrine (where the definitions of both “suitable” and “shrine” can vary wildly based on the nature of the particular artifact), and that once they have, their sphere of influence takes a considerable length of time to fully manifest.

(Conversely, an enshrined Artifact very strenuously objects to any attempt to move it unless the proper deactivation rituals have been performed!)


#story ideas I will never write #games #roguelikes

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