With the writing of the Traveller’s Handbook well underway the time has come to look at magic on Hopeless. Designing a magic system is tricky (no pun intended), particularly as we wanted it to be far removed from the point-and-squirt variety that tends to infest RPGs. We also wanted it to be simple, customisable and have a feel that sat well within the Hopeless environment. No much of a challenge, really.
Pause to breathe deeply.
The solution was to develop not one, but two systems. Did you know that the pretty little blue flowers of Speedwell (Veronica montana) will attract birds to peck out your enemy’s eyes, or that all the doors in a house should be opened when someone dies or their spirit will cause havoc? Neither did I, until I started basing Hopeless magic on British folklore. Without giving too much away we have a simple magic system that most characters would know at least some of and that requires simple physical components to cast. I may need to alter some things to make them fit more into Hopeless’ environs, but the vast array of weirdness available means that not only will Hopeless RPG have a very physical magic system, but it is one that players can customise enormously.
So, that deals with part one. The second part was to develop something more powerful and dangerous, something that only the bravest (or most unhinged) would meddle with. Welcome to the world of Demons.
Demons infest Hopeless, causing havoc and sewing disharmony. They are arrogant, powerful and dismissive of humans. Imagine just how miffed they can become when trapped and bound. This is the focus of the second magic system. Rules for making traps, binding demons and sending them to do good or ill have been developed, although there is a lot of tweaking still to do.
In an effort to ensure the game retains the feel of Tom and Nimue’s vision the names and effects of the spells are very, well, Hopeless. Spells generally are ambiguous. They may cause harm or heal, depending on the nature or inclination of the caster (they’re not called Dichotomies for nothing) and, with names like The Joy and Pain of Living or The Snapping of a Twig, they should help in enveloping players deep in the darkness of the Island.
Onwards, ever onwards…