Magical Burst Development Stuff

I had kind of hoped that my next post about Magical Burst would be the release of the next version, but I’ve wound up setting myself up with a lot of work to do before it’ll be ready.

One thing I’m doing is a lot of writing in general, filling in advice and even setting information in more detail. I’m trying to better articulate the aesthetic for magic and the youma for example. In Madoka Magica, it’s as though characters don’t have spells so much has colors of paint they can use to scribble all over reality. Mami uses magical flintlock rifles, but that goes anywhere from hauling out a single one to making about a dozen appear to creating a giant cannon version for her finisher. I also want to dig into the characterization of the youma a bit more, about how destructive they are emotionally.[1] I’m also filling out tables of Secrets and Youma Motivations, and I expanded the magical girl costume tables. More importantly, I’m trying to properly clarify and nail down a lot of things that had been entirely too vague in previous versions of the game, like running out of resolve, stealing Oblivion Seeds, when Fallout kicks in, etc. There’s also the stuff with Shocks that I mentioned previously.

I have quite a bit to do in the way of digging into the actual rules. Overall I’m doing more refinement and less adding novel elements, but there are a couple key things I’m now planning to add.

Looking at one of the /tg/ threads I found out about someone’s “Magical Burst ReWrite Edition.” I don’t want to steal from it, but I do really like their idea of giving magical girls different specializations similar to D&D4e’s roles. I myself like games that give characters a decent amount of mechanical differentiation, so I’m hoping to pursue this route, though I’m not totally sure what I want the specializations to be.

That dovetails into some stuff I’m doing tinkering with the combat mechanics. I’m adding something like the Movement and Engagement rules that have appeared in numerous F.E.A.R. games. I really like semi-abstract movement and positioning type rules, but for Magical Burst I need them to be a bit more fluid than the Meikyuu Kingdom style battlefield concept allows, on account of magical girls can potentially do so many different kinds of things with magic, including the most outlandish modes of movement. (It also gives me an excuse to get printable cardstock magical girl and youma minis made.) 13th Age does have something kind of similar to this, though without the “engagement” vocabulary. I think it does a good job of creating a distinction between melee and ranged combat,[2] which I’m hoping will make magical battles a little less like a series of attack rolls. I also like it for how it gives me some more things to hang crunchy bits on, and I think it’s going to be really helpful in terms of the aforementioned specializations.

With NaNoWriMo I’ve tended to go to extremes of not trying or cranking out the requisite 50,000 words, if just barely in time for the end of November. This year I had originally been planning on trying to do a sci-fi comedy story (“Tiny Aliens”), but with magical girls on the brain I decided to make an attempt at the Magical Burst novel I’ve been wanted to do, Magical Girl Radiant Yuna. (Which will indeed concern the same Yuna and Makoto from the intro comic script.) If I manage to do NaNoWriMo it’s going to put work on the game itself on hold throughout November, but it’ll be a strong step towards getting the one tie-in thing I really wanted to do for it. As I mentioned earlier, I want the novel to have full game stats and such for the relevant characters in an appendix in the back.

Another really cool thing that a fan did was Rabbit Eclair went and made a magical cipher. Madoka Magica makes extensive use of a special “rune” alphabet, which fans managed to deciper despite the text spanning English, Japanese, and German (with many quotes from Faust) and three different variant fonts, and I really want the final Magical Burst book to have a similar magical script of its own. I hadn’t been able to find anything quite right, but the “Magical Burstnary” is just about perfect. (Plus it obliquely fits what I want to do with the backstory for the novel.)

Update: NaNoWriMo has begin! I put up a blog post about it on Studio UFO (my non-RPG blog site), and you can check my progress on my NaNo profile.

[1]I based the sample tsukaima in the book on the Seven Deadly Sins, and I was looking for a comparable theme for the youma. I wound up going with basing them off of the tracks of Nine Inch Nails’ “The Downward Spiral.” I’ve been wanting to do something with the pictures that album puts in my head for ages now, though I never would have guessed that I’d find the perfect place to do so in a magical girl RPG.

[2]That also means players need to decide if their Magical Weapons are melee or ranged, which in turn leads to the realization that it’s rather arbitrary. You could have a magical girl who magically throws swords instead of doing actual melee combat with them, and if your Magical Weapon is a car or tea set you can potentially go either way.

6 thoughts on “Magical Burst Development Stuff

  1. For my own games, I did a hacksaw-take on specializations – aligning one with each of the *applications* of magical attributes, and giving them each a decently-sized list of effects in theme with it. One that was offensive, one that was defensive, one that was supportive.. etc. I never got around to finishing the second step due to my game going on temporary hiatus and wanting to wait for the fourth draft before I got any deeper, but the idea was that once you’d filled out the list of advances for the first time, you got another choice of three second-tier (paragon?) specializations, allowing you to choose to double down on your original focus or to dip into one of the other two. Either way, you’d get access to an additional short list of more powerful effects you could choose.

    The idea of binding them to a tighter/more thematic effect list rather than using passive +numbers or anything was twofold. The first is that it keeps things relatively concise – you could fit a list of ten effects and all their text on a single page with room to spare (even if it’s long text, hello support specialization) for fluff-stuff and anything else, without involving excessive complexity (I add what to what again? Oh shit, I forgot my damage bonus.. again). The second is that it allows for a degree of control over establishing niches and limiting any potential excesses – you know, for instance, that your Striker-archetype is the only one with access to effect X, and so there’s no reason to worry in particular that your Defender-archetype might turn into a guaranteed murderhouse by using effect Y on a double attack.. etc.

    Shit, that was a bunch of unnecessary words, even if I could go on about that all day. In any event.. considering how compelling the game has been for my group in its totally unfinished state, I’m pretty excited for the future prospects of the game (and it hopefully getting the love and attention it deserves, because it’s a pretty clever thing you’ve got going here).

  2. I’ve been running an ‘invisible numbers’ game with a modified version of draft three, and the players seem to love it. I’ll be interested to see what you come up with for the next draft.

  3. i just wanted to say thank you for making magical burst! although i’m running a game using re-write (well, a re-write of re-write), i still really like the base version. anyway, apart from saying thank you, i’d like to give the gift of graphics! here’s a title image i illustrated today.
    if you still don’t have art for the pdf, and you’re interested in using the graphics of some random internet stranger, let me know, because i’d be delighted to help!

  4. For the magic system, you may want to check out Miracles in Nobilis- they operate on a scale of 0-9, and each level does a specific thing- for example, Domain 4 lets you create, summon, or animate whatever your Domain is, along with anything that is of a lower level miracle that fits conceptually into your action, such as creating lots of guns and magically reinforcing the bullets. It’s on the extreme side of flexibility and the system is diceless, but it could be useful to look at.

  5. You know, I’m pretty sure the guy who made ReWrite did it with the intent of making Magical Burst better (and specifically more mechanically solid) to which end, incorporating his changes into the main fork would probably be a positive.

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