Magical Fury and Magical Burst

Magical-Fury-CoverOn Sunday I launched Magical Fury as a PDF product on DriveThruRPG (also, an updated version of Entanglements as a Pay What You Want product). As I mentioned earlier, it’s a much simpler dark magical girl RPG, which uses a very simple AW engine variant (inspired by The Sundered Land). It’s the product of a particular circumstance and emotions, but on the whole I like it a lot. It has a distinct simplicity and plays with lightning speed even for a rules-light game. The final product wound up being 35 pages, though nearly half of that is a set of 17 d66 tables covering character creation and other aspects of gameplay.

I based it on the Star Princess Astraia story that I really need to get around to writing some day (which gave me an excuse to get art of her done for the cover). It thus has some elements that stem directly from things I’m planning for that, notably the reincarnation aspect and the “change the world” move (inspired by a part where Astraia decides to patrol the streets and winds up in the middle of a confrontation with a police officer).

Magical Burst

One of my goals with Magical Fury was to break through things that were blocking me with Magical Burst. I’ve been working on Magical Burst long enough that it’s accrued a lot of inertia, and coming at a similar concept from a different direction let me come up with some new approaches to handling things. They’re still two different games (and will continue to be so), but quite a few of the things I did with Magical Fury point to simpler, more elegant ways to approach some of the things Magical Burst is meant to do. There’s a lot I like about the Fallout system in Magical Burst, but in play it’s clunky and produces too many instances of Fallout that become hard to work into play. The Shift rules in Magical Fury accomplish a very similar goal in a much simpler way, and provide a clear blueprint for how I’m going to approach revising them.

One really important thing is that Magical Fury wound up being a proof of concept for a system that “summarizes” battles, reducing something that is quite involved in most games down to a few die rolls to find out how things go. As with Slime Story, I want Magical Burst to have both quick battles and more involved ones, though even for the more involved ones I want to avoid the hour-long combats of Magical Burst 4th Draft.

Making the moment of awakening as a magical girl a core, default part of gameplay was also a really effective aspect of Magical Fury in play, and helped bring to life the strangeness of it all. It’s definitely something I want to do with Magical Burst, and I’m leaning towards generally having the game set up to ramp character complexity gradually over time, another concept I’ve been wanting to play with in RPGs in general.

I also wanted to mention a newer magical girl series I saw recently, Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru. If I had to rank them I would put Madoka Magica above it, but it’s nonetheless and enjoyable series with its own sensibilities and themes. It’s difficult to properly explain without spoilers, but sacrifice is a major theme, and the details of what the magical girls (“heroes”) are and how they work are interesting. One fan went as far as to write up Magical Burst rules for the blooming/mankai element from Yuki Yuna.

Although Magical Burst stemmed directly from the inspiration that I got from watching Madoka Magica, it’s never been as much of a Madoka Magica RPG as people seem to think it is. Even so, watching other magical girl anime has definitely been a good thing, and helped the game be that much more its own thing rather than a slavish imitator. While watching more of Sailor Moon, Precure, Lyrical Nanoha, etc. has had its benefits, Yuki Yuna feels more like a Magical Burst game than basically any other series besides Madoka Magica itself.

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6 thoughts on “Magical Fury and Magical Burst

  1. I’ll have to check out Yuki Yuna.

    It was fun playing Fury the other day – I’ll definitely pick it up in the near future!

    In a move i might regret soon, i might try to make a Fury or Burst hack for Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu LOVE! Because that’d be kind of hilarious.

    1. I don’t know of any groups currently playing it online (whereas there are a ton of people playing Magical Burst on forums and such), though I’m sure it wouldn’t be too hard to find people.

  2. Shift rules are cool, but the more in-depth rules of fallout are definitely fun too. I like “trauma/magic/hope” better than “fury/heart/magic” better as categories to drive the narrative though.

    Quick battles would be a useful tool for Magical Burst, but I don’t think that the current battles are excessive in length for in-depth fights – although I’ve only recently started a fourth draft game, they’re feeling a lot snappier than third draft, and length isn’t necessarily opposed to fun. Adding the fast battles for minor threats should easily be enough to allow for frequent battles (even multiple per episode) while still having plenty of time for other things to happen, if that’s how you want to roll.

    Currently in Magical Burst, it feels kind of weird that we DON’T start before magical girls become magical. Veteran girls should be possible of course, but by default the player starts out not knowing much about magic in the setting, and if the character doesn’t, it’s odd. Not to mention, that change is a big part of magical girl anime in general. Ramping up complexity is a bit of a dangerous road to go down, though. It’s a great principle, but what I worry about is a negative impact in cohesiveness of characters. Right now, when you roll a character you can figure out what each roll result means, which are most important, and which you might even re-roll, based on a more or less complete whole and build your character around those to some extent. Like, my current character’s dad owns a metal-shop, which defined part of her crisis, because I rolled metal as her element. If you don’t prepare the main aspects of your girl to begin with, you lose the ability to relate things in that way. This isn’t necessarily an insurmountable problem, but it’s definitely a potential hurdle to keep in mind.

    Something you don’t mention but that I think it’d be nice to have in MB is the “The Story Continues” framework for organizing scenes. I think that compared to Magical Fury, MB might prefer an opener and more freeform version, but that’s a good set of rules that would no doubt help many groups organize their efforts, especially with the basic “If you roll this well you get this result” for actions that would normally be a bit ambiguous. It’s also a place that non-magical skills could be tied in and have their purpose demystified further. I know some of the moves do the same thing, but I think the way it’s presented in Magical Fury (as a “if nothing’s going on, pick one of these” thing) is more useful and more clearly illuminates the useful purpose.
    Similarly, the “Building a World” bit seems useful, both for something players might take turns picking from, and for things a GM could secretly roll on.

    As for YuYuYu, I’d say it’s more like Magical Burst than PMMM – most obviously because wilt reflects fallout changes, but also the tone is much closer to my play experience. If it wasn’t for the ending, I’d say it was the better show as well, because of the originally cheerful tone and the well-executed buildup leading to much more potent twists, but the last bit kind of undermined the series a lot in my opinion.

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