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. 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, 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.
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.
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.