The works that follow draw heavily upon the materials available in print for the AD&D game system by TSR and the GURPS system by Steve Jackson Games. It is difficult to find a direction in which to go that one of these two systems has not yet visited. In some ways, I have done little more than convert these existing materials from their original system into a form usable with the D6 system. At times, however, I have had to radically alter parts in order to get the concept to snugly fit into the mechanics of D6. All in all there are lots of choices and variations to choose from. And that is, I think, as it should be.
I have identified two different fundamental approaches to the concept of Magery that game-masters may take. The first is the "is you is or is you ain't" approach, such as Force Sensitivity is treated in the SWRPG. In this approach, a character is either sensitive to magickal forces or not. The second approach allows for some to be more magickly adept than others, using Magery as an attribute.
This pattern makes magickal pursuits rather expensive and thus rare. It is unlikely to run into an individual with more than a couple of dice in spell abilities who is anything other than a serious student of magickal arts. Most mages will focus their studies into certain highly specific areas of application, as well. During character creation, a player must decide whether the character is "mana-sensitive" or not, even if no dice are allocated to magickal skills at the time. Campaign control is easily exercised by considering just how few people would be willing to expend the necessary amounts of time and energy required to attain a degree of success in the magickal arts. As PCs advance in ability, there will be ever fewer individuals capable of training them and the costs involved (monetary, travel-time, favors owed, etc) will steadily increase to reflect this.
Magick is far cheaper and likely to be much more common than in the "Mana-Sensitive" pattern, but if the MAG attribute is not bought during character creation, a character cannot later in s/his career begin studying the magickal arts. Magic may be much more widespread in everyday life, with minor magicks routinely used in everyday occupations. In this pattern, it is much more common to encounter mages who command a much wider variety of spells. Campaign control may be a little trickier in this pattern, as the costs of advancement are much lower. Training requirements based on the level of MAG for basic, initial instruction are quite reasonable as are requirements of attaining a certain level of faculty with existing abilities before undertaking further studies.
For additional thoughts on options that can provide control measures as well as provide distinctive flavor to campaigns, see the Options index at the bottom of this page.
Thaumatology - The "theoretical" aspect of magick. This skill represents a mage's training in the universal ways of magic. This skill allows a "cookbook mage" to use Power Words s/he has never studied. "Spell list mages" use this skill when researching new spells.
Spell-throwing - While a mage doesn't literally "throw" a spell, certain applications do require the mage to direct magickal energies at a specific target. Use of this skill ensures the mage's spell find the proper target.
Spell-powers - These are the actual manipulations for which mages are famous. The skills listed here may be Cast X College Spells, Cast X Rank Spells, or specific individual Power Words - each are detailed on following pages.
Spell-casting takes two distinct approaches - the Spell-list approach and the Magical Cookbook approach. In the "Spell-list" arena, certain magical effects are understood and rigidly defined with little room for variance. The "Magical Cookbook" arena, however, allows a mage more room to "tailor" a magical casting to suit the needs of the situation.
The "spell list" approach has two separate directions in which it can go - "Colleges" such as is used in GURPS or "Levels" as is used in A/D&D. Following a "College" approach groups similar spells together under one skill-heading (eg: "Plant Spells," "Knowledge Spells") and can lead to highly-specialized mages. A "Level" approach tends to develop mages that have a much broader range of magical skills, less limited to spells of any one particular type. Neither approach is necessarily better, but merely represent different mindsets on the part of users of magickal energies.
Mages learn "Power Words" that are placed under "Magery" like skills, consisting of Action and Subject words. By combining an Action Word with one or more Subject Words, the mage can effect a much wider range of spell results than can be achieved by the more limiting "spell list" approach above.
After character creation, there are two avenues of advancement for mages - improving known spell abilities and learning new spell abilities. Advancement in the magickal arts is no different from advancement in more mundane areas. A teacher must be found, time must be invested, and CPs must be spent. There may also be some form of monetary investment required, as well - ask any college-student (or their parents) if education is free.
In addition to the normal aspects of skill advancement, mages have one other consideration that is unique to their occupation - learning new spells. Every time a mage PC improves a spell ability by a pip, s/he learns a new spell appropriate to the ability being improved. GMs are encouraged to set limits on spells that are available to advancing characters. A PC mage may also wish to find a teacher who can pass along a specific spell during training.
For games using the MAG attribute, learning a new spell ability is equivalent to raising the attribute's score by one pip, even though there is no chance of "default use" of the ability without formal training. In this case, the mage will learn one spell of the newly learned ability.
In games where each spell ability is treated as separate attributes, learning a new spell ability requires investing an entire die. In this case, the mage learns three new spells of the proper type.
Power Words are, of course, inherently different. There are no specific spells associated with individual Power Words. Improving a Power Word simply represents increasing the mage's understanding of the realm associated with the Power Word.
Mystical incantations, complex hand motions, specific foot movements. These are the things most people think of when the subject turns to rituals. Depending on the circumstances, a mage may want to be a little less obvious in s/his use of ritual - or may in fact be unable to use certain parts of a ritual (such as while tied up). By reducing or eliminating parts of a spell's ritual, a mage will increase the difficulty number of the spell s/he has to roll against, but may gain that extra shred of life-saving versatility.
Conversely, a wizard can increase s/his dice-pool by enhancing the ritual. By doubling the time required for casting, speaking loudly, and gesturing emphatically, the wizard gains +1D to the appropriate spell ability.
At some point, the Game Master may feel the need to customize s/his campaign's magickal system - either for campaign "flavor," to avoid the "cookie-cutter syndrome," or - heavens forbid - to control mages who have gotten out of hand. With those thoughts in mind, the following options offer the GM a measure of refinement over magic in his campaign-world.
Other options for tailoring magic:
Game-masters may leave spell selection entirely up to the players or may wish to limit a player's options by providing a spell-list tailored to the learning-environment of the PC mage. GMs may wish to set limits on the number of spells a PC mage can start off knowing by basing it on the number of dice allocated to the mage's spell-casting skill.
Jerry is creating a mage character for use in Mike's game. As groundrules, Mike tells Jerry he may only use First-Rank spells and may select from a list of spells a number of spells equal to three times the number of skill-dice allocated to Cast First-Rank Spells. These spells are now castable by Jerry's character using the dice he's put into Cast First-Rank Spells.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Material herein has found inspiration in (but in no way limited to) the works published for GURPS, AD&D, and D6 and in the fan-based works of Sir Lamorak, Mike Bently, Chris Lupton, Maurice Forrester, and others I probably forgot.