Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Magic School: Fast Times at Magic High

A group of dangerous 5th Year students.
I spent some time over the weekend playing the new Wizards Unite and working out some details of my Magic School campaign.

I am still going with the idea of a Magical High School/College, where young wizards go to learn about spell casting.   While I had been playing around with the idea of a Basic-era game, in particular, a BECMI one, my oldest son pointed out that D&D 5e might actually work out better.

For starters, the unified XP table is a big boon.  If I was planning to do cohort classes then having everyone the same level is a good thing. Now I might want to use some "negative" levels to represent their learning, but not many.

In D&D5 you need 300 XP to get to level 2. No complaining about 5e here, the XP scale for characters and monsters are different and there are good design philosophies behind this.

But what if I added a couple of levels before that.
Say to get to level B from level C you need 50 XP.
Then to get to level A from B you need 100 XP.
Then to go to level 1 from level A you need 150 XP.

Similar to the Cavalier in the AD&D Unearthed Arcana.
Heck, I would not even mind making it a little more.  Level 3 requires 900 XP and Level 4 needs 2,700 XP.  So there is a jump.  Sure I could redo the whole thing, but I want this to live in a world where a kid can pick up a sword and soon be a level 1 fighter.

D&D 5 also gives me more spellcasting classes to work with.
In fact, my son worked it out like this:
Bards = Band Kids
Clerics = Religious Kids
Druids = Nature/Hippie/Stoner kids
Sorcerers = Jocks/Privileged kids (since their magic is innate)
Wizards = Science geeks
Warlocks = Goth Kids

Also, all these classes have a full range of spell options from Cantrips to 9th level.  All have more than one spell at 1st level and there is even some cross over between the spells.
For levels C, B, and A (or eventually Freshman, Sophmore, Junior, Senior, Graduate if I can work it out) would learn spellcasting basics and other curricula I have planned.
OR  I just keep it as-is and levels/years are 1 to 5.

Quentin Coldwater: "We are all fucked in our own way, as always."
Eliot Waugh: "Magic doesn't come from talent, it comes from pain."
When I brought this up to my son he reminded me that while a 5th wizard has some power, they are not really powerhouses.  They are less effective than Harry Potter and his friends were in the later books. We discussed some of the monsters that a level 5 wizard could take on solo and with 4 other wizards.  I am pretty happy about what I heard.

So maybe I want to do a Level 0, this the first year in Magic School. You are 13 years old and you know two cantrips.  You get the "Magic School" background with some bonus to your Arcana skill.  So for a five-year curriculum, you graduate at level 4 with the "Graduate of Magic School" feat.

Year (age) Level XP Notes
1 (13) 0 0 Initiate, Magic School Background
2 (14) 1 100 Freshman
3 (15) 2 300 Sophomore
4 (16) 3 900 Junior
5 (17) 4 2,700 Senior, Magic School Graduate Feat

I like this. This works well for my needs. I'll choose different words for "Freshman" etc later.  Maybe take something from the Hermetic Traditions.

Going with 5e though also means I would either have to drop my High Witchcraft idea OR make one for 5e.
But it also means I can use material from the Amazing Adventures 5e book.

I guess the big thing about Magic School is what sort of adventures could students have?
Well...lots really!  I mean just grabbing from popular media of the last few years we have Harry Potter, the Magicians, Charmed, pretty much every show on the CW (and formerly the WB), not to mention years of public schooling, college, grad school, teaching for god know how long and developing curricula full time.  Of course, not all of that is going to work here.

I am going to take a cue from the work I did on the Buffy RPG, I'll set up each year/level as a "season" with some adventures as "episodes". There would be a season-long arc with a "big bad" with several "monster of the week" episodes sprinkled about.  My son already came up with one of the "monster of the week" ones, "Ferris Bueller's (Magic School) Day Off".

Fans of the Buffy RPG might remember the "Djinn Arc" we were doing, I could adapt that for a later season.  I am also going to steal a page from the Carmilla web series and do a missing student arc for Year 1.  Cause what else says whacky school hijinks like new students being sacrificed to some god/demon/old one?

Also, I am planning to play with the idea of these new classes.
"The Great School of Magic has for the first time in its history opened its doors to spellcasters other than wizards.  While clerics and bards had been welcomed on a limited basis, now the doors are thrown wide to the likes of warlocks, sorcerers, druids, and others."

The old guard is not at all happy about this and the changes to what they see as "the rules".

Am I making fun of grognards and others here that don't like 5e? Yeah. I am.

I need a group of kids/students/faculty to provide antagonism to the new students but I did not want to limit that antagonism to just based on classes (PHB class, not level or class level, wow I use "class" a lot in this.)

Also, I need to come up with a good name for this school.  Though it occurs to me I have written a lot of this material already for different games.  For example, my adventure "Mid-Semester Night's Nightmare" was done with Elizabeth Bathory in mind.  I can easily replace her with Darlessa.  Come to think of it that adventure ALSO dealt with missing students.  Given I wrote that in the mid 2000s I would not be stealing from Carmilla at all. 

There. My Big Bad for Series/Season/Year 1 is Darlessa.

Looking forward to seeing where this takes me.

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