Initially I planned to use FUDGE for the solo game with my girlfriend but in the end we decided to use Chad Underkoffler’s PDQ system (the core rules are freely available on the Atomic Sock Monkey website). The PDQ system is rules light, uses descriptive qualities instead of standard attributes, skills, etc. and is exactly what we need for the game we had in mind.
But the free rules available on the site lack rules for supernatural effects like magic or psionics. But both should play a role in the campaign I’ve planned, so do you guys have any idea how a simple magic system in PDQ could work? Magic should mainly be spell/ritual based much like in the “Call of Cthulhu” game. And psionics should mostly be ESP. The easiest way would be to make magic and psionics just another qualities and just improvise. But I think especially ritual magic would need a bit more background.
So my question to you is: how would you make magic work in PDQ?
I think what the free version is missing that would help for magic is Powers, Stunts, Limitation and Hero Points, and possibly the Sorcery meta-power. Basically Powers are like qualities that need to be powered with Hero Points to use at their full rank (they can be used at -2 for free), Limitations are holes in Powers that keep them from applying when they would otherwise (e.g. requires long ritual means that sometimes when you want to use Sorcery you can't because you don't have the time and materials), Stunts are a way to spend Hero Points to do something with the Power that wouldn't usually be allowed (e.g. Spidey using webbing to create a parachute instead of just binding and swinging with it), and Hero Points are the currency of using powers that you gain through play (following motivation, getting affected by a limitation or character weakness, performing a heroic action).
You might consider shelling out for Truth & Justice to get the details, or just wing it from what I wrote.
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The Zorcerer of Zo has rules for magic qualities and is the most "refined" version of the original PDQ rules. It's also a very well written game and Chad's a super nice guy so there are multiple reasons to purchase it.
The newly released (pdf is available at the moment if you preorder the hardback) Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies (http://www.indiepressrevolution.com/xcart/product.php?productid=16850&cat=0&page=1) also may have magic rules in it though I'm not sure since I haven't looked at the pdf yet.
Finally, you can just wing it. PDQ is pretty straight forward: Simply give her a single "Magical spells" quality and use that to determine success if you want really simple stuff, using special moves to create specialized spells. Or if that's not granular enough, create a set of low level qualities (perhaps 1 at Excellent, 2 at Good) specifically for spells and let her build those up. If you want a limiting factor, introduce some sort of mechanic that involves spending hero points. PDQ is very adaptable to different possibilities depending on what you want. If you're really "stuck" and don't want to invest in ZoZ, drop me an email and I'll see if I can come up with something for you to use since playing with PDQ is one of the things I do (including writing my own game using it as the engine under the hood).
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Thanks for your replies!
I would also mention Jaws of the six serpents which is an iteration of the pdq rules but for Sword and Sorcery . It has its own magic system which adheres to the S&S setting well