Thursday, 5 March 2015

What is Trials of the Magi?

Hello World,

With the Trials of the Magi Kickstarter just around the corner [March 20th to be precise] I would like to take this time to talk about the game and share a bit about how it plays.

First up let's start with a general description of the game.

Trials of the Magi is a quick and simple role-playing game centered around a Harry Potter inspired world, where arcane scouts track down and gather those with the potential for magic. These gathered candidates are then required to overcome a crucible of mental simulations in order to prove that they are capable of becoming a fledgling magus.

These tests compose the core fiction of Trials of the Magi as players must guide mental projections of themselves through the strange and treacherous landscapes of the crucible.  The psychological nature of these landscapes allows the Game Master to create interesting and creative locations that bend the laws of reality.  Locations created where the direction of gravity changes on a whim, or a world where time only passes when the players are moving. [Like SuperHot]

While the Game Master's freedom with realm creation can be a lot of fun, it isn’t the main focus of the game. Where Trials of the Magi tries to shake the RPG formula is that in the game the  "real" players are the ones actually being tested by the arcane scout. As such the mental projections that navigate the trials are literal representations of the players. Meaning they look, act and talk just as the players would. Not surprisingly, it is really easy to role-play yourself, making Trials of the Magi a great game for first time players of the hobby. Allowing them to get comfortable with creating a shared fiction before trying their hand at more complex storytelling. This idea of the player being the character is expanded upon even further in the game’s mechanics. Where a character’s strengths and abilities come from a player's real life experiences. These memories are written on custom dry erase cards [or blank Index cards] and a hand of these cards act as a player’s character sheet. No complex calculations or overabundance of stats. Just simple tactile mechanics that allow players to get into the game easily and quickly.

These writable slips are called Arcana cards and come in 4 possible suits, Swords, Wands, Coins, Cups. When players are creating their character they have to pick and fill out 4 cards. These cards can be chosen in any combination of the suits. With each suit both influencing the type of memory associated with the card as well as granting a special power within the game.

Memory: Created from emotionally strong memories
Power: Discard to deal a substantial blow to an enemy or difficult task.

Memory: Derived from a players knowledge and education
Power: Discard to ask one objective question to the Game Master that must be answered truthfully

Memory:  Reliant on memories of possessions and achievements
Power: Discard to grant a power boost to themselves or another player

Memory: Comes from a player’s past relationships
Power: Discard to recover the injuries of any character.

Now while this is only a bare bones description of each of the suits, it should give everyone a general idea of how each suit works and feels. This is important because it is up to a player to choose the playstyle they are interested in. If a player wants to play a heavy hitter, they can pick the majority of their cards from Swords, or possibly focus on Coins and Cups cards if they are interested in a more supportive style of play.

This is all I am going to talk about in this week's post, but be sure to check back next week where I will discuss in greater detail how the game is played, and dive into some of the mechanics. However, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Trials of the Magi’s Kickstarter campaign which will be launching on March 20th!

For now though, thanks for reading,

-Patrick Lapienis