Sunday, 10 May 2015

PowerFrame: Arcana

I only have three illustrations to go for PowerFrame! I also now have a completed cover image, which I'll reveal sometime soon. For now, though, here's the fourth-last image – an arcane researcher, which will illustrate the section on Creating Arcana.


A while back, I overhauled PowerFrame's Mysticism system to cut down on the page-count. Going with a "build spells from the components" approach allows for greater flexibility, and does away with the need for an exhaustive spell list that's full of minor variations of similar spells.

Parameters define the limits in which a spell operates – things like range, duration, and area of effect.

Major Arcana form the body of a spell. They are stripped-back effects; if Parameters define the when and where, Major Arcana supply the how. They may describe how to make a damage roll or apply a status effect, or where to move a target, or what information is revealed, or many other effects.

Although the list is fairly comprehensive, you can create your own Major Arcana by describing the desired effect and rating its difficulty using the guidelines provided.

Minor Arcana are specific details such as a particular type of target, or a scale of hex, or an ability or attribute. Minor Arcana have no effect on their own, but some Major Arcana require a Minor Arcana to specify what the spell affects. Minor Arcana supply the what or the who.

For example, the RESTORE Major Arcana restores lost points to a pool stat such as Health, Endurance, Mana, or Fortune. It has the same effect on each pool, but you need to use a Minor Arcana to specify which one the spell is targeting.

Some Minor Arcana are lists of game terms (hex scales, abilities, attributes), but others are more descriptive. The subject Minor Arcana category includes various types of characters and creatures, and could easily be added to or revised to suit a particular game world. Likewise, the matter Minor Arcana could be rewritten to reflect a particular world's elemental philosophy.


Although it's a bit of a challenge to get a handle on all the Arcana and figure out how to build spells the way you want, once you do it's a very satisfying system. To help out, I'm designing new Caster and Spell record sheets. I've found that once you have a spell written out, it becomes very easy to modify it on the fly without having to recalculate the whole thing.

If there's demand for it, I may release a supplement featuring new Arcana, and possibly even a collection of pre-made spells for those who don't want the hassle of building their own.