While working on Violence Spells Gods and Politics, I discovered Wonder and Wickedness. It's core concepts meshed so well with my own notions about how a magic system should function that using its content, specifically its spells and catastrophes, was a natural fit for playtests, and allowed me to put off writing my own spells. The main problem with this is that I still have not written my own content for testing.
A secondary problem is one of attribution. While the work I have done on my game's MAGIC system is my own, I still owe a debt to Brandon Strejcek, a peer fantasy game designer, for creating Wonder and Wickedness. W&W obviously encouraged me to try similar things1, and he deserves respect and credit for that. I sent him two emails when I started using the content of W&W for playtests to let him know how much I liked it, and that if my game was ever released that I would encourage others to buy W&W as a supplement. I never heard back. Rather than harass him with more attempts at communication, I am posting this message here, months later: Thank you. More people should buy your book.
Buy Wonder and Wickedness. It will work with most fantasy RPGs.
As I go forward I need to ensure that none of my own content rhymes too much with Wonder and Wickedness. W&W's "Specialties" are well chosen and named, and I am unsure how to avoid reusing one or two of these. They are generic terms used for magic. So far I have used other generics for my own Disciplines like "Gnosis", "Alchemy", and "Geomancy", but I don't see how I avoid using "Elementalism", and "Diabolism". Additionally his spells and catastrophes for both of those are so well done that it would be better just to use his work in a game rather than be limited to the additional spells that I write. I still have not figured out how best to handle that outside of independently writing a full compliment of my own, and then going back over them carefully to ensure that I have not inadvertently ripped anything off.
As mentioned above, I do recommend his work as a content supplement for this RPG I am writing, and will do so officially if I ever publish this. I have already relied on it for testing the MAGIC system, and livened up my own sessions with its Catastrophe tables. Those are brilliant, and have played a significant role in half the sessions I have run.
As for general progress on the MAGIC system, I have done some work lately for the playtest primer, realizing that I had left too much unstated, and am eager to receive feedback on some of the concepts as well as whether the writing is clear.
Cover Image: Cover of the Wonder & Wickedness book published by Lost Pages
Obviously, my work on the MAGIC system was also influenced by Runequest, Call of Cthulu, Amber Diceless and D&D, but who's work has not been? These are old games with widely adopted ideas. Wonder and Wickedness clearly owes similar debts, but the difference is that W&W is a contemporary work, and I think we should specifically acknowledge the influence of our peers. I have seen far too much bullshit when designers disavow contemporary influences, and claim ignorance of another's work. Led Zeppelin's debt to other musicians and composers being an egregious example where plagiarism was involved. I'm clearly not plagiarizing, but I still owe gratitude, and respect to Brandon for inspiring me with Wonder and Wickedness. ↩