Fantasy needs magic, and there’s a school of thought that if there’s magic, it’s fantasy (and that would put Star Wars in “fantasy” because of Jedi Juju).
Said that, you might now that who’s writing is a big fan of magic systems. So when I started writing W20 I deliberately ignored the thorny question of how to write magic.
But at some point it dawned on me that with skills and margins I could do some really simple things like:
The Voice – you can spend a round and one mana to subtly change the tone of your voice and give an order to a person. If you win a contest of Voice (Soul) over the victim Save (Soul) they will carry our the order for up to 1 turn. Giving a directly self-harming order or orders going against the core beliefs of the victim requires an Awesome success or otherwise the victim will instead be confused and take no action for 2d6 rounds.
And I could also use AFG’s Traditional Magic (named this way because of its traditions). Casters could spend mana for casting spells.
And Wonder & Wickedness’s Sorcery. Casters would spend mana for memorizing spells.
Or I could use them all. All their different mechanics. At the same time.
Disciplines are ways of doing magic. There would be different disciplines, and casters would get one at character creation, plus one every few level (probably instead of a stat increase). Traditional Magic would be a discipline, Vancian Rotes would be another, the Seven Sorcery Schools would be 7, the Voice would be one, and so on.
They are not necessarily compatible: while the Traditional spells can be cast through Vancian Rotes, the Voice gives no talent in Alchemy, but they all burn mana, and mana is mana.
And mana comes from within, and from other places too.
And is going to be a horrible pain to design properly in a non terribly messed up way. Wish me good luck, Freddie.
Paolo, weren’t you going to keep this clean and simple?
Yes. The baseline mode would be Traditional Magic. It’s really really simple. But if someone wants to play something simpler, they can just pick up Voice or some other simple, self-contained discipline. They can all be tucked away in a separate book and never mentioned again.