Sunday, 9 October 2011

Gamist Fighter, Narrativist Wizard

I MC'd Apocalypse World and I really liked it. And I like D&D. I like mixing things. Cereal, sandwich filling, everything really.

But I'm not the first person to have that idea. Seems that almost everyone who has played Apocalypse World has immediately felt like taking it apart and putting it together as something else. It's a beautiful thing that comes apart in your hands like Lego.

I want to know what happens when each player in a game occupies the same imaginative space but relates to the GM in a different way.

So this is my idea. The fighter is gamist, they act under total player control and move through the Gm created space like a D&D character. Everything is already there, the player just has to decide how to interact with it.

The wizard is narrativist. The makers of the AW hack Dungeon World decided on a spell list. I found this a bit uninteresting. There is no reason to regiment and organise magic in something derived from a story game. With the right set of questions the risks of magic could always be equivalent to the rewards.

This is my suggested replacement for every D&D spell list ever.

You cast a spell. Name it, describe it and give your intended effect. Roll 2D6 plus your intelligence bonus. On a 10+ chose 3 on 7-9 choose 2.

  • There is very little blow-back.
  • It has roughly the intended effect.
  • Nothing unbelievably weird happens.
  • There is no damage to your memory.

There are no spell books. There are no lists of spells. The effects of magic are chaotic and the effects of a narrativist choice system impinging on a D&D game are the effects of the strange otherness of magic slipping into an ordered world.

Changing levels wouldn't result in spells of higher power since the power level is effectively infinite, if you are willing to risk the consequences. Instead, other levels give access to a different character of choice.

The players are in a different kind of conversation with the DM. The magic user is in a constant river of mutual contest and co-operation, a bit like Apocalypse World, the fighter is more challenge-and-response, like a game of D&D. The magic user appears to have more power, but they also have to surrender, or exchange, control of their character in ways the fighter doesn't. I imagine the fighter forming a kind of island of narrative stability, with less apparent power to shape events, but more self-contained and affecting the story persistently over the long-term.

I really want to see how these two kinds of system interact, or if they can interact.

I'm also considering some kind of intermediate class like the LOTFP specialist, using the Burning Wheel skill system and resolution method.


  1. Hi,

    Apologies for the off-topic comment, but I couldn't find a contact email for you.

    I've recently put out an ebook of my writing, called 'The New Death and others'. It's mostly short stories, with some obvious gamer-interest material. For example I have a story inspired by OD&D elves, as well as poems which retell Robert E Howard's King Kull story 'The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune' and HP Lovecraft's 'Under the Pyramids'.

    I was wondering if you'd be interested in doing a review on your blog.

    If so, please let me know your email, and what file format is easiest for you, and I'll send you a free copy. You can email me ( or reply to this thread.

    You can download a sample from the ebook's page on Smashwords:

    I'll also link to your review from my blog.


  2. No shit, Patrick, that's the best magic system I've come across in a long while!

    I incorporated it into my OSR game, and it works beautifully.

    Thanks, brother.


    1. Wow, thanks very much. I'm amazed anyone reads these old posts actually.

    2. We sure do! There's some really great stuff back here.

    3. Still true in DECA-FM
      More on-topic: if we acknowledge the geometric wizard vs linear fighter thing already, why not go the whole way? This 'old stuff' is still pretty cutting edge.
      Oh, and to truly acknowledge my appreciation in a relevant way... I invite your subscription of my positive life method. It has enthusiasm of many famous Hollywood celebrities. Try now for immediate satisfaction.