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Magic Goes Awry

Magic Goes Awry: A high fantasy role-playing system that is light on rules and heavy on magical mayhem.

Welcome to the beta version of Magic Goes Awry! This is a role-playing game designed for people who want to create an imaginative high fantasy story together. My goal in creating this game was to capture the fun of Dungeons & Dragons in a game that was accessible to a much wider range of people. I created this game to have little math, fewer things to keep track of, and more room for creativity while still having enough options and detail for people to create a diverse range of fantastical characters.

If you want to help me improve this game, please give me feedback by filling out the Magic Goes Awry Feedback Form. It’s really appreciated.

Also, if you enjoy this game, please consider making a donation so that I can keep improving it and producing more content. You can make a one time donation with Ko-fi (Buy Me a Coffee) or give me ongoing support with Patreon. Thank you!

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This is a digital artwork of a yellow and green budgerigar sitting on a branch with a tiger head that is the same color as its yellow feathers.

This is a digital artwork of a yellow and green budgerigar sitting on a branch with a tiger head that is the same color as its yellow feathers.



Playing the Game

To maximize the accessibility of Magic Goes Awry, the core rules are divided into two sections with differing levels of complexity: “The Basics” and “The Details.” “The Basics” contains all of the definitions and core rules needed to play the game. People who do best when game rules are simple and open ended can read “The Basics” and skip “The Details.”

However those people who do better with more detailed rules will want to read through the “The Details.” This section provides more information about core game concepts, additional rules designed improve game play, and discussions about important game dynamics. The two main goals of this section are to clarify common areas of ambiguity and to provide a structure that guides groups toward an enjoyable game experience.

Finally, “Making Games Accessible to All Participants” provides a set of tools to ensure that every participant is included and able to fully participate in the game. While this discussion centers the needs of disabled participants, the tools in this section are designed to help everyone.



Player Characters

Player characters are the stars of the role-playing game, so it’s important to know who they are and what they can do. This part of Magic Goes Awry is all about figuring that out. The process of making a player character is called character creation. The decisions made in each step of character creation can be tracked on the character sheet, which is a reference designed to help players keep track of their character details, like skills, abilities, and items.

Character creation starts with choosing the character’s class. Like a profession, a character’s class determines the sorts of things that they specialize in doing. Specifically, a character’s class establishes what abilities they have access to learning. Abilities are those specializations, like casting fire magic, having supernatural strength, or disappearing into the shadows, that make playing each character distinct and interesting. There are six character classes: mages, athletes, bards, clerics, druids, and rogues.

One ability that specifically deserves a mention here is Attunement. Characters with Attunement have a special connection to one type of magic that grants them an immunity and two minor magical effects. Not only does Attunement give characters fun, quirky abilities, like shrinking to half their size, sending secret messages, and making food taste better, it’s also a way for characters to embody a theme. For example, a character that is attuned to Plant Magic can move unhindered through vegetation, heal minor damage to plants, and animate small roots and branches. The Attunement List provides a selection of options for every type of magic.

Two things chosen early in character creation are the character’s species and their species trait. A lot of game systems have predetermined traits for each species, but not Magic Goes Awry. Instead, it is left open to each player to decide what species trait represents their character’s species. This is done to make more room for the inherent diversity within all species, as well as the player’s own interpretation of their character’s species. The fact that species options aren’t predetermined also means that there is more room for player creativity in choosing the species of their character.

Another unique thing about Magic Goes Awry is the separation between combat skills, like Melee Combat, and each character’s capacity to protect themselves. Every character has one type of physical defense and one type of mental defense, even if they have no offensive training. These defenses are handled separately from the character’s skills, abilities, and species traits. This separation makes violence less central to the game and opens up more options for creative problem solving.

Meanwhile skills cover every action that is not an ability, defense, or species trait. Essentially, the list of skills represents any proactive action that a character can reasonably attempt whether or not they have specialized training, such as being sneaky, navigating an unfamiliar environment, or calming an upset animal. Each player gets to choose some skills for their character to be trained in, but player characters may attempt to use any skill, regardless of whether or not they are trained in it.

Additionally, every character starts out with one special item and a basic set of supplies. Because item options can easily become overwhelming, the options for a character’s special item have been kept to a list of the ten most exciting and useful items, such as the Cloak of Many Garments and the Telepathic Lantern. For those who enjoy delving into the details of items, there is also an items list, but it isn’t necessary and those who would rather keep things simple are fine sticking to the basic supply set.

Because character creation can be complex, Magic Goes Awry comes with a set eighteen premade characters. These premade characters come with full character sheets that contain all of the details needed to use their skills and abilities. Players can take one of these characters and use them as they are, or they can alter and adapt them into something new.

Finally, for those interested in long-term games where the characters have the time to grow and develop, there is a system for character advancement. Character advancement is the process of giving player characters new skills and abilities to represent their growth over the course of their adventures.



Examples of Game Play

If you want to check out an actual play example of the beta version Magic Goes Awry, check out this episode of the Writing Alchemy podcast (includes transcript).

The following episodes of the Writing Alchemy podcast have the alpha version of Magic Goes Awry (most episodes include transcripts).


Licensing: Magic Goes Awry, the Crossroads Setting, and the Crossroads Adventures are all copyright Fay Onyx, 2018.


17 Responses to “Magic Goes Awry”

  1. Gryphyl says:

    This looks good so far! Looks like you missed out a number on point 3 of character creation though (“Choose your number, from 2 to [?]”). I’m guessing it should be 5?

    Also, you say you can only roll four dice in very special circumstances – but if you do roll four dice and succeed on all of them, does anything extra happen, or is it still a crit the same as with three dice?

    • FayOnyx says:

      I replied to you. I’m sleepy so it didn’t go in as a reply to you and is just in the main thread instead. Thanks for your comment!

  2. FayOnyx says:

    Thank you Gryphyl! It is supposed to be 5 and I fixed it.

    Also, good question! I think I’d leave that up to the game master to decide based on how epic the game is. I’ve done the math and for a character doing what they are best at it is nearly a one in five chance of getting four successes when rolling four dice, so it isn’t going to be super rare.

  3. Todd Zircher says:

    Is there a download link so I can read this offline?

    • FayOnyx says:

      Thanks for asking! I am currently working very hard on an updated version of this game and that will have a download link for sure. If you would like to follow this conversation, I would be happy to send you a message when there is a download link available. 🙂

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