Magic World

This thing is still alive, as am I.

My gaming has recently taken me to Pathfinder/Planescape as GM and Lamentations of the Flame Princess as player, maybe more on that later. Today I have a book review in my quest for rules for my future campaign.

Magic World by Chaosium.

Magic World has good premise, re-collecting old Basic Roleplaying based fantasy rules into one book that is a complete game. Sadly the end result is very lackluster mostly due to bad or non-existent editing.

The book mentions that it is collected from Elric!, The Bronze Grimoire, RuneQuest Creatures Book and Sailing on the Seas of Fate. This unfortunately shows in the final product, the book has a strong feel of being just copy-pasted from the mentioned books and put inside new cover. There are typos. There is redundancies and in couple of places it feels like the exactly same text is duplicated (didn’t check word-to-word). One place in the seafaring rules the subject changes without warning or any kind of header which was rather confusing.

Besides the obvious errors many game concepts are not explained very well. I have the feeling that if the reader has never read or played any d100 based rpgs he might be confused with many concepts since nothing is explained very clearly. Very old school in that there are long paragraphs of text and the details are buried somewhere in the middle and can be missed easily. Another thing that I don’t like is the tendency to dump huge amount of rules to section called “Spot rules” at the end of each chapter. These are long sections of paragraph length rules that are related to subject of the chapter but they are presented in alphabetical order instead of in any kind of context with other rules.

Presentation and art is standard fare, two column text, about half page graphical border element, normal density of pictures, black and white except for the folding map at the beginning of the book and cover. What is cardinal sin (at least to me) is pixelated art. There are numerous examples of pictures where you can discern pixels and that look overall blurry like they had been much smaller images and then enlarged to fill the reserved space. Overall the art is done by 5 different artist and Friends. This show since there is no clear style in the art of the book.

Content wise, all expected elements are present. Chapters for character creation, skills, basic mechanics, combat, magic and monsters. What was nice addition was seafaring rules as their own chapter. What was disappointing was the lack of the different magic systems in Runequest, there is only single system called sorcery and it seems to have more to do with common magic than sorcery of Runequest. Even that is further simplified by demanding POW 16 to use spells and dropping spellcasting skill all together. Monsters are generic fantasy monsters with brief rules given for playing non-human characters, nothing spectacular but enough to start. Finally there is chapter for game masters that is mostly listing of magic items, there are no rules for creating magic items, just some suggestions. Rest of the gm chapter has few pointers to creating adventures. Finally there is short generic looking fantasy setting at the end of the book with folding color map at the start of the book. I didn’t read it so can’t say much about it.

In conclusion, I’d really like to like this book because it is a new version of the game that I started roleplaying with, the Finnish 2nd edition of Runequest, based on Avalon Hill Runequest (3rd English edition if I’m not mistaken). But I really can’t like it because of all the reasons given above. It feels like hastily done copy-paste hack rather than a proper roleplaying game. It seems that money has been saved at every corner and it show very clearly. Looks like I’ll have to look for Mongoose Legend or Design Mechanic Runequest 6th edition for my d100 fix. Most likely I end up basing the whole thing on OGL Legend and modifying it with additions that I need/like.

Magic World is not worth the money in the end.

P.S. If some Finnish roleplayer wants to sell me good condition Riimumestarin kirja, contact me with offer and we’ll do business.

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One thought on “Magic World

  1. Thanks for this review. I really haven’t seen a detail review of MW yet, possibly because nobody wants to say anything bad about it. I wanted to like MW too, but poor editing seems to plague Chaosium BRP products, so this doesn’t surprise me.

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