Rational Magic is a campaign filled with investigation, intrigue, and espionage set in a gritty dystopian fantasy world; a world that evolved from a traditional sword and sorcery setting. Players are Operatives who work either to maintain the status quo or rebel against the forces of magical modernity. Rational Magic is for 5th edition, as well as the Lore System RPG, which was purpose-built for this campaign.
Long ago, in the Heroic Age, wizards and warriors went on adventures, killed orcs and dragons, found treasure, and saved maidens. But then a revolution occurred. Not a revolution led by usurpers or valiant rebels. Rather, a revolution is driven by a change in the practice of magic. Wizards discovered how to make order from the chaos of magic. Magic is no longer an art; it is a technique. Magi-Technology is systematized, homogenized, and commoditized. This change in practice brought about untold wealth to the magnates of the magic industry. It revolutionized the ways of war and the ways of production. It even brought immortality to those who could afford it. And it introduced methods of unprecedented social control.
The proponents of this new practice of magic are called the “Rationalizers”. The current epoch is called “The Age of the Rationalization.”
Rational Magic takes place in a world setting that evolved has from traditional sword and sorcery. Society is in upheaval, as competing economic and social ideologies strive to set people free or enslave them. In this world, players are Operatives who work either to maintain the status quo or rebel against the forces of magical modernity.
All the included scenarios are located within the urban city of Nagaplath, one of the most advanced of the modern “Central Nations” that were able to rationalize the forces of magic to fuel a “magi-technological” revolution.
This setting is inspired by the fantasy and science fiction books of:
- Richard K. Morgan (Land Fit for Heroes)
- China Miéville (Bas-Lag series)
- Charles Stross (The Nightmare Stacks)
- Larry Niven (The Magic Goes Away)
- The Gods are Bastards (web-serial)
The Lore System
The Lore System (v2.0) was purpose-built for this Rational Magic setting. The Lore System will give you a fast and meaningful role-playing experience tying a character’s story and development to the game world. It was developed by looking at some of the best features of such games as FATE, GUMSHOE, Barbarians of Lemuria, and Microlite20. For more information on the Lore System, including links to SRD documents, see the Rational Magic page on the Sons of the Singularity website.
Additions to 5e
The basic mechanics of 5e do not readily support some types of non-combat game-play. Rational Magic borrows two subsystems from the Lore System (SOS’s home-made RPG system) to add support for espionage and investigation. This support comes in the form of Lore Sheets and Risk Counters.
Lore Sheets are handouts that provide players with extra background information about their characters and the game world, and Lore Sheets can be used to assign special roles to each player character. Player characters gain mechanical advantages through Lore Sheets, therefore they should not be regarded as mere “fluff”.
One benefit of Lore Sheets is that complex information about the setting can be distributed quickly and without the need for including a tedious history lesson as part of the game. This rule is best used when playing an extended campaign, where the GMs and the players are comfortable with player characters pursuing “secret goals” as part of the campaign gameplay.
Risk Counters are a count-down mechanism which conveys to the players the amount of risk that is in a scene. They are used for scenes that include elements of stealth and investigation. Risk Counters help players evaluate how their failures progressively make the world more dangerous. For example, the guards in the area will become more alert.
Rational Magic is intended to be an open world in which the gaming community can build upon and expand. Our imagination is our limit, not some tedious license agreement. We will make the campaign setting Rational Magic (excluding artwork and graphical design elements) available to you, to be used in any way you want, so long as you do not use it to promote bigotry, racism, sexism, or fascism. All we will require from you is give us, Sons of the Singularity, credit for our original work.
Lore System is intended to be an open gaming system upon which members of the RPG community may run their adventures. We are not interested in asserting copyrights in the Lore System itself. As a game system, we believe it is neither possible nor appropriate to assert copyrights in the Lore System. Rather, we encourage you to use the Lore System to design and run your own adventures and campaigns. We implore you to build content that is Lore System compatible!