Sunday, April 19, 2015

Magic World (1982)

Art by Luise Perenne

Even counting the inner front and back covers, Magic World – the fantasy-genre portion of Steve Perrin's Worlds of Wonder – has only 18 pages.  Discounting illustrations and whatnot, there are but 16 pages of gaming material divided into five sections:  additions to the Basic Role-Playing rules, magic, creatures, treasures, and a sample scenario complete with pre-generated characters.

The 'additions' section includes skills, weapons, and combat options not covered in the Basic Role-Playing booklet as well as descriptions of “professions” that are analogous to character classes:  warrior, rogue, and sage.  (Sorcerers are covered in the magic section.)  For a character to be accepted into a profession, a certain number or less must be rolled on 1d%.  For warriors, the number is the sum of all characteristics.  For sages, the number is 5 × Intelligence.  For sorcerers, the number is the sum of Power and Intelligence (+1 for every hundred silver Crowns given to the Sorcerers' Guild).  There are no acceptance requirements for rogues.  Being accepted into a profession grants a character increased starting values in appropriate skills.  Beginning sorcerers get four spells at a proficiency percentage equal to 3 × Intelligence.

Magic World defines two “methods” of magical effects:  sorcery and ceremonial.  Sorcery is the use of “chants and mnemonics to produce immediate magical effects.”  Ceremonial magic...
...involves the use of ritual and days-long ceremony, usually to compel other beings or work one's will upon inorganic forces.  Such magics are subdivided into Wizardry (binding demons), Necromancy (raising and otherwise controlling the dead), Enchantment (making magical items), and Alchemy (making magical substances).
Ceremonial magic is not further described in Magic World since it is not usually the province of active adventurers.  Two dozen spells are described, about half of which also appear in The Adventurer's Handbook at the same prices.  While Magic World has 'Blast', the equivalent spell in The Adventurer's Handbook is 'Blaser', a contraction of “bionic laser.”

The 'Creatures' section describes twelve types of entity, including dragons, dwarves, and horses.  The Adventurer's Handbook has several of these creatures, although not necessarily with the same amount of detail.  If a Magic World ghost succeeds in an attack, the victim loses consciousness.  Interestingly, a successful attack from a ghost as described in The Adventurer's Handbook “may cause the target to flee, do as the ghost wishes, become unconscious, or whatever.”  Although Magic World only describes a dozen 'creatures', the Basic Role-Playing booklet contains armor and hit point ratings for sixty “natural animals, monsters, and intelligent races.”  Here is a brief selection:

Magic World demons each have 1d6+1 demonic features, the list of which is presented below.  Duplicate results can be re-rolled or cause the effect of the feature to double.

Using magical items requires use of an “activating phrase” which a sorcerer can discovering using a Vision spell.
The words are usually ones hard to pronounce and enunciate clearly, to guard against accidental activation, so the user of these artifacts must make a luck roll of POW × 5% to create the effect.
About one percent of enchanted items are “intelligent artifacts” that “have had demons placed in them.”
The user commands the demon on a successful roll of POW vs. the demon's POW.  If successful, the user can then command the demon for a day...[to cast] its spells.
If an intelligent artifact is somehow broken, “the demon is loosed.”

Not surprisingly, Magic World has almost no setting information.  However, we are introduced to “the city of New Sarnath in the Kingdom of Far Dales.”  Listed languages include Elven, Troll, Tzandian (old and not old), and Zirconian.  The provided pre-generated characters include Havnor (a warrior), Endras (an 'adventurer'), and the alliteration trio:  Sangor the Sorceror (sic), Rugbel the Rogue, and Sherl the Sage.  Endras is presented as a veteran of the sample scenario from the Basic Role-Playing booklet and thus is the proud owner of a suit of ring mail and a healing potion.

As an added bonus, here are the 'character silhouettes' provided with the Worlds of Wonder set.


  1. The original WoW is very hard to come by. I found a pdf of Magic World at, however it does not appear to be the full thing. It's oddly re-typed and altered. Though the system and the magic spells etc are all there,I couldn't find references to "New Sarnath", the languages you mention, or the characters Sherl and Endras. Would you mind casting your eye over it and mentioning what is omitted and whether it's a reasonably faithful version of the 1982 Magic World?

    1. The PDF to which you link provides a reasonable reproduction of the Magic World text from page 2 to about half-way through page 14. There is an occasional spelling error (e.g., sorceror) and variant phrasing (e.g., “The referee will always...” instead of “The referee always will...”). Missing from the PDF are: section I (“Welcome to Another World”), section V (“Treasures”), section VI (“The Vault of Sarkath Han”), and the listings for 'Skeletal Guardians' and 'Trolls' from the “Creatures” section. Section VI – the sample scenario – is the source of information about New Sarnath, the languages, and the sample characters.

    2. Thanks for that information. Looks like the OCD collector in me will have to wait for a copy of the original MW...

      Great blog BTW.