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I had an idea for a character I'd like to play. He's an idiot savant Magic-user. Excellent at anything to do with Magic, but awful at everything else. Yes, I know this sounds like min-maxing/munchkinning, but this is for a story/character based game, and that doesn't really apply.

The problem I have is this: He would not be Intelligent (in the normal application of the word), Wise, or Socially adept - and most systems base magic off one of those stats.

So, the question - does anyone know a system that would support this kind of character?

(Yes, I know I can fudge something like this, especially as it's a story-based game, but that's not the question I'm asking :P)

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closed as not constructive by SevenSidedDie, LitheOhm, okeefe, doppelgreener, SnakeDr68 Apr 17 '13 at 23:01

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Any system that is skill-based instead of attribute-based will do this. The first that comes to mind is Fate, but there are literally thousands that would do the trick. Unfortunately, that means that this question is too-opened ended for the site because you'll just get a list of the usual fan favourites and with no possible "right" answer. More useful to you would be to collect suggestions by starting a thread at and investigating the ones that intrigue you. – SevenSidedDie Apr 17 '13 at 21:02
Yeah, Savage Worlds would do it quite easily as well – Wibbs Apr 17 '13 at 21:04
Thanks - "Skill-based systems" is a pretty good answer in my eyes :) – Ryno Apr 17 '13 at 21:13
Sadly, I couldn't make that an answer here that would qualify as useful – there are 1,600 items on RPGGeek listed under "skill based" games. That's a lot of reading to do. For recommendations, you either have to have very specific requirements that narrow down that 1,600 to a bare few or one (which would make it on-topic here) or you have to accept whatever favourites and opinions people suggest (which is off-topic here, but not on a forum like – SevenSidedDie Apr 17 '13 at 21:24
We're not big on list-based questions here. One best answer should be sought and this doesn't lend itself well to that. Once you narrow down your search you might come back and ask if such-and-such a system would support such min/maxing better than another. You might check out GURPS too, I imagine that one would fill the role well. – LitheOhm Apr 17 '13 at 22:34

This is one of the cases where you'd be well served by Mage: The Ascension. In Mage, your aptitude at magick is determined by your level of Arete (a standalone spellweaving stat), your ranks in Spheres (the aspects of the world you manipulate), and the power of your Avatar (the spark in your soul that lets you cast). It doesn't interact with the Attribute and Ability system at all; no brains required!

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Mage: The Awakening would work as well. There's Gnosis for power and the Arcana for aspects, but neither one has any ties to mundane abilities. There are ways to use regular skills to get bigger dice pools, but you don't have to. – Bobson Apr 19 '13 at 18:05
@Bobson That's true, but Awakening relies so much on Rotes that not having access to them is a much bigger hardship. When all your difficulties are 8, you want as many dice as you can muster. – Jadasc Apr 19 '13 at 18:14
My characters tend to just go for Gnosis and mostly ignore rotes, so I'm biased. – Bobson Apr 19 '13 at 18:31

Hero System games allow you to customize how much your magical powers, skills, and ability scores depend on each other. You can layer them like most RPGs, with powers based on skill groups based on related attributes, but you can also build hyper-specialized characters like your magic savant. You can use the Fantasy Hero setting for traditional fantasy RP, Champions for superhero magicians, or build your own setting with the core system.

The game is pretty crunchy mechanically, and it works best for players who like to tinker and build things. For a story-based game, you'll want to aggressively pursue options for simplifying the game. Preparation helps a lot: Try to build anything you need before it comes up in play, and build your powers so they're quick and simple to use. When you can, take character options that reduce bookkeeping (like endurance tracking).

Also, take advantage of the campaign power limit guidelines, which address most concerns about min-maxing. With a character like this, I actually wouldn't worry about min-maxing so much as teamwork. It's tough for hyper-specialized characters to work with a team, and it's easy for socially maladroit characters to cause friction with other players. Be sure that your GM and fellow players are comfortable with the concept!

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