I'm a newcomer to Fate Core, and working out a magic system is daunting. I have read over the core and glanced through the system toolkit as well, but some experience-based advice would be helpful (particularly from those who have played superhero games in Fate with defined magic systems).
I'm trying to capture the "warrior" magical girl genre. Some popular examples include Sailor Moon, Pretty Cure, and Madoka Magica. It's a superhero subgenre about characters who temporarily transform into more powerful, magical versions of themselves in order to fight evil.
Again, I want to do this in Fate Core. Drawing inspiration from FAE (or even setting-specific or third party Fate strains) may be appropriate if it supports my goals. However, I think Fate Core has the tools I need. It's just a matter of arranging them into a system that works.
The key things I want to establish:
PCs will have both an "unpowered" and a "powered" form that they move back and forth between. The narrative reason is the conflict inherent in leading double lives. Some low level supernatural abilities may exist in the "unpowered" form, but ideally, the PCs only have access to their highest tier of magical ability when "powered."
The powers will be mainly useful in combat. The point is to get them engaged in battle with lower tier "monsters of the week" as well as more powerful commanders that control or lead the monsters. That doesn't completely rule out other kinds of powers (or creative non-combat uses for powers), but this is why the characters transform -- to fight evil.
PCs could either have generalized arenas of power (e.g. the ability to manipulate water) or specific attacks with finite effects (e.g. Sailor Mercury's "Mercury Aqua Mist" attack creates an icy fog to obscure visibility). The two could also be combined into a general mastery of an element/concept accompanied by powerful "finisher" moves.
All PCs should have roughly equal power levels. Although it's common in the genre to have an especially powerful leader supported by a less powerful team, this is not what I want to model. It will be more fulfilling for the group if everybody is on equal footing. I will likely provide a template that players can customize to suit their characters.
Running out of power will probably not be a concern. If my group decides it wants to have "mana" of some sort, I think I can do it pretty painlessly with an extra stress track. Otherwise, the characters should normally be able to transform when necessary to fight evil and remain transformed until they're finished.
What might affect a PC's ability to transform is emotional state (being in abject despair, losing the will to continue fighting, etc.). There is also the possibility of requiring an item to transform -- that will be up to the players. If included, transformation would require the item.
What parts of the game would you recommend to accomplish this? I'm currently leaning toward a combination system if it's doable. I like the specific attacks because shouting out a named one is a flavor bit synonymous with the genre in my mind. Still, I want flexibility in combat so that no one gets stuck spamming attacks.
- Making a Magical Powers skill that everybody takes and flavors it the way they want it. Having a skill is probably best suited to the "general mastery of an element/concept," given the four basic actions. That leaves me at a loss for adding specific "finisher" attacks, and I'm not sure how to best create them.
- Using Stunts to represent specific attacks (in the "adding a new action to a skill" vein). The problem is that you really don't get a lot of stunts. Having made a character for an SotC game, the stunts really helped me define her above and beyond her skills. I'd like to leave the stunts free so my players can use them that way, too. I could toss in a few bonus stunts, I suppose.
- Using aspects as magic. The Aspect could cover the "Alternate Form" thing and work in tandem with a "Magical Powers" skill. The "Stormcallers" example starting on page 82 of the toolkit gives me some good ideas on how to use an aspect in this situation. But for their combat powers, I don't think this is ideal.
- Creating Extras for magic. Extras are the feature I understand the least right now. The core suggests them for supernatural abilities, but I'm struggling to differentiate them from other components of the game. When should something just be a skill/stunt/aspect/etc. I create, when should it be an extra, and what benefit is there? I'm still unsure.