There are a few hacks I have been working on for the Art Magic rules from the Magic Burner. I know it is actually a set of BWR rules, but they transfer pretty seamlessly to the BWG rules.
First hack: “Fixing” the Advantage and Hindrance Effects
The Advantage and, to a lesser degree, Hindrance effects have caused my groups and I some trouble in play. Basically the problem is that they are so easy to cast and so easy to justify under a school that advantage gets cast all the time. Unless there is a really good reason not to, a sorcerer might as well always cast a small spell before any action to gain +1D or +2D advantage. The spells are slow enough for the detailed conflict system, so once inside a conflict they are fine, but outside of extended conflicts they get used too much.
It doesn’t even require the player to abuse the system, not intentionally at least. Create a school like “Spells of the Mind” and you can easily justify a spell granting +1D to almost any mental skill by boosting memory, making your mind faster, making yourself more empathetic and so on.
It just gets a little annoying when a player casts the 4th spell during the same scene, granting himself or his comrades +1D advantage or +2D.
Ymmv of course, but that has been my experience in play from running 1 longer campaign using the art magic rules and a handful of shorter games.
So how to fix this?
A few ideas.
First is to arbitrarily limit what schools can grant advantage/hinder what abilities. Pick a handful of abilities for each school, those are the ones it can hinder. It is a slightly problematic solution as the primary limitation on schools is supposed to be color. How you describe a spell determines if the school applies, if you can come up with a a spell description that fits the mechanical effect and the school color, then you can use the school. Still, it would make sorcery less broad and would easily shut this problem down. Simple, effective, goes a bit against the grain.
The second idea for limitation could be some kind of escalation on difficulties or consequences of advantage/hindrance spells. For example, each advantage and hindrance spell suffers applies +1 ob to the same effect with the same session (or scene, or in-game day). It might be a little harsh though and requires the sorcerer’s player to plan ahead a bit. If he gains +2D to resources for bribing the guard, he will have a harder time casting a spell to give him advantage to talking to the king, etc. Requires a bit of bookkeeping, very focused fix, alters play a little for sorcerers.
The third solution and the one I am leaning towards at the moment is to have art magic require a tax test even for successful spells, similar to traditional sorcery. Requiring an ob 2 forte test for each art magic spell could do the trick. It is low enough that it is almost always going to be a routine test, but assuming a forte of 5-6 it is going to fail occasionally. This make the easy and simple spells as easy to cast, but if you cast a handful of them you will likely fail a tax test and then it becomes more tricky to cast the next one. It is also easy to fit into the fiction - art magic requires a bit of stamina to cast, but as long as the spell is cast well, the strain is negligible. Simple, brings tax into art magic, fits fiction easily.
Are we the only group to have had this issue with art magic? Have I overlooked a solution? Is my preferred solution (the third) not good for some reason? Any input is appreciated