The best role-playing game ever written is Steve Perrin's Magic World. This game was a part of Worlds of Wonder published by Chaosium in 1982 and consist of a 16-page booklet meant to be used together with BRP. The game takes place in a mysterious fantasy world and deserves a much better fate than it got. With the exception of a Swedish translation, called Drakar och Demoner and an article called Zarzeena's World, there were no expansions or adventures published. There were plans for an expansion to Magic World that never happened because Worlds of Wonder did not sell all that well. As the Swedish translation was based on an early draft of Magic World it included a small part of this expansion, namely the rules of Theurgists, a way of using prayer for magic.
When I asked Steve about the setting he answered “I just made up all of that stuff when I wrote the Magic World book. I never set up any long term campaigns in Magic World, so I didn't detail it much.” It is true that Magic World does not contain many details but the follow facts is known:
- It is a fantasy setting similar to Middle Earth. The place is lawless and emperors and kings are struggling for power, even with armies.
- There is a common money system based on copper pennies, Crowns (silver coins) and Imperials (gold coins). The Crowns are abbreviated Cr and 1 Imperials = 10 Crowns = 100 copper pennies.
- 300 years ago the last empire collapsed. All that we know about it is that it produced the Imperials, but it is possible that it was the Empire called Tzand.
- There is little known about the gods, actually all we know is that there chimeras were created by mad gods centuries ago.
- There are warriors, rouges, sages and different kinds of magic workers.
- We know quite a bit of the magic in Magic World. Among other things we know that there are alchemists, enchanters, necromancers and wizards. We also know that there is a Sorcerer's guild that accepts students depending on there age, there ability and how much they are willing to pay. Finally we know about at least 25 spells.
- There are quite a few more or less intelligent creatures in Magic World. The ones mentioned are mythical creatures like chimeras, dragons and manticores, magical creatures like demons and skeletal guardians, humanoid creatures like humans, dwarves, elves, goblins and trolls and finally some natural animals like bears, wolves and horses. There are also ghosts that indicate that at least some of the humanoids have some kind of soul. Unfortunately there is not much we know among the different creatures, dwarfs, goblins and trolls seams to be rather "normal" but the elves is a bit greedier than in other fantasy settings.
- The known languages in Magic World are Elven, Troll, Zirconian, Illyric(?), Human, Dragonish and Old Tzandian.
- The price of some goods is known, for example weapons, armour, gems, jewellery, loaf of bread, housing, horses and some magic items.
- There is one known kingdom called Far Dales with at least 4 cities. We know that it is crossed by the Manticore Mountains, a few rivers and a road. The road passes through the Manticore Mountains at a place called Dragonwing Pass. We also know that there are horse races in Far Dales. To the west of Far Dales there is a mountain ridge called Trollhome Mountains where the troll race is supposed to have started.
- There are some known inventions and products like catapults, wine, bronze, iron, magic potions. There are boats in Magic World and probably oceans.
I am not sure how much of the world described in BRP that is valid for Magic World but I guess some of the natural animals like eagle, dog, deer and rat can be found there.
According to Steve, the name Far Dales, was a steal from Andre Norton's Witchworld similar to that place before it was invaded by Alizon. Lots of holdings, fairly tenuous feudal ties to a central monarch somewhere who has about all the power of the High King at Tara in Ireland. The geography is mostly rolling hills with chunks of mountains like the 3 Sisters.
Magic World could be a part of the Empire of Tzand included in Perrin's North Coast campaign and neighbouring Illyrion. Tzand is a Persian or Mogul sort of place whose magic might well have fallen at the same time as Illyrion's.
The reason I write this is to inspire you to play Magic World, especially the wonderful adventure Vault of Sarkath Han. It is also possible that Steve Perrin will write a squeal to the adventure in the future. When this is a reality I will let you know.