Earthsea was clearly on everyone’s mind in early role-playing. Due to rambling, I didn’t include some of the time we spent realizing how many systems and settings dipped into its terms and the organization of magic.
It’s also – at first glance – genuinely perfect for fantasy role-playing, as attractive a package as any. You’ve got your map, your various cultures, a strong implied history, and above all, what looks to be a worked-out system for magic. It might be a bit shy on monsters but racks the dragons way up there.
And yet what happens with magic, happens to (and by) the protagonists, and what the entire plots are about – goes elsewhere. The hero levels up, but the story isn’t about leveling up. The hero faces enemies, but the stories aren’t about defeating enemies. So that’s one topic, that the material that seems made for nothing but straight-up gamer adventure is not being used for it.
The other topic is more appropriately discussed: that despite role-playing games’ various schools/branches of magic, the odd wizard school, dragons galore, and maps upon maps, and despite the obvious embedding of Earthsea into way more titles than I’d thought before this lab time, no role-playing game has apparently done that thing with magic-centric, high-and-mighty wizard play that these books do.
What is that, and why? Why might I or anyone want to? And how would that be done?
[Here’s the link to the RPG.net thread Gordon mentioned: Earthsea RPG?]