Aug. 6, 2021


"Perpetuating the success of fireball."

Cat McDonald of Peach Garden Games brings her perspective of being an indie TTRPG designer and knowledge of the occult to this talk about magic in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. She takes us through the design processes used when working on Heroic Chord and her other TTRPGs. Unsurprisingly, we discuss at length her freeform magic system where players must homebrew spells on the fly through bargaining with the GM. When you compare this method with the one found in D&D, it's clear to see that 5e encourages power gaming through bread & butter magic items such as a +1 weapons. We world build settings and hooks to how to mitigate this potential lacklustre pitfall, such as a high-magic world which suddenly loses all magic! This brings us to how magic saturation affects a setting, with Cat asking the critical question of "are there bread baking robots in Eberron?"

This episode, for the first time, you can hear my cheeky dog barking in the background at a few points. Apologies!

  • 03:07 - Designing magic systems for TTRPGs
  • 12:03 - Escaping the logistics of spell slots: free form magic
  • 16:37 - Inventive homebrew solutions to 'spell fatigue'
  • 23:15 - How magic rarity impacts a setting
  • 40:03 - Eberron or Eberroff? (Have I made that pun before?)
  • 44:51 - Managing magical minutiae
  • 53:48 - The "magic" of TTRPGs

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Intro Music: 'Local Forecast' by Kevin MacLeod
Intermission Music: 'Chill' by Kevin MacLeod
Outro Music: 'Local Forecast - Elevator' by Kevin MacLeod

Cat McDonald (Peach Garden Games) Profile Photo

Cat McDonald (Peach Garden Games)


Cat is a Canadian game designer and the Host King of the podcast Sword of Symphonies. She's had short fiction published here and there in fantasy and horror anthologies (and romance one time).
Cat designed Heroic Chord, the TTRPG behind Sword of Symphonies, to depict a world where people take care of each other. She's also written a handful of short TTRPGs like the anime Lumen hack Blazing Hymn and the solo monster hunt Apex Predator.