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ARC designer’s hit solo RPG The Magus gets an English print release about power, ambition and sacrifice

Momatoes' meditation on "the infinite loneliness of power" comes with a 78-card, fully illustrated Oracle deck.

Card art from The Magus and the Oracle solo tabletop RPG
Image credit: momatoes

Would you toss everything into the engine of personal ambition, burning your past to sow a future ripe with arcane prowess? That’s the core premise behind Solo tabletop RPG The Magus, which will release its first physical edition in English as part of ZineQuest/Zine Month 2024.

Designed and illustrated by Filipino Bianca Canoza, better known online as momatoes and creator of ARC:Doom, The Magus follows the life of a wizard, arcanist or other practitioner of the mystical arts and their quest to perfect their craft. It is, by all accounts, a lonely endeavour that drives away family, friends and any semblance of a ‘normal’ life. Some embrace this shedding, while others find the process not just daunting but downright harrowing.

Like other solo RPGs, The Magus can be played with nothing more than a notebook, writing tool and some dice. But momatoes has teamed up with Italian publisher Oscar Biffi to pair the book with a 78-card deck of prompt cards known as The Oracle. Boasting new illustrations from momatoes, the Oracle deck can provide names, bonds, emotional table dressing and approaches to conflict for those players who find it difficult to pull answers out of the fog of their brain.

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Unlike a lot of other solo RPGs, The Magus describes itself as a “crunchy” title that will have you rolling all of your dice as the tragic and like ruinous tale of your wizard spins out of the results and onto the page. Four key traits - Focus, Power, Control, and Scars - can be used to overcome adversities and solve problems, and balance is paramount to staving off calamity for as long as possible.

Many of the narrative prompts will detail the creation - or appropriation of spells, artefacts and vital components. Power may corrupt lesser minds, but you’re above all that, right? You’d never stoop to petty larceny, theft or disparaging your peers in order to claim advantages? Right? The Magus will constantly interrogate the limit of your resolve while forcing you to re-evaluate moral and ethical lines in the sand. What if the last door between you and a crowning achievement was a spouse, a child, or a best friend? Could you balance that scale?

Book spread from The Magus and the Oracle solo tabletop RPG
Image credit: momatoes

No matter how long The Magus stays in your life, The Oracle’s setting and game-agnostic questions have been designed to work with plenty of other systems and titles, working as a more general “inspiration deck” according to the design team. Try it out with other solo RPGs, throw it at those worldbuilding snags in your larger campaign, or use it on its own for some low-stress, abstract storytelling with a group of friends.

The Kickstarter campaign for The Magus & The Oracle will run through February 29th and is funding both a physical and digital version of the book and the card decks. Fulfilment to backers is expected to begin in April 2025. Joining momatoes and Biffi are translator and editor Chiara Locatelli and production manager Maria Guarneri.

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The Magus & The Oracle

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Chase Carter avatar

Chase Carter

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Chase is a freelance journalist and media critic. He enjoys the company of his two cats and always wants to hear more about that thing you love. Follow him on Twitter for photos of said cats and retweeted opinions from smarter folks.
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