Wednesday, November 27, 2013

GURPS Magic Notes 04: Enchantment

Ok I'm still studying the spells in GURPS magic, and I find myself comparing it to DnD 3.5 spells. Best way to begin Studying GURPS Magic is through the Magic Cart

More about Enchantment

Enchantment in B480 or Magic17 (GURPS magic the splat book) is divided into "Slow and Sure" and "Quick and Dirty". My work experience tells me Slow and Sure will lead to more failures than Quick and Dirty, and as the GM I would disallow Slow and Sure. This is because schedules, getting sick, and interrupted happen very often unless some Patron is there to throw money to make interruptions and distractions go away.

Quick and Dirty is more logistically plausible, of course there should a good way to track it: Enter your Roll20 account or PBem games. First calcuate your how may "Enchanting" cycles a character can make in the time they have in the day. The GM can impose some Time Tax of their waking hours related to house keeping and administration to be fairly realistic how many hours in the day the character has really free. An organized character will definitely have more time to spend in such a situation.

Since Roll20 can document the rolls you just need to make a simple /r 3d6 macro, although PBEM games is better when you consider you may be rolling for Items that are in the thousands in FP. Check out the example in M17 of Hawthorne and Tubbs. Basically type the FP invested and click the 3d6 macro every attempt and stop when you fail. This will make things go pretty fast and documented. To simplify things, every critical failure should be random amount of additional side effects to speed things up.

You can also have the Random Effects Table in B479 the Roll20 tables, it would take about (20-30 minutes to prepare such because of all the typing) so that you can quickly roll for the "perversions".

Low Magic Settings

Since Enchanters in my game have a problem with Low Mana and we use Ritual magic, I've just made it simple in a way that a if the spell requires another spell from another school apart from its core school (see prerequisites) the default penalty -1 unless the character has skill in that College. My reasoning behind this is that if you saw the SPELL CHARTS then you would have a hard time calculating pre-requisites so KISS (keep it simple silly) should apply here. So basically the Enchantment with 10 skills from schools required has -12 total prerequisites OUCH!

So in my game where Magery is up to 15 levels (its not that high or useful unlike other skills; which makes them more fitting as techniques if you ask me), a character with IQ12, Magery 15 and 4cp in Thaumaturgy (IQ-1) and 4cp in Enchantment (Thaumaturgy -1) 25 skill but at -12 enchantment default its skill level 13 lolz. Good thing in Ritual Magic a spell is a technique and spending 8cp to buy off that will help a lot bringing the skill to 20.

Recover Energy

This being so important to mages but near useless in a Low Magic setting if you read the fine print found in the spell description. Of course since I allowed players to package all their magic under one advantage and have the same limitation this can be offset. So all the mages that are found in the setting, out of neccessity have to be Mana Enhances (check basic for description). The mage then can afford to invest in healing of 4cp (-1) and buying off the technique bring it to skill-20 for recover energy
otherwise fitness and "breath control" will allow a character to recover 1FP a minute (almost as fast as Recover energy but requires more rolls).

Power Balance in my GURPS Modern game 

After making some mage characters in my current character creation parameters I've noticed a mage is as powerful as a technological character, of the same point value. One interesting draw back is the lack of Magical Economic Support Infrastructure and how another 150cp military/espionage/technology character can be more lethal.

Lack of Magical infra means mages have to make everything themselves and mostly self sufficient, and because of this I've made magic items x3 to x10 more expensive and existing in the setting with the Sourcing Roll and need for the right Contacts (ideally Contact Group Skill-18 to be reliable at 15cp; roll freq-9 every day to access them). This is no economic specialization in the way that we have in modern technological world, and very small scale production. This is natural because if you look at the Enchantment system and the Education system, there is no economics of scale to bring down the cost.

That said, and looking at the spells and the spell levels, a character can have a Spell level of 17 (about investing ~90cp) to 30 (investing ~140cp) thanks to Magery 15 (35cp) and Mana Enhancer 2 (20cp;  -80% limitations), depending on the circumstance and limitations (and limit-breakers), and IQ11-12 it saves him about 2-4FP per spell (nothing a $2-10 specialized 12g shotgun shell can mimic lolz).

Even if the mage manages to scrape time to make his or her enchantments, since enchantments require a Straight interrupted process a character cannot hope to achieve certain power point levels. The GM can cap it to a month or a 3 month project, it the player can explain how the player was able to do this without distractions. Given all these limitations, even if the mage manages to make a lot of useful little trinkets they all have an ambient energy requirement, and even with Mana-Enhancer, the player can only have so many magic items that are self powered.

Then there is the Inquisitions, Zaibatsu/Giga to Mega Corporations, Triads/Cartels/Mafia, Gov'ts etc who can easily exploit human weaknesses and logistical limitations to trap a mage for their own uses. These Client Mages do not have much time to research or enchant spells because of the amount of freedom they need to do so and how much more useful they being used vs the risks of building an asset. Free-Mages versus Sponsored-Mages will be an interesting element in the game.

Lastly, spells are not that great compared to technology.  2-4d Fireballs are great an all, but an explosive 12g shell does as much damage and has much better range at about $20 a pop. Protection College has its limits (return missile being the primary defense, then realizing it doesnt really help against covered and armored targets).

I'm talking about relatively mages vs the world as it is now and with the advantages I've allowed. A GM can even be more harsh and add more penalties to magic but I feel that if I were a player if the ability to use magic is too complex and too difficult it may not be worth the effort to play. In the end of the day, I will allow players to power-trip with fairly powerful mages as long as they do the homework and study up their spells instead of relying on me.

Some Fairly useful Combos

  • Stone Missile (in Ritual Magic: Earth College -3) enchanted onto a firearm. If the skill is sufficiently high enough, it powers itself even in a low Mana environment (so at least skill-20! to counter the effects of Low Mana zone). Such an item would be fairly low powered, and useful in emergencies despite being weaker than a bullet. 
  • Drop Pouch that repairs ammo (M118) using spent shell casings and nearby materials or converts ammo of similar materials into the desired ammo (as long as the spent shell casings are there). Basically a mage Mcguyvers parts into the ammo he needs. Skill level-25 in a low magic setting to convert 5lbs of material into ammo.  Note there is no magical "Item" version of this, basically ask your GM.  I like drop pouches and would wear them to work if it would not be so strange lolz
  • Use Shotguns shells as a delivery method for silver, salt, holy whatever, cold iron etc... Much easier to prepare than rounds that need to be molded.
  • Low Encumbrance. Mages have the advantage that the technological equivalent of their powers have bulk and mass, although these are all getting smaller as technology improves. Mages with good athletics have synergy with a strategy that relies on few "toys" or trinkets. A mage with Parakour and Illusion magic would be very hard to capture in a 3rd world overcrowded and infra-poor city. Such a mage can always be moving. 
  • Web-gear. Arranging web gear can be such a hassel for an airsoft game, but what I learned is that you have to have like a 1h practice in about 2-3 days to have it all down pat and all the kinks worked out. Don't forget the drop pouches. 
  • Combining prestidigitation and illusions skills with real magic is always a pretty discrete and efficient use of such a character. Such a player will research on Social Engineering which is always a useful thing to be aware off. 

Damn, I have a lot more to talk about but this is going on pretty long. Await Magic Notes 05 in about two more weeks (because it takes time for me to crunch the numbers for you).

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