Wednesday, November 13, 2013

GURPS Magic Notes 01 on System Mechanics

I've been busy looking at the GURPS Magic System last night. There is the Basic Magic System (BM for short), which doesn't have a name and there is Ritual Magic System or RM (not to be confused with Ritual Path Magic System which is free form magic).

So Basically +James Austin and I have been busy studying the Magic System and Optimizing.

Hal's Work in GURPS Magic

Hal of SJgames forums has always talked about the flaws of the system when you consider economics. Economics is science, by what i mean as science is that it is it a discipline of analysis and Magic that never stood up to the scrutiny of science became BS and magic that withstood the scientific discipline became SCIENCE lolz. Still his work, Hal's work, is the basis of many of my analysis into what  Magic Systems of any game system. Many forum regulars (can't name them all) also talk about gurps magic and economics.

What Hal did was try to make sense of magic economically, what is the standard practices and how it reaches equilibrium. Anyway since Hal's work is already there for people to use, I'll add some relatively new but basic.

His older threads has most of the magic relevant discussions. Look for the heavily discussed ones... or just TL:DR magic is HARD.

Mindset in Making a Mage

If you are going to make a mage in GURPS in a low powered setting, (like my game) be prepared to play him as though you are wielding a SHOTGUN instead of a Assault Rifle. This means you'll be in a more dangerous position (short ranged and vulnerable as casting a spell), you need to prepare (specialized shotgun ammo), you have FAR less "Shots" to deal a lot of damage or effects (7 shots vs 30 for assault rifles), and balance your capabilities with a TON of real world considerations: make use of Web-Gear, Body Armor, Grenades, Radios, etc....

Magery and Power Investiture Advantage. in B68 Magery is not limited, 3 is a recommendation to the GM found in the 5th paragraph of the Advantage. If your part of the Cult of Stat Normalization then you may want to have lower stats but focus on Talents like Magery or Power Investiture.  The best is to have 80% of limitations. Feel free to flavor up the Aspects. I don't mind (but your GM might) exchanging Dance for Kata/Combat Art or Singing for Prayer/Chanting/Poetry.

Still added skill only matters to get FP discounts after 15. I really care nothing for skills beyond 15, so instead of spending 20points to raise a College Path Skill by 5 spend 10points bringing up specialist magery to 5. In the end the GM has to cap how much magery can be bought. I would cap it at 35, which is the equivalent of having a generalist with having only 3 levels of magery or power investiture

Sample Limitations are ff:

  • Avatar the Last Airbender Inspired: Dance/Combat Art Kata -40% and College (Elements) -40%. 
  • Spell Singer would have Singing Aspect. 
  • Accessibility - Full Power only unless Emergencies otherwise Half Power -20%, Dance/Kata -20% (half power unless accessibility is met B110), Song/Ceremony (half power unless accessibility is met B110), Solitary -20% (half power unless accessibility is met B110)
Mana Enhancer p.68 with 80% of limitations gives the most bang per buck after Mageryand usefull in settings at low mana level. So once you get the 'right' limitations its 10cp for what would be +5 to your magic or enough to offset the -5 low magic setting. At +

Typical -80% limitations (hand sized small SM-5, -10%; Wooden or Ivory or Hardened Leather DR2 -20%; Can be Stolen, a bracelet, amulet, beads, etc.. , -30%; Temporary Disadvantages: Mild Flash Backs , Mild Phantom Voices,  Wierdness Magnet or Supernatural Features -20%)

Other Useful Advantages.

  • Single Minded, it should help in certain concentration actions. 
  • Less Sleep or Does not Sleep. More time to enchant on your down time. Unless the player has a magical way of Knowing or a high Introspection skill, I won't tell him his body's cycle setting. 
  • edit (2/27/2014) Regeneration specialized only for FP +0% (in Powers, so I'm told, haven't read the book). since all the other levels of FP Regeneration is useless because the body regenerates FP at a faster rate than that. The player can make it an Item 30cp Item and VIOLA regenerate 10FP per second lolz. Now the PC can cast a bunch of spells that are Cinematic ally Powerful/ or what you would find in many Shonen anime's 
  • Compartmentalized Mind. Managing Spells and Combo Effects. 
  • Ally as a Familiar, "Heroic Spirit" (like in Fate Stay Night/Zero), Golem/homunculus (Unbreakable Machine Doll/ etc...) I'll come up with a separate article for a template for such (remind me!).  

Ally Aspect

A special ally that allows you to Cast spells or Full Power to cast spells is an Accessibility of 40% or 20% respectively. Take note you will need to get Supernatural Enhancement for the Ally at +50% and to offset that you will need to take Sympathetic (your fate's and lives are tied) at -50%! With such an Accessibility and all you need is 4cp for an ally (x4 for constant, +50% supernatural, and -50% sympathetic; 1point ally) and Viola you get a -20% limitation to powers. I love the "Half Power" limitation that halves the cost of limitations but still allows you to cast spells at half power. Its very usefull now that there are more awesome Limitations to take. 


Disadvantages in Magic for me, always in a Cthulu-esque theme where one loses humanity and sanity. Its just more fun that way, so Techno-mages always get a little magic to make a lot of technology go a long way.

Don't rely on High Skills instead rely in creating Magic Items. In GURPS Magic you need to have a skill of 15 to get a discount of 1 point in casting. This is enough to make some "Blocking Spells" to cost nothing to the character. Otherwise most of the spells have costs of 2 and above, on average worthwhile spells are 6FP with a maintenance of 3cp.

You will notice in RM there is no point of spending more than 4 points in a College Path vs Spending those point buying up Ritual Magic or Thaumaturgy Skill. Since there is no difference in spending on College Path vs RM/Thau skill just buy it all up because it has more uses.

Note that its also diminishing returns to Buy up a lot of Thaumaturgy or Ritual Magic. Sometimes its just cheaper to spend the 4 points in improving Enchantment which has a RM of -12. Use Enchantment to build your arsenal.

Magic Items. the magic number is $33 per power point value of an Item when CREATING it, otherwise the Item has a Market Value of $50 per point. (reference page to follow). In a Modern Setting where you have a large starting cash this would be great, in a Low tech setting this would be hard. This is where the GM should Rule on Market Value per Point. In a Low Mana setting, tripling the Creation Cost should be simple enough for $100 and Market Value could be around $1000 per point. Skills like Administration, Merchant etc... can go into lowering the price. Still a Margin of 90% makes sense to something as valuable as Magic.


The Techno Mages. They are the most dangerous and mostly played by skilled players who know their Technology and Mastered the GURPS magic system and did all the research. Basically people who if given magic and time will be Techno Mages themselves. Unfortunately I can't get into this because I'm the GM and have no time to make optimized Characters :( Still some basic concepts come to mind.

The Sorcerers Social Engineer (Communication Empathy College or Mind Control or Illusion)

The Mircale Working Doctor with Healing and Necromancy

The Artificer Engineer,  Make and Break College (as a foundation for Techno spells) and Enchantment will allow an engineer to basically a Gadgeteer. The first combo to come to mid is the use of more powerful drones and very specialized drones able to do things dreamed off in sci-fi (like Micro-Bots in my modern Fantasy game) or even MECHA and Powered Armor! From the Drone builder (who basically builds his assistants) one can make various specializations: Hacker or Demolitions or Civil Engineer (building secret dungeons and bases).

Sleuth with magic is a simple combo but done a lot. Still I can see room for new ways of pulling it off especially since Analysis and Strategy is not so much explored.

Underworld Magos Campaign

I was influenced by Fate Zero and various Anime's with Heroes with clever combos and "Limit Breakers". Because of the new lessons I got from James, I think the "underworld" of haven will be very very interesting and Terrifying.

Its like studying up for DND Epic games where one sorts through all the spells and classifying their tactical and economic relevance. Because the Game in Kitchen Sink and a Shadow War has begun, I can always incorporate my current Inspiration to the game without having to start a New Game.

No magical Grail to win or Some magical tournament, in this setting. Its social and economic conflict, its human conflict, but where magic exists but it is used in the shadows.

That was an inspiring Article about the Gap of Technology between certain powers and regular people. The gap is so huge, I could easily put Magic as part of that superiority and people are still as powerless and depressing lolz (sigh).



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