Tuesday, January 14, 2014

GURPS Magic Notes 06: Doctrine Part 01 - Most commonly used magic

This is some doctrine basics (basically the Cliff notes so that you wont' have to go through all those spells) regarding Knowledge, Protection/Warning, Communication/Empathy, Mind, Necromancy, Meta-Spells and Enchantment.

The weakness of my approach is that I have many powerful schools that I've not explored thoroughly: Movement, Gate, Healing, Elemental Paths, Plant, Animal, Technological etc... In light of this please assume correction in more recent posts about these other schools to over-ride what I say here. Of course, since In The War beneath Heaven setting these are primary schools discussed all the other schools being Rare, it falls under in-character knowledge that the more recent posts will be unknown for the character.

  • Costs are based on War Beneath Heaven Economics. 
  • If costs in the book is based on the $33 per day, x7.6 to get the Setting price
Here is my Spell Spreadsheet for Sharing (In case someone accidentally alters it).
So far only Meta-Spell, Enchantment, Knowledge, Mind Control, Communication/Empathy, and Protection/Warning

Rules in Review

  • Magic Rules (B234). I keep having to read this again and again, because I read the spells description and the other fine print and find something nuanced again lolz. It is a lot of rules to keep in mind, hence the "Rules in Review" will definitely add to my word count lolz. 
  • Success Rolls (B343). Like above, I keep having to read this again and again. I had to leave a a post it page marker. 
  • Critical Failure (B348). Skills are unlike Spells, there are more dangerous consequences for Spells (see Critical Fail Table B236) unlike skills and even a simple failure has a cost (B235 last paragraph of Casting Spells, especially Information Spells). A mage will always try to have skills at least at 15 and Higher because of Special Resistance Rules (like vs Spell Endurance or another Spells Power Level)  
  • The Rule of 16 (B349). Basically it caps the Maximum Margin of Success of a Magical Attack when it is against a Stat. Since Spells with Magery can reach very high levels, this rule caps this. Its one of those things GMs have to remind ourselves, its better if I can notify spells with Max-16 in the Resistance notes. 

Divination to Speculate on the Future

Summon Shade allows you to talk to people in the Future. This is funny since the GM doesn't really know whats going to happen. If Players think they can use Divination to find out what stocks to buy, even with their epic law or research or writing skills to make a very well worded and productive question the bottom line is that maybe its a completely USELESS spell. If you are a fan of those string theory headaches, then maybe the magic doesn't call  on any one particular Time Line. So you can be calling on your best buddy from another timeline. 

If it was a useful spell, it would tell you things you can deduce from your own fact finding but it when boils down to probability its worthless because other timelines being created when probabilities are 50/50.
The GM can make his job easier as to make this spell near worthless (and a source of many red herrings). Of course divination has its Cognitive Biases, and Facts are not believed unless a person wants to accept them. So you don't have to tell your players divination is CRAP or you dont have to make it worthless, just be completely ambiguous (also meta story wise, how complicated things get with these elements). A lot of the elements come out of the recent news lines about "how to find time travellers"

Funny if it happens to be in the "Right" timeline, it might self correct lolz and in the next day something happens to alters the timeline slightly enough to make it worthless. 

Optimization of Points

So its no surprised you've probably guessed that Magery with Aspects are the cheapest way to having higher spell casting ability. In 2pts versus 4pts per level, Magery with -80% limitation aspects win out, thats why I've put a CAP of 15 levels. The Cap can be circumvented but by NPCs and powers gained in play.

The next obvious optimization is putting it all on Thaumatology, which is hard to beat at the cost of specialization. Note there is a difference of -6 between a specialist and a generalist, which is equal to 2 maintained spells or 1fp power discount or being able to cast in Low Mana conditions. Also prerequisites add up quickly, so I find it 50/50 for those who specialize vs those who generalize.

munchkin note: it is best to always give Opportunity Costs to help quantify what each levels mean.


Specialists would have 4-8cp in Thaumatology and put all their points in one Path and Enchantment. 20cp in a specialization is equal to about 10 years of on the job training. Its relatively no different from a professional trained from 16years. Note that this can be hastened with the special familiars and companions that have Teaching and can coach and train characters to these levels at 1/3 to 1/2 the time.

Enchantment is the School where everyone knows as a secondary specialty because most of the magical professions are in the manufacturing of enchanted items. Specialists can have 48cp dedicated into one path, at such a level and 15 magery there is a 5 point discount in spell casting (up to 6 point discount) when a powerful familiar grants mana-enhancer 2.

Specialists can call upon their powers frequently and in levels that are very lethal at 48cp... but not even 150cp characters can get there at the start without taking too crippling costs.

Few Paths are worth Specializing: Illusion, Mind Control, and Comm/Emp are the few and they have great economic specialization trade offs. Otherwise the access to all other Paths via generalists have worthwhile rewards. One big deal is that its easier to make a character if magic is just ONE SKILL lolz.


Thaumaturgy of of 48cp (IQ+10) makes up the difference for a specialist with 20cp (IQ+4); thats 28 more points, with the same budget a Specialists is +6 better than a Generalist and if there are a lot of Resistance Rolls, this matters A lot. Generalists are as common as specialists and the trade offs are generalists have more research skills (to know what are the spell options out there) and buy up their enchantment (to be able to prepare better).

Optional Rule Maintaining Skills (B294)

This fits perfectly as to why its hard to keep extreme skill levels. I'm planning to require it for Mages. Which means they get their bonuses from other sources, probably buying up the other Paths using Improved Defaults (B173). 

To keep buying up defaults (improving skills from default B173), the player has to pay 4cp for every -1 default value. so a -6 default means 24cp to be equal to what ever your current Thaumatology has equal or more points invested.   

What is the most common spell used? 

Enchantment is the most common spell used because of magical enchantment Industry. Enchanters focus on the just need to buy off the Difference in Enchantment Prerequisites (11pt Technique). Enchantment is an activity that counts both the Enchantment skill and the other path involved in the item creation. Enchantment is tricky since its -16 to cast from Thaumatology vs Enchantment at -10, and you use the lower of key spells. 

Typically the Specialization is +4 to +3  better than the Enchantment path/college (Example: Comm/Emp 20cp, Enchantment 8cp)  with 11cp hard technique for Enchantment. 

Currently because magical Items are made by Adepts, the power level is 25-prerequisite count.

Scrolls is the second most common spell used, (GM Ruling) its the Only way to negate the Maintaining multiple spell penalty. Since Multiple Spells (B238 under Casting Spells while Maintaining Other Spells).  If you read the description carefully, the Roll for the Scroll is AFTER its made and not when it is used.

Note that Power Level is the only way to determine how effective the spell is. A mage with multiple scrolls of different powerlevels can figure out the relative skill level of a scroll.

Typical Scroll Power Level is 15 (-5 from low mana) minus prerequisites. Higher levels are more expensive and rarer, lower levels are cheaper and more common. Power levels 20 (-5 from low mana) higher can command x4 time, and 25 (-5 from low mana) costs x20.
Optional Rule. Specialist Enchanters (Those with their specialty being Enchantment College), can use Scrolls so that a Higher Skilled Casting of the desired Spell can be used. This will allow enchantments to have higher Power Levels. This would allow Magical Specialization, and Power Levels of 31-prerequisite count. Power level is a big deal because it determines it the magic item is practically Always On since it determines its maintenance cost. You don't have to introduce this immediately in a setting, it can be when Modern Economics and Systems are in place and the Thaumatology/TL improves at a certain level. 
Scryguard (M121) This is the most commonly used spell for Privacy and for Protection. If you read the description carefully its ANY information spell. The GM should make some rulings as to how this interacts with spells like History (M106; is your actions detectable via History Spell while you were in scryguard). Because it lasts 10 hours. Mages can regain the mana in 30mins at the latest, and pay the maintenance easily, every mage has this spell on himself and on allies ON constantly.

Protects against any Information Type spells:

Seeker (M105). Are the next most commonly used spells for information gathering, this is the primary threats that concern most "Illuminated" people.
Clarify Impressions Rules (GM Ruling)
Reading Seeker (M105)  and  Impression Blocker (M60), Sympathy component is needed for such information gathering spells. Only one person handled the Object for an impression to be usable, that is why unhandled bodily remains of the target is best because there is no doubt who owns it. The entourage or companion of a Mage always handles the object so as to muddy the Impression on it.  

What is the most common defense measure/the most common threat? 

Privacy Threat and Information Gathering - is the most common threats. There are mundane ways to protect Privacy and this is what most mages take on. WHY?- because this his how you start any Social Engineering or Activity against someone (this is why Privacy is such a big deal, because the basic process to any effort against someone is gathering information about them... now if you gather information about an entire population, it may seem like your target is that population lolz)
Expertise (Security: Optional Specialization Mage) (A) IQ [2]; Acting (A) IQ [2]; Schtick Persona [1] 
Maintaining a separate Persona is the first line of Defense. The second is maintaining Scryguard (Metaspell M121) which is easy at 1FP every 10 hours which can cost nothing for caster of 15 skill after low magic. Note that what is important is the "casting level" because it must be defeated. While some mages can cast Scryfool, scry guard has a higher level unless the mage spent time buying up the technique. Illusion Disguise or Sense Observation (or both) since these spells can be easily maintained for long duration.

Scryguard Item ($125,000) and Simple Illusion Disguise ($37,500) are used by wealthy non-mages.

Only the Powerful Patron can afford Magical Resistance (M123) at $375,000. The patron typically is a Mage-himself, acquiring the advantage as a Tattoo/Branding/Implant/Grafting etc... if it was not imborn and then acquiring their own Powerful Familiar.

I will save Magical Countermeasures and an example of Layered Defense for another article since its too distracted to talk about it in this summary article and some more doctrine notes.
House Ruling Option. Amulet (M58) is not a go-to defense because it pretty specific and that spell relationships bleed into each other which requires many ruling notes (which i am slowly accumulating for just this spell and defense doctrine). Its useful for a broad kind of approach threat like Mind-Reading and Mind Searching, but given the randomness of Encounters and Circumstances it can be very hard to use. The best go to would be Magical Resistance (M123 Since there are so many methods of attack. Under Just Mind Control, there are about at least 16 offensive spells that can be casts under 7 prerequisites. 
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