Thursday, April 17, 2014

GURPS Magic Notes 03: Basic Set System Mechanics Review

Bringing down the information barriers, and helping you get to play a mage or allow supernatural elements in the game. I'm particularly trying to work towards games with strategic and tactical magic. Like any level of complexity its built over a good foundation of fundamentals.

Quick Review 

  • B234 Glossary of Terms - I skipped this and went back to it (now that I looked at it seems I never really paid attention to this). 
    • Note the Spell Classes (B239): Regular, Area, Missile, Melee, Information, 
    • Area spells are funky when calculating area of effect. For every increment calculate it as as ((X*0.6)^2) * pi. Where X is the number of increments. 
      • It follows close to the hex area formula in very large values which is about (t^2)*2.6 where t is radius which is also equal to the length of a side.
      • +Bertram J√§nsch If you want to be precise then the area of a regular hexagon is (sqrt(3)/2)/(d^2) where d ist the distance between the parallel sides, ie 0.866 sq yds for a hex of 1 yard. (0.866 m^2 for a 1 meter hex if you're living in the world of modern units ;).)The number of hexes can be found by using 3n(n-1)+1 where n ist the number of increments.So just multiply the number of hexes with the area you want to use and voila.Hope this helps.
      • (new) Area spells extend upward 4m up! so effectively every HEX of 0.866 sq yrds/m has a volume of  3.4 cu. yrds/m. This means a lot if you consider that create FIRE is an area spell, fires 4 m UP!
    • Note the Colleges, in GURPS Magic there is a TON of them, about 20s compared to DnD's 7-8 groups. 
  • B235 under Casting Spells - Spells are Skills. Pay the FP cost of the Spell and Roll your Spell Skill
    • Your spell skill is IQ + Magery (B66-67) + Controlling Attribute Modifier (B167). Mana Levels are a Factor (B235), and only Low Mana matters in most situation because it imposes a -5 penalty. 
    • Magical Rituals (B237) - skill 9 and below sucks and you look silly casting a spell, 10-14 makes you look funny, and 15-19 is where most cinematic fantasy fiction fall under, and 20 and up makes you look bad ass. 
    • You can burn HP (B237) but it Penalizes the spell at -1 per HP burned due to something like shock. Immunity or Resistance to Pain has to be house ruled (B80). Note that since it says that its due to Shock but it says High Pain threshold has no effect its shock but not shock (make your ruling). Numbness should help (B146). 
      • I house ruled Immune to Pain (but still you can feel damage since this is still not Numbness) as 20cp. GURPS Powers gives the maximum duration limitations and if I need an ability check to activate. I basically made it a 4cp ability with 80% limitations that brought down its duration and ability to use, you have to make a will check to activate this and it lasts only 1 minute. Note the Missile Class spell rules, since it takes turns to "Power Up" a missile spell, you may not be able to burn HP enough and in time when the pain will start giving penalties. 
  • B348 Critical Failure - at level 16, only an 18 is a critical failure (made that mistake last game a player rolled an 18; still erred on the side of the player). 
    • There is a Critical Spell Failure Table in B236. The odds of getting the worse result (18 and 18 again) is about 1:46k or 0.002% ish which is a demon. On the Table >70% of the effects are not so bad. Only 17-18 makes you the GM's bitch.
  • B308 A lot of Spells. There are about 106 spells in the Basic Set and about a total of 600 more spells in GURPS Magic. 
  • B242 Ritual Magic Rules in the box, under Clerical Magic System. 
  • B201 Innate Attack (specify) is needed for various attack modes. Read more M12/B240 
  • B226 Throwing Skill for spells which can be hurled. 
  • B238 Casting While Maintaining Other Spells basically is your Multi-Tasking rules.  Unfortunately Multi-Tasking rules are not consolidated and come from ISW226 and Gurps Spaceships 1 p. 59. 
    • Some Spells require Skills like Art like Illusion, Art (illusion), or Shape Earth, Art (sculpting). Since these are mental skills it takes a concentration maneuver (see B366) to use them. Since Shaping these things are speed of thought, the GM calls how much time it is to form.  
    • M7 or  B236 Distraction and Injury rules. 
  • B241 or M13 Blocking spells have no discount. 
  • Resisted Spells B242 or M13-14. Resisted is Quick Contest! it is a contest of Margin of Success. 
    • B349 Rule of 16, Basically in a Quick Contest Roll (B348) an uber-powerful spell casters margin of success is capped at 16 or the target's contesting stat. So a Mage with skill-36 which targets HT would be used on a PC with only 12 HT can only have a margin of success limited as to only 16 (and not his 36 skill). 
      • So if the PC rolls a margin of 5 by rolling a 7, the Mage needs to roll at least a 10 and below Instead of rolling a 15 and still succeeding. Since the margin of success is using 16 to calculate a roll of 15 would have a margin of 1, instead of 11.  
  • B366 You cannot cast spells with Wait, since wait doesn't allow you to use a concentrate maneuver. Blocking spells fall under reflex but the GM will ultimately decide. So a mage cannot cast spells to interrupt an action, but can interrupt Long multi-second actions (like other spells that have a multi-second casting time).  
    • Ward M122 can allow a mage to "Counter" a Spell since it is a blocking spell. Note that you do not use a wait maneuver, you need to use a concentration maneuver using the Thaumatology or Ritual Magic or Hidden Lore Mages etc.. skill that allow you a clue of what spell is being cast. 
      • Mage Sight (M102) will help, unlike Aura, Identify Spell, Detect Magic, or Analyze Magic which are Instantaneous Information Spells. 
    • You can only "Counter Spell" a sell with more than 1 second of casting time and with Observable cues: which means the mage took a limitation for 

In Summary 

  • B234 Normal Magic:  Roll your IQ + Magery (B66-67) + Your spells Controlling Attribute Modifier (that's a mouth full). Lets just call the Basic Set's core normal magic system NM vs Ritual Magics RM. in B242 its calls it "Normal" magic system.  
  • B242 Ritual Magic:  Roll your IQ + Magery (B66-67) + Ritual Magic's or Thaumatology's Controlling Attribute Modifier - Prerequisite Count of the Spell (the counts can be found in GURPS Magic B225; I have a suspicion there are some errors but to check them would be such a head ache and I'm fine with the approximations). 
  • In both NM (Normal magic) and RM high skill discounts (See B237 under Magic Ritual). Basically 15, you have a discount of 1FP, and every 5 levels after that is 1FP more discount. So at 20, -2FP discount, 25 -3 FP. The sweet spot is 25. In RM your Pre-requisite Count or your "count" brings down your skill, so more powerful spells (those with higher counts) don't get a discount. 
  • Your Effective Skill matters a lot. It determines a Spells' Endurance (M20; not found in the Basic Set as far as I can research), a spells ability to contest other spells that try to affect it. 
  • Resisted Spells, Note that many spells make the target roll HT or Will or even a Skill to resist the effects.  Note that some Area effect spells can be Dodged, with Drop and Dodge (B377). So if you see someone look at you funny in a magic game setting, it would be acceptable to Dodge and Drop for cover the same as you would if you heard gun fire. 

Strategy Guide and Tips

  • Familiars or Companion one of the largest sources of limitations for Magery. Its basically -40% and its not so visible, you will find it in the Allies Advantage in B38 on the very lower left corner of the page. 
  • Aspects are pretty much a must. You can make an Aspect just lower your effective by halving the Limitations effect (see Accessibility B110, 2nd to the last paragraph). So a Mage that is Half as powerful in the Day will have Half the Night Aspect limitation (B67) at -20%. If you want Mudras  aka Somatic Components, Poetry like in Visionaries aka Verbal Components, or Prepared Material Components like in DnD I recommend just basing it off the Aspects and House rule it or you can use my house rules for it (C'mon you don't really need someone else to make this and I'm sure someone online has made it already).  
  • GMs who wants to play around with various mage builds should consider the following: 
    • LIMIT THE COLLEGES! yes, limit it to like 10 or 7! This will make your life so much easier. 
    • Use Ritual Magic. If your going to Build Mages and have to list every spells, F-that! Just write down your Ritual Magic (VH) IQ [8], College of Choice (VH) IQ [8] etc... Its so much easier. 
  • Be a nice guy and point out this post about Modular Abilities: Super Memorization Spells to your GM. Basically I can make it 0.6cp per 1 modular CP with limitations. That means every 3cp I spend in Modular Ability: Super Memorization, I can have 5cp to allocate for spells. If he allows it great, if not you never ever entertained it or wasted your time with it. 
  • Energy Reserves and Extra Fatigue. With the right amount, your mage can do a lot of cool stuff. If you bring down the cost to 0.6cp per 1FP than you have 3cp for 5fp. 15 points invested is 25FP of energy. Its not so bad or broken, its actually fun of course you may run some simulations and scenarios how much you would allow. 

The Can of Worms

  • Air and Earth Spells. if we go science-y does mean I can create, seek, and shape various Minerals and Gasses. Its not so bad but its going to make you learn more about science in a fun way
  • Prerequisite Count for Related Spells. Talisman and Amulet (M58) affect spells of the same family. Example Dull (M133) and Dullness (M134) can be affected by a Talisman and Amulet. 
    • Here is the annoying follow up, Enchant spell (B480 or M56) and Temporary Enchantment have prerequisites of -11 and -12 respectively. Does that means that my master for Enchantment will not carry over my proficiency of Temporary Enchantment? you make your ruling. 
      •   My ruling - I don't want a lot of point inflation and messy character sheets and enchantment is very expensive in my game setting at $250 1FP worth. Guess how I'm going to rule? - yeah it carries over but it has to be as strong relationship. So a Mage with Enchantment (H) [12] has a -1 to cast Temporary Enchantment. Note that these spells depend on a second spell skill so its kinda balances out. I've not thought as far as Enchantment Spells like Accuracy and the Like.  
  • Extra Fatigue and Energy Reserve. It can be broken. Introduce a Cap. Stop a player from doing a yenkidama explosive fireball for 25d ex damage if he goes around and spends 30cp.   

Verbal and Somatic Components

If you use "playing a Trumpet" on B110, an example in accessibility, as a baseline then you can say a use of a skill, keeping both Hands and Breath busy would count as a -20% Limitation. If you want it Half Power then its a -10% Limitation. 
It gets complicated when you have a skill below 15 because there are other gestures and words, just grant a bigger bonus in identifying a spell or anyone who sees the character instantly knows he's up to something no-good. 

More Material

  • Magical Familiar and Companions - why can't dogs and horses be companions? Well join me in magical heresy - this is gurps after all and I want to have horses and dogs.  
  • Sample Mages - An experiment in magical demographics and work force allocation. 
  • Zombie and Zombie Companion - inspired by almost human and resurrection lolz
  • Minor Spirit Servants  - Inspired by hayao miyazaki takes on such creatures.
  • Proto Lichs - Because there is so much sacred cows when it comes to vampires. 
  • Swarm Familiar - the most dangerous familiar, GMs should really limit who gets these. Inspired by Chinese cockroach farms and some basic biology that comes with gurps gaming (like the square cubed law). Imagine where 2/3 of food wasted goes. 
  • Information Gathering - Note that you should check out GURPS Mysteries, it has a chapter on the value of each spells in crime and investigation. 
  • Darkness Mages - Because there is a scary combo asking to be used. Needs to be reworked a bit but the basic combo is still powerful. 
  • Demon Ally - a review of contract and negotiation basics, because your dealing with the devil here. 
  • Ghostly Companion - for those who really can't let go and leave things to rest. 



Next Article will focus on Ritual Magic and High Magery Campaign. Hopefully I covered the most basic and key points, and did a bunch to bring down the complexity of the game. I will feature 2 Master level mages and their Best Practices. They are what I use to gauge the level of preparation and organization the mages have in the War Beneath Heaven. 
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