Thread: GURPS M:tA
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Old 02-16-2014, 04:11 PM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Seattle, WA USA
Default GURPS M:tA

Hey, there. I don't get on the forums as often as many, or even as often as I would like (heck, it has been sometimes literally a year or more between posts for me). But, I was here to check up on the status of some Ogre countersheets and figured, as long as I'm here…

As we all know, back in the days when relations between gaming companies was all flowers and light, SJG and White Wolf managed to come to an agreement whereby several WW games would be converted into GURPS (3E) terms. Before that all fell apart, we did manage to get three solid offerings.

Of these, the one that interested me most was the conversion of Mage: The Ascension. It provided us with an entirely new system of magic, which has since had the identification numbers filed off and been made generic in GURPS Thaumatology, as "Realms and Power" Syntactic Magic.

The thing is, the problem that I've always had with M:tA is that the magic for all of the different Traditions was pretty much exactly the same. Only the tools used to direct the magic were different, from a mechanical standpoint. One was supposed to rely on the fluff descriptions to make the different Traditions, well, different.

Now, it seems to me that one could do things differently in GURPS. Rather than importing the generic magic system of the WW game, how about modeling the fluff using GURPS rules more directly. For example, one could give the Adepts of Hermes the standard GURPS Magic system. When I originally thought of doing this (in passing, mind), the then-current edition of GURPS Magic was the Second. In the back of that book, there was a system of Improvisational Magic based on verb-noun combinations. While that system still exists (again, in Thaumatology), it has been changed to rely directly on buying skill in each verb or noun as a skill. In the original, one would instead tally up the spells that the character knew in each college, counting 0, 1, 1 1/2, or 2 points per each, depending on the skill level, up to a maximum of either IQ+Magery or 20, whichever was less. So, my thinking was that Hermetic mages would start off buying "rote" spells, and then gain proficiency in improvising as they learned more about the college.

Most of the other Traditions are similarly easy to model. The Akashic Brotherhood would have Trained by a Master (and related ads), along with chi-based Cinematic Skills and perhaps be allowed to purchase chi-based Powers. The Celestial Chorus now has the option of buying Divine Favor. The Dreamspeakers might work with Path/Book Magic and Spirits. The Hollow Ones (and all Orphans, really) would buy Psionic Powers. The Sons of Ether would be based around Gadgeteering and TLX+N skills (I'll talk about that more in a minute). The Verbena might use the Tree Magic reorganization of the basic GURPS Magic system, perhaps with the addition of Improvisational Magic on the Hermetic model. The Virtual Adepts might work entirely based on the Machine Telepathy Power.

About the Sons of Ether, I think that the cost of a gadget is an important balancing element, so I would probably allow Quick Gadgeteering, but with the provision that any gadget made in that way would break down and stop working after a short time (basically, at the GM's discretion, but probably no longer than the current session). I'd also specify that the only characters who could buy TLX+N skills (say, the modern Steampunk TL5+3 or Dieselpunk TL6+2, or whatever) would be those with the Gadgeteering advantage at either level (or perhaps with a 10-point Unusual Background).

You'll notice that I haven't talked about the Technocracy (I'd probably just give them access to higher TL items) or two of the Traditions. That's because I just don't understand either the Cult of Ecstasy or the Euthanatos very well. I never did read their Tradition splatbooks, and they aren't well described in the original rules. Can anyone shed any light on those? Or, if you just have any comments on the idea in general, or better ways to do these or the Technocracy, feel free to chime in.
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