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Old 04-03-2016, 09:32 PM   #6
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Seattle
Default Re: Houserule Proposal: Wildcard College Magic

Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
I would totally not go for a "wildcard" where I could only cast a specified list of spells, as is implied by your suggestion about "you can cast one spell of the college for each point you have in the college." The whole point of wildcards is that they're wide open. If I learn Fire Magic! I ought to be able to try to cast any fire magic spell. At a penalty, maybe, but if putting three points into Fire Magic! only lets me cast three spells, it's no improvement on just putting one point into each one spell, which is how i would normally do it.
To be clear, the part you mention is not a separate suggestion, but an integral part of the variant.

Motivation from core rules:
The rules I cited on M202 provide a wildcard magic option that allows full knowledge of spells within a college the moment you have 3 points in it. Those rules further prescribe a penalty to a spell based on the number of prerequisites it has. I feel that that penalty is a recognition that allowing full access to all spells within a college (or all spells in general) with an investment of only three points is a bad idea. As discussed elsewhere on the boards, that that penalty is both arbitrary and extremely large (consider the penalty for Enchantment, Teleportation, Counterspell, Haircut, etc.).

I did not create this variant because I liked wildcard skills and wanted to apply that to magic. I created this variant because the standard rules for magic lead to boring character design (see the motivation section), and the wildcard rules were the easiest to adapt into something that seemed more fun for long-term character ownership. I didn't feel constrained to providing immediate access to all aspects of the wildcard skill just because all the other wildcard skills do that.

The improvement is an improvement in long-term character growth. As I described above, a player taking this variant for a character has more interesting choices as they spend character points. Specifically, they have tradeoffs in specialization vs. breadth that don't lead to the same min/max solutions that the standard rules do. That's the intended benefit, and I think a lot of it would be lost if all spells were learned in a college immediately.

Separate Counterpoint, Novice Players:
Also, a player first starting GURPS Magic might be intimidated by their fellow players saying "You've got full access to the entire spell list, do something!" Learning spells one at a time also makes this variant more suitable for the growth of the player as well as the growth of a character. That benefit would be lost by using wildcard magic that allowed the full spell list. Compare that to Sword!, for instance, where all a novice player needs to know is that anything pointy can be used as a weapon.
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