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Old 06-05-2013, 01:49 PM   #1
Mr_Sandman
 
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Default Updating/recreating GURPS Mage the Ascension to 4ed

I've been thinking about Mage the Ascension, and updating the old 3ed G:MtA to 4ed. I also recently ran across the "GURPS: Mage the Ascension Second Edition" document on the web, which contained some errata from the G:MtA book and notes on updating it to be closer to Mage 2ed.

I've done some searches on these forums and found the question of doing Mage in GURPS 4ed has come up a few times, but it doesn't look like anyone has documented exactly how they have done it. I think it's about time we did it. I'd love some input from anyone who's done this or thought about it.

I know that Thaumatology has Realm magic to use for Mage's Spheres. Although looking at it, I'm not sure I really have to go to the trouble of remaking the magic system. Does anyone have an argument for why the magic system from G:MtA shouldn't just be retained more or less as is and used in 4ed? Sphere costs don't work out exactly the same, and escalate for levels 4 and 5, but that feels right to me.

The "second edition" document has some notes on making the Spheres work more like Mage 2ed. I like most of them, for example the difference between minor and major forces is now dependent on scale, not type of force, and darkness, sound, cold, etc. are forces of their own, not the specific instance or absence of a force as defined by modern science.

One idea from the "second edition" document I won't be adopting is replacing the individual sphere skills with a single Arete skill. I like the possibility of mages having varied skills with different spheres, and it matches Realm magic from Thaumatology better.

As for some of the new traits in G:MtA, I'm wondering if their prices still hold up, or if they should be scrapped and recreated from 4ed advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages
Arete, Avatar, Awareness, node, and extra Quintessence (I'll probably rename that Tass to make it more clear) seem to me to be ok at their old costs, and not worth trying to recreate. Anyone see any problems with those?

Arcane might be ok as is. It's come up a few times on the forum and people usually suggest some kind of Zeroed with Cosmic, or Obscure for a starting point.

Destiny from G:MtA, in my opinion, can just be scrapped. I'd just use Destiny as it appears in the 4ed Basic Set.

Dream is an interesting case. It costs 3 per level, and works pretty much like Modular Abilities with some limitations. I tried to rebuild it from Modular Abilities:
  • Modular Abilities - Cosmic Power 10 pts./lvl (skills only -10%, limited use - once per day -40%, Takes extra time 2 [4 seconds (as it appears in G:MtA it's 5 second)] -20%, requires IQ roll - 10%)
This would bring it down to 2 points per level. But according to limited use, one use is a minute. Dream is supposed to last until midnight. Adding extended duration +120% would get it into the all day range, but will make it cost 13 points/level. But Modular Abilities unmodified lasts until 'rearranged'. It seems cumbersome to me to limit the time it can last with limited use, then extend it again. Anyone have a reasonable call on a cost for limiting Modular Abilities so you can only rearrange your points once a day, lasting until midnight, and only use cosmic power for one skill at a time?

Immunity to the Delirium should be dependent on how often Garou show up in a campaign. I'm thinking of just leaving at is, since it is part of the required "mage package" (template) and all the PC will have to take it.

Immunity to Paradox I'm not really concerned with, since I'm not planning to allow Marauder PCs. It might be worthwhile to look into developing an advantage for some Technomancers who work within the consensus, but I don't think they should be 100% immune everywhere. In other cultures, Tradition mages' sanctums, horizon realms, etc, they'll be as prone to paradox as Trad mages are on the streets of the 1st world.

Spirit Empathy can just be used from the Basic Set.

Disadvantage
Hobgoblin
- just an enemy, dependent or quirk, use 4ed Basic Set costs and mechanics.

Skills
Abacus and Bardic Lore are not really needed. An Etherite with an abacus for a focus should have a Mathematics skill to use with it. Replace Bardic Lore with Professional Skill (Bard) or Expert Skill (Musical Repertoire).

Enigmas is odd, maybe keep it as an IQ/Hard skill

Erotic Art can be used as in 4ed Basic.

Meditation as described in G:MtA seems to include aspects of Autohypnosis and something like Metabolism Control advantage. It also lets you recharge quintessence up to the level of your Avatar from a node. That seems like a lot for one skill. I think Autohypnosis will allow recharge from a node. If Mage PCs want Metabolism Control they can take it with (requires Will role -5%).

That's all I have for now. Hope to get into more later about what cinematic/realistic options should be used, and maybe designing a Do martial art style for the Akashics.
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Old 06-05-2013, 11:43 PM   #2
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Default Re: Updating/recreating GURPS Mage the Ascension to 4ed

As for the cinematic vs. gritty issue, I'm leaning more towards gritty. My World of Darkness should be a difficult, hazardous, unfriendly place. Besides mages getting help from the rules seems wrong, the point of being a mage is that you can break the rules of the world. Not having access to cinematic rules will make magick stand out that much more as something special.

So no mook rules, no spending CP for successes, no supernatural or exotic traits that are not related to being a mage or the spheres the PC studies.

One exception would be allowing Trained by a Master, mostly for Akashics, and Weapons Master, Gunslinger, or Heroic Archer, mostly for Euthanatos, and the various esoteric skills and some of the cinematic combat options they allow. I'd let PC with TBAM or WM use chambara fighting from Martial Arts and Extra Effort in Combat.

I'm leaning away from Wildcard skills, but might be convinced to use them if it turns out that character sheets are very crowded without them. Certainly there's a good argument for Sons of Ether to have Science!
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Old 06-06-2013, 02:24 AM   #3
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Default Re: Updating/recreating GURPS Mage the Ascension to 4ed

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Originally Posted by Mr_Sandman View Post
As for the cinematic vs. gritty issue, I'm leaning more towards gritty.
As discussed elsewhere, those two are different axes. In fact, classic WoD tends towards a Hollywood sort of grittiness . . .
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Old 06-06-2013, 05:43 AM   #4
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Default Re: Updating/recreating GURPS Mage the Ascension to 4ed

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Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
As discussed elsewhere, those two are different axes. In fact, classic WoD tends towards a Hollywood sort of grittiness . . .
That reminds me.
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Simpsons
Casting Director: Well, you said you wanted gritty. In other word... ugly.
Helen Morehouse: I wanted Mary Ann on "Gilligan's Island" ugly, not Cornelius on "The Planet if Apes" ugly. TV ugly, not... ugly ugly.
Mage (perhaps after Changeling) is probably the least 'gritty' of the old WoD games.

But I suppose you have a point. So I want the world both gritty and not very cinematic (both dark, and robbed of wonder by the technocracy), but characters that can achieve cinematic feats nevertheless, because they are mages.

That brings up an interesting point. If the PCs travel to horizon realms, the laws of reality are different there. Could it work to use different rules options to reflect how fundamentally different reality is, or would that just get too confusing and frustrating for the players from a gaming perspective?
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Old 06-06-2013, 10:28 AM   #5
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Default Re: Updating/recreating GURPS Mage the Ascension to 4ed

It shouldn't be too much trouble as long as you keep it to a minimum number of variants.

A way to keep the mages limited is through judicious use of labeling what is and is not vulgar magic. How far into the wild they need to go to cast off the technocratic paradigm helps for that ever shrinking sense of freedom. The oldest local mages remember when the nearby forested park at night was enough. Then you needed to hike miles into rough woodlands, and now you can only feel safe in the heart of a mighty rainforest.
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Old 06-06-2013, 01:20 PM   #6
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Default Re: Updating/recreating GURPS Mage the Ascension to 4ed

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It shouldn't be too much trouble as long as you keep it to a minimum number of variants.

A way to keep the mages limited is through judicious use of labeling what is and is not vulgar magic. How far into the wild they need to go to cast off the technocratic paradigm helps for that ever shrinking sense of freedom. The oldest local mages remember when the nearby forested park at night was enough. Then you needed to hike miles into rough woodlands, and now you can only feel safe in the heart of a mighty rainforest.
That raises one of the questions that anyone has to answer to run Mage, which doesn't really have anything to do with the conversion. How persistent is the dominant paradigm where there are no observers? Does Tradition magic become less vulgar out in the woods? Or do you just avoid the additional penalties for Vulgar with Witnesses?

If you are in the middle of Boston, almost anything outside the Technocratic paradigm would be vulgar. In a remote village in Haiti, where you are surrounded by people who believe in the Loa, a Dreamspeaker would be able to do much more that would be considered coincidental. But what if you are alone on a boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean?

My answer to the questions is that at this point in the World of Darkness there is a 'background' global consensus that is close to the Technocratic paradigm. Most people in the world don't believe in big, significant magic. Some people might buy into astrology, crystals, maybe even mediums who can communicate with the dead, or faith healing. But the average person on the planet is always always skeptical about really flashy 'impossible' things, and allows that it might be a trick, scam or baseless superstition.

It's the active belief of the villagers in Haiti that forces the Technocratic paradigm back. So you might get away with a little more in a remote wilderness with no people around, but it wouldn't be much. You need active believers or a long history of the alternate paradigm being used in the area to switch the local paradigm away from the global dominant paradigm. So if one tradition had been using a spot in the deep woods for rituals for a hundred years, it could have essentially become a sanctum for that tradition and allow its paradigm to be used coincidentally. But a random spot, even in the deepest wilderness, won't help a mage avoid paradox that much.

As to my question about using different optional rules in different realms, I didn't mean just how magick works (vulgar vs. coincidental, etc.), but how the world works, as represented by what optional rules from GURPS are in effect. Maybe PCs could visit one realm where some people are actually mooks and where TV Action Violence rules work, or another where there would be harsh bleeding rules.

I think I may experiment with this a little if I get a chance to run a Mage campaign. See how players react. It might be too confusing and disjointed if overdone, but it could make the experience of being in different realms wildly different and travel between them feel significant.
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Old 06-06-2013, 05:15 PM   #7
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Default Re: Updating/recreating GURPS Mage the Ascension to 4ed

That last issue reminds me of the concept of Flux from one of the Pyramid articles I believe. Different areas of the same setting have different optional rules and degrees of grittiness.
It might make it easier if you have sets of rules before play, so everyone's on the same page. Their characters may not fully realize how Noir-world works, but the players should have an idea if the rules of bleeding, moral grays, etc. apply.
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Old 06-07-2013, 11:29 AM   #8
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Default Re: Updating/recreating GURPS Mage the Ascension to 4ed

As long as you are runing a mage game, and everyone is a mage then there is no problem using the rules as written for MtA.

However, if you are using multiple magical system or not everyone is a mage then you may be giving a serious imbalance to mages (wither for or against I am not sure).

I would strongly suggest the following changes:

->Moving the pricing scheme fully to realm based magic (actually makes it cheaper)
->Have the energy be 'free', the cost comes in the form of paradox
->Magery == Avatar
->Arete is a single bang skill (call it arete! if you want, I would call it Magic! just to get the point across) and continues to be the single control skill for all realm spheres. If you want to strengthen the dissociation between the ability to work magic and the intellect of the worker have it be based on a base 10 stat rather then IQ. Have magery limit the maximum of this skill as per RPM magic (skill can be no higher then 12+magery value).


The existing paradox rules in GURPS MtA are actually pretty succinct, but you might enjoy a more negotiable methodology, turning paradox into a form of threshold based magic (with more mage appropriate calamity checks), the reason why I would want to look into this is because it allows for more flexibility and differentiation between mages/traditions. One mage could be extremely resistant to paradox (increase threshold), able to work vulgar effects more reliably and regularly, another could have virtually no tolerance for paradox (decreased or potentially no threshold), but be a stronger mage (due to increased points from giving up that threshold).
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Old 06-08-2013, 02:05 AM   #9
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Default Re: Updating/recreating GURPS Mage the Ascension to 4ed

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Originally Posted by starslayer View Post
As long as you are runing a mage game, and everyone is a mage then there is no problem using the rules as written for MtA.

However, if you are using multiple magical system or not everyone is a mage then you may be giving a serious imbalance to mages (wither for or against I am not sure).

I would strongly suggest the following changes:

->Moving the pricing scheme fully to realm based magic (actually makes it cheaper)
->Have the energy be 'free', the cost comes in the form of paradox
->Magery == Avatar
->Arete is a single bang skill (call it arete! if you want, I would call it Magic! just to get the point across) and continues to be the single control skill for all realm spheres. If you want to strengthen the dissociation between the ability to work magic and the intellect of the worker have it be based on a base 10 stat rather then IQ. Have magery limit the maximum of this skill as per RPM magic (skill can be no higher then 12+magery value).


The existing paradox rules in GURPS MtA are actually pretty succinct, but you might enjoy a more negotiable methodology, turning paradox into a form of threshold based magic (with more mage appropriate calamity checks), the reason why I would want to look into this is because it allows for more flexibility and differentiation between mages/traditions. One mage could be extremely resistant to paradox (increase threshold), able to work vulgar effects more reliably and regularly, another could have virtually no tolerance for paradox (decreased or potentially no threshold), but be a stronger mage (due to increased points from giving up that threshold).
Thanks for the input.

In my game the PC would most likely all be Mages. Although if I get really ambitious I might try to convert the other WoD books and eventually allow vampires, werewolves. changelings, etc. That would be quite a bit to balance however. Standard GURPS spells as skill will be for non-Mage NPC hedge wizards, no other magic systems. I'm trying to recreate the G:MtA experience relatively closely.

I think, although I haven't really tested it, that Mages using MtA spheres or realms will come out more powerful than the users of most other magic systems, or non magic using characters, at most reasonable point values. The system allows for both tremendous flexibility and impressive power.

Is there a particular reason that you have for making Arete a bang skill and having it cover all spheres, instead of keeping individual sphere skills? Other than simplifying the character sheet a little, I'm not seeing any major advantage.

Paradox I'll probably keep as is in G:MtA. I'm not looking to reinvent the game, just update it.
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Old 06-08-2013, 07:50 AM   #10
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Default Re: Updating/recreating GURPS Mage the Ascension to 4ed

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Originally Posted by Mr_Sandman View Post
Thanks for the input.

In my game the PC would most likely all be Mages. Although if I get really ambitious I might try to convert the other WoD books and eventually allow vampires, werewolves. changelings, etc. That would be quite a bit to balance however. Standard GURPS spells as skill will be for non-Mage NPC hedge wizards, no other magic systems. I'm trying to recreate the G:MtA experience relatively closely.

I think, although I haven't really tested it, that Mages using MtA spheres or realms will come out more powerful than the users of most other magic systems, or non magic using characters, at most reasonable point values. The system allows for both tremendous flexibility and impressive power.

Is there a particular reason that you have for making Arete a bang skill and having it cover all spheres, instead of keeping individual sphere skills? Other than simplifying the character sheet a little, I'm not seeing any major advantage.

Paradox I'll probably keep as is in G:MtA. I'm not looking to reinvent the game, just update it.
If your ultimate goal is to convert vampires and werewolves getting mages more solidly into the GURPS 4th way of doing things may be beneficial to avoid imbalances between them (the orriginal books did have horrible imbalances so you do have some work ahead of you).

The paradox system presented in the MtA book is still really good, I would just take that and call it the 'standard' threshold response, allowing mages to then make it more or less dangerous to accumulate paradox. I also always did have a fondness for the marauder paradox immunity as well- as while the marauder was immune, none of its allies were so they still had to watch there casting 90% of the time, but they were crazy and well and did not know to watch casting.

More powerful is an interesting term. Ideally they should be 'balanced', in that 'for the massive point budget required to be a mage I could ...' and you'd end up with some interesting builds. Realm/sphere based magic is EXPENSIVE, but it does grant fantastical variability.

The reason why I would convert Arete to a bang skill instead of having each sphere be its own skill is actually a 'be more faithful to the original source material' concession. In the WoD mage your Arete represented your dice pool with all magical actions, a mage had the same 'throw weight' with all magic, spheres only representing the complexity of the effect they would be throwing. By having a single bang skill to cover all magical workings you achieve a similar effect.

Last edited by starslayer; 06-08-2013 at 07:56 AM.
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