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Old 07-20-2017, 07:38 AM   #1
hal
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Buffalo, New York
Default Evolution of GURPS MAGIC regards to Yrth background

Hello Folks,
I've been tempted to write an article regarding the evolution of GURPS MAGIC since its first edition format came out in GURPS FANTASY first edition versus GURPS MAGIC in its current edition as Third edition (for use with GURPS 4e rules). Henceforth, I will refer to the various versions of GURPS MAGIC as:

GM1: The magic system introduced in GURPS FANTASY 1st edition, which also incidentally, introduced Yrth as a campaign world.

GM2: This is GURPS MAGIC 2nd edition, referred to as GURPS CLASSIC MAGIC. Note, that GURPS MAGIC 2nd edition first printing has minor differences than GURPS MAGIC 2nd edition final printing. In addition, GURPS GRIMOIRE came out adding more spells, some that were decent in my opinion, and some that were horribly balanced - but that's just one man's opinion. Many of the controversial spells such as Rock to Metal, Enlarge, etc, came from GURPS GRIMOIRE.

GM3: This is the current edition of GURPS MAGIC for 4e.

So, where to begin? This thread was opened up in response to a long running thread HERE titled Yrth Technology. It prompted me to start to respond to the discussion regarding the use of Magic as technology and spell critical failures, and then I realized that I should turn this into its own thread. Below will be my next posts on changes between the editions that added a subtle flavor to the Yrth campaign if you used the rules from a given edition, and how it differs from subsequent editions of GURPS MAGIC.
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Old 07-20-2017, 07:56 AM   #2
hal
 
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Default Re: Evolution of GURPS MAGIC regards to Yrth background

The first thing I wanted to point out, was what happens when you cast a spell in a low mana region according to the various editions of GURPS MAGIC (henceforth GM).

GM1: sidebar page 6:
"However, critical spell failures (see page 4) have very mild effects or no effect at all. Our Earth is a low-mana world."

GM2: sidebar page 6: (coincidentally!)
"However, critical spell failures have very mild effects or no effect at all. Our Earth is a low-mana world."

GM3: Box page 6
"However, critical failures have mild effects or no effect at all."

This means that mages who cast spells in low-mana regions are at less risk of baneful effects.

I don't recall when/where I came across the concept that Critical failures should be rolled on 2d6 for low mana areas, as that may be a house rule from my past 30 years+ of playing GURPS, or something that was published elsewhere. THAT I forget. Using that approach however, makes it so that critical failures in low mana regions make it impossible for a demon to appear as a result of a critical spell failure. None the less, the original intent of low mana regions and spell backfires was that they would be milder or none existent.
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Old 07-20-2017, 08:13 AM   #3
hal
 
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Default Re: Evolution of GURPS MAGIC regards to Yrth background

Enchantments:

Enchantments are a funny thing. In the first edition for magic (Which I labeled as GM1 above), there were rules in place that permitted a mage with an enchantment skill level of 12, to create a magic item with a power 15. Specifically on page 11 of GURPS FANTASY 1st edition titled "Tradeoff: Energy for Skill":

"If a great deal of energy is available for ceremonial magic, the caster gets a bonus on his skill roll. This can insure the success of an ordinary spell (except for critical failures). It can also make a defensive spell able to resist almost any attack, except one mounted by an equal or larger circle of mages."

Now, this is a rule that pertains to ceremonial and group magic - and in no way applies to slow and sure magic right? Let us look at page 13 of that same edition of Magic where it discusses Slow and sure magic casting...

"This method can be combined with "power for skill," to let a mage take a very long time and make (almost) sure he has enough skill to do the job"

By the time we get to GURPS MAGIC 2nd edition, we have this on page 19:

"This method can be combined with “energy for skill” (p. 15/B151), to let a
mage take a very long time and increase his effective skill."


Nothing changed right?

But with GURPS MAGIC for 4e (GM3) this has vanished entirely from the manuscript. Thus, a Skill 12 enchanter, who spends twice as long to enchant a magic item (trading TIME for skill instead of Energy for skill), can't raise his enchantment skill roll to 16 as he could in the previous editions.

This makes for a subtle but definite change over the previous rules set. Most people who discuss the Enchantment rules on the Forums ignore this particular rules as mentioned in both GURPS FANTASY 1st edition, and GURPS MAGIC 2nd edition that permits it.

Somewhere along the way, I'm going to have to dig up my GURPS MAGIC 1st edition to see what changes were made as well.

This is just a starter thread, in which people can add their own observations over what changed in the various edition of MAGIC for GURPS. Spells like COPY that, while faster than having to create a book by hand in the form of calligraphy - and slower than a Xerox machine, is now the equal to a high speed Xerox machine in GURPS MAGIC for 4e.
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Old 07-20-2017, 08:37 AM   #4
hal
 
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Default Re: Evolution of GURPS MAGIC regards to Yrth background

One unexplored venue of the evolution of Magic as far as GURPS goes, is the methodology of "Duration Type" and what they mean for various spells. This particular post is intended to suggest to readers a new venue for spell research for their player characters and for GM's to modify their own game worlds as they see fit.

For example - is it possible to have spells that are essentially the same, but have different spell duration types?

Instantaneous
Temporary
Lasting
Permanent
Enchantments

For example, suppose someone wanted to create a FLESH TO STONE spell, but instead of it being an Instantaneous spell, it was a Temporary spell that requires energy to maintain? The player notes that the spell normally costs 10 energy to cast, and lasts indefinitely until a counter spell is used to make the effect reversed. So the player argues that the Temporary version of the spell costs only 5 energy, and has a maintenance interval of 1 week and 1 fatigue.

The GM realizes that while it sounds too cheap as far as energy, that it does come with its own set of limitations. First, while this spell is ongoing, it results in a -1 skill penalty to spell casting, as it counts as a spell on. Then he realizes that in comparison to the original spell, which lasts indefinitely until counter-spelled, the same energy cost for 10 energy will leave a target as a statue for only 5 weeks as compared with indefinitely. And finally, if the spell caster wishes to end the effect before the spell wears off, he must spend an additional fatigue to end the spell. So, the GM reasons "sure, go for it."

Right there, you have the means to "evolve" your spells away from the original premise from ANY edition of GURPS MAGIC to be something other than what the rules as written specify. But GURPS MAGIC for 4e gives you the tools to help modify spells that for all intents and purposes, are identical in effect, just not identical in duration or duration types. As a potential note - Even the earlier versions of GURPS MAGIC sort of implies the potential for having a spell that normally creates a temporary effect, end up creating a long term effect by expending 100x the normal energy to cast the spell instead of normal 1x energy cost. GMs can now separate that aspect out saying that it is an entirely different spell with a duration type of Instantaneous (create animal for instance) versus Lasting.

When I have more time, I will likely weigh in with the changes to the rules for ceremonial and group casting rules. The pertinent quote that I'd like to point out is the original

"Sincere belief and desire to help is required; you cannot collect a crowd off the street, pay them a fee, and use them for spectators."

Note that the original rules for Ceremonial and Group magic divides the methodology into two GROUP types. They are:

Circle: Any number of mages may link to cast a spell.
Spectators: Unskilled observers can aid a ceremonial casting.

Note that in the Circle method, any spell backfire affects ALL involved in the casting. Spectators add to the Circle method as opposed to being a second method of ceremonial casting. If you don't have a mage casting a spell, the spectators can't make the spell work. So in reality, spectators ADD to the original methodology.

Which begs the question in my mind...

Do spell backfires in Ceremonial and Group casting affect ALL involved?

Method one uses only mages.
Spectators allow for non-mages to contribute energy to the spell.

When I get a chance to reread the rules for Ceremonial and Group magic for all three rule books, I'll return (or someone else can do the same and quote the various editions and the changes so that GM's can see how magic evolved over time in the various GURPS publications...
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Old 10-02-2017, 09:09 PM   #5
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Default Re: Evolution of GURPS MAGIC regards to Yrth background

Quote:
Originally Posted by hal View Post
For example, suppose someone wanted to create a FLESH TO STONE spell, but instead of it being an Instantaneous spell, it was a Temporary spell that requires energy to maintain? The player notes that the spell normally costs 10 energy to cast, and lasts indefinitely until a counter spell is used to make the effect reversed. So the player argues that the Temporary version of the spell costs only 5 energy, and has a maintenance interval of 1 week and 1 fatigue.

Clarification (if I take your meaning correctly): Flesh To Stone can't be Counter-spelled as it's Instantaneous; it is 'countered' by Stone To Flesh.

Earth To Stone, however, can be Counter-spelled or Dispelled as it's Permanent, which is a bit of a bugger if you're thinking of making building walls with it.

The 'Stabilised Earth To Stone' I added to the Construction spell school in my Yrth as a secret spell largely matches your suggestion here; same description but has Earth To Stone as a pre-req and is VH. Which makes it as rare as hen's teeth, which I wanted.
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