Steve Jackson Games - Site Navigation
Home General Info Follow Us Search Illuminator Store Forums What's New Other Games Ogre GURPS Munchkin Our Games: Home

Go Back   Steve Jackson Games Forums > Roleplaying > GURPS

Notices

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 09-14-2017, 04:12 AM   #1
PhobosAnomaly
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Default Magery - First Impression

Hello!

So I'm new to GURPS, but I've been playing D&D for a couple of years and the group decided to switch it up a bit recently for the sake of a more "realistic" system. We're playing a low tier setting with a magic element (imagine English history but with spells).

After the success of a kind of fighterish character in the last game, I decided to try out a character based on Magery, given that the rest of the group gave up on it because of the time involved to create such a character.

I'm three days in with my research, and to be honest - the character already feels like a cheese... I'm not sure if this is a real deal or am I actually doing something wrong?

With 180 points available, some slight disadvantages and rearrangement of the basic attributes, I ended up with the character that has 20 IQ and 3 Magery. I would've gone rampant with Magery but this is the setting limit, and I've read somewhere 20 IQ is a common maximum for a human. I mostly followed other limitations based on the Basic Set, so I didn't e.g. reduce my Will by more than 4 (now it's 16 anyway!), etc.

Even so, the guy has about 50 spells in his grimoire, all of which naturally start at 20/21 because of the IQ+Magery level, most of which can be cast for free and easily maintained, two of which are buffed up to 25 just so I can be perpetually protected and/or evasive. Also, he has about two dozen IQ-based skills that are exceptionally high, each with a cost of 1 skill point, a courtesy of a high base IQ. So not only is he a better "rogue" than the party rogue, he can also play several other archetypes with minimal cost, and all that prevents him from being a one-man army is low ST/DEX which should be provided by the party's fighter.

This is great, of course, but what bothers me is that once I, as a player, starts cheesing like this, the GM will have to counter-cheese to equalize the challenge. I already can predict no-mana zones, enemies with Mana Damper etc. But once this starts, it all really becomes a contest of how long I can evade mage-killer traps before an inevitable fail. What's the point, then?

All the situations we've experienced so far, though, would have been a breeze for a character like this. The problem with it is that this is really the only way I see that magic can be viable. A spell at level 15 just doesn't cut it. Expensive in regards to energy, most are hard to maintain, casting success isn't a guarantee, you cast a couple and you're done for, other characters do everything better. You just have to go all-in.

And once you do get all-in, it just gets exponentially insane. All IQ skills are suddenly very easy, your perception is brutal, you can succeed in almost every Will save imaginable (unless the GM goes - "you have a -5/-10 penalty, haha!"), and you can have so many spells you literally have to print a spell-book to track them.

I see this as a problem. If a GM has to limit the player in a fundamental way (I'd say limiting IQ is the most obvious), something is wrong. But then, again, I wouldn't even play a mage if such limits were in place, as he would feel as an afterthought otherwise.

I guess the whole point of this is to ask - is there something I'm not seeing? Is a mage really as powerful as this first impression seems to make him? Also, what would you recommend a GM to do to make the system a bit more limiting, but in a way that still makes magery worth taking?

Last edited by PhobosAnomaly; 09-14-2017 at 04:15 AM.
PhobosAnomaly is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2017, 04:32 AM   #2
Dr. Beckenstein
 
Dr. Beckenstein's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Default Re: Magery - First Impression

Quote:
Originally Posted by PhobosAnomaly View Post
Hello!

I'm three days in with my research, and to be honest - the character already feels like a cheese... I'm not sure if this is a real deal or am I actually doing something wrong?

With 180 points available, some slight disadvantages and rearrangement of the basic attributes, I ended up with the character that has 20 IQ and 3 Magery.
Could you explain this is a little further?

What disadvantages did you took, and what do you mean with "reaarangement of the basic attributes"?

180 CP would be in the "competent adventurer range", not in the "invincible overpowered" class - what skills and spells does he have?

And, BTW, IQ 20 would probably make the character the smartest beeing in the game world, if not in history ...
Dr. Beckenstein is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2017, 05:57 AM   #3
Culture20
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Default Re: Magery - First Impression

In point-buy systems, there are always ways to "cheese", and GURPS excels at this. A common example is an innate attack that does only 1 point of damage with area effect maxed to the gills, and possibly other limitations. You end up with a character that can kill universes slowly, but within budget.
It's one of the big reasons why character creation needs to involve the GM. You specifically mentioned wanting to play a "more realistic" game but with magic, so your GM might have ideas about what the limit of magic should be.

Also, as the good doctor alluded to: reductions in attribute levels from default are usually considered as part of the disadvantage limit (Although I allow my players to purchase "partial" IQ without Will and Per; Holmeses are quite rare even among fictional geniuses).

Finally, did you consider your character as a somewhat well-rounded person, or is he solely devoted to magic with no real skills? Sure, you can default IQ skills pretty well or at least the ones that can be defaulted (stealth can default to IQ!), but It would make sense for your character to have spent some time doing something other than practice magic.
Edit: Something that isn't covered well in the books is you need different innate attack skills for different spell types (throw, jet, gaze, breath). Fireballs and magic missiles in D&D "just work", but in GURPS' base magic system, you have to roll DX based skills to throw or aim your attack spells (or spells that you meta-magic into a thrown version).

Last edited by Culture20; 09-14-2017 at 06:07 AM.
Culture20 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2017, 06:06 AM   #4
Michael Cule
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Default Re: Magery - First Impression

IQ 20 is 200 character points.

Magery 3 is 35.

Fifty spells at 1 point per spell is 50. Raising up two of them to 25 is another 11 points each assuming they're both M/H.

Let's say you only put five points into non magical skills that's still 312 points.

What's your character budget again?

And have you managed to maintain the prerequisite chain for the spells? The system requires you know a lot of spells you'll never use much in order to have your favourite effects.

You're building a super-mage, which is fine if that's what you want but I suspect you've taken disads and limitations which don't look like much to you but may cripple the character if the GM knows what he's doing.
__________________
Michael Cule,
Genius for Hire,
Gaming Dinosaur Second Class
Michael Cule is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2017, 06:25 AM   #5
ericthered
Hero of Democracy
 
ericthered's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: far from the ocean
Default Re: Magery - First Impression

If that's what you have, its because you've dumped an exceptional number of points into disadvantages.

The point expenditures you described so far:

IQ 20 [200]
Magery 3 [35]
50 Spells [50]
2-dozen IQ skills [25]

That's a total of [310] points, and you started with [180]. That means you have [-130] in disadvantages, which is an insanely high amount. The "Cheese" isn't in what what a [180] point mage can do (which is an issue of its own), but building that ruthlessly min-maxed of a character. Or in an arithmetic error.

Now, you could drop 5 IQ and still have all of your questions. So I'll do my best to answer those for the case of the IQ 15 + Magery 3 wizard (which is actually better known).

The wizard becomes useful in the face of anti-magic zones. This isn't for every game, but Dungeon Fantasy suggests using them reasonably frequently.

Your Wizard is versatile, but he can burn through his FP very quickly. He's only got a -1 to cost when casting spells, which is good for whipping out lots of low cost spells, but he can't pull off more than one or two big spells. By way of example, Missile Shield is often given as a fight ender for ranged combat with a wizard. of course, he spends 4 FP to cast it, and only has 2 FP left before he starts taking penalties. Which lets me charge in and try to engage him directly. He's still very squishy.

Out-thieving the thief is a particular problem, and yes, its a known one. Just remember to track FP. And thief characters are usually better risk takers than wizards. And for best effects, the Wizard buffs thief into being a super thief, not himself. Though I was once fond of a combo character who was a little of both, and specialized in such spells.

Your Wizard lacks range. Most spells take -1 per yard. The ones that don't require DX to use properly. Reverse missiles or missile shield can help with that, but it doesn't fix it completely, and it burns through your FP.
__________________
Worlds Beyond Earth -- my blog
ericthered is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2017, 08:01 AM   #6
Bruno
 
Bruno's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Canada
Default Re: Magery - First Impression

Presuming the campaign disad limit is -100 points (the 50% suggestion from the basic set) the OP may be mistakenly counting attribute reductions separately from their disadvantages, and therefore have -100 points in standard disadvantages plus attribute reductions (-20 in reduced Will, I'll guess around -20 in reduced Perception (same limit), and possibly a ST penalty because some people making wizards think like that).

That would "account" for -140 or -150 in disads. And then -5 points in quirks if the group counts them separately from disads, which some do.

This is a character who's going to be a robotic slave to their disadvantages, or is going to have character points sucked out of them for violating their disadvantages every session. You can't even earn the CP to buy off unwanted disads if you're loosing all your earned CP because you don't play them.

Unlike some people I'm not against high-disad-value characters conceptually, but you have to be seriously committed to your characters disads, your GM has to be buying in to having a neurotic mess of a PC, and other players have to be comfortable with the amount of GM attention the PC will be sponging up just to administer its disads.

The easiest disads to deal with are the ones with simple mechanical penalties - "gives a penalty to these skills, forbids those skills" ones in particular are basically zero maintenance once you enter play, also "normal human experience" physical disabilities (e.g. "one arm", "bad sight") are pretty easy to administer. Social disadvantages can be annoying or straightforward ("Everyone reacts to me at -4" is pretty simple), and mental disadvantages can demand a lot of overhead.

But if you have -100 points in things like Parapalegic, Bad Sight, Epilepsy, etc your character is going to either end up as the center of attention anyways, as adventure locations are rarely handicap-accessible, or is going to just get abandoned by the other PCs in a safe location, because the adventure location is a logistical nightmare.
__________________
All about Size Modifier; Grand Unified Hit Location Table
A Wiki for my F2F Group
Bruno is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2017, 08:04 AM   #7
PhobosAnomaly
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Default Re: Magery - First Impression

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
If that's what you have, its because you've dumped an exceptional number of points into disadvantages.
This is exactly it, yes! I sat with my GM because of the answers in this thread and skimmed the Basic Set to see what we missed, and no one noticed that reducing attributes also counts as a disadvantage in itself. Because of this, I'd say the character probably had around 60 points he shouldn't have had! The issue simply didn't come up yet (previous characters had like -40 in all disadvantages). Some could say it is an optional rule but we'll enforce it for this reason.

I did follow the prerequisite chains and buffed the Innate Attack (Projectile) to a reasonable level, but it seems this won't be a perpetually protected flyer like he initially appeared to be. The disadvantage limit simply wasn't noticed.

That's not so say the character isn't viable - he is still quite strong. But more for a very specific, preferably non-combat role.

Thank you all for the answers!
PhobosAnomaly is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2017, 08:06 AM   #8
ericthered
Hero of Democracy
 
ericthered's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: far from the ocean
Default Re: Magery - First Impression

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruno View Post
the OP may be mistakenly counting attribute reductions separately from their disadvantages, and therefore have -100 points in standard disadvantages plus attribute reductions (-20 in reduced Will, I'll guess around -20 in reduced Perception)
As a note, IQ with the Per and Will missing is a valid concept not inappropriate for absentminded wizards. Its also one of the best ways to break GURPS if you're not careful. One of the most common house rules, separating Per and Will from IQ, addresses this.
__________________
Worlds Beyond Earth -- my blog
ericthered is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2017, 08:13 AM   #9
Culture20
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Default Re: Magery - First Impression

disad limits are a per-campaign tweak anyway. My favorite games have been the pirate themed games where we were allowed any disad we could remember to roleplay. It's easy to imagine a pirate as an accumulation of disadvantages.
Culture20 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2017, 10:57 AM   #10
mehrkat
 
mehrkat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Austin Texas
Default Re: Magery - First Impression

The truth is even within the point limit I probably wouldn't allow a character to buy an IQ higher than maybe 15 and magery higher than 3.

That makes base spell 18 with a hard spell 1 point gives you 16 in the spell and a very hard skill is 15 for 1 point.

Also remember Fatigue cost.

I also would probably not allow you to buy IQ without Will or Perception. This turns IQ into a cheese attribute. I could probably be convinced to allow you to lower one or the other as long as it counted towards your disad limit.

then I would suggest the character take skills appropriate for someone who grew up went through an apprenticeship and began his career as an adventurer. that should probably eat another 10 to 15 points for non-magic skills.
__________________
He stared out in the distance to see the awesome might of the Meerkat war party.
mehrkat is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Fnords are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:26 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.