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Old 09-10-2017, 09:04 AM   #1
JaJacob
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Default [Magic] RPM, Paths, Realms - So many variants, but which one to choose?

Hello everyone!

I'm at my wits ends, so I turned to forums, hoping I could get some help and feedback.

Background
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After years we finally got a group going again, this time me at the helm. I have my setting, we already even had a first session, but I just can't decide on which magic variant would work best for us. My players are inexperienced when it comes to any GURPS magic system.

The setting is bronze age, Sumeria themed, 100-150 pts. The world is permeated with winds of magic, condensing into magical storms. Civilization is divided into two - the ones living in city states, which are protected by ancient towers (basically lighting rod for magic) and the ones outside, that learned to live through the storms. I want to make magic feel hazardous and primal/evil in the eyes of normal populace.

I would like to hear from RPM, effect shaping and Realms players and GMs which system worked for them the best or if there were any shortcomings during their sessions.


Magic variants
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Sorcery - I liked the structure of advantages and how improvisation ties in. From what I read the casting wasn't what I wanted though.

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RPM - my current favourite. I like the ease of making new rituals (once you get into it) and freedom it comes with, since I want to use my own Paths. From gameplay, while I do like the slower ritualistic style, I dislike relying solely on charms during combat time.

I thought about some alternations, which I would like feedback:

Lose or limit necessity of charms by using threshold instead. Keep energy gathering for difficult rituals and as a way of safer & slow casting.
But I don't want gathering to be completely without risks.

I'm not sure how to tie energy gathering with threshold. Instead I was thinking about introducing corruption or reactive reality depending on Path used.

With RPM I'm just slightly worried about book keeping all the numbers (especially with threshold, corruption and reactive reality) as well as players improvising.

I'm also worried about turning the dials - if I change one thing, what happens to the other ones that I didn't think about in the moment?

What about bonuses grimoires, places of power, even just Ritual Adept working with tally? Maybe allowing only Ritual Adept access to tally? Do I just "forget" it exists if I won't have an idea how to implement it?

Did anyone run threshold RPM with free variable access or adepts?

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Effect shaping (RPM) - Anyone using this variant? How does it compare to classic RPM? It seems it would be easier to cast faster, since you don't need energy. But at the same time, not that usable during combat. Could it work with threshold or corruption? Add the penalty to skill towards threshold perhaps?

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Realms - They seem to be very similar in RPM, but even more freeform. It seems like it would be hard to manage during the game and I couldn't find much information about it. Is this someone's favourite system?

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Path/Book - It seems like it is fairly similar to RPM and frankly I skipped reading too much into it, because of that.

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TL;DR: I'm leaning towards RPM with threshold, leaving energy gathering (no variable access required) that causes corruption or reactive reality.

Flavor I'm looking for is dangerous magic, combat ready and flashy, limited thanks to tally, but keeping some flavor of RAW RPM.
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Old 09-10-2017, 09:16 AM   #2
Kalzazz
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Default Re: [Magic] RPM, Paths, Realms - So many variants, but which one to choose?

I've never used RPM with Threshhold, but I've used both Energy Gathering and Effect Shaping

I'm not sure what you mean by 'free variable access'

Definitely allowed Adepts. As a DM, I highly recommend Adepts, they make things flow more harmoniously, and avoid the issue of 'and now the party takes the afternoon off because Bob wants to cast a spell'

One solution to 'can only use charms in combat' I discovered was that, after discussing it in the Discord with myself, starslayer and Ghostdancer was that 5 per level was probably fair for 'Magery, Fast Casting only', so thus, to negate the -10 penalty for casting quickly as an Effect Shaper, I gave my Effect Shaper I made 10 levels of this, so, he thus could cast spells on the fly

Worked quite well actually, it removed the most infuriating and hateful part of RPM, but also was very expensive so was a definite choice
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Old 09-10-2017, 10:02 AM   #3
JaJacob
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Default Re: [Magic] RPM, Paths, Realms - So many variants, but which one to choose?

@Kalzazz

Sorry, to clarify free variable access- I meant Unusual background (variable access) which is suggested solution if you wanted Threshold and classic energy gathering. It's in Laws of Magic p7 in Threshold limited magic.

Would counting all mages as adepts (essentially giving them free Adept advantage) be too much of a power jump?

I'm not sure if I understand correctly. Did you replace Magery with your Fast casting variant or in addition you bought it as a new advantage (that only removes penalty for reduced casting time) along with buying Magery as usual. So it would be 50pts to reduce cast times to 1 second with no penalties.

Using effect shaping, nothing limits you in how much you can cast correct? Only limitation is your skill. Not counting crit fails.

That sounds like a pretty good way of doing things. Though I would really like to use threshold calamities as well.
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Old 09-10-2017, 10:09 AM   #4
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: [Magic] RPM, Paths, Realms - So many variants, but which one to choose?

I like Path and Book magic in the effect shaping variant; it's the only widely used form of magic in my current fantasy campaign. I don't think it's actually much like RPM; for one thing, it has lists of fixed rituals, rather than guidelines for improvising new rituals.

My goal, though, may be different from yours. I don't want much use of magic in combat, or in combat time. Path and Book magic seems to be mainly designed to take ten minutes, or an hour, or even a full day to perform. That's suited to setting up background conditions, or limiting strategic options, but not for striking at enemies. And that suits me; I don't want mages to be superheroes or field artillery pieces. But if you want "mage" to be a combat role, Path and Book magic won't easily serve you.
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Old 09-10-2017, 10:39 AM   #5
Fred Brackin
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Default Re: [Magic] RPM, Paths, Realms - So many variants, but which one to choose?

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
if you want "mage" to be a combat role, Path and Book magic won't easily serve you.
Unless you allow the ritual adept advantage native to that system. That can cut time down to 1D6.

I've thought that Path/Book(Effect Shaping) with maxed out Ritual Adept would actually be the best system for modeling Stephen Strange in Gurps.

The best question to ask is "Do you want Magic to have the MSTF quality?". "MSTF" in this case means "More Subtle Than Fireballs". Bill apparently does which makes Path/Book a strong choice for him. MSTF is a natural condition for Path/Book.

By contrast, RPM will happily make you Fireballs. As a fully flexible system it will provide anything the GM doesn't forbid.

It's sounding like what you want is sort of the opposite where magic is cast only in emergencies. What I recommend for that is actually "vanilla" Magic with Threshold possibly with a Threshold set as low as zero.

In a case like that the PCs will almost always save their Magic for real emergencies though they may preferentially save it for post-battle healing instead of combat spells.

I'll warn you that if you forbid healing spells altogether your players might avoid Magic and spend their pts on defense abilities and Very Rapid Healing.
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Old 09-10-2017, 11:15 AM   #6
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: [Magic] RPM, Paths, Realms - So many variants, but which one to choose?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
The best question to ask is "Do you want Magic to have the MSTF quality?". "MSTF" in this case means "More Subtle Than Fireballs". Bill apparently does which makes Path/Book a strong choice for him. MSTF is a natural condition for Path/Book.
Yes, that's a very good and perceptive analysis. At least that's what I want in this campaign.
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Old 09-10-2017, 11:44 AM   #7
JaJacob
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Default Re: [Magic] RPM, Paths, Realms - So many variants, but which one to choose?

@whswhs I only glanced at Path/Book and from that it seemed fairly similar to RPM. It seems like an interesting system too, but not exactly what I am trying to do.

@Fred I chose RPM mainly because of it's simplicity to create new spells, which isn't exactly possible with vanilla. But I definitely like Threshold.

Ideal would be combining effect shaping (which would fit nicely with winds of magic granting bonus or penalty to skill) with Threshold and / or corruption points.

Another idea I had would be to take effect shaping as is, without introducing new advantages like Kaz' Fast Casing and instead use the Spell modifiers table as is in RAW. Then you could reduce the cast time by adding it to your tally. For example: you have a spell that takes 10 seconds to cast, but need it to cast in 1 sec. So you mark 9 tally and cast it as if it would be 1 sec cast time.
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Old 09-10-2017, 12:09 PM   #8
Refplace
 
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Default Re: [Magic] RPM, Paths, Realms - So many variants, but which one to choose?

How about Effect Shaping with a effective skill bonus the caster wants to risk?
Threshold or Corruption could be used when a caster wants to risk a fast or more powerful casting. I would limit the bonus to some multiple of magery, depending on how powerful or corrupting you want it to be.
Things like Ley Lines. Grimoires, Place of Power all work well here as they can grant a bonus without Corruption.
Your magic storms could grant an extra bonus (Might not even be an option to choose) for those casting during a storm. Get more powerful spells from a higher bonus but coupled with extra corruption. That would work best with Margin Based casting.
I have noodled something like that for a Wild Magic variant.
Also take a look at Spirit Mediated magic since you have Thaumatology.
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Old 09-10-2017, 12:47 PM   #9
Kalzazz
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Default Re: [Magic] RPM, Paths, Realms - So many variants, but which one to choose?

I did a guest blog post on Gaming Ballistic showing some examples using Fireball with RPM

https://gamingballistic.com/2017/09/...s-of-fireball/
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Old 09-10-2017, 12:51 PM   #10
Shostak
 
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Default Re: [Magic] RPM, Paths, Realms - So many variants, but which one to choose?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JaJacob View Post
@Fred I chose RPM mainly because of it's simplicity to create new spells, which isn't exactly possible with vanilla. But I definitely like Threshold.
It is completely possible to create new spells in the default magic system. Guidelines are on Magic p. 14
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