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Old 01-18-2017, 05:51 AM   #1
Icelander
 
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Default [RPM] Thresholds and Wards (Safe as Houses, Pyramid 3-58)

The concept of the magical threshold around homes, which supernatural horrors cannot cross, is popular in modern urban fantasy such as the Dresden Files. It is written up in the article 'Safe as Houses' in Pyramid #3-58 p. 4-10.

In the Dresden Files specifically, thresholds have more and greater effects than is assumed in the article, however. I'm looking for ways to implement them in a campaign using the Ritual Path Magic system.*

Threshold Effects on Magic Use by the Uninvited
Not only do vampires and other supernatural horrors have extreme difficulty crossing thresholds uninvited, particularly those around a family home, but even mortal ritual magicians have to be careful of them. Anyone who crosses a threshold uninvited is very limited in what he can do with magic inside the dwelling, to the point that even powerful wizards can generally be assumed to be magically helpless while inside a threshold.

I can easily give a penalty to any use of magic within a threshold. I'd want a number derived from the Threshold Rating, probably a pretty severe one. Based on the Dresden Files, I'd want -4 penalty for anything with a 'home' threshold at all, i.e. Threshold Rating 10+, and an additional penalty per point of Threshold Rating above 10.

But what GURPS trait is this? I don't like being affected by thresholds as a 0 point Feature, because it's a pretty significant limitation for various supernatural beings and I want to have the option of having supernatural creatures that do not care about thresholds.

Also, being able to enter dwellings uninvited, but only at the cost of suffering a massive penalty to magic use doesn't sound like a Disadvantage, it sounds like a Limitation on traits like Ritual Path Magery and Ritual Adept. But how much of a one?

Wards and Thresholds
In the Dresden Files, establishing protective wards around a home with a good threshold is much, much easier than it is to establish wards around an office or a rented apartment. Those wards will also be much more powerful.

How do I best represent this in game terms?

Note that the rule on p. 7 in the article doesn't seem to be what I am looking for. Why would any mage elect to use his threshold as a 'matrix' to cast protective or defensive spells if the effects are to make their skill levels lower? The formula given, (skill + Threshold Rating) / 2, means that for most wizards with skill 12+, using this in a normal home (TR 10) means a net reduction in skill.

Home-field Advantage
Harry Dresden specifically discusses how wizards can create enchanted tools that function within the confines of their threshold, but not outside of it. These are much easier to make than tools that they can take anywhere.

Any suggestions on how to reflect this in game terms?

*If it matters, I'm using Mandatory and Significant Modifiers (Thaumatology p. 82) with energy-accumulating Ritual Path Magic. Ritual Adept (Connection) is unavailable in the campaign and Ritual Adept (Time) is generally not available to mortals (certainly not to PCs). I'm also using the article 'Ritual Path Magic Specialists' from Pyramid #3-66 p. 16-20 pretty heavily. Finally, the campaign world is almost indistinguishable from our real Earth, in this setting mostly Very Low Mana, with a few ley lines, places of power and ritually-significant times where the mana level is higher (often much higher for certain paths, traditions or rituals).
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Old 01-18-2017, 07:18 AM   #2
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Default Re: [RPM] Thresholds and Wards (Safe as Houses, Pyramid 3-58)

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Also, being able to enter dwellings uninvited, but only at the cost of suffering a massive penalty to magic use doesn't sound like a Disadvantage, it sounds like a Limitation on traits like Ritual Path Magery and Ritual Adept. But how much of a one?
-5 to -10% sounds rightish to me.

But in Dresdenverse Thresholds don't just slow/stop the beings and mages from entering, but act as a shield against magic spells as well (though this isn't often reflected in the series as much as it's just discussed at one point).
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Old 01-18-2017, 07:51 AM   #3
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Default Re: [RPM] Thresholds and Wards (Safe as Houses, Pyramid 3-58)

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-5 to -10% sounds rightish to me.

But in Dresdenverse Thresholds don't just slow/stop the beings and mages from entering, but act as a shield against magic spells as well (though this isn't often reflected in the series as much as it's just discussed at one point).
True, but that's already accounted for in the 'Safe as Houses' article, in the last bullet point on p. 6.

Personally, instead of a Quick Contest of Will+Magery against effective Threshold Rating for every spell (and on lost contests, suffering a penalty of margin of failure), I might opt for a quicker and easier solution of just a flat penalty based on TR.

I think I want thresholds of ordinary homes to be more significant and important, even against powerful beings, than the article assumes, so I might make the penalty more significant than the relatively small margins of failure that anything with Will 12+* will tend to end up with against thresholds with TR 9-12.

So I might give a penalty of (Threshold Rating - 6) on attempts to use hostile magic against characters protected by a threshold. I'd use the same penalty on all uses of magic by wizards or other supernatural beings who enter a threshold uninvited, lasting until they leave.

I'd also allow fairly simple wards to improve that penalty to 2 x (Threshold Rating - 6), probably just using Lesser Strengthen Magic. It would be something all ritual mages did regularly and represent basic wards from the novels.

That effectively makes a normal threshold (TR 9-12) all but impervious to sent magic by anyone but vampire lords, fallen angels or archmages, as it imposes a -6 to -8 penalty to workings that affect the protected beings.
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Old 01-18-2017, 11:10 AM   #4
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Default Re: [RPM] Thresholds and Wards (Safe as Houses, Pyramid 3-58)

Why not just add Bestows a Penalty?
As for the tools you could simply offer a cost discount based on limited Accessability.
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Old 01-20-2017, 02:06 AM   #5
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Default Re: [RPM] Thresholds and Wards (Safe as Houses, Pyramid 3-58)

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Why not just add Bestows a Penalty?
I suppose I could, but I want thresholds to be powerful enough to make any being capable of violating one to harm a mortal with supernatural means stand out as clearly of demigod status.

Bestow a Penalty could be used for actual wards made by powerful practisioners, to increase the penalty even further. But anyone with a basic understanding of

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Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
As for the tools you could simply offer a cost discount based on limited Accessability.
I could. Perhaps a -80% discount would do it.

I want to reflect the fact that inside their thresholds, wizards might have magical tools for comparatively trivial tasks, but outside it, only very powerful ones can make any tools that last. The difference in power available is at least one order of magnitude, mostly in that within a threshold, items can last months or years even if made by a fairly modest practisioner, but outside it, only puissant wizards can create anything which lasts beyond a few days.

Metaphysically, dawn 'resets' all magical effects that aren't protected by a threshold or a mobile deriative of it that is anchored in a physical object (which is what real magical items use).

I'll say that any ritual with a duration that lasts longer than the next dawn adds one Greater effect. More than a month adds another Greater effect and more than a year still another. This does not apply within a wizard's own threshold or any area with a threshold (or similar aura of power) which the wizard has attuned with.

Wizards can learn Craft Secret Perks to make magical charms and items that allow them to anchor their rituals to such objects and avoid some of the added cost of long-duration rituals. I'll probably allow some common rituals to be anchored on objects without a Perk as part of basic thaumaturgical knowledge.
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Old 01-20-2017, 07:17 AM   #6
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Default Re: [RPM] Thresholds and Wards (Safe as Houses, Pyramid 3-58)

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I want to reflect the fact that inside their thresholds, wizards might have magical tools for comparatively trivial tasks, but outside it, only very powerful ones can make any tools that last. The difference in power available is at least one order of magnitude, mostly in that within a threshold, items can last months or years even if made by a fairly modest practisioner, but outside it, only puissant wizards can create anything which lasts beyond a few days.
Make the outside world Low-Mana for tools. Anyone who wants to make or use a tool outside the house suffers a -5 penalty to all rolls.
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Old 01-20-2017, 09:40 AM   #7
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Default Re: [RPM] Thresholds and Wards (Safe as Houses, Pyramid 3-58)

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
I suppose I could, but I want thresholds to be powerful enough to make any being capable of violating one to harm a mortal with supernatural means stand out as clearly of demigod status.

Bestow a Penalty could be used for actual wards made by powerful practisioners, to increase the penalty even further. But anyone with a basic understanding of
Well if you want Thresholds to be tougher just do as you suggested above and change the ratings around. Also add features to suit such as the penalty for casting magic even if inside.

The Bestows a Penalty was specifically a way to make a similar thing using RPM. Another thing though is you could use RPM to strengthen existing Thresholds. Should have thought of that the first time I replied.
Lesser Strengthen magic can double a Threshold rating and Greater Strengthen magic can do more, maybe maximize it.
Or use Bestows a Bonus and Lesser Strengthen Magic to increase the rating with more granularity.
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Old 01-20-2017, 09:51 AM   #8
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Default Re: [RPM] Thresholds and Wards (Safe as Houses, Pyramid 3-58)

I covered how I intended it to work in my designer's notes on my blog.
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Old 01-25-2017, 07:57 PM   #9
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Default Re: [RPM] Thresholds and Wards (Safe as Houses, Pyramid 3-58)

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I covered how I intended it to work in my designer's notes on my blog.
Thanks, that's cool.
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Old 01-26-2017, 06:18 AM   #10
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Default Temporary Wards for Hunting Cabin

As it turns out, a luxury hunting cabin owned by two doctors, close 'friends'* whose bachelor apartments in different cities actually represent the concept of home less for them than this cabin, has enough of a threshold to matter.

Special Agent Maria Lucia Estevez (PC) used her Wild Talent RPM magic to protect the house and its inhabitants from evil spirits. She placed wooden carved animals (wolves, eagles and bears), protective charms made by Joe Greybear, her new dream-walking tutor, in the doors, sprinkled salt all around the outer walls, dripped her own blood, let out using Agent Corelli's** K-Bar knife as an athame, at every conceivable entry point and made crosses from aluminum foil to place in the windows.

The goal of the ritual would be to increase the Threshold protection from evil things.

I'll probably want to treat two rooms as seperate from the rest, as otherwise, the house would be well on its way on becoming a Bad Place. Better to have just an increasingly scary basement and a scary room on the top floor where the window is broken, there is detritus all over the floor and... something else that the PCs haven't found out yet.

*In 1988, they are not quite prepared to officially admit to being a homosexual couple.
**The blade of an honourable warrior sworn to defend his country from all enemies, foreign and domestic, and an item from the person Maria Lucia most associates with protectiveness, strength and safety.
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