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Old 08-09-2018, 10:53 AM   #21
The Colonel
 
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Default Re: [Magic] Colleges And Prerequisites: What Are They?

Suddenly I'm amused by the idea of a magic system where you can attempt what you like, but the misfire table is the universe's default response and improved skill is all about modifying or avoiding the misfire. One up on the Cthulhu idea of "summon what you like ... did you figure out how to ward or bind it?"
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Old 08-09-2018, 12:54 PM   #22
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Default Re: [Magic] Colleges And Prerequisites: What Are They?

There's two kinds of prerequisites: spells and conditions.

Spell prereqs tend to be "if you can do this, then you can also do that, so pay the points for both. If you can regrow a limb, then it's reasonable that you can restore a few hit points.

Conditions are more distinctly limiters built into the way you cast spells. Minimum IQ 12 to cast a spell implies it's too complex for most people. Minimum magery levels mean that the spell simply draws so much power (or requires such a direct magical connection,) that only great mages can use it.

On that note, I wanted to put down some broad advice. If you want to have stringent restrictions on a class of magic, don't make the limitation be "you have to do this involved adventuring task alone in order to unlock this power," unless that option or similar ones are available to everyone.

If the party's wizard (and only the wizard) can monopolize hours of game time and thereby get more power than everyone else, and use that to monopolize more game time, you're going to make your warriors and such feel left out.

Contrariwise, having single-character spotlights of some kind open to each PC is a great idea.
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Old 08-10-2018, 05:21 AM   #23
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Default Re: [Magic] Colleges And Prerequisites: What Are They?

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Originally Posted by The Colonel View Post
Suddenly I'm amused by the idea of a magic system where you can attempt what you like, but the misfire table is the universe's default response and improved skill is all about modifying or avoiding the misfire. One up on the Cthulhu idea of "summon what you like ... did you figure out how to ward or bind it?"
That Other Game had “Wild Mages” in its second edition. They would often result in a misfire, but could control their position on the “Wild Surge” table by the amount of their class level. There was even a (popular at my table) first level spell which always created a wild surge. Their biggest advantage was in being able to control random magic items like Wands of Wonder or Decks of Many Things with 50% chance per each activation.
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Old 08-10-2018, 05:22 AM   #24
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Default Re: [Magic] Colleges And Prerequisites: What Are They?

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Please note that I didn't say they mean nothing; I said they aren't a major control on magic.

On the game-world level, prerequisite structure definitely means something! It embodies the philosophy of a school of magical thought, represents the course calendar of an academy, reflects the biases of the archmages willing to accept apprentices this century, or something similar. As many people in this thread have pointed out already, those are worldbuilding issues. They are extremely meaningful for establishing a setting's "flavor."
That's not terribly useful.

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It's essential not to assume that the goal of every character-creation rule is to curb PC capabilities. Prerequisites are more about "makes sense" than "limits power." So are familiarities, which cost no points! And so are optional specialties, which can make a character better, for free, in one area important to the player. It's just good worldbuilding to assume that people take the 100-level course before the 200-level one, learn to drive specific vehicles or shoot specific guns, pursue a particular research interest in physics or literature, etc. None of that has anything to do with being better in combat or otherwise "more powerful."
This however, would suggest that at least some of them are (potentially) caused by fundamental things a PC needs to learn. And while I realize that Magic is basically only a suggestion, but the fact that it goes into great detail in some areas but not others is rather weird, especially as I guess that most people are going to be using it 'as-is' with a good reason to change it.

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As was noted earlier, that depends entirely on what Fireball is. If it's very specifically the ritual of projecting fire at a distance, even bad castings might not create fire dangerously close. Flame Jet, on the other hand . . .
As it stands the rules are pretty clear it's a throw-able ball of exploding fire, or exploding something that causes burns, I'm pretty sure that failed attempts to learn such a spell result in the ball exploding in you face.. Projecting fire at a distance would actually be Create Fire.

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One of the reasons why I like flexible magic is because it does not bother with Colleges or Prerequisites (and sometimes does not even bother with Magery). When combined with Threshold-Limited magic, it may represent manipulation of reality. When combined with Spirit-Assisted magic, it may represent contracts with major spirits. When combined with the Energy Accumulation, it may represent negotiations with minor spirits. When combined with the Effect Shaping, it may represent domination of minor spirits. As GMs, we are free to mix and match as we wish.
WHy are you even posting in this thread?

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In the model where wizards are just technicians invoking set effects without even having to know or care about the details, especially with short linchpin-style triggers, a mistake might not even create fire at all. The spell might just fizzle from a meaningless trigger, or have any other magical effect -- a good place to insert a random spell failure table.

Imagine just typing random commands into your Unix shell. "fireball" gets you a fireball, but maybe you have a typo. "fireb" was intended as short for "fire bad" and gives you Protection From Fire; "freball" just compresses all your stuff in your pack(puts your files back into their tarball); and "freb" starts playing Lynryd Skynryd tunes out of nowhere.
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Suddenly I'm amused by the idea of a magic system where you can attempt what you like, but the misfire table is the universe's default response and improved skill is all about modifying or avoiding the misfire. One up on the Cthulhu idea of "summon what you like ... did you figure out how to ward or bind it?"
The problem with something like this is that the critical failure table for spells already requires that much adjudication, a system that reliant on random would require a much better worked out system.

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While I don't wish to dispute what has been said about this previously, I do want to note that the idea of a distinction between "human concepts" and "how magic works"—or, as Kromm puts it, between epistemology and ontology—may in itself be the expression of a rationalistic and objectivistic worldview that foreign to magic. Or at least to a view of magic that makes it something other than an odd sort of technology. If magic really works then the subjective human perception of how things are may actually influence how things are.
The problem with this is that any level of Magery that provides it's bonus to only a limited number of spells would effect a random list of spells and you'd likely have to discount it heavily. On a related note I have come a conclusion about such limited levels: There is a limit that prevents you from simply picking your favorite spells for such a level, which is definitely pushing my thinking towards the comes from magic angle.
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Old 08-10-2018, 07:19 AM   #25
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Default Re: [Magic] Colleges And Prerequisites: What Are They?

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On the game-world level, prerequisite structure definitely means something! It embodies the philosophy of a school of magical thought, represents the course calendar of an academy, reflects the biases of the archmages willing to accept apprentices this century, or something similar. As many people in this thread have pointed out already, those are worldbuilding issues. They are extremely meaningful for establishing a setting's "flavor."
That's not terribly useful.
Perhaps not to you, but I think you'll find that most gamers here are sufficiently invested in worldbuilding that they would find it useful. We write the books with typical interests in mind – and because GURPS is a toolkit, people are typically building campaign settings and thinking about their flavor. That's actually harder to do than balance character power.

Any GM can say, "Okay, this is getting out of control, let's make this ability a bit harder to use or a bit less powerful," because it takes a few seconds and solves a well-defined problem. Worldbuilding is more of an advanced GMing skill; a lot of GMs just don't do it, and buy pre-made settings instead, because it takes too much time and is completely open-ended. This makes advice on flavor more valuable overall than strict rulings on power.

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WHy are you even posting in this thread?
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There is a limit that prevents you from simply picking your favorite spells for such a level, which is definitely pushing my thinking towards the comes from magic angle.
That's valid for a particular game world, sure. In other game worlds, why not allow people to pick their favorite spells and limit their Magery to affect only those? Power-users can essentially mix and match the same way, defining a power with just their preferred abilities and taking a Talent that works with those . . . and they can even attach Reliable to an ability to be good with just that one thing, and use limitations such as Accessibility and Specialized to pay fewer points to affect only the things that matter to them. If mages and power-users coexist in the setting, it's probably much fairer to allow tailored Magery than to forbid it.
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Old 08-10-2018, 07:31 AM   #26
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Default Re: [Magic] Colleges And Prerequisites: What Are They?

You can change the colleges and prerequisites as much as you want, since they are likely only a human construction (and, even if they are based on fundamental laws of reality within a setting, there will be overlap). In fact, the only reason why colleges and prerequisites really matter is because of ritual magic (Colleges being the secondary skills of ritual magic and prerequisite counts giving a skill penalty). Other than that, they are just themes of a setting.
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Old 08-10-2018, 09:14 AM   #27
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Default Re: [Magic] Colleges And Prerequisites: What Are They?

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The problem with this is that any level of Magery that provides it's bonus to only a limited number of spells would effect a random list of spells and you'd likely have to discount it heavily. On a related note I have come a conclusion about such limited levels: There is a limit that prevents you from simply picking your favorite spells for such a level, which is definitely pushing my thinking towards the comes from magic angle.
Why would it be random? If magic is what it is because of how human beings perceive it, or more generality if reality is what it is for that same reason, then it seems as if spells going together would be signficantly correlated with human beings being likely to see them as going together.
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Old 08-10-2018, 09:28 AM   #28
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Default Re: [Magic] Colleges And Prerequisites: What Are They?

I like the idea that any given mage's view of reality alters how magic works for that person. Even if the way views of reality influence magical laws is completely understood within the game world – turning thaumatology into a de facto science and spells into a kind of technology based on the principles of that science – variations in personality will keep magic strange, unpredictable, and a bit difficult to nail down in practice. That is, magic will remain magical, despite being scientific on some level.

With that outlook comes a comfort with the idea that colleges, schools, styles, and other ways of divvying up spells are totally artificial, not fundamental to the universe. And if personality actually influences magical function, it isn't all that odd that people could have real talent with these arbitrary divisions – some personalities and some convictions are more forceful than others, after all.

Not that this is anything new to GURPS . . . GURPS Fantasy proposed Magery limited to one specific spell, a few specific spells, one specific college, and a choice of colleges back in 2004!

Stripping it bare, there's really no game-mechanical reason not to let casters pay fewer points for Magery that works with fewer spells. That's pretty much how GURPS works in general: If something that normally affects a broad field affects a narrower one, it costs less. And this is very often at the buyer's discretion, whether that means specifying what weapons are covered by Weapon Master or choosing the conditions of an Accessibility limitation.
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Old 08-10-2018, 11:13 AM   #29
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Default Re: [Magic] Colleges And Prerequisites: What Are They?

I would actually think there's a mixture of subjectivity and objectivity in how magic is structured.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLfsE_a2a-c

Colleges, as the name implies are just ways of teaching specialties in magic, and specialties are conveniences for the student who rarely has the ability and time to be good at everything. There is no one way to educate students but there are better ways and worse ways. Mr. Parr's complaint about "new math" happens because of an ill-conceived attempt to introduce students to more advanced mathematical concepts at the same time that they were teaching the basics. That's would be not entirely unlike trying to teach your students Fireball as the base spell of the Fire College and building on that to learn things like ignite, flame jet, shape fire. There would be certain advantages to the approach if it weren't for all the resulting dead students.

But at the same time, there's an objective reality to the fact that fire spells all share a fundamental commonality because they're all manipulating the same or a similar thing. It would objectively be easier having already learned several ways to manipulate and generate fire and heat, to learn yet another new manipulation of those things. The specific prerequisite chains and college assignments aren't mandatory but the general idea of walking before you can run is just the way things are.

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Old 08-10-2018, 07:44 PM   #30
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Default Re: [Magic] Colleges And Prerequisites: What Are They?

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Perhaps not to you, but I think you'll find that most gamers here are sufficiently invested in worldbuilding that they would find it useful. We write the books with typical interests in mind – and because GURPS is a toolkit, people are typically building campaign settings and thinking about their flavor. That's actually harder to do than balance character power.
I wouldn't consider Magic a toolkit but rather a shopping list.

Any GM can say, "Okay, this is getting out of control, let's make this ability a bit harder to use or a bit less powerful," because it takes a few seconds and solves a well-defined problem. Worldbuilding is more of an advanced GMing skill; a lot of GMs just don't do it, and buy pre-made settings instead, because it takes too much time and is completely open-ended. This makes advice on flavor more valuable overall than strict rulings on power.[/QUOTE]
This seems to contradict the above, in such cases you'd want all the details locked down, or at least give people recomended controls on them.

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That's valid for a particular game world, sure. In other game worlds, why not allow people to pick their favorite spells and limit their Magery to affect only those? Power-users can essentially mix and match the same way, defining a power with just their preferred abilities and taking a Talent that works with those . . . and they can even attach Reliable to an ability to be good with just that one thing, and use limitations such as Accessibility and Specialized to pay fewer points to affect only the things that matter to them. If mages and power-users coexist in the setting, it's probably much fairer to allow tailored Magery than to forbid it.
Too munchkin-y, but beyond that Powers still requires you to purchase the Power's abilities and outside of a supers game I don't expect many people to have customs Powers.

I also think using Power-users here was a bad turn of phase.

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Why would it be random? If magic is what it is because of how human beings perceive it, or more generality if reality is what it is for that same reason, then it seems as if spells going together would be signficantly correlated with human beings being likely to see them as going together.
Sorry I misunderstood your post, I thought you where saying that magic perceives no internal boundaries at all, thus any magic granted bonuses to any spells wouldn't follow any pattern.

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I like the idea that any given mage's view of reality alters how magic works for that person. Even if the way views of reality influence magical laws is completely understood within the game world – turning thaumatology into a de facto science and spells into a kind of technology based on the principles of that science – variations in personality will keep magic strange, unpredictable, and a bit difficult to nail down in practice. That is, magic will remain magical, despite being scientific on some level.
In this case I don't think these people are mages, I think instead they are reality wrappers.
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