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Old 01-03-2019, 06:02 AM   #1
Icelander
 
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Default [RPM] Gem Lore, Lapidaries and Precious Stones as Traditional Trappings

Has anyone done any work in reflecting the enormous number of real world beliefs about the mystical association of gemstones in Ritual Path Magic?

How would one implement using expensive and appropriate gemstones as the material for Charms of the right kind of magic, for example?

What are gemstones appropriate for working ice magic?

Or ones associated with entropy, either accelerating or slowing it?

What gemstones have evil reputations and associations with harmful magic? And what are some cool legends and myths that explain why?

Can anyone direct me to a good source, online for free or ebook available for purchase, which collects the associations precious stones have in various traditions, ideally with fun citations to medieval lapidaries and other esoteric sources, in a clear and gamable manner?

Basically, is there anything in the least bit like a Supressed Transmission, Pyramid article or meticulously researched GURPS supplement available for gemstones and ritual magic?

Or, perhaps, simply a well written book of popular scholarship on the subject?
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Old 01-03-2019, 06:43 AM   #2
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Default Re: [RPM] Gem Lore, Lapidaries and Precious Stones as Traditional Trappings

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Or, perhaps, simply a well written book of popular scholarship on the subject?
I don't know about "well written" but the standards for this seem to be George Frederick Kunz _The Curious Lore of Precious Stones_ (a 19th century work that Dover keeps in print) and Scott Cunningham _Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem and Metal Magic_ (a more modern work aimed at the Wiccan community).

But keep in mind that premodern gems are basically classified only by color and transparency, so the meanings assigned will typically be the same as the meanings assigned to the color in the same tradition, and the overlap with modern conceptions of what gems are which may not be very good.
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Old 01-03-2019, 10:47 AM   #3
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Default Re: [RPM] Gem Lore, Lapidaries and Precious Stones as Traditional Trappings

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Has anyone done any work in reflecting the enormous number of real world beliefs about the mystical association of gemstones in Ritual Path Magic?

How would one implement using expensive and appropriate gemstones as the material for Charms of the right kind of magic, for example?

What are gemstones appropriate for working ice magic?

Or ones associated with entropy, either accelerating or slowing it?

What gemstones have evil reputations and associations with harmful magic? And what are some cool legends and myths that explain why?

Can anyone direct me to a good source, online for free or ebook available for purchase, which collects the associations precious stones have in various traditions, ideally with fun citations to medieval lapidaries and other esoteric sources, in a clear and gamable manner?

Basically, is there anything in the least bit like a Supressed Transmission, Pyramid article or meticulously researched GURPS supplement available for gemstones and ritual magic?

Or, perhaps, simply a well written book of popular scholarship on the subject?
For a primary source you could check out Theophrastus On Stones and maybe Pliny's natural history. I think that there was a classical tradition that diamonds were made from ice of the Hindu Kush.
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Old 01-03-2019, 05:43 PM   #4
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Default Re: [RPM] Gem Lore, Lapidaries and Precious Stones as Traditional Trappings

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Originally Posted by Polydamas View Post
For a primary source you could check out Theophrastus On Stones and maybe Pliny's natural history. I think that there was a classical tradition that diamonds were made from ice of the Hindu Kush.
I like that, about the diamonds.

As it turns out, the PCs have discovered a trove of diamonds, almost cartoonishly big and glittering. One of them has (without any skill) valued them at 'hundreds of millions of dollars', while another has confidently claimed that these are theatrical props, because no one actually owns dozens of flawless multi-carat diamonds.

Investigation might reveal that there have been several reported thefts of diamonds in USA in the last months, though nowhere near enough to account for more than a dozen diamonds who each look to be worth something between a new sport car and a used yacht. Though excellent investigation, some successful rolls and use of contacts and Patron might reveal that in the past three months; several insurance companies, owners and/or police departments have made attempts of varying success to avoid publication of diamond thefts, successful or not.

Oh, and the diamonds were glowing with energy that a Thaumatology skill check confirmed looked pretty magical, and which other details in the scene suggested might have some pretty chilly connotations.
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Old 01-03-2019, 08:01 PM   #5
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Default Gemstones as Re-Usable Charms

To take an example of how I'd like to use the mystical associations of gemstones, I want it to be more efficient, magically, to bind a conditional spell to a vessel which is mystically synergistic with it, than it is to use any random breakable object.

For some valuable and sought-after gemstones, I'd want an incentive for magic users to collect them. This might mean simply very high-quality specimen of the desired gemstone, but it could also mean stones mined in certain locations, collected under specific circumstances or with a unique history.*

It's a given that gemstones count as Traditional Trappings in magical workings with themes that match the associations of the stones. Most 'precious' stones, especially in a TL8 world, aren't all that expensive, at least not compared with other PC gear.

But might rare and expensive gemstones be more than just Traditional Trappings and actually function as kind of 'magic items', even though no one specifically enchanted them?

It seems to me interesting if one of the consequences of magic starting to appear again in my campaign world (otherwise the modern world) is that certain specialist markets, in the real world maintained only by collectors and the thoughtlessly rich, will see an influx of some odd investors and buyers, looking for very specific items at auctions. This is already a feature of archaeological and philological auctions in many settings where RPM is a natural fit, like GURPS Cabal, but it seems to me that the markets for high-end gemstones would be another interesting arena for ritual magicians to encounter each other.

For this to occur, however, some feature of gemstones will have to justify occultists spending thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars on them. At least assuming competent occultists.

Having gemstones be power items is a classic, especially if the gemstones can only store energy usable in rituals which suit the mystical associations of gemstones, so that's probably what I'll do. But I'd like alternatives to having the astronomical prices of gemstones consist only of paying for portable energy sources. For one thing, it would mean that either the most expensive ones were terribly overpriced for their game-mechanical function, or my campaign world has an abundance of very high energy power items, which might not always be desirable.

To take another potential benefit, what would it be worth for an RPM caster, in terms of character points or dollar value, to have a re-usable Charm item, which would save ritual magicians the time to prepare the vessel before they make a Charm using it?

Primarily useful for Charms with a duration, which starts as soon as the Charm is made, rather than Conditional Spells which require the destruction of the Charm object.

The game effect, it seems to me, is to save the character 30 minutes whenever he makes a new Charm of a certain defined kind. This makes it less bothersome for a magician to carry several amulets, protective items and knick-nacks, but doesn't actually increase his power much, as he can't cast any more powerful rituals as Charms.

Basically, by spending the resources to have a gemstone associated with the Charm he casts every day, a ritual magician can exchange capital for increased leisure, but due to the cap on the number of conditional spells he can have and the way effective skill for gathering energy limits the power of Charms, the capital really isn't going to allow him to turn it into more capital (through increased personal power).**

So it seems fairly safe for me to allow this, but I need advice on how expensive gemstones need to be to qualify for such a bonus. Obviously, very narrow mystical associations that allow this benefit only for a single ritual or perhaps a small related group would cost less than gemstone that aid many types of magic, perhaps even allowing all kinds of rituals to be cast into it as Charms without preparing it first.

Yes, I am considering that for flawless diamonds of certain awesome values. Or, indeed, for any kind of fantastically expensive gemstones which have a reputation as strengthening magic, as opposed to just a subset of magical workings.

Conditional Spells and Energy Cost

I've always felt that it was somewhat strange that it took almost the same kind of sacrifice in terms of a wizard's time to prepare a Charm object for a toy for a child that is obviously only a few energy points in the setting, like Gandalf's firework charms he gives to hobbit children, as it does for binding the most powerful ritual that a magician can cast.

Granted, the gathering of energy is different, but as it is often the 30 minute preparation that is significant in terms of how much of the mage's day is wasted by making the bound spell, these two Charms are likely almost identical in terms of the evaluation that goes into how willing a PC magician is to make them and give them to other people.

If I'm allowing gemstones to work in substituting money for a wizard's time, it would probably be best to have the cheaper kinds of gemstones only able to hold conditional spells up to a certain energy cost and have it take much more expensive ones to hold the most powerful conditional spells.

This kind of rule would probably be best introduced alongside a rule that drops the flat '30 minutes per Charm object' preparation time and instead scales the base time required with the energy cost of the spell you are going to store, as well as a rule that imposes a penalty to Path of Magic rolls for powerful conditional rituals that are not anchored in some way.

With such optional rules, having very powerful rituals available as conditional spells would require either great expense or elaborate preparation, which seems to me desirable.

Edit:

My un-playtested idea is to have the base time to prepare a charm object equal the energy cost of the spell that the ritual magician plans to bind in it. This can be modified with the Time Spent rules, but the penalties are applied to the rolls to gather energy for the ritual to be bound.

More expensive Charm objects with specific mystical associations with the kind of Charm you want will reduce the time without a penalty to gather energy. I was thinking of the steps being stolen from the 'Crafting Penalties Table' on Thaumatology: RPM p. 16, so that each level (0.5%, 1%, 2%, 5%, 10%, 20%, 50%, etc.) of the percentage of the starting wealth would allow the caster to ignore one step of penalty for taking less time to prepare the Charm object.

It follows, then, that at 1000% of Starting Wealth ($200,000) at TL8, a caster could have a charm item that would allow him to ignore -10 in penalties for preparing his Charm object in less time, or effectively instant (which Christopher Rice has said he would read as 1 minute), no matter the energy cost of the ritual.

I'd welcome suggestions on whether to use this pricing for charm objects that affect all types of magic and apply a limitation to more narrow uses, or to use this as the generic 'one Path or equivalent grouping of effects' and modify it in both directions.

Does anyone have opinions on this? Warnings? Advice?

Gemstones as Items with Magical Patina (Usually Aspected)

Alternatively, and perhaps more prone to abuse, I'll also feature gemstones that give a bonus to rolls to gather energy when used as Charm objects, but as these are just items that naturally come with a Magical Patina, I don't need any new rules or interpretations to do this.

Well, I do need to determine the point or dollar cost that is fair for starting play owning items with a Magical Patina that makes it easier to affect them (and them only) with rituals, either of a narrowly defined kind or maybe even with all kinds of rituals. In game terms, the utility is making this item extra neat as the Charm object for any such rituals you plan to carry with you as Conditional Spells. But, in any case, this latter rule requirement is not specific to gemstones, it applies to everything.

I've basically been making ad hoc calls based on how many points PCs spent on items as Gadget-based powers, Signature Gear, Named Possession and Equipment/Item Bond, these items also ought to have a Magical Patina relevant to their character, at least if remotely applicable.

Granted, it makes Signature Gear and Named Possession Perks more awesome than in vanilla GURPS, but that's fine, I wanted to encourage PCs to own family heirlooms, come up with histories for their items and, generally, take the risk to use the same items more than once, despite the existence of modern forensics, because the rules of magic encouraged forming attachments to things in the campaign world.

*Though that last interacts with normal magical items in the campaign, as items with a Magical Patina from many years of devoted, repeated enchantments or connections with Places of Power, or who have been the Named Possessions of significant people with a connection to the current owner, may acquire mystical significance even without formal enchantment. Certain rituals may then serve to awaken such mystical potency and attune it with a current bearer, in game terms, allow him to spend character points on the items himself.
**In any case, you've said in the past that it wouldn't break anything to use the Time Spent rules on the time required to make or prepare the physical charm, applying any penalty for quick preparation to the rolls to gather energy. So ways to get around the time requirement of 30 minutes before casting a ritual into a Charm already exist, just with increased skill instead of resources.

Last edited by Icelander; 01-03-2019 at 08:27 PM.
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Old 01-03-2019, 11:10 PM   #6
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Default Re: [RPM] Gem Lore, Lapidaries and Precious Stones as Traditional Trappings

Sort-of related. The Hope Diamond is said to be cursed. Its owners have supposedly met with great misfortune until it was given to the Smithsonian Museum. It is currently displayed for the public to see on the second floor of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D. C..

Possible adventures include:
* Save the nation! The curse is about to enact its work on the United States of America, the current owner! The PCs have to somehow get the stone away from the country, by means fair or foul. (Of course, this means that the curse falls to them ...)
* The MacGuffin. Obviously this is a powerful magical artifact. Obviously the bad guys want it to enact their evil plans. The PCs need to stop the jewel heist.

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Old 01-04-2019, 12:04 AM   #7
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Default Re: [RPM] Gem Lore, Lapidaries and Precious Stones as Traditional Trappings

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Originally Posted by lwcamp View Post
Sort-of related. The Hope Diamond is said to be cursed. Its owners have supposedly met with great misfortune until it was given to the Smithsonian Museum. It is currently displayed for the public to see on the second floor of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D. C..
Indeed so.

I rember thinking that the security didn't look like much, not to a team of intrepid GURPS characters with the usual total disregard for danger, discomfort and the dictates of civilized conduct, at least so long they could justify everything through the prism of their strict codes, vows or obessions, driving them onward to ever greater adventures.

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Originally Posted by lwcamp View Post
Possible adventures include:
* Save the nation! The curse is about to enact its work on the United States of America, the current owner! The PCs have to somehow get the stone away from the country, by means fair or foul. (Of course, this means that the curse falls to them ...)
* The MacGuffin. Obviously this is a powerful magical artifact. Obviously the bad guys want it to enact their evil plans. The PCs need to stop the jewel heist.

Luke
Both. It's most likely cursed, but, it is also a powerful artifact, presumably powerful enough to enable the use of the sort of world-ending rituals that PCs oppose, if only because the world is where they keep all their stuff.

So, when the PCs find out that the antagonists mean to steal it, they've got to choose whether to pass all their data to MiBs of dubious honour, likely dooming themselves to unpleasant attention forevermore after having had to reveal so much of their ways and means in order to convince the government to hide the stone somewhere safe, not to mention exposing unknown elements in the Deep State to the temptation of having a magical thermonuclear device that can in theory power any ritual, or... well, steal it themselves before the villains do and then deal with the curse, because that's their unhappy lot in life.
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Old 01-04-2019, 02:50 AM   #8
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Default Re: [RPM] Gem Lore, Lapidaries and Precious Stones as Traditional Trappings

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Originally Posted by lwcamp View Post
Sort-of related. The Hope Diamond is said to be cursed. Its owners have supposedly met with great misfortune until it was given to the Smithsonian Museum. It is currently displayed for the public to see on the second floor of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D. C..
The Koh-i-nor has a similar reputation - legend has it that no man may wear it without suffering disaster - it may only be safely worn by a god or a woman. Thus, although part of the British Crown Jewels, it is normally worn by the Queen Consort (that said, it has been worn by two Queens regnant as well...).
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Old 01-04-2019, 05:14 AM   #9
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Default Re: [RPM] Gem Lore, Lapidaries and Precious Stones as Traditional Trappings

Gems from a mine in a vile vortex might be more powerful then normal. I see three on land, two in Africa, one in north-east India/south-west Asia.

Modern analysis or a good eye and lots of experience can tell which min a stone came from, mines might be aspected if something drastic happened there.
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Old 01-04-2019, 08:22 AM   #10
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Default Re: [RPM] Gem Lore, Lapidaries and Precious Stones as Traditional Trappings

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So, when the PCs find out that the antagonists mean to steal it, they've got to choose whether to pass all their data to MiBs of dubious honour, likely dooming themselves to unpleasant attention forevermore after having had to reveal so much of their ways and means in order to convince the government to hide the stone somewhere safe, not to mention exposing unknown elements in the Deep State to the temptation of having a magical thermonuclear device that can in theory power any ritual, or... well, steal it themselves before the villains do and then deal with the curse, because that's their unhappy lot in life.
Always look for the third way solutions. Let the villains steal it, kill them, and dump the diamond into the same grave as the bodies, so they still "own" it if anybody does.
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