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Old 06-15-2019, 02:28 PM   #1
AlexanderHowl
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Default Supermages [Powers/Supers]

When we consider supermages, we actually have a wide variety of possible sources that could be used for abilities. A standard mage may use the Magic source, a clerical mage may use the Divine source, a nature mage may use the Nature source, a philosophical mage may use the Moral source, a shamanistic mage may use the Spirit source, etc. With such a diversity of supermages, there does not really seem to be a default supermage.

In addition, we have a wide variety of spells and/or rituals to go along with the sources, and different ways to fuel them. In addition to standard spells, there is Symbolic Magic, Ritual Magic, Realm Magic and Path/Book Magic. In addition to fueling spells with FP, there is Threshold-Limited Magic, Spirit-Assisted Magic, Energy Accumulating Magic, and Effect Shaping Magic. Even without the complexity of sources, there really does not seem to be a default supermage.

So, given the diversity of options, what limits do you put on supermages? Do you put any limits on them, or do you embrace the diversity? Other than using abilities with the Magic source and standard spells fueled with FP, what types of supermages have you played or had in your campaigns?
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Old 06-15-2019, 03:22 PM   #2
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Default Re: Supermages [Powers/Supers]

I personally prefer using Sorcery for a few reasons. First I just like it better than other systems in general. Second you can design spells to work the way you want them to rather than be stuck with them as written and still maintain play balance. Third I like the improvisation options for Sorcery better and Super mages always seem to be able to pull off spells that come up just once and they never use again.
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Old 06-15-2019, 03:24 PM   #3
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Default Re: Supermages [Powers/Supers]

I dont really consider all those to be supermages.
I like all the systems but each has their drawbacks and advantages and I have made up my own as well.
Powers as magic is generally more balanced and better at high point totals.
RPM is great for versatility but can slow down play, especially if the mages player is not adept with the system.
Threshold Magic gives it a more strategic feel. First time I used it (back when it was UMana) the players went crazy and cast powerful spells like maxed out missile spells. Didn't take long for them to figure out they needed to manage their limited resources better.
Book/Path Magic is great for secret magic or magic is common but not key to adventuring campaigns. However spell design is a weakness.
Realm Magic is where we get into Supermages. However what we have is again a bit limited in new spell design.
Symbol Magic has flair but creating your own lexicon is time consuming and a creative hurdle. Also its again weak on spell design.
Basic Magic is great but the existing colleges dont suit my taste. Designing new spells is a bit arbitrary but there are a couple of pages of rules in GURPS Magic. This system has a few problems, most addressed in Wizardry Refined and the DFRPG but I loved the skills as spell system. However it is IMO too powerful as is at high point totals compared to a powers character.

I prefer kitchen sinks myself so tend to mix systems. In my current fantasy setting I mostly have Powers based systems but also a special system called Affinity Magic that is based off Ritual Magic (not RPM) with its own way of creating colleges. That makes it great for divine magic as I can have a war or agriculture college or narrow colleges like hawks based on a deities portfolio.
I added Book/Path to that to make for a peasant and common magic used mostly in ceremonies.

One thing I think you missed is mass magic, especially Cone of Power and Stadium Magic in GURPS Thaumatology. Also Ley lines from that book and Urban Magics.
I also tweaked ley lines to work with other sources as a power boost. Was in the Pyramid slushpile.
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Old 06-15-2019, 03:40 PM   #4
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Default Re: Supermages [Powers/Supers]

I like Powers as Magic for super mages, perhaps with small levels of RPM. It seems most comic books mages (Doctors Strange and Fate in particular) tend to mostly have a fixed set of powers that they repeatedly use with an occasion ritual which does *plot*. So have advantages for the "energy blasts" and the like that are the mages standard powers, with something like RPM for the occasional things like "create a portal the the dream world for our adventure there."

Now I don't have much experience with Sorcery, so that might work better than Powers as Magic.
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Old 06-15-2019, 03:58 PM   #5
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Default Re: Supermages [Powers/Supers]

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Originally Posted by a humble lich View Post

Now I don't have much experience with Sorcery, so that might work better than Powers as Magic.
Sorcery is a Powers as Magic system.
Thaumatology and Powers both give ideas on building such a system but we have several worked examples published so far.
Sorcery based off Modular Abilities and Power Stunts.
Divine Favor based off Patron.
Chinese Elemental Magic which is a suite of abilities based on different elements.
Psionic Powers may not be labeled as magic but shows another way to build such a system and works as Mind Magic.
Totem Powers and Nature Spirits is a limited or narrowly focused system based off Alternate Form and Power Stunts.


All the above also work with, and most include alternative abilities as part of their system.
Also both Impulse Buys and Pulling Rank offer a kernal or breadcrumbs for a pretty focused magic system
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Last edited by Refplace; 06-15-2019 at 04:06 PM.
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Old 06-15-2019, 07:36 PM   #6
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Default Re: Supermages [Powers/Supers]

I wasn't being as clear as I could have been. When I said Magic as Powers, a meant a simpler system where you build powers much like and other super power but slap a (Magic -10%) power modifier on it instead of (Super -10%). A more formal system like Sorcery would also work, and might even work better, I just don't have much experience with it.

I pretty much agree with everything Refplace said, including a preference kitchen sink settings. I think specifically for supers settings I would tend to prefer the Magic as Powers because it fits in better with a lot of comic book mages (but not all, something like RPM might be more suitable for John Constantine). Also, as mentioned, I totally agree the it is more balanced with other super powers, especially at high point totals.

Last edited by a humble lich; 06-15-2019 at 07:37 PM. Reason: forgot to finish writing the first sentence.
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Old 06-15-2019, 08:10 PM   #7
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Default Re: Supermages [Powers/Supers]

When I wrote about supermages for GURPS Supers, I had three models in mind. One was the classic 1930s and 1940 character who had the appearance of a stage magician, but could actually do magic (Zatanna is a more recent example). One was the mystical character whose abilities largely involved alien entities and extradimensional realms, exemplified by Doctor Strange. And one was the mage who was a classic GURPS wizard, but with a high power level and a huge list of spells; this last was the least comic-bookish but was a direction gamers might want to go in.
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Old 06-15-2019, 09:05 PM   #8
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Default Re: Supermages [Powers/Supers]

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
When I wrote about supermages for GURPS Supers, I had three models in mind. One was the classic 1930s and 1940 character who had the appearance of a stage magician, but could actually do magic (Zatanna is a more recent example). One was the mystical character whose abilities largely involved alien entities and extradimensional realms, exemplified by Doctor Strange. And one was the mage who was a classic GURPS wizard, but with a high power level and a huge list of spells; this last was the least comic-bookish but was a direction gamers might want to go in.
I'm curious, I believe Supers came out before Thaumatology and well before RPM. If you were writing it today would you want to include something like RPM or Realm magic for Supermages? To me it it seems something like RPM would fit someone like Constantine the best and it seems more elegant than one use powers, but I can also see possible drawbacks.
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Old 06-15-2019, 09:13 PM   #9
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Default Re: Supermages [Powers/Supers]

Quote:
Originally Posted by a humble lich View Post
I wasn't being as clear as I could have been. When I said Magic as Powers, a meant a simpler system where you build powers much like and other super power but slap a (Magic -10%) power modifier on it instead of (Super -10%). A more formal system like Sorcery would also work, and might even work better, I just don't have much experience with it.
.
Thats easy enough and a good option.
Constantine RPM has the right feel but might be too powerful. Effect Shaping is another good fit.
Dr. Fate has Super ST, Invulnerability, Flight and other powers. I think I'd give him a good Innate Attack with Ultrapower.
Dr. Strange I like Phantasms idea of Realm Magic with during most of his career Patrons such as the Vishanti.
Zatanna is actually pretty hard but some key powers and Power Stunts seems like a good option.
Vixen would be using mostly Morph with several modifiers, including Reduced Time, No Memorization Required, and Improvised Forms. She doesn't actually change but you can see the image of the animal as an aura which might count as Flawed.
Brother Voodoo I would use Totem and Nature Spirits, his brother as an Ally or Duplicate and Book/Path, probably with Effect Shaping. Also Alchemy.
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Old 06-15-2019, 09:31 PM   #10
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Default Re: Supermages [Powers/Supers]

Quote:
Originally Posted by a humble lich View Post
I'm curious, I believe Supers came out before Thaumatology and well before RPM. If you were writing it today would you want to include something like RPM or Realm magic for Supermages? To me it it seems something like RPM would fit someone like Constantine the best and it seems more elegant than one use powers, but I can also see possible drawbacks.
It does appear that Supers came out about a year earlier than Thaumatology.

I would find it difficult to do a treatment based on Ritual Path Magic, because I have never yet been able to understand it; it seems to be assuming things that are unintuitive for me. Realm magic makes better sense—it's basically a lot like GURPS Mage: The Ascension.

But I'm not sure that I'd use either of them. My top priority would be to create characters who were like mages in superheroic narratives—meaning primarily comics, secondarily movies and TV series (now that we have some outstanding examples to point to), tertiarily maybe pulp novels. The stage magician and the mystic are two clear examples. I might leave out the D&D spellcaster writ large; if I did, I wouldn't necessarily replace them with a user of some other GURPS magic system, though that's one option. I might instead look for other comic-book types: perhaps Dr. Fate, or perhaps John Constantine as you suggest. Though Constantine looks to me to be one part bluff and one part Path/Book magic; what he does tends to be slow and low-powered. Dr. Fate, on the other hand, has out and out superpowers with a Magic power modifier; he might even be best portrayed as some other character type entirely.

Or there's the broad option of comic-book wizard who relies mainly on gadgets. That's actually true of Strange, to a degree, what with the cloak of levitation and the Eye of Agamotto; it's true of Sargon the Sorcerer; it's somewhat true of Dr. Fate. . . .

I don't know. It's an interesting question.
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