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Old 03-15-2019, 10:45 PM   #1
Ailluminus
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Default [Thaumatology] Modular Magic

Hi, everyone,

I'm creating a magic system for a game I've been running for about a year; it's a modern-world Wainscot Fantasy based on Gnostic mythology, modern conspiracy theories and a little bit of Mage: The Ascension. To make this work, I need a new magic system: one that slowly ramps up, is usable and thematic.

To this end, I've been creating a new magic system that's similar to Sorcery, but constrained by the Magical Correspondences associated with each character. Those Correspondences... they're flavor, but are essentially a significant limitation in the things the character can influence with this magic based on their magical gimmicks.

The Modular Magic I'm working on breaks down like this:

Modular Abilities: 2 CP/point, due to casting a spell being time consuming, expensive and subject to interference.

Cosmic: Slotless +50%

Physical and Mental +100%

Focus-Limited: Correspondences -20% (I know this is a little high, but I do want this to be a significant limitation on what they can influence)

Advantages Only -10% (This is supposed to be using skill to change the world, not using magic to gain skills, though that might be possible through Alternate Form and the like)

Accessibility: Requires Totems and Ritual Kit -30% (Again, perhaps a little high, but I want to make their workings difficult)

Nuisance Effect: Creates Chaos -10% (High again, but Chaos is a stat in the game that can be weird, dangerous and attract the defenders of Causality)

Requires Skill Roll -10% (IQ/H ritual magic practice roll)

Costs WP -20% (I have a WillPower expendable stat based on Will in this game; could be replaced by FP in another game. This is kind of a guess at the expense, as my intent is a Cost of 1 WP / each 10 CP in Advantages acquired.)

Final Cost: 3 CP/point.

Mechanically, I see the magician/PC deciding what they need, performing their 'spell', such as it is, make the IQ/H skill roll, spend the WP and then activate the power as intended. Failure probably results in Backlash and Chaos.

The types of power available I think are going to be pretty generic, limited by Correspondences, such as:

Visualization: Blessing +100% (30, 3 WP)
Visualization: Cursing (15, 2 WP)
Serendipity: Wishing +100% (30, 3 WP)
Oracle (15, 2 WP)
Illusion: Mental +100, Subtle Edits Only -50% (37.5, 4 WP)
Mind Control: Emotion Control -50% (25, 3 WP)
Luck: Emergencies Only -30% (10.5, 1 WP)

More advanced characters will have specific powers that they can engage at additional costs, I intend. For example, a person obsessed with Fire (as part of his Correspondences) might be able to throw a fireball at extreme cost.

So, my questions are:

Does this work? If not, what am I doing wrong?

Should I model Backlash in some way? Should that be shown in the cost? What Limitations should I use?

Does this look fun?

Thanks so much for your time and thoughts.
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Old 03-16-2019, 02:38 AM   #2
AlexanderHowl
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Default Re: [Thaumatology] Modular Magic

Magic tends to be 4 CP per point due to its broad flexibility. A 2 CP per point modular ability would be something that would require a drug worth 1% of average starting wealth per point to reallocate or the like.
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Old 03-16-2019, 07:01 AM   #3
Ailluminus
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Default Re: [Thaumatology] Modular Magic

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
Magic tends to be 4 CP per point due to its broad flexibility. A 2 CP per point modular ability would be something that would require a drug worth 1% of average starting wealth per point to reallocate or the like.
It wouldn't need to be a drug, but yes, it would cost money, which I intend to reflect via expendables and having to accumulate a ritual kit or laboratory.

I'm planning to grant this to PCs as a Feature, not as something they can choose to buy. For that reason, I'm comfortable playing fast and loose with some costs.

I am worried about unanticipated abuse of the system, so if there are any clear concerns on that front I'd love to know.
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Old 03-16-2019, 08:02 AM   #4
AlexanderHowl
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Default Re: [Thaumatology] Modular Magic

Costs WP is also remarkable overgenerous. How fast is WP recovery? A -20% would indicate 1 point/week.
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Old 03-16-2019, 12:20 PM   #5
Ailluminus
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Default Re: [Thaumatology] Modular Magic

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
Costs WP is also remarkable overgenerous. How fast is WP recovery? A -20% would indicate 1 point/week.
WP is returned 4/sleep cycle, 1/3 hours of quality relaxation, etc.

It's meant to be a variable cost, and have an actual cost of -5%/1WP, but because I see 4 WP as a reasonable expenditure for a single spell or power I used that as the mid-point for determining Variable FP Cost, but for WP.

And, yes, WP is extremely generous. My group is VERY Cinematic; they like doing big things and being larger than life. I use WP as a type of Cinematic Points and variable Luck-style Advantage; it allows for rerolls and a type of psychic Extra Effort, like with FP.

I don't think that it's for everyone, but my group appreciates Meta-Game boosts like that.
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Old 03-16-2019, 01:28 PM   #6
AlexanderHowl
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Default Re: [Thaumatology] Modular Magic

Similar to the old White Wolf treatment of Willpower then. I think that you may want to consider Alternate Abilities instead of Modular Abilities though, especially if you already have a limited number of abilities available. Even at 3 CP per point, it is cheaper and simpler to have ten Alternate Abilities rather than one Modular Ability. For example, you could have a primary 100 CP ability and nine 100 CP Alternate Abilities for 20 CP each, giving you a final cost of 280 CP (and a 100 CP Modular Ability could be one of the 20 CP Alternate Abilities if you wanted).
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Old 03-16-2019, 01:30 PM   #7
Gef
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Yucca Valley, CA
Default Re: [Thaumatology] Modular Magic

Overall, looks workable.

Technically, the Modular ability already requires an IQ roll to re-allocate, for which you can substitute an IQ-based skill roll. However, once allocated, the ability stays that way, by default. So, you could -10% for having the Module revert to raw potential, requiring a skill roll even to cast the same spell consecutively.

There's a lot of GM fiat implied in this write-up. That's not necessarily bad; depends on your group dynamics. I've seen it work great and I've seen it lead to bad feelings when players just don't get the GM's methodology, or when one player doesn't feels like "I can't do anything" while another player does a much better job of figuring out how to get things done in the paradigm.

-GEF
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Old 03-16-2019, 06:39 PM   #8
Ailluminus
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Default Re: [Thaumatology] Modular Magic

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gef View Post
Overall, looks workable.

Technically, the Modular ability already requires an IQ roll to re-allocate, for which you can substitute an IQ-based skill roll. However, once allocated, the ability stays that way, by default. So, you could -10% for having the Module revert to raw potential, requiring a skill roll even to cast the same spell consecutively.
Hmmm... I'm not seeing where the IQ roll is required. Not that reverting to raw potential is off-brand for this ability set.

Quote:
There's a lot of GM fiat implied in this write-up. That's not necessarily bad; depends on your group dynamics. I've seen it work great and I've seen it lead to bad feelings when players just don't get the GM's methodology, or when one player doesn't feels like "I can't do anything" while another player does a much better job of figuring out how to get things done in the paradigm.
Good point, and yes, I fully acknowledge that a lot of this is absolutely me being, "I am the great GM," with a workable mechanics background. My group tends towards the cinematic, so they roll well with vague associations, though I'll freely admit that there's more than one time, "I can't do anything," has been muttered around the table in the presence of more than one GM.

So, good point, and warning taken seriously.
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Old 03-16-2019, 11:04 PM   #9
Gef
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Yucca Valley, CA
Default Re: [Thaumatology] Modular Magic

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ailluminus View Post
Hmmm... I'm not seeing where the IQ roll is required.
Wow, now I'm not either. I ran a 2-year-long campaign making the power pool guy roll IQ to change the contents of a slot; looks like he had grounds to gripe.
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Old 03-17-2019, 11:53 AM   #10
Ailluminus
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Default Re: [Thaumatology] Modular Magic

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gef View Post
Wow, now I'm not either. I ran a 2-year-long campaign making the power pool guy roll IQ to change the contents of a slot; looks like he had grounds to gripe.
One of my co-GMs once allowed a PC to take a version of Modular Abilities that REQUIRED the flesh of a monster, any monster, to use, and then never gave him any meat to use it with. There are degrees of gripeworthy-ness.

To be fair, it was a short game, but still.
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