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Old 01-26-2018, 05:09 PM   #1
Bazial
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Default [Thaumatology] Thoughts on a magic system

Hey all. After some messing about with Thaumatology and inquiry on the forums, I think I've decided on a magic system for an upcoming campaign. However, I'd love any and all criticisms! Basically, it's a variation of threshold magic and ritual magic, as outlined below.

Threshold/Recovery Rate: Starts at 25/6.

Magery: Level 0 costs 5 p, and levels above costs 10. Levels 3 and requires Unusual Background (Archmage) for 10 p. Magery adds to Thaumatology, but does not add to skills. Rather, it functions as a cap on spell skills, by the way of 10 + Magery level.

Core Skill: The core skill is Ritual Magic (Grimoire), a VH/IQ skill. There are no College skills.

Grimoires and Spells: A mage can cast any spell in their grimoire at the a penalty equal to the spell's prerequisite count. Spells scribed to a mage's grimoire can be improved as Average techniques.

Limit on points invested in spell techniques: A character can invest a number of points in spell techniques equal to their Thaumatology level.

Modifiers: By taking the time to cast a spell ritually, a mage increases casting time to ten times the listed casting, but can now employ sympathy and contagion modifiers; astrological modifiers; magical materials; etc.

Clerics and Power Investiture: Clerics do not have grimoires. Rather, along with their core skill (Ritual Magic (Whatever Pantheon They Worship)), they have a number of college spells each related to a deity in their pantheon. College skills do not default to core skill. They can improve individual spells as Average techniques.

Any thoughts on this? I'm considering changing spells to being Hard techniques after doing a character creation test and realizing that this system is overall pretty point inexpensive. But any other observations and thoughts are highly appreciated!

Last edited by Bazial; 01-26-2018 at 05:33 PM. Reason: Forgot a bullet point!
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Old 01-26-2018, 05:32 PM   #2
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default Re: [Thaumatology] Thoughts on a magic system

The obvious issue is that you need the Archmage UB to have a casting skill above 12, unless you work ritually. This may be deliberate, but if it is, you should make it clear that quick-and-reliable combat mages are meant to be very rare.
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Old 01-26-2018, 06:07 PM   #3
Bazial
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Default Re: [Thaumatology] Thoughts on a magic system

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
The obvious issue is that you need the Archmage UB to have a casting skill above 12, unless you work ritually. This may be deliberate, but if it is, you should make it clear that quick-and-reliable combat mages are meant to be very rare.
Absolutely part of the intent! I'm trying to do something a bit more focused on preparation and ritual magic, but that can still allow good mages to be able to sling out a few choice spells in a pinch.
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Old 01-26-2018, 07:58 PM   #4
AlexanderHowl
 
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Default Re: [Thaumatology] Thoughts on a magic system

Low skill plus low threshold means lots of dead mages with nothing to show for it. The threshold product being 150 instead of 240 is a real problem, especially when combined with such strict skill limits. I really do not think that, as a player, I would choose to be a mage because it would just not be worth the hassle.
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Old 01-26-2018, 08:55 PM   #5
Fred Brackin
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Default Re: [Thaumatology] Thoughts on a magic system

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bazial View Post
Limit on points invested in spell techniques: A character can invest a number of points in spell techniques equal to their Thaumatology level.
!
Only a Johnny One-Spell would do this and that's a concept that meshes badly with Ceremonial Casting.

Trying one of the classic versions I could try for Flame Jet-15 for the ability to maintain a 1D jet without cost. Thresh and Rec are too low for combat spells otherwise.

So I'd have to spend 55 pts on Magery plus the 10 for Archamge. Then Thaumatology-15 depends on IQ but actually isn't bad given the Magery bonus. Unless of course Magery doesn't add to ritual Magic which might be the case. Then it's 3 pts for the Flame Jet Technique.

A 5D Flame Jet would be technically possible but that would put 4 pts on your Thresh per second and if you sue that up it's 4 days before you get it back.

So 70 to 80 pts just for Flame Jet at a repeatable 1D. What I could do with 80pts in Guns by comparison would be appalling. Or even Bows. Such Bows at DX+10 with Weapon Master _and_ Heroic Archer.

That's the thing about Gurps Magic. It's actually quite well balanced v. low tech weapons but dubious v. high tech weapons and if you make it much harder (and you're making it very much harder) it becomes more trouble than it's worth pretty quickly.

If this is a traditional TL3 Fantasy game with significant combat Healing Spells will be the only thing a party needs badly enough to go through this and the person who spend so many pts doing nothing but heal might resent it.

At any rate and back to my original point no one is going to put many pts into Spell techniques be they Average or Hard. They'll just dump pts in to Magery, Thaumatology and Ritual Magic instead.
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Old 01-26-2018, 09:05 PM   #6
mlangsdorf
 
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Default Re: [Thaumatology] Thoughts on a magic system

Let's see how this works out in play, converting a DF Apprentice (DF Henchmen pp6-8).

Apprentices start with IQ 13, Magery 2, and 4 points in each of two magically related skills. In this case, Thaumatology and Ritual Magic, both at 12, which is also the cap for Ritual Magic. They also have ~21 CP in spells, which normally buys them ~21 spells, but in this case will buy off 12 points worth of prerequisite penalties.

For his spell list, I'm going to go for a grab-bag of basic utility stuff:
Analyze Magic-12 [2]
Apportation-12 [0]
Continual Light-12 [1]
Lightning-9 [3]
Might-12 [1]
Missile Shield-12 [1]
Purify Air-12 [0]
Shape Earth-12 [1]
Stench-12 [1]
Stone to Earth-11 [2]
Walk on Air-11 [2]

How does he compare to a standard DF Apprentice?
He has less spells, since he skipped all the prerequisites, and all the spells that he can cast are at one or two levels lower (skill-11 or 12 instead of skill-13). I don't miss most of the prerequisites, but losing Earth to Stone, Shape Air, and some of the 4 other air spells in the Lightning chain hurts.

During his downtime, he can safely cast Continual Light at Daylight intensity once per day, as opposed to once per hour for the standard apprentice, or analyze 3 magic items every 4 days, as opposed to 3 per day for the standard apprentice.

During an adventure, he can pull off or two impressive tricks, such as Might +5, as long as he doesn't mind not doing anything for 4 days afterwards. The standard apprentice can cast Might +3 once an hour.

In advancement, the DF Apprentice has a lot of upgrade paths: more IQ, more Magery, more spells. He's well set up to go deeper into spell paths. This apprentice is hosed: more IQ won't increase his skills, more Magery is very expensive for a minor increase in skills, and because he's limited to a maximum of skill-12 and buying off two points of prerequisite penalty, any spell with a prerequisite count of 5+ - of which there are a lot of useful spells - is out of his reach.


Limiting points in ritual techniques to Thaumatology level really hurts here. If you're the kind of crazy munchkin who only wants to be normally bad at casting Fireball AND Explosive Fireball, you're looking at 7 CP to bring both of them up to Ritual Magic level - which is between a third and a half of the CP you can spend.

On top of that, the incredibly stingy recovery rate means that a wizard can solve one or two problems with magic every few days, and better have other abilities to fall back on. I'm certainly one for reigning in wizards, but I'm with AlexanderHowl - there's not much point in playing a pure mage in this kind of game. And even playing a dabbler isn't that interesting, because it's still 9-13 CP to be able to slowly and unreliably cast basic spells.

Take my word that I feel bad for saying this, but ease up on the restrictions on wizardly characters.

Suggestions:
* Allow more points in techniques
* Reduce/refactor the prerequisite penalties so people can cast spells like Create Object without devoting their entire character to it.
** You may want to do this anyway, because prerequisite chains are completely random, which is Breath Fire has a prerequesite count of 7 and Icy Breath has a count of 12 despite being basically the same spell, and Great Haste has a count of 1 despite being far and away a better spell than either.
* Up the recharge rate considerably. Recharge rate is more important that threshold. Magic is already limited because no one is getting an FP discount for spells - so a lot of the worse abuses are nipped in the bud - so at least let people cast a couple of spells a day without worrying about accumulating threshold. You've got it set up so that if you cast Flight twice a day, every day, you go over threshold in two weeks. 2 spells a day is not an abusive amount of spell-casting.

If you make spells into hard techniques, I suspect that people will either not play mages at all, or will go searching for all the abusive spells with prerequisite count 1 (such as Glue, Grease, Great freaking Haste) and abuse the system as much as they can.
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Old 01-27-2018, 02:03 AM   #7
Bazial
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Default Re: [Thaumatology] Thoughts on a magic system

Thanks for the suggestions and critique! Thoughts so far:

* Okay, I realized I went too far with threshold and recovery. That should definitely be changed. I think perhaps bumping up threshold to 30, and then recovery to 10 daily would actually be more in line with what I have in mind.

* Fiddling a bit with some of the weirder prerequisite counts.

* Design intent is that magic is hard and that ritual castings are preferable, and that mages generally don't go about slinging fireballs in combat. Or, the more experienced ones might.

* Should probably just straight up remove the limit on CP's allowed in spells.

* There seems to be a lot of criticism of the capping of skills and the difficulty in getting over 12. Probably should have outlined this more clearly in the original post (and I basically didn't at all, so it's all on me), but as mentioned above, it is geared towards something slightly more low-power and ritualistic than standard. Magic is fairly prevalent power in the setting, so the Low Mana -5 suggested in Thaumatology doesn't quite seem to fit. Hence the focus on limited base skill and encouraging ritual castings.

Any thoughts?

Thanks for all criticism, past and future!
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Old 01-27-2018, 02:23 AM   #8
AlexanderHowl
 
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Default Re: [Thaumatology] Thoughts on a magic system

If you want lower powered magic, then I would consider just having the world just be low mana with standard Threshold Magery or, if you want less flashy magic, take a look at Energy Accumulation Path/Book Magic without the Path of Gadgets. In the former case, you have people using ritual modifiers to avoid losing Threshold. In the latter case, it is a normal part of the magical system.
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Old 01-27-2018, 02:42 AM   #9
Bazial
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Default Re: [Thaumatology] Thoughts on a magic system

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
If you want lower powered magic, then I would consider just having the world just be low mana with standard Threshold Magery or, if you want less flashy magic, take a look at Energy Accumulation Path/Book Magic without the Path of Gadgets. In the former case, you have people using ritual modifiers to avoid losing Threshold. In the latter case, it is a normal part of the magical system.
Makes sense! I may have to rephrase the low mana thing to something more along the lines of "spells are just hard, yo" rather than low mana. As mentioned, the world is fairly rich in magic, but ritualistic/less flashy magic is just the norm.

I was thinking about Path/Book as well as Ritual Path, and they have kind of oddly opposed problems. Path/Book would require a lot of work on my own behalf to bring to the setting in a way I like, and Ritual Path, while I like it, is not really something I want to spring on my players, some of which are relatively new to GURPS.
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Old 01-27-2018, 03:00 AM   #10
AlexanderHowl
 
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Default Re: [Thaumatology] Thoughts on a magic system

You can adapt standard magic to Path/Book without that much effort by having each College being a separate Book. If you are using Effect Shaping, the Prerequisite Count becomes the ritual default penalty. If you are using Energy Accumulation, the Prerequisite Count plus 5 becomes the Energy Requirement. You would have to modify some spells, but it should be workable.

It becomes tricky in the case of Enchantments, but I would suggest transforming the energy requirement into (hours of ritual preparation/[5Śmages]) for Quick and Dirty Enchantment (with the normal penalties and the minimum effective skill 15) or (days of ritual preparation) for Slow and Sure (with the normal restrictions and the minimum effective skill 15). In the case of magical items that allow the casting of a spell, they instead allow the casting of the ritual at skill of the item. You would have to modify some enchantments, but it could be workable.
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