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Old 04-12-2018, 06:37 PM   #11
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Berkeley, CA
Default Re: Making Bank with Earth to Stone

Originally Posted by clu2415 View Post
Businesspeople who find out you can do this will be very interested in having a monopoly on your output. Some businesspeople will find that producing precious metals out of nowhere will undermine their control of wealth generation in the area and will be willing to pay you to not exercise your newfound skills.
The spell is way too easy to learn and cast for that to be a viable tactic. Mostly what it does if this actually works is destroy the minerals market.
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Old 04-12-2018, 06:45 PM   #12
Join Date: Feb 2014
Default Re: Making Bank with Earth to Stone

Look at the type of spell. It’s not permanently changed to metal (that would be an instant spell), but lasts until dispelled. I had a “blacksmith” wizard who shaped wood into molds, put essential earth in the molds, and cast earth to metal making orichalcum armor and weapons... with a catch: they would turn into plain dirt if brought into no-mana zones or otherwise dispelled. It might be good for an orichalcum layer on wooden shields, but otherwise a bad idea unless you plan on being itinerant shysters hawking counterfeit metal.
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Old 04-12-2018, 07:34 PM   #13
Join Date: Aug 2004
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Default Re: Making Bank with Earth to Stone

Originally Posted by Jeminai View Post

So there is my dilemma. Any suggestions?
My suggestion is that you open a thread "how would you fix GURPS MAGIC spells and why".

Invite people to discuss issues they have with various spells and what they've done to fix the issue. Spells that, because magery 0 now exists whereas the original writing/publication of the spell stems from a time where magery 1 was the lowest possible magery. Maybe spells introduced in GURPS GRIMOIRE were too cheap energy wise, in comparison with spells introduced in GURPS MAGIC 2nd edition. Many of the warts present in GURPS MAGIC for 4e, stem from issues introduced from GURPS GRIMOIRE.

Unlike previous threads on "bad spells" in GURPS MAGIC, this thread can be a collection of "this is what I think is wrong, and this is what I did to fix it".

Spells that provide "enchantment" level effects such as increased permanent DR and flame resistence, should not be cheap energy wise (as is found in ESSENTIAL WOOD. Spells that Grant 3x growing speed, 3x harvest yields etc - should not be cheaper than spells that double these effects.

Don't be afraid to raise magery requirements, IQ requirements, lower the effects units (ie cubic feet of by mass units instead of cubic yards) etc until the spells become less abusive. Something as simple as making the spell cost more energy or giving it a shorter duration can fix issues you see in game play. If, a mortal man using mundane means, requires 12 man-hours to cut 1 ton of stone, and is limited by working space to 1 ton of stone at a time (ie 10 men working together can cut 10 ton stones in 12 hours) then, a single mage producing a 10 ton cut (ie shaped) stone in 2 minutes for a cost of say, 4 fatigue, is going to have profound effects on your game world. Heck, even changing a spell description that reads "cost to affect worked stone is 20x" makes it harder for a single mage to destroy a fortification that takes years to make and many many mandays to raise. Transmutation spells like earth to air should be both energy intensive and require high magery levels.

In all, my best advice is fix those things you feel needs fixing. Invent things you feel needs inventing. Look closely not just at GURPS MAGIC for 4e, but also get your hands on GURPS CLASSIC MAGIC (ie, for GURPS 3e). The reason? 4e rules made subtle changes in the rules.

Case in point? Original rules for enchantment required that the skill level (adjusted) for the item being enchanted, reach 15 or higher. Skill 12 enchanters were thought to be incapable of creating "power" 15 items. Those who paid attention to the rule that a mage can trade time for skill, could increase the "power" from 12 to 16, simply by spending twice the time enchanting the item (ie gain a +4 bonus to skill).

That, in conjunction with the market value of a magic item being a function of enchantment days times a given cost factor meant that mages who take twice as long to enchant items, essentially got only half the pay for the same item being produced/sold.

4e rules changed that. :(
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Old 04-12-2018, 07:35 PM   #14
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Default Re: Making Bank with Earth to Stone

Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
FYI there is RAW support for this. Pyramid had an issue where Kromm posited a 24 hour duration for these spells IIRC
Looked it up.
Pyramid 3/60 page 6 under the heading One-Day Guarantee.
Yup. I 'solved' this in my games a long time ago by making the Creates and Shapes last no more than 24 hours unless continuously concentrated upon (which makes them an active spell susceptible to various Meta spells).
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Old 04-12-2018, 07:49 PM   #15
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Default Re: Making Bank with Earth to Stone

Originally Posted by Jeminai View Post
I had a group of adventurers in a fantasy setting traipsing through a dungeon. They got in some trouble and decided that it would be better to close off the main tunnel entrance into this particular dungeon than to allow whatever was in there to get out.

They found a constriction in the tunnels where the passage way was about 5 feet high by about 3 feet wide. They brought some earth down into the tunnel and began forming up a dirt plug about 3 feet thick. They took their time and made sure that the dirt was floor-to-roof and wall-to-wall. They even chipped away at the surrounding stone so some of the dirt would go into the rock.

The wizard's original plan was to cast Earth to Stone but when he read the spell he realized he could make this a solid iron barrier. We rounded everything up and decided that the earthen plug was 2 cubic yards (5' tall x 3' wide x 3' thick) for the sake of the spell's fatigue cost.

Roll a few dice and *POOF* Iron plug.

After this, the players began talking about using this spell to make steel for armor and weapons, the wizard (improvising and trying to not make the spell an easy way for his warriors to make an easy buck by selling steel to the smithy) said, "Steel is a very complex alloy with many valuable properties from each of its component parts. If I could have made the earthen plug into steel, of course I would have because of its superior strength. I was able to create iron because it is a naturally found mineral of Earth and falls into the domain of Earthen spells."

(I thought this was a nice piece of role playing and improvisation but it sent me into a panic)

The other players all stopped talking and slowly turned to me (their GM) with a questioning look. The player of the wizard had a look of true regret.

Then one of the other players said, "Aren't gold and silver natural minerals of the earth?"

The dwarf stated, "Aye, and platinum as well!"

So there is my dilemma. Any suggestions?
I interpreted "simple" to mean "base".

Excluding both "noble" metals like gold, silver and platinum as well highly purified metals. And yes the transmutation could be reversed by no mana areas and dispels.
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Old 04-12-2018, 10:13 PM   #16
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Location: Brasília
Default Re: Making Bank with Earth to Stone

you can find ways to this magic not work properly, or it can justify some "changes in the campaing.

ex. there are a lot of very cheap quality armors and weapons, but the good ones must be made with "real" iron.

it explains why there are a lot of gold pieces in the kingdom, but only king's coin gold are accepted, so it must pass in an official Casting House to transform it in coins, and the king takes a large, very large, part of it. they can try to counterfeit the coins, but that could be an adventure itself, as you need molds and so on.

some times I think about split Earth to Stone into Earth to Stone (instantaneous) and Stone to Metal (permanent) and use it to justify gargantuan castles or other buildings

you can also change the price of dispel magic items, or have one box where magic is dispelled inside it, so merchants can dispel easily these gold or iron ingots
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Old 04-12-2018, 10:47 PM   #17
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Default Re: Making Bank with Earth to Stone

A combination of solutions I might be tempted to try.

* Earth to Noble Metal is a harder effect to pull off than Earth to Base Metal.
* Earth to Stone (of any type) is a 24 hour effect, subject to similar "Make permanent for multiple of regular cost" as many other spells. A stable change (sand to sandstone, for example) might persist.
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Old 04-12-2018, 10:53 PM   #18
Join Date: Aug 2014
Default Re: Making Bank with Earth to Stone

In my DF games, I've decided the value of coinage metals has been drastically deflated due to rogue alchemists and wizards transmuting them. Such metals are essentially worthless as raw material and all value comes from the labor put into crafting items (including the labor of the magic user transmuting them). As for coins, they are still used as an easily recognizable currency but are fiat money rather than commodity based. Think, cotton-based paper currency like dollar bills; without a value agreed upon by fiat, it's only worth as much as you'd pay for a square of toilet paper. Regardless of the origins of the metal, coins are still minted as normal and the usual dangers apply if counterfeiters are caught (prison, execution, limb removal).

I don't remember anything about transmutations only lasting 24 hours, but the "create" spells have a "make permanent" feature that could just as easily apply to transmutation. In which case, the value can be calculated based on energy cost and therefore time requirements for casters. Again, you'd be paying for a magic user's labor to get a mound of metal. If they can magically craft weapons and armor out of any material, it just adds crafting time to their pay (which we can assume would be similar to a more mundane skilled crafter). The equipment costs given in the various sourcebooks already take into account labor as a majority of the price, I think.

The PCs absolutely could just magically produce arms for themselves if they have all of the required spells, skills, and time. But if they're trying to make a profit off it, it's no different from having a regular day job. Just use those numbers for pay and make them pay the usual upkeep costs depending on living conditions. Make them roll to actually sell their products. If they are in a small town, there isn't much of a market so they can't make a lot of money before needing to move on. If they're in a large city, there are bound to be entire businesses with specialized casters/crafters that do it as a full-time job which the PCs could never compete with.

Overall, it's a super quick, easy fix with a reasonable explanation. Perfect! I'd let the players do it if they want, but be stingy with the profit margins.
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Old 04-12-2018, 11:34 PM   #19
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Default Re: Making Bank with Earth to Stone

I think of "A to B" transformation spells as unable to create "extra" substance out of nothing. In other words: If you create something denser, you're going to create less volume of it.

Say the pile of earth has a density of close to 2.0. Gold would be about 10x as dense. Ways that could be used to modify the spell:
  • Going up in density means you create less volume: a hex of soil yields 1/10 hex of gold. (Even earth to stone, not gold, will yield some reduction in volume.)
  • As above, but square the difference in density (it's just how the magic works): a hex of soil gets you 1/100 a hex of gold.
  • Greater density increases the cost to cast! Depending on how it's set, this could be a tad expensive for gold, or outrageous for gold.
  • Greater density (and/or some "rarity factor" or "preciousness factor") makes the new substance short-lived (Permanent for stone, short-lived for iron, very short-lived for gold?)

Maybe these could be combined into a solution. For example, the idea of "1/100 hex of gold" is a huge step forward from wizards churning out entire hexes of gold – but easy access to 1/100 hex of gold will still break the bank. Maybe the reduced volume effect, combined with higher casting cost and/or short lifespan of the metal, would make earth -> metal transformations useful when used cleverly, without being abusive.

Notes: Naturally, no one would want to look up and mess with densities in play; a ready-made table detailing the effects for common transformations (stone, iron, noble metals, etc.) would be the way to go.

And then there'd be details to consider: Does going from dense to less-dense material increase volume, decrease cost, etc.? Does Flesh to Stone ignore such considerations, so you get a denser, but not smaller, statue of the victim? (Or, hmm, just assume the spell creates a pumice-like stone; same density as flesh, same size.)

Just nonsense off the top of my head.
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Old 04-13-2018, 04:54 AM   #20
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Central Europe
Default Re: Making Bank with Earth to Stone

Originally Posted by Railstar View Post
The spell description says it turns an item of stone into a simple metal like bronze or iron.

To me the bronze part tells me the spell interprets "simple" differently to our modern understanding of chemistry. Bronze is fine but steel isn't, even though bronze is also an alloy (though perhaps the difference is because steel is part carbon and carbon isn't a metal?).
Not just modern! The seven classical metals iron, copper, tin, lead, silver, gold, and either zinc or mercury could have been a good model, although there are also languages where coppper = copperalloy just like iron = "a sludge of mostly Fe and some Si, Mn, C, P ..."

I think that the Earth to Metal option was originally for technomagic settings. It does not belong in 99% of fantasy games. GURPS Magic contains many spells which will break any setting you can name (different spells for different settings) ... for good or bad it is up to the GM to chose which are commonly available in their setting.
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