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Old 07-20-2017, 09:32 PM   #1
Seneschal
 
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Default [Sorcery] Doctor Strange (2017 movie) Mystic Arts

I recently saw the new Doctor Strange movie. Superficial Hollywood/Disney/MCU trappings aside, it seemed to really get magical thinking, or at least new-age occultism - it's all kaleidoscopic visions, mind-expansion, parallel worlds, neoplatonism meets eastern spirituality, John Dee meets Maharishi Yogi, and even the soundtrack mixes baroque chamber music with psychedelic rock. It also devoted a lot of time to fleshing out the magical rules of its setting, enough that the spells can be statted out Sorcery-style.

Now, I'm no PK, but I'm going to be making Sorcery spells for a space-opera-with-reality-hacking campaign anyway, so I thought I'd make a GURPSification of the mystic arts seen in the movie. The only change from standard Sorcery assumptions is that every spell in Doctor Strange requires full-body gestures (less extravagant for skilled practitioners, like the Ancient One, while Strange himself seems to do katas to conjure even a rudimentary shield), but no incantations. Hence, this "setting" wouldn't use Alternative Rituals, but a Sorcery power modifier of -25% (Costs 1 FP, -5%; Magical, -10%; Requires Gestures, -10%).

Reality Warping
Keywords: Area (Special).
Full Cost: 130 points for level 1 + 26 points/additional level.
Casting Roll: IQ.
Range: 100 yards.
Duration: Indefinite.

By far the most spectacular display of magic in the movie, and the one given the most trailer real-estate. A sufficiently skilled practitioner of the mystic arts is said to be able to "fold space and matter at will"... but only in the Mirror Dimension. This parallel plane, reached by way of spells like Mirror Plunge, appears identical to our own reality, but any changes made in it will not be perceived in the real world. In essence, every journey to the Mirror Dimension creates a malleable "instance" copying the real-life location, except everything - people, cars, city streets - are nothing but images, easily crumpled, stretched and folded.

At level 1, you are capable of affecting a cylinder 5 yards in radius and 4 yards tall (or an area of similar volume) within 100m. The spell only affects inanimate matter. Make an IQ + Talent roll; on a success, you may reshape the geometry of the area by 50% in any direction. You may widen or compress rooms, rearrange structures or furniture, or create openings. Shaping the floor forcefully moves any creatures standing on it at Move 5. You can also create shifting, unstable surfaces to cause up to -5 combat penalties. Stretching space, curiously, makes all inanimate matter "duplicate" itself, following already existing patterns, to fill the newly created space; e.g., a corridor can be elongated by 50%, at which point it gains new walls and windows. (Note: this is a cool visual for the movie, but we can keep it as it makes no mechanical difference. For instance, a facade affected by this power wouldn't stretch itself into blurriness, but divide into churning fractals of itself.) Alternatively, gravity in the area can be adjusted by +/-50% or its direction can be shifted by 90.

Statistics: Control Reality 5 (Accessibility, Only in the Mirror Dimension, -50%; Ranged, +40%; Sorcery, -25%) [130]. Additional Levels add Control Reality +1 [+26].

Note: "Reality" as depicted in the movie would be a combination of Space and Gravity, and priced at 40 points/level. 30/level is suggested by Godlike Control, in Powers, and I've added a +10 surcharge for the sheer diversity of effects. Also, followers of Dormammu have the ability to Shape Reality in the real world, a feat that surprised even the Ancient One. They would replace "Accessibility, Only in the Mirror Dimension" for "At Half-Level Outside of the Mirror Dimension, -20%" and a Pact (-30%) tied to Duty (Serve Dormammu; Almost Always; Extremely Hazardous) [-20] and Fanaticism (Dormammu) [-10]. The cost remains the same. The fact that Kaecilius seems to be folding an area the size of Manhattan (which would be ridiculously expensive) can be abstracted by assuming that every Mirror Dimension "instance" is like a house of cards, and starts to collapse as soon as some major reality-shaping is used in it. After all, much of the cityscape folding into itself seems to be random and undirected - when faced with the Ancient One later on in the sequence, Kaecilius and the Zealots seem to only be able to shape reality locally, much like they did in the Sanctum.

EDIT: Oh, and the Ancient One is depicted several times using reality-warping to avoid attacks, so I suppose the spell could be used as a Power Defense. Succeed on a defense roll, the floor beneath the enemy's feet gets swept away. It also seems to cause them to fall prone, but given that only mooks fall for this trick, that could be a special effect.

Mirror Plunge
Keywords: Area (Fixed).
Full Cost: 60 points/level.
Casting Roll: IQ.
Range: Self.
Duration: Instantaneous.

You break the dimensional barrier, drawing everyone around you into the Mirror Dimension - a one-way trip, unless any of you possesses a Sling Ring. In the movie, Strange uses this spell just as Kaecilius is preparing to destroy the New York Sanctum in order to trap him there.

The casting of this spell takes 10 or 11 seconds, as opposed to the usual 1 or 2; you can speed up the casting process by accepting -1 to skill for each second omitted. at the end of the casting, you make an IQ + Talent roll. If you succeed, targets within 8 yards of you must make a Will roll, at a penalty equal to your Mirror Plunge level, or be sucked into the Mirror Dimension alongside you.

Statistics: Affliction 1 (Will; Advantage, Mirror Plunge, +400%; Area Effect, 8 Yards, +150%; Emanation, -20%; Sorcery, -25%) [60]. Additional levels add further levels of Affliction [+60]. Note: Mirror Plunge is Jumper (World; Limited Access, Earth to Mirror Dimension, One Way Only, -60%) [40].
-------------


Off to bed for now, but I'm preparing stats for the whips and mandalas that the characters in the movie use to fight. I'll post them later on. Right now, I'd like to see what the hive-mind thinks about these spells - especially the first one, as Control is one of those fuzzy, multi-purpose abilities that always invite munchkining.

Last edited by Seneschal; 07-20-2017 at 09:57 PM.
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Old 07-20-2017, 10:01 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Sorcery] Doctor Strange (2017 movie) Mystic Arts

Have you checked out this months Pyramid?
Kelly Pederson did a Supers vrsion ofSorcery that I tihnk is appropriate. In fact the bulk of the issue is dedicated to Sorcery variants.
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Old 07-21-2017, 11:27 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Sorcery] Doctor Strange (2017 movie) Mystic Arts

In addition to my Super-Sorcery! article (and thanks for the plug, Refplace! :-) ), you might also want to check out "Lord of Your Own Domain", in Pyramid #3/63, by Christopher Rice. It has the new advantage Jumper (Pocket Dimension), which might actually suit the Mirror World a bit better than standard Jumper (World).

In any case, I'd actually say that the ability to take people into the Mirror World isn't an Affliction with Jumper, it's just straight Jumper, with the Tunnel enhancement, the +100% version that means the tunnel forms before you jump, and you can choose to go through or not. All the examples from the Dr. Strange movie that I can think of that involved someone going to the Mirror World against their will involved someone forming the portal first, and either physically forcing the other person through, or tricking them into moving through on their own. I don't recall any examples of someone engaging in a contest of will or anything to avoid being pushed there, which is what an Affliction would suggest.
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Old 07-21-2017, 11:48 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Sorcery] Doctor Strange (2017 movie) Mystic Arts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
Have you checked out this months Pyramid?
Kelly Pederson did a Supers vrsion ofSorcery that I tihnk is appropriate. In fact the bulk of the issue is dedicated to Sorcery variants.
That seems very Serendipity [10] for me! As someone enamored with the HERO system, I do like powers-as-advantages, so I would have probably picked it up for the wuxia powers alone.

Anyway, a little tidbit while I'm at work.

Tao Mandala
Keywords: Buff, Obvious.
Full Cost: 30 points at level 1 + 1 point/level
Casting Roll: None.
Range: Self.
Duration: Indefinite.

A common defensive spell; the mage conjures floating, glowing, disc-shaped magic circles in both hands. They may block all manner of physical attacks as if wielding two small shields (one in each hand), although the mandalas' mystic fabric frays with each blow, and before long they need to be recast. They can also be used to bash people, as if wearing knuckles.

Statistics: DR 12 (Ablative, -80%; Active Defense (Block), -40%; Dual, +10%; Hardened 3, +60%; Sorcery, -25%) [12] + Defense Bonus 1 (Directional, Front, -20%; Sorcery, -25%) [17] + Striking Surface [1]. Additional levels add DR +1 [+1]. Note: Dual is stolen from Melee Attack, and serves only to allow two blocks per turn (the second one with off-hand penalties).

Strange, being an apprentice sorcerer, seems to have bought the spell with Unreliable, as one of his mandalas malfunctions in the middle of a fight scene.
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Old 07-21-2017, 12:09 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Sorcery] Doctor Strange (2017 movie) Mystic Arts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelly Pedersen View Post
In any case, I'd actually say that the ability to take people into the Mirror World isn't an Affliction with Jumper, it's just straight Jumper, with the Tunnel enhancement, the +100% version that means the tunnel forms before you jump, and you can choose to go through or not. All the examples from the Dr. Strange movie that I can think of that involved someone going to the Mirror World against their will involved someone forming the portal first, and either physically forcing the other person through, or tricking them into moving through on their own. I don't recall any examples of someone engaging in a contest of will or anything to avoid being pushed there, which is what an Affliction would suggest.
Hmm, well, there wasn't a contest of wills, and what you're describing is definitely what the Ancient One does when first introducing the Mirror Dimension to Strange - creating a static, lingering gate which they both step through. However, during the New York Sanctum battle, just as the Zealots are about to destroy it with their big fireball, Strange kinda... drops the portal onto them. They don't even notice he's doing it (and they aren't moving, like at the beginning of the movie when the Ancient One opens a portal in front of them and they just run into it as it's hard to spot). I suppose something like Drifting could cover being able to move the portal after you Tunnel it, possibly engulfing people who don't move out of the way. But there has to be some way to make the effect resistable, absolute effects are very un-GURPS.
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Old 07-21-2017, 12:16 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Sorcery] Doctor Strange (2017 movie) Mystic Arts

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Originally Posted by Seneschal View Post
Hmm, well, there wasn't a contest of wills, and what you're describing is definitely what the Ancient One does when first introducing the Mirror Dimension to Strange - creating a static, lingering gate which they both step through. However, during the New York Sanctum battle, just as the Zealots are about to destroy it with their big fireball, Strange kinda... drops the portal onto them. They don't even notice he's doing it (and they aren't moving, like at the beginning of the movie when the Ancient One opens a portal in front of them and they just run into it as it's hard to spot). I suppose something like Drifting could cover being able to move the portal after you Tunnel it, possibly engulfing people who don't move out of the way. But there has to be some way to make the effect resistable, absolute effects are very un-GURPS.
Not so much resistible, I think, but giving them an Active Defense (like Dodge) to avoid the tunnel may be the way to go.

IDHMBWM so I'm uncertain of the details, but instead of an Affliction you could perhaps place Weaponized (from Power-Ups 4: Enhancements) on World Jumper (Tunnel). The idea is to turn the ability into an attack that needs to be dodged rather than resisted.
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Old 07-21-2017, 12:17 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Sorcery] Doctor Strange (2017 movie) Mystic Arts

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However, during the New York Sanctum battle, just as the Zealots are about to destroy it with their big fireball, Strange kinda... drops the portal onto them. They don't even notice he's doing it (and they aren't moving, like at the beginning of the movie when the Ancient One opens a portal in front of them and they just run into it as it's hard to spot). I suppose something like Drifting could cover being able to move the portal after you Tunnel it, possibly engulfing people who don't move out of the way. But there has to be some way to make the effect resistable, absolute effects are very un-GURPS.
Drifting is how I'd do it, combined with Low Signature to make it hard to spot.

I don't think you need a resistance roll on this. While GURPS does generally shy away from completely absolute "I win" effects, the ability to resist can be made very difficult, or require special gifts. Consider, for example, an Innate Attack with a bunch of Area of Effect, Cosmic, No Die Roll Required, and No Signature. As long as that's within range, I can basically drop it on someone, with no chance of error, and the only way they'd have to defend would be to have the ability to see invisible or foresee the future, and have special abilities like absurdly high Move or Warp with the Blink enhancement, to carry them out of the danger zone. I see something like this, an invisible Tunnel to another world that you can move onto people, as something similar - if they have the right abilities, they can spot and avoid it, but it's not something just any character can do.
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Old 07-22-2017, 03:09 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Sorcery] Doctor Strange (2017 movie) Mystic Arts

I'm just going though Super-Sorcery and, woah, Mystic Buckler is basically perfect for the Mandalas! I sure am glad the editor asked for another spell to fill the page. ;) The fact that they break seems to be more due to Strange's noobness (the Ancient One's never break), so maybe she has a variant without Ablative. Furthermore, Dual could be a selectable advantage, since Strange seems to summon a single bigger one to defend against Dormammu's assaults - maybe a Nuisance Effect (DR is split between two bucklers).

As for virtually unblockable attacks, I concur. Mirror trapping appears to be quite insidious, as the Zealots fall into it twice during the movie, so probably a Dodge or maybe a Per contest - which they failed the second time around because they were concentrating on casting, allowing even a nooblet like Strange to stealthily conjure a portal right where they're standing.

EDIT: A question: why does the buckler require Force Field? I thought that was for "whole body DR." Or is the enhancement just "protects against Contact Agent" since default DR seems to be "on" the body, although it isn't skin.

Last edited by Seneschal; 07-22-2017 at 03:14 AM.
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Old 07-22-2017, 09:35 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Sorcery] Doctor Strange (2017 movie) Mystic Arts

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Originally Posted by Seneschal View Post
I'm just going though Super-Sorcery and, woah, Mystic Buckler is basically perfect for the Mandalas!
I wrote Super-Sorcery! shortly after seeing Doctor Strange myself, and "How can I make sure this system can emulate the movie?" was definitely in my mind. :-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seneschal
I sure am glad the editor asked for another spell to fill the page. ;)
Actually, it was Gateway of Worlds that got added, not Mystic Buckler - they're just alphabetized.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seneschal
The fact that they break seems to be more due to Strange's noobness (the Ancient One's never break), so maybe she has a variant without Ablative.
Alternatively, Strange could have been using extra effort to push his shields up to a level where they're actually useful against the stuff the Zealots were throwing around, and his shields flickering and going out could be a visual depiction of him running out of fatigue to power the boost.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seneschal
EDIT: A question: why does the buckler require Force Field? I thought that was for "whole body DR." Or is the enhancement just "protects against Contact Agent" since default DR seems to be "on" the body, although it isn't skin.
DR without Tough Skin does protect against Contact Agents, actually. However, DR without Force Field doesn't protect your gear, or your eyes. Since the shields in Doctor Strange definitely covered gear and such, I felt Force Field was appropriate.
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Old 07-23-2017, 10:38 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Sorcery] Doctor Strange (2017 movie) Mystic Arts

Gotta say I wasn't too hot for this issue. L!C!M! Had my attention, since I tend to run more Action!-style games, but reading this thread makes me think Super Sorcery may well be of particular use, too. I guess I'll have to wishlist it until I have money after all :)
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