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Old 07-11-2013, 02:39 PM   #21
Jachra
 
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Default Re: Updating/recreating GURPS Mage the Ascension to 4ed

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Originally Posted by starslayer View Post
or not everyone is a mage then you may be giving a serious imbalance to mages (wither for or against I am not sure).
That, sir, is how Mage is played.
Some settings are just unfair to norms, it is true.

That said -

Sandman, I would recommend against qualifying everything with lots of enhancements/limitations. You are making this for a single setting that (probably) won't cross over with any others. If you want it to be point-consistent with GURPS in general, I suggest putting the formulae in the back so people can see.
Try to emulate the setting's feel first, make the mechanics match that.

A critical thing about M:tA that I think even the oWoD game didn't do very well is making sure you felt like a reality-bender from the very earliest stages - your arete scores started out so crappy you were lucky not to blow it on the first try. nWoD's Mage at least let you add enough dice that a starting char had a passable chance to work effects (though even that one fell short, most of the time.)
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Old 07-11-2013, 03:10 PM   #22
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Default Re: Updating/recreating GURPS Mage the Ascension to 4ed

The joke has always been that the rarest creature in the World Of Darkness setting was the mundane non-magical human. The last wild one was spotted in deepest Canada.
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Old 07-11-2013, 04:22 PM   #23
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Default Re: Updating/recreating GURPS Mage the Ascension to 4ed

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The joke has always been that the rarest creature in the World Of Darkness setting was the mundane non-magical human. The last wild one was spotted in deepest Canada.
Get him acquainted with the other one holed up in Vostok Station.
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Old 07-11-2013, 04:33 PM   #24
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Default Re: Updating/recreating GURPS Mage the Ascension to 4ed

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Originally Posted by Jachra View Post
That, sir, is how Mage is played.
Some settings are just unfair to norms, it is true.

That said -

Sandman, I would recommend against qualifying everything with lots of enhancements/limitations. You are making this for a single setting that (probably) won't cross over with any others. If you want it to be point-consistent with GURPS in general, I suggest putting the formulae in the back so people can see.
Try to emulate the setting's feel first, make the mechanics match that.

A critical thing about M:tA that I think even the oWoD game didn't do very well is making sure you felt like a reality-bender from the very earliest stages - your arete scores started out so crappy you were lucky not to blow it on the first try. nWoD's Mage at least let you add enough dice that a starting char had a passable chance to work effects (though even that one fell short, most of the time.)
I'm ok with just setting costs that work for a game with only Mage PCs, and not worrying too much about balance. For the most part, I'm using the point costs directly from the GURPS: Mage the Ascension book (or the errata page). For some of the advantages, they already exist in 4ed, or are easy enough to replicate that I figured I might as well see how the points come out if I rebuilt them in 4ed. Dream, for example, now exists as the GURPS advantage Modular Abilities, but its cost in G:MtA is way off from the RAW 4ed GURPS, so I adjusted it. That way if I (or anyone else who grabs these notes and fiddles with them) want to use norman humans, werewolves, vampires, fairies, ghosts, etc. along with mages, they'll be a bit closer to balanced. Making familiars as Allies was more of a challenge, just to see if I could do it by GURPS RAW.

When I ran and played G:MtA back in the 1990s, we never felt that starting characters were underpowered or had trouble successfully creating effects. Beginning Arete wasn't limited in the GURPS version, and 400 points made a pretty effective character in GURPS 3ed. In fact, I was just looking at starting CP levels and was thinking that I might have to tone down from 400 to 300 points, and require at least 75 or 100 points spent on mundane traits. For this particular game, I want the PCs to be recently awakened. I don't want to have PC starting with any level 5 spheres, or multiple level 4 spheres.
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Old 07-12-2013, 03:36 AM   #25
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Default Re: Updating/recreating GURPS Mage the Ascension to 4ed

I have my own approach to doing a 4th ed. conversion.

For one thing, everybody notices that Realms are functionally Spheres, but nobody seems to notice that Raw Magic (also in Thaumatology) is functionally a a GURPS translation of Quintessence (read the description of Quintessence in G:MtA, then read the description of Raw Magic in Thaumatology; also pay attention to the list of alternate names for Raw Magic).

If you take Spheres as being Realms and Sphere Magic is powered by Raw Magic instead of Mana, then Avatar becomes the Store Raw Magic Advantage and Arete is functionally Realms Magery with Arete 1 being Realms Magery 0 because the first level of a Realm/Sphere is sensing what the Realm/Sphere pertains to. At least that's the way I'm planning on handling it if I ever get my game going.

Unfortunately, my copy of Thaumatology is a dead trees version and I don't know where it is, so I'm relying heavily on memory and notes I've taken and I don't have any notes on Distortion Points. My vague recollection is that Distortion Points aren't actually that similar to Paradox (for one thing, there's no equivalent to Quiet) although they seem to serve a similar function.

I have played a lot using White Wolf rules, btw, so if anyone has any questions about that, I'm available to answer them.
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Old 07-12-2013, 10:16 AM   #26
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Default Re: Updating/recreating GURPS Mage the Ascension to 4ed

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I have my own approach to doing a 4th ed. conversion.

For one thing, everybody notices that Realms are functionally Spheres, but nobody seems to notice that Raw Magic (also in Thaumatology) is functionally a a GURPS translation of Quintessence (read the description of Quintessence in G:MtA, then read the description of Raw Magic in Thaumatology; also pay attention to the list of alternate names for Raw Magic).

If you take Spheres as being Realms and Sphere Magic is powered by Raw Magic instead of Mana, then Avatar becomes the Store Raw Magic Advantage and Arete is functionally Realms Magery with Arete 1 being Realms Magery 0 because the first level of a Realm/Sphere is sensing what the Realm/Sphere pertains to. At least that's the way I'm planning on handling it if I ever get my game going.

Unfortunately, my copy of Thaumatology is a dead trees version and I don't know where it is, so I'm relying heavily on memory and notes I've taken and I don't have any notes on Distortion Points. My vague recollection is that Distortion Points aren't actually that similar to Paradox (for one thing, there's no equivalent to Quiet) although they seem to serve a similar function.

I have played a lot using White Wolf rules, btw, so if anyone has any questions about that, I'm available to answer them.
Thanks for the input. It's giving me something to think about.

Raw Magic does seem to capture Quintessence pretty well.

Raw Magic Store advantage costs only 5 per level. Avatar in G:MtA is 15. That represents a nice cost savings for mages. I'm not sure it's appropriate.

Thaumatology calls for +3 to skill on casting rolls for each point of Raw Magic used, rather than +2 as in G:MtA.

Adding to skill rolls is a bigger deal in G:MtA than in Realm magic in Thaumatology, because the scale of effects are entirely dependent on margin of success in G:MtA. Thaumatology assumes there are energy costs for casting Realm magic. I would rather not have fatigue/energy costs, it seems too far from the original Mage concept. Threshold might work better, but I hesitate to combine threshold with Distortion Points/Paradox, which I think is necessary to keep the feel of Mage.

Not having energy costs or threshold is potentially a big difference between Realms and Spheres. It could make Spheres much more valuable point-wise, and definitely makes Paradox much more important as the major controlling element to a mage's power. The "Disregarding Energy Costs" section starting on Thaumatology p. 194 discusses using margin of success and skill modifiers to balance Realm magic if you don't use energy costs, and even mentions using Raw Magic, but it doesn't give any guidelines as to how to do it mechanically, or how using those options should affect trait point costs. That's one reason I'm leaning towards keeping costs and mechanics from G:MtA unless there is an explicit mechanic in 4ed that replaces them.

Raw Magic can also be used as an energy source, at 5 energy/fatigue/tally (if you are using threshold) points per point of raw magic. It seems to me that using that as the only source of energy for casting using Realms would require very high levels of Avatar, and a very generous quintessence/raw magic economy if mages are going to be able to pull off really big effects. It also makes Avatar doubly important if, as in G:MtA, it limits the amount of Quintessence a character can spend per turn to raise effective skill on a casting roll.

The Reactive Reality option and Distortion Points are clearly the stand-in for Paradox in Realm magic. As you note, they are not 100% the same, but the section has a much more limited word count than Mage had to spend on Paradox. Therefore it is fairly vague and treats the effects of a crisis as more suggestions than rules. I think Quiet could fit in as a potential result of a crisis, even if there isn't a direct Quiet analog spelled out.

The more closely I read Realm magic rules in Thaumatology, the less it seems like just Spheres with the serial numbers filed off. It really is more of a new system that fits better with GURPS assumptions about magic, not bolted on like Spheres were in G:MtA. Then options like Reactive Reality, Disregarding Energy Costs and Raw Magic are added, as if to say, "It's ok if you just keep using G:MtA, if you like."
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Old 07-12-2013, 12:10 PM   #27
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Default Re: Updating/recreating GURPS Mage the Ascension to 4ed

If I remember correctly replenishing those stores of raw magic requires time, skill, and access to a properly powerful node.
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Old 07-12-2013, 12:40 PM   #28
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Default Re: Updating/recreating GURPS Mage the Ascension to 4ed

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If I remember correctly replenishing those stores of raw magic requires time, skill, and access to a properly powerful node.
Thaumatology recommends a skill roll (Meditation or Alchemy for example) to capture raw magic from a place of power. This isn't much different from Mage in allowing quintessence to be captured up to the level of Avatar by meditating in a node, Mage also allows more to be stored from a node using a Prime level 1 effect.

The Raw Magic rules also mention optionally allowing it to be extracted anywhere, given much more time, with a very good margin of success. Mage requires a Prime level 5 effect to recharge quintessence only up to the level of a mage's avatar without a node, but it doesn't require long times or very great margins of success.
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Old 07-12-2013, 03:11 PM   #29
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Default Re: Updating/recreating GURPS Mage the Ascension to 4ed

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I'm leaning away from Wildcard skills, but might be convinced to use them if it turns out that character sheets are very crowded without them. Certainly there's a good argument for Sons of Ether to have Science!
I've reconsidered wildcard skills. Right now I'm thinking of allowing each PC to have one wildcard skill that is appropriate to his or her tradition.

Examples:
  • Akashic Brotherhood - Fist!, Martial Artist!
  • Celestial Chorus - Cleric! Holy Warrior!
  • Cult of Ecstasy - Bard!, Perform!
  • Dreamspeakers - Shaman! (This is borrowed with some alternations from the Druid! wildcard skill from DF and would cover Shamanic Religious Ritual and Theology skills, as well as Animal Handling (any), Disguise (Animals), Herb Lore, Hidden Lore (any natural lore), Lore (Spirits), Naturalist, Pharmacy (Herbal), Veterinary, and Weather Sense. Make a Per- based roll for Esoteric Medicine or any kind of Survival.)
  • Euthanatos - Assassin!, Gun!
  • Order of Hermes - Wizard!, Scholar!
  • Sons of Ether - Inventor!, Science!
  • Verbena - Medicine!, The Occult!
  • Virtual Adepts - Computers!, Hacker!

Anyone have suggestions of other wildcard skills appropriate for particular traditions? In particular, I can't think of many for Dreamspeakers.
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Old 07-13-2013, 05:12 PM   #30
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Default Re: Updating/recreating GURPS Mage the Ascension to 4ed

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Thanks for the input. It's giving me something to think about.

Raw Magic does seem to capture Quintessence pretty well.

Raw Magic Store advantage costs only 5 per level. Avatar in G:MtA is 15. That represents a nice cost savings for mages. I'm not sure it's appropriate.
The problem here is that the Avatar Advantage includes Store Raw Magic, but it isn't just that. It has features in Storyteller that don't translate well to GURPS like being a semi-autonomous part of of a character's soul that functions as a sort of spirit guide, e.g. by setting challenges for Seekings. It's that "functions as a spirit guide" part that's presumably what drives up the point cost of Avatar, but how do you represent it in game? I suppose that you could call the Essence a zero point feature of the Avatar and use it as guideline to choosing mental and maybe social Advantages and Disadvantages, but what else?

Re: Wildcard Skills

Why do you have Occult! listed under Verbena rather than, say, Order of Hermes? It seems more intuitive to me to have some analog of the Shaman skill for them; you could call it Witchcraft! possibly replacing some of the wilderness skills with agricultural skills like Gardening. Also, I think you need an urban version of the Shaman! skill for Dreamspeakers that includes things like Scrounge and Streetwise in place of some of the nature related skills.

Let's see, Medicine! should actually be an available option for Euthanatos, a surprisingly large number of them are healing specialists. The watchword here is "triage." They started out doing medical triage, but about two thousand years ago, they got into what might be called spiritual triage and that's where their rep comes from. There's also a branch called the Lakshmists who are focused almost entirely on chance, many of them hang out at casinos and jigger the results so that people they think are deserving win at the expense of rich jerks. I'm not sure what kind of wildcard skill you could give them.

While all members of the Akashic Brotherhood are trained in martial arts, it's not the primary focus for all them. Some of them are more spiritual leaders or philosophers. You might want to make Cleric! or Scholar! available to those.
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