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Old 01-17-2016, 01:50 AM   #1
Roh
 
Join Date: May 2015
Default Shape Earth Spell Clarification Sought

I was discussing an issue related to Shape Earth with my GM and came to learn that my interpretation of the spells as written was very different from his. So I am going to go over a few key parts of the spells description here and explain what I think they mean and expand on how that meaning implies to me that the spell can be use.

"Move earth about and shape it into any form."

To me this means you can cause the amount of earth you take control of to take literally any form. The only reasonable limitations I can think to attribute to this would be that you need to be able to clearly visualize. And watching the earth take on that form slowly can only improve your visualization. This does not mean I think being able to shape earth would automatically impart any knowledge on useful configurations of earth.

"An unstable form (e.g., a column or wall) lasts only while the spell continues no special concentration is required and then collapses."

I take this to reinforce that you can make any form, shape, that you like while maintaining the spell but once you cease to maintain the spell any unsupported earth will then drop and all involved earth will settle into it's most natural state. So you could form earth into a standing cross and it would remain for as long as you chose to spend energy on it and then flop to the ground.

"An Architecture roll may be required to create a stable form."

This sentence while very important and making a great deal of sense strikes me as more of a very solid example that skills can and should be applied when shaping earth. I am sort of surprised it doesn't use geology instead. But the fact that if once you release the spell you want your creation to maintain it's shape on its own as it settles you need to apply the proper skill makes sense completely.

Where my GM and I differ most is I think that while maintaining the spell any appropriate skill should be able to be applied to achieve a more advanced form. He said that because architecture is the only skill mentioned it is the only skill that can be used with shape earth. I can't remember exactly but I think he may have said architecture was likely the only real purpose of the spell. The fact that GURPS used "may" in a sentence during a spell description only reinforced my believe that it is a suggestion or even more likely an example of how skills can and should be used with this spell. Not so much a limitation to just that spell.

I also have a question in general that I don't see addressed even by my interpretation of the spell. It requires no special concentration to simply maintain so once a shame is achieved there is no reason I can think of you shouldn't be able to maintain the spell and thus the shape and cast another spell on that earth. Such as earth to stone.

For example someone could shape something like this...

http://img.diytrade.com/smimg/363599...stone/3bea.png

of earth if they had the right skills in art and while maintaining the shape turn it to stone. Making a piece of art.

I actually have concerns about the spell essential earth and it's possible effects on a game myself but that spell isn't what this thread is about. It is purely about how the Shape Earth spell works, what skills can be used in conjunction, and if the caster may cast any spells at all on it while the shape is still being maintained by the original spell.

Please help me clear this up. If I'm wrong maybe try to explain how I am misinterpreting all of the quoted lines please. If you only focus on one and ignore the others I will have trouble really giving your point much credit.

Either way thanks for taking the time to read my wall of text.
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Old 01-17-2016, 02:45 AM   #2
Nereidalbel
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Ellicott City, MD
Default Re: Shape Earth Spell Clarification Sought

1. Architecture is mentioned because it's an inherently stable form, but, it's highly complex. Paying the extra cost to shape metal would require appfopriate rolls to make weapons and armor.

2. It would count as a spell being "on," which gives you a penalty to casting. If you have enough skill to soak the penalties, sure, go for it.
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Old 01-17-2016, 09:44 AM   #3
dripton
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Virginia, USA
Default Re: Shape Earth Spell Clarification Sought

I would allow Shape Earth to be used for sculpture, with an Artist skill roll needed to gauge the quality of the sculpture, and with the caveat that anything unstable would fall down when the spell ended. (Unless you used a non-magical way to hold the details in place.) So, basically, a way to speed up the construction of a sculpture that you already have the talent to make.

But I'm not your GM. As always, Rule Zero applies.
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Old 01-17-2016, 10:03 AM   #4
Roh
 
Join Date: May 2015
Default Re: Shape Earth Spell Clarification Sought

I'm looking more to see if people think I am interpreting the rules wrong. Not if folk would be willing to bend the rules to let me do it. Would love some SJG input but they are likely busy. :)
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Old 01-17-2016, 10:08 AM   #5
Nereidalbel
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Ellicott City, MD
Default Re: Shape Earth Spell Clarification Sought

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roh View Post
I'm looking more to see if people think I am interpreting the rules wrong. Not if folk would be willing to bend the rules to let me do it. Would love some SJG input but they are likely busy. :)
The standard Magic system is in dire need of a complete revamp. The rules say that a skill roll may be required to do something, and they don't say it's the ONLY skill check that may be required. It's simply called out for being the most likely skill used, and is one of those spells that requires a bit of logical thinking. Also, if you PM Kromm for such an issue, it is customary to quote his response in the thread.
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Old 01-17-2016, 10:23 AM   #6
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default Re: Shape Earth Spell Clarification Sought

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roh View Post
I"An Architecture roll may be required to create a stable form."

This sentence while very important and making a great deal of sense strikes me as more of a very solid example that skills can and should be applied when shaping earth. I am sort of surprised it doesn't use geology instead.
Geology is a skill for knowing about earth, stone, etc. Architecture is the skill for designing things built out of those materials, including ditches, banks and so on (although those are examples of easy things with significant skill bonuses).
Quote:
Where my GM and I differ most is I think that while maintaining the spell any appropriate skill should be able to be applied to achieve a more advanced form. He said that because architecture is the only skill mentioned it is the only skill that can be used with shape earth.
Firstly, your GM has overriding authority. Second, that's a defensible position even in the absence of overriding authority, although it isn't one I completely agree with. If I was running it, Architecture would be the skill used most of the time, although Artist (Sculpture) is what you'd use for artistic work.
Quote:
I also have a question in general that I don't see addressed even by my interpretation of the spell. It requires no special concentration to simply maintain so once a shame is achieved there is no reason I can think of you shouldn't be able to maintain the spell and thus the shape and cast another spell on that earth. Such as earth to stone.
That seems perfectly reasonable.
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Old 01-17-2016, 10:50 AM   #7
Roh
 
Join Date: May 2015
Default Re: Shape Earth Spell Clarification Sought

I am in no way questioning my or any other GM's authority over the games they run. I actually asked my GM if he would be insulted or annoyed if i brought the discussion here. He said it was okay.

I am only trying to learn more about the spell by RAW(Rules as Writen) and the use of it that most reflects what SJG had in mind when they published the spell. For my own understanding and not any one specific game.
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Old 01-17-2016, 11:23 AM   #8
Anaraxes
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Default Re: Shape Earth Spell Clarification Sought

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nereidalbel View Post
The rules say that a skill roll may be required to do something, and they don't say it's the ONLY skill check that may be required.
This. GURPS rules often give examples, but rarely do they provide an exhaustive, enumerated list of all possibilities. In this example, Architecture is mentioned because the text just finished mentioning making a unstable "column or wall", for which Architecture does indeed seem relevant. (It's perhaps also worth noting that the GURPS rules are intentionally not making an attempt to be written for rules lawyers applying them with rigid literalism, but for cooperating adults using judgement and common sense to enjoy a shared pastime.)

Making other shapes will require other skills: Artist for sculpture, Blacksmithing for shaping iron swords, etc. If you want a form to have value for some particular purpose, rather than just being vague human- or sword-shaped, the mage needs an appropriate skill. The magic is doing all the work to move the material around, but the magic is not "smart" on its own, and doesn't just fulfill the caster's wish.

(Some settings might reverse this assumption, say if you're invoking spirits that actually do things for you. But in that case, you're dependent on the spirit's skill, not to mention good intentions toward you in achieving your desired result. Reaction rolls and choosing the right NPCs to do your work for you would be much more important than the mage's own crafting skills. That's not the default assumption in GURPS Magic, which is much more the common approach to magic as a studied, applied technology for manipulating "mana" to cause side-effects in the world.)

I'd actually not often call upon Geology to create unstable forms, simply because geological formations don't persist in unstable formations. If they collapse without the magic, they're not around for geologists to study, and so a Geologist wouldn't be very familiar with such. A roll here could be useful to determine if your form was stable -- "no, you never see rock shelves cantilevered like that naturally; it'll break off" or "sure, an arch would work, like those wind-carved ones in the Southwest; proportion it kinda like this and it'll probably stand". But normally you're going to want some sort of technical, crafting, or engineering skill to make some imagined object for value, function, or beauty.
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Old 01-17-2016, 10:57 PM   #9
dcarson
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Default Re: Shape Earth Spell Clarification Sought

Geology is fine for simple things like how steep a slope would still be stable after the spell goes away.
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Old 01-18-2016, 12:01 AM   #10
David Johnston2
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Default Re: Shape Earth Spell Clarification Sought

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roh View Post

of earth if they had the right skills in art and while maintaining the shape turn it to stone. Making a piece of art.
You could certainly use Art skill with Shape Earth to Shape Earth into an interesting form. But that wouldn't make it structurally stable. T
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