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Old 02-29-2016, 01:11 PM   #1
Chaorain
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Default Competing Magic Systems

I am working on a custom fantasy setting, I want to make the theme of the campaign to be conflict, between the races, religions and the magic systems.

I read through Thaumatology and came up with what I thought what a good plan. I wanted three different major systems:
  1. Arcane", the traditional generic magic system in GURPS. Also worth noting is that Magery is going to be a racial trait.
  2. "Divine", this uses Clerical Spell-Magic (Thaumatology p.65) and Threshold-Limited Magic (Thaumatology p.76) and is slightly different for each religion in the campaign, most religions are race specific but any member of any race can get Divine spells.
  3. "Shamanism" is the final form and used Assisting Spirits (Thaumatology p.90), this type of spell casting is gained by signing a contract with one of the "Great Spirits" of the world, worth noting that the Great Spirits do not care about race or religion. In theory it would be possible for a single individual to gain all three types of magic.

There were a few other things, Verb Noun magic practiced exclusively by the immortal demi-god kings, arcane magic practiced by a race that shouldn't be able to, and universally forbidden Blood Magic.

All this depends on the spells in GURPS Magic though, which I recently found out was less than ideal. As far as I can tell these are the major problems:
  • Immunity spells, some spells grant outright immunity.
  • "Uncapped" spells, some spells can get quite ridiculous, ex. Enlarge
  • Prerequisites don't correspond at all to power of the spell.

As I see it I have two options:
  1. Balance every single spell, this is an intimidating task, specifically I don't think I'll be able to get them balanced against each other, let alone against non magic users. Actually I could try and recreate the spells using advantages and check their point values but that would be a lot of work for 850-ish spells.
  2. Use a different system(s), I actually like this option a lot more. I was thinking of using Thaumatology - Sorcery for the Arcane spells, Powers - Divine Favor for the Divine spells. But I don't know what I should use for the Shamanism spells. I'm hesitant to bring in Ritual Path Magic because it is so different from the others. Same goes for Path/Book, realm or verb noun magic. Maybe something with spirits as Allies but I'm not sure how to work that.

So basically I want to have a lot of interaction between multiple magic systems but I'm worried about balance with both option. so my questions are these:
  1. Is there already something that would work based on Advantages for Shamanism?
  2. Are there any minor variations I could do for added flavor, i.e. Blood Magic?
  3. Is there a faster and / or easier way to balance the default spells?
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Old 02-29-2016, 05:54 PM   #2
Emerald Cat
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Cincinnati, OH, USA
Default Re: Competing Magic Systems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaorain View Post
So basically I want to have a lot of interaction between multiple magic systems but I'm worried about balance with both option. so my questions are these:
  1. Is there already something that would work based on Advantages for Shamanism?
  2. Are there any minor variations I could do for added flavor, i.e. Blood Magic?
  3. Is there a faster and / or easier way to balance the default spells?
1. Powers would work fine for this. All you would need to do is create a power modifier that matches your idea of how shamanist magic works in your setting. Power Ups 8: Limitations would be a great reference for this purpose.

That said, I would also check out Path/Book magic for shamanist magic. Path/Book magic gives a very ritualistic feel to magic. This is a good fit for most shamanist traditions of magic. Magic under this system tends to be long ranged but time consuming to cast.

2. The Assisting Spirits rules in Thaumatology (p. 90 - 94) basically do what you want out of the box. Flexible magic systems have energy costs and skill requirements that make these systems compatible with the Assisting Spirits rules. If you want to make flexible magic extremely corrupting, you can use the spell parameters as the energy cost for the purposes of corruption.

3. The quick and dirty approach for fixing Magic is rewriting the "absolute defense" spells to provide DR or resistance bonuses instead. That would get rid of the most egregious disconnect this system has with the rest of the rules, in my opinion. Prerequisites are more for flavor than game balance, so you can just get rid of them.

Unfortunately, uncapped spells becoming broken could be a huge headache for you. Unless you are willing to confine your players to the spells in Characters, there is simply no way to balance these due to the number of spells available. Meaning that you will need to house rule spells in the middle of play. And this is likely to lead to frustration and player conflict at the table. You may be better off writing your own spells if this will cause trouble with your group.

I would highly recommend getting rid of the fixed benefits for high spell skill unlocked at multiples of 5 (i.e. 15, 20, 25, etc) if you do choose standard magic. Increasing spell skill by 1 isn't very helpful under this system unless you are casting a regular spell. Using the Alternate Rituals rules from Magic (p. 9) with a -3 to -5 penalty for halving total energy cost (rounding up) is much better approach because they make even incremental increases in spell skills feel relevant.

Last edited by Emerald Cat; 02-29-2016 at 05:58 PM. Reason: Fixed typos and clarified some comments.
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Old 03-11-2016, 01:17 PM   #3
Chaorain
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Default Re: Competing Magic Systems

Powers would do the job but I was hoping for something a bit more flavorful, I'll give Power Ups 8: Limitations a look over.

Path/Book magic looks good but it would be far too slow for any combat.

Assisting Spirits looks great but I can't think of how to adapt it to be something like Sorcery. So I'd be stuck with rebalancing the spells. Any ideas on how to adapt Assisting Spirits to Powers or Sorcery? It might be easier to adapt it to Powers - Divine Favor.

But I really like all your ideas for balancing things out. should make the process easier. I'm also planning on forcing the players to get approval for all spells, even ones that I've "balanced" just in case they find a major exploit.
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Old 03-11-2016, 07:56 PM   #4
AlexanderHowl
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Default Re: Competing Magic Systems

I actually created a complex magical system using GURPS: Thaumatology. I took Path Magic and created three types of Path Magic (Energy Accumulating Path Magic, Spirit Assisted Path Magic, and Threshold Limited Path Magic) that I classified as Low Magic. I also took Book Magic and created three types of Book Magic (Energy Accumulating Book Magic, Spirit Assisted Book Magic, and Threshold Limited Book Magic) that I classified as High Magic. It ended up working out quite well.
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Old 03-12-2016, 09:00 AM   #5
kdtipa
 
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Southern New Hampshire
Default Re: Competing Magic Systems

Instead of balancing 850 spells... you could treat them like I treat advantages when I'm building a campaign setting. I list the ones allowed. Drop the immunity magic altogether. Drop any spell you don't want to try to balance. This process might take a while reading through all the spells, but will save your players time.

And instead of going through the whole list to balance the spells, wait and see what your players want. Let them pick what they want and what they're shooting for, and just balance those. The list should be much smaller. Then when you make NPCs, if there's a new spell you haven't addressed yet, you can address it then. It spreads out the work, and still should be a much smaller number than 850.
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Old 03-12-2016, 01:21 PM   #6
Emerald Cat
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Cincinnati, OH, USA
Default Re: Competing Magic Systems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaorain View Post
Path/Book magic looks good but it would be far too slow for any combat.

But I really like all your ideas for balancing things out. should make the process easier. I'm also planning on forcing the players to get approval for all spells, even ones that I've "balanced" just in case they find a major exploit.
Path/Book magic can actually be quite good for magic. With Path/Book Adept(Time), you can cast most rituals in 1d seconds. By taking a -1 penalty, you can reduce the time by another second. Compared to the other penalties you take under the system, a -3 penalty to reduce casting time to 3 seconds at worst is pretty good. This is on par with creating a fully charged missile spell under the standard magic system. Or you can write rituals to store missile spells as charms that are time consuming to produce but can be activated quickly in combat.

Glad I could help you balance the standard Magic system.
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