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Old 09-17-2017, 03:28 AM   #1
Set
 
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Default What is the best Magic system to use in a DF campaign?

So, I've heard GURPS:Magic is very poorly balanced, so I took it for a ride and found that it is, indeed, very bad at balance.

I like balanced things.


I'm going to GM a DF table soon, and I need to decide on a Magic system for it.
Would you guys say that RPM is a better one?

If so, is there a list of "ready to use" rituals? Official, unofficial, I don't care, I just want it to be balanced - with itself and with sword/bow combat. No need to be perfectly balanced, of course, as that is pretty much impossible, but at least a tolerable level of balance.

Suggestions, please?

EDIT: This came up on page three, but I'm slotting in the OP for better visiblity:

My take on a conversion of D&D Next rules for save-or-die spells to GURPS 4th Standard Magic System, would love suggestions, specially since I'm not very knowledgeable in GURPS:

These rules only apply to Spells that include effects that restrain or otherwise handicap the target:
  • Spells that apply a penalty to the subject's rolls, such as Clumsiness or Hinder (Magic, p. 36) are not affected at all by any of those rules.
  • For spells that severely handicaps the target, but still allow him to decide his actions, such as Slow (Magic, p. 145):
    • The target can re-roll his part of the Quick Contest at the end of each of his turns. If he succeeds, he is not affected by the spell anymore.
    • Reduce the spell cost by 1/3 (round down).
    • Ignore -1 penalty flat (not per yard) due to Range on Regular Spells and Area Spells.
  • For spells that locks down the subject, either by forcing it to take the Do Nothing maneuver (i.e. Tickle, Magic, p.36) or by severely restricting its actions (i.e. Panic, Magic, p.134):
    • As above, but the target gets a cumulative +1 to her rolls, starting at the end of her first turn after being affected by the spell.
    • Reduce the spell cost by 1/2 (round up).
    • Ignore -1 penalty flat (not per yard) due to Range on Regular and Area Spells.


Additionally, I'm trying to convert the Legendary Resistance trait from D&D Next to GURPS.
Legendary Resistance
+3PR/Level (Up to 3)
This is an Advantage only available to NPCs that, alone, can be a worthy or greater challenge to the party. It allows the user to automatically win a lost Quick Contest against effects that could have restrained it, magic or otherwise. If such result could mean negative effects for the combatant trying to apply it, instead nothing, negative or positive, happens to anyone. Costs are still paid as usual. 1 use per day per level.

Last edited by Set; 09-18-2017 at 02:47 AM.
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Old 09-17-2017, 03:54 AM   #2
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Default Re: What is the best Magic system to use in a DF campaign?

Magic is cheap compared to the other and that's where the accusations of it being unbalanced (mostly) come from. It's got some other problems, but mainly in spells that shouldn't be allowed.

Magic balances this by having things blow up in the caster's face every so often. Keep in mind that if you don't use Magic wizards aren't going to be as capable as they would otherwise be, which causes problems. The genre for DF assumes that wizards know LOTS of spells and can get them off relatively quickly.
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Old 09-17-2017, 05:01 AM   #3
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Default Re: What is the best Magic system to use in a DF campaign?

My problem is mainly with spells that basically win fights, such as Panic.
4 energy cost. Target fails: 60 turns unable to do anything but run or defend itself.

But maybe there are more overpowered spells, I've seen many complaints.
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Old 09-17-2017, 05:04 AM   #4
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Default Re: What is the best Magic system to use in a DF campaign?

What system is "best" is highly subjective: Magic is very good for "hackers" who like to search for new ways to "exploit" the game system. Edit: including Game Masters, who like to look for countermeasures to specific threats during the campaign.

If you like RPM, DF 19: Incantation Magic is a ready-made alternative suited specifically for DF. Keep in mind, though, that it has had spawned some discussion of balance. IIRC, mostly focused on high damage output of Incantation Magic.

I think the general consensus for balance is to build magic on advantages. You might do it with the Basic Set alone or look into Powers: Divine Favor and Thaumatology: Sorcery for abilities-based systems with a twist for Clerics and Wizards, respectively.
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Old 09-17-2017, 07:35 AM   #5
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Default Re: What is the best Magic system to use in a DF campaign?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Set View Post
My problem is mainly with spells that basically win fights, such as Panic.
4 energy cost. Target fails: 60 turns unable to do anything but run or defend itself.

But maybe there are more overpowered spells, I've seen many complaints.
4 energy cost, ONE enemy WITH A MIND panics (animals are IIRC out of scope for Mind Control by nonDruids, and there's certainly plenty of other things). My ground expectation is as many critters as PCs, but up to two or three times is not out of the question, and sometimes there's a horde of 50.

Single monster fights rarely work out well for the monster; the action economy works against it, and GURPS is particularly punishing for being surrounded.

There's obviously a few one-hit KO kinda spells kicking around, but the genre is not known for duels.
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Old 09-17-2017, 07:55 AM   #6
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Default Re: What is the best Magic system to use in a DF campaign?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Set View Post
So, I've heard GURPS:Magic is very poorly balanced, so I took it for a ride and found that it is, indeed, very bad at balance.

I like balanced things.

I'm going to GM a DF table soon, and I need to decide on a Magic system for it.
Would you guys say that RPM is a better one?
I would say that Incantations are not better balanced than Standard Magic: the spellcaster pays a fairly modest upfront cost and gets a lot of flexibility and fairly powerful effects. But if you decide to use RPM, DF: Incantations adapts RPM for Dungeon Fantasy and has a decent list of rituals in it.

I'm using Sorcery in my current game, derived from DF, and it feels a lot more balanced than RPM or Standard Magic. Sorcerers are also a lot weaker than standard wizards or incanters: where a standard wizard will have 30+ spells of varying power and generally 10-20 of significant utility, and an incanter might have 15-20 useful charms available at any time plus the ability to cast just about anything given enough time, a sorcerer is going to have 3-6 mildly useful spells and an unreliable ability to improvise some other mildly useful spells. As the GM, you may feel Sorcery is better balanced, but your wizard players may object to the decrease in power.
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Old 09-17-2017, 07:56 AM   #7
Set
 
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Default Re: What is the best Magic system to use in a DF campaign?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gnomasz View Post
What system is "best" is highly subjective: Magic is very good for "hackers" who like to search for new ways to "exploit" the game system. Edit: including Game Masters, who like to look for countermeasures to specific threats during the campaign.

If you like RPM, DF 19: Incantation Magic is a ready-made alternative suited specifically for DF. Keep in mind, though, that it has had spawned some discussion of balance. IIRC, mostly focused on high damage output of Incantation Magic.

I think the general consensus for balance is to build magic on advantages. You might do it with the Basic Set alone or look into Powers: Divine Favor and Thaumatology: Sorcery for abilities-based systems with a twist for Clerics and Wizards, respectively.
Incantation does sound decent, indeed. Is there an expanded grimoire somewhere? And/or rules to make the damage weaker?




Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruno View Post
4 energy cost, ONE enemy WITH A MIND panics (animals are IIRC out of scope for Mind Control by nonDruids, and there's certainly plenty of other things). My ground expectation is as many critters as PCs, but up to two or three times is not out of the question, and sometimes there's a horde of 50.

Single monster fights rarely work out well for the monster; the action economy works against it, and GURPS is particularly punishing for being surrounded.

There's obviously a few one-hit KO kinda spells kicking around, but the genre is not known for duels.
Problem isn't really duels, it's being so strong against a target independent of his skills. Say the boss encounter is a veteran very evil knight, and 3 thugs.
He's a knight, mundane knight. He's the boss, crazy strong, and fast. But he's not particularly strong against magic. He's a knight, after all.
Wizard casts Panic, he fails. Boss encounter is practically over, since the boss is out.

Save or die spells aren't fun, period. They are frustrating when the players get targeted by them, and anti-climatic when the players cast them.

However, spells such as Panic should exist, they are a staple to the genre.

I'd like to know if there is any system designed to GURPS that implements those spells in a balanced way.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mlangsdorf View Post
I would say that Incantations are not better balanced than Standard Magic: the spellcaster pays a fairly modest upfront cost and gets a lot of flexibility and fairly powerful effects. But if you decide to use RPM, DF: Incantations adapts RPM for Dungeon Fantasy and has a decent list of rituals in it.

I'm using Sorcery in my current game, derived from DF, and it feels a lot more balanced than RPM or Standard Magic. Sorcerers are also a lot weaker than standard wizards or incanters: where a standard wizard will have 30+ spells of varying power and generally 10-20 of significant utility, and an incanter might have 15-20 useful charms available at any time plus the ability to cast just about anything given enough time, a sorcerer is going to have 3-6 mildly useful spells and an unreliable ability to improvise some other mildly useful spells. As the GM, you may feel Sorcery is better balanced, but your wizard players may object to the decrease in power.
Although Incantation is nice, and I do like the basic premise of the standard Magic system (more than any other, so far) - they both seem very hard to balance.

A balanced standard system would most likely be the thing that I'd most enjoy, but if that takes too much work to do, maybe using Sorcery would be better, since it appears that the consensus in indeed that it's the most balanced system.

Is there any expanded official or unofficial Sorcery grimoire?

Last edited by Set; 09-17-2017 at 08:03 AM.
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Old 09-17-2017, 08:34 AM   #8
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Default Re: What is the best Magic system to use in a DF campaign?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Set View Post
So, I've heard GURPS:Magic is very poorly balanced, so I took it for a ride and found that it is, indeed, very bad at balance.

I like balanced things.
I'm sort of skeptical there is such a thing as a balanced magic *system*.

Individual magicians can be, but the route to that is pretty much always the same - don't let them have many spells! It's the versatility that produces "balance" problems. Any magic system that allows characters to produce more than a handful of different kinds of magical effects has a route to be unbalanced.

It's not like *skills* are balanced, not even in the same category - Broadsword clearly beats out Lance as skill for dungeoneering, and Guns (SMG) owns them both - the thing that keeps the "weapon system" something like "balanced" isn't the system, it's the limited availability of weapons ("there aren't any SMGs in this world"), and the existence of classes of problems that weapons don't solve, allowing characters with different skills something to do. Same principle for spell casters really. A spellcaster who can solve a one kind of problem is usually not particularly "unbalanced" even if he can solve it trivially easily, as long as there are other problems he *can't* solve with magic at all. Sure your "Summon Nuclear Explosion" spell will win any fight, but it's not badly unbalanced as long as there are plenty of missions where the goal is something other than kill everybody in sight.
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Old 09-17-2017, 09:18 AM   #9
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Default Re: What is the best Magic system to use in a DF campaign?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Set View Post
Save or die spells aren't fun, period. They are frustrating when the players get targeted by them, and anti-climatic when the players cast them.
And that's OSR D&D in a nutshell, which is what DF does.



Quote:
However, spells such as Panic should exist, they are a staple to the genre.

I'd like to know if there is any system designed to GURPS that implements those spells in a balanced way.
No. Because there is no way to 'balance' those spells.


This is a "zen problem" and the best way to solve a zen problem is to either decide you enjoy it that way or do something else.



Quote:
Originally Posted by malloyd View Post
I'm sort of skeptical there is such a thing as a balanced magic *system*.
Spells as Powers (Sorcery) is inherently balanced under your theory of "limited application". But.... it's not at all what I would use for DF*.

DF really screams out for Spells as Skills (Magic) or Effect Shaping (Path/Book) or Energy Accumulation (RPM/Incantation).


* In limited doses it can be great though, see Magical Bolt (for Wizards) for example.

Quote:
Sure your "Summon Nuclear Explosion" spell will win any fight, but it's not badly unbalanced as long as there are plenty of missions where the goal is something other than kill everybody in sight.
You obviously do not follow the school of Enough Violence Solves All Problems.
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Old 09-17-2017, 10:14 AM   #10
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Default Re: What is the best Magic system to use in a DF campaign?

Also, why build an evil knight with a low willpower in a magical world? Similarly why wouldn't he have some magical protection or a wizard of his own? Equal access is a form of balance.
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