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Old 09-23-2017, 08:32 AM   #1
hal
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Buffalo, New York
Default GM Dirty Tricks for GURPS MAGIC

Hello Folks,
What follows are two tricks I used to good effect as a GM over the years. This thread invites OTHER game masters who have used GURPS MAGIC for their campaigns, to include their ideas so that others may use it for inspiration for their own campaigns. Any "dirty" tricks that were used, are worth mentioning here just because it may inspire others for use in their own campaigns. Feel free to submit ideas often - as a GM can never have enough ideas right? ;)
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Old 09-23-2017, 08:49 AM   #2
hal
 
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Default Re: GM Dirty Tricks for GURPS MAGIC

Once upon a time, there was this Mage (let's call him Timothy). He was generally speaking, a decent chap, but he did something that caused him to earn the undying hatred of another mage (Let's call him Caine). See, he (Timothy) capped an active volcano, which in turn, caused it to blow up, destroying an entire island and the culture that it had built. That only one person survived (Caine) to witness its destruction, was a fateful event. In his culture, there was the belief that all things end, even reality. To escape this fate, the Gods would summon all souls just before the end of reality, save them all (regardless of good or evil), and escape the end in a manner that preserved the souls and the gods for the new reality. Any souls that failed to make it to the last call, would be lost forever.
So, this mage who witnessed the end of his beloved people - decided to trick his enemy, put him to sleep, and lay him out in suspended animation. If the victim of his plot were to sleep through the last recall, he'd be lost forever! 14 levels of dungeon did this ceaselessly laboring mage work upon. It was meant to kill any and all who entered the dungeon - whether to steal the funeral goods piled up by the grieving mage who captured HIS monster (a player character mage no less!) and laid him out for permanent incarceration, but would be the greatest dungeon ever devised.

Ok, that's the backstory (which has a rich history in and of itself since it is the story of a player character's life and times). But here is the nasty trick that I used...

The player who lost his favorite player character (Timothy), drew up a second player character to run, convinced the others at the table to help him rescue his favorite player character, and off they went into a purposefully designed Killer dungeon. Then lo and behold: they found him. Lying peacefully in a crypt, wearing a crown and other gadgets that glowed as magical in the eyes of any mage character. So, they woke up the player character they had come to rescue. To their shock, the player character they came to rescue wasn't suitably thankful for his rescue, for he had started to kill those around him. At one point, a player character jumped onto the back of a Knight wearing plate armor and STILL taking a beating from the individual that the party had come to rescue (did I mention that the party started out with three player characters and had over 250 hired minions at the start, and were down to a mere handful by the time they found the one to be rescued?).

The player running the player character who jumped onto the knight's back (another player character) yelled "We came to rescue him, not kill him!". Needless to say, the player running the Knight was VERY unhappy - that night, the yell "<name redacted> YOU CRETINOUS MORON!" could probably be heard at least four houses away as the windows were open during the summer's night the game ran.

They eventually killed that which was trying to kill them, and the player who had originally owned "Timothy" was despondent because his favorite character lay dead at the hands of another player character! That is when I hit them with the surprise. See, the one laying in the crypt was NOT "Timothy" but instead, was a Troll that had an illusion disguise magic item on it. Once the Troll died, the illusionary disguise no longer worked, and the body transformed into a Troll again.

Sometimes, when a party isn't expecting that which it is fighting to be a troll - it never occurs to them to question what exactly they are looking at.
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Old 09-23-2017, 09:14 AM   #3
hal
 
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Default Re: GM Dirty Tricks for GURPS MAGIC

Once upon a time, there existed a happy go lucky Elven lad, whose capacity for merriment was unbounded. He was so happy go lucky, that when he had a chance to enjoy the pleasures of being with a Human lass, that he had no compunction against a sham marriage done in the Elven way (so called Elven marriage that was itself a total sham!) - that when he woke up from the festivities of his sham marriage, discovered that the human's weren't as dumb as he took them for - because the entire family had gathered to insure that the wedding had the blessings of both the Elven Gods and the Human Gods, which meant that he had to undertake a real human wedding. I think they called it a crossbow wedding at the time - but I digress, for that isn't the real story here. The real story begins when this Elven lad found himself watching a group of screaming children in a wagon, driven by a fearful wagon driver, was being chased by a band of horsemen. They didn't wear the same type of armor, nor wear a commonality of uniform, so our Elven lad and his friend (also an Elf) started shooting their arrows upon the brigands chasing the poor helpless children. As only Elves can, their arrows soon began to decimate the brigands until they gave up the chase for self-preservation. Our Elven heroes had no one to thank them, for the chap and children they saved had the poor manners to not stick around and thank their rescuers. Unfortunately, once the Elves found the nearest town and hit the only tavern open - they heard the tavern inhabitants - some wounded with distinctively fletched arrows I might add, grousing about how their attempted rescue of their children had been foiled by unseen archers - a whole company of archers! Our Elven heroes didn't have the heart to correct their story and say it was only two - Elves that had done the dirty deed. Fearing that they had to correct their initial mistake, our Elven heroes undertook a fearsome task to rescue the children themselves, and faced down a HORENDOUSLY tough mage enemy. By the gods, their story was EPIC let me tell you. And upon finally vanquishing their foe, a woman whose foul machinations had resulted in the deaths of a LOT of innocent children, our heroes finally brought the infamy of the Elven woman villain to an end.

That is when our hero discovered that the one amulet the Enemy mage had been wearing was a Powerstone of immense power. He would eventually learn that the powerstone had been cursed with the presence of "Soul Jar" and that the real enemy resided within the power stone itself.


For Game masters - Imagine having a 50 point powerstone. Further imagine that someone casts the Soul Jar Spell making the powerstone a soul jar. Then imagine someone enchanting the powerstone further with a conceal spell that only works on the soul jar aspect - concealing with a penalty of -10 to analyze magic spells.

Now imagine that the inhabitant of the soul jar is a necromantic mage who happens to know Permanent Possession at a level high enough to cast without needing hands nor words to cast. Further - imagine this mage to also know Foolishness at a similarly high skill level. All the inhabitant of the soul jar needs to do is wait until his chosen victim is drunk and tired, cast foolishness upon them, and then cast the Permanent possession upon them.

In the campaign this was used in, the player really HATED the fact that he'd been had multiple times with the concept "Things are not what they seem".
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Old 09-23-2017, 02:06 PM   #4
Gef
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
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Default Re: GM Dirty Tricks for GURPS MAGIC

Quote:
Originally Posted by hal View Post
Sometimes, when a party isn't expecting that which it is fighting to be a troll - it never occurs to them to question what exactly they are looking at.
Hey Hal, a GM used a variant of this trick on me: A fighter had Illusion Disguise as himself. What was the point? Simply this: No matter how hard I hit him, he seemed to take no damage. I ran, never knowing in character that he was on his last legs.
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Old 09-23-2017, 02:33 PM   #5
hal
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Buffalo, New York
Default Re: GM Dirty Tricks for GURPS MAGIC

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gef View Post
Hey Hal, a GM used a variant of this trick on me: A fighter had Illusion Disguise as himself. What was the point? Simply this: No matter how hard I hit him, he seemed to take no damage. I ran, never knowing in character that he was on his last legs.
So, what other nasty things have the GM's out there done to the players? Inquiring minds want to know. Don't be shy, lets kick this off for any new DFRPG readers who may eventually stumble across threads worth reading for them.

Here is one trap I used in a Dungeon using GURPS MAGIC. Take an ordinary Ramp that is 30 feet long before it hits a flat "landing" point. Then you have to turn left 90 degrees and walk another 6 feet on level flat ground, turn left yet again 90 degrees, so as to continue walking down the ramp yet again. A series of ramps like these will have two things working for the defenders:

1) each time the ramp levels off, and you have to turn 90 degrees and 90 degrees again to continue walking down - the "level" area is actually at the edge of a DEEP drop.

2) it adds time to having to walk up or down the ramps

But - add in ICE SLICK as an enchantment with the limit that it only works on someone who is NOT wearing a ring with Black Onxy in it (what all defenders have to wear as part of their equipment), suddenly, you have situations where the defenders can't go up the ramps or down the ramps without sliding down the ramp. Sure, you can capture the onxy rings and use the ramps without issue, but that is when you have fun with other enchantments on the rings...

Long and short of it? Put the ice slicks where someone sliding down the slicked area goes right to an edge and over it for a long fall downwards. If you want make the ramps long, but narrow forcing people to walk in single file, or maybe two abreast. A mage who falls onto a slicked area, may have to use glue or rooted feet to save himself from sliding over the edge - or flight or other spells.
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Old 09-23-2017, 04:29 PM   #6
Culture20
 
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Default Re: GM Dirty Tricks for GURPS MAGIC

"Magic" arms and armor carried by enemies which radiate magic because they're made with earth to stone (double strength). First dispel or null-mana zone and all the items permanently turn back to dirt.

Metal pillars made the same way, holding up tons of stone or earth; an evil wizard needs only to dispel them when the PCs stand in the correct spot..
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Old 09-23-2017, 06:59 PM   #7
hal
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Buffalo, New York
Default Re: GM Dirty Tricks for GURPS MAGIC

Quote:
Originally Posted by Culture20 View Post
"Magic" arms and armor carried by enemies which radiate magic because they're made with earth to stone (double strength). First dispel or null-mana zone and all the items permanently turn back to dirt.

Metal pillars made the same way, holding up tons of stone or earth; an evil wizard needs only to dispel them when the PCs stand in the correct spot..
Nice one. Nasty as heck. Wonder how he outruns the collapsing ceiling?
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Old 09-24-2017, 05:51 AM   #8
sir_pudding
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Default Re: GM Dirty Tricks for GURPS MAGIC

Etch a scroll on that load-bearing pillar and you don't even need dispel.

Prepared defenses with ice slick or grease are definitely a thing that I use.

The players were also particularly frustrated with the room that got hotter as they stayed in it, defended by orichalcum golems (although the payday from the scrap from that fight turned frowns around).

Golem in general is pretty abusable, even if you restrict it to thematically construct traits. I like golem mechanical artillery myself.

They also didn't like the room that was the site of a mass suicide and full of a couple hundred ordinarily deceased skeletons. At first they were suspicious, but because it was the entrance to the dungeon, they eventually stopped caring about it, until the opposed adventuring party's necromancer cast Mass Zombie while the PCs were in the dungeon. She instructed them to remain in place until the PCs were halfway through the room.
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Old 09-24-2017, 07:37 AM   #9
Railstar
 
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Default Re: GM Dirty Tricks for GURPS MAGIC

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gef View Post
Hey Hal, a GM used a variant of this trick on me: A fighter had Illusion Disguise as himself. What was the point? Simply this: No matter how hard I hit him, he seemed to take no damage. I ran, never knowing in character that he was on his last legs.
A similar trick is to cover the armour, so the opponent doesn't know which hit location to target.

Another of my favourite tricks is Devitalise Air + Improved Zombies. Works best underground, but people become much less willing to fight the undead when they're suffocating and their torches go out.
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Old 09-24-2017, 07:39 AM   #10
robkelk
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Default Re: GM Dirty Tricks for GURPS MAGIC

There's this classic from Order of the Stick: "The note says 'I memorized Explosive Runes this morning'."
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