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Old 03-09-2019, 05:38 AM   #1
Gef
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Yucca Valley, CA
Default Magic Vegas (campaign setting)

Mankind is not alone. Spirits are all around us, and ancient civilizations were very much aware of them, as evident from their mythologies. In fact, some people, magicians or priests, could call on these spirits or channel their power, and the heirs of their magical traditions can still do so today. Magicians have enemies, though, those who deal with horror spirits better left alone, and those who think all spirits should be left alone. Magic is difficult in the face of skepticism, but there are places where visitors leave their skepticism behind, and one of those places is the Las Vegas Strip.


This will be useful to anyone interested in the path/book magic system (particularly the effect-shaping version), known as “spirit magic” in 3rd edition, a good name because how it works in practice depends on campaign-specific assumptions about spirits.

Let me start by giving credit to Lameth; this is a collaborative effort that he initiated about 3 years ago. We wound up with two separate versions for our respective urban fantasy campaigns, and what follows is my version.

How magic works has a lot to do with the practitioners thereof, so I start with that, but you can go to post #16 (The Life Magical) to skip the crunch (and there's a glossary in the last post, #25). In order to differentiate traditions of magic, I add more rituals (taken from spells) but allow any tradition access to about three quarters of them, with a tool to help arrange them into paths to make spinning up traditions easier. More importantly, I detail the kinds of spirits available to summon and bind and use for fetishes, and in line with that I address tools of the trade in more detail. In order to explain why reasonable people don’t believe magic in a campaign where it’s real, I introduce a skepticism mechanic, and to tie it all together, I present a cosmology which I think may be unique. If any of that interests you, read on, but be warned it’s long (over 50 pages printed). In addition to Basic Set, you'll need GURPS Magic and Thaumatology, and there are a few things you wouldn't much miss from GURPS Martial Arts, and one Perk, Mystic Stupor, from Magical Styles (but all you need to know is in the lens that includes it). Power-Ups 6 (the book of Quirks) will be especially useful to determine Marks of Power, personality traits induced in a magician when he channels the power of gods.

PS: I suppose a disclaimer is in order. This should go without saying, but this campaign setting is a fictionalized version of the real world. It posits that magic works and that it's related to religious cosmologies. In seeking inspiration from real-world religion and mythology, I intend no disrespect to any, and the conflicts I imagine are for the purpose of a fictional plot, not to impute motives to any real person. -GEF

EDIT: Version 21

Last edited by Gef; 05-13-2019 at 08:54 PM.
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Old 03-09-2019, 05:40 AM   #2
Gef
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Yucca Valley, CA
Default Re: Magic Vegas (campaign setting)

How Magic Works
Player characters in Magic Vegas are magicians. To do magic, they need Magery, a learnable advantage that represents a strong belief. Belief of moderate intensity is a quirk (sufficient to serve as the prerequisite for Exorcism skill) if specialized by tradition, and belief in all magic is a -5pt “Delusion” that happens to be true. All traditions require a specialized version of Ritual Magic skill, which acts as a cap for their Path skills using the Effect-Shaping path/book system. These skills are based on the lower of IQ+Magery or Will, for Will is the currency of magic. The language of the tradition is also necessary (and mere Accented proficiency imposes a -1 penalty), and several other skills are beneficial. To expand the repertoire from GURPS Thaumatology, some new rituals are based on spells from GURPS Magic. These take at least 10 minutes with base penalty equal to prerequisite count (minimum -1 per 5 energy cost), subject to the usual rules for rituals instead of spells, for instance Sunbolt takes the Damage parameter but requires no Innate Attack skill. Effect levels require margin of success in multiples of the base energy cost of the corresponding spell.

Levels of Magery above zero can have limitations One Ritual Only (-80%), One Path Only (-40%), One Tradition Only (-10%), Alchemy and Esoteric Medicine Only (-20%), Gates Only or Animal Rituals Only (-40%), Drunk Only (-80%), Emergencies Only (-30%), Granted by Familiar (-40%), or Gadget (a psychological crutch typically worth -40%). Magery maximum is 10 levels, but remember that Ritual Magic and Path skills are based on the lower of Will or IQ+Magery; in other words, each level of Magery must be accompanied by a level of extra Will. Human Will cannot exceed 20, plus conditional bonuses from Autohypnosis and Mystic’s Stupor, beyond which additional Magery is wasted. With limitations, levels of Magery can be quite cheap, but the accompanying level of Will isn’t eligible for the same discount. Magery confers an ability to sense spirits; that’s why it can sense magic items (because they have spirits in them).

Magery is the only innate supernatural advantage that humans ever have, though they may have social traits representing relationships with spirits who have supernatural or exotic advantages. Magic can confer amazing abilities, but those abilities can’t improve magic in turn, at least not directly. This means that Gift of Tongues doesn’t count as knowing a tradition’s language, and that if the DX bonus from a Grace ritual raises Acrobatics and Stealth to 14, it still doesn’t enable the use of Lizard Climb from the Path of Heroes, and that no bonus to Path skills is possible. However, mundane skills used to prepare for magic, like Gardening to grow ingredients for use with Alchemy, or Photography to forge a sympathetic link to the subject of a ritual, can benefit from magical augmentation. If multiple rituals confer bonuses to the same skill, they don’t stack – use the best, i.e., Borrow Skill doesn’t stack with attribute bonuses for Grace or Vigor, and the Move bonuses from the latter pair of rituals don’t stack together.

Identification
Anyone can bestow a name (“full legal name”) good for a +1 bonus or a secret name good for +2, if the one so named accepts it. In fact, knowing any unique secret about a subject is good for the +2, and that includes a social security number. A DNA sequence gives +3 (see below for how to get one), and note that the sequence – the data – is separate from the sample itself, for instance blood or saliva, which gives a contagion bonus. A true name gives +4 and must be awarded by Religious Ritual skill either upon a willing Believer or upon a blood relative of the namer. A deep Secret (represented by the disadvantage) is also worth +4. See the Ritual Plan (Appendix III) for a summary of other modifiers. A target can also be indicated by pointing, by a less specific name like a nickname, or by circumstance (the guy in the salon wearing a hat) at no penalty.

Ley Lines
If a location lies directly between a pair of sacred spaces that confer +5 to ritual magic of a given tradition, then that location confers +1, a 20-year head-start on further consecration. If it happens to reside on a nexus directly between multiple pairs, each confers +1. General knowledge of ley lines comes with Thaumatology (or a relevant Expert skill), and many are mapped or subtly marked for a knowing eye, but in the absence of such clues, finding the position of a ley line requires Mathematics (Surveying).

Pathos
Pathos is a form of Sympathy, granting +1 to affect any target that the magician has injured, +2 to affect any target he has permanently crippled, and +3 to affect the ghost or corpse of anyone he killed. He can also assign a True Name to the ghost of anyone he’s killed. A conditional ritual that will take effect upon a subject when he is severely injured (major wound) by the charm counts as “knowing a secret” about the subject, that he’ll be so harmed, for +2, even if the subject isn’t specified in advance any other way. For instance, a bullet intended to kill and then reanimate the corpse of its victim would yield a +2 Name bonus for Command the Bodies of the Dead.

Sacrifices
Traditions which eschew material sacrifices (mostly Monotheists) still get a bonus for spiritual ones, +1 per 5 points in Disciplines of Faith. For sacrifice of a healthy human, don’t count its bonus against the usual maximum. Sacrifices are never necessary; when magicians talk about magic having a cost, they’re referring to the dedication their lifestyle requires, but all traditions have some notion of a multi-fold pay-off for the effort.

Spirit Assistance
While spirits have supernatural powers, they can’t use Ritual Magic, because flesh of their own is necessary to establish a channel for magic to flow into the world. At best, the ghost of a magician can teach magic to a living heir or coach him through a ritual (granting a bonus, typically +1, as usual for assistance), or perform ancillary functions like Symbol-Drawing; likewise, Luck or Visualization with the enhancement Blessing can affect the ancillary skill rolls but can’t affect path skills directly. A ghost that can’t materialize can still perform Symbol-Drawing with the aid of a careful assistant. Rolling against Will or any suitably meticulous skill like Housekeeping to get it right, otherwise deducting the margin of failure from the spirit’s Symbol-Drawing.

Tools and Technomagic
Just like technology, magic requires tools. Ritual kits follow the usual rules: $400 and 2 pounds for a “mini” toolkit consisting of the symbols for each channeling path (including countermagic), meaning that each symbol costs $50 and weighs on average ¼#. Each path symbol is the bare minimum to perform a ritual of the corresponding path, at -2, but a Fine symbol ($200) halves the penalty and a Very Fine symbol ($1,000) wipes it out. A full portable kit costs $1,200 and weighs 10#. It includes all the components of a mini toolkit plus additional symbols sufficient to perform rituals at no penalty, even the Path of Allies, and it can also be used for Religious Ritual and Symbol Drawing, and in conjunction with Alchemy, it can be used to identify an elixir without consuming or activating it. Otherwise, successful Scrounging may permit the use of Symbol-Drawing at -2. In conjunction with a portable kit, a Fine or Very Fine path symbol yields a net quality bonus of +1 or +2. A well-stocked workshop costs $15,000 and weighs a ton (filling several trunks when moved), but it gives a +2 quality bonus to Symbol-Drawing skill, and it includes a portable kit with a set of Very Fine path symbols. An Equipment Bond perk with a path symbol benefits its path, and one with a full kit benefits Religious Ritual and Symbol-Drawing.

Labs: A suitcase lab costs $3,000 and weighs 20# but allows the use of either Esoteric Medicine or Alchemy at no penalty; otherwise, a well-stocked kitchen (or the wrong kind of suitcase lab) gives -2. A full lab for either skill costs $30,000 and weighs a couple of tons but gives a +2 bonus for quality (or no net modifier to the alternate skill). Adding a mini PCR machine for DNA anaysis costs $3,000, but a Biology (Genetics) or Electronics Operation (Medical) roll yields from any biosample a +3 Name bonus for rituals (while a Forensics roll may be required to collect and prepare the sample without contamination in the first place).

Grimoire and Formulary: In order to perform a ritual (or prepare an elixir with Alchemy), a magician must follow the steps. Performing a ritual or preparing an elixir by memory, without a cheat sheet, incurs a -2 penalty (not cumulative with the -5 for fast-casting) unless the magician benefits from a Photographic Memory or has raised the ritual from default as a technique. The -4 penalty for non-familiarity is likely to apply as well! Steps of a ritual are distinct from those of preparing an elixir, recorded in grimoires and formularies respectively, so a magician might well have access to one version and not the other. There’s no technical reason why this information can’t be stored electronically and copied for negligible cost (but there may be social reasons why the hierarchs of a tradition restrict the distribution of some or all of their lore). Assume that magicians (in good standing) can get a comprehensive database for $500 per path (or just $50 for a single ritual or formula).

Last edited by Gef; 05-11-2019 at 02:39 PM.
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Old 03-09-2019, 05:40 AM   #3
Gef
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Yucca Valley, CA
Default Re: Magic Vegas (campaign setting)

Computer-Aided Ritual Design (CARD): Theoretically, automated ritual elements can give a +1 or +2 bonus to Symbol-Drawing skill (which grants a bonus to rituals in turn). These needn’t be modern; a wind or water-driven prayer wheel can give such a bonus. However, software on a portable computer may be a little more practical, and it incorporates a Grimoire or Formulary database. Complexity 3 grants +1 for $1,000, and Complexity 4 (the best that can run on a high-end laptop at TL8) grants +2 for $3,000 to Symbol-Drawing skill with respect to a particular path (except Path of Heroes). Similar elixir design (CAED) programs are available to assist Alchemy. A conventional laptop that can run Complexity 3 programs costs $1,000, but one that can accommodate Complexity 4 programs costs $20,000.

Graphical User Magic Interface (GUMI): Mechanical aids can also assist with conditional rituals, making it easy to specify complex conditions on multiple effects. An abacus might serve for a weather-working ritual, each row controlling an aspect such as precipitation, windspeed, temperature, electrical activity, and diameter: move more beads along the row to magnify each variable. A mixer like this allows an operator to use a relevant skill to control the effect, or multiple effects, with precision. In a modern context, a mixer is likely to be software running on a smartphone (using Computer Operation skill). The sophistication of the program actually makes it easier to set the conditions in the first place: Reduce the penalty for complex conditions by the Complexity of a general purpose program (to a minimum of -1): $300 for Complexity 2, $1,000 for Complexity 3 (the best that can run on a high-end smartphone at TL8). A conventional smartphone that can run Complexity 2 programs costs $100, but one that can run Complexity 3 programs costs $2,000.

Expert Ritual Control Software (ERCS): Reduce the penalty for a conditional ritual to a mere -1 when it will be controlled by a dedicated expert system, where “dedicated” means that a separate program is necessary for each ritual. In this case, the magician depends upon the expert system to make all relevant decisions with an effective IQ equal to twice the program’s Complexity, plus 4. Therefore, the program must have access to sufficient input to evaluate trigger conditions, such as the video, audio, and positioning system that a typical smartphone provides. For instance, a bodyguard carries a smartphone with a dedicated app for a conditional ritual of Conjure Flame, and he keeps the camera and microphone turned on. When his principal is attacked, he shouts the activation phrase, and the app covers the area in flame, as if an incendiary grenade had gone off, but miraculously it doesn’t burn the “friendlies” with RFID chips. The program is Complexity 3, so it has an effective IQ 10 for necessary decisions, like centering the effect where it will encompass as many attackers as possible, or failing that, the most threatening attackers, and over-riding the exemption if a chipped employee is one of the attackers himself. Again, a Complexity 2 (IQ 8) program costs $300, and a Complexity 3 (IQ 10) program costs $1,000, while a Complexity 4 (IQ 12) program costs $3,000, but the smallest computer on which it can run costs $20,000.

Skepticism
When people see magic done, they are naturally Skeptical, unless they have some form of Magery or the corresponding Belief, or unless they don’t recognize it as magic at all. Skeptics impede magic, imposing a base -5 penalty and a further penalty equal to the square root of the number of Skeptical observers. Thus, a single Skeptic imposes a -6 penalty. Circumstances can cause spectators to suspend or intensify their Skepticism; for instance, they may think that the real magic is actually stage magic, reducing the penalty or alleviating it entirely. Religious Ritual or Public Speaking skills can make a crowd receptive (or resistant) to witnessing a miracle, and remote spectators can rationalize the unbelievable as a camera tricks. Sometimes effects are obvious, but not obviously magical; for instance, some people are beautiful, so seeing a woman whose beauty is the product of magic doesn’t trigger Skepticism. Whenever a magician performs a ritual with a long-term effect, note the margin of success; should he ever face a skepticism penalty higher than the bonus, the effect subsides.

Skepticism is an active but subconscious and instinctive defense against magic. It is active in that the Skeptic must be aware of the magic on some level. He is always subconsciously aware of any magic of which he is the subject, and his Skepticism may protect him without his conscious knowledge, just as he’s not consciously aware of his immune system fighting germs. He’s also aware of any magic that produces a bizarre effect visible to the senses. For instance, a magician showing up in the form of an eagle won’t provoke Skepticism, but a magician in the process of transforming would. At the very moment the supernatural thing starts, Skepticism kicks in, meaning that if it’s effective, the Skeptic will never see the magician transform and never know that his own Skepticism prevented it. He may have caught a glimpse of a beak-like nose or feathery hair, and when he blinked it was gone, remaining beneath his conscious notice. People often witness incredible events, like at a world-class athletic event, and when they do, their Skepticism kicks in, but it doesn’t have the same effect on natural weirdness that it has on the supernatural kind.

In the absence of Skeptics, a camera can record the magic, but of course the film doesn’t prove that “real” magic happened instead of stage magic. A neutral third party could set up an experiment with too many cameras to fool but promise not to watch, but it wouldn’t matter. He’d be aware that the magic was happening even outside his line of sight, and his Skepticism would oppose it.

Willpower determines the strength of Skepticism; Will 12 counts as an extra Skeptic, meaning he imposes a -7 penalty all by himself. Will 15 counts as 2 extra and Will 18 as 3 extra, but Will 8 or less as one fewer. In the case of only weak-willed Skeptics, the penalty is but -5. Remember that intoxication penalizes IQ and hence Will, so even a large crowd of drunks may impose but a modest penalty.

Most magicians have learned to suppress their Skepticism fully and habitually, though they can defend themselves with Countermagic (and resist with high Will). However, some are Believers in their own tradition only; they can take Skepticism toward magic of other traditions as a Perk.

Reasonable Denial
Consider the extraordinary individual who initiates himself into magic. He’s seen something he can’t explain, looked for answers, found something too incredible to accept and yet it’s the only thing that fits. So he’s spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours researching ancient lore, wrestled with mind-blowing concepts to tame his own Skepticism, and attempted numerous rituals that only left him feeling foolish, yet he persisted and finally made the magic happen, some effect that clearly violates the laws of nature as understood to science, for about 10 minutes at the tail of a 3-hour ritual. Elated, he calls his best friend, the one person who won’t think he’s crazy, for a demonstration. He barely succeeded the first time, and with the penalty from Skepticism, blows it.

Or maybe he doesn’t blow it. What then? A bigger demonstration, of course. He’s going to revolutionize science with his discovery. He impresses a journalist; the article gets reprinted by a national outlet; and now the world’s watching. Disaster. At some level, the audience always gets big enough to make magic impossible, and even before that point, Monotheist saboteurs will get wind of it. That’s why perfectly reasonable people can deny magic exists at all.

Skills of the Magician
Besides Ritual Magic for some tradition (and optionally specialized by path) and its Path skills, which are absolutely necessary for magic and include relevant but specific theory, and those necessary to make use of the Path of Heroes (described below), most magicians learn some or all of the following:
--Alchemy (to prepare magic for delayed activation),
--Archæology (to investigate a tradition's culture of origin) and Anthrolopology (to understand it),
--Autohypnosis to access a couple levels of Magery in excess of Will,
--Expert in the tradition's culture of origin (e.g., Egyptology or Assyriology) or a path’s world,
--Occultism (which pertains to popular perception of magic rather than a magician’s perspective),
--Psychology for spirits (optional specialization by type) though human psych works on ghosts at -2,
--Religious Ritual specialized by tradition (required for naming, helpful for promoting belief),
--Symbol-Drawing specialized by tradition (which gives bonuses to rituals),
--Thaumatology (comparative magical theory – answers questions about other traditions/paths), and
--Weird Science (to understand how other worlds affect scientific and technological skills).

A magician also uses various social skills for handling Skepticism (like Fortune-Telling), various performing arts as assisting skills for rituals (can be provided by non-magic assistants), and various craft skills for the creation of symbols and Fetishes. The most generally useful are Photography (a quick and easy way to generate a sympathetic connection) and Jeweler (to make the components of a ritual kit and fine items suitable for summoning craft spirits). In addition there are many skills useful or necessary in conjunction with particular rituals, like job skills for a Journeyman’s Blessing or agricultural skills to harvest a bumper crop with Fertility.

Last edited by Gef; 05-11-2019 at 02:41 PM.
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Old 03-09-2019, 05:41 AM   #4
Gef
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Yucca Valley, CA
Default Re: Magic Vegas (campaign setting)

Symbol-Drawing
The law of sympathy applies to more than the subject of a ritual; it also applies to the effect that ritual has and to the manner in which it is executed. The skill of Symbol-Drawing represents these applications of sympathy and typically includes the scribing of symbols, for instance a magic circle and the sigils within it, but it’s not limited to that and may include the placement of candles, sprinkling of holy water, stabbing a likeness of the subject for a curse, or otherwise deploying the contents of a ritual kit or workshop. In particular, for traditions where astrology matters, it incorporates holidays (don’t apply a separate bonus). All dates are propitious for something (every day is a feast day for some Catholic saint or other); the trick is to incorporate that something in a beneficial manner. In any case, the net benefit for rituals is half the margin of success.

The base time requirement for Symbol-Drawing is half an hour, but taking extra time gives the usual benefit (+1 for 1hr, +2 for 2hr, +3 for 4hr). A well-stocked workshop grants +2, computer-aided ritual design grants +1 or +2, and an Equipment Bond with a ritual kit grants +1. Clerical Investment is itself a symbol, granting +1. Assisting skills depend on the tradition but could include performing arts (Dancing, Singing, or Musical Instrument) or ritual vices (Carousing, Erotic Art, or Gambling). Actually, rituals may involve many such acts, as they’re a good way to involve acolytes, but the GM decides which yields the bonus if successful. In lieu of effective Symbol-Drawing, such a skill may provide a +1 bonus to the ritual directly.

Religious Ritual
While Ritual Magic influences the world without, Religious Ritual influences the world within; in other words, its function is psychological.

Religious Ritual can be used instead of Ritual Magic to consecrate a workspace for rituals, but obviously anyone capable of rituals will be able to use Ritual Magic. The reason a non-magician would want to do this, when he can’t make use of consecrated space for magic himself, is to deny magicians of other traditions the ability to do so as well, at least in his church. As mentioned above, it’s the skill used to bestow a True Name, although Ritual Magic yields a poor default, so a magician can get by without Religious Ritual skill at all, but there are a couple of reasons he might want to learn it.

The first is disguise. Skepticism is an instinct, but a Believer trains himself to suppress that instinct in response to certain cues, and Religious Ritual provides those cues. Belief accepts a certain tradition, that is, a Ritual Magic specialty, and specialties for Religious Ritual correspond to those of Ritual Magic. To fool a Believer in tradition X to accept Y, use the lower of Religious Ritual X in conjunction with Ritual Magic Y (and a penalty per GM fiat if he thinks the traditions are widely disparate in their ritual practice).

Generally, the advantage of Believers is that they don’t interfere with magic, not that they actually help, but they can serve as acolytes. A trio of acolytes give a +1 bonus to rituals, +1 for each doubling of their number, subject to the usual maximum of +15 for all bonuses to a ritual but also subject to a maximum equal to the margin of success on a Religious Ritual roll. The coordinator of the acolytes need not be a magician. Of course, any Skeptics among the acolytes can wipe out the benefit, so Aura Reading the participants in advance is a good idea. Because of the general maximum, acolytes aren’t much use with a strong connection to the target (name, sympathy, and contagion), but they can make up the difference in a ritual affecting a class of targets like all occupants of a certain hotel.

Alchemy
Use this skill (specialized by tradition) to delay activation of a magical effect. Preparing an elixir takes an hour, modified as usual for haste or extra time, in addition to whatever time the ritual itself takes. The intended subject (or object) must be exposed to the elixir, typically by consuming it, or anointing his skin, but it is also possible to make a flammable pastille (or cigarette) which affects those who breathe the smoke. In this case, it is possible that an unintended subject may be exposed to the elixir, in which case it can still have an effect, but bonuses for contagion, sympathy, and name won’t apply. Compare the margin of success of the Alchemy roll against the ritual parameter table for duration; that’s the shelf life, and the clock starts on actual duration of the magical effect once it takes effect, 1d seconds after exposure. Consuming an elixir requires a HT check at +2; failure indicates an irritating condition consistent with the margin of failure for 1d times ten minutes, for instance drunkenness on failure by 2, euphoria on failure by 3, severe pain on failure by 4.

Modifiers for tools apply, ranging from -2 for a kitchen to +2 for a special-purpose laboratory. A well-stocked Alchemy lab will have the necessary ingredients on hand with a roll against the Housekeeping skill of whoever maintains it; otherwise they’ll cost $25 per elixir (though it may be possible to purchase them only in bulk) times the number of targets that the ritual can affect (or cubic yards, for a pastille). For a skillful magician or one with assistants, this can be a real bargain: Prepare a large batch of elixirs with a single ritual, taking a large penalty for multiple targets, and activate that ritual piecemeal. For this purpose, a single individual counts as a new target each time he consumes an elixir from the same batch. Therefore, retail cost of an individual dose can be as low as $50 (or $1500 for a pastille that can fill 30 cubic yards with smoke, the volume of a typical 10’ × 10’ room); pricing assumes 1yr shelf life. Ingredients vary by tradition and ritual and may be scrounged, grown in a garden, or found easily in a well-maintained lab, or they may only be available for purchase in bulk such that a single dose can't be made more cheaply than a large batch; $25 is merely the average. Pricing assumes base skill 17 for the ritual itself after taking multiple doses into account; increment by $20 per dose for each additional level up to 40.

Whoever consumes an elixir becomes either the subject or object of the underlying ritual, specified at the time of casting. For instance, an elixir of Lust could cause the drinker to feel lust toward or to inspire lust in the first person of the opposite sex with whom he makes eye contact.

Universal Paths (all traditions)
Path of Allies: Includes Inspired Creation (M115) to make items from which craft spirits may be summoned, Astral Projection (T159), Banish (T160), Bind (T160), Embody (T160), Empower (T160), Exorcise (T161), Fetish (T161), Ghost Sword (T160), Lay to Rest (T162), Summon (T162), Ward (T158), and Divination – one of Cartomancy, Dactylomancy, Gastromancy, Numerology, Sortilege, or Symbol-Casting (M108-9). Skepticism doesn’t impair the Path of Allies directly but may impair the allies themselves (spirit’s Will less the penalty). There is no specific symbol for this path but rather separate symbols for each type or potent individual, all of which can be found in a full ritual kit. This path can be used as Channeling per the advantage of that name, and while it can’t be used as Medium, any magician can vaguely sense nearby spirits (Per+Magery), and anyone at all can address them; Channeling offers means to respond.

Path of Countermagic: Includes Aura Reading (T151), Banish (T160), Charm Against Dark Beasts – works on manifest Monsters and Horrors and possessed animals (T157), Cleansing (T157), Curse Sanctum (T157), Dispel Ritual (T157), Dream Sanctum (T142), Exorcise (T161), Ghost Sword (T160), Lay to Rest (T162), Mystic Mark (M119), Reversion of Form (T144), See the True Face (T145), Spirit Slave (T162), Spirit Trap (T162), Thicken the Walls of the World (T165), Veil (T152), Ward (T158). Skepticism never impairs Countermagic.

Path of Heroes: Called the Path of Chi in Asian traditions, this requires (and benefits from) no path symbol, and it enables the magician to perform legendary feats (“cinematic” in game terms), specifically these:
--Duplicate the effect of the advantage Rapier Wit. In this case, he rolls against Public Speaking or Path of Heroes, whichever is lower.
--Use Enthrallment skills, if he has the advantage Charisma. Again, he rolls against Public Speaking or Path of Heroes, whichever is lower.
--Use Musical Influence skill, rolling against the lower of Path of Heroes or the skill used to make the music (Singing or Musical Instrument).
--Use Computer Hacking skill, if he knows the skill Computer Programming, and rolling against Computer Operation or Path of Heroes, whichever is lower.
--Use Esoteric Medicine to duplicate the effects of conventional medical care at tech level equal to half Path of Heroes skill.
--Like a Weapon Master, gain a damage bonus of +2 per die with any muscle-powered weapon of his tradition if he knows the skill required to use it at DX+2 and also knows the Path of Heroes at 14 or higher.
--Like a Heroic Archer, benefit from the Acc bonus of any muscle-powered missile weapon of his tradition without aiming first, if he knows the Path of Heroes at 14 or higher.
--Benefit from multiple retreats and Acrobatic defenses, Extra Steps in lieu of Extra Attacks, full-length leaps in combat (with Acrobatics and Jumping at DX), and halved penalties for rapid strikes and parries if he has at least 1pt in the Path of Heroes.

Last edited by Gef; 05-15-2019 at 07:37 PM.
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Old 03-09-2019, 05:42 AM   #5
Gef
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Yucca Valley, CA
Default Re: Magic Vegas (campaign setting)

--Benefit from any cinematic Perk if he can make a roll against Path of Heroes, waived for skill 14. This includes the cinematic version of Weapon Adaptation, which enables the hero to use any weapon with any weapon skill, though this benefit extends only to a tradition’s iconic weapons (those that serve as symbols).
--Use any skill that lists Trained by a Master as a prerequisite, with a roll against Path of Heroes, so long as he meets its non-cinematic prerequisites. Dancing 14 serves for Hypnotic Hands to hold an audience member spellbound (stunned), analogous to the cinematic benefits of other performing arts (Enthrallment and Musical Influence), but Hypnotism at some level is still required to plant suggestions. Throwing Art can’t exceed Throwing. Unlike other natural magic, Flying Leap, Light Walk, and Lizard Climb may be subject to skepticism.

Spirits
Spirits exist by default in an insubstantial state, and most are neutral toward magicians, but each tradition has a collection of Allied Spirits and perhaps enemies. An Allied Spirit understands the tradition’s language and can be safely summoned with no Ward. A neutral spirit summoned without a Ward will be safe on a positive reaction roll and might be induced to alliance with a bribe. Because an Allied Spirit is nominally willing to serve, Bind represents a negotiation for how much service and the spirit resists at -5. Without a reasonable terminal condition (such as a year and a day), even Allied Spirits are rarely willing to become Fetishes.

Some spirits, especially the most potent, are unique and can’t be summoned without a specific symbol (like a path symbol, but only to summon that spirit), and even when summoned may be unable to answer if already engaged by another magician. Most spirits are generic, meaning they belong to a genre of like kind (like centaurs or selkies), and while they can be summoned individually, a ritual can also specify any available spirit of that kind, or one with certain traits (increases complexity, if the GM rules that a match is available). If a magician has bound a spirit for services, then he’ll likely want to summon that individual when the time comes to redeem one, or save it in a Spirit Trap (using up a service in itself) to avoid any need to summon again. A ritual kit is sufficient to summon generic spirits.

ST is the most important statistic for a spirit and also equals its MV in immaterial form. Treat its other main attributes as 8 plus ST/5; for instance, a spirit of ST 40 would also have DX, IQ, and HT 16, yielding MV 8 if able to materialize. A spirit also has points equal to ST for supernatural powers and/or mental traits like skills and Talent, or else it has a signature power with special mechanics but still based on ST, and the bearer of a Fetish can compel it to use these powers (or truthfully answer questions with its skills). In addition, most types of spirit can materialize, possess a living host, or animate a corpse.

Material spirits have Injury Tolerance (Homogeneous), and they can have disadvantages worth points up to twice ST to pay for positive traits of their material forms; the most potent spirits have the most serious weaknesses such as Dread or Vulnerability. Their solid forms are also Fragile (Unnatural), except that being “killed” just forces them back into intangible form until they heal. A spirit which animates its corpse is similar, except that it changes Injury Tolerance (No Blood, No Vitals, Unliving) and adds High Pain Threshold. Should the corpse be severely damaged, the spirit can’t animate it until repaired (with Surgery). Traits of the corpse itself, such as Bad Smell and Hideous Appearance caused by deterioration, provide no points for advantages. Spirits which possess a host can imbue it with traits worth points equal to ST, in which case count negative traits as Temporary Disadvantage limitations.

As an Ally (or Enemy), treat a spirit of ST 10 as if it were 50% of the character’s point value, a spirit of ST 15 as 75%, a spirit of ST 25 as 100%, and a spirit of ST 40 as 150% (could also be a Patron). For Djinn, because of their wider range of powers, treat their ST as 5 higher, but treat powerless Eidolons as 5 lower (just 25% of the character’s point value for ST 10). While spirit Allies are Summonable, they don’t need the enhancement because it takes more than a shout. A spirit Ally with availability 15 or more is present when available; otherwise it must be summoned by ritual. Ghosts can be any type of spirit below, but as spirits of deceased humans, they have skills representing human experience (including Expert in the events of their own lives) and can therefore be Contacts instead of Allies.

In order to secure the cooperation of a spirit who is not an Ally or Contact, a magician must Bind it for services. In order subsequently to redeem a service, the magician must Summon the spirit again, unless he stored it in a Spirit Trap, but getting it into the trap costs a service. Of course, the bearer of a Fetish can compel the spirit within without redeeming a service, but some Fetishes have capabilities useful when they act independently. Anyone can use a Fetish, but if a magician requires one to sustain a ritual, then he performs it at -2 if the Fetish came from another tradition (just -1 if the traditions have any channeling path in common).

Cacodemon: Malevolent spirits who can take possession of a human host (or animal), Cacodemons ruthlessly push their borrowed flesh beyond its normal capacity or even contort it unnaturally, heedless of the damage. Game-mechanically, the advantages they imbue always come with the Temporary Disadvantage Terminally Ill (just a month). Count any use as a full day toward the 30-day maximum; a magician who offers his own body to host a Cacodemon fulfilling a service on his behalf knows that the desperate act will take a toll, and he entrusts all decisions to the spirit. Because a spirit can’t perform magic rituals, even while possessing a magician, the likely volunteer is a magician who isn’t very proficient with them, such as a specialist in the Path of Heroes. Model a standing arrangement with a powerful Cacodemon as Patron, always available but with Minimal Intervention because the only aid it provides is possessing this spirit warrior, at his peril.

Djinn: Catch-all category for spirits which exhibit a wide range of useful powers such as blessings or curses, illusions or even genuine conjuration, shapeshifting of their material forms. Some are inimical and the balance are fickle and callous at best. They demand dear sacrifices from any who would bribe them to service (double price), but their powers make them desirable for Fetishes.

Dryads: Spirits of specific places, hence useless for Fetishes, but they can do nigh anything within their realm (Modular Ability with points equal to rated ST instead of the usual powers; materialize, possess a host, or animate a corpse while not using the Modular Ability). Pay half-price for a Dryad Ally (as a Potential Advantage because it can’t leave). If a holy site really can heal the sick, it’s because of a beneficent Dryad.

Eidolons: Powerless spirits, the most common. They have no supernatural powers except a Perk at most, to generate a chill, moan, signature scent, or candle-like flicker of light (for 1 FP). They’re tied to some physical object; a craft spirit is present in any Very Fine hand-made item, and a ghost may be trapped in a memento of sentimental value. They’re happy to transform these objects into Fetishes indefinitely, but these can only provide energy or sustain rituals. Eidolons not bound by a Fetish ritual can be summoned from their vessels to spy, but they suffer -1 to all attributes every hour disembodied.

Familiars: Telepathic spirits with the ability to possess animals (whom they usually imbue with a bit of Telekinesis to make up for the lack of hands). The telepathy is “racial” encompassing Allied Spirits of the same tradition, up to ST/5 miles (for which calculation reduce ST by points the Familiar has in mental traits like skills, if any). Even in a Fetish, a Familiar enables a magician to coordinate other spirits, and as an Ally it enables the purchase of more Magery, Granted by Familiar, so long as the Familiar keeps a steady host, but in this case Ally takes the limitation Sympathy, and changing hosts interrupts the bonus Magery for a month.

Monsters: Potent spirits which manifest physically in clearly non-human form; the ones that have human proportions are giants. Different traditions have different genre of Monsters as Allied Spirits, each with characteristic abilities. One Classical example is the fury, manifest as a grotesque fire-breathing beast which can track like a hound, and another is the cyclops, a one-eyed giant with Talent for Armory and Combat Engineering. The essential difference between Monsters and Djinn is the range of powers; if a magician needs a spirit, perhaps to make a Fetish, with powers that the Monsters of his tradition lack, then he must pay the greater cost to bargain with a Djinn.

Nymphs: Weak spirits (ST 10) which materialize to interact with humans. They’re magnetically attractive and enjoy performing, carousing, and taking humans as lovers (though spirits can’t procreate with humans, even if they can copulate.) The archetype is Beautiful with Classic Features, Extreme Sexual Dimorphism, Flexible (Extended to Dancing), Compulsive Carousing and Sex on 12, Carousing 10, Dancing 12, Erotic Art 12, Housekeeping 10, Savoir-Faire (Servant) 10, Sex Appeal 15, and Singing 12; variants lack the looks and enjoy different (but always mundane) activities such as craftsmanship, mining, or housekeeping. A magician can have such spirits as household staff represented by a Claim to Hospitality instead of Ally.

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Old 03-09-2019, 05:43 AM   #6
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Default Re: Magic Vegas (campaign setting)

Parasites: Minor malevolent spirits capable of a benign sort of Possession, benign in the sense that they can’t control the actions of a host, but they do cause disease, modeled as a Toxic Attack with a point value equal to the spirit’s ST/5. For instance, a mere ST 10 Parasite (base -5 points as an Enemy) could be potentially fatal to a man of average ST and HT, inflicting a point of damage with Onset (1 week), Resistible (HT-5), Cycles (Daily ×21), and Symptoms (HT-2 and Nausea). Exorcising the spirit ends the cycle prematurely.

Patrons: Not quite potent enough to be path-gods, these are the greatest spirits accessible to the Path of Allies. That makes them both desirable and difficult to summon, and they’re all unique. If they’re available and a magician (or coven) can pull off the rituals, then they’re happy to help, mostly by instruction, but if the matter is grave, they may unleash their full might. Patrons can be summoned only by their allied traditions and have such ST as to be functionally immune to Bind.

Poltergeists: Even while insubstantial, these spirits can move material things as directed, which looks like telekinesis to anyone who can’t see spirits though game-mechanically their power is Lifting ST that can Affect Substantial (for which purpose reduce ST by points the Poltergeist has in mental traits like skills). If made into a Fetish, a poltergeist can move the object in which it resides, like a dancing sword or flying carpet/broom. With ST 30, a Poltergeist would have a top speed of 72mph, unencumbered up to 180#.

Sphinxes: Spirits subject to the ritual Embody, as in a leonine statue. Their power is True Faith, a natural ward against hostile spirits that never degrades, radius ST/5 yards (for which calculation reduce ST by points the Sphinx has in mental traits like skills). As a Fetish, the Sphinx itself can sustain Embody, a basic 25-point template with Doesn’t Breathe, Doesn’t Eat or Drink, Immunity to Metabolic Hazards, Injury Tolerance (No Blood), Pressure Support (Alternate Ability Vacuum Support), Numb, Unhealing, Brawling DX+2. Conventional materials are listed below, and Morphology Metatraits also affect point value. A magician with skill 12 can reasonably expect to produce a 50-point vessel that can withstand a single Skeptic; each further skill level increases point value by 10 or soaks more Skepticism. A vessel of flesh that incorporates a human brain can be Reawakened, and a winged vessel too dense for Flight can do it anyway, but not for long (Costs Fatigue).
--Clay (-15): DR 1, Injury Tolerance (Homogeneous), Fragile (Brittle), Mute, Weakness (2d/hr immersion)
--Stone (+50): As clay with DR +4, Pressure Support +2, Sealed, Striking Surface, no Weakness, Doesn’t Float
--Metal (+85): As stone with DR +4 more but not Fragile
--Clockwork (+20): DR 2 (Semi-Ablative), Injury Tolerance (Unliving), Cannot Speak, Striking Surface
--Wood (+25): As clockwork with Injury Tolerance (Homogeneous) and Mute
--Flesh (-10): DR 1 (Tough Skin), Injury Tolerance (Unliving), Disturbing Voice, Fragile (Brittle), Ugly

Totems: Whereas a familiar can possess an animal and make it sapient, these animal spirits can possess humans and make them beast-like, a work-around for the rule against exotic advantages. This is a benign form of Possession, meaning that the Totem doesn’t control the actions of its host (and therefore can’t use its mental traits. As an Ally always available, the cost is slightly less than the value of imbued traits, accounting for the possibility that the spirit be exorcised. The traits provided typically include a Perk, Good with Animals of their species (and Call of the Wild for undomesticated species), animal adaptations such keen senses, mobility, and physical attributes, and may include Spirit Empathy as well (Aspected to Allied Spirits of the same tradition). The traits can even include physiological changes like Fur or Sharp Teeth, but anything so obvious and strange may be inhibited by Skepticism (roll against the Totem’s Will less the Skepticism penalty). The drawbacks include animal mentality or behaviors like Nuisance Effect (such as Eats Raw Meat) or Temporary Disadvantages (such as Stress Atavism with Bestial); other appropriate limitations include anything suggested by folklore such as animal-themed Gadgets like the Viking bear-shirt. A player nominates the gifts he wants from a totem and constrains possibilities by selecting its species, but the GM determines details.

Wight: Ghosts who can animate their own corpses, to which they are tied like Eidolons. Characteristic traits depend on the tradition, if any, in which the spirit Believed during life. Most are human, but a few wights are animals.

Summary………...Interaction………...Powers for Fetish
--Cacodemon…..Possess……………...Skills Only…………..Empower a human, taking a toll on his health
--Djinn……………..Materialize………...Wide Range………..Expensive Ally/Fetish because of wide range of powers
--Dryad…………….Any …………………….Modular Ability…..Can’t travel (Ally as Potential Advantage)
--Eidolon…………..None…………………..Skills Only………….Cheapest Ally or Fetish to sustain rituals (no renewal)
--Familiar………….Possess Beast…….Telepathy……………Beast possession, raise Magery as Ally
--Monster………...Materialize………...Characteristic……..Va rious types, combat powers per tradition lore
--Nymph…………..Materialize………...Skills Only…………..Mundane tasks (Claim to Hospitality instead of Ally)
--Parasite………….Possess Benign….Cause disease…….Possession causes disease, but parasite doesn’t control
--Patron…………….Any…………………….Any……………………..Most powerful, but immune to Bind
--Poltergeist……..Special……………….Move Objects……..Doesn’t manifest, but can move objects while immaterial
--Sphinx………..….Special……………….Natural Ward……..True Faith, subject to the ritual Embody
--Totem…………….Possess Benign….Skills Only…………..Grant animal traits through benign possession
--Wight………….….Animate……………..Skills Only…………..Ghost animates own corpse

Examples
Brazen Head: This ST 20 Eidolon Fetish is an animatronic skull. It has a Photographic Memory, a Perk to interact with the mechanism to yield canned answers (yes, no, depends, and unknown), and these skills at 10: Biology, Expert (Natural Philosophy and Personal Biography), Fortune-Telling (Astrology), Geography (World), Mathematics (Theoretical), Psychology, Research, and Theology (Comparative). Of course it gets +10 to recall facts relating to these subjects. Counting the cost of the goofy contraption, this Fetish costs $5,000.

Founder: The ghost of the company’s founder is a ST 30 Eidolon, but what matters is his effective Merchant skill 21 – the old boy’s still got it (base cost 4 points as a Contact). His painting dominates the boardroom, and directors swear its eyes follow them. Actual skills are Accounting 15, Administration 13, Expert (Personal Biography) 12, Finance 14, Market Analysis 16, Merchant 20, and Propaganda 15.

Gargoyle: Here’s an iconic sample Sphinx with ST 15 (base cost 3 points as an Ally) in a stone vessel with Crushing Striker (its tail), Flight (Cannot Hover, Costs FP, Winged), and Hideous appearance. It spends 2 FP to launch and another per minute airborne. Made with skill 17 in Path of Allies, it can move under the observation of 3-4 Skeptics. The price is $4,000 for a ST 15 Sphinx Fetish plus $1,500 for Embody (per Appendix II).

Hellhound: Here’s a sample fury, an Allied Spirit of the Classical tradition, with ST 25 (base cost 5 points as an Ally), Burning Attack 5d (Jet, Costs FP), Innate Attack 14, and the ability to materialize with Blunt Claws, DR 9 (Can’t Wear Armor, Tough Skin), Discriminatory Smell, Enhanced Move (net 30mph, Temporary Disadvantage: Horizontal), Sharp Teeth (with Born Biter from GURPS Martial Arts, p. 115), Gigantism, Monstrous Appearance, No Fine Manipulators, and Brawling 15. The damage resistance is effective against handguns, and combined with Injury Tolerance, pretty good against civilian rifles too; it would dematerialize in the face of automatic fire. In spite of the name, a hellhound is big enough to ride like a horse, and it doesn’t look much like a canine. The bearer of a Fetish with this Monster ($8,000) can invoke its fiery breath.

Hobby: Here’s another sample Sphinx with ST 10 (base cost 2 points as an Ally), with a child’s wooden rocking horse to Embody it (Size -1). Made with skill 12, the vessel is Quadrupedal with ST +3 (No Fine Manipulators), Enhanced Move, and Can’t Wear Armor (limitation to DR). It can go off its rocker and bear a 60-pound rider at 16mph when nobody else is watching, keeping evil spirits away from the child who rides it, but the bonus ST of the vessel doesn’t count for the radius of protection. $2,500.

Joe: Here’s a sample ST 15 “safe” Cacodemon (base cost 3 points as an Ally, 2 as a Contact, or -5 as an Enemy). Because the only advantage he imbues is Talent, ineligible for limitations like Terminally Ill, he doesn’t harm hosts directly, merely hijacking their bodies to continue the war, long since ended, in which he died. He has Expert (Own Biography) 12, Guns (Rifle) 16, Hiking 13, Soldier 15, Stealth 13, and Wrestling 15 (including the imbued Talent). In this case, Expert counts as an assisting skill for Possession of his own descendants, one of whom is a magician who might voluntarily host his grandfather in situations where rifles help more than rituals. $100 per service (and $50 per elixir of summoning).

Leprechaun: Here’s a variant Nymph with Altered Time Rate (Leatherwork Only hence Non-Combat), Compulsive Mischief 15, Dwarfism (SM -3), Carousing 10, Leatherworking (Shoes) 13, Traps 9. Variations on the theme substitute other trade skills.

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Old 03-09-2019, 05:43 AM   #7
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Default Re: Magic Vegas (campaign setting)

Neighbor from Hell: Here’s a ST 25 Cacodemon (base cost -10 points as an Enemy) lurking within an elderly woman who lives next door to a magician who botched a ritual, which is why those irritating Monotheists are right! It has Brawling/Jumping DX+4, Climbing/Wrestling DX+3, Acrobatics DX+2, Throwing DX-1, and access to her skills and personal details, keeping its head down until the moment comes to loose its wrath upon its neighbor, and it can call upon enhanced abilities 30 times before it kills its host: Lifting/Striking ST +8 (Unsupported), Clinging, Fangs, Hard to Subdue +7, High Pain Threshold, and Injury Tolerance (Unbreakable Bones) with a Nuisance Effect encompassing Unnatural Features like fangs, pupilless eyes, and a growly voice. Although the turbocharge is killing her, while under its effects this granny is superhumanly powerful, capable of unnatural movement, and seemingly indifferent to injury, barring Skepticism. If its present host expires, the Cacodemon will move into her yapping little dog.

Perfectly Normal Pet: Here’s a ST 10 wight animating a mummified dog (base cost 2 points as an Ally). It has Brawling 12, Tracking 12, Illusion (Semblance of Life Only), and Dependency (Name Spoken Monthly).

Púca: Here’s a sample fairy capable of illusion and shapeshifting. It has ST 20 (base cost 5 points as an Ally), Illusion (Visual), Visualization (Blessing Only, Alternate Ability to Illusion), and the ability to materialize with Alternate Form (Pony), Attractive, Classic Features (Irish), Good with Horses, Dread (Iron), and Unnatural Feature (Tail). Feel free to swap the Pony form for some other domesticated animal (cat, dog, rabbit), or a fox in the case of kitsune (with Japanese features instead of Irish). The bearer of a Fetish with this Djinn ($8,000) can invoke its illusions or blessing and force it to spend Fatigue for power stunts.

Recrudescent Champion: Here’s a sample ST 40 Cacodemon, costing 20 points as a Patron if always available with Minimal Intervention. When called upon, it possesses a spirit warrior who wields its Gadget, conferring Supernatural Durability plus 2 Extra Attacks per turn with its favored weapon. It has the appropriate skill for that weapon at DX+6, Expert skill for its own long history at 14, as well as Tactics 18 and Acrobatics, Brawling, Riding (Horse), Wrestling DX+4.

Silver Hand: Here’s a sample Poltergeist Fetish, an articulated prosthetic metal hand with ST 10 (base cost 2 points as an Ally), a Mitigator for One Hand. The bearer controls it as if it were natural (subject to the spirit’s DX 10 or twice its ST), and if an Ally, it can detach to act independently on his behalf as well. While it may not be strong enough to bear him aloft, on a skateboard it can pull him along a level road at 24mph.

Vampire: Here’s a sample Wight animating its corpse with ST 15 even if badly deteriorated (base cost 3 points as an Ally but still only -5 as an Enemy), DR 2 (Tough Skin), Fangs (Switchable, Uncontrollable Trigger: Scent of Blood), Infravision, Draining (Human Blood), Nocturnal. A likely skillset for a former small-time hood includes Brawling 12, Guns (pistol) 12, Intimidation 10, Lockpicking 11, Observation 11, Stealth 11, Streetwise 10, Wrestling 12 (based on Talent for all but the social skills), and naught but hazy recall of its own miserable life (no Expert skill). Draining applies only while the corpse is animate, which will typically be when a magician summons it for a service with a goblet of blood handy, though if it must hunt to feed, it has no means to keep the victim from noticing or remembering the attack.

Werewolf: Here’s a sample wolf Totem with ST 25, costing 20 points as an Ally if always available. It has two sets of advantages, a set consisting mostly of enhanced senses which impose a slightly beast-like mentality (risk of atavism), and a set of physiological “wolf man” advantages that manifest uncontrollably, accompanied by increased dominance of the wolf mind. The first set of advantages have the limitation Gadget (pelt with DR 2 and SM -2 that can be forcefully removed but won’t work for the thief), along with Temporary Disadvantages Lunacy and Mild Stress Atavism on 15: Discriminatory Smell, Good with Wolves, Night Vision +2, Penetrating Call, Sensitive (Scent-based), Spirit Empathy (Aspected: Allied Spirits of the same tradition), Ultrahearing, Tracking skill at Per+2. The second set adds limitations Nuisance Effect (wolf-man appearance subsuming Unnatural Features), Uncontrollable Trigger (Atavism or Full Moon), and Temporary Disadvantages (Bestial and Susceptible to Wolvesbane): Blunt Claws, Call of the Wild, Enhanced Move (Temporary Disadvantage: Horizontal), Fit, thick Fur with DR 2 (Negated by Silver, Tough Skin), Parabolic Hearing, and Sharp Teeth with Born Biter. The magician can assume wolf-man form voluntarily, but may do so unintentionally while utilizing enhanced senses and automatically on nights of the full moon. At a distance, standing erect, he might not trigger Skepticism.

Purchasing Services
Each service due from a spirit of a given strength costs a tenth as much as a Fetish below, and transferring the balance of services uses up one service. So does consent to a Spirit Trap or Fetish. A magician must Summon a spirit back in order to redeem a service (unless he stored it in a Spirit Trap).

Fetishes: This table shows base cost for a Fetish with indicated ST; Eidolons cost half (just $500 for ST 10) but djinn cost double. Use the same cost to Embody a Sphinx (with the Sphinx itself sustaining that ritual). Except for an Eidolon, multiply by the years of service due, or buy a three-year Fetish as Signature Gear to automate annual renewal thereafter.
--10......$1k
--15......$2k
--20......$4k
--25......$8k
--30.....$16k
--35.....$32k
--40.....$64k

Channeling Paths
Except for Monotheist traditions, each Ritual Magic specialization has (up to) 7 paths which channel the natural law of other worlds, typically defined or represented by major gods of its pantheon. Each channeling path requires a body of knowledge comparable to a branch of science or engineering, and a tradition with more paths would require multiple courses of study so broad that few would pursue more than one, with social schism likely to result. For each, choose 3 partial paths below (or themed repertoire of 20 rituals chosen á la carte), then add the following animal and gate rituals so that a typical path has a couple dozen effects:

--Versions of Create Gate (M85) and Planar Visit (M82) limited or specialized to the otherworld from which the path channels its magic, in other words, the world whose bizarre laws of physics produce “magic” in the real world. Create Gate has a base difficulty of -40, so it takes at least a full coven even with a proficient lead. Any channeling path can act as the Channeling advantage just as the Path of Allies can, but the ritual takes an hour, and the spirit that takes over the magician is the consciousness of a world.

--Versions of Command Beast (T155), Gentle Beast (T156), Seek Beast (T156), Speak with Beast (T156), Summon Beast (T156), and/or Skinchange (T145) limited to the types of beast associated with the god channeled by the path: Typically Seek for animals hunted by the culture of origin (fish and game), Gentle for those not hunted who are either fearsome or fearful (songbirds or assorted predators), Command for those typically trained (hawks, horses, hounds) or depicted analogously in a culture’s myths (like the lions who pull Ishtar’s chariot), Summon to call birds or recall domestic herds (or to gather pests for extermination), and Speak for those with the mobility or stealth to serves as spies and the intelligence to provide useful information (birds, cats, and wolves). Lore of a tradition will determine when Skinchange is appropriate, and it takes a -10 penalty when cast on others. If Skinchange doesn’t requires a pelt, then it applies at all times the associated otherworld. Some traditions have lots of shapeshifting, others none.

Certain portfolios are extremely broad, like fertility; depending on context, it could indicate the partial path Agriculture, Mother, or Prosperity. War could indicate Battle, Excellence, or Strategy but also Death, Fire, or Plague. Magic is extremely broad but good candidates include Creation and Tricks, unless “god of magic” amounts to an assertion of primacy. Either Fire or Light can serve for the sun, and elemental partial paths have phenomenological alternatives, Air/Sky, Earth/Land, Fire/Volcano, and Water/River (or Sea). The partial paths are a tool to save time; the point is not to imply that every path with a certain ritual X, say Dream Visitor, necessarily has another ritual Y, say Dream Shackles; any path can omit some element of its partial path building blocks. For instance, Smoke may not fit Fire when used to model a solar portfolio.

List of partial paths: Air, Aging, Agriculture, Battle, Commerce, Craft, Creation, Death, Dream, Earth, Excellence, Fate, Fire, Healing, Inspiration, Justice, Land, Light, Mother, Night, Plague, Prosperity, River, Rule, Sea, Sex, Sky, Strategy, Time, Tricks, Visions, Volcano, Water, Winter, Wisdom.

Aging: Age (M153), Cloud Memory (T140), Decay (M77), Impotence (T164), Obscurity (T141), Rotting Death (M154), Ruin (M118), Spasm (M35), Stop Healing (M153)

Agriculture: Fertility (T149), Heal Plant (M161), Journeyman's Blessing – Farmer (T153), Plant Growth (M162), Preserve Food (M79), Rejuvenate Plant (M163); associated animal rituals always include Summon Domestic and Pests

Air: Air Vision (M24), Apportation (M144), Calm the Winds (T143), Inexorable Breeze (T143), Purify Air (M23), Walk on Air (M25)

Last edited by Gef; 06-08-2019 at 08:20 PM.
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Old 03-09-2019, 05:44 AM   #8
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Default Re: Magic Vegas (campaign setting)

Battle: Armor (M167), Ghost Shirt (T158), Grace (M37), Great Haste (M146), Hasten Mount (T149), Panic (M134), Perfect Control (T147), Warrior's Blessing (T150), Weapon Blessing (T155), associated animal rituals always include Command Beasts of War (horses, elephants, camels)

Commerce: Clean (M116), Fix Glitch (T145), Fuel (T145), Magelock (T166), Preserve Food (M79), Repair (T148), Smooth Ride (T148), Vision of Luck (T152)

Craft: Cadence (M39), Fasten (M117), Heat (M74), Measurement (T164), Journeyman's Blessing – Craftsman (T153), Know Fault (T146), Reshape (M117), Transmutation of Metals (T165), Weapon Blessing (T155)

Creation: Continual Light (M110), Create Animal (M98), Create Earth (M51), Create Object (M98), Create Plant (M163), Create Spring (M190), Create Warrior (M98), Earth to Stone (M51)

Death: Blight (M162), Command the Bodies of the Dead (T163), Death Vision (M149), Evil Eye (T149), Evisceration (M154), Journeyman's Blessing – Mortician (T153), Spasm (M35), Steal Energy (M150)

Dream: Divination – Oneiromancy (M109), Dream Shackles (T142), Dream Visitor (T142), Dreamwalk (T142), Hallucination (T140), Night Terrors (T142), Slumber (T143)

Earth: Earth Vision (M51), Hold Breath (M39), Journeyman's Blessing – Miner (T153), Seek Earth (M50), Shape Earth (M50), Walk Through Earth (M52)

Excellence: Grace (M37), Hasten Mount (T149), Hunter's Blessing (T156), Perfect Appearance (T164), Perfect Control (T147), Tirelessness (T150), Vigor (M37), Virility (T164), Warrior's Blessing (T150)

Fate: Chaperon (T152), Curse Mirror (T157), Doom (T152), Journeyman's Curse (T153), Love Charm (T154), Loyal Item (T154), Machines Hate You (T147), Stroke of Luck (T154), Vision of Luck (T152)

Fire: Conjure Flame (T143), Continual Light (M110), Divination – Pyromancy (M109), Endure Elements – also DR1 vs. Heat/Cold per level (T143), Heat (M74), Infravision (M111), Journeyman’s Blessing – Clergy if sacrifices or the dead are immolated (T153), Smoke – unless derived from solar portfolio (M73)

Healing: Dose (T148), Journeyman's Blessing – Healthcare (T153), Regeneration (M93), Remove Contagion (M90), Soothe (T150), Succor (T150 but duplicated by high skill with Esoteric Medicine with Path of Heroes), Vitality (T150), Wisdom – doesn’t raise base IQ but mitigates penalty of Afflictions (M135)

Inspiration: Borrow Skill from path-god (M47), Dreamwalk (T142), Journeyman's Blessing – Artist (T153), Lure (M137), Lust (T141), Madness (M136), Water to Wine (M79)

Justice: Gift of Tongues (M46), History (T151), Journeyman's Blessing – Law (T153), Oath (M138), Perfection of the Soul (T165), Read Thoughts (T152), Vigil (M138)

Land: Hide Path (M163), Hunter's Blessing (T156), Predict Earth Movement (M151), Purify Earth – without which blessing crops leads to ecological disaster (M54), Seek Pass (M51), Seek Plant (M161), Walk Through Plants (M163); associated animal rituals always include Seek Game

Light: Bright Vision (M111), Continual Light (M110), Flash (M112), Hawk Vision (M111), Sunbolt (M114), Weatherworking – Fair (T156)

Mother: Calm the Winds (T143), Chaperon (T152), Clean (M116), Fertility (T149), Firecalm (T143), Journeyman's Blessing – Childcare (T153), Smooth Ride (T148), Soothe (T150), Wetherworking - Fair (T156)

Night: Body of Shadow (M114), Gloom (M112), Hand of Glory (T141), Journeyman's Blessing – Clandestine (T153), Night Vision (M111), Silence (M171), Will Lock (M138)

Plague: Blight (M162), Malaise (T149), Retch (M38), Rotting Death (M154), Sterility (T150), Stop Healing (M153), Weaken Blood (M40)

Prosperity: Fertility (T149), Gambler's Token (T153), Love Charm (T154), Stroke of Luck (T154), Vision of Luck (T152), Vitality (T150), Windfall (T155)

River: Alter Terrain – only to change a river’s course or cause it to flood (M55), Create Spring (M190), Fasten (M117), Journeyman's Blessing – Riverine (T153), Mist (T144), Seek Water (M184)

Rule: Chaperon (T152), Gift of Tongues (M46), Journeyman's Blessing – Governance (T153), Suggestion (T141), Vigil (M138), Virility (T164), Vision of Luck (T152)

Sea: Command the Waves (T143), Endure Elements – also DR1 vs. Heat/Cold per level (T143), Fasten (M117), Inexorable Breeze (T143), Journeyman's Blessing – Maritime (T153), Mist (T144), Predict Weather (T156), Seek Coastline (M184), Walk on Water (M186); associated animal rituals always include Seek Fish

Sex: Halt Aging – adds no years but reduces the ravages (M94), Journeyman’s Blessing – Sex Work including actress/dancer/prostitute (T151), Liar's Charm (T141), Lust (T141), Perfect Appearance (T164), Unbearable Pleasure (T164), Virility (T164)

Sky: Air Vision (M24), Divination – Astrology (M108), Explosive Lightning (M196), Inexorable Breeze (T143), Mist (T144), Predict Weather (T156), Thunderbolt (T144), Weatherworking – Rain/storm (T156)

Strategy: Great Gas Mileage (T146), Journeyman’s Blessing – Military (T151), Locate (T153), Telepathy (M47), Tirelessness (T150), Unlimited Ammo (T148), Vigil (M138), Vision of Luck (T152), Vitality (T150)

Time: Cadence (M39), Decay (M77), Great Haste (M146), Hasten Mount (T149), History (T151), Ruin (M118), Stone to Earth (M51), Succor (T150, partially duplicated by Esoteric Medicine), Supercharge (T148)

Tricks: Apportation (M144), Cloud Memory (T140), Garble (M172), Gremlins (T146), Guise (T140), Mage-Stealth (M172), Phantom (M97); associated animal rituals always include Skinchange for all animals

Visions: Death Vision (M149), History (T151), Journeyman's Blessing – Fortune Teller (T153), Read Memories (T152), Scry (T152), See Invisible (M113), Vision of Luck (T152), Divination – Crystal-Gazing and one of Augury, Cartomancy, Extispicy, or Physiognomy (M108-9)

Volcano: Entombment (M53), Predict Earth Movement (M151), Rockfall (T144), Shake the Earth (T144), Stench (M24), Weatherworking – Geyser/Volcano (T156)

Water: Current (M194), Divination – Lycanomancy (M109), Hold Breath (M39), Journeyman’s Blessing – Clergy if sacrifices or the dead are given to water (T153), Purify Water (M184), Resist Pressure – Pressure Support 2 (M169), Seek Water (M184), Swim (M147), Water Vision (M187)

Winter: Cold (M74), Endure Elements – also DR1 vs. Heat/Cold per level (T143), Frostbite (M189), Hail (M195), Ice slick (M186), Snow Shoes (M186), Weatherworking – Snow/Blizzard (T156)

Wisdom: Gift of Letters (M46), History (T151), Journeyman's Blessing – Teacher (T153), Locate (T151), Locate Spares (T146), Perfection of the Soul (T165), Read the Manual (T147), See Secrets (M107), Wisdom – doesn’t raise base IQ but mitigates penalty of Afflictions (M135)

Spellslinging
A typical duel arcane is a slow-moving affair, with each participant seeking to learn the name and obtain sympathetic and contagious connections to the target, then performing rituals in private to overcome the defenses of a distant foe, or perhaps one magician aspires to curse the target while another protects him. However, some duels with magic look more like a gun fight at 20 paces.

Fast, impromptu rituals take a penalty of -10, half for lack of time (just 1d turns) and half for lack of consecrated space. Furthermore, there’s no time to use a ritual kit or Symbol-Drawing or even to learn the subject’s name, but assuming he’s present, sympathy grants +4, and there’s no penalty for tools with a Very Fine symbol. Fast-Draw it to save time, and smash it as a sacrifice for +3 more. This nets a roll at -3 less the ritual’s base difficulty, assuming no other parameters, requiring a Fetish on standby to sustain the effect even for a short time. Casting on self grants +7 for contagion and True Name, net +4, a better bet in the face of high base difficulty or Skepticism. To be truly proficient fast-casting a difficult ritual, improve it as a Technique.

Daredevil is invaluable for the would-be spellslinger, granting +1 and protecting against critical failure. A relevant Higher Purpose also grants +1, and luck is valuable for multiple shots at a low target, but Adept isn’t available (because it’s a supernatural advantage other than Magery). With high skill, the right advantages, and a bandolier of Very Fine path symbols made of glass, a spellslinging duel is feasible, but most magicians resort to the Path of Heroes (abilities like Power Blow) or elixirs when they need magic urgently.

Commissioning Rituals
A ritual cast with an effective skill of 27 costs $500, net $1000 if locked by a weak Eidolon Fetish. That’s base skill 12, plus 15 for conditional modifiers assuming a professional has arranged the best possible circumstances, but don’t forget to subtract the base difficulty. (A starting character must pay these prices for any equipment with which he enters play, even if he could make it himself, but may substitute his own skill if higher). Add $200 per additional level up to 50, for instance net $1500 for effective skill 32. Assume that any ritual with effect levels specified in advance presumes a success roll of 16, to minimize odds of critical failure, but assume an actual roll of 11 for margin of success. These are “friendly” prices for magicians in good standing (Claim to Hospitality) or their Allies. As a Contact, a dealer in magic can commission rituals of foreign tradition for twice the price, but a starting character can’t enter play with them. Sustained rituals won’t be for sale to non-magician Believers but rent for 10% per month.

Last edited by Gef; 06-06-2019 at 10:37 AM.
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Old 03-09-2019, 05:45 AM   #9
Gef
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Yucca Valley, CA
Default Re: Magic Vegas (campaign setting)

Spending points isn’t the end of creating a magician character; he’ll have dozens of Fetishes as well, sustaining a variety of rituals to protect and enhance his gear and himself. Plus, while a ritual can’t be cast instantaneously, it can be cast in advance and sustained by a Fetish for instant activation at a later date, setting of the magic as if it were a grenade.

Why Fetishes are cheaper: The demand is high, especially for eidolons to sustain rituals, which would drive up their price if it didn’t generate economies of scale. Other rituals are commissioned case-by-case, and their pricing has to cover “free” consultation, whereas a fetishmonger can sell on the internet. Before he can start, he must Summon and Bind a spirit, but anyone skilled enough for the last step can handle the first two in seconds or minutes, an incidental cost just like the Fine fishing lure or the like in which the spirit resides. The net result is that weak (ST 10) Eidolon Fetishes are the closest thing to a magic commodity. Fetishes made from expensive things like weapons pass on the cost, but for the purpose of a PC’s book-keeping, remember that Cost of Living subsumes apparel, home appliances, and vehicles.

The Marks of Power
Learning magic affects the mind. Each specialty of Ritual Magic carries a mark, a characteristic mental disadvantage, a quirk at minimum though it may well be more severe (though the 5-quirk limit still applies, additional marks will be more severe). For instance, magicians of the Babylonian tradition, discussed below in detail, are all obsessed with immortality in some way. For instance, one might strive to leave his mark on history, while another affects the cool styles of speech and dress popular among people half his age. Furthermore, each Channeling path imposes a similar mark, so a full-service magician of a single tradition has a total of 8 potentially-conflicting quirks disadvantages not of his choosing. Fortunately, there’s some flexibility here, both in the way a mark manifests and the particular circumstances. Carrying on with the Babylonian example, the mark of Ninmah is nurturing, while the mark of Nergle is ruthlessness, but if a magician is nurturing to children and ruthless in business, there’s no conflict. Or he could be kindly in general but show his mean streak when drunk. Either way, someone who observes his behavior with the benefit of both Psychology and Thaumatology skills could accurately assess his magical repertoire!

Worlds and Gods
God exists, and by existing, defines the real world and its laws of physics. He doesn’t do much else, but He provides stability, and for that magnificent good, many spirits, the angels, support Him. However, there are other beings of the same order as God, but less than He, who define the laws of worlds that might have been, at variance to the real world. These define the channeling paths: Things that are impossible in the real world are perfectly normal under an alternate world law. To add to the confusion, some powerful spirits are also known as “gods” to men who can’t tell the difference, but actually, the difference between path-gods and powerful spirits is one of scale, for the supernatural abilities of such a spirit are also the product of alternate world law, constrained to the spirit itself.

Every world defined by a god is accessible by its channeling path. Points in real space correspond to points in these alternate worlds, but not in linear fashion, so while traveling to the otherworld and back isn’t tantamount to teleportation, it might serve as a shortcut (fairy trod) if the distance between two points in the otherworld is shorter or more easily traversed than that between corresponding points in the real world. And since the laws governing chemical and physical processes differ, manufacturing processes may be possible that would never work in the real world. To use a scientific skill like Chemistry or Engineering in an alternate world, you must have the skill specialized for that world or roll against the lower of that skill or Weird Science (or an Expert skill for that world).

In a world defined by a path-god, all the magical effects of that god’s path are in effect at all times for all occupants (except the gate rituals). To escape these effects, use the path of countermagic, which in this case amounts to channeling laws of the real world.

Some alternate worlds are extremely, incomprehensibly different from the real world; call them Horrors. Each defines a stand-alone path of magic whose abilities can exceed those of conventional paths, but each also will drive insane the magician who studies or uses it, per the rules for Spiritual Distortion (Confusion check for learning, failure inflicts distortion, 10 levels remove the character). Instead of a Ritual Magic specialty, the magician requires only a Perk (Diabolist Pact) and of course the language. A sample path includes Obscurity (to get away with it), Conjure Flame, and the following rituals based on spells from GURPS Magic: Blackout and Dark Vision (or Invisibility and See Invisible), Breathe Radiation, Contract Object (or Extend Object), Distant Blow, Enlarge, Essential Acid, Exchange Bodies, Lesser Wish (retail $10k), Rain of Acid, Stench, Summon Shade, Teleport, Time Out, Timeslip Other, Trace Teleport, Transform Other (adapted to hazards of the otherworld), Wizard Mouth, and gate and animal effects, which are linked, for the path of a Horror affects only the foul beasts which come from its domain. The path of a Horror may be known to the tradition with which it shares a language, but it’s not part of any tradition and doesn’t from Magery limited to one.

Magic and Technology
In the sense that magic is an application of knowledge, magic is a technology, though it is not specifically rated by tech level; that comes with ancillary skills. Starting from zero, as technology improves, magic improves too. Wider communication through space, and with writing through time, make possible the sharing of ideas that result in a mature tradition (all 10 paths, all applications thereof known at least to experts). Because discovering new rituals is easier than inventing new manufacturing processes, a mature magic tradition depends more on organizational technology than material culture. It happens in strong states at TL1, and then at TL2 syncretism starts to occur. On through TL3-4, changing nature to something more convenient, while quite difficult, is easier than making use of existing natural law in many respects, but starting at TL5, material technology, especially mass production, is more convenient than magic, and by TL8, people can live quite comfortably with no magic at all.

Can magic advance to be more competitive again? While the world-law which rituals channel is well-known to magicians, it’s not well-understood, having never been subject to such intensive multi-generational scientific investigation as have the laws of nature. The world-law invoked to make walking on water possible, for instance, has significant implications for fluid dynamics that could make new kinds of chemical processes and hydraulic machines possible. Again, this is less a matter of existing material culture than a matter of organization, for the pool of scientists whose own skepticism won’t interfere with the necessary research is quite small. Collecting minerals and biosamples from dozens of Otherworlds, then analyzing their properties on different worlds, would be a mammoth undertaking for legions of researchers, all of who would have to overcome their own Skepticism in order to be involves in such a project. In the meantime, material culture on Otherworld outposts is a combination of straightforward applications of local world-law, effectively variant TL3, with imported modern technology protected by means of Countermagic from local conditions.

Demographics
Magic isn’t secret, far from it! Billions believe, and millions claim to be magicians themselves. Of course many are charlatans, and of the rest, the vast majority have the bare minimum of aptitude and training with unremarkable intellect and willpower. Hence esoteric healing from a typical witch is comparable to 19th-century medicine, far better than nothing, especially in a remote community, but inferior to a modern hospital. Her blessings of luck bear less profit than the interest on a certificate of deposit, and a single skeptic (or wrong kind of believer) cripples her magic. Considered in conjunction with risks of using magic with low skill, she has every reason to resort to the charlatan’s tricks and save real magic for grave need. And if she has a day job while studying magic, especially in the richer (and more skeptical) parts of the world, she may find that it pays better than her true calling. In a tradition with as much to learn as several engineering disciplines combined, she probably won’t know more than a path or two. That said, there’s a threshold of success with magic beyond which more success gets easier, when mastery of multiple paths produce a synergy, but there are only a few thousand magicians worldwide who’ve reached that point, and they need not advertise.

Last edited by Gef; 05-17-2019 at 11:48 PM.
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Old 03-09-2019, 05:46 AM   #10
Gef
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Yucca Valley, CA
Default Re: Magic Vegas (campaign setting)

Monotheistic traditions abhor channeling paths, which might seem like a weakness except that it enables them to focus on counter-magic, so while they can’t do all the things that other magicians can, they’re very good at stopping those other magicians, and that is their mission. They have a good reason: screw-ups with channeling impose conditions and unleash creatures which are inimical to human life! That’s why there’s such a difference in philosophy between the two types: Monotheists generally see God as a protector and see themselves as something like ambassadors from God to men, while other magicians see themselves as ambassadors from men to the fickle gods, enjoying privileges because of the risks they accept. While there is plenty of conflict between different traditions, even monotheistic traditions, the Monotheists are a common enemy to all the rest, for they define as sinful and therefore suppress by law or stigma many things which are required for channeling rituals such as idols, blood sacrifice, intoxication, games of chance, and temple prostitution.

Building Traditions (Babylonian Example)
Conceptually, the process of defining a tradition for the game is straightforward: Read up on a mythology, noting its gods and their portfolios and symbols, any other kinds of beings (spirits), any other worlds included in its cosmology, and any other notable characteristics for flavor. Decide which of the gods define paths and which are patrons of the tradition, and use your own creativity to fill in holes in the archæological record or resolve contradictions. Remember that the mythology may have evolved over thousands of years, so there’s no definitively best interpretation. Cursory research on the internet will be sufficient for game mechanics, though deeper research can inform narrative depiction. Here’s a worked example:

Mesopotamian mythology spans nearly 4000 years, encompassing Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Canaanite, Chaldean, Elamite, and early Hebrew civilizations. As empires grew, waned, and resurged, outsiders who conquered the region militarily were conquered in turn by its culture. Each city was a state, and each state had a god, which is to say a path of magic. As the cities were assimilated into larger polities, a ritual tradition assimilated their discoveries.

With so many civilizations, over such a long period of history, all of the gods have many names. The most important were “the seven gods who decree” (sounds like the right number): The primary triad of Anu, Enlil, and Enki, the secondary triad of Suen, Shamash, and Ishtar, and Enki’s wife Ninmah. Anu and Enlil have the same portfolio, though, and Suen and Shamash are pretty close as well, so the tradition needs a couple more. Marduk came later in history and became the most important, but his portfolio isn’t focused except to the degree that it overlaps the others, so he’s a better candidate for a patron spirit of the tradition as a whole. Irkalla is the goddess and/or realm of the dead, an important role in any religion, so she’s in, and for the final slot, the sibling pair Tammuz and Geshtinanna govern agriculture and more.

Many creation myths feature primordial gods with an explanatory role though they don’t seem to have been actively worshipped; in other words, nobody was performing rituals in their name. Some of these primordial gods sound more like places than people, a good source for the worlds from which paths channel. One such is Abzu, the father of Enki, a watery subterranean realm. So the path of Enki channels the world-law of Abzu. Anu isn’t exactly a primordial god, but while Enlil is the god of the sky, Anu his father is the sky personified, so the path of Enlil channels the world-law of Anu. Irkalla is likewise a place, ruled by her consort Nergal, so the path of Nergal channels the world-law of Irkalla. Suen (the moon, god of wisdom and light) and Shamash (the sun, god of justice and even more light) are another father-son team, but neither is clearly a place; they share a path because of their association, their overlap as gods of light, and because together they provide a portfolio of three partial paths. Ishtar is the daughter of Suen, but her portfolio of love and war is broad enough for a path of her own. Ninmah is basically Mother Nature, and one of her names is Ninhursag, Lady of the Sacred Mountain, so Hursag is the world whose law her path channels. Tammuz and Geshtinanna govern agriculture (animals and plants respectively), and a complicated story explaining the seasons associates them with dream as well. These names are primarily the Babylonian versions on the theory that the most recent are still in use.

Other gods suitable as patron spirits include Marduk as mentioned above (leadership), Dagon (farming), Gula (healing), Nabu (scholarship), and Ninurta (battle). As a primordial creator goddess, Tiamat doesn’t quite fit the bill for a path of diabolism, but when Enki imprisoned her husband Abzu, she got mad and birthed a legion of monsters to take revenge, only to be killed by a champion among the gods (Marduk, in the Babylonian version). In fact, since the god who defeated her used her body to make the world, she may be the source of Babylonian Countermagic, still the force that opposes the other gods. However, her son Kingu, whom she gave special powers to lead this legion, could be a Horror, and the sample path above will work fine; while separate from the tradition itself, the magic of the Horror is related by using the same language. Lesser Mesopotamian spirits are known as utukku, sometimes translated as “demon” though they’re not necessarily evil. Their ghosts include vampires, and their sundry Monsters include rock demons, wind demons, scorpion-men, and many with unique attributes. Babylonian Nymphs are suited to clerical and housework but sexless, contrary to the norm. Babylonian Totems are the animals associated with the various gods: Bull, Fish, Fly, Fox, Goat, Lion, Serpent, and Vulture. Little in the mythology quite suggests Familiars, but one relief of a goddess depicts her flanked by owls who might serve that role. Statues of a tradition’s Monsters and Totems typically Embody Sphinx, and tradition makes no difference for Djinn, Dryads, Eidolons, or Poltergeists.

That’s a good start on the game mechanics, but how about symbolism? The language of the tradition as presently practiced is ancient Babylonian, dating to the 4th century AD, but pretty much anything with a cuneiform script will do. Cultural weapons include chiefly the composite bow and the axe, the shield, and also the club (or mace), spear, and net as these were the weapons that Marduk used to defeat Tiamat. Swords of the era and region were small, more like a long knife in game terms, or later broadsword-sized sickle-swords (like a streamlined khopesh). These are the weapons that a magician with the Path of Heroes can use with Weapon Adaptation, so they also serve as symbols for use in rituals. The raiment of a priest resembles the scales of a fish, so a modern practitioner could use a sequined garment, and scale armor will also serve. Unlike Vikings, Babylonians favored horned helmets (or horned crowns, or conical hats). Another common symbol of divine authority is the rod and ring, held together in one hand so that together they resemble the old letter thorn (þ) now represented as “th” in most languages that once used it. Untipped arrows serve for divination, as do dice, especially tetrahedral varieties, and boards from games, implying that gambling may have a role in ceremonies, as do sex and the consumption of intoxicants. Sacrifices are burned, so smoking a joint counts twice! Knots are a recurring symbol of protection, so that’s for countermagic, with specific patterns for each ritual, and a knot frays when its protection fails. (Symbol-Drawing serves to tie knots for ritual purposes.)

If there’s one theme that runs through Babylonian mythology, it’s obsession with immortality, strongest in the Epic of Gilgamesh but present in other tales as well, so that’s the mark of powea accompanying Ritual Magic skill in the tradition. The obsession can manifest as a vain attempt to stay young or the desire to leave an indelible mark on history, and it can lead the most senior magicians, whose time is short, to experiment with diabolism.

Last edited by Gef; 05-17-2019 at 11:48 PM.
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