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Old 02-07-2008, 02:25 PM   #21
vitruvian
 
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Default Re: GURPS LOTR Magic

Most of the magic in chronicles is definitely performed by Maiar or Elves; in both cases, it could probably be handled as powers, Magery, Power Investiture, or some variation thereof (a lot of Elvish magic seems to involve crafting and singing, so Mysteries of the Trade from Fantasy might be appropriate).

What about Dwarves, Men, and Hobbits, though? Outside of Aragorn's healing hands, the dwarves in the Hobbit guarding the troll trove with protective spells, and some of the dwarf-crafted items in the Lonely Mountain supposedly being enchanted, what is actually attested to? Does the Witch-King of Angmar count, or can we assume that his power first stemmed from his ring?
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Old 02-07-2008, 02:42 PM   #22
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Default Re: GURPS LOTR Magic

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Originally Posted by vitruvian
What about Dwarves, Men, and Hobbits, though? Outside of Aragorn's healing hands, the dwarves in the Hobbit guarding the troll trove with protective spells, and some of the dwarf-crafted items in the Lonely Mountain supposedly being enchanted, what is actually attested to? Does the Witch-King of Angmar count, or can we assume that his power first stemmed from his ring?
For what its worth, MERP has a significant number of foes and friends that are able to weld spells / magic. They are usually getting this from sort of Maiar or similar conduit. Not unlike traditional ritual magic or shamanism.

The crazy witch lady for example (lives in swamps, former colleague of the necromancer, name escapes me) learned her spell craft directly from the Necromancer. There is some text where she goes into detail on the sacrifices of old to him. She has some savvy direct attacks (immobilize/cripple, blind, suffocate), locating/tracking spells, and a pile of herbalism (poisons). But again this might also be all Herb Lore, the setting is quite insane with the 'find the blood moss from which hopeless yadda yadda blood was spilt' == 'death touch spell' I think she has a crazy dagger weapon as well with some back story to it which indicated enchantment ability on her part.
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Old 02-07-2008, 04:46 PM   #23
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Default Re: GURPS LOTR Magic

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Originally Posted by vitruvian
What about Dwarves, Men, and Hobbits, though? Outside of Aragorn's healing hands, the dwarves in the Hobbit guarding the troll trove with protective spells, and some of the dwarf-crafted items in the Lonely Mountain supposedly being enchanted, what is actually attested to? Does the Witch-King of Angmar count, or can we assume that his power first stemmed from his ring?
For the dwarves I think a variation of the craftsman magic is well established among them. Hobbit magic? I think none, other than innate "natural" abilites like being able to move quietly, which is a racial ability, IMO. Not powered by "magic" the power source. It is not like they are going to be more noisy in a dead magic area. That is my take on it at least.

I would certainly say the Witch-king has power independent of his ring. He isn't wearing it when he brings down the gate of Minas Tirith after all. I'd say as a "great king of Men" he was dabbling in magical arts, which perhaps made him easier for Sauron to entrap. No doubt his powers are greater because of his association with Sauron though. I think he would be a great example of some one who has, in a manner of speaking, sold his soul to the devil in enchange for unworldy power.
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Old 02-07-2008, 05:13 PM   #24
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Default Re: GURPS LOTR Magic

1. Song seems somehow more central than a simple restriction to the magery of some prominent characters. IIRC, the act of creation is described in The Silmarillion as a kind of symphony, and those prominent characters who sing their spells are (almost?) always immortals.

The game Burning Wheel looks in many ways like LOTR sans serial number. It treats song as the only mode of elven magic, and its elven songs do have a really nice (to me) M-E feel to them. (Of course, I played tons of MERP/RM in my youth, so my standard for authentic M-E magic feel may be a little lax...) As with most rpg elements, that stuff is easily adaptable to GURPS.

2. Some essays on magic in M-E, of which the ones I've read are thoughtful.

3.
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I agree totally, there isn't going to be a functioning 'power word kill' left on my answering machine.
I had a girlfriend once who could come pretty close.
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Old 02-07-2008, 07:15 PM   #25
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Default Re: GURPS LOTR Magic

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Originally Posted by gmillerd
For what its worth, MERP has a significant number of foes and friends that are able to weld spells / magic. They are usually getting this from sort of Maiar or similar conduit. Not unlike traditional ritual magic or shamanism.
There was a lot of magical craziness in MERP. Anything and everything was a magical item of some kind. While I have a soft spot for it and have used it as a resource, there is so much that needs to be stripped out of it. In many ways, it was "D&D in Middle-earth".

Of course, with the popularity of GURPS: Dungeon Fantasy, I might consider an appendix that is, "Dungeon Fantasy in Middle-earth, or Converting MERPS to GURPS". Or it might cause me to choke and die while writing it.
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Old 02-07-2008, 07:23 PM   #26
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Default Re: GURPS LOTR Magic

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Originally Posted by Dienekes
1. Song seems somehow more central than a simple restriction to the magery of some prominent characters. IIRC, the act of creation is described in The Silmarillion as a kind of symphony, and those prominent characters who sing their spells are (almost?) always immortals.
That is an excellent point. I like that line of thinking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dienekes
The game Burning Wheel looks in many ways like LOTR sans serial number. It treats song as the only mode of elven magic, and its elven songs do have a really nice (to me) M-E feel to them. (Of course, I played tons of MERP/RM in my youth, so my standard for authentic M-E magic feel may be a little lax...) As with most rpg elements, that stuff is easily adaptable to GURPS.
I have that RPG recommended to me all the time. I am going to just have to break down and buy it.

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3.I had a girlfriend once who could come pretty close.
Oh, gaaawwd, I'm dyin' over here! That's great!
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Old 02-07-2008, 11:47 PM   #27
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Default Re: GURPS LOTR Magic

For simplicity (and to agree with my own personal interpretation, YMMV) I would treat the spells the Dwarves used to protect the troll horde as superstition with little to no actual "magical" power. I'd treat the Dwarven craftwork as a form of GURPS alchemy - it uses the natural magic of the materials, but doesn't require the craftsman to be magically adept. I'm not sure whether the Elven craft would work the same way, or be closer to GURPS enchantment.

I interpret Aragorn's healing as GURPS Herbology, First-Aid and/or Physician skills. I think it's less that he works with magic itself as he knows the healing properties of herbs from Numenorean lore lost to much of Middle-Earth.
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Old 02-07-2008, 11:58 PM   #28
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Default Re: GURPS LOTR Magic

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Originally Posted by Gavynn
I could go with that, but I think Gandalf uses Sindarian to cast his fire spells. The Witch-king does use words in a long forgotten language to break apart the gates of Middle-earth though.
I think that the magic in Middle Earth somehow calls on "Great Music" of the song of creation (See the Ainulindale). My guess is that it is not so much what language is used as what is said- content not form. Just as music and words were used to create the world, perhaps they can also be used to alter it.

There is reference to speaking words of power, but the power might come from the individual who is speaking the words as opposed to from the words.
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Old 02-08-2008, 04:12 AM   #29
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Default Re: GURPS LOTR Magic

Let's face it: Middle Earth should be played as a cinematic game. Most of character's abilities as depicted in LotR are there for the sake of narration: Bard knows birds speech in order to be told the "soft spot" in Smaug's skin, Aragorn has healing powers 'cause he's the King, and so on. Building a coherent magic system on such premises is an haunting task.
And, unless you plan to play an Istari or an Elf Lord, said magic system is pretty useless. Sorry, no mortal mages here.

By the way, here's my 2 cents...
Make an extensive use of Influencing Success Rolls rules (B347). To add more flavor, make it aspected to language and "alignment": one can spend CPs only if he...
- knows a "cool" language, such Qwenya, Sindarin, Adunaic or Black Tongue, for example;
- properly roleplays his request to (or on behalf of) the Power he loves (or worships);
-the intended effect is consistent with said Power's abilities, attitude and motivations.
It's simple and flexible, but requires a lot of GM's judgement.
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Old 02-08-2008, 12:06 PM   #30
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Default Re: GURPS LOTR Magic

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Originally Posted by Lord Carnifex
I interpret Aragorn's healing as GURPS Herbology, First-Aid and/or Physician skills. I think it's less that he works with magic itself as he knows the healing properties of herbs from Numenorean lore lost to much of Middle-Earth.
While I think Herblore and such is a very important part of Middle-earth, I think Aragorn's healing abilities go beyond that. The Return of the King tells us, "Now Aragorn knelt besie Faramir, and held a hand upon his brow. And those that watched felt that some great struggle was going on. For Aragorn's face grew grey with weariness; and ever anon he called the name of Faramir, but each time more faintly to the hearing, as if Aragornhimself was removed from them, and walked afar in some dark vale, calling for one that was lost." Then the kingsfoil is brought and Aragorn says the worst is already over before breaking the leaves. This is clearly more than herbology.

Quote:
Originally Posted by macphersonrants
I think that the magic in Middle Earth somehow calls on "Great Music" of the song of creation (See the Ainulindale). My guess is that it is not so much what language is used as what is said- content not form. Just as music and words were used to create the world, perhaps they can also be used to alter it.
I was also using a background explanation for magic that had the spell caster tapping into the song of music of the world. I think that fits nicely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wedhro
Let's face it: Middle Earth should be played as a cinematic game. Most of character's abilities as depicted in LotR are there for the sake of narration: Bard knows birds speech in order to be told the "soft spot" in Smaug's skin, Aragorn has healing powers 'cause he's the King, and so on. Building a coherent magic system on such premises is an haunting task.
And, unless you plan to play an Istari or an Elf Lord, said magic system is pretty useless. Sorry, no mortal mages here.
Egad! Cinematic Middle-earth by default? Not for me, but YMMV of course. But you are absolutely right that the variety of effects present in Middle-earth is a huge problem. I like your ideas about using the buying success rules for some things - at the GM's discretion. I'll write that in.
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