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-   -   Magical Gadgets versus Magical Gear (http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=166049)

AlexanderHowl 10-25-2019 06:55 PM

Magical Gadgets versus Magical Gear
 
One of the standard conversions of GURPS is that 25 energy points are equal to 1 CP for the purpose of purchasing magical gear as Signature Gear, meaning that magical items tend to be very expensive. However, many of the magical items in existence could be purchased as magical gadgets instead, often for much cheaper than their magical item equivalents. They also work better than standard magical items for many of the non-standard magical systems.

In my games, magical items do not exist, they are replaced with magical gadgets. For example, 'powerstones' are merely Energy Reserve (Magic; Can Be Stolen, Stealth or Trickery, -20%; Slow Recharge, One point per day, -60%) [0.6/level], meaning that a 100 point powerstone costs 60 CP, which is 20 CP less than the Signature Gear cost of a magical item equivalent. Enchant becomes the spell required to create magical gadgets while various enchantment spells allow the modification of existing magical gadgets.

So, which do you prefer, magical gadgets or magical items? If you prefer magical gadgets to magical items, why? What are the advantages that you have found with using magical gadgets over magical items?

David Johnston2 10-25-2019 09:03 PM

Re: Magical Gadgets versus Magical Gear
 
Gadgets are too much work. I mean I might be able to figure out how to design a Self-Inking Quill, or a Soul Entrapment Camera (that creates photographs that you can use to cast spells on the victim at any range), or a Thieves Diary (erases all memories written down in it from the writer) or a Brass Head (solves mathematical problems and counts the number of people crossing a border with hostile intent and announces their number while rotating to point at where the invaders are coming from) but why would I want to? These magic items aren't part of a character. They are neither gadget nor signature gear.

Sorenant 10-25-2019 09:25 PM

Re: Magical Gadgets versus Magical Gear
 
I like magical gear for things that can be used by anyone and performance doesn't change by changing hands. For example, if there's a magical cape that allows the wearer to fly at X yd/s, that's a gear. If you built it as gadget, velocity will be proportional with the wearer's Basic Speed.
Similarly, I prefer weapons to be gear rather than gadgets because: 1) It's easier. Giving AD(2) to a melee innate attack requires the awkward Modifying ST-Based Attacks and the balance of Natural Weapons is debatable. Making innate attacks with similar damage as a modern firearm is very costly. 2) If you find a better weapon, dropping a gadget will waste precious CPs while you can sell an old gear or give to another player.

Magical gadgets are for more personal things that has no gear counterpart. For example, if the character has a belt that allows him to transform into a stronger version of themselves, then I'd built that as Alternate Form with Gadget as such thing is not sold on stores and is part of the character's shtick.

AlexanderHowl 10-25-2019 10:23 PM

Re: Magical Gadgets versus Magical Gear
 
Maybe its because GURPS was my first system (thirty years ago now), but I do not see gadgets as being more complex than gear. You can to erase memories? Easily done with Affliction (Amnesia) or Affliction (Delusion (False Memories)). The gadget ends up being around 35 CP.

Affliction (Will; Based on Will, +20%; Breakable, DR 5, SM-6, -25%; Can be Stolen, Trickery, Protected, -10%; Disadvantage, Amnesia (Total), +25%; Extended Duration, Permanent, Removed by Remove Curse, +150%; Magical, -10%; Malediction 1, +100%; No Signature, +20%; Takes Extra Time, 4x, -20%) [35]. With a successful Contest of Will after four seconds of concentration, you permanently destroy the memories if your victims, and they may only recover them if they convince a magician to cast Remove Curse on them.

David Johnston2 10-26-2019 12:37 AM

Re: Magical Gadgets versus Magical Gear
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl (Post 2292269)
Maybe its because GURPS was my first system (thirty years ago now), but I do not see gadgets as being more complex than gear. You can to erase memories? Easily done with Affliction (Amnesia) or Affliction (Delusion (False Memories)). The gadget ends up being around 35 CP.

Affliction (Will; Based on Will, +20%; Breakable, DR 5, SM-6, -25%; Can be Stolen, Trickery, Protected, -10%; Disadvantage, Amnesia (Total), +25%; Extended Duration, Permanent, Removed by Remove Curse, +150%; Magical, -10%; Malediction 1, +100%; No Signature, +20%; Takes Extra Time, 4x, -20%) [35]. With a successful Contest of Will after four seconds of concentration, you permanently destroy the memories if your victims, and they may only recover them if they convince a magician to cast Remove Curse on them.

That's not what it does. You write down an account of an experience in the book and this causes you to forget that experience but nothing else. You can't use it against an unwilling target by any means short of holding a knife to their throat to make them write the story in the book. It's used by people who either experienced trauma and want to cure the psychological effects, or by criminals who want to beat a truthsayer. And it was way quicker to just write that than to pick advantages and modifiers and add them up. And I'd still have to write just to explain what the stats mean in real terms.

Anthony 10-26-2019 01:47 AM

Re: Magical Gadgets versus Magical Gear
 
The advantage of gadgets over gear is consistency in pricing; if character A has an innate magical ability, and character B has a magic ring that grants the same ability, they're going to pay a similar amount, though presumably B pays less for it being not as useful. By comparison, using gear, they may not even be using the same currency, and the price will only be similar by coincidence.

The drawback of gadgets is that the price may be nonsensical for the setting (this tends to be a problem with powers as well). My cell phone represents less than one character point of wealth, and replicating what it can do with gadgets will be a lot more than one point.

There isn't a terribly good solution for this. You can solve the gadgets drawback by adding setting-dependent pricing, but that's a huge hassle too.

AlexanderHowl 10-26-2019 04:16 AM

Re: Magical Gadgets versus Magical Gear
 
A cell phone is existing tech that you can buy at a corner store though, so it is not quite a magical item (all but the lowest price magical items, 250- magical points, represent months or years of person-days of work). In a TL3 setting, its price might increase 32x, but without a cellular network, a cellular carrier, and an electricity source it is just a useless lump of plastic when its charge runs out (and mostly useless while it has a charge).

Now, if you wanted a magical gadget that could work in any setting with mana, it would be a gadget with the following abilities: Telecommunication (Telesend; Gadget, -60%; Link, +10%; Magical, -10%) [12] plus Mind-Reading (Gadget, -60%; Link, +10%; Magical, -10%) [12]. It would also have Accessories (Encyclopedia, Flashight, Music Collection, Navigation Tools, Radio, and Tiny Computer) [6]. The total cost would be 30 CP (Gadget, -60%, is a combination of Breakable, DR 3, Machine, SM-6, -30%, and Can be Stolen, Contest of ST, -30%). In any area with magic, you can use magical telepathy for communication purposes, and it stores enough residual magic to allow its Accessories to function even in no mana areas indefinitely. Higher functional magical cell phones would add Cybernetic (+30 CP), Sensory (+12 CP), and/or Universal (+30 CP).

talonthehand 10-26-2019 06:53 AM

Re: Magical Gadgets versus Magical Gear
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl (Post 2292299)
A cell phone is existing tech that you can buy at a corner store though, so it is not quite a magical item (all but the lowest price magical items, 250- magical points, represent months or years of person-days of work). In a TL3 setting, its price might increase 32x, but without a cellular network, a cellular carrier, and an electricity source it is just a useless lump of plastic when its charge runs out (and mostly useless while it has a charge).

He did say it was setting dependent. I could just as easily imagine an urban fantasy setting where you can get a wand of fireballs at a sporting goods store, right next to a hunting rifle. It's still the same issue - the dollar cost of something does not necessarily correspond to the point cost, and while it may be doable to stat up gear as a gadget, it is not as simple.

David Johnston2 10-26-2019 07:57 AM

Re: Magical Gadgets versus Magical Gear
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl (Post 2292299)
A cell phone is existing tech that you can buy at a corner store though, so it is not quite a magical item (all but the lowest price magical items, 250- magical points, represent months or years of person-days of work).
.

Yeah. Magic items are expensive. Buying one is more like buying something in the range of high end sniper rifle to private jet. But just being expensive doesn't make them part of the character's identity the way the way Mjolnir is part of Thor or the shield is part of Captain America.

ericthered 10-26-2019 08:26 AM

Re: Magical Gadgets versus Magical Gear
 
I prefer using Gear to using gadgets, unless the ability is innate to the character and merely requires the gadget to turn it on. I most often use this with a magical sword that only works for its rightful owner (a concept I use surprisingly often). It also shows up on items that channel the user's power, like Harry Dresden's blasting rod, shield bracelet, and so on. In each case, the power comes from the combination of the user and the item. If the item works for everyone, its gear.

When making or tweaking magic systems, I go out of my way to make them more gear-like. I'll occasionally treat magery or access to a system of magic as one of more levels of high TL (on an alternate tech path, of course).

The supers genre is the place where I lean more towards using gadgets, but there I'm a lot more lax about point budgets for powers.

I find that gear is more customizable, less fiddly, and easier to balance that powers with the gadget limitation. I also find about 50% of the time the gadget limitation appears on a character sheet the player is trying to push for an uber-powered PC who will overshadow other players, so its left a bad taste in my mouth.


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