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Old 05-10-2021, 03:01 AM   #34
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Portland, Oregon
Default Re: Discussing Yrth History & Evolution of GURPS MAGIC

Regarding making magic swords....

It's an inefficient way to win wars. Takes too long, and ties up too many mages for too long a time.

My guess is that Megalos would make magic tools that made their "mundane" armies more effective. A magic sword under most circumstances isn't much better than a mundane sword. (Or, more likely spear, as spears beat swords in most cases, as history has shown since the Stone Age.)

So: Quality of Life items, food, anti-disease, healing, communication, movement. Logistics. Engineering (bridges and roads, perhaps rails). Air Golem (1st ed, now called Dancing Object I think) works great on a hand-pump rail car (or a pedal-powered one).

The point is, why make an item that makes only 1 person slightly more effective, when you can make items that make large groups of soldiers more effective? Besides, you need to get the biggest bang for the buck out of your enchanters. And if you can beg, borrow, steal, or sacrifice to do it with Quick and Dirty, you will. And if talismans of Paut are available, pair up an enchanter mage with an alchemist (I don't think Yrth has Paut as an option, especially with "1st Ed only" as a rule).

Speaking of alchemy, that's also a pretty cost effective way to get better effectiveness out of your soldiers. Not terribly expensive in many cases, and if you have any special forces squads they can definitely get access to even the more expensive ones.

Battle lasts an hour, adds 1d to DX, and only costs $350. Give it to your infantry in the van, and they can do some major damage.

Endurance lasts for 1d hours, and you don't lose FP. You can sprint several miles to get to a battle, far far sooner than your enemy might expect. It's expensive, though, at $1400.

Fetching and Carrying, though, only costs $300, and multiplies what you can carry by 4. So that heavy pack that was slowing you down isn't, anymore. It lasts 1d+1 hours. Similar to Endurance, but much cheaper.

Invulnerability is expensive, at $2100, but it lasts for 1d+1 hours and gives you an extra 3 DR. Worth it for the officers (might be necessary, as most magic is better used as an assassination tool rather than on the battlefield).

Stealth raises Climbing and Stealth skills by 1d points, for $550. Useful for special ops groups and scouts. A rich army might be able to afford to give it to an entire company for use as a sneaky flanking attack.

Death (mainly in pastille form) at $500 is a pretty effective attack; it does 4d damage (2d if HT save). 3 yards diameter cloud. Launch these into a massed group of infantry and knock big holes in the line. Use special crossbow bolts with the burning pastille fitted on the tips to get some range.

Fear only costs $225. Toss these randomly into the enemy's line. If the panicky troops don't mess up the maneuvers, it will at least destroy the morale of the group.

Hatred could be interesting. Especially if they group of soldiers are patriots who love their country. At $300, it could theoretically make soldiers turn on their compatriots. Even after it wore off, would the "turncoats" be trusted?
Madness might also be useful, especially if the alchemist is good enough to be able to choose the psychological disease given. PTSD would be a good one (I've seen what that can's not pretty, and it at least makes the soldier an unhelpful casualty).

Odium (especially on an officer) can destroy unit cohesion and disrupt the chain of command. Expensive, at $1000.
Weakness ($400) as a pastille only lasts 1d minutes, but that might be long enough to douse the front ranks of an infantry line just before you engage. Give your side good armor, and it's possible that when the enemy is weakened, they can't damage you. Reducing the ST by 3 drops their damage by 2-4 points on average.

Pain Resistance ($600) sort of expensive, but might be good in the hands of elite troops or special ops groups. Or, perhaps, if there are popular members of companies that are looked at sort of as champions or mascots, giving them this might be good for morale. Everyone will see them shrugging off hits, not stopping, and generally being a bit more bad ass than normal.

Water-Walking ($700) would be useful to get soldiers into positions that could surprise an enemy; being able to run over the water without slogging through it will get you into position much more quickly (and quietly). It's a bit expensive, but not horribly so.

Healing and Health are both cheap, and their usefulness is obvious. In-camp diseases and infections go way down.

Sleep is cheap ($120) Pastilles will make anyone in the 3 yard diameter area have to roll HT-4 or fall asleep for at least a few hours. If you assume that most soldiers have a generous HT 11 (lots of BT) that means they need to roll a 7- or nighty night. Heck, launch a bunch of these into the enemy formation and go to town. (I've got Aarakocra in my world...I think I just thought of their favorite attack. Bombs away, sleepyheads!)
Charisma would be good for officers (and NCOs) and only costs $350. Good for unit cohesion and morale.

Hearing and Keen Sight for sentries. Or Special Ops.

(I used to run an Yrth campaign, although it was modified and likely very different from what eventually made it into the Banestorm world book years later. I stopped when the inconsistencies in it overwhelmed the playability. I think I let the "rule of cool" out of the box a little too often, and the plot holes ended up larger than the underlying tapestry. Still, it ran from '87 to sometime in the mid 90's. So not a bad run!)
Warmest regards,


My current worldbuilding project. You can find the Adventure Logs of the campaign here. I try to write them up as narrative prose, with illustrations. As such, they are "embellished" accounts of the play sessions.

It is also the new home of the Alaconius Lectures, a series of essays about the various Colleges of Spells.
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