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Old 05-17-2021, 08:50 AM   #21
Join Date: Jun 2013
Default Re: A World Building Decision: Magic Aptitude

I remember reading the basic overview for a comic that took place in a setting where mathematical aptitude dictated one's ability to use magic. The story was to be about an autistic savant (in mathematics) and his caretaker getting isekai'd into that world. Looks like it was called Finding Gossamyr.

In a setting I came up with, being able to use magic at all was a quirk of the way some people's brains developed (itself dependent upon a combination of genetics and early development) - those without this quirk were simply unable to understand how to personally work magic, even if they perfectly understood all the theory, applications, etc. Everyone also had some degree of magic power (roughly comparable to Quintessence from "The Fifth Attribute" Pyramid article), which was largely inherited but one's physical condition could have an impact (someone sickly and weak would have less power than someone healthy and strong, all else being equal), and the working of magic was a trainable skill in and of itself (and many of the best mages had complementary skillsets, like a strong grasp of tactics or the like). The brain (and body) left enough of an imprint on the soul that if a person were somehow disembodied but still able to interact with the physical world, they'd still be able to use magic if they could while corporeal, and would still be unable to use magic if they couldn't while corporeal (possession/body-swap magic wasn't a thing).

Originally Posted by Polkageist View Post
Bargain - Magical aptitude is acquired by bargaining away something valuable. If this is something that can be done at any point then it's a matter of finding the entity with which you can make this transaction. Could also be done before existence, where the soul has a choice to make a bargain unknown to its living incarnation, which will have to deal with the bill coming due at some point in their existence.
There's a manga with this, Game of Familia, where one must sacrifice a part of oneself to contract with and bind a spirit, allowing the use of magic. The sacrificed part is basically sealed away and becomes useless (except for in the case of the main character, but he gets to cheat), but the more "important" that part was, the more powerful of a spirit one is likely to attract. Most of the magic users the characters encounter are female, because their reproductive tract is a useful sacrifice - it's important enough to attract a decently powerful spirit, but rendering it inert doesn't have a serious impact on one's combat capabilities.
GURPS Overhaul

Last edited by Varyon; 05-17-2021 at 10:40 AM.
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Old 05-18-2021, 07:42 AM   #22
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Buffalo, New York
Default Re: A World Building Decision: Magic Aptitude

For what it is worth, I figured I'd come clean here and make some comments about how I utilize the Mageborn concept and take it from there...

I run a campaign world set in Modern Times that I call "Modern Fantasy". Reincarnation is possible, and magery is the result of mating between Humanity and the Seraphim. When the Angels fell and became Fallen Angels, some of them did not come under Lucifer's sway, but rebelled against God in their own way. Some of them fell to Earth only to become mortal. Of these, when they mated with humanity, they imparted their ability to cast spells known in GURPS as Magery. Some of the Seraphim who remained fully angelic in nature, became something else, they became "Watchers". In many ways, these are those responsible for protecting the Mageborn as unseen allies who, if available, show up in ways that the players in my campaign are unaware of. Short of actually MEETING up with one, their odds of getting unexpected aid is a roll of a 6 or less.

In any event, ONLY once have I permitted the ability for a player to start with Magery 4, and that came about because the player character's father was Seraphim in nature. Great Wishes can always raise the magery level by one, but in my campaign worlds, Magery is an inborn trait that can't be improved at all save by Divine intervention, pacts with Demons, or Great Wishes.

Single College Magery is the ONLY magery that I permit to grow into its full potential, but have never had a player take single college magery. ;)

In the meantime, Angels and Demons can have Magery go through the roof, which means that you really do NOT want to go head to head with an Angel who has Magery 10 along with Magic Resistance 3 that does not impede the Angel's magery.

Many of the Angels know their spells innately, and can never improve their spells. Most Demons can't manifest themselves in the physical form, which is why Possession is their usual way of manifesting on Earth. The cost to summon demons in my game world is largely dependent upon their "Rank" and their will power stats for the lesser ranked demons is really LOW - in some cases, CHILDLIKE (that means 6 in GURPS terms). The higher up the food chain, the higher the will rating gets and trying to engage in a battle of wills with an Arch Demon without taking precautions is an epic example of hubris (or good luck for that matter!).

With Elements of GURPS CABAL (which was the inspiration for much of my campaign before GURPS THAUMATOLOGY came out) for magic spell casting ritually, and you can begin to see how my world takes shape.

Spells that have to cross low mana regions (such as divinatory spells) suffer a -5 penalty in addition to Range. Spells used at barrier locations (such as the beach and Sea or the Beach and Forest, Mountains and Hills) can be cast in a normal mana region during specific hours, but that is not something you can count upon.

Some plants that grow around high Mana areas accrue certain powers making them all the more effective in ceremonial spell casting.

In the end? Magery 3 is where most "human" spell casters are capable of functioning, but many with an Average IQ and Magery 1, won't be able to get their spells to function successfully with any level of reliability.

I have also modified spells in GURPS to where they don't fit the rules as written. For example, bringing people back from the Dead doesn't always cost the usual 30 energy, but can be in some campaigns, lowered to 15. The catch? If you cast the spell to steal someone from the lands of the dead, you acquire an enemy who will try to bring that person back to the realm of the dead and you as well.

Bless Plants has also been modified, as has Earth to Stone. For it to have any durability like Granite, the earth has to be treated first with Destroy Air on the earth, causing it to be packed more deeply. Once packed, it can be turned to Granite. Otherwise, the stone created by this spell is called Sandstone.

You get the idea here. Magery in that campaign world is dependent upon either reincarnation, or being born directly the result of supernatural parents. In the case of reincarnation, the character's beginning is that of a supernatural parent.

7 in 8 children born to an Angelic Father, Human mother turn out to be normal mageborn. That 1 in 8 however, has a different name...
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