Steve Jackson Games - Site Navigation
Home General Info Follow Us Search Illuminator Store Forums What's New Other Games Ogre GURPS Munchkin Our Games: Home

Go Back   Steve Jackson Games Forums > Roleplaying > GURPS

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 05-14-2021, 05:13 AM   #51
Michael Cule
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Default Re: Magery as an improvable advantage?

For my ridiculously over-powered (and over ambitious) DAWN OF MAGIC game (Isaac Newton and his lover/Cambridge roommate manage to return the magic of the universe to ON after centuries of OFF) I decided that there were two parts to Magery.

Magery 0 was a physical trait. It allowed you to perceive magic and work it at low levels. (It also meant that unlike most people you didn't find the working of magic infuriating and you didn't immediately want to kill the magician.) It wasn't common: it was a thing you were born with.

Higher levels of Magery were spiritual traits. They were part of the soul and passed from one incarnation to the next. You could improve it after character generation. Yes, just for saved character points. If you were a mage you were using your spiritual muscles just as a warrior uses their physical muscles.

But it didn't matter how powerful your soul was if your body didn't have the Mage 0 trait/mutation.

Once my players learned this they proposed that they work a great ritual that would give everybody Magery 0. I hadn't thought of that... The ethics of it were... interesting. Unfortunately the campaign self destructed before the matter could be fully debated and resolved.
__________________
Michael Cule,
Genius for Hire,
Gaming Dinosaur Second Class
Michael Cule is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2021, 06:34 AM   #52
Anaraxes
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Default Re: Magery as an improvable advantage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Leviathan View Post
I don't allow players to develop talents by simply wanting to be talented and spending XP.
Which is fine. That's what hal was calling an "inborn trait", I believe.

But consider this: ST is also an inborn trait, as in DX. They're genetic, and we can't (yet) change that. Chimpanzees are stronger than humans only because they have different genes that produce different structures. They were born that way.

Do you allow characters to buy up ST or DX? Why? I expect the usual answer would be "because genetics is just a limit, and you're not necessarily at the physical peak imposed by your genes. You can train to get better; people do that all the time." Which is a perfectly reasonable answer. (Grognards might recall Rolemaster having you roll two sets of 1-100 stats, the first being your starting stats, and the second a bit higher, derived from a table and a second roll, which did represent a hard limit on how high the character could raise their stats. Hey, it was old school; random characters where the lucky were just better was considered fun. So that game really did have trainable stats that also had a pre-determined hard limit.)

So the obvious question: why can't that be true of Magery? Sure, there's perhaps some peak human ability to channel magic defined by the setting, so elves or gods or whatever can be guaranteed to be even better and make sure there's something out of reach of the merely human. But that doesn't mean that the number that happens to be on a character sheet is exactly that number. There's also no reason to suppose that the numbers on a starting character sheet necessarily define the best they're ever able to do. In fact, if the game has xp and character advancement at all, that's a statement that the starting character sheet is not, in fact, a representation of peak ability.

So why _can't_ Magery be improved? A character with Magery 1 to start might not have that as their actual limit. Perhaps they're actually capable of Magery 3, but just have never yet had to stretch themselves to their limit. As with improving any trait, it's not a matter of "just wanting and spending XP". There might be all sorts of narrative requirements to spend that xp, whether that's mystical experiences or hard work or gurus. Those won't be specified in the rulebook, because they're also setting details.

The same thing is true of all other traits, after all. You don't get better at skills by "just wanting to and spending XP", or your ST doesn't go up by wish-and-spend. But that objection is confusing the in-game narrative requirements with the meta-game currency. Not all rules in an RPG exist to define the mechanics of a simulated reality. Extrapolating the meta into the simulated is an error of types, and so an objectionable result from such an extrapolation isn't an indication that the meta-action is objectionable, like some sort of proof by contradiction. It's an indication that you've crossed the streams.

GMs are certainly free to define Talents as something fixed at birth. It's a setting assumption, as valid as the alternatives. But I don't see that it's impossible to have a rationale for an improvable Talent, if that's the game a GM wanted.

I have noticed that the more "only at start" or "more expensive after start" traits there are, the more the character design rules channel the game into a zero-to-hero style. If players have to spend points just to reserve future ability (whether that's buying something they don't really need yet, or just buying the right to buy it, as with Potential Advantages), then they're going to skimp elsewhere. They'll have to minimax every stat, squeeze every unnecessary drop out the their skill list, dropping any marginal or "color" skill, and peg the Disad limit whether it really fits their concept or not, just to scrape up the points to make as many such reservations as they can.

The XP will eventually catch them back up on traits that are allowed to be learnable. And the way the GURPS skill cost works, that's sometimes even fun, as you get some rapid improvements right off the bat. You go kill rats outside the city gates for a while to get some XP to actually become a hero. That's certainly a tried-and-true style of game. But RPGs don't have to work that way. You might want a game where you can start as heroes, without the rat ear collecting phase.

"Costs more after start" is perilous because it makes the character point total for identical characters different, depending on the timing and order of purchases. This was the case with 3e's doubling of stat costs, or the racial stat bonuses in conjunction with the increasing stat costs. How you got to ST 15 meant that your ST might cost a lot more or less than someone else's, which eventually shows up somewhere else in the character. The classic point-buy problem with species templates. You've probably seen it: the Noldor or ogre magi or regenerating troll have such terrible skills and lack of concept abilities? Because they had to spend most of their points on the template and didn't have much left over for the actual character. (The D&D 3e prestige class 20-level plans that must be carefully worked out in advance and rigidly followed were an extreme form of "can't buy", because you didn't choose each level in exactly the right order to hit mark 1 before you had to work on just getting to threshold 2 in the nick of time.) Increased costs after start is just a time-based version of the same issue.

4e got rid of those effects so the path dependency wasn't such a problem. But of course, many people don't find that to be a problem. Lots of people enjoyed analyzing those D&D 3e rules to find paths with loopholes and (unintended) synergies. Pun-pun is fun-fun, for some, a victory in the meta-game. Just be aware that the more you have to pre-analyze the future development of the character to meet all the "only at start" conditions, the less friendly the game is to less expert players and the more likely it is that you wind up with a dissatisfied player that wants to abandon their character and start over, being unable to adapt to some requirement they didn't properly appreciate at start.
Anaraxes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2021, 06:56 AM   #53
Phil Masters
 
Phil Masters's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: U.K.
Default Re: Magery as an improvable advantage?

As most people here have been saying, the nature of magic is a campaign setting, and on such things, de gustibus non est disputandum; I did my best to have my say on the options in GURPS Thaumatology. But in most cases, especially when using the standard/Basic Set magic system, it seems to make sense to see Magery 0 as some kind of sensitive awareness of magical forces, and subsequent levels as a Power Talent with some specific effects on things like gathering energy for missile spells.

(I like the early-Discworld-novels conceit of wizards - and presumably also witches - as having octagons as well as rods and cones in their eyeballs, enabling them to see octarine, the colour of magic. It fits this model very nicely.)

This then explains the "Who gets to use magic" rules in GURPS well enough. If you have any Magery, you can see these energies you're trying to manipulate, which is a help in the same way that being able to see and feel your materials enables you to be an artist. (If you're worried about elitism, well, fair enough, but is it elitist to say that only people with some sense of rhythm and who aren't tone deaf can be musicians?) High Mana settings are thus ones where magical energy is so abundant and pliable that anyone can exploit and manipulate it.

I rather like the secondary possible implication, not explicit in GURPS but easily introduced to games, that non-mages can attempt to use magic, but they're working blind, and so (a) may be limited to some kind of slow rote-based ritual system, and (b) are probably much more prone to magical disasters (every failure is a critical?), because they don't know that they're trying to trigger the spell effect just as a surge of purple-green energy is blowing in from the fourth dimension, and you don't want to do that. Again, that actually fits the Discworld stories quite well, so I tried to incorporate it into the Discworld RPG.

But all that actually makes Magery 0 largely unrelated to other levels of Magery, to the point that my never-to-be-written GURPS 4.5 will separate them out as different advantages. Magery 0 will become Detect (Substantial Magical Forces), with a bunch of limitations available allowing people to replicate the 5 point 3rd/4th edition version, but the option to pay for a better version; Magery 1+ will become that Power Talent, and might well need re-costing, because let's face it, it's damn useful (+1 to an indefinitely large range of rolls).

So, can you buy Magery 0 in play? Probably not in most games - if you're not born with octagons on your retina, tough. But maybe that awareness can be unlocked by a sufficiently intense experience - nearly dying, taking an amazingly unwise quantity of hallucinogens, getting into a riddle contest with the wrong crazy person, whatever - or by a divine or spiritual gift. It's your game.

As to Magery 1+... Whether Talents should be permitted to be increased in play is a broader GM/setting call. In general, I think that it should be permitted, because while some Talents are clearly inborn in reality, others can reflect a broad education in a specific area, leading to a useful general understanding of basic principles. (My Transhuman Space character recently acquired some levels in Circuit Sense, with which they did not start play, simply because they've been training up a range of Electronics Operation skills, and lack of cross-defaults notwithstanding, I believe that there is some generality there, if only at the level of "pay attention to the dials and prepare to flick the right switches". And my GM didn't argue.) But I'm not going to carp at anyone whose game is different.
__________________
--
Phil Masters
Author of A Dozen Castle Images (Pay What You Want for Twelve Plot Seeds).
My Home Page.
Phil Masters is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2021, 08:43 AM   #54
maximara
On Notice
 
maximara's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Sumter, SC
Default Re: Magery as an improvable advantage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Masters View Post
But all that actually makes Magery 0 largely unrelated to other levels of Magery, to the point that my never-to-be-written GURPS 4.5 will separate them out as different advantages. Magery 0 will become Detect (Substantial Magical Forces), with a bunch of limitations available allowing people to replicate the 5 point 3rd/4th edition version, but the option to pay for a better version; Magery 1+ will become that Power Talent, and might well need re-costing, because let's face it, it's damn useful (+1 to an indefinitely large range of rolls).
As it stands right now Magery 0 is separate from the rest of magery as unless it is expressly modified by (Functions as a Different Talent, ±0%) Magery 0 is the same across all froms of Magery.

As for repricing it...the problem is if we go by Smooth Talent Cost than Magery 1+ would be so expensive that no one could have it.
__________________
Help make a digital reference for GURPS by coming to the GURPS wiki and provide some information and links. Please, provide more then just a title and a page number.
maximara is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2021, 11:00 AM   #55
Plane
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Default Re: Magery as an improvable advantage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Masters View Post
If you have any Magery, you can see these energies you're trying to manipulate, which is a help in the same way that being able to see and feel your materials enables you to be an artist.
Probably just feel, I don't think magery lets you actually see magic energy, just when you step into different mana zones or occasionally when first touching something magical....

.. except there's also "first sight" for magic items so I can see sight being an interpretation there...

Actually wondering if there might be an alternative take than the "first or never" touching/sighting policy on magic items because it seems kinda strange.
Plane is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2021, 01:31 PM   #56
WingedKagouti
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Default Re: Magery as an improvable advantage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by maximara View Post
As it stands right now Magery 0 is separate from the rest of magery as unless it is expressly modified by (Functions as a Different Talent, ±0%) Magery 0 is the same across all froms of Magery.

As for repricing it...the problem is if we go by Smooth Talent Cost than Magery 1+ would be so expensive that no one could have it.
Magery is afforded the same type of cost reduction as Combat Reflexes, just on a much larger scale.
WingedKagouti is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2021, 01:32 PM   #57
Anders
 
Anders's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Default Re: Magery as an improvable advantage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by maximara View Post
As for repricing it...the problem is if we go by Smooth Talent Cost than Magery 1+ would be so expensive that no one could have it.
You think 420 points/level is excessive?
__________________
“When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love ...” Marcus Aurelius
Anders is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2021, 03:40 PM   #58
maximara
On Notice
 
maximara's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Sumter, SC
Default Re: Magery as an improvable advantage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anders View Post
You think 420 points/level is excessive?
Yes and it is more than that given the number of spells that now exist.

Heck, the old Magic Power at 40 points/level that appeared in the first edition of Supers is way cheaper and IIRC it gave you access to every super power in the book.
__________________
Help make a digital reference for GURPS by coming to the GURPS wiki and provide some information and links. Please, provide more then just a title and a page number.
maximara is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2021, 03:43 PM   #59
finn
 
finn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Default Re: Magery as an improvable advantage?

Since we know the answer is setting and campaign dependent, looking at what published settings say should be helpful.

GURPS Banestorm (p.23) mentions that you need to be born with some kind of magical potential to be a mage, but experience can sharpen an would-be adept's thaumatology. This suggests that you need to be born with at least Magery 0, but experience and training can improve it. That further suggests that a character would need at least Magery 0 at character creation to improve Magery, but a GM can always give an exception: discovering latent talents, etc. The book does mention that Magery can be "susceptible to training and socialization, sometimes in unpredictable ways." (p.29)

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy allows Templates with Magery such as Wizards to increase their Magery after character creation (DF3 p.43). It also allows purchase of Magery through adding a lens, but strongly suggests charging Training Expenses because special advantages like Magery "normally aren’t available after character creation" (DF3 p.17). Faerie Folk expressly can purchase Magery 0 and above as a power-up (DF11, p.41).
__________________
Preparing an Infinite Worlds campaign.
finn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2021, 04:50 PM   #60
maximara
On Notice
 
maximara's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Sumter, SC
Default Re: Magery as an improvable advantage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by finn View Post
Since we know the answer is setting and campaign dependent, looking at what published settings say should be helpful.
I agree but things are kind of muddled with Yrth.

First there is the really bizarre 1988 errata: "P. 51. Since Caithness is a low-mana area, the example given for the number of people to know spells is wrong. 1 in 50 might know a spell or two in a high-mana area, 1 in 100 in a normal-mana area, 1 in 500 in a low-mana area. Perhaps half these people possess Magical Aptitude. Of course, some people with Magical Aptitude, especially in low-mana areas, will never learn magic or even become aware of their talent."

A strict reading of that means you have 1:100 mages in high mana, 1:200 mages in normal, and 1:1000 in a low-mana for the classic version of Yrth.

More over, Banestorm reveals that Ritual Magic exists on Yrth. Now one of the options for Ritual Magery is being able to cast spells at -5 with the ability to learn Fractional Magery (Technomancer pg 123) Sure -10 to skill in low mana is nuts but remember only 1:1000 try to do ritual magic in such regions.

Of course we could always throw in the Least of Spells to address this issue.
__________________
Help make a digital reference for GURPS by coming to the GURPS wiki and provide some information and links. Please, provide more then just a title and a page number.
maximara is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
extra effort, improvement through study, magery, magery 0

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Fnords are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:39 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.