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Old 02-21-2022, 03:25 PM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2018
Default cheap ways to layer low-cost long-duration spells to get in the way of Analyze Magic?

Pg 102 of GURPS Magic limits a successful casting of Analyze Magic to just identifying the cheapest spell on it's subject, and you need to re-cast to find the more expensive ones

At 8 energy + 1 hour casting per pop that's a huge investment, so it seems like one approach to frustrate info-gathering would be to have a bunch of cheap spells active (even if you don't have any other use for them) just so they hide the more interesting high-energy spells.

The downside to this is if they are "maintainable" ones that you're going to have a bunch of -1 "spells active", so I think you would want to use Maintain Spell to get a bunch of crazy-long-duration stuff.

If you had low-cost spells reduced to 0 energy to cast this would be the best (they'll be lower than all your 1+ energy spells you want to hide). If it's zero to maintain this also means you only need to invest 1 energy per "5 full duration" periods in Maintain Spell (M128), so you could park it a long time.

This is also sort of a "two for one" deal I think, since Maintain Spell is actually a 2nd active spell, and would be detected as the 2nd spell (0 energy 1st, 1 energy 2nd) separate from whatever you maintain?

So the question here is (let's say measuring duration in hours, perhaps longer) what spells could fill this role best?

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"Hang Spell" for example (convenient since it immediately precedes Maintain Spell on the same page) has a minimum cost of 2 so hanging a cheap spell, if you have skill 20, you spend 0 energy to initiate it and then by spending 1 energy on Maintain Spell it will be up for 5 hours. It wouldn't matter which spell you hung, just so long as you never activated it, it would be detected first by Analyze Magic.

(that's one thing I'm not sure about: does AM tell you which spell is hung, or just that Hang Spell is active and no idea what is hung?)

Spellguard (M127) is a even more efficient example: it has a ten-hour duration period, so if you can cast it at zero energy then 1 energy gives you 50 minutes of active spell. The only downside to this is it can't be your core strategy since it needs another long-duration spell to piggyback.

M167's Watchdog could serve that role for areas since it also has a 10 hour duration and a 1-energy base cost. This wouldn't help in obscuring a specific target or person though, only obscuring area spells from Analyze Magic.

I think M121's "Scryguard" would serve that role for people: it's 10 hours and 1 to maintain (like watchdog and spellguard) so you get similar cheap cost for Maintain Spell. The only downside here is that because the base cost is 3 energy, it could only obscure spells costing 4+ energy.

That's why I think Scryguard's best role is to serve as an anchor-point for Spellguard, because Spellguard could obscure spells costing 2 or 3 energy.

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This also raises a similar question to hang spell: would Analyze Magic, upon detecting the low-cost Spellguard, simply say "this caster has a Spellguard active" without telling them which spell was guarded?

It seems like there would be a Spellguard+Scryguard synergy against Analyze Magic, because first Scryguard gives Spellguard chance to resist being detected (normally Analyze Magic is unresisted by spells) but even if it fails to resist, Spellguard will get detected first prior to Scryguard getting discovered.

Not to mention when they do actually detect the Scryguard, Spellguard will help prevent it from Counterspell unless Counterspell first targets Scryguard and gets it out of the way first.

I think there's some rule somewhere like you can only have one version of each spell active on a subject at a time, so you couldn't for example cast Scryguard twice on a person, or cast Spellguard twice on Scryguard?

I wasn't thinking of allowing this in terms of bonus-stacking (would "use best bonus available") but just in terms of stuff like "I have a backup Spellguard in case Counterspell is used against my first Spellguard" or "I have multiple Spellguards for Analyze Magic to detect".

This would be the difference for example between a single casting of a 3-energy spellguard (+3 to resist direct counterspell attacks to negate Scryguard) vs three castings of 1-energy spellguard, where Scryguard could only ever enjoy a +1 bonus to resist direct Counterspelling, but where it's harder to remove that +1 bonus than to remove the +3 bonus, since you'd need to Counterspell thrice to remove the trio of Spellguards.

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I got wondering though, if the 'subject' of Scryguard is the actual mage, would the "Spellguard" you cast to protect Scryguard actually be the "subject" of that Scryguard? I'm thinking not, meaning it would NOT enjoy protection...

Yet if it doesn't enjoy protection (the spell is a different 'subject' than the mage) then it seems Scryguard itself could not resist Analyze Magic: Analyze Magic would (unresisted, if successful) be able to say "there is a Scryguard on this guy")

So to give Analyze Magic a chance to fail against Scryguard (a resistance role inthe first place) it seems like you would actually need to cast a 2nd Scryguard on the 1st Scryguard.

The problem here though is that you now have two same-cost spells so how would you guarantee that the 1st (protected) Scryguard gets targeted before the 2nd (unprotected) Scryguard?

I think the way you would do this is intentionally spend more energy on the 2nd spell than on the 1st spell, to guarantee it gets targeted 2nd. Is this legal to do, to spend excess energy on a spell to establish order priority?

Last edited by Plane; 02-21-2022 at 03:33 PM.
Plane is offline   Reply With Quote

analyze magic, counterspell, maintain spell, scryguard, spellguard

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