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Old 12-26-2022, 04:52 AM   #1
MagicalMeddler
 
Join Date: Dec 2022
Default [Magic] Rebuilding Diamonds

Currently, we're running GURPS 3edR. The setting is in the 1920s. The mana level is normal, but Magery is quite rare, so there aren't more than a few real wizards about.
We're fairly high point value, and one of the PCs has an extensive spell library, including Rebuild.
For reference:
This spell totally rebuilds any object from as little as a fragment. If the subject is a machine, the caster must first successfully cast Schematic on the subject and, while the schematic is still in his mind, begin casting Rebuild. Schematic is unnecessary for simpler objects. With enough power, you could rebuild a starship from a scrap of one bulkhead!
The object re-forms at a rate of 500 lbs. of missing mass per second, beginning after the casting is completed. Thus, it would take a 30-ton tank 2 minutes to be completely rebuilt. Exotic materials may inflict a casting penalty or slow the rebuilding process.
On objects simpler than machines, ignore the TL modifiers.
Magic items cannot be rebuilt.

Now, the idea is to purchase a chip of the original Cullinane diamond. Let's not get bogged down with how we get it or if we're deceived or whatever; assume we do.
We now have, literally, a fragment of what was once a much larger diamond. By casting Rebuild, can we turn this diamond chip back into the "original" diamond--which, by the way, was about 3,100 carats in weight. Schematic should not be required--it's a TL0 rock--but if we assume artificial diamonds are a TL9 material (I'm basing that on the description for cybersuits, from Ultra-Tech), the simple carbon-crystal structure should be revealed by Schematic.
About the only thing I, personally, see as a problem with this is the vague "exotic materials" reference. One can argue back and forth about how diamond is a simple crystal structure--or that it's unreproduceable at TL6. Or do we take the TL penalty for a TL6 vs TL9 material? Is that obviated by the Schematic spell? Or is diamond not "exotic," since even at TL6 we know what it is and how it's put together, even if we can't actually build them yet--hence the need for Rebuild?
The implications, though, are concerning. If I take this chip of diamond (or any other diamond) and Rebuild a much bigger diamond, I can then cut it into several pieces and repeat the process, multiplying the number of gems. Does gold count as "exotic"? So, when I find a gold bar in a treasure chest, do I saw off a corner and Rebuild the bar? Sure, it's 30 FT per casting... but it's 30 FT for any finished product of 500 lbs or less! In higher-magic worlds, a circle of mages starts cranking out literal tons of resources--iron, steel, gold, silver, pretty much any material they can buy, as long as they can form it into a gigantic lump before they break off a piece for Rebuild-ing.
Great justification for spending points on Wealth, sure. Not great implications for the changes it will wreak on a lot of existing fantasy campaigns.
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Old 12-26-2022, 08:44 AM   #2
TGLS
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Default Re: [Magic] Rebuilding Diamonds

Option A: Fiat that a chipped diamond is an intact diamond. A chip of diamond is an intact diamond, just as much as a sheet of paper taken from a ream is still intact paper.

Option B: Fiat that diamond is a raw material, and thus cannot be rebuilt. Otherwise you can duplicate literally any raw material. One sheet of rolled steel can duplicate an entire roll.

Option C: Don't bring in this spell in the first place. There's plenty of ways to get rich fast off magic. This one isn't quite as apparent. Repair is useful in most circumstances where rebuild could be used.
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Old 12-26-2022, 09:41 AM   #3
Fred Brackin
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Default Re: [Magic] Rebuilding Diamonds

This scheme should work as long as you get at least 5% of the original stone. That limitation is in the 4e text but I can't swear it was in the 3e version.

Diamonds are made of carbon and carbon isn't "exotic. 'Exotic" is for things usually called "unobtainium" or soem simialr term.

Lab-made diamonds are no more than TL7 as curiosities and here at TL8 they're pretty common and DeBeers is trying to tell people that they aren't as valuable as "natural" diamonds. The relatively high value assigned to diamonds by current society is a function of applied memetics anyway.

If I was working the scheme I'd want to get a relatively large but heavily flawed natural diamond that was going to get broken up into smaller stones anyway.. You can definitely turn that into 20 copies. The main question I see if you can take each of those copies, break them down to 5% of "original" mass and Rebuild them too going from 1 to 20 to 400 to 8000 and so on.
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Old 12-26-2022, 10:10 AM   #4
malloyd
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Default Re: [Magic] Rebuilding Diamonds

Quote:
Originally Posted by TGLS View Post
Option A: Fiat that a chipped diamond is an intact diamond. A chip of diamond is an intact diamond, just as much as a sheet of paper taken from a ream is still intact paper.

Option B: Fiat that diamond is a raw material, and thus cannot be rebuilt. Otherwise you can duplicate literally any raw material. One sheet of rolled steel can duplicate an entire roll.

Option C: Don't bring in this spell in the first place. There's plenty of ways to get rich fast off magic. This one isn't quite as apparent. Repair is useful in most circumstances where rebuild could be used.
Option D: Rule that the fragment is a chip of the volcanic pipe it was originally part of, with a mass of approximately 3 billion metric tons, for a cost of 12 billion mana points, and a several hundred acre site to dump it on. Though admitted that will eventually net you quite a few other nice stones....

Seriously, creation magic of any sort is unbalanced without everybody buying into the genre convention that you [don't] use it to create vast wealth.

The logical game mechanical enforcement mechanism is that if you attempt to magically create something more valuable than a trivial fraction of your Wealth level (in this case several levels of Multimillionare minimum), the spell fails. Why? You have no idea. But if it [didn't] there would be no logical justification for your character (and whoever taught him the spell) not already having that level of Wealth, so there must be one or your character design wasn't realistic.
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Last edited by malloyd; 12-26-2022 at 10:18 AM.
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Old 12-26-2022, 10:21 AM   #5
Fred Brackin
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Default Re: [Magic] Rebuilding Diamonds

Option E: _Tell_ your players in advance that magic can not be used for anything "useful" in normal life and especially not making money. It's for killing monsters only.

This seems to eb a default assumption for many people but they don't always communicate it before the game starts.
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Old 12-26-2022, 11:16 AM   #6
Varyon
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Default Re: [Magic] Rebuilding Diamonds

The description you give of Rebuild indicates it will absolutely break the economy, irrespective of whether or not it works on diamonds. Buy a high-end graphics card, cast Schematic on it, then take a hammer to it and use Rebuild on each of fragments; you now have 20 or so high-end graphics cards, and you can do the same to each of those, then sell everything on eBay. Purchase 500 lb of gold, cast it into a statue, and break that statue apart; you can now use Rebuild on each fragment to create a new 500 lb gold statue, which you can just melt down into ingots and sell (if you don't have the funds to purchase 500 lb of gold to start with, you could start smaller - buy whatever you can afford, cast it into a statue, break that apart, use Rebuild on the fragments, and then melt down all the new statues to cast a larger one, repeating this process until you have a 500 lb statue). And so forth - you can basically take anything worth a good deal of money - be it due to the way it's built or the materials that go into it - and make perfect copy of it to sell with each casting. Sure, 30 energy might not be particularly easy to come by*, but if you can do it reliably enough that a piece of a large diamond is going to be problematic, you can do it reliably enough to turn anything valuable into a problem.

*Depending on rules in play, of course. A DF character could readily start play with a 15-energy Power Item (requiring the character to have Wealthy at a minimum and Very Wealthy would be a good idea) and 15 FP, which would basically just mean needing to rest for two and a half hours (or one and a quarter with Recover Energy at 15, half an hour with Recover Energy at 20) and pay $75 ($5 per energy restored into the Power Item) for each casting of Rebuild and wind up fabulously rich in short order (I assume Rebuild isn't an option for DF casters, however, in part for this very reason).


An easy fix would be if Rebuild actually destroys any other fragment of the object, making it so that you can't use it to make copies, only repair the original from a fragment. There are potential abuses for that as well, of course - shave a splinter off a gold statue, sell the statue, then use Rebuild on the sliver to basically steal the statue back, for example. But that's just an enhanced way to steal back what you sell, and there may be workarounds for it (I could see a Seek Fragment spell of some sort - which lets you analyze any item to see if there are fragments of it that could be used for Rebuilt - being useful, here).
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Old 12-26-2022, 11:42 AM   #7
Curmudgeon
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Default Re: [Magic] Rebuilding Diamonds

Quote:
Originally Posted by MagicalMeddler View Post
Currently, we're running GURPS 3edR. The setting is in the 1920s. The mana level is normal, but Magery is quite rare, so there aren't more than a few real wizards about.
We're fairly high point value, and one of the PCs has an extensive spell library, including Rebuild.
For reference:
This spell totally rebuilds any object from as little as a fragment. If the subject is a machine, the caster must first successfully cast Schematic on the subject and, while the schematic is still in his mind, begin casting Rebuild. Schematic is unnecessary for simpler objects. With enough power, you could rebuild a starship from a scrap of one bulkhead!
The object re-forms at a rate of 500 lbs. of missing mass per second, beginning after the casting is completed. Thus, it would take a 30-ton tank 2 minutes to be completely rebuilt. Exotic materials may inflict a casting penalty or slow the rebuilding process.
On objects simpler than machines, ignore the TL modifiers.
Magic items cannot be rebuilt.

Now, the idea is to purchase a chip of the original Cullinane diamond. Let's not get bogged down with how we get it or if we're deceived or whatever; assume we do.
We now have, literally, a fragment of what was once a much larger diamond. By casting Rebuild, can we turn this diamond chip back into the "original" diamond--which, by the way, was about 3,100 carats in weight. Schematic should not be required--it's a TL0 rock--but if we assume artificial diamonds are a TL9 material (I'm basing that on the description for cybersuits, from Ultra-Tech), the simple carbon-crystal structure should be revealed by Schematic.
About the only thing I, personally, see as a problem with this is the vague "exotic materials" reference. One can argue back and forth about how diamond is a simple crystal structure--or that it's unreproduceable at TL6. Or do we take the TL penalty for a TL6 vs TL9 material? Is that obviated by the Schematic spell? Or is diamond not "exotic," since even at TL6 we know what it is and how it's put together, even if we can't actually build them yet--hence the need for Rebuild?
The implications, though, are concerning. If I take this chip of diamond (or any other diamond) and Rebuild a much bigger diamond, I can then cut it into several pieces and repeat the process, multiplying the number of gems. Does gold count as "exotic"? So, when I find a gold bar in a treasure chest, do I saw off a corner and Rebuild the bar? Sure, it's 30 FT per casting... but it's 30 FT for any finished product of 500 lbs or less! In higher-magic worlds, a circle of mages starts cranking out literal tons of resources--iron, steel, gold, silver, pretty much any material they can buy, as long as they can form it into a gigantic lump before they break off a piece for Rebuild-ing.
Great justification for spending points on Wealth, sure. Not great implications for the changes it will wreak on a lot of existing fantasy campaigns.
A few things seem to be appropriate as limitations, though there are bound to be edge cases. First, by examining the spells Repair, and its prerequisite rejoin, we are obliged to note that an inanimate object as described by those two spells is not simply any object but one that has been worked. By implication, you might be able to rejoin any chips flaked off a stone arrowhead to make the blank from which you formed it but you definitely couldn't use Rejoin to make the arrowhead blank part of its original rock again.

Create Object, which is another prerequisite of Rebuild, implies that an intimate knowledge of even a simple object's construction is a necessary component to creating the object. You can make food but you can't make it nourishing, you can make a book, but the words it contains don't have as much order as even a dictionary unless you know exactly how the book goes.

Rebuild sneaks around those limitations a bit. It has more permanence than the subject of a Create Object spell and it can recreate extremely complex items that are made up of systems that are composed of complex machines such as motors that are themselves composed of complex machines from parts that aren't themselves machines. The example bulkhead of a starship is at least a worked material, it is probably an alloy worked from metals smelted from raw ores and likely given some minimal shaping.

So, if you cut a part off a gold bar, could you rebuild the whole bar from the fragment? Probably. That leaves the question of what happens to the remainder of the gold bar open though. Assume that magic won't put out any more effort than it has to, and remember that the spell is Rebuild, not Create Anew. It is fair, or at least not unfair, to assume that the spell, in general, finds it "easier" to regather the other dispersed pieces of the object being rebuilt to fuel the rebuild than it does to create the missing material from nothing. Thus, in the case of your fragment of a gold bar, the rest of the gold bar disappears, being consumed in rebuilding the bar from the fragment you possess. In the case of rebuilding a starship, it is easier to regather the dispersed atoms and molecules of the disintegrated ship than it is to make fresh "dilithium crystals" for the "anti-matter engines."

As for the Cullinan Diamond, having been broken into smaller named stones such as the Great Star of Africa (Cullinan I), Second Star of Africa (Cullinan II), Lesser Star of Africa (Cullinans III & IV) and others, it seems unlikely that the entire Cullinan Diamond could be rebuilt, even by the Rebuild spell. The Rebuild spell should not be confused as to what it is rebuilding, but consider what the spell would attempt to rebuild depending on which part of the original diamond your chip came from. If it is a chip from a major stone you would get: The Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross (Cullinan I); the Imperial State Crown (Cullinan II); the Coronation Necklace (Cullinan III); a brooch (Cullinan IV); the Delhi Durbar parure (Cullinans V, VI, VII & VIII); or a ring (Cullinan IX).

The easiest way of avoiding this problem is considering the character builds. Even if mana is normal, if there are only a few real wizards about (say Magery 2), should there even be a character who has the prerequisite Magery 3 to cast a Rebuild spell?

Last edited by Curmudgeon; 12-26-2022 at 11:49 AM.
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Old 12-26-2022, 11:44 AM   #8
Pursuivant
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Default Re: [Magic] Rebuilding Diamonds

With an Energy Cost of 30 to cast, Rebuild is effectively a form of Quick-and-Dirty enchantment, albeit with quicker results. Other than that, Rebuild could indeed do the job.

There's nothing in GURPS 3E Grimoire (where the spell originally appeared) or GURPS 4E Magic about needing a minimum amount of mass from the original object in order to cast the spell and nothing to imply that "raw materials" can't be created or repaired. The text is virtually identical in both cases.

In both Grimoire and 4E Magic, it's specifically stated that you could rebuild an entire starship from just a portion of a bulkhead (as long as you cast Schematic first) and have sufficient energy to replace the missing mass. That implies that as long as you have even one atom of the original item left, you could rebuild it.

Both also say that there are no TL penalties to rebuild objects simpler than machines. GM's choice as to whether attempting to recreate a diamond counts as "exotic material."
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Old 12-26-2022, 12:14 PM   #9
Pursuivant
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Default Re: [Magic] Rebuilding Diamonds

Game mechanics aside, the basic issue is "Can you use magic to get filthy rich by creating valuable items?"

While there aren't specific spells which allow you to turn coal into diamonds or gold, or create gemstones or precious metals outright, clever use of existing spells (e.g., Create Food, Create Plant, Earth to Stone, Essential Earth, Essential Food, Essential Fuel, or Repair) can have the same effect.

For example:

* Clean to quickly remove otherwise unremovable stains or dirt from valuable items. With just one spell you could become "Drycleaner to the Stars", specializing in removing stains from valuable garments. Alternately, you become the world's best Forensic Clean-Up Expert, capable of getting ghastly stains and stench out of any carpet or item of furniture. Even a simple enchantment which uses the Clean spell to strip paint or remove toxic dust would be worth a lot of money.

* Create Earth to turn low-quality soil to specialty alloy steel (or palladium, gold, or whatever else the GM will allow).

* Create Plant to create truffles (currently going for ~$325/lb.), rare fruits or spices, valuable wood (e.g., rosewood) or "medicinal herbs" like opium poppies, coca plants, or high-grade marijuana.

* Divination to predict the stock market or lottery numbers.

* Rebuild to restore that wrecked WW2 aircraft you pulled out of the jungle or the North Sea to fresh-from-the factory quality. (Sale price in the tens of millions to the right collector, especially if it's flyable or has historical significance.)

* Repair to restore that Fair grade 1938 issue of Action Comics #1 to Mint condition.

* Seeker to track down fugitives, missing people, or valuable lost items.

* Shape Earth or Metal to quickly turn out valuable jewelry or other items.

Even if magic is commonplace, these spells still have significant economic value. For example, how much would a rich collector pay to have a perfect replica of the Red Baron's triplane or the U.S. Constitution? How much would scholars or religious leaders pay to restore the Dead Sea Scrolls to mint condition? How much would people pay to Resurrect a loved one or restore an extinct iconic species?

At the very least, per RAW, the GM should charge the clever mage character points for their new wealth level. ("Sure, you can effectively gain Multimillionaire Wealth, but every character point you earn for the foreseeable future will go towards paying for it. Alternately, you could take 75 points in disadvantages to offset the cost.") Beyond that, other posters have suggested house rules to shut that s*** down before it becomes an issue.

Other ideas:

* Base quality of the mage's effort based on some skill. Trying to make diamonds if you don't have Chemistry, Geology, or Jeweler skill means you get stones only fit for use as sandpaper.

* Impose skill penalties based on change in value, similar to regular Range/Speed or Long-Range penalties, substituting multiple of value for yards or miles.

* Have social forces which "strongly discourage" mages from magically creating valuable goods. (The De Beers company creates a campaign for "natural only" diamonds, with stones that radiate magic or which can't be traced to an actual mundane diamond mine being devalued or destroyed. Even worse, they might send out assassins to deal with upstart rivals.)

* Take the economic consequences to their logical conclusion before the players get into the game. For example, the first mages to convert earth to gold made a killing but then the market collapsed. Gold is now as cheap as any base metal and any journeyman mage can cast the spell to do it. Resurrection is as common as major surgery. Warfare and assassination now rely on banishing, capturing, mind controlling, or transforming people rather than killing them.

Last edited by Pursuivant; 12-26-2022 at 12:37 PM.
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Old 12-26-2022, 01:25 PM   #10
Fred Brackin
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Default Re: [Magic] Rebuilding Diamonds

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pursuivant View Post
W
There's nothing in GURPS 3E Grimoire (where the spell originally appeared) or GURPS 4E Magic about needing a minimum amount of mass from the original object in order to cast the spell al."
After checking I see that he 5% limitation is in the text of Schematic. So it's only when doing castings that don't require Schematic that the 5% clause can be avoided.
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