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Old 04-22-2021, 09:45 AM   #1
hal
 
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Default Discussing Yrth History & Evolution of GURPS MAGIC

Hello Folks,
Having come across another thread in which someone posted a comment about the differing mana zones and the "Errata" to GURPS Fantasy that, after careful research through original sources - to wit:

GURPS FANTASY 1st edition
GURPS MAGIC 1st edition
GURPS MAGIC 2nd edition

I can find no particular reason that the so called "Errata" even makes sense. Rather than let this particular debate derail the other thread, I am opening it here.

In addition, I thought it might be useful to discuss how the evolution of GURPS MAGIC since it was first introduced in 1986 (Via GURPS FANTASY 1st edition) on through to GURPS MAGIC for 4e, might affect the narrative of Yrth.

So - some basic facts:

GURPS FANTASY 1st edition: Published in 1986. It contains a total of 136 spells.

GURPS MAGIC 1st edition: Published in 1989. It contained a total of 413 spells.

GURPS MAGIC 2nd edition was published in 1990, and had subsequent upgrades over time. I'll leave the spell count to someone who wants to count them from the GURPS CLASSIC MAGIC PDF.

GURPS GRIMOIRE: Published in 1994. If I recall correctly, it was a project that had multiple authors and a fair bit of its own troubles, but that's just my recollection (imperfect as it may be). It was here that we begin to see spells like RAIN OF STONES, RAIN OF FIRE etc. These are spells of mass damage that would be more appropriate on a battle field. Prior to this books publication, there weren't all to many spells possible where mages could inflict massive amounts of damage.j

GURPS MAGIC for 4e: Published in (I believe, 2004) - don't quote me on that. It has somewhere in the vicinity of 883 spells (if my excel spreadsheet is anything to go by) but some of those are duplicates as they are spells that exist within more than one college.

Addenda:
Looks like I missed a page from GURPS FANTASY 1st edition. Corrected Spell count should now be 304 spells. This number includes the fact that Summon, Control, and Create Elemental is really 12 spells, not 3 - one for each element.

Last edited by hal; 04-24-2021 at 06:28 AM. Reason: Addenda: Missed a page darn it
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Old 04-22-2021, 09:51 AM   #2
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Default Re: Discussing Yrth History & Evolution of GURPS MAGIC

I invite people to discuss how the spells as they were added to the "world of Yrth in various publications, would have affected the narrative in GURPS YRTH from GURPS FANTASY 1st edition, GURPS FANTASY 2nd edition, and ultimately, GURPS BANESTORM.

If the powers that be do not object, I can try and make the spell list (not actual spell descriptions or anything else, just a listing) of all available spells from GURPS FANTASY 1st edition available in this thread, but to get that permision, that requires I contact someone from the Powers that Be department. Perhaps send a few prayers, offer a few sacrifices etc...

OK, kidding aside, I really would like to see a serious discussion here that outlines how GURPS MAGIC evolved, how spells would have affected the Narrative as originally given in GURPS FANTASY 1st edition, Second edition, and BANESTORM.
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Old 05-10-2021, 02:54 PM   #3
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Default Re: Discussing Yrth History & Evolution of GURPS MAGIC

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Originally Posted by hal View Post
I invite people to discuss how the spells as they were added to the "world of Yrth in various publications, would have affected the narrative in GURPS YRTH from GURPS FANTASY 1st edition, GURPS FANTASY 2nd edition, and ultimately, GURPS BANESTORM.
Before we start, lets collect statements in those books and the setting books about which spells exist and are commonly known on Yrth. Because since GURPS Grimoire, the GURPS Magic spell list has never been intended to be a list of every spell which is common in a specific setting, Its more of a spice cabinet where you can search for ingredients and inspiration.

Kromm remembers that GURPS 4e Banestorm says that only the spells from the 4e Basic Set are common ... is that in the text of the book? What did earlier versions of the setting and the magic rules say?
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Old 05-10-2021, 03:54 PM   #4
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Default Re: Discussing Yrth History & Evolution of GURPS MAGIC

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Originally Posted by Polydamas View Post
Before we start, lets collect statements in those books and the setting books about which spells exist and are commonly known on Yrth. Because since GURPS Grimoire, the GURPS Magic spell list has never been intended to be a list of every spell which is common in a specific setting, Its more of a spice cabinet where you can search for ingredients and inspiration.

Kromm remembers that GURPS 4e Banestorm says that only the spells from the 4e Basic Set are common ... is that in the text of the book? What did earlier versions of the setting and the magic rules say?
Well you also need to take into account, unless SJG wants a reboot of Yrth, and since they literally wrote the story from Fantasy 3rd Ed forth, that didnīt make sense. Also there were publications that made the available spell list a lot bigger.

And if Dr. Kromm says common that means by his own words only that the knowledge is widespread enough that you can learn it openly and in a lot of places, it doesnīt mean that a eremite in the great desert or the whitehood mountains doesnīt knows spells otherwise unknown.

The 3rd Ed fantasy lists a number of PCs / NPCs with there spell list, as well the supplements Tredroy and Harkwood, also a location called orc town is given in one of the 3rd ed or older Pyramid / Roleplayer issues. If a spell is known also at least the prerequisites are canon too, there are of course different ways to fulfill the prereqs. Than there are some 4th Ed supplements that add to this spell lists a lot namely Abbydos. Also there are in the Pyramid a detailed picture of a arratere city and the surroundings, the last publication that list explicitely something about YRTH and not only magic was GURPS city stats. Or is there supplement Pyramid Iīm missing, if yes donīt hesitate to tell me.

Further the Banestrom book adds also some YRTH only spells to deal with and find newcomers.

There must be at least a spell/ magical artifact or gate nexus that allows to leave Yrth even if itīs a quantum saragossa. A patrol man escaped that way from Yrth.

The no go spells are of course all spells that deal with technolies that on Yrth not exitst radiation spells for example.

Anyway that this spells donīt exist on Yrth now doesnīt mean that the didnīt work there and thanks to the multiple worlds that brought beings to Yrth, some with magic itīs all ways a possibility that a mage knowing such spells is banestormed.

If you read between the lines there are hints in 4th Ed Banestorm that there are newcomers with fairly advanced knowledge like the centauer knowing more of metallurgie than he should.

So the first mission is to read every Yrth book supplement note the spells and search for the prereqs. Which is a lot of work.

Last edited by Willy; 05-10-2021 at 03:58 PM. Reason: spelling error
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Old 05-10-2021, 04:13 PM   #5
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Default Re: Discussing Yrth History & Evolution of GURPS MAGIC

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Originally Posted by Willy View Post
Well you also need to take into account, unless SJG wants a reboot of Yrth, and since they literally wrote the story from Fantasy 3rd Ed forth, that didnīt make sense. Also there were publications that made the available spell list a lot bigger.

And if Dr. Kromm says common that means by his own words only that the knowledge is widespread enough that you can learn it openly and in a lot of places, it doesnīt mean that a eremite in the great desert or the whitehood mountains doesnīt knows spells otherwise unknown.
Before we try to interpret, lets lay out the actual data and not just our third-hand memories of the data.

The whole idea of being "mage-born" is another can of worms, I don't remember any hints that magic works like that in GURPS 4e products. Nobody assumes that people are Combat Reflexes born (or doomed to forever lack that advantage) or Green Thumb born (or doomed to forever lack that advantage) in GURPS settings. GURPS 3e had some restrictions on buying attributes and maybe advantages after character creation which GURPS 4e changed.

Common spells are the ones which affect society. The one lich who develops something horrible is a disaster, not a system. Junior mages specializing in Earth to Stone and building marble or iron palaces change the world.

Edit: a fundamental aspect of Yrth is that it has not, as far as I know, ever claimed to be a rational setting (a setting which is the logical outcome of assumptions made in advance). It tries to do many different things, like allowing "my SCA buddies in fantasyland" and allowing different types of adventures and different tropes. So to make a rational version, I think you would have to work hard to choose the magic rules which allow fantasyland adventures. Reducing child mortality and allowing more towns and goods is probably helpful, cheap mage-iron or agricultural magic which allows a population of only 10% rural farmers is probably not.
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Last edited by Polydamas; 05-10-2021 at 05:23 PM.
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Old 05-10-2021, 09:01 PM   #6
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Default Re: Discussing Yrth History & Evolution of GURPS MAGIC

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Edit: a fundamental aspect of Yrth is that it has not, as far as I know, ever claimed to be a rational setting (a setting which is the logical outcome of assumptions made in advance). It tries to do many different things, like allowing "my SCA buddies in fantasyland" and allowing different types of adventures and different tropes. So to make a rational version, I think you would have to work hard to choose the magic rules which allow fantasyland adventures. Reducing child mortality and allowing more towns and goods is probably helpful, cheap mage-iron or agricultural magic which allows a population of only 10% rural farmers is probably not.
The problem is easily used common magic (Low Fantasy) is incomparable with a realistic fantasyland (High Fantasy).

Unless magic is curtailed in someway (like can only be done ceremonially) is is going to FUBAR a TL3 society to the point that as far as ETL is concerned it isn't TL3 anymore.
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Old 05-10-2021, 09:21 PM   #7
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Default Re: Discussing Yrth History & Evolution of GURPS MAGIC

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The whole idea of being "mage-born" is another can of worms, I don't remember any hints that magic works like that in GURPS 4e products.
There are no new GURPS 4E fantasy settings. Dungeon Fantasy isn't a setting. It's something you plug into D&D settings.

Quote:
Nobody assumes that people are Combat Reflexes born (or doomed to forever lack that advantage) or Green Thumb born (or doomed to forever lack that advantage) in GURPS settings.
All together now: That's a world building decision. Settings do exist where any rando can learn Clinging, Extra Mouth, Hermaphromorph, Mind Reading or Penetrating Vision but there are far more where it would at least require exposure to something very rare and exotic to make acquisition of traits like that possible. And there are plenty of settings where magery is a heritable trait unavailable to those who did not win the genetic lottery. There never been any indication in Yrth that there's a way short of a Wish for an adult human to acquire Magery.
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Old 04-22-2021, 10:55 AM   #8
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Default Re: Discussing Yrth History & Evolution of GURPS MAGIC

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I can find no particular reason that the so called "Errata" even makes sense.
I think it was to address the weird way Clerical Magic worked in Classic before Religion came out in 1994:

"A simple clerical advantage is to allow non-mage clerics to use spells of one (or a few) colleges as though they were mages. So, even in normal and low-mana areas, a cleric of (for instance) a healing-oriented power can cast Healing spells. Any cleric with magical abilities can also learn Recover ST. Appropriate cost is 10 points for one college, 12 for two, 15 for three. Spells of other colleges can be learned, and used as prerequisites, but not cast except in high-mana areas." Classic: Magic 2e p 95

Of course if you sit down with it you realize that this mechanic still had problems as it limited Clerics to spells that didn't require magery to learn (like Major Healing and Cure Disease) effectively crippling them.
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Old 04-22-2021, 11:28 AM   #9
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Default Re: Discussing Yrth History & Evolution of GURPS MAGIC

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I think it was to address the weird way Clerical Magic worked in Classic before Religion came out in 1994:

"A simple clerical advantage is to allow non-mage clerics to use spells of one (or a few) colleges as though they were mages. So, even in normal and low-mana areas, a cleric of (for instance) a healing-oriented power can cast Healing spells. Any cleric with magical abilities can also learn Recover ST. Appropriate cost is 10 points for one college, 12 for two, 15 for three. Spells of other colleges can be learned, and used as prerequisites, but not cast except in high-mana areas." Classic: Magic 2e p 95

Of course if you sit down with it you realize that this mechanic still had problems as it limited Clerics to spells that didn't require magery to learn (like Major Healing and Cure Disease) effectively crippling them.
Which is why the errata made no sense then, and in light of what you're saying now, makes no sense now.

When anyone discusses "demographics" they are essentially attempting to give numbers out as guidelines for "world building" GM's. If you get right down to it, those Knacks themselves will skew how many "spell casters" there are unless those with Knacks were part of the original 1 in 50 might know a spell or two.

I'm not worried about Demographics as written in GURPS FANTASY 1st edition, because I recognize it for what it is - a guideline that the GM can either follow or not. I also know that Magery 0 for example, did not exist prior to Compendium I's publication date. It was a "well, I suppose it makes sense" addition, which frankly, I have no problem with. It doesn't violate the material - but retconning things after the publication of older material seems a bit - shall we say, untidy and not true to form.

That however, is the VERY point of this thread. :)

Changes that were made later on, affects the History of Yrth - some in subtle ways, some in not so subtle ways.

Likewise, in GURPS 2nd edition (and yes, I still have THOSE books somewhere about my house), certain "advantages" were inborn in that you either had them at start of play, or you could not GAIN them save through divine intervention or by means of a Greater Wish. Now, there are those who allow players to increase Magery from 1 to 2 to 3 without limit, simply by spending earned Experience points. But, Yrth and the early days of GURPS, did not have that feature of migrating Magery values that could be improved. If that were the case, the original demographics rule would never have been presented.

Now, let's say for the sake of argument, that someone who was serious about demographics, began to detail a given region of say, 10 villages, each with a population of between 100 to 400 people (averaging maybe 250 people). 1/3rd of the population might be about 1 to 15 years of age, maybe 1/4th might be aged 40+ and the rest, in between those two ages. In addition, some 51 to 52% will be female, the rest, male. If one in 2 children born die (disease, malnutrition, accidents etc) as was historical right up until 1900 AD, that is a fair number of young adults who will never procreate. Take me for example. I'm the fifth born of parents with opposing Rh blood factors. Without TL 6/7 medical technology, I would have died the day I was born. That is STRICTLY genetics, nothing that magic in GURPS MAGIC could have fixed (unless you use GURPS BIOTECH spells).

So, let's say you're a GM. You know that roughly 1/3 of your mageborn will be under the age of 15, half of whom will die before they reach age 15. So, that leaves you with roughly 66% of your total possible mageborn in society to spend as "mages" assuming that they ALL become wizaardly mages. As pointed out in GURPS FANTASY 1st and 2nd editions, not all become wizards.

So, 10 villages, 250 people per, for a population of 2,500. Using only the numbers from GURPS FANTASY 1st born - calculate which are actual wizards, and then determine their magery levels (which limits what spells they may have). Now determine how magic will aid/hinder the Yrth society based on those numbers. Too much work? THAT is what went on in my mind when I would do world building. That is what goes on in my mind for the Alaconius lectures I used to do until GURPS MAGIC for 4e came out.

My wife (a gamer since 1986) cut her teeth on GURPS. She doesn't read books, but she STOLE my GURPS MAGIC 2nd edition and read it front to back because she loved how creative spell casting was. Conversely, she dropped D&D because it lacked the flavor that GURPS allows entirely.

If you have access to the old Pyramid articles, look up the one titled "Magus Imperius" by Jeremy Davies. There, someone tried to build up a structure for use with GURPS MAGIC and GURPS FANTASY (presumably 2nd edition).

Once you build a mage using only GURPS CLASSIC MAGIC (ie GURPS MAGIC 2nd edition), then try building the same mage using unrestricted access to GURPS 4e using BANESTORM guidelines. Watch how much more the newer style mage can wreak havoc on a Yrth society that the older version of Magic did not or could not.

I think you may find yourself surprised in a big way. Alternatively? Here is another challenge. Using the Demographics of GURPS FANTSY 1st edition, detail the mages for the 2,500 people, then try and build the mages all on 100 to 150 points 3e style, or 150 to say, 225 in 4e style (using only GURPS CLASSIC spells).
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Old 04-22-2021, 02:23 PM   #10
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Default Re: Discussing Yrth History & Evolution of GURPS MAGIC

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My wife (a gamer since 1986) cut her teeth on GURPS. She doesn't read books, but she STOLE my GURPS MAGIC 2nd edition and read it front to back because she loved how creative spell casting was. Conversely, she dropped D&D because it lacked the flavor that GURPS allows entirely.
I loved GURPS Magic so much I even wrote guidelines on how to use it in D&D. I have continued to update and expand those guidelines as I consider the various GURPS magic systems far more flexible and while not as powerful in terms of raw damage even the standard system is insanely powerful from a cultural point of view.
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