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Old 09-12-2022, 08:10 PM   #1
mburr0003
 
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Default Re: Very High Mana, Critical Successes, Maintenance, and Missile Enlargement

So, it recently came up that someone felt that Very High Mana shouldn't affect FP spent on spell maintenance or missile spell enlargement. To be honest I can see arguments in both directions:

Against; VHM recovering FP spent on them; casting, maintenance, and enlargement are very distinct things and VHM calls out casting.

For; in this case it's that 'casting' isn't meant as a distinction but as a broad terminology covering "all FP spent on spells".

Now it's also been suggested that VHM simply mimics turning every success into a critical with regards to spell casting, and that might be in fact the idea behind it (however the wording in DFRPG rather steps away from this notion as seen when we get down to discussing critical successes, but this could have been a further culture shift away from Fantasy 1st ed).

It was also brought up that "older editions" made spellcasting "free in VHM!" By "older editions" they mean exactly one older edition, GURPS Fantasy (1st edition). GURPS Magic has never made spellcasting entirely free in a VHM, it's always been "spend energy/cast the spell and get the FP back next turn". (just putting that argument to rest in advance)


The wordings on Very High Mana:
GURPS Fourth Edition Basic Characters and Magic
A mage who spends FP to cast a spell on his turn gets those FP back at the start of his next turn. However

Dungeon Fantasy Powered by GURPS Spells
A wizard who casts a wizardly spell recovers any personal FP used (not other energy) a second later - on the caster’s next turn, in combat.


Oho, that's something I never noticed before; only people with Magery enjoy this effect in VHM areas. Something to keep in mind.



On Critical Successes and their effect on Maintenance and Enlargement

As spell skill directly impacts spell maintenance costs, I am fully behind crits making spell maintenance free. But I'm more than willing to hear counters.

However, spell skill does not affect missile spell enlargement 'time to cast' or costs. But I'm willing to entertain arguments for crits affecting it (especially in the "crits do miraculous things" arena).


Honestly I'd love to get Sean Punch in here, if someone can cast Summon Dr. Kromm.
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Old 09-12-2022, 11:54 PM   #2
WingedKagouti
 
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Default Re: Very High Mana, Critical Successes, Maintenance, and Missile Enlargement

Unles VHM is very common, I don't see much in the way of balance issues with taking either approach. Just be consistent and apply it to players and NPCs alike.

If VHM is common (such as due to one or more characters having Mana Enhancer), I'd lean towards the more strict reading.
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Old 09-13-2022, 07:40 AM   #3
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Default Re: Very High Mana, Critical Successes, Maintenance, and Missile Enlargement

And really, casting in VHM is "free" -- it ultimately doesn't cost the caster anything, is all. We all know what the official wording is there to prevent: idjits (or, well, Big Bads) from crowing "I cast a Create Fire spell big enough to torch a subcontinent! Yeah!"
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Old 09-13-2022, 10:33 AM   #4
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Default Re: Very High Mana, Critical Successes, Maintenance, and Missile Enlargement

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Originally Posted by RGTraynor View Post
And really, casting in VHM is "free" -- it ultimately doesn't cost the caster anything, is all. We all know what the official wording is there to prevent: idjits (or, well, Big Bads) from crowing "I cast a Create Fire spell big enough to torch a subcontinent! Yeah!"
If that was the only intent, the wording would be something like "In a Very High Mana zone casting a spell costs no energy, but the energy cost of the spell is capped at the size of the caster's available energy pool".

Instead, the rule has it that the cost must be paid and then any FP (and presumably energy if casting from an energy pool) is refunded. This means that energy spent out of powerstones (or power items in DF/DFRPG) is gone and not refunded, and that any Hit Points spent are also not refunded.

Also, because the energy refund occurs at the beginning of the next turn, if the caster drained themselves down below 1/3FP they are at 1/2 Move and Dodge until they get the refund.

It's very much not the same as 'free', and I think it's more interesting than if it was free with a hard cap - as the rules are written there are choices that can be made with possible consequences if the the decision turns out to be a poor one.
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Old 09-15-2022, 05:16 PM   #5
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Default Re: Very High Mana, Critical Successes, Maintenance, and Missile Enlargement

As the actual player who prompted a friend of a friend to start this thread, I'd like to point out that the main question that needs answered is about whether the "instant refund" of spellcasting FP applies on energy spent to maintain a spell.

For more detail, I play in a play-by-post campaign where (aside from a few areas close around meteorite fragments -- "sky metal" is null to mana-based magic and in unworked form creates Low or No Mana areas) Normal Mana is the common condition. Although the campaign is officially DFRPG, it's been running for many years (I've been playing in it since 2015 -- about three months of game time! -- and there are post threads going back several years before that) and has a hybrid of standard 4th Edition, GURPS Dungeon Fantasy (from Pyramid and the little PDF chapbooks) and DFRPG rules.

The GM allowed me to spend 100 points at character creation (250 point character build) on Mana Enhancer 2 (no enhancements, so affects self only), so my character has Very High Mana most of the time.

Now, it seems to me that spell maintenance and missile spell expansion (character doesn't have any of those yet, he's effectively an apprentice wizard with a pretty limited spell list) should be under the same aegis as actual casting -- in that it's all magical energy spent, so Very High Mana ought to allow one to get it back next second (not asking to get back Power Item, Energy Reserve (Magic), nonexistent in DFRPG powerstone, Share Energy contributions, or HP spent). It seems, however, that by the strictest reading of the wording of the straight 4e Magic rules, only casting energy (not maintenance or missile expansion) is covered. Complicating this is that (and I don't have the DFRPG books to back this up -- I'm honestly not a dungeon delving fan, but it's hard to find a GURPS game where I live or online) DFRPG changed the wording slightly.

In the end, it all boils down to whether I can cast a spell -- say a fairly large Create Fire or Apportation of a few hundred pounds -- and maintain it all day. Obviously, with Create Fire, I could cast several 1-hex fires and maintain each one indefinitely at my base skill of 15 -- but casting dozens of small fires vs. a single radius-6 fire is a VERY different risk level, when every casting has that small risk of failure (that becomes a critical due to Very High Mana), and with "spells on" adding up, the chance of failure goes up too. And if I need to Apport, say, a four hundred pound boulder, I can't do that in small stages (and again, I could recast instead of maintain, but there's that failure risk again).

I knew when I built this character that his likely eventual demise would be via accidental demon summoning or other critical failure effect -- but that doesn't mean I don't want to avoid unnecessary risk.

I see the risk of spell failure (-> critical failure) and critical failure (-> "spectacular disaster"), combined with my short spell list due to spending 100 points on that core advantage, as the main limitations on a character like mine -- so far, I've been using "extra ritual" to gain +1 skill on almost every casting, so without "spells on" my failure chance is only 4 in 216 (17 or 18). Still, one in 54 is a non-trivial risk, so I tend to avoid unnecessary casting -- not at a pathological level, but more like a "combine trips and save gas" level. Anytime I can maintain rather than recast, it's a good thing, but if I can cast a big spell and only stagger for one second, but not maintain it without wearing myself out on a longer term, I'd at least like to hear a plausible mechanic about why that distinction exists -- because it'll change my whole play style.
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Old 09-15-2022, 05:36 PM   #6
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Default Re: Very High Mana, Critical Successes, Maintenance, and Missile Enlargement

Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiteharbormaster View Post
The GM allowed me to spend 100 points at character creation (250 point character build) on Mana Enhancer 2 (no enhancements, so affects self only), so my character has Very High Mana most of the time.
As a disclaimer, I'm not a fan of the default magic system, so haven't studied it particularly in-depth. So keep that in mind.

The primary "exploit" I can see being introduced by having VHM refund whatever you pay for maintenance is that a character could cast a spell that has a high maintenance cost in Normal or High Mana, then enter Very High Mana before the maintenance period comes into play, allowing the character to sort-of get the best of both worlds - he/she doesn't suffer the increased chance of critical failure, but also doesn't have to pay for maintenance. It's arguable whether or not this is truly problematic (stepping out of VHM to cast means the energy to initially cast the spell isn't refunded, and anything with a high maintenance cost should have a rather high initial casting cost as well), but that doesn't matter here, as the character is (outside of a skymetal crater) always in VHM. So, personally, I don't think it's an issue.

What's the RAW for it? I don't rightly know... but does that honestly matter? Do what works and makes sense for your campaign. My advice to the GM would be to try out letting VHM refund any maintenance cost, but reserve the right to change your mind in case it becomes problematic. My advice to the player is, if the GM opts to do this, to accept the fact that you may lose this "free maintenance" effect if you abuse it, and avoid doing that.

If magic suddenly working differently is problematic in terms of maintaining Sense of Disbelief, work it into the narrative. Maybe there's a massive shift in how magic works for everyone. Maybe the character's Mana Enhancer ability gets weakened somehow (the details will depend on exactly how/why the character is a Mana Enhancer, of course, although some sort of sky-metal based poison might make sense)... and you may even want to give a small point refund because of this (normally, Advantages that get weakened, or Disadvantages that are gained like One Arm if your other arm gets chopped off, don't result in a point refund - but if the injury occurs due to fiat rather than the vagaries of adventure, a refund may be in order).
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Old 09-16-2022, 02:01 AM   #7
WingedKagouti
 
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Default Re: Very High Mana, Critical Successes, Maintenance, and Missile Enlargement

Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiteharbormaster View Post
As the actual player who prompted a friend of a friend to start this thread, I'd like to point out that the main question that needs answered is about whether the "instant refund" of spellcasting FP applies on energy spent to maintain a spell.
The strict reading of RAW says that you only get FP back for casting a spell and not for maintaining or enlarging spells.
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Old 09-16-2022, 06:13 AM   #8
johndallman
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Default Re: Very High Mana, Critical Successes, Maintenance, and Missile Enlargement

Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiteharbormaster View Post
. . . I'd like to point out that the main question that needs answered is about whether the "instant refund" of spellcasting FP applies on energy spent to maintain a spell.

The GM allowed me to spend 100 points at character creation (250 point character build) on Mana Enhancer 2 (no enhancements, so affects self only), so my character has Very High Mana most of the time.

Now, it seems to me that spell maintenance and missile spell expansion should be under the same aegis as actual casting -- in that it's all magical energy spent, so Very High Mana ought to allow one to get it back next second. It seems, however, that by the strictest reading of the wording of the straight 4e Magic rules, only casting energy (not maintenance or missile expansion) is covered.
In general, I agree with you. However, I tried looking at the previous version of Magic for 3e, which has a significant difference:

Quote:
Originally Posted by GURPS Magic, March 2000, sidebar, p. 6
Very high mana: Anyone can cast spells, if he knows them. Energy spent by a mage is fully renewed every turn!
That clearly does what you're looking for, but the change in wording at 4e may well have been deliberate.
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Old 09-16-2022, 06:46 AM   #9
Varyon
 
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Default Re: Very High Mana, Critical Successes, Maintenance, and Missile Enlargement

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
That clearly does what you're looking for, but the change in wording at 4e may well have been deliberate.
Of course, whether it was deliberate to prevent "mages maintain spells in VHM at no cost" or to prevent "mages can sprint indefinitely in VHM" is up in the air (I could see "Energy spent by a mage is fully renewed each turn!" being interpreted in the latter fashion). Or it could have just been a change in tone between 3e and 4e ("This sounds better written like this" is certainly a possibility, here).
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Old 09-16-2022, 06:57 AM   #10
maximara
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Default Re: Very High Mana, Critical Successes, Maintenance, and Missile Enlargement

Quote:
Originally Posted by RGTraynor View Post
And really, casting in VHM is "free" -- it ultimately doesn't cost the caster anything, is all. We all know what the official wording is there to prevent: idjits (or, well, Big Bads) from crowing "I cast a Create Fire spell big enough to torch a subcontinent! Yeah!"
Not quite.

Way back in Classic in Very High Mana "Anyone can cast spell, if he knows them. Mages can do so at no energy cost!" (GURPS Basic Set 3rd ed pg 147 sidebar)

Classic Magic realized how bad an idea that was and changed it to the current. 'mage spends FP (Fatigue Points) to cast a spell on his turn and gets those FP back at the start of his next turn.'

Wild Mana works similar to Classic Basic Set's Very High Mana with an additional downside: "any success on a spellcasting roll counts as a critical success, and costs 0 FP, while any failure is treated as a critical failure, with the spellís full normal energy cost."

On a side note Celtic Myth had its own revision of Wild Mana 'cast any spell in 1 second using only 1 energy. "All spell successes are critical successes, and all failures are critical failures."'
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