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Old 04-21-2021, 08:43 PM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2021
Default The proper use of Temporary Enchantments

I was looking through the different one-off enchantment options (for my final Adventuring Enchanter variant), and either I'm missing something, or Temporary Enchantment seems like it's a lot more useful than I've seen anyone giving it credit for. Part of this might be due to the description itself - GURPS: Magic (page 56) sets the cost as 15% of the normal enchanting cost, times the number of uses available. It then immediately points out that for more than 6 uses, this exceeds the cost of the base enchantment, and suggests that multiple temporary enchantments is inefficient.

While the numbers are correct as given, I feel this paints a misleading picture. Nothing seems to stop someone from using Quick & Dirty Enchantment to create, say, a single-use Blur 3 enchantment for 45 energy (3 * 100 * 15%). And then put another temporary Blur 3 on the same item. And then another five copies. While this does cost a total of 315 energy, each iteration can be created using Q&D enchanting, keeping the cost to $1 per energy point. This seems like the key difference between Enchantments and Temporary Enchantments - it's the difference between something available from a few Q&D sessions, and something that needs Slow & Sure enchanting.

Given this, Temporary Enchantments ("TEs") seem like they can compete with scrolls whenever the former are available. TEs can usually be placed on a convenient piece of jewelry (or wand), keeping them readily available; and several TEs can be placed on a single object. Scrolls, on the other hand, cannot share a source object, and are only available in one form factor. TEs can be cast at normal casting speed, and need no ritual to cast (as with all enchanted items); scrolls cast at half speed and must be be read aloud in a clear voice. Unlike talismans and spell stones, scrolls and TEs both make the user pay the full energy cost of a spell; many TEs also need Magery, as scrolls do by default.

However, scrolls shine in availability - a scroll can be made for nearly every spell available. The Temporary Enchantment description specifies that the item version of a spell must be one that allows the user to cast a spell, and there is another soft limitation: the 15% version will ideally be in the range of Quick and Dirty Enchantment, to take advantage of the $1/energy point cost. This breakpoint is at 60 energy for standard magic, and seems to be 100 energy for Dungeon Fantasy; meaning you'll realistically only want to buy TE versions of enchantments with a cost at or below 400 energy or 660 energy, respectively. Depending on what the corresponding energy costs are, this is generally competitive with scroll costs (though it seems to vary by college).

Some examples (with Dungeon Fantasy costs):

Blur 1/2/3/4/5, which requires 1 energy point per level:
  • Spell Stone: 20/40/60/80/100 energy, $70/$220/$450/$2,280/$3,050
  • Scroll: $20/$40/$60/$80/$100
  • Temporary Enchant: 15/30/45/60/75 energy, $15/$30/$45/$60/$75

Ice Slick:
  • Spell Stone: 60 energy, $450 (limited to 1yd radius)
  • Scroll: $60
  • Temporary Enchant: 38 energy, $38

Acid Ball, 1/2/3 energy on spell stone:
  • Spell Stone: 20/40/60 energy, $70/$220/$450
  • Scroll (uses minimum energy): $20
  • Temporary Enchant (uses item cost): 45 energy, $45

One other point in favor of Temporary Enchantments is that they make a fairly cheap downtime activity - scrolls take too long for this, and Spell Stone costs are based on gems, limiting how many you can make. Assistants can reasonably help create TEs, trading high PC skill for additional available energy. For the assistants' fees, assume 2 hours per enchantment (1 for Q&D, and 1 to recover their energy); which comes to $5/assistant (DF) or $8.25/assistant (standard). If we follow Magic's lead, each assistant can be assumed to contribute 10 energy to a given enchantment (powerstones/power items aren't really economical if you're doing multiple enchantments per day). Each enchantment would then cost $5/$8.25 per full 10 points, minus whatever energy the PC contributes. While all the one-shot enchantments are most useful when providing spells you don't already know, these PC-created enchantments do still have some uses - you can give some to another party member to cast in a place you can't; you can equip a hireling or VIP to cast spells while you're busy with other tasks (particularly in combat); or you could even try selling them off for a modest profit.

Assuming a PC with 20 effective skill, the required spells, and 15 energy; creating the above Temporary Enchantments would require:
  • Blur 1/2/3/4: 0/2/3/5 assistants needed, $0/$10/$15/$25
  • Ice Slick: 3 assistants needed, $15
  • Acid Ball: 3 assistants needed, $15

TL/DR: Temporary Enchantment can do one-off spells better than Scroll does, for the subset of spells where Temporary Enchantment can be (reasonably) used. When looking at scroll options, consider:
  • Does the item version of the spell let the user cast the spell?
  • Can you make a Temporary version using Quick and Dirty Enchanting? (Specifically, is the energy cost of the Item version between 60 to 400 energy under standard Magic, or 100 to 660 energy using Dungeon Fantasy rules)
If yes to both, you're probably better off getting it as a Temporary Enchantment! Temporary Enchantments can fill a similar role as scrolls, but are faster to cast, require no ritual, and are usually comparably priced. They can also be packed into a single object (nearly all can use jewelery, and most can use wands), saving the trouble of rummaging through a pack.

Has anybody made use of Temporary Enchantments in their games? Are there aspects to it I've missed here?

Last edited by 5too; 04-21-2021 at 08:50 PM. Reason: Swapped Command for Ice Slick in examples
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