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Old 11-24-2023, 12:40 PM   #1
Giovanni
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Default freeform magic for OSR (and GURPS?)

I propose a conversation on a topic dear to me: 'improvised' magic in RPGs. Ars Magica and Mage the Ascension are some examples. But they are complex systems. In general, the difficult thing in such systems is assigning a difficulty value or a number of magic points to spend to whatever comes to the players' minds. You must take into account the power of the effect (example: the number of hit points it allows you heal or the damage it allows you inflict), the area that the effect covers, the number of targets, the range, the duration and so on: the resulting formulas are generally super-complicated or at least a little too complicated for an OSR. So, for years, I have asked myself: isn't there a simpler way but, at the same time, capable of covering all cases? I created this .... it's a very simple system in which there are only two things to consider:

How dangerous is the problem the spell is trying to solve.
How direct and complete is the solution desired by the magician.

It is designed for use with Black Sword Hack or Sharp Sword & Sinister Spells but with a careful translation it could be also used with different roll-under systems:
BASIC and derivatives (Runequest, Call of Cthulhu);
GURPS (I vaguely remember a one-table freeform magic system from John Ross called Elemental Magic but I cannot find it anymore on the web)

It is and, I think, it will ever be free .... have a look:
https://giovannicambria1981.itch.io/...-for-osr-games

Last edited by Giovanni; 11-24-2023 at 12:53 PM.
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Old 11-27-2023, 05:36 AM   #2
namada
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Default Re: freeform magic for OSR (and GURPS?)

Not bad work. It's definitely simple.

One issue with using this with GURPS would be that the terms "rounds" and "hit dice" from those systems are meaningless to GURPS. GURPS uses one second combat turns and you're talking about reading scrolls and books here, so I'd imagine that would automatically rule out magic being useful in combat. I think you'd have to assume reading a scroll takes at least a minute and books take much longer, so that would need some sort of mechanics to determine or just a flat assumption of 20 minutes for books - something like that.

That doesn't mean it couldn't be used exactly. If the setting doesn't allow useful magic during combat, that's perfectly fine. It's not something a lot of people would want to play, so it would be a niche thing.

The Hit Dice though, that's more of a problem. Since I'm not familiar with exactly how that works in those systems (is it basically D&D?), I'm not really sure how to translate that to GURPS terms.
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Thanks for understanding & helping.
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Old 11-27-2023, 11:23 AM   #3
DeadParrot
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Default Re: freeform magic for OSR (and GURPS?)

In D&D and related games, at least up to Pathfinder 1, a round is 6 seconds and in that round, you can use a scroll to cast a spell(certain spells may take longer) and move. Roughly mapped to GURPS, it would take 6 seconds to both cast a scroll based spell and move several GURPS MA. Casting spells from memory takes the same.

Maybe for the simple system, a low power spell(magic missile with 1 bolt) can be cast on the move while a higher power spell(wall of whatever) requires a few seconds of not moving unless you want to apply a negative success modifier.

A low power scroll might be one symbol and take 1 second while a high power spell might have several lines and take many seconds.

Casting from cover allowed if the caster takes a second to observe the target. Of course, if the target moves during the casting time, the spell may miss unless you pop back up to acquire the target again. (caster imagines a fireball blasting the orc she saw standing next to the large rock 100 ft away. If the orc moves, the spell still goes off next to the rock unless she pops up to spot the orc over by the tree just flinging the called up spell.)
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Old 11-27-2023, 04:10 PM   #4
Giovanni
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Default Re: freeform magic for OSR (and GURPS?)

Yes: SS&SS is very similar to D&D.

For the 'round' problem: for me the best thing to do is rule that the PC must devote an entire turn to the casting procedure indipendenlty from the duration of one turn in the game system. So in SS&SS and in D&D the duration of casting will be 6 seconds, in GURPS only 1 second and so on.

For the 'Hit dice' problem: just ignore the Hit dice rule. (It's called powerful enemy rule) Replace it with the possibility, for the target, if he is an important, powerful NPC, to resist the spell with a Will, Dex or HT check.

Last edited by Giovanni; 11-28-2023 at 04:50 AM.
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Old 11-28-2023, 09:35 AM   #5
Anaraxes
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Default Re: freeform magic for OSR (and GURPS?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Giovanni View Post
For the 'round' problem: for me the best thing to do is rule that the PC must devote an entire turn to the casting procedure indipendenlty from the duration of one turn in the game system. So in SS&SS and in D&D the duration of casting will be 6 seconds, in GURPS only 1 second and so on.
I agree. D&D is gamist enough that the important factor is the opportunity cost in the action economy. "Use your turn to cast a spell" instead of attacking, running further, or whatever. The actual elapsed time isn't really relevant, since there's no real-world process being modeled.
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Old 12-01-2023, 02:08 AM   #6
ak_aramis
 
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Default Re: freeform magic for OSR (and GURPS?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeadParrot View Post
In D&D and related games, at least up to Pathfinder 1, a round is 6 seconds and in that round,
AD&D was 1 minute per combat round.
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Old 12-02-2023, 11:36 AM   #7
namada
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Default Re: freeform magic for OSR (and GURPS?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ak_aramis View Post
AD&D was 1 minute per combat round.
Both 1st & 2nd Edition. I played 1st once, then moved onto 2nd.
__________________
Warning: I have several neurological disorders. If I post something that makes no sense, or seems offensive to you, please just let me know & I'll try to clarify what I was thinking at that moment, which did not come out in the post...

Thanks for understanding & helping.
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