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Old 04-09-2021, 02:42 PM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Magery

Magery [5, +10/L] is an supernatural mental advantage that makes you more capable at using “secular” magic. Depending on the setting, it may be required for you to be able to cast spells, or it may just help significantly. It can come in several forms, some of which give additional abilities, and a wide range of limitations and enhancements are available for it. It appeared in the original GURPS Fantasy, as “Magical Aptitude” but the shorter name became commonplace, and was standardised in GURPS fourth edition.

It isn’t possible to mention every use or function of Magery in one article. There are thousands in the GURPS corpus, even excluding spells’ Magery requirements. I’m pretty sure it is the most-referenced advantage.

Magery was created for the GURPS default magic system, with spells as skills, powered by fatigue points. There are variants for other magic systems, but let’s describe the baseline first.

Magery 0 [5] gives you a basic awareness of magic. The GM will make a Sense roll when you first see a magical object, and another when you first touch it. On a success, you know that it is magical, and on a 3 or 4 (frequently generalised to a critical success) you have some idea of how powerful it is, and how helpful or dangerous. The cost of Magery 0 can’t usually be adjusted with enhancements or limitations. If you have it, anyone who can sense your aura will be able to tell that you are a mage.
Adding further levels of Magery [10 each] does several things:
  • These levels add to IQ for the Sense rolls above, and for learning spells. If you have, say, IQ 13 and Magery 3, then your effective IQ for learning spells is 16.
  • For the avoidance of doubt, and because this point confuses some people new to GURPS, that means that Magery adds to your skill levels with spells. For example, if you learn a spell that is an IQ/H skill, as many are, putting one character point into it would give you it at a level of IQ+Magery-2. For our example character with IQ 13 and Magery 3, that spell would be at skill 14.
  • Magery levels also add to IQ for learning Thaumatology skill.
  • You get a 10% discount on the time needed to learn spells per level of Magery. So if you have Magery 3, you get to learn spells in 70% of the usual time, which means 140 hours per character point, rather than 200 hours. This does not affect the character point cost, if you buy spells with character points. It just means you gain character points from training in spells faster. The maximum discount is 40%, at Magery 4.
  • Many powerful spells require a specific minimum level of Magery to learn. Magery 3 is good enough for just about everything.
  • Many spells have variable parameters, such as damage. High levels of Magery let you do more damage with them, or vary other parameters.
There are many limitations that can be applied to Magery levels above 0 to reduce its cost. You can get a discount for one of the following requirements: dancing, needing to be in darkness, needing it to be daytime, needing to play a musical instrument, needing it to be night-time, only being able to learn spells of a single college, needing to be solitary, or needing to sing. These discounts are worth ‑40% or ‑50%, and are sometimes called “Aspected” Magery. Buying enhancements on Magery to improve spell-casting is quite restricted: Reduced Time is specifically banned.

You can have Magery if your background is entirely non-magical, but you’re unlikely to know anything about effective magic, and may not realise what your perceptions of magic mean if you encounter it. The attitude of magicians to an innocent with talent varies widely.

In some settings, Magery can be learned (or sometimes only improved) after character creation. There is often a cap on the attainable level, or an Unusual Background tax on the price of higher levels. The related advantage of Power Investiture (in summary, used like Magery, but for religious magic) can almost always be acquired, if your deity likes you; Incantation Gift (DF19) is likewise for a very different kind of magic, and requires an Unusual Background.

Naturally, Thaumatology has much more about Magery (mentioning it 441 times), including limiting the amount available, applying limitations in interesting ways, and more limitations. These include the inability to maintain spells, inability to use energy from external sources, the requirement to do everything ceremonially (even spotting magic items), generalisation of the day/night-time limitations, easily resisted spells, Magery only usable for enchantments (and spotting magic items), the need for a booming voice and flailing gestures when casting, magic that doesn’t persist, magic that has to be powered with HP instead of FP, only being able to use a small group of colleges, only being able to use a single spell, and being very prone to critical failures. There are some special enhancements for Magery: being able to cast less conspicuously, being able to do ceremonial magic alone, being less prone to critical failures, not having Magery show up in your aura, and having it be switchable. Thaumatology also allows some general limitations to be applied to Magery: Accessibility, Costs Fatigue, Pact for not-completely-secular magicians, Preparation Required (and thus the later Immediate Preparation Required), Takes Recharge, Temporary Disadvantage, Trigger and Unreliable. There are also special enhancements and limitations for being able, or unable, to use magic while heavily armoured, which are very setting-dependent, variant rules to speed up enchanting depending on Magery level, and Magery modified by the zodiac. “T” is an abbreviation for Thaumatology for the rest of this article.

Variants of Magery include Gem Injection Magery (p. T240), Path/Book Magery (p. T123), Ritual Magery (p. B242), Symbol Magery (p. T168), Threshold Magery (p. T76-79, with additional enhancements and limitations) and Wildcard Magery (p. T75). In some settings, different schools of magic using the same basic system may have different kinds of Magery, or at least of Magery 0.

Variable Energy Access [50] is a very specialised advantage that allows magicians to use both the standard magic system and the threshold system. Path/Book Adept [10, 20 or 30] is another specialised advantage that reduces ritual requirements for Path/Book magicians.

Ritual Path Magery (T: Ritual Path Magic) is very different from the standard advantage, with a precedent set by Syntactic Magery (p. T184). Both operate as a skill cap, rather than a skill booster, and Ritual Path Magery also comes with three points of Energy Reserve per level.

Notable uses of Magery in other GURPS supplements include the Discworld magic system, which might use a separate version of Magery if it was used in other settings, and has some well-designed limitations. DF Bardic Talent functions as two-college Magery, and can be upgraded to DF3’s Bardic Magery, which lets bards learn and cast any wizardly spell via music. Fantasy has discussion on rationalisations of magic and their effect on Magery, and adds the variants of Divided Magery and Restructurable Magery. Horror’s Corruption system allows for every use of Magery to bring corruption, and Power-Ups 2 has a perk that replaces Magery and other prerequisites for a single spell, although you still need to be able to cast spells to use it. Powers gives the option of Magery as a Talent for all magical abilities, and Realm Management has an example where the whole population have One-College Magery for Necromancy.

Magic points out that a mage will notice a change in mana level when they move through it, if they make a Perception + Magery roll, which is at ‑3 if they aren’t looking out for the change. It also has Suspend Magery and Drain Magery spells, which are a great way to get other mages motivated to kill you, but aren’t easy to use.

As a player, I’ve had Magery on magician characters, using the basic spell system, and RPM. My main experience GMing it was Infinite Cabal, where Magery 4 and up were Cabal secrets, and you could have Magery as high as your Cabal Rank. That seemed to work fine.

How has Magery been strange in your games?

Last edited by johndallman; 04-11-2021 at 06:10 AM. Reason: Typo.
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Old 04-09-2021, 08:36 PM   #2
Ramidel
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Magery

I've been fiddling with a setting with four different magic systems, just as a way of getting a handle on Thaumatology. My idea was something like this:

Magery 0 (Magic Sense) is universal for three out of four of the systems (the fourth is Power Investiture). The systems, broadly, are conventional GURPS Magic (practitioners are called enchanters, which is partly because they have the easiest access to the Enchant spell), Ritual Magic (wizards), Threshold-Limited Ritual Magic (sorcerers or theurges, not sure which term to use), and Threshold-Limited Power Investiture ("clerics" is the general term, but isn't really used much in-universe).

Magery 1+ is different for each Magery type, and it is possible to learn Magery without Magic Sense; in practice, this rarely happens. Fatigue is Fatigue, and Threshold would be one tally in the case of a cleric with multiple Investitures or a cleric-sorcerer (both are nigh-unheard of). Mana levels don't exist; enchanters without Magic Sense can cast spells at -3, while wizards and sorcerers can cast at -5. Sorcerers must also have Magery 1 before they can cast at all.

Thaumatology is the core skill for wizardry, while Ritual Magic is the core for sorcery.

...and that's about as far as I've gotten. It's still in the random note pile phase.
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Old 04-10-2021, 01:59 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Magery

It's been broken. All the way back in 3rd edition I always made wizards and many of my players made wizards. We found the multitude of issue with it. Barely any were fixed in 4th. Still used it for maybe a decade more. Something great about making gods on a budget.

Nowadays Magery is either merely a power talent (Magic as Powers), a mundane talent (Magic as TL), or used with Word Magic (where Magery itself isn't the problem). In all cases Magery 0 is removed.
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Old 04-11-2021, 02:38 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Magery

Possibly my favorite GURPS advantage, for all its flaws.

Under GURPS 3E there were many different forms of "Limited" Magery. GURPS 4E Basic Set just covers a few of them. Essentially, they're all versions of the Accessibility limitation.

GURPS 4E Powers basically made Magery "generic" by inventing the Power Talent advantage. That invites the possibility of "Power Talent Level 0" which allows access to certain powers without giving a bonus to use or sense them.

The introduction of Detect also makes Magery 0 a bit hinky since any level of Magery essentially gives you Detect (Magic, Limitation: Vague) which is worth 5 points. That implies that Magery 0 contains a 5-point Unusual Background (Can Use Magic), which means that Power Talent 0 should cost 5 points and is actually a UB.
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Old 04-11-2021, 06:18 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Magery

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pursuivant View Post
GURPS 4E Powers basically made Magery "generic" by inventing the Power Talent advantage. That invites the possibility of "Power Talent Level 0" which allows access to certain powers without giving a bonus to use or sense them.

The introduction of Detect also makes Magery 0 a bit hinky since any level of Magery essentially gives you Detect (Magic, Limitation: Vague) which is worth 5 points. That implies that Magery 0 contains a 5-point Unusual Background (Can Use Magic), which means that Power Talent 0 should cost 5 points and is actually a UB.
It's worth noting that Magery was used way before Talent was ever implemented as a generic advantage, and the costing of it would probably be adjusted heavily if it was a 4E invention based on Talent. Magery is at least partially costed to allow for a broader scope of abilities for Mage PCs, especially with the 100 point default for PCs in 3E where 25/35 points for Magery 2/3 + 30/45 points for IQ 13/14 would still devour most of the budget.
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Old 04-11-2021, 11:59 AM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Magery

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pursuivant View Post
Possibly my favorite GURPS advantage, for all its flaws.

GURPS 4E Powers basically made Magery "generic" by inventing the Power Talent advantage. That invites the possibility of "Power Talent Level 0" which allows access to certain powers without giving a bonus to use or sense them.

The introduction of Detect also makes Magery 0 a bit hinky since any level of Magery essentially gives you Detect (Magic, Limitation: Vague) which is worth 5 points. That implies that Magery 0 contains a 5-point Unusual Background (Can Use Magic), which means that Power Talent 0 should cost 5 points and is actually a UB.
I addressed this in my Supernatural Energy article for the last Pyramid kickstarter.
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Old 04-12-2021, 04:15 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Magery

A concept which I think John introduced me to which is still important in 4e is the "Mage Number": IQ + Magery - 2, or "the skill level I will get by spending one point in a normal spell". Given that anyone with more than trivial core-rules magic will have lots of spells, it's important to keep that number in mind when designing the character.

The default maximum Magery was 3 for many years, but that isn't the case by default in 4e, and Artillery Spells has some with M4 or M5 as a prerequisite.

I seem to remember Armin commenting that "Magery 0" had to be introduced as a whole separate advantage in GCA because everything else could work on the basis that a level-zero advantage would cost zero points. It does seem a bit odd, and it would be nice to have it broken out as a separate thing (a Detect, in effect) rather than being a prerequisite for or side effect of big power.
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Old 04-12-2021, 06:05 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Magery

I've never really worried about the way Magery is allegedly 'broken': not nearly as much as the way a few of the spells are.

My only house rule, one that emerged from the discussion of exactly how magic worked in one campaign that was all about magic returning to the world was to decide that Magery-0, being able to sense magic and the mana field, was a physical advantage, one determined by the state of the brain which in turn was a genetically derived mutation/advantage.

The higher levels of Magery, we decided, were spiritual and based on the quality of the soul. They might be types of enlightenment (and therefore improvable) or they might be something fixed for the lifetime of the person.

Which meant that:

1) If you could find the right kind of body magic or genetic rewriting you could give anyone or everyone Magery 0.

2) There were people out there who had Magery 1+ but never knew it because they lacked the physical component that allowed them to perceive the mana flow.

3) If you could turn Magery 0 on you could turn it off as well and that would make taking Mages prisoner and holding them a lot easier.

4) You could have an actual detectable difference between Magery-0 'hedge-magicians' and the more powerful 'wizards'. This allowed Mages to be snobs which they have a tendency to be anyway.

EDITED TO ADD: I was writing up today a session of my current BANESTORM game where someone asked if Magic Resistance was a hereditary trait. After a brief amount of thought I ruled that this too was a soul based trait though no one had yet been found who had Magery 0 and Magic Resistance. I went on to say that families had been found in which one child had Magery and another Magic Resistance but none in the cases of identical twins. The magical tests were very new however and the ideas of DNA and Genetic Analysis had not yet been released by the Ministry of Serendipity.
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Last edited by Michael Cule; 04-12-2021 at 09:45 AM. Reason: Clarification and expansion of answer.
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Old 04-12-2021, 08:57 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Magery

Right now I'm really playing around with standard magery for the first time, as a earth elementalist in a DF game. That version of magery is pretty heavily tweaked, and gives Magery 0 essentially for free.



I once built a high point character with magery for a supers game. We never got to play, but the character was the closest I've ever seen to a "broken" Mage. He had 2000 points to work with, so the FP regeneration and the modular abilities pool may have been at least as broken as the magery. At least when you put all three together. He could cast just about any spell any time.


My biggest experience with magery is with RPM in monster hunters, but magery is really just a permission cost with ER thrown in for RPM. The meaty bits are Ritual adept and the spell system itself. And because of how RPM spells are priced, its ER isn't really a good deal.


Magery from RPM and the standard spell system are very different, to the point of being different traits with the same name.
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I addressed this in my Supernatural Energy article for the last Pyramid kickstarter.
Which talks about that difference. And generalizes it. And is really a good resource for magery in general.

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A concept which I think John introduced me to which is still important in 4e is the "Mage Number": IQ + Magery - 2, or "the skill level I will get by spending one point in a normal spell". Given that anyone with more than trivial core-rules magic will have lots of spells, it's important to keep that number in mind when designing the character.
Yes, this is hugely important. Also, because of the way that cost reduction works, the important numbers here are 15 and 20. Magery 3 + IQ 14 is a remarkably popular build.

IQ 14 is rather high, and I think as time has gone on it has become more acceptable to change the magery limit. DF changes the limit from 3 to 6, and I think a fair number of games follow suit. A mage with a bunch of spells often feels less problematic to a game than a mage who can learn any IQ-based skill on a whim.
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Old 04-12-2021, 11:45 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Magery

I'm a lot more inclined to simply uncap Magery rather than introducing something like Quintessence. I'm not too big on Magery caps anyway.
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