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Old 10-18-2014, 05:26 PM   #1
RaRaRasputin
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Default Ritual Path Magic and Magic Item Creation

The Ritual Path Magic system is awesome, but its means for creating enchanted items seems a little lackluster to me. In particular, it doesn't jive very well with a setting in which magic items can be bought, sold, or found as loot.

I recently picked up Pyramid 3-66: The Laws of Magic, and loved every article in it. The one on Material-based Enchanting particularly caught my eye.

I'm aware that a treatment exists over at Ravens N' Pennies, and I'm hoping to expand on that. For example, while I understand Rice's rationale for measuring everything in terms of "hours" (where 200 hours of work = 1 character point worth of gadgets), I found it was awkward to write like that. Instead, I'll be measuring things in points of Essence. This is purely a naming convention: 1 point of essence is still worth 0.5% of a character point.

I'm hoping to allow granularity on a level finer than multiples of 200 Essence. For example, since 1 point of ER with -80% worth of limitations works out to [0.6], it stands to reason that a sufficiently limited 1-point powerstone equivalent should be producible for only 120 points of essence. (This means that the point-cost of powerstones will scale linearly with their capacity. Is there an important game-balance reason why the cost of GURPS: Magic powerstones scale quadratically with their capacity, or is that just an artifact of the enchanting method? The formula is explained pretty clearly on p 20.)

On a somewhat related issue, I find that building the traditional "Magic Sword" using the items-as-advantages approach is surprisingly awkward. The obvious thing to do is to price it as a ST-based Innate Attack, with whatever other modifiers are appropriate, but the cost of most of those modifiers scales with the ST of the wielder (see Powers p146 or Power-Ups 4 p9).

What happens if I enchant an Armor-Piercing sword for my ST 12 buddy (swing damage 1d6+3 cut), and he later gains another point of ST (changing his swing damage to 2d6 cut), and therefore changing the base cost of the "virtual innate attack"? Does the sword stop working for him? Does it limit his ST to 12 while he wields it? Do the bonuses from the sword somehow only apply to some of his strength? Does it work just fine, and for marginally cheaper than it would have been to enchant a sword for someone with ST 13 in the first place?

The last one seems the simplest, but what if his ST was raised to 17 instead (swing damage 3d6 cut)? That would represent a pretty significant discount, and seems rather unfair to warriors with naturally high ST. In that case, I'm tempted to just pick a default "reference ST" for enchanted weapons, and just price them based on that. If so, what would an appropriate reference ST be? 10? 20? The "minimum ST" value for that particular weapon on the table?

For that matter, what should the gadget limitation on a sword even be? The Breakable part seems like a simple function of SM and DR, and the Can Be Stolen part clearly belongs at the 30/15% level, but what about the fact that the bonuses granted by the advantage only apply to attacks made with the sword itself? Intuition tells me that that's already baked in to the Melee Attack limitation and the gadget limitations above (and thus worth no extra points), but I could maybe see it as being a -5% nuisance effect or accessibility modifier.
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Old 10-18-2014, 10:46 PM   #2
Christopher R. Rice
 
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Default Re: Ritual Path Magic and Magic Item Creation

Quote:
Originally Posted by RaRaRasputin View Post
The Ritual Path Magic system is awesome, but its means for creating enchanted items seems a little lackluster to me. In particular, it doesn't jive very well with a setting in which magic items can be bought, sold, or found as loot.
A common compliant. May I also suggest my designer's notes for Metatronic Generators from #3/43 Pyramid: Weird Science. It bypasses some of the issues and allows you to more or less use the basic enchantment system - just in another way.

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Originally Posted by RaRaRasputin View Post
I recently picked up Pyramid 3-66: The Laws of Magic, and loved every article in it.
Thanks. :-)

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Originally Posted by RaRaRasputin View Post
I'm aware that a treatment exists over at Ravens N' Pennies, and I'm hoping to expand on that. For example, while I understand Rice's rationale for measuring everything in terms of "hours" (where 200 hours of work = 1 character point worth of gadgets), I found it was awkward to write like that. Instead, I'll be measuring things in points of Essence. This is purely a naming convention: 1 point of essence is still worth 0.5% of a character point.
This is a common method all over GURPS - I didn't invent it, but merely used it. Call it what you want, it won't cause issues. :-)

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Originally Posted by RaRaRasputin View Post
I'm hoping to allow granularity on a level finer than multiples of 200 Essence. For example, since 1 point of ER with -80% worth of limitations works out to [0.6], it stands to reason that a sufficiently limited 1-point powerstone equivalent should be producible for only 120 points of essence. (This means that the point-cost of powerstones will scale linearly with their capacity. Is there an important game-balance reason why the cost of GURPS: Magic powerstones scale quadratically with their capacity, or is that just an artifact of the enchanting method? The formula is explained pretty clearly on p 20.)
There are no powerstones in RPM that aren't point-built energy reserves in magic items. I really wouldn't try to equate regular magic powerstones and those your buy for RPM - it'll only end in tears (I've tried it before and tossed it aside because the numbers just don't work).

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Originally Posted by RaRaRasputin View Post
On a somewhat related issue, I find that building the traditional "Magic Sword" using the items-as-advantages approach is surprisingly awkward. The obvious thing to do is to price it as a ST-based Innate Attack, with whatever other modifiers are appropriate, but the cost of most of those modifiers scales with the ST of the wielder (see Powers p146 or Power-Ups 4 p9).

What happens if I enchant an Armor-Piercing sword for my ST 12 buddy (swing damage 1d6+3 cut), and he later gains another point of ST (changing his swing damage to 2d6 cut), and therefore changing the base cost of the "virtual innate attack"? Does the sword stop working for him? Does it limit his ST to 12 while he wields it? Do the bonuses from the sword somehow only apply to some of his strength? Does it work just fine, and for marginally cheaper than it would have been to enchant a sword for someone with ST 13 in the first place?

The last one seems the simplest, but what if his ST was raised to 17 instead (swing damage 3d6 cut)? That would represent a pretty significant discount, and seems rather unfair to warriors with naturally high ST. In that case, I'm tempted to just pick a default "reference ST" for enchanted weapons, and just price them based on that. If so, what would an appropriate reference ST be? 10? 20? The "minimum ST" value for that particular weapon on the table?
You hit the nail on the head in one. Figure out what sort of weapon it looks like, then pay the cost for it's maximum possible dice of it's minimum ST x 3. That should cover it for all characters and their varied ST. You could also increase the ST to whatever you want - it's magic and doesn't need to follow the normal rules.

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Originally Posted by RaRaRasputin View Post
For that matter, what should the gadget limitation on a sword even be? The Breakable part seems like a simple function of SM and DR, and the Can Be Stolen part clearly belongs at the 30/15% level, but what about the fact that the bonuses granted by the advantage only apply to attacks made with the sword itself? Intuition tells me that that's already baked in to the Melee Attack limitation and the gadget limitations above (and thus worth no extra points), but I could maybe see it as being a -5% nuisance effect or accessibility modifier.
Again, look at what a the weapon would normally have and match the gadget limitations up with it. For example, a fine shortsword has DR 6, HP 10, ST 8, and does sw+1 cutting or thr+1 impaling. So as a gadget it would have:
  • Breakable (DR 6, HP 10, SM -3) (-25%)
  • Can Be Stolen (Thief must win a quick Contest of ST) (-15% or -30%)

Assuming your shortsword is just a "normal" magic sword and gives a bonus to damage and to hit it'd look something like this:

Magic Shortsword: Cutting Attack 1d (Armor Divisor 2, +50%; Breakable, DR 6, HP 10, SM -3, -25%; Can Be Stolen, Thief must win a quick Contest of ST, -30%; Double Knockback, +20%; Double Blunt Trauma, +20%; Magic, -10%; Melee, Reach 1, -25%; Reliable 2, +10%; ST-Based, +100%; Thrusting Blade, +15%) [15.75] + Modified ST damage* (Armor Divisor 2, +50%; Double Knockback, +20%; Double Blunt Trauma, +20%) [29.7]. Gives a +2 to Shortsword skill and does swing+1d (2) cutting or thrust+2 (2) impaling. Damage is doubled for the purposes of knockback (for cutting) or blunt truama (for both attacks). Has a Reach of 1 and a minimum ST of 8. Can be stolen and used by the thief immediately†.46 points.
* Based on ST 24.
† If the thief can't use it immediately, cost becomes 47 points, not 46.
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Old 10-19-2014, 12:36 AM   #3
RaRaRasputin
 
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Default Re: Ritual Path Magic and Magic Item Creation

Quote:
This is a common method all over GURPS - I didn't invent it, but merely used it. Call it what you want, it won't cause issues. :-)
Thanks. I started thinking up a similar treatment before I was even finished reading the article, but you did save me a bit of work. Of course, I immediately proceeded to reverse engineer your dollars-per-hour table with reference to the wages-per month table. Thank goodness I love spreadsheets.

I'm currently planning on having ten different types of Essence- one for each Path, plus one which can only be obtained by sacrificing character points. Maybe some items will require essence from more specific sources than that, it depends on how much paperwork my players are interested in doing.

Quote:
Assuming your shortsword is just a "normal" magic sword and gives a bonus to damage and to hit it'd look something like this:
So I take the weapon's minimum ST value, triple it, and that's the appropriate reference ST to use?

Let me run a simpler example by you to make sure I understand. A Halberd (ST 13‡), wielded by someone with ST 39, has a 7d6+4 cutting swing [57.4], a 7d6+3 impaling swing [63.2], and a 4d6+4 impaling thrust [41.6]. If I want to add Armor Divisor (2) and nothing else, that's a +50% modifier on the most expensive of those attack modes and therefore [32]. Gadget modifiers and power modifiers don't apply to this cost, only to extra damage on top of this, right?

Almost anyone worth equipping with a weapon this freakng expensive is probably going to have some form of Weapon Master and the skill to back it up, and therefore be doing another +14 damage on top of that. Should I add that on to the cost as well, or is it a "freebie", calculated afterwards?

Yikes, that isn't cheap. Meanwhile, I was able to build a (non ST-based) 5d6 burn sur "cattle prod" wand for a mere [5].

Also, I thought you weren't allowed to apply Reliable to attack advantages, but apparently it's only forbidden for ranged attacks. Looks like I learned something else new.

Since you also wrote the section on buying spells-as-powers advantages as an alternate abilities to RPM Magery, I've got another related question: While my Magery or Ritual Adept advantage is switched "off", what exactly do I lose access to? I expect that the ER granted by the Magery will be "locked", and I can't cast any new rituals (or if I do, I'll do so as if I didn't have the advantage in question, which probably means I'll being doing it at lower effective skill), but I'm not sure whether any spells I currently have ongoing will be affected. If my incantation inflicts a debuff on my target as a side-effect/symptom, and I switch back to Magery, does the debuff instantly go away? Can I still activate Charms I prepared in advance?

To keep the above question from being off-topic: If I do take an incantation, can I also apply gadget limitations to it? Can I apply the limitation to only some levels of the advantage? (eg: Barry Drosden can toss a 3d6 jet of fire from his bare hands, or a 6d6 jet of fire from his specially prepared Blasting Rod)

Thanks again for your time.
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Old 10-19-2014, 01:06 AM   #4
Christopher R. Rice
 
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Default Re: Ritual Path Magic and Magic Item Creation

Quote:
Originally Posted by RaRaRasputin View Post
Thanks. I started thinking up a similar treatment before I was even finished reading the article, but you did save me a bit of work. Of course, I immediately proceeded to reverse engineer your dollars-per-hour table with reference to the wages-per month table. Thank goodness I love spreadsheets.
What gamer doesn't love spreadsheets? Doug Cole is "Sir Excel" for a reason. ;-)

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Originally Posted by RaRaRasputin View Post
I'm currently planning on having ten different types of Essence- one for each Path, plus one which can only be obtained by sacrificing character points. Maybe some items will require essence from more specific sources than that, it depends on how much paperwork my players are interested in doing.
Interesting.

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So I take the weapon's minimum ST value, triple it, and that's the appropriate reference ST to use?
That's what I do. It does make weapons more expensive with the base system - but it's not worth the headache of figuring the cost of the advantage from bearer to bearer.

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Originally Posted by RaRaRasputin View Post
Let me run a simpler example by you to make sure I understand. A Halberd (ST 13‡), wielded by someone with ST 39, has a 7d6+4 cutting swing [57.4], a 7d6+3 impaling swing [63.2], and a 4d6+4 impaling thrust [41.6]. If I want to add Armor Divisor (2) and nothing else, that's a +50% modifier on the most expensive of those attack modes and therefore [32]. Gadget modifiers and power modifiers don't apply to this cost, only to extra damage on top of this, right?
You got it. Remember to round off before applying the modifier there - you don't use the fractional number.

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Almost anyone worth equipping with a weapon this freakng expensive is probably going to have some form of Weapon Master and the skill to back it up, and therefore be doing another +14 damage on top of that. Should I add that on to the cost as well, or is it a "freebie", calculated afterwards?
No, it's only for your ST (the sum of regular ST, Striking ST, and Arm ST) - bonuses from Weaponmaster or from a skill that allows you to use a unarmed skill with a weapon (say, a blackjack for Brawling are ignored for this.

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Yikes, that isn't cheap. Meanwhile, I was able to build a (non ST-based) 5d6 burn sur "cattle prod" wand for a mere [5].
Magical items aren't cheap. Nor should they be really. My example is a sword that basically gives +10 to your ST and can cut through metal bars given enough time. On flesh it's devastating even at the lowest ST level.

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Also, I thought you weren't allowed to apply Reliable to attack advantages, but apparently it's only forbidden for ranged attacks. Looks like I learned something else new.
Yup. Accurate for Ranged attacks, Reliable for non-ranged attacks and other traits.

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Since you also wrote the section on buying spells-as-powers advantages as an alternate abilities to RPM Magery, I've got another related question: While my Magery or Ritual Adept advantage is switched "off", what exactly do I lose access to? I expect that the ER granted by the Magery will be "locked", and I can't cast any new rituals (or if I do, I'll do so as if I didn't have the advantage in question, which probably means I'll being doing it at lower effective skill), but I'm not sure whether any spells I currently have ongoing will be affected. If my incantation inflicts a debuff on my target as a side-effect/symptom, and I switch back to Magery, does the debuff instantly go away? Can I still activate Charms I prepared in advance?
Yeah, you can't use your mana reserve at all. Ongoing spells are not affected and spells that you've already cast stay in place for the duration - you can switch them off, but you'd need to switch back on your Magery first. Charms are not affected at all.

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Originally Posted by RaRaRasputin View Post
To keep the above question from being off-topic: If I do take an incantation, can I also apply gadget limitations to it? Can I apply the limitation to only some levels of the advantage? (eg: Barry Drosden can toss a 3d6 jet of fire from his bare hands, or a 6d6 jet of fire from his specially prepared Blasting Rod)
No. Incantations are innate capabilities, gadgets by their nature are not.

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Thanks again for your time.
Sure. Hope I helped. I personally use Metatronic Generators for RPM items because it ignores some of the headaches the regular system can cause. I'll note though that I do like RPM's base enchantment system better than I like most point-based gear (which I really don't like at all).
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Old 10-19-2014, 02:51 AM   #5
RaRaRasputin
 
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Default Re: Ritual Path Magic and Magic Item Creation

So by contrast, if I wanted to make a magic shortsword as a metatronic generator, it would look a bit more like this:

Cutting Attack 1d6 (Armor Divisor (2), +50%; melee weapon, reach 1, -25%; magical, -10%; reliable 2, +10%; ST-Based, +100%; thrusting blade, +15%) [21]

I'm not sure whether it would have Apparatus (+0%). Some of the example generators have it, some of them don't, and it doesn't make a difference to their cost either way.

I wouldn't have to worry about the fact that a ST 24 person swinging the shortsword has a 4d6+2 cut swing attack [33] and a 2d6+2 imp thrust attack [21], I'd just calculate the metatronic generator price based on the profile above.

If I call the sword a "small" class generator, it should have a cost of $52,500, weigh 3 lbs, an XS power cell for 6 hours (unless it it loses "shots" with each swing?), a bulk of at least -5, and a minimum ST of 4 (which gets replaced with the sword's minimum ST of 8).

I'd then take the shortsword's 2 lb. weight and $400 base cost (unless I make it Very Fine, which is probably worth it), multiply them each by 0.8, and add them to the above for a final weight of 4.6 lbs and a final cost of $52,820.

If I think that weight is a bit much (or I've got money to burn), could I use the "mini" class instead, and pay $63,320 for a sword that weighs 2.24 lbs and uses T cells?
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Old 10-19-2014, 03:04 AM   #6
Christopher R. Rice
 
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Default Re: Ritual Path Magic and Magic Item Creation

Quote:
Originally Posted by RaRaRasputin View Post
So by contrast, if I wanted to make a magic shortsword as a metatronic generator, it would look a bit more like this:

Cutting Attack 1d6 (Armor Divisor (2), +50%; melee weapon, reach 1, -25%; magical, -10%; reliable 2, +10%; ST-Based, +100%; thrusting blade, +15%) [21]
Cost would be 17 points (+140% of modifiers x 7 points = 16.8), but yeah. That's about right.

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I'm not sure whether it would have Apparatus (+0%). Some of the example generators have it, some of them don't, and it doesn't make a difference to their cost either way.
Apparatus' are specifically for non-weapon gadgets.

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I wouldn't have to worry about the fact that a ST 24 person swinging the shortsword has a 4d6+2 cut swing attack [33] and a 2d6+2 imp thrust attack [21], I'd just calculate the metatronic generator price based on the profile above.
Yes. Exactly.

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If I call the sword a "small" class generator, it should have a cost of $52,500, weigh 3 lbs, an XS power cell for 6 hours (unless it it loses "shots" with each swing?), a bulk of at least -5, and a minimum ST of 4 (which gets replaced with the sword's minimum ST of 8).
This is where it can get a little tricky. For most magical items, I highly suggest that you use the Self-Powered modifier. Otherwise, it'll last for six hours of continous use, after that it's just a normal sword. Most of the time you'll need to add 50% of the weight and cost of a normal weapon to the cost of the generator.

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I'd then take the shortsword's 2 lb. weight and $400 base cost (unless I make it Very Fine, which is probably worth it), multiply them each by 0.8, and add them to the above for a final weight of 4.6 lbs and a final cost of $52,820.
For most weapon generators you don't need to do this as long as it emulates a attack - you will need to add 50% of the cost/weight (see above) though. Adding the cost like in your example is explicitly for weapon-shaped generators like mind-control staves, weather control hammers, etc.

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If I think that weight is a bit much (or I've got money to burn), could I use the "mini" class instead, and pay $63,320 for a sword that weighs 2.24 lbs and uses T cells?
Yes. Sure. One thing, if magic items are rare in your world use the listed costs. If they are uncommon reduce final cost by 10% to 20%. Common items could reduce final costs up to 50% - this might lead to the DnD problem of too many +1 weapons though.
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