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Old 12-22-2020, 03:46 AM   #1
Calliban
 
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Default Reasonable starting points for cinematic martial artists and core wizards?

I want to run a fantasy game using GURPS Crusades as background. PCs will be members of an Italian merchant family trying to rise to glory.

Some of my players really enjoy the standard Magic system, so we will be using GURPS Magic for this game. GURPS Martial Arts will also be used, and some of my players asked me to allow cinematic martial arts.

In my mind, if fantasy allows for a Wizard to throw fireballs, then it should allow for flying leaps and breaking blows as well. I also think some of the Trained by a Master and Weapon Master optional rules from MA do a lot for balancing cinematic martial artists with mages.

Cinematic Martial Artists need a lot of points to become viable, and the book suggests a bare minimum of 200 pts (which I think is kinda high). OTOH mages can get a ton of high level (i.e. recuced cost, shorter casting times) spells if given enough character points, which can be an issue.

My question is - what is a reasonable (or bare minimum) value for the starting character points that would allow cinematic martial artists to work, but would not let wizards to get out of hand?

A bonus question - anything on Thaumatology or any other books that would make combining M and MA...safer? Advantages, disadvantages, mana levels...
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Old 12-22-2020, 05:08 AM   #2
Anders
 
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Default Re: Reasonable starting points for cinematic martial artists and core wizards?

I would look at DF1 to get ideas for what a cinematic wizard and martial artist looks like.
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Old 12-22-2020, 06:48 AM   #3
AlexanderHowl
 
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Default Re: Reasonable starting points for cinematic martial artists and core wizards?

250 CP is a good minimum for both, in my opinion. In the case of standard magic though, nothing will make it particularly faster in combat, fireballs have a minimum charge time of one second per (Magery) dice. Luck is about the only way to make things safer, though some of the options, like Stabilized Casting, from Thaumatology can be added, but then it really stops being standard magic at that point.

In the case of the cinematic martial artist, the issue becomes the requirement for high attributes (a minimum of 14 in DX and HT each and 11 in ST and IQ), mundane advantages (Combat Reflexes and Luck), cinematic advantages (Heroic Archer, Trained by a Master, and/or Weapon Master), and high skill levels (16+ in Acrobatics and 16+ in a minimum of two combat skills). In addition, they would want a couple of Perks.

For example, a cinematic archer would want a minimum of ST 11, DX 14, IQ 11, HT 14, Combat Reflexes, Heroic Archer, Luck, Strongbow, Weapon Master (Specific Type of Bow), Acrobatics-16, Bow-16, and Fast-Draw (Arrow)-16, which is 243 CP. You will also likely want Signature Gear (Balanced and Fine Specific Bow and Consumable Balanced Fine Arrows) and Weapon Bond (Specific Bow), so you can gain an effective +3 to skill and +1 damage, so that will knock you up to 245 CP in a TL8 campaign (for example, a Balanced and Fine Compound Composite Bow would run a minimum of $8100 at TL8). Now, you can play around with the numbers some, but that is probably the minimum required for a cinematic feel to a game.

Last edited by AlexanderHowl; 12-22-2020 at 06:51 AM.
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Old 12-22-2020, 07:26 AM   #4
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Default Re: Reasonable starting points for cinematic martial artists and core wizards?

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Originally Posted by Calliban View Post
My question is - what is a reasonable (or bare minimum) value for the starting character points that would allow cinematic martial artists to work, but would not let wizards to get out of hand?
It depends a lot on what you mean by wizards getting "out of hand." The wizard will never be able to do what the martial artist can do, even with 500 points. A wizard can't do much damage (missile spells are slow and inaccurate) and is easily stopped by countermeasures such as Magic Resistance, no mana zones, meteoric materials, countermagic, etc. The Martial Artist will be able to dish out massive amounts of damage with extra attacks, rapid strikes, power blows, etc., and no wizard will come close to that.

I've seen wizards get totally out of hand in two major ways: buffing allies (your wizard will turn your martial artist into a superhero with buff spells like Flight, Great Haste, Haste, Partial Shapeshifting (Spider Arms), and many others) and short-circuiting the adventure (flying the party over obstacles, divining the location of the McGuffin, turning the whole party invisible to circumvent enemies, mind-controlling key NPCs, etc.).

If you really want to restrict your wizard, make your world low mana. The player of the wizard might expect some compensation for this. One way to compensate is to make countermeasures very rare in the world due to the low prevalence of magic, so enemies don't have Magic Resistance and sky-high resistance scores, the villain isn't prepared with Mage Sight to see what you're up to, Suspend Mana to turn off the mana around you when it's most inconvenient, Scryfool to mess with your divinations, etc., and in general NPCs aren't prepared for what magic can do.

Alternatively, leave the world as normal mana and make liberal use of such countermeasures!

And finally, don't be afraid to ban or house-rule problem spells. I have a whole document filled with house rules and homebrew spells that I've created over the years to customize Magic for my games. A lot of these aren't bans or nerfs but the opposite, as many spells in Magic are really bad as written but can become playable with a few tweaks.


If you're looking for a number, I would say 250 is good (DF1 has helpful templates for such characters at 250 CP), but it leaves Martial Artists a bit weak--I think they come into their own at around 400 CP, because it's really hard to have cinematic skills that are based on IQ/Will and roll successfully when you're at -10 for instant use. Here, I'm using "Martial Artist" to mean "PC with Trained By a Master." If you're focusing on Weapon Master and don't plan on using Flying Leap and Power Blow, you can definitely get by on 250 CP (see other DF1 fighter templates: Barbarian, Holy Warrior, Knight, Scout).
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Old 12-22-2020, 08:25 AM   #5
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Default Re: Reasonable starting points for cinematic martial artists and core wizards?

To allow wizards to throw fireballs every turn (which all the wizards in my game groups like to do) I created the following trait based on Compartmentalized Mind.

Blast and Cast. You have become adept at quickly creating missile spells and can now cast a spell and throw it all in one turn. You do not get multiple Concentrate Maneuvers to create bigger missiles.
Built as Compartmentalized Mind (Missile Spells only -30%; Only for casting and throwing in one turn -10%) [30].
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Old 12-22-2020, 04:41 PM   #6
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Default Re: Reasonable starting points for cinematic martial artists and core wizards?

In Pyramid 105, Cinematic Magic, there is an interesting discussion of using Sorcery to replace the chi skills with advantages using modified sorcery.
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Old 12-22-2020, 05:38 PM   #7
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Default Re: Reasonable starting points for cinematic martial artists and core wizards?

Here's a problem and solution I first ran across in a thread someone made about their long-running game.

To demonstrate the problem, I'll use the standard rules, two mages with 15- and 20- in a resisted spell, and three characters with HT10, HT12, and HT14. The demonstration will use an averaged roll of 10.5 by the mage.

15- versus HT10: On average, 5.5- to succeed.
15- versus HT12: On average, 7.5- to succeed.
15- versus HT14: On average, 9.5- to succeed.

The demonstration shows that a modest investment in a resisted spell, can have a problematic level of power. I will further investigate 20-, to demonstrate the scaling problem:

20- versus HT10: On average, "1.5-" to succeed (critical success needed).
20- versus HT12: On average, 3.5- to succeed (critical success needed).
20- versus HT14: On average, 5.5- to succeed.

The demonstration shows that a moderate investment in a resisted spell, can have a very problematic level of power.

Solution: Alter the quick contest to use half of the mage's margin of success, if the target is a character (that is, not a spell).

How does this hold up? Using the same 15- and 20- mages, and the same HT10, 12, and 14 characters, with the same averaged roll of 10.5, we get ((15 - 10.5) = 4.5 / 2 = 2.25):

15- versus HT10: On average, 7.75- to succeed.
15- versus HT12: On average, 9.75- to succeed.
15- versus HT14: On average, 11.75- to succeed.

The demonstration shows that a modest investment in points in a resisted spell, gives useful, but not too powerful, results with this house-rule. Most characters will have, on average, about a 50% chance to resist, with a notable spread of results. On to the next test, with (20 - 10.5) = 9.5 / 2 = 4.75.

20- versus HT10: On average, 5.25- to succeed.
20- versus HT12: On average, 7.25- to succeed.
20- versus HT14: On average, 9.25- to succeed.

On average, a character with 20- in a resisted spell, can affect even a very healthy character with a slightly greater than 50% chance of success; and on average, most characters will have about a 20% chance of success. These results seem reasonable to me.

A mage is typically a flexible generalist, and thus should not also be a powerful specialist without paying a commensurate price; and I feel that this rule enables that.

A different rule idea is to restrict a character to no higher skill in a spell, than their lowest-skill prerequisite; that seems notably more complex, but also perhaps more flavourful, while also, I think, adding realism.
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Old 12-22-2020, 05:52 PM   #8
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Default Re: Reasonable starting points for cinematic martial artists and core wizards?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Calliban View Post
I want to run a fantasy game using GURPS Crusades as background. PCs will be members of an Italian merchant family trying to rise to glory.

Some of my players really enjoy the standard Magic system, so we will be using GURPS Magic for this game. GURPS Martial Arts will also be used, and some of my players asked me to allow cinematic martial arts.
I think there is a fundamental problem in the premise of the campaign.
Cinematic martial arts vs armed & armored crusaders (or their Muslim enemies) is NOT a recipe for success.

If one is talking bare-handed attacks vs weapons, one will need a very high level of skill over the opponent.
If one is talking MA as fencing, those weapons have not yet been invented.
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Old 12-22-2020, 07:41 PM   #9
AlexanderHowl
 
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Default Re: Reasonable starting points for cinematic martial artists and core wizards?

Armed martial arts most likely evolved the same time as unarmed martial arts, and I doubt that there were too many warriors that focused on unarmed martial arts rather than armed martial arts. In fact, most styles that focus only on unarmed martial arts are a modern invention, as firearms gradually removed the need for most weapon skills. For the crusaders, Combat Wrestling and Knightly Combat would be valid martial arts, as would Dagger Fighing, Foot Archery, and Quarterstaff.

For example, imagine a character with ST 20, DX 12, IQ 10, HT 12, Combat Reflexes, Luck, Weapon Mastery (Quarterstaff) and Staff-22. At 250 CP, the character is capable of dealing 3d+10 swinging crushing damage three times per turn with an effective skill of 16, meaning that they are capable of taking down three knights in full armor per turn with minimal difficulty. Give them -50 CP in disadvantages, -5 CP in Quirks, 5 CP in Perks, and 50 CP in other advantages/skills, and you have a character that legends are written about.
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Old 12-22-2020, 09:55 PM   #10
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Default Re: Reasonable starting points for cinematic martial artists and core wizards?

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Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
Armed martial arts most likely evolved the same time as unarmed martial arts, and I doubt that there were too many warriors that focused on unarmed martial arts rather than armed martial arts. In fact, most styles that focus only on unarmed martial arts are a modern invention, as firearms gradually removed the need for most weapon skills. For the crusaders, Combat Wrestling and Knightly Combat would be valid martial arts, as would Dagger Fighing, Foot Archery, and Quarterstaff.

For example, imagine a character with ST 20, DX 12, IQ 10, HT 12, Combat Reflexes, Luck, Weapon Mastery (Quarterstaff) and Staff-22. At 250 CP, the character is capable of dealing 3d+10 swinging crushing damage three times per turn with an effective skill of 16, meaning that they are capable of taking down three knights in full armor per turn with minimal difficulty. Give them -50 CP in disadvantages, -5 CP in Quirks, 5 CP in Perks, and 50 CP in other advantages/skills, and you have a character that legends are written about.
Well if the OP is talking about Armed MA, he's talking about just normal characters. There shouldn't be any problem integrating them at all.
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