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Old 04-23-2023, 01:43 PM   #1
Silverblade
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Germany
Default Lesser and Greater Magic

I've always wanted to have a Magic System that included "lesser" and "greater" magic. At the low end, there's "crude" magic - tiring, limited, can only affect small parts of the world, and so on. At the high end, there'd be the spells that can affect the population of a planet, where the mage coud make everyone on it forget one secret (except maybe Aunt May... oh, and... and Mary Jane!), put a super buff on the entire team, and so on.

Starting Mages would use the GURPS Standard (Ritual) Magic - no large effects possible, but fast and easily understandable from a (new) player's perspective: You roll against skill, pay energy, and the spell geos off (or not).

As the campaign (and maybe the players?) mature(s) wizards could increasingly cast more powerful spells (especially ones from other published GURPS Magic systems). And ideally, I'd want it to be tied to one advantage: Magery. This would preferably be a campaign that would ideally take years.

Here are may ideas so far:

Starting Magery would be based on GURPS Ritual Magic (Core skill - College skill - Technique as in GURPS Magic p. 200 and GURPS Thaumatology p. 72)

Magery levels cost would be altered though: Each level of magery would cost 10 CP more than the last one, Meaning 10 Points for level 1, 20 points for level 2 (Total: 30), 30 points for level 3 (Total: 60) up to Magery 10 for 100 points (Total cost: 550 points)

Magery would still add to the Core and College skill as usual. I'd alter the Colleges to something akin to Super Colleges - which gets important later -> "Dividing up the Universe" for Realm/Word-Noun Magic.

Starting at Magery 2-3, mages could get access to "Threshold limited magic" (Thaumatology p. 76) with "Variable Energy Access" - but with slight changes: If a mage wants to cast a standard spell he can pay for it using his threshold instead of fatigue/Energy Reserve, but this is ineffective - every time he pays for standard spells, he adds and additional1d6 (2d6? 3d6?) to the full spell cost to his tally, making this a bit of a gamble. He just doesn't understand the greater magical secrets yet.

Also, mages could use (some of?) the points they paid above the standard cost for something akin to GURPS Thaumatology: Sorcery, where the basic magery talent replaces Sorcery Talent. Especially for "Hardcore improvisations". (So a Mage with Magery 5 [150] could use 100 poits to improvise Sorcery "spells")

Then, reaching the higher levels (Maybe starting at 5, maybe even at Magery 1 for the weakest "verbs") Magery would stand in for Realm levels (Thaumatology p. 188). The cost for a Realm suggested there is 60, x5 if it's only a single realm, which would cost 300. In a 9 Realm setting (without weaknesses) it would be 9 times 1 for nine realms (without weaknesses) times the amount of levels (somewhere from 3 to 6 is suggested). Let's assume a 5 level realm (which IMO fits nicely with the 10 verbs of Syntactic Magic (although that's Verb-Noun)): (60/5 levels) = 12 points per level. So full power in all realms would be ~540 points. Total cost (above) for magery 10 would be 550 points. That'd fit nicely with the 9 colleges above, which would be treated as "Realms" at the higher levels.

Now, maybe with each level of magery, the mage also learns a verb - starting with "Sense" at Magery 1 (or starting with 2 verbs per level at Magery 5? Like "Sense" and "Communicate") and at Magery 9 and 10 they'd learn things like "Transform" and "Transcend" or so. So he'd use Syntactic Magic: somewhat based off Realms. Realm "Verbs" come from the Magery advantage, the "nouns" come from the colleges above.

When casting such "epic" syntactic spells though, Magery would not add to College skills, but cap them at 12+Magery, because additionally, at the higher levels (say 7+ or even 9+) "Extended Workings" (Thaumatology p. 184) become available with cumulative Margin of Success. The first casting roll would be "free", but every additional roll would add the working's full cost to the wizard's tally - he could not pay those spells from personal reserves, only with the running tally. So "working miracles" would be chancy, but potentially very (extremely!) powerful.

These "Epic Spells" often make the wizards in fiction somewhat "lesser" or "weaker" (they give something of themselves) - so maybe, depending on the duration the wizard rolled with his MoS (or even disregarding duration altogether) he adds these costs to his tally - but the amount he spent from his tally does not recover as long as he maintains it. He'd not pay additional energy, the spell just doesn't give back what he took from the mage, as long as he keeps it "on".

That way, he could create a "Champion" (which gives someone the Strength of Heracles, the Wisdom of Salomon, The Speed of Hermes...) or create a huge floating fortress with a perpetually burning wall of fire around it, that could be in the world for thousands of years, turn a prince into a monster and his entire household into furniture and kitchenware, but he'd only recover the tally points spent if he (somehow?) ends the spell, or a condition is fulfilled. Maybe this even endures after the mage dies - he paid for this "dent" into reality. Of course, a wizard of equal power could use similar magic to end the effect....

Thoughts?

Last edited by Silverblade; 04-23-2023 at 01:49 PM.
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Old 04-23-2023, 02:08 PM   #2
Fred Brackin
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Default Re: Lesser and Greater Magic

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silverblade View Post
Thoughts?
I'm just curious if you've ever met anyone who'd want to play a mage at this level of complexity? I'd probably turn you down.

I did once (in 3e) play a regular Mage with Extended Magery and a lot of extra FP. I believe he was Magery 7 and 85 FP and an early version of FP Regen (all from Gurps Myth). When he wanted more he used Draw Power (from Gurps Technomancer).

I never felt the slightest urge to use Threshold Magic or Realm Magic. I'd have rejected Ritual Magic too as being more complex rather than less complex than regular Magery (Prerequisite count I'm looking at you).

I did play around a little with Decanic Magic and the modifiers from Gurps Cabal. That was only so-so in terms of real practicality.

Oh, I raised his personal TL too.

At the kind of points budgets you're talking about regular Magic is not particularly limited.
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Old 04-23-2023, 02:46 PM   #3
Silverblade
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Default Re: Lesser and Greater Magic

You feel it's complex? :(

Maybe this helps: What I'm trying to do is

Base level (levels 1 -3): Standard Ritual Magic (Core/College skills)
Intermediate (levels 4 - 6): Sorcery (plus Ritual Magic)
Advanced (7 - 10): Syntactic/Realm Magic (plus Ritual Magic, plus Sorcery)

It uses GURPS Magic, GURPS Thaumatology (Syntactic/Realm) Magic and Thaumatology: Sorcery, just stacked on top of each other, and using the same college skills....
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Old 04-23-2023, 03:10 PM   #4
RGTraynor
 
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Default Re: Lesser and Greater Magic

I introduced the concept of Threshold Magic to my players as soon as S. John first published it in the GURPS APA to which we both belonged. It certainly satisfies the literary trope of the mage saying "Yes, I can stop them ... at a price."

In the thirty years since, to a man, they have refused to touch it. No one thinks the risk is worth the payoff.

That aside, the upshot of what you're presenting is to nerf wizards. If I'm suddenly going to have to pay 60 CP instead of 30 to start a guy out with Magery/3, then what's my incentive for playing a mage at all?
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Old 04-23-2023, 03:17 PM   #5
johndallman
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Default Re: Lesser and Greater Magic

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silverblade View Post
I've always wanted to have a Magic System that included "lesser" and "greater" magic.
Are you familiar with Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic? That provides a lot of what you seem to want, within a single system. Available at your local branch of Warehouse 23.
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Old 04-23-2023, 03:20 PM   #6
Silverblade
 
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Default Re: Lesser and Greater Magic

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Originally Posted by RGTraynor View Post
That aside, the upshot of what you're presenting is to nerf wizards. If I'm suddenly going to have to pay 60 CP instead of 30 to start a guy out with Magery/3, then what's my incentive for playing a mage at all?
The additional 30 points - which would turn into a type of Sorcerous Empowerment 3 [30] - Improvise Sorcery spells up to level 3, or "hardcore improvise" Sorcery spells up to a cost of 30. At Magery 3 also unlock the ability of "Variable Energy Access" from Thaumatology, you can either use personal FP/Energy Reserve or add it to your tally using Threshold Casting, although with a drawback of "add 1d6 (2d6/3d6) to your tally on top of the full spell cost.
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Old 04-23-2023, 03:29 PM   #7
Silverblade
 
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Default Re: Lesser and Greater Magic

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Are you familiar with Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic? That provides a lot of what you seem to want, within a single system. Available at your local branch of Warehouse 23.
I've got that. :)

What I want to do though is combine Ritual Magic (not Ritual Path Magic),
Thaumatology: Sorcery, and Realm/Syntactic Magic into one advantage with comparable point costs to the separate systems.

What I have in mind is:

Use Standard GURPS (Ritual) Magic when you start out with beginning players and characters (because of ease of use, understandability) at low point totals.

Use Thaumatology: Sorcery in addition to Ritual Magic at inermediate levels and...

Use Syntactic/Realm/Verb-Noun Magic from GURPS Thaumatology in addition to Ritual Magic and Sorcery at the upper levels.
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Old 04-23-2023, 08:13 PM   #8
malloyd
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Default Re: Lesser and Greater Magic

The thing is that allowing free use of any sort of spell you can call epic tends to mean the campaign is pretty much over - the PC can do anything and the only way you can challenge him is to add elements that are [clearly] bolted on, since if they were present from the campaign start they'd have crushed everything, including the PC, already.

On the other hand "epic" spells are a terrific plot drivers as long as they are single or limited use and only do one particular thing, rather than being handed out as a Syntactic system that can do anything. I tend to treat these as straight up plot devices, but if the PCs are going to be charged points for them I'd probably price them like Player Guidance Impulse Buys. These effectively operate like the Wish spells or powers found in many game systems - still something to watch out for, but limited by the fact you only have 3 or whatever.
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Old 04-23-2023, 09:01 PM   #9
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: Lesser and Greater Magic

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Originally Posted by Silverblade View Post
You feel it's complex? :(

...
Yes, it's complex. It's bolting together 3 different magic systems, all of which are fairly complex on their own (and none of which I am particularly fond).

I am also concerned about your point totals. A 500 pt Barbarian borders on the ridiculous. This campaign would go higher than that.
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Old 04-23-2023, 09:10 PM   #10
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: Lesser and Greater Magic

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Originally Posted by RGTraynor View Post
I introduced the concept of Threshold Magic to my players as soon as S. John first published it in

In the thirty years since, to a man, they have refused to touch it. No one thinks the risk is worth the payoff.
This agrees with what's always been my analysis. Threshold Magic doesn't work very well in competition with regular Magic. It's conceivable by itself as a setting's only Magic where Magic is supposed to be slightly more powerful but much, much rarer.

The increased cost for Magery doesn't stack up as any bargain for including Threshold Magic. That 30 pts more for Magery 3 could be spent on a 10 pt Energy Reserve that would be a lot more useful.
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