Steve Jackson Games - Site Navigation
Home General Info Follow Us Search Illuminator Store Forums What's New Other Games Ogre GURPS Munchkin Our Games: Home

Go Back   Steve Jackson Games Forums > Roleplaying > GURPS

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-04-2019, 10:31 PM   #1
Prince Charon
 
Prince Charon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Default [Banestorm] What if some form of Hedge Magic were Yrth's main magic system?

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away back in third edition, S. John Ross wrote an article on a system he called Hedge Magic, which the Wayback Machine has faithfully archived. Though written for 3e, conversion to 4e as it stands is pretty easy, as the only bits that would be wrong in 4e are the names of skills: For Agronomy, read 'Farming,' Astronomy in the context given would probably be 'Fortune-Telling (Astrology),' and for purposes of Yrth specifically, Physician would be 'Pharmacy (Herbal)' and Meteorology would be 'Weather Sense,' because I'm not changing the tech level, just the magic system. I'm starting this thread both to discuss how Hedge Magic might work in 4e on Yrth, and to explore how the setting would be changed by it. You might also want to look at this thread about the article.

To briefly summarize the reasonably brief article, Hedge Magic is pretty much 'applying magic to mundane skills.' You don't buy up a separate set of magical skills and advantages, beyond the Hedge Magic advantage itself (which I'll go into below), it's just that you do various rituals and/or add various items along with your mundane skills, and mostly roll on those to get a result that's noticeably better than expected. It's a very freeform style, requiring the GM and players to be willing to work together without a complex set of rules to lawyer with. It's also usually a pretty subtle magic, though more blatant effects are somewhat possible. This caught my attention because that's how a lot of magic in Tolkien's Legendarium seems to work, especially elven 'magic' (a term the elves dislike, or at least Galadriel finds confusing, because the mortal races use the same term for anything they don't understand): They aren't casting spells, they just have an understanding of the Higher Mysteries of the Universe, allowing them to do stuff that sometimes looks impossible.

The Hedge Magic advantage as written costs 20 points, and lets you use the Hedge Magic system. Fine for 3e, but with 4e it might make more sense to treat it as just another form of Magery 0, or not require an advantage to use it at all, just base it on skills. In the latter case, once you get to a certain skill level (16? 20?), you start to understand the higher mysteries of the craft, and can apply the magic of the world to improve the effects of an action; alternatively, you might use a variant of Mysteries of the Trade from GURPS Fantasy pp162-163: (Profession or Skill) Magic is an IQ/VH skill that is used for Hedge Magic, defaulting from Base Skill-6, but without the other rules in Mysteries of the Trade. Optionally, you might get a head start on the higher mysteries by learning various esoteric skills (Occultism, Ritual Magic, Symbol Drawing, Thaumatology, et cetra); otherwise, they serve as Complementary Skills, or have no significant effect. You could also do it as a Realm system, with each skill having its own Realm (far more realms than is normal for Realm systems).

For my own version, I'm going to say that Magery 0 treats Hedge Magic the same as it does regular magic, although you can use Hedge Magic without any Magery at a -5 skill penalty. Esoteric skills do give you a leg up, in that if you do have one or more of those skills at 12 or higher, you can apply rituals to any skills you have, whereas if you don't, you can only apply them to skills that you know at 15 or greater. They also serve as Complementary Skills when applying magic to a mundane skill only (and I'm using this Complementary Skills houserule). Levels in the Magery talent do apply, but again, only when you are taking extra time to do rituals and/or putting in other forms of extra effort, to use magic with that skill or skills. Both Magery 0 and the Magery talent are learnable advantages. Other posters in this thread may prefer a different version, and that's fine.

An important question is why, in-story, Hedge Magic is the primary magic system. It could be that the standard, spell-based system is much more rare than in the main Yrth timeline, or completely absent. If so, was it always like this, or is it a new thing? For my purposes, I'll say that Hedge Magic was there all along, since long before even the elves or dragons remember. The spell-based system was developed by elves of an academic bent, at first just to have magic that behaved in a more systematic and consistent manner, and later because spells made it less difficult to perform the more unsubtle effects. The dwarves came at the problem from a different direction, developing a couple of forms of Symbol Drawing magic. Neither was extremely common, and they became less so after the Banestorm ritual blew up in the Dark Elves' faces: Many spellcasters died, or were taked elsewhere by the Banestorm, and those that remained were often less popular with their fellows. The Symbol wizards likewise often died or vanished, but did not suffer from the social isolation the elven spell-users did, as they were not blamed for the disaster.

Now, spell-based magic is vanishingly rare, save among the Djinn, the Dark Elves, and ironically, a few tribes in the Orclands (none of which helps its reputation). Finding a teacher if you aren't in one of those categories would require a quest (and if you aren't an elf, put you at significant risk of the Dark Elves murdering you), and starting with it if you aren't a Djinn, Dark Elf, or part of one of those tribes would be worth a serious Unusual Background cost (possibly around 50 points, or 20 if you grew up in the Orclands). Elves who know spell-based magic are often very old and very powerful, especially if they aren't Dark Elves. Symbol Drawing styles are rare outside of Zarak and the Nomad Lands (about a 20 point UB cost), and still quite uncommon within them (about a 5 point UB cost in Zarak, & 10 points in the Nomad Lands), although Symbol Drawing as an aid to Hedge Magic is relatively common. Spell-casters and some symbol-wizards are among the very few in this setting who would call Hedge Magic by that name (or sometimes 'Low Magic' or 'Vulgar Magic'), to distinguish it from their own 'High Magic.' To pretty much everyone else, it's just magic.

I'd say that Mysticism works as is: it's simply a different expression of the concept of 'magic in everything.' Alchemy and Herb-Lore could be used as written, or one or both might be Hedge Magic versions of their mundane counterparts, Chemistry/TL3^ and Pharmacy (Herbal)/TL3^. For my purposes, Alchemy/TL3^ is the version from GURPS Magic, and was developed by scholarly elves, dwarves, and gnomes (and later humans), based on studies of the Hedge Magic forms of Pharmacy (Herbal) and Chemistry, much like spell-based magic and Symbol Drawing were developed from other skill-rituals. Chemistry/TL3^ still exists, and is also called Alchemy, because anyone who hasn't studied the Alchemy skill at least a little wouldn't know the difference (mainly, Hedge Magic Chemistry is cheaper and mostly more subtle than Alchemy, although it can be used to create some fairly impressive smoke and fire effects).

The article mentions using the Meteorology skill to not only predict the weather and see omens in it, but to manipulate it as well, so it makes sense that Fortune-Telling skills could be used not only for divination, but for altering probability, and perhaps laying curses. Gambling could likewise be used to change luck when using Hedge Magic with it, especially combined with Fortune-Telling. Arranging for someone to be stuck by lightning would not be easy, though - I suggest that it should require at least Weather Sense, a Fortune-telling skill, and one or more esoteric skills, if allowed at all. Probability-altering effects in general could be very helpful with any other skill, of course, especially if related - e. g. Fortune-Telling (Astrology) and Esoteric Medicine (Astrological).

Still hating the character limit.
__________________
Warning, I have the Distractible and Imaginative quirks in real life.

"The more corrupt a government, the more it legislates."
-- Tacitus

Five Earths, All in a Row. Updated 5/25/2021: September, 2014 article has been posted.
Prince Charon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-04-2019, 10:31 PM   #2
Prince Charon
 
Prince Charon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Default Re: [Banestorm] What if some form of Hedge Magic were Yrth's main magic system?

Applying Hedge Magic to the Hypnotism skill seems like it would allow for both mind control & mental illusions. At the lowest level of mind control, it could be treated like the Enthrallment skills in Basic Set (Characters) pp191-192 (which themselves fit with Hedge Magic applied to Public Speaking, Singing, and other 'bardic' skills), but on a more individual level. More detailed forms of mind control should be possible, though how powerful and how specific depend on the GM; agents of the Ministry of Serendipity would be very skilled with the Hedge Magic of Hypnotism. Illusions should likewise not be terribly difficult when trying to fool an individual. Combining Hypnotism with other skills like Performance, Public Speaking, or perhaps Gesture should make it easier to effect a group. Combining it with Artist, Calligraphy, and/or Writing could allow one to create an effect when not present, but this does mean the caster has less control over what exactly it does. Ratpiping, from GURPS Thaumatology: Urban Magics p21, could be duplicated by combining Hypnotism and a Musical Instrument skill with Hedge Magic. Using Hypnotism rapidly in combat is another matter, as Hedge Magic is usually slower than normal uses of a skill. Depending on the GM, it may be possible, but would require other forms of extra effort, such as a weapon or other tool that was specifically designed to aid Hypnotism (see below), or adding other skills and accepting significant skill penalties.

Applying Hedge Magic to various craft skills like Smith, Armory, Jeweler ('Three rings for the elven kings under the sky...'), Artist, or Engineer seems like the way to make Hedge Magic Items. It's nicely consistent with how Tolkien's magic items seem to be created (they often aren't 'magic' exactly, just very well-made, by people who know some aspects of the Secrets of the Universe). Most magic items in this style would simply be very fine or superfine versions of normal items, made with materials and technology that normally wouldn't allow that level of quality, and that are perceptibly magical to a Mage; these might be more common than some types of low-level magic items in canon Yrth. Items with truly magical abilities would be rather less common, but not impossible - in most cases they just make it easier to apply Hedge Magic to one or more mundane skills, usually in a specific way, but a few are less subtle than that (crafting a Ring of Invisibility would be very difficult; crafting the One Ring would be a truly epic undertaking, and would require the maker to first craft and distribute other quite powerful rings, as Sauron did). How good the item is depends not only on how well you roll when creating it, but how much extra effort you put in, and how epic or mythic is the player's description of the act of creation, backstory of the components, et cetra. As with the rest of this system, the creation of magic items is very freeform, and every magic item should be unique. If you have access to a copy of Thaumatology: Urban Magics, you might get some inspiration from Lapidism (p18) and Sacred Architecture (pp21-23).

So, how do you think this would effect the various cultures of Yrth?

What other skills might it be interesting to apply Hedge Magic to, and in what way?
__________________
Warning, I have the Distractible and Imaginative quirks in real life.

"The more corrupt a government, the more it legislates."
-- Tacitus

Five Earths, All in a Row. Updated 5/25/2021: September, 2014 article has been posted.
Prince Charon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-05-2019, 08:50 AM   #3
Rupert
 
Rupert's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Wellington, NZ
Default Re: [Banestorm] What if some form of Hedge Magic were Yrth's main magic system?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prince Charon View Post
The Hedge Magic advantage as written costs 20 points, and lets you use the Hedge Magic system. Fine for 3e, but with 4e it might make more sense to treat it as just another form of Magery 0, or not require an advantage to use it at all, just base it on skills. In the latter case, once you get to a certain skill level (16? 20?), you start to understand the higher mysteries of the craft, and can apply the magic of the world to improve the effects of an action; alternatively, you might use a variant of Mysteries of the Trade from GURPS Fantasy pp162-163: (Profession or Skill) Magic is an IQ/VH skill that is used for Hedge Magic, defaulting from Base Skill-6, but without the other rules in Mysteries of the Trade. Optionally, you might get a head start on the higher mysteries by learning various esoteric skills (Occultism, Ritual Magic, Symbol Drawing, Thaumatology, et cetra); otherwise, they serve as Complementary Skills, or have no significant effect. You could also do it as a Realm system, with each skill having its own Realm (far more realms than is normal for Realm systems).
I think a 20-point advantage is about right unless everyone can do it relatively easily it's quite a significant Unusual Background.
__________________
Rupert Boleyn

"A pessimist is an optimist with a sense of history."
Rupert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-05-2019, 11:27 AM   #4
Astromancer
 
Astromancer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: West Virginia
Default Re: [Banestorm] What if some form of Hedge Magic were Yrth's main magic system?

There's good logical sense to this. High Magic would be like knowing Greek or Arabic in the Medieval period, plenty of examples but pretty rare in real world terms. The Hedge Magic would be in every village. There'd be many women who, like the 18th cunning woman interviewed in Yorkshire, would say, "I don't Witch I UNwitch!"

There'd be lots of small scale occult practitioners, as in our real history, only these guys would be more effective, much more effective. The Hedge Magic offered is very good. But the village Wise Woman would need something like the Herb Lore Magic from Phil Master's Alchemical Baroque. Cunning Men would use something similar, but with different strengths and limits.
__________________
Per Ardua Per Astra!


Ancora Imparo
Astromancer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-05-2019, 08:11 PM   #5
Anthony
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Berkeley, CA
Default Re: [Banestorm] What if some form of Hedge Magic were Yrth's main magic system?

Hedge magic is kinda undefined; it's basically 'better versions of mundane skills', which is arguably just a TL 3+1. Or just take Seredipity with preparation required.
__________________
My GURPS site and Blog.
Anthony is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-06-2019, 08:00 AM   #6
martinl
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Default Re: [Banestorm] What if some form of Hedge Magic were Yrth's main magic system?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
Hedge magic is kinda undefined; it's basically 'better versions of mundane skills', which is arguably just a TL 3+1.
"Higher tech level (limited skills, preparation, raw materials, and ritual required)" is a relatively easy hack that is expandable in a lot of handy directions.

If a skill doesn't have a lot of TL dependence, this works less well, but Cosmic to ignore normal limitations, various synergistic advantages with limitations, and various riffs on weapon master for noncombat skills are all possible.

Some folks might just be using the normal skill with disads that give them penalties if they don't do rituals. Historically the difference between knowledge, skill, and magic was pretty hazy.

This makes the system less unified and clean but adds a lot of fun texture.
martinl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-06-2019, 09:48 AM   #7
AlexanderHowl
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Default Re: [Banestorm] What if some form of Hedge Magic were Yrth's main magic system?

Or Hedge Magic could work like RPM, though the Paths would build off mundane skills as well as magical skills. In that case, I would suggest Ritual Magic (Hedge Magic) and have no Path could exceed the lesser of the associated mundane skill or Ritual Magic (Hedge Magic). For example, the Path of Sewing would allow for Control Sewing, Create Sewing, Destroy Sewing, etc., and would require Ritual Magic (Hedge Magic) and Sewing.
AlexanderHowl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-06-2019, 10:36 AM   #8
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default Re: [Banestorm] What if some form of Hedge Magic were Yrth's main magic system?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prince Charon View Post
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away back in third edition, S. John Ross wrote an article on a system he called Hedge Magic, which the Wayback Machine has faithfully archived.
Can people currently access that article? I can't get at it with Edge or Chrome - I just get timeouts.
johndallman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-06-2019, 01:16 PM   #9
Anthony
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Berkeley, CA
Default Re: [Banestorm] What if some form of Hedge Magic were Yrth's main magic system?

Pretty sure the Wayback machine rate-limits URLs so people don't use it as an actual website.
__________________
My GURPS site and Blog.
Anthony is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-06-2019, 01:23 PM   #10
Prince Charon
 
Prince Charon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Default Re: [Banestorm] What if some form of Hedge Magic were Yrth's main magic system?

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Can people currently access that article? I can't get at it with Edge or Chrome - I just get timeouts.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
Pretty sure the Wayback machine rate-limits URLs so people don't use it as an actual website.
Possibly. I just tried it and it works right now, but it does sometimes take longer to get through.

EDIT: Unfortunately, that's the only place that I've found the article online.
__________________
Warning, I have the Distractible and Imaginative quirks in real life.

"The more corrupt a government, the more it legislates."
-- Tacitus

Five Earths, All in a Row. Updated 5/25/2021: September, 2014 article has been posted.

Last edited by Prince Charon; 08-06-2019 at 01:35 PM.
Prince Charon is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
banestorm, worldbuilding, yrth

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Fnords are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:36 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.