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Old 03-19-2021, 01:11 PM   #1
KeplerMine
 
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Default Magic and Technology balance

I need help with the cost/damage balance, etc. There are a few restrictions in my world that prevent mages from taking regular guns (see Arcanum to get the gist). And after playing a bit I realized that mages are very much inferior in damage and attack speed compared to the science dudes. In theory, I could create some unique spells to make the fights more dynamic, but they would burn too much fp. And about prices, I tried to create magic bullets that use the Create Air spell instead of gunpowder. Their price per piece was about $100, which is way too much compared to a regular bullet. I don't even want to talk about bows or crossbows (especially the enchanted ones). Have you even seen armor of TL 7-8?

And yes, an important point. Mages are created in this world by Magic, no sorcery or RPM. TL of world is 6 to 8 (in normal).

Of course mages can do very broken things, like impenetrable domes or deflecting all projectiles... But I still wanted to bring some of that fun to the game when wizards throw fireball at you.
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Old 03-19-2021, 02:16 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by KeplerMine View Post
Of course mages can do very broken things, like impenetrable domes or deflecting all projectiles... But I still wanted to bring some of that fun to the game when wizards throw fireball at you.
The trouble is that anybody with a few pounds of the right hardware can throw 40mm explosive shells (a.k.a. grenades) that are at least as effective as most mage fireballs. Unless you're going to somehow nerf the technology to wildly below its real capability, you can't make that go away. GURPS Magic is designed not to produce crushingly superior damage output even in a TL 3 fantasy environment. If you want it to operate on a direct par with TL 8 military equipment you need to throw in spells with comparable capabilities: better range, accuracy, rate of fire, and damage than the existing spells while costing much less than 1 fp per typical shot.
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Old 03-19-2021, 02:44 PM   #3
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Default Re: Magic and Technology balance

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Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
If you want it to operate on a direct par with TL 8 military equipment you need to throw in spells with comparable capabilities: better range, accuracy, rate of fire, and damage than the existing spells while costing much less than 1 fp per typical shot.
Maybe I need just (damage|range|etc)*3... I really dont know how it will impact on "balance" (very funny word).
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Old 03-19-2021, 03:12 PM   #4
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Default Re: Magic and Technology balance

Ultimately, fireballs are often a poor use of a mage's time and energy even in low-tech fantasy. If you had wanted to spend your time breaking things, you would have trained as a warrior! Most of a mage's combat relevant abilities- to boost his own or his allies' abilities, to incapacitate opponents or even turn them into allies, to cloak the battlefield in illusion, and to move his side about instantly and without restriction- are at least as useful on a high-tech battlefield as they are in a low-tech one, and his ability to render himself and his allies completely invulnerable to ranged weapons (and turn those weapons back on their attackers) goes from situationaly helpful to insanely useful.

If you really want mages to act as discount artillery pieces, they still have options. Lightning and its derivatives can be a great source of fun when your enemies are riding in metal vehicles filled with explosives (remembering that GURPS lightning spells explicitly do not worry about such mundane concepts as Faraday cages).
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Old 03-19-2021, 03:27 PM   #5
johndallman
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Default Re: Magic and Technology balance

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Originally Posted by KeplerMine View Post
Maybe I need just (damage|range|etc)*3... I really don't know how it will impact on "balance" (very funny word).
A more effective approach is to use magic for information, infiltration, and other things that are hard with technology. Trying to compete with the products of a large chemical factory by using personal fatigue doesn't really make sense.
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Old 03-19-2021, 07:05 PM   #6
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Default Re: Magic and Technology balance

Hi Keplermine,

Consider a build with Magery, the spells Rain of Fire and Telecast and their prerequisites, and a huge Energy Reserve (Rain of Fire Only). This gets a lot closer to a D&D fireball's effect than the spell actually named Fireball.

Okay, that's a one-trick pony, but if you consider the norm in your game-world to be a specialist because even with general magery, mastering a lot of colleges is hard, then you'd have guys with general magery 0 raising up to Magery 3 with One College Only and maybe a Gadget like a Wand to keep it cheap, and then an Energy Reserve with the same limitations, then you get wizards of reasonable point cost slinging their favorite spells with 40 energy before they run dry.

Some people blanche at this making wizards too powerful, but if your problem is that they're not powerful enough, it might be a solution. Just rememer that what's good for the PC goose is also good for the NPC gander. Also, enchantments up to 250 points can be done quick instead of slow, making +1 swords affordable. I've been quite happy with the results in a fantasy world with up to TL4 gunpowder wepons, so sure no assault rifles, but blackpowder bombs dropped from griffins do more damage than modern grenades.
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Old 03-19-2021, 10:53 PM   #7
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Default Re: Magic and Technology balance

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Originally Posted by ravenfish View Post
Ultimately, fireballs are often a poor use of a mage's time and energy even in low-tech fantasy.
Really, the one thing mages aren't good at is damage output, everything else they can dominate; Getting into places they shouldn't, sending knowledge faster and through safer channels than everyone else, making everyone else and possibly anything else better, creating things that can fight better than them, etc. An old adage in That Other Game is that wizards are best suited to winning a fight before it ever happens and from over a decade of using Magic I feel gurps wizards are even better at it. If you want wizards to also keep up with damage, then probably the simplest way to scale damage is to set the low bar to easy-to-acquire handguns, mid-damage to harder to acquire guns, and high damage to the best guns available.

Plus, why create one fireball when you can summon/create a fire elemental?
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Old 03-20-2021, 05:01 AM   #8
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Default Re: Magic and Technology balance

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Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
The trouble is that anybody with a few pounds of the right hardware can throw 40mm explosive shells (a.k.a. grenades) that are at least as effective as most mage fireballs. Unless you're going to somehow nerf the technology to wildly below its real capability, you can't make that go away. GURPS Magic is designed not to produce crushingly superior damage output even in a TL 3 fantasy environment. If you want it to operate on a direct par with TL 8 military equipment you need to throw in spells with comparable capabilities: better range, accuracy, rate of fire, and damage than the existing spells while costing much less than 1 fp per typical shot.
Even Technomancer had to come up with more destructive versions of existing spells like High-explosive Fireball and Shape charged Fireball but that is not where the "battle" mage really shines.

One of the biggest issues with armies is supply especially food. If one has enough mages to provide Essential Food then all one really has to worry about is the other supplies like ammunition.
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Old 03-20-2021, 07:07 AM   #9
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Default Re: Magic and Technology balance

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Originally Posted by KeplerMine View Post
In theory, I could create some unique spells to make the fights more dynamic, but they would burn too much fp. And about prices, I tried to create magic bullets that use the Create Air spell instead of gunpowder. Their price per piece was about $100, which is way too much compared to a regular bullet. I don't even want to talk about bows or crossbows (especially the enchanted ones). Have you even seen armor of TL 7-8?

... But I still wanted to bring some of that fun to the game when wizards throw fireball at you.
It's fine to break the rules if you aren't destroying balance. If spell that lets a wizard fire a 3d fireball every second for 1 FP doesn't unbalance your fights, but makes the game more fun, then add it in. Likewise, let magic bullets be $1 each.

An ability can be more or less useful depending on the setting, so there's nothing wrong with tweaking costs to match the setting.

I'd start by asking myself what I'd like the wizard to be able to do in terms of attack spells, given the sorts of weapons used by the gun bunnies and how easy those weapons are for the gun bunnies to access. I'm thinking that a good fireball attack should probably be more powerful than the best gun in the party, but have fewer "shots" due to fatigue drain.

Last edited by Greg 1; 03-20-2021 at 07:31 AM.
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Old 03-20-2021, 10:00 AM   #10
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Default Re: Magic and Technology balance

The setting is TL7/8 or so with guns, where wizards are incapable of using guns?
I'm curious as to how that works out, but yeah I'll take that for granted.

What it feels like is that you're bringing a (magical) knife to a literal gunfight. While wizards are certainly capable of keeping up with moderately skilled warriors in the damage department in low-tech settings (for example, my DF wizards are on par w/ the archer and has some very nice high damage bursts), when the TL scoots up wizards become less the second-line combatants and more highly versatile problem solvers.

Being a wizard in a gunfight is a bit like being a rapier duellist in a fight with an armored guy wielding a big ol' sword or something. You're just outclassed in terms of damage, defenses, probably durability. Sure you could pull of some interesting tricks (get in close maybe?) just as a wizard could as well but the point is that the rapier isn't going to be very effective in that scenario just as a wizard is going to struggle in a gunfight.

But as was previously pointed out wizards have the ability to bypass barriers that are simply insurmountable by others. Send a magical message that can't be intercepted, become invisible, scout ahead without risk, heal, buff your frontliners, disrupt and harass enemies.

A wizard in a high TL environment is in the similar role as a thief or bard. Support. Stealth. Versatility. And the ability to break out a 3d fireball in an office building where an assault rifle simply isn't an option.
Fight on a battlefield? Wizard sucks
Fight in a subway? Wizard rules
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