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Old 03-23-2022, 11:13 PM   #1
Prince Charon
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Default [Magic] Replacing the Enchant spell with Alchemy or Herb Lore

One of the complaints occasionally leveled against the default GURPS magic system is that the Enchantment system appears to have been designed to convince the players not to use it (that may not have been the actual intentions of the designers, but that's how it looks to some of us), without considering that this means the in-setting NPCs would likewise be very unlikely to use it (for reasons discussed in this thread, among other places). This is fine for some settings (e.g. those where logic need not apply to worldbuilding, or where about 90% of the enchanted objects should be staffs, powerstones, and single-use items, and most of the rest are weird artifacts created by long-lived races for whom taking a decade or two off for an art project is a minor issue at worst), but it's not exactly generic.

There are a number of ways to fudge this, of course. Probably the easiest is to just make Slow and Sure Enchantment faster, e.g. eight points per day instead of one per day. It occurred to me a few hours ago that there was an option that I don't think I've seen explored: The spell system is already tied to the Alchemy/Herb Lore system in one place, that being the Lich spell and potion (GURPS Magic pp159-160). So, the basic concept in my mind is that enchantment could instead be done by creating an alchemic charm (or treating an existing object with Alchemy or Herb Lore) that can have a spell permanently impressed on it by casting it ceremonially during preparation. The charm, once completed, can then be used to cast that spell or those spells (depending on style of play, you may be able to load only one spell per charm, but attach multiple charms to a single item, or you may be able to load all the spells into one charm). The rest of the Enchantment college might remain as it's own thing, or be added to Meta-Spells or split up into several colleges.

The specific criteria of the Enchant elixir most likely depends on the setting. My current thinking is that the brewing time is one week per one hundred points, with the spells being loaded into the charm at specific stages in the brewing, but there are certainly other options. A large part of this is a desire for something close to plausible economics: Given the level of skill and number of workers that you would expect this to involve, could the costs of the resulting items be low enough that people would buy them (and thus low enough to be worth making)?

Also, an answer that can vary a lot from game to game: Would these magic items plausibly be as common as you need them to be for your setting to make sense?
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Old 03-24-2022, 01:06 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Magic] Replacing the Enchant spell with Alchemy or Herb Lore

One of the ways I have modified Slow and Sure is to assume that the 1 point per day number comes from a mage with 10 FT investing all of that energy and getting a 10% return. If they have 15 FT, they get 1.5 per day. Add in a set of powerstones (say, 11 10pt powerstones that they rotate through) they now have 2.5 per day. Paut potions (or talismans) can add some more. So can extra mages.

Then there is Lend Energy wands. Now you can have "professional resters" who give a chunk of their energy to the enchanter, then rest, then do it again (up to 7 times per 8 hour day). This drastically speeds up the process, but now you have to factor in an extra 7 castings of a spell per day, which can increase the risk of a critical failure. So this technique would only likely be used if there is a big rush to get something done, and/or there is a hefty premium being paid to make that risk acceptable.

I actually had an enchanter mage as a character way back when, so I extrapolated the enchanting rules to actually figure out what an enchanter does all day. Those house rules can be found here, if you are interested. There are some variants here.
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Old 03-24-2022, 03:36 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Magic] Replacing the Enchant spell with Alchemy or Herb Lore

My fix is simple: I reduce energy costs for the purpose of Slow & Sure by three-quarters. It's allowed PC enchanters to churn out simpler items and reduces the cost of a number of them to be financially feasible.
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Old 03-24-2022, 10:47 AM   #4
Join Date: Mar 2016
Default Re: [Magic] Replacing the Enchant spell with Alchemy or Herb Lore

One idea I've had that would minimize changes to the system is to allow master enchanters to purchase Altered Time Rate (Non-Combat Time, -60%, Enchantment Only, -20%) [20]/level, possibly along with one or more Rules Exemption perks to hammer out the details. This would also work well if you wanted to keep enchantment in the hands of NPCs, because it's very unlikely someone actually built on points would want to spend them that way.
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Old 03-24-2022, 11:13 AM   #5
Join Date: Jun 2013
Default Re: [Magic] Replacing the Enchant spell with Alchemy or Herb Lore

Were I inclined to use the default magic system, I'd probably opt to speed up enchantment by allowing expensive magical reagents (mana organs, rare herbs, whatever) to stand in for a mage's labor. Say you're in a setting where Slow and Sure Enchantment is worth $20 per energy (that is, per mage-day) - so every $20 worth of such reagents replaces 1 mage-day for Slow and Sure Enchantment (with room for some adjustment - some reagents may be particularly well-suited, while others may be particularly ill-suited, for certain enchantments - with $1000 worth of reagents - typically enough for 50 energy - if they're ill-suited, they might only supply 25 energy, while if well-suited they might supply 100 energy). Or maybe give a bit poorer of an exchange rate (maybe it's $25 worth of reagents per energy), as a bit of a "haste tax." Or something a bit more complex, but with similar effects.

As it stands, however, I instead intend to use a completely different system for magic items (essentially, build the enchantment as an Advantage, and base price on that, not dissimilarly to Metatronic Generators), crafting speed corresponds to the craftsman's "fair" labor rate compared to the cost of the enchantment, and expensive items are faster to enchant (and thus cheaper, albeit never by enough to negate the price of the item itself; a Flight enchantment on a gold ring is cheaper than the same on a brass ring, but the gold ring with the Flight enchantment is still overall more expensive than the brass ring with the same). But that's a digression.
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Old 03-24-2022, 05:14 PM   #6
Join Date: Jan 2017
Default Re: [Magic] Replacing the Enchant spell with Alchemy or Herb Lore

Thaumatology - Magical Styles had a couple of suggestions for speeding up enchantments within their perks. One was to allow your Magery worth of energy per day. Assuming your typical IQ 14-15 Magery 3 mages, that will make Slow and Sure go 3 times as fast. Another suggestion allowed you to reduce time by taking a skill penalty provided your final skill was Enchant 15. With a very high enough skill, you can reduce time all the way down to 10% as long.
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Old 03-24-2022, 11:23 PM   #7
Join Date: Apr 2020
Default Re: [Magic] Replacing the Enchant spell with Alchemy or Herb Lore

Magic Thamatergy pg 227 - Raw Magic.

Using Raw Magic as a fixative gives you 100 mana per point of raw, greatly reducing the cost of enchanting. Has the added benefit of encouraging the hunt for monsters and/or rare ingredients so that the item can be crafted by the mage.

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Old 03-25-2022, 05:57 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Magic] Replacing the Enchant spell with Alchemy or Herb Lore

Originally Posted by Keampe View Post
Magic Thamatergy pg 227 - Raw Magic.

Using Raw Magic as a fixative gives you 100 mana per point of raw, greatly reducing the cost of enchanting. Has the added benefit of encouraging the hunt for monsters and/or rare ingredients so that the item can be crafted by the mage.

- Shane
This. Also, I would recommend Dr.Kromm's Pyramid article “The Material Difference” (vol.3, #66: “The Laws of Magic”), which examines the notion of “Resource Farming” as a way of making PC Enchanters viable. It used a variant of Quick and Dirty Enchantment, the main difference being where the energy comes from: rather than the enchanter having to supply the energy from his own FP, HP, and a Powerstone, the energy comes from farmed materials. The article goes into detail as to what sorts of materials are appropriate for a given Enchantment, how to identify and harvest them, and how much energy they should provide.

In terms of Alchemy, the Alchemy skill factors into the Material Enchantment process as part of the Preparing Materials step. I could also see implementing an alternate take on Alchemy, built on the Ritual Magic variant of the standard magic rules: the core skill would be Alchemy, and most of the Colleges would be learned as Paths with the caveat that they can only be used for their Item entries and in conjunction with Material Enchantment, as described in the aforementioned Pyramid article. Enchant and Temporary Enchantment would be exceptions, defaulting directly to Alchemy at no penalty and being among the few spells that the Material Enchantment Alchemist can actually cast directly, albeit only through the Material Enchantment rules: Temporary Enchantment would be used to create the equivalent of elixirs (with the number of elixirs in a batch replacing the number of uses the Temporary Enchantment provides), while Enchant would be used to create the equivalent of charms.

If I were to do this, I would have this replace the dedicated Alchemy rules from Magic.
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Old 03-25-2022, 06:33 AM   #9
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Default Re: [Magic] Replacing the Enchant spell with Alchemy or Herb Lore

I've allowed enchanters to spend up to their Enchant * Enchant / 10 energy per day on slow and sure enchantment, and do note that I require them to actually have and spend the energy at the end of each enchantment day as opposed to standard enchantment rules. Enchant -skill is modified for mana level and some other modifiers, and is actually lower of the Enchant and the spell being Enchanted, as usual.

Then I modify enchanters wages based on the setting's desires and then come up with the price for magic items based on that. (Or vice versa).

So, for example, if I decide that enchanters should be making about $2,000 per month (solid Status 1, between Comfortable and Wealthy, so Comfortable wealth), and that the average enchanter has Enchant skill of 15, granting them about 20 energy per day of enchanting speed, assuming they have that many energy available at the end of each enchanting day.

Assuming 20 workdays per month, enchanter's daily pay comes down to $100 per day, or about $5 per point of energy for the enchantment. I then usually double this for finished items, accounting for storage, merchant's fees and whatnots.

From this, you can then easily extrapolate what a master enchanter with a skill of 20 can earn, when their enchanting speed is double that of the normal enchanter (20*20/10 = max of 40 energy per day)
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Old 03-27-2022, 02:52 AM   #10
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Join Date: Sep 2018
Default Re: [Magic] Replacing the Enchant spell with Alchemy or Herb Lore

I think Enchantment was designed less with the concept of making people not want to use it and more making a distinction that it's not something homeless adventurers throw together in their spare time. That perhaps very small enchantments would be done on the road but anything serious would be done in a workshop in a high magic tower with teams of enchanters.

I can see how Alchemy could be used to have enchantment-like effects. Modern steal is basically iron with secret ingredient additives and a secret recipe for forging it. Why wouldn't an Alchemist be able to forge a blade that does more damage or that affects insubstantial creatures, or even an amulet that gives small bonuses to resisting disease or sleep or other common maladies by harnessing the inherent energies of the magical world. These constructions would be more complex than a potion or salve and require a potency that ordinary ingredients probably wouldn't made the grade for.
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