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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Goblin

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    Mar 2019

    Default A magic system for GURPS Lite

    I got tired to trying to shoehorn my ideas into D&D and decided to move to GURPS. And given the amount of work I was putting into my setting I opted not to try to shoehorn it into the existing sourcebooks. So I'm starting from GURPS Lite and working my way out. More work, but I enjoy building settings and systems. I'm brainstorming the magic system. I bought the GURPS:Magic and GURPS:Thaumatology books because they seem to have most of what I want. I just have to pick and choose and modify. Modify fairly heavily, but that's okay. This isn't going to be a general replacement for those books, this is going to be a single instance optimized for my setting. There's a lot of contradictory material in my notes here as I throw ideas out and build on them. Ultimately I'll prune them. Hopefully.

    I want to go with a skill-based system using mana (though I hate that term). I want players to be able to have their characters customize/individualize their magic use on the basis of circumstances and desire.

    What is magic? It's the manipulation of energy and matter using mystical power.

    Where does magic power come from? Friction of the strands of disparate threads of reality rubbing together. The more disparate/different the threads are the higher the potential and, therefore, the more magic. Magic can also come directly from other threads. Raw magic (the power of the universe) vs power harvested from other sources? (Heat, light, life, will, etc...) Magic sources:
    Gathering it from the environment (Wizards, Sorcerers)
    This would have an effect on the environment.
    Pulling heat from the environment would make things colder
    Pulling life out of the area would cause plants to whither, insects to die, make it uncomfortable
    Pulling raw magic out of the area would deplete the local supply of magic
    Ley lines? Ley fonts? Yeah, fountains of mana in places where realities rub against each other and streams of it meandering across the landscape of reality.
    Working with the environment (Druids)
    I see this as convincing the environment to do things. Sustainable harvesting of power. Need to think this through.
    From an outside source (Clerics, Warlocks)
    There should be real consequences of getting power from outside sources:
    Demands made upon the recipients
    Code of behavior
    Specific task or tasks to be accomplished
    Consequences for failure to uphold the 'bargain'
    Loss of power
    Punishment by other servants
    Direct punishment by the patron
    Power given as a limited trade and once exhausted a new trade must be made?
    I think these types of casters don't know spells. They simply know how to act as a conduit for power. A conduit that guides the intent? E.G. A healing cleric doesn't actually know that the bones are broken and how to use magic to fix them, he simply knows the victim is injured and opens himself up to the power of his deity with the intent to cure.
    Warlocks know spells. The number of spells they know, the amount of power they wield, should be tied to how deeply they are involved with their patron. The more influence their patron exerts on them, the more power they have. And the patrons aren't generally benevolent benefactors, they've got an agenda and will spend only as much resources as they must to accomplish it.
    Champions/Paladins shouldn't know spells. They should channel power with intent. Practically this means they know a few spells (appropriate to their deity/patron) and simply increase the amount of power they can put into them as they gain more skill/level-up.
    Clerics might know spells. Get rid of clerics? Just use Champions/Paladins? Unless Clerics are priests. Or are they more like... knowledge paladins?
    Power/spells should reflect the nature of the source, not be generic
    A demon should grant demonic power and spell capabilities
    A god of healing shouldn't be handing out more than minor smiting spells
    A god of war isn't going to be handing out a lot of healing spells

    Configurable magic. The basic create flame spell can be modified to be a wall of flame or fireballs or a tornado of flame on the basis of knowledge, ability, and power applied. Basic spells that can be elaborated upon and linked. Is there any appreciable difference between a basic spell that can be cast in many configurations and a spell progression tree? Okay, GURPS does this. It has Ars Magica style rules (Improvised Magic) that allow for exactly this. And I don't like them because they take too long to resolve. It's good crunch, but it's too much crunch for the pacing I'm aiming for. I think I'm going to go with progression trees organized into various types of magic and allow a default skill level for associated spells the magic user doesn't know rather than going with no default skill level for each spell. So a magic user who knows the basic flame spell understands how it works and might be able to see how a wall of fire might be created. He doesn't know the specific wall of fire application of this spell yet, but he might still try to do it in a desperate situation. And I'd say he has *some* chance, because the spell is part of the defined tree/school/type, rather than having no chance.

    But I think that this is best represented as spell trees. The changes I'd make are mostly fluff/lore. So while mechanically it's still trees and groups the fluff/lore says that you've learned the flame spell and know how to cast it in one way. Learning new ways to cast it is the fluff, the spell tree is the system.

    Casting magic is hard. Casters use lots of aids to increase their odds of success:
    rituals, linked spells, circles, wands/staves/rings, power focii/sources/ingredients, assistants, familiars, runes/glyphs, extra-time, etc...

    When magic goes wrong there are consequences. Sometimes the consequences are deadly.
    Leverage the existing tables in D&D and GURPS Magic. Should scale with the severity of the failure to cast.
    Least Severe Failure
    Spell almost works
    Aspect of the spell fails
    Spell affects other than intended target
    Spell affects caster
    Spell less powerful than intended
    Spell more powerful than intended
    Spell pulls more power than intended
    Caster stunned
    Caster takes damage
    Caster loses consciousness
    Caster's brain squirts out ears (this should only happen with really powerful spells and truly epic failures, how to ensure that?)
    Most Severe Failure

    Able to prepare magic in advance and hold it ready. With limitations. The time scale of combat in GURPS gives a real advantage to non-magic users. Being able to have a couple of spells ready to trigger in a round or two of combat would help to balance this. On the other hand, given the potential for magic to do some very heavy damage perhaps the time limitation is good. Need to look at this from a balance perspective. Perhaps the whole magic system needs to be tilted away from large scale effects? More precise spells? Small effects? Hmm. This is a super important balance issue. How to measure balance? Average amount of damage that can be dealt per round of combat per points the character is worth? So magic users can't cast as quickly as martials can act but the damage per round works out the same? Combat magic? Low level spells that can be prepared ahead of time and held ready? Spells that are easy to cast in a fight? More like buffs and de-buffs? The big power spells take time to cast? It's doable, but it changes the pacing of combat.

    Magic can be stored in capacitors but it might warp reality around it.
    Finished spells (magic rings, magic scrolls) - Less likely to warp
    Raw magic (for use in casting spells) - More likely to warp

    Magic can be accumulated by automated processes but this is hard and dangerous.
    Prayer wheels, Dream catchers
    Magic spells for gathering power. Big spells might require first harvesting and temporarily containing lots of power to power the spell.

    I like aspected magic. I like the idea that magic can reflect its source and the uses to which it is put and the person who put it to use. If I say that magic can work based on belief (rather than exploiting a single 'true' system like physics) then I can have different schools of magic that do the exact same spells, but in different ways, such that a caster from one school would not be able to use a spell from a different school. Also, I like the idea of some casters being script-kiddies using remnants of ancient magical systems that they are able to use without truly understanding how they work.
    Arcane Magic -
    Manipulation of the magic of this reality.
    Different groups take different approaches to this. Two different schools might do the exact same magic in very different ways because they have different root beliefs about how magic works. Magic will fit itself into their belief system.
    Mystical Magic -
    Manipulation of the magic of other realities.
    This is gifted magic and adheres to the structure of the entity supplying the magic and knowledge. Some patrons teach magical systems. Some patrons simply give rough instructions and access to a pool of power.

    Hmmm.... this is the source of power. But I can see overlaps. I can see a demon-summoner using arcane magic to summon demons that use mystical power to accomplish the tasks they are set. I can see a Champion of the forest spirits of this reality facing a Champion of the forest spirits rooted in another reality. I need to stop trying to build for everything and just build for my setting. But I want logical consistency so I need to consider how the system extends without getting bogged down in it. Argh.

    Instead of separate advantages for each type of magical use maybe a single advantage with options?
    Magical Aptitude -
    -Choose source of power
    -Mystical
    -Arcane
    -Combined
    -Purchase levels in chosen power source
    0 - 10pts Barely Talented but able to use magic
    1 - 20pts Talented
    2 - 35pts Gifted
    3 - 50pts Savant
    4 - 70pts Creature of Magic or Otherworldly [Restricted level]
    -Choose magical tradition/path
    This tracks more closely with D&D classes but is still flexible.
    Spell/Skill costs decided by the above choices.
    Tradition/Path opens some skill paths and closes others

    Basic progression in spell concepts:
    Learning to protect yourself against magic
    Grounding - Letting magic flow through you without hurting you
    Magic circles
    Keeping power from getting to you
    Using circles to channel energy
    Let some types of magic users skip this step? Sorcerers, Warlocks, some Clerics? Roll on the self-taught mishap table?
    Learning to gather power
    I think characters should need to take a skill for each source of power they want to tap
    Balance this by the base skill cost (e.g. base Mage skill allows acquiring lots of power sources but costs more than a base Sorcerer skill that only allows a few power sources?)
    Learning to release power in a controlled fashion
    Force spells
    Learning to manipulate power before releasing it

    Magic can be self-taught but that's dangerous. Cheaper to skill buy but requires a roll on a mishap table that gives a selection of random disadvantages accrued during the learning process? Magic learned by apprenticeship where they assist skilled practitioners with their magic. Would that make group casting a very basic skill? Maybe for wizards.

    Runes. A specific subset of glyphs, sigils, and magical markings in general. Used to store spells, energy, as well as communicating magical knowledge. Glyphs as a tool that can represent a unique person? A true name? Two dimensional representations of three dimensional magical constructs?

    Sympathetic magic and true names? Only work in specific circumstances? On specific creatures? Inherently magical creatures? Can a unique representation of each individual creature be created? Used to examine them? A medical tool? Used to cast magic upon them? Would this be required to cast magic that changes them?

    Magic should have an effect on users. Short term and long term effects.

    A lot of this is already in GURPS Magic, but not in the way that I like. So I'll do it the way I like. Edit to add, now that I've got Thaumatology pretty much everything I want is in the GURPS sourcebooks. I need to pick and choose and I'm going to modify more than a few things. Pruning the spell lists is high on the list.

    Advantages:
    Magical Aptitude: [Wizard equivalent]
    Level
    0 - 10pts Barely Talented but able to use magic
    1 - 20pts Talented
    2 - 35pts Gifted
    3 - 50pts Savant
    4 - 70pts Creature of Magic or Otherworldly

    Able to perceive and use magic and to acquire skill in the use of magic. Your ability to use magic will be evident to others with this aptitude and your aura will reflect your talent and skill to those that are capable of examining it. You are likewise able to perceive magic of all types in others and items, though you need additional skills to learn more than very broad details.
    Specifics:
    -Add your aptitude to your IQ when learning spells. E.G. if you have an IQ of 13 and an aptitude of 2 you learn spells as though your IQ was 15.
    -GM will roll versus IQ + Aptitude when you first encounter a magical creature, magic user, or magic item to see if you recognize the inherent magic. GM will roll again, with an additional +1, the first time you touch one. This will only provide a broad sense: “As you shake his hand you sense a hidden power to him, a flavor of magic you are not familiar with.” “The sword on the wall radiates a subtle menace.”

    Anointed of the Gods: [Cleric and Paladin equivalent]
    Able to channel the power of their deity and shape it with rough intent. The anointed don't know spells in the sense that those with magical aptitude do. Instead they give intent to the power that comes to them from their connection to a deity. Each deity has a list of spells/intents specific to them and their anointed have access to all of these from day one, though they can acquire skill in defining their intent to refine the effects.

    Touched by Magic: [Sorcerer equivalent]
    Rather than having a talent for working with magic or an affinity for it, magic is part of who you are, Either by heritage or incident you are inextricably bound to magic and it to you. Where a mage is an engineer or scientist, you are an artist, manipulating magic by instinct and feel.

    Touched by Outsiders:[Warlock equivalent]
    Your power and knowledge comes from your bargain(s) with powerful beings.

    Disadvantages:

    Skills:

    Random thoughts for later:
    -Include the D&D spell list as a separate type of magic? The remains of a long dead and mostly forgotten civilization and the spells are their most enduring legacy? Magic users of this type as archaeologists uncovering ancient knowledge/artifacts that they can use even if they don't understand how they work?
    Last edited by jjordan; 2019-09-02 at 09:34 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    EvilClericGuy

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    Aug 2010

    Default Re: A magic system for GURPS Lite

    Path Magic?

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Goblin

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    Mar 2019

    Default Re: A magic system for GURPS Lite

    Quote Originally Posted by thorr-kan View Post
    Path Magic?
    I'm failing to understand your question. Are you asking how path magic fits in or if this is path magic? I mean this is pretty strongly path magic as I understand it. Though I'm more influenced by the theories of chaos magic.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    EvilClericGuy

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    Aug 2010

    Default Re: A magic system for GURPS Lite

    Let me unpack a bit: GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic:
    http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/books/ritualpathmagic/

    A fully stand alone advantage and skill-based magic system designed to more accurately mimic real world magical believes. The 4th edition supplement is based on the system first introduced in 3rd edition's supplement, GURPS Voodoo: The Shadow War.

    Commonly referred to as Path Magic or Ritual Magic on the SJGames's forums, hence my slip into jargon shorthand on the wrong forum.

    ETA: Always spelling with me.
    Last edited by thorr-kan; 2019-08-22 at 08:38 AM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    EvilClericGuy

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    Aug 2010

    Default Re: A magic system for GURPS Lite

    Or alternatively, if you want to go *really* simple, there's the old Hedge Magic rules from the designer of GURPS Russia:
    https://web.archive.org/web/20040628...john/hedge.htm

    A lot of DM fiat, but I'm a 2E DnD player and DM; fiat is our bread and butter.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Goblin

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    Mar 2019

    Default Re: A magic system for GURPS Lite

    Quote Originally Posted by thorr-kan View Post
    Let me unpack a bit: GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic:
    http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/books/ritualpathmagic/

    A fully stand alone advantage and skill-based magic system designed to more accurately mimic real world magical believes. The 4th edition supplement is based on the system first introduced in 3rd edition's supplement, GURPS Voodoo: The Shadow War.

    Commonly referred to a Path Magic or Ritual Magic on the SJGames's forums, hence my slip into jargon shorthand on the wrong forum.
    Ah-ha! I was wondering if that might be it. I couldn't look at that earlier but I checked out the excerpt this evening. Hadn't seen it. I'll have to look into getting a copy. I think my views on magic definitely trend a little more modern and track closer to the path magic than Vancian magic. On the other hand, I've always enjoyed the medieval approach to magic where you are discovering the underlying system of the universe and commanding supernatural entities to do your bidding.

    Thank you for the pointer to the hedge magic. That's a cool alternative and a level of magic I definitely want to have available in my setting.

    EDIT TO ADD:

    Got Thaumatology. Yes, between that and magic I've got pretty much everything I need. It's just a question of pruning and reorganizing. I'm glad I got electronic copies because that's going to make it easier for me to do the pruning and reorganizing and flavoring.
    Last edited by jjordan; 2019-08-27 at 11:01 AM.

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