GURPS High Fantasy
Changes to Magic
There are three main areas changed about magic. The first is about casting spells, the second is about modifying spells, and the third is about enchanting.
The basics of casting spells has not changed, although elements based on skill level have.
As per Magic, pg 8, “To cast a spell, you must usually perform a ritual that involves gestures and speech. If you can’t perform the ritual, you can’t cast the spell! For instance, if the ritual for a spell requires you to speak, you cannot cast the spell if you are gagged or under a spell of silence. The higher your skill with a spell, the easier it is to cast. It takes less time, requires less energy, and has less stringent ritual requirements.”
|Skill Level||Time Factor|
|9 or less||x2|
|10 – 14||As Listed|
|15 – 19||-1|
|20 – 24||-2|
|25 – 29||-3|
|30 – 34||-4|
|35 – 39||-5|
The fact of the matter is that rarely have ritual factors come into play in the past, only the casting time and casting cost. Here is where a major change comes into play.
Spells are like chemical formulas; they must be done precisely or you get a different result. As such, only the casting cost is affected by high skill level. Rituals are done away with completely with the standard spells, although they can easily be added back in through the rules for Modifying Spells (see below). Note that if added to a spell, they can not be avoided through any means – they are an integral part of the spell! What this means is that spellcasters do not get layers of benefits for increased skill level, only a reduction in mana cost (which is significant), quick contests between the spell and something else (like Dispel Magic), and increased potential in resisted spells. If you want your spells to have more rituals to them, check out the “Requires Component” limitations on the Modifying Spells page.
Modifying spells is a great way to customize a spell to not only add diversity and flavor to spellcasting, but it also provides a means to get exactly the kind of spell you want.
The original source for these rules can be found at http://www.mygurps.com/r_magic.html?p=ir&v=0 as well as Thaumatology, in the Minor Spell Variants chapter, page 39.
The rules are quite simple. Take the enhancements that you want on the spell, then balance them out with an equal or lesser value of limitations. If the remaining balance does not equal 0%, then apply an additional +1 energy cost and -1 to skill for each 5% remaining (as per the rules for “Trading Energy for Enhancements”, Thaumatology, pg 39). All spell statistics not modified remains the same as the original spell. Give it the modified spell a new name and you’re done. Note that the total number of enhancements and limitations, including the offset listed above, can not exceed the number of skill points in the mage’s Thaumatology skill. This is also true for mages with the Wild Talent ability that create new spells on the fly. This reflects the importance of a mage understanding the underlying principles of magic.
The enhancements and limitations allowed for spells are listed on their own page. That said, there are new limitations that are specific to modifying spells.
- Increased Cost
Each level doubles, triples, etc., the FP Cost (or Base Cost) of a spell. To determine cost, multiply listed FP cost by (limitation level +1). This means that at level 5, you multiply the listed cost by 6 to determine the standard Cost or Base Cost of the variant spell.
- Requires Material Component
Level is based on the value of the component. Level 1 is for components that cost $0.01 or less, level 2 is for items costing $0.1 or less, level 3 is for items costing $1 or less, level 4 is for items costing $10 or less, level 5 is for items costing $100 or less, level 6 is for items costing $1,000 or less, level 7 is for items costing $10,000 or less, level 8 is for items costing $100,000 or less, level 9 is for items costing $1,000,000 or less, and level 10 is for items costing $10,000,000 or less.
- Requires Somatic Component
Level 1 requires footwork, level 2 requires intricate hand gestures, and level 3 requires both. With level 1 or 3, your feet must be unhindered and mobile to cast the spell. With level 2 or 3, your hands must be unhindered and mobile to cast the spell. For hands, unhindered also means not holding anything except spell components, should the spell call for some.
- Requires Verbal Component
All levels require the caster to be able to converse freely and succeed at an enunciation roll; levels also indicate penalty to said roll at -2 per level (maximum of -10). As with attack spells, a separate IQ roll is required (beyond the spell roll) to successfully cast the spell. This can be substituted with a “Mimicry (Speech)” roll instead of an IQ roll. Modifiers to the roll include the -2 per level from this limitation, +2 for Photographic Memory or Eidetic Memory (latter requiring its own IQ roll), and +5 from the advantage Mimcry.
Enchanting is simply imbuing an item with the ability for someone to cast a spell through the item. For this campaign, the enchanting rules are changed in the following key ways:
- All spells can be enchanted into an item, any item, for a mana point of 1,000 times its base cost. For variable cost spells, assume the lowest cost. This produces an item that allows the user to cast the spell with their own mana.
- To create an “Always On” item, create an item as above then add the “Power” enchantment. This provides a self-powered item that, once initiated by the user, will remain on until the item is removed. For an item that also self-activates, like manacles that apply hostile spells on the wearer, include “Link”.
- All spells that have a duration can be made permanent for a casting cost of 5,000 times the mana cost of the spell. Note that this is not the base mana cost but the effective mana cost for the effect intended. The subject must still be a viable subject for the spell normally; for example, area spells may not be made permanent on an individual, though they could be made permanent on an area.
- Enchantment spells work differently from other spells in terms of mana standard mana costs, so the indicated mana costs above don’t apply. Instead, multiply the listed book cost by 10 for every enchantment spell except Hide-Away. Hide-Away is overpriced as it is, so simply take the mana cost for that enchantment at book value.
- The method of enchanting is vastly different, and much simpler. An enchanter simply invests additional energy into his enchanting project in single event, but it does not consume his entire day. Beyond the initial hour to begin the enchantment, additional investiture takes a round per point. While an enchanter can only have one enchanting project at any given time, he can focus time on it in the middle of any other work he is doing.
Edwin the enchanter wants to enchant a staff with a spell that requires 2,000 MP to enchant. His FP is 12. He determines that 6 FP is enough to carry on with his research through the day, and would rather not take time out to strictly rest. This means he recovers FP at the standard rate of 1 point every 10 minutes he is active but not doing physical exertion (meaning activity that would cost more fatigue). At 10 minutes per fatigue, 6 FP are regained once an hour. This means that Edwin can take a moment once an hour to invest 6 FP into his enchantment project. At 6 invested FP, it will take him 6 seconds, a brief break from his research. This is all assuming he spent the requisite hour starting the enchantment. Assuming he sleeps for 8 hours and is therefore awake for 16, a normal day would allow him to invest 107 MP – 16 times at 6 each and 11 before sleep (11 being 1 shy of his full potential). Assuming 101 for the first day (meaning he started the enchantment as soon as he woke up), it would take Edwin 19 days to complete his project, but he would still be able to do other work besides the enchanting project.
- Enchantments cost a flat $3 per point. Permanent enchantments on characters also cost character points for the permanent trait if done prior to gameplay beginning.