beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
GURPS rules based magic says:
you can only use one powerstone at a time
you must be touching it, or touching something with the Staff spell enchanted on it that has a powerstone in it
powerstones recharge normally if six feet away from another powerstone, otherwise they divide the points among the stones, take twice as long for two, three times for three etc.

Obviously the simplest way to carry multiple stones is just take them off and put them different places. But then someone can wander off with them.

There's also the spell Knot which knots a rope or cord in such a way as it can only be undone by the password or by magic.

I was thinking: a bracelet can be made of a complexly knotted cord. Like I found one with 24 feet of paracord in it. You could fit a longer thread in if it was skinnier, and more complexly knotted. Obviously this stretches the definition of knot really really far, but that just means there's a more complex spell to learn or invent.

... in theory you could have knitting that won't unravel without a password. Or crochet. Or... stuff.

But what I was thinking of was a bracelet that packed a number of different powerstones close together, around your wrist or wrists, maybe even knotted so they touch your skin. Can't be removed without a password. But with the password they unravel to just be rope.

And then you can throw one end up a tree or use the thing to make a circle around you or some other shape as long as every stone has at least six feet of cord between it and the next stone. And it would recharge at normal speed. But you would have it knotted back around your wrist again - assuming no tree branch based critical fail - in a single casting of a two second spell.

Or you could have complex magic items where each bit had it's own power source and you needed to run a cord up a flagpole at night to recharge the thing.

Obviously you'd end up with different math than just getting one huge powerstone and letting it recharge at normal speed. Less overall bang, but faster recharge if you want to do a lot of smaller things in a row.

And it's always easier to find many small powerstones than one big one, because chance of crit fail destroying larger stones.

Of course this goes well with any knotting or fabric based magic, but those usually assume the knots or weaving or whatever happens at normal speed and are the gestural components of an enchantment. This is more like instant items.

I don't know. Might not be useful, but it's interesting flavour or spin.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
So, I was thinking about my epic lack of social skills, and ongoing shortage of brickspace friends, and it occurred to me to think about it in hours spent. Which of course makes me think of GURPS rules for study

Getting to know a person is like a specialist topic. And you probably can't study books about them, mostly, though people something enough to have instruction manuals would be an interesting category. Reading their journal might count, but only i they're, like, super chatty and write all the things.

... my journal. Probably counts.
But I do skim the highlights only, for a lot of topics.
... yes I know it's very wordy for highlights.

Most people most of the time are not deliberately teaching you about themselves. There would be times they were, but probably not often.

And the kind of thing that counts as intensive training? Probably not going to come up in routine social interaction.

So most people most of the time, hanging out with them is like learning on the job.

Some people are in fact your job, but then all you need to know about them relates to your job, so the primary skill is your job skill, and different clients are, like, familiarisation penalties. (B169) Eight hours practice gives you familiarity with a new model. Before then you're at -2 even if you have the relevant skill. So you can improve rapidly in those 8 hours, which seems to be all Torchwood does to teach guns, but might make an instructor think they were really good at teaching. But with people, 8 hours getting to know them would get you over the really awkward stage.

But then just hanging out not teaching in particular? 800 hours. To get one point better. Than default. For a maximum of 8 hours a day.

Sooooo... that could take a while.

And I, personally, leave the house maybe 8 hours a week?
And much of that time is spent on the bus.

So to get over the first awkward might take two or three weeks, but then to actually start getting skill points in This New Person, that will take at least a hundred weeks. Or two hundred. Or... more.

And if any particular person is only there for one activity a month? A hundred months.

... which is a bit of a long time, really, and a complete explanation for only shallow acquaintance, without social skill penalties being involved at all.

Which makes me feel better about it.

... I mean my social skill penalties are also significant, but, theoretically not insurmountable, given sufficient time with an actual particular human.

Finding one you like well enough to invest 800 hours in is a tricky bit.

It was way easier when we got all those hours by osmosis at school, every single day, for years.

... easier in a way that I purely couldn't do any more, but, you know, in the friend-hours equation, that went faster.

So, new theory: just need more hours.

... at my age...
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
The thing with GURPS is that I think I like it for its versatility and flexibility and diversity
and the way there's a rule for just about everything
and then when I sit down and decide what things to actually use
I simplify.

Read more... )

When inventing religion for the new fantasy world I... first decided that world without Jews would put me in bad company and so clearly Jews got Banestormed there, and then I read a lot of fics about Captain Cold, and then I ended up with a corner of plot about Cold as jew in a fantasy world, but I have absolutely no idea how to write it without just copying that one fic I rad, I don't even know enough to start learning more.

This is how I end up writing nothing, my failure to be omniscient enough to be a narrator.


Fantasy world religion, based on the months of the year, so there's twelve different gods. Except secretly there is a thirteenth, who is god of gates and doors, beginnings and endings, and intercalary days, because I always incite Janus. But if they had Gate magic my plots would work out very different. So.

Twelve gods who grant their priests twelve spells each, except there's secretly thirteen and so each priesthood has a secret spell.

Read more... )

Okay, I didn't get as far as trying to figure out spell sets, and this computer needs recharging. I'll post this and come back to it later.

Pantheons are hard though, you really need to go back and forth with your plot and figure out who you need, and twelve seems too many and too few.

Four are for living things, four for crafts, and four for ways of organising humans. That could work.

Ugh, power plug.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I found a GURPS spell for Alter Gender
Alter Gender (Pyramid 3/28: Thaumatology II, p. 14), Prerequisite: Androgyny
Duration: One hour unless made permanent. May be removed by Alter Gender or Remove Curse.
Cost: 7 to cast, 5 to maintain. May be made permanent, as an enchantment, for an energy cost of 175.
Time to cast: 2 minutes
Same costs and time for Androgyny, which just makes you look sort of neutral for the game mechanics, doesn't change organs.

But it's a weird, weird little set of spells meant for goblins
(the color text is Jareth)
and its prereq chain is basically these weird goblin spells
so it can't fit in to other GURPS magic.

The costs imply it's simpler than Alter Body, and the text specifically says if it is made permanent they can get pregnant. So I think this means GURPS considers reproductive organs to be simple, like horns and tails, rather than complex, like prehensile tails or working eyeballs. Which is quirky but makes sense in game mechanic terms. Alter Body can make you look like a specific person and is waaaaay more versatile, it's how to be Mystique, not how to transition. That bit about non functioning organs had me looking at the levelled up version instead, but that one can make you a whole different sentient species, if you want, so it is again a teensy bit more powerful in game terms.

So now I have in game costs for a world changer of a spell.

But it has some weird assumptions around it and a bit of random transphobia in the story seeds suggestions - "A long-time ally of the heroes is hiding a secret: “She” isn’t female at all, but a secret practitioner of Yellow Goblin
Magic disguising her (his) true form via Alter Gender. So many lies..."

... no, no, and also no. If someone says they're a she then lo, they are a she, whether or not they've transitioned, by magic or other means.

Why put that in? I know the game mechanic description is all about how you can usefully hide by changing your whole appearance in two minutes, but that's not why people would want it. Alter Visage is quicker to cast and easier to learn, and substantially more versatile. People who specifically and only want to change their gender have a whole different motivation than this spell write up assumes.

So, not best pleased with this particular article.

But I'll take the cost and time suggestions and put them into the ordinary Body Control College instead.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Today I started writing but it was just not coming alive
and I realised I hadn't figured the game mechanics or the in world economics well enough to know what actually happened.
So I've read a bunch of GURPS rules to come up with my preferred flavour of arbitrary numbers, and now I know how magic hospital works.
It involves a very specific reading of how one optional spell from Thaumatology works, and how Ceremonial Magic can maintain a spell forever, and how that means you can bank energy for later as long as enough people keep a dance going.
I have to handwave prerequisites or set up new ones, but there's rules for systematically ignoring the rules, so they'll have that covered. It's mostly about keeping the number the same, so that's straightforward, just say any 14 spells in addition to Lend Energy... simples!
... this world is not simples.

But once I've applied my imaginary numbers I work out that getting Alter Body done costs a maximum of two weeks working for the hospital, donating your FP to heal or Alter other people.
And then I know why my character is walking out alone
and roughly what they've been doing and for how long
and why the story was grinding gears.
Two weeks knowledge of the city due to helping out in hospital is going to get you a different knowledge base than a new arrival would have.

Also the other character in an earlier scene has prepaid, so they have two weeks apart to be all anxious about things.

And since you can see all the major locations of the City around the central plaza, either hospital has no outward facing windows, or my character has already spent down time staring at the other buildings and the great big building site.

So, I need to start somewhere else and write a different thing
because the arbitrary rules I pick and mixed say so.

... I actually find this fun, and also a great excuse to read instead of making word count.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
What if all crit fails were entities?
Like, always a demon, but you don't know what point total or how long it is there for.
18 would remain the 200ish point permanent demon, but you could also get imps of much lower value, or a five minute summoning. ... though actually five minutes is a lot of combat rounds, I'm not sure how much practical difference that would be.

The kind of crit fails where if just does damage, backfires, hits a wrong target, only appears to work, or does a comedy fx curse instead of actual spell, those are good too though.


what if all always demons.
or elementals.
or undead.

... a five minute accidental reanimation would be pretty terrifying, and potentially just as bad when it wears off.

... a low point cost elemental might just be like a lighter flame, kind of hanging out on its own.

I just like the idea of a one in two hundred and sixteen chance of summoning a thing. but to make it survivable a lot of them would have to be pretty small things.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I looked at an old entry on GURPS magic and I epic, epic failed at maths.
epic. fail.
my math is bad and I should feel bad.

now I have remembered how to math, that whole line of speculation is rubbish.
so I have private locked it so only I can see my fail.
I mean it remains an interesting what if, as in what if demons were a frequent result from magic, but my math missed some zeros somewhere somehow and then it's orders of magnitude more frequent than it should be.

one spell in two hundred and sixteen crit fails at high skill levels, or one in 108 at slightly lower skill. a critically failed spell does something you don't want to do. possibly painful or a problem for bystanders. but it's another roll of 18 on 3d6 to get a demon. so demon only happens when you roll six sixes in a row.

1 in 6*6*6*6*6*6 is one time in 46,656.

that's a lot more spells between demons than last time I worked it out, and I don't know how I failed so bad last time.

but of course I might be failing again.


So then you have the opposite story problem, where it's really unlikely a given mage has accidentally a demon, so why would they even believe they exist?

Read more... )

Yesterday I read GURPS Technomancer, which puts a Magic Comes Back event at the first nuclear bomb test and has a whole atomic horror thing going on. Read more... )

Technomancer had mages be something huge like one percent of the modern population, in some areas, or one in a thousand where it's rarer. On a planet that had discovered Cure Disease and potions of Youth and any number of agricultural spells, and was experiencing a demographic boom and a half. That is very plenty many students. And given urbanisation they're much more likely to meet, and with standardised printed grimoires and plentiful university courses they're going to be able to get trained. Whole different effect to the medieval stuff.

Medieval magic should still pretty rapidly change the world to look not medieval, unless mages are very scarce and cannot get the training. a society that only progresses as rapidly as our history did is one that found really large disadvantages really often. otherwise cure disease is more effective than antibiotics and the collected agricultural spells can feed a lot more people for a lot less work, even if magic cauldrons that create food aren't in common use.

you're pretty much left with war, out of the horsemen.

mage war is epic bad though. it might be plenty. and it would try and take out mages first.

anyway, demons not as much of a problem as previously calculated, what was I thinking, ugh.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
A lot of RPGs use mana and chi as words for game mechanisms that measure magical energy and life energy. It makes me kind of uncomfortable, but when I went looking for alternatives I got reminded all over again that English is at least three languages in a coat. English has been mugging other languages for parts since forever, and every word has traces of conquest in it, but swallowing these two whole and spitting out the actual cultural context seems a bit much.

I think I'm going with thaumic, as in thaumatology, measured in thaums ala Pratchett.
Also vitality, vital energy,probably measured qualitatively so it's flowing well or badly, positively or negatively inclined.
That's mixing greek and latin pasts into the mix, but if the Healers use Latin and the Scholars' works are literally all greek to them, that's got potential for story in it.

Read more... )

This seems like an overly complicated system of magics, but I'm used to comics where people can do very similar things through power sources ranging across everything GURPS can throw at them.

Distinct traditions with distinct histories and as far as they know sistinct power sources is a great way to leave loopholes, contradictions, and other sources of friction.

And yet I keep fiddling with rules and phrasing, instead of writing fiction.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I was reading around about GURPS and found
which postulate that on the whole magic does not change society, because maths.

But I think their math is wrong.

Take their example magic item that would change the world: Purify Water.
Read more... )

Basically, if you can get enough mages in one place to even teach each other a broad enough range of spells to make an Enchanter, and if those Enchanters understand the value of working together, and if they feel like making money on a regular basis through making simple enchanted items, then magic will change the world. Even the simplest items could make pure water for all of London in a few days. Even one Purify Water item could make clean water for a whole medieval sized town. And be made in an hour.

The only way for magic to not change the world is to mess with mages: make them too scarce, uncommunicative, uncooperative, or too unlikely to become Enchanters. If the basic GURPS assumptions for magic can be met, then Enchanted items will pile up and nudge the effective tech level upwards, starting a demographic upward spiral that puts more mages into the system.

Of course if demons are a serious and regular problem, you can also get a mage downward spiral, or outright crash. See 'too scarce'.

But OP's math is just peculiar, for someone who says they're using GURPS, and I disagree with their conclusions.


Apr. 25th, 2016 01:07 pm
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I keep failing at basic functions. Is not cool.
But this week I am determined to be kind of functional.

I did ordering food and will soon have many foods. At the moment I kind of accidentally emptied the freezer. I mean there's one packet in each drawer, but that's a bit not good. And I emptied the pasta cupboard. ... I have a cupboard that is pasta, because only one shop would send me pasta, so I had to make a minimum order entirely out of pasta. Except this week Sainsburys promises to sell me pasta! Yaays! ... but I still ordered the same cupboard full of pasta, so I shall now have Many pasta. But also all my other foods. So I win.

I woke up at like 3 in the morning and I only went to sleep at midnight. I tried getting back to sleep but it only a bit worked, and then after it got light. I was dreaming all sorts, Read more... ) So that was not a relaxing set of sleeps.

None of the people who said they'd email me back last week have in fact emailed me back. And I got no answer to the potentially super important email I sent neither. I could do the same set of emails all over again this week. It probably wouldn't help.

Also I'm not sure I'm very coherent so probably I shouldn't emails.


It's annoying when you reach the point that anything you could do to improve stuff (ie get bed fixed, buy mattress) requires spoons that you'll only regen once you have fixed stuff (by sleeping in nice bed instead of under loud people by the front door).

And i'm only up because the post lady dialled to get in instead of the trade button working.

... before that I was reading about Roman Republic legal structures, but in theory sleep was still a possibility.

... I got really annoyed with the book full of alternate universes I was reading because it never mentions slaves except in the context of the confederacy. It has a whole bunch of Romes, some of them surviving many many centuries, but it doesn't mention slaves. It has reached the point where I turn the page and just grump 'what about the slaves???' Read more... )

Also annoying in alternate universes is the habit of this book and other sources of assuming that if the USA doesn't enter WWII then the Germans win. America obviously did good and brave things during that war, but the Russians chewed hell out of the German army. I know that complicates the bad guy concept, but if they're doing history then they kind of need to. I think a few more of these alts need to read about the eastern front. ... also I need to read a lot more about China, because I keep bumping into big ignorance whenever I read anything.

Finally there's the teensy tiny sexism problem evident all over the place. I mean, sexism in RPGs, not new, but sexism in alternate universes compounds RPG sexism and historical sexism to get absolute messes. Read more... )

Whenever I read RPG gameworlds I want to make them sit down and read actual history, because far less sexist. And this alt history thing is just frustratingly worse, because it's not even pretending to be fantasy, it's saying these are branch point worlds. Just with more sexism, because of course sexism.


I'm going back to bed. Maybe sleep this time.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)

Because it's a fun puzzle. It's like deciding what's most important in life, and how to carry the most of it with the least fuss.

Desert island discs don't make sense any more, you can fit a terabyte in your pocket easy, probably several, and carry a solar charger for your devices, so you've pretty much got all the media forever.

But deciding which books to take is still a compelling puzzle.

I have made no progress figuring out what's the better version of the GURPS Infinite Worlds suggestions for time travellers: "Don’t neglect guides to low-TL medicine and chemistry. The Way Things Work, A Barefoot Doctor’s Manual, and Henley’s Formulas can start you off."

Read more... )

I know survivalists have a lot of pages of suggestions on stuff for surviving the end of the world. I know this because I was much more paranoid in the 90s. It's probably helpful and relevant if you can scrape the... survivalism off it, because there's a lot of weird ideology to go with the practical solutions. But there's also an epic underestimation of how much society does for you. Read more... )

Plans for what to carry to the new universe come in different sizes. Like, if you surprise step through the fog, you might be carrying just your handbag, or just the stuff you'd take to a convention or on holiday, or you might be driving. If you're moving across country you get the excuse to load the most stuff, but that's almost the least fun. And the difference between this version and the deliberate colony planning is that this is just stuff you could plausibly have on you, if the universe blipped.

Read more... )

It's most fun for the character if they've packed well and wisely for the long term, but it's most drama if they just went for a quick walk in the sunshine and somehow ended up through the wardrobe.

There are some technologies very nearly here that'll make a big difference. Solar's a bit of a trick right now, and batteries will wear out with repeat charges, but they're both getting better rapidly. There's cars getting in the news with solar panels on them, though they're hybrid rather than all electric. Nudge the tech just a little and you can go exploring new worlds like a mars rover, put your solar panel wings out and keep rolling.

And water purification is improving in leaps and bounds.

But it's still very tricky to be a one person civilisation.

I keep looping back to the Pratchett & Baxter Long Earth books, because they poked this exact problem extensively, after putting in the twist about specific metals you can't bring.
Reading the Infinite Worlds books I kept wanting to make them go read that series, though chronologically they couldn't have.

I like a long string of empty earth because it's a way of testing survivalist fantasies without going all post apocalyptic on homeline.

Going to the kind of alternate that is an alternate history can get you all sorts. You might pack real careful for a low tech soc and then get very high tech civ that thinks you're a dancing monkey.

But usually the suggested alts are based so much on European history it's really ridiculously implausible. Read more... )

I need to read an entirely different set of history books. England was not that interesting for a really long time and I have a very small window on a whole lot of history.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
It starts out saying to just pack for exploration and think of it like visiting the third world. Which seems problematic. It also reminds you that your phone won't work there. While telling you to pack a handheld computer. So, your phone won't phone, but it can do all the all else they recommend.

Says to pack as much data as possible.

"Don’t neglect guides to low-TL medicine and chemistry. The Way Things Work, A Barefoot Doctor’s Manual, and Henley’s Formulas can start you off."

Read more... )

Librarians? Better recs? Purpose is a concise and portable guide to tech, chem and health, suitable for time travellers who may have to live by their wits.

I should find a librarian group to ask.

GURPS also recommends bringing plain gold rings, as a way of bringing money that's solid and yet easy to carry and sell.

Call my brain twisty, but Read more... )

It also has a section on parallel world culture trading. Movies you 'made' in an alternate Hollywood, sort of thing. Read more... )

It does feel more fun to imagine time travel to someplace where you're the clever one, rather than to a future where you're more ignorant than the tinies. But it's more useful to go find all those clever discoveries and bring them back. If the clever place will let you at all.

So you'd get time travellers from both directions with different agendas, some of them looking for what they can con out of you, some of them hoping to use your library.

Some of their alt worlds do creep me out though. Casually mentioning that colonisation is probably reserved for empty worlds, but some civs will think Australia and America are fair game... well yes, but that would be what is known as evil. Obviously games need a bit of evil to thwart, but, they could be clearer about that.

An alternate where nobody invented the idea of Empire though, that'd be big different. Enough different it made me think of an SF short where they altered human nature in the hope they wouldn't war and it accidentally made them not culture neither. That's depressing though.

I really do need to start taking some plot bunnies as far as first draft, instead of fiddling around with rulebooks for ages then deciding everything is too problematic.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I couldn't sleep last night so I ended up poking the internet for jewellery to wear to another planet.

As you do.

Read more... )

You could make an entire campaign of finding reasonable trade goods to cross worlds with. That's merchanters in space that is. Classic.

Logically presence of magic will change the economy beyond all recognition. Read more... )

It's like ultratech only worse. I mean, nanotech can get you all the carbon compounds you dream of, build you most anything from scratch, but you have to go all the way up to Star Trek replicators to turn energy into any substance you want. Magic can do it by a bit of studying and some fatigue points. Doesn't need a warp core, just a steady food supply, which magic can also create or replace. A world like that just isn't going to resemble our own, economically, even if it's just a handful of mages.

Read more... )

Spacer cargos are not likely to be metals and such. If a civ is in space then they're assumed to be mining asteroids and so forth. Stargate has Naquada and Trinium, metals so rare some planets don't even have them at all, and that gives them both a power requirements handwave and an interstellar mining trade. MCU has vibranium which would do the same. But the metals in the periodic table as it stands are pretty much going to be lying around in the new star system same like the old. Yesno?

Both Kelewan and Cherryh's Merchanters decide the answer is exotic organics. Tea, coffee and spices, basically. Read more... )

Space travel means you can go there and back again, eventually. It's hard to cut anyone off when there's the whole of space around them.

Time travel, planar travel, infinite worlds and the banestorm all make up their own rules and sargassos or trips down the well are much easier. Read more... )

GURPS Banestorm hypothesises a world where you can just get picked up by a storm and dropped in a whole alternate world with no way out. Oz style with a different map, basically. And I dislike Banestorm for patchworking their world from stereotypes of the most patriarchal eras of the least interesting places, but as a mechanism it's a grand one. Weird fog rolls in, weird fog rolls out, you have different stars above you and a whole new world around you and now you have to cope.

So that's a one way trip with trade goods you probably didn't select for that purpose.

You are quite unlikely to be carrying a spice rack. ... although that's actually a lot more likely that being dressed up for a wedding in finery and gold, so possibly a better idea?

But exotic organics are only ever any good in small quantities if they stay exotic, and the sargasso has been picking up lands and crops as well as people. Whole cities and whole farms. So they know how to eat and what to eat, which helps with the early survival parts, but they're probably unimpressed with the average Sainsbury's shop.

So I've looped right back to: how much is your jewellery worth, when you've arrived in a whole new context?

For that matter, how much is your polyester?

I suspect much of history is unimpressed with our current standards of woven textiles.

But silk is valuable both for its properties and its rarity. If you've dropped in somewhere nobody knows how to manufacture artificial fibres, the rarity value goes right up, even if the rest of it is proper tacky.

I'm much more likely to be carrying a suitcase, bag, and backpack full of clothes than I am any other heavy load. Wonder what I'd get for my goth gear in a low tech society?

Really I ought to have better things to do than try and get my head around economics. I mean the real answer is always 'what you can get someone to pay you for it', which might be anything from three beans to half a kingdom. Money is this weird game where everyone is mostly making stuff up and it's just baffling.

But I didn't sleep right and this is what's in my brain now. *shrugs*
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I've been pondering a magic system which combines Powerstones as gifts from the gods with increases in Magery as you make greater devotions to a deity. Kind of mixing up GURPS and the Black Jewels books, which spent longer explaining their magic system than using it, last time I read.

So, you get people who get an Opal at a certain significant stage of their life, meaning the gods are smiling on them and they get Magery 1. They can devote their whole life to a particular god, get Magery 2, and get a richer stone. And they can devote their next life to a deity, usually meaning their afterlife, and that gets them the richest stones and Magery 3.

So the question becomes, which spells would require you to sell your soul?

Magery 3 has a lot of advantages, speeding up spell learning and giving a boost to all your spells, but to hand over your whole afterlife to the service of a particular spirit? I'm thinking they're after something very particular.

Spells that require M3 tend to involve the words 'Permanent' or 'Other'. The levelled up variations of M2 spells that you can only cast temporarily on yourself. Permanent shapeshifting, for instance. Or Plane Shift Other.

That last gets me my main character: if you want to get someone out of hell, that's a specific variation of Planeshift Other. You could go visit them at M2, but to get them out, you need M3.

... if i've read the gate spells correctly, you know gurps, always a new way to trip you up...

But the other major categories of spells at M3 are the ones that will keep you alive indefinitely. Steal Youth, Lich, and of course Permanent Possession / Exchange Bodies. There's a bunch more in the same vein. Plus the most excellent healing spells, and Resurrection, though as ever the problem there is finding enough power. Spells that you could reasonably expect to keep you around a very, very long time.

So there's two major categories of people who'd sell their afterlife for Magery 3: People with a specific Permanent task for Others, or people who are planning not to attend.

You'd then logically get deities using their lifelong servants to go bounty hunter on these reluctant sorts.

So right there the plot shapes up nicely.

Prevalence is always a big thing to decide. I reckoned Opals were one in a million births, meaning there's about 7300 people in the world with M1 or above, and 63 in the UK. But that's before shenanigans. If they've been using their power to stick around beyond their natural span, there can be as many as you like. But to do that they'd need to have traded their afterlives, so the excess would all be Magery 3 and very, very powerful.

But that power would come with a price. The extra levels of Magery beyond 1 are made by a Pact with a particular spirit. The Jesus people think theirs is the only good guy spirit and all the others are demons. A certain proportion of those Opals would agree with that, and never level up. They'd probably try and 'save' the M2 and M3 sorts from their 'masters'. But the M2 and M3 would be serving Minerva and Trivia and Janus and so forth. I wrote bits of this before. They'd pick a deity, as far as they could tell, and do what their deity tells them to do, or else.

They could in theory devote this life to one deity and the next to another, gaining access to a wider spell list, but they'd have both gods judging them so they'd better be really really sure they get along. Like, picking a living and an underworld deity from the same pantheon, seems like it wouldn't annoy either of them, if done in the right order. Picking from different pantheons seems likely to annoy. And if a pantheon has a god/dess of the dead, choosing any other deity to give your afterlife too seems... risky.

But deities can only give out spells appropriate to their aspect. Their spell list is limited, their help likewise. And everything done in their name has strings.

GURPS Pacts lead to further difficulties since one tends to take on the personal qualities of the spirit one serves. With demons that means turning into a very nasty person. (There will always be someone who thinks serving a demon is somehow a good deal, especially if they can promise their afterlife to somewhere else and try and cheat on consequences). With other gods it depends on who you choose. If you only have the full width of your power when acting most in line with their wishes, you just get trained into doing as they will. If you pick a particularly nice, honest, truthful sort of a deity, well then you turn into an honest and truthful person, whether you planned on that or not.

So people who set out to cheat would, just by accessing the power a lot, become more and more like the person they were initially planning to rip off. It's not that they'd stop being able to make a different deal, it's that they'd stop wanting to.

Unless they're particularly strong willed and can pull up early.

or, i guess, unless they can make both offerings at once, before their lifetime service starts to shape them.
... but then you'd be left with the afterlife you thought was cool at that age, which, you know, not always awesome...

This seems like a chewy plot generator of a magic system. I like it.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Today with no headache I found the GURPS Spirits book more helpful on the topic of gaining power from worshippers, at least marginally.

GURPS Spirits is 3e, and it is making rules up as it goes along. So instead of setting up a bunch of new advantages, or using modifiers on existing advantages like 4e Powers would, it just says that Spirits are so different from normal assumptions that being a Spirit is a 100 point advantage called Spirit Form. Then it describes the abilities all spirits have. And then it has a section on modifiers to that Spirit template, where the loss of common Spirit abilities is a -% modifier. All those with Spirit Form can gain fatigue from worshippers at about 1 fatigue per worshipper. And being unable to do this is a -10% modifier on a 100 point trait.

So you might think 'great! 10 point ability!'
But nooooo
because Special Limitation: Missing Power happens in -5%, -10% and -20% levels
4 different -5% limitations (or possibly 3 or 5 depending how you read it)
4 different -10% limitations (maybe 5)
3 different -20% limitations
for a total of at least -115% if you have none of the powers at all.

... math is hard?

And that's not even all the theoretical advantages you might be missing, it's just a bunch of miscellaneous powers at the end.

It says treat anything above -75% as -75%
so limitations aren't just the bundle minus one part anyway.

Spirits says that all spirits can tap places of occult power as well as worshippers. Don't want that, not the way I want the world to work. but the limitation says it is -10% if they can't "tap fatigue from places of power and worshippers". And. So is that -5% just to take the Places of Power thing off? But places are worth 5-30 fatigue total, whereas worshippers are 1 fatigue each, though Spirits mentions a limit of 20-100 fatigue at roughly one point each. Gods aren't generally known for their upper limits on worshippers. Even that would make worshippers three or four times more effective than a place of power, so maybe it should only be -3% to not tap places of power?

How a rule system can be so fiddly and so clunky at once... :eyeroll:

Well that would be why 4e.

I suspect if I could get the hang of the Powers book, rather than seeing page after page of confusing, I could probably figure this thing out.

It also doesn't say much if anything about what it feels like to the worshippers to have their power tapped, or indeed what constitutes worship. Those would be setting decisions? Important sort of a thing. Spirits presumably can't tap the unwilling without using a spell. Willing donors contribute like in ceremonial magic but spirits don't have the auto fail on 16+ and always crit 17-18, or to multiply casting times by 10, and though they still get a max 100 points from willing supporters there's no mention of them needing to be chanting or suchlike at that precise minute. They can be willing sort of in general, and drawn on as and when needed. And the spirit's concentration doesn't suffer for it, doing things that way is as easy as casting from their own resources.

But I still can't find a way to put worshippers on the character sheet. With or without fatigue lending abilities.

Actually I'm a bit fuzzy on how a regular priest should write up their flock. Or a pope. Popes probably have a lot of followers and so forth willing to help with pretty much anything. Ally Group?

I shall go read the rules some more.

The 100 a spirit can get from worshippers, 100 a mage can get from willing supporters, and 100 a mage can get from mass magic in stadium sized crowds, all max out the same even with quite different numbers of humans involved. Except I think the stadium mages can each contribute a different 100 from their very large crowd. A regular ceremonial mage only needs 100 spectators to get 100 fatigue, but that's their limit, they can't pyramid sell it.

... hmmm, isn't there a lend energy spell that in fact could?

... more rules to look up.

Spirits does say that worshippers contribute once a day. Spirits recover their own fatigue at the usual rates, but they can draw on this extra pool provided by worshippers, and that replenishes only once a day. So that's tidy, but again, has not attached point cost.

not that I end up playing these things, but I like writing things out tidy
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I'm tired and grumpy today and may or may not have a headache and in general am not having my best research day.

I was looking for rules to spin stories around, specifically stories of mortals attempting to become gods. There's rules for becoming a spirit, and there's a bunch of mentions that gods draw on their worshippers to gain power, but today I cannot find a points cost or mechanism for such a draw.

Read more... )

Wanting to put a points cost on a deity seems daft. But wanting to be able to point out to a PC that they are not, in fact, currently a deity, seems more helpful.

Also with the population surge on Earth then the amount of power available could be going up even if the percentage who are religious are going down. There could be maths to demonstrate.

And if you could get a bunch of people to participate in a ritual, say by making it a dance craze, how powered up could you get? With a network of mages to bring it together?

There's some very powerful spells that could make world changing effects, and if you want to run something in the here-now you keep crunching into the thing where they ought to have done so by now, and should be able to do so really easily.

The usual GM level answer for why they don't is there's always a bigger fish.

Which is sort of boring.

Okay, pointless rules poking done for the day, this is going nowhere.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Sometimes I spend a daft amount of time fiddling around in GURPS books and character builders and then decide that no, my idea was fine in the first place, not reshaped to fit their rules.

I dreamed some characters that get jewels that symbolise the magical power they get in exchange for an offering. Offering to who or what? That part can be fun. So I look up Roman gods and goddesses. Trivia is interesting. Minerva is who sprang to mind for the whole mind control college. Janus is who the me-alike always ends up with. Divination and Gate spells, more or less. Read more... )

Gates that can go anywhere, whether by landing there or just sitting waiting to be opened, are such bountiful plot generators that the two longest running SF series used them. Read more... )

The Spirits and Religions books mentioned that hells and heavens have, like, entrance criteria. Read more... )

I just have in mind as a story seed someone looking at this gate to a pristine empty world, and instead of just thinking 'space colony', they ask "How do you make a Heaven?"

That crystalises the same problems as the space colony in whole different ways.

Whole lot of stories in that.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
GURPS is always so fiddly I end up tripping over bits of it and feeling foolish.
I've had these books for years, usually since they were published, and I still wouldn't say I know how to... anything, in GURPS.
Because fiddly.

I've been reading GURPS Horror. System in there for Fright Checks as cumulative and leading to sanity problems. It says something about how the system isn't meant to represent real mental illness because that would be offensive, it's just trying to imitate Gothic Horror. Well if gothic horror is offensive about mental illness (usually yes) then that's still offensive. A bit. But as a game mechanism to make sure no one gets out unscathed it is a bit useful.

There's also systems of black magic and corruption, as well as spirit magic in GURPS Thaumatology, where you can make deals to gain power from spirits malign and otherwise but you'll end up with your personality twisted and probably get your soul dragged away at the end of it. It mentions doing the same thing with angels once, but mostly ignores that possibility. The mechanics should work the same way though, if you let divine power through you then you'll end up with Disads that suit the spirits that want to be good, like Honesty and Truthfulness and Self Sacrificing. Having different systems for divine magic, demons, and shamanic spirits, makes them out to be different in kind as well as in alignment, and there's no real call for that.

Read more... )

Some of the spells require humongous energy investments, like Resurrection or Wraith. Read more... )


Jun. 4th, 2015 07:09 pm
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
[personal profile] elf in a comment I totally mean to reply to in a minute mentioned someone wanting to use the GURPS Zombie spell. Called it overpowered. And, okay, yeah, it's spectacular... buuuuut... if I were GM I'd let them try. And learn the consequences.

First off... Read more... )

Add it all together, and yeah, Zombie is powerful, but, you are going to pay for it. It'll be part of a system of checks and balances, worldbuilding choices that leave you with plenty of problems to deal with. It'll warp your character, give them enemies, socially isolate them, or give them a huge great unsustainable secret. Other necromancers can take control of your army just as easily as you did, and plenty of people can Turn them. Undead are uniquely vulnerable, with limitations that might include being unable to leave death aspected mana zones, depending on the world you build. And physically they're less useful than ... well, making friends, for starters. Hiring someone. Having particularly bitey pets.

If you want to play a necromancer, have at it. But it's only an easy ride if someone lets it be easy. With the surrounding systems working at the speed of the GM? It's just not that practical.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
This morning I dreamed a thing where some character played by Tom Hardy did shadow magic and I did magic with light. He made like a newt thing out of shadows, and I made a ball of light by shaping it with my hands. So I've been idly noodling spell prerequisite chains and FX.

Read more... )

If you start with the game mechanics you get hints at social organisations and personality types. If you start with the social stuff...

Read more... )

When I was thinking on Shapeshifting earlier in my GURPS tag, the prerequisites helped me make a story, because Shapeshifting requires six spells. Any six spells. But a dragon's Breath attack is at the end of a particular chain of elemental prerequisites. So I read across a bunch of colleges, standardised, and decided on my six:
Seek, Purify, Shape, Create, Jet, Breath.
In any of Fire, Air, Water, Earth, or Ice.
And then Shapeshift.

Each element is a different chain of six, because that's how the standard GURPS system works.
But I was idly thinking on making it secretly syntactic, with a lost key, so someone figures out where the word borders are and learns how to plug in a different element. Instant six new spells.
... instant super special newbie character. Do I always complain about that? I think so.

Dragons would learn their way up to Breath spells, that seems logical. But what other sets of spells fit what other mages?

If you were going to Magic University, what degrees could you leave with? They would need different tracks for different levels of Magery, since M3 can learn 30% faster. Or would they just provide the same amount of teaching hours for everyone and those with lower levels would have to do more hours of homework to keep up? Maybe the rare M3s can learn without any homework and spend all those extra hours on either elaborating on their studies or extra curricular activities. The super powerful mages having enough time to be the most rounded people would be a different sort of feel to the usual one track mind mage.

And how much would these people have in common? Like, Magery is effectively an extra sense, having it means you can perceive and manipulate something the non mage can't see, so they've got that in common. But beyond that, they may not have anything at all, not from the basic assumptions on up. Are different groups perceived socially as all being mages? Or is it like superpowers in Marvel, where different sub group makes a heck of a difference to social role?

I've considered university study before. The biggie is that in GURPS terms not all degrees are created equal. The split in efficacy between taught hours and self study hours means it matters how much class time you get, which varied between units in my courses, let alone between institutions and subjects. I figured out my degree would be worth 11 or 12CP, but GURPS reckons you get 10CP every year from two 21 week semesters. Somewhere the math or the education systems differ very greatly in their assumptions.

So to work through the math again... Read more... )

Got distracted, had a thought, this isn't going anywhere at the minute...

It can take between 4 and 10 weeks to learn 1CP of a skill with some combination of Education, Self Study and Job. I have a pretty table with all the different combinations.
Which combinations are possible for how many weeks of the year is a worldbuilding and character issue.
You can study 12 hours a day every day out of book, and that gives you about 11CP a year, but you have to be the person who doesn't skip a single day and does actually spend 12 hours a day on it. And has no other calls on their time. And doesn't, like, starve, while reading.
Any other approach means knowing how many hours a day and days a week and weeks per year a teacher is willing to work. The GURPS maximums assume weekends off, but really, is a weekend a universal concept? I think not. Yet what kind of people will turn up to teach/learn 8 hours a day with no weekends or holidays?
If you're working for a living you're going to learn very, very slowly and only things that you do at work. That's not a suitable way to learn magic, unless I suppose an older mage will pay you to support them in casting the same spell every day until you earn a point in it. If casting the same spell every day can be a job, you've got a worldbuilding cornerstone right there. Industrial magic? (actually that's the name of a system, I haven't read Technomancer for aaages, probably do that next.)

Also, now I have my pretty charts, I can tweak them for Magery 1, 2 and 3, and find out how many CP and therefore how many spells a mage could learn per year.
... with weekends but no holidays a mage can learn between 5 and 19 spells per year, depending on how they're studying and what level Magery they have. If they have an 8 hour a day paid job they can learn 2 spells from that, or 5 spells if they add another 4 hours study to it. Between that and 13 spells is reducing hours paid employment, increasing hours of self study, or adding in hours of being taught. Magery 3 will get you an extra 2 to 6 spells per year because you're just that much better at magic so you learn faster. ... however depending on how the teaching is happening it might be more plausible to put those extra points into the same spells everyone else is studying, just being better at them, because a new spell is like a whole new subject and learning that many extras out of books on your own would otherwise be implied. Which I guess some people would do. Whichever.

But obviously current schooling has holidays. Lots of holidays. So probably less spells.

From a world and character point of view, a mage that can whizz through a curriculum and pick up 19 spells per year is kind of frustrating to make a story about. Like, what on earth kind of adventures need you to do 19 distinct impossible-without-magic things?

19 is enough to learn Resurrection by the longer prereq chain in a single year of study.
That's some super swish spellcasting, that is.

Now imagine what a 3 or 4 year college trained mage could do.
... basically anything, right? I mean even if they studied in semesters, ie half the weeks of the year, and didn't do any magic studying the rest of the weeks, that's still 38 spells they'd come out of college with.

Buuuuut to use them as prerequisites they need a spell up to a certain standard, so some spells they'd maybe need to put more CP in, so that's fewer spells in more depth.

Still really a lot of spells. Mage like that could deal with almost anything.

It's more fun making stories where they've got a limited toolkit.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I was reading something with a primary focus that was definitely not on gaming, so I won't link to it, but it mentioned the moment of puzzled disconnect they had when reading D&D rules when they found out clerics charge for healing. They couldn't figure out why a good person or institution would ever turn someone away because they couldn't pay, and they concluded it was an ideological blind spot on the part of the USA game writers.

Could be, but, it's also a question of game balance.

D&D makes a lot of optimising choices that make fighting a whole lot of monsters quicker, easier, and safer. Read more... )

But if you take away that gold limit, you have to rejig the entire rule set to keep the game balancing assumptions going. Otherwise you lose all reason to fear. Well, as long as someone is upright and able to carry the corpses, anyway.

Read more... )

GURPS magic is limited by how very, very, very much fatigue it takes for the higher levels of healing. Sure you can resurrect someone, but it takes a ton of people or a lot of powerstone to do it. I've done the math before, where did I put it...

I ran through the limiting options there, but they include time, money, and expertise. The fatigue problem can be solved by money and enchantment, or large numbers of people cooperating. Read more... )

Games that allow healing and resurrection to be routine or easy are pretty much going to turn into combat centered dungeon crawls. Games that tweak it to maximum difficulty are going to either be very short or have characters work very hard to make sure nobody pulls the trigger. There's a sliding scale in between.

If everything is money, you slide the scale by making it more or less expensive. Also it's a simple stat to keep track of.

If you're going to charge character points for every new life (and GURPS has a mechanic for that) then you're going to have characters advancing slower if they keep getting killed, which is a feedback mechanism that really ought to put the brakes on their behaviour, but might just piss them off if they really wanted the other things.

If you're going to keep it intangible? Karma or social relationships, earned favours or penance, something I haven't thought of? Everyone has to do a lot more accounting, keep track of more aspects of more things. But neither money nor the nebulous possibilities of self development that XP / CP represent become the sole focus of the game.

How it's set is ideological, for sure. But it's also about what the players think is going to be fun.

So charging for healing isn't only because USA, it's because a whole stack of settings to tweak the game play in one direction or another.

... how conscious they are of that I could not speak to, because not a mind reader, but that's the result.

Turning this around into storytelling options?

Read more... )

Tweaking the settings on death and healing changes the stories you can tell, but also changes the basic settings on what it means to be a person in that world. Like, if mortality is optional if you're rich enough? Don't matter if it's fantasy medieval settings or far future SF, people going to risk everything to get rich, if not for themselves then for their loved ones. If mortality is only optional if you're virtuous enough, according to a particular religion? Well that's... a lot of the history of global religion, come to think, except with a much more physical set of proofs.

It's actually interesting in this respect that the 20th century saw such immense strides in survivability. Like, anaesthetics and antibiotics make surgery survivable, and advances in surgery make a spectacular range of things survivable, and this is true in new ways compared to the 19th century and before. We're living longer, we've noticed that as a vague demographic fact, but there's ways life and death now work more like an RPG than they used to. Heart attack? Get them to a hospital (accessability / expertise / time / money limitation) and they'll probably live (chance of failure) but perhaps be less healthy after (long term disadvantage / character point cost). Heart attack in medieval England? Goodbye, the end. I just wonder how far our settings have already changed, and we're too in it to notice.

... compared to what I said above about survivability making a game world more violent, it's actually interesting that our world has, by some sets of stats, become more peaceful as these settings start to apply. Maybe survival not being so highly contested actually calms people down? Thought too big, real world, needs more data.

okay, took that thought set for a wander, rolled off the edge of my knowledge, might be talking rubbish now.
shall go away.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Okay, so, I have poked the systems until I'm pretty sure I know what a Dragon can do. Seek, Purify, Shape, Create, Jet, Breath. And then Shapeshift.

So now I want a set of plots built around that. Problems, up to seven of them, where those spells are the solutions. And I want a gradual reveal, not least because I'm going to wrap a romance plot around it and have a gradual increase in intimacy. So, like, admitting you did in fact do magic is a significant stage in a relationship. ... in a really generally applicable way... :eyeroll:

Read more... )

So that’s the plots that go with the spell arsenal.


Now to just put them in order and write them.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Or, Ugh, several days of assumptions all wrong, I make error.

GURPS Magic rules are more fiddly than I thought and have more than one spell for changing shapes.

Shapeshifting is specifically for *animals*, which in GURPS rules are things with an IQ of 5 or less, Read more... )

I guess a streamlined and simplified system of magic isn't going to appeal to the kind of RPGer who likes GURPS. And making it game balanced is tricksy. But for story purposes I'd rather have a handful of good tricks and make my characters work to apply them well.

using GURPS usually just makes me decide where the bones are on whatever idea I'm actually having.
the bits I won't bend on are the things the idea really needs.

... it's still embarrassing to have read the books so many times and still get the spells wrong.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Sometimes I spend hours and hours with GURPS rulebooks just to get really really sure that the underlying, game balanced, assumptions GURPS uses are not things I can be having with in this story.

Like, dragons. Read more... )

Having turned the idea around a few times, I think I just want to make the Shapeshifting spell work my way and ignore the stupid wearing off part. And that makes it super powerful, though it has built in drawbacks because you'd have to learn a second shapeshifting spell whilst in a whole new body if you ever wanted to get back, which takes 140 to 200 hours if you can find someone to study it from.

So all that poking GURPS rules did for me was make me really sure I want things to work my way, and I had to decide what my way precisely means.

Read more... )

See, this is typical for me, I dreamt something that was basically porn with a dragonish excuse, I end up with numbers for an RPG system and a bunch of questions about dragon society and how it is shaped by both biological and magical imperatives, and how it bumps into human society and assimilates or not, and just generally lots of system level stuff that isn't likely to come up in a particular adventure. And, thus far, no fiction.

It's possible I just keep on trying to work in the wrong genre. Maybe narrative just isn't going to happen.
... ugh, bad feeling, that possibility.

So, maybe I make actual story later.
You never know.

(Dragons are cool though).
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
So, I was thinking about dragons, born human, having to learn how to change themselves into dragons.

GURPS Dragons does have a chapter on dragons and magic, but it basically assumes that their ability to shapeshift is the Shapeshift advantage, innate and not learnt. If you want to make it a magic spell there's just this really helpful paragraph that says "GMs can define a new version of the Shapeshifting spell" Read more... )

Time spent learning magic: I had forgotten this, but levels of Magery take 10% off the time to learn a spell. So Magery 0 has the full 200 hours teaching per point, Magery 1 only needs 180, Magery 2 takes 160, and Magery 3 only requires 140 hours per point of spell. Read more... )

I'm sitting here grumbling about how unsystematic the magic system is. Same words used to mean different things! Elemental colleges progressing different ways! Why it's almost as if magic is not a science and, being made up out of whole cloth, doesn't need to obey any rules.


I can make up my own chains of spells, and standardise them if I want. Loses some flavour that way.

If I use the GURPS rule that says you need 6 spells before you can learn to shapeshift, I get diversified dragons, with interesting social norms and traditions. Read more... )

... just to be clear, I am aware it's all made up rules meant to mostly support people pushing small figures around a hex map while they roll dice.

But as a writer it's far more interesting to try and imagine a world where the implications play through.

You'd get very old mages simply because they had better things to do than study magic.

Or you might get very young children that learn the song that lights the candles, but haven't learnt the one to put them out again yet...


beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)

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