Tuesday, April 29, 2014

GURPS Magic Notes 15: Earth Spells

I was surprised by the applications of Earth Magic. What I love about it is that its really just the application of science and geometry and you've got a lot of kick ass things you can do with it. If you want to motivate yourself to study geometry and chemistry or earth sciences then this school of magic is for you. Also if your in the engineering (civil works) industry you can really appreciate this since a lot of the bits that is interesting from engineering finds some use in the such a game.

Non-mages. the productivity increase of many earth spells are so powerful its as if you threw in TL6-9 heavy machinery, although it didn't need the infrastructure to support it. Still you will need a bit of a magical infrastructure to create enough to the satisfaction of the patron. Such magical items, like shape earth, will be so useful as a tool an weapon. You may have to rethink the "per energy" cost of $33 in M20 or $25 in basic set. Note that if an economy becomes more productive the values would inflate.

Some Definitions out of the Way

You better be on the same page as your GM with what is stone and what is earth. This because of the wording and high school geology opening up a can of worms with the interpretation. I'm working on the assumption that Earth is soil, clay, loam, dirt, sod, dust, sand, and mud. While stone is Rocks, Granite, Lime, Marble, Slate, Dolomide, Obsidian, etc...  What is the difference between stone and glass? Note that Unlike Air M23, there is no specifics of what Earth is composed. 

Balancing Ideas

  • Limit the kinds of Stone with Earth to Stone and Shape Earth/Stone. Basically make it the stone version of the soil - typically sedimentary stone. 
  • In the uses of Earth below, the GM can just assign a Task Difficulty Modifier to either Artist, Engineer, or the Spell. 

Sample Low Tech Earth Mage, Normal Magic

62 points
IQ 10
Magery (Aspect: Single College (earth)) 3 [24]
Seek Earth (H) IQ-2 [1]-11
Shape Earth (H) IQ+6 [24]-20
Earth to Stone (H) IQ-2 [1]-11
Innate Attack (Earth Spells) (E) DX+2 [4]-12
Feint (H) Innate Attack (Earth Spells)+4 [5]-17
Targeted Attack (Foot) Innate Attack (Earth Spells)-2 [3]-10 

Sample Low Tech Earth Mage, Ritual Magic 

79 points
IQ 10
Magery 3 [30]
Ritual Magic (VH) IQ+2 [16]-15
College (Earth) (VH) IQ+2 [16]-15
Shape Earth (H) College (Earth) [2]-15
Earth to Stone (H) College (Earth) [3]-15
Innate Attack (Earth Spells) (E) DX+2 [4]-12
Feint (H) Innate Attack (Earth Spells)+4 [5]-17
Targeted Attack (Foot) Innate Attack (Earth Spells)-2 [3]-10 

Sample War Beneath Heaven Mage, Ritual Magic 

46 points
IQ 10
Magery 10 (-80% limitation) [25]
Ritual Magic (VH) IQ [8]-25
College (Earth) (VH) IQ-3 [1]-22
Innate Attack (Earth Spells) (E) DX+2 [4]-12
Feint (H) Innate Attack (Earth Spells)+4 [5]-17
Targeted Attack (Foot) Innate Attack (Earth Spells)-2 [3]-10 

Techniques and Skills to be used with Earth Mages

  • Innate Attack (Earth Spells) (E) DX+2 [4]-12 
    • Targeted Attack (Leg) (H) Innate Attack-1 [2]-11
    • Feint (H) Innate Attack (earth spells)+4 [5]-16 
  • Wresting or Judo
    • you can control your shape earth without concentration while the spell is ongoing, use it to make it your advantage.
    • Ground Fighting (H) [5] (grabbing torso and head would be much easier when the mage and the other fighter are on the ground).  

Skills for Talent for Earth Mages

  • Engineering (Civil, Mining, or Combat)
  • Naturalist or Geology 
  • Wrestling or Karate
  • Innate Attack
  • Artist
  • Axe/Mace or 2h-Axe/Mace

Basic Tactics, Basic Set Earth Magic Compatible

Seek Earth 

0 count
if the character has a Miner/Naturalist/Geology skill, he would know the value of the stones and sell them at an advantage. Merchant would also help very much in this.
Non-Mage notes. Very useful to non-mages. Its cheap value will make it a very necessary tool. This will change your setting economics, factor this in. Personally I dont like the aesthetics of a divining rod.
  1. The ability to know the amount can be helpful, but it doesnt say. The GM can allow this since it is an information spell after all. The closest to doing the same job is Measurement spell in Knowledge. 
  2. Nitrates and Fertilizes! definitly improve food productivity, to TL6-9 levels

Shape Earth, 

1 count
Shape earth allows the character affect the terrain. Note That 1 cu.m or cu.yrd can be a large area if you consider having it only a few inches thick on the floor. 4 inches or 10 cm already covers an area of 100sqm or 1000sqf. Note that Shape earth lasts at minute intervals and at its most basic configuration can be maintained by a 15 skill indefinitely.

Magical Items. This is going to be a valuable tool, if you take note of all things done below. Shape Stone combined with mining and engineering skill means the ability to crack weak points of stone mountains and

Techniques. You can just make everything below techniques that default to Artist, Engineering etc..
  1. Earthen Bad Footing. Create Selective Bad Footing (B395, B.96, B547). The Mage can just leave the soil to ripple and wave beneath the feet of his opponents to cause them a -2 to hit and -1 to defend.  
  2. Quicksand. Cause opponent's feet to sink. Target can dodge. If the target is already in bad footing, this will be harder. 
    1. This requires Innate Attack, this is a targeted attack at the feet of the target. There will be range and hit location penalties. Attacking both feet should have another -2 to spell casting. The mage rolls Innate Attack, but the opponent will have a penalty to defend (-2) because he can't see where the attack is originating. Its like the soil or concrete he is stepping on swallows his feet. 
      1. Targeted Attack Technique MA68.
      2. You can have a Feint Technique B231 can apply to the Innate attack since its really difficult which angle the attack is coming from. 
      3. Do not limit it to the Feet, head and hands are targets with Shape Earth but they are much harder to imprison unless you can follow up with an Earth to Stone. 
      4. For the Duration of the Spell, 1 minute, you can control earth allowing you to grapple an opponent and allow the Earth to engulf him in key points. Sinking his feet while you have him in an arm lock. 
  3. Simple Pit . Create a Pit the size to swallow up the Target, taking the floor right from under him. A big enough pit, 2 cu.m/yrd can only be defended with a retreat if its just 1 hex in size OR Dodge and Drop B377 if bigger than just one hex. 
  4. Ready Maneuver to Shape - Shape Earth Shield/Cover. Since maintaining the spell has no concentration requirement, the character can probably use Shape Earth to block or Parry as though he had an unbalanced weapon readied. 
    1. Simple Forms. You can make it that every simple form change can be reaction like a block or Parry. By simple its just an extrution of earth. 
    2. Complex Form. if Earth or Stone becomes a complex form, particularly since it draws from a Skill like Artist or Engineering, it is definitely a concentrate maneuver. 
  5. Shaping Stone. In GURPS Magic, M51, at 1/2 the amount shaped, the mage can Shape STONE. At 1/6 the amount manipulated the Mage can shape Worked Stone, like Reinforced Concrete. The same combos as Earth but with less material with much higher DRs and Strengths. 
    1. DR for stone is 1-5 per cm. 
    2. Shape "Stone" can manipulate 333 liters of worked stone or 11.7 cu.ft or 0.3 cu. m. Get a Spreadsheet and input all the various geometric combinations. Natural stone, which is not that common a terrain feature, 
      1. 2.5m high cylinder covering 1sqm or 10sqf is about 1cm or DR4.
      2. 2.5m high cylinder covering 13sqm DR3
    3. Shape Stone of 2FP manipulates 0.33 cu.m/yrds thats about 333 L or 12 cu.ft. The human body is less dense than water, so 333Liters translates to 333 kilos. So you can basically mold stone 
  6. Shape Stone Caltrops - Stone Caltrops or Pit Spikes. Combat Engineer or Traps allow you to make more elaborate traps with stone.
  7. Earthen Cover. Shape Earth is more effective against Gunfire with its Diffuse Properties. Powerful in a Gun fight where attacks can create cover to move towards as they make an attack.  
  8. Shaped Dummies. Stone or Earth and use Artistry. Other than art, Dust Clouds and Silhouettes can be used to distract. With magic as a powerful Recon spell,  
  9. Shape Stone to Reinforce Structures and Engineering. A mage with Seek earth and Shape earth can possibly filter the necessary ingredients to make Roman Concrete. Combined with Earth to Stone, there are many combinations that can be done in both engineering, art, traps, and communication (milestones and stone signs). The creation of Industrial structures also helps. Glassware as earth becomes Obsidian and Glass-like stones. 
  10. Terracotta or Armored Form. Shaping earth to be armor will require concentration (see B238) and Multi-Tasking see Casting Spells while Maintaining Other Spells (B238). So assume if you are concentrating to keep your Armored Form, which means -3 for all other tasks. 
    1. As a Tradeoff Given Encumbrance Penalties for heavier and heavier Armor. See LT106 and B46 for ablative. Basically use Light, Medium, to Heavy Scale Stats but multiply by coverage. DR for Terra-cotta Armor is -1 compared to its Stone equivalent. So Light Scale Stone armor is DR3/2 but weighs 48lbs while the Earthen version is just DR2. Heavy Stone Armor is DR5 is 96lbs while the Earth version would be DR4. 
    2. You can make this a Hard Technique that defaults the Mage's Artist (Sculpting) Skill. After at least 200 hours of intensive training (2cp) to maintain the spell while doing other things it becomes less a distraction. 4cp allows the negative -3 to be removed. 
    3. Use this to misdirect which is the leading mage. 
  11. Terracotta Copies. Create a Terracotta Mirror Image. Create another copy for every -3 . Note that enemies can use a quick contest of Observation to tell which is real. 
    1. Make it Compartmentalized Mind. Aspected (Artist - Sculpting, Shaping Earth, Puppet -40%). You can limit the duration and how often per day.  
    2. You can make it with Ally Advantage but the GM will have more things to worry about - limiting the number, independence of an Ally, how this seems more appropriate for Earth Elementals etc...
    3. As a Technique since Every additional Copy 
  12. Shape Stone for Stone Armor! Taking it to another level is using Earth as Armor. Note that Shape Stone can grant a lot of DR to the mage. Of course this will require its own casting if the mage will want to do other stuff. It will also encumber the mage and the mage would probably not armor the Joints. 
  13. Shape Stone WEAPONS. A huge stone fist, gauntlets, or an Obsidian Broadsword that keeps regenerating as the mage keeps reshaping it as it breaks (see Multi-Tasking see Casting Spells while Maintaining Other Spells (B238) )
  14. Invisibility countermeasures. See Invisible foes by making the earth soft enough to leave tracks or throw a diffuse amount of earth 2m up.
  15. Wrestling Aid. Wrestling while the spell is ongoing will allow you to grab various extremities or the torso. Worsen the enemies surrounding terrain and enclose him with earth while he wrestles you (then use Earth to stone when you break free). 
  16. Very Easy Traps . from quicksand, to covered pits, hidden caltrops, ambush holes, 
  17. Hidden Passages. Basically only Earth mages can get in because they will use shape earth to make passages. 
  18. Rammed Earth Structures. very easy way to build very durable structures and all you do is use shape earth. You can give Rammed Earth a Shape Earth Task Difficulty modifier.
  19. Soft Landing. Use Shape Earth to create a very soft landing cushion of earth. 
  20. Food production. The ability to mix soil in particular mixures Nitrates and Fertilizes! Definitely improve food productivity, to TL6-9 levels
  21. Earth Skate. Use Shape Earth to make earth like snow as you "skate" down hill. 
  22. Sand with Sand. Use sand as an abrasive tool (typically used to clean mail).  
  23. Running Earth Technique. Every time the caster steps the earth moves the footfalls an additional 2m. It should be a Running or  Technique, -3 since its multi-tasking.
  24. Climbing Earth Technique. Every grasp and pull up, the earth aids the movement of the climber. It could be a climbing technique, -3 since its multi-tasking.  
  25. Shape Earth KE use Collision Damage, Slam and Shove (B430; Slam B368; Shove B372) to Calculate Knock Back
    • Rock Densities
    • ( [ Mass(lbs)^(0.33) ] * 8 / 100 ) * yrds/s (2m/s for earth, 1m/s for stone)
    • or ( [ Mass(lbs)^(0.33) ] * 8 ) * yrds/s (2m/s for earth, 1m/s for stone)
    • Example Sand has a density of 1.5 tons per 1 cu.m/yrd. So 3 tons of sand flowing at 2m/s is a 3d-1 cr  or  6d Knock Back
    • 3.4 cu. yrd = 1.7cu.m of Sand or 2.55 tons (71HP * 2 yrd/s) would deal 1d+2 cr or 3d shoving knock back only. 
    • 0.56 cu. yrd  or 42 cu.m of Sandstone 0.935 tons (50HP * 1 yrd/s), will create 1d-2 cr or 1d of shoving/knockback only damage. granite would be a negligible density as compared to sandstone to deal more damage unless way more FP is used. 

Earth Vision

2 counts
Earth vision pays for the range you can see. 10 yrds/m is already pretty far. Its freaking X-ray vision and you can imagine how you can have more uses of it than the other vision based spells.

Non-Mages. Again very valuable, and with synergy with the other spells. Your rogue with trap skills will definitely love using this a lot. 
  1. Fill the air with Dust Cloud with Sand Jet or Mud Jet and use Earth Vision to see through it. 
  2. Attack from Ambush, while behind earth cover - which has escape routes. 
  3. Find Traps in stone and earth work. 
  4. Analyze Architecture and Structures. 
  5. Enclose a Space and Cast Destroy Air (count 2) or Create Air (Count 1). See Vacuum in B437
    1. The enclosure would requires a certain thickness and a skill roll to shape. 
    2. if you hold your breath you will Non-Magesrisk rupturing your lungs.
    3. Explosive Decompression - Take 1d of injury immediately and roll vs HT against the bends (B435). Roll HT+2 for each eye and HT-1 to prevent hardness of hearing. 
  6. Use the Earth Elevation to for Recon 
    1. Formula for Horizon is ( Height (m/yrd) ^ (0.5) ) * 3.57 = Distance of Horizon in km (or x1,000 yards or x0.63 miles) 
  7. Shape Clay so that you have Earth that can be Waterproof and Hold water. Shape something in clay and use earth to stone to make into an ideal Stone that serves its purpose. 

Earth To Stone

2 counts
Since you can maintain Shape Earth without concentration, you can cast Earth to Stone to entomb or solidify the structure you have created. this is WAY cheaper than Shaping Stone. If you used Shape Earth, you would have to spend 12fp for 2 cu.m/yrds as compared to Shape earth and Earth to Stone, you would have had to pay 2fp for 2 cu.m/yrds and 6fp to transform it into Stone (like reinforced concrete which is about ~4DR per 1cm or ~10DR per 1 inch). You saved 4fp.

Non-Mages. very useful for engineers and miners. 

  • List of Rock Types
  • Make earth into Coal and Shape Coal! Coal is basically earth or stone that is combustible.
    • Flint and Steel will allow the mage to ignite coal shaped to be kindled.  
  • Make earth into Obsidian, so that it can hold a very sharp edge. 
  • Make earth into Pumice, and you have stone that is buoyant.
  • List of Gem Stone for the stuff you cannot create with Earth to Stone
  • Nitrates and Fertilizes! definitely improve food productivity, to TL6-9 levels
Economic Impact of Earth to Stone (or Earth to Metal)
  1. Doubling the cost will make METALS! Why dig many dangerous mines, mages will now produce all the metals! Mages don't need to specialize in Metal Production, Metal Smith will depend on mages creating the tools for metal creation. 
    1. it is simple for GMs to remove this option OR add barriers. 
    2. Reduce the amount produce to 1/1000 or 1kg or 2.2lbs. x20-x50 the FP cost so that the mage would need apprentices and a larger group to coordinate. You can make it an entire village.   
  2. Note it does not say its Iron, its metals which means it can be any metal. 
  3. This spell creates Oricalcum with Essential Earth. 

Flesh to Stone 

3 counts
can also be turned into a metalic statue. Subject to the Economic Impact barriers of Earth to Metal. The Risk vs Cost is very poor compared to Shape Earth.

Stone to Earth 

3 counts
Transmutes Metal to Stone at double the cost. Too expensive for combat purposes, but useful in Sieges. Note that you can convert to earth Sliced Sections of Stone. The GM may require an Artistry or Engineering roll. Failed roll is half progress. Great against Stone elemental or Body or Stone. The GM has to rule how much damage it will deal for such. At such a specific use it can be ruled it deals 1d cutting or crushing damage at Body of Stone or Stone creatures. 

Partial Petrification 

4 counts
Again very expensive. The Risk vs Cost is worse than Flesh to Stone, and Shape Stone. the best use of it is to cause a Fear check form the horror of the transformation. 

Predict Earth Movement 

4 counts
Useful in determining where to build, as a preventive measure it is very useful. It can use also the potential for Landslides as a defensive measure for the town if the town is build to avoid it and earthworks are made to channel it towards invaders. 

Rain of Stones 

4 counts
A Harrying spell, cheaper than a Rain of Arrows. You can imagine it being used as a harrying tactic during tactical maneuvers - pinning down a shield wall. It can also be a siege spell, destroying property, supply carts. Since the mage will have to cast it at an enemy unit, he is subject to the range penalty of the spells. The mage will be in close proximity and in a dangerous position. This makes the spell best if the mage is behind a wall, countering a siege or attacking those on the wall. 

Walk through Earth 

4 counts
Needs Earth to Air to be very advantageous. Maintaining Earth Vision and Shape earth would be helpful. Earth Running and Climbing Techniques will be helpfull in moving faster through the limited duration of the spell. 

Earth to Water 

5 counts
If shape earth needs to have a water element, this spell help add that. It creates mud or water. Very useful in basic survival and logistics. Water is a heavy resource, to be able to hydrate without carrying it will change logistics practices. 


5 counts
A powerful first aid spell! Entomb someone until you can get them into better healing. Mages can go on "hiatus" and disappear. I dont know if you can heal someone in suspended animation? If you can kill them then you can probably heal them, since the condition is static. 

Sand Jet

Count 4 
Blinds and Distracts. Good for harassing an opponent for allies to flank. 

Mud Jet 

5 counts
Does what sand jet does, but adds Knockback.


5 counts
best use of it is to ignore armor. Read the very short description - you ignore metal! This means you can reach out and smack an armored knight passing through his armor. It is a powerful spell this means the mage can use his fragile obsidian blade into a metal armored foe. It also means his non-metal attacks cannot be parried by metal weapons!

A mage who's prepared all his gear to be non-metal can find this very useful defense. With stone, bone or wooden pics they can manipulate metal locks. In a low metal setting this may not be so useful, and may be better neutralizing a fully metal armored opponent but it has a high risk to cost ratio. 

Stone to Flesh 

5 counts
Reverse Petrified creatures. Its a curative spell. 

Body of Stone 

6 counts
a defensive spell more than a offensive one. Casting it on an ally may make the Tank of the group better in soaking damage. 


6 counts
Expensive spell to cast. So its typically cast as a ceremony with apprentices. An effective siege attack. 

Essential Earth 

6 counts
Has a lot of economic Impact. increasing the cost when it becomes metal (like converts 1 cu. yrd to 1kg or 2.2lbs of metal) would create some scarcity. Adding the cost modifiers of x10-x100 would also help. 

Purify Earth 

8 counts
Needs preparation - seek earth and earth vision so it wont go to waste. Has an economic impact. 


8 counts
Blinding sand storm. penalizes ranged attacks. 

Alter Terrain 

11 counts
takes a lot of energy to be used. better in a High Mana setting. 


13 counts
Takes a lot of energy to be used, better in a high mana setting. 

Move Terrain 

29 counts
Takes a lot of energy to be used, better in a high mana setting. 

Advanced Earth Techniques

  1. Maintenance Spell, Initiative, Independence, and Shape Earth. Like Gaara of Naruto, you carry with you 2 cu.yrds / cu.m of Sand or Soil. 
    1. Gaara of Naruto carrying sand can be achieved using Maintenance spell. Basically carry 2 cubic meter of sand with you at all times. The sand can carry itself and move 2m/s. Its going to be odd. The only way I can see this work is a Complex Illusion or an Illusion shell where the sand is a body guard.
  2. Illusion Shell, the mage maintains Shape Earth into a vague human form finished by Illusion Shell or various other Illusions adn Independence/Initaitive to hide its true nature. 
  3. Create a fairly large Enclosure with Shape Earth/Stone, and use Destroy Air for this (What happens to a Human Body in a Vacuum.) to happen. 
  4. Use Shape Air to bring Sand and Earth into the terrain of choice.  

Earth Bending

As a fan of Avatar the TV show I'd like also to see the same Kata or Dance or Route martial art moves that would allow a character to manipulate moves like in the use of the Hung Gar Style Kung Fu.  You can basically take the Dance Aspect and make it into Kata (which is Dance in martial arts terms). if the Character can still cast spells without doing Kata, you can just make it Half Power without the Somatic/Dance component. 

Magery (Limitations Earth College Only, -40%; Half power without Kata Component, -20%) 4cp per level. Definitely Dwarves would benefit from this. 

Dwarves with the Stable Footing Perk. They can fight in the bad footing created by their Earthen mage Allies.

Metal as an Expansions of Earth Spells

You can add Metal Spells (M182) to the Earth Spell spell lists.You can have Identify Metal come after Earth to Stone or Seek Earth.

Identify metal,
Seek Metal,
Shape Metal,


  • Terracotta Warriors and Knights
  • Obsidian Knights and Warriors
  • Mosiac Armor (mixing small stones and earth). 
  • You can have a special perk and background for some low value gemstone to be manipulated. It also requires Jewler instead of Sculpt. 
  • Earthen Guard Towers with Obsidian Mirrors. 

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