Thursday, May 1, 2014

GURPS Magic Notes 13: Using Magic Items

A review of magic Items and some notes about how it affects a setting.

Rules in Review

The rules for using Magic Items in B482 or M21.
  • Hidden Lore or Expertise. In game knowledge of Magic Items may be useful. Since magic items have limitations on what form they can take and how they work, such a skill would help in a game of analysis and deduction (if the player likes to play that game or want to boil it down to a roll). 
  • Power Rating (B481 or M17). under the title "Power of a magic Item". A powerful mage, who has high enchantment and prerequisite spell, transfers this level to the Magic Item. It needs to be at least 15 to work, and is affected by Low Mana zone, bringing it down by -5. So in a Low Magic Setting you need a PR of 20 or the user is a mana enhancer 1. 
    • Two Specialists and a... Since Enchantment is a Ceremonial Magic process, you can rule that one specialist enchanter (with high enchantment) and the other specialist 
    • Power Levels are important for the resistant rolls against the magic item. A spell that is Resist-HT/Will will roll against the Items Power (note rule of 16). 
    • Inspired Creation (M115) makes fine and very fine equipment for 5fp. It says in any ONE craft work. it doesnt say if it has to be magical or mundane (which gets to be a really messy a distinction as magic becomes a science). Its big deal is that it adds +5 to the mage's effective skill in making the item if the skill matters. So that translates to +5 power rating. GMs call (my call is why not; if it doesnt give me an additional head ache, and it makes sure ALL magic items are made on Fine/Very Fine Items). 
  • Using Magic Items (B482 or M21).  
    • Magical Items are used by Will. But...
    • ...You still have to Roll (using the PR) to activate a magic Item. Note that distance penalties apply, you would want to have a magic greater than 15 or else you will have to touch all that you wish to affect. 
      • No ritual means no special activities or actions
        • Which means you can make it as part of a ready action to activate. Ex. You can activate it while you reflexively drawing a weapon if the spell does not require you to target it on anyone but yourself.
        • It also means that you cannot benefit from the meta-spells, since its really not casting of a spell.   
      • It is as though you're casting a Spell (see describes the paragraph before the bullet points) but this is not "Spell casting".  So that means critical fail tables will come into play. So you might as well get a high power.
        • Normalization. This means 1 out of 46,656 castings will result in a DEMON summoning. Here is your campaign Profession: Demon Hunters because of the wide spread use of magic items. Actually you can have an entire Campaign premise of a magical setting where characters all have to kill demons for a living that result in a botched roll. 
        • Its really up to the GM what the Demons do. It can be they are amassing or plotting or they stir up a ruckus enough for the farmers to call the Demon Hunters. (i find it a great use if I 'Hoard up' the demons for some grand purpose later in the game). 
      • Same Casting Time. As the spell, no modifiers from Power Rating. 
      • Same FP cost as spell, The Item just takes FP from its user, if the user has no FP to grant it will not work. (So undead with no FP cannot use magic items that require FP). High Power does not discount the cost of FP, so in a way Magic Items are great for Non-mages to participate at great FP cost. Power Spell (M57 or B480) powers a magic item (note it provides half as much in low mana zones).
        • Tons of FP! Its weird that if you have low upper body strength doing a push up takes more effort than running 200yrds. Ask the gm if he allows Aspected (Accessibility) FP that works related to the magic item. 
      • If you want High Power makes it more expensive. If 15 is the minimum, so for every point greater square * 10%. (lets use a TL3 Shape Earth of $6600). 
        • Power 15
        • Power 16 +10% (example shape earth; $7260)
        • Power 17 +40% (example shape earth; $9240)
        • Power 18 +90% (example shape earth; $12,540)
        • Power 19 +180%  (example shape earth; $17,160)
        • Power 20 +250%  (example shape earth; $23,100) 
        • * assuming $33 per 
  • Which Items are always on? The easiest way to tell is just looking if its clothing or jewelry. Spells always one or maintained are the ones with out worry of critical spell failure. 
  •  Innate Attack Skill (B201) will be needed for certain spells. Artist (Sculpt or Illusion) will also be needed for certain spells. 

Item Creation Notes

  • Found in these pages. B481-482 or M16-18 
  • Magic Item Power Rating (discussed above). 
  • 483 or Price of per FP is calculated as Average Monthly Income divided by Number of Work Days per month. Note that this can be very different per setting, depending on what mages are in the Economic Order of things.   
    • If they are sufficiently rare, like the Byzantine Empire's Pyromancers who supplied Greek Fire to the navy or Archimedes or the very valuable specialists that provided the best technology available at the time: Shipwrights, Engineers, and Masters. The cost of the items would reflect a station of such creators. In such cases, an Empire or Kingdom would have such a guild made up of very valuable specialists of incomes of Wealthy (x5 starting wealth) plus price modifiers (x2). So it wouldn't be a surprise if each work day would cost to create would reach  or x10 more than the prices in gurps magic or B483.  
    • Price per FP is recommended at $1 and price of time is based on Income. In the end of the day the GM will just rule on the price and it tends to be on the inflated size because if there are a lot of magic items in the game, then the mages know how to milk profits. Encouraging more creative means to get magic items is an option. 
  • The GM has to make up the cost and kind of materials. 
    • $10 per FP plus $20 per prerequisite count in basic material like papers, inks, chalk, silver dust, salts, candles, etc..  Each attempt ideally costs something. 
  • Quick and Dirty. 
    • Drawback - risks. Do this if your skills are at 16, so you don't suffer critical spell as often. From 1:53 rolls to 1:216 rolls.
    • Energy requirement. Unless you have the mages present then you cannot do it. Since Contributors who are not mages can only give up to 100fp then you need a lot of mages as you reach FP of over 100. Disposable magic Items using Temporary Magic Item will be possible with such limitations. To build a Cult Following you just get the playbook of real world cults.   
      • If you are a undead able to burn HP at no penality with immune to pain or numb (numb should not allow you to tell how much HP you burn) you can draw on more power. 
    • Benefit - speed. 
  • Slow and Sure Method. 
    • Note - Its more suited for Modern Settings or Normalized Magic in a setting. 
    • Benefit - depending on your assumptions (mine are in here) this can allow for very powerful magical Items (over 100FP) . 
    • Drawback - time consuming and man power intensive. 

Low Magic Games and Economics

  • At $33 per energy point a Very Fine Balanced Sword is $15,000 vs $8,250. It kinda disrupts the economics of it but if the setting has a lot of magical items this may be the cost. Of course the GM rolls randomly what magical items are on the market.  
    • Note that a Low population low tech world will find magical items showing up if these items are more indestructible than regular technological wonders of metal at the time.
  • At x10 more expensive magic items, a Very Fine Balanced Penetrating Sword would (M43) be the same cost as a Mercenary Poor Medium Footman Squad (10 men; TS2.25) for a year of full time inclusive of overland logistics cost. 
  • Warmachines that will allow Lords (Mage Lords) to more effective than squads or divisions of men would an example of what a Lord would spend for. The best example of such spending is when Mehmet spent for the creation of the Dardanelles Gun, or when the Romans used Greek Fire, or Siege engines by Archimedes. 
  • Truthsayer, Persuasion, Sense Emotion, Mind Search or Mind Reading combined with various Mentalist Techniques can allow a mage to filter participants. A well paid mage can have a lot of apprentices and participants, pretty much similar to the household of a clergy in a Fief or Imperial Palace. He can probably have the population of a monastery with its attached Village holding as part of his 
    • Such Spells can be Enchanted on Icons

Wizardry Tools

  • Powerstones are very important. A casting of a powerstone spells by a very skilled enchanter would be worth while. Only high powered mana, magery, or powered games would allow more powerful power stones. Dedicating a powerstone
  • Mana stones is going to be common in a low magic and low powered game. They may not be rechargeable but a mage with nothing better to do and has Manastone at 16 or better will be able to make use of his free time creating back up mana stones. A mge would be charging the stone 1 per hour. On an 8 hour day, where he does light duties he can cast the spell 19 times. 
  • Scrolls. They are so hard to use that in most games that the opportunity cost is making one is reserved to games where magic is very rare but sufficiently low tech that technology would not out-class a spell. 
    • Scrolls still require FP to cast, like magic items.  
    • Powerfull spells take a lot of time to make, compared to making a magic item through ceremonial magic or quick and dirty method. Also unlike the scroll, these items are not consumed.  
    • That economic conflict that the more powerful the scroll is made by a mage who has a very high skill, high skill that makes it a waste of his time to make a scroll compared to other pursuits.
    • Scrolls would create artificial scarcity for magic, if the magic producers act like a cartel. Still since its DAYS instead of hours, its just too expensive. 
  • Staff, its cheap enough that most mages can enchant and make them. Since spears are one of the most versatile weapon skills (with form mastery, grip mastery, default to staff at -2, great on horseback, a ranged weapon etc.) 
    • Limiting enchantments are Expensive compared to making Staffs. 
    • Staffs are limited to your imagination and GM permission. The Tesubo which is bascially an Iron-Staff can be made into a Staff, pole arms can be made into a staff, Bokken, Rattan sticks, cudgels, etc... its all up to the GM. Nothing like a powerful damage dealing touch spell on a staff-spear or staff-cudgel. 
  • Usually at 1000+ points of power, especially in low tech periods these items get incredibly rare. The coordination and the specialization needed to have such is at an annoyingly high degree. Its better for high Mana settings. 

GURPS Spells that deal with Magic Items

  • Many Meta Spells that affect spells cast with a magic item. 
    • Countermeasure spells like: Counter-spell, Suspend Spell, Ward, Reflect, Seek Magic, Dispel Magic, Scryguard, Magic Resistance, Spell Shield/Wall, Steal Spell, (and all their variations) etc
  • Charge Power Stone will come in very useful.  
    • Typically cast a Ceremonial Spell for lower level mages (if they can meet the Skill-15) and non mage character can contribute energy (up to 100!). 
  • Make and Break Spells. 

Mana Setting

  • In a Normal Mana setting, specializations where mages and rulers control the production of magical items that increase the productivity of their holdings from this can allow for magical Items to proliferate. 

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