Friday, December 11, 2015

Sorcery: Seek Food Conversion


For better or for worse, the vanilla magic system of GURPS is skill-based. Each spell is either an IQ/Hard or IQ/Very Hard skill that uses the advantage Magery as a talent. Now, if you look at the spell list in the 4th edition magic book, there is a huge list of spells, I believe, in the hundreds. And this is cool if you are a person like me that likes getting inspiration from huge catalogs and doing something with that.

However, one criticism of this spell list is that the spells have inconsistent power levels. When they were first written for GURPS 3rd edition, spells from one resource were balanced against one set of assumptions, while spells from another resource were balanced against another assumption. So in a particular setting, the power level was such that one spell was right in line with expectations, while being way overpowered in another setting or context.
This was not "fixed" in the 4th edition spell list, which contains spells from several different resources, so there is no straightforward method of gauging power level for particular spells and keeping it in check for new campaigns.
So Sorcery comes along and expands on the rules from Powers, a book for remixing advantages and disadvantages, and gives a system for replacing the skill-based vanilla magic system with a power-based magic system that balances magic power level against character point costs instead of the more subjective hands on balancing required for vanilla magic. As an example of the sorcery system, let's convert spells from the vanilla magic system into sorcery, starting with the food college, because food is a less straightforward utility spell college that will require...


So let's take a look at the spell straight from the source. 
Determines the direction, distance, and general nature of the nearest significant source of food. Use the long distance modifiers. The food found will be wholesome, but not necessarily appetizing – e.g., edible insects. Any known sources of food (such as those delicious insects) may be excluded if the caster specifically mentions them before beginning.
We need to create an advantage that:

  1. Detects food, and only food
  2. Determines distance
  3. Works over long distances
  4. And allows a caster to specifically exclude known food sources.
The obvious advantage to start with is Detect. If we look at the text describing it, it says it uses the regular range modifiers, so we will need to convert that to long range using a modifier. For the next point, we see there is an enhancement for Detect available called Precise that tells us the exact distance. Next, we need the ability to exclude delicious bugs. The analysis roll of a Detect can allow us to filter out things we are not looking for, so that it is taken care of for us. Finally, all Sorcery spells by definition of the book should have the Sorcery modifier, which combines Magical with Costs Fatigue.
Now coming back to requirement one, the tricky part with using Detect is determining if food is a rare, occasional, common, or very common subject. After looking at the examples given, I think food sounds like a "common" subject, so now we are going to base our advantage on Detect Food 20 Points.
Statistics:  Detect Food (Precise +100%; Long Range 1 +50%; Sorcery -15%)[47]

Fine Tuning

This spell might seem a bit expensive, but Sorcery has a system where we can define a budget and deluxe version of every spell. So, at a bare minimum, we might say we can get rid of the very expensive Precise and Long Range modifiers and have a basic version of the spell like this:
Statistics:  Detect Food (Sorcery -15%)[17]
We now have a budget version of the spell for a more affordable 17 character points. Sorcery uses switchable advantages, so most likely, these two spells will actually cost 10 and 4 points to a player respectively, which isn't awful.

Final Touch

Lastly, with these calculations out of the way, we can write up the Sorcery power in the canon format so it is easier for someone to read the ability.

Sense Food

  • Keywords: Information
  • Full Cost: 17 or 47 points
  • Casting Roll: Per. IQ for further analysis
  • Range: Unlimited
  • Duration: Permanent
This spell will find the closest source of food using per adjusted for range modifiers, and tell the caster the direction. The caster may make an analysis roll using IQ to learn more details about the detected food, a larger margin of success yielding better information.
Statistics:  Detect Food (Sorcery -15%)[17] The improved version adds Precise (+100%) and Long Range (+50%) [+30].

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