Xuln Magic System

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Using Advantages to create whatever magic effect is desired has proven to be the favorite way to "do magic" in our campaigns. '

NOW WE USE GURPS: THAUMATOLOGY SORCERY sourcebook.

Steps to Creating a Magical Spell

  1. Imagine, or recreate, the concept for an ability or magical effect ("Spell")
  2. Identify which Advantage most closely matches the effects of the spell
  3. Add base Limitations which are required
  4. Add additional Enhancements & Limitations [B104, P107] to modify for concept
  5. Get approval from GM

Casting a Spell

With the concept of "Abilities as Magic", a caster either learns, earns or is granted access to an ability (Advantage), however, by default the ability remains inactive until an action is taken to activate the ability for a single "use". This activation of the ability is achieved by "casting the spell".

Activation Requirements

Every spell (with exception of Active Defense Spells), require at least one of the following limitations which are associated with the activation of an ability for "use".

  • Costs Fatigue: each "use" requires a sacrifice of FP. This is the only limitation that allows for "maintaining" to extend the duration of the "use".
  • Trigger: each "use" requires a substance ("component") to be held/ready in a hand; the substance is consumed when the spell is cast.
  • Ritual: special ritual actions must be taken to activate the spell.
    • Gestures (somatic): the caster uses his body to perform one or more gestures. If the caster is unable to use the required body part, the spell cannot be cast. NOTE: for One Hand Free, this means the caster's dominate hand. If using the off-hand, the skill roll is modified per using off-hand rules.
      • Accessibility During Activation: One Hand Free (-5%)
      • Accessibility During Activation: Two Hands Free (-10%)
      • Accessibility During Activation: One Hand & Feet Free (-10%)
      • Accessibility During Activation: Whole Body Free (-15%)
    • Chanting (verbal): the caster must speak one or more magical words. If the caster is unable to speak, the spell cannot be cast.
      • Accessibility During Activation: Whispered Words (-5%) ... -? to Stealth
      • Accessibility During Activation: Spoken Words (-10%) ... -? to Stealth
      • Accessibility During Activation: Shouted Words (15%) ... -? to Stealth
  • Limited Use: the number of times an ability can be "used" per day is limited.
  • Takes Recharge: a recharge period must pass before the ability can be reactivated for a new "use".

Casting Time

By default, the activation of an ability for a single "use" is a "free action". The effects of the ability might take longer to become active, per the details of the Advantage. For the Innate Attack ability with an instant effect, the caster can opt to "hold" the spell for purposes of Aiming or Waiting; if the spell has a signature, the magic will shows as an orb of energy held in the hand.

When designing the spell, there is a limitation which can be added to increase the time needed to cast the spell. In this case, the ability is not active until the end of turn after the required number of Ready actions are taken. In the case of Innate Attack, the ability is not actually "used" until the next turn after.

  • Takes Extra Time [B115], -10%/level (each level doubles the time needed to cast the spell, i.e. 1 sec, 2 sec, 4 sec, 8 sec, etc.)

Skill Roll

Every spell also has an associated skill, requiring a successful skill roll to activate the ability for a "use". This is always a Hard skill based on the controlling attribute of the ability, defaulting to that attribute at -6.

  • Roll Against Ability, for Will or Per, -5%; for DX, IQ, or HT, -10%.

Components

Components can be handled by combining a number of limitations.

  • Trigger [B115] (ability requires exposure to a specific substance or condition, one dose is expended and is required per use)
    • Very Common, -10% to Rare, -40%
  • Accessibility [B110] (ability requires exposure to a specific substance or condition, the substance is NOT expended and is required per use)
    • Very Common, -5% to Rare, -20%
  • Preparation Required [B114] (in conjunction with Trigger, preparation of the components is required immediately prior to casting; not appropriate for combat spells)
    • 1 minute, -20% to 8 hours, -60%
  • Requires Power Focus (Holy Symbol, Magical Staff, Wand, etc) One special form of component is an object that serves as a focus for manifestation of the power, such as a cleric's holy symbol or a wizard's wand for example. These objects have a rarity of Occasional, being very expense and hard to find, however, they are not consumed in use as with Trigger substances. This limitation is comprised of the following:
    • Can Be Lost or Stolen, -5%; Accessibility (requires condition, not expended, Occasional) -15%; Nuisance Effect: One Hand Free During Activation, -2% : -22%

Duration

By default, when an ability is activated for a "use", this provides access to the ability for 1 minute of time, or 1 second for abilities which are instant effects (such as Innate Attack). The duration of one "use" can be extended by use of "Costs Fatigue" to "maintain" the ability, or to include one of the of the following options:

  • Extended Duration: can be added to increase the duration of "use" of an ability.
  • Persistent: for Area Effects attacks, increase duration to 10 seconds.

Rituals Required to Maintain Power Some spells, those of high power or used by notice casters, may have additional Ritual requirements which must be performed for the duration of the spell. Failure to perform these actions causes the spell to end.

  • Requires Ready Action, -10% [P112] (requires consecutive Ready Actions)
  • Requires Concentration, -15% [P112] (requires constant concentration, full action)
  • Nuisance Effect: No Stealth, -5% (caster must continually chant)
  • Nuisance Effect: One Hand Free, -5%; or Two Hands Free, -10%; or One Hand Free & Standing Freely, -10%; or Two Hands Free & Standing Freely, -15% (caster must gesture with hand(s) and possibly feet for the entirety of power)

Magical Signature

Most spells have a signature (sight, sound, feeling) that is created when the spell is cast or remains like a residue with the effect, however, as a caster becomes more proficient with the spell, the magical signature can reduced or even fully eliminated.

  • Normal Signature, +0% (all magical effects are obviously magical and easily observed)
  • Low Signature, +10% (no more easily identifiable than a champagne cork popping)
  • No Signature, +20% (almost completely unnoticeable as in a blowgun dart; or undetectable by normal means but leaves a magical trace)

Other Common Enhancement & Limitations

  • For powers that are ranged attacks (Innate Attack or Afflictions), a minimal level of fairness should be added to allow the target a chance to avoid the effect. If the attack has a signature, the target can potentially see it coming and make an active defense to dodge. If the attack has no signature, then the power should have a resistance limitation.

Enhancements

Based on Different Attributes [P100]

  • Caster may change a DX, IQ, HT, Will, or Per Roll to successfully cast a power to another above Attribute, +20%
  • Caster may change a DX, IQ, HT, Will, or Per Opposed Roll to avoid the spell to another above Attribute, +20%

Limitations

Accessibility [B110]

  • Environmental Accessibility - can only be cast in certain environments
    • Very Common, -5% (in the presence of air, on a planet, in a gravity field)
    • Common, -10% - (in contact with dust, in the presence of microbes)
    • Occasional, -20% - (in a city, in the wilderness, outdoors, touching the ground)
    • Rare, -40% - (in a storm, dense vegetation, desert, underground)
    • Very Rare, -80% - (in lava, quicksand, vacuum)

Unconscious Only [B115] is a good limitation for a character that has a power as a "wild talent".

Uncontrollable and Unreliable [B116] are good limitations when a character is still a novice with their power.

Active Defense Spells

Following is a list of specialized spells which a caster can only use as an Active Defense while in combat. Each requires a check roll (DX/2 +3, +1 for Combat Reflexes) as well as a cumulative -4 for each additional attempt per turn; all suffer -4 penalty if currently Stunned. No customization may be made to these spells.

Spell Name Defense Type Advantage Description CP Cost
Blink dodge With a successful defense check, followed by an IQ-4 roll, the caster (plus gear up to Light encumbrance) instantly vanishes and reappears at location the caster can see within a 10 yard radius; a failed IQ-4 roll results in warping to unexpected location.
Warp [100] (Active Defense, -40%; Range Limit: 10 yards; -50%; Reliable: 6; +30%; Emergencies Only, -30%; Extra Carrying Capacity: Light, +10%)
20
Force Shield block With a successful defense check, a magical shield appears momentarily in front of the caster to deflect a physical attack.
Damage Resistance 10 [50] (Active Defense, -40%; Force Field, +20%; Directional: front, -20%; Limited: physical attacks, -20%; Emergencies Only, -30%)
10
Hidden Fist parry With a successful defense check, a magical force appears momentarily to parry an attack; can also parry ranged weapons if foe is visible and within 10 yards of the caster.
Telekinesis 10 [50] (Active Defense, -40%; Visible -20%; Emergencies Only, -30%)
10
Mana Shield block With a successful defense check, an anti-magic barrier appears momentarily in front of the caster to block a magical attack which specifically targets the caster.
Magic Resistance 25 [50] (Active Defense, -40%; Directional: front, -20%; Emergencies Only, -30%; )
10
Phaseshift dodge With a successful defense check, the caster (not including gear) becomes insubstantial for an instant, allowing the attack to pass through with no effect (unless the attack can affect insubstantial).
Insubstantiality [80] (Active Defense, -40%; Can Carry Objects: Light, +20%; Limited: physical attacks, -20%, Emergencies Only, -30%)
24

Sample Spells

The following are sample Magical Powers using Advantages.

Insane Fireball that Kills a Lot of People
The caster takes a Ready Action to retrieve some uncommon components from his satchel. For a full 16 seconds afterwards: the caster chants words of power, makes grand gestures with both hands while manipulating the components, and moves wildly about in a circular pattern. The caster cannot sneak, hold anything but the components, or be bound in any way. As a magical ability, any opposing caster can attempt to dispel the magic within the 16 seconds of the casting time. On the 16th round of casting, the caster makes an attack roll to send the fireball to the destination and deals 6d burn damage to anything within a 16 yard radius.

  • Innate Attack (6d burn) [56] (Nuisance Effect (No Stealth), -10%; Nuisance Effect (Requires 2-hands & Feet), -15%; Requires Ready Action, -10%; Takes Extra Time, 16 seconds, -40%; 16y Radius, +200%; Trigger Occasional, -30%; Magic, -10%)