There are three different types of spell casters that are widely in the world – mages, animists, and witches or warlocks. Other spectacular or smaller scale methods may exist. If you have another idea, feel free to present it and we’ll work it to keep it balanced. These three, are by and far the most common.
Mages draw their power either from the energies of the life-stream or the after-world through intricate study of magical theory and knowledge of energies and materials. In game terms they use the standard Magery rules with little exception. Magery of levels above 3 requires 10 points of Unusual Background (Archmage) per level.
Mages draw their mana directly from the mana-wells of the life-stream and the after-world, their bodies acting as the conduit through the veil. The contact has permanent physical affects on the mage. This effect is known as mana tinge. The mage’s iris and strands of hair begin to take a slight iridescence or colored glow. At low levels of Magery it is difficult to notice unless the subject is studied, but wielders of high levels of Magery are unmistakable. In cultures where mages are suspect or persecuted, it is often illegal to be shaven due to this. This applies as in Thaumatology pg 25. Beginning at Magery 1 you gain Supernatural Features (Unmistakable Power) [-5]. In addition, for each level of Magery you possess, you gain a level of Unnatural Features which gives a +2 per level perception bonus to identify you as a wizard. As you cast spells mana flows through you increasing this effect further. Any time you are concentrating in preperation to, are maintaing, or are casting a spell you are treated as having two higher levels of mana tinge. The maximum level for Magery is 5, though few have ever achieved that power.
Learning SpellsTo learn a new spell, a mage must study a Grimoire that contains it along with any prerequisite spells. Standard skill rules still apply – 200 hours of learning will grant one character point (See B292). A mage may also spend points that he earned in play, so long as a spell of that school was used.
If a mage does not have access to a spell, he may attempt to create it (or an entirely new spell) himself. See B473 for details on how. The Invention Skill is Thaumatology. The Complexity is based on the prerequisite count. Simple for 0-5 prerequisites, Average for 6-10, Complex for 11-20, and Amazing for anything beyond 20. There is no Facilities Cost associated – the mage needs only ink and paper to write his theories. Disregard the Testing and Bugs and Production sections – they are irrelevant.
|Magery Level||Passive Per Bonus||Casting Per Bonus||Point Value||Archmage Cost|
Special: The Unnatural Features and Supernatural Features disadvantages do not count against your Disadvantage Limit.
Followers of the Way of Nature are sometimes granted the ability to use magic by the primal spirits. These spell casters, called Animists, need not reach beyond the veil for their mana, the primal spirits themselves deliver it to the spellcaster. As a result, they must simply appease the spirits. They need not study difficult theory like the mages – but they must understand the cycle of life and nature, and serve desires of the spirits. Because they do not touch the mana-wells, they are not subject to mana tinge. In game terms, they use Power Investiture rules including reliance on sanctity, however their skills base and default off of 10 + Power Investiture alone – their spells are completely divorced from IQ. Any prerequisite of x IQ can be met with x-10 Power Investiture. Similar to mages, they must take 10 points of Unusual Background (Heirophant) for each level of Power Investiture beyond the eighth. All spell choices must be approved before hand to ensure its inline with the spirits you appease. Finally, also similar to Mages, there is a maximum level of Power Investiture – 11.
Learning SpellsAnimists are gifted their use of spell by the Primal Spirits and therefore do not need to learn any theory – they can improve their spells however they wish. In character, the spirits are determining which spells and how powerful they are for the Animist, but out of character this is the players decision. If an Animist wishes to improve his spells through study, he must spend the time in nature, praying and practicing his magic. See B292 for more info.
Power Investiture Levels
|Power Investiture Level||Heirophant Cost|
The territory of Witches and Warlocks, pact magic is obtained by bargaining with a destroyer. Like the Animists, pact magic users do not need to touch mana-wells directly. This begins with a required disadvantage – Secret: Taboo Breaker (-30). In game terms, Pact Magic uses an alternate form of Magery – Ritual Magery – with the limitation Pact Magic, -20%. The warlock must learn the Ritual Magic (B218) skill, which receives a bonus equal to the levels of Ritual Magery possed. He should then record a College skill for each college of magic. These College skills default to Ritual Magic -6, and may be improved as regular skills, but may never exceed the Ritual Magic skill. Each spell is treated as a Hard Technique defaulting to the college skill at a penalty. To determine this penalty, find the number of prerequisite spells listed on page 261 of the GURPS Thaumatology book. These spells can also be improved from their default, but may not exceed their associated College skill.
Unlike Mages, pact users can cast spells at default, and even double-default if they have not spent points in their college! Other prerequisites of the spell (such as Magery level, IQ, etc.) must still be met in order to use it. Essentially, you are treated as knowing every spell in the game, even if its level is default. However, an Extended Rule of 20 is in place – Ritual Magic skills above 20 are treated as 20 for the purpose of default calculations. Because of this, a College will never default to a score higher than 14. This rule does not extend to spells. Like mages, pact users have an upper limit on Magery, and an associated Unusual Background (Warlock/Witch) after exceeded a certain level – see the table below.
Threshold MagicPact users are supplied their mana by direct intervention of the Destroyers, which is a dangerous situation. Instead of relying on fatigue, the witch can take the power directly from the destroyer – to a certain point. Naturally, this has its price.
When casting a spell, a pact-user does not pay any FP. Instead, the FP cost to cast or maintain a spell is added to a Power Tally. Anything that would modify the FP cost modifies the power cost instead. Under no circumstances can a pact mage even attempt to cast a spell with a tally higher than Ritual Magery x30. This tally reduces overtime, usually automatically. The specifics of it are dependent on the specific Pact made for each user, but the standard is 8 points every 24 hours.
Every pact-user has a Threshold Score of 30. So long as his power tally stays at or below this number, he is within the safe limits of his magic. However, on any turn where his power tally exceeds his threshold, or any turn where he casts a spell (even with 0 cost) or his tally increases for any other reason while he’s already exceeded his threshold, he must make a Calamity Check.
To make a Calamity Check, roll 3d and add 1 for every full 5 points by which the power tally exceeds the threshold, and compare to the table below. Note, that on any check 29 or higher the spell will also fail unless the caster can make a Will roll at a penalty equal to the bonus on the Calamity Check.
Learning SpellsA pact user knows all spells by default, and may spend his character points to improve any spell or school. Improvement By Study is 200 learning hours of carrying out your pact-master’s wishes, ritual worship of him, etc.
Ritual Magery Levels
|Ritual Magery Level||Warlock/Witch Cost|
Below is the table to roll on to check for Calamity.
|3-10||Nothing happens – this time.|
|11-12||Wizard suffers fr the Nightmares disadvantage (p. B144), with a self-control number of 9, for 4d days.|
|13||Caster takes 2 points of injury, and the wound immediately becomes infected (see Infection, p. B444).|
|14||Caster must make a Fright Check at -5 as horrific visions of the afterlife of the damned fill his eyes.|
|15||Caster takes 1 point of injury as his arms erupt in boils.|
|16||Wizard’s grasp of his own magic weakens. Reduce his threshold by 2d+5 for the next 1d weeks. The wizard is aware that his threshold has fallen, but not by how much.|
|17||As 16, but threshold reduction is 4d+10 and the effect lasts 1d months. In addition, all of the wizard’s spells are at -3 to skill for 2d weeks.|
|18||Wizard’s Magery gains the Radically Unstable Magery limitation (p. 26) at the -30% level. If he already has this, then it becomes the -50% version. If he already has that then any attempt to cast a spell results in an automatic critical failure. In all cases, the problem lasts for 1d+1 weeks.|
|19||Caster gains a -5-point disadvantage of the GM’s choice. After 3d days, he has the option of buying it off for 2 bonus character points (it simply fades away). If he lacks the points, or doesn’t want to spend them, then the disadvantage becomes permanent. Any disadvantage is possible – the wizard can become ugly, marginally insane, etc., at the GM’s whim.|
|20-21||As 19, but the disadvantage is worth -10 points, and costs 5 points to buy off. 21-22 – As 19, but the disadvantage is worth -15 points, and costs 7 points to buy off.|
|22-23||One of the caster’s hands withers.|
|24||As 19, but there are multiple disadvantages worth -30 points in total, and costing 15 points to buy off.|
|25||As 18, but the problem lasts for 1d+1 months. At the end of that period, the wizard must roll against Will + Threshold Magery. Failure means that the condition becomes permanent. In extreme cases, this can cause the permanent loss of useful spellcasting ability.|
|26||Caster becomes a living “mana-scar”! Within a 3d-mile radius of the wizard, casting and maintenance costs double (in terms of tally additions and regular spellcasting energy cost), and tally recovery halts. This effect lasts for 3d weeks. It also ends in the event of the wizard’s death.|
|27||Wizard ages 4d years.|
|28||A plague or a curse (locusts, storms, etc.) descends on the region, lasting for 3d weeks. No one will be able to trace this to the wizard, but he’ll be aware that it’s his fault.|
|29||A demon, different from any demon with whom the caster has dealings, appears and attempts to wreak havoc – attacking the caster if he gets in the way.|
|30-39||As 29, plus something permanent happens to the state of magic in a large region around the place where the casting went wrong. Perhaps all spells are cast at -2 in that forest from then on, or a certain class of spells functions erratically.|
|40+||As 30-39, but the change covers a larger area. In addition, the wizard must make a HT-6 roll. Failure means he’s consumed in a backlash of magical energy and explodes: he dies automatically (reduced to -10¥HP) and the explosion does (Will + Threshold Magery) dice of crushing explosive damage! Success on the HT-6 roll means a less dramatic backlash: the wizard takes 2d dice of damage and doesn’t explode. If this kills him, then the change may fade over a period of weeks or years – or it may stand as a memorial to his folly.|
Sanctity and Mana
The world has variable levels of Sanctity and Mana. Generally, areas with more abundant nature and less sapient construction have higher Sanctity, while land stripped of wildlife and vegetation or vast cities may have lower levels. Shrines to primal spirits can also increase Sanctity levels, so long as they are properly cared for – making them commonplace in most cities.
Mana levels increase in areas where the veil is thin for some reason or another, and decrease where the veil is thicker. Shrines to destroyers and creators sometimes have an effect on mana level as well.
Ceremonial Casting is a long term casting that incorporates several components to make the otherwise impossible possible. Anybody my create a ceremony from any spell they know, however those without levels of Ritual Magery are at an additional penalty of -5.
See Astrology to compare the week to the school of magic your spell is.
|+- 2 weeks||+2|
|+- 6 weeks||+1|
|+- 7 or more weeks||+0|
In addition to the materials associated with an Astrological Sign, some materials universally affect ceremonies.
Completely inert matter, a line of ash can disrupt magic crossing it (-1 to -3) or define an insulating circle (+1 for magic worked wholly within it). Expending the ashes of a living being also provide a +1 when working fire magic.
A supreme conductor, “the blood is the life,” and the lifeprinciple can be seen as the essence of magic. Having a blood connection to a target, or establishing one to a magic item, gives +3. Merely spattering one’s blood while casting magic adds +1.
In fairly late traditions, silk can conduct magic or, tied in a circle, insulate it. This gives +1 or +2 for castings along a silken cord or entirely within a silken circle.
Also see page 222 of GURPS Magic for materials that are potent for a particular school.
Sacrifice may be able to help the spell complete as well, however the circumstances will depend on the spell specifically.
Food, alcoholic beverages, tobacco, stimulants, incense: +1 or +2 for expensive
Artwork, jewelry, valuable goods, money: +1 to +3
Live animals: +2 to +4
Human beings, if acceptable: +5 (homeless stranger) to +8 (beautiful virgin, royalty)
Supernatural versions of the above are worth an extra +1
Items used to focus arcane energies regularly conveys a +1 to spells relating to a corresponding category of magic, decan, etc., after a year of steady use. Further use grants higher bonuses, as follows:
Add another +1 per additional 500 years of constant use.
Casting in an area tied to a Creator on an astrological sign related to him provides a further +1. Symbol Drawing (Ceremonial Magic) can be used to create a sacred site as well – divide the margin of success by 5, and add this as a bonus. This must be done with Chalk or Salt. Other “insulator” materials can provide further bonuses.
There may be other ways to improve a spell as well. If the caster has an idea, they can try it. The GM will decide if it is worth a bonus, and how much.
- Exchange Bodies: Will require a rare expensive material
- Trace: Must be in presence when cast (using seeker doesn’t count)
- Divination: Cannot answer yes or no questions, only provides vague clues in many cases.
- Teleport and Teleport other: Maximum range of 500 yards.
- Sense Foes, Sense Emotion, Sense Spirit
- Hide Emotion, Hide Thoughts
- Lend Language, Borrow Language, Lend Skill, Borrow Skill, Steal Skill
- Mind Reading, Mind Search
- Compel Truth, Compel Lie, Truthsayer
- Possession, Permanent Possession
- Essential Earth, Essential Water, Essential Wood
- Enchant (and all spells that require it as a pre-requisite)
- Timeport (and all spells that require it as a pre-requisite)
- Planar Summons, Planar Visit, Plane Shift (and all spells that require it as a pre-requisite)1
- Seek Gate, Scry Gate, Control Gate, and Create Gate
- Reconstruct Spell
- See Secrets
- Charge Powerstone
- Flying Carpet
- Summon Demon1
- Missile Shield
- Reverse Missiles
- Technological Spells
1 These spells may be allowed on a case by case basis.