RogerBW's Blog

GURPS Magic: Death Spells, Sean Punch 15 August 2016

This supplement adds to the standard GURPS magic system, with spells designed not just to injure or curse but to kill.

You might think they should be in there already, but the introduction explains why not: some player characters are often reluctant to use them as directly killing the foe, rather than gradually beating him up, seems unheroic, while if they exist in the world then bad guys can use them against the PCs. The answer here is to make them expensive; to give the target a reasonable chance of survival or recovery; and to give plenty of variety.

That's what the 48 spells here do. Any of them can kill or otherwise permanently remove a character, but each of them does it in a different way. None simply applies a bit of damage, or produces a permanent incapacitation, or needs special circumstances to work; instead they inflict mortal conditions, significant amounts of damage, or simple require the target to make a resistance roll or die.

So with Air Spells you can inflict an Embolism, or Steal Breath; Earth can change the target's heart to a literal lump of stone; and the Food College isn't forgotten, with Butcher (works best on low-intelligence creatures) and Death's Banquet, which poisons the food it's cast on. Gate spells include Dimensional Dissection, while Healing, well, Euthanasia is obvious. I'm particularly fond of Forbidden Wisdom from Knowledge spells, which shows the target a truth forbidden to mortal beings, at which point he is erased from existence. All of these spells are Very Hard, and all cost significant amounts of energy, to stop casual use. Boxes deal with resurrection (when it works and when it doesn't), suicide, and how these spells interact with fantasy-world clergy.

These are well-balanced additions to an already well-stocked corpus of spells, and will definitely be on the menu next time I run a game with the GURPS magic system. GURPS Magic: Death Spells is available from Warehouse 23.

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