RogerBW's Blog

Pyramid 105: Cinematic Magic 25 July 2017

Pyramid, edited by Steven Marsh, is the monthly GURPS supplement containing short articles with a loose linking theme. This time it's magic inspired by large-scale filmic stories. Is it just going to be a rerun of #102 Epic? Not quite.

Super-Sorcery! (Kelly Pedersen) modifies the Sorcery subsystem (magic as powers) for use in a superhero game: expanding extra effort, allowing simultaneous spells, and allowing more flexibility in ritual procedures. There's also a 500-point template for a superheroic magician in the Dr Strange style, with various options on skills, and three new power-based spells (summoning, travel to other worlds, and a defensive power). Well, I am working up a superhero game at the moment, but I'll probably downplay the magical element of it.

Chi Sorcery (Christopher R. Rice) takes the Sorcery subsystem in a different direction, to empower a cinematic martial artist. This is impressive (and point-expensive) stuff, and I'd love to see a lower-powered version for a campaign I'm running; at this level it's not of immediate use but I can certainly see it becoming relevant in the future.

Eidetic Memory: Theo-Necromancy (David L. Pulver) looks not at the idea that gods can die – that's already been done back in #41 – but at whether they can be resurrected, or perhaps more to the point revivified. There are several options, with the main one being summoning them, for reasons which doubtless seem sufficient at the time. Most of this is the same as any sort of summoning of a powerful spirit, but some of the adventure ideas get a bit more interesting… for example, the remnant cult of a dead god trying to keep up the impression that he's still a going concern. (Though I'd have liked to see more on the idea of what form an undead god might take, and how it might act.)

Gourmet Alchemy (Michael Kreuter) offers a gateway item to make brewing of alchemical potions easier; in other words, it brings potions into the magic-as-powers system (most of them being Afflictions, i.e. giving an advantage or disadvantage to the user). This is great for a high-magic fantasy game, but would be hard to use elsewhere.

Random Thought Table: Third-Reel Magic (Steven Marsh) looks at how to apply some cinematic tropes to magic: in particular, having to abandon an old magical system in favour of a new one, standard effects not working and having to come up with something new, and ill-advised dangerous things that save the day.

Appendix Z: Lights! Camera! Magic! (Steven Marsh) offers a zero-point feature that allows access to one-shot special abilities (from Power-Ups 5: Impulse Buys), but makes them mana-dependent, and only usable on other people who also have this feature. I don't want to take the narrativist approach that this is designed to support, but as a means of getting villains to fight heroes rather than killing off the mundanes I think it has some potential.

I'm not running a high-magic campaign at the moment, and I have no particular plans to do so, so there's not much here of immediate use. I may well do something with the Chi powers, though. Pyramid 105 is available from Warehouse 23.

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