RogerBW's Blog

Pyramid 109: Thaumatology V 18 November 2017

Pyramid, edited by Steven Marsh, is the monthly GURPS supplement containing short articles with a loose linking theme. This time it's a return to thaumatology, looking at magic and what to do with it.

Magnum Opus (James Amaral) expands alchemy to make it something interesting for player characters to do. There are four influences, based on the mediæval humours but not opposed to each other, each with a potential range of -2 to +2 (the author suggests that this should produce 608 combinations rather than 625, for no obvious reason). Multiple ingredients can be stacked together, but the ones that only give +1 or -1 to a single value are hard work to produce. Then they can be combined to reach the appropriate position in the coordinate space to produce a particular alchemical effect. There's less to this than I'd hoped for, but it certainly has potential not just as something for PCs but as a generator of odd clues for investigators.

The Mage-Hunter (Sean Punch) is a Dungeon Fantasy template for a non-magical warrior who can go up against magicians and survive – without having Magic Resistance, which makes him harder to heal. Much of this is done with new advantages to give defences against, and the ability to counter, spells; just how these are "non-magical" isn't really clear, but the principle is there.

Eidetic Memory: The Teramancers (David L. Pulver) deals with a group of magicians who specialise in monsters: controlling, and later breeding or otherwise creating, them. Mostly this is an excuse for strange monsters showing up, rather than something for PCs to get directly involved in, but one could readily put them on the other side and that might be rather more fun.

The Glorious Book of Valadir (J. Edward Tremlett) is a book of good magic to counter all those books of evil magic one reads about. It engages with casters' intent, but there are of course significant side effects. Um, yes, significant; this is essentially a campaign-defining artefact.

Designers' Notes: Incantation Magic (Christopher R. Rice and Antoni Ten Monrós) describes the genesis of the book (how it was adapted and modified from Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic), and includes some material cut for space.

The All-Scroll (Alice Turow) delivers magical knowledge… as something like modular spellcasting abilities, but only once for each effect for a single user, and only for a limited time. It seems regrettably arbitrary to me, but may appeal to others.

Random Thought Table: Too Powerful for Your Own Good (Steven Marsh) looks at limiting magical powers by making them too powerful (long in duration, damaging, etc.) for convenient use, with great skill needed to restrain them.

This is a good one; I don't use much magic in games, but there are ideas here that I'll gladly take and incorporate into various of my campaigns. Pyramid 109 is available from Warehouse 23.

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