RogerBW's Blog

Pyramid 114: Mind Over Magic 21 April 2018

Pyramid, edited by Steven Marsh, is the monthly GURPS supplement containing short articles with a loose linking theme. This time it's the combination of magic and imagination. Will that be different from the Thaumatology issues we've had before?

The Incanter's Grimoire (Christopher R. Rice) extends the freeform magic system from GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 19: Incantation Magic (to allow the player to have more spells worked out in advance). Side notes cover the process of spell creation: what tends to work, and what should be disallowed. This isn't a system I've used; perhaps I should look into it.

Names Have Power (Rory Fansler) is a system for implementing True Names: how to discover them, how to represent that knowledge in game terms, and the advantages of using them (in a variety of GURPS's magical systems). I'd have added a mention of the Selectivity enhancement (to allow a power to be used both with and without the true name bonus), but this is still good solid stuff.

Eidetic Memory: Glass Magic and the Specularii (David L. Pulver) adds a Glass school to the standard GURPS magic system: nothing particularly revolutionary there, though it might be handy. The more interesting side of the article covers the Specularii, an order of diviners, spies and assassins who are built round these spells and some unique ones of their own.

Artifacts of Evil (Paul Stefko) gives some worked examples of enchanted items using the system in GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic; there are full stats, rituals to produce a similar effect without the artefact, and notes on the hazards of handling the things – and how to destroy them. Some of the stats don't entirely match up with the descriptions but there are interesting ideas here.

The Carnie (Sean Punch) is a variant of the Bard for Dungeon Fantasy, a travelling entertainer with powers driven by (and inflicting) madness. I'm not sure I see this working well in a dungeon crawl, but it could be quite fun in a high-powered fantasy game.

Random Thought Table: Zero-Sum Game (Steven Marsh) looks at zero-point packages combining an advantage with a disadvantage such as a Patron and an Enemy; it also looks at a partial version of Amnesia to account for abilities being unknown. This is more game-mechanical than usual for an RTT, and it works rather well.

All right, this is Thaumatology VI in all but name. The magic is generally less subtle and better-understood than it is in the magical games I'm running at the moment, but there are definitely ideas here that I'll pinch. Pyramid 114 is available from Warehouse 23.

  1. Posted by Rory Fansler at 09:38pm on 26 April 2018

    Thanks for the review. As for adding Selectivity what I did was use Limited Enhancements so the modifiers only apply some of the time. Then offered 3 separate versions for different choices, especially setting based ones. So I dont think Selectivity would have added anything here.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 09:43pm on 26 April 2018

    I see what you're getting at; it seems to me that Selectivity is a cleaner mechanism than using an Accessibility limitation on an enhancement and thus getting a Selectivity-like effect by the back door. I won't say it's wrong; it just tastes odd.

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