RogerBW's Blog

GURPS Magic: Artillery Spells, Sean Punch 23 June 2018

This supplement adds to the standard GURPS magic system, with spells designed to destroy hordes of minor opponents.

These are missing from the standard magic system in order to give warriors something to do; but if warriors are powered up with martial arts moves, there's no reason wizards can't be too.

The first chapter has a conceptual overview, and notes on how the spells were created (there isn't and never will be a formal spell design system, because there's so much prior art that wouldn't fit into it). Then, with the overall brief of "cause a bit of damage to lots of people, quickly", the 50 spells in this book run through various ways of doing that: Air spells are a Cloud of Doom (contact poison), Falling Sky (explosive pressure wave) and Twisting Terror (micro tornado), Earth has the obvious Boulder Barrage and Sand Blast but also Seismic Shock, Mind Control has Mass Mutilation, and so on.

As in Death Spells these are all Very Hard, generally with substantial prerequisites. That and their high casting costs will mean they shouldn't dominate a game; at some point I'd like to try them against fighters armed with modern firearms to see whether either makes the other obsolete (as those weapons already do most standard GURPS spells).

There'a a lot to unpack here (and no requirement to use all of it at once); it makes me want to contemplate a modern-magic campaign again. GURPS Magic: Artillery Spells is available from Warehouse 23.


  1. Posted by Dr Bob at 10:02am on 23 June 2018

    I certainly remember back in the day my brother's RPG group moaning that GURPS modern weapons are better than Superhero blast powers, mainly in terms of range. It was only the superheroic toughness, regeneration and/or number of hit points which saved the group from an attack helicopter mowing them down with its mini-guns. Well, that and my brother the werewolf teleporting into the chopper and biting the pilot's head off!

    That would have been GURPS 2nd ed, I think.

  2. Posted by John Dallman at 12:08pm on 23 June 2018

    This is likely due to the requirement for superheroic blast powers to not reduce normal people to pulp on one hit. It doesn't fit with that model of heroism, or the Comics Code.

  3. Posted by RogerBW at 12:12pm on 23 June 2018

    The old Champions hand solves this by claiming that "only works on villains" is a limitation and should therefore make his Energy Blast cheaper.

    (Yes, I saw a player actually claim this. My introduction to Champions involved a lot of rules-lawyering and minimaxing.)

  4. Posted by Dr Bob at 10:39am on 24 June 2018

    Surely the logical end point of an energy blast which only works on villains is that you blast everyone you see, and then declare that the singed and smoking ones must be wrong 'uns?

  5. Posted by RogerBW at 12:46pm on 24 June 2018

    That was pretty much that player's preferred combat tactic anyway.

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