Friday, December 13, 2013

[Urbis] GURPS Rules of the Cold Frontier, Part II

Continued from Part I...

The Cold Frontier campaign uses a number of house rules for GURPS magic.

First of all, the default magic system is that of GURPS Magic. The system has its problems, but it is familiar to most of the players and covers most of the basic magical effects you'd expect from fantasy campaign.

At character creation, mages and priests can buy up to three levels of Magical Aptitude or Power Investiture. After character creation, they can increase this to up to six levels. Furthermore, they can buy an Energy Reserve without any limits on how many points they put into it.

(In the previous campaign, there was no Energy Reserve and a sharp limit on how many Fatigue Points the characters were able to purchase - but on the other hand the player characters could buy up to 20 levels of Magical Aptitude, which near the end of the campaign resulted in spell skill levels of 30+ and allowed the PCs to maintain even powerful spells infinitely).

Furthermore, individual spells are learned as techniques. "Hard" spells are learned as "Average" techniques while "Very Hard" spells are learned as "Hard" techniques. The "Default" value of each spell technique is equal to (IQ + Magical Aptitude/Power Investiture), and the character cannot put more character points into the technique than they have levels of Magical Aptitude or Power Investiture.

(This, the players felt, made it actually worthwhile to "train up" individual spells while still preventing too-high skill values. It also makes less-intelligent spellcasters feasable).

Individual spells have the following changes:
  • "Explode"-type spells reduce their damage by one dice per yard of distance, instead of the normal rules for explosion damage.
  • "Stone to Earth": While the duration was always "permanent" and thus any material produced could be dispelled, I also noted that "destroying" the material (such as melting the metal) would also end the spell.
  • "Resist Fire"/"Resist Cold": Every "level" of those spells only provides DR 4 against relevant attacks.
  • There are no known spells which allow you to travel into the past.
  • "Create Gate": Creating portals is considerably harder in Urbis. To reflect this, you must first link two locations by enchanting them like a permanent gate - but that only allows you to cast a Create Gate spell linking the two. Without such an enchantment, you can't cast Create Gate at all.
  • Arcane spellcasters (mages) can only learn "Lend Energy", "Share Energy", and "Recover Energy" from all the spells of the Healing College. They only apply to their Energy Reserve.
  • "Explode": The maximum damage this spell can do is equal to the destroyed object's hit points.
  • "Steal Energy": Two variants of this spell exist - one for Fatigue and one for the Energy Reserve.
  • "Machine"-type spells exist but are of limited utility - since they do not affect the golem parts that are vital components of most powered machinery in Urbis.
  • For "Energy"-type spells, coal is a typical "fuel" - while it isn't used to power anything, it is used as a source of heat. "Power"-type spells have the usual problem that they won't affect golem parts. "Conduct Power", "Steal Power", and "Draw Power" are unknown.
  • "Radiation"- and "Plastic"-type spells are unknown.
There is also one new Knowledge spell:

Know the Coin
Area, Information
With this spell, the caster detects all coins which meet the weight and purity standards of the old Atalan Empire. This does not reveal hidden coins - the caster recognizes the type of the coin similar like he would recognize their color, but he must have them in sight and consciously look at them.
Since the fall of the Atalan Empire, most nations and cities have adhered to these standards, leading to interchangeable coinages of vastly different origins without a central coinage authority.
Duration: 1 minute.
Base cost: 1
Prerequisite: Measurement.


Monocle. The user must look through the monocle to use the spell. This monocle counts as a signature item of bank emplyoees. Energy Cost to Create: 50

Generic "magic components" exist which can be used to power ritual magic only. They cost $50 per energy point and are always tied to a particular College. In the case of enchantments, the component in question is called "Azoth" and represents a cornerstone of the magical economy of Urbis.

Enchantments have the following changes:
  • "Quick and Dirty" enchantments are only possible for Temporary Enchantments as well as wizards' tools like Powerstones, Manastones, and the Staff enchantments. These have the usual, reduced costs.
  • All other magic items cost a flat $50 per energy point.
  • "Penetrating Weapon" subtracts from the Damage Resistance of the target at an amount equal to the weapon's Armor Divisor instead of the usual Armor Divisor rules.
Sorcerers are mages with the Wild Talent advantage with the Retention (+25%) enhancement and the Focused (magic/spells) limitation (-20%). They can purchase the "Shortcut to Power" perk from GURPS Thaumatology: Magical Styles a number of times equal to their Magical Aptitude.

Priests and Holy Warriors exist as defined in the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy series. Since the deities of Urbis don't exactly map to the deities described in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 7: Clerics, I've made a list of all appropriate Urbis deities and the Dungeon Fantasy spell lists appropriate to them. Priests of a particular deity can pick one of these spell lists, and purchase additional spell lists from their deity with the "Alternate Realm" advantage described in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 11: Power-Ups.

Argannon: All, War
Bucatar: All, Druidic, Hunt
Dahla: All, Healing, Messenger/Rogue
Gebral: All, Artificer
Hatramo: All
Horned Man: All, Druidic, Hunt
Jorunnos: All, Hunt, Messenger/Rogue
Kortus: All, Agriculture, Death. 
Mara: All, Messenger/Rogue, Night
Palias: All, Messenger/Rogue, Sun
Sarush: All, Messenger/Rogue, Night
Silver Lady: All, Love/Fertility, Night
Thenos: All, City, Sun
Ungol: All, Sea, Storm
Ygreb: All

"All" refers to the "generic" spell list in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 1: Adventurers. "Druidic" refers to the "druidic" spell list from the same book - actual druids are inappropriate for this campaign (where the goal is to exploit a wilderness region), but some deities offer druidic spells nonetheless. Furthermore, Bucatar, the Horned Man, and the Silver Lady offer druidic powers instead of the usual "Holy" advantages of clerics and holy warriors - though they still use the standard "Holiness" talent or clerical Power Investiture for them.

Other special powers include Bard-Song - again, from GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 1 - and Chi Powers (known in Urbis as "Elven Arts"), which use the power list from Dungeon Fantasy but the Chi power modifier from GURPS Powers. Furthermore, Psionic powers work like in the Basic Set but a note was added that they always hint at an unnatural origin - alien experiments and the like.

Beyond magic, we introduced some changes to the combad system according to the players' wishes:
  • Aiming provides the full Accuracy bonus for every round of aiming, not just the first round.
  • Multiple shield Blocks are possible, with additional blocks getting the same penalties as parrying.
  • Each Dodge after the first one in a round has a cumulative -1 penalty.

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