MA Lloyd (email@example.com)
Last modified 05 February 2000
Major modifications/additions from 4 December 1999 to Detecting Modifiers; Sword and Sorcery Casting; The Paths header; Example Rituals (Stroke of Misfortune, False Coins, Miracle, Silent Oars, True Speaking, Raise Zombie, Purpose); Mysteries (Mage Portal, Awaken Wood, Unnatural Hybridization, Loyalty); Skills (Savoir Faire [otherworld]); Death, Souls, Memories, Records and Reincarnation; External Resources; Animal Languages.
GURPS Voodoo presents several new magic systems, but links them in what I still think is a poorly converted Initiate character class. I have complained since the playtest this was a bad idea, especially since it wasn't hard to fix. Maybe I was a little optimistic about that, but this is my outline of how to separate the systems.
In GURPS Voodoo, Ritual Magic is tied to the Shadow War and Initiation levels. This is unfortunate since at its core it is much better than GURPS Magic for simulating traditional magic - from real world systems to fairy tales. Fortunately, it is not difficult to cut the links to Initiation. GURPS Voodoo also claims a psychic theory of magic can be used, and then babbles on about spirits where it is not necessary, simply ignore references to spirits outside of rituals that target them directly.
This advantage is required to use Ritual Magic. It can take many forms - a formal initiation, a vision quest, the result of a severe illness, something learned through difficult training, or simply something one is born with.
In the Shadow War setting it is not required. Anyone may attempt a ritual, but those without initiation suffer a -5 to skill, and for unclear reasons have the modified success roll capped at 12.
The skills required depend on how magic works in the setting. Where magic depends more on focused will and sincere intent than the precise ritual there are two skills:
You are familiar with the magical forms of a particular tradition. On a skill roll, you can determine the intent of a ritual, what entities it invokes, or what the symbols mean. Note this skill does not allow you to actually work magic.
In religiously based traditions Thaumatology also defaults to Theology [tradition] -2. In secret magic settings replace the IQ-6 default with Occultism-6.
Knowledge of the magically effective rituals and incantations of a particular tradition. There may or may not be other effective methods, but each requires a separate Ritual Magic skill. In these settings Path skills should also be (IQ/Very Hard).
The ability to organize and perform a class of formal or ritual activities. On a success the ceremony goes flawlessly. Normal failures indicate a technical flaw a skilled observer will notice but normally let pass without comment. Only a critical failure is an obvious slip. The skill allows you to perform the ceremony convincingly; Clerical Investment or Legal Authority may be needed to perform it legitimately.
Skill difficulty depends on how complex and varied the ceremonies are. Individual ceremonies are usually Average (e.g. Ceremonies [tea ceremony], an oriental art, or Ceremonies [formal wedding], the professional skill of wedding chapel owners). Related groups such as the daily rituals of a faith (Ceremonies [parish priest]), or political office (Ceremonies [royal court]) are Hard. A large group of complex ceremonies (e.g. Ceremonies [High church] or Ceremonies [Aztec sacrifices]) are Very Hard.
Only purely symbolic ceremonies - births, namings, initiations into adulthood or the faith, betrothals, marriages, funerals, formal oaths, confessions and absolutions, ordinations, anathemas and routine worship services - use this skill. Anything with a magical effect uses a Path skill, though the GM may wish to create a Path of [Deity] rather than force them into the normal Paths.
Common religious Ceremonies default to Theology [faith] -5 or Ritual Magic [faith] -5, Savior Faire defaults are also common for some ceremonies.
Prerequisite: Ritual Magic
Paths are domains of magic analogous to the Colleges of GURPS Magic. Rolls to produce magical effects are made against the Path skills of the magician.
Instead of a Ritual Magic prerequisite, the Shadow War setting allows all Paths to default to Ritual Magic -6, applies the rule of 20 to those defaults, limiting them to 14, and caps all Path skills at Ritual Magic. This forces magicians to be generalists, which is appropriate for some traditions, but has odd effects on relative costs. Adjust limits and defaults to taste.
Rituals are the results the magician can produce - spells if you like. Specific rituals can be improved as maneuvers once you have points in the Path skill.
The listed rituals by no means exhaust the possibilities. In the standard system if the magician wants to do something not covered by an existing ritual, let the player write one and compare it with these to assign a difficulty modifier. The alternative, constraining the magician to spells he has practiced, gives a very different feel, but appears workable.
Spirits also caps rituals at Path skill, but I prefer allowing any level (to cancel penalties) and capping the actual skill roll.
The art of drawing mystical symbols helpful in conducting magical procedures. For every two points of success margin with a preliminary Symbol Drawing roll, add 1 to the ritual magic success roll. The method of drawing the symbols depends on the tradition, they may be drawn with chalk, made with sprinkled powder (often grain or flour, or colored sand), etched in the floor, painted in human blood etc. Non-traditional methods may be used, but the bonus is reduced to 1 per 3 points of success margin. A roll is required before each ritual to obtain the bonus, though in the case of permanent symbols it is to reconsecrate them rather than to draw them. The Vever Drawing skill in GURPS Voodoo is Symbol Drawing [Voodoo]
There are two sets of modifiers to ritual success rolls. One is the Difficulty modifier, consisting of the inherent difficulty of the ritual and any modifiers for tailoring the effect - special options in the description, number of targets, area, and duration. The other is the Casting details modifier - preparation, casting time, target definition, components and symbols used. The Difficulty modifier may be anything, but the Casting details modifier cannot exceed +15. See Combined Efforts and Self-Sacrifice for ways to compensate for high penalties.
I disagree with several of the Spirits modifiers, which manage to be mathematically ugly and yet still tightly enough defined to interfere with the magical feel. When computing modifiers feel free to approximate; magic isn't rigorously deterministic or perfectly consistent, within one or two points is close enough.
Apply both modifiers, reduce modified skill to Path skill if it is higher, and roll for success. On a critical failure use the disaster specified in the description if there is one; otherwise invent one - improperly dismissed spirits attack the magician's dreams that night, he fails to ground properly and falls unconscious for two days on leaving the warded ritual space, a candle is knocked over and incinerates his expensive altar cloth and so on.
Duration. The default duration is 1 day. Shorter durations will give a bonus, +1 for part of a day (commonly until sunrise, sunset, midnight, moonrise etc), +2 for an hour, +3 for a minute or less. For longer durations use -2 per doubling; -6 for a week, -10 for a month, -13 for a season, -17 for a year, -30 for a century. Durations are accurate to a few percent; if an effect must last a precise interval add a -4 penalty to get exact timing.
Number of Targets. The default is a single target, but many rituals can be cast on any group the magician can clearly define. The modifiers in GURPS Spirits have no detectable pattern, but either -10 × log (number of targets) or -1 per target up to 10, and -10 for each factor of 10 above that is reasonably close.
Area of Effect. I dislike the Spirits modifiers, and think there are two kinds of areas.
Rituals that target an actual area have no penalty for up to a 5 hex radius, and add -2 per doubling (-9 for a acre, -17 for a mile, -34 for a typical nation, -46 for a planet). Remember the PCs are seldom the only magicians on the planet. A nationwide or global spell is likely to bounce off some patriotic mage's protective spell or be quickly dispelled by someone unknown to you.
Rituals that target individuals cast to affect everyone in an area are much harder. I prefer -1 per hex radius. Use the normal resistance procedure for each target in the area.
Working Space. Rituals are best performed in a space somehow set apart from the ordinary world - phrased as consecrated ground in some traditions, warded space in others. Rituals are at -5 in unconsecrated space. A quick ward (5 minutes and a Ritual Magic roll to erect) reduces the penalty to -1, a properly consecrated space (4 hours and a Ritual Magic roll) negates the penalty.
Sites remain consecrated indefinitely, but irreverent use eventually dissipates the effect. Active desecration requires five minutes a roll against Ritual Magic. Often an obvious procedure will work. For example drenching the altar in human blood desecrates most Christian sites; but without the Ritual Magic roll there is a small risk it was dedicated to a saint who died that way (and is now paying very close attention), or worse is just what is needed to revive the Bronze Age consecration of the site to something else.
Places that have long been sacred give a bonus up to +5. Note the criterion is use, not age or impressiveness. Places used breifly and abandoned, such as the Pyramids are less valuable than the village church built on a hilltop sacred since the Neolithic. Holy sites are almost always reused; many churches and mosques sit on millennia old (+5) sites.
Timing. Most traditions have a sacred calendar, astronomy and horary. Rituals begun or completed at particular times are more or less effective with modifiers ranging from -3 to +3. A curse cast at midnight on the dark of the moon is more likely to work than one completed at dawn on Easter Sunday. It should not be necessary to wait more than a day for no penalty, but +3 comes along only a couple times a year.
Personal State. In most traditions magicians do something to prepare to work magic. This can be meditation, prayer, fasting or special diets, baths and ritual cleansing, changes in sleep patterns, or an avoidance behavior - of blood, speaking, sex, your reflection.... The default assumes the magician is well rested, has not eaten heavily or engaged in ritually impure activities that day, and has a few minutes to relax and meditate on the ritual before he begins. A few hours of preparation allows a +1, a few days a +2, a few weeks +3. If the magician is tired, ritually unclean, just came from a feast or orgy, or in a hurry, apply a penalty, up to -3 if he is totally exhausted, intoxicated, furious, in immediate danger or otherwise not focusing properly.
Casting Time. By default a ritual requires an hour. Taking 4 hours or more gives a +1, each day at least an hour is spent on the ritual adds +1/2 or +1 if 4 hours or more are spent on it that day. Ordinarily the +15 cap limits the useful time, but the GM may lift it for the occasional incredibly powerful ritual requiring years to cast successfully.
Shorter times impose penalties, -2 for 2d+10 minutes, -4 for 1d+2 minutes, -6 for 1 minute, -10 for 1d+2 seconds, -12 for 1 second.
Rituals also have an onset delay between the completion of the casting and the beginning of the effect. This is out of the caster's control, but will not ordinarily exceed the casting time.
Ceremony Complexity. Standard rituals require considerable ceremony - formal prayers, stylized gestures and manipulation of symbolic components. Dispensing with this increases the difficulty, use -1 for a simplified but still noticeable ritual, -3 for pure mental visualization. Obvious rituals (loud music, ritual chanting, dancing and convulsions) provide a bonus: +1 for something that could irritate the neighbors, up to +3 if incredibly blatant (running down the street naked, except for the blood drenching your body, screaming and striking targets with a sacrificed chicken).
Target Definition. A ritual must somehow designate the target. If the target is present and can be handled during the ritual (or painted with symbols etc.) +3. If the target is within eye contact (three hexes) or represented by a part of itself (blood, hair, a pinch of soil from the target area) +1. If the target is visible, or something with a history of significant contact with it (well worn clothing, a favorite toy, a weapon that wounded it) is available, no modifier. For a target represented by photos or good quality art -1. For verbal descriptions and approximate directions -2. For nothing but a name -3. If the target is not visible and you do not know what it looks like, where it is, or what it is called you cannot work magic against it, though it is hard to see why you would want too.
Ritual Tools. Objects ranging from bundles of grass to precision instruments are used to symbolize the desired effect or show the authority of the magician. Modifiers range from -3 (for nothing) to +3 (for fine art icons, or tools handmade by the magician). A couple dollars of gear from the local occult bookshop or assembled from household supplies is enough to avoid actual penalties.
Some typical symbols include everyday tools (axe, broom, distaff and spindle, knife, mortar and pestle, needle, sickle), containers (brazier, cauldron, chalice, cup, ewer, font), flames and light (candles, lamps, mirrors, prisms), garments (headgear, masks, sashes and belts, vestments, in particular colors, of particular fabrics) or alternately nudity, incense fragrances and smoke, jewelry and ornaments (bead strings, knotted cords, pendants, rings), noisemakers (bells, bull-roarers, drums, gongs, rattles), rods (scepter, staff, wand), swords, water or wine, writing tools (ink, paper, parchment, pens, quills, chalk), boundary markers, packets of symbolic objects (amulet boxes, charm vials, mojos, root bags, spirit bundles) and other objects of purely symbolic significance (altars, ankhs, crosses, icons, pentacles). Some supplies - water, wine, oil, paints, ink, parchment, salt, incense, soap, candles, thread, charcoal for your brazier - will need to be replenished periodically.
Sacrifices. Sacrifices made during a ritual can provide a small bonus, +1 for minor offerings (food, libations, incense or small animals), up to +3 for really major sacrifices (a large chunk of your income, or something dangerous like a human). An inappropriate sacrifice (lives when calling on a beneficent power for example) can provide a much larger penalty.
Some modifiers, particularly working space, timing and sacrifice suitability, are invisible. In most traditions anyone with Mystic Initiation can 'feel' the total modifier to within a point or two before beginning a ritual. For an exact value, the contribution of a particular detail, or the modifier for a hypothetical case, roll against Ritual Magic to make the necessary tests and calculations. Other skills may be partly effective - a Meditation roll may determine if a space is consecrated, an Astrology skill linked to the tradition can be used to calculate the timing modifier an so on.
It is possible to work rituals on the GURPS tactical scale if you are very very good. An hour duration is plenty (you can recast it later if you really need more) and one target is the norm, so the difficulty modifier is +2. Casting details are the killer. It is not likely an auspicious time -0, you aren't in warded space -5, you are under distracting stress -3, you need it right this second -12, you haven't time for anything but abbreviated ritual -2 or sacrifices +0, though you might make a hostile gesture with your weapon (minimal gear +0) and can probably see the target +0; for a total of -22. If you are standing on holy ground, or have skills around 30 it becomes worth considering.
The simplest method to prevent anybody from working magic in combat is to set a minimum casting time of several minutes.
A good method of allowing more Sword and Sorcery style effects without handing out incredible skill levels is to follow GURPS Martial Arts and create penalty offseting maneuvers; see [Adverse Condition] Training, above.
Ritual magic resistance works like any other resistance roll, a quick contest of skill against the resisting attribute; intelligent targets can choose not to resist if they expect the ritual. Spirits has slightly different rules for beneficial rituals. Ignore them. Use the normal procedure whether a ritual is nominally beneficial or not. Spirits also has a complex system for resistance of multiple targets. Ignore it too. Not only does it make no sense, it fails to answer the vital question: were the PCs affected! Make a normal resistance roll for each member of the target group. If you need to know the fraction of a large group resisting, subtract the success margin from the average resistance score (usually 10) and look that up on the Probability of Success table (p.B45)
Backlash is distinct from resistance. Hostile rituals tap truly dangerous forces; regardless of the outcome of the casting, a second skill roll is required to protect the magician (and his clients if he is not working the ritual of his own initiative). If it fails, the ritual targets the magician! If resistance is allowed, use the failure margin of this roll as the 'success margin' of the backlash attack, and treat a critical failure as a critical success. It is possible for a good first and a poor second roll to result in both the intended target and the magician being cursed. Backlash checks are made at casting, not when someone is targeted. In the right circumstances a charm or area ritual can backlash and then expire without ever threatening anyone else. Some traditions have a concept of threefold retribution - the GM may require 3 rolls against backlash and use the worst or otherwise increase the risk of working hostile magic in these traditions.
Ritual magic has no physical cost, but most traditions permit some form of self-sacrifice. GURPS Spirits allows a +1 per 2 HT spent (up to 2 × HT), and calls for aging rolls when you do this. At minimum insist on natural healing only for sacrificed HT, and remember HT sacrifices can force death checks. I prefer the lasting injury scheme to aging rolls: make an HT roll as for a crippling injury (B129), on a lasting result the wound takes an extra 1d months to heal, on a crippling result it takes 1d months to heal and 1 HT is lost permanently. Self-sacrifice can manifest as stigmata, spontaneous bruising or nosebleeds, or simply leave you weak and ill for no outward cause. In other traditions it may involve bloodletting, or having yourself flogged, branded or crucified, and is likely to leave scars.
Bonuses can be permitted for other types of sacrifices. Significant long term fatigue (at least 5 points) is worth a +1, +2 if you spend enough to drop to less than 3 FT, +3 if you fall unconscious. More permanent sacrifices are possible, but usually exchanged for more than a short term bonus.
Magicians can work together to produce more powerful effects. In a collective ritual, divide the Difficulty modifier by the number of participants. Casting detail and Self-sacrifice modifiers still apply separately, and may be different for each caster. The participants need not be in the same place, but they must be working at the same time, and there is a -1 penalty if they are not in communication during the casting. All the participants must make a skill roll, any failure causes the ritual to fail, otherwise the success margin is the average of all the margins. Any participant can automatically cause the ritual to fail; GURPS Spirits also allows them to cast a hostile ritual at the other participants with no resistance rolls allowed, but I wouldn't permit that.
Many rituals have subtle effects; it is often unclear if something worked. Anyone asked to make a resistance roll feels something, but in a secret magic setting most people dismiss it - geese walking on my grave. Anyone familiar with magic recognizes it as a magical attack, and knows if it penetrated his resistance, but not what it was supposed to do. Subtlety works both ways, the magician knows what he wanted to happen and if he made the success roll, but nothing about resistance.
Ignore the discussion in Spirits about seeing the spirits invoked. And while people who know they are cursed should be encouraged to role-play the psychological stress, assigning disadvantages is no more appropriate than doing the same to anyone facing other forms of stress.
Many rituals, particularly blessings and protections, involve a charm - a small token which serves as a focus for the effect. Many charms are articles of jewelry or small pouches containing symbolic items, though they could be anything. Spirits is unclear on just what a charm does, but I suggest the following options:
The charm stands in for a specific target. The ritual is cast with the bonus for having the target present and involved, but onset is delayed until the target is given the charm, at which point resistance is resolved and the duration begins.
The charm stands in for a general target. The ritual is cast with the bonus for having the target present and involved, even though the true target has not been decided. The first person to make direct skin contact with the charm becomes the target, at which point resistance is resolved. The duration begins as soon as the charm is created though. The flexible target choice is offset by the risk someone unintended will touch the charm. If combat magic is desired, a variation might create a charm that transfers the effect without actual contact.
The charm is the center of a movable area. This applies only to area effect rituals, the ritual roll is at -2, and the duration begins running immediately. Typically this allows an area effect such as Dream Sanctum to protect an individual.
The charm imposes the effect on anyone wearing it. The ritual roll is at -2 and the duration begins running when the charm is created. Resistance rolls are resolved each time the charm is put on. Cursed charms are possible, but since the curse only works while the charm is worn, the victim could recover immediately by removing the it.
Enchanted Area. An area can be enchanted to cast a ritual on anyone performing certain actions within it. Popular triggers are passing through a doorframe or set of pillars, drinking from a particular source, invoking a saint or god, speaking a specific word, or carrying a weapon into the area. This can eventually affect a large number of people without a prohibitive multiple target modifier, but there are substantial limitations. First you must take two duration penalties, one for the area, and one for the effect bestowed. Second the area boundaries must be physically marked during the casting. And finally the trigger must be something anyone could determine - it can't exempt particular individuals or work only on people with type A blood, as identity and bloodtype are not sufficiently obvious.
Termination Conditions. Many storybook enchantments have conditions under which they end early - when touched by the light of the sun, when the victim confesses his crimes, or is kissed by a princess. A magician can add such a clause to any ritual and offset part of the duration penalty determined by the GM. Even an obscure condition is good for a +1; a simple traditional one like a kiss might reduce the expected duration (and hence penalty) to near zero. After all everyone knows that one, surely anybody serious about removing the enchantment would try....
Range. Range is not normally an issue except as it limits the ability to define targets by pointing at them. If you want it to matter, it is simple enough to make it another Difficulty modifier using either the Long Distance penalties (B151) or the Speed/Range Table. You may want to reduce the difficulty of some rituals to compensate for the often significant range penalties this will impose.
Mind control. Spells for controlling thoughts and actions are treated oddly in traditional tales. Total control over animals or supernatural beings is not unusual (use the Paths of Nature and Spirits respectively) but spells controlling humans are much rarer and always seem to have serious drawbacks. Some limits follow almost automatically from splitting human conciousness among 3 paths (Dreams, Passions and the Dead for the soul); other typical limits include only working on a single target, requiring the presence of the target or something once a part of him, extreme literal mindedness or outright stupidity when carrying out orders, fragility to strong emotions - the sight of the victim's true love or appeals to his patriotic duty break the spell, and producing changes obvious to anyone who knew the victim, or sometimes to everyone - mechanical movement, dead flat voices and faintly glowing eyes arouse suspicion.... Mind control spells often behave oddly when broken or when the caster dies. In some traditions the effect ends cleanly, but in others the thralls continue to obey standing orders, or become slaves of the master's slayer, or of the first person to give a forceful command, or, particularly in automaton variants, have suffered permanent damage and stand still and starve to death.
Magicians who use mind control spells extensively may be required to pay the points for the social advantages this effectively grants them. Enemies (rival mind mages and/or heroes dedicated to slaying the evil magician) may offset part of the cost though.
Maintaining Spells. Unlike GURPS Magic spells, ritual durations are set at casting and cannot be maintained. If you are using both systems it is more difficult to work rituals while maintaining spells. There is a -1 if a spell draws fatigue while you are casting the ritual, and a -3 for the distraction if the spell requires ongoing attention.
Power Sources. Ritual Magic is independent of the GURPS Magic spell energy system, but a lot of effort has gone into clever fatigue sources, and some may be interesting enough to import. The same ratio discussed under Self-Sacrifice, 5 fatigue per +1 to ritual rolls, could work here if you want to do this.
I consider the Paths in Voodoo inadequete, though the catchall nature of Luck and the option of explaining anything as the work of spirits can cover a lot if you are determined to use them. I like the set of Paths below, but there is nothing fundamental about it, and no reason magic can't be divided along other principles entirely. Some likely alternatives include the elements ('spells dealing with light belong to the Path of the Aether'), the planets ('commerce with the dead, the nervous system, and transmutation of the elements fall under the dominion of the Principle of Mercury'), the Zodiac ('the Sign of Aquarius rules the magic of dissociation, the loosing of bonds, the decomposition of physical forms and the cycles of nature'), somebody else's Zodiac (the Constellation of the Crossed Spears deals with...'), or a particular set of animals ('The Way of the Hummingbird allows the magician...'), plants (Cf GURPS Celtic Myth), or gods ('the Songs of the Archangel Raphael...'). Each tradition could even have a unique set of paths, though if you do that make sure all have about the same number, or traditions with fewer paths will be more cost effective. I do suggest using more than Voodoo, 8-15 seems a comfortable range.
I recommend you create all of the paths and define a handful of rituals in each when you create the tradition, and decide where any rituals from traditions the players know about belong. Difficulties may be altered for rituals particularly closely or marginally related to the theme of the path, compare the examples in multiple paths below. It is possible to create new paths or assign difficulties on the fly, but it will require more snap judgement calls.
The Path of Cunning is the magic of deception and illusion. Be careful about the concept, glamours are considered almost physical - mist is a common metaphor. Subjective reality and psychological deception are modern ideas, and belong to the Path of Dreams.
The Path of the Dead deals with both actual corpses and mortal spirits, including spells working directly on living souls. In traditions where the dead are considered spirits the Path of Spirits may also work on them, but often (virtuous) mortal souls are immune to such treatment.
The Path of Dreams allows the manipulation of dreams and access to the Dreamworld. It includes other forms of altered consciousness, particularly the powers attributed to hypnosis or ESP. Much of the path is fairly modern, linked to Victorian era spiritualism, mesmerism, and the development of psychiatry; but many traditions do use drugs to induce altered states, and the Dreamworld is similar to some traditional spirit worlds. As magic is regarded less as something worked by gods and spirits on the external world and more as something worked by the will on the magician himself the Path of Dreams becomes more important.
While GURPS Voodoo assumes the Dreamworld is a real place, none of the rituals actually require this. If the Dreamworld is entirely subjective the only difference is encounters with characters other than the target or the magician are provided by their imaginations and will not have any effect on (or necessarily behave as) the person they appear to be.
The Path of the Elements manipulates the basic stuff of the physical world producing effects involving the wind, fire, floods, the weather and geology. Flashy effects occur in some tales, but high penalties keep fireballs rare while allowing the occasional summoned storm, eternally clouded mountain tower, or maiden surrounded by a ring of fire. There is some overlap with Nature, but Elements is more about raw power than organic subtlety.
The Path of Health is magic that manipulates the life force (pneuma, vis vitalis, chi, or kundalini energy). The principles apply equally to healing, inflicting harm, and subtler alterations of the body. Beneficial health rituals usually involve the laying on of hands and herbal preparations (potions, oils, herb bandages, or at least aromas) though some modern traditions depend on light and crystals.
The Path of Journeys is concerned with travel and movement, both in the physical and supernatural realms.
The Path of Knowledge is information gathering magic. Sensory enhancements are rare in traditional sources. Scrying and binary tests are more common, but many supernatural information sources are essentially verbal, providing complete, if not always understandable, solutions or prophecies.
The Path of Luck is magic that ordains the future. Blessings, curses and a wide range of more ambiguous taboos, geasa, quests and tests can be laid with this path. It is also the path of 'prophecy' in the sense of setting rather than forseeing the future. It is common in RPG circles lately to think of magic as probability manipulation, but this is unrealistic - probability is a modern (18th century) idea alien to most magical traditions. The Path of Luck is a valid alternative name, since traditional concepts of Luck have little to do with chance. Indeed the concept of luck denies chance can even exist - the lucky always win, but the modern inversion of cause and effect to associate it with chance is hard to ignore.
The Path of Nature deals with the living world - animals, plants and the vital force (anima) behind them; the harvest and the hunt; and rhythmic natural cycles. There is some overlap with the Path of the Elements, particularly in the manipulation of the weather.
The Path of Passions manipulates the affections and humors - primarily the emotions, but also some aspects of behavior and thought. There is overlap with Dreams, but Dreams focuses on the causes emotion while Passions is concerned with immediate feelings.
The Path of Protection averts, deflects or mitigates dangers, excludes influences, or prevents undesirable events. There is some overlap with every path and a closer similarity to the Path of Luck.
The Path(s) of Spirits deal(s) with true supernatural powers - monsters, the fey, demons, and gods. This is the path of summoning and banishment, exorcism and control of demons, conjuring up monsters and creating undead. It is regarded differently than the other Paths in many traditions, as the dangerous knowledge marking a sorcerer.
The target looks and sounds exactly like someone else. This is a handy substitute for makeup, and since it can include the illusion of clothing, for tailoring. The magic itself is flawless, but limited to the magician's idea of what the disguise should look like. IQ rolls are required to imitate someone not very familiar, or Artist rolls for an imaginary appearance. Disguise does not grant any abilities of the original, and disguising yourself as something of a noticeably different shape or size won't stand up to physical contact.
Causes small inanimate objects to look and feel like something else. The object(s) must fit in the magician's palm and can only be disguised as something of similar form. Traditionally used to turn a handful of pebbles into coins, or a cup of water into fine wine, but it can turn a handful of sand into cocaine or a stack of leaves into paper money or a passport as easily. The classic version dissolves at the touch of iron, but other traditions may have different drawbacks.
Remember glamours are partly illusion. A tool more complex than a knife conjured this way is unlikely to work, and while injecting sand cocaine will produce a drug high, the users may regret it when the glamour wears off.
The area fills with impenetrable fog, limiting visibility to two hexes. The fog may spill out a bit, but outside the target area has no significant impact on visibility. A common variation creates that fantasy favorite, the almost tangible darkness that sucks up light. This reduces the useful range of any light source to those same 2 hexes, but only at night or in a dark environment. This ritual prevents magical observation of an area. Any attempt to scry into it, locate something within, or use Spiritual Sense or other magical senses through it must win a contest of skills (or Alertness for senses) with the Veil or to reveal anything. The effect protects a stretch of space and time. Attempts to scry the past or future into a period where the sanctuary was/will be active are likewise opposed.
You can't get there from here. It is impossible to locate the target area on purpose without winning a contest of Will with the ritual. This is most effective when applied to a travel chokepoint - a doorway, the only path up a cliff - denying access to an area without enchanting it all; but a sufficiently powerful effect can cause an entire nation to vanish. The area isn't entirely cut off, anyone can leave, and people can stumble in accidentally.
The target area is somehow detached from the ordinary world. Sounds, odors and light sources within the area are not detectable outside its boundaries. Outside light does illuminate the circle, but everything within appears rather flat, dull and hazy to outside observers, even in broad daylight. Treat this as camouflage.
Creates a magical light source. In isolation it appears as a glowing globe or hovering flame, but it can be attached to an ordinary light source. This gives a +3 to casting, causes it to appear as the light normally shed by the symbol, and allows the light to be turned on and off in the usual way the source is controlled. Optionally magelight may be visible only to a specific class of people, or only to the magician.
Produces a familiar sound centered on the magician. The difficulty given is for a few seconds casting, and less than a minute duration. It is usually cast to generate trumpet fanfares, thunder cracks, the roar of a Krayt dragon or other dramatic announcement of the magician's presence.
Resisted by Will.
The target is invisible. This only screens it from sight, though variations against other senses are possible if the magician has or is very familiar with the sense. Most invisibility effects have significant limitations. Some suggestions: may not to let go of an object (the invisibility token) +1; doesn't work on mirrors, film, or other technology +1; doesn't work in sunlight +2; doesn't work on animals +2; doesn't work on a large class of people (women, children, honest citizens) +3; and ends if the target attempts to interact with/harm anything +4.
Reveals the reasons a ghost has not passed on to the afterlife. Sometimes it is something the magician can resolve, though some ghosts remain voluntarily, and some situations are beyond resolution.
Resisted by Will.
Guides a spirit to the afterlife. Spirits trapped in the world seldom resist and are automatically sent on. Those with a reason to stay resist with Will and lose 1 HT per point they lose the contest, hastening their departure (see p.SP35). In some traditions this ritual is performed at every death to help the spirit reach the proper afterlife, or as insurance against it troubling the living. Usually the ritual is performed to send the spirit to its own afterlife, but the magician may open the path to the afterlife(s) of his tradition instead - offering a last chance to convert.
Calls up a particular spirit from the dead. The spirit is not forced to answer, but may chose to come and make one speech or answer one question per two points of success margin. The presence of a descendant of the spirit gives a +3 bonus, and may encourage it to be more truthful or cooperative. The ritual can also serve as a beacon for a soul that has become separated from its living body, but again does not force it to return.
This ritual protects an area or individual. Ghosts or undead must win a contest of Will -5 against the ritual to enter the area or or remain within his Will/3 hexes of the individual. Even entities that succeed are uncomfortable, and function at -1 as long as they remain in the area. Animated dead lacking Will scores automatically lose the contest.
Resisted by HT.
Reduces a corpse to dust (ash in some traditions accompanied by a flash of fire). It is rare in traditional tales, though sometimes used to destroy vampires or other walking dead. In modern fantasy it is more common, sometimes used for ordinary cremations. There is no risk of backlash unless the magician himself is dead.
Hostile. Resisted by Will.
Traps the soul of the target. As p.SP105, except for the change of Path. The soulless victim now counts as one of the Undead for most purposes.
Re-animates a dead body. The corpse obeys a simple instruction given during the ritual, commonly 'walk that way' or 'kill anyone entering the tomb'. Fresh corpses retain the physical attributes they had at death, longer dead corpse are less capable. Corpses are destroyed at -10 × original HT, and many are already damaged, either from the wounds that caused death or from later decomposition. Animated Corpses never have IQ or skills; any attacks are at default.
Resisted by Will.
Allows the magician to enter the dreams of the target. As p.SP94, except the casting time is the standard one hour. The effect ends early if the sleeper awakens.
Allows the magician to enter the Dreamworld. As p.SP94, except the duration is the standard 1 day if the magician doesn't end it first.
The target becomes aware the ritual; it is the psychic equivalent of shouting his name. This can awaken sleeping entities, be used as a prearranged signal, or attract the attention of a usually indifferent power.
Hostile. Resisted by Will.
The target can not recall something specified by the magician. Notice there is an inherent limitation, the magician has to know what to specify. Suppressing important memories requires a success margin; 5 for something thought about daily (the route to work, his bride's eye color), 10 for something currently very important (what his job is, that he got married last week), 15 for something central to his life (the craft he has practiced for 40 years, the name of his true love). Once the duration ends the memory is recalled normally. If nothing reminds him of that incident all those years ago....
On a backlash the GM selects something of similar significance for the magician to forget.
As p.SP94. It works like most protection rituals: effects from the dream world cannot affect anything in the area without first winning a quick contest with the Dream Sanctum.
See Path of Passions.
Resisted by Will.
The target falls under the influence of a mind-altering drug familiar to the magician. If the drug can have a variable effect, the magician can encourage a particular one. The better the success margin, the more control he has. The effect must be attached to a potion, incense, injection or other plausible route of administration, which gives a +3 if it delivers even symbolic amounts of the actual drug. The usual use is to set the topic of a hallucination, but causing a sip of watered wine to induce drunken stupor is also popular.
Hostile. Resisted by Will.
Inflicts terrifying nightmares. As p.SP94, except the casting time is the standard one hour. The terrors recur any time the target enters REM sleep during the duration. Recasting is not required to get a multi-day duration.
Nonstandard Duration. Hostile. Resisted by Will or Path of Dreams.
Imprisons the target in the Dreamworld. As p.SP95.
Hostile. Resisted by Will.
Inflicts a mental illness. In many traditions (including modern medicine) there is no hard boundary between mental and physical illness. But Madness allows much more precise control than Malaise - selecting the topic of a phobia or an obsession, or distinguishing between On the Edge and active suicide for example.
Nonstandard area. Nonstandard duration.
Controls the winds in the area. They may blow from any direction, form columns of rising or falling air, or go still. Up to twice the success margin can be added vectorially to the wind's Beaufort number (see VEp30). With a little planning this can seriously threaten ships or aircraft. Numbers less than zero can still convection and other bulk flow, extinguishing fires and limiting gas flows to diffusion (millimeters per hour!). The modifier is for the minimum area, an acre, and minimum duration, 1 minute.
The target cannot be harmed by ordinary weather. He can walk barefoot in the snow, remains comfortable in desert heat, and is immune to sunburn, glare, wind chill, and the harmful effects of precipitation or blowing dust. He still gets wet or dirty, but is at worst mildly uncomfortable. This does not protect from secondary effects; he can slip on a patch of snow and fall off a cliff, or die of thirst in the desert - though more slowly as he doesn't waste water to remain cool.
An area protected by this ritual is less susceptible to accidental fires. Subtract the success margin from rolls to ignite anything not intended to burn - this includes fuel fire numbers, spell skill rolls, and chances of secondary fires from explosions. For every two points of success margin the damage done by flames is reduced by 1, which reduces the chance a fire spreads and increases the chance it goes out (see p.VE194).
The target object bursts into flame. Candles, oil lamps, loose paper, dry thatch or grass ignite normally. More difficult material, such as firewood, cloth bales or house walls require a success margin of two. The traditional water soaked pile of wood requires a margin of four or better. Kindle can be used as an area effect to ignite multiple targets, if all of them are intended to burn - candles, lamps, laid out hearths.
Nonstandard onset. Nonstandard area.
Alters the weather. As p.SP101, except the area is the smallest region a natural weather system delivering the effect could occupy. To cover a larger region, roll at -2 × radius in miles.
Any sort of weather can be encouraged; dry sunny spells, dense fogs, calms and severe storms are nearly as common as rain. For very rare effects, the GM can set the base odds below a 3 on 3d, requiring a margin of success to have any chance at all. Odds of 3 indicate something happens about twice a year, set rarer events one point lower per factor of 2 less common. For example if a hurricane hits an area about every 30 years, six doublings raise this to twice a year, so a margin of 6 raises the odds to 3 on 3d. Weather that never occurs in the area cannot be created with this ritual.
Arrests the passage of the seasons. The weather and even the day-night cycle within the area can be different than the surroundings, thought the GM should keep them as similar as possible while preserving the seasonal differences. Perpetual spring or summer gardens are the usual use, but entire countries locked in one season are common themes, if beyond the ability of most magicians.
Allows a flame to burn without consuming fuel. The flame is otherwise normal, and it can ignite secondary fires; so applied to a flowing fuel system like a gas jet it effectively doubles output - the gas ignites as it passes through the Wizard Fire. Wizard Fire can be extinguished only with difficulty (always requires a quick contest) and will re-ignite given any excuse as long as the duration is still running.
Once the principles of combustion are understood it is possible to maintain a flame without consuming oxygen instead of fuel, or in a reducing atmosphere, underwater, in vacuum, or in the presence of radical scavengers.
This ritual can also be used as a model for the various kinds of unnatural fire (cool, light-less, black colored...) found in modern fantasy.
Cures a disease. The healer must have an accurate diagnosis (within the tradition, not necessarily as viewed by modern medicine). If the Diagnosis roll is successful, but it the disease is unknown in the tradition treatment is still possible at -2.
If the ritual works the target is functional within a day, and completely cured in the usual recovery time (if there is one) or 3d days, whichever is less. Modifiers: If the patient's HT is less than 10, subtract (10-HT). For minor infections (infected hangnail, common cold, worms, athlete's foot) there is no penalty. Severe infections (fevers, pox, pneumonia, plague, gangrene) and minor internal maladies (asthma, allergies) are at -2. Major maladies (cancer, heart disease) are at -4. Chronic problems (malaria, AIDS, lead poisoning, many maladies) are at an additional -4 for more than a temporary remission.
Hostile if resistance attempted. Resisted by HT.
Increases lactation in female mammals. The usual targets are new mothers with insufficient milk and economic milk animals. Each point of success margin increases milk production by up to 10% of the species norm. Most versions work on non-lactating females, particularly the magician herself, though the effect may be reduced on those who have never been pregnant or are past menopause. The reverse is a common curse. In either case assume backlash produces chronic breast pains (-1 to all activities) in male or non-mammalian casters.
, except the casting time is the standard one hour.
Removes the symptoms of a disease. It is not a cure, though it appears to be if the patient recovers naturally before the duration lapses. The symptoms begin to fade immediately; most vanish within an hour, though obvious symptoms (skin lesions or hair loss for example) may take longer. The severity of the disease is not an issue. Soothe works on dis-eases in the broad sense; perhaps the most common application is to childbirth pains.
Nonstandard duration. Hostile if resistance attempted. Resisted by HT.
The target is more likely than normal to produce a child, add the success margin to pregnancy rolls made by the target or their sex partner(s). The usual roll to become pregnant is 5- for a single sexual contact, 7- for a month of regular sexual activity, -4 for typical birth control precautions. The difficulty modifier is for the minimum duration, one month.
For an additional -2 to skill, the magician can specify features desired in the child (usually sex, but sometimes elements of appearance, or specific birth defects as a curse). If that outcome is at all possible and the modifier makes the difference to the conception roll, the baby has the desired feature; otherwise ordinary chance determines the results.
Nonstandard duration. Hostile if resistance is attempted. Resisted by HT.
This ritual prevents the target from producing offspring. Some traditions regard this as inherently evil, but if the target consents there is no backlash risk. The difficulty modifier is for the minimum duration, one month.
Permanently erases a selected blemish - a birthmark, scar, wart, mole, off color eye etc. It can also erase wrinkles or freckles, thin or thicken hair, lighten or darken skin, or do most of the other things claimed by cosmetics advertising. This may be used to justify a level of improved appearance if the target has the necessary character points.
, except Initiation level has no effect. Instead allow one (HT+1) roll per day per point of success margin, up to a maximum of 12 rolls per day in addition to normal healing or medical care.
See Path of Protection.
Hostile. Resisted by Will.
Inflicts a disease. As p.SP96. The text is somewhat confusing, the initial Will resistance is against the ritual to avoid the effect entirely; the HT reduction is to future HT rolls to survive or throw off the now natural disease. In most traditions the magician can control the severity - inflicting irritating or incapacitating rather than fatal illnesses - and symptoms - fevers, blindness, hallucinations, miscarriages and sexual impotence are common choices. No disease spirits are necessarily involved.
Nonstandard onset. Special Resistance.
Allows the magician to kill with a glance. As p.SP96. This is not a Hostile ritual, it has a built in greater risk in the contest of Wills. In GURPS the range of eye contact is three hexes; a voice variant in which the magician forcefully tells the target to drop dead is fairly common, trading a little better range for the loss of subtlety.
Cures a single disabling condition to marginal functionality: FT3 HP3 for whole body injuries, 1 HP above crippled for crippled limbs, about 20/40 vision for blindness etc. Underlying causes are not addressed, so while it will cure arthritis or aging sight, in a few years the condition may be as bad as before. Likewise a miracle can prevent a death from illness at that moment, but a relapse is likely and the difficulty modifier for a true cure using Dose is often lower anyway.
The target always knows which direction to go to reach a specific destination. The effect can manifest as anything from a warm feeling when traveling the right direction to an actual guide, often a small distant light, which may or may not be visible to others. The Guidestar may point anywhere the magician knows well, to any more or less public place he can uniquely name, or to any person or object present at the casting. A pointer to yourself should cause any normally curious target to come looking for you.
Hostile. Resisted by Will.
The reverse of Fair Winds, events conspire to delay the target. His car won't start, the taxi gets to the airport just after his flight takes off, the next flight is delayed 6 hours by a bomb threat, then diverted to another city by bad weather, which also washes out the only road between them.... Each point of success margin adds at least 50% to the time required for any significant journey.
Semi-random events arrange themselves to minimize the travel time of the target. Winds are always favorable, traffic signals change as he approaches, traffic jams melt before him, public transit runs right on schedule, his luggage is always the first off the plane and his standby seats always become available. The trip won't set a new speed record, but may only miss by enough to avoid publicity delays.
See Path of Nature.
Hostile if resistance attempted. Resisted by Will.
Causes a small boat to glide silently through the water under the mental command of the magician. The effect produces 25 lbf of thrust - about that of 4 rowers, or 1 horsepower. Variants producing similar levels of aerial motive thrust or ground traction are possible. This is a more impressive effect before TL5.
See Path of Dreams.
The target can easily escape restraints or circumvent barriers to his passage. He can free himself from bonds, handcuffs, straitjackets and similar restraints in 1d seconds, and squeeze through narrow passages without risk of becoming stuck. Locked barriers prove to be unlocked when he tries them, and traps or security systems will be inactive or go off slightly too late to hinder him.
The charm doesn't conceal him from sensors, has no effect on living guards, and only opens barriers to passage - locked containers he isn't planning to crawl into, or in which he won't fit, will not open at his touch.
The magician can move to any familiar location within a mile without crossing the intervening space, carrying up to light encumbrance, provided his passage is unobserved. A puff of smoke or recessed doorway is sufficient to cover departure; but arrival is delayed until the destination has been unobserved for a time. Jumping somewhere under competent security surveillance can take the magician out of circulation for a long time so pick your exits carefully.
Shadow Walk allows easy access to difficult locations, but remember the magician had to get there some other way once for it to be familiar. During transit no time passes for the magician, and as far as the ordinary world is concerned he no longer exists, occasionally this can make it useful to jump somewhere you know is observed.
The target can fly, carrying up to Medium encumbrance at 25 mph (aMR 0.25, aAccel 5 mph/s). Occasionally this is a simple spell, but more often it requires an object (carpet, broomstick), an ointment or potion (most contain a hallucinogen), or only works on a horse which can then be ridden through the air.
The magician learns if the target is chaste. Some form of this ritual is found in almost every tradition, but the definition varies from virginity before marriage and absolute faithfulness in actions and thoughts afterwards, down to as little as not lying to your regular partner(s). In most traditions the magician can accept a -2 penalty and get a feeling of how dedicated to chastity and/or how serious a transgressor the target is.
Another common binary test. Sometimes accepting a -2 penalty allows the magician to determine how committed the target is to virginity, or how he feels/felt about losing it.
Resisted by Will.
One of the most common divinations, the target sees a vision of his true love. There are many variations. Some show future spouses rather than true loves, some reveal signs that can be used to identify the true love rather than provide a vision, some cause the target to have a 'feeling' upon next seeing the true love, and in some the next eligible person encountered will be the one. The target should either recognize the true love, meet him in the near future, or be provided with clear instructions on how to identify him.
Like any precognitive vision this requires quite a bit of GM judgment and willingness to finesse the future to pull off.
Shows the target a vision of a near future possible death, as the spell Death Vision (M72). The GM should select one that is plausible given current dangers; but the intent is closer to Danger Sense than realistic prophecy. It always shows something plausible and near term, even if that death is impossible, because of the pre-existing prophecy for example.
See Path of Journeys.
An area effect ritual, when anyone meeting a criteria set at the casting enters the area, the magician immediately knows. The ritual can be set to roll a quick contest with the Will of the person entering to provide the magician with the name of his visitor and a rough idea of his reasons for being there, but this is often omitted so the contest doesn't alert the visitor.
The magician learns the purpose of something. Things can have multiple purposes; what the object is normally used for is usually detected, but occasionally the magician senses what the craftsman intended the purpose to be, or something like 'to sell for enough to pay off the maker's debts' or 'to be given as a gift to the buyer's true love'. Purpose isn't always what it actually does - the purpose of a potion may be to grant immortality while it's actual effect is to put the drinker in the hospital with alkaloid poisoning.
Answers a question about the future, vaguely. As Vision of Luck p.SP97.
See Path of the Dead.
The magician obtains a general sense of the history of an object - origins, significant events, flashes of previous users - and may ask about one detail per point of success margin, provided it's something that can be answered in a short sentence or two.
Resisted by Will.
The magician can seek a specific person or object, or by accepting a -2 penalty, a random nearby member of a class of objects. The usual effect is to draw a pointer (pendulum, dowsing rod, compass needle) toward the target. In the basic form this simply gives a direction, but at -4 the ritual can search a symbolic space (a map, a phone book, a list of possible locations) which can be much more informative.
The magician sees a vision of a specific person, place or object as it is now, or at a -4 penalty as it was at a moment in the past. The vision covers the immediate surroundings (the room it is in, or a few dozen yards if it is in the open), but grants no special insight about where that is. A margin of two or more shows the scene clearly even if the actual view would be obscured by darkness, fog, etc. Many variants use a crystal, but a mirror, reflecting pool, fire, smoke, dancing shadows, sunlight or even purely mental vision can work. A permanent focus remains attuned to the scene for the duration, or until the magician dismisses it, but a temporary focus like flames, smoke or sunbeams falls apart as soon as the magician stops concentrating and cannot be recovered without recasting the ritual. The ritual can be used with senses other than sight, though there is a -2 penalty per sense to obtain multisensory data from a single casting.
Improves the chances of a search. As p.SP97, except the casting time is reset to 1 hour, and the default duration is until the object is found or the standard 1 day, not 2d days.
An enchantment placed on a light source. Anything of great value, or its hiding place, illuminated by the lamp will be obvious. Traditionally faint blue flames burn above them, in some variants visible only to the person holding the light source. Great value is intentionally left vague. It might mean great value to the magician, the lamp holder, or simply the person who last handled the object. Variants sensitive to something else - secrets, dangers, fateful things, evidence - are also possible.
Produces a few incidents of minor good fortune. As p.SP97, except the casting time is reset to the standard 1 hour.
Any useful object can receive this blessing. For every two points of success margin, anyone using the object can re-roll one result involving it. For a sword this includes to hit, damage, or parry rolls, but the ritual will work on any object and allow re-rolls of anything plausibly connected to its use. A result can only be re-rolled once, and you are stuck with the second result, so it is not a good idea to re-roll marginal successes, but it is allowed. The effect lasts until all the rolls are used up, and blessings don't stack, casting it on an already blessed object has no effect.
Produces a small financial windfall. As p.SP98.
Hostile. Resisted by Will.
The victim suffers a run of unluckiness. About twice a week the GM arbitrarily inflicts a moderately serious disaster on him - fails a vital skill roll, enemies appear at the worst possible moment, quarrels with a close friend or relative, loses a month's income, suffers a 1 or 2d injury etc. The misfortunes should not be immediately fatal, but anything ruining less than a couple months effort or requiring less than that to patch up or recover from is fair. The curse lasts until it inflicts 1 disaster per point of success margin.
Within 2d days the target of this ritual will be offered a job suited to his skills. If he has a selection of skills and wants a job suited to a particular set of them, roll at -2. He must have the minimum job skills, if he truly is unemployable the ritual can't overcome that, but may produce a charity job offer if such things exist in the culture.
Seals a formal oath. The participants must speak the oath aloud, together with the curse to fall on them should they break it. The common phrasing 'may the gods strike me dead if I...' works much like Evil Eye if triggered.
Oaths are neither hostile nor resisted. They must be voluntary and the curses fall without fail if knowing broken. This is voluntary in the free will sense, a gun to the head does not invalidate the oath, you could have chosen to die. Similarly there are few excuses for failure to live up to an oath. More understanding deities may accept died trying, but in other traditions this is a good way to end up a ghost bound to the Earth until the oath is somehow absolved.
Watch out for the tendency to legalistic thinking and delusions about rights many gamers have. Historically your word is serious, if you offer it you should not mind swearing on your soul, and no honest man would refuse to take an oath of innocence, so refusing is irrefutable proof of guilt.... Of course, your accusers should be willing to swear along with you. The gods are not sympathetic with legalistic quibbling - conflicting oaths are not subject to negotiated settlements, and if you swear to tell the whole truth so help you God you do not have a right of silence!
A curse inflicted on the violator of a law, custom or taboo. When it works, the victim soon hears voices berating him for his sin and imploring him to confess and make restitution. After 2d+2 days he begins to suffer horrific visions (treat as Night Terrors) or to waste away (treat as starvation). The curse instantly ends if he confesses before his community and that of any victims and makes a sincere attempt at restitution, otherwise it lasts at least until he is hopelessly insane or dead.
Retribution is not a hostile ritual. There are three ways it can be targeted:
The magician can work the ritual and publicly accuse someone. If he is not guilty the Retribution automatically fails and the magician must admit his error just as publicly or the Retribution falls on him instead! This is the usual form for things like accusations of witchcraft, adultery, abandoning a spouse or other sexual taboo violations.
The magician can work the ritual over the physical evidence of a crime or crime scene. The guilty party is cursed if he knew the crime was wrong, otherwise nothing happens. The magician need not know the identity of the target, and in a modern society may never find out. It is usually more obvious in traditional communities, where people don't go insane or die of strange illnesses without somebody noticing.
The retribution may be set in advance as a taboo on a place or object - usually against entering the place, breaking a seal, or stealing the object. Anyone considering violating the taboo will get a strong feeling they should not in plenty of time to back out. If they do it anyway, the retribution strikes. In addition to theft prevention taboos are often placed to protect vital community resources from abuse or exploitation.
Within 2d days, some serious problem in the target's family life will be solved. Solutions which are not especially desirable - the aging parent finally becomes sick enough for state disability insurance, the problem child is sentenced to life without parole under the new War on Drugs guidelines, instead of beating her up the next time her drunken husband goes for a drive and loses a right of way dispute with the 11:45 freight - are as likely as miraculous healings or sudden reforms.
Nonstandard onset. Hostile. Resisted by Will.
Curses the job performance of the target. As p.SP99, except the casting time is reset to the 1 hour standard.
Nonstandard onset. Hostile. Resisted by Will.
Causes a string of progressively worse disasters to befall the target. As p.SP99, except both the resistance and backlash rolls are made at the standard values, not -2, rolls to lift the curse are made normally, not at -4, and the magician does not get a special option to shift the curse from the target to the client. Killing the magician still works.
This ritual guarantees the outcome of a contest - a game, a duel, a trial, a full-scale battle. The necessary success margin depends on the odds: already a substantial favorite, 0; even odds, 2; slightly disfavored, 4; long-shot, 8; well mathematically it could happen, 10. If there is no real chance Victory will not allow a win, but a margin of 10 or more may suddenly shift the situation so it is not necessary - your opponent loses to somebody else the day before, the prosecutor drops the case to work on something more important, the enemy army is suddenly recalled to deal with another foe. A failure does not force an undesired outcome, it simply leaves the result to chance.
Determining the difficulty modifier is tricky. The number of targets is the number of people directly affected by the outcome, which can be rather ambiguous. Even in a one on one contest there may be quite a few people with significant stakes in the result. A backlash gives the other side a margin equal to the failure margin. In that case, or if both sides use this ritual, success margins cancel 1 for 1.
The inverse of Cornucopia, each point of success margin lowers the productivity of the target area by 10%. An area reduced to 0% productive yield can still support the occasional weed or toxic mushroom, producing a sterile desert requires a margin of at least 15.
Plants within the target area grow as if conditions were better than they actually are. To determine the effects on crops, find the expected yield under the actual conditions, and increase it by 5% per point of success margin. Notice this is a multiplier, not an added yield, if nothing will grow under the actual conditions the Cornucopia will not help. The difficulty given is for the minimum duration of one season.
Causes a plant to thrive as long as it is growing somewhere it could possibly survive. It grows as if it had the proper light, water and soil nutrients and is immune to frost, heat, pests, parasites, random grazers, accidental forest fires or other random hazards, but not active efforts to harm it.
The magician can communicate with a one type of animal for the duration. Sometimes he can hear animals speak, but the effect can take other forms. How much information or help an animal provides depends on its reaction roll, just as for anyone else asked for information or assistance. The ritual does not give the animal any special abilities; what it knows or can be convinced to do for you may be sharply limited by its IQ and lack of understanding of human concerns.
Animals must win a contest of Will-5 against this ritual to feel hostility toward or fear of the target. They ignore the target at a distance, but at close range may treat him as a curiosity or potential playmate, and while they will not intentionally harm him, accidents can happen. Animals that resist do not automatically fear or hate the target; they simply can if the situation warrants. Though often associated with pacifist saints, the effect is not negated by violence and can be used to walk up to and kill animals.
The target can travel through any vaguely passable vegetation at his normal walking pace. Vines will not trip him, thorns never scratch and contact with poison oak is harmless. He will not need a machete to penetrate dense jungle or thick gloves to reach into a thorn bush. It does not erase a trail, but often makes it hard to follow, and Tracking rolls will be needed to follow him where others would leave an obvious slashed trail.
Attunes the target to the nearest example of a type of plant or animal, revealing in which direction it lies, but not how far. Once attuned, the guide points to the same example even if it is no longer the nearest. The type selected can be a bit narrower than species (adult male horses or queen bees are legal types), or much broader (anything with blue flowers). Possible effects include causing a pointer to always fall in the right direction, always chancing onto tracks pointing the right way at moments of decision, or being actually led by a guide, typically a small bird.
Attracts all animals of a particular type within 1/2 mile per point of success margin. Animals failing a Will roll (made daily for ongoing effects) travel to the target at normal speed and try to remain nearby. If summoned to someplace dangerous - over a cliff, through a ring of fire - allow another Will roll when the danger is first noticed. The ritual does not otherwise change behavior or reactions, and once it ends the animals disperse (or not) as they normally would. The magician may limit the number of animals responding any given day, possibly to as few as one.
The 'plague' only shifts animals around; surrounding areas actually have fewer than normal. Usually this is not noticed, but it can be used as a Pied Piper effect. It also makes a nice fishing boat blessing.
Resisted by Will.
The target animal or group of animals will obey the instructions of the magician as best it can. The ritual does not alter abilities, intelligence or understanding of humans, so while an animal will let the magician ride it isn't trained to make the ride comfortable, and while a bird will carry a message it will not necessarily be able to find or identify the recipient.
See Path of the Elements.
Hostile. Resisted by Will.
Creates a constant state of sexual desire in the target. This acts as the Lecherousness disadvantage, and may relax his standards enough to allow seduction attempts he would not usually consider - overcoming shyness, mild intolerance or vows, or issues of sexual orientation. If the target is already Lecherous the ritual subtracts 5 from any rolls to resist the disadvantage or any other sexual temptations.
Anything the target says is more convincing. Add half the success margin (round up) to his Diplomacy, Fast Talk, Rhetoric or other persuasive skills.
The effect will work on a document, add the modifier to the persuasiveness of the text, and subtract it from the chances anyone will bother to check up on it. Eloquence only influences people, so while the inspector is less likely to select your passport for a routine check, if he is running all of them through the planetary computer net....
If a skill augmented by this ritual is a critical success it entirely bypasses rational analysis and the victim will believe the most blatant nonsense. The drawback is you have to utter the nonsense before you roll, and if you don't score a critical....
Creates a charm radiating a particular emotion. The canonical form projects the love and approval of the token creator for the person to whom it is given. Since GURPS lacks a system of personality rolls this is mostly left to role-playing, but it can modify die rolls the GM thinks might be influenced by half the success margin. A charm of courage could add to fright checks, or one of endurance to pain resistance, and rolls to resist disadvantages can often be modified up or down by appropriate emotional states.
Hostile. Resisted by Will.
The target will try to avoid contact with a designated individual, object, place or event; and even think about it as little as possible. Exactly how he goes about this depends on his personality; most people will not leave the country to avoid a neighbor. With proper timing this can avert fights, get legal actions dropped or break up love affairs.
Hostile if resistance attempted. Resisted by Will.
Every tradition includes a charm for sexual fidelity. There are two forms:
Applied to a willing couple or group marriage the participants automatically resist temptations outside the bond, and must win a contest of Will with the ritual to stray even to the extent of making a Sex Appeal roll. Lecherous characters may be required to buy off the disadvantage.
Cast otherwise, the success margin adds to rolls to resist temptations, and subtracts from rolls to seduce or sexually please anyone but the partner(s) specified in the casting. He may want to sin, but can't seem to persuade the girls like he used too....
Hostile. Resisted by Will.
The target is sexually attracted someone named in the ritual. The GM may modify the resistance roll from -4 (the target already likes him) to +4 (despises him, or prefers another sex or species). If not resisted, the target acts on the emotion according to his personality. Persistent seduction attempts, a proposal of marriage, or an attempted rape are the most likely outcomes. But spending everything he owns to send 4 tons of roses, or killing himself on her doorstep as a gesture of devotion are not out of the question. The induced emotion ends with the duration, but the hope is it will be replaced by a natural emotion by then.
On a backlash the magician suddenly desires someone he ordinarily wouldn't even consider.
The target becomes extremely sexually attractive. Reaction rolls from the opposite sex, or others with the right orientations to be interested, improve by half the success margin. Will rolls to resist Lecherousness toward or seduction attempts by him are reduced by the same amount.
Hostile if resistance attempted. Resisted by Will.
The target is unable to lie for the duration. He may keep silent or offer part of the truth, but attempts to lie result in an inability to speak, or in some variants inadvertantly verbalizing your internal dialog as you plan the lie.
Hostile if resistance attempted. Resisted by Will.
The target appears unimportant. Subtract half the success margin from rolls to be noticed or taken seriously. This adds to Stealth or Shadowing, and shifts all reaction rolls toward neutral (10). The effect normally works only on direct perception, but at an additional -3 it will work through but not on technology. That is, those watching through a security camera or listening on the telephone treat the target as insignificant, but software or security alarms do not. On a critical failure the target irritatingly blatant, +5 to be noticed, -5 to all reactions.
Nonstandard duration and target. Hostile. Resisted by Will.
This replaces the ritual of the same name on p.VO80.
Permanently breaks the target's will, leaving him nearly an automaton. He gains
10 levels of Weak Will and suffers a similar reduction in IQ for purposes of understanding or acting on anything of his own initiative . Some magicians call up a minor spirit to possess the zombie to increase its strength or endurance, but it is not required.
The ritual works only on victims under severe psychological stress. Administering a paralytic drug and burying the victim alive is the traditional method of creating that stress, and works for most unsuspecting humans, but might fail if the victim knew what was happening. Other psychological tortures are equally effective.
Hostile if resistance attempted. Resisted by Will.
The target radiates an aura that modifies reactions by half the success margin. The traditional use is to give the magician an aura of subtle power, but other flavors are allowed - kindliness, competence, viciousness etc. - and alter reactions differently.
Limiting the effect to a smaller group provides a bonus - +1 for a large group (all children), +3 for a small group (the royal court) , up to +6 for a very small group (my fiancée's relatives).
On a critical failure the target radiates an aura with the opposite of the intended flavor.
Nonstandard onset. Duration limit. Hostile. Resisted by Will.
This ritual may target individuals or an area (affects anyone who spends the 3d minute induction time in it). Targets who fail to resist drop into deep natural sleep within 3d minutes. Small disturbances do not wake them, though major ones will. Otherwise, they sleep for the duration (maximum 24 hours), plus any further time they need to awaken fully rested.
Hostile. Resisted by Will.
Allows the magician to ask the target one question per two points of success margin, which he must answer truthfully in reasonable detail. The traditional form is a jewel or other talisman placed against some personal part of the anatomy of a sleeping woman to be asked about adultery, but this reflects the interests of grimoire compilers rather than a limitation on the ritual. A backlash forces the magician to answer the next however many questions asked him.
Hostile. Resisted by Will.
Allows new resistance rolls to resist dangerous orders.
Hostile. Resisted by Will.
The target becomes a willing slave of the magician. The target is completely loyal to the magician - he will carry out any order, obeys the spirit of his orders as well as the letter, and in the absence of orders will use all his skills and initiative in the magician's best interests as he understands them. This is a resisted hostile ritual. If it backlashes the magician acquires Slave Mentality.
Wards off hostile magic. As p.SP101.
See Path of the Elements.
See Path of the Elements.
Amulets are protective charms that allow the bearer to re-roll results related to a specific type of harm. You must carry the amulet in close contact to benefit from it, and while most are small symbolic objects carrying a lot of them adds up. An amulet allows one re-roll per two points of success margin. You may only re-roll a particular result only once, but many disasters involve multiple die rolls.
There are amulets against most Occasional or Rare hazards: fire, cold, falls, arrows, bullets, swords, staves, curses, illusions, witchcraft, poison, lightning, snakebite, wild beasts.... Unlike the related Sword Blessing, most amulets are purely symbolic - a blessed rabbit's foot could re-roll anything attributable to 'bad luck' (as opposed to lack of skill or outright stupidity), or a bit of jewelry set with an amethyst (said to ward off drunkenness) could re-roll Will rolls to resist Alcoholism or HT rolls to avoid the effects of drink.
Creates an amulet that protects the wearer once. As p.SP103, except for the path change. Drop 'or a ritual cast by a powerful initiate' from the last paragraph, and use a delay of 1d days per 2 points of success margin.
Reflects hostile rituals back at their caster. As p.SP102.
The target becomes non-toxic, usually accompanied by a visible effect that verifies a poison was present: unicorn horn or a gem changes color or harmless blue flames erupt from the item burning the poison off in wisps of vile smoke. If used on a poisoning victim it halts further damage, but will not reverse harm already suffered. It will neutralize most harmful drugs, including alcohol hangovers, but completely removing an addictive drug can produce instant withdrawal symptoms.
Protects everything in an area from hostile magic. As p.SP103.
Resisted by curse skill.
Removes an ongoing curse. As p.SP102, except the roll to learn more is against Thaumatology.
See Path of the Dead.
Protects the target from illness. As p.SP102, except the casting time is reduced to the normal 1 hour.
Wards off spirits. As p.SP104.
See Path of Dreams.
See Path of Spirits.
As p.SP103, but drop the effects of initiation level. Regardless of who carries the charm, it completely protects against random or unintentional attacks, and has no effect at all on intentionally targeted ones.
This ritual makes it difficult for magicians to enter an area; the more powerful the magician, the stronger the resistance. Anyone with character points in a magical ability (GM's option what qualifies) must make a Will roll at a penalty of 1/5 the number of points to enter the area. A magician might use this to keep rivals from his work area (exempting himself), and realistically wards against witches are a surprisingly large part of a magician's stock in trade.
Sometimes Hostile. Resisted by Will.
This ritual works on a closure - a lock, wax seal, glued envelope flap.... If anyone other than the magician or those named in the ritual opens the seal and fails the resistance roll something unpleasant happens to them. This is not a hostile ritual if the seal is sufficiently obvious any sensible person would realize they are not to open it, or optionally if the seal generates a feeling of impending doom in anyone who is about to open it. It is hostile as a trap - a wax seal on the inside of a door, or on an envelope addressed to someone not exempted in the casting. The standard form causes a wave of weakness, inflicting 3d long-term fatigue. Other curses may be substituted at higher penalties (-6 for Malaise, -9 for Malediction etc.).
Most traditions are associated with a particular assortment of supernatural beings. The rituals of the Path of Spirits involve similar elements for all of them - angels and demons both respond to the relics of saints, the forms of the mass, or the names of God - but this is not true between traditions. Once that didn't matter, but in the modern world eclectic magician might deal with several sets of entities, and needs several different Path of Spirits skills. Angels don't respond to the non-Euclidean geometry, chaotic staring patterns and irrational interval musical scales used to deal with the Cthulhu mythos; and one must be careful not to confuse which entities are bound by the Seal of Solomon and which by the Yellow Sign.... Record these separate skills as Path of Spirits [mythology or tradition].
Resisted by the higher of Will or Fatigue.
Expels a supernatural entity from a person, object or area, ending any form of possession or control. For the duration of the ritual the spirit may not return to that from which it was expelled.
Resisted by Will.
Summons a supernatural entity by name. The framework is the same for most entities within a tradition - Command, Call and Invite are not distinct. An unmodified roll allows any willing entity to appear. Unwilling entities get a resistance roll, and may require a success margin (4 for moderate manifestations, 8 for greater manifestations, more for powerful gods). An entity can be summoned into a protected space if the magician helped erect the ward, but if the ward could potentially hold the entity, it will try to resist. Summoned entities are not constrained to do (or not do) anything other than appear. Powerful demons may respond willingly, confident the magician cannot Master them.
Resisted by Will.
Compels an entity to perform one or more tasks. As p.SP105. A task may be to share some bit of information, but teaching a skill is well beyond a single task.
Wards off In-Betweeners and Devourers. As p.VO80.
Resisted by Will.
Harms a spirit. As p.SP105.
I recommend this ritual (p.VO79) simply be removed. Of course spirits can explain anything, but that is no reason to add an effect to the Path of Spirits. If you want a spirit to search for something, summon one and use Bind to order it to go searching.
Resisted by Will.
Harms an In-Betweener. As p.VO80.
Summons a monster or group of monsters. The monsters are typically called up from the depths of the sea, the wild forests, or some other remote location; and since they travel at normal speed it may take a while for them to arrive. As the monsters are not controlled by the summoner, he may appreciate the time to escape. In the Shadow War cosmology the monsters will be In-Betweeners, in other traditions they may be ogres, servitor races, sea serpents etc. Anything hostile to humans is likely to be labeled a monster; not all monsters are supernatural, consider the bears summoned by Elisha to tear apart the children in II Kings 2:24.
Resisted by binding effect.
This ritual breaks one constraint on a spirit - a Bind ritual, a Fetish binding, a seal trapping a demon.... The unbound spirit may not be grateful, liberating bound demons is seldom a brilliant idea.
Mysteries are extremely powerful effects, often unsuitable for subtle magic campaigns, but appearing in some stories. Learning a Mystery should never be simply a matter of spending points. If the GM decides the Mystery exists at all, and that PCs can learn it, he should make sure the process is a memorable event in the campaign. Perhaps the search for a teacher or a difficult vision quest to discern the principles must be played out.
Unlike rituals, Mysteries are not based directly on Path skill; each one must be learned as a separate (Will/Very Hard) spell. They are associated with one or more Paths though, which must be known at 20 or better to comprehend the Mystery. Mysteries are the equivalents of cinematic skills, and may require a 40 point Trained by a Mage advantage to learn.
Mysteries tend to have restricted casting conditions. A ritual can be cast at a penalty under unfavorable conditions, but a Mystery usually will not work at all. Most Mysteries can only be cast at certain times (at dawn, under a full moon, 'when the stars are right') require specific components (now for this we'll need a black bull sacrifice, the hand of a virgin murdered by her younger brother, and 6 fresh albino pineapples...) or only work at places more unusual than 'consecrated ground' (within stone circles, on former battlefields, beneath a gallows at midnight on All Hallows' Eve). The GM may set any conditions that seem appropriate.
Produces an illusion of anything the mage can clearly imagine and which fits in the target area. The illusion is perfect, it looks, sounds, smells, tastes and produces sensor returns exactly as it should; though it will never inflict more than 1 point of damage (from flames, energy beams, toxic fumes or anything else). It can be laid over existing items as a mass disguise, and persists even if the items move out of the original area. The only real limitation is the mirage will not stand up to physical contact if the underlying reality is of a different shape. Traditionally the most common uses are to hide a death trap - bridge illusions are favorites, convert a ruin to a fine manor, or to conceal an army.
The mage transfers his soul to a receptacle of his choice. Thereafter he can animate his body without needing it to be conscious, or even alive. A mage animating his corpse will need to do something to preserve it from damage or decay, since if the body is destroyed (reduced to -10 × HT) he is trapped in the receptacle. Significant damage to the receptacle slays the mage and destroys his soul, so most necromancers use a durable object and guard it well.
Hostile if resistance is attempted. Resisted by Will.
Restores an intact corpse to life. The spell can perform minor repairs, but it will not work on those killed by wounds reducing them to more than -2 × HT, lethal poisons that remain in the corpse, wasting diseases etc. The resurrection is permanent, but there is a duration penalty for the length of time the target has been dead. The Mystery may be resisted if the soul is happy where it is - on a backlash the mage joins the soul in the afterlife.
This Mystery allows the mage to create physical objects from intangible sources. The resulting objects are permanent, of the best quality, and often have minor magical properties reflecting their source metaphor. The mage needs a craft skill (at 12) that could make a similar physical object and a symbol of the metaphoric source. For example to make a gown of moonbeams he will need Weaving skill and a clear night with the moon visible. To create a sword from the courage of a dragon he will need Blacksmith and a dragon making a heroic speech - though the heart of a dragon will probably work.
One useful feature of this Mystery is to provide a source for the really strange artifacts that litter some tales. The properties of the object are up to the GM, and may not be quite what the creator wanted. Assuming he wanted any at all - perhaps the mage just needed a sharp knife when he conjured up the dagger of a maiden's scorn, but it doesn't vanish once he is done with it.
Hostile. Resisted by Will.
The target falls asleep and dreams about a temptation selected by the mage. The GM sums the point costs of any advantages and disadvantages that incline the target toward or away from the temptation. The target must make a Will roll modified by that sum (and you thought -15 point Lecherousness would never be a serious problem...) or surrender to the dream and never awaken. The dream lover is popular, but a vision of heaven or of a peaceful life is nearly as common in modern tales.
Effectively the Mystery places the target in a coma. At low TLs he will likely waste away and die, but by late TL6 a mindless body can be kept alive indefinitely.
Hostile. Resisted by Will.
Calls down a bolt of lightning (or beam of light, or pillar of fire, exact appearance varies with tradition) which blasts everything in the target area for 30d damage. If the area includes an intelligent being, this counts as hostile. A backlash is usually less visually dramatic - a bright flash and the mage is incinerated. Evil mages suffer such a failure at the climatic confrontation in many tales, accompanying odor of brimstone optional.
A target area is wracked by powerful earthquakes and sinks into the ground. Structures with less than TL7+ earthquake/nuclear reinforcement are destroyed automatically. This allows the mage to cleave mountains or sink islands into the sea, and is reversible for those times you want to raise R'lyeh from the depths or need a land bridge across the Red Sea.
This Mystery prevents the target from suffering the harmful effects of aging. Some forms prevent aging from that point forward, some set a target age he ages to at the normal rate (backward if already older!), or instantly set apparent age to a particular point. In most traditions this ritual is either extremely dangerous or comes with some sort of drawback. The Taoist version for example involves drinking deadly poisons, if the Mystery fails the target dies in agony. Other versions simply delay aging, if anything breaks the spell the years return, ancient subjects may fall to dust instantly. Some require a continuing price; each of your children you sacrifice allows you another decade, or you suffer the Bloodthirst disadvantage that can only be quenched by the blood of infants.... Immortality rituals always require the cooperation of the target, though the mage may neglect to mention the risks or drawbacks.
Nonstandard Area. Hostile Resisted by Will.
This curse targets an area (minimum 0.5 mile radius). All members of a designated group within the area must win a contest of HT with the Mystery or fall victim to an illness. The mage has some limited control of the symptoms and average severity, and may limit the target group to a particular species, sex and perhaps age group. A cattle plague or wheat blight is permissible, as is a plague affecting only adult men, but subtle targeting (dishonest merchants) or exemptions (everyone but my family) are not; use Malaise with multiple target modifiers if you want more control. The average HT of plants or wild animals is 12, so a no margin casting will affect about 25% of them.
Allows rapid travel to anywhere familiar to the mage. If the campaign allows travel to other worlds or times, this effect can reach them - but unless you have been there or have truly incredible directions such an attempt is likely to get you hopelessly lost.
To use this Mystery the mage completes any preparations and starts moving. He soon passes into unfamiliar surroundings (traditionally a misty forest, but twisting caverns appear in some tales and strange back alleys work just as well). After what seems several hours he sights the destination and the effect ends. Anyone who can keep up, or is less than an hour behind and able to track the mage can follow. Usually nothing encountered will seriously interfere with the journey, though in some traditions three trials which should be within the abilities of the travelers can be presented. Travelers who pause for a substantial period, lose the track, or go haring off to chase pretty floating lights, deserve whatever happens them. They emerge wherever (and whenever!) the GM likes, if they survive at all.
This method of travel is notorious for doing odd things to time. Many forms of the Mystery require you leave at sunrise or midnight, and deliver you at sunset or dawn. Though the trip appears to take several hours, no group will agree on just how many, every timekeeper measures a different result. A variable amount of time also passes in the mortal world, though seldom more than a fraction of the time the trip would take conventionally.
Creates an artifact allowing instant travel to a particular location. The mage must create an artistic representation of the destination (a suitable art skill at 12+ is required) which can be used to travel to the place depicted by steping into the image (for full sized images) or by touching the work and willing the transfer (for smaller works of art). Full sized images remain behind, smaller images may travel with the mage, but in either case the trip is one way.
The representation must be recognizable, but usually need not be perfect. What happens if the destination changes so it no longer matches the art or if the scene is incorrect or imaginary to begin with varies between stories and is up to the GM.
In some tales a more powerful version of this spell can be cast on a scrying tool (crystal ball, mirror etc.) allowing the mage to travel to any place he can scry with the glass.
This Mystery enchants a mirror to reflect the true nature of things. Invisible objects or entities that lack reflections appear in the true mirror, illusions do not and disguises or transformations show both shapes overlaid on each other. Some variants create lenses or circlets with the same effect when peered through.
Hostile. Resisted by Will.
A classic fairy tale curse, anyone failing to resist drops into enchanted sleep within 3d minutes. Victims of enchanted sleep will not awaken, but do not age, and can not harmed by the natural environment as long as the enchantment lasts. This is also handy for the suspended animation of the hero who will return when the need is greatest. This Mystery may require a termination condition rather than a standard duration.
Hostile. Resisted by Will.
Places a curse on a family. Each potential victim through the generations gets a resistance roll, and the effective margin falls by 1 per generation, so after a number of generations equal to the original success margin the curse ends. Of course it also ends if the family goes extinct.
A curse that could conceivably be genetic - you will have no male descendents, all members of the family go mad before 30 etc. - is at no penalty. Other curses - all eldest sons will be slain on a Sunday by in-laws of a younger sister, in any generation with two daughters one will kill the other out of jealousy etc. - are at a penalty determined by how bizarre the condition is.
An enchantment which can be applied to any useful object. Thereafter it works properly for those meeting a condition set by the mage. Typical examples include clothing that only fits the true princess (or the chaste, pure at heart etc.), the sword only the future king (or a fated hero, or its true owner) can draw, and the cup the forsworn cannot drink from without spilling it. Exactly how the item fails can be specified, or can vary from attempt to attempt. A fated sword may cut your hand on the draw one time, twist so it always strikes with the flat the next, and score a maximum damage critical hit to the vitals of your faithful squire in a practice bout the third time.
This Mystery converts a quarter mile square or larger woodland into enchanted forest. The mage or those with him can pass without additional difficulty. Anyone else must endure unnaturally deep gloom, eerie noises, vines and branches that reach out to catch them, falling limbs, campfires that refuse to burn, paths that shift around nightly and so on. The exact effects are up to the GM, but at minimum travel speed is halved, attempts to use the forest resources for anything are at -4 or more, and the forest acquires one active guardian (use the Fairie Thorn FB97 or Pohutukawa FB100 for inspiration) per 160 acres awakened. The traditional effect seems limited to haunted forests, but some modern tales extend it to other environments.
This Mystery allows the mage to create viable hybrids between species. It requires reproductive tissue from each species - testicles, sperm, pollen, eggs etc., and a method of gestating the cross - surrogate mother, egg incubator, sometimes a sealed glass sphere. The required gestation time and the statistics, abilities and life cycle of the hybrid are quite variable. Most hybrids are at least partly magical, if only because they can't survive naturally. Learning the Mystery includes the details of at least one cross - the snake and rooster (cockatrice) and human and mandrake plant (homunculus) are typical - but others may by tried experimentally.
Few traditions regard this particularly favorably, but it isn't always black magic if the mage stays away from human crosses.
Hostile. Resisted by Will
The target(s) of this spell become the loyal servants of the mage. They will follow reasonable orders, and in the absence of orders act in the best interests of the mage. They may refuse orders which are very hazardous or violate strongly held principles, but loyalty compels them to explain their objections and carry out as much as possible without compromising their values. Loyalty lacks many restrictions typical of mind control magic; it can be cast on multiple targets at a distance for example, and usually doesn't produce obvious personality changes. This makes it very powerful - consider the advantage of having most of the local authorities acting in your interests as they understand them even though you have never personally met them.
A backlash usually compels the mage to provide the return loyalty due from a liege lord. If he voluntarily accepts this binding he need not check for backlash.
This Mystery protects from attacks of any sort. Unintentional attacks fail automatically. To make an intentional attack, the attacker must make a Will-5 roll to even consider it, makes any skill rolls involved at -6, and still causes injury only on a critical success. Area attacks inflict the minimum possible damage if there is no logical way to fail entirely. Environmental or self inflicted injuries are still possible - the Mystery offers no protection against drowning when your ship sinks or jumping off a cliff.
This Mystery enchants a weapon, usually a blade, but any honorable weapon from the traditional culture is possible - bows are not uncommon. It will inflict normal damage on incorporeal spirits or other entities immune to weapons. Those that lack hit points suffer fatigue or lose will instead. Enchanted blades will not break on a parry, and automatically resist accidental breakage, rust or other random hazards, but are no more resistant to deliberate abuse than before the enchantment.
Resisted by Will.
Binds a spirit in some object, to a particular place, or to a specific task. The maximum constraint leaves the spirit unable to do anything at all until the spell or the imprisoning object is broken. The mage may impose different constraints - he may allow the spirit to try to possess anyone touching the target, require it to use its powers to protect that to which it is bound, require it to use one or more of its powers on command, creating a magic item, or he might allow it to do whatever it likes but require it to appear and perform a service when called by the possessor of the item. The default trap is permanent, but the mage may set a duration - a thousand years, until the spirit grants 3 wishes, etc.
Spirits usually try to resist, but some may willingly accept lighter services. Becoming a bound guardian might be better than dissolution for a ghost, facing a Ritual of Slaying, or even just sitting around in the notoriously dull spirit realms found in many traditions.
Hostile. Resisted by Will.
The mage fixes the cause and circumstances of the victim's death! Anything the GM agrees to is possible, and will come to pass eventually. Nothing else will slay the target, though awful things can happen to him in the meantime. Dooms do not always hasten death, but certainly tend that way - the more obscure the doom, the more often bizarre coincidences offer a chance to meet it. A Doom must be announced in the presence of the target to take effect, though he need not understand the pronouncement. On a backlash the GM assigns a doom to the mage - but doesn't tell him what it is. It is a good idea to inflict 3 or 4 different strange events on him shortly afterward to keep him confused.
In many ways, Doom is a death spell with the actual death delayed to a dramatic moment. Players who do not want to play a character the GM will eventually railroad into the Doom may hand over the character as an NPC and reenter the game as if they had died. It can be fun to keep the character for a while if the GM allows the first couple approaches of the Doom to have a way out, but it can never be avoided forever.
This Mystery can also bestow other fates on the target with the approval of the GM. It should be limited to life-changing events - becoming a hero, fated marriages, births, inheritances and so on. These are not easily separable anyway, if you are Doomed to be slain by your wife's brother, the Duke of Corinth you obviously will marry his sister.
This enchantment makes a specific individual the true owner of an object (or perhaps it is the other way around....) If they are separated events will cooperate to reunite them. People will pick up the object unconsciously and carry it closer, thieves will be amazingly prone to being caught and so on. The greater the separation and the longer it lasts the more impressive the efforts become. Hung on his wall the object falls off occasionally so he touches it to rehang it. Abandoned in the Caverns of Death on another continent it may take a few years for a Hero to pick it up and know the fate of the world depends on a pointless quest that just happens to take him to the true owner's home nation.... If the object has to be reassembled from molecules scattered across a dozen universes, carried through the eternal unbreakable ward in which the true owner is imprisoned or can't be moved until the omnipotent god guarding it is slain it may take decades, but eventually the item will return, if only to sit on the owner's grave.
Note the effect is not limited to things the owner wants returned. It is at least as common on cursed objects he can't get rid of.
The second major magic system in Voodoo is a collection of abilities of and skills for interacting with spirits. It is less clearly defined than Ritual Magic, and more closely linked to Initiation, so it requires more substantial modifications for general use. Though less broadly useful than Ritual magic, it better models traditional shamanism than the GURPS magic variant on R116-125, particularly if combined with the Paths of the Dead and Spirits.
Like Mystic Initiation the various Spirit Magic powers can be acquired in manners ranging from long study to a side effect of a childhood fever. Indeed in most cultures the initial powers usually are acquired accidentally - rarely does one plan to become a shaman.
Spirits like you, the level of this advantage adds to reaction rolls from them. This replaces Spirit Empathy (CI 46); to reproduce it exactly add a 20% limitation: you will not harm or enslave spirits and will oppose others doing so.
You can hear the voices of spirits. If spirits can hear thoughts directed at them (as they can in the Shadow War setting, see p.VO84) this is enough to carry on a conversation.
You can sense spirits, In-Betweeners and other supernatural creatures, magical effects and objects, and anyone with a spirit related advantage. Purchase it using the rules for Senses below.
This advantage (CI p41) is equivalent to Spiritual Hearing, Invite Spirit and an unspecified level of Spiritual Sense.
The ability to 'speak' in the manner of spirits. Spirits and those with Spiritual Hearing can hear you. Others usually hear nothing, though you can use this power to speak to them at a cost of 1 fatigue per short sentence sent. This mimics some of the effects of Telepathy, but is not psionic and unaffected by Mindshields. No control is implied, but people do sometimes act on suggestions from voices in their head. The GM may require anyone intoxicated or under severe emotional stress to make a Will roll to resist such a suggestion, particularly if it is something the victim might want to do.
This advantage allows the magician to learn to control spirits (or demons, raksasa, djinn, kami etc.) through a clash of wills, without the trappings of ritual magic. The actual abilities are purchased as skills, though in some settings they may default to IQ or IQ-6 for anyone with the Shamanic Gift. Like the Path of Spirits this ability may need to be specialized to the spirits of a particular tradition or group of traditions. The common skills are:
Prerequisite: Shamanic Gift
By winning a contest of skill with the Will of a spirit, the magician can force it to perform a single service, including reveal some bit of information or leave the area. Defeated spirits will be respectful and disinclined to challenge the magician again in the near future, victorious spirits usually try to possess him.
Prerequisite: Shamanic Gift
By winning a contest of skill against the greater of the Will or Fatigue of a spirit, the magician can injure it. Each point by which he wins the contest inflicts 1 point of damage. If the spirit is reduced to -HT, it is destroyed.
Prerequisite: Shamanic Gift
By winning a contest of skill with the greater of the Will or Fatigue of the spirit the magician can expel it from a vessel or place to which it is not native (i.e. you can not expel a soul from its body or a deity from its temple). An entity from another plane may be expelled from the world entirely. The spirit may return eventually, though traditionally not for a year and a day, nor is it likely to if the magician remains nearby.
Prerequisite: Summon Spirit
Compels a deity or other multi-faceted spirit to appear in a form greater than a minor manifestation. Otherwise it is identical to Summon Spirit.
Prerequisite: Shamanic Gift or Medium
The polite form of Summon Spirit, the spirit hears the invitation, knows who is making it, and may chose to appear. In the Shadow War setting this is unnecessary since spirits automatically hear their names and can travel to the speaker, but in many settings they lack that ability.
Prerequisite: Shamanic Gift
Compels a spirit to appear before the magician, though a multi-faceted spirit or god need not appear as more than a minor manifestation. Unwilling spirits resist with Will and the spirit is not required to do anything but appear for a few seconds. The magician must know the name of the spirit; in some traditions obtaining that name is a significant challenge.
The level of this advantage adds to resistance rolls to any spirit ability or spiritual power.
In many cultures this disease is regarded as a type of possession. If this is true it may bought off with spiritual cures. It is a suitable disadvantage for mediums and other spirit magicians, a sort of Involuntary Possession that doesn't allow either the magician or the spirit to do anything useful.
Another disadvantage often attributed to possession, the second personality may be a separate soul occupying the same body. A past life personality is also a possible cause.
A character with this disadvantage lacks free will. The GM completely controls his actions. Obviously if you take this in its base form, your character is an NPC and there isn't much point in attending the game. It is sometimes appropriate for split personalities, alternate forms or in combination with limitations though.
You encounter a specific type of situation with remarkable frequency. The situations are never immediately fatal, and can sometimes avoid becoming involved, but they are inconvenient. At the -5 point level this is mostly an excuse for the GM to toss you adventure hooks - the currents of the universe just seem to bring you to these things. At the -15 point level the situations actively follow you around, and are much harder to ignore. If the situations are often beneficial this is a 10 point advantage.
To see the difference consider the classic crime drama disadvantage Murder Magnet. At the -5 point level you occasionally trip over the bodies of total strangers; are always assigned to write the crime report the week of dramatic murders; or your detective agency handles more mysterious deaths than adultery photo-shoots. At the -15 point level people commonly die within hours of meeting you, your missing pocket knife will turn up through somebody's heart before morning, and when you go on vacation, people routinely stagger in, gasp a cryptic word or two and expire on your hotel room carpet. At the 10 point level you spend a lot of time explaining to the police where you were when your worst enemy was dismembered by a crazed serial killer, and that you didn't even know you had an Aunt Agatha to poison for the million dollars she left you.
This cost structure applies to Weirdness Magnet as well. Many people play it as the advantage version and still take -15 points for it. A disadvantage worth -15 points is a severe problem, not annoying and occasionally useful!
Once per day spirits can steal up to half your fatigue by winning a quick contest of Wills. If you live in a world with many spirits the GM should require contests throughout the day until one spirit suceeds.
[I doubt this was thought out carefully in Voodoo, where it's relegated to the section on spiritual abilities, but it is a serious disadvantage in the Shadow War. Having half your base fatigue vanish at the whim of the GM is potentially fatal.]
This skill is suited to the theology of fringe cults or the principles of mystical systems built around contradiction, though it could also model deep familiarity with Treknobabble. To anyone not skilled in the particular Incomprehensible Lore the 'information' covered is nonsensical or internally contradictory, but practitioners can somehow tell the difference and agree it isn't colorless green ideas that sleep furiously. It's colorless pink ones; colorless green ideas electrify the circular squares in the thoughts of the mindless God hallucination man. Weren't you paying attention when the rabbit skittered the ground loop?
The art of getting along with the inhabitants of the supernatural realm - the proper way to address fairie lords, how to tell what rank an entity holds in the hierarchy of demons, which gifts to offer the spirits of the dead, how to respond when a vampire invites you to dinner, what one should or should not do when guesting in the Fair Realm and so on. It doesn't always help, but most supernatural creatures appreciate the effort at least enough to kill you quickly.
By winning a quick contest of this skill with the Alertness of anyone using a spiritual sense, psi sense etc. you can appear less supernatural than you actually are. If the sense only detects supernatural power you can elude it entirely.
Using the rules above, the GURPS Voodoo Initiation levels can be treated as advantage packages. All levels of Initiation include Resistance to Rituals +level (2xlevel points), Resistance to Spirits +level (2xlevel), Spiritual Stealth @Will+level (2xlevel), Mystic Initiation (
5), Unusual Background [access to advantages, which varies with level] (10), and Susceptable to Possession -3 (-6), for a total 14 + 6 × level points. This analysis omits the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth level abilities to ignore one of the Casting details ritual elements at each level, call it 5 to 10 points per level. The descriptions in Voodoo also includes several bits of text like the insanity risk at 4th level or 'literally perform miracles' at 9th which I suspect were considered in the costs even though they are unsupported by any rules whatsoever.
GURPS Voodoo makes several advantages available at specific Initiation levels, but there is no logic to the pattern. Those not discussed above include Autotrance (CI 20), Charisma (B19), Extra Fatigue(CI 24), Faith Healing (CI 36), Metabolism Control (CI 60), Mystic Symbol (p.SP75), Unaging(CI 69) and Visualization (CI 47). Other appropriate advantages include Destiny (CI 35), Extra Encumbrance(CI 54), Extra Lives(CI 36), Harmony with the Tao (CI 38), Luck (B21), and Unfazable (CI 31).
GURPS Voodoo was written by C.J. Carella, and is copyright 1995 by Steve Jackson Games Incorporated. The Mysteries concept is based on an idea by Jeff Wilson. Thanks also to Charles Bennett, Andrew Benton, Benson Fong, P. Kitty, Jonathan "Dataweaver" Lang, Revenant, Emily Smirle, David Summers, Jeff Wilson, John G. Wood and the unknown author of the Mystique file in the GURPSnet archive for useful comments and ideas.
In GURPS Spirits, spirits have an ability to alter probability. Ignore it. It occurs in no traditional magic system and is nearly impossible to implement and preserve game balance. If you really like it I suggest dropping the mechanism and allowing spirits to buy Luck or Super Luck with the Affects Others (+40%, use Will instead of DX to hit) and Costs Fatigue (about 5 points -20%) enhancements. At minimum the Spirits mechanics need a ruling on the minimum initial probability, I'd suggest if the initial chance is less than 3 on 3d (1 in 216) a spirit can automatically prevent it, but not encourage it to happen.
The ability to manipulate physical objects without touching them. In Spirits, spirits have this ability by default, and it works well for the minor feats of telekinesis some magicians display. It is probably possible to build it from Telekinesis with limitations, but the feel is rather different. There is a substantial energy cost, 1 fatigue per 2 ST per 'action'. I would be a bit more generous than Spirits on this; an 'action' must be a single feat, but could last several seconds - long enough to move an object entirely across the table or write a complete word. Range is no more than 3 hexes. If any sort of precision or skill is called for there is an added cost of 1 fatigue for a DX of 10, plus 1 fatigue per 2 additional DX. A direct attack requires a DX roll and inflicts Thrust -3 damage based on the ST provided. GURPS ST is a bit erratically defined, but depending on your choice of scaling law ST 2 is about that of a 20-40 lb animal. If you can imagine a housepet being strong enough to do something ST2 is sufficient.
Option: Allow magicians to learn DX skills usable only through this ability. Sure he could spend fatigue for a higher DX and operate at the default, but specialized skills go a long way to distinguish this from psionics, and allow an interesting transitional step to the GURPS Magic spell system.
Almost certainly the most common such skill in modern fantasy. An ordinary lock can be opened using ST 2.
Uses the normal Parry Missiles rules on CI 135. It can deflect a missile weighing up to 6 × ST lbs.
Allows a single hand weapon parry at 2/3 skill. Minimum ST is 6, which makes it too expensive for sustained use, but sometimes once is enough.
The ability to translate objects into the Spirit World. This costs 1 fatigue per pound per minute or fraction thereof. An object brought into the spirit world can be manipulated by spirits and becomes intangible on the physical, though a magician could move it with Poltergeist.. Physical barriers may be circumvented by this effect - a spirit with can appear to teleport objects a short distance by dematerializing them and carrying them to the new location. Objects don't retain motion between the worlds, so a spirit can't fire a dematerialized gun and rematerialize the bullet (or it could, but the bullet drops harmlessly to the ground). An object can't translate into anything 'solid' in either world. If you place a dematerialized object somewhere it must to return to the material world the effect can't end. It continues to draw fatigue every minute (until you are destroyed, then it remains until something moves it or the obstacle, when it snaps back.)
Social advantages involving a spirit work normally - keeping in mind that even fairly weak spirits can be high point characters and often qualify for the unusual reach or powers enhancements. Spirit allies devoted to you to the extent of risking destruction in your service (such as those specified in GURPS Voodoo at higher levels of Initiation) have the Fanatic disadvantage and should be treated as any other fanatically devoted ally.
Familiar Spirits, often in animal form, are more in genre in the Mystic systems than in GURPS Magic. Magicians with a strong focus in the Path of Nature or the spirit world should consider one. Most of the rules on CI 37-8 are reasonable, but add another 5 points to the costs for See Through the Familiar's Eyes and Take Familiar's Shape and make them at will abilities with no fatigue cost. You can take Draw Strength From Familiar, it is just less useful to a ritual magician.
The character has an intangible ally that shares information with him. This can be a spirit or ghost, or a personality from a previous incarnation. It is incapable of doing anything but providing information. The Spirit advisor should be built like any other NPC. The base cost is 10 points, modified by the frequency of appearance (B23). An advisor with extremely unusual and valuable skills, or an IQ far in excess of your own may be worth a base 15 points at the GM's option. The cost assumes the advice is generally good and offered at useful moments, though it may be colored by the frame of reference or prejudices of the advisor. Asking a neolithic warrior spirit for help with an administrative error to your bank account may produce seriously bad advice. People are plagued by spirits that give bad or actively dangerous advice suffer from the Voices disadvantage.
Possession by supernatural entities is a nearly universal theme, though oddly mostly on the margins in the great religions. It has become even more marginal as Western medicine redefines hostile possession as psychological disorders, but it is worth noting exorcists have better cure rates than psychotherapy until the introduction of reliable psychotropic drugs at mid TL7.
Traditional possession comes in many shades. Perhaps the most useful distinction is whether the spirits have 'biographies'. Possession by spirits that do not - Christian demons, Islamic jinn, the nymphs of classical myth or the animas of the Lodges - looks much like mental illness. Spirits like the Muses or the Voodoo loas that do are more like true deities. Household divinities are an important intermediate type, worshipped within a kin group and often possessing the lineage head, but unknown outside the family - Roman genius and lares, or Yoruba orishas. Often they are associated with a more widely known deity, as the demon goddess Samdzimari first links a Georgian shaman and his hat'i, or the cult of Sasta and the Goddess is associated with the 'deified demons' of popular Hinduism.
Inspiration (literally breathing in the spirit) is another traditional motif, in which the possession is by an almost abstract concept. The abiographical forms are more like virtues (e.g. creativity) than mental illness. The kabbalistic sefiroth as aspects of the godhead are perhaps the best example, and the classical Muses also show some of this character. Of course they easily acquire myths and personalities - as the sefiroth have become specific angels.
Mystery cults often involve divine possession causing insane behavior - as in Panic (possession by the god Pan), the Maenads (possessed by Dionysis) or the priests of Attis (best known for castrating themselves during the ecstasy). Other deities are more inspirational - the oracles of Apollo, the Muses, or Hermes the Wise Serpent, and some - the theolepsy of Eros or possession by the Christian Holy Spirit, fall somewhere in between.
In the most extreme form of possession the deity becomes indistinguishable from the possessed. Divine kingship and incarnate priesthoods can work like this. Christ's incarnation, the avatars of some Hindu deities, and the serial reincarnations of Tibetan lamas or other Buddhist bodhisattvas can be seen in this light.
Possession usually involves personality changes, which in long term relationships may endure even when not under the influence of the spirit. Some powers also demand vows or duties which appear similar - e.g. when a maltheistic power requires Murder Addiction is it a duty or a personality change? Spirits using someone else's voice can sound different from the possessed individual, sometimes this is a change in accents, but in others it is a dramatic change almost indistinguishable from the original voice of the spirit. Do apply the limitations of the Voices skill though - the voice is not be close enough to the original to convince good voice recognition software. Possessions can even produce slight changes in appearance; changes in facial muscle tensions can make most people look younger or older, haggard or alert or idiotic. Long term associations may even cause more significant changes like prematurely gray hair.
Your spirit is not firmly attached to your body, attempts to possess you, imprison your soul or otherwise override your control of your body supernaturally are at a bonus equal to your level of susceptibility.
You can enter a trance and allow spirits to speak through you. Entering the trance requires several seconds and a Will or Meditation roll. During the trance any spirit in the area can take limited possession of your body and use it to speak or write messages. The channel is unaware of what is happening while he is possessed and does not know what the spirit said.
Once a spirit accepts an invitation, it may not violate the terms. To possess the channel and do something other than speak it must release him and attempt possession normally.
The ability to assume a template of abilities you do not normally possess. In GURPS Spirits you invite a spirit granting the abilities to share your body. But it could also represent petitioning a god to grant you a temporary ability, tapping skills from your past lives, or triggering psychological conditioning to raise abilities stored in your subconscious. See Wetware Sub-Personality (BIO p72) for a version of the advantage as a bit of advanced technology.
Any ability can appear in a Spirit Warrior template, though incredible skill levels or super abilities make the effect obviously supernatural. Each template must be paid for; find the normal cost of the abilities and add appropriate limitations. In GURPS Spirits spirit warriors are limited to a single template, that of the spirit they are devoted to, but in some magic systems multiple templates, or even multiple templates active at the same time, are possible.
The spirit warrior remains in control of himself, though some forms of the ability (particularly partial possession and subconscious constructs) include psychological disadvantages, compulsive behaviors, or speech or personality quirks in the template. This reduces cost, but can be inconvenient; and failure to role-play them may make it difficult to call up the ability later, or result in the GM taking over your character next time. Much of the feel of the advantage comes from the limitations applied. The standard Spirits limitation package (requires Good or better reaction roll at +4, 1 minute duration, renewable by additional rolls at -1 per minute, costs 1 fatigue per minute payable at the end of duration, and various conditional modifiers to the reaction roll) is rather arbitrarily set at -30%. Other suitable limitations include Accessibility (only on certain days, times, places, or in certain situations), Costs Fatigue (-5% per point), Limited Duration (1 hour -5%, 10 minutes -10%, 1 minute -20%, 10 seconds -35%, 1 second -50%), Preparation Required, Requires material components (-10%), Requires ritual words or gestures (-10%) or both (-20%), Requires skill roll (-10%), Takes Extra Time (-10% per doubling), and Unreliable. As always the maximum reduction is -75%. There is a minimum cost of 5 points per template.
Combat personas are popular templates. Increased strength and endurance, a few points of DR, pain resistance, enhanced reaction times such as extra move or combat reflexes, increased (or entirely new) weapon skills, and the loss of psychological disadvantages that might interfere with efficient killing are typical. Extra fatigue or hit points are also common, when the spirit departs they are subtracted from your current total, possibly causing unconsciousness or forcing one or more death rolls. This is in genre, in many tales possessed warriors ignore lethal wounds, only to collapse after the battle.
Mechanically similar to Spirit Warrior, but the alternate personality has control.
If the player also controls the alternate personality, treat this exactly like the Spirit Warrior advantage, adding Split Personality if the switch is involuntary.
If the GM controls the alternate personality but the player controls when and if the switches occurs, design and cost the alternate personality as a Spirit Warrior template with the No Free Will disadvantage (see below).
If the GM controls the alternate personality, and the player is not in control of the switch, the abilities the character has while possessed cost nothing, and the PC takes the No Free Will disadvantage with limitations reflecting the frequency and conditions under which the player loses control.
It is possible to have both these last two, in which case pay for the template for the voluntary ability and take the limited disadvantage.
Some powers grant abilities permanently, Blessed is a good example. The cost is that of the advantage or skill, though many gods add faith related vows or codes of honor; break the vow and the god removes the power. Customarily the worshipper already has the code before being offered the power as a reward, but some entities are willing to cut a deal, in which case the relationship is usually called a Pact. In most traditions darker powers offer Pacts, but while mythmakers assume people follow bright powers out of virtuous impulses, actual bright powers may be more pragmatic....
The basic form of a Pact is a template of abilities it grants you, together with some disadvantages that reduce the cost and represent what the granting power gets from the deal. Common disadvantages include Vows or Codes of Honor, Duties or Hazardous Duties, or some sort of sacrifice. Sacrifices may be actual disadvantages (put out your right eye...), cost no points (promise me your soul...), or even buy off disadvantages (give me the life of your infant daughter...). The latter deals may seem to invite rules abuse, but in some ways that is realistic. People who take a deal like that are those primarily interested in power, who regard others as not real, or who think the deal is a game they can play with Satan and win.
The traditional pacts with the devil are for riches (the Wealth advantage), political power (Status etc.), sexual power (Appearance, Pheromone Control), Immortality (Longevity or Unaging), assorted loyal slaves (Ally Group) and magical knowledge (points in any magical skills). In some traditions certain monsters - vampires and werewolves particularly - are humans who have made a pact with the devil to be transformed. It is also possible to sell your soul for a specific immediate benefit - the death of an enemy, procuring a particular person as a sex toy, or escaping certain death.
Intentionally inflicting disadvantages on yourself - scaring yourself to reduce appearance, cutting off limbs, castrating yourself, putting out your eyes - or reducing your ability scores (often manifesting as unnatural aging) is generally reserved for long term bargains, where the cost of the disadvantage offsets part of the cost of the abilities granted in a Pact or other deal with a spirit. If the GM permits major self-sacrifices to boost ritual magic rolls each CP is good for a +1 or +2 bonus. Note the sacrifice must lasting - if you ceremonially blind yourself and then try to install cybereyes, the best you can hope for is the operation fails. At worst the irritated powers inflict some nasty curse on you, the cybersurgeon, your friends (i.e. other members of the party)... as a warning to others who might try to cheat them of a sacrifice.
Most faiths address the question of what happens to you when you die, and they come up with a fairly wide variety of answers. Since magic very often involves interactions with the dead it needs to be considered a bit in advance. The GM can select one of them to be true (or make up one of his own), and either insure all the faiths in the campaign believe that or construct some reason why some of them could still be wrong about it in the presence of independent data provided by magic. Or he can assume that all of them are true, and what happens after death is determined by the beliefs of the deceased. In either case the various possible fates do have implications for at least the Path of the Dead. Some of the more common choices are breifly outlined below:
Is a specific instance of Unusual Background. You can remember skills learned in a past life. These skills must be purchased normally, the Reawakened advantage simply allows you to have them without having learned them in your current life, and is a good excuse for ignoring the age limits on points in skills. This does not include memories of the details of the past life.
One common type of traditional magic is foretelling the future, which causes a problem analogous to changing the past in time travel campaigns. Read chapter 3 of GURPS Time Travel, decide what sort of time you will use, tell the players before character creation, and stick to it. Ultimately the problem is if the future is highly mutable and/or divinations are uselessly vague, the PCs are cheated of any points paid for the ability. But if the future is rigid, the GM often must force character actions to make it happen, and the players may wonder why they need come to the game. Some problem players may also try to thwart the future just to 'beat' the GM. It is tempting to twist in-game reality to force events, but don't; simply tell the players no up front and go on. In the long run useful divination requires a certain amount of railroading, and it is better to do it openly and out of character than to break the campaign trying to force it in-game.
One other common pitfall - never twist the meaning of the words of a prophecy. Yes it is common in tales, and yes it is very tempting since language is flexible enough you can always do it, but in addition to cheating the PC of the points, it is unrealistic unless the prophecy actually was delivered verbally in the language you give it to the players in.
The Path of Knowledge allows most divination effects, but divination rituals are often though of as distinct from other magical procedures
This advantage allows the character to learn any effective form of divination. It replaces the assorted advantages allowing use of the GURPS Magic Divination spell, specifically Divination Talent (CI 36) and older forms of Blessed.
The skill of obtaining information from divination. While determining the future is a common application, most form of divination can answer questions about the past or present too, and often more clearly.
There are many versions, astrology (through the study of the stars), augury (by examination of entrails), and oineromancy (interpreting dreams or hallucinations) are probably the oldest. Other common methods include observing shapes or patterns in anything (fire, clouds, the motions of birds, molten metal poured into water, heat cracked tortise shells) and reading patterns in the fall of objects (arrows, stones, flour, sticks, straws, dice, coins). In literate societies systems associated with letters (drawing runes from a bag, ouija boards, symbol marked dice, opening a book at random) are also popular. In the modern world card reading is common, but appears to be a Renaissance innovation. See the Divination spell (M48, G59 and Roleplayer 21) for some possible methods.
Most forms of divination take 10 minutes to a couple of hours to prepare and interpret. The player frames his question, and the GM makes the die roll in secret. On a successful roll he should reveal some useful information related to the question, on a normal failure the signs are unclear, on a critical failure the GM lies. Immediate repeat attempts always produce unclear results.
Some forms of divination are suited only to particular sorts of questions - divination by tossing a coin requires a yes or no question, astrology is better suited to durable trends since the stars change slowly, while sensitive processes like flames or the fall pebbles work better for more localized or transient events (are the spirits angry? does she love me?). You can try to ask other questions, but the GM should keep the limitations and strengths of the method in mind when formulating the answers provided.
Much of what magicians do revolves around their ability to know things and sense connections unavailable to ordinary mortals. Sometimes this is through Divination, but many mages have uncanny sensory abilities. Common Sense(B19), Danger Sense(B20), Empathy(B20) and Intuition(B20) are all fairly standard, as are many other sensory advantages, Second Sight and Cinematic Blindness.
Senses are methods of obtaining information about the environment.
The base cost depends on how common and informative the signals it detects are. It is also the cost for a level of Acute [sense].
The effective range of a sense is the distance at which it will detect a human scale target on an Alertness roll. Multiply the base cost by the modifier for that distance from the Speed/Range Table +3, or see the following table. For comparison purposes, human vision has a 100 hex range, hearing 10 hexes, and smell about 1 hex.
|C (under 1 hex)||2||4.5||7||300||18|
Standard senses localize a signal source anywhere in range within inches, good enough to aim a weapon at it. Lesser abilities are treated as limitations:
Limited Arc (-33%): The sense doesn't cover the entire sphere, it has blind arcs. Human vision has this limitation.
No Targeting (-33%): The sense provides the general position of the source, but is not accurate enough to allow aiming. Human hearing has this limitation.
Non-local (-67%): The sense provides almost no directional or range information at all, the best you can usually do is to know the source is around here somewhere. The human sense of smell has this limitation.
Sensory abilities in GURPS have traditionally been priced arbitrarily, which makes it difficult to compare them, but these base costs are close to the more common senses: Vision or equivalent (no color) (4), Color Vision (5), 'Dark' Vision (independent of light source) (8), 'Active' Vision (Radar, sonar etc. independent of light, but you emit something) (6), Hearing (3), Broad Spectrum Hearing (4).
Senses humans don't depend on are harder to price. I think Smell/Taste (5) is about right. Some species have significant ranges, though since currents move odors unpredictably at least the No Targeting limitation may be unavoidable. For Touch (including pressure, pain, warmth and vibration, humans have it at mixed Touch/C range)(3), Sensitive Touch (5).
Inner Sight (10) is the common psi ability to see anything in range, ignoring light or obstructions, and examine it close up from any angle, including from the inside. It is equivalent to Sense of Perception (CI 00), but that sense is severely under-priced. Magicians sometimes have it at ranges of a few hexes.
Shapechanging is a common theme in magical tales, and transformation into a totem animal is probably one of the oldest forms of magic. A Path is presented below, but it is also possible to increase the difficulty of these rituals and attach them to the Path of Health, or make them Mysteries. Don't overlook the possibility of using one of the GURPS wereform rules for magicians with only a few alternate forms. It's probably also possible to mix wereforms and Spirit Warrior - Totem Spirit sensibly, but I'm not sure how.
Note to MA Lloyd: Answer: introduce an Alternate Form advantage, patterned after Alternate Identity, which allows the character to assume an appearance other than his own. Bundled with various racial Advantages and Disadvantages, this could also represent the ability to assume a non-human form. Apply the Spirit Warrior modifiers, and you've got Spirit Warrior (Totem Spirit), where you transform into a wolf wheneveryou call upon Wolf for aid.
Changes the magician into his alternate form - a natural animal that reflects his inner nature. Select your altershape carefully, since you always transform into the same animal. The GM should allow any form that is not clearly at odds with the character description (dangerous carnivores are not appropriate for vegetarian pacifists for example). The effect lasts until the ritual is repeated; both shapes are the magician's natural form. The magician retains his intelligence, and in some forms (birds in particular) may still be able to speak. He can use the basic natural abilities of the form, but complicated aerobatics or tearing things apart with your teeth take practice (and purchased skills) to master just as Acrobatics or Brawling do in human form.
The appearance of the target alters to reflect their inner nature. Only appearance level changes, the target remains recognizable. The GM will need to judge the inner nature of the target carefully to rule on his final appearance. Most people will be Attractive, those with serious character flaws or questionable morals (like say the vast majority of PCs) end up Average. Only the purest of motives merit Very Beautiful, and only the blackest of villains should drop to Ugly or worse. Anybody so far gone as to merit Monstrous probably considers it a positive effect; he fits in better in Hell. Outer appearance may already match inner form, in which case nothing observable will happen. This ritual can be resisted and can count as a hostile ritual with a backfire risk.
Allows the magician to transform a willing target into any natural animal, plant or object of similar size - be generous, anything from a mouse to a horse should be OK. The target can return to natural form early by making a Will roll (one try per turn).
Hostile. Resisted by Will.
Changes the target into an animal of the magician's choice. It may not change the victim into a form that cannot survive in the current environment, nor shorten his life, even if the form naturally ages faster. The victim retains his intelligence, and often even his voice. The Mystery may even stabilize his sanity, spending a century as a toad never seems to drive the victim mad in fairy tale sources of this spell. Like Enchanted Sleep, early termination options can be added if the magician desires, otherwise use the normal duration. In most tales this is cast by incredibly powerful beings who can take the penalties for fast casting something with a thousand year duration.
Variants that change the target into trees, objects, or stone or metal statues work similarly - though they usually prevent speech and may leave the target unaware of his surroundings.
In a subtle magic setting, one can be a successful magician with no supernatural abilities at all. Many otherwise intelligent people can be fooled by false psychic or spiritual powers. Nor is the principle limited to outright fakes. If magic is difficult real magicians will often try something else first, and when magic fails completely it is nice to have a backup. In many traditions wizards spend their lives going places and learning things nobody else does, and a perfectly ordinary skill is 'magic' where it's unknown, especially when used by a known magician. When the little old lady hurls Sir Boris to the ground, the outlander absorbs information from a book in seconds and without moving his lips to read it, or the witch-girl fails to drown when thrown in the pond what else could it be but sorcery? Well, other than Judo 10, Literacy 14 or Swimming 6.
Historically there is a lot of overlap between magicians and entertainers, and even where magic works magicians travel a lot and may pick up skills from the entertainers they share the road with. The most useful skills to a fraudulent magician are probably Fast Talk and Sleight of Hand. Other good skills include Acrobatics, Acting, Disguise, Escape, Fireworks, Fortunetelling, Interviewing, Lockpicking, Occultism, Pickpocket, Stage Magic, Stealth, Ventriloquism and Voices. Knife Throwing, which doubles as a stage trick, and Staff, which is a traditional prop, are the most common weapon skills. Advantages like Appearance, Charisma and Voice are valuable for impressing your audience. Alertness, Double Jointed and Manual Dexterity are good for pulling off many of the impressive feats.
Many religious and magical traditions regard control of the body and its demands as an important component of spiritual development. Today the best known examples are oriental - yoga and the internal martial arts, but it can be found in Classical philosophy and aescetic forms of Christianity [askesis, the root of ascetic, means "to exercise" or "to practice" in the sense of athletic training].
In GURPS many physical enhancements are available, but most are advantages. Allowing those advantages to be learned is a simple solution, though the relatively high costs and the all or nothing character of both functionality and point expenditures is unfortunate. If you don't want them generally available add a new advantage:
A character with this advantage has a high degree of mastery over his physical body. He may purchase certain realistic physical advantages and increases in physical attributes at normal (rather than double) cost in play, and has access to a selection of Esoteric skills and cinematic advantages.
Ascetic masters are not always easy to find, but seldom require the sorts of quests, Duties or Enemies typical of the martial arts variety. Characters buying this advantage should have an appropriate Philosophy or Theology at IQ, an HT of 12 or more, and 2 points in each of at least 2 of Acrobatics, Breath Control, Climbing, Dancing, Jumping, Running or Swimming.
Realistic advantages available at cost include Alertness (up to 5 levels), Disease Resistant, Double Jointed, Extra Fatigue (up to 5 levels), Extra Hit Points (up to 5 levels), Fit and Very Fit, High Pain Threshold, Increased Speed (up to 3 levels), Less Sleep (up to 5 levels), Longevity, Rapid and Very Rapid Healing, and Resistant to Poison.
Cinematic advantages available to Ascetics include Catfall, Clinging, Damage Resistance (up to 3 levels), Enhanced Dodge, Hard to Kill (up to 5 levels), Immunity to Disease, Immunity to Poison, Perfect Balance, and Temperature Tolerance (up to 5 levels)
Esoteric skills available include.
The ability to hold one posture for an extended period. A successful roll allows the adept to remain motionless in a relaxed posture for up to 8 hours, or in a position that is ordinarily uncomfortable or requires muscular rigidity for 1 hour. The period spent using the skill counts as rest for fatigue recovery. The adept is reasonably comfortable and certainly not suffering fatigue even from the most apparently agonizing contortions. It is even possible to sleep while using this skill, though a failed roll awakens the adept.
Techniques of controlling physiological processes such as pulse, blood pressure, brainwaves, breathing, skin temperature, sweating and involuntary muscles. The skill can be substituted for HT to resist stunning, unconsciousness, addictions, seizures or death, or to stop bleeding. It can fool many medical instruments and security sensors if you know how they work, and makes physiological lie detectors useless against you.
A successful roll will also allow you to remain conscious at negative HT for a full minute, delay the onset of a drug or toxin by at least 10 minutes, and stave off the effects of HT or FT below 3 for an hour.
The ability to breathe at maximum efficiency. On a successful roll you can recover a point of fatigue in only 2 minutes, triple the time you can hold your breath (not an option in vacuum) or slow your breathing so you consume only half the normal amount of oxygen for the next hour - but only if you avoid strenuous activity.
A roll against this skill requires a minute of concentration, and stops bleeding from an injury. A skill roll will allow you to recover 1d HT following an injury, not cumulative with First Aid.
The cinematic ability to will yourself to die. It is of rather limited practical use, and it isn't clear how one practices this skill in order to perfect it, but it is found in several traditions.
This technique allows you to briefly exceed your normal ST. It requires a minute of preparatory relaxation and breathing to do properly. A successful roll costs 1 fatigue and boosts your ST for a single action lasting less than 5 seconds. A failure costs 1d fatigue, a critical failure causes 1d injury. A normal roll doubles your ST, you can roll at -3 to triple it, -6 to quadruple it. You can combine this with extra effort (rolling against your normal ST if you don't use the HT option)
The ability to limit or shut out sensory impressions.
The simplest technique is to achieve total sensory deprivation, which is useful for some psionic skills. You can also shut down a particular sense or block a particular stimulus - for example you could block an unpleasant odor or irritating repetitive sound.
The ability to withstand pain is the most dramatic use of the skill, many faiths teach it as a form of religious dedication. A successful roll allows the adept to ignore torture or self mutilation for an hour. This will allow you to ignore flames for up to 3 turns (maximum) without injury. A typical form of self mutilation causes 2 to 6 hit points and requires either this skill or a Will roll to endure without an embarrassing display of pain.
Given a minute to prepare, the adept can totally numb any part of his body for up to an hour, preventing shock or stunning from that area and giving a +2 to surgery rolls on it.
The ability to relax. A successful roll reduces your pulse, respiration and blood pressure almost immediately. A few minutes of relaxation will mitigate or overcome a variety of minor ailments - stiff muscles, tension headaches, nausea, dizziness, cramps, morning sickness etc. A successful roll will allow you to fall asleep in 30 minutes, even if you have Insomnia.
GURPS has been through several versions of rules for meditation and trance states. I like the following set:
The ability to enter a trance state. While in a trance fatigue is regained at twice the normal rate. Meditation is a common mode of prayer, and may be required for certain supernatural powers, particularly spiritual or psionic ones.
The ability to enter a trance and experience inner peace, pure joy, union with God or some other pleasurable sensation. This is a goal of many inner disciplines, although it has little game use. The GM may allow an hour or so of it to substitute for psychological addictions though.
The ability to filter chaotic sensory impressions to obtain information about a specific thing in the cacophony. A successful roll allows you to listen to a specific conversation in a crowd, halves the vision penalties for fog or rain, and substitutes for skills or sense rolls to penetrate camouflage, recognize something or notice patterns.
The ability to focus your thoughts on a single mental activity. A successful skill roll allows any one of:
It takes a minute to recover from the trance.
The ability to voluntarily go Berserk (B.00). It requires 1 turn under stress, 1 minute under calm conditions. Unlike the actual Berserk disadvantage you do retain enough control to end the state automatically. If you actually have the Berserk disadvantage, you can take a +5 to the skill, but then must roll against Will normally to come out of the fit.
This ability to control your dreams. The skill will substitute for Will rolls to resist rituals from the Path of Dreams. Alternately if you can win a contest of skill with the ritual, you can take control of the dream involved, in some cases trapping the caster in the dream. You can remember your dreams in detail by making a skill roll, which is useful for some sorts of dream prophecies or communications. It also has mundane uses a successful roll will resolve a recuring dream or nightmare, or allow you to shape your dreams for theraputic reasons.
A collection of contemplation and introspection techniques that an be used to psychoanalyze yourself. You may apply up to 4 hours a day toward buying off psychological disadvantages, make a skill roll for the time spent that day to help. While not as effective as psychotherapy, it can be useful in treating minor disorders and is often taught as part of therapy to help the patient feel involved in his treatment. If you also have the Dreamworking skill you can use your sleep time for this process as well.
This is only useful if you have a disadvantage you can admit is a problem - so it will help you overcome addictions, phobias, shyness and so on, but is useless against problems like Delusions, which by definition you do not acknowledge as a problem.
This skill allows you to fall asleep in 20-skill minutes, no roll is required. A successful skill roll allows you to:
A collection of methods for rapid learning of material. Over the long term a skill of 12 or more will double the value of self study from reference materials (raising it to the normal level with a teacher), though not from experimentation or on the job training. In the short term a roll will allow you to memorize a list on a quick read through, cram for a single test, learn a dramatic role overnight, skim a text for specific information quickly and so on.
The ability to call up a memory in exacting visual detail and examine it as if it were present before you. Visualization brings up only details you have witnessed - you can't mentally open drawers you never opened physically; but you can manipulate the image to study any detail you did glimpse, and may make deliberate imaginative changes. A roll is required to call up a memory, though you can try again after a night's sleep, and if you have recalled it this way before you roll at +2 for each time you have succeeded.
A successful roll will also let you create and examine a purely imaginary mental image, a valuable advantage for artists and designers.
You may use this skill to recall a text. If you 'write' the material yourself - using this skill to keep nonphysical 'paper' records, you can summon your entire library with a single skill roll. To recall the image of a book you actually read you will need to roll for each page spread
The rather cinematic ability to force yourself to forget something.
A martial arts staple (see MA48) but magicians sometimes settle disputes in a similar manner. The contest begins when the opponents lock eyes - maximum range is 3 hexes - and takes the form of a contest of Will. Hypnotism or Mental Strength skills may be substituted for Will, and your opponent's will is modified by your reputation - though the sign of the modifier may differ from that for reaction rolls, e.g. a positive reputation as soft hearted is a penalty here, and a reputation as a psychopathic killer may be an advantage).
Charisma is the most supernatural reaction modifier advantage, and the appropriate base for mystic auras. A universal bonus(penalty) to reactions is worth 5(-5) points per level, but charismatic auras can produce both positive and negative effects depending on the situation. These can be built with limitations, or the costs estimated by the GM. Some examples:
Charisma[dread] 2 points/level. You are perceived as powerful and dangerous. This provides a bonus in potentially hostile situations, encourages people to cooperate when you are nearby (and hence threatening) and enhances the loyalty of subordinates if they believe you could discover their treachery. But gives a penalty when you are clearly vulnerable or there is no risk to betraying you.
Charisma[mana] 4 points/level. You appear magically powerful - even if this is your only supernatural ability. This usually gives you a bonus, either out of respect or intimidiation, but can produce penalties from those who distrust magic.
Charisma[religious power] 3 points/level. You project supernatural power with religious overtones. This gives you a bonus from your co-religionists and respectful unbelievers, and a penalty from the unfaithful or actual enemies of the faith, except in potential conflicts - when it adds through intimidation. This is about a 20% limitation on the positive side, 75% on the penalty since potential conflict is the normal mode of interaction with enemies, for a net 2.75, rounded to 3.
Charisma[sexual magnetism] 4 points/level. About a 20% accessibility limitation - Only those potentially interested in you sexually.
The practical skill of changing someone's personality. The name applied reflects social opinion of the changes, the actual methods of charismatic cults and Alcoholics Anonymous, or terrorist cell indoctrinations and workplace motivational programs are quite similar.
Game mechanically this skill adds or removes psychological disadvantages. Determine the absolute number of character points to be changed, each successful skill roll produces 1/2 point of change. If the patient is not cooperating, substitute a quick contest with his Will for the success roll. A critical failure negates all previous work on this particular change.
Four hours of contact a week allows a skill roll. Nearly continuous contact allows rolls every 3 days.
The essential technique is a personal focus on the target - often offers of friendship, flattery and aid with real problems. It helps if the target can feel part of a socially cohesive group, since the changes can be presented and reinforced as group norms. Funny haircuts and robes are standard for cults; self help groups generally have to make do with nametags or membership pins.
Other useful techniques include requiring snap decisions (the meeting tonight is perfect for you, I have them on the phone, should I tell them we are coming....), guilt induction, revision of personal history by repeated retelling to the group (soon everyone's stories have the same motifs), undramatic light hypnosis (by repeating mantras, storytelling by a charismatic leader, or just focusing on a particular point in space), indirect direction (the guru doesn't give me orders, I just know what needs to be done...) and positive reinforcement.
Physiologic changes that can be used as positive reinforcement by reframing them as signs of spiritual change are very effective. Hyperventilation (easily produced by chanting, singing or yelling), repetitive movements (group clapping, rhythmic dance), dizziness (spinning around), and changes in light levels (sudden light after sitting in the dark for the inspirational filmstrip) work well. Poor diet, either deficiencies or actual hunger, or even a sudden shift to an equally healthy diet like properly balanced vegetarianism produces useful physiological changes. Sleep deprivation and hard labor are effective, but limited to extreme applications. Drugs are often more acceptable; many people will not even think of some of them as drugs - sugar buzzing, vitamin and amino acid megadoses, and of course alcohol, can all produce receptive mental states.
The induction of an altered mental state. Inducing a trance requires several minutes in a relaxed setting and a successful Hypnosis roll. It is at -4 without conscious cooperation and automatically fails if the subject knows what is happening and actively resists. Despite countless fictional portrayals of the swinging watch, hypnosis is done with the voice; a focus like the pocket watch, candle flame, or a colored dot on the wall is a tool to enlist conscious cooperation.
The hypnotic state causes an extreme focusing of attention, some clouding of rational thought, and a tendency to treat the hypnotist as a combination close friend and authority figure. The hypnotist can get the subject to tell anything he would a close friend, make suggestions he will obey as if asked by a good friend while slightly drunk, and make statements he accept as true as if told by his mother as a child. There are a number of applications:
Pain blocking is the oldest benefit of formal hypnosis, the subject displays much less serious response to stimuli that should be painful.
But it will not induce perfect recall and recitation of events, allow suggestions the subject would never consider doing in his waking life, or really convince the subject of something totally ludicrous.
Most more spectacular feats attributed to hypnosis are illusions based in trance logic, in which as in dreams the subject can hold contradictory ideas without noticing. The classic negative hallucination is a good example: the subject is told an object is invisible, asked if he can see it that belief is triggered and he says no, asked to point to it though he has no trouble, since this doesn't call on the belief it is invisible.
Prerequisite: Trained by a Mesmerist
Alternately called Mesmerism. Cinematic hypnosis works quite differently from the realistic version. The trance is induced in seconds by winning a contest of Hypnosis! with the Will of the target. Once induced all of the effects of a realistic trance are available, plus a number of much more powerful abilities.
An ability attributed to mesmerists and other cinematic hypnotists. The magician speaks a command, and if the target loses a quick contest of skill vs. Will he must obey it. The command must be understood, so language matters and commands too complex to be easily remembered or digested will not work very well. The GM may modify resistance to commands the target would want to obey or find exceptionally objectionable by up to +/-4.
Prerequisite: Hypnotism!-16 and Stealth-16
Many Occult and Supernatural disadvantages are appropriate to magicians. As the boundary between magicians and supernatural creatures is traditionally rather thin, even those intended for inhuman monsters aren't out of the question.
The interaction of a particular insanity with both magic and technological medicine depends on its true cause. Hostile possession can be cured by Exorcism, and potentially other types of spirit magic, but will not respond to conventional medicine. Organic brain damage and biochemical imbalances are best treated through medication, surgery or the Path of Health. Insanity caused by overwhelming passions - apparently a serious epidemic among the heroes of romances - can be cured instantly by the Path of Passions, and might respond to psychotherapy. Psychological conditions respond to psychotherapy and the Path of Dreams, while medication and most forms of magic are formally useless but may work anyway by the placebo effect if the patient believes in them.
In some cases avoidance requirements spill over into Allergic Susceptibility (CI p00).
Though similar to both the Path of Spirits ritual and the Shamanic gift, religious exorcism (CI 154) is not quite the same effect. It requires a much longer ritual, uses a somewhat different contest and allows the possessed victim to assist in expelling a spirit, but probably the most important difference is religious exorcism is permanent, the spirit could be invited back, but otherwise doesn't return.
Despite its use in GURPS sample characters, this skill is historically late TL5. In earlier periods their was little chance you could transport the sick any real distance, and the idea of learning just a little medicine and handing the patient to an actual physician would seem peculiar and a little irresponsible. Anyone with real medical training should buy Physician. Most techniques we associate with First Aid are recent developments in any case - pressure bandages and artificial respiration are TL6, even routinely cleaning wounds is a TL5 innovation.
Occultism is technically the study of hidden things. GURPS uses it for all supernatural lore - the Demonology and Vampire specializations (CI 157) for example - but that is a mistake. Occult information is often sketchy and contradictory; if a character with actual points in Theology [demons] or Physiology [vampires] needs a skill roll to know it, Occultism probably doesn't cover it. Likewise in a fantasy world where magicians set up shops and monster hunting is a guilded profession, the skills to recognize an arcane symbol or know the habits of dragons are Heraldry and Naturalist, not Occultism, while recognizing a lens or knowing about vaccination might call for Occultism.
Physician skill is the practical art of healing the sick and injured. At early tech levels the TL division of the Physician skill is inappropriate. I recommend a single Low Tech Physician skill for all effective healing methods prior to TL5, and note in a world with a different history it is possible to practice TL5 or early TL6 medicine any time after the discovery of textiles, pottery and bronze tools. There is a myth that the quality of medical care fell during the European Middle Ages, but this not true for most people. The village midwife and the monastic infirmarian continue to practice the same Physician skill they always have, it is merely those who could afford fashionable care who were treated by Doctors practicing a less effective Medical Lore skill.
In many traditions poisons are a common way of dealing with enemies. Many cultures do not distinguish between natural poisoning and black magic.
See p.CI144. Often used by spirits able to control their ectoplasmic form.
You are familiar with the beliefs, traditions and ceremonies of a faith and can appear to be a pious member of it. Skill rolls are appropriate to recognize cult icons, quote scripture and so on.
The default is to you childhood faith.
The ability to discover information about prior owners or users of an object by handling it. The skill will reveal how the object
Though it's effectively a psionic skill the most famous practitioner is Sherlock Holmes, who attributes his correct conclusions to often very poor reasoning - observe his deductions from the correlation of intellect and hat size in the Blue Carbuncle, or that his rather than Watson's equally sensible deductions about the stick in Hound are correct.
The Poisons! skill doesn't produce more lethal toxins than the realistic skill - there are some unbelievably lethal realistic poisons. Instead it allows you to create poisons with unrealistic properties. Poisons that destroy the will or the soul rather than the body, cause the victim to fall into Enchanted Sleep, give the appearance of death, harm only a specific person, or cause specific mental illnesses for example.
You may create toxins that combine any features of real poisons. Some poisons are gases, or undetectable, or work immediately, cause drowsiness, have different effects by physiology, or are extracted from common plants. A Poisons! roll lets you combine these properties - extracting an instant onset undetectable sleeping gas that works only on adult males from apple seeds.
There are two broad traditions of the role of language in theology.
The charismatic tradition holds that true learning is revelatory, it comes from personal contemplation, wells up from the emotions, or appears in flashes of inspiration from direct contact with the divine power. It can't be taught, though a master can hint by example or suggest things the student should meditate on. Since nothing important can be taught the language of instruction is not important. There may be texts, but the best use of them is to read them for general feel and throw them away; if it wasn't clear, you are better off with your own personal misinterpretation that trying to follow someone else's path anyway. Magicians working in these traditions need not be literate, and often have only their native language.
The scriptural tradition holds true learning comes from meticulous study of the holy scriptures and the commentaries of prior masters. It is deeply rooted in the written word, preferably in the original language, and assumes texts have layers of meaning that become clear only on careful analysis. Magicians working in these traditions must be literate, probably in more than one script and language. The languages of the scriptures and early commentators are naturally the most important - Hebrew, Greek koine, classical Latin, Syriac Aramaic, classical Arabic, Sanskrit, Pali, literary Tibetan.... Grimoires in these traditions are often ridiculously cryptic, changing languages in the middle of sentences, heavy with allusions and symbolic meanings, and sometimes written in actual codes. One can spend days teasing the meaning out of a few paragraphs.
The other important language issue is what do supernatural powers speak. In some settings spirits can converse in any tongue, but in others you must deal with them in a specific language. Not all powers are good at languages; in Babylon the gods were addressed in Sumerian for 2 millennia after it ceased to be used secularly, and there is a tradition that Satan once set out to learn Basque (to better tempt its speakers) but gave up when after 7 years he still could not manage "yes" and "no".
In Western traditions God may speak biblical Hebrew or classical Arabic, and many powers use the universal language from before the confusion of Babel. Christian devils are likely to negotiate contracts in church Latin, and hold you to the letter of them, so it is important to be quite fluent lest some of the subclauses not quite mean what you thought.... It is also possible some powers have their own unique languages - Elvish or Celestial or Enochian.
This ritual allows the target to understand any language spoken in his presence, or to read a single language/script combination of which he has a sample. At an additional -5, the target can also speak any language used in his presence like a native.
The gift also allows languages to be learned quickly. Count the entire duration after a sample is heard as study of the language with a teacher, so a duration just over four days provides 0.5 points. If a character begins with points in this ritual, consider giving him the languages and scripts found in his community for free before the game begins. It's less abusive than it sounds, languages are not highly valuable per point, and it will spare the distraction of gaming out fast learning the neighborhood languages, which is likely to happen otherwise.
The ability to speak with animals is a common mystical ability. Exactly how useful this is varies; realistic animals are not too intelligent and can't tell you much, but in many stories some animals are at least as smart as the average human. Sometimes animals can understand or speak the local human languages; but animals can have their own languages, the system from GURPS Bunnies and Burrows does well for those settings. It uses two sorts of animal languages: racial languages which are as expressive as any language and use the standard language rules, and common languages which are pidgins understood by a large group of animals and like all pidgins lack the vocabulary to discuss unusual or highly detailed topics. The exact taxa within which racial and common languages are shared are set by the GM. Bunnies and Burrows racial languages range from Lapine (Family Leporidae, rabbits and hares, but not Pika) to Reptiline (class Reptilia, all reptiles), while common languages range from Common Lagomorph (order Lagomorpha, lapines and pika) to Common Lower Form (listed as worms, snails and slugs - covers about half the Kingdom Animalia...).
A wizard mark is a personal symbol which acts an extension of the magician as long as it remains intact. It can be engraved, written in ink, tattooed on skin, even drawn in the dust though it's expensive for something so temporary. It need not be visible, colorless paints are a common method; a high tech wizard might try microlithography.
The magician always knows where his marks are relative to himself. If it matters he is simultaneously inside and outside any barrier separating one from him. He knows instantly when one is destroyed; the wave of searing pain which leaves him mentally stunned tips him off. Other things can be felt through the mark, as if it were part of his skin, ranges for his powers can be computed from the mark, and by entering a trance and making a Path of Knowledge roll can see and hear through it. Finally anything on which the mark is drawn gets no resistance against any of his powers.
A wizard mark can be drawn on a living creature, and some magicians mark their apprentices to spy on them or enchant them more easily. But the mark counts as a part of the magician's body, spells worked on it get the full bonus for having the magician present and participating. This is a drawback to marking apprentices, since a sufficiently determined apprentice could amputate the mark, recover his resistance, and use that bit of skin to attack his former master.
Runes for drawing powers
Substitute for components
Rituals conducted in the Dream Realm, like everything else, effect only the dream images, not the physical world. Dreamers 'slain' in the Dreamworld normally suffer nothing more serious than awakening suddenly from a nightmare, possibly with a fright check.
Exemptions - Maze, Mageward
Resisted by curse skill.
The same rules apply to other counterspells, quick contest with the spell skill to remove it, modified by up to 3 by how well established the spell is.
Invisibility. The effects of most variants are fairly obvious, but note concealment from chemical senses does not change the chemistry (which makes it useful for disguising poisons) and intangibility in this sense means you can't feel it, not that it isn't solid. This may be pretty disconcerting, walking across an intangible floor may require a Free Fall roll to avoid losing your balance and falling - which will do damage when you hit the floor but not hurt!
Balancing Initiation. (p58-63,68, 68sb)
67 The example at the bottom, Miles' Path of Luck default was 11, and raising his Ritual Magic may or may not raise his Path, depending on his IQ and how he bought it up.
67 The ritual in the Sidebar example needs another -5 (no initiation)
68 Initiation and Paths. The 1 cp minimum mentioned in the parenthetical comment is found nowhere else. Delete the comment.
68 Initiation without Knowledge is a terrible title, this is ordinary ritual magic use, with ordinary knowledge.
69 Time, 3rd paragraph. That's 3 times base, not 3 times minimum time.
71 Multiple Targets Modifier. This is not a subhead of resistance rolls.
74 The second curse roll is poorly defined.
76 Chaperone. Path of Protection default? -3?
79 Ghost Shirt. I strongly suspect the default is Path of Protection -5, Path of Luck -7
Shamans are religious professionals skilled in dealing with the spirit world. In cultures with animistic or totemic religions, including many primitive societies, shamans are the primary religious leaders. They are often marginalized by the priesthood in more complex religions, but you can still find them - Christian exorcists and New-Age mediums fill the same role.
Like the Path of Elements, Glamours can be obvious magics and the GM may want to limit them in settings where magic is subtle