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GURPS Magic and Me

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One of the things that sold me on GURPS as a system back in ’88-’89 in addition  to the cool advantage  and disadvantage  write-ups  and the way skills were treated, was the magic system.  I had issues with Vancian  magic at the time, although I   keep Tales of the Dying Earth in a special place on my shelves, near The Magicians, The Name of the Wind, and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.

Also occupying a sizeable portion of myh shelves is my collection of occult books. I am a practicing pagan, and my assorted collections of folk magic have a personal meaning to me. One of the authors in the world of neopagan poblishing happens to be Isaac Bonewits , the only known person to have graduated  UC Berkeley  with a BA in Magic. He also wrote a gaming supplement  publushed by Steve Jackson  Games called Authentic Thaumaturgy .  I had seen it at a game shop  years ago, but only picked it up in the last few years.

Some of his concepts about the Laws of Magick made it into very popular  book The Master of the Five Magics, by Lyndon  Hardy.  Traces of them show up in Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden  books, and in David Edding’s Belgariad.  Some of them are dealt with neatly in Fritz Lieber’s ConjureWife, and Robert A Heinlein also approached them in Waldo and Magic, Inc.

The GURPS “vanilla” magic has little to do with these narratives. There was a hint of something in the improvised rules, a little in the Rune magic system in Magic, and some bits I don’t  recall well from a White Wolf Adaptation of Mage (there weren’t  enough pre scripted spell effects for my taste). When GURPS  Voodoo came out, we saw the birth of what would later become Ritual Path Magic . It was interesting, but my game operated at a much lower  point range.

Technomancer  was an awesome addition to the field; I used a lot from this.

A few years later, there was Unlimited  mana magery, or umana, which in some ways echoed aspects of the spell  failure system  from Mage the Ascension. A major campaign  event in my game was the result of a catastrophic  umana event.

Aftet this came 4e, and Thaumatology. Then come DF, the subsystem I play, (which has this awesome kickstarter as a game that makes a better intro to GURPS  than anything else, please go back this!)

There are a lot of in depth discussions about Thaumatology; some of the better ones are on Psedobobo’s blog Let’s GURPS.

There have been a number  of alternate systems for magic since then; Sorcery, which does a magic as powers thing, precedented with the introduction of Magic Bolt in DF 11: Power Ups, and in keeping with GURPS  Powers, but not holding a flavor I really like. There is also Ritual Path Magic, which has heavy fan support, but is a little mathy and sparse on the Grimoire end for my preferences. I am muchmore of a plug and play kinda guy; I am not trying to design advantages and rituals; I  have too many munchkins in my  game to not be checking the math, and it isn’t  my strong suit. Ymmv.

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Ghostdancer, my good friend Christopher Rice,  together with Antoni Ten Monros, has just released DF 19 Incantation Magic, which primarily  is RPM for DF, but has something rather brilliant in it.

One of Bonewits’ criticisms  of Vancian (and most roleplaying  game depictions of magic) is the ideas that spells, once cast, are forgotten,  and, that they can be cast quickly. Heroposedthat one might, through a careful, lengthy, and preplanned ritual, build an “astral machine” designed to generate a magical effect, and store energy for the effect, that the practitioner  could then release later with a ritual shortened by autohypnotic trance; effectively building a spell in reserve before the adventure, and rapidly releasing it with an abreviated casting during it.

Not too  far fromt he charactersin the Dying Earth who would arm themselves  witha few spells, and feel them buzzing about intheir heads until released.

Not far at all from Incanters attaching prepared and extensive rituals to their auras and quick casting later. I checked with Ghostdancer, and AuthenticThaumaturgy  was not on his list of researched books for DF 19;  great minds thibk alike, it would seem. Incantation  magic has it’s  casters preload spells to cast later, and are limited to otherwise weak improvised  magic. It sounds like classic dungeon wizardry, and should appeal to those who find the standard system  too vanilla. Go pick it p!

 

 

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You All Meet in a Tavern…

This most recent  commission, for Erik  Tenkar’s  blog, is the most complicated  piece of inkwork I  have created to date. It is also the last piece I will sell at the rates I was working with. This went through 5 drafts and took over six hours.

The characters are not new, as almost all of them come from my stock art

(Available here) The characters come from Wizards, Characters, Dungeon Scenes, and Rise of the Lich.

Whle I have had characters meet up in a tavern (The Rusty Marlinspike, The Leather Mask, and The Wastrel’s  Hope) and produced a 125pt barkeep (watered down Inkeeper) that I should post at some point, the primary meetup for my game is at the Adventurer’s Guild. Guilds have some rules already in DF, although I add a perk of membership, that functions  as a benevolent society, allowing  free lodging at status -1 conditions, and counts as proof of “employment” to keep you out of indentured  servitude (the local penalty for vagrancy). Most of my players tick it off as a License.

 

 

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A little too much Gug for most people’s taste

My last featured image seemed to be overtaking the blogs of those who feature a link to mine, so I   decided some deep ones might go down a little easier.

Last night I met up at a Lovecraft  themed bar with an artist friend from college, you can see the works I showed here, and my friend   Andrew’s art here. I didn’t  sell any work, gained two instagram followers, and got to see some other artists  do well.

 

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Lovecraftian Art Show

So from my last post making it to instagram, I   was asked to drop 3 pieces of my art into a show at a Lovecraft  themed bar, this Saturday August 20th at 6pm.

Naturally  I went to my go to Lovecraft  story, Dreamquest of Unknown  Kadath,  (Discussed  further here ),and painted the scene where Randolph Carter and the Ghouls   he borrowed  from Pickman  first encounter Ghasts and a Gug.IMG_20160816_172748

My next piece was a Ymid entering the undercity  of Northport  from the Vale of Pnath. For more about Ymid check here, and for my treatment  of them, here.

The third piece is this:

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This is Walter Richard  Sickert, an English  Impressionist painter who was Whistler’s student and probably was Jack the Ripper. I think he makes a good Pickman.

 

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Painting and visits from another blog

For the first time in a few months, I have picked up a brush to work with color. Within a few days of posting on instagram, I get an inquiry about an art show in a venue I like. Maybe, 26 years out of art school, things are finally starting to happen? We will see.

Yesterday I met up with the mind behind the Brasileño gaming blog, Pontos de Experiencia .
Diogo Nogueira, fresh from GenCon, and the Goodman Games booth, passed some time with me at the Compleat Strategist and the hall of arms and armor in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We talked about Dungeon Crawl Classics, my DF game and Appendix N.

I had thought about a funnel adventure, and liked the idea of adventure  being thrust upon one, rather than it being a carreer path.