Thursday, July 18, 2013

Melee Academy - Someone Took My Lucky Charms! Now What...?



The  GURPS Monster Hunters line provides a highly flexible, highly customizable magic system: Ritual Path Magic. The main user of it, the witch, is often used as a blunt instrument. Even though the witch is capable of casting massive damage dealing rituals, he’s actually better off acting as a support character for the other members of the party.  Let’s first assume that the following is a “typical” damage-dealing spell. Lets also assume that for the sake of argument, the witch either cannot access or has already expended all of his charms, conditional spells, potions and so on.

Firebolt
Spell Effects: Greater Create Energy.
Inherent Modifiers: Damage, External Burning (Incendiary)
Greater Effects: 1 (x3).

This spell conjures a “bolt” of fire that the caster can hurl at a target. It does 6d-6 burning damage and treats the flammability class (Making Things Burn, p. B433) of the target as one step lower than it actually is. This means this spell automatically sets flesh ablaze if it does at least 10 points of damage.
Typical Casting: Greater Create Energy (6) + Damage, External Burning 6d-6 (Incendiary, +10%) (5). 33 energy (11x3).

Since the witch starts with one Path skill at 17 and another at 16, let’s also assume that this particular witch has a Path of Energy at 17 and a Path of Body at 16. This means that rolling average (10.5) on 3d would allow the witch to cast this spell every twenty-five seconds without the use of their mana reserve and without taking a penalty.Or, taking the maximum -4 penalty for haste, the witch could cast this spell in fourteen seconds without using their mana reserve. Or if both are done, the witch could get off one Firebolt in eight seconds.

Obviously, this isn’t exactly efficient. Considering that the commando is going to have gotten of at least twenty-five (fourteen or eight) attacks with a firearm that do about the same amount of damage. So how do you differentiate a witch from the other template? By being a “Swiss-Army” caster. Witches can give their entire team bonuses with the right combination of spells, but even better, they can give their foes penalties. For example, for the same energy cost and time as the Firebolt, a caster could do the following:

Mass Quicken
Spell Effects: Lesser Strengthen Body x2.
Inherent Modifiers: Altered Traits, Basic Move + Area of Effect + Bestows a Bonus, Dodge rolls.
Greater Effects: 0 (x1).

This spell gives all subjects within a 3-yard area a +3 bonus to their Basic Move and Dodge scores for the next 10 minutes. The caster can exclude up to four targets in the area.
Typical Casting: Lesser Strengthen Body (3) + Lesser Strengthen Body (3) + Altered Traits, +3 Basic Move (15) + Area of Effect, 3 yards, excludes 4 targets (4) + Bestows a Bonus, +3 to Dodge Rolls (4) + Duration, 10 minutes (1) + Subject Weight, 300 lbs. (3). 33 energy (33x1).

Or even:

Mass Slow Down
Spell Effects: Lesser Destroy Body x2.
Inherent Modifiers: Altered Traits, Basic Move + Area of Effect + Bestows a Penalty, Dodge rolls.
Greater Effects: 0 (x1).

This spell gives all subjects within a 15-yard area a -3 bonus to their Basic Move and Dodge scores for the next 10 minutes. The caster can exclude up to four targets in the area.
Typical Casting: Lesser Destroy Body (5) + Lesser Destroy Body (5) + Altered Traits, -3 Basic Move (3) + Area of Effect, 15 yards, excludes 4 targets (12) + Bestows a Penalty, -3 to Dodge Rolls (4) + Duration, 10 minutes (1) + Subject Weight, 300 lbs. (3). 33 energy (33x1).

That’s three different rituals with three vastly different effects – all for the same amount of time and energy. Firebolt allows a witch to damage a single target, doing 15 points of burning damage plus 2.5 points of burning damage as the target is set on fire. This might be more effective depending on the target (e.g., vampires suffer double damage from fire). Mass Quicken allows you to affect any number of allies in a 3 yard area, while excluding up to four targets (which can be useful if your teammates and foes are mixed together), giving them a +3 bonus to Basic Move and a +3 Dodge rolls for 10 minutes. Mass Slow Down allows a witch to give any number of enemies in a 15-yard area, while excluding up to four allies, a -3 to Basic Move and a -3 to Dodge rolls. This assumes of course, you want to “buff” or “debuff” your party/enemies. Witches are also good at healing, even in the midst of combat. For example:

Mass Minor Mending
Spell Effects: Lesser Restore Body.
Inherent Modifiers: Altered Traits, Basic Move + Area of Effect + Bestows a Penalty, Dodge rolls.
Greater Effects: 0 (x1).

This spell heals all subjects within a 10-yard area 2d points of damage. The caster can exclude up to eight targets in the area.
Typical Casting: Lesser Restore Body (4) + Area of Effect, 10 yards, excludes 8 targets (12) + Healing 2d (4) + Subject Weight, 300 lbs. (3). 23 energy (23x1).

Assuming a skill of 16, this spell would take 4 seconds to cast, heal any number of allies in a 10-yard area, and exclude up to 8 enemies. While 2d doesn’t seem like a lot (averaging only 7 HP restored), it can stop bleeding wounds if the GM is using that optional rule, and doesn’t require the witch to actually be near the target to heal them.

Of course this doesn’t even take into account the sheer adaptability that witches have OUTSIDE of combat. Need to locate the local vampire nest? Toss together a Lesser Sense Undead ritual. Need silver weapons when you don’t have them? Greater Transform Matter does the trick. Out of fuel in the desert? Greater Create Matter is your best friend.

Players with witch characters should keep this in mind when playing their characters. They don’t just toss fireballs and cast the evil eye, they can do more.

3 comments:

  1. How do you figure it takes 5 seconds for a witch to cast FIrebolt by drawing from ambient energy? Each attempt to draw ambient energy takes 5 seconds (MH1 p36) and provides MoS ponts of energy. At roughly 6 energy per attempt, it takes the witch 5 attempt to draw the energy, or 25 seconds.

    These aren't bad rituals for a witch in a pinch, but a better plan is to prepare them as conditional rituals so they can be cast during downtime and activated during combat.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yup. It's a mistake. Because my FIRST draft posted instead of my final draft. I've had internet connectivity errors all day. I'll try to get the actual post up sometime today. :-(

    ReplyDelete
  3. […] N’ Pennies) Melee Academy – Someone took my lucky charms! Now what…? – ”Obviously, this isn’t exactly efficient. Considering that the commando is […]

    ReplyDelete