Thursday, February 19, 2015

Designer's Notes: Hidden Knowledge

Hidden Knowledge was one of those things I'd already written, but hadn't really known it until someone knocked me on the head and said "Hey, consider writing this." In this case it was Sean "Dr. Kromm" Punch. I'd asked him some advice on a particular subject and he gave it to - in spades (and that's what the guy does, which is awesome). "Secret magic might be fun for Dungeon Fantasy," and that just exploded in my head like a tiny nuclear bomb filled with electrons, ink, paper, and a hurble-blurble of game mechanics. I'd previously written some material for using spellbooks in GURPS for one of my campaigns, but it lay discarded in my Content Cemetery folder on my hard drive. It's the place where ideas go to languish in a half-dead, half-alive Schrodingerian feline-like manner. half-started blog entries, Pyramid articles, campaign detritus from discarded settings, and so on. It just sits there and when I need something, I go into my memory library, sift around for the exact idea, and then hope my memory and its location on the drive are the same. Sometimes its not and I totally blame...umm. Someone or something. Err..Quantum mechanics! Yeah, that's it. Mumble mumble strange action mumble mumble. The rest was a half-formed thought I'd had after watching Five Deadly Venoms: what if you could modify spells that are already published and make them different somehow? More useful or dangerous? Thus "secret spells" were born for Dungeon Fantasy, and "doubly secret" because you have to have that 43rd technique you never teach your students in case one of them tries to use the first 42 against you. The pieces I scavenged for the article were maybe 500 or 600 words and I wrote the rest in about 20 hours. Unfortunately, this one was one where the revisions took forever and I wanted to pull my hair out at a few points. Seven revisions later and it was, well, "much more betterer" to quote Capn' Sparrow. The I actually managed to include most everything I had wanted to, but like always I had some outtakes.

Spellbooks for All!
If the GM's setting calls for it, the first level of the new Spellscribe power-up might apply equally across the board to all spellcasters. Bards have songbooks, clerics and holy warriors have prayerbooks, druids have codices, and wizards have grimoires. Instead of a optional bonus, it becomes required for all casters who must start out with expensive books to represent that knowledge.
        Dungeons and Dragons-style sorcerers would instead use the standard rules, must take the Wild Talent advantage from the wizard template, and have the new advantage (which would be a feature for them under these rules, but a advantage in "regular" Dungeon Fantasy):

1 point for Magery 0, and 1 point 
per additional level of Magery thereafter
You ignore prerequisites for learning spells as long as you meet the minimum Magery for the spell. Optionally, GMs with GURPS Thaumatology: Magical Styles can use the rules Restructuring Prerequisites (p. 17) to determine what level of Magery you need to have the spell.

Advantage: Add the enhancement Limited No Spell Prerequisites (+10%) to Magery. This is a weaker form of No Spell Prerequisites from GURPS Thaumatology (p. 67)

New Modifier for Books
A outtake because I just didn't have any space:

Enhanced Capacity: The manual is written in such a way in that the information contained within it is “denser” than normal. Each level of this modifier (up to two) increases the number of points a given book can have on a particular subject matter by 50% (round up). Skills or traits must be related. For example, a primer with enhanced capacity 1 could contain two Fire College spells or a single spell and Thaumatology, but could not contain information on Climbing and Thaumatology. +9 CF for level 1 or +19 CF for level two.

New Spell Option for Secret Spells
A outtake because I just didn't have any space and eventually just folded it into Unique Effects or Rules-Breaker because Dungeon Fantasy doesn't focus on enchantment spells:

Enchantment: The spell can be enchanted in a way that is not typical of it. For example, a spell that can be enchanted into a wand or staff might be able to be enchanted onto a weapon or shield. For spells that are not normally capable of having enchanted items, this makes it possible. The GM will have to come up with the energy costs for this, but a good guideline is 500 per point of FP the spell normally costs to cast. If this latter option is choice, it takes up two slots, not one. 

New Power-Up: Fake Credentials
Even while writing it up I knew I'd have to cut it (it's way to close to Dungeons and Dragons 3.0/3.5's "Use Magic Device" skill). That doesn't mean you can't use it in your games if you want...

Fake Credentials
8/13/18/21/24/27/30/33 points for levels 1-8*
Prerequisite: Will 14+ and Influence Skill at 18+.

Whenever you come across a magical item or piece of gear restricted to a specific class or race you can attempt to make a Will-based Influence skill-10 roll against its HT (or Will for sentient or intelligent items). Success allows you to use it for minutes equal to your margin of success. You can also attempt to do this for places or magical effects that would otherwise adversely affect you. Assign a HT of 13 for most such effects. Alternatively, if they give a penalty, add the absolute value to 12 and use that instead. For example, if the Halls of Law give thieves -3 on all their rolls, then a thief with this power-up could make a roll to convince it he's not a thief...for minutes equal to his margin.
        Level 2 lets you roll at -5 instead of -10, while level 3 lets you roll at full skill. Level 4 and higher give you a +1 to your roll per level. This power-up is available to anyone, but the GM may wish to restrict it to specific templates like thief or bard.

Advantages: Level 4 and higher adds Charisma (Accessibility, One Influence Skill, -40%) [3/level] a level at a time.
Perks: Special Set-up (Influence skill can be used on specific types of inanimate objects or places) [1]; Unique Technique (Fake It Till you Make It) [1].
Techniques: Fake It Till you Make It (H) Influence Skill-10 [6] at level 1, Influence Skill-5 [11] at level 2, or Influence Skill+0 [16] at level 3.
* GMs who want wider capabilities can make "Fake It Till you Make It" a wildcard technique. This would change costs to 20/35/50/53/56/59/62/65 points for levels 1-8.


  1. I'm confused as to the utility of the Enhanced Capacity modifier. Every additional point is $25, while doubling the number of points with Enhanced Capacity makes the whole thing cost a lot more.

    1. It's almost entirely useful to primers only - that's why it got chucked.