Thursday, June 16, 2016

Boil and Bubble: Bless as a Sorcery Spell

So I've been using Sorcery a lot in my campaigns lately. (Even in my RPM-using campaigns as it makes perfect "quick" spells.) I saw this thread pop up and thought "Huh, this would be perfect for stating a 'Bless' spell for Sorcery." So here it is - "Bless" as a Sorcery spell.

Constructing a Universal Bonus Trait
The first step in creating Bless as a spell requires laying a proper foundation. In GURPS there is no "I get a +1 to all rolls" advantage. My first thought is to use the rules for "Blessed Be" from Pyramid #3/78: Unleash Your Soul and create it as a version of Blessed. (Which is worth buying by the way - even if it does have one of my articles in it.) So what's needed for a general +1 bonus? Well, let's look at what sorts of rolls there are in GURPS.
  1. Active Defense rolls (e.g., Dodge or Parry rolls)
  2. Appearance rolls (e.g., the roll for a Contact)
  3. Attribute rolls (e.g., Dexterity roll to avoid a trap)
  4. Damage rolls (e.g., a sword's damage roll)
  5. Effect rolls (e.g., Critical Hit tables, Critical Spell Failure tables, etc.)
  6. Reaction rolls (this one is self explanatory)
  7. Skill rolls (e.g., Observation vs. Camouflage Quick Contests)
There may be some other types of rolls for different things, but these are the major ones. So breaking down the cost (and treat the component pieces as an alternate ability since you only make one roll at a time) we the the following:

  1. Defense meta-trait (GURPS Supers, p, 00) for 30 points.
  2. This one is tricky, but I'd calculate the cost as for the most expensive base trait requiring Frequency of appearance rolls - a 30-point Patron. Averaging the appearance numbers together we get on average an increase of 1.625. That gives us a cost of 18.75 or 19 points.
  3. Again, a bit tricky: ST without HP is worth 8 points, DX without an increase to Basic Speed is worth 15 points, IQ is worth 20 points and increases both Perception and Will rolls, and HT without an increase to Basic Speed or FP is worth 2 points.
  4. A bonus to ST-based weapon damage rolls is worth about 10 points - two levels of Striking ST essentially. Increasing the ST of non-muscle powered attacks is a bit trickier and requires a bit more thought. If you add up the cost of all Innate Attacks (71 points) and average them (there are 11 types) you get 6.46. Since that's the cost for a full die of damage we multiply that by 0.25 for 1.62 points. Adding Universal Follow-Up increases the cost by 50% gets 2.43 or 3 points.
  5. Another tricky one: I'd call this a Wildcard Power built as a Racial Skill Bonus - that gives us a cost of 8 points and only works on various effect tables.
  6. This is worth a flat 5 points per +1.
  7. Skill rolls are effectively lumped in with Attribute rolls since a +1 increase in Attributes rolls over to skills as well.

All in all this gives us a cost of 50 points per level. We start with Defense rolls as the base since it costs the highest and add 1/5 the cost of all the others. Assume any rolls not listed also get a bonus and are thus worth less than a perk for such costs. So, as a variation of Blessed it might look something like this:

Blessed (Charmed Existence)
50 points
Maybe you have a guardian angel or maybe the Devil looks out for his own, whatever the reason you live a charmed life. You gain a +1 to any roll you make: reaction rolls, damage rolls, skill rolls, etc. If there is a die roll involved and it would be advantageous for you to get a bonus to that roll you get a +1. The GM may optionally allow multiple levels of this advantage, if so each +4 translates to 1d with an upper level set by the GM.

Bless as a Sorcery Spell
Building off of our previous work we get a version of Bless for Sorcery as follows.

Keywords: Buff.
Full Cost: 82 points for level 1 + 55 points/additional level.
Casting Roll: None. Use Innate Attack (Gaze) to aim.
Range: 100 yards
Duration: Special.

This gives the subject a +1 to all rolls per level the spell. This effect lasts indefinitely... until the subject fails a die roll (or a foe makes a good die roll) that would put him in serious danger. Then the spell averts the peril and the spell ends. The GM decides what exactly happens to negate the peril and should use the rules for Influencing Success Rolls (p. B347) as a guideline. For example, someone under the effects of a level 1 Bless who gets shot in the head might instead be shot in the arm or chest, while someone under a level 3 Bless might not get hit at all and the nearest foe gets shot instead!

Statistics: Affliction 1 (HT; Advantage, Blessing, +550%; Extended Duration, Permanent, Use of Serendipity Points, +150%; Increased 1/2D, 10x, +15%; No Signature, +20%; Sorcery, ‑15%) [82]. Notes: Each level pf Blessing is Blessed (Charmed Existence) [50/level] and a Serendipity Point [5/level] and increases the cost by 55/level. Serendipity Points cost the same as Destiny Points (GURPS Power-Ups 5: Impulse Buys, p. 5), but automatically refresh fully each session thanks to their narrowed scope.

Picking Over the Bones
The more I toy with Sorcery the more I like it. It's like Ritual Path Magic in that it gives you a way to build a balanced magic system. It's different from RPM in that it's more concrete and less prone to GM discretion. I find the two systems are essentially the opposite sides of the same coin. As for the building of Blessed (Charmed Existence) I'm sure forgot something, but 50 points seems about right for "I get a +1 to everything" if you consider that a 15-point Talent as a wildcard power is worth about 60 points and is likely overpriced. 


  1. Two issues I see here. The first is that allowing attributes to be alternate abilities of each other seems like a really bad idea. If you take it to it's logical conclusion, it's a pretty good idea to take all of your attributes as low as your GM is allowing for the campaign (say 7) and then buy them back as alternate abilities of each other. There may be a few issues you'll run across (you probably need your HP and lifting strength separate so you don't die or collapse under your weight when you roll against something else, but otherwise...

    The other issue is that you used Alternate Abilities when building a Sorcery spell. Even though it was within an affliction, this really feels like double dipping. When taken as a learned spell, the points you are spending to get that enhancement on your affliction are at 1/25 cost because of AA and that doesn't seem right at all.

    1. Don't forget, we're using Alternate Abilities as a pricing guideline to *invent a new trait*. Yes, under normal circumstances buying your normal everyday attributes as AAs is abusive and shouldn't be allowed, and no, you're not allowed to double-dip AAs for a base trait and then a Sorcery spell — but these aren't normal circumstances, and we're creating a new trait, not double-dipping anything.

      Treating everything as AAs of each other is one method of a pricing guideline, just as the Wildcard Talent is a second method (and in my comment below, Wildcard Higher Purpose is a third).

    2. Celti basically said exactly what I would have said. We're pricing the COST of a new trait. We're not building a POWER. They are similiar, but different.

  2. There's another potential Wildcard Power build: Higher Purpose! (Cosmic, No Ethical Restrictions, +50%) [30].

    Between Talent! [60] and Higher Purpose! [30], Blessed [50] sounds quite acceptable and satisfies GURPS' inherent pentaphilia.

    1. I thought of that, but decided against it. I probably should have noted it now that I think about it.

  3. Looks good. Looks really good actually. The use of Serendipity Points to replicate the life-saving element of Bless is really very cool.

    The thing I love about Sorcery is that while the system itself is simple (provided you're a reasonably experienced GURPSist), it doesn't have to feel that way. I think the act of spending time creating a spell by looking through the books and finding all the desired modifiers admirably replicates the feel of a wizard poring over his own books, combining spell components until he's created a brand new spell.

    Even if you have to make a post on the forums now and then, that's just like getting in touch with the rest of the wizarding community, and asking them for input.

    It might be interesting as a GM to do things like 'Okay, you can make a spell, but you're not allowed to refer use anything from GURPS Powers, as your wizard's library is rather small', or 'you're creating this spell design in secret, so you cannot ask for help on the forums.'

    Just an interesting idea.

  4. Starting with your point breakdown from the forums:
    Striking ST +2 (equates to about +1 to damage) [10]
    DX +1 (Selling back Basic Speed for -5 pts) [15]
    IQ +1 [20]
    HT +1 (selling back Basic Speed for -5 pts, selling back FP -3) [2]
    +1 to reaction rolls [5]

    I've had occasion to price the "real value" of HT at 20-25 points in the past, so assuming selling back 8 or so points of speed and FP (both legit) brings that to something like 15 points net value. Also, 10 points of striking strength gives +1 to damage on thrusts, but only 5 points for swing, which is what most people will do if they can, because rawr more damage. Call that 5-6 points value for that +1 instead of the full 10.

    Striking ST +2 (equates to about +1 to damage) [6]
    DX +1 (Selling back Basic Speed for -5 pts) [15]
    IQ +1 [20]
    HT +1 (18-23 points adjusted cost, selling back Basic Speed for -5 pts, selling back FP -3) [10-15]
    +1 to reaction rolls [5]

    I woke up this morning thinking about Alternate Abilities, and the thing I wonder about is that you can make a skill roll (IQ or DX), and in the same turn have to make a HT roll to avoid the consquences of a spell or some other thing, and a defense roll vs DX. So I'm not sure I'd apply the Alternate Abilities discount on this one, myself, because while you only make roll at a time, you can be forced to make many rolls in the span of a turn, all based on different stats, and that bonus will come up with all of them. You can make a Ruse (IQ), a Beat (ST), and an attack or parry (DX), and be forced to roll vs HT to stay conscious. That sort of thing.

    I get about 55-60 points, which feels right. I don't think it's worth more than 60-70, but I also don't think it's less than 50. Your comparison to Talent! at 60 points also seems on-point, and pretty well smack in the middle of the range.

    1. Again, you're not getting the bonus all at once here. This is not an actual attribute increase - it's a advantage that gives you a simulated boost. That may be a hairline distinction - but it's still one. Also, this isn't how HT works... so that's just not RAW.

      I'm really not seeing how this can be so contentious. I'm quite literally using the rules for creating new advantages (p. B118).

      I've seen people say "This is worth 100 points!" No, it's not. No way in hell is a +1 to rolls worth the same as being able to teleport, turn into anyone, slip dimensions, or possess people. Is it worth the same as being able to project your senses or mind control someone? Maybe. As I stated elsewhere this would have been done in multiple ways:

      * Visualization (Cosmic, No Die Roll Required, +100%; Reduced Time 7, +120%) [32] + Rules Exemption (Visualization bonus always at least +1) [1]. 33 points.
      * Talent! [60]. 60 points.
      * Higher Purpose! (Any roll I make) (Cosmic, Broad Scope, +50%; Cosmic, Rules Breaking, +300%) [23]. 23 points.

      It seems like a bad precedent to set, but we're dealing with a fundamental Rules Zero situation: the creation of a new or varied trait. The thing here is this uses an established rule vs. the more intuitive design guidelines p. 118 suggests and I think that's what's throwing people off. I'd prefer to use established rules for guesstimating the new price of a new trait if possible because that leads to more consist results.