Boil and Bubble: Tips and Tricks for Ritual Path Magic

Ritual Path Magic is probably my favorite of all the current magic systems. It’s flexible, it’s flavorful, and it’s fun. It can be hard to get into – especially as a GM. But don’t let that stop you! There are tons of resources out there to help and if you stop by the GURPS Discord or forums and tag your post I or others will definitely try to assist you. So here’s a few tips and tricks

Tip: When to Use Altered Traits

Here is a quick set of guidelines for adding Altered Traits to your spell.

  • Does the spell put the effect under the control of the caster? Example: A caster can make someone fly with just a Greater Control Body effect. The flight is under his control. Alternatively, he can use the same effect and use Altered Traits, Flight now the subject can fly on his own as long as the Duration lasts.
  • Does the spell significantly enhance the subject’s abilities? Example: A caster turns a human into a cat using Greater Transform Body which lasts for the Duration of the spell. The transformation is not under the subject’s control. Alternatively, he can add Altered Traits, Alternate Form to all the subject to turn into a cat at will.
  • Does the spell by dint of it’s spell effect already do what you need it to do? Example: a caster would not need Altered Traits, Slave Mentality or Reprogrammable to use a Greater Control Mind effect to enslave a target.

Moreover, PK advised the following:

If you find yourself needing to reference specific, named GURPS traits to describe the game mechanics of your spell, then it needs Altered Traits. If you find that you can describe those game mechanics using nothing more than general terms and references to spell effects, then it doesn’t . . . unless the GM thinks that it needs them for game balance.

Trick: Damage Over Time

Some spells function over a specified time limit, but you cannot add Duration to attacks with Damage (except under unusual circumstances). So how to build spells like this? Well, the answer is pretty simple. Figure out the damage you want to inflict and the interval you want to inflict it. For example, say you wanted to build a spell that rained acid over a specific area for the next ten minutes and inflicted 1 point of damage per 6 seconds. You’d simply buy 28d+2 corrosion damage and then spread it out. This is a feature.

Trick: Margin-Based Damage

Damage can be margin-based (instead of a flat amount of dice) as a feature which costs 0 energy (the equivalent of 1d damage). Damage inflicted is then based on the margin of success for the target’s resistance. Every additional point of energy adds 1 point of damage to the final margin if the spell succeeds. Margin-based spells may be external or internal – this does not change the amount of damage dealt, but the caster may use the higher of his Path or Innate Attack skills to determine his margin.

Picking Over the Bones

Any tips or tricks to share of your own? Anything you’ve ever wondered about when making spells for RPM that I’ve not covered? Tell me! I want to know.

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