Behind Ritual Path magic, Sorcery (from Pyramid #3/63: Infinite Worlds II) is probably my second favorite magical system out there. It seamlessly blends two things that I like about GURPS: flexibility and power builds. There have been many powers-based approaches to magic using modular abilities before – but I think PK nailed it perfectly with his Sorcerous Empowerment and Known Spells. It’s simple, elegant, and easy to use – it’s rare that you get a system like that (and hell, PK is going 3 and 0). One of the things that came up recently in my gaming group was “Okay, we can improvise spells – but what if what we want is just a little bit different than a Known Spell we already have?” Well, that got me to thinking “Why can’t I use Temporary Enhancements/Abilities at Default?” And you know what? Why not indeed!
GMs can allow sorcerers to use the rules for Temporary Enhancements (GURPS Powers, p. 172) or Abilities at Default (GURPS Powers, p. 173), albeit in a limited way. With a caveat: adding enhancements cannot change the fundamental nature of the spell. A Cone of Fire could not become a tight-beam burning attack. Buy the Heat Beam or Laser Eyes spell for that. Anything else is fair game. Additionally, using a hex should additional fatigue equal to half the penalty and require a roll against the spell for the same amount. For example, a Hex that uses +40% worth of enhancements would cost 4 FP and result in a roll against the Known Spell’s casting roll at -2. Spells without casting rolls require that you completely eliminate the penalty to use it and pay it in FP.
Example Spell: Animate Dead
Basic Cost: 32 points.
Casting Roll: IQ.
You can animate a nearby corpse with necromantic power after a minute of concentration and profane ritual. Anyone watching you do this reacts to you at -4. You must be able to touch your target during this time. After you are finished it takes another minute for the corpse to rise becoming a zombie. Such zombies last indefinitely, but you may only have a maximum number of zombies equal to your Magery (Sorcery) level. To determine how many zombies you can control look up your Magery level in the “Size” column of the Size and Speed/Range Table (p. B550) and then read “Linear Measurement” as “zombies” versus “yards. For example, Magery 1 allows you to have up to three zombie minions, five with Magery 2, and so on.
Statistics: Affliction 1 (HT; Accessibility, Requires dead bodies, -10%; Advantage, Modified Alternate Form*, +150%; Based on IQ, Own Roll, +20%; Contact Agent, -40%; Cosmic, Works on the dead, +50%; Costs Fatigue, 1 FP, -5%; Extended Duration, Permanent, +150%; Immediate Preparation Required, 1 minute, -30%; Magical, -10%; Malediction 1, +100%; Melee Attack, Reach C, -30%; Nuisance Effect, -4 to reaction rolls when using ability, -20%; Onset, 1 minute, -10%) .
* This Modified Alternate Form is: Alternate Form (Reanimated Corpse), the Reanimate Corpse Template is from GURPS Zombies (p. 100), since it has a negative cost the cost of Alternate Form is it’s base 15 points.
Hex (Summon the Dead): Instead of animating the dead, you summon them! This allows you to summon 1d zombies without having to use nearby corpses and takes 2d+1 seconds of Concentration, a IQ-4, and 6 FP. Statistics: Allies (4 zombies; 25% of points; Constantly; Conjurable, +100%; Takes Extra Time 3, -30%; Magical, -10%) .