Designer’s Notes: Bottled Magic

Sjg37-2643“Bottled Magic” was my fourth ever article and I was still finding my voice. My formatting was still rough as hewn stone and even the time I took to learn better editorial skills didn’t seem to make a damn. I’d stopped writing after Pulp Hunters because I felt I might never be able to get my capabilities to where I wanted them. It froze me. It distressed me. It made me not even try. I’m so glad L.A. kicked me in the pants when she did. “You will write and submit something or you won’t like what happens next.” Ahem. You don’t argue with She Who Must Be Obeyed. You just don’t. I needed to slap something together and fast so I took a nascent little system I’d cooked up for a campaign and refined it. I was surprised by the reception of the article, but even more surprised when Jason “PK” Levine decided to use it as the native alchemy system for GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic. It was that right boost at the right time which pushed me firmly forward. PK made me feel like I had something to give to the RPG community. He spent time and helped me polish my work. He gave me advice. And he was just generally a good, patient, kind person. I might never have continued submitting if he hadn’t taken the time to get me to believe in myself and not just want to be a game designer, but actually be one. It’s strange to say that now because then I would have never thought something like that. Antoni helped along the way and between PK, L.A., and Toni I got myself in gear.

Overall, this was one of the fastest articles I’d ever written (just under 8 hours), edited in around 20 hours (my notes are hazy here for some reason, but it looks like 19.75), and revised in about 15 hours. I basically had it knocked out over a weekend. I didn’t have any outtakes from this because the work was so small to begin with and so streamlined. I did have a few ideas, but those were eventually subsumed into other works later on. Overall, Bottled Magic was a defining moment for me. It doesn’t hurt that its topic was among my favorite to write about. One idea I did never get a chance to fully stat out was the idea of “internal alchemy.” Since I hate to leave you guys without some crunch, here you go, rules for Internal Alchemy for Ritual Path Magic.

Internal Alchemy for Ritual Path Magic
Casters can consume the necessary ingredients to create a potion and then internally form the mystical effect by binding it to their bodies. This is done by making a HT-based Alchemy roll to bind the potion to the caster’s body. This takes an additional 30 minutes, but once finished the caster can instantly call up the effects of the potion by making a Will-based Thaumatology roll. They also cannot be dispelled easily (roll HT+Magery to resist any attempts to do so). Internal potions take up two conditional spell slots and no one may have more than their HT + Magery / 2 potions bound at one time.

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