Designer’s Notes: Metatronic Generators

Sjg37-2646This is one of my favorite articles (so far) that I’ve written. I felt a little iffy about it first just because I was more or less taking a idea another author had wrote and expanding it out of proportion of the original scope. But I did it anyways because like everything I write – I’m not sure if it’s any good (that’s why I rely on reviewers). It took me a little over 90 hours to finish and I wrote WAY more than I ever needed too because the muse hit me with a brick (as she often does). The original article had a system for battle suits (part of which made it in the issue as an Appendix Z), variant batteries (including a magical one), and a huge box about using metatronic generators with Ritual Path magic. I had to cut most of it, though I really wish I had left in the box about Power Batteries. It was small and could have easily stayed in. Oh well, Hindsight, 20/20, all that. Battle suits became its own article, but here are a few odds and ends that didn’t make it in.

Generators as Power Batteries
Though it’s not stated in the article, buying a Energy Reserve as a generator is possible and costs the normal amount. They’re typically rings, amulets, or other small concealable objects that are placed next to the caster’s skin. For example, Power Lad’s power resides almost entirely in his Power Ring, which allows him to store energy to use his abilities. Without it he cannot access any of his powers. He buys this as a Tiny Generator that has Energy Reserve (Super) (Apparatus, +0%) as its base ability.

Variant Technological Battery
If magical energy can be harnessed and used to perform feats other than magical, a new form of battery might be in order:
Magitek Battery (TL^)
A magitek battery is similar to a mundane battery or power cell, except that it can be recharged using magical energy. This doesn’t require any particular spell or ability, instead determine the mage’s “magical ST” by adding his Magery to his IQ. A full charge requires the mage to concentrate constantly for 3,600 seconds x (batteryweight/”magical” Basic Lift). A Magitek battery costs twice as much as a normal battery or power cell of the same size. “Respooling” this energy into FP is possible, but not very efficient – magitek batteries yield FP equal to their weight x 3 to power spells, rituals, etc. LC4.

Various Modifiers
I left out a few new modifiers that were added after all others were calculated. While useful, I just didn’t have room.

Limited/Loyal: The device is loyal to a particular person or has a code to use and cannot be used by anyone other than the authorized user. This may be switched by the current authorized user. +1 CF. If it cannot be switched to a new user use the following table to determine it’s limitation:

  • Only for a specific nation, religion, or race: Add a CF of -0.2
  • Only for a specific type of creature, or folk of a certain city: Add a CF of -0.4
  • Only for all members of one specific family: Add a CF of -0.6
  • Only for one specific person: Add a CF of -0.8

Self-Healing: The device can heal itself, maybe it’s bioorganic or magically self-sustaining. Whatever the case the device heals 1 HP of damage per day without repair. This adds a +0.25 CF to the final cost. If the device must meet with certain requirements that are difficult to arrange or time consuming, than halve the final modifier. Examples include environmental needs (it has to be left in sunshine) or specific elements (needs to be plugged into house current). Higher levels are possible with the GM’s permission. If it heals at 1 HP per 12 hours then the CF is +0.5, if it’s 1 HP per hour then it’s +1 CF, 1 HP per minute is +4 CF, and 1 HP per second is +19 CF.

Reduced Battery: The device is a power hog, reduce operating duration or shots by half. -0.2 CF. Higher levels may be possible if the GM allows. For one-quarter duration or shots add -0.4 CF, one-eight, -0.6 CF, and so on. Minimum operating duration is 1 second or 1 shot.

Resilient: The device is particular rugged, double both DR and HP. This costs +1 CF. GMs may allow higher levels, each level increasing the DR and HP by a further multiple. Triple DR and HP costs x3, Quadruple costs +4 CF, and so on. Halve this if it only doubles the DR or HP of the object.

Rugged: The device is particularly rugged. All generators start with a HT of 12, but each level of this modifer increases this by +1 and costs +0.5 CF.

Unique: The device is a one of kind (just like the gadget modifier on p. B117) and if broken or stolen cannot be reproduced. -1 CF.

New Size: Diminutive 
Diminutive generators ar SM-10, weight 0.0015 lbs., require 1 AA cell per week, have a LC of 3, Bulk -0, and a negligible ST requirement. Cost is $4,500 x point cost and require either TL10 or higher technology or that they be self-powered.

Interpolated Values
What if you don’t want a SM-6 Mini generator? What if you want a SM-7? This is possible with the current system, simply add the stats of the two devices together and then average them (rounding up) and use the best battery requirement For example, a SM-7 Mini generator would cost $3,250 per point, need 2xAA/24 hours, weigh 0.17 lbs., be LC 3, have a Bulk of -2, and a ST of 2.

Generators as Ritual Path Magic Items
I don’t usually pull straight from the forums to post on my blog, but this one has gotten enough mileage that I think it might be useful to have elsewhere. As we all know, Ritual Path magic has its own enchantment and magic item system…but some folks don’t like how to spend points for gear. Now usually, I am one of them. I don’t think you should pay points for gear unless it is a super unique unreproducible object. If it isn’t one of those…you should be able to buy it if it’s available in the campaign setting. That’s just how I feel. I run my games that way, I write that way, I give advice that way. That said, I do like the magic item system for Ritual Path magic – it makes sense and I’ve used it before with much success. Sometimes I like to change things up, I’ve got something like 22 different variations of a magical item system for RPM – about half of them work okay and maybe a quarter of them work well enough that one day they might see the light of day in a Pyramid article or supplement. One of them that worked fine was “Magic Items as Metatronic Generators” which I released on the forums. Anyways, I’ve included some improvements I’ve made from my own games. Hope you get some use out of them. You’ll need both GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic and Pyramid #3/46: Weird Science to get full use out of this post.

The Basics
  • Instead of using Electronics Operation (Metatronics) use Thaumatology instead. GMs may allow Path skill rolls instead if that makes sense. For example, a Wand of Fireballs might require a Path of Energy roll instead of Thaumatology.
  • Treat Critical failures as a botch on a spell and make a HT roll.
  • Use the Extra Effort rules normally, but make a Will-Based Thaumatology roll.
  • Ritual Path magic generators can be cumulative with the wearers abilities but only for Magical Tools (see GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic, p. 33).
  • Ritual Path magic generators use Magical as a standard power modifier.
  • Do not use the modifiers under Enchanted Limitations (GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic, p. 33), the item’s “gadget” modifiers are already taken into account using the Power Table.
  • Unprotected objects use the regular costs (and anyone can use them), but protected objects require incense, special oils, etc equal to one hundredth the final cost of the generator and the expenditure of character points equal to (one quarter the Final Cost divided Campaign Starting Wealth). So a TL 8 Ritual Path magic generator that cost $80,000 would require $4,000 in special materials to bind it to your aura and the permanent expenditure of 1 character point. No one but you could use it and it would occupy one of your Conditional Spell Slots.

Designing and Building
Most Ritual Path magic generators are going to be apparatuses, for magical staves, swords, and the like, go through the regular design process.

Using the Generator
This is pretty much the same. For “power rings” and the like, use the Innate Attack skill to hit instead of Thaumatology.

Powering a Generator

  • Energy may be accumulated to pay a generator’s FP cost using the following formula: 5 x normal FP cost. This uses the Path of Magic (exactly as if you were filling your mana reserve). For example, a generator that costs 1 FP to use, can instead be powered by 5 points of accumulated energy.
  • Capacitors buy Energy Reserve (Mana Reserve) at 3 points per level. If a given generator can only use a capacitor, use the rules for the built in ER. If a generator must use accumulated energy, add “Accessibility, FP costs must be accumulated normally, -5%.”
  • Self-Powered generators accumulate energy over time, assume a Path of Magic skill of 15 and roll each turn. This is exactly as if you were filling a mana reserve. For a Path of Magic skill of 20, quadruple, not double the final cost of the item. Alternatively, the item may recover 1 point of energy per 10 minutes as a feature (though it still costs double as a self-powered item).
  • It isn’t suggested that battery costs be used, but if the GM wants too he’ll need to figure out how much FP is in each battery type and shape. See magitek batteries above for a example.
Generator Examples
  • Tiny generators: rings, circlets, etc.
  • Mini generators: wands, daggers, etc.
  • Small generators: staves, rods, etc.
  • Portable generators: armor, swords, etc.
  • Semi-Portable generators: cloaks, robes, etc.
  • Large generators: vehicles, golem horses, etc.
Ritual Path Magic Generator “Magic Item” Examples

Amulet of N’thr’ki (A Bound Spell) 
This device grants the wearer a powerful necromantic aura that drains 1d-2 points of HP from all targets within two yards if they fail to win a Quick Contest of Will with the wearer. The wearer heals the same number of HP (regardless of how much he actually drained. Activating the device requires a Path of Undead roll instead of Thaumatology due to its insidious necromantic nature. Mini, $690,000, 0.3 lbs. Self-Powered. LC1. 

Statistics: Leech 1d-2 (minimum of 1 point) (Accelerated Healing, +25%; Area Effect, 2 yards, +50%; Aura, +80%; Magical, -10%; Malediction 1, +100%; Melee Compatible, reach C, +10%) [115].

Staff of the Magi (A Magical Tool) 
This staff makes turns the bearer into a powerful caster! It grants the following abilities in addition to be used as a Fine Balanced Styled (+3) quarterstaff.

  • Absorbs the first 10 points of damage from magical attacks and reduces Armor Divisors by one step. Additionally, every point of damage this stops heals 1 point of the staff’s mana reserve or your mana reserve. You can even hold onto excessive magical energy that exceeds your reseve, with excess points “bleeding away” at one point per second.
  • Gives Energy Reserve 30 (Mana Reserve).
  • Improves Magery (Ritual Path) by five levels.
  • Bestows Magic Resistance 5 (Improved).
  • Gives Ritual Adept (if the caster didn’t already have it, if he did it adds four additional levels of Magery (Ritual Path) instead!).
  • Retributive Strike: If a caster is desperate, he can sacrifice the staff, destroying it permanently in the process. This magical strike does 23d burning explosive damage to everything but the caster in a 16-yard radius and has a Armor Divisor (2). This burning damage treats the flammability class (Making Things Burn, p. B433) of all subjects as four steps lower than it actually is!
It has a Path of Magic skill of 20 for determining recharge times to its Energy Reserve. Small, $2,810,144, 5 lbs. Self-Powered. LC2.
Statistics: Damage Resistance 10 (Absorption, Heals Mana Reserve*, +80%), Force Field, +20%, Hardened 1, +20%; Limited, Magic, -20%) [50] + Energy Reserve 30 (Mana Reserve) [90] + Magery 5 (Ritual Path) [50] + Magic Resistance 5 (Improved, +150%; Magical, -10%) [24] + Ritual Adept (Magical, -10%) [40] or Magery 4 (Ritual Path) [9†] + Retributive Strike [18‡].
* This heals the ER of the staff first and then your own mana reserve instead of HP or FP, and can “overcharge” your mana reserve if it is full, with a point over your normal Mana Reserve “melting” away every second.
† This is a alternate ability of Ritual Adept.
‡ Burning Attack 23d (Area Effect, 16 yards, +200%; Armor Divisor /2, +50%; Backlash, Instant Destruction, -300% Cosmic, Higher levels of Incendiary, +300%; Incendiary 4, +40%; Magical, -10%) [18]. This is both a One-Use Ability and a Alternate Ability of Energy Reserve, resulting in a 1/25th of a discount.
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  1. About magitek batteries. Using my character as an example: IQ 13, Magery 0, recharging 1 lb (2C cells) takes only 106 seconds and no mention of personal costs like Fatigue. That seems a bit perpetual motion-y to me. Any ideas on how to reign it in for more restrained settings?

  2. I'm extremely hesitate to open the can of worms that is "How much FP does this battery have?" That said, you could charge double the FP you could potentially draw from a battery (6 FP per pound) and change seconds to minutes to increase the recharge times.

  3. So for my character a non-tiring way to get 6 FP / 106 minutes? That should keep it from being faster than simple cast and rest. Nice.
    I also am putting a limit on number of full cycles my settings batteries can handle before needing to be replaced. I want to keep them from being hassle-free like powerstones.

  4. I'd require a HT roll every time the battery is charged. Start them at HT10 and every time it's recharged add the following penalties: -1 for a success on your roll, -2 for a failure, and +1 for a critical success. Critical failure ruins the battery completely.

  5. "Unprotected objects use the regular costs (and anyone can use them), but protected objects require incense, special oils, etc equal to one hundredth the final cost of the generator and the expenditure of character points equal to (one quarter the Final Cost divided Campaign Starting Wealth). So a TL 8 Ritual Path magic generator that cost $80,000 would require $4,000 in special materials to bind it to your aura and the permanent expenditure of 1 character point."

    Are you sure about that math? Isn't 80000/100 = 800, not 4000?

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