Designer’s Notes: The Incanter’s Grimoire

We always write the perfect book after the book is published. Seriously. I wish I’d had more space in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 19: Incantation Magic and the insight to add to the main book then instead of writing this article later. I’m grateful the article was published and some of the questions I’d been asked could be answered, I just wish I’d thought to ask those questions of myself in the first place. I also ended up going down a bit of a rabbit hole when it came to defining how “Wall of X” spells worked. My first (and incomplete) idea was to come up with a chart that could be referenced by players and GMs designing such spells (see below for this incomplete tidbit from the article). I ended up keeping it simpler and less complicated since Dungeon Fantasy does better when you keep it simple or at least sweep the complications under the rug.

Over 60 hours spent writing. It took me about 70 hours to edit, 7 hours of research (looking for gamers asking questions about Incantation Magic or RPM on the fora), and about 70 hours of revision. I spent a further 60 hours looking over the preliminary PDF for any issues and revising – and man, there were a lot. This one embarrassed the crap out of me until I put things right.

Outtake: Extra Intro

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 19: Incantation Magic owes a lot of what it is to the ritual path magic system created by Jason “PK” Levine in GURPS Monster Hunters 1: Champions and further revised it in GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic. But it also owes much to other game system’s magic! Namely Vancian style magic from the numerous iterations of Dungeons and Dragons, David Edding’s “the Will and the Word” magic from his Belegarid and Malloreon book series, Ars Magicia, and many others.

Outtake: Complicated Walls or “You Build the Wall You Pay For”

(Note: I’m highly aware the chart below is incomplete – it was one of the reasons why I abandoned this method and used the other instead. If some enterprising soul wants to finish it up for me, I’ll add it to the chart for others to reference.)

“Wall of (X)” spells are popular in the genre fiction that Dungeon Fantasy cleaves too, but Incantation Magic is not explicit on how to build such spells. Use the following guidelines:

  • Walls of Energy: The wall of fire or force is a classic spell for pointy-hat wearing wizards. The easiest way to create a spell that damages those who pass through it is to use the rules for Conjured Weaponry (Incantation Magic, p. 00) allowing you to add the Duration and Damage ritual modifiers in a single spell. Next, simply add the Wall enhancement (p. 00) which is best appropriate for the type of wall you are conjuring. It’s DR and HP can be increased by adding Altered Traits normally.
  • Walls of Solid Matter: If the wall is made of a solid material (e.g., ice or stone), the only thing you need to know is how big the wall is and how much it weighs. Use the chart on p. B558 to reverse engineer the weight of a given wall and thus it’s DR and other traits (if any) – HP is always 80. Additionally, such spells add a fixed amount of SP per hex of the wall.

For wall spells with a duration of 1 minute or more, you must also make a roll against the better of your Path skill, Engineer (Civil), Prospecting, or Architecture. Failure means your wall begins to collapse losing 10% of its max HP and DR at a rate of (Duration / 10) increments. For example, a spell with a duration of 1 minute would lose 10% of its max HP and DR every six seconds. Use the following table to quickly create wall spells:

Material*    SP multiplier per hex     DR per hex Thickness in feet per hex          Notes

Brick x1.4   8        0.39 ft.

Bronze/Iron x3.5   40      0.11 ft.

Clay (fired) x1      5        0.17 ft.

Clay (wet)   0        3/8     0.37 ft.        Use the higher value for burning or electrical attacks

Concrete     0        0        0.8 ft.

Earth 0        0        0.58 ft.

Glass 0        0        0.35 ft.

Ice     0        0        0.97 ft.

Sand  0        0        0.51 ft.

Steel  0        0        0.11 ft.

Stone 0        0        0.34 ft.

Wood          0        0        1.39 ft.

* This is assumes a 1,000 lbs. section that is 3 foot long by 6 foot tall and a thickness that’s based on the wall’s material. Assuming wall sections are always 1000 lbs. and 18 sq. ft. (3’ by 6’), then it’ll always have 55.56 lbs. of material behind one square foot of surface. Thus you can divide that 55.56 by the density of the material in lbs. per cubic foot. A quick internet search will lead to specific densities of all sorts of materials. HP is always 80 due to its weight. To determine the extra SP cost use the following formula:

(Substance’s DR in character point value based on its amount and limitations – 25) / 5 = Fixed DR Value

(Fixed DR Value) / 10

To increase the amount of DR or HP the wall has use Bestows a Bonus (Incantation Magic, p. 00) with each +1 adding 10% to either (up to double DR and HP). HT rolls for such walls always use your effective Path skill. To increase damage dealt to those who slam into it, use “Bestows a Bonus, Slam damage” treating the modifier as a single bonus to a task or skill. Additionally, you can add other types of damage (such as burning or impaling) to a wall by using an appropriate Create effect along with Bestows a Bonus – just like you would when enhancing a weapon. Finally, for a flat +6 SP you can shape a wall however you wish when you first cast it ­– otherwise it appears as a solid block of appropriate dimensions.

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