GURPS Accelerator

The Modular Magician

by Matt Riggsby

The blessing and the curse of GURPS Magic, as with any other large catalog, is its size and scope. It contains spells covering a vast range of effects and power levels, letting you build mages who can do as little as produce an annoying noise or as much as level a city with an earthquake. The problem, if you're a beginning player, is that it can be difficult not just to find the spells you really want to be able to cast, but also to figure out what prerequisites you need in order to cast them. The spell prerequisite charts are one useful tool for figuring that out. This article presents another shortcut: spell "modules."

What You Already Know

This article assumes that you already have a vague idea of how GURPS' basic magic system works and are looking to start buying spells but don't know where to begin. If you don't, go read chapter 5 in GURPS Basic Set: Characters or chapter 1 in GURPS Magic first.

The modules presented here are lenses which can be applied to just about any character or template capable of casting spells. They contain pre-selected batches of spells grouped according to a functional theme, giving the magician basic ability in a particular area: healing, fighting, and so on. In addition to a few major "effective" spells, they contain a complete chain of prerequisites, so the character can be fitted out with a given set of spells and be ready to go.

The module cost assumes that all spells are bought at IQ + Magery - 2, or 1 point for each Hard spell and 2 for each Very Hard spell, indicated in the spell list with a (vh). For example, a character with IQ 12 and Magery 1 would, paying the listed cost for the lens, have skill-11 with all of the spells. Double the cost to buy a lens at IQ + Magery - 1 or multiply by 4 to buy it at IQ + Magery; after that, add another +4 points per spell.

Basic Modules

In the interests of keeping costs low, these lenses do not provide comprehensive ability in any area. For example, the Utility lens doesn't include Manastone; although the ability to make one's own magical "batteries" is immensely useful, the spell requires a lot of largely unrelated prerequisites. Most of theses lenses, unless otherwise noted, won't make a character a master wizard, but if you say to yourself, "I don't want my character to be completely helpless in a fight/in the wilderness/if I need to run away," they'll give your magician something he can use.

Basic Fire (6 points)

This lens, containing a number of fire-related spells intended for offensive use, lets a magician stand in the back of a group and hurl destructive spells, usually past a line of warriors protecting him. It requires at least Magery 1, and remember to buy Innate Attack skills so that you can actually hit things with the Fireball and Flame Jet spells. The big spells here are Fireball (which will damage one target), Explosive Fireball (takes lots of energy, but damages an area), and Flame Jet (good for close-in combat). The others manipulate fire in less spectacular ways, which is good for starting campfires or making your way out of burning buildings.

     Ignite Fire
     Create Fire
     Shape Fire
     Explosive Fireball
     Flame Jet

Basic Air (7 points)

Similar to Basic Fire, this lens provides a slightly different flavor of offensive capability. In addition to direct damage-dealing with Lightning, the lens provides spells to push around or otherwise interfere with opponents, using Air Jet and Windstorm. It requires Magery 1 and, like the Basic Fire lens, be sure to buy Innate Attack skills.

     Air Jet
     Create Air
     Purify Air
     Shape Air

Beastmaster (8 points)

This lens lets the magician communicate with and, if need be, control animals. The important spells here are Beast Summoning, which will call the nearest animal of a given type to the caster, (Animal) Control, which can let the caster control a nearby animal, and Beast Speech, which allows communication with animals. For (Animal) Control, the magician must specialize in one of five categories of animals (see Magic p. 29 for details). However, a magician may learn different variants as separate spells. To learn all five variants, increase the cost of the lens to 12 points and take (Animal) Control five times.

     (Animal) Control
     Sense Emotion
     Sense Foes
     Beast Summoning
     Beast Speech

Buffing (16 points)

This lens doesn't do much on its own, but it allows the magician to increase his physical abilities or those of his companions. Might, Grace, and Vigor raise ST, DX, and HT and extended period, while the Boost spells, which are much cheaper to cast, raise their respective attributes for a single die-roll. The lens also includes a few sense-boosting spells, Haste and Great Haste (which increase the subject's move), and a few prerequisites which can be used offensively. It requires at least IQ 12 and Magery 1.

     Boost Dexterity
     Boost Health
     Boost Strength
     Great Haste (vh)
     Keen Hearing
     Keen Vision
     Lend Energy
     Lend Vitality

Craft (18 points)

This lens gives the magician spells which let him repair and even create mundane objects, with illusion and basic elemental skills as a useful side-effect. It requires at least Magery 2. The most powerful spell here is probably Create Object, which you can use to create a short-lived mundane object, but Repair is a great help in fixing things.

     Complex Illusion
     Create Earth
     Create Object (vh)
     Earth to Stone
     Find Weakness
     Ignite Fire
     Perfect Illusion
     Purify Air
     Seek Earth
     Seek Water
     Shape Earth
     Simple Illusion

Defense (10 points)

This lens provides a range of physical defenses. Missile Shield and Reverse Missiles eat a lot of energy, but they're excellent for defending against archers and gunmen, while Shield, Armor, and Iron Arm are good against melee attacks. This lens requires at least Magery 2 and DX 11.

     Iron Arm
     Missile Shield
     Resist Pain
     Reverse Missiles

Druid (12 points)

This lens allows the caster to deal with manipulate plants in a number of ways. A magician with these spells may not be terribly useful in the city, but hard to beat in the wilderness. Some of the more useful spells here are Animate Plant, Plant Speech, and Tangle Growth. It requires at least Magery 1.

     Animate Plant
     Bless Plants
     Forest Warning
     Heal Plant
     Hide Path
     Identify Plant
     Plant Growth
     Plant Sense
     Plant Speech
     Seek Plant
     Shape Plant
     Tangle Growth

Healing (5 points)

This lens provides spells appropriate for basic field medicine, patching up mundane wounds, though not stopping poisons or regenerating lost limbs. It's a good idea for every adventurer to invest in First Aid spell, but since a magician with these spells is likely to be a group's de facto medic, it's probably an even better idea to buy that skill along with this lens. It requires at least Magery 1.

     Lend Energy
     Lend Vitality
     Major Healing (vh)

Information-Gathering (12 points)

This lens lets the magician gather basic but important information about his surroundings. Requires at least IQ 12 and Magery 1. The Sense spells are good for instant spot-checks of the environment, while Seeker is good for a more concerted search for a known object.

     Detect Magic
     See Secrets
     Seek Earth
     Seek Water
     Sense Danger
     Sense Emotion
     Sense Foes
     Sense Life
     Sense Observation

Logistics (11 points)

This lens might seem tedious, but it allows the magician to sustain a small group of adventurers in the absence of a ready supply of provisions and help them get to their destination quickly. It requires at least Magery 1.

     Create Fire
     Create Food
     Create Water
     Ignite Fire
     Purify Water
     Quick March
     Seek Food
     Seek Water
     Test Food

Stealth (9 points)

This lens contain spells which help the caster move around undetected. Blur and Mage-Stealth are good for moving around undetected, while Silence and Hide are good for remaining stationary.

     Continual Light

Utilities (5 points)

This lens provides a number of unrelated but exceedingly useful simple spells which no magician should be without. It requires at least Magery 1.

     Continual Light
     Lend Energy
     Recovery Energy

Master Modules

These lenses provide more comprehensive abilities in their areas. Between the cost of the spells in the lens, prerequisite lenses, and required levels of IQ and Magery, these lenses represent a major specialization for most characters.

Great Healing (22 points)

This lens contains spells which will cure disease, wounds of any magnitude, and just about anything else short of death. It requires IQ 12, Magery 3, and the Healing lens.

     Cure Disease
     Great Healing (vh)
     Healing Slumber
     Keen Vision
     Neutralize Poison
     Regeneration (vh)
     Relieve Sickness
     Remove Contagion
     Resist Disease
     Restoration (vh)
     Restore Sight
     Restore Speech
     Stop Paralysis
     Strike Dumb

Fire Mage (14 points)

This lens gives the magician broad powers over heat and fire. It's largely geared toward combat, allowing the caster to add a touch of fire to melee, missile weapon, and bare hand attacks, but provides some protection as well. It requires Magery 2 and the Basic Fire lens.

     Burning Touch
     Create Air
     Essential Flame
     Extinguish Fire
     Flaming Armor
     Flaming Missiles
     Flaming Weapon
     Fire Cloud
     Purify Air
     Resist Fire
     Shape Air

Seer (11 points)

This lens gives the caster the ability to look into the past and future, and delve deeply into the nature of magic. If using a crystal ball is inappropriate to the campaign, there are a number of other Divination variants, each of which has its own special prerequisites. This lens requires the Information-Gathering lens.

     Analyze Magic
     Ancient History
     Divination (Crystal-Gazing)
     Earth Vision
     Identify Spell
     Keen Vision
     Shape Earth
     Wizard Eye

Shaper and Creator (20 points)

This lens gives the caster considerable powers over physical matter, allowing him to create and shape raw matter, and even create magical servants. It requires at least IQ 12, Magery 3, and the Craft lens.

     Create Animal
     Create Mount
     Create Plant
     Create Servant
     Create Warrior
     Create Water
     Heal Plant
     Identify Plant
     Perfect Illusion
     Plant Growth
     Purify Water
     Seek Plant
     Shape Metal
     Shape Stone
     Shape Water
     Shatter (vh)
     Transform Object (vh)

Article publication date: August 24, 2007

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