Do the following types of powers exist in any 4E GURPS products, or can they be constructed without too much kludging? And if so, where are they found?

Astral Projection / Out of Body Experience

Something where the user to exerts some effort, enters a trance for the duration of the power and travels out of body in intangible/spirit form.

Years back I managed to create something like this using the core book by combining Duplication, Insubstantiality, and some other things. But seemed sort of difficult and round-about to construct and pretty expensive. A pre-existing or easier constructed version would be nice.

"Free" spells with a price

As per Call of Cthulhu: Individual spells are pretty easy for the average PC to learn (no CP cost) if they can read the language, but have a relatively high price in time, materials, and/or side effects. (This applies to found spells. Creating new spells might have its own rules.)

Flexible magic with a price

As per Mage: the A... games: Groups of spontaneously caster-designed powers, difficult for the average person to master. Have a high cost in time, materials and/or side effects.

Bonus points if it allows the option of technology and/or other crazy world views as alternate explanations for magic.

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    \$\begingroup\$ VTC as too broad, as these are requests for three entirely separate types of content. This kind of thing should be asked in (three) separate questions. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 27 '16 at 22:52

I'll take the third one first: Check out Ritual Path Magic. It should have some to all of what you need.

You can probably tweak RPM to do your second one too.

Ritual Path Magic is a stand-alone supplement, different from the similar-but-different Path and Book magics from the Thaumatology Book. It started as something somewhat unique from Monster Hunters, and was blown out into an expanded supplement. it's got a lot of fan support, and I recall someone did the work of converting all the usual Magic spells to RPM.

For the last, Astral Entity is a meta-trait on p. B263. I'd make that part of an alternate form or something like that, so that you pay a discounted cost for it.

There's also a brief entry in Powers, pp. 122-123, as well as Astral Projection as a movement ability on p. 147, which mentions leaving a body behind. Astral Sight (Powers, p. 150) might also be of interest.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is Ritual Path Magic covered in the general "GURPS Thaumatology" book as well? Or just in the standalone supplement you link? \$\endgroup\$ – Peter K. Nov 28 '14 at 3:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, Astral Entity looks like an okay start (I probably wouldn't have given it so many advantages). But still puzzled over the best way to represent a vulnerable, unconscious physical body left behind while the astral traveler is abroad. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter K. Nov 28 '14 at 3:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that I'm pointing out existing works largely because the Powers framework is not something I have a lot of good practice with. So I point you to already extant work rather than create it from scratch. \$\endgroup\$ – Douglas Cole Nov 28 '14 at 17:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ritual Path Magic is not in the main GURPS Thaumatology book. It was created after that book was published, using the magic system design ideas from it. You don't need Thaumatology to use the standalone supplement. \$\endgroup\$ – John Dallman Jul 16 '16 at 15:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ That seems odd. I still hadn't gotten around to buying the books, but was looking into this again recently and noticed that excerpts from the Thaumatology book indicated "Book/Path magic", which I assumed was the same thing as Ritual Path Magic. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter K. Jul 18 '16 at 4:24

There's a comprehensive Astral Projection power in GURPS Psionic Powers, p26-30, including the Astral Travel ability, which is what provides the "leave your body behind and travel the planes" ability. It comes in six levels: level one is 28 points, but rather limited, while level six costs a total of 80 points, but is comprehensive.

While this is written up as a psionic power, you can change it to a magical ability simply by changing the Psionic "power modifier" to Magical, which doesn't change the cost. Since it's fully described using the powers-building system, it should also be fairly easy to translate it to RPM magic.

As for "Free spells with a price", there isn't a system for that, but it isn't hard to construct new magic rules for GURPS, which I will now attempt. Let's approximate the CoC system, where magic is fairly easy and potent, but a severe menace to the caster, and anyone else around.

GURPS rather wants there to be a skill to roll against to do things, so let's have an IQ-based Hard skill to do this, with no default. To buy this skill, you need to spend character points, but you can get them by taking on points of Corruption, which is described in GURPS Horror, p146-148. Let's make it one point of Corruption for each character point in the skill. That's pretty friendly: you are unlikely to spend more than about 8 points at first.

Then you actually need to power the spells you cast. Following the structure of the standard spell casting system, spells cost at least one energy point to cast. Big, hard spells might cost 50 or 100 energy points, but most cost less than 10. You get energy points by taking on more Corruption points. The exchange rate is the major adjustment point in this system, but at this stage, let's make it 1:1. You don't get discounts on the cost for having high spell-casting skill, and there is no equivalent of the Magery advantage to improve your skill. Taking up this system was not a good idea for the character. You'll also want Thaumatology for the Diabolic/Horrific Critical Failure table.

So Joe Investigator has found an ancient tome, studied Gothic so he can read it, and learned the skill of spell casting and some spells. You can use spells from the Basic Set or GURPS Magic although you'll have to consider what spells are available: I'd suggest no Healing magic unless it also Corrupts the beneficiary. Joe hasn't spent any character points, and casting spells isn't fatiguing for him. He just has a Corruption total that steadily increases. What does that do?

Well, the details are in Horror, but he has to make regular Will rolls which are penalised if he has a lot of Corruption. If he fails one of these Will rolls, he has to convert some of his Corruption into Disadvantages. If he uses magic regularly, he's in a death spiral towards madness and death. To pull out of this, use the Black Magic rules from Magic, which requires giving up magic. Forever.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the thorough reply. This highlights an occasional frustration of mine with GURPS though: The thing can be done, but will take material from at least 2-3 different books I don't yet have to really flesh out. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter K. Jul 18 '16 at 4:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterK. I have found, with the 4th Edition, that you can do pretty much anything with just the core Basic Set (both books: Campaigns and Characters). The rest of the 4e books, while awesome reading, are more helpful hints on directing things. If you're looking for rules, the core rules will suffice; if you're looking for helpful and neat tricks... yeah, lots and lots of books. LOTS of books. \$\endgroup\$ – Ghotir Sep 27 '16 at 18:33

Flexible magic with a price

As per Mage: the A... games [...]

About five years ago, I took a three-year sabbatical from work for personal reasons. With little better to do, I decided to sit down and write a GURPS: Mage the Ascension for Fourth Edition GURPS. I ended up with a 134 page work that I quite liked - but due to legal rights issues, it's only used by my gaming group. Here are some thoughts on the magic itself; hopefully they help stir thoughts.

I started with Realm-based syntactic magic (GURPS Thaumatology, Fourth Edition, pp. 188-192; workings pp. 180-184). Nine spheres with six levels came out to 23 points/level; characters also needed an associated IQ/VH skill. Paradox comes from the "Errors and Side Effects: Reality Bites Back" section (pp. 193-194).

I simulated Arete with essentially a universal Magery: [8] for Arete 0, [+15] points/level; maximum 10 levels. This did add to the Sphere skill. (I'm skipping the rest of the rules I had for it, including focii and the like - I don't remember off-hand how those affected things to arrive at that point value.)

My True Mage template included, among other things, Illuminated [15] to simulate the Awakened mage; Essence I treated as a one-point disadvantage (having some minimal effect on actions).

Obviously there was a lot more to flesh this out to 134 pages (even though most of that consisted of notes about the Tellurian, history, factions, and sample rotes)... but that's the gist (and a summary of the relevant part to your question). I've glossed over some details, but a read through GURPS Thatumatology Fourth Edition should suffice to generate what you need for your campaign(s).

Combined, this gave us something quite similar to the original White Wolf sources, point-balanced well with other GURPS Fourth Edition abilities. 350-point characters seemed to work out to be very similar in power to starting Mage characters.

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