Space-Age Magic in GURPS
By S. John Ross
There is still a slight bias toward the primitive in GURPS as regards magic. The harried space-explorer has to rely on his traditional stockpile of widgetry to get through a tough day on a Lunar Colony, or a trek across a sulphuric plain. This is normally not a problem, but lately the concept of the "Genre Jam" has brought mixed concepts to the front of the gaming conciousness. Why NOT have magic in space? If it was good enough for Lucas, it's good enough for GURPS. This is, after all, the system that can do everything, right?
The following spells are the result of some experimental campaigning on the part of the author. The list is only a beginning, and the realms of the stars hold infinite possibility. Note that while these spells do not require technology for the most part, they would not have been developed in a society below TL 6 or 7!
All of these spells use the rules in the Basic Set, but one or two use terms found in GURPS Space, which is a helpful guide to anybody running a star-bound campaign.
This spell is cast on the intended recipient of a drug. The next drug administered to the subject will have its effect doubled in some way. This might be duration, damage done (or relived), two HT rolls for Revive, etc. Multiple castings have no extra effect, and only one aspect is doubled. Definition of "drug" is left to the GM, but all pharmaceuticals in GURPS Space and GURPS Ultra-Tech count, as does Alchohol and other addictive substances. Additional castings on the same subject suffer penalties in the same manner as Minor Healing.
This is a Healing and Body Control Spell
Changes the air in the affected area to any gas or combination of gases that the caster is familiar with. It is only really useful in enclosed areas, as the air will then mix with the surrounding atmosphere and be blown away, etc., at a rate depending on wind conditions, and relative densities of the gases involved, etc. The temperature of the gases created are the same as the surrounding air.
This is an Air spell.
Reduces the number of permanent rads in the subject's body. The recipient of this spell will be at -1 to all rolls for 30-HT hours after each casting.
This is a healing spell.
Turns any food into a concentrated substance with equivalent nutrition and a taste vaguely reminicent of the subject. This can be anything from a compact paste to a dry stick, as the caster desires. Weight and volume of the food can be reduced to as low as 1/5th the original. If taken all the way to this level, the food will be nonperishable, as well.
This is a Food spell.
The caster may alter gravity in area. This is a powerful spell! Note that this spell works only on board ships and stations, and planetside. There must be gravity in the first place, whether artificial or natural, or simulated by spinning torus-type stations, etc. Moving into and out of this area can be disorienting. Make a HT roll at a penalty equal to the G-increment difference or be stunned for 1d turns. A DX roll is required (same penalty) to avoid falling.
This is a Movement Spell
This spell is cast on a single hex. The penalty for distance is -1 for every 5 yards or fraction. It reveals the amount of radiation being emitted in the subject hex (in whatever terms are convenient to the caster, ususally Rads/Hour). Note that Gamma is the `default' radiation. Other forms may be detected, as well, but only one type per casting.
This is an Earth spell.
The following divination forms might be introduced to a modern or Ultra-Tech setting.
Videomancy: This is a name applied to two different methods. One involves randomly flippling channels and the other is staring at static ``snow'' and observng the shapes that form. Prerequisites: 2 spells of each element, and 2 Light spells.
Automancy: Use of this method requires a busy throughfare. it is divination by observing the sorts of vehicles that pass. Prerequisites: 3 spells of each element.
Bibliomancy: Divination by reading randomly chosen passages in newspapers. Prerequisites: 6 air spells.
Hyperphotomancy: Divination by observing the outside of a ship while in warp or hyperspace. Prerequisites: 3 light and 4 air spells.
Technomancy: Divination by examing interior compnenents of broken electronic gear. Prerequisistes: 2 spells of each element.
This is a rare and dangerous spell. It causes an area to become mildly radioactive. This is magical radiation, and the area will cease to radiate once the spell expires, but any radiation absorbed by the ground or passing creatures, etc. will be retained normally. Note that the caster is not immune without precautions of his own! Backfires can be fatal!
Even being near the area will affect you. The rads/hour is reduced by 3 rads/hour per 3 yards of distance from the area
. This is an Earth spell.
This is a single spell that may be cast as either an Area or a Regular spell, as the caster wishes. If cast as a regular spell, the subject is granted +4 to PF (the amount that absorbed radiation is divided by) for each ST point spent. The duration is 1 minute and the spell may be maintained at half cost. Casting time is 1 second.
The more common Area application grants a PF of 10 to the area protected, from all radiation outside the area. Cost may be increased for more PF, on a linear scale (base cost 12 is PF 40, etc). The stats given below are for the area application.
This is a Protection and Warning Spell.
This spell will replace a ``daily dose'' of some chemical required by the subject to a limited degree. The subject will still feel any psychological effects of missing a dose, but will not suffer any physical damage from withdrawal. This spell is at a -4 penalty if the caster is casting it on himself, and a cumulative -4 penalty per consecutive day (thus, it gets harder and harder for the spell to replace the drug). In addition, the withdrawal penalty inherent to the drug is applied to any casting!
This is a Healing Spell
Permits the subject to exist without breathing, and maintains body temperature. The subject may still breathe if air is present. This will help a person in free fall a great deal if he has no air tank or loses power, but does not maintain pressure well. It protects only somewhat from fluid loss in explosive decompression, adding 4 to effective HT.
This is both an Air and Water spell.
This spell permits a subject to withstand high gravity from either "normal" continuous sources or sudden acceleration. The subject effectively has the Acceleration Tolerance and Improved G-Tolerance (.5 G) advantages for the Duration (see GURPS Space). For those without access to space, generally assume that short-term bursts of up to 5 gs will not be a problem, and the character can operate without penalty in gravities from .5 to 1.5 earth-normal (the normal human range is .8 to 1.2).
This is a Body Control Spell.
When this spell is cast on an edged weapon, it's damage done is increased by 1d for the duration due to the vibratory effect.
This is a Movement spell.