Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Revised GURPS Magic: Sleep vs. Daze

So an NPC wizard threw Mass Sleep on the PCs in my game the session before last, and put one to sleep.

There is an oddity in Sleep, which is it's not an especially deep or magical sleep by its wording. It's just sleep, with the caveat that slumping down doesn't wake you up. You can contrast this with Daze, which leaves someone standing oblivious to all but who is much harder to rouse.

Let's compare:

Daze:
"Any injury, or successful resistance to a spell, causes the subject to snap out of the daze and return to full alert status."
GURPS Magic, p. 134

Sleep:
"He can be awakened by a blow, loud noise, etc., but will be mentally stunned (see Effects of Stun,p. B420). The Awaken spell (p. 90) will arouse him instantly."
GURPS Magic, p. 135

Nevermind the Morpheus (aka Sleep) elixir:

Morpheus:
"The subject must roll vs. HT-4 or fall instantly asleep. He sleeps for 16-HT hours, and may not be awakened by nonmagical means during that time."
GURPS Magic, p. 218

In a way, this makes Daze cheaper and more effective, which a problem for three reasons:

- asleep folks should be less aware and harder to arouse than people merely out of it.
- Daze is a prereq for Sleep, implying strongly that Sleep should work better than Daze.
- Sleep costs more to cast than Daze, further implying strongly that Sleep should work better than Daze.

Plus you can add on top the idea that the elixir version is vastly more potent than any spell, which isn't that uncommon in GURPS Magic but isn't something I am a fan of, either.

Yet for all of that, you can (by the spell as written) wake someone up with any damage, jostling, loud noises, or the Awaken spell. Sleep does last (potentially) much longer, as much as 8 hours, but it's a vastly more fragile spell to put on someone. It also gets rid of a potentially interesting use to cast on already-sleeping subjects to keep them under more deeply.

It's also a bit of a mess when combined with the wording of Awaken.

Awaken:
"Sleeping or unconscious subjects get a HT roll to awaken, at a bonus equal to the caster’s margin of success.
GURPS Magic, p. 90

Awaken can un-stun folks, too, but says nothing about Daze's effects. Nor is it 100% clear if Awaken's wording trumps Sleep's wording - does Awaken automatically wake up a Sleep spell victim, or does it allow a roll per Awaken's wording? I know my players favor automatic, but they use Awaken and not Sleep. They also argued that injury from low FP (losing HP instead of FP) was injury, and that all injury automatically wakes you up. I can see the logic in it, but then that means people under a Sleep spell wake up with a snap when hurt, breathing carbon monoxide, the poison fumes of a Stench spell, etc. but people who are just asleep without magic may not, or exhausted without being asleep might not, either.

I like the built-in duration effects of Morpheus, but not its inability to be countered without magic. It's too limiting, meaning only PC parties with a wizard with Awaken can shrug this off yet a wizard can't put someone that deeply to sleep. I think that makes the elixir a bit unfair, even for the cost.

Naturally, I'm going to unify the results a bit.

Here is the re-wording of the relevant portions of these spells for my game:

Daze: Any injury (even a 0-HP slap) or successful resistance to a spell, causes the subject to snap out of the daze and return to full alert status. A sufficiently loud noise (a Thunderclap spell, for example, or a nearby explosion) may allow a HT roll to snap out of it, at the referee's discretion.

Sleep: Any injury (even a 0-HP slap) or successful resistance to a spell, causes the subject to wake up, but he will be mentally stunned (see Effects of Stun, p. B420) unless woken with the Awaken spell. A sufficiently loud noise (a Thunderclap spell, for example, or a nearby explosion) may allow a HT roll to snap out of it, at the referee's discretion. The victim will sleep for 1 hour for each point by which he failed to resist (minimum 1 hour.)

Morpheus: The subject must roll vs. HT-4 or fall instantly asleep, exactly as the Sleep spell (see p. 135)

Awaken: Sleeping or unconscious subjects, including those under Daze or Sleep spells, get a HT roll to awaken, at a bonus equal to the caster’s margin of success.


Personally, I think that tidies up the effects. Sleep is more effective than before, which suits its cost, but lasts much less than its vague but potentially extremely long current duration. Daze now has more ways out, so you can't have to actually injure your friends to end the spell. The sleep elixir is now identical to the spell instead of being oddly powerful. And Awaken is broader and more effective against any of those three.

Not only that, but this is consistent with how I ran it last game on the fly when I realized the oddity.

12 comments:

  1. Does this mean that Dryst should have been mentally stunned after getting awoken from the Sleep? And thus not been able to purify the air and save the day?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He should have had to spend a turn becoming unstunned, yes.

      Delete
    2. Oh. And that would have been the end of everyone, I think.

      Delete
    3. I don't think so - just one more turn of Stench, that's all. Maybe it would have killed one NPC or something.

      But yeah, I forgot the Mental Stun,

      Delete
    4. Yeah, I guess I forget that just because Dryst would have been negative FP that doesn't mean he would have been automatically knocked out. HT rolls to stay conscious and all that.

      Delete
  2. Reading this just makes me wany GURPS magic to be redone

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've said it before in other places - I'd happily do it, but then people will just be differently unhappy with it. Too many folks was a top-to-bottom total change to GURPS Magic, where I just want to clean up the oddities that I personally find in it. So that means there is a lot of pain and getting complained about in it, but not a lot of happiness. Or pay, really. ;)

      Delete
  3. Festival of dangerous ideas?

    Mega pyramid Article.

    Not sure how many pages it needs, but maybe if multiple experienced authors were involved and it gave a few options then it could be spun to Steven.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thinking it through it probably isnt too much work, but the page count might be high.... but pyramid especially alternate GURPS should be about taking chances

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wouldn't do it as a Pyramid article personally, if only because the sheer amount of time it would take for the relatively small paycheck (especially considering it's going be a huge amount of word re-use.)

      You guys will probably have to live with it as a as-I-feel-like-it blog post series.

      Delete
  5. I'm not seeing the conflict between the Sleep and Awaken descriptions. Instantly and automatically are not synonyms. And I'd pay for a version of Magic that didn't think Instant and Permanent are synonyms. (I wrote and complained about this for Fantasy 1st ed, so that it's still there drives me bonkers.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You may not, but it's come up in play before. When different words are used - instant and automatic - it's unclear what the intent is, how this affects mental stun, and if a roll is needed or not. My wording makes a definitive and clear ruling, which is why I wrote it the way I did.

      Delete

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