As I mentioned yesterday, I picked up GURPS Magic: Death Spells and I liked it a lot. I'll get a more formal review up this week.
But in the meantime, what to do about these spells and my ongoing Dungeon Fantasy game?
Obviously, use them. If any game demands save-or-die effects (technically, resist-or-die in GURPS), it is GURPS Dungeon Fantasy. This is the place to use them. Semi-disposable characters, horrible monsters, little care for the long-term social implications of letting people do all this crazy stuff.
But how to implement them?
Wizards can learn many of them - the ones I choose as appropriate. Some already exist in my game - Annihilation is one, Death is another. But what they'll all share is:
- they are unknown magics, or lost. You'll need to find the spell, either in its entirety (it's written up in a book) or scattered in pieces across multiple sources and then put back together with Thaumatology and Research. Once that's done, you can learn it.
- they are unknown magics, or lost. So Wild Talent can't access them until they become known and not-lost. Wild Talent is powerful, but it allows you access to the entire list of known spells, not the entire canon of things with GURPS stats somewhere. So they need to be discovered and assembled first - and then people with that knowledge can use Wild Talent to access them.
- Said research isn't going to succeed in town. It will never succeed until you get access to some of the lost bits of spells or lost spells within the mighty (or innocuous?) tomes they rest within (cue creepy music here.) This means they'll start as loot, often potentially valuable loot, that you'll need to not sell to benefit from. Yes, Black Jans the sorcerer will pay a lot of these - and then they'll disappear from the ken of man, basically. Money or death magic, choose.
- Some bad guys, like the ones who already know Death and Annihilation, may have access to some of these already.
- Identify Spell will help, but it won't provide full access to the spell via Wild Talent. It might just come up as "unknown death magic spell of the Air college" or something of that sort.
- Counters to those spells, like Stop Bleeding, Resuscitation, and Remove Curse, will be freely available. Mostly they're freely available now and highly recommended.
- they'll probably be considered Evil Supernatural Powers for all intents and purposes, so clerics, holy warriors, and the like will get cheap and easy access to steep bonuses against them (+8 is only 7 points). Some don't give any resistance, basically.
Clerics and especially Evil Clerics will get access to the more divine-themed spells, but at a much high Power Investiture than the original write-ups call for. No death spells at PI 3. Further, they'll probably need some other advantage, first, such as Patron (Diety) or Blessed or Holy Smite or something of that sort. I'll decide as I comb through the spells and pick and choose.
Druids will get the same deal - they'll get some Weather-related death magic and Plant-related death magic, restricted by PI (Druidic) at a higher level. They need some more punch, anyway, and nature seems pretty vindictive.
And that's what I'm thinking for death magics. Resist-or-get-a-new-guy magic is already in my game, this just codifies some of it and gives the PCs potential access to it. Clamping down on Wild Talent is critical because the PCs already have it and new PCs will take it, and it would mean basically handing the new book to the players to peruse and cast from as needed. Keeping the spells unknown and Wild Talent unable to freely access the spells until they become known makes them rare, dangerous, and valuable loot that can be added one by one to my game.