Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Revised GURPS Magic: Paralyze Limb and Total Paralysis

This is a quick and simple one:

Total Paralysis normally requires you to strike the head (-5) of the target. This means it's only useful for casters with a solid DX or Brawling, or a very good Staff skill, vs. a poorly-skilled defender they really want as a prisoner. It's not particularly useful. It also mean's it's useless against creatures with Injury Tolerance (No Head), which isn't such a small group in fantasy games or when you're playing Ultima.

Instead, for my game, I'm removing the need to touch the head. Anywhere on the target is fine. Otherwise, the spell is as-written.

It would be amusing to make touching the head of the target even more useful - perhaps a penalty to resist. But generally location isn't worth including for all-or-nothing spells.

Additionally, Paralyze Limb works on the limb and extremities off of that limb, and works if you either hit the limb or the extremity.


  1. My thoughts (no GURPS Magic):

    I think I'd keep Total Paralysis as-is, and assume it's an extended special case of Paralyze Limb: rather than just paralyzing the affected extremity (head), you're locking up the central nervous system located there. Perhaps reduce costs to account for the difficulty of using it (out-of-combat seems the ideal use). Certainly allow it to act as Paralyze Limb if you manage that much.

    If you wanted to go crazy with that concept, hitting the spine could also be allowed to work, or at least have a reduced effect (paralyze from the waist down).

    Headless creatures with some sort central processing system require hitting the appropriate area (hitting the braincase/hump on a Pierson's Puppeteer will work, hitting one of the 'heads' will not...). Humanoid magical creatures such as golems can still be paralyzed by touching the head, thanks to the Law of Similarity that is part of how they're created.

    1. The problem with it is that the spell never gets used, because:

      - You need a solid wizard to get the spell high enough that it's reliable to cast and use in combat.

      - It's resistible, so it doesn't always work.

      - Hitting the Face is -5, meaning you'll want a solid DX, a lot of skill in Staff or Brawling, or some other striking skill to hit in the first place.

      - You'll want enough skill to either Feint or Deceptive Attack enough to land the strike through defenses.

      - You'll need solid defenses to survive being straight-up killed by warrior types . . . and any target worth spending 5 points and all this effort against is going to be a tough nut to crack.

      Taking off that -5 is a no-brainer, really - you still need to be a solid combatant or attack by surprise, but now it's not coupled with a -5 to land it in the first place. It's just a penalty too far to make it worth ever casting.

    2. True enough. I had some hidden assumptions of comparing it to how I've seen such things in fiction, which distracted me.

      Usually, it seems like mages only break out paralyzation out of combat, by surprise. Often as part of the Big Reveal that they are the bad guy.

      Or, if it happens in combat, it happens at range, which is a very different thing than this spell.

      Either way, you don't see a whole lot of resisting going on, either.

      Another random thought: While you usually see paralyzation as a on/off 'you can move or you can't', there are versions where the hero slowly fights it off. Which makes me wonder about implementing a paralyzation spell as some form of big pool of full-body CP....

    3. As a big pool of CP, it would need to be cheaper, or harder to resist to keep it fair.

    4. Everything tastes better as a big pool of CP.

  2. It would be cool if this spell could be used as a ranged attack. It make wizards really scary though. They would be like Darth Vader when he chokes people.

    1. Choke (Magic p. 40) is already a Regular spell.

    2. Ranged Total Paralysis isn't crazy, but I didn't want to go that far just yet - it might be too potent and I haven't tried it out to see how it would work out. Throw Spell would do in the meantime, though.

    3. You are right, Throw Spell would work well. I was just thinking that it would make the weak, old wizard more formidable. He wouldn't need to have combat spells to hit a PC, he could just look at a target and have his magic do the work.

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  4. I'd suggest giving people a -5 to resist if Total Paralysis targets the head or neck. It gives the wizard a reason to try it, especially in ambush situations, but the spell is still useful if the wizard can only do a body touch.

  5. I was writing a story in which someone had enchanted a stone to perform wither limb with a bane vs orc and ogres, and placed blocking a mountain pass. A fellow died pushing it over, and then a half ogre used it in her sling (loaded by a human) to strike her brother (leading the orc army) in the head, killing him.


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