Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Revised GURPS Magic: Mass spell casting times

Another thing I changed in my incremental revisions to GURPS Magic for my DF game is the casting times for Mass Daze, Mass Sleep, and Mass Suggestion.

Right now, Mass Sleep, for example, costs 3, minimum 6, time to cast is 1 second per point of energy. Therefore it takes 6 seconds to cast Mass Sleep on a 3-hex diameter area (aka area 2.) Want to hit a whole combat spread across 5 hexes? That's area 3, 9 seconds. Diameter 7? That's area 4, 12 seconds.

12 seconds is a lifetime in GURPS combats, and it's a resisted spell, and not cheap (12 points is more than a normal human's entirely allotment of Fatigue Points), so it's not even a fight-ender unless you roll very well and/or your foes fail badly. That's long enough that it's better to just Great Haste several of your friends or hit the area with Stench or Create Fire.

I'd suggest time to cast is the same as the minimum energy cost.

Mass Daze: 4 seconds
Mass Sleep: 6 seconds
Mass Suggestion: 8 seconds

None of them are especially fast, but combined with the revisions to the spells I suggested yesterday, this makes them much more viable. Mass Daze can take out bunches of foes long enough to go for a Telegraphic All-Out Attack to a vital spot on each, and Mass Sleep can put many opponents out completely. Serious casters will get skill 20+ and halve the time, too.

That makes them viable offensive spells. Plus, generally big spells are more expensive, not slower. There are a few exceptions (Windstorm is one), but they more than make up for it with fairly extreme effects.

We have been using these rules for a while, in case anyone was wondering why Mr. NPC Wizard got off such a big spell so quickly in my DF game.

Sharp-eyed folks will notice there are four Mass spells in GURPS Magic - the last being Mass Zombie. I didn't mention it above because I feel like it's an exception. It's meant not as a combat spell, but as a big, slow spell meant for waking up the dead on a battlefield or in a cemetery, and raising a (temporary) army of zombies to beat on your foes. It's not a combat spell, it just has to compete with Zombie, not things like Create Fire or Rain of Stones.


  1. I cut the times down years ago to half what you posted and the spells still never get used. About the only time anyone will use them in my games is with a Delay or Link.

    1. My players don't use them, either, but it's the same couple of guys who keep running wizards, and they don't think the spells are worth it. The guys before them in my 1st edition GURPS game used Mass Sleep and Mass Daze all the time even with the longer casting times. So it could be a matter of taste and preference rather than an issue with effectiveness.

      I think of that kind of difference this way - Mark Langsdorf has said he had to lower the price of potions, and his players still don't use them. I have to put hard limits on potion use, and soft limits by limiting the number of doses available for sale, and ruling about multiple-dosing. The first new skill the new PC in our group picked up was Fast-Draw (Potion). So I think some things just get tossed in a heap despite their utility.

  2. I used Mass Daze with my last GURPS wizard; it actually ended up seeming kind of over-powered. Of course, in DF, everyone is OP in their specialization, and so it is mostly a matter of how well you can keep the fight into your area.

  3. I always viewed them either as ambush spells to avoid (much of) a fight entirely or as prepared spell stone/speed spell arrow spells to use in a tactically urgent manner.

  4. In my DF game, I house ruled the casing time for Mass Daze and Mass Sleep to 1 sec per hex of radius. So our Wizard with Mass Sleep 21, will case a radius 4 Mass Sleep in 2 seconds.

    The most common use I see of the Mass Daze and Mass Sleep spells are ambushes.

    1. I kind of like that too - 1 second per area. With skill 20-24 halving the time to 2 seconds for area 4, you can slam it down over a close in combat every other turn if you wanted to. That's pretty potent!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...