Friday, November 18, 2016

How many orc wizards?


Tribal spell casters are found amongst the following races of creatures:
spell casters are divided into two types, shamans and witch doctors.

[. . . ]

A tribe will have either shamans or witch doctors, but not both [. . . ] It is suggested you include these figures into those groups that you personally determine, not random groups.


So says the DMG.

But GURPS isn't AD&D, even when running a game deliberately pulling elements from my AD&D experiences.*

The orcs in my Felltower game have a good amount of magical support. Not as in either a shaman of up to 5th level as a Cleric or a witch doctor of up to 5th level as a Cleric and 4th level as a Magic-User. And not nearly as limited.

First off, in GURPS, Magery 1 is a 10 point advantage. 10. Instead of +1 to DX you can have Magery 1 and 10 points in spells. Instead of a few points here and there in Broadsword, Bow, Shield, Brawling, and Wrestling, you get points in Innate Attack and Fireball and Create Fire or Stone Missile and Shape Earth. It's not a big stretch from there to Magery 2 or 3 and some potent spells.

Since I drew heavily on Mirror of the Fire Demon, there are a lot more magical spellcasters.

How many?

Enough that:

- having a spellcaster on a medium or large sized patrol is normal. Having two isn't terribly unusual.

- PC magical superiority is likely, but it's not a one-sided affair.

- magical offense and magical defense will be part of any big fight with orcs.

- "kill the casters" is a great tactic, but it's not a strategy. There are more of them.

- You can't assume the enemy has no buffs, no Knowledge spells, and no magical reserve.

They aren't all that much individually, but there isn't just a single shaman or witch-doctor and perhaps 2-3 apprentices. It's more like a number of better wizards, but lots of minor ones.

I find it's hard to shake that "AD&D ecosystem" thinking that magic is for PCs and wizards, non-humans are generally weak casters, and spells are potent but casters are few. In GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, magic is for everyone, strong and weak casters are all over the place, and spells are more utility than potent but a wide variety are in play.

But as the PCs look to kill the orcs, it's worth noting (for them and from the outside looking in) that magic is something that happens in every fight on both sides.

* Among many other influences - seeing GURPS Felltower as GURPS AD&D is not an accurate image of the game.

1 comment:

  1. In Baldurs Gate and it's type of game Wizards showing up was farely common. For humanoid encounters it was more often than not. I still remember being approached in an Inn and then having tangleroots cast on me and dying shorty afterwards. All at least level 2 IIRC.

    The enemy party fights stayed the most deadly throughout the game. I'd auto pause, dispel magic and all in on the wizards. Reloading was frequently necessary.

    To recreate the intensity of those fights in DF I plan to keep the casters (and indeed each member of the enemy party) at something like 125 points just so the PCs dont die 50% of the time.


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