Thursday, November 17, 2016

Revised GURPS Magic for DF: Great Wish

A couple years ago, I wrote a series of posts about wishes:

Wishes, Part I - Wording & Whatnot

Wishes, Part II - Limiting Wishes

Wishes, Part III - GURPS & My War Stories

This post is a game-specific expansion on some of the ideas in those posts. Where this post contradicts those posts or modifies what they say, this one supercedes them for DF Felltower.

I've used the Great Wish spell in my gaming, but for my DF game, I want to change it.

Specifically, I'd like Great Wish to function a lot more like a D&D/AD&D-era Wish as seen in play descriptions from old issues of Dragon magazine. I'd like to see a lot less of it as a way to give PCs a permanent power boost, acquire a magic item ("I wish for a green ioun stone" being the endless example back in the day), and so on. Not quite at the Arabian Nights levels (geez, Aladdin gets a ring to wish with and a lamp to wish with, and still has trouble) but close. Something like this . . . .

. . . without the "palace full of riches" that would make it a game-ending piece of loot.

Wish as a blanket request to the universe to change things or do something?


Wish as a way to get +1 DX, +3 to a skill, or gain an advantage you don't want to save up for or can't?

No thank you, not in this game. Been there, done that, and it doesn't fit this game.

I thought of a number ways to do this - but not any really good ones. No matter what I came up with, I knew that as long as a permanent boost to one PC is on the table eventually people will settle on that. "Sure, we could save this to raise a bunch of people from the dead, but if we give so-and-so +1 DX that will help us every session all the time." And thus the ring of wishes or the grateful djinn becomes a ring of advantages and a grateful stat boost. Bleh.

Then I realized the simplest approach is the best - do away with what I don't want, leave in what I do.

Great Wish

As written, except that the only available uses are options (1) and (4). Options (2) and (3) do not exist. Wishes can create new material permanently, using the costs in Wizardry Refined as a guide.

And that's it. Beings that can grant wishes, wishing rings, etc. - all will work within these limits if they're using the Great Wish spell to do their thing. A version that allows options (2) and (3) may exist, but they'll be vanishingly rare at best, and may not exist at all. Got a Ring of Wishing? Use it to do interesting stuff, whisk yourselves out of danger (or into it), heal people, dispel the undispellable, etc. - but no using it for permanent boosts to your character.


  1. There are actually some Ioun Stones in my DF game (because it uses a converted D&D adventure), so I've looked at the Ioun Stone SRD entry multiple times, but somehow I never noticed the Pale Green one. Yeah, that's worth a Wish.

    Back in the 1980s when we played D&D as kids, we also used our (rare) Wishes to increase abilities. I think the consensus, when discussing Rings of Wishing in theory, was to use the first 2 of your 3 wishes to increase key stats, then save the third for an emergency. But, in practice, anytime someone got any wishes, they used them all immediately.

    If wishes are very rare things that the players can only find, not actually cast repeatedly, then I don't think using one to boost an ability is particularly unbalancing. A bit lame, yeah, but not really crazy overpowered. But if someone can actually reliably cast Great Wish (meaning they can repeatedly come up with 2000 mana), that would get old fast, watching the 500-point wizard use his army of ceremonial casting lackeys to turn himself into a 10000-point wizard.

    Anyway, the Wish spells are Enchantments, which means that they're not available to DF PCs per RAW, so I don't think it's really a problem. Nothing wrong with your house rule, but I think just leaving them out is easier.

    1. Leaving them out would be easier, but it leaves out the things I like want wishes for in this game in order to leave out the things I don't. That's a case where "easier" costs me "things I want."

      It's not that abilities boosts are overpowered, it's just that it automatically, 100% of the time, will be what a wish is used for. An ability boost or wishing for an advantage. I suspect that, before abilities scores really mattered, wishes in games were used to wish for things - raise that guy from the dead, get me out of this dungeon, make that unkillable monster join us instead of kill us, etc. Once stats mattered, and they'd matter over a longer time, it makes sense to wish for them. I just don't want them doing that in this game. If I want to pass out a power boost, I'll pass out a power boost. With a wish, I'm passing out something else entirely . . . what, is up to the players, but it's not character points enchanted into a ring.

  2. In D&D changing a stat requires 1 wish per point of the desired stat: going from Strength 16 to 17 requires 17 wishes. This wasn't an option for PC spellcasters until the Master Set came out and even then only the highest level spellcasters with the highest ability scores could cast it. Wishes from rings were covered in the Expert Set only very briefly and no mention of ability scores were given so it was open to the DM to decide. It did use an example of wishing for a magic item and the result was only temporary possession with the item disappearing after the time of need. In AD&D it is stated that each wish raises one stat by one point only up to 15 (and most stats did not offer a bonus until either 15 or 16). After that it takes 10 wishes for each point increase. So even way back in the 70s this was known to be a problem the DM wanted to head off with special cases in the spell description.

    Personally I've only ever used two wishes and both were used to turn a TPK into a victory by changing the conditions of the battle. In one I wished the ambush had failed and we went back in time to before the ambush was sprung but with foreknowledge of the ambush and ran the combat without the enemy getting total surprise. In the other we were captured and bound while sleeping by assassins. I wished my position and that of my interrogator were reversed. Suddenly I was standing free and he was bound to a chair. I'm proud of my two wishes :-D


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...