Thursday, September 27, 2018

Revised GURPS Magic: Death Vision

Death Vision is one of those spells that has an effect that seems a little outsized to what it costs in energy and time to cast.

I think it's a great information spell, but it's "mentally stunned" with no resistance is pretty easy to abuse. Don't agree? Have a Death Vision-25 foe fight the PCs along with a few allies to take advantage of the -4 defenses from stunning plus the ease of getting a -2 for flanking on a stunned foe.

There are two ways to control that:

Add a resistance roll. Simply put, an unwilling subject can resist. I'd go with Will-2, here, like Madness, because the effect is dangerous but minor, and it's a time-consuming spell to cast until your skill is 20 or 25.

Add immunity. Not everything should be subject to this. Limiting this to sapient or near-sapeint foes (IQ 6+) is a good start. Limiting it to such foes makes it dangerous against intelligent foes, but not an easy way to divert dire animals. I'd also blanket in Death Vision as a spell subject to Immunity to Mind Control Spells - demons, undead, etc. shouldn't generally be subject to this kind of spell.

In my own game, I'm considering doing both. The main intended use - figuring out what might kill you - is unchanged. Its main actual use - stunning foes as an attack spell - would be weakened without being nerfed. The Will-2 resistance means it's still very effective, but it's not automatic. So that's probably how I'll run it in Felltower.


  1. I thought it was resisted until I checked. Yes, it should be resisted by an unwilling subject!

    I'd do both your suggestions.

    1. I actually made "resisted by an unwilling subject" a standard effect in my game, for "helpful" spells that would hurt their subject.

  2. The no resistance roll makes it so good. The 3s casting time makes it so bad. If you have it at 25 so it's a 1s casting time, so good, but then it should be good at 25.

    Anyway, adding a resistance roll is a house rule. Spells that don't say they're resisted normally are not. I kinda like that house rule, but it's only fair to tell the wizards ahead of time.

    But I don't think that letting some enemies be immune is a rule change. It's just a reasonable interpretation of existing rules. Death Vision is a fear effect, and Unfazeable makes you immune to fear, so *of course* Unfazeable works, IMO. Fearlessness is more debatable. It gives a bonus to resist fear, but there's normally no chance to resist this one, so how does that end up working? GM call. So far, nothing living in my game has been able to resist Death Vision. Does that mean it will automatically stun the biggest baddest boss monster? Don't count on it.

    1. Of course adding a resistance roll is a house rule. All of my "Revised GURPS Magic" posts are house rules!

      As for telling people ahead of time, yeah, that's optimal. But it's not always how it gets done in my games. It's not a big deal to me to change things on the fly if it works for me and my players.

      The skill 25 example is just to show what it could do. Again, of course skill 25 is good. It's skill 25. But my point is that Death Vision is easy to abuse, and that happens to be the top point of that abuse and not unreasonable in a DF PC or DF foe.

    2. Its the foes not the PCs that players will complain about!

      25 skill liches arent all that rare. Insta stun each and every turn!

    3. That, for sure. Plus Death Vision is a really useful information spell. I'd rather have it be one that can double as an attack spell in a pinch.


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