Ritual Path Magic for Fantasy Gaming

The standard magic system in GURPS leaves me wanting something more. I'm well aware that I'm not alone in that department. I am also not alone in trying to adapt PK's outstanding Ritual Path Magic system from Monster Hunters into a useable tool for Dungeon Fantasy style characters. There are notable roadblocks.

The first thing to note is that Monster Hunters, for which RPM was developed, is based on the assumption of 400 point heroes. Dungeon Fantasy starts at 250, and the deficit is a difficult one to bridge. For a wizard, he can trade in his extra FP, points in spells, 1 point in Thaumatology and 30 points of variable advantages in exchange for a serviceable package of advantages and skills:

Invest 40 of them in Ritual Adept and you're left with 30 points for skills: Thaumatology at 15- [8]; one Path skill at 15- [8]; a second Path skill at 14- [4]; three more at 13- [6, 2 each]; and the remaining four Path skills at 12- [4, 1 each]

Workable, flexible, plenty of utility in the field with skill levels that fit nicely into the "highly skilled but not immune to disasters" range. But utterly devoid of any differentiation at the advantage level - every Wizard will have an alarming level of similarity in many areas. A little better with some paths than others, and perhaps with some different flavor skills or physical combat options.

An option is to sacrifice the elephant in the room, Ritual Adept: it's 40 points, and while remarkably useful, it does rather eliminate flexibility in terms of character creation as a whole. It's the option that was recommended to me by +Mark Langsdorf in his ruminations on the subject, offering that our wizard might not be able to cook up fireballs on the fly whenever he feels like it, he can prepare 18 charms for immediate deployment and still remain flexible, if a bit slower and more deliberate, about other issues. It's a nice blend of old-school, limited spells per battle style paired with subtle, thoughtful, almost Tolkienesque magics.

I think I might like to take a middle-ground, and offer some limited forms of Ritual Adept. PK is good about sharing his logic in building the advantage, that it is based on the Adept advantage, taken for four levels. That makes it pretty easy to break down into it's component parts once more, allow the player greater flexibility in what sort of investment to make in greater magical power.

Ubiquitous Ritualist: this advantage allows the practitioner to cast spells without a direct connection to the target (at any range, without knowing immediate location, and lacking any items connected to the individual or parts of that individual), negating the -5 penalty for non-Adepts. 10 points

Flexible Ritualist: this advantage allows the practitioner to cast spells anywhere, without the space being consecrated first, negating the -5 penalty for non-Adepts. 10 points

Quick Ritualist: this advantage, available in two levels, allows the practitioner to gather or tap energy faster than a non-Adept. The first level allows the first gathering to take just 5 seconds or the first tapping to take 1 second. The second level allows this speed for second and subsequent gatherings and tappings. 10 points/level

Not only does this give the player of a mage more flexibility at creation time, in terms of other advantages and the like, it also allows for the abilities to be added during play, as the ritualist becomes more and more powerful. It also allows one to play at a lower level and still have some options for greater flexibility without dedicating twenty to fifty percent of total points to a single advantage.

So, what does my modified DF Wizard archetype look like now? Much the same as the base model, with the following changes:

Drop FP to 11 [-9]; Keep Thaumatology at [IQ] level [+7]; Drop all 30 points of spells [-30]; Invest 22 points in Path skills [22]; Raise flexible advantage budget to 40 points [10]; Add the Ritualist advantages above and Ritual Adept to the advantage list. Note that extra points from Quirks will often be spent not on an expensive Power Item, but rather one or more useful grimoires.

Next steps for me - figuring out what to do with Bard, Cleric and Druid, plus all of the other archetypes added in later materials.


  1. The solution to Cleric is Divine Favor, which is already well documented in the available PDFs.

    Druids are just a problem. Bruno has some incomplete notes on turning them into shape-shifters (http://ottgaming.grimoire.ca/Borderlands/Druidic_Alternate_Forms) but I think there's still a conceptual gap of what a druid should be.

  2. I'll second Divine Favor as "just feels right." Antoni's Dungeon expansions of the concept do very well, and with the right mix of Learned Prayers and General/Specific prayers, a Cleric, Saint, or Warrior Saint feels quite different than a regular magic spellcaster.

  3. That was the direction I was likely to head in anyway for Clerics - it seems like a logical one, and I just recently acquired Divine Favor so as to round out that particular area of my game.


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