This is an example on how to shape the magic in your GURPS game by selecting available spells and changing their prerequisites, and why a weak spell can sometimes be considered high-tier.
I’ve been playing some WoW lately. There are three schools of magic in the game and they’re all focused on damage dealing. There are differences in their play patterns, but they inevitably end up being compared on the ground of damage per second. That made me wonder if the developers would dare to truly differentiate the three specializations and make one of them a tank. And, for example, one (fire) focused on area damage and the last one (arcane) on single target damage. That idea brought me back to thinking about the Fireball in GURPS Magic.
Fireball is the second least cost-effective missile spell in the book. I cry every time I compare it to the Stone Missile, which has better accuracy, damage, and range. It seems like the only meaningful reason to take Fireball is to get to the Explosive Fireball. Why then can you buy one without the other? If Explosive Fireball is worth the power tax (it really isn’t), this spell should be more expensive, and not the previous spells weaker. Because if you don’t pick up Explosive, you just end up with a couple spells that are weaker for the sake of something that shouldn’t bother you. That’s a poor guidance for players who’d like to pick up just a few spells from the 1000 without reading the whole book and making tabs on the way. So how about we put the normal Fireball after the Explosive one in the prerequisite chain?
It doesn’t make sense in a vacuum, but it does a lot when you think about it in terms of two different magic schools. Let’s say we want Earth to be the single-target damage college and Fire – the area damage one. With prerequisite chains something like this:
- Earth: (1) Some regular damage spell, (2) Sand Jet, (3) Mud Jet, (4) Stone Missile;*
- Fire: (1) Create Fire, (2) Rain of Fire, (3) Explosive Fireball, (4) Fireball;
a dedicated fire mage who wants a fall-back single-target spell might pick-up the weaker Fireball or pay more precious points to get to stronger Stone Missile, which would really make him a generalist. That means more expensive Magery and less points for energy, and energy is our beloved mayhem.
Gnomash out, cheers!