Coded green.

Thursday 26 July 2001

Screenshot Master of Magic

Pic of the day: Yeah, so I've been playing Master of Magic again. It's just harmless fun. No real magicians were harmed during the production of this picture.

From books to magic

No, there is no end to the making of books. The Bible itself tells us so (Ecclesiastes 12,12). And certainly the books have proven hard to kill in the past: We've had screenplays for thousands of years, and later we got movies, radio, television, video, computers and the Internet. There have never been as many books as now, and they just keep coming.

With the recent flood of (still too expensive) e-books, even I have had a temporaty book fad again, reading five books in less than two weeks. Yes, I have finished the Oracle trilogy by Mike Resnick. The end was kind of bittersweet sad, but at least the Iceman did not say "I am your father, Penelope Bailey" as I had half expected.

But fads don't last long here at the Chaos Node. And so the three books that I ordered today are all in paper (if only because they don't yet exist in e-form) and none of them are novels. They are all fiction, though. They are: GURPS Magic, GURPS Grimoire, and GURPS Psionics.


Yes indeed! Generic Universale Role Playing System strikes again. Actually I feel that I have a pretty good grip on psionics now, based on the chapter in the Basic Set handbook. I am learning magic next, and expect to have a reasonable foundation by the time the books arrive from

It bears hammering on the nail that this is role playing magic. It is carefully crafted for game balance, and any similarity to actual Cabbalistic or Wiccan traditions is toned way down. This is fantasy magic and will not accidentally set loose any demons in the kitchen if you happen to read the wrong lines aloud. Especially if you don't happen to have any Powerstones at hand...

Steve Jackson & company pride themselves in having a truly generic role playing system, and this means that you cannot allow any single part of it to become superior to all others. Not even magic. In most traditions, magic is indeed a superior tool. While mages are not gods and can be killed, they are also feared and envied by the multitudes who are unable to grasp the Power. In GURPS, a mage is versatile and grows more powerful with time and experience. But in pure action, he remains inferior to a dedicated martial artist for most if not all of his career. It's all about game balance.


Speaking of game balance, there is a tendency among GURPS fans (as seen on the Web and the newsgroup to think that the real world somehow provides a more level playing field than it does. When you create a role playing character, you have to cut down on some stats in order to improve others, and take various disadvantages if you otherwise become too powerful. But in real life, some advantages tend to bring more advantages. A beautiful or handsome person is better paid (especially males, believe it or not) and people like Bill Gates have evidently got both IQ and Wealth. Well educated people are generally more healthy. It seems that in real life, some people have simply got more points to spend all over.

It may be just as well, then, that our world is a Low-Mana World. Imagine Bill Gates casting spells... (Well, there are those who claim Hitler dabbled in the occult. Not to compare anyone or anything. Somehow "the Operating System of Destiny" doesn't quite have that ring to it...)

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