As I pointed out in my review, Thaumatology misses out on a couple of points. It doesn't provide any magic systems that have enjoyed wide popularity a few things are moderately popular, but they're swamped by RPM and Sorcery , and it didn't attempt to provide a wider framework to think of magic systems inside of. The last is a tall order, but it's the type of thing that so many good GURPS books have distinguished themselves by doing. Thursday, May 31, Review: Thaumatology. This is a long, pretty important book. It's pretty useful for anyone that cares about magic of any kind in their adventures and campaigns, and it is big.
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As I pointed out in my review, Thaumatology misses out on a couple of points. It doesn't provide any magic systems that have enjoyed wide popularity a few things are moderately popular, but they're swamped by RPM and Sorcery , and it didn't attempt to provide a wider framework to think of magic systems inside of. The last is a tall order, but it's the type of thing that so many good GURPS books have distinguished themselves by doing. Thursday, May 31, Review: Thaumatology.
This is a long, pretty important book. It's pretty useful for anyone that cares about magic of any kind in their adventures and campaigns, and it is big. That is redundant but true. It's also a pretty entertaining read for people that like reading over mechanics, but it is a bit like drinking straight from the hose. Reviews try to answer a few hard subjective questions about whether a book is "good" or "important" or whether the reviewer would "recommend" the book, and my answers to those questions, Re: Thaumatology are somewhat nuanced.
I think the book is a very dense exploration of a lot of topics, and for people that like reading manuals, it has a lot to pick through and ruminate over. In terms of application however, I personally haven't found it fundamental to my games or mechanical navel-gazing; there are a few extraordinarily valuable gems of worth hidden inside, but for myself, I had this feeling that the book deep dived often on things that were superfluous, and when it reached a place where it got interesting, it was disappointingly shallow.
However, if you have found a system you like, this book can help fine tune them into something that matches your specifications and expectations even better. Let's take a closer look then. Overview First page of the table of contents This is a page book; my pdf is pages accounting for the cover art. There are 5 pages of front matter including a two page introduction, and 32 pages of back matter including a detailed list of modifiers, alternative critical failure tables, a table of prerequisite counts, a bibliography, and an index, leaving pages divided amongst 8 chapters.
The book is decently illustrated and colored the recent POD release is black and white and considering the huge volume of material, as well organized as one could hope. The introduction is helpful, and I think it is available for free in the sample PDF.
Normally, I'd give a high level summation of my opinion here, but the tricky thing about this book, for better or for worse, is that the subject matter isn't particularly homogeneous. There are some chapters that I like, some I don't. Some that have great practical application, and some that seem entirely pointless, and that's kinda what happens when a book is a big giant toolkit like this one.
So instead of making a sound-bite judgement here, let's look at each of the parts individually, chapter by chapter. Second page The opening chapter, an introduction part 2, is a discussion on some of the fundamental themes of magic, and examples of how it might express itself differently from setting to setting; some settings have it be a gift from the heavens; some have it as a set of formulas and laws; some settings make it a genetic privilege, etc.
The idea here is to start the wheels turning on how it might work in a GM's potential setting, and to think about what this might imply for strengths and weaknesses; if magic is a divine gift, could offending the deities cause one to lose it? If magic isn't built on formulas and laws, how do magicians discover or formulate new methods of casting? If only a few people can acquire magical ability by birthright, does this make it a huge social advantage, or maybe it is something that needs to be kept under wraps.
The chapter is an interesting, mostly system agnostic discussion on magic at a holistic altitude in campaign or setting design. I don't know if I would call it "useful," but it is a good read, and perhaps it can inspire the reader to make a unique decision. Ideas include different modifiers for the Magery advantage, basing casting on different attributes, or alternative "colleges" of spells.
It includes guidance for ideas like banning spells, or changing the cost or time of casting, or adding enhancements to the spells directly. There are a few interesting concepts in here that are usable here, and a few bits that might be useful for inspiration, but it will take some effort to pare through the stuff that isn't needed for the stuff that is useful.
That isn't a condemnation about the organization of the chapter, rather, there is a lot of stuff. Perhaps though, it might be said that the chapter would have been better if split into smaller bits. Major Variations While the previous chapter pretty much kept the mechanics in tact but made adjustments to details, these changes are It talks about clerical magic, or adjusting the tenets of magic to rely on the divine instead of mana; then it goes into an expansion on ritual magic from the basic set.
After that though, is the actually interesting section on Threshold Limited Magery. The system works differently than using FP for energy, with some foundational changes that fundamentally change tactical decision making when it comes to what spells are trivial and what are really needed.
The next section speaks to modifiers to give magic a stronger thematic feel by affecting potency depending on material components or the astrological signs. It has many of the same pros and cons as threshold limited magery mentioned earlier, but it is mechanically distinct.
Threshold Limited Magery and Assisting Spirits are both pretty neat novel ideas, and Clerical magic is A really good chapter. A chapter that deals with finding enchantment materials and actually manufacturing enchantments. In short, like a lot of GURPS enchantment information, the system for doing the enchantments is pretty good, it ties together a lot of existent system idioms in a cohesive way and makes sense.
Unfortunately, the section on finding magical raw material is lacking, and comes down to the sloppy kinda wishy-washy guidance of "roll prospecting or something, then choose how valuable you want the stuff to be, you're the gm, not me! This chapter has a number of systems that work by defining constituent parts of spells instead of a full fledged spells. I especially like the Realm system that combines leveled advantages and skills in an interesting way, that on paper never actually tried it seems it could do well to allow players a bit of flexibility while tempering the risk of too much power.
The contents seem a bit all over the place, like they tried to fit that book into a single chapter and add a few things on top of it. This is a guidance and advice chapter for GMs on how to apply magic to a gameworld. It reprises some of the themes in the first chapter, but applies them in the context of planning, and focuses on what a GM might need to consider when worldbuilding. What does choosing a system with slow casting mechanics mean for a game?
What does it mean if people can make their own spells on the fly instead of casting from a learned menu? How do multiple systems interact? The chapter ends with an example setting a low-tech magic ocean world with several islands to demonstrate the planning process. I have no complaints about this chapter except that the content could easily be doubled or tripled and still be worth reading. Rindis June 1, at PM.
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