Runic Magic - Advanced Magic

The base magic rules can be expanded in many ways; the following are a few important notes on some of those ways.


Additional Details

These rules expand on some of those found in Performing Magic and provide a few additional ways for spellcasters to use magic.

Blocking Spells

A blocking spell, a defensive ritual that is used as an out-of-turn response to another person’s actions, can be cast once per turn as an active defense. This requires that the spell be cast in zero time. This requires the spell have only one or no greater effects and takes a -5 skill penalty for ritual expert, a -10 skill penalty for a ritual adept, or a -15 skill penalty for a non-adept.

The Golden Rule

Whenever a spell needs the equivalent of an attribute or skill, and no other rule seems to cover it, substitute the effective Path skill used to cast it prior to the spell’s base skill penalty. This can be improved using the Bestows a Bonus spell modifier.

Example: A caster with Dominion of Earth-15 wishes to cast Shackles of Earth, a binding spell with a -6 skill penalty. The caster has a +1 Earth focus item and is casting in a +3 mana zone. His effective skill to cast the ritual is 13, but the binding’s ST is based on effective skill + (absolute value of skill penalty), or 19.


Divinations are an effective way to determine the most likely answer to a given question. Divinations work via Greater Sense Destiny effects, and otherwise their rules are identical to those in GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic, p. 24.

Magic vs. Magic

Any spell that targets another spell as the subject must add a surcharge to its penalty to cast equal to the base penalty to cast the original spell, with the additional penalty from greater effects being the maximum of the two spell’s greater effects penalties.

Example: Darth Evilmore cast Sap the Will upon Bunny Herosman, putting Bunny under Darth’s complete control. Sap the Will is a Greater Control Spirit effect with a -7 total penalty, -2 as the base penalty and -5 from the single greater effect. Jack Herosman comes to Bunny’s rescue by using Dispel the Chains, a spell that breaks hostile magical effects using Lesser Destroy Magic and Lesser Sense Magic. This spell has a nominal penalty of -1, but in order to dispel Darth Evilmore’s curse Jack needs to accept a -2 penalty (from energy) and a further -5 penalty (from the greater effect). This results in a final penalty of -8 to dispel the effect.

Note that this applies to targeting the spell directly; coming up with a different spell effect that counters the original spell in a different way is perfectly viable. For example, using Destroy Fire to extinguish a blaze caused by Create Fire would need the surcharge, but using Create Water to extinguish a blase created by Create Fire would not. This always applies for nullifying an effect by using the opposing element, when possible.


A ward is a defensive ritual to protect a person or area against a particular type of supernatural threat. All wards work in the same basic way, the rules of which are slightly different from those in GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic.

Wards only affect supernatural entities, and not all of them at that; they will do nothing against a bullet or a burglar, but can be quite effective against a vampire or spell. The GM decides which racial templates include the 0-point feature “Affected by wards”.

Wards may be cast on a specific subject (in which case the subject weight modifier is required) or as an area effect (use the area of effect modifier). Wards also always have a duration; select this as well. This always uses a Lesser Control effect, the exact element used depending upon what is being warded against. A single effect can either be a ‘Spell Ward’ or a ‘Monster Ward’ – it can’t be both.

After selecting the effects and subject weight/area effect modifiers, calculate the skill penalty. Two basic wards are given below:

Personal Ward (Element)
Spell Effects: Lesser Control (Element)
Inherent Modifiers: None.
Greater Effects: 0 (×1).

This provides a ward for a single person. Each element that is warded against is a separate casting! Choose whether it is a spell ward or a monster ward at time of casting.

Typical Casting: Lesser Control (Element) (5) + Subject Weight, 300 lbs. (3) + Duration, 1 month (11). 29 energy. -2 penalty.

Area Ward (Element)
Spell Effects: Lesser Control (Element)
Inherent Modifiers: None.
Greater Effects: 0 (×1).

This provides a ward to an entire area of effect. Each element that is warded against is a separate casting! Choose whether it is a spell ward or a monster ward at time of casting.

Typical Casting: Lesser Control (Element) (5) + Area of Effect, 20 yards (12) + Duration, 1 month (11). 38 energy. -3 penalty.

When casting a ward, the caster must accept an additional penalty on top of the base spell casting penalty. This additional penalty is the ward’s Power. A Power 5 Personal Ward (Fire) would thus have a total penalty of -7. The ward’s Power is used to determine whether a spell effect can affect the warded target or whether a monster can pass through the ward.

A ward may be penetrated by losing in a special Quick Contest of the spell or monster versus an automatic margin of success equal to the ward’s Power. If the spell or monster wins, the ward is penetrated (see below) and the ward’s Power is permanently reduced by one. If the ward wins, then it holds and has a cumulative +1 bonus to effective Power when dealing with that particular caster or monster. If a ward is ever reduced to Power 0, the ward breaks. The only way to heal a ward is to recast it.

The margin of success on the roll to cast the ward is the penalty to detect the ward (or the bonus to detect it; caster’s choice). The exact effect depends upon what is being warded off.

Spell Wards
A spell ward resists any spells made using the warded element (or all spells, for a ward using Lesser Control Magic). The ward resists any spells the subject attempts to resist being cast on the subject or into the area. If the caster is targeting a protected area he need only win once in order to penetrate the ward, not once per subject.

In the Quick Contest to penetrate the ward, the hostile caster uses the same Path skill and modifiers that were used to cast the spell (if the hostile caster’s spell is newly cast, just use his margin of success on the casting roll), while the ward has an automatic margin of success equal to its Power.

If the hostile caster loses, he doesn’t penetrate the ward and the ward has an effective +1 to its Power when dealing with that caster (but the caster may try again). If the hostile caster wins, he penetrates the ward; his spell affects its contents normally and the ward’s Power drops by 1 permanently.

Monster Wards
A monster ward resists appropriate supernatural creatures (Fire Elementals for Fire, Vampires for Death, faeries for Spirit, etc). The ward resists any appropriate creature that tries to harm the subject in any way or that tries to cross (or attack across) the barrier of an area-effect ward.

In the Quick Contest to penetrate the ward, the beast uses the higher of its HT or Will (plus any Magic Resistance) against an automatic margin of success equal to the ward’s Power. If the beast wins, the ward is penetrated and it can attack or cross over normally; if it loses or ties, it can try again, but the ward has a cuulative +1 bonus to effect Power when dealing with that particualr beast.

If a beast is inside of a warded area when the ward goes up, and it loses the Quick Contest, then it is immediately ejected from the warded area as if struck by an attack that does an appropriate amount of knockback-only damage.

A threshold is a natural ward formed around a permanent dwelling. Hotels, shared living quarters, temporary accomodations, and most apartments do not form strong enough thresholds to matter, but a normal permanent home naturally has a ward protecting all those inside it from many beasts and some magic. The type of beasts and magic that a threshold protect against may differ from those that a spell or monster ward protect against, but common ones include vampires and most death magic. The GM decides which creatures fall under this category for any particular game.

The strength of a threshold depends upon how long it has been lived in, particularly by a single family. Some communal buildings, primarily houses of worship, provide their own thresholds – these almost always protect against any harmful magic or any supernatural beast affected by a monster ward and are, thus, generally a bit more powerful than that for a single-family home.

A ward may be built upon a threshold. In that case, the threshold’s Power adds to the ward’s Power for all purposes – even if the threshold wouldn’t normally protect against a particular beast or spell!

Threshold Power Strength Rarity Example
None Faint to Nonexistant Very Uncommon Temporary residences, “murder” houses, and sites of surban decay – or worse.
1-2 Average Common Typical of most homes with people living in them.
3-5 Robust Very Uncommon Typical of houses passed through generations or built by the family, or a relatively new house of worship
6-9 High Rare Typical of a home built by hand and passed through generations, or a well-used house of worship.
10+ Very High Very Rare Cathedrals or other houses of worship that have been used for hundreds of years.

A threshold typically does not extend beyond the physical walls of the dwelling they’re bound to, but ones with a Power greater than 5 extend to the properties boundaries, though the Power outside the primary dwelling is equal to the main dwellings threshold minus five.

Working Together

If multiple casters work together on the same ritual, they can work more powerful magic. Coordinating multiple casters is difficult, and requires a roll against the appropriate Path skill by each helper at -1 per caster after the first. Treat each roll as a complementary skill roll – the final caster’s skill roll gets a +1 bonus per success, +2 per critical success, -1 per failure, and -2 per critical failure. The final caster rolls normally after applying these bonuses to his effective skill.


Conditional Rituals

A caster can delay a ritual so that it doesn’t take effect until a certain condition (the trigger) is met. Once cast, the conditional spell “hangs” on its subject indefinitely until triggered, at which point it takes effect and lasts until its duration runs out. The caster cannot activate the spell except via the trigger, cannot cancel the spell before it expires, and cannot go back and prolong the duration; he’s completely given up control of the spell.

Alternately, a conditional ritual can be reversed – set to take effect immediately, and then expire when triggered (or when the duration runs out). This allows the caster to bestow a spell on a mundane person, giving the subject the ability to turn it off.

Conditional rituals are created by use of a trigger ritual, which follows special rules (see below).

Any given caster can have only the minimum of (Thaumatology + Magery) or (Ritual Magic + Magery) conditional rituals “hanging” at once; if the caster attempts to hang one more after this limit is reached, the oldest one fizzles out without effect.

The stacking rules still apply to most conditional rituals (but see Charms, Sigils, Alchemical Elixers, and Prepared Rituals, all below).

The Trigger

The trigger for a conditional ritual must be defined when the trigger is set, and cannot normally be changed. It must be phrased in a clear and simple manner, and must be obvious enough that a normal person watching the subject would automatically be aware of it happening. If the triggering conditions are complex or unclear in any way, the spell will not go off – but a trigger may be made somewhat intelligent by Lesser Create Spirit and Lesser Sense (Element) effects added to the ritual, all of which will add penalties to the trigger ritual’s casting roll.

Triggers are special rituals that are composed of a Lesser Control (Element) effect and, optionally, Lesser Sense (Element) effects plus appropriate spell parameters. The GM is encouraged to assign a penalty to the trigger that seems appropriate without going into the details, but keep in mind that a basic trigger has a -0 penalty, while a more complex one that needs a Sense (Element) effect will usually take a -1 penalty; higher penalties are rare. The skill penalty for a trigger is the penalty for the trigger complexity plus the penalty for the triggered spell, while the casting time is the same as that for the original spell.

Casting a trigger always uses Thaumatology or Ritual Magic skill rather than any Path skills (some types of Charms are exceptions to this rule). This roll takes all the applicable bonuses and penalties under Performing Magic.

  • Critical Failure: The trigger has been set, but it’s been perverted. The triggered spell has an effective skill equal to the caster’s effective skill with that spell, just as with a Success, but the desired trigger won’t set off the spell. Instead, the GM should trigger the spell at an appropriate time of his choosing.
  • Failure: The trigger fizzled out; this is obvious to the caster. Basically, nothing happens, and a retry is possible. A trigger can not be quirked.
  • Success: The trigger is set. The triggered spell has an effective skill equal to the caster’s effective skill with that spell; this takes into account the skill penalty for the triggered spell along with any bonuses the caster would receive at this time, including for focus items, reagents, and mana level bonuses.
  • Critical Success: The trigger is set as for Success and the triggered spell gains a +1 bonus to effective skill.

It is possible to dispel a conditional ritual; critically failed triggers are commonly dispelled rather than left active – though sometimes the trigger will occur before that’s possible!


Prepared Rituals

A prepared ritual is a special type of conditional ritual (see above) that ignores the normal rules for stacking spells and has a special trigger – that of the caster ‘finishing’ the spell.

A prepared ritual follows the normal rules for casting a conditional ritual. This preparation allows the ritual to be finished, finally casting it, at a later date. Finishing a prepared ritual, triggering it, takes significantly less time than casting the ritual anew; move time to cast one column to the right on the Greater Effects Table (see Performing Magic). In effect, a prepared ritual allows a non-adept to cast a spell as if he were an adept, an adept to cast as if he were an expert, and an expert to cast even faster.

Unlike normal conditional rituals, after a prepared ritual is cast its conditional ritual slot isn’t released – instead, it lies inert until the next daybreak, at which time the slot is released. Alternatively, the caster may meditate for two hours, after which point his inert conditional ritual slots are reset.



Charms are a subset of conditional rituals, cast onto fragile objects to turn them into “physical spells.” They follow the same rules, except as noted in Features of Charms.

Creating a charm folllows the following steps:

  1. Prepare a fragile object in your workspace. This takes 30 minutes of chanting, painting it with elixers, and so on.
  2. At the end of that 30 minutes, immediately cast a trigger ritual onto the object. This takes its normal time. All skill rolls to cast this spell, including the triggered spell’s effective skill, are modified by the quality of the workspace kit, as for nontechnological skills.
  3. Follow the rules for conditional rituals for the consequences of failure, success, or critical success. If the trigger ritual critically fails, when the charm is triggered the ritual have a random target.

Features of Charms
These rules are identical to those in GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic. Note that a very common form of charm is a spell scroll, which burns harmlessly to ash when it is cast.

Ammunition Charms
These work identically to those in GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic.

Transfering Charms

A charm may be transfered from the caster to a new user, making it take up their conditional ritual slot rather than the caster’s. People without Thaumatology or Ritual Magic have conditional ritual slots based on half their Thaumatology or Ritual Magic default, rounded down. Thus, a normal person will have 2 conditional ritual slots. Transferring a charm requires a success on a Thaumatology roll; if it succeeds, the charm transfers, if it fails nothing happens, and if it criticall fails the charm breaks.

A charm may also be transferred to an area effect ward (thresholds also count); this charm will go off if the ward is penetrated. A ward has conditional ritual slots equal to its Power, and charms ‘owned’ by a ward may be set to all go off when the ward is penetrated, one by one, or anything in between. While a ward typically can’t prevent a mortal from crossing it, one can be set to count as being ‘penetrated’ if a mortal crosses it – there simply won’t be any resistance. This is almost always used so that mortals penetrating a ward will set off a linked charm.

Tattoo Charms

Rather than building a charm into a fragile object, a charm may be built into a tattoo. These sorts of charms function exactly like regular charms except for the following:

  • They cannot be transfered to others after creation.
  • They can be drawn on (face/body paint, henna), inked into the skin, branded, etc. For a temporary tattoo or face paint, the paint disappears after the charm is used up; for permanent tattoos, see Permanent Charms, below.
  • They require a Concentration maneuver to activate instead of a Ready maneuver.
  • A given character may only have multiple different tattoo charms equal to his ST score (representing surface area). Multiple tattoo charms for the same ritual may occupy the same space, giving multiple uses. The normal conditional ritual slot limits still apply.

Permanent Charms

A permanent charm is a token that holds a specific ritual, just as a normal charm. Unlike a normal charm, a permanent charm is made from a more durable item and won’t break when the ritual is cast; instead, it becomes inert, its magical energy drained – but its trigger still intact.

A caster does not need to recast the trigger ritual in order to re-energize a permanent charm. Instead, the caster must concentrate upon the charm, chant, dip it in magical oils, etc., for the casting time. At the end of this time, the charm is re-charged. The charm’s effective skill is the lesser of the caster’s effective skill in the spell as if it were cast using Thaumatology or Ritual Magic instead of the appropriate path skill and the charm’s original effective skill. Normal workspace modifiers apply to this effective skill!

Creating a permanent charm takes significantly longer than making a normal charm and requires special material components that are sacrificed in the casting. The time required depends upon the number of greater effects in the ritual.

Greater Effects Time Required
0 8 hours
1 1 day
2 3 days
3 1 week
4 2 weeks
5 1 month

This time requirement assumes 8 hours of work per day, with the rest of the time spent ‘charging’. It cannot be reduced.

The material components required amount to appropriate magical reagents costing (Spell Skill Penalty × TL Price Table); these reagents do not improve the casting skill at all, though extra reagents can provide an appropriate bonus to effective skill.

Buying Charms

Stores may sell premade charms. Any store selling a charm will always transfer the charm to the prospective buyer; thus, buyers need not worry about a charm expiring over time.

The cost of a charm depends upon three things:

  • Effective Skill: Most charms have an effective skill of 12, which is good enough for many purposes – and won’t botch unless it critically fails. However, for some charms (such as those that have to get through wards or are resisted), utility depends heavily on effective skill. Higher skill raises costs; see the Charm Base Price Table (below). This cost varies by setting, and is based on the TL Price Table.
  • Availability: High-demand, broadly applicable rituals have lower prices. The most universally needed charms halve the base cost, while strange, custom-order, or overly-specific chams double the base cost.
  • Skill Penalty: The base cost of a charm assumes it has a -1 skill penalty. Multiply the base cost by the absolute value of the skill penalty of the ritual. Charms made for rituals with no skill penalty have their base cost halved instead.
Skill Multiplier of TL Price Table TL3 TL8
12 ×0.2 $120 $500
13 ×0.3 $180 $750
14 ×0.5 $300 $1,250
15 ×0.7 $420 $1,750
16 ×1 $600 $2,500
17 ×1.5 $900 $3,750
18 ×2 $1,200 $5,000
19 ×3 $1,800 $7,500
20 ×5 $3,000 $12,500

Higher skill continues to follow the 1-1.5-2-3-5-7-10 progression.

Note that the price to hire a wizard to cast a spell is identical to the price to purchase a particular charm.

Permanent charms cost an extra 2×TL Price Table to purchase per point of penalty.

Workspace Kits

Creating a charm requires a workspace kit, whose price depends upon the TL Price Table.

  • Workspace Kit, Basic: Basic equipment for creating charms. Takes an hour to set up or pack. Costs 1×TL Price Table (e.g., $600 at TL3, $2,500 at TL8). 20 lbs.
  • Workspace Kit, Good: Good equipment for creating charms, giving +1 to all rolls to make a charm. Takes five hours to set up or pack. Costs 5×TL Price Table (e.g., $3,000 at TL3, $12,500 at TL8). 200 lbs.
  • Workspace Kit, Fine: Fine equipment for creating charms, giving +2 to all rolls to make a charm. Takes 20 hours to set up or pack. Costs 20×TL Price Table (e.g., $12,000 at TL3 or $50,000 at TL8). 2,000 lbs.

Note: Grimoires, Sigils, Runic Wards, and Alchemical Elixers should go on the page of the relevant tradition rather than here.


Alchemical Elixers

Elixers are a form of conditional spell – many casters think of them as “bottled magic.” They are similar to but distinct from charms. Like charms, the subject of the elixer’s effect isn’t determined when it is cast, but instead when the elixer is used (imbibed, rubbed on, breathed in, etc). Elixers may have only a subset of the effects that a charm can take achieve; they tend to revolve around altered trait, bestowed bonuses, or healing, but any effect that “makes sense” is allowed. Unless otherwise noted, alchemical elixers can’t have areas of effect or cause external damage (internal is fine).

Elixers come in multiple forms, with weight (without a container) depending upon form. The following types of elixers are available:

  • Grenade: Thrown at the target; container breaks upon impact. Must be area of effect; can inflict external damage. Kept in vial or (at TL7+) a waterproof bag like a water balloon. Quarter pint (0.25 pounds) of liquid per use.
  • Ointment Rubbed onto bare skin, taking two Ready maneuvers. Kept in vial or jar. 0.1 pounds of ointment per use.
  • Pastille: Burned; affects those who inhale smoke. Takes one Ready maneuver or an attack that deals 1 point of burning damage to light, then is either dropped (free action) or thrown – treat as an attack with Throwing skill, Acc 0, Range ST, Bulk -1. Must be area of effect; can inflict external damage. Kept in cloth or fireproof jar. 0.1 pounds of solid per use.
  • Potion: Drunk. Takes one Ready maneuver to drink. Kept in vial or jar. Quarter pint (0.25 pounds) of liquid per use.
  • Powder: Can be inhaled (taking one Ready maneuver) or put into food/drink (long action taking 1 minute). Can be used with a blowpipe (normal reloading time), or tossed into someone’s face (Attack roll using Throwing at -5 and range 1 yard). Kept in a bag or jar. 0.1 pounds of powder per use.

The following are a few containers for elixers (weight given is empty weight):

  • Vial: A glass tube, thick, with a stopper. Holds half a pint of liquid (0.5 lb. if water). Carried for combat and not packed, it’s targeted at -7 and breaks on 1-4 on 1d on a fall (1-2 on 1d at TL7+). Hurling it is an Attack with the Throwing skill: Acc 0, Range ST×2, and Bulk -2. It shatters on striking DR 3+, such as armor (affects wearer), a shield (affects shield), or the ground (area effects, if any, only). DR1, HP1 (DR2 at TL7+). $5, 0.25 lbs.
  • Jar: A less fragile, heavier glass or ceramic container, with a stopper. Holds a pint of liquid (1 lb. if water). Carried for combat and not packed, it’s targeted at -5 and breaks on 1-2 on 1d on a fall (1 on 1d at TL7+). DR2, HP2 (DR3 at TL7+). $2, 0.5 lb.
  • Bag: A small, cloth bag or, at TL7+, a water balloon. Holds 0.5 lb.; it has the same stats in combat as a vial, but on a fall all water balloons automatically pop. Cloth bags carrying powders won’t pop or break on a fall. $5, neg. weight per cloth bag, or $2 for a pack of 10 water balloons.
  • Cloth: A wrapping of fireproof cloth. Used for pastilles. Negligible cost and weight.

It takes a Ready maneuver to open a container for drinking, snorting, etc, and another to drink, etc., it.

Creating Elixers

Brewing an elixer requires an alchemy lab and uses the normal equipment modifiers for nontechnological skills (-5 for no lab, -2 for improvised equipment, +0 for normal lab, +1 for good, +2 for fine).

The actual creation boils down to a single basic step. The magical reagents must be combined in a complex and precise process that takes an amount of time that depends upon the number of Greater Effects (see the Alchemy Time Table, below). After that, roll against the better of Alchemy or the lowest Path skill involved, using all the rules in Performing Magic to determine the skill penalty. However, focus items do not provide a skill bonus! Instead, reagents provide a greater bonus (the reagent table is reproduced below).

Greater Effects Time
0 1 hour
1 1.5 hours
2 2 hours
3 4 hours
4 8 hours


The reagent rules under Performing Magic all apply to alchemical elixers, with the exception that every spell effect must be accompanied by an appropriate reagent. Further, alchemical elixers can get a higher bonus from reagents than other spells – see the table below.

Type Bonus Alchemy Bonus Weight Percentage from TL Price Table TL3 Example TL8 Example
Improvised -1
Basic +0 10% $60 $250
Good +1 30% $180 $750
Fine +1 +2 100% $600 $2,500
Legendary +2 +3 or more *
*GM's decision

Alchemical Gear
The cost and weight of an alchemy lab varies depending upon its quality.

  • Alechmy Lab, Basic: Basic equipment for creating alchemical elixers. Takes an hour to set up or pack. Costs 1×TL Price Table (e.g., $600 at TL3, $2,500 at TL8). 20 lbs.
  • Alchemy Lab, Good: Good equipment for creating alchemical elixers, giving +1 to all rolls to make an alchemical elixers. Takes five hours to set up or pack. Costs 5×TL Price Table (e.g., $3,000 at TL3, $12,500 at TL8). 200 lbs.
  • Alchemy Lab, Fine: Fine equipment for creating alchemical elixers, giving +2 to all rolls to make an alchemical elixers. Takes 20 hours to set up or pack. Costs 20×TL Price Table (e.g., $12,000 at TL3 or $50,000 at TL8). 2,000 lbs.

Any alchemy lab counts as improvised equipment for making charms, and any workspace kit counts as improvised equipment for making elixers.

Grimoires add their usual bonus when making an elixer for that ritual. Alchemists may also purchase formularies for half the price of grimoires; these act as grimoires, but only for the purposes of making elixers. If you have both, use only the highest bonus.

Expiring Elixers

Elixers do not take up conditional spell slots, nor is there any particular limit on how many of them a single person can make or carry. Instead, they expire over time.

An elixer lasts a number of days equal to (Alchemy Skill + Magery level)×2. After this time, they expire.



A Sigil is a special type of Charm made using Runic Inscription by carving, embossing, painting, or otherwise marking a physical token with the runes of power that make up a ritual.

Creating a sigil requires the runesmith to craft a physical item in intricate ways. As such, it requires an appropriate crafting skill – Artist (Body Art, Painting, Pottery, Sculpting, or Woodworking), or Smith are the most common, but exotic ones like Architecture are possible, if difficult to work with. The crafting skill must be appropriate for the physical token item that is chosen; using Artist (Woodworking) with a metal token won’t work! Tools appropriate to the crafting skill are required; these tools are analagous to the workspace kits needed for charms and, if no suitable kit has been statted out for your particular skill, use the stats for workspace kits.

Materials for crafting a sigil cost 1×TL Price Table per point of penalty; this includes the cost of the token as well as any consumable materials used in the crafting such as mystical paints or ointments.

Crafting a sigil requires the runesmith to intricately carve (or paint, or emboss, etc) the appropriate runes into the token. This takes time according to the Sigil Time Table, below.

Greater Effects Time Required
0 8 hours
1 1 day
2 3 days
3 1 week
4 2 weeks
5 1 month

This time requirement assumes 8 hours of work per day, with the rest of the time spent ‘charging’. It cannot be reduced.

After the time requirement is over, the runesmith must roll the lower of his crafting skill and Symbol Drawing (Runic), at a penalty equal to that for casting the spell. The crafting tools provide their usual bonus/penalty to this roll, but ambient mana, focus items, and reagents provide no bonus! Grimoires provide their normal bonus, as do half-price ‘Symbologies’ – Grimoires that only apply their bonus to runesmithing.

If the roll succeeds, the sigil has been crafted and the sigil gains an effective skill equal to the effective skill used to create it. If it fails, the token is ruined and the runesmith must start over.

Using a sigil takes a Ready maneuver and a roll against Ritual Magic or Symbol Drawing (Runic) skill. If this roll fails, nothing happens; on a critical failure, the spell automatically botches. If the roll succeeds, the sigil casts the spell at its effective skill plus any modifier from the ambient mana level; reagents, focus items, and grimoires provide no bonus.

After using a sigil, the sigil remains powered and still takes up a conditional spell slot, but it cannot be used again until the next daybreak, after which it is fully recharged.

A sigil normally takes up a conditional spell slot of the runesmith who created it. If the runesmith has higher Symbol Drawing skill than he has conditional spell slots, he gets the difference between his Symbol Drawing skill and his conditional spell slots as extra conditional spell slots that may only be used for sigils. For example, a character with IQ12, Thaumatology 6 (from default), no Magery, and Symbol Drawing 18 would have 6 general conditional slots and 12 sigil slots.

A sigil may be transfered to another person, or a ward, as per Charms. This requires a Ritual Magic or Symbol Drawing roll. A sigil transfered in this way can not be used by the recipient until it is ‘charged’ at the next daybreak. A sigil may also become ‘untethered’, stripped of its connection to any person. A sigil thus untethered is inert until someone transfers it to their use; again, this takes a Ritual Magic or Symbol Drawing roll and the sigil remains unusable until the next daybreak.

A sigil can be purchased for the same price as a permanent charm.


Runic Wards

A Runic Ward is a special type of ward made using Runic Inscription by inscribing an item or items within the warded area with runes of power. Runic Wards are always area wards; they can not be personal wards.

Create a runic ward using the normal rules for Wards (above), but with the equipment requirement of Sigils (above) and using the lesser of Symbol Drawing and the appropriate crafting skill.

Runic Wards are very commonly linked to sigils, allowing the ward to trigger the sigil when it is penetrated and not taking up any of the runesmith’s sigil slots. Even a weak ward can automatically trigger a sigil; no roll is required except for the spell roll.



A grimoire is a collection of ritual arcana, instruction sets and explanations of how to perform specific rituals. Each arcanum is a recipe for one specific ritual (see Specific Definition), and gives a flat bonus (from +0 to +10) to all rolls to cast that specific spell. A grimoire is the only way that most non-mages can hope to invoke a useful ritual.

Using Grimoires

A grimoire, and the arcana it contains, is as much a prop as a learning tool – casters cannot gain its bonus merely by memorizing it or copying the text, and even “digital grimoire” computer files cannot be simply copied (see Transferring Arcana, below).

Using a grimoire requires having it open and reading from it during the casting, both doubling all casting times and making what you’re doing obvious to onlookers. Using a grimoire in this manner does not involve actually reading every last bit of the arcanum for the ritual; instead, it involves referencing certain sections, reading out incantations, and above all accessing the magical potency involved in the arcanum, allowing the caster to use the grimoire as a ‘prop’.

In order to properly reference the correct portions of a grimoire, prior to using an arcanum in a ritual casting the caster must study it. This takes one hour per fifty pages (speed-reading gives its normal bonus), after which the caster may utilize the grimoire, and the arcana it contains, in normal casting.

Buying Grimoires

A basic grimoire weighs 1 pound per 100 ritual pages. An ‘average’ grimoire of 400 ritual pages would thus weigh 4 lbs. A blank grimoire costs $10 per pound.

Variant Grimoires
These statistics are for normal grimoires, made from parchment and bound in leather (at TL4 and under) or paper and bound as a hardcover book (optional at TL5+). These grimoires will ignite if hit with any burning damage, and their paper will turn to mush if it spends more than a turn underwater. Optionally, a grimoire may be made from more esoteric media.

  • Embroidered Cloth: Takes 3 HP of flame to ignite and not ruined by water. +1 CF. Weight doesn’t change.
  • Engraved Metal: Won’t be destroyed by accident! Multiply weight by five. +4 CF.
  • Tattooed Leather: Surprisingly tough, and only likely to be ruined if deliberately cut or hit by 10 HP of flame. Double weight. +2 CF.
  • Infused Bark: Magically infused bark that will neither be damaged by water nor be eaten by bugs. Fire is still an issue. Double weight. +4 CF.
  • Faerie Paper: Thin, gauzy paper that allows tiny readers to carry a full-sized book around. Fire and water are still an issue. 1/6 weight. +14 CF.
  • Mystically Protected: The Grimoire is warded against fire and water damage – but it has its normal protection against physical shock. Treat it as if the Grimoire has DR 10 against fire and water doesn’t damage it at all. +14 CF.
  • Neverending Grimoire: No matter how many pages the physical book has, this mystically enchanted Grimoire always seems to have enough space for more rituals. Maybe whenever you flip the page you find the exact one you’re looking for, maybe text on a single page will keep changing or scrolling as you read, maybe you keep flipping pages but you’ve always got more to go through – however it works, this Grimoire has infinite space. In a TL8+ game, this might be an electronic Grimoire! 20×TL Price Table, 5 lbs. Double price for every halving of weight. The other options still apply their CF’s and weight modifiers!

Filling Grimoires

The requisite arcana for each ritual take up a number of ritual pages and cost a certain amount of money. See the Grimoire Table, below, for details.

Bonus Pages Multiplier of TL Price Table TL3 TL8
+0 5 ×0.2 $120 $500
+1 7 ×0.3 $180 $750
+2 10 ×0.5 $300 $1,250
+3 15 ×0.7 $420 $1,750
+4 20 ×1 $600 $2,500
+5 30 ×1.5 $900 $3,750
+6 50 ×2 $1,200 $5,000
+7 70 ×5 $3,000 $12,500
+8 100 ×10 $6,000 $25,000
+9 150 ×20 $12,000 $50,000
+10 200 ×50 $30,000 $125,000

Multiply the cost and number of pages by (Greater Effects + 1); arcana for a ritual with 2 greater effects would need 60 pages in a grimoire to claim a +2 bonus and cost $3,750 at TL8.

A set of arcana may have certain modifiers:

  • Encrypted: The arcana is disguised as normal text. Extracting the secrets within requires a successful Cryptography or Thaumatology roll and one hour of work per fifty pages. Failure means the time was wasted; further attempts are at a cumulative -2. Costs 20% less. Double number of pages per ritual arcanum.
  • Dead Language: The arcana is written in an ancient, arcane tongue. If the caster can read and speak the language, apply the grimoire’s full bonus for Native comprehension, reduce it by 1 for Accented, or halve it (rounded up) for Broken. If not, someone with written comprehension can translate it; this requires a succesfull Linguistics or Thaumatology roll and one hour of work per fifty pages. Failure means the time was wasted; further attempts are at a cumulative -2. Costs 20% less.
  • Formula: Only usable to create alchemical elixers. A grimoire containing only formulae is called a ‘formulary’. Half cost.
  • Schema: Only usable for runic inscription. A grimoire containing only schema is called a ‘symbology’. Half cost.

These modifiers almost always apply to every single arcanum in a grimoire. The GM should consider very carefully before allowing any grimoire to be filled ‘piecemeal’ with arcana using differing modifiers.

Creating Arcana

An enterprising or experimentally-minded thaumaturge may create their own ritual arcana. This requires careful experimentation and documentation, as well as ritual incantations, magical ink, and other esoteric items; this costs both time and money – and not a small amount of skill.

Unfortunately, since the thaumaturge that created an arcanum based it off of his own knoweldge, he gets only half the bonus when using it (round up); others do not suffer this problem.

Note that when using a copied arcanum does not cause this penalty, unless the original arcanum was also created by this thaumaturge.

Creating new arcana requires a skill roll against the lowest applicable Path skill for the ritual. Ritual Mastery adds to effective skill. This roll is at a penalty equal to (bonus+4); thus, creating an arcanum based on Path of Fire with a +2 bonus would require a roll against Path of Fire-6.

Copying an arcanum still requires significant skill, but it’s easier. If the thaumaturge has access to a previously-written arcanum for this ritual for the entire period, he is at a +5 bonus.

If this roll fails, the time and money are wasted and the arcanum is useless. If it succeeds, the arcanum is created.

Ritual Experimentalists: Those with the Ritual Experimentalist advantage are only at a penalty equal to the bonus.

Creating an arcanum takes days equal to the number of pages in the final product; if copying an arcanum, read this as hours.

Ritual Experimentalists: Divide the time requirement by five.

Each attempt costs an amount equal to the full retail price of the arcanum.

Ritual Experimentalists: Halve the monetary requirement.


Ley Lines and Mana Levels

Mana is the ambient magical energy field that rituals draw their power from. It is a field that permeates the universe, but it is “richer” or “denser” in some places and times than others. An area of high mana can provide a bonus to casting spells; likewise, an area of low mana can provide a penalty. Some areas have been completely stripped of their mana, or the mana has somehow been blocked from being accessed; in these areas, spell casting is simply impossible.

A ley line is a stream of magical energy two areas of high mana, each called a ley line nexus. Ley lines are typically between 1.5 and 12 feet wide, and like the nexuses they connect ley lines themselves may be considered areas of heightened mana. Most often this isn’t enough to give a bonus to spell casting – instead, this heightened magical energy level manifests as allowing non-adept casters to cast spells without the normal ritual space requirements. Further, casting spells along a ley line is easier than normal; when casting spells where both the caster and the target are on the same ley line, use Long-Distance Modifiers rather than normal distance modifiers.

A high mana area may provide a bonus to casting rolls, but this bonus does not alter a spell’s chance of botching. Thus, if a spell fails, the mana level bonus is added to the spell’s margin of failure to determine if the spell botches and what effect it has. Thus, any failure on a casting roll in a +4 or higher mana zone causes a botch!

Many mana zones are aspected, and only provide their full bonus to rituals using the appropriate elements; rituals using other elements get only half the bonus, rounded up.

The GM decides where each mana zone is, and how much of a bonus it provides. Finding a high mana zone or ley line requires either a Sense Magic spell or access to a sage, library, or similar collection of knowledge (including the internet) and a roll against an appropriate Hidden Lore specialty, Archaeology at -2, or Research at -5. The modifiers for locating a place of power in GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic, p. 33, apply here and are unchanged.

Mana Level Casting Modifier
No Mana Impossible
Low Mana -5 to -1
Normal Mana +0
Heightened Mana +0 to +1; Counts as Ritual Space
High Mana +2 to +3
Very High Mana +4 to +5


Enchanted Items

Permanent Imbuements

The Imbuements from GURPS Power Ups 1: Imbuements (and several issues of Pyramid) can be quite effective as a way to model permanent magical items. When using these ‘Permanent Imbuement’ rules, ignore both the skill requirement and the fatigue cost. Instead, use the following rules.

  • Unless the Selective enhancement or the Bane limitation is added, the imbuement is considered always active, including any visual effects associated with it.
  • The imbuement has a pre-defined effect; you can not alter it after creation except through re-enchantment.

The price of an enchantment is based upon the Imbue advantage prerequisite level and the penalty accepted. These are calculated in ‘Enchantment Points’ (EP), which are converted to a dollar cost later. Multiply the EP cost from the penalty accepted by the penalty multiplier for the imbue prerequisite required to get the final EP cost.

Imbue Prerequisite Penalty Multiplier
1 1
2 2
3 4
Penalty Accepted EP Cost Penalty Accepted EP Cost
+3 0.5 -11 1,500
+2 1 -12 3,000
+1 1.5 -13 5,000
+0 3 -14 10,000
-1 5 -15 15,000
-2 10 -16 30,000
-3 15 -17 50,000
-4 30 -18 100,000
-5 50 -19 150,000
-6 100 -20 300,000
-7 150 -21 500,000
-8 300 -22 1,000,000
-9 500 -23 1,500,000
-10 1,000 -24 3,000,000

Multiple permanent imbuements may be added to the same item; just add their EP costs together. Divide cost by ten if the item is a missile (e.g., arrow), or multiply it by two if it is a missile weapon (e.g., bow). For armor, multiply the EP cost by the coverage percentage, using the following table, adapted from GURPS Low-Tech:

Location Percentage
Full Suit 100%
Head 10%
– Skull 7%
– Face 3%
Neck 1.5%
Torso 35%
– Chest 25%
— Vitals 8.5%
– Abdomen 10%
— Groin 1.5%
Arms 15%
– Shoulders 3%
– Upper Arms 3%
– Elbows 1.5%
– Forearms 7.5%
Hands 5%
Legs 30%
– Thighs 14%
– Knees 2%
– Shins 14%
Feet 7.5%

There are several special enhancements and limitations that can be taken on these enchanted items, making them more or less expensive.


  • Selective: The use can activate or deactivate the imbuement at will as a free action. If an item has multiple permanent imbuements, a single Selective enhancement can activate or deactivate them all at once; alternatively, purchase multiple Selective enhancements if you wish to activate/deactive them piecemeal. +5 EP.


  • Bane: The imbuement only works against a specific group. As a bonus, any special effects associated with the imbuement (electricity crackling up and down the blade, etc) will only appear if a member of the group is in the vicinity. Discount depends upon the size of the group.
    • Against a specific nation, religion, or race: Divide EP costs by 2.
    • Against a specific type of creature, or folk of a certain city: Divide EP costs by 3.
    • Against all members of one specific family: Divide EP costs by 4.
    • Against one specific foe: Divide EP costs by 10.

To convert EP cost to monetary cost, just multiply the EP cost by the TL Price Table. For example, a weapon with the Penetrating Strike imbuement for a (3) armor divisor would need an Imbue Prerequisite of 3 and a -2 penalty accepted; this costs 40 EP. At TL3, this enchantment costs $24,000. As comparison, a Penetrating Weapon enchantment in the normal magic system would cost $22,500.

To convert between EP and GURPS Magic energy points, just multiply EP by 20.

Adapt Metatronic Generators article to be purely about enchanted items. Include options for how to perform enchantments, including Enchanter and Quick Enchanter advantages.

Runic Magic - Advanced Magic

The Age of Myth Langy Langy