After a couple years away, my thoughts have been on RPGs again, and that, combined with a slow period of Vassal-gaming leads me to my eleventh spell compendium for GURPS Dungeons & Sorcery. There’s no coheseive theme, but October has suggested a number of spells dealing with the undead, and some illusions.

Animate Dead (SC)
Necromancy, Somatic, Verbal
13 points
Casting Time: 5 seconds
Casting Roll: None
Range: 10 yards
Duration: Permanent

This spell allows the magic-user to create a skeleton or zombie, who will follow the commands of the caster (which must be kept simple: protect me, guard this door, etc.; conditional and multi-step orders will not work). The created undead are permanent, and neither dispel magic nor remove curse will have any effect. However, the creature can be killed/destroyed normally, and does not heal. As many such undead can be animated as the magic-user desires, subject to available corpses, time, and fatigue. In all cases, the caster must have four times the CP of the animated dead, or the spell will fail.

It should be noted that this isn’t quite “bringing someone back from the dead”, and the animated dead will have no memories, abilities, or mental traits of the person whose corpse is used, nor is their soul involved in any way. In many respects, it is a simpler and formulaic version of a “create golem” spell, using the Laws of Similarity and Contagion as shortcuts to describe how the golem can move and act; however, as this spell uses the body’s previous status as a living being for this shortcut, it is necromancy, and usually considered the first step down a dangerous path.

Keep in mind that nearly any complete deceased living creature can be used (and it must be a complete single creature), and will have its racial default ST & HP, but DX 10 and HT 10, with one or two appropriate weapon skills at DX, decided by the nearest functional weapon(s) (which could be a length of wood—or bone—used as club, or nothing at all, if there’s nothing the undead can hold handy, limiting them to default punch). If the body has decomposed (or had the flesh stripped off), it will be animated as a skeleton, while a more recently deceased body will become a zombie.

Ally (25% Power, Constantly Available; Accessibility, Must Have Appropriate Remains Handy, -20%; Extended Duration, Permanent, +300%; Minion, +0%; Requires Gestures, -10%; Requires Magic Words, -10%; Sorcery, -15%; Takes Extra Time, x4, ‑20%) [3.25×4] The Ally will have the racial (not individual) ST, HP, and SM of the original creature (with modification for physical traits such as Gigantism and Dwarfism), Unhealing (Total) [-30], Automaton (B263) [-85] and apply either the Skeletal Undead meta-trait (F133) without the Basic Speed increase [48] or the Rotting Undead meta-trait [59]. [-67 or -56]

Bands of Sirellyn (SC)
Conjuration, Somatic, Verbal
25 points + 5 points/level
Casting Time: 3 seconds
Casting Roll: Innate Attack (Gaze) to aim.
Range: 50 yards
Duration: 3 minutes

When this spell is cast, the magic-user rolls against Innate Attack (Gaze) + Talent to hit one target within 50 yards; on a hit, the subject is surrounded by mystical metal bands that pin him in place, unable to move. These bands are tough enough to resist normal methods of destroying them, and anything that can will probably also harm the subject, or take longer to work than the spell lasts.

The subject can try to break free (and other people could grasp them and try much the same) by making a Quick Contest of ST, with the bands being ST 10 (plus 2 per extra level the spell is known at).

Note that the bands just wrap around the body, pinning arms, wings, legs, and other limbs in place, but do not cover the mouth, so the subject can talk, and even cast spells with no somatic requirement.

Binding 10 (Engulfing, +60%; Nuisance Effect: Speaking Allowed, -10%; One-Shot, ‑10%; Reduced Range, 1/2, -10%; Requires Gestures, -10%; Requires Magic Words, ‑10%; Sorcery, -15%; Takes Extra Time x2, -10%; Unbreakable, +40%) [1.25×20] Note: This spell probably isn’t seen much below level 3 or 4.

Dancing Lights (VC)
Evocation, Somatic, Verbal
25 points + 5 points/level
Casting Time: 1 second
Casting Roll: IQ vs Per Quick Contest
Range: 100 yards
Duration: 3 minutes

Casting this spell allows you to make one to four lights appear. These can look like torch flames, or will-o-wisps, or a single glowing man-like shape. You must concentrate for a second to change their behavior (but never form), but will otherwise act as you would expect without further direction. They will wink out at the end of the duration, or if they ever move further than 100 yards from you. Triple duration for each extra level of the spell.

Illusion (Accessibility: Floating Lights or ‘Fire Elemental’ Only, -40%; Extended Duration, x3, +20%; Independence, +40%; Ranged, +40%; Requires Gestures, -10%; Requires Magic Words, -10%; Sorcery, -15%; Visual Only, -30%) [1.0×25]

Detect Undead (C)
Divination/Necromancy, Somatic, Verbal, Information
2 points
Casting Time: 1 second
Casting Roll: IQ
Range: Special; use speed/range table.
Duration: 1 minute

When cast, you can sense all undead creatures in front of you (in a 60º arc as if you had Tunnel Vision), but you can turn and move about in a search for them. You cannot tell the exact range to anything you detect, but you will have a sense of the general numbers found. The GM should make an IQ roll for you to see if you can determine the general type of undead encountered.

Detect (Undead; Restricted Arc, 60º, -75%; Requires Gestures, -10%; Requires Magic Words, -10%; Sorcery, -15%) [0.2×10]

Fools’ Speech (C)
Alteration, Somatic, Verbal, Area (Fixed), Buff
30 points
Casting Time: 3 seconds
Casting Roll: IQ
Range: 4 yards
Duration: 5 hours

This spell allows conversation between a group of people without anyone else being able to tell what they are saying. Everyone affected can speak a shared secret language and understand each other perfectly well, but everyone else will just hear gibberish. This “language” does not exist outside of this spell, and is not related to any other language that exists.

Comprehend language and a few other effects can allow someone to understand this language, and various forms of mind-reading can let someone see one person’s perception of the conversation, but casting fools’ speech yourself does not get you “into the group”, rather it sets up another group of people with their own secret language.

When cast, the mage selects everyone within four yards that he wants to converse with, and makes an IQ + Talent roll. Assuming that succeeds, everyone he selected can converse through fools’ speech, even if they had no language in common to begin with.

Affliction 1 (HT; Advantage: Telesend (Accessibility: Only other targets of spell, -10%; Accessibility, Only vocalized words, -20%; Hearing-Based, -20%; Magic, -10%; Nuisance Effect: Can Be Talked Over, -10%, Visible, -10%), +60%; Area Effect, 4 yards, +100%; Emanation, -20%; Extended Duration, x100, +80%; Fixed Duration, +0%; Requires Gestures, -10%; Requires Magic Words, ‑10%; Selective Area, +20%; Sorcery, -15%; Takes Extra Time, x2, -10%) [2.95×10]

Hallucinatory Terrain (SC)
Illusion, Somatic, Verbal, Area (Leveled), Resisted
107 points + 12.5 points/level
Casting Time: 1 minute
Casting Roll: None. Use IQ or Artist (Illusion) to determine how convincing it is.
Range: 100 yards
Duration: Permanent

A magic-user can use this spell to hide the true nature of an area under an illusion of some other scenery. An open field can look like a pond, a rocky gully like a smooth road, or a steep slope level and easy.

None of these illusions are true of course, and while some may get people to avoid an area, anyone who does go into one of the more dramatic illusions will quickly realize something is wrong (they can’t see the slope, but they’ll feel the exertion; trip over rocks in the ‘road’, or not get wet while wading in the pond). More subtle illusions (like making a wood look darker and creepier than it really is) will generally not be noticed as long as the viewer fails an initial Quick Contest of Per versus the caster’s IQ or Artist (Illusion) plus Talent.

Illusion (Cosmic: Extended, +300%; Extended Duration, Permanent, +150%; Independence, +40%; Limited: Terrain Only, -60%; Preprogrammed, -10%; Requires Gestures, -10%; Requires Magic Words, -10%; Sorcery, -15%; Takes Extra Time, x64, ‑60%) [4.25×25] Extra levels add levels of Area Effect.

Hold Undead (C)
Necromancy, Somatic, Verbal, Area (Fixed), Resisted (HT)
28 points
Casting Time: 5 seconds
Casting Roll: Innate Attack (Gaze) to aim.
Range: 20 yards
Duration: 1 minute

This spell attempts to hold one or more undead creatures in place. The caster picks a location, every undead creature within two yards may be held by this spell (see Scatter, B414, if the caster misses this target). Those undead within the area must engage in a Quick Contest of the caster’s Will + Talent versus their Will. If they lose they will be held for one minute, unable to move.

Affliction 1 (Will, +20%; Paralysis, (Magical, -10%), +135%; Accessibility: Undead Only, -20%; Fixed Duration, +0%; Area Effect, 2 yards, +100%; Requires Gestures, ‑10%; Requires Magic Words, -10%; Sorcery, -15%; Takes Extra Time, x4, -20%) [2.8×10]

Illusionary Script (C)
Phantasm, Somatic, Verbal, Resisted (Will)
64 points + 58 points/level
Casting Time: 3 seconds
Casting Roll: None
Range: Touch
Duration: 6 days

Use of this spell allows the caster to write instructions or information on paper, parchment, etc., that can only be safely read by the people designated by caster. Who is allowed to read the message can be a particular person, a particular type of person (‘all elves’), or just ‘the second person to read this’.

Anyone else will have to make a Will roll, or be subject to a suggestion implanted in the script. This suggestion will last for one minute per point of failure, but must be a short, simple, and harmless task in any case. Typical suggestions include closing the book and leaving, or forgetting the existence of the book (after the suggestion wears off, the character will feel like they merely left it in a fit of absentmindedness). With a successful Will roll, the person’s only hint that something just happened will be a vague sense of disorientation.

Dispelling the script will erase the actual message as well as the suggestion. Actually reading the underlying message could be accomplished in a number of ways, including effects to boost Will, protect from magic, or using some form of “true sight” on it. Each level of the spell adds a -1 penalty to the reader’s Will.

Affliction 1 (Will, +20%; Mind Control (Accessibility: One ‘Short’ Command Only, ‑20%; Independent, +70%; Magic, -10%; Sight-Based, -20%; Suggestion, -50%; Triggered: Reading Message; +50%) 400%; Extended Duration, x3000, +140%; Fixed Duration, +0%; Magic, -10%; Melee Attack, C, 1, -20%; Requires Gestures, -10%; Requires Magic Words, -10%; Takes Extra Time, x2, -10%) [5.8×10] + Create 1 (Writing; Accessibility: 1/10 pound (1/100 weight), -40%; Magic, -10%; Reduced Fatigue 1 +20%; Requires Magic Words, -10%) [0.6×10] (The character point cost to ‘stabilize’ is waived as it’s ~$1 of ink (1/10 point), and it eventually goes away anyway.)

Scare (C)
Enchantment, Somatic, Verbal, Area (Fixed), Resisted (Will)
31 points/level
Casting Time: 2 seconds
Casting Roll: Innate Attack (Gaze) to aim.
Range: 50 yards
Duration: Special

This spell attempts to cause a severe fright reaction in everyone in its area of effect. However, this only affects those with more-or-less “normal” biology; undead, machines, and creatures from the outer planes will not be affected. However, creatures from the ethereal and astral planes can be affected by this spell.

The caster picks a location within 50 yards upon casting the spell, and everything within four yards of it must make a Quick Contest of their HT versus the caster’s Will + Talent. Any subject who loses the Contest will fall into fits of uncontrollable trembling for half as many minutes as the caster’s MoS. However, elves and anyone with some form of divine ability (Power Investiture, Divine Favor, many forms of Blessed, etc.) have two more effective HT for this Contest. While scared, a subject is at -5 to DX, and -1 to all skill and active defense rolls. Cowardice is raised by one level (making it 15- for those who don’t have it already). Generally speaking, an affected subject should not take any offensive action, but fighting back, especially if cornered is fine, and casting any spell needing gestures needs a (reduced) DX roll per second.

Each level of the spell adds one to the caster’s effective Will.

Affliction 1 (HT; Shakes, +30%; Accessibility: Living, Inner Planes Creatures Only, ‑10%; Area Effect, 4-yard radius, +100%; Malediction 2, +150%; Nuisance Effect: Reduced effect against elves & divine, -5%; Reduced Duration, 1/2, -10%; Reduced Range, 1/2, -10%; Requires Magic Words, -10%; Sorcery, -15%; Takes Extra Time, x2, ‑10%) [3.1×10] Note: “Shakes” is an Irritating Condition (B428) related to Retching (under Incapacitating Conditions), and Nauseated.

Stinking Cloud (C)
Invocation, Somatic, Verbal, Resisted
28 points/level
Casting Time: 2 seconds
Casting Roll: Innate Attack (Gaze) to aim.
Range: 50 yards
Duration: 5 minutes

The caster picks a point within 50 yards, and causes a 4-yard radius cloud of noxious vapors to appear at that point (see Scatter, B414, on a miss), which will persist for 5 minutes. Anyone in, or entering, the cloud may need to make a HT roll each second or be spend the MoF seconds retching (B428).

The cloud attacks by being inhaled. It is possible to hold your breath while in the cloud, but unless you saw the spell being cast, and deduced what spell it was, there will be no opportunity to take a deep breath first (B351). Of course, anything that is sealed, doesn’t breathe, or is immune to metabolic hazards is immune to this.

Affliction 1 (HT; Retching: +50%; Area Effect, 4-yard radius, +100%; Extended Duration, x30, +30%; Increased 1/2D, x10, +15%; Persistent +40%; Reduced Range 1/2, -10%; Requires Gestures, -10%; Requires Magic Words, -10%; Smell-Based, +150%; Sorcery, -15%; Takes Extra Time, x2, -10%) [2.8×10]

I’ve had Dancing Lights written up for a while, but wasn’t entirely happy with it, but I’ve come to decide that it’s a reasonably fair writeup, if perhaps still a bit more expensive than I think it’s strictly worth.

Fools’ Speech owes a bit to Converse from Sorcery: Sound Spells (which I just recently picked up), and it made figuring out my build much faster. My version is just a little more expensive, but can include a good number of people, and doesn’t need eye contact. On the other hand, the ‘telesend’ is really pared down, since the special effect really is just speech. I contemplated getting rid of that IQ roll, but that would boost the cost another 30 points.

I was going with Scare inducing a seizure at first, since that’s close to the original description, but I realized that an incapacitating condition was just too severe. So, despite the note above, “shakes” really started as an irritating condition version of seizure. It could still use a full writeup for a real description.

The “Preprogrammed” modifier for Illusion (seen in Hallucinatory Terrain here) is one I came up with and have used before (in Mirror Image), but I didn’t think to give the full write up then:

Preprogrammed: This can only be taken with Independence. You never need to concentrate to direct your illusions, because everything they can do is determined when you buy your power, and then run by the GM; this should only be allowed to be kept very simple, like ‘copy everything I do’, or ‘sit and do nothing’ (handy for an illusionary pile of treasure). -10%

(By the way, the “Cosmic, Extended” modifier on the same ability came from Christopher Rice’s very good post on the Illusion advantage.)