Willpower Clerical Magic System


This is a clerical magic system based on my Willpower Magic System. Refer to that document for details about magic in general that are not explained here. In this document, "clerical magic" refers to magic cast with the aid of a deity, as opposed to "wizardly magic" cast through intellectual knowledge of magic.

This system uses some ideas from S. John Ross's Unlimited Mana magic rules.

Basic Principles

The guiding principles of this clerical magic system are:

Learning Spells

Power Investiture

The Power Investiture advantage behaves basically as listed in GURPS Compendium I. Power Investiture is required to be able to cast clerical magic. It grants a +1 bonus per level to spell skills which are approved by the deity. This is cumulative with any Magical Aptitude bonus!

Power Investiture does not give a bonus to any skills other than deity-approved clerical spells.


This skill is required for any true cleric. A character's effective skill level (i.e. after modifiers) in a clerical spell can never be higher than his level in Theology, though the base skill level may be higher. Thus anyone who wants to be a competent clerical spellcaster needs to know the tenets of his religion well.

Note Theology skill does not receive any bonus from Power Investiture. The cleric must learn the details of his religion through hard work.

Spell Prerequisites

Any spell can be learnt by any cleric, regardless of prerequisites listed in standard GURPS books. However, to avoid cleric characters learning only the most powerful spells, each "skipped" prerequisite exacts a cost of 1 on the final skill level of a spell. A deity may grant special dispensation where a standard prerequisite spell is not amongst the spells that deity normally grants.

Casting Spells

Casting spells does not (usually) cost the cleric fatigue points. Rather, the cost of a spell is added to a running Tally. When this Tally reaches or passes a certain Threshold value, the nature of reality in the universe can be disrupted, usually in negative ways, and sometimes disastrously. The further above the Threshold the Tally rises, the worse the effects. Generally though, the spell will still work if the spell skill roll is made. Disasters are side effects of using too much magic in too short a time.

Casting a spell always requires a Will roll, the Clerical Will roll. Clerical Will is normal Will plus any Power Investiture bonus. The game procedure for casting a spell is as follows:

  1. Declare the spell to be attempted.
  2. Declare level of gesture and incantation to be used (see below).
  3. Declare any extra willpower to reduce spell cost (see below).
  4. Declare any special effort to reduce spell cost (see below).
  5. Make Clerical Will roll, using bonuses/penalties determined in steps 2 and 3.
  6. If Clerical Will roll succeeds, make spell skill roll to determine success of casting, applying bonuses/penalties determined in steps 2 and 4. If the Clerical Will roll fails, the spell cannot be cast on this attempt, but the cost of the spell is not added to the Tally. If the Clerical Will roll is a critical success, the spellcaster may take either a +3 bonus to the spell skill roll, or reduce the final cost of the spell by 1. If the Clerical Will roll is a critical failure, the spell cannot be cast on this attempt, and the spell's cost is added to the Tally!
  7. If the spell skill roll succeeds, the spell works as intended, and its cost is added to the Tally. If the roll fails, the spell fails, and 1 point is added to the Tally regardless of the spell's cost. If the roll is a critical success, the spell works particularly well, but its cost is still added to the Tally. On a critical failure, the spell backfires, and its cost is added to the Tally.
In normal cases, steps 2, 3, and 4 can be skipped and the defaults assumed, which result in no modifiers to the rolls.

Modifying the Casting Process

Gestures and Incantations

Normally casting a spell requires speaking words of power and making physical gestures. This requirement does not reduce automatically with higher skill levels. A spellcaster may however use sheer willpower to attempt magic with reduced ritual components. Refer to the following table.

Normally a spellcaster will be assumed to be using the normal gesture and incantation levels, which result in no Clerical Will modifiers. The player may however declare an attempt to use different levels of gesture and incantation to cast a spell. The gesture and incantation levels may be chosen independently. Add together the modifiers and apply them to the Clerical Will roll. If the Clerical Will roll succeeds, also apply the same modifiers to the spell skill roll.
Gesture Incantation Effect
Extravagant. Full arm and leg movement. Loud and clear. +1 bonus.
Normal. Full arm movement. Normal speaking voice. No bonus/penalty.
Subdued. Wrist/hand movement. Soft speaking voice. -1 penalty.
Tiny. A finger or two. A whispered word or two. -2 penalty.
No movement. No sound. -3 penalty.

Cost Reduction by Exerting Faith

The cleric can exert his own faith more forcefully in an attempt not to upset the delicate balance of magic and nature as much. He may expend Fatigue (and/or hit points in an emergency) in units of 3 to attempt to reduce the spell cost by 1 point for each 3 Fatigue/hits spent.

Normally a cleric will be assumed not to be expending Fatigue. If the player declares a Fatigue expenditure, the Fatigue is immediately spent. This gives a penalty to the Clerical Will roll equal to a third of the Fatigue points spent, rounded up. However, if the Will roll is made, the spell cost is reduced by 1 for each three full Fatigue points expended.

Cost Reduction by Special Effort

The cleric can make a special effort not to upset the delicate balance of magic and nature by attempting to fit the spell into the local mana flow. The cost of a spell added to the Tally can be reduced by 1 point for every -3 penalty the caster takes to his effective spell skill, representing the difficulty of conforming the spell to the mana flow. This does not affect the Clerical Will roll.

Spell Ranges

Instead of a spell skill penalty of -1 per hex for Regular spells, the penalty is determined from the Speed/Range Table. Add 2 to the range in hexes, so that touching counts as a "range" of 2 and has a zero penalty.

Example Clerical Spellcasting

Brother Bob has been called upon to heal an injured farmer. He knows the Minor Healing spell (a spell approved by his god) at level 16. His Will is 12, his Theology skill 14, and he has Power Investiture 1. He decides to impress the bystanders by gesturing enthusiastically (+1 bonus) and chanting loudly (+1 bonus). He does not want to overload the local mana flow so chooses to take a little special care to manipulate it less than normal (-1 penalty). He lays his hands on the injured farmer (0 range penalty). He makes his Clerical Will roll at 12 +1 (Power Investiture) +1 (gesturing) +1 (chanting) = 15. He rolls a 4, making a critical success! The spell roll is now 16 +1 (gesturing) +1 (chanting) -3 (extra effort) = 15. However, his Theology skill is only 14, so he rolls against 14. The roll is a 14, and the spell succeeds, healing the farmer 2 hit points. Normally this would cost 2 points added to the Tally, but the extra effort reduces this by 1, and the critical success on the Clerical Will roll reduces it by another 1 to 0! Bob nearly didn't make the spell roll, though, and should try to increase his Theology skill a bit for next time.
GURPS is Copyright © by Steve Jackson Games Incorporated.

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