Nothing Ventured Games
Thoughts in tabletop gaming by Paul Stefko.

Eidol Summoning — A Framework for Magical Allies in GURPS

26 November 2018

I’ve been putting some ideas down for a fantasy campaign in GURPS with a broad selection of “magic” systems. In addition to the systems from GURPS Thaumatology: Sorcery and GURPS Powers: Divine Favor, I want to have a few options that draw on other sources like Chi and spirits.

In 2005, Reverend P. Kitty wrote an article for volume 2 of Pyramid, “Making Friends and Conjuring People,” that built on the Summonable enhancement for Allies. He included a meta-trait that allowed for Unkillable allies that disappear when reduced to (-1xHP) and could be summoned again after regenerating. I like the idea of “summoners” being one of the available supernatural options in this world, so I though I’d build on P. Kitty’s work for this system.

The biggest change I made to the Conjured Servant meta-trait is removing Automaton. I prefer the summoned beings to have more initiative, especially at higher point values, and Automaton means that you constantly have to hold the ally’s hand. Unfortunately, removing this trait (and with it, Slave Mentality) means that the cost of both the ally template and the Minion enhancement go up.

With those changes, I’ve renamed Conjured Servant to Eidol, which is the most common term for summoned spiritual allies in this nascent setting.

Eidol: Regeneration (Fast; Only when dead, -40%) [30]; Unkillable 3 [150]; Fragile (Unnatural) [-50]; Dead Broke [-25]; Vanishes when dead [0]. 105 points.

Finally, I didn’t want to use the full, fickle version of the Spirit power modifier from GURPS Powers. Instead, I toned it down to be more in line with Magic or Chi. Users of Spirit powers must have a [-5]-point self-imposed disadvantage such as Disciplines of Faith or (in the case of eidol summoners) Sense of Duty (Summoned Allies). Breaking this taboo means that the spirits abandon the character until they are able to atone.

Eidol Summoning

8/16/24/40/80 points

You have bonded to a spiritual ally called an eidol. You can summon this eidol to assist you through a ritual invocation. Its spiritual nature makes the eidol essentially impossible to kill, though physical harm can cause it to vanish back into the spirit world, where it must rest for a time before you can summon it again.

Summoning an eidol requires a minute-long ritual in which you chant and burn expensive incense, destroy a hand-crafted effigy, etc. At any point after completing the ritual, you can Concentrate for 1 second and summon the eidol to you. If you are able to summon multiple eidols, you must complete a ritual (and spend materials) for each one.

If your eidol is reduced to -1xHP, it vanishes in a harmless display of spiritual energy. It cannot be summoned again for (2xHP) minutes. You can dismiss your eidol at will as a free action, but the eidol must be in your presence.

Many summoners bind to their eidols in such a way that they cannot summon more than one at once. Characters built this way buy multiple Eidol Summoning advantages as Alternate Abilities, paying full price for the most expensive eidol and 1/5 for each additional eidol. Before you summon another eidol, you must dismiss your current one. If your eidol “dies,” you cannot summon another before the “dead” idol would be available again (2xHP minutes).

Level 1 lets you summon an eidol worth up to 25% of your character point total. This increases to 50% at level 2, 75% at level 3, 100% at level 4, and 150% at level 5. You cannot summon an eidol worth more than 150% of your point total.

Statistics: Ally (Constantly available; Minion, +50%; Preparation Required, 1 minute, -20%; Spirit, -10%; Summonable, +100%; Trigger, Common, -20%) [8/16/24/40/80].


Photo by Alexander Shustov on Unsplash.

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