GURPS Medieval Magick

Will Mistretta posted a link to a pdf of Colin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal, and I had flashbacks to the mid/late 1990’s, when GURPS was the only game I played and I was really fascinated by occultism. GURPS naturally lends itself to simulationism and the supplements for various historical periods released for the game are incredibly well-researched. GURPS Voodoo had recently been published and I decided to put my own research skills (and the Kent State University library, and the interwebs…) and interest in the occult to some effect, and create some way to simulate magic as it was thought to work … by the loonies who believe in magic.

So, taking Eliphas Levi, Aliester Crowley, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and probably most of all, A.E. Waite‘s book on Ceremonial magic, as starting points, I tried to map the supposed grimoires of the Enlightement era onto Medieval folklore by way of the ritual magic rules in GURPS Voodoo. Just to keep things complicated, I thought it might be a good idea to make magic “styles” analogous to the martial arts styles in GURPS Martial Arts. Well, it made sense at the time. So anyway I created several documents, at least drafts, outlining how to map GURPS Voodoo onto Europe of the Middle Ages, more or less, through the lens of modern occultism. I think this is all probably made somewhat obsolete by later GURPS products (I know, for example, that Isaac Bonewits wrote a generic book on “real” magic for RPGs (called Authentic Thaumaturgy, no less!), which at least in part covers GURPS, and although I haven’t really followed Steve Jackson Games for the last decade I have to assume they put out more ritual magic stuff in several books.

Anyway, I added some images from old sources and converted the documents to pdfs, so the interested can look at the product of several misspent months here. All the pdfs should be legible is printed as digests. The one thing that absolutely kills me is that I never kept up a bibliography as I researched this stuff, although I still have a big three ring binder stuffed with articles & excerpts on demonology.

GURPSMagick — a pdf of the Medieval magic “styles” (alchemy, goetia, cabalism, etc.) (I also started a Moden magic styles document and one on medieval martial arts styles, maybe I’ll post them later.)

GURPSRituals — a pdf of rituals for GURPS, adding Medieval stuff to the existing Voodoo rituals. At least some of these were harvested from other “fan” documents back around 1995 or 1996, and altohugh I got permission to use them at the time, I have completely lost all contact information and who to credit. I’m pretty sure I did most of the work though.

GURPSBestiaryofSpirits — a pdf of spirits for GURPS Voodoo. Those intrugied by the Dictionnaire Infernal will enjoy this, as it adds dozens and dozens of demons and such from “real” grimoires. Of course no two grimoires seem to agree on just who the demons and devils are, or even what their spheres of influence are, so I tended to just add everything uncritically. I also took the infamous saint list from Bruce Galloway’s Fantasy Wargaming, so that’s pretty fun.

All three pdfs should give DMs some ideas for D&D too; just ignore the GURPS mechanics which I was pretty vague about anyway.

UPDATE: A link here from a GURPS site put me back on track to find I’d posted these some time back on GURPSnet and at that time I credited a poster there with the handle “Malloy” for some of the rituals and also my brother Tom who helped with most of the mechanics.  It looks like “Malloy” added a TON of rituals since then!

Published in: on May 5, 2010 at 11:23 am  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Moonflower Starfire. Moonflower Starfire said: GURPS flashback: Medieval Magick « Swords & Dorkery […]

  2. Awesome. I play Gurps 4e these days but the ritual magic system in Gurps Voodoo (and later Gurps Spirits) was always my default magic system. Thanks for posting these PDFs.

  3. Nice! I’ll add these to my GURPS files.

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