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20

March 2016

SYMPATHIC MAGIC IN GURPS



TABLE OF CONTENTS

Table of Contents

1.

Introduction

2.

A note on Nomenclature

3.

A note on Real world Thermodynamics or more broadly, physics

4.

Background from KKC

A. Laws, Terms, and Maxims of Sympathy (These are copied from the KKC Wiki)

B. Known Bindings (These are copied from the KKC Wiki)

5.

General Overview of System


A. Binding Base Types

B. Practical Examples of Energy Transfer

C.

Slippage

D. Entropy

E. Table of Correspondence

6.

Sympathy and GURPS


A. Advantages

B. Skills

C.

Using Sympathy

1. INTRODUCTION
Sympathy is a magic system straight out of the 'Kingkiller Chronicle' series. It is a strict
magic system based on old folklore sympathic magic (as in voodoo) and the control of
energy between entities. At its most basic it allows the sharing and control of energy
between two or more similar objects. This writeup intends to gamify the magic system,
specifically applying it to GURPS for use in RPGs (better just stop there, if you do not
know what those are).
The aim of the system is to be flexible in terms of complexity. It should be entirely
possible to sit down with calculators and do the math to the T for any form of energy
transfer. On the other hand it should also be possible to ignore almost any aspect of
energy calculation, using only the reference tables provided to approximate modifiers.

2. A NOTE ON NOMENCLATURE
In the Kingkiller Chronicle (KKC) certain terms apply to certain concepts differently to
how they do in the real world. These terms are changed to make it less confusing. The
changes are listed below:
i.

Kinetic Energy (Kinetics).


In the KKC kinetic energy is used to define macroscopic systems in motion (e.g.
physical movement of a glass over a countertop). In this writeup kinetic energy
will be defined as any type of energy related to motion, while mechanical energy
will be used to define the motion of macroscopic systems.

ii.

Enthaupy.
This term is not explained in the KKC, but it can be inferred that it is actually
enthalpy.

iii.

Conduit.
The term is used interchangeably with Sympathist, and in some cases Arcanist to
indicate the person performing sympathy.

3. A NOTE ON REAL WORLD THERMODYNAMICS OR MORE


BROADLY, PHYSICS
Sympathy in the KKC might seem fairly realistic, it even uses real world terms found in
physics as well as mock calculations making it looks like a real world application of
thermodynamics. Realistically it does not even come close to being real. Sympathy,
while it is at the moment impossible to will an energy binding between two objects,
breaks the Second Law of Thermodynamics by letting the Sympathist become Maxwells
Demon. The explanation behind that will not be elaborated on here. Instead Sympathy

SYMPATHIC MAGIC IN GURPS



will be treated as pure magic, and so any unreasonable or unnatural result or effect can,
at the lack of anything better, be explained as magic. That is not to say that no effort will
be made to make it seem somewhat realistic.
The next section will be copy pasted from OneNote for now.

4. BACKGROUND FROM KKC


A. Laws, Terms, and Maxims of Sympathy (These are copied from the KKC Wiki)
i.

The Doctrine of Correspondence: Similarity enhances sympathy.

ii.

The Principle of Consanguinity: A piece of a thing can represent the whole of a


thing.

iii.

The Law of Conservation: Energy cannot be destroyed nor created.

iv.

The Heart of Stone: A frame of mind in which a sympathist is able to shut out
the distraction of emotions and focus rational thought to the utmost.

v.

Alar: "The riding-crop belief" is a faith controlled by personal will that is


forceful enough to impose its energy upon reality. For example, a sympathist
must have a firm Alar in order to maintain a belief that the wick of a candle will
burst into flame. A common trick for training one's Alar is to split one's mind
into separate parts and believe two conflicting things at once.

B. Known Bindings (These are copied from the KKC Wiki)


i.

Sympathetic Binding of Parallel Motion: The very first binding Kvothe


learned, it's the binding used to move a coin by moving a similar one, bound by a
Sympathetic Link. It probably redirects part of the kinetic energy of one body to
another, in order for both to move parallel one to the other (for both to achieve
the same acceleration and therefore speed).

ii.

'Chemical, Second Catalytic': The binding Kvothe suggests to use in order to


dissolve the oil that makes a bird's feather smooth, lathering a similar feather
bound to the feathers of the bird into lye soap. Although Sympathy is said to be a
transfer of energy, this seems to indicate that it's also possible to transfer
chemical properties, transferring some kind of 'alkaline'/'caustic basic' property
through the link.

iii.

Capacatorial Kinetic Luminosity: The binding Kilvin uses to make light burst
out of his hands by moving them, probably transferring kinetic energy into
luminosity. Although Kvothe can be talking about a different one, he says "the
'motion-to-light binding' is rather difficult without a piece of metal to use as a
focus", while using it to light the darkness in the Fae, while walking with
Felurian.


SYMPATHIC MAGIC IN GURPS



iv.

First Parallel Kinetic Binding: Elxa Dal asks Kvothe the words for this binding,
but none of them explains what the binding does, although it could be just a
different name for the Sympathetic Binding of Parallel Motion. It could also be a
binding that would simply transfer Kinetic Energy to another body, as
transferring an equal amount of kinetic energy wouldn't mean an equal motion
(done by the quoted binding), as different masses would require a different
amount of energy to move.

v.

Binding for Linear Galvanic Attraction: As in the above binding, Elxa Dal asks
Kvothe about it in one of the University's interviews.

vi.

'Galvanic Binding': Kvothe actually uses a galvanic binding to make a link


between two similar arrows, in "an attempt to ground a tree more strongly than
any lightning rod", in order to make a lightning bolt strike a tree in the middle of
a bandit camp. He doesn't say which type of Galvanic Binding it was, but it
definitely shows it's possible to make links for electricity.

vii.

'Maxim of Variable Heat Transferred to Constant Motion': A sympathetic


binding that Abenthy assigns to Kvothe to learn early in NOTW. It it not
described save for the fact that it took Kvothe only 15 minutes to master, despite
Abenthy expecting it to take three or four hours.

5. GENERAL OVERVIEW OF SYSTEM


A. Binding Base Types
The real world translation of Thaums are extrapolated from the KKC and as such are as
accurate to the books as can be.
i.

Mechanic (Motion) - 1T/400nm

ii.

Galvanic (Electrical) - 1T/400Ws

iii.

Radiant (Light) 1T/400Lux

iv.

Thermal (Heat) 1T/400J

B. Practical Examples of Energy Transfer


One Thaum represents approximately:
i.

The energy required to lift a stone (10kg) 4 meter vertically from the surface of
the Earth (assuming g=9.8m/s2).

ii.

The energy released when that same stone falls back down to the ground.

iii.

The energy required to accelerate a 400 kg mass at 1 ms2 through a 1 m


distance in space.

iv.

The heat required to raise the temperature of 100 g of water by 0.96 C

v.

The typical energy released as heat by a person at rest every 7 seconds.

vi.

The kinetic energy of an 89 kg human running at roughly (3 m/s or 11 kph).


SYMPATHIC MAGIC IN GURPS



vii.

The kinetic energy of an object with mass 8 kg moving at 10 m/s.

viii.

The amount of electricity required to light a 400 watt LED for 1 s.

C. Slippage
Slippage or Thaumic Overfill is the result of weak bindings either from it being energy
transforming from one form to another, or from weak correspondence, or
distance/visibility. When a binding is weak the conduit has to be careful when
transferring energy between the bound objects as energy slips into the conduit as well
as creating entropy (explained below). The nature of the conduit is that of a mediator
between the targets of the bindings and any energy transferred between them. Thus the
conduit is also at risk of being on the receiving end of any residual energy not converted
to entropy during the transfer of energy. Thaumic Overfill is an important subject within
Thaumatology, as such the study of Thaumatology will benefit the conduit in deciding
how much energy to transfer and at what rate, and so on, to avoid serious slippage.
Slippage can in worst case scenarios lead to disability or death of the conduit, it can also
in some cases lead to collateral damage to immediate surroundings.

D. Entropy
While the term is barely mentioned in KKC, it is an important part of the workings of
Sympathy. Entropy is not easily understood, but it can be explained as a by-product of
Sympathy (and other energy transferal). When energy is transferred between two
entities or more there is never a "perfect" link and as such, much like slippage entropy is
the result of imperfect bindings (perfect bindings only exist in theory). The Law of
Conservation states that energy cannot be created nor can it be destroyed. When a
conduit makes a binding and attempts to transfer energy using that binding the residual
energy (energy not transferred through the binding, and energy not slipping into the
conduit) will disperse into the immediate surroundings increasing entropy. In most
cases this means the air around the conduit becomes warmer as entropy increases.

E. Table of Correspondence
Strength Modifier Slippage Description

Example

Distance
Max

67%

Two iron
drabs (feels
like lifting
three).

10m,
Visible

-1

10%


SYMPATHIC MAGIC IN GURPS

Identical,
consanguine (it
apparently
doesn't get
better than
this*),



60%

-2

20%

Nearly identical,
consanguine but
weak

Mommet
with hair or
other DNA.

15m,
Visible

50%

-3

30%

Quite similar.
Size difference
between nearly
identical.

20m,
mostly
visible

40%

-4

40%

Similar.

Two
different
pieces of
wood of the
same type
Drab and
Silver Coin.

30%

-5

50%

45m,
barely
visible

20%

-6

60%

Somewhat
similar, size
(minor
difference)
A bit similar,
size (larger
difference)

60m,
almost
invisible

10%

-7

70%

Not very similar

80m,
invisible

5%

-8

80%

Hardly similar

150m,
invisible

0.1%

-10

90%

Dissimilar,
unlikely

Bottle of
water and
Chalk

1 km,
invisible

30m,
partly
visible

*For clarification see Name of the Wind Pp. 77

6. SYMPATHY AND GURPS


A. Advantages
i.

Strong Alar (Compartmentalized Mind, Req. IQ 12, 50/lvl.): This advantage


increases the amount of bindings a person can do by one per level. Each level
taken in this advantage is equal to adding another compartment to ones mind.
Example. At lvl. 3. The person is able to split his mind four ways making it
possible to do four sympathy bindings at once. The advantage still has the same
perks as the original Compartmentalized Mind.

ii.

Heart of Stone (Req. IQ 12, 50)


SYMPATHIC MAGIC IN GURPS



The ability to ignore external and internal influences on ones thoughts; to be
able to think 100% rationally (bonus to IQ checks). Receive a +4 bonus on
IQ/Will-checks as well as certain related skills (see below) when having entered
Heart of Stone. Receive -6 to all Empathy/Emotion-related checks while in Heart
of Stone. Needs an IQ check to enter and maintain Heart of Stone (-4 to the check
while under stress. Cancelled out after having already entered Heart of Stone).
1.

Related Skills: Sympathy, Research, Navigation, Observation, Meditation,


Mathematics, Interrogation, Disguise, Diplomacy, Merchant, and others.

B. Skills
i.

Sympathy (IQ/VH, Req. Teacher*)


The skill of utilizing ones Alar to create bindings.
Advancing in the skill requires a teach of at least
Relative Skill +2. Each relative level in this skill
decreases the amount of time needed to perform a
binding. See table for details.

ii.

Relative
Level

Time

1 CP (-3)
2 CP (-2)
4 CP (-1)
8 CP (+0)
12 CP (+1)
16 CP (+2)
20 CP (+3)
24 CP (+4)
+4 CP (+5)

5 sec.
5 sec.
4 sec.
3 sec.
3 sec.
2 sec.
1 sec.
1 sec.
1 sec.

Thaumatology (IQ/VH, Req. Teacher*)


The knowledge of the rules of Sympathy. Specifically,
the knowledge of Thaums (Energy), and how to
convert Thaums in use with Sympathy. Knowledge of
Thaumatology is not essential to practicing Sympathy, however it reduces the
chances of Sympathy blowing up in your face. Each level of relative skill (even
negative) adds (or subtracts) to your Sympathy skill roll. This skill also reduces
the chances of the negative effects of failing or low successes using Sympathy.
The reduction is 2% of the effect per relative skill level.


* This requires that the character has had a teacher (arcanist) with at least Sympathy Relative
Skill +2 in the case of Sympathy, Thaumatology Relative Skill +2 in the case of Thaumatology.
Such teachers can only be found wandering the world as arcanists or at The University as
professors.
Certain house rules are encouraged when playing with Sympathy as a magic system. Per and
Will should be promoted to Primary Attributes, both a 5cp per +1.

C. Using Sympathy
i.

The long and short of it (along with an example)


1.

The PC expresses that he wants to bind Object A and Object B together using
Sympathy (This is a concentration manoeuvre).

2.

GM checks against tables to estimate modifiers required for the binding (for
simplicity let's assume both object A and B are two similar coins. The
modifiers are governed by the Law of Conservation, Principle of


SYMPATHIC MAGIC IN GURPS

Consanguinity, and Doctrine of Correspondence. Check the Modifier table for


the appropriate modifiers. (In this case Doctrine of Correspondence decides
this is a +0 modifier).


ii.

3.

The PC rolls a Sympathy skill check adjusted for modifiers. If he succeeds he


has successfully delved into his Alar and bound the two objects in his mind
creating a physical link between the two (Depending on his lvl of Alar he can
use several bindings between the objects to increase the likelihood of
succeeding).

4.

The PC now needs an energy source to transfer energy from. This can be object
A or B or it can be a completely separate source energy. The source needs to be
in immediate space and useable by the PC. (In this example let's use a small
hearth fire with about 1T of potential thermal energy.)

5.

Next using the Law of Conservation the PC transfers energy from the hearth
fire to the binding in order to help him either heat, move, electrify or
illuminate the two coins. (In this case the PC will use the 1T of energy to help
him displace the coins, i.e. He gets energy from the hearth fire to do the work
for him).

6.

The GM determines the correct check needed to perform the motion (ST) and
whether a roll is needed or whether it is at all possible. (In this case the hearth
fire providing 1T of potential energy can be turned into mechanical energy at
67% efficacy. If the whole 1T expended within 1 second, there is not enough
energy left in the hearth fire and it will instantly die out. However, 1T is more
than enough to move the coins without an ST check).

7.

The binding dissipates when the PC stops the Concentration Manoeuvre.

Basic mechanics
1.

Take a concentration manoeuvre to use the Sympathy skill.

2.

Do a Sympathy skill success roll adjusted with modifiers for circumstance.

3.

Decide what energy source (if applicable) and what action you want to do with
the binding.

4.

Roll appropriate attribute/skill to determine success (if applicable).

5.

Cancel binding.


SYMPATHIC MAGIC IN GURPS