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GURPS - Harry Potter

GURPS - Harry Potter

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Published by: Omerus_Banning on Oct 04, 2011
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05/24/2012

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GURPS Harry Potter
Copyright © 2002 By
Thomas Barnes
Introduction
Several months ago, I finally broke down and read one of the Harry Potter books. Like everyone else, I became addicted. I quickly read all four books in the series in quick succession and then re-read them. As Iread, I kept wondering if J.K. Rowling was a former gamer, because the parameters of her world were socarefully thought out. Underneath the prep school fantasy, there was a tautly constructed world with its owninternal logic that begged to be further fleshed out.This variant requires GURPS Basic at the very least. A full-fledged GURPS Harry Potter campaign requiresGURPS Compendium I, Grimoire and Magic as well. GURPS Bestiary, Fantasy Bestiary, Fantasy Folk andUndead are handy, but not essential.
Sources:
My sources for this variant are, of course, the four Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling, plus thetwo “Harry’s Books” books she did for Comic Relief. In the few cases where a species of creature or acharacter isn’t fully described in the books, I have attempted to fill in the gaps using information from themovie. Where the movie and the books disagree, I have chosen the books as “canon.” In a very few cases(specifically, middle names of characters and monetary values), I have used online transcripts of J.K.Rowling’s question and answer sessions with fans that were aired on BBC radio. When necessary, I havefilled in the gaps as best I could.
Spoiler Alert
Throughout the text, I assume that the reader has read all four available books in the series. For the fewthousand or so literate people left on the planet who haven’t read the books, this is your warning. Somesections, especially the Characters and Equipment sections, contain information that will give awayimportant plot developments. If you can’t enjoy a book if you know how it’s going to end, don’t read theCharacters section or the Equipment section. You have been warned.
The World of Harry Potter
The world of Harry Potter is an alternative fantasy setting. Like Ars Magica, wizards keep themselves apartfrom the mundane world. Like Shadowrun or GURPS Technomancer or Cabal, mages have adapted to themodern world. Unlike any of these settings, the world of Harry Potter is basically peaceful and optimistic.Wizards expect make the world a better place by working for a bureaucracy or going into business, not byconquering or controlling the world. They learn spells to handle the everyday problems of life and relativelynon-violent self-defense spells.Under the surface, however, the world of Harry Potter offers marvelous dramatic tension. Evil wizards are aconstant threat; presumably Voldemort and his supporters are only the latest in a line of power-hungrysorcerers. The Ministry of Magic has a tremendous job to do to keep the existence of magic a secret.Tensions between the wizards and the other magical races in the world presumably could take a turn for theworse. The goblins, barely mentioned in the book, are a dangerous and aloof race that have rebelled againstwizardly hegemony several times over the centuries. The centaurs and merfolk, although they keep tothemselves, could decide to turn on humankind if sufficiently provoked. There are all manner of magical beasts to be captured, killed or studied and all types of muggles to be protected from themselves. Finally,and most obviously, there is the appeal of a Hogwarts school campaign, where student witches and wizardsattempt to learn magic while dealing with the troubles of growing up.
Wizarding Society
 
Wizards (male mages) and Witches (female mages) occasionally refer to the magical world as the“wizarding world” and the term “wizarding” can be applied as an adjective to any institution that functionsin the magical world, for example, Gringott’s Wizarding Bank.
Technology:
Wizarding culture is very much like that of modern Great Britain, but is retarded in itstechnological development. Wizards prefer to use magic or old-fashioned technology that borders betweenTL5/6 and lags at least one Tech Level behind that of the mundane world. Wizarding technology isespecially retarded by the fact that high levels of magic interfere with electric and electronic signals. Unlessit is specifically-enchanted to work in a wizard’s household, high-tech gadgets such as power tools andcomputers won’t work properly.
Culture:
Because of this social retardation, and the fact that wizards are much longer-lived than “muggles”(mundane folk); their society is a bit more formal. Wizards and witches are likely to live in half-timberedstorefronts or cottages, or ancient manor-houses rather than terrace houses or flats. Men often wear old-fashioned suits to work, although robes are an acceptable, traditional garment for both sexes.At the same time, wizarding society is nothing if not eccentric. As long as wizard doesn’t make a pest of himself, he can dress as he chooses in styles that are much more flamboyant than those of the mundaneworld. A famous author can dress in turquoise-colored robes that match his eyes or a top governmentofficial can dress in a bright green suit with a lime green bowler hat and not raise eyebrows. This freedomextends to other aspects of a wizard’s personal life. If wizard wishes to raise fantastic beasts or conductstrange experiments, as long as he doesn’t break any laws, or annoy the neighbors, few people will care.
Becoming a Wizard or Witch
Witches and Wizards are born, not made: you either have the “wizard gene” or you don’t. As a guess, thereare probably no more than 100,000 magically-aware people in Great Britain (which has a population of approximately 60 million). In magic-using families, magical powers manifest themselves regularly. A non-mage born to mage parents is a tragic oddity, rather like a child born with birth defects or mental retardationwould be to ordinary parents. Wizards born to mundane parents are also an oddity, with perhaps one mage born out of every million children.Those with Magery eventually spontaneously show their powers as children. As a rule of thumb, the moregifted the mage, the earlier and more frequently his powers manifest. Though wizards might be able toincrease their power (level of Magery) through training, such a thing is unlikely. For most mages, the levelof magical power you have is innate and cannot be improved.Small children who are wizard-born are trained, educated and supervised by their parents until they areabout 11 years old. The odd muggle-born wizard appears to be a normal child for the first few years of life.As they get older and are subjected to more stress, odd things begin to happen around them. The Ministry of Magic has officials who are in charge of monitoring unexplained and unauthorized uses of magic, so theywill quickly be able to identify a muggle-born witch or wizard. The MoM will covertly monitor the child’sactivities while assessing her magical potential and taking steps to keep the child’s powers a secret.When the child reaches early puberty (approximately 11 years old), representatives of the MoM willapproach the child’s parents and, with their cooperation introduce the child to the wizarding world.Whether wizard- or muggle-born, at 11-12 years of age all young witches and wizards enter either a boarding school or some sort of training program that lasts until they are 18. At 18, they are considered to be adults and are expected to join the work force.Some witches and wizards choose to continue their magical studies. They either do fieldwork (oftensponsored by the Ministry of Magic) or return to a prep school to teach. A few wizards choose to goadventuring. They are usually employed by an institution that funds their work in exchange for a share of the proceeds. For example, Gringott’s Bank has a team of professional treasure hunters.Barring calamity or disgrace, wizards work until they reach old age (perhaps 90-100 years), before retiring.
 
Wizards and witches live to be approximately 150-200 years old.
Living in the Wizarding World
In Magical Great Britain, the most important concern is secrecy. Wizards must live alongside a vast population of muggles on a crowded island. In addition to concealing their own existence, they must alsohide the very existence of magic, which includes controlling the activities of powerful and pesky magicalcreatures such as dragons, selkies and house-elves. Wizards must also hide areas of magical activity,including dealing with “accidental” magic use in areas where muggles can see it.Perhaps because of this, wizards have developed their own foods, sports, money, transportation system andgovernment that exist, secretly, in parallel with the mundane world.
Food:
Wizard food (at least in the British Isles) tends to be traditional British fare - heavy on meat,carbohydrates and fat. Unlike the stereotypically drab English food of the mundane world, wizarding foodis (or is expected to be) delicious. However, wizards are much more tolerant of magical or unusually-flavored sweets. For example, Bernie Bott's Every Flavor Beans are jellybeans with flavors ranging fromtoast to blueberry to vomit or earwax. Certain types of candy can actually be dangerous practical jokes!
Clothing:
As described above, wizards tend to dress in eccentric, flamboyant fashions. Robes aretraditional and fashionable for both sexes. Hats, including the traditional brimmed, pointed “witches hat”are also fairly common. Younger wizards follow mundane fashions more closely, although they add their own unique flair to any outfit. Employees of the Ministry of Magic tend to wear either green robes or greensuits. Brightly colored bowler hats and conservatively-cut cloaks are fashionable accessories.Hairstyles tend to be practical, but with a greater tendency for both men and women to wear their hair long.Wizards often grow facial hair, frequently worn in unusual styles.
Housing:
Wizards seem to prefer old-fashioned accommodations, such as half-timber cottages or oldmanor-houses hidden away from any local towns. Possibly, this is out of tradition, but isolated structures areeasy to hide, and presumably dwellings purchased or inherited from an older wizard will already have theappropriate obscuring spells in place.
Education:
Wizarding education is roughly based on the mundane British system of education. At age 11,sufficiently-talented witches and wizards are invited to attend a magical boarding school (althoughHogwarts is not a “public” school in the traditional sense). Less-talented or poorer students presumably gointo vocational programs or “comprehensive” schools, which are usually day schools.Boarding and comprehensive schools are further divided into “houses” which function as dormitories andsocial units for the students. The different houses compete against one another in sports and athletics for anoverall school championship. In some cases, inter-house rivalries can be intense. Friends and enemies madeduring a wizard’s school years often carry over into their adult life. The network of graduates from a particular school or house can be a powerful Patron; cliques of mundane public school graduates gave riseto the term “Old Boy Network.”Discipline within a school is provided by the faculty, who also serve as live-in chaperons for boardingschool students and serve as the heads of a particular house. Assisting the faculty in maintaining order arethe prefects - upper-level students chosen for their good character and leadership ability. Prefects can assignminor punishments for infractions. The heads of the prefects and the spokespersons for the student body arethe Head Boy and/or the Head Girl. The Head Boy/Girl is responsible for student discipline among all thehouses and is chosen on the basis of leadership ability, good character and academic achievement. Beingchosen prefect or head boy/girl is a great honor, worth a positive reputation.Faculty, staff, prefects and the head boy/girl are all in charge of disciplining students for various infractions.For relatively minor offenses, students lose “points” from their house in the inter-house competition, theresulting shame and peer pressure keeps trouble-makers in line. At Hogwarts, prefects can dock students upto 5 points per offense. The head boy or girl can dock students up to 10 points. Faculty and Staff can dock 

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