The Book of Magic
What exactly is magic?
In game terms, we define magic as the manipulation of probability to achieve effects that would be impossible - or at the very least, astoundingly unlikely - under normal circumstances. A body that can alter probability in order to manifest magic is often known as a mage, magician, wizard, thaumaturge, or sorcerer. Lots of colorful names, to be sure, but all of them are essentially the same thing: people that use magic.
With intense effort, almost anyone can learn how to wield magic. Sure, some people have more... potential than others, but this matters not. When it comes down to it, any sentient being can master magical practices if he or she wishes. This is because, more than sleepless nights studying and researches into the crypts of long dead enchanters, the desire to master the arts arcane is what it truly takes to utilize magic.
At a glance, a spellbinder looks to be a relatively frail form of ascendant being. His or her physical abilities will be comparable to their 'mundane' counterparts, and in fact there is little to distinguish a conjurer from ordinary society, once you remove the familiar trappings of robes, amulets, and so forth. There is no genetic marker to reveal wizardry, nor is there obvious, permanent physical cues to showcase such.
But a theurgist's seeming weakness belies his or her true power. Using knowledge of the obscure as their power base, mystic masters can wield staggering might, the ability to reshape reality itself to suit their desires. And their desires are paramount, for logic need not hamper a warlock in the course of their work - merely the will to impose their wishes on the world at large... no matter how far removed from reality they may be.
Before one builds magic wielding player characters for use in their game, there are several basic ideas that they should first understand.
The principal thing to remember about magical abilities is that they are not powers, in the standard sense of the word. They instead behave more like skills, as they are arcane formulae that a person can use to manifest magic. As such, standard methods of power negation do not work on practitioners of magic, as their powers are derived from what they know, not some inherent effect of their physiology.
These arcane formulas are known as spells. As opposed to the dangerous means necessary for ordinary heroes to acquire powers, a mage can learn a new spell with only a bit of studying and hard work. Research, also, is a large part of spell acquisition. Further, spells all affect reality in the same way, regardless of the various types of raw energy they use to fuel their effect.
You see, magic is the art of making the impossible possible. By tinkering ever so slightly with the laws of probability, practitioners of magic cause things to happen which simply should not occur - at least, not according to our current understanding of the universe. Those strange words, the bizarre movements, and even the occult ingredients, they are all tools for the bending of reality itself to the whims of the mage.
Types of Magical Energy
In essence, there are three kinds of magical energy: personal, universal, and dimensional energy. Each mage has access to all three types of magical power, generally speaking, but players can limit their mage's access to energy types as a character limitation (see character generation, later, for more on this). The forms of magical energy function as follows:
Personal Energy: derived from the spell caster, personal energies can fuel spell effects without relying upon any outside sources whatsoever. While magic of this type is more exhausting for a mage to utilize, it is not at all hindered by the whims and dictates of outside agencies or beings. Personal energies are used primarily to affect a caster's own body or equipment, as opposed to affecting others or the outside world.
Universal Energy: this form of magical energy is drawn from the ambient and infinite power of the universe itself. The power inherent in universal energy can be used to affect people and things other than the mage wielding them, and is the source for most of your more legendary spell effects, such as bolts of energy, matter transformations, and the like. Universal energy magic is less stressful to use than personal energies.
Dimensional Energy: this last form of magical energy is extremely potent, as it is drawn from outside a spell caster's own plane of existence. Spells that use dimensional energy are the least stressful on a mage, as the power that fuels them does not subtract from his or her own energies at all. However, energy of this type is often granted to a mage by some being or race of great power, which is a risky idea, at best.
Unless, of course, you like the idea of a vengeful god taking notice of you.
Types of Magical Spells
In addition to there being several types of magical energies, there are several special types of magical spells that use them. It's true that some magic spells can be defined as just 'personal', 'universal', or 'dimensional' spells, but others don't easily fit into this mold. These special types of spells include school spells, group spells, and entreaty spells, each of which is detailed here:
Group Spells: normally of dimensional energy, a group spell is in fact several spells, as it acts as a kind of multiple choice ability. It is actually five or six different spells, of similar type, and a mage can choose one to use each day. He or she need not make this choice until they actually need to cast the group spell, though, which makes such magic both more versatile and more limited at the same time.
School Spells: these are special magic spells that are usually, but not always, unique to one magical school of study (see magic schools for more on these). They can utilize any type of magical energy, of course, but only the mages who study a magic school will have access to its particular school spells. This 'exclusive' availability is primarily due to the mindset involved in creating such magics in the first place.
Entreaty Spells: these spells have the greatest potential power, as well as the greatest inherent risk. Dimensional energy effects also, these spells are an attempt to draw power from a specific entity, item, or plane. Planes and items usually don't cause too much trouble, but requests for power from gods tend to get a mage into trouble, as these beings eventually ask for favors in return.
Schools of Magic
Now that the basics of magic have been described (in terms of game use, of course), it's time to talk about schools of magic. Magic schools are lots of things. They describe a sort of magical philosophy, an understanding about how the world works, and how it can be manipulated. They also represent a way to make a character's magic spells work together within a common framework.
Alternately, they provide a great way to make one spell a totally different affair for mages of two different schools. For example, specialists of elemental vapor can create lightning by stimulating air friction, while an entreatist would ask extradimensional beings for the power to spontaneously conjure the energy from nowhere. The same applies to most every other spell available, given a little bit of creative thought.
There are thirteen known schools of magic, each of which is detailed below. Several of these schools qualify as combination character forms of magic, as they blend aspects of magic with technology, psionic power, or deific energies. However, these are included here for the sake of completeness - basically to have all the magical rules in one place. The thirteen schools of magic include the following:
"It is the art of manipulating life, and consciousness in matter, to help it evolve, or to solve problems of inner disharmonies."
- Jean Dubuis
In other words, alchemy is the magic of material things. An alchemist produces magical effects by making otherwise ordinary materials magical, and then mixing said materials together in new and exciting ways. Typically, this will involve the brewing of magical potions, oils, pills, or even dusts, though the magic can come in any expendable form the alchemist can think of.
In order to cast their magic, then, an alchemist will drink that potion, spread that dust into the wind, or even smoke that curious cigar they rolled up last night. While alchemists perform research on new magical concoctions with ease (they purchase new spells at a twenty-five percent discount), the amount of magic he or she can use at any given time is limited by the amount of alchemical mixtures that they can carry with them.
As you can guess, one of the greater advantages of alchemical magic is that it is incredibly portable; alchemists can simply give a potion or whatnot to an ally in order to share their magic. On the down side, an opponent can also swipe their mixtures and render an alchemist temporarily powerless. This can be quite a bother, as it normally takes hours, if not days, for alchemists to brew up just one of their bizarre creations.
This is one reason that alchemists are not noted for the mass production of magical compounds, you see. Their byzantine formulas allow an alchemist to render an ordinary ingredient magical, but this - along with the process of carefully brewing, cooking, and mixing (not necessarily in that order) of alchemical compounds - takes time. A whole lot of time.
In addition to the making of essentially one-shot magical items, the art of alchemy allows for the easier creation of permanent magical devices. While the universal spell of empowerment makes this possible for all mages, the Fortune cost alchemists have to pay when producing a permanent magical item is also cut by twenty-five percent, since they spend most of their time making mundane materials magical to begin with.
"There are those who scoff at the school boy, calling him frivolous and shallow. Yet it was the school boy who said, Faith is believing what you know ain't so."
- Mark Twain
This is a type of magic that is derived from the worship of immortal beings. In exchange for absolute faith, deities will often grant some of their followers special powers. Clerics are very special priests of such deities, priests who are granted the use of magical spells by their god (or gods) so that they may use them as they see fit. Most often, this is so they can help spread the gospel of their patron.
When determining what kind of spells a cleric will utilize, either during character generation or later on, it is important to keep in mind the general goals and personality of the cleric's god. For instance, if said deity is a god of thunder, it's more likely than not that a cleric will receive the use of spells that are of a loud and obvious nature (like eldritch bolts), as opposed to stealthy and underhanded magic (like invisibility).
An advantage of being a god's cleric is that one need not lurk about tombs and old libraries in order to learn spells. A god, if it wants its priests to be effective, will simply impart the knowledge necessary to use a spell into their minds. Sure, their priests still have to pay the Fortune point cost for such spells, but this makes the learning process that much easier. Of course, there's a potential bad side to this.
For one thing, the spell advancement of a priest is totally dependent on the whims of his or her god. If one's deity doesn't think them worthy of the new spell they've saved up their Fortune for, the priest just might not get it (though they won't lose the requisite Fortune, mind you). The same applies if said deity simply doesn't want a body to gain a certain spell. At this point, the priest is essentially out of luck.
Unless he or she can convince their god to change its mind, that is. You see, by completing quests and other bizarre assignments for their god, priests can often impress that deity enough to bend the rules in their favor somewhat. This can alleviate the problem described above, or even impress the cleric's patron enough to grant free spells or spell rank value improvements.
It's ultimately hard to tell, where gods are concerned. After all, they're famous for being fickle!
"To be nobody but yourself - in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else - means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting."
- e. e. cummings
A mage who ascribes to the eclectic method of sorcery is one who eschews the standard schools of magic, instead stealing what knowledge they can from other wizards, regardless of what magical school they practice. As such, eclecticists most often have a bizarre mixture of magical abilities that don't seem to complement each other at all. However, his or her spells are most often the precise abilities they need the most.
This lack of structure has a penalty. In order to learn or advance a spell, an eclectic mage must pay twenty-five percent more Fortune than other wizards. On the other hand, if an eclectic sorcerer learns a spell from another wizard (or a spell book, etc.), he or she will wield the spell at the rank value their instructor did -2 RS, as opposed to the standard starting rank value. This by far makes up for that penalty in the long run.
In addition to this, eclectic mages can learn the special spells belonging to any other school of magic, an ability that no other wizards can claim. It may take them some time to gain access to such spells as, having no school of magic to study from, eclectic mages typically don't have anybody to
lean on for instruction. Unless a rarely charitable eclectic mage takes another under his or her wing, mind you.
However, considering how hard it is for them to track down a willing source of magic in the first place, an eclectic mage isn't likely to share their magic - not for cheap, at any rate. More likely than not, an eclecticist will simply study under various instructors for a time, moving on when he or she has either learned all they needed to or, much more likely, their ersatz teacher gets sick of them, and sends them on their way.
"Never can the innate power of a work be hidden or locked away. A work of art can be forgotten by time; it can be forbidden and rejected but the elemental will always prevail over the ephemeral."
- Stefan Zweig
The sorcerer who studies elemental magic believes that all of reality can be reduced to thirteen basic elements. By acquiring control over said elements, that wizard can then manipulate various aspects of reality. This entails him or her learning a version of the elemental control school spell that is appropriate to an element they wish to study, and then mastering three additional spells somehow related to that element.
For example, say a sorcerer learns the elemental control spell for the element of time. Afterwards, if they learn three more spells reflecting the manipulation of time, they're considered a master of that element. This mastery has the benefit of granting a sorcerer a +1 RS to all spell rank values involving this element, whether he or she has already learned them or studies them later on.
Once he or she has achieved this mastery of one element, the mage can then begin work on another, and so on and so forth, until they've conquered them all.
The thirteen elements and their uses are described in greater detail in the elemental control spell variants, but this will do for now:
Antimagic: this unique element allows a mage to control those energies that negate or dispel ordinary magics.
Death: control over the forces of death and spiritual energies, this element is powerful and dangerous indeed.
Energy: allowing a mage to control raw energy, this elemental form consists of shaping energy in all kinds of ways.
Faith: this element allows a mage to tap into and utilize the psychic energy generated by a belief in deific beings.
Fluid: representing liquids of all types, elemental fluid magic is used to alter anything from water to toxic sludge.
Life: this magical element involves the manipulation of any type of life form, as well as the life forces that sustain them.
Magic: the raw aspect of magic, this element involves changing and twisting the very core of magical effects.
Philosophy: good, evil, and everything in between, this element offers control over the manifestations of morality.
Quintessence: this element involves space and the effects that matter within has on it. Effects like gravity.
Rock: representing solid matter of all types, rock magic can control anything from buildings to mountains.
Time: this is the element of motion and entropy, representing the fact that nothing truly ceases to move or change.
Unity: the junction of other elements, this element allows for comprehensive manipulation of reality itself.
Vapor: representing gaseous matter of all types, mastering this element allows a mage to manipulate all gases.
A variant type of elementalism or geomancy, this school of magic represents a mage that has chosen to utilize only one type of element instead of several, as others of their school do. By specializing in this fashion, a mage gains a +1 RS to the rank value of all his or her spells, whether they gained them during character generation or acquired them later in their career.
Further, after the specialist has learned thirteen spells, thus gaining the rank value of mystic master, he or she receives a further +1 RS in all of their spell rank values, a bonus that again applies to both existing and new spells. While specializing does limit a mage's versatility to some extent, it does allow him or her to come up with all sorts of spells and spell effects that revolve around their chosen element.
"We all go down for the god of the moment."
- Rob Zombie
Entreatists are strange folk, in that a majority of their magical power flows not from themselves, or even the world around them, but instead from a variety of extraplanar entities. You see, these mages traffic heavily in the lore of the gods, either those classically known to mankind or not, and spend a very large portion of their time learning how to draw power from them.
This tends to make others believe that practitioners of entreatism are lazy (as such spells are the easiest to cast) or insane (as such spells are the most dangerous to utilize), or both. To be sure, your average entreatist will know one or two spells that do not siphon power away from extraplanar entities, but that's about it.
The rest of his or her magical lore, then, will involve asking various gods, sentient planes of existence, and potent magic artifacts for power. And of course, they'll almost always grant it - almost. The key problem here is that this tends to make such entities eventually take notice of the entreatist, at which point they may 'ask' him or her to perform some favor or another in exchange for their energies.
This may not sound like such a bad idea to start with, but if an entreatist continually grabs the attention of an entity, it's likely that he or she may be taken down a peg or two for their dependence on the god in question, or even drawn into service for an extended period of time - a very bad thing for one's social life. In the end, this is why entreatists of a more successful bent try not to lean on any one god for too long.
In other words, the wise entreatist will distribute his or her entreaties equally amongst their extraplanar contacts. This has the effect of minimizing contact with any one entity, while at the same time keeping him or her in the good graces of a majority of their power sources. Sure, drawing on extraplanar entities all the time is a bad thing, but ignoring some altogether after working with them for years can be even worse...!
"Brawn and courage can sometimes be lonely friends, but those who dream walk in Faerie dust."
Faerie magic is a type of sorcery that did not, in fact, originate on our world, having been brought to this plane by extradimensional creatures known as Fae (or Fey, or however one likes to spell it). These beings, living in planes adjacent to our own, have crossed over to the earthly realm many times in the past, thanks to several paths between their worlds and ours.
One point of confusion regarding Fae folk is that they hail from several planes simultaneously; Alfheim, realm of elves in Norse mythology, is one such home. Furthermore, Faerie folks come in all manner of shapes and sizes, from the approximately human sized elf to the positively tiny fairy. In the end, these differences mean little, as most wielders of Faerie magic are in fact mostly human - at least, the ones on earth are.
Such casters, however, invariably have a trace of Faerie blood in them, and as such, will have some hint of it in their appearance or physiology. For instance, these descendants of Fae beings may have pointy ears, the ability to see at night, or be somewhat slight in build. Or, if their Faerie background came about more recently, they may possess more exceptional characteristics, like the wings of a fairy.
Most importantly, however, they gain the ability to utilize Faerie magic, if taught to do so properly. Faerie magic is essentially a mix of geomancy and philosophical magic, as it appreciates nature, but is tainted with concerns of right and wrong. Well, good, evil, or balance, depending on the individual caster. Similarly, then, a Faerie mage has all the benefits and penalties of a geomancer - and more.
For instance, while in an area that is linked to the home plane of Fae beings, a Faerie mage can add a +1 RS to his or her spell rank values. This bonus also applies if the Faerie mage is holding powerful Fae artifacts of any type, regardless of his or her location. However, Faerie mages hold a potent vulnerability to iron; they cannot cast spells while in contact with the substance.
"I catch the rain that turns me to rust, I stand in the flame that turns me to dust."
- Gravity Kills
A school of sorcery that has its roots in the Druidic orders of ancient England and Ireland, geomancy is the magic of nature. Those mages that practice the ways of geomancy, then, are folks who worship, protect, or draw forth magical energies from the earth itself. These magics take the form of the traditional elements, as opposed to the general types one can study in the elemental school of magic.
For instance, a geomancer wields the mystic forces of earth, air, fire, water, animal, plant, and weather. These are the seven elements that a geomancer believes are the building blocks of the world. Likewise, a geomancer uses these forces to define how his or her magics manifest once cast, and masters the various elements in the same way. The similarities end there, however.
For one thing, as ardent worshipers of the earth, geomancers can potentially make entreaties to the earth itself, as if it were a true deity (and, for some of them, it is). They might also utilize a few spells noted more for being in the sphere of clerical magic, such as healing, blessings, and the like. These will, of course, be of an elemental nature, but will function just the same.
Geography also plays a role in the magic of a geomancer. For one thing, he or she will receive a +1 RS to all magic they cast in natural areas; these being defined as zones free (or mostly free) of artificial buildings or items. But, on the down side, geomancers are at a -1 RS in regards to all spells cast while in more... urban zones, like a city, or (worst of all) a garbage dump.
Keeping this in mind, most geomancers work to make the earth a more natural place, not only to enhance their power, but to look after their deity or charge (depending how they look at it). It is the rare geomancer that bends this art to darkness, doing evil deeds with it. Of course, when one blows up half a city in order to cleanse it of impurities, their motivations might be in the right place, even if their means aren't.
"Chaos in the midst of chaos isn't funny, but chaos in the midst of order is."
- Steve Martin
Magic is a dangerous, yet powerful force of nature, and those who wield it are fearsome individuals indeed. They must poke and prod into ancient tomes to uncover the secrets of the ages, secrets that were developed long ago by scholars of intelligence and power. However, some mages feel that a dependence on this ancient material is causing an overall decline in magical knowledge.
As such, these stalwart explorers of the unknown delve into the true nature of magic - a twisting of probabilities to cause a seemingly impossible action to occur - and play around with it. When casting an existing spell, a mage of the paraprobabilitist bent can attempt a spell ACT roll to change its very nature, and the difficulty of this ACT roll depends on several factors.
The first is how much different an effect the paraprobabilitist wishes to produce; turning a teleportation spell into one that crosses dimensions is easier than transforming a flight spell into an eldritch blast. The second factor is preparation time; is this alteration being done on the fly, or has the mage trying it been planning this act for days? Last, but not least, is the Gamemaster's whim.
If he or she feels such an effect can't happen, it is within their power to make it very, very difficult to produce.
Once the relative intensity of such a spell ACT has been determined, the paraprobabilitist need make only one roll; if it passes, the new spell can be further researched until it may be cast normally. If it fails - well, it fails, and nothing happens... unless this ACT fails with a black result. If this happens, the attempted spellcasting erupts in a way that is totally unexpected, and usually rather inconvenient.
The Gamemaster is encouraged to be rather nasty in this regard, though it is not very sporting to kill an offending mage off with this backfire - at least, not directly. However, the blast area of such a spell gone awry will nonetheless be blanketed with what is known as Probability Fallout, a raw, unformed magical radiation that has a mutagenic effect on space, time, matter, energy, and life itself.
This is why other mages don't like paraprobabilitists very much - they give all mages a bad name. Of course, those same mages love to utilize all of the magical knowledge and new spells a paraprobabilitist uncovers. As such, paraprobabilitists often occupy a rather unique position in magical circles - both for good and for ill.
"Philosophy is a study that lets us be unhappy more intelligently."
Sorcery of this variety is based on the idea that the world is shaped by the interaction of five powerful conceptual forces, forces of morality that vie for domination constantly. A sorcerer who wields philosophical magic is one who will put this idea into practice, choosing one ethical force and spending the rest of his or her days working to increase said force's influence in the world.
The tricky thing with philosophy magic is that, in the end, these five forces are not black and white in nature; where they are not diametrically opposed to each other, they will tend to flow into one another, creating new expressions of their philosophical components. In other words, the five major forces of philosophy combine to create these thirteen different expressions of power:
Balance: one of the five major forces of philosophy, balance is the equalizer of the cosmos, making all the same.
Chaos: unpredictability, randomness, and inspiration are the hallmarks of chaos, a major philosophical force.
Codification: where order and balance meet is codification, the bringing of order to that which has none.
Conscription: order imposed by evil is rarely accepted voluntarily, and these chains of law serve dark ends.
Corruption: when balance is tainted by evil, corruption results, twisting all with darkness until it is unrecognizable.
Creation: chaos and goodness merge to reflect the creative urge, and the rejection of entropy.
Destruction: chaos and evil, on the other hand, merge to sow entropy, and bring an end to all things.
Disruption: when chaos alters balance, the bindings of order are thrown to the wind, often with bizarre results.
Evil: dark selfishness incarnate, evil is the spreading of entropy with disregard for all else.
Good: the proponent of life in the universe, this major philosophical force strives to foster harmony in all.
Order: stability and knowledge come with order, a major philosophical force that acts to organize all things.
Purification: when balance is touched by good, a cleansing of entropy occurs, and glorious things can ensue.
Reparation: where order and good are combined, systems can be restored to their full strength and vitality.
But how does all this work together, you ask? Once an aspiring mage has chosen his or her philosophical force, the other types of spells they can effectively wield reveal themselves. For instance, a philosophical mage can use a chosen force, as well as any other force that holds a similar component within, at no penalty. A chaos mage, for example, can use creation, disruption, and destruction magic with no penalty whatsoever.
However, a philosophical mage applies a -2 RS to the casting of any other type of philosophical energy spell for each additional step away from their prime energy source that they attempt. Our chaos mage, for instance, would cast good, evil, or balance magic at a -2 RS, and any codification, conscription, corruption, purification, or reparation spells at a -4 RS. This is if they bother to learn such spells in the first place.
Finally, a philosophical mage cannot, under any circumstance, cast a spell that uses philosophical energies that are diametrically opposed to his or her own, personal favorite. Good mages cannot utilize evil energy, wizards of destruction cannot wield reparation spells, and so on. Only sorcerers of the force of balance lack a 'forbidden' energy, as their nature includes the use of each and every philosophical force to some extent.
However, their road is indeed the hardest path to walk.
"We become what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act but a habit!"
Sorcerers of this bent believe that the forces of magic are a tool that can and should be used to stretch the human body to its very limits - and then far, far beyond. Physiomancy allows a mage to channel magical energies into his or her very body, and grant it powers beyond their wildest imagination - well, beyond the imaginations of most ordinary people, at the very least.
Wizards of this variety are often those who strive for perfection in all things, including their bodies, or those who simply refute the notion that a sorcerer is invariably a plump, senile bag of flesh. As you can guess, then, your average physiomancer often puts his or her body to task much more often than any other type of mage, usually as a slam-bang adventurer of some sort.
With this in mind, it is important to note that a majority of the spells wielded by a physiomancer utilize personal energy; they are simply using their own power to enhance themselves somehow. On the other hand, this doesn't mean that any other form of magic is barred to them - it's just less likely that a mage of this stripe will wield it, unless it acts to augment their body in some way.
In other words, why learn how to cross dimensional barriers when one can instead become impervious to injury? If a physiomancer thought it were necessary, he or she could learn how to do both, but they would have to rationalize that against the study of more spells to enhance their physical perfection. And speaking of physical perfection, the practice of physiomancy has one rather nifty advantage.
Whenever a physiomancer casts a spell, he or she can choose at any time to instead channel the energies of that spell into either their Melee, Coordination, Brawn, or Fortitude traits as they see fit, raising their rank value to that of the spell's, instead. However, this ability boost is only a one-shot deal; for each use of an enhanced trait, the physiomancer must channel a spell into said trait to boost it first.
"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."
- Albert Einstein
While it is true that all schools of magic follow a general 'scientific' principle or two, a basic methodology that allows a wizard to gather and shape the forces of probability, a technomage takes this one step further. Utilizing the science of today (or perhaps tomorrow), these magicians strive to enhance their arts above and beyond those of their many compatriots.
The simplest form of technomancy involves a symbolic focus of standard spells through mundane devices, which basically causes said devices to work much better than they otherwise should. For example, a flight spell shunted into a kite or glider will allow it to carry the mage at impressive air speeds, while an eldritch bolt focused through the barrel of a gun just might make for unexpected explosive power.
These are handled like any other spell, albeit limited to only function properly through the correct type of device. The severity of this limitation, then, notes how potent the spell effect can be. A spell limited to a single class of object (any aircraft) should offer a +1 RS, but one requiring a more specific focus (say, a drone the technomage constructed personally) may double or triple that bonus.
While these symbolic spells may come in handy (and can be very, very potent), it should be noted that the true ideal of technomancy is a combination of both magic and technology meant to achieve things that neither can do by themselves. A technomage may 'simply' enchant an existing item, granting it a magical power or two, but this isn't the same as true, all-out technomancy.
In other words, when a technomancer really gets down to it, he or she creates both the technological and magical parts of their work at the same time, weaving them together to form something that is more than the sum of its parts. This new creation should have aspects that are based upon the nature of the many components used to build it, but it may also have altogether unexpected traits.
The only limits to this process should be the imagination of the player behind a technomage and the nature of the campaign he or she resides in, but the sky is usually the limit. Any viable creation the technomage builds will count as one spell for the purposes of mystic mastery, and he or she only needs to pay for it as they would any other new spell.
Keep in mind that the Fortune cost will be higher if a technomage creates an item that functions at a power level higher than the standard new spell rank value - see the Role Play section for more on this.
"Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions."
- Oliver Wendell Holmes
The basic idea behind thaumentalism is that the mind is capable of literally anything, but needs a healthy kick to jump start its many nascent abilities. A thaumentalist, by using magical powers to look into his or her own mind, can activate such mental abilities over time. This is a subversion of the method ordinary psis use to gain their powers, and most of those meditative folks look down on your average thaumentalist.
Nonetheless, thaumentalists are most definitely on to something, as their odd practices allow them to wield both psionics and magical spells. You see, a mage of this bent learns spells as do other sorcerers, although their magic primarily involves the manipulation of the mind to some extent or another. The key is that these spells can work on the mind of the thaumentalist as well as the brains of others.
Such spells allow these sorcerers to eventually unlock psionic abilities inherent to their own mind. Once this is done, they can acquire powers as can any other psi, even if they unlock such abilities artificially; refer to the Manual of the Psi to view the options of psionic schooling and power disciplines available. This may put a crimp in the thaumentalist's studies, however, as concentrating on two paths of power is somewhat tricky.
However, a thaumentalist is easily the counterpart of a psychoturge (a psi that dabbles in magical power), in that his or her magic grants them mystic abilities as well as the power to mess with the psionics and mental faculties of others. Essentially opposite sides of the same coin, the two both have the potential to master both the psionic and mystical arts, and this makes them singularly dangerous beings.
At the same time, a thaumentalist is a similar foil to a physiomancer. While the latter can channel magical power into their physical abilities to achieve a one-shot use at an enhanced level, the former can do this with their mental traits. Thus, when casting a spell, a thaumentalist may channel it into their Melee, Intellect, Awareness, or Willpower traits for a one-time use at the spell's rank value, instead of its normal value.
"Voodoun is a very interesting religion for the whole family, even those members of it who are dead.
- Terry Pratchett
In the simplest game terms, Voodoo is a practice that originated in Haiti, and has spread throughout the Caribbean region. It has incorporated aspects of various religions into itself, and is in a state of constant change; the Voodoo we know today will likely be a different animal fifty years from now. Similarly, Voodoo utilizes several aspects of the other schools of magic as well, making it quite versatile in game use.
You see, Voodoo priests (houngans for males, mambos for females) have at their disposal chunks of the philosophy, alchemy, and clericism schools. They can produce temporary magical items (potions, powders, oils, etc...), invoke the forces of good and evil for magical aid, and may even acquire power from the many spiritual entities that roam this world (and beyond). They can do all this within the context of their faith.
What this means is that practitioners of this curious religion will normally use their magical powers to defend or otherwise help others, instead of furthering their own ends. They might perform healing or other magic as is necessary, protect the innocent from vengeful spirits, or otherwise do what it takes to keep their chosen community alive. They can do this primarily due to their relationship with the spirits of their ancestors.
On the other hands, both bokors (male) and sorciéres (female) are those who have sank so low that they wield magic to benefit only themselves. A priest of this stripe is known to work magic with 'both hands', using both good and evil to further their personal agenda and aspirations of power (this is where the philosophical bent to their magic comes in). Corrupted priests of this type are the bane of all followers of the Voodoo faith.
Either way, belief plays a big part in the relative power of a Voodoo priest. This is because the very power of Voodoo magic is drawn from those who witness it in action, or are subjected to it. If a priest is admired (or feared) by others, he or she will receive a +1 RS to all their spell ACT rolls, +2 RS if in the context of a magic ceremony.
Similarly, if a priest loses this respect or is made to appear the fool, this boost is transformed into a -1 RS penalty, -2 RS if the priest is particularly humbled in an encounter. The duration of such spell modifiers is dependent on the overall standing of a Voodoo priest within his or her community in general, as well as the campaign's history as a whole.
Note: there is much more to the actual practice of Voodoo than is presented here, but this space is truly inadequate to go into it in proper detail. However, this material (and the included school spells) should be enough to get a basic handle on running a 'comic book' character of this stripe. Anyone interested into bringing a more 'real life' flavor to their Voodoo PC is heartily encouraged to do their own research into such matters.
Random (Dice Roll) Method
In the end, sorcerers are merely normal humans, despite all their vaunted powers. As such, when rolling up traits for a mage, use table A to generate his or her Brawn and Fortitude, then table B for their Melee and Coordination. Finally, use table D for Intellect, Awareness and Willpower, as these are usually rather high in wizardly characters, above and beyond those traits seen in typical people (on average).
Sorcerers may then roll on table A to determine their initial Lifestyle rank value. They also begin play with a Repute trait of zero. Add up their Health and Fortune totals as normal, along with Negative and Mental Health, if these optional traits are in use.
Table 1: Rank Value Generation
|Table A||Table B||Table C||Table D||Table E||Table F||Table G||Table H||Table I||Rank
|01||01||02-05||-||-||01||02-05||-||-||Rank Value 2
|02-25||02-05||06-10||-||-||02-05||06-10||-||-||Rank Value 4
|26-50||06-25||11-25||-||-||06-10||11-15||-||-||Rank Value 6
|51-75||26-50||26-50||01||02-05||11-25||16-25||-||-||Rank Value 10
|76-99||51-75||51-75||02-25||06-25||26-50||26-50||01||02-05||Rank Value 20
|00||76-95||76-90||26-50||26-50||51-75||51-75||02-25||06-25||Rank Value 30
|-||96-99||91-95||51-75||51-75||76-90||76-85||26-50||26-50||Rank Value 40
|-||00||96-99||76-99||76-95||91-95||86-90||51-75||51-75||Rank Value 50
|-||-||-||00||96-99||76-90||76-85||96-99||96-99||Rank Value 75
|-||-||-||-||-||00||96-99||00||96-99||Rank Value 100
Once your rolls are complete, you may gamble on any two traits of your choice, potentially shoring up whichever area(s) you feel needs more work. Keep in mind that once you are done, all of your traits save for Awareness and Willpower must remain within normal human maximums; while you deal in dread forces unknown to most humans, you're still one of them for the most part.
If your trait(s) exceed normal human levels, simply drop them back down to that point when you're done.
Table 2: Rank Value Modifiers (Gambling)
|(RV 150 max.)||(RV 100 max.)||(RV 75 max.)||(RV 50 max.)||(RV 40 max.)||
Once all of a new mage's vital statistics have been generated, a magical school of study must be chosen for him or her. While table 3 exists for the generation of a random school (mostly for Gamemasters to use), a player may choose which of the schools he or she wishes their character to follow. This is a very important choice, for magic wielding characters are stuck with their initial school for a very, very long time.
Note that there are, in fact, two versions of table 3. If one's Gamemaster does not wish to include the three optional, combination character magical schools in their game, use table 3a to determine the sorcerer's school of study. On the other hand, if all bets are off, and the optional magical schools are in play, one may instead make use of table 3b, which makes all the known schools of magic available to players.
Table 3a: Magic Schools (without combination character options)
Table 3b: Magic Schools (with combination character options)
Choosing Initial Spells
Once a character's magical school has been chosen, we can determine which spells he or she will begin play with. Start by rolling on table 4 to find out how many spells the sorcerous character wields at first. Keep in mind that if this is an insufficient number of starting spells (in the player's eyes), they can always 'earn' more by use of the Quirks system - though, as usual, there's always a trade-off involved.
Table 4: Number of Starting Spells
|01-17||One spell||18-33||Two spells||34-50||Three spells
|51-67||Four spells||68-83||Five spells||84-00||Six spells
Then, follow up that roll with several on table 5, one for each spell he or she has. This will determine the type of spell that will occupy that spell 'slot', whether it be personal, dimensional, or whatever. It is recommended that a player be allowed to overrule at least half of these rolls; they should have at least one 'school' spell to start, and his or her school may lean on one type of spell over the others.
Physiomancers like personal spells for instance, while elementalists are keen on universal spells, and entreatists love their entreaties (go figure).
Table 5: Spell Type
Now it's time to determine just which spells a character will have. This brings up one sticky point where character generation is concerned. A major point of contention is the random roll vs. character choice conundrum. Many players choose to simply pick the spells they will utilize, without random rolls entering the equation, while some Gamemasters prefer all spells to be generated randomly.
While it is ultimately up to the Gamemaster, it is recommended that a mixture of both methods of spell generation be used, allowing the player to choose half of his or her spells, and to roll up half randomly. This helps a player get the spells they really want for their mage, and makes new characters refreshingly different each time. This works well, except where schools might override spell choices.
The first spell an elementalist learns should be an elemental control spell, for instance. When rolling spells up randomly, refer to tables 6 through 22, depending on what kind of spell will occupy each spell slot. You'll note there's no tables for entreaties; the nature of entities that may be entreated upon will be dependent on the individual game campaign - ask your Gamemaster about these!
Notes: spells that have a (2) or (3) listed after them count as either two spells or three spells, respectively, or cost an amount of points per rank value equal to the normal amount times that multiple; spiritual link, for instance, counts as two spells or costs two points per rank value. Spells with an asterisk in parenthesis (*) are special in cost; see their spell description for more.
Table 6: Personal Energy Spells
Table 7: Universal Energy Spells
(greater resistance seems a, well, great fit here)
Table 8: Dimensional Energy Spells
Table 10: Alchemy School Spells
Table 11: Clericism School Spells
Table 12: Eclecticism School Spells
Table 13: Elementalism School Spells
Table 14: Entreatism School Spells
Table 15: Faerie School Spells
Table 16: Geomancy School Spells
Table 17: Paraprobabilitism School Spells
Table 18: Physiomancy School Spells
(greater invulnerability seems a, uh, great fit here)
Table 19: Philosophical School Spells
Table 20: Technomancy School Spells
Table 21: Thaumentalism School Spells
Table 22: Voodoo School Spells
Choosing a Magic Item
In addition to all the magical spells at his or her disposal, a new wizard should begin play with at least one magical item. This helps to bolster him or her as they get their feet wet in an adventuring career, as it often comes in handy to have access to at least one magical capability that does not require incantations or the like in order to be activated.
Generate a magical spell as you did before, but make it inherent to a device - any device - as long as it makes sense. You know, a wand for a magic blast, a carpet to fly, etc. If there is any area the player (or the Gamemaster) feels the character is lacking in still, this is a good place to fill in that deficiency.
Determining Spell Ranks
Once you have figured out what spells your new mage wields, and choose the nature of your magical item, it is time to determine just how potent these anomalous abilities are. In order to do this, simply roll once on table D for each magical power the character possesses. After you're done, you may 'gamble' on one spell (and magic item) rank value of your choosing for every three of such the character has (round up).
Character / Spell Limitations
Often, a player may not be happy with the rank values they've rolled up for their new mage. Even after adjusting spell rank values for any bonuses granted by his or her school or from gambling attempts, they're just not satisfied with what they've come up with. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as sometimes one has a specific vision in mind for their character. This is where limitations come in.
A player may subject their sorcerer to additional limitations (above and beyond those offered by schools) to make them more powerful.
Limitations come in two distinct flavors: spell limitations and character limitations. A spell limitation is just that, an altering of how said spell works to the detriment of the player (as compared to others who can use this spell). A spell so limited may not affect certain objects or beings, can take longer to cast (initiative penalties), may require a mage to provide extra materials that are expended upon the spell's casting, and so on.
Character limitations, however, change the nature of every spell a mage uses, not just one. Such limitations include the inability to use one type of magical energy (universal, dimensional, etc.), a required focus necessary for all of a mage's spells (which may or may not be easily replaceable), or possibly a chronological constraint on spell use (can't cast spells at night, on Thursdays), and so on.
At any rate, the severity of the limitation determines just how much of a power boost the magical effect may receive. Limitations come in four flavors: weak, strong, very strong, and extreme. A weak limitation is just that, a minor crimp in a spell's effectiveness, and only offers a +1 RS. Each succeeding limitation offers another +1 RS to the spell rank value, but as their names imply, they become increasingly, well, limiting.
Alternately, a mage can take a limitation on a spell to replace one that is already built in to it; some spells, like those involving luck or time, have several such constraints already worked into them. With the permission of one's Gamemaster, players can swap out one limitation for another, as long as the new limitation would be equally as inconvenient, which allows them to better craft the character they imagine in their heads.
Character / Spell Enhancements
Similarly, a player might have more than enough power, or simply wants more 'bang for their buck' out of his or her existing power roster. If this is the case, they may decide to empower their spells with special enhancements. Like limitations, enhancements have four levels of power, including weak, strong, very strong, and extreme, each of which applies a subsequent -1 RS modifier to one's spell rank values.
In exchange for suffering from the effects of this modifier, the spell(s) in question will benefit from an improvement of some sort. Moving a spell up one speed or range category is considered a strong enhancement, while two is an extreme enhancement. Other enhancements can come in the form of built-in limitations being stripped out of a spell (luck and precognition have several, for instance).
Unlike limitations, enhancements are difficult to apply across an entire character, though this isn't impossible. While speeds and ranges vary from spell to spell, things like initiative modifiers for spells are generally constant (optional rules for such notwithstanding), as is the general duration of spells before maintenance is required (normally a d10 number of turns, unless listed otherwise).
These and the other spell qualities can readily be given enhancements, and the reduction in rank value usually makes up the difference. This can make purchasing new spells more difficult down the line, though, particularly if a character enhancement is in effect; a new spell to be affected by an enhancement must at least be bought at a rank value high enough that, upon applying the negative RS, it will work at the adjusted value.
Slightly more palatable than limitations, quirks are relatively minor changes to a character that can either saddle him or her with a disadvantage, or possibly even enhance one of their traits. They can also be used to ultimately raise the rank value one or more of a character's spells work at, if so desired. The quirks rules have more on this, but the quirk tables are presented here, for convenience.
Quirks are normally a voluntary affair - players may or may not use quirks, as they see fit. They are presented below in the format of random rolling tables for two reasons, however. The first is for the Gamemaster's use, to quickly generate random characters when desired. Alternately, a player may roll randomly if he or she desires a quirk, but doesn't know what to pick. Not that they're bound by such a roll, of course.
Quirks are divided up into the beneficial and deleterious quirks of a physical, mental, and role play nature. Those quirks which cost (or grant) two quirk points are noted with a two in parenthesis (2), while those that can be taken at multiple levels are noted with an asterisk in parenthesis (*).
Table 23: Quirks Categories
|01-17||Physical (beneficial)||18-33||Physical (deleterious)||34-50||Mental (beneficial)
|51-67||Mental (deleterious)||68-83||Role Play (beneficial)||84-00||Role Play (deleterious)
Table 24: Physical Quirks (beneficial)
Table 25: Physical Quirks (deleterious)
Table 26: Mental Quirks (beneficial)
Table 27: Mental Quirks (deleterious)
Table 28: Role Play Quirks (beneficial)
Table 29: Role Play Quirks (deleterious)
The skills your sparkling new mage will start out with can be determined as per any other character type, beginning by rolling up the number of their initial skills on table 30. Then, roll for the category each skill will belong to on table 31. To finish up, roll for individual skills using tables 32 through 39, one table for each applicable category of skills.
However, the actual skills a character has really should be determined by his or her origin. Keeping this in mind, the Gamemaster may very well opt to let a player choose some (or all of) the skills his or her sorcerer will have, allowing them a lot more creative control over their character. Another thing to consider is that a skill can function at a higher 'level' than normal.
There are three 'tiers' of skills, each providing an increasing bonus to ACTs applicable to said skill. When generating these heightened skills, however, keep in mind that they cost more; a level 2 skill counts as two skills, while a level 3 skill counts as four. This can get expensive fast, but is a great way to showcase what your character is really good at.
Also, some skills cost more than others (before levels of such are considered). A skill that has a number in parenthesis counts as that many skills during character generation; these are mostly background skills, but some others cost more. Similarly, the Student skill costs all of one's initial skill slots, for it by definition implies that a body does not have any other skills.
Table 30: Number of Skills
|01-17||Two skills||18-33||Three skills||34-50||Four skills
|51-67||Five skills||68-83||Six skills||84-00||Seven skills
Table 31: Skill Categories
Table 32: Background Skills
Table 33: Behavioral Skills
Table 34: Environmental Skills
Table 35: Fighting Skills
Table 36: Miscellaneous Skills
Table 37: Professional Skills
Table 38: Scientific Skills
Also presented for your convenience is the table used to detail the initial number of contacts a new character will have; it is available as table 40 here, in the Book. Table 41, then, lists the types of contacts a sorcerer may have upon the start his or her career, if the player needs any ideas; one does not need to roll up contact types randomly if they don't want to, however.
Like quirks or skills, contacts can be taken at one of three levels of importance; for example, a police contact might be a beat cop (level 1), an FBI operative (level 2), or even an Interpol agent (level 3). Similarly, contacts have an increase of cost in 'contact slots' depending on their level - a level 2 contact counts as two contacts, while a level 3 contact costs four contact 'slots'.
Table 40: Number of Starting Contacts
|01-17||Two contacts||18-33||Three contacts||34-50||Four contacts
|51-67||Five contacts||68-83||Six contacts||84-00||Seven contacts
On top of all of their impossible powers to warp cause and effect as they see fit, sorcerers also have their pick of conventional, mundane equipment. These devices won't be the kind that make or break a body in combat for the most part, but they often fill in holes on a magical character's roster when needed - or, at the very least, add a bit of style to their life.
Common equipment a character can possess depends on their Lifestyle. One may automatically have any gear with a price equal to his or her Lifestyle rank value or less, and may start out with materials of up to their Lifestyle rank value +2 RS with but a small explanation (the character has a corporation that she built). Anything more exorbitant must be approved by the Gamemaster, but isn't necessarily out of the question.
It's mostly just a matter of feasibility and availability at that point.
Systematic (Point Based) Method
Players begin with fifty (50) points with which to build their magic wielding character. They may spend these points as they wish, only limited by a) the caps for most normal human traits, and b) the campaign's power level ceiling. For example, a plane-spanning campaign may limit characters to rank value 100 or less on most traits and spells. Ask your Gamemaster about his or her campaign limits!
To begin with, determine how far above (or below) the norm the character will be in each trait; for our purposes, the 'norm' will be rank value 6. For every +1 RS a player applies to each spend one point, and for each -1 RS applied to these values, add one point. All but Awareness and Willpower must remain within human maximums (maximums for the other traits are detailed in the Core Rules).
A starting character is assumed to have rank value 6 Lifestyle and a Repute score of zero (0). One may alter his or her Lifestyle as they can any other trait, though at double the cost (rank value 50 Lifestyle would cost ten points, for example). If one intends to purchase the Heir to Fortune background skill, they shouldn't alter this 'base' Lifestyle score any. Health and Fortune are determined normally.
An opposed Repute score (negative for heroes, positive for villains) is worth two points, no matter how great it is.
Before purchasing spells, one should first pick their magic school, for this may affect the cost of their spells. When purchasing spells, players spend one point for each rank value in each spell, starting at rank value 2 - unless their school raises this value, as is the case with an elemental specialist. The upper rank value of each spell is only limited by the campaign's power level ceiling (again, ask the Gamemaster about this).
Costs can be controlled by adding limitations, which can apply to either one or all of a character's spells. Whether applied to just one spell or globally to the character as a whole, weak limitations reduce the cost of a spell by one point, strong limitations by two points, very strong limitations by three points, and extreme limitations by four points. Consider the effect of such limitations before counting your point savings!
Remember that all spells have a minimum cost of one (1) point, no matter how limited they may be.
Moving the other direction, a player may apply enhancements to one or more spells. A weak enhancement increases the cost by one point, strong enhancements add two points, very strong enhancements raise the cost by three points, and extreme enhancements add four points to a spell's final cost. Such enhancements include improving the range or speed categories of a spell, as well as other augmentations to its functionality.
Note that many spells cost more than this base level; planar control, for example, costs three points per rank value. Spells with a heightened cost are so noted in the character generation tables listed above (those spells with numbers in parenthesis after their name). Limitations and enhancements are multiplied in value by this cost; for instance, a very strong limitation on planar control would reap a nine-point discount.
If your Gamemaster allows their use in his or her campaign, one thing to consider is the use of Hyperkinetic and Hyperexhaustive rank value qualifiers. These can each be purchased in the point system if allowed, being treated as either an extreme enhancement (a Hyperkinetic spell) or an extreme limitation (a Hyperexhaustive spell). Both can be unbalancing in their own way, however, so bear this in mind.
Once a character's spells are determined, he or she may purchase skills and contacts as they see fit, each costing one point. If one would like heightened skills or contacts, they must pay two points for a level two skill or contact, or four points for a level three skill or contact. The Student background skill costs five points (and fits a new wizard well), but cannot be purchased with any other skill (save for heir to fortune).
Next, a player may use leftover points to purchase beneficial quirks - or add a few points to pad weak areas with deleterious quirks. Most quirks give (or take) one point, but if purchased at a higher level, they function in much the same way as skills or contacts in this regard (two points for a level two quirk, four points for a level three quirk). Also, quirks without level but that count double cost (or give) two points.
Finally, determine the normal gear the character possesses. As is the case with randomly generated characters, mages built with the point based system may choose any standard gear readily available in the campaign, as long as the cost falls within a few RS of their Lifestyle rank value. If they want something more expensive, players must give a good reason for such, though the Gamemaster has veto power over improbable items.
Once the player is out of points, the Gamemaster must look over what the player has wrought. Does the character's math add up? Does it fall within predetermined campaign limitations for power level? If nothing appears to be wrong, and the Gamemaster likes what they see, he or she should approve what a player has created, and then allow them to complete the last portion of their character's creation.
Assuming they didn't actually start with such.
Filling in the blanks
Once all the crunchy game mechanic details of a mage have been determined, it is time to 'fill in the blanks', or to detail all of their personal and background information, the stuff you can't quantify with dice rolls or points. Who are they? What do they look like? Where are they from? What are they like? Why have they spent time to learn the arts arcane? Who trained them how to wield these potent abilities? Why?
With the sole exception of one's mystic mentor (who the Gamemaster must generate, barring perhaps his or her name), all other character information must be determined by the player behind the character in order to make it truly their own, and to really 'flesh them out', so to speak. This is often the most difficult part of the character generation process, the point at which many will fail.
However, with a little effort and some serious consideration, the answers to these questions can make that simple little piece of paper with all the funny words on it really come alive!
Sorcerous Role Play
A man or woman of a wizardly bent is not what one would consider a 'nine-to-five' type of person; you know, putting in a hard day's work at the office, only to return to one's home to deal with concerns of a familial nature. A few may fit this description, yes, but that's not the image that most people have of spellcasters - at least, those who know that such individuals really exist.
No, most sorcerers walk on the fringes of society, often going to great lengths to develop or uncover new means of manipulating the forces that give them power. A relatively new mage usually has the benefit of a mystic mentor, an older spellcaster that has taken him or her in and is teaching them how to utilize the forces of magic. Not all wizards are so lucky, however.
Some may have never had a mentor, have been dismissed from such a helpful person's service, or have even lost one to a tragic accident. So, a lot of a mage's time is devoted to the discovery of new knowledge, through either exploration, trade (one spell for another), or even entreaties to powers alien and bizarre. While the results are all the same, this often eats up much of one's time.
This is why mages tend to live irregular existences - they often vanish for days, weeks, or even months on quests for new magic. This makes it hard to be a working class stiff most of the time, and is even harder on the career of a magical hero (or villain). It's difficult to fight crime in your home town when you're off digging up ancient Babylonian tablets full of magical writings - unless your home town is Baghdad, that is.
Furthermore, exposure to the obscure and arcane knowledge that is both their bread and butter (so to speak) tends to give mages of all stripes at least some disregard for normal earthen societies and their quirky standards. Traveling to new worlds, or even new planes of reality, will have that effect on a body. This doesn't prevent them from caring about their home, mind you, it just helps to explain why they can be so mysterious.
This is not to say, however, that mages spend every waking moment seeking out new knowledge. A mage might be content to simply hone the spells he or she already knows, and may not currently be on a quest for power. When mages do need new spells, though, and they don't have a readily apparent source of knowledge, a quest of some sort may be the one and only way for them to find their own.
The following is a series of concerns that set the life of a practitioner of magic apart from other super human entities. Some involve their day to day life, some examine basic details about how certain facets of magic function, and still more are optional details that can be used to add 'flavor' to one's magic wielding character. Specifics on character advancement are also included.
Most sorcerers begin play with the benefit of a magical mentor of sorts, a man or woman (or group of such) well-versed in the mystic arts. This individual is likely the reason the sorcerer began to study the arts arcane in the first place, and assists him or her in the mastery of their magical powers. In other words, one's mystic instructor likely has a significant role in the very origin of a sorcerer.
The character advancement rules for mages assume that one has the benefit of such instruction while learning how to cast their spells. If a character lacks such instruction, mastering the mystic arts is much more difficult. While an eclecticist has this penalty built in, mages of other schools without a mystic tutor will suffer a fifteen percent increase in the cost of new spells and spell advancement.
This is not quite as steep as an eclecticist's penalty, as most schools have a coherent set of rules (such as they are) to detail how their magic works. If one starts play with no master or manages to lose him or her during play, it may behoove them to find another instructor as soon as possible - assuming they wish to. Some players don't mind the Fortune penalty as it liberates them from the agendas of would-be masters.
And make no mistake, anyone that takes a student or students in to train them in the ways of magic isn't doing so purely out of the good of their heart. Most 'training' missions a magical mentor will send his or her students on double as exercises built to advance whatever schemes (whether beneficial or nefarious) they have already set in motion. Remember: there's no such thing as a free lunch.
Some spells, such as an eldritch bolt, are of instantaneous effect; you cast it, it fires, and that's it. A large number of spells are not quite so cut and dried, however. Many spells have a duration that is variable in nature, and can be extended even further if the caster desires. This is called spell maintenance. A sorcerer may cast a new spell with each action, but can only maintain so many at once.
The number of spells a character may maintain at once is dependent on their Intellect trait. If the mage has an Intellect rank value of 6 or less, he or she may only maintain one spell at a time. For each rank value of Intellect they hold above 6, he or she may maintain an additional spell simultaneously. A mage with an Intellect of rank value 40, for instance, can maintain five spells at once.
Unless he or she is a novice spellcaster, most mages cannot maintain all of their spells concurrently - the more they have, the harder it is to keep them all running at once. A mage with a lesser Intellect can work around this limitation by juggling spells. The actual casting of a spell does not count against spell maintenance, after all, so one could oscillate their defenses and other spells as is necessary to maximize effectiveness.
This can involve a recasting of spells as is necessary, while maintaining those that are most important to the sorcerer in question. Juggling spells may seem to be a hassle, but that's the price a sorcerer pays for the versatility of his or her abilities. Mutants and the like may not need to bother with such problems, but then mutants can't learn all new powers with just a bit of research, now, can they?
Ceremonies / Ceremonial Areas
Though it is possible to whip spells out quickly, especially in battle, sometimes it pays to work magic in more prepared, controlled forms. This often involves the execution of ancient rituals, the use of some school-specific magical item, or special research into whatever task the spell is being used to complete. The casting of a spell in this fashion is what is known as a magical ceremony.
While ceremonies take much longer to complete than the regular use of a spell does, often anywhere from a few minutes to several days depending on the situation, they offer the benefit of a +1 RS to the effective rank value of the spell so cast. Every benefit of a higher rank value applies to this enhancement, which is what truly makes a ceremony desirable to the average mage.
In fact, this enhancement can be raised further if executed within a ceremonial area, to +2 RS. A ceremonial area is a specially prepared zone attuned to the magic of a wizard's particular school; a magical grove for geomancers, a lab for alchemists, etc. All wizards learn how to make such zones during their 'basic training', but doing so isn't easy; it should take time.
Or, alternately, it could be the subject of a special adventure or quest, which helps to acquire needed magical items or whatnot vital to its creation. Of all the possible types of wizards, only eclectic mages lack the training needed to perform ceremonies or build themselves a ceremonial area, but they may make use of the ceremonies and ceremonial areas meant for any other school (naturally).
The most powerful kind of dimensional magic available, an entreaty involves a sorcerer calling upon magical items, extraplanar entities, other dimensions, or even metaphysical forces for power. That which may be entreated for power depends entirely upon the campaign setting, so ask your Gamemaster if you are interested in entreaties for power from the various sources of such throughout his or her multiverse.
At their simplest, an entreaty is handled as per a Repute ACT roll, because any mage may make an entreaty, whether or not they have any actual entreaty spells. Such an entreaty is generally a plea for raw power, which is added to a spell the entreater is currently casting. If successful, a basic entreaty will add a +1 RS to the casting rank value of the spell, +2 RS if the spell specifically reflects the nature of that which is entreated.
Entities the Gamemaster deems in sync with a wizard's character and motivations, or those who the wizard has properly research entreaties to (in other words, mages who master a specific entreaty spell related to such entities) are friendly for the purposes of this roll. Those who are unaware of this character or indifferent to his or her cause are considered neutral for the purposes of this ACT.
Entities that are at odds with a sorcerer's philosophy for some reason, but not specifically opposed to the character in particular, should be considered unfriendly on this roll. An entity that has a personal vendetta against a sorcerer is inherently hostile towards him or her, and will never grant them an entreaty unless doing so would be specifically beneficial to its goals - attempting such an entreaty is done at one's peril.
Instead of just invoking a source of power for a pick-me-up, a mage may instead study said source of power in much greater detail. This almost invariably entails magical research of some sort, but it allows the mage to develop actual spells related to that which he or she is entreating for power. Such spells can come in the form of 'standard' magic spells or unique magical capabilities, and don't require Repute ACTs.
As an example, say the Greek pantheon of gods is active in the Gamemaster's campaign. Perhaps a sorcerer in the campaign wishes to develop entreaties to Nike, the Greek goddess of victory. Reading about her online, the player finds she is a small winged goddess, who has a tendency to bless her favored mortals with luck. Using this information, the player can easily develop entreaties to reflect her nature and goals.
Speaking with the Gamemaster, the player finds he can learn entreaties to Nike for flight (temporarily manifesting large, billowy wings to carry himself aloft), luck (either good or bad, depending on those who irk the ire of the mage), and shrinking (Nike is of Titanic descent yet six inches tall). Additional, unique spells could reflect Nike's nature even more, such as her prowess with weaponry and her intolerance for incompetence.
This is but one example of the development of entreaty spells. There are any number of items, beings, and places that can be developed in this fashion, either by the Gamemaster directly or alongside his or her player(s) who wish to wield magic. This process can make the nature of one's campaign even more dynamic and collaborative if desired, assuming the Gamemaster doesn't already have this all worked out to begin with.
Of course, there are even more ways to wield entreaties. For one thing, a mage may decide to invoke more than one entity simultaneously when casting a spell. Doing this can add a further +1 RS to the spell which is being enhanced for every doubling of entities so named; for instance, invoking eight different death gods when casting a spell to kill one's arch-nemesis would add a +4 RS to its overall effect!
This is not an easy process, however, and requires multiple Repute ACTs - one for each entity invoked. This involves a whole lot of dice rolling, but admittedly doing so adds a whole lot of weight to a specific casting of one's magic. If any one of these Repute ACT rolls fails, the entreated power source is not added to the spell, but this alone does not cause the entreaty as a whole to fail.
What can cause such stunts to fail is invoking two or more entities in a spell which are on unfriendly terms or otherwise opposed to each other. This does not mean invoking an entire pantheon (such rivalries are assumed), so much as specific beings of power who dislike each other, either directly or metaphorically. Attempting an entreaty in this fashion is a sure-fire way to get on several angry deities' short list of things to smite.
Alternately, one can cast a specifically researched entreaty spell, and then attempt to enhance it with an invocation for even more power from another source. This can boost unique entreaty spells even further, but the danger of causing offense or indignation for abusing their power when combining entities remains. These problems can be avoided with careful research into the entities to be so entreated, naturally.
Entreaties call on vast sources of power to fuel their effects, no matter their origin. That's why they're are so popular with mages, as they spare one's own energies when wielding magic. This can lead to problems where a spellcaster leans upon an entreated power source too much. 'Too much' is subjective, though, and can be anything from more than twice per day to more than seven times per week (Gamemaster's discretion).
Drawing might from items of power is the least risky to an entreater. If the item itself is not sentient, excessive entreaties to such may simply cause the spell it would enhance to fail - whether a derived spell or an enhancement to an existing one. A sentient item, or a non-sentient item owned by a powerful being, might take the entreater to task for abusing its power if it can, but otherwise there isn't too much risk here.
Excessive entreaties to places of power can be more dangerous. If a mage abuses such calls for aid, he or she might be drawn to the place of power they've been siphoning energies from - or something from said place of power may be drawn to them! Alternately, in extreme cases, the 'last straw' in entreaty abuse might cause the formation of a rift between the caster's current location and the realm they've been abusing.
Beings of power are the most hazardous form of entreaties to abuse. If a sorcerer drains an entity's power too much, he or she may be summoned forth by it, being pressed into service to pay for their perfidy. This may involve a special quest, a period of punishment, a stern talking to, or anything else this being of power wishes. When dealing with inexplicable alien intelligences, you never know what will appease them.
After undertaking many adventures, or simply vanquishing the forces of evil for a time, a wizard may have gained new insight into the world and how it works; in other words, Fortune. For the most part, wizards use Fortune much like any other character type, spending just as much when purchasing new skills or contacts, or when enhancing a current ability or power rank value; this is handled as is defined in the Core Rules.
One facet of Fortune use that is different for a wizard is the purchasing of new spells.
Purchasing New Spells
Since magical spells are defined as the equivalent of skills (as far as standard mechanics go), a mage can learn new spells for the same cost - one thousand Fortune points. Generally, new spells begin at rank value 2, unless modified by mage's school or limitations / enhancements. This allows a mage to acquire a respectable roster of available powers, though they require constant work to make them very effective overall.
On the other hand, one can spend more Fortune if he or she wishes a spell to begin at a higher rank value to start with. This can be done by paying one thousand Fortune points for the 'base' spell, plus one hundred times the final rank value number. For instance, purchasing a brand new spell at rank value 50 would be 1,000 (base cost) plus 5,000 (the rank value times one hundred), for a grand total of 6,000 Fortune.
This is a lot of Fortune to spend at one time, but is a) a very powerful new spell, and b) can actually be cheaper than raising it up the hard way; it's just a more 'front loaded' expenditure. Schools which allow new spells to begin at a higher rank value may reduce this cost considerably (as is the case with an elemental specialist). Either way, if the price to raise a spell point by point would be cheaper, defer to that lower cost instead.
All of the above assumes a spell with 'standard' costs; in other words, a spell that has a listed cost of one point per rank value. If a spell is listed as having a cost equal to 2 points per rank value, double its final Fortune cost, while one with a cost of 3 points per rank value triples the cost. If a spell is listed with a 'flat cost', the price is only 250 Fortune points per point; invulnerability, for instance, would cost 2,000 Fortune.
Mystic mastery is a rank that sorcerers ascribe to both themselves and to others, in order to gauge their prowess in the arts arcane. All of a mage's spells and magical items contribute to such a rank, and this helps to quantify just how skilled and powerful he or she is. This rank has no direct game mechanics associated with it, but is nonetheless one that most thaumaturges keep abreast of.
A sorcerer who has from one to four spells under his or her belt is considered a novice wizard. One who knows between five to eight spells can be considered a disciple of the magical life. A mage who wields from nine to twelve spells is an adept of sorcery. Any mage who can utilize thirteen or more spells is truly a mystic master, and will be recognized as such by all in his or her field of study.
Being a mystic master in a given school does have some advantages. For one thing, one does not require the patronage of a mystic instructor within that school any longer; there is no longer a penalty to advance without a tutor for mystic matters. If one continues to study under a master even after mastering a school themselves, they in fact benefit from a fifteen percent discount on further advancement within that school.
Adopting New Magical Schools
Once a character chooses his or her school of magic, they are stuck with it for a very long time - that is, until they master it. Once a thaumaturge is in full command of his or her initial school, they may begin the study of another. While studying this second school, a mage can research spells from either his or her original school or a new one, as they see fit - but may not have more than one unfinished school of magic at a time.
It's important to keep in mind that a mage does require an instructor in this new school in order to study it without penalty. While he or she may no longer suffer from such in their old school, and even has a discount if they retain their original master, a sorcerer needs to find an instructor well-versed in this new school as well if they wish to avoid the Fortune penalty for dabbling in one without the proper education.
Over time, a mage may wish to work with a spell in order to develop a new use for it, instead of simply researching a new spell. Such new uses are called spell stunts. Every attempt to create a new spell stunt costs 50 Fortune points per try, but they are otherwise governed by the same basic rules that exist for all other characters. So, if you have a new idea for the uses of a dusty old spell, give it a shot, already!
A spell stunt starts out at the same rank value as its parent spell, -1 RS for each additional point per rank value it costs. While stunts don't count as spells for the purposes of mastering a school of magic, they do allow one to develop their magic at a discount compared to buying new sorcery outright.
Optional Spellcasting Concerns
Unlike those heroes who utilize powers of a biological nature (mutants, altered humans) or others that are based upon knowledge (psis, technology users), wizards utilize a power that is sometimes fickle, and may not always work the same every time. In game play, this aspect of magic can be simulated by adopting one or more of the following ideas; the rules presented here are optional.
On the other hand, if a given rule is not in play in one's campaign, it can make for a great character limitation! Requiring spell components can be a great limiter to a wizard (alchemists already have this problem, but it can easily spread to other characters), while fatigue rules can really put a damper on a thaumaturge in a long-running battle.
Counterspells: when they encounter a spell that they know, thaumaturges can attempt to counter it, if they don't like the way such a spell is being used. By passing a spell ACT against the intensity of the active wizardry, a mage can counter it. Once this is done, the mage may either cancel the spell effect or take control of it, whatever is best in a given situation.
However, if the original caster of said spell is still in the vicinity, there's nothing stopping him or her from trying to regain control of their own magic.
Mind you, not every spell can be affected by a counterspell. A spell with an 'instantaneous' duration is difficult to counter, as it has an immediate effect. If forewarned of an opponent's intentions (with the use of an augury, for instance), a caster may counter such, but otherwise they're out of luck. Similarly, 'permanent' magics cannot be countered; the effects of such are too ingrained for a counterspell to affect.
Fatigue: spellcasting is difficult work, and can quickly tire a sorcerer who exhausts their energies too quickly. This can be represented with a fatigue intensity; normally at rank value 0, this intensity is increased by the casting of spells, some draining more energy than others.
The casting of a personal spell adds three to one's fatigue intensity, universal and school spells add two, and spells of a dimensional or group nature add one. Entreaties drain zero energy from a mage, and is one reason they are utilized so often, despite the inherent risks involved.
At any rate, fatigue intensity only comes into play as it approaches the rank value of a thaumaturge's Willpower; they can only cast spells in a round if they can first pass a Willpower ACT roll against this fatigue intensity. If his or her fatigue exceeds their Willpower score by more than +1 RS, they cannot cast spells.
How does one avoid this loss of spell use, one asks? Quite simply, by not using magic. A sorcerer who refrains from using magic in a given turn can reduce his or her fatigue by one point; they may not cast spells, but those cast in a previous round that are still being maintained (flight, armor, etc.) will not hamper this loss of fatigue. Where fatigue is concerned, it is best to cast spells in moderation - or to end a conflict quickly.
Initiative Modifiers: there are six types of spells in all, and each of them utilize unique energies and techniques when producing the required spell effect. To better represent this, initiative modifiers can be applied to a spell, based on the basic spell type.
Personal spells gain a +2 initiative modifier, School spells gain a +1 initiative modifier, universal and group spells are normal (no modifier), dimensional spells receive a -1 penalty to initiative, and entreaty spells suffer a -2 initiative penalty. If an entreaty invokes more than one source of power, add an additional -1 penalty for each one inserted into the spell's casting.
Spell Components: thanks to the odd formulae for casting them, a few spells may require the use of material objects to make them function, in addition to the necessary physical movements and the verbal chanting. This is technically a limitation on a spell, and offers a RS boost dependent on how difficult it is to procure these components; boost from +1 to +3 RS are possible if components are exceptionally hard to acquire.
Spell Disruption / Distraction: normally, spells are cast when a mage passes a spell ACT roll - that's all it takes.
But sometimes, sorcerers will find themselves in a distracting situation, one that will disrupt their spellcasting concentration. Situations of this sort include seeing others placed under the threat of immediate death, taking damage equal to or greater than one's Fortitude rank value in a given turn, or intense sensory assaults (like deafening sounds, bright light, severe pain, and so on).
If any of these conditions occur as a mage tries to cast a spell, he or she must also pass a blue Willpower ACT roll to pull off their spell correctly. Failing this, the spell so disrupted will fail to materialize, fizzing out with a possible sizzle in the air, or perhaps an audible pop or flash of light. In fact, if the ACT fails with a black result, something unexpected just might occur, such as a different spell or even Probability Fallout!
Spellcasting Restraints: the stronger a spell is, the more it requires gestures and chanting to manifest its effects.
If a sorcerer is restrained somehow, he or she may be unable to cast certain spells. For instance, if they are bound (hands behind their back), a mage cannot cast any universal energy spells. If gagged, he or she cannot wield their dimensional energy spells (as well as group or entreaty spells). If blinded or blindfolded, a wizard casts spells that require visual contact with a target as if said spell were -4 RS in rank value.
But is that it, you ask? Hardly, I say! Sometime soon ™, the intent is to greatly expand the universal and dimensional spell lists to fifty apiece, in order to give magic using characters a bit more options during play. Oh, and then to ensure that each school has thirteen spells 'unique' to them each. The hope is to get that done after building the 4C System: Edition 13 version of the Book, however.
The Book is perfectly usable as is, mind you, as of 8/28/16. The goal is just to make it more so. Stay tuned!