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
The practice of alchemy is almost as old as civilization itself. Having its roots in ancient metallurgy, known to have been utilized over 7,500 years ago, alchemy is the sorcery of substance. While the physical sciences may have served more practical, immediate concerns, the traditions of alchemy lent a more spiritual air to the process of transforming a given substance into another.
The goal of alchemy has always been the transmutation of mundane material into that which is far more valuable. Sure, there's the obvious factor of greed, in that alchemists have obsessed over transforming lead into gold for centuries, but men and women of alchemy strive for far more than just that. They have also sought to discover - or create - substances which can cure disease and render mankind immortal!
While numerous purges have cost alchemists valuable knowledge over the millennia, both practical and spiritual, the art persists to this very day. Sure, modern society would have you think alchemy has been swept into the dustbin of history, but in the obscure corners of society, where the rational fear to tread, alchemists work their magic. And rest assured, what alchemists do is quite magical, indeed.
Strictly speaking, an alchemist is like most other sorcerers. They are constantly on the lookout for knowledge that is new to them, if not new altogether. While modern science can bolster their work, the truth is that alchemists don't really need it to ply their trade. Where they differ from most other wielders of magic, however, is that it is rare to happen across an alchemist casting actual spells.
While most magicians will wave their fingers, speak obscure words, and think mystical thoughts to release magic, an alchemist will do so by literally working magic into an item, which when utilized will release its sorcery as intended. Alchemists thus prepare their magic well in advance, needing only to eat a snack, or smoke a cigar, or pop a pill, or pour oil onto something, or scatter dust into the wind, to deploy it.
Thus, alchemists carry various containers on their person with which to transport their alchemical concoctions, readily accessible for use if circumstances require they do so. This grants alchemists a powerful advantage in relation to other magicians, in that spellcasting restraints aren't quite as effective against them - assuming that one doesn't prevent them access to their alchemical creations, that is.
On the other hand, alchemical effects that are the end result of some item's expenditure, as opposed to a cast outcome, are subject to the Portable limitation. Something of a double edged sword, portability means that an alchemist can share the effects of their magic with others simply by handing over that which contains it - quite a boon, when you're talking about a batch of cookies that, say, heal injuries.
Of course, those cookies can be stolen by others, whether they be allies, enemies, or even random passersby. And then, regardless of who has those concoctions now, that person isn't the alchemist who made them! While it is presumed that whipping up magical snacks, oils, dusts, cigars, potions, or whatever else can be done without too much hassle, replacing them on the spot simply isn't feasible.
In other words, magical spell effects that are provided by the consumption of an alchemical product are considered weakly limited. Thus, an alchemist may add a +1 RS to their functioning rank value when acquiring magic of this type, whether during character generation or later on in their career. Spells they can cast normally do not receive this bonus - but then again, someone can't walk off with them, either.
In a strictly mechanical sense, a major benefit of studying alchemy is that one masters new abilities in this school of magic on the cheap. Sure, there's the Row Shift bump due to being subject to the Portable limitation, but alchemical effects are mastered at a discount. To wit, a character purchasing a new alchemical spell effect (whatever form it ultimately takes for them) does so at a twenty-five percent discount.
This discount applies whether one is developing a new recipe for regular consumption or a more permanent item. While the latter also requires an alchemist master the Universal spell of empowerment, it nonetheless gives him or her access to a magical ability that needn't be reformulated on a regular basis - even if it is still bound by the Portable limitation - this time, in a strong sense, being more difficult to replace.
Either way, between the discount for purchasing new magical effects and the effects of the Portable limitation on them, an alchemist is primed to advance quickly in the game. Assuming they play their cards right, and manage to keep their creations out of their enemies' hands, an alchemist can quickly master this school of magic, thus allowing them to either adopt an all new school or dig in, and improve their alchemy even further!
"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
There's something about the sentient mind that compels it to worship the fantastic. Mysteries in particular seem to encourage this kind of behavior in intelligent life, even that which seems like it should know better. After all, it's a lot easier on the brain to claim that bright light moving strangely through the sky is Ishtar, the goddess of love and war, instead of the planet (usually) nearest to our own.
What's more, this exaltation of the existence and machinations of fanciful entities generates a sort of spectral energy. Fueled by this energy, the beings so idolized grow more powerful still, manifesting astounding capabilities that most associate with the divine. Thus, it is the worshiper that creates their gods, not the other way around - but don't let any immortals hear you say that!
Moreover, this channel of faith is a two-way street. Because they generally wish to concentrate on other matters, divine beings often empower their most loyal and effective followers to handle the day-to-day care of their flock. This empowering occasionally comes in the form of supernatural powers, but most often it involves granting one's priests the knowledge to cast spells in their name.
Clerics are spellcasters who receive the knowledge to wield magic directly from their divine patron(s). Unlike other wizards, who must study hard and practice diligently to master their sorcery, a cleric immediately attains such mastery at the whim of their liege. This can be when they prove their worth, after a certain duration of service, or even as a reward for some great service performed.
The most ardent advocates for a deity, or perhaps an entire pantheon of such, clerics are far more important to their gods than mere priests. In addition to the usual responsibilities ordinary priests bear, a cleric can tangibly demonstrate magic entrusted to them by the divine, thus making them examples to others. Furthermore, clerics represent their god's will made manifest when acting on the world at large.
A deity's clerics are constantly 'on the clock', but are only occasionally called upon to perform special tasks. These may involve undertaking quests, working against the clerics of rival gods, defending the faithful (and the precious faith they generate), or even inexplicable jobs that make no sense whatsoever. Ultimately, anything a deity asks of their cleric is to further their ends - and usually that of their followers.
When creating a cleric, it is vital to choose a deity that aligns with the capabilities one foresees them possessing. The followers of a storm god are more likely to receive loud, ostentatious spells than those which involve subtle trickery, for example. In other words, the ultimate authority over whether or not a cleric can learn a certain spell is whatever deity they happen to venerate.
The Gamemaster is the final arbiter of what does and does not fit a god's bag of tricks, and if that god does not wish their follower to learn a spell, they simply won't reveal the knowledge required to do so. The reason for this is the simple fact that whenever clerics go 'off message', they risk generating the wrong kind of faith for their patron, which is usually more trouble than it is worth.
Clerics can generally learn school spells without any problem, along with whatever spells fit with their immortal sponsor's theme. Anything questionable, but not diametrically opposed to their god's mythological portfolio, can often be approved after the completion of a special task or another. Mind you, clerics are encouraged to avoid showing off such abilities for the most part, at least as much as is possible.
Give and Take
Much of a cleric's time and effort is occupied in service to the deity the worship, performing duties both mundane and incredible to further their agendas, and this expenditure of blood, sweat, and tears isn't without reward. Deities strive to keep their clerics happy, as granting them the knowledge to cast spells expends some of the faith they've accumulated, and they try to retain that investment for as long as they can.
As such, clerics benefit from being able to receive a new spell from their god before spending the Fortune normally necessary to master it. Clerics can only do this with one spell at a time, but they can simply make Fortune payments, as they earn it, to secure each new spell. The Fortune cost works out the same in the long run, but this at least gives clerics a bit of a jump on other sorcerers in the short term.
Furthermore, clerics may rarely receive bolstered spell ranks, if not entirely new spells, without paying any Fortune for them whatsoever. Deities reserve such boons for their most faithful and effective devotees, as the cost for this improvement in their magic also subtracts from their reserves of faith. However, this is another way gods can reward followers who go above and beyond in their service.
It helps to keep them from wandering off into the graces of another deity, as well.
The Jeopardy of Apostasy
Should a cleric cast off the yoke of their religion, either to embrace another or to simply reject the divine altogether, their former patrons are somewhat out of luck. Faith invested in clerics to reveal spellcasting knowledge to them is lost forever, for one cannot erase something from a sentient mind. Sure, that knowledge can be removed from one's conscious awareness, but it's always in there somewhere.
Furthermore, should that cleric begin to venerate a different deity upon abandoning their previous liege, that expended power will be utilized in service to their new god, instead! This usually prompts immortals to dispatch minions to slay clerics who have made fresh religious arrangements, because a) they tend to be vengeful in general, and b) their continued existence disrupts the intake of more faith.
That being said, a deity can usually withdraw any supernatural powers, ability score enhancements, or spell rank boosts they have invested within their subjects, whether current or otherwise. This is often why immortals, when they aren't sure they want a follower to retain certain abilities indefinitely, grant them as powers in lieu of spellcasting knowledge. It's a sort of insurance against bad followers!
"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
There is no eclecticism school of magic.
At its core, eclecticism is the process of taking bits and pieces from one or more schools of magic, and combining what one perceives to work best from them in order to develop spellcasting abilities. While they can practice what a school preaches, at least in regards to the spells they know which refer to such, eclecticists do not follow a school of magic in and of itself.
It's easy to believe otherwise, however. This is because all of those who do not follow one of the twelve known schools of magic suffer the same difficulties in walking an eclectic path. Similarly, those who disregard schools of magic to go their own way often devise various spells to aid themselves in that endeavor, mystical formulae which can readily be confused with school spells.
And this is why, even within the Book of Magic itself, eclecticism is often referred to as a school. It's easiest to classify spellcasters by assigning them all to one of thirteen schools. Easier, at least, than attempting to describe the unique process every individual eclecticist utilizes in order to cast spells, since each of their specific methods are technically a distinct school of magic!
A mage who ascribes to the eclectic method of sorcery eschews schools of magic, instead acquiring what knowledge they can from other wizards regardless of their magical backgrounds. 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 an eclecticist needs the most.
As practicing what a mystic school preaches is a much easier road to walk, why don't eclecticists? It's possible that they were originally tied to a mystic school, but were drummed out for one reason or another. Or, alternately, they weren't considered worthy by the instructors they had access to. Finally, perhaps they simply felt they knew better than those selling what the magical schools were offering.
Regardless of the purpose behind their lack of adherence to a mystic school, the important thing to note is the persistence of an eclecticist. Despite the lack of camaraderie a school provides, much less moral and philosophical support when studying the ways of magic, eclecticists never quit. They kept at it until they mastered the spells they have, despite the odds arrayed against them!
Something others should keep in mind.
The Benefits of Independence
Drawing one's magic from the practices of various mystic schools gives a caster insight into how they all function. The practical perk of this understanding is that an eclectic mage may learn any school spells, not just their own. If randomly generating an eclecticist, one may make use of table 3 to pick which school their next school spell will come from, if they so desire.
When studying spells after they begin play, an eclecticist may adopt them at -2 RS to the value wielded by their source, instead of the standard starting value - limited by the campaign's power ceiling, of course. This more than makes up for the Fortune penalty eclecticists suffer when advancing their magical career, as well as the price they must pay to acquire access to the sorcery of others.
Finally, though eclectic sorcery does not allow for the creation of ceremonial areas in and of itself, its practitioners may utilize those crafted by the adherents of mystic schools if necessary. However, the bonus to a spell's value that a given ceremonial area provides does not apply if casting school spells that don't match its character. In other words, a geomancy school spell won't be bolstered in a technomancer's lab.
The Detriments of Independence
The lack of an overarching structure in an eclecticist's magical education has its costs. Whether attempting to master a new spell or improve an existing one, an eclectic must pay thirty percent more Fortune than other wizards do. This alone assures that a thaumaturge of the eclectic sort has a hard road ahead of them, as their careers will typically advance much, much slower than that of other wielders of magic.
However, this penalty assumes that the eclecticist has no magical teacher to assist them in their travails, as is the case when attempting to research an all new spell, or deriving one from the spell books of another caster. If actively tutored by another mage, regardless of what school they ascribe to, an eclecticist may reduce this penalty by half, to fifteen percent.
The trick in achieving such tutelage is that most sorcerers have no reason to teach an eclecticist, even if a would-be instructor is also an eclecticist! Thus, it will fall upon an eclectic magician to convince such individuals to share their knowledge, and the reduction in the usual penalty for magical advancement may or may not outweigh the cost such teachers would impose upon their ersatz student.
"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
Entreatism is a practice whereby wizards align themselves with powerful extraplanar entities, pooling their resources with such beings in order to further a mutually beneficial agenda. The entreatist generally brings their physical presence to the table, performing tasks their benefactor either can't or won't, while the extrinsic entities involved provide the muscle to make things happen.
While any thaumaturge may attempt entreaties to the various dimensionally distant beings, places, and things that share their might, the entreatist takes this process one step further. Upon forging a pact with a given source of energy, an entreatist may work with it to increase the amount of power they may draw from him, her, or it without irking their ire, particularly when actively supporting its plans.
At the same time, an entreatist is by no means bound to any given source of mystic energy. Should an entreatist come to loggerheads with any of the things fueling their magic, they can simply exit their current arrangement. This may diminish their power, but there's nothing stopping an entreatist from developing a new relationship with another source of energy, one more than ready to make a deal!
Like most who wield magic, entreatists spend a considerable amount of their time conducting research. A small amount of this effort is to reveal the occasional spell, such as those which are intrinsic to their particular school of magic. However, most of an entreatist's time spent in study is utilized uncovering every possible bit of information available to them regarding what they entreat for might.
This investigative work sees an entreatist wandering far and wide, whether performing forensic groundwork in abandoned shrines, conversations with the followers of powerful deities, or even expeditions to exotic planes for firsthand examinations. Thus, despite the difference in subject matter, the questions facing an entreatist drag them away from their lives for long periods of time, as is the case with other mages.
Nonetheless, other wizards tend to disregard the craft entreatists put into their work, perceiving them as lazy, daft, or both for their extensive dependence on others' power. But then again, most sorcerers judge entreatists through the lens of their own entreaty usage, whether as distinct spells or boosts to other magic. The flaw in that perspective is how different entreaties function for entreatists.
Entreatists attempt entreaties to extrinsic people, places, or things of power as do any other wizards. They may safely bolster an extant spell with a mystical entreaty up to twice a day, or maybe seven times per week, without drawing the attention of their power source. However, this basic amount changes dramatically upon making an arrangement to work with a given entity in exchange for magic might.
The Sorcerous Concordat, a pact with a source of power to further its aims in the multiverse, increases the count of harmless entreaties with it by one. Each entreaty spell an entreatist studies/creates related to this sponsor adds one to this sum, as well. Entreatists with a history of furthering their patron's plans may add another safe entreaty, and those currently working to further their benefactor's interests may add two.
While a few extra +1 RS (or rarely, +2 RS) bonuses to spells here and there may not sound like a lot, the important thing to remember is that an entreatist is not restricted to entering a Sorcerous Concordat with only one entity of power. With enough patrons available to reliably draw upon, an entreatist can regularly punch far above their weight - particularly when repeatedly stacking entreaties!
One of the problems inherent to partnering with vastly intelligent alien powers is that some tend to forget that the whole idea behind the Sorcerous Concordat is one of mutual benefit. Luckily, this mystical partnership may be ended at any time, by either party, whenever one of the two sees fit, and for any reason either feels valid. This is particularly helpful when one begins to treat their partner like hired help.
Strictly speaking, there is no consequence to entreatists for severing ties with an alien being, or vice versa, aside from no longer being able to make additional entreaties to them without undue notice. But the reality of such a break isn't always so clean, and an extraplanar person, place, or thing may take considerable exception to a schism with an entreatist they've sponsored for some time.
While this is uncommon, a sudden end to a working relationship between an entreatist and an extraplanar power can make subsequent entreaties to them particularly harrowing. In fact, it may behoove an entreatist to retool any entreaty spells that draw energy from now-hostile entities to instead pull power from another, which may be accomplished as a spell stunt in the event of such a crisis.
Assuming they can't patch things up with their former sponsor, that is.
"Strength 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
As with many schools of magic, geomancy's historical roots reach back further than recorded history. All of earth's ancient cultures had ideas about the universe and what makes it tick, often explicating such concerns with legendary yarns about gods and monsters. It was in early Greece, however, that the mystical stoicheion, or elements, of the world were first expounded upon.
Drawing on the influences of previous civilizations, the Greek notion of our reality's building blocks was then spread around the world, and subsequently adapted by various societies in various fashions. Scholars in numerous obscure circles furthered these studies, despite being repressed by powers both corporeal and spiritual, ultimately developing the precepts of geomancy.
Geomancers believe that all of existence can be boiled down to the interactions between seven root components: earth, air, fire, water, animal, plant, and weather. By exerting their will over one or more of these elements, a geomancer can manipulate the world around them to achieve a variety of effects. Controlling all seven elements, then, can conceivably allow one to control reality itself!
While not a trait intrinsic to them alone, geomancers often spend a considerable amount of time in the wilds of the world. This is because their magic is associated with such pristine areas more than most other sorcery, capable of being cast at a +1 RS on such land. Conversely, overly developed or polluted land will inflict a -1 RS penalty on the geomancer attempting to ply their trade there.
This is why geomancers are often, though not always, shepherds of nature. Depending on their particular outlook, they may see this as some sort of moral requirement, or might simply wish to increase the area within which their spells are more effective. Regardless of their motivation, it is invariably in a geomancer's best interests to preserve untouched real estate as much as is possible.
To this end, assuming the need to maintain a secret identity or to simply generate income, a geomancer may very well maintain employment that facilitates this goal, whether serving as a park ranger or acting as an environmental watchdog for the government. Mind you, one may merely walk the earth at their leisure, going on adventures and righting wrongs against the natural world. Whatever works.
In the course of their study of geomancy, magicians progress by mastering the mystic elements their school recognizes. This process entails learning a variation on the nature control spell that calls upon the element in question, as well as three distinct spells that draw upon said element to fuel its effects. Geomancers who accomplish this benefit from a +1 RS when casting spells fueled by that element.
Spell stunts also count for the purposes of elemental mastery. A mage who masters an Eldritch Bolt of fire, for instance, can count that same spell towards their mastery requirement for air if they master a stunt to produce a blustery column of force with it. While spell stunts don't improve a character's mystic mastery rank, they nonetheless assist them in conquering their own school.
Geomancers need not necessarily master one element before beginning work on another, however. One may learn another iteration of the nature control spell before mastering an element, if desired - all of them, in fact, if this is what the geomancer wants. This costs geomancers the elemental mastery bonus until they get around to it, of course, but provides them unmatched spellcasting versatility in exchange.
The Specialist and the Worshiper
While the previous details the standard form of geomancy, the school lends itself to offshoots that further emphasize various facets of elemental magic. For one thing, a geomancer may decide to specialize in a single element, eschewing access to the other six in order to focus their attention exclusively. Elemental specialists are afforded a +1 RS bonus to all such spells, on top of that offered by elemental mastery.
Alternately, a geomancer may be less a wizard and more a priest, worshipping nature (or the earth) itself. Such spellcasters generally function per normal geomancers, though they benefit from access to clerical spells as well as those from their own school. On the other hand, they may be compelled by personified force(s) of nature to perform actions furthering their ends, so this practice may entail unforeseen circumstances.
Finally, a rare few geomancers may very well combine both of these variants into an almost customized school of magic, specializing in a singular element related to a nature deity they worship. A geomancer who venerates the primordial sea goddess Tiamat, for instance, may specialize in water geomancy, and also gain specialized faith magic from their goddess in exchange for their service to that ancient deity.
"Chaos in the midst of chaos isn't funny, but chaos in the midst of order is."
- Steve Martin
Men and women of magic have always sought to make sense of the phenomenon. These intrepid explorers of magic's lubricious potential are determined to harness it, no matter how capricious and squirrelly it may be. In other words, for as long as there have been wielders of magic, the practice of paraprobabilitism has existed - even after its discoveries are utilized to forge other schools of magic.
The opposite of prudent, paraprobabilitists bend and warp magical energies with glee, often discovering secrets heretofore unseen. Just as often, however, their innovative tinkering with the forces of causality catastrophically backfire. These two facets of paraprobabilitists are what make them simultaneously admired and reviled, for the cost of knowledge they uncover is more often than not paid by others.
But, when it comes down to it, you've got to start somewhere. Whether they are pioneers of the usage of magic in their society or irresponsible rebels who reject the shackles of others' insights about sorcery, paraprobabilitists are consistently at the forefront of arcane developments. When they're not busy destroying themselves upon pushing the limits of probability too far beyond the pale, at least.
Eschewing parochial customs, paraprobabilitists forge their own path. Sure, they often benefit from the aid of a like-minded master of the mystic arts, but even such stalwart supporters are often content to let young paraprobabilitists make many, many mistakes. Every attempt to reshape magic is a learning experience, after all - even those which end in tragedy. Or comedy. Or both!
The result of mistakes made when attempting to reshape sorcery on the fly often mark paraprobabilitists for what they are, unlike most other wielders of wizardry. While a paraprobabilitist frequently bears at least one temporary alteration to their morphic field at any given time, it is possible that they suffer permanent changes as well - and such changes may go far, far beyond the cosmetic.
The enhancements, limitations, and quirks that a paraprobabilitist possesses may be a result of failures to reshape sorcery. Furthermore, due to the unique nature of their school, paraprobabilitists may choose to have any of their initial spells instead take the form of a permanent, magical powers. This makes mastering the school take longer, but gives paraprobabilitists ascendant abilities they need not cast to actualize!
The Potentiality of Plausibility
The singular benefit a paraprobabilitist possesses is that, when casting a spell, they may attempt to transform it into any other. Doing so requires a successful spell ACT roll at a penalty determined by just how different the intended spell effect is from the original. A minor change may incur a mere -1 RS penalty, but transmogrifying a spell into something completely different may impose a -6 RS penalty - or worse!
Furthermore, the difficulty of this ACT depends on how prepared a paraprobabilitist is to produce this particular effect, and is determined as if they were attempting a spell stunt... which they sort of are. The first attempt imposes the need for a yellow spell ACT, the second through fifth attempts call for a blue spell ACT, and further attempts beyond that merely require a red ACT roll.
Assuming the paraprobabilitist can succeed in their efforts despite the color difficulty and Row Shift penalties, they can produce the desired spell effect. What's more, having done so once, they may develop said effect into a regular spell, if they wish. While this may cost them a large amount of Fortune, it behooves a paraprobabilitist to do so, in order to avoid the effects of failures in such efforts.
The Costs of Chaos
When attempts to change the nature of a spell in the midst of casting it fail, a paraprobabilitist neither produces the original spell effect nor the one they intended to. No, something else happened, and it's rarely good for anyone. The Gamemaster may be as merciful or as terrible in this regard as they see fit, though it's generally poor sport to outright kill players when spell manipulations fail.
Horribly inconveniencing them is fine, though, as they have inundated the vicinity with Probability Fallout. This may simply produce a third spell effect, or instead it might... alter things nearby. Failing a Willpower ACT or material value check against the intensity of this unshaped magic induces changes that are generally temporary in nature, but circumstances may render them permanent.
The severity, duration, and very nature of sorcerous radiation alterations are ultimately a crapshoot, depending on variables present when anomalous energy exposure occurs. Again, the Gamemaster is the final arbiter of such things, though the rank value of the modified spell, along with the Row Shift penalty applied to the paraprobabilitist's effort, may help to inform them of what damage to reality has been wrought.
Though dramatic license is also consideration, because magic is irrational that way.
"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!"
The precise origins of physiomancy are unknown, but then that is hardly surprising. The very nature of this magical practice lends itself to individuals who aren't the best record keepers, for they generally eschew standing still long enough to take notes. However, the past isn't really all that relevant to a physiomancer, as they are always looking towards the future!
Physiomancy itself is the art of turning magic inward, upon oneself. A counterpart of sorts to thaumentalists, physiomancers apply their sorcery to their very bodies, enhancing the function of such considerably. The spells intrinsic to this school of magic invariably grant their wielder extreme physical abilities that other magicians, or anyone else for that matter, only wish they were privy to.
Even before considering their rather drastic school spells, physiomancers can readily augment their inherent capabilities without fail. This makes them excellent adventurers, uniquely equipped to engage in exploration, hostilities, or just about any other physical pursuit desired. And with their predilection for personal perfection, physiomancers are often leaders in whatever field they adopt.
Needless to say, physiomancers aren't like most other wizards. They constantly strive to push their bodies to the very limit... and then far beyond. They relentlessly train to augment their physical capability, as most believe that a stronger body allows for stronger magic, though the jury is out on that notion. Regardless, physiomancers invariably have more sheer physical presence than other mages.
Their dress lends itself to freedom of motion and action, which means they're the kind of sorcerer that most often dresses as a stereotypical hero or villain. They eschew bulky, constraining costume components in lieu of stretch fabric where available, though less is generally preferred overall. Any armor they utilize will be minimal at best, with most of the physiomancer's defensive capability coming from their magic.
Perhaps of all wizards, the physiomancer's magic is the least flashy of the bunch. Sure, the feats they can achieve with their sorcery are beyond the pale, but aren't always obviously magic in and of themselves. Though this will naturally vary from one physiomancer to another, it's possible that one will only see a physiomancer discharge magic when shunting it into themselves for immediate use.
Above and beyond all of their mystical knowledge, physiomancers benefit from a potent ability that makes them seem super human even before the effects of their spells are put into play. Namely, instead of manifesting a magical effect upon casting a spell, physiomancers may channel the energy that would have been used to actualize it into their very bodies, enhancing them considerably - if in a transient fashion.
In other words, a physiomancer may cast any spell, and instead of utilizing it as intended, can substitute that spell's rank value in place of one of their physical traits. A physiomancer's Melee, Coordination, Brawn, or Fortitude may be augmented in this fashion, as is desired, which can be particularly devastating in battle if they possess even one spell that is of high rank value.
The only catch is that this enhancement only lasts for a singular use of the trait in question. For example, consider a sorcerer with rank value 6 Brawn, who possesses a spell that functions at rank value 75. By channeling that spell into their Brawn, they may utilize that heightened trait to, say, deliver an astonishingly devastating melee assault, after which it will immediately return to its nominal value.
Though intended for immediate use, physiomancer ability enhancements can be prepared and maintained as if they were spells, if one wishes.
While physiomancers have access to the same basic spells that any other sorcerer does, they have a tendency to study Personal spells above all others. The reason for this is that the school prioritizes improving one's physical capabilities, after all, and many Personal effects tend to do just that. Of course, even some Personal spells don't quite fit within this mold, so physiomancers often stick to a small, core roster of magic.
There's nothing preventing a physiomancer from learning spells that don't directly augment their corporeal existence, mind you, it's just that the school doesn't really focus on anything else. Thus, whenever a physiomancer desires to master a spell that doesn't dovetail with their school's overall direction, they have to decide which abilities are more important: those that directly augment themselves and those that don't.
A physiomancer's spell roster, then, is a perpetual act of compromise. Why learn telepathy when you can become invulnerable to psionic attack, instead? There's no specific game mechanic to dictate how this works - simply a basic requirement that a physiomancer rationalize why a spell outside their primary focus is worth deviating from the overall plan. And, depending on their character, this may be easier said than done.
"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 practice of thaumentalism formed as a result of general dissatisfaction with conventional psionic tutoring. Thaumentalists believe that sentient minds are capable of accomplishing literally anything, and that they simply need a little bit of a jolt, here and there, to figure out how. Sure, one could meditate for years to figure this stuff out, but why waste all of that time and effort?
A thaumentalist, by using magic to look into his or her own mind, can activate such mental abilities rather quickly. This is a subversion of the method psis use to gain their powers, and most of those meditative folks look down on your average thaumentalist. Nonetheless, thaumentalists are most definitely onto something, as their odd practices allow them to wield both psionics and spells.
Not that every thaumentalist need pursue psionic as well as mystic mastery. The school lends itself to a study of the mind and how it works, and a thaumentalist may very well be perfectly happy with spells designed for that purpose. However, should one wish to wield psionics but approach them from the more mystical side of things, the school of thaumentalism is right up their alley!
Whether they study psionics in addition to their wizardry, or simply delve into the sorcery of sentience, thaumentalists almost always have the inside track on what people around them are thinking and/or feeling. This can make them thoughtful and compassionate, or selfish and manipulative, depending entirely on the thaumentalist in question... not to mention their mystic master.
This is not to say that thaumentalists are necessarily the most intelligent, wise, or self-aware people you'll ever meet. More than a few are content to leave their minds barely more potent than that of a human without skills that grant super human abilities, and let their school's special ability do the heavy lifting for them. After all, one usually only needs to be at their peak during a crisis.
But thaumentalists who develop their minds alongside their wizardry and psionics may very well appear almost alien, their preternaturally keen intellects being aware of what others will do seemingly before they themselves have such any idea. But then, understanding sentience in and out will have that effect on a body, for good or ill, and holding that tendency back is easier said than done.
Above and beyond all of their mystical knowledge, thaumentalists benefit from a potent ability that makes them seem super human even before the effects of their spells are put into play. Namely, instead of manifesting a magical effect upon casting a spell, thaumentalists may channel the energy that would have been used to actualize it into their very minds, enhancing them considerably - if in a transient fashion.
In other words, a thaumentalist may cast any spell, and instead of utilizing it as intended, can substitute that spell's rank value in place of one of their mental traits. A thaumentalist's Melee, Intellect, Awareness, or Willpower may be augmented in this fashion, as is desired, which can be particularly potent in all aspects of life if they possess even one spell that is of high value.
The only catch is that this enhancement lasts for a but singular use of the trait in question. For example, consider a sorcerer with rank value 6 Intellect, who possesses a spell that functions at rank value 100. By channeling that spell into their Intellect, they may utilize that heightened trait in, say, the attempt to resolve an invention ACT, after which it immediately returns to its normal value.
Though intended for immediate use, thaumentalist trait enhancements can be prepared and maintained as if they were spells, if one wishes.
A thaumentalist is easily the counterpart of a psychoturge (a psi that dabbles in magic), in that his or her wizardry grants them mystic abilities as well as the power to mess with both psionics and the mental faculties of others. Essentially opposite sides of the same coin, the two 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 usage at an enhanced level, the former can do this with their mental ability scores. This allows thaumentalists to be veritable mental giants, if only for short periods of time - but that's quite often all the brain power they need.
The ultimate trick with a thaumentalist is how they balance their open-ended spell and/or power selection. If attempting to master both spells and psychic powers, it can be all too easy to lean on one source of power over the other. This is often why a thaumentalist will save abilities that affect the mind for their magic, while they'll reserve influence over anything else to their psionics.
At least that way, they can keep their focus where they really want it.
"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 any trait(s) exceed normal human levels, simply drop them back down to that point when you're done.
Table 2: Rank Modifiers (Gambling)
|(Shift X max.)||(Un 100 max.)||(Mn 75 max.)||(Am 50 max.)||(In 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
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
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: Skills 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.