Schools of Magic
With the basics of magic 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 almost every 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, psionics, or divine 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 CS to their functioning rank 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 Column 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 their school of magic. This allows 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 Judge 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 Karma normally necessary to master it. Clerics can only do this with one spell at a time, but they can simply make Karma payments, as they earn it, to secure each new spell. The Karma 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 Karma 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 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 formulas 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 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 CS to the rank wielded by their source, instead of the standard starting rank - limited by the campaign's power ceiling, of course. This more than makes up for the Karma 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 rank 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 workshop.
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 Karma 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
Across countless worlds, throughout endless planes of existence, magical schools arise wherein sorcerers study and manipulate the mystical building blocks of the entirety of reality. While there are only so many of such blocks to incorporate, differing traditions recognize differing combinations of elements when their school forms, much like geomancy did when it came into being on earth.
These schools often die out or adopt additional elements over time, ultimately becoming what is recognized as elementalism. Elementalism is a practice that recognizes thirteen distinct, mystical elements that comprise all of creation. It is a study that is dedicated to the control of these elements, to manipulate one, several, or every facet of all that exists.
The school of elementalism, wherever it occurs in the multiverse, recognizes the mystic elements of antimagic, death, energy, faith, fluid, life, magic, philosophy, quintessence, rock, time, unity, and vapor. Even with knowledge of one of these elements, a sorcerer can manipulate their environment with ease. But upon mastering several, if not all of them, there is almost nothing an elementalist cannot do!
Those sorcerers who study elementalism strive to understand the inner workings of reality itself. Regardless of which element or elements they choose to pursue mastery of, elementalists have a tendency to travel far and wide to glean the secrets of their manipulation. While their mystic masters aren't necessarily holding them back, the simple truth is that they don't know everything.
Elementalism is a school that is generally recognized throughout the multiverse, after all, unlike its more provincial counterparts. Thus, elementalists can often be found just about anywhere in their search for greater understanding, whether in remote locations on earth, the farthest depths of interstellar space, or even in planes of existence alien to mere mortals and their ilk.
In their travels, elementalists often locate areas that act as a nexus of elemental power. In other words, these locales are imbalanced in their elemental composition, and have more of certain elements than the others. Such focal points are ideal locations to forge a lair, or to at least perform magical ceremonies, for increased elemental composition in an area provides a +1 CS to related elemental spells.
In the course of their study of elementalism, wizards progress by mastering the mystic elements their school recognizes. This process entails learning a variation on the Elemental Control spell that calls upon the element in question, as well as three distinct spells that draw upon said element to fuel its effects. Elementalists who accomplish this benefit from a +1 CS 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 psychoturgic, philosophical energies, for instance, can count that same spell towards their mastery requirement for rock if they master a stunt to produce a jagged stream of stones with it. While spell stunts don't improve a character's mystic mastery rank, they nonetheless assist them in conquering their own school.
Elementalists need not necessarily master one element before beginning work on another, however. One may learn another iteration of the Elemental Control spell before mastering an element, if desired - all of them, in fact, if this is what they want. This costs elementalists the elemental mastery bonus until they get around to it, of course, but provides them unmatched spellcasting versatility in exchange.
While the previous details the standard form of elementalism, the school lends itself to offshoots that further emphasize specific facets of such magic. In other words, an elementalist may specialize in a single element, eschewing access to the other twelve to focus their attention exclusively. Elemental specialists are afforded a +1 CS bonus to all such spells, on top of that offered by elemental mastery.
The Thirteen Elements
While the Elemental Control spell details what one can do with it at least in regards to each individual element, it is important to document the scope of each of the elements recognized by elementalism. This is to assist players in the manipulation of each one, giving them a proper idea what can be done with them, and perhaps point them towards spells they can use to develop each further.
The thirteen elements recognized by the school of elementalism include the following:
Antimagic: strictly speaking, this element involves the manipulation of improbability particles, which act to dampen or neutralize concentrations of the probability particles that allow most spells to be cast in the first place. This is a powerful, but dangerous ability; mishaps may neutralize one's own magics as well. On the other hand, it's one of the few ways to counter probability-manipulating powers.
Death: elemental forces of death include those strange forms of energy which exist in the planes of the afterlife, as well as those encountered on the way to such. These can include hellfire, celestial light, and spectral flames. Additionally, there are the more direct ways to interact with death, including the inducement of premature death, the forestalling of looming doom, and communion with deceased souls.
Energy: the element of energy is a versatile one, as almost everything contains energy of a sort. This element involves the manipulation of conventional energies, from light to heat to sound to electricity, and its controllers can shape this power in any way they see fit. Keep in mind that unconventional energy forms (those which inflict Deionic, Karmic, or Sorcerous damage) are beyond the scope of this element.
Faith: the forces that the element of faith represent are astoundingly powerful. They are the energies wielded by priests of their respective deities, as well as the raw power generated by the veneration of such. These energies can be produced to perform truly staggering feats, and can even be turned against the so-called gods themselves when wielded properly (if one chooses to do so).
Fluid: fluid elements are those which are of a liquid nature. This can include anything from water to high fructose corn syrup to the most toxic of sludges. If a material is currently liquid, this element holds sway over it. Note that temperature can alter the state of matter; what was untouchable stone one moment ago can be turned fluid with the application of enough heat.
Life: the flip-side of death, the element of life involves the manipulation of life forms and the life force that animates them. This element can be used to control the behavior of creatures sentient and unintelligent, change their very bodies, or alter the flow and quantity of life force they contain. It is great for healing others, but can just as easily be used to kill.
Magic: the raw aspect of sorcery itself, elemental magic involves the manipulation of probability particles. As can a paraprobabilitist, a master of elemental magic may twist and change the very core of magical effects, though usually those cast by others. This element can also be used to alter and manipulate any form of energy which inflicts Sorcerous damage (which may overlap with other elements slightly).
Philosophy: the forces of philosophy are those which govern morality. Good, evil, chaos, order, and balance are the five primary cornerstones of this element, though they can combine with each other to form a total of thirteen different philosophical forces. Masters of this element may amplify or dampen the effects of such, or shape the raw energies they represent to drastically alter their environment.
Quintessence: the element of space, quintessence is the universe all around us. One can use quintessence to shape said space, whether tinkering with gravity or altering the trajectories of objects moving in one's vicinity. Space can alter our own dimensions or the higher ones, allowing one to connect incongruent locations in our universe to one another - or even to places on other planes of existence!
Rock: the simply named element of rock involves the control over all material currently in a solid state. This can be anything from the eponymous rocks in one's environment to the building he or she occupies. Whether natural or man-made, the element of rock may shape all solid materials, either when simply destroying them or using them to create new objects entirely.
Time: the element of time represents both motion and entropy. One can use it to manipulate such to a variety of ends, whether accelerating or decelerating the flow of time around oneself or another, engaging in time travel, or possibly even rapidly aging or de-aging something. The element of time also allows control over temporal static, an energy form generated by those outside of their correct space-time coordinates.
Unity: unity is the convergence of elements, a combination of forces to produce a singular effect. This element allows for the blending of any other elements an elementalist holds sway over, to create all-new effects. With enough elements in tow, one can use unity to alter reality itself - or at least a small portion of it - as enough elements working together can truly represent our universe in its entirety.
Vapor: the element of vapor is similar to rock and fluid, in that it is used to manipulate one entire form of matter. Vapor, of course, is used to control all gases and vaporous materials, from oxygen to smoke to methane to helium. One with control over vapor can shape and move gaseous matter as they see fit, and can even expel it from an area if they wish, creating a true vacuum.
"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 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 differently 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 CS (or rarely, +2 CS) 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."
A sorcerous school formed over untold millennia by extraplanar creatures of the same name, Faerie magic primarily reflects its creators' mindset. In other words, it mainly consists of spells intended to manipulate others, for the Faerie to deal with them on their own terms. And typically, the Faerie prefer to interact with other beings in a manner that reflects their own, imagined superiority.
But why is Faerie one of the thirteen major schools of magic, you ask? This is because the Faerie are consummate shape changers, and have a predilection for wandering far and wide for their own amusement. Spread across the entirety of the multiverse, Faerie can be encountered almost anywhere, though those who encounter them (most often their victims) rarely know that they have met such beings.
Most importantly, however, Faerie physiology is invasive. Charged with magic, their bodies allow them to interbreed with just about any living creature, after which their child then passes that supernatural characteristic down to their descendants. Hence, in addition to the Faerie themselves, countless Fae crossbreeds and offshoots of these entities litter reality, which has the effect of bringing their magic along with them.
The Faerie Wizard
Wielders of Faerie magic are generally descended from one or more Faerie forebears. Occasionally, these Fae descendants reveal their true nature at birth, which bodes ill for their continued existence. The horrible treatment of others by the Faerie has become legend over the eons, after all, spawning various myths which often prompt the parents of blatant Fae infants to put them down immediately.
Others who wield Faerie magic were perfectly normal to all appearances, at least until something brought their mystic origin to the fore. Perhaps this is something as simple as puberty, as is the case with mutants and their own, ticking genetic time bombs. Other times, an encounter with the fantastic, bizarre, or alien will draw out the true nature of the Faerie within them, leading to an immediate transformation.
Either way, once a character's Fae origins are made manifest in the world, they can attempt to master Faerie magic. As is the case with anyone else attempting to learn sorcery, they must seek out instruction in the arcane arts, but at least they're guaranteed a seat at some Faerie instructor's table. Those without a Fae background, on the other hand, will have a harder time receiving such tutelage.
Unless a Faerie magic wielder lacks a Fae heritage, which is uncommon but not impossible, they may very well possess one or more traits that reveal such to the outside world. This may often be a mere cosmetic tell, such as a slight build, uncanny beauty, or even pointy ears. However, the simple fact of the matter is that the Faerie have mated with almost everything over time, so the sky is the limit, here.
In other words, Faerie spellcasters may have inherent supernatural powers as well as the ability to wield wizard spells. How this works is that when creating such characters, players may substitute spell slots for posthuman abilities on a one-to-one basis. This grants them considerable versatility, allowing them to draw from supernatural powers, spells, and magical items over the course of their adventures.
Furthermore, whenever a Faerie spellcaster is in contact with something that is related to the magic of their forebears, they may cast their magic more effectively. Whether they are in an area suffused with Faerie magic (such as a Faerie circle) or are carrying an item ensorcelled with Faerie spells, they may wield their sorcery as though it was +1 CS higher in rank than is normal.
The specific nature of a Faerie mage's inherent abilities may be minor or major, may or may not alter the character's appearance, and may or may not be related to their possessor's school of magic. The primary thing to keep in mind when pondering the form such abilities will take is the lineage of the Fae character in question, because the more Faerie one is, the more likely they are to suffer Faerie limitations.
As it is, all Faerie spells are subject to a weakness to iron. Faerie casters who lack a Fae heritage, or those who have one but possess two or less special powers because of their ancestry, will find they are incapable of casting Faerie spells while in direct contact with this metal. This counts as a strong limitation on each individual Faerie spell, but does not affect the character as a whole.
A Faerie caster (or any Fae, really) possessing more than two powers due to their lineage is considered strongly Faerie, and are instead hamstrung by both a weakness and a susceptibility to iron as strong character limitations. When touching the metal, they not only lose spellcasting ability, but cannot use any other powers, and their ability scores are reduced to Feeble (2) in rank while contact with iron persists.
Furthermore, they will lose a minimum of one quarter of their maximum Health total on each contact, on top of any other damage inflicted.
"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 CS on such land. Conversely, overly developed or polluted land will inflict a -1 CS 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 CS 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 to focus their attention exclusively. Elemental specialists are afforded a +1 CS 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, worshiping 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 FEAT 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 CS penalty, but transmogrifying a spell into something completely different may impose a -6 CS penalty - or worse!
Furthermore, the difficulty of this FEAT 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 red spell FEAT, the second through fifth attempts call for a yellow spell FEAT, and further attempts beyond that merely require a green FEAT roll.
Assuming the paraprobabilitist can succeed in their efforts despite the color difficulty and Column 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 Karma, it behooves a paraprobabilitist to do so, 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 Judge 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 Psyche (will) FEAT or material strength 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 Judge is the final arbiter of such things, though the rank of the modified spell, along with the Column 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."
For as long as sentient beings have existed, five conceptual forces have ceaselessly vied for domination over all. The philosophical puissances of balance, chaos, evil, good, and order exert influence upon the minds of all beings, and through them, the world beyond. Thus, concepts of morality didn't exist until intelligence did, but will nonetheless persist after sapient entities are long gone.
Where they are not polar opposites, these forces tend to flow into one another, creating eight additional conceptual energies which also compete for influence. These supplemental motivations include codification, conscription, corruption, creation, destruction, disruption, purification, and reparation. All in all, this makes a grand total of thirteen distinct ethos, each of which constantly strive to further their reach.
While a vast majority of sentient entities loosely subscribe to one of these behavioral ideals, some ardently proselytize them. And a rare few amongst the latter, so-called philosophers, can focus the power of their very morals for use in magic. With this, they work to spread the influence of their chosen ethos across the multiverse as causal crusaders, attempting to reshape all that exists to match their ideology!
The thirteen philosophical powers are briefly summed up here:
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.
The eternal battle of philosophical forces is waged throughout creation. Whether or not they wield philosophical magic, the zealous proponents of the thirteen ethical powers ceaselessly strive to bring others around to their way of thinking. Some attempt to do this by force of arms, while others instead rely on the power of persuasion. Either way, this endless struggle has real effects on existence itself.
Though our universe is considered strongly neutral in both purpose and outlook, others swing towards differing moralities. Furthermore, when enough of a location's people and matter are converted from one ethos to another, either their entire universe can begin to change in a like fashion, or the affected areas will physically shift from their current reality to one more aligned with their new attitudes.
This is why so much of the mystic school of philosophy is dedicated to spells which either manipulate philosophical energies or involve piercing planar boundaries in one fashion or another. While some philosophers may be content to stay home and play defense for their morality of choice, most know that threats from beyond rarely provide the same courtesy, and the fight will invariably come to them if allowed to.
The philosophical thaumaturgist is such a fervid believer in the conceptual force of morality they adhere to that they can use their magic to make it manifest in the physical world. This belief-based energy is a psychoturgical power source that bears both magical and psionic components, and is thus capable of directly affecting others as either Sorcerous or Karmic damage, whichever of the two is more effective.
More importantly, however, is the transformative effect that the direct application of such energies has on matter. Magic shaped by the belief of its wielder made real, philosophical energies carry Probability Fallout, the effects of which are to alter that which is exposed to it in a manner that reflects their wielder's ethos - or, at the very least, their perception of how it should do so.
Changes inflicted by the Probability Fallout inherent to philosophical energies are often minor, and generally transient, but are a striking reminder of who wields them and the conceptual force they represent. The victims of a proponent of chaos might see their possessions and appearance twisted in any number of random fashions, while those faced with a supporter of order may well look far too tidy for their own good.
In addition to the magic provided to them by their mystic school, philosophical wizards have access to the same, common spells all other sorcerers do. These spells function as they normally would, despite being fueled in part by reality-warping philosophical power. The only difficulty involved with wielding such sorcery is in reconciling its use against the ideology that motivates its casting in the first place.
Healing / Others may seem to be firmly aligned with reparation, while Mind Control sounds like the very definition of conscription. Even when dealing with edge cases, room can be made for such spells. Perhaps the evil philosopher only casts Healing / Others on those who will further his or her own ends, while the chaotic philosopher wields Mind Control to disrupt enemy forces with surgical precision.
Ultimately, it is up to the Judge whether or not a given use of a spell aligns with the ethos a particular philosophical sorcerer adheres to - or attempts to, anyway. And if it doesn't, that's okay! It's not like a philosopher is going to lose points with the ideological puissance they purport to support if they occasionally fail to act in lockstep with it. But wandering off the proverbial ranch can get complicated.
A Clash of Ethos
When the Judge decides a given philosopher is casting their magic in a fashion contrary to the moral force they ostensibly claim to buttress, he or she is free to inflict a penalty on their efforts. While philosophers are allowed one 'step' away from their moral compass without harm, the Judge may apply a -2 CS penalty to the FEAT roll required for each further step away a philospher's spell attempts.
For example, a philosopher who eagerly supports the forces of good above all casts a spell to purge an area of evil. This could be conceptualized as wielding either the forces of good or purification, neither of which bear a penalty. When forced to perform an act of corruption for what they deem the greatest good, however, that same philosopher will suffer a -4 CS penalty against their efforts.
The same applies when wielding direct, unfiltered philosophical forces. A philosophical chaos mage can use an Eldritch Bolt to discharge chaos, creation, destruction, or disruption without penalty, balance, good, or evil at a -2 CS penalty, and codification, conscription, corruption, purification, or reparation spells at a -4 CS. Note that philosophers cannot wield the force diametrically opposed to their own.
Exceptions of Equilibrium
On the other hand, proponents of balance function differently in this regard. They may wield the energies and motives of balance, codification, corruption, disruption, and purification without penalty. They skip the next 'step' to wield conscription, creation, destruction, and reparation at a -2 CS penalty. Finally, philosophers of balance can attempt to wield chaos, evil, good, and order at a -4 CS.
The reason for this exception in the guidelines other philosophers are bound to is in the very nature of balance. Balance seeks to equalize everything, after all, so it would naturally have an easier time with a puissance between two other extremes than with the extremes themselves. Furthermore, as their morality sits at the center of the wheel of ethos, they lack a force which they are forbidden to utilize.
However, their road is indeed the hardest path to walk. Proponents of balance either work hard at remaining neutral, or strive to level the playing field, in all things - both of which often force one to choose between their own wishes and that of their chosen energy of conscience. Other philosophers, not understanding the nature of balance, often deride those who support it for not 'picking a side'.
Even if they already have.
"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 power rank in place of one of their physical ability scores. A physiomancer's Fighting, Agility, Strength, or Endurance 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.
The only catch is that this enhancement only lasts for a singular use of the ability score in question. For example, consider a sorcerer with Typical (6) Strength, who possesses a spell that functions at Monstrous (75) rank. By channeling that spell into their Strength, they may utilize that heightened ability score 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
The mystic school of technomancy concerns itself with the products of living beings' knowledge. Similar to but distinct from alchemy, this form of magic involves the blending of sorcery and science in three basic fashions. The simplest of these is the direct manipulation of technology with magic, which is accomplished with, among other things, the spells developed by this school over time.
The middle ground is what is colloquially known as industrial magic, the replacement of extant technologies with counterparts made possible by sorcery, or the parallel/alternative development of the same. A camera devised using industrial magic principles might have a tiny imp inside painting what it sees, for example, instead of exposing charge coupled devices (or, if older, film negatives) to the light.
The most complicated form technomancy can take is in the creation of devices that seamlessly blend magic and technology into a cohesive whole. This process is generally unique to each device created using the school's knowledge, assuming one isn't building more than a single example of the same implement, and is essentially a form of invention that incorporates spellcasting into the process.
More than their counterparts practicing magic learned via other mystic schools by far, technomancers are often skilled scientists. Sure, each school of magic represents a trade of sorts, however flawed its methodology might seem to conventional men and women of knowledge, but a technomage often masters as many mundane scientific talents as they do arcane formulas to manifest magical effects.
This is because magicians of machinery rely upon conventional technology as much as sorcery to accomplish their goals. A technomage is as likely to have a number of off-the-shelf implements secreted amongst their belongings as they are ensorcelled objects, some of which they have made themselves and some that they have procured from others. It generally just depends on the overall style of their wizardry.
While you may find a technomage who is primarily an electronicist who augments their equipment with a bit of magic, or a sorcerer who assists their spellcasting with a handy device here or there, most mages who belong to this school strive for more. The ultimate goal, after all, is to integrate the two ostensibly distinct sources of power into a singular whole, one greater than the sum of its parts!
The easiest means by which a technomancer can combine the effects of sorcery and science is to directly apply the former to the latter. The most obvious application of this method is with the spells provided by the mystic school of technomancy itself. The thirteen technomantic spells allow their caster to directly impose their will on technology above and beyond the ability of most other spellcasters.
But what about other spells, you might ask? While it is conceivable that a technomage could learn how to cast a spell entirely independent of technology, here or there, that goes against the grain of technomancy. Thus, a technomancer who wishes to master a personal, universal, dimensional, group, or entreaty spell (with the sole exception of empowerment) typically does so with the aid of symbolic technology.
This counts as a limitation to such spells, offering a beneficial Column Shift based on the difficulty of replacing the symbolic item. Using a revolver bought off-the-shelf as a focus for the casting of an Eldritch Bolt might provide the technomage a +1 CS bonus, while a Clairvoyance spell requiring the use of a high-flying drone built by hand, using rare and/or expensive components, may be much more beneficial.
A technomancer can easily get by utilizing ordinary hardware and device spells, whether inherent to their school or when focused through mundane items, though this simply scratches the surface of what their school is capable of. A more advanced application of technomancy is the process of industrial magic, which involves using empowement to replace an item's conventional functions with a sorcerous counterpart.
Note the word 'a' instead of 'the', in regards to mystical substitutions. This is because any number of magical schemes can be utilized to replace an item's usual workings with sorcery. For instance, one could substitute the impetus for movement a train normally receives via its prime mover by having it entreat a place of power for the necessary energy, utilize an energetic elemental, or simply enchant it with Propulsion.
Temporary substitutions of this nature require no Karma expenditure. Persistent effects replacing extant device functions only requires the Karma cost of making them permanent, per empowerment. Finally, installing an all-new magical ability into a device, or using this technique to simulate a mundane (to you and I, at least) device where it does not currently exist, is completed using empowerment normally.
Any Karma required of a technomancer when utilizing industrial magic is reduced by twenty-five percent.
Beyond mere spellcasting, and distinct from industrial magic, is commixture. Combining science and sorcery into a singular, cohesive whole, commixture is where technomages truly begin to stand out from their sorcerous peers. This process allows these technological thaumaturges to craft implements which utilize ordinary principles and fantastic components whose combination exceeds the sum of their parts.
If this sounds like conventional invention to you, you'd be right. When adding sorcery to the process, inventors introduce numerous shortcuts into the process to speed it along. For starters, if magic is used to produce an effect beyond that of society's mainstream technology, a technomantic object does not have a minimum tech rank of Monstrous (75), potentially reducing the difficulty in building it significantly.
Furthermore, technomages may utilize one or more non-school device spells as special catalysts, if applicable to a given invention. If required to master new spells to install in a device, technomages can learn them as ordinary magic formulas, or may instead study them solely as spells to be used during the invention process. This extremely limits such spells, but they can be reused in other inventions.
"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 quickly activate such mental abilities. 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 in place of one of their mental ability scores. A thaumentalist's Fighting, Reason, Intuition, or Psyche 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 rank.
The only catch is that this enhancement lasts for a but singular use of the ability score in question. For example, consider a sorcerer with Typical (6) Reason, who possesses a spell that functions at Unearthly (100) rank. By channeling that spell into their Reason, they may utilize that heightened ability score in, say, the attempt to resolve an invention FEAT, after which it immediately returns to its normal value.
Though intended for immediate use, thaumentalist ability 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 psionic 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
What most think of as Voodoo originated in West Africa, and was a localized mystic school until countless numbers of its adherents were enslaved, and subsequently relocated to the Americas. Despite ceaseless attempts by others to stamp Voodoo out over the centuries, the art continues to flourish and evolve, numerous variations on its basic themes expressing themselves everywhere it has taken root.
The vast majority of those associated with the lore of Voodoo are not spellcasters. No, they are merely adherents of an otherwise conventional philosophy, one observed by millions of people worldwide. However, a rare few practitioners of Voodoo possess the knowledge and fortitude to interact with Loa, powerful spectral entities, and thus master the ability to wield functional wizardry as a result.
Players interested in adopting the role of characters who practice Voodoo are encouraged to research the subject further, naturally. While this elucidation focuses on the game mechanics of casting Voodoo spells, it does not delve deeply into the centuries upon centuries of traditions that depictions of Voodoo in movies and comics used as a basis for what follows.
The Voodoo Practitioner
Wielders of Voodoo (houngans for males, mambos for females) have at their disposal aspects of the alchemy, clericism, and entreatism schools. They can produce transient magical items (potions, powders, oils, etc.), call upon the spectral entities that roam this world (and beyond) for knowledge and power, and even benefit from the worship of their ancestors. They can do all this within the context of their art.
What this means is that practitioners of Voodoo 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 Loa, 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. Practitioners of this stripe are known to work magic with 'both hands', using both good and evil to further their personal agenda and aspirations of power. Corrupted practitioners of this type are the bane of all followers of the Voodoo philosophy.
Intrinsic to the philosophy, practice, and/or faith of Voodoo are the Loa, spectral entities that exist near humanity in higher dimensions. Loa are a complex class of beings, ranging from recently passed mortal souls to the remnants of old gods long dead and almost forgotten. While a few of them may have been divine at one point, and some folks might worship them still, Loa are not gods in and of themselves.
Furthermore, despite being technically deceased souls, Loa can nonetheless exert influence over the living, whether subtly or overtly. This is one reason so many Voodoo spells involve these ghostly beings - a given area is generally teeming with Loa. Whether to garner information from them or to protect a body from their predations, dealing with Loa is a large part of practicing Voodoo.
Sometimes, this involves parley to gain knowledge, whether to solve a mystery or to master new magic. Other times, it concerns Loa riding mortal beings like a horse, after a fashion, to let them enjoy the fruits of the material world for a time. Still more encounters with Loa are completely random affairs, occurring during otherwise mundane events whenever it strikes their fancy.
They're dead, after all. What else do they have to do with their time?
While Voodoo offers its practitioners a balanced array of skills with which to ply their trade, some sorcerers prefer to specialize in certain aspects of the art. Such specialists do not lose access to the common abilities wielded by their peers, so much as they simply focus on one kind of Voodoo above all others. In other words, specialist practitioners gain access to another school's spell selection!
Those wielders of Voodoo who prioritize the creation of magical items, whether temporary or permanent in nature, may also draw from the school spells of alchemists. Voodoo casters who primarily engage in negotiations with Loa may, on the other hand, learn entreatism spells. And finally, those Voodoo casters who actually worship the spirits of their dead ancestors may instead master spells of clericism.
One need not immediately decide if they wish to be a 'regular' caster of Voodoo or one who specializes in one of these three facets of the school - individual casters are assumed to be unspecialized until they specifically declare otherwise. However, once an individual practitioner of Voodoo chooses to specialize their choice is essentially permanent, meaning that they can't switch from one specialty to another.
And, thus, cannot gain access to more than one bonus school spell roster as a result.
Voodoo and Belief
Regardless of how one wishes to express Voodoo, their potency with the art is often influenced by those who observe it in action. Belief in oneself is important, of course, but parleying with the souls of the living and the dead renders a Voodoo caster subject to the power of others' belief, as well. This is one reason they are often so ostentatiously dressed - making an impression on others is absolutely vital.
If a given Voodoo wielder is thought to be powerful by others in the vicinity, whether they are admired or feared for how they wield that power, they will receive a +1 CS to the rank of all spell FEATs they attempt. This bonus is raised by another +1 CS if such FEATs are attempted in the context of a magical ceremony, which most often has a large array of observers present, for various reasons.
Similarly, if a practitioner of Voodoo loses this respect or is made to appear the fool, this bonus is instead transformed into a -1 CS penalty, -2 CS if the wizard is particularly humbled in an encounter. The duration of such spell modifiers, positive or negative, is dependent on the overall standing of a Voodoo caster within his or her community in general, as well as the campaign's overall history.
Random (Dice Roll) Method
In the end, sorcerers are merely normal humans, despite all their vaunted powers. As such, when rolling up ability scores for a mage, use table A to generate his or her Strength and Endurance, then table B for their Fighting and Agility. Finally, use table D for Reason, Intuition, and Psyche, as these are usually rather high in wizardly characters, above and beyond those scores seen in typical people (on average).
Sorcerers may then roll on table A to determine their initial Resources rank. They also begin play with a Popularity score of zero. Add up their Health and Karma totals as normal, along with Negative and Mental Health scores.
Table 1: Rank Generation
|Table A||Table B||Table C||Table D||Table E||Table F||Table G||Table H||Table I||Rank
Once your rolls are complete, you may gamble on any two ability scores of your choice, potentially shoring up any areas you feel need some help. Keep in mind that once you are done, all of your ability scores save for Intuition and Psyche 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 ability score(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 Judges 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 Judge 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 '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 Judges prefer all spells to be generated randomly.
While it is ultimately up to the Judge, 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 Judge about these!
Notes: spells that have a (2) or (3) listed after them count as either two powers or three powers, respectively, or cost an amount of points per rank equal to the normal amount times that multiple; spiritual link, for instance, counts as two powers or costs two points per rank. 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 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 Judge) 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. To do this, simply roll once on table D for each magical power the character possesses. After this is done, you may 'gamble' on one spell (or magic item) rank 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 ranks they've rolled up for their new mage. Even after adjusting spell ranks 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 CS. Each successive limitation offers another +1 CS to the spell rank, 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 Judge, 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 CS modifier to one's spell ranks.
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 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 high enough that, upon applying the negative CS, 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 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 Judge'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 talents your sparkling new mage will start out with are determined in the same fashion as any other character's, beginning by rolling up the number of their initial talents on table 30. Then, roll for the category each talent will belong to on table 31. To finish up, roll for individual talents using tables 32 through 39, one table for each applicable category of talents.
However, the actual talents a character has really should be determined by his or her origin. Keeping this in mind, the Judge may very well opt to let a player choose some (or all of) the talents his or her sorcerer will have, allowing them a lot more creative control over their character. Another thing to consider is that a talent can function at a higher 'level' than normal.
There are three 'tiers' of talents, each providing an increasing bonus to FEATs applicable to said talent. When generating these heightened skills, however, keep in mind that they cost more; a level 2 talent counts as two talents, while a level 3 talent counts as four. This can get expensive fast, but is a great way to showcase what your character is really good at.
Also, some talents cost more than others (before levels of such are considered). A talent that has a number in parenthesis counts as that many talents during character generation; these are mostly background talents, but some others cost more. Similarly, the Student talent costs all of one's initial talent slots, for it by definition implies that a body does not have any other talents.
Table 30: Number of Talents
|01-17||Two talents||18-33||Three talents||34-50||Four talents
|51-67||Five talents||68-83||Six talents||84-00||Seven talents
Table 31: Talent Categories
Table 32: Background Talents
Table 33: Behavioral Talents
Table 34: Environmental Talents
Table 35: Fighting Talents
Table 36: Miscellaneous Talents
Table 37: Professional Talents
Table 38: Scientific Talents
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 talents, 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 Resources. One may automatically have any gear with a price equal to his or her Resources rank or less, and may start out with materials of up to their Resources rank +2 CS with but a small explanation (the character has a corporation that she built). Anything more exorbitant must be approved by the Judge, 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 ability scores, and b) the campaign's power level ceiling. For example, a plane-spanning campaign may limit characters to Unearthly (100) or less on most ranks. Ask your Judge about his or her campaign limits!
To begin with, determine how far above (or below) the norm the character will be in each ability score; for our purposes, the 'norm' will be Typical (6) rank. For every +1 CS a player applies to each spend one point, and for each -1 CS applied to these values, add one point. All but Intuition and Psyche must remain within human maximums (maximums for the other ability scores are detailed in the Core Rules).
A starting character is assumed to have Typical (6) Resources and a Popularity score of zero (0). One may alter his or her Resources as they can any other ability score, though at double the cost (Amazing (50) ranked Resources would cost ten points, for example). If one intends to purchase the Heir to Fortune background talent, they shouldn't alter this 'base' Resources score any. Health and Karma are determined normally.
An opposed Popularity 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 in each spell, starting at Feeble (2) rank - unless their school raises this value, as is the case with an elemental specialist. The upper rank of each spell is only limited by the campaign's power level ceiling (again, ask the Judge 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 price. 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 value; planar control, for example, costs three points per rank. 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 Judge allows their use in his or her campaign, one thing to consider is the use of Hyperkinetic and Hyperexhaustive rank qualifiers. These can each be purchased in the point system if allowed, being treated as either an extreme enhancement (in the form of a Hyperkinetic spell) or an extreme limitation (in the form of 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 talents and contacts as they see fit, each costing one point. If one would like heightened talents or contacts, they must pay two points for a level two talent or contact, or four points for a level three talent or contact. The Student background talent costs five points (and fits a new wizard well), but cannot be purchased with any other talent (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 talents 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 that is readily available in the campaign, as long as the cost falls within a few CS of their Resources rank. If they want something more expensive, players must give a good reason for such, though the Judge has veto power over improbable items.
Once the player is out of points, the Judge 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 Judge 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 Judge must generate, barring perhaps his or her name), all other character information must be determined by the player behind the character 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 sheet of paper with all the funny words on it really come alive!
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, mainly because 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 Karma 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 Reason (mem) score. If the mage has a Reason (mem) rank of Typical (6) or less, he or she may only maintain one spell at a time. For each rank of Reason (mem) they hold above Typical (6), he or she may maintain an additional spell simultaneously. A mage with Incredible (40) ranked Reason (mem), 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 memory 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 CS to the effective rank of the spell so cast. Every benefit of a higher rank 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 CS. 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 Judge 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 per a Popularity FEAT 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 CS to the casting rank of the spell, +2 CS if the spell specifically reflects the nature of that which is entreated.
Entities the Judge 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 FEAT.
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 Popularity FEATs.
As an example, say the Greek pantheon of gods is active in the Judge'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 Judge, 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 Judge 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 Judge 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 CS 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 CS to its overall effect!
This is not an easy process, however, and requires multiple Popularity FEATs - 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 Popularity FEAT 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 such when combining entities remains. These problems can be avoided with careful research into the entities to be so entreated.
Entreaties call on vast sources of power to fuel their effects, no matter their origin. That's why entreaties 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 source for power too much. 'Too much' is subjective, though, and can be anything from more than twice per day to more than seven times per week (Judge'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. 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, Karma. For the most part, wizards use Karma much like any other character type, spending just as much when purchasing new talents or contacts, or when enhancing a current ability or power rank; this is handled as is defined in the Core Rules.
One facet of Karma 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 talents (as far as standard mechanics go), a mage can learn new spells for the same cost - one thousand Karma points. Generally, new spells begin at Feeble (2) rank, 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 Karma if he or she wishes a spell to begin at a higher rank to start with. This can be done by paying one thousand Karma points for the 'base' spell, plus one hundred times the final rank number. For instance, purchasing a brand new spell at Amazing (50) rank would be 1,000 (base cost) plus 5,000 (the rank number of 50 times one hundred), for a grand total of 6,000 Karma.
This is a lot of Karma 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 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. If a spell is listed as having a cost equal to 2 points per rank, double its final Karma cost, while one with a cost of 3 points per rank triples the cost. If a spell is listed with a 'flat cost', the price is only 250 Karma points per point; invulnerability, for instance, would cost 2,000 Karma.
Mystic mastery is a rank that sorcerers ascribe to both themselves and to others, 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 few 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 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 Karma penalty for dabbling in one without the proper education.
Over time, a mage may wish to work with a spell 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 Karma 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 as its parent spell, -1 CS for each additional point per rank 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 FEAT 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 Shift 0 rank, 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 of a thaumaturge's Psyche. They can only cast spells in a round if they can first pass a Psyche FEAT roll against this fatigue intensity; if his or her fatigue exceeds their Psyche score by more than +1 CS, 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. Apply a -1 penalty for each source of power entreated to bolster a spell, regardless of its type.
Spell Components: thanks to the odd formulas 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 CS boost dependent on how difficult it is to procure these components; boosts from +1 to +3 CS are possible if components are exceptionally hard to acquire.
Spell Disruption / Distraction: normally, spells are cast when a mage passes a spell FEAT 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 Endurance rank 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 yellow Psyche FEAT 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 FEAT fails with a white 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 CS in rank.