© 1994 by Scott Gray and Sharon Tripp. These pages may not be reproduced for profit. They may be copied, provided they are not altered and the authors' names remain attached.Previous section | Next section | Contents
Though mages can be extremely powerful, playing a mage is certainly not an easy road to fame or fortune. Not only can utilizing magic cause direct harm and danger to the mage, but in some campaigns magery is illegal and even punishable by death for first offenses.
Please note, also, that the resources (grimoires, teachers or other sources of knowledge) necessary to learn magical skills will often be extremely rare. Players who have their hearts set on certain powers or rituals will usually be best off purchasing them at game start.
Only a few of the powers are ever usable in combat, and this is notated under the descriptions of the power.
Although suggested powers and rituals are listed in the skill section, it is entirely up to the GM as to what sorts of magic exist in the particular campaign. If you wish to start your character with one or more spells, first decide what exactly you are looking to do, then speak to the GM about it. The GM will know what spells have been approved and may even approve new ones.
Finally, this game is designed with the entertainment of persons playing normal characters in mind. The rules are designed to make it possible for a person to play a mage, but anyone who abuses his/her powers in a manner that ruins the game for other players may well have his/her right to play a magically active character taken away.
To use a power requires an expenditure of health points. In rare instances, permanent points (which can never be healed) will be expended. More often, a few "temporary" (healable) points will be expended, either in advance or at casting.
The temporary health points used for mage powers (unless noted otherwise) cannot be points gained by chirurgery. Only those gained through rest (the mage's own health point tags from logistics) or empathic healing (a healer's health point tags).
The "wounds" from casting magic may take any form the person playing the caster (an out of game choice, not an ingame one) chooses for them to take; slashes, bruises, internal bleeding, or just about any form of "concussion" type wound. The wounds from the magic need not be the same each time.
Spells which involve a health point expenditure at the time of casting will require the character to rip up those health tags, with the spell target(s) as witness.
Some powers are prepared spells, meaning the health points to cast them are spent in advance at logistics. This is usually for spells not involving other players. Spells which are cast by the mage on him/herself will generally require the player to write (in pen), on the tag which (s)he received when preparing the spell, the time that the spell was cast; this allows other players to enforce the duration effects of spells.
Example: Kevin is attacking Wynn with a sword at 7:00 in the evening. Alan (who plays Kevin) is calling "2 steel". Jessica (who plays Wynn) asks to see his sword ability. Alan says that Kevin doesn't have one-handed melee ability, so calls "1" as the base, but that his character had cast "improve strength" on himself. Jessica sees that Alan had written 1:45 PM on the tag, showing that it had been cast five and a quarter hours earlier. The spell description, which Alan shows her, explains that "improve strength" has a 6 hour duration. Jessica agrees all is well and good, except that the rules for combat state that strength and strong blow bonuses may not be added with untrained combat -- so Alan only calls one point for each blow and decides that Kevin should learn one-handed melee ability someday.
Spells may be prepared at logistics at any time that the GM is available, and the character has had some private time to him/herself (at least 10 minutes) to prepare such spells. The player may make multiple trips to logistics in a single day if the GM allows it.
Some powers are described as "line of sight". Line of sight refers to anything which could theoretically be seen from the spellcaster's vantage point, but which (s)he need not be actually looking at. A line of sight spell with a continuing duration will remain active for as long as the mage stays in the area, even if (s)he falls unconscious.
A person with magery is also capable of casting certain powerful magics known as "rituals". The magic must be done according to instructions followed from a grimoire or from memory.
There may be certain "zero-level" rituals in existence, that require no magery to perform. For example, any person brave or stupid enough may be able to follow the instructions in that old dusty volume, sacrificing small animals as necessary, to call a demon. This includes certain complex rituals which do not require any innate magery on the part of the caster; "by following these simple steps, make a potion which will be drunk at midnight during a waxing moon before a flowing stream, and in the reflection in the stream you will be able to see the face of the person you will marry".
Most rituals require components, which will be found ingame. Some require the expenditure of health points (temporary or permanent). Rituals generally require certain actions to be performed or conditions to be met. Each follows its own particular rules or requirements, procedure and likelihood of success in casting.
In addition to the probability of success or failure, there is a possibility of the ritual being flawed. A flaw refers to an effect which occurs in addition to or in place of the spell. If a flaw is rolled, the GM rolls again to see if there is an additional flaw. If a second flaw is rolled, (s)he rolls to see if there is a third, and so on, until "no flaw" is rolled.
There are various types of flaws which might occur. The ritual might succeed, but affect a different target at random instead of the intended target. The caster could lose one or more senses temporarily or permanently (sight, hearing, etc.). Everything within five feet of the caster (caster included) might spontaneously combust. Some flaws may be beneficial, prolonging the duration of the spell being cast, granting the mage immunity to one type of poison, etc. However, such flaws are much rarer than detrimental flaws.
There are certain protections against magic. In some cases a natural charm may protect against certain spells -- perhaps an herbal concoction which supposedly fends off the powers of sorcery. Likewise, there are some overtly magical protections which can be used to protect against powers and rituals.
In both cases, we refer to such protections from magic as "warding".
If a character has a force one ward, (s)he will have a card describing what magic(s) and/or power(s) the warding is good against. If the ward is force two, the player will have two cards for it; one describing all of the effects but only stating the item or power as force one, and the second noting that the item is really force two. A force three ward will have three cards. This is to prevent a mage who is trying to break a person's warding from knowing out-of-game what the force of the warding is when his/her character has no way of knowing.
If the ward is protecting against a ritual, the odds of success of that ritual are (generally) reduced by 20% per force of the warding.
If the ward is protecting against a magical power, the person with the warding calls "ward 1". The mage then has the option of expending an additional health point to penetrate the warding with his/her spell. If the mage chooses to spend an additional health point to get past the force one ward and the character's warding is higher than force one, (s)he must then call "ward 2" and so forth until the mage gives up or the target runs out of warding.
Not all wards function in the same manner. Some wards are usable only once, some may require conscious use (and perhaps health point expenditure) by the character with the warding, etc.
The card for the ward will denote which power(s) and/or ritual(s) the ward protects against. There may be some wards which operate only against rituals, and for which the owner will have no card, because (s)he doesn't necessarily know the ward's powers, if any. In such cases, the GM will know whether an item or superstition followed grants warding, and take the ward into account when figuring out the outcome of the ritual. This is one reason why it may be useful to follow folklore... One never knows which superstitions actually work.
Warding, and the expenditure of additional health points to penetrate the ward, occurs instantaneously. In effect, a time out is on while warding and health point expenditures are calculated.
Unless otherwise noted on the card for a warding item or power, two wards which protect against the same effect will not both be used to protect from that effect. The higher force ward will always be the first one used. If two wards are equally applicable, and of the same power, then the person whose character possesses the wards may choose which one is being used.
Example: Treina has a force one reusable ward against puppetmaster and a force two ward against any enchanting which is only usable once. When Kevin uses his puppetmaster power on Treina, Treina automatically uses up the force two ward against Kevin, regardless of any wish on her part to use the force one ward. This means that in order to successfully cast his puppetmaster spell, Kevin must spend two health points more than the normal health cost for the power.
Generally, the folklore variety of wards, if they work at all, will only be force one warding (though the occasional rare one might be force two). Magic (or perhaps a rite of faith) is required to craft a force three or higher ward (and most force two wards).
If a ward protects against a spell which affects more than one target, the ward protects all persons who would be affected by the spell. Either the ward causes the spell to fail entirely, or the spell will function on all of its targets.
Wards, particularly the more powerful of the folklore wards and any which are useful against mass effect spells, will often have an expiration date. For instance, a charm of a bit of angelica kept in a locket worn about the neck might protect against curses. However, once the angelica spoils, the charm is no longer of any value.
Under particular circumstances, a mage may form a "link" allowing him/her to cast spells quicker and easier on a victim. This process is known as "attuning". If the target accepts attuning, the mage is attuned to that person permanently. Other circumstances may allow an attuned link, and rituals may exist in some campaigns to force a link.
From an ingame standpoint, attuning is something like forming an empathic link. A mage can gain some small empathic understanding of a character attuned to. No great secrets or very useful information can be gained by this link; but sometimes the player of the attuned victim should tell the player of the mage when his/her character is experiencing any particularly strong emotions. Attunement cannot be negated or dispelled -- the spirits of the characters involved are modified by the attunement, not kept under a constant magical effect.
Note that attuning will sometimes be "two-way", in which case each party understands the other and holds some power over the other. However, attuning is most often one-way, and one character gains the knowledge and sense of the other, but not vice versa.
A mage gains significant power over whomever (s)he is attuned to. All rituals which a mage casts against him/herself or a person to whom (s)he is attuned have a significantly lower chance of being flawed. Casting requirements which require a particular action may be ignored when an offensive power is used against a victim the mage is attuned to; though the mage must still expend health points. No power which the mage casts on him or herself will be considered offensive.
A person whom a mage is attuned to may still ward against any powers or rituals that the mage casts upon him/her. However, a mage may not use the "Reflect" power against a caster who is attuned to him/her.
Example: Meraib, a Tepharan priestess-mage practicing secretly in Isseter, has discovered through her divinations that Kevin practices magic. She tracks down Kevin and forces him to let her attune to him. This arrangement allows him to be left alone to do as he will in the area, but gives the priestess a safeguard to deal with him if he begins to cause trouble or cast harmful magics.
When Kevin uses his magic against one of the Tepharites, Meraib goes to him and spends 3 health points to cast flesh to stone upon him. She does not have to touch him for 15 seconds to do so.
In most cases a mage may negate spells which (s)he has cast (powers and, in some cases, rituals). The mage may negate only the spell, not the physical effects which the spell has already created.
By this, we mean that the mage may stop a constant magical effect. The mage may release a charmed person from his/her spell, restore his or her own strength to normal in the middle of the inhuman strength spell, retrieve an item from shadow form, "turn off" an odd magical effect begun by cantrip, unanimate a zombie (s)he created, or restore memories blocked by the forget spell.
The mage may not undo something that has been done. The mage may not restore health points lost to death or weaken creature spells, undo a memory created by an illusion, forget information learned through divination, break an attunement, return a called item to the place taken from, or regain an item sent. The mage cannot negate or dispel a magical contract which (s)he signed; the contract may be broken, but the sorcerer will suffer the contractual effects of doing so.
In some instances, the decision as to whether a spell may be negated is not always so clear. In such instances, negating the spell takes time ingame, during which the GM must be consulted.
Example: Meraib casts flesh to stone upon Kevin. Kevin is left outside and weathered by the elements for a few months. Meraib then relents, deciding that Kevin has by now learned his lesson, and negates the flesh to stone. Kevin turns back to flesh, but the "weathering" effect remains, and his face is quite pock-marked and craggy. The GM requires Alan (who plays Kevin) to wear appropriate makeup and operate at two permanent health points fewer. As Kevin has been conscious over those few months, Alan might choose to play certain psychological effects of this experience as well.
In order to negate a spell, several conditions must be met. First, the caster must be conscious. Second, all of the players who would be affected by the spell's negation must be informed either at the time of the negation, or in advance of it (and told at what time it will go away). If necessary, ask the GM's help in recruiting runners to tell the appropriate people.
Spells do not dissipate upon the mage's death, unless otherwise noted (such as, under particular conditions, flesh to stone). If a mage dies with a spell active, the spell continues as per the normal rules. For instance, a charmed character will continue to be charmed to the mage until out of his/her presence for an hour; the charmed character might try to avenge the mage's death, for instance.
A disadvantage exists so that a mage may not negate spells. Those with this disadvantage may not learn the dispel magic power, although might in some campaigns be able to learn the dispel magic ritual.