Magic

Using magic involves combining a Technique (verb) with a Form (noun).

Techniques

Creo (I Create)

Creo deals in ideal forms. Anything purely created is an ideal version of that thing. Creo can also be used to heal and mature things toward their ideal form (such as making a thing an exemplar of its kind).

Natural things (creatures, raw materials, etc.) have simple forms that are easier to create and use, while artificial things (crafts) have complex forms. Using Creo to create an artificial thing requires the mage to understand it and make an Int + Finesse roll to determine how good it is (the mage doesn’t need to be able to craft it in a mundane way, just have a decent sense of how it works).

Creo can only heal, mature, or improve things toward being an exemplar. Changing their fundamental nature is Muto and making them older past maturity is Perdo.

Created things that disappear after their duration ends leave behind logical results of having had existed (e.g., a created animal that lasted for a year leaves a corpse if it was eating real food). You cannot create a soul, but animals don’t have souls. Created things can only be permanent if created with raw vis.

Intellego (I Perceive)

Intellego gathers information from the form of a thing, and cannot be deceived by mundane disguises. However, demons are annoyingly immune (revealing only their deception).

Muto (I Transform)

Muto can change things about a subject beyond what is natural, but more extreme changes are harder to do. Permanent changes to a thing are only possible if they don’t violate its essential nature, and Muto generally always violates essential nature so must always be maintained. Creo, Perdo, and Rego can make permanent changes.

Perdo (I Destroy)

Perdo destroys or makes things worse. It can selectively remove a trait, but it’s easier if the thing could independently lose the property without magic (e.g., it’s easier to destroy someone’s limb than to remove his weight without harm).

Perdo degrades ideal forms, so cannot make something better through destruction, even if in nature damage can be considered as improving it (e.g., you cannot sharpen a sword with Perdo, because its ideal form is to be sharp). You cannot remove a negative (e.g., you cannot heal someone by removing a wound).

Rego (I Control)

Rego changes the state of something to another state it can naturally have. This can easily include many forms of movement (since things can have any location), but can also make natural changes (e.g., tree blossoms, person sleeps, stone is shaped into a statue, thread is woven into a tunic). It cannot make things young again (that would be Muto) nor old (that would be Perdo). It cannot change something into a state it could technically have, but would never in nature (e.g., turn a brown dog black). It can perform any kind of craft (with a Finesse roll).

Forms

In addition to governing using magic on the subject of the Form, each Form grants a bonus to rolls for a particular kind of resistance/soak (Form level/5 rounded up).

Animal (Animals)

Animals (not including humans); Bonus: Resist damage from animal attacks and poisons

Aquam (Water)

Water, liquids, and liquidity; Bonus: Resist drowning and thirst, damage from water impact

Auram (Air)

Air, wind, weather, and gaseous forms; Bonus: Resist suffocation (including drowning) and weather phenomena (such as lightning)

Corpus (Body)

Human bodies (including dead bodies and magical/fae creatures that look human); Bonus: Resist human unarmed attacks and diseases

Herbam (Plant)

Plants and trees (including dead plant matter like wood and linen); Bonus: Resist wooden weapons, herbal poisons, and starvation

Ignem (Fire)

Fire, heat, and light (as well as the opposite: cold and darkness); Bonus: Resist fire and cold

Imaginem (Image)

Sensory effects (i.e., illusions); Bonus: Resist confusion, deafening, or nausea caused by sensory effects

Mentem (Mind)

Minds, thoughts, and spirits (including the “bodies” of incorporeal beings like ghosts held together by will); Bonus: Resist mundane persuasion, deception, or temptation

Terram (Earth)

Solids, especially earth and stone; Bonus: Resist stone or metal weapons and mineral poisons

Vim (Power)

Raw magical power as well as magical, infernal, divine, and faerie creatures; Bonus: Resist Twilight, and damage inflicted by consequences of spellcasting (and is the default magic resistance form if no other form clearly applies)

Casting Spells

Basic Casting Rules

Roll a die (simple or stress, depending on circumstance) and add Technique + Form + Stamina + Modifiers (including bonuses from a magical aura and spell mastery).

Compare the result to the spell’s level. Different spell types (Formulaic, Ritual, or Spontaneous) have different exact results, but in general the target number of the roll is the spell’s Level. Usually, missing the target by 10 or less allows success at a cost of Fatigue, while exceeding the target number adds the margin of success to Penetration against Magic Resistance.

A spell’s Level / 5 (rounded up) is its Magnitude. Magnitude is used for various calculations.

Spell Type

Spells are Formulaic, Ritual, or Spontaneous.

Formulaic Magic

Formulaic Magic requires the mage to know the spell as a formula. It takes only a few seconds and has no modifiers to the basic casting rules. Missing the target by 10 or less means it is successful, but the caster takes one level of Fatigue and the margin of failure is subtracted from Penetration. Missing by more than 10 costs a level of Fatigue and the spell fails.

Ritual Magic

Ritual Magic requires the mage to know the spell as a formula (or to use “ceremonial casting” as described on page 83). It takes 15 minutes/Magnitude and allows the caster to add the Artes Liberales and Philosophia to the final casting total. The mage must also expend one pawn of vis per magnitude (which must match the technique or form of the spell and cannot exceed the caster’s totals in technique and form; e.g., Creo 4 Ignem 5 can use at most 9 pawns of vis—four Creo, five Ignem—and thus cannot cast a ritual of higher than Magnitude 9).

Rituals always use the stress die.

Rituals always cost at least one Fatigue, and add an additional Fatigue for every five points of the margin of failure, to a maximum of five Fatigue (a spell fails if you miss by 11 or more, and also costs four or five Fatigue). This Fatigue can only be regained by a good night’s sleep, and can roll over into damage.

Spontaneous Magic

Spontaneous Magic only requires the mage to have the proper Technique and Form to potentially cast the effect envisioned, but the mage need not know the formula for the spell. The mage can choose to take a level of Fatigue for the magic (which will be applied after it takes effect):

  • With the level of Fatigue, the casting total after rolling is divided by 2.
  • Without the level of Fatigue, the casting total after rolling is divided by 5.

Spontaneous effects can be open-ended, based on how well the roll goes, as long as the basic essentials can be bought first. For example, the mage can decide to create a bright light for at least a Sun’s duration. As long as the modified casting total is enough to create any kind of light for at least that duration, any additional margin of success can be spent to improve the brightness of the light or the duration, or its penetration.

Any modifiers that say they affect the “casting score” are added before dividing. Any modifiers that say they affect the “casting total” are added after dividing.

Penetration

The margin of success or failure of the spell added to the mage’s Penetration ability is the spell’s Penetration total. This total can be negative. The Penetration total must exceed the target’s Magic Resistance to be effective (see Magic Resistance, below), so negative scores may affect mundane individuals but usually not mages.

Arcane and Sympathetic connections can create a multiplier to the mage’s Penetration ability (before adding to the margin of the roll; see page 84).

Concentration

A distracted mage must roll Stamina + Concentration with the stress die to cast or maintain the spell (target number based on severity of the distraction). A spell that cannot be cast due to failing this roll still must check for a botch (with an extra botch die). See page 82 for concentration targets.

If an spell is meant to do something that normally requires concentration (e.g., talking to something or moving), that thing does not require concentration.

Options

Using Vis (All Spells)

Add pawns of vis to a casting for +2 casting score per pawn. As with ritual casting, the pawns spent this way are limited by the Technique and Form (and any pawns required by the ritual count against the maximum that can be spent to add +2, but do not add +2).

Each pawn of vis (used for a bonus or for the ritual) adds an additional botch die.

Words and Gestures (Formulaic and Spontaneous)

Spells are normally cast with a Firm voice and Bold gestures. Using Loud voice and Exaggerated gestures adds +1 each to the total. Using Quiet voice has a -5 penalty, and casting the spell silently has a -10 penalty. Using Subtle gestures has a -2 penalty, and casting the spell without gestures has a -5 penalty (-15 for a silent, still spell). Virtues may modify these penalties.

Fast Casting (Spontaneous or Mastered Formulaic)

Fast Casting cannot change the default words and gestures or most other options, because there is not time. Roll Quickness + Finesse (with a stress die). The target is generally the Initiative Total of the opponent you’re trying to pre-empt (failing the roll means it happens after the opponent’s action, and you may choose to not cast the spell). Fast cast spells have an additional -10 to the casting score and +2 botch dice.

If your Quickness + Finesses is good, you may make additional fast casts in a single round at a cumulative -6 penalty (with no further fast casts allowed after failing to beat the target once).

A primary use for fast casting is to defend against incoming spells. In many cases, the mage can identify the incoming effect automatically, but may make a Perception + Awareness + spell’s Magnitude roll against target 15 to identify even a subtle spell. Choose a Technique and Form that could logically counter the incoming spell: getting at least half the spell’s level is usually enough to protect the mage (or one other individual), while meeting or exceeding the level neutralizes it entirely. (You can do something similar to neutralize mundane threats, with the GM assessing the effective “level” of the threat).

Arcane Connections (All Spells)

Arcane connections allow a mage to cast a spell on a target outside of current sensory range. Arcane connections tend to expire over time, per the chart on page 84. An arcane connection can also improve Penetration through sympathy (also on page 84).

Magic Resistance

Mages have a base Magic Resistance equal to the most applicable Form to the incoming magic (minimum 0, since all Forms are at least 0), with Vim used if no other Form is applicable. If the mage has activated Parma Magica (takes two minutes to cast and lasts until sunrise/sunset), add the mage’s Parma Magica ability x 5 to the Magic Resistance total.

A mage may concentrate to lower all magic resistance, even while Parma Magica is active (to allow a spell to affect her). Unconscious mages cannot do this, so automatically have full magic resistance (including to beneficial spells attempting to help her). A mage must do this to not require self-affecting spells to have Penetration.

By taking a -3 penalty to Parma Magica (minimum 0), the mage may protect one other person per point in Parma Magica (e.g., two additional people at Parma Magica 2). The mage must stay within sight of the protected targets. All targets still add their applicable Form, if any, to resistance.

A mage is aware of a spell that has been stopped by magic resistance, but may not know if a spell has penetrated if its effects are not obvious.

Resistance stops spells affecting the mage, her clothing, and other very close objects. It does not dispel magic, but simply leaves the mage unaffected. The subtleties of what counts as a spell affecting the mage are explained on page 85. In general, a mage trying to create an effect that becomes natural by the time it gets to the target (and, thus, would not have to penetrate magic resistance) must make a Perception + Finesse roll to aim it.

Sigils

Every mage has a consistent sensory effect that accompanies her magic. This is never particularly useful or harmful to the intent of the magic, but is a signature that can be used to associate magic with the mage.

Spell Mastery

Each spell learned as formulaic magic has an associated Spell Mastery ability with three effects:

  • The ability level is added as a modifier to casting score for the spell
  • The ability level is subtracted from botch dice for the spell (and, in a situation that would normally use a simple die, allows the mage to use a stress die with no chance of botch)
  • Each level of the ability lets the mage choose one of the following special effects:
    • Fast Casting (can fast cast the spell as if spontaneous)
    • Magic Resistance (double resistance against the mastered or similar spells)
    • Multiple Casting (cast the spell individually on different targets; see page 87)
    • Penetration (add the ability level to Penetration in addition to casting score)
    • Quiet Casting (reduce quiet/silent voice penalties by 5; this can be taken twice)
    • Still Casting (remove the penalty for no gestures)
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