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In the next few pages, we will cover the following topics:
Spellcasters, Paradigm, Specialization, Point cost, Mana, Casting time, Physical requirements, Spell parameters, Spell range, Increasing spell effects, Perceiving magic, Resisting magic, Repeating spells, Spell variants, Cooperative casting, Shapeshifting, Enchanted items, and Limitations of magic.
There are three spellcasting classes, each with a magic specialty - mystic, shaman, and wizard. Bards can also cast spells, though they are unable to master more than a single low path of magic.
Spellcasters are uncommon for a number of reasons. Not everyone is born with the talent, it can be very difficult to find an instructor, and there is a steep learning curve before the art can be employed as a profitable profession. Those who are gifted, lucky, and dedicated enough to become powerful spellcasters have little difficulty garnering wealth and influence. Because of their supernatural power, spellcasters are not welcome everywhere.
Spellcasters go by many appellations. Professional spellcasters adopt the title associated with their magical specialty - Mystic, Shaman or Wizard. Humans who have access to Arcane magic are called Mages, while the few rare individuals who have learned all paths of magic are known as Archmages. Non-human spellcasters who have access to Arcane magic use the title Arcanist. Spellcasters who can create magical items are called Enchanters. Those who specialize in creating and duplicating non-magical items are known as Conjurers. In rural human and orc communities, witch and warlock are sometimes used as derogatory terms. Spellcasters of the ancient races are often referred to as sorcerers.
Spellcasters have divided spells into paths, based on the spectrum of magical energy that powers them. Each path of magic is associated with a color. Individuals with the ability to sense magic can tell which path a spell belongs to by the color of magical energy infusing it.
The six low paths of magic are comprised of spells that can be learned without prerequisite knowledge. The three high paths are made up of spells that require a deeper understanding of how magic functions. The path of pure magic is comprised of spells that effect the essence of magic itself.
The low paths of magic are: Physical (red), Healing (yellow), Shaping (green), Kinetic (cyan), Mental (blue), and Sensing (magenta).
The high paths of magic are: Shifting (orange), Creating (teal), and Spirit (purple).
The path of pure magic is Arcane (white).
The magic spectrum:
Most Spellcasters specialize in one of three paths of high magic. Shifting specialists are called mystics, Spirit specialists are called shamans, and Creating specialists are called wizards.
Mystics learn the low paths of Physical and Healing magic, in order to gain access to Shifting spells.
Shamans learn the low paths of Mental and Sensing magic, opening up Spirit spells.
Wizards learn the low paths of Shaping and Kinetic magic, granting them access to Creating spells.
Magic traits are purchased to give a character access to spell paths.
Both associated low magic paths must be purchased before a high magic path.
Physical (red) and Healing (yellow) are the prerequisites of Shifting (orange).
Shaping (green) and Kinetic (cyan) are the prerequisites of Creating (teal).
Mental (blue) and Sensing (magenta) are the prerequisites of Spirit (purple).
One high magic path must be purchased before the Arcane (white) path.
Spells are purchased as Mental Easy (ME) skills.
Spells from the High Paths of magic are considered trademark skills - Shifting for mystics, Spirit for shamans, and Creating for wizards.
Human spellcasters are unique in their ability to learn all paths of magic, assuming they are born with the talent. All other races are limited in which paths they can learn.
A spellcaster channels mana from within himself, or from a powerstone, to power spells. Every spell costs a specific amount of mana to cast. If a casting roll is critically failed, the spell costs 25% more mana (round up) due to the magical energies spinning out of control.
If a spellcaster doesn't have enough mana available to cast a particular spell, he can choose to burn fatigue to make up the difference. He must have at least 1 mana left, succeed at a Will roll, and cast the spell at a -1 penalty.
While not engaged in strenuous mental activity, mana is recovered at a rate of 1 point per 10 minutes. While sleeping, 1 point of mana is regained every 5 minutes.
The amount of time it takes to cast a spell is based upon its mana cost. A spell can be cast one category faster, however the spellcaster suffers a casting roll penalty (see below). In all paths except Arcane, the spellcaster can choose to concentrate and double the normal casting time to receive a +1 casting roll bonus.
|Mana Cost||Casting Time||Speed Penalty||Mana Cost||Casting Time||Speed Penalty|
|1||1 second||-1||10-11||5 minutes||-6|
|2-5||1 round (3 seconds)||-2||12-13||10 minutes||-8|
|6-9||1 minute (20 rounds)||-4||14+||30 minutes|
A spellcaster must perform certain actions while casting a particular spell.
Spells from the lower paths of magic require that the spellcaster make special gestures if the target is an inanimate object. He must speak special words if the target is animate, spiritual or planar. Spells from the high paths of magic require both special gestures and words. The path of pure magic requires gestures, words, and deep concentration.
For example, if a Physical (red) spell takes one minute to cast, the spellcaster must speak the words of the spell for the entire minute. If a Creating (teal) spell takes one round to cast, the spellcaster must speak and gesture for three seconds.
If the spellcaster is prevented from performing the physical requirements at any time during casting, he must roll Will to continue without being interrupted. If he is interrupted, he must start over casting the spell from the beginning. A spell that requires only a second to cast is extremely difficult to interrupt.
Spellcasters wearing brigandine, augmented mail, or double-mail on their chest or arms will have difficulty making the proper gestures. They must roll Will to avoid being "interrupted" by the limited range of movement. Spellcasters wearing any form of plate armor make the Will roll at a -5 penalty.
All spells have a basic range and duration. If a spell does not require the spellcaster to touch the target, its range can be increased or decreased according to his wishes. Likewise, if a spell does not have an instant effect, the spellcaster can increase or decrease its duration.
Decreasing duration or range makes the spell easier to cast. A positive adjustment is a skill modifier, adding to the caster's effective skill. This makes it easier to succeed on the casting roll.
Once the skill roll is made, successes can be used to increase the spell's parameters. The caster decides how to allocate his successes, dividing them between duration and range. A negative adjustment indicates how many successes are required to achieve that effect.
|Duration||Linear Range||Hex Radius|
|Adjust.||Duration||Adjust.||Linear Range||Adjust.||Hex Radius|
|+3||1 round (3 sec)||+3||Touch||+0||0 (caster's hex)|
|-5||24 hours (1 day)||-5||150'||-8||8|
|-7||1 month (30 days)||-7||200'||-10||10|
|-8||1 season (3 months)||-8||225'||-11||11|
|-20||100 years (1 century)||-11||300'||-14||14|
Radius and Volume Range
|+2||1' (your hex)||Carried gear, your hex||1 cu cm||1 cm3||Pinch|
|+1||5' (adjacent hexes)||Nearby, adjacent hexes||1 cu inch||1"x1"x1" or 1"3||Handful|
|+0||10' (2 hex radius)||Room||1 cu ft||1'x1'x1' or 1'3||Box|
|-1||25' (5 hex radius)||Chamber||2 cu ft||1'x1'x2' or 1'4"3||Sack|
|-2||100' (20 hex radius)||Building||4 cu ft||1'x2'x2' or 1'8"3|
|-3||500' (100 hex radius)||Block||8 cu ft||2'x2'x2' or 2'3|
|-4||2000' (400 hex radius)||Neighborhood||16 cu ft||2'x2'x4' or 2'6"3||Chest|
|-5||1 mile (5,280')||Village||32 cu ft||2'x4'x4' or 3'2"3||Crate|
|-6||5 miles||City||64 cu ft||4'x4'x4' or 4'3||Pallet|
|-7||10 miles||Area||128 cu ft||4'x4'x8' or 5'3||Wagon load|
|-8||25 miles||Region||256 cu ft||4'x8'x8' or 6'4"3|
|-9||100 miles||Territory||512 cu ft||8'x8'x8' or 8'3||Small room|
|-10||500 miles||Country||1024 cu ft||8'x8'x16' or 10'3||Pallet|
Each spell has a particular kind of range: Touch, Linear, Radius, Hex radius, Volume, or Centered.
With a Touch range, the spellcaster must touch the target with some part of his body, through nothing thicker than heavy cloth. The Glyph spell allows a spellcaster to touch his target and activate a spell through an object, such as a staff.
With a Linear range, a single target must be within a certain distance of the spellcaster. If the target is using concealment or dodges, the spellcaster must roll Spellthrowing to hit him.
With a Radius, the spell affects every potential target within a certain distance of the spellcaster. He may choose to target himself as well. The effects extend above ground level, forming a half-sphere. Some spells seek, detect, predict, sense or summon in a 360° arc within that radius.
With a Centered range, the spellcaster must choose where to center the spell's effects. Everything within a radius of that target point is affected by the spell. Thus, the spellcaster needs to adjust both the Linear range to the target location, and the Radius of the spell's area of effect. The spellcaster must be able to see the point which will be the spell's center, or use the Spellthrowing skill to accurately target it.
With a Hex Radius, the spellcaster can choose targets in a certain hex radius around himself. He chooses which potential targets to include or exclude within this range. He also chooses whether the radius is a 1 hex high circle or a sphere.
With a Volume range, the portion of the target affected must be a contiguous volume of any shape. The spellcaster must be within arm's reach of the target and able to see it. Touching the target reduces the spell's success adjustment by 1.
Increasing Spell Effects
Many spells increase in potency when they are cast with greater skill. The spell's description explains how much the power increases based upon the number of successes. The increase in power is based on the total number of successes, regardless of how duration and range were improved.
When rolling against your spell skill, if the total of 3d6 is equal to the skill rank, you have achieved no successes. However, you have not failed. The spell is cast at its lowest level of effect. If your roll is below the skill rank, the number of successes is equal to the difference. Thus, if you roll a total of 7 on 3d6, and the skill rank for the spell you are casting is 12, you have achieved 5 successes.
A spell's description will indicate the base (or lowest level) of effect, plus a number of successes required to increase that effect.
- If a spell does 1 + 1/3s points of damage, it inflicts 1 point damage at 0 successes, plus 1 extra point of damage for every 3 successes. If you rolled 0, 1, or 2 successes, the spell would do 1 point of damage. If you rolled 3, 4, or 5 successes, the spell would do 2 points of damage.
- If a spell adjusts Strength by 0 +1/2s, ST does not increase at 0 or 1 success. ST would receive a +1 bonus at 2 or 3 successes.
- If a spell adjusts Movement by 50% +25%/s, MV is increased by 50% at 0 successes, by 75% at 1 success, by 100% at 2 successes, and so forth.
- If a spell reduces Dodge by 1 -1/s, Dodge is reduced by 1 at 0 successes, and by one more for each success.
If a spell adjusts an attribute of the target, the spellcaster can choose whether that
attribute is increased or decreased.
A spellcaster can end any spell he cast before the duration ends, if he is within line of sight of the target, by concentrating for 1 round.
A spellcaster can choose to affect fewer targets, or to use less power, than the spell's full potential. This does not change the mana cost.
Magic sense is the ability to perceive magical energy in an object, person, or area. Usually this perception manifests through vision, causing each path of magic to appear as a glowing aura in a specific range of colors. More powerful magic appears to glow brighter. Those gifted with minor magic sense can only see this aura when they touch something imbued with magic. Those with lesser and greater magic sense can detect magical energy at a distance. Greater magic sense is required to perceive magic on a living being. This type of detection is more difficult because living beings possess their own store of unbiased mana, which must be distinguished from spell effects.
There are five types of magic - Direct, indirect, pending, suspended, and concealed.
Direct magic has been cast by a person and is currently affecting the target. It can be detected by magic sense, however there is a -2 PER penalty with physical, -4 PER penalty with mental, and -6 PER penalty with spirit magic on a living target.
Indirect magic has been cast by an artificed item. It is always visible to magic sense.
Pending magic has been cast but has not been triggered or started to affect the target. Magic sense can detect a pending spell at a -5 PER penalty.
Suspended magic is still active but the effects have been put on hold. It can be detected according to its source, direct or indirect, with a -1 PER penalty.
Concealed magic is limited to a few spells that obfuscate a target, and can be direct or indirect in origin. They can only be sensed by touch. These spells are Alter Visage (Red), Arcane Shield (White), Conjunction (White), Cryptic Script (Purple), Dweomer (White), Glamour (Magenta), Illusory Guise (Teal), Insight (Magenta), Kin spells (Orange), Obfuscate (Cyan), Phantasm (Teal), Subterfuge (Blue).
Instant spells can only be seen the moment they are cast, unless the White magic spell Descry is used.
Some spells can be resisted by a target, even if he doesn't know that magic is being cast upon him. The target rolls a check against the attribute listed in the spell's description. If he succeeds, the spell fails to take effect. A willing target can choose not to resist.
A spellcaster can make it more difficult for the target to resist the spell by spending extra mana. Every 5 extra points of mana spent gives a -1 penalty to the resist roll.
If the spellcaster fails his casting roll, there is no need for the target to attempt to resist. The target won't even be aware that a spell was attempted on him, unless he sees the spellcaster actually gesturing or chanting in his direction.
If the target succeeds on a resistance roll, there is a slight chance he will realize that a spell was cast on him. He can roll Per to notice that he shook off a magical effect, if it attempted to cause a noticeable change. For example, the target may notice if he resists being transformed by a Red (physical) spell. On a critical resistance success, the target knows that something strange was happening to him, but he may not know specifically what he resisted or who made the attempt.
When a spell is cast on a target more than once, with overlapping durations, it does not have a cumulative effect - only the greater effect applies. For example, if two spellcasters cast Swiftness on the same horse, one increasing its movement by 100% and the other increasing its movement by 150%, the horse only moves 150% faster. However, the second spellcaster can choose to cast his spell so that it activates when the first spell expires. In this case, the horse would move 100% faster for half an hour (the default duration), and then 150% faster for the next half an hour.
Instant spells do have a cumulative effect. For example, if two spellcasters cast Recuperate on a friend, one healing 2 damage and the other healing 3 damage, their friend heals 5 damage.
If a spell fails to take effect, due to a failed casting roll or target resistance, the spellcaster will have an increasingly difficult time trying to use the same spell on the same target. Each subsequent casting is at a cumulative -1 penalty. This penalty expires one hour after the last failed attempt, or after the spell is successfully cast, whichever comes first.
Most spells can be cast in more than one way, giving it a variety of effects. For example, Endure can increase or decrease the target's Damage Resistance. Each spell variation will be listed separately in the spell's description, prefixed with an asterisk (*). Only one variation may be used each time the spell is cast.
Spells which affect attributes cannot reduce them below 1, or raise them more than two points above the maximum for the target's race. For humans, the normal maximum is 18.
Every time a spell is cast, the spellcaster adds a resonance to the mana flowing through him, changing it into the appropriate type magical energy for that path. Certain spells require particularly complex resonances. They leave a lingering bias on the spellcaster's own mana, making it impossible to cast that particular spell until the bias has worn off. It can take anywhere from an hour to a year for the bias to fade completely. If a spell requires this type of complex resonance, it is mentioned in its description.
Several spellcasters can work together to increase their magical power. All of them must know the spell to be cast. One spellcaster acts as the focus for all of the magical energy that will be combined into a single spell. The other spellcasters act as assistants.
The participants cast the spell with double the normal casting time and full concentration. (This does not confer a casting roll bonus.) If the focus fails his casting roll, the entire cooperative casting fails.
Every assistant casts the spell with a difficulty modifier of -2. If any assistant rolls a critical failure, the entire cooperative casting fails. If an assistant fails the roll, he does not affect the group effort. Each assistant who succeeds at casting gives the focus a bonus to his casting roll equal to the number of successes. On a critical success, an assistant spends only half the normal mana required to cast the spell.
Transformations to or from one's true form take 1 round. While shapeshifting, the spell's target is only peripherally aware of his environment. He cannot move, dodge, see clearly, or understand spoken words.
The target of the shapeshifting spell becomes a healthy member of the animal species he has become. His physical attributes rearrange to match the animal's physical attribute ratios. For example, a target turning into a domestic cat may have his ST decreased by 3 and his DX increased by 2. The total point value of attributes in animal form will not exceed the value in human form, unless the Life Force spell is used. If the target has higher attributes than is typical for that animal, he shapeshifts into the largest natural size for the species. The total number of points in physical attributes can exceed the maximum normally possible for that species by 1 per casting success.
The shapeshifter's encumbrance capacity will most likely be affected by his new form. His innate PD and DR also change to match his new form. His mundane senses will improve or decrease, based on the animal's traits. The ability to sense magic or spirits is unaffected.
The spellcaster can choose the particular appearance traits of the animal if he is very familiar with the species or has seen an animal with those traits before. Otherwise, the target looks like a generic member of the species. For example, a spellcaster who has spent little time with horses can shapeshift into a brown Quarter Horse. One with more experience can shapeshift his target into a brown, black, bay, chestnut, roan, white, or gray Quarter Horse with socks and a blaze. With considerable experience, he can transform them into a Paint, Arabian, Clydesdale, Draught, Morgan, Palomino, Appaloosa, Thoroughbred, Mustang, Andalusian, Percheron, Shetland or Highland pony.
Up to 5 pounds of non-magical items shift with the target, disappearing when he takes his new form and reappearing when he returns to his true form. Magical items and excess mundane items simply fall to the ground beside him. The weight limit can be increased by 10 pounds for every 1 extra mana spent during casting. Magical items can also shift with the target at an additional mana cost of 2 each.
Shapeshifting does not grant skills. For example, a target turning into a bird for the first time would need to learn how to fly. Abilities which an animal is able to use at birth or through instinct work normally. For example, the target could walk, eat, sing, and manipulate all of his feathers.
If a spellcaster critically fails a shapeshifting casting roll, his target may go into shapeshifting shock. The target must roll HT. On a critical failure, he falls unconscious and takes 1 hit point of damage. On a failure, he is knocked unconscious. On a success, he is stunned for one round. On a critical success, he suffers no adverse affects. Regardless of the results of HT roll, that spell cannot be attempted on the target for 1 hour.
The number of casting successes on a shapeshifting roll determines how long a target can remain in an alternate form without changes to his psyche. At the end of every 2 +1/s hours, the target loses 1 IQ, until it matches the maximum IQ for the animal.
A shapeshifter can choose to return to his true form at any time, ending the spell. However, an unwilling target still spends two rounds struggling with the change.
It is more difficult to suspend or dispel a magical effect enchanted into an item. All enchantments on an item are permanently lost if it is significantly damaged. Adventurers generally use high quality items while in the field, as they are less likely to break during use. Most enchanted items are Fine quality or better. Weapon and armor tends to be Very Fine quality. Read more about creating magical items.
Limitations of Magic
Magic has an endless number of potential uses in a fantasy society. However, there are a number of practical, social and legal limitations that prevent it from being used in every day situations. A spellcaster who abuses his magical abilities or ignores social protocols can quickly find himself in jail, targeted for assassination by a merchant lord, or worse.
Legal limitations are the most obvious and widely known. It is illegal to use harmful magic against someone, just as it would be illegal to harm them without magic. Transforming, spying upon, mentally influencing, or defrauding someone through magic is also illegal. The penalties for magical crimes are generally higher, since the temptation to use anonymous magic is great.
Practical limitations to magic are known to spellcasters with any degree of thaumaturgical training. For example, using magic to physically alter or heal an individual prevents their body from developing strength, endurance, and resistance to illness on its own. Mind magic could aid a magister by revealing whether or not a witness was intentionally lying, but it could not reveal errors in judgment or memory. Kinetic magic could create buildings of amazing height and beauty, but mundane civil engineers would not be able to maintain them.
The social limitations of magic are the most difficult to predict and often change from year to year. The creation and repair of goods has a direct impact on trade, affecting the income of craftsmen. Kinetic magic used for construction takes jobs away from laborers. Teleportation impacts the business of merchants, caravan guards, horse breeders, teamsters, and many others. Fertility magic can hurt farmers by driving down the price of food. The heavy use of healing magic can not only lead to rapid overpopulation, but also result in a dangerous tendency to take unnecessary risks or engage in needless conflict. Spells of longevity are usually the most controversial, especially when longer life is more freely available to the nobility.