Magic and Mysteries 2

THE CODEX

Magic & Mysteries

SPELLCASTING

Spellcasting is the terrifying technique of exerting supernatural authority – sarrum – over the cosmos to enforce one’s will on reality. The arcane and occluded arts are rightly feared. Even the wisest and most powerful of wizards fear using magic lightly or in public.


SPELLS

Spell is the generic term for all types of active magical workings. Spells are divided into three types, which determine the base Sorcery Pool available for them, their base casting time, and the number of Vagaries that can be incorporated in them:

Cantrips (Gir): A hasty impromptu spell of minimal elegance. Only a single vagary can be used in cantrips.

Castings (Ukti): Complex and controlled spells. This type is for spells using 2 or 3 vagaries.

Rituals (Gīta): Extended, hugely complex, and powerful workings. A caster may incorporate any number of vagaries into a ritual.

Spell Type Base Sorcery Pool Normal Casting Time Maximum Vagaries
Cantrips (Gir) KA + SGT (CTN) seconds 1
Castings (Ukti) KA + SGT + ART (CTN x 10) seconds 3
Rituals (Gīta) KA + SGT + ART + VIM (CTN x 10) minutes All

ALTERNATIVE SPELL TYPES

There are two additional types of spells that some sarrumiza have at their disposal.

Dormant spells are placed within an object or living being.
  • Successes are stored as dice within the item
  • When released by the caster or by a trigger, roll that number of dice against the original CTN and the spell is released immediately.
  • Objects are aged CTN months or outright damaged; beings are aged CTN months if they have no VIM attribute
  • Sarrumiza can have up to their ART attribute in spells stored in this way at one time.
Formalized spells are perfected through practice and rote memorization.
  • Formalizing a spell requires an extended test of ART/Occult with each roll representing a day dedicated to research and testing.
    • A caster needs as many successes as the CTN of the spell.
    • For difficult spells or when time is of the essence, casters may be required to face a APT/Language:Grimoric challenge to transcribe the spell successfully. Using a language other than Grimoric significantly increases the difficulty of the challenge.
  • Formalization is the only option that reduces the base CTN of spells, and thus reduces the casting time as well as the difficulty.
    • A rigid formula includes exactly which material elements must be used and reduces the CTN by 2.
    • An open formula does not formalize which material elements need to be used and reduces the CTN by 1.
  • A formalized spell is inflexible and can only be cast exactly the way it was formalized. Its definitions cannot be changed during casting.
  • It is dangerous to use fastcasting and formalization together. A failed or botched roll in this way causes twice as much Strain.
Sustained spell. When by sheer will a sarrumiza maintains the effect of his spell, he is sustaining it. All other spells can be described as self-sustaining and do not have the following characteristics:
  • Sustained spells are powered from the Sorcery Pool. Dice spent in the casting roll are not recovered until the spell is released
  • The caster must remain in Range in order to sustain the spell
  • Sustaining a spell does not require much conscious effort or concentration, but the storyteller may require a roll of WP/CTN during especially stressful situations
  • Sustained spells remain in effect until they are dispelled, intentionally released, or when the caster loses consciousness.
Permanent spells require that the sarrumiza infuse the spell with part of his life force in order to sustain it.
  • The caster immediately ages one month per CTN of the spell made permanent, above and beyond whatever aging the strain of the spell may cause. Apotheosis does not prevent the former.
  • The caster only rolls for knockout once.
  • Permanent spells can still be forcibly dispelled.
  • The caster may choose to add a spellbreaker condition such as the presence of a specific object, person, the use of a word, etc. In this situation it may be appropriate to incorporate a second vagary such as Scry or Attune.

THE CASTING TARGET NUMBER

The difficulty of manifesting a caster’s will on reality is represented by the spell’s Casting Target Number (CTN). The CTN depends on the power and complexity of the spell. The CTN can never be less than 3. The CTN can be quickly calculated by the following formula:

CTN = Scope + Mastery

Scope is made up of four parameters: Range, Target, Duration, and Magnitude. Players should use the highest applicable value for each parameter.

Koenrat wants to transport himself (Range 0) to a far off location (Range 3). When calculating the CTN, he goes with the higher value: Range 3.

Mastery is the highest Vagary needed to satisfy all the parameters of the spell. Additionally, the Seanachai may call for +1 CTN for each additional Vagary required. Players may also elect to use up to the full extent of their mastery when useful for spells where mastery determines damage or effectiveness.

Cheiu Koenrat casts a spell with the following Scope: Range 1: Self, Target 1: Simple, Duration 2: Short, and Magnitude 0: Paltry. The Mastery required is 2, the highest of the four. The CTN is 6. If the spell required one other Vagary to function as intended, the CTN would be 7.


SCOPE

Range Target Duration Magnitude
Range measures the level of experience a caster has with his target or area of effect.
  • TN 0: Self or Ambient. True mastery begins with mastery over oneself. TN 0 is also appropriate for spells the have no range (ambient).
  • TN 1: Touch. Under the control of its substance, an entity is susceptible to the sarrum of even an Novice.
  • TN 2: Sight. An Adept may attempt exert sarrum over anything whose essences he perceives.
  • TN 3: Gnosis. A true Master may transcendentally affect or control what he is aware of. Affecting a phenomenon whose essences he does not presently perceive takes much more effort. Pay the following activation cost for any spell which a Range value of 3.
    • 0 True Gnosis: The caster knows the true name of the target
    • -1d Intimate: The caster is intimately familiar with the target or possess some vital part of his physical substance, such as blood or bone.
    • -2d Known: The caster knows the target’s name and has experienced it on several occasions, or he has some important element associated with the target, such as clothing or hair.
    • -3d Encountered: The caster has experienced the target. He may not know its name, but the caster has a description or reasonable facsimile, such as a portrait or statue.

Cheiu Koenrat is called on to scry the location of a minor lord’s missing son, Pelmon. Koenrat’s player searches through the lordling’s room and finds one of Pelmon’s favorite handkerchiefs. The storyteller declares that this will allow Koenrat to cast his scry spell with Range 3/Gnosis: Known, suffering only a -2 cost. Since there is no hurry, Koenrat decides to use a Ritual to cast this spell, drawing on his full magical resources. He pays the 2 dice before attempting the spell.

A bodha vagary may be required to target something which would be within plain sight but is hidden or obscured. As usual incorporating an additional vagary increases the TN by 1 and prevents the spell from being cast as a cantrip.

Yan, an Adept in the mental vagaries, lost the assassin he had been chasing in the marketplace. He’s pretty certain that the man is nearby, hidden behind the crowds and merchants’ carts. If he were a master in Dominate, he could will for the man to come out. Since he does not have Dominate 3, he is limited to a range of Sight. He uses a casting to incorporate Dominate 2 with Scry, allowing him to momentarily See his nearby target.


Target describes the most complicated nature of the force or entity a caster may exert sarrum over.
  • TN 0: Self. An Initiate has learned to know, alter, and control his own essences.
  • TN 1: Simple. An Apprentice has gained sarrum over the simplest of essences or forces in the respective realm—shapes and substances, objects of simple weights, entity’s perceptions, minor spirits, and the sarrum of simple magic.
  • TN 2: Complex. An Adept wields power over complex entities and forces, living beings, heavy or complicated objects, thoughts and emotions, powerful spirits, and the sarrum of complex magic.
  • TN 3: Intricate. A Master of the arts exerts command over even the most intricate of forces and entities, enormously heavy or complex objects, memory and personality, greater spirits, and the sarrum of intricate magic.

Koenrat’s retreat is impeded by a torch and sword-wielding soldier. Koenrat wants to Wield the fire from that torch, turning it against the soldier. This is a Simple target. If Koenrat had decided to be more subtle and cause the soldier to see the fire jump from the torch, that would also be a Simple target since he would be affecting the soldier’s perception. With a Complex target TN, Koenrat could attempt to overcome the soldier’s emotions, causing him to be momentarily terrified of fire.


Duration refers to the resistance a caster’s spell has to the power of the Great Chain to revert back to its natural order. Duration decides how the potency of a spell may be measured – a single success for a Brief spell may only last for a few minutes, while two successes may last up to ten minutes.
  • TN 0: Instant. An Initiate may only bring an effect to pass for a sudden manifestation. This may suffice for some spells, but for others it may prove disastrous.
  • TN 1: Brief. An Apprentice’s spells are brief, lasting only minutes unless sustained.
  • TN 2: Short. An Adept’s influence may last for a short time, lasting hours at most.
  • TN 3: Long. Master’s spells are known to last for days. Long spells can also be made permanent.

Koenrat wants to heal his friend Gesalt. He knows that to sew his fallen ally’s flesh together instantly may kill Gesalt from the sudden pain or drive him mad from the shock. Therefore, the old Cheiu attempts to slow the effect of his magic, spreading it across several minutes to lessen the trauma of skin and sinew knitting itself together.


Magnitude refers to the level at which a spell’s potency is experienced.
  • TN 0: Paltry. The Initiate’s spell can only encompass a single target or small area.
  • TN 1: Small. A Novice can use his power to sway a small group of targets across several yards. If a span of time is the target of the spell, it is Brief.
  • TN 2: Large. An Adept has learned to control large groups and his magic can span across miles. If a span of time is the target of the spell, it is Short.
  • TN 3: Extreme. A true Master can unleash his sarrum to encompass an entire village or army, and his strength can be felt over leagues. If a span of time is the target of the spell, it is Long.

Koenrat and his companions believe they were followed to the tavern. As they sit in the common room, they cannot be sure who might be their enemy. The aged sorcerer decides to put all the patrons to sleep for a few minutes while they escape. Koenrat is a Master of the Dominate vagary. The CTN of this spell is determined to be 8 (Range 2: Sight, Target 2: Complex, Duration 1: Brief, Magnitude 1: Small group; Mastery 2).

Koenrat earns 4 successes. The storyteller rolls resistance for the group, averaging it all out and remembering that most of the patrons are weak-willed drunk farmers, and announces that the Cheiu’s margin of success is 2. The tavern patrons fall forward in their chairs and into their plates and mugs. Koenrat knows they will be asleep for around ten minutes.

  • If a spell’s potency is a matter of time – such as a divination spell or memory warp – Magnitude has the following values.
    • TN 1: Brief. The potency of the spell can be measured in minutes.
    • TN 2: Short. The potency of the spell can be measured in hours.
    • TN 3: Long. The potency of the spell can be measured in days.

When the princess he was protecting turns up missing in the wild, Master Akern could just use a scrying spell to locate her, but he is upset that someone was able to steal her away. He casts a scrying spell on the campsite in order to learn the events of the recent past.

To look into the past thus the CTN of such a spell is 8 (Range 0: Ambient, Target 3: Intricate/Time, Duration: 0, Magnitude 2: Short; Mastery 3). Akiro’s four successes allows him to perceive the events which occurred in his campsite from several hours prior.


PROCEDURES AND MATERIAL ELEMENTS

A caster can alter the CTN of a spell through procedures and the use of material elements.

  • Procedures include slowcasting, fastcasting, formalizing, and cooperative casting, which works for rituals only.
  • Altering the CTN in this way does not make Mastery 3 spells available to those with only Mastery 2.

Slowcasting is used when the caster proceeds slowly and carefully.

  • It is impossible if the caster is in a hurry or can not concentrate fully on the task at hand.
  • In unfavorable conditions a WP/Arcana challenge may be required.
  • Slowcast reduces the CTN by 1.

Fastcasting allows a caster to act quickly and complete a casting in a shorter time than it would usually take, relying on instinctive control of magical forces.

  • Its main disadvantage is that fastcast cantrips are the only magic quick enough to be used during melee combat.
  • Fastcast spells increase the CTN by 1 and may not incorporate material elements.

In the table below, CTN refers to the original TN of the spell.

Spell Type Slowcast (-1 CTN) Normal Fastcast (+ CTN; No materials)
Cantrip (CTN x 10) seconds (CTN) seconds Instant (1 second)
Casting (CTN) minutes (CTN x 10) seconds (CTN) seconds
Ritual (CTN) hours (CTN x 10) minutes (CTN) minutes

Material elements are external aids that help the caster focus.

  • Every material element grants the caster one additional die.
    • These may be divided any way between the Casting roll and the Strain roll.

Cantrips and Castings may use the following material elements. Each make are obvious signals to onlookers of spellcasting.

  • Incantations – A few words pronounced audibly, usually in Grimoric or another ancient tongue. Casters cannot be gagged or otherwise silenced.
  • Gestures – Strange movements of the hands and arms. Casters cannot be bound or otherwise immobilized.
  • Talisman – A physical object imbued with magical essence and properly prepared for use in castings. Rings, staffs, wands, reagents, and so forth. They must be worn, held, or used by the caster during casting. The spell is disrupted if the talisman is destroyed or knocked out of the caster’s possession during the casting.

Rituals require one or more of the material elements above. The use of incantation, gestures, or talismans during a ritual does not lower the CTN or grant additional dice. Instead, the following material elements are typically used in Rituals and will grant these benefits:

  • Runes and symbols – Glyphs, symbols, and arcane patterns must be drawn on the floor, walls, or target; an ART/Occult: Symbol challenge may be required.
  • Meditation – The caster mediates for (CTN/2) hours beforehand. Unideal environs may require a Occult: Meditation challenge. The time spent in meditation is in addition to the actual casting time.
  • Place of power – The caster casts from a place of sacred or mystic power. The place must be prepared for the ritual through the drawing of runes, casting of a spell, or mystical rites. Finding a place of power or creating one can be both expensive and time-consuming.
  • Time of power – The ritual is cast at the propitious time: dawn, high noon, sunset, midnight, and so forth depending on the nature of the ritual. For examples, healing at dawn, evocation at noon, necromancy at midnight, etc. Holy or seasonal days may also be appropriate.
  • Sacrifice – Taking away the life force of living beings during a ritual casting is all too common. The sacrifice must be properly prepared before such a ritual through a the performing of a sacrificial rite taught in the caster’s tradition. The rite culminates in a SGT challenge.
    • For entities of trisāra, such as rare plants, the TN is (2 x CTN)
    • For entities of pansāra, such as animals, the TN is the CTN of the spell
    • For entities of saptsāra, such as the mortal and seidhe, the TN is half the CTN of the spell.
    • A successful rite results in the victim’s life force dampening the harmful Strain of spellcasting. The MOS of the rite acts as Apotheosis for the ritual.
  • Ceremonial followers – Chanters, petitioners, worshipers, and other people and entities who hold candles, fray themselves or otherwise help to create the desired atmosphere of the ritual.
  • Cooperative Casting – Cooperative casting is generally only used by casters who trust each other.
    • This procedure can only be used in rituals
    • The first two additional caster can add their ART dice to the caster’s pool
    • Every caster after that adds 1 die only
    • The leader makes both the Casting and Strain rolls, and suffers all effects from any incurred Strain.
    • All casters participating can withdraw from the ritual at any time up to its completion, depriving the leader of the SP dice contributed.

THE CASTING ROLL

Two rolls are made to resolve a spell: A casting roll, which determines whether the spell works as intended and a Strain roll to resolve the toll the casting takes on the sarrumiza. To resolve these rolls, the caster divides his current Sorcery Pool between Casting and Strain. The TN for both rolls are the same – that is, the CTN of the spell.

  • He can divide any way he likes, but he must allocate at least one die to the Casting roll.
  • Dice may be added or subtracted from the Casting Roll for modifiers as usual.
  • Every die used on the Casting Roll is temporarily expended and will recover as described in Recovery below.
  • Dice allocated to the Strain Roll remain in the pool and can be used in future rolls.
  • During combat situations, it may also be necessary to allocate or spend dice on tactics or terrain rolls to ensure a spell can be cast before another event or action. Dice used in this way likewise remain in the pool and can be used in future rolls. See Blood & Iron for more information.

POTENCY

The number of successes in the Casting roll determine the potency.

Effectiveness : The Margin of Success is the same as in other tests. See Flesh & Bones: Margin of Success.

Yan, an impatient Cheiu apprentice, has failed to convince a local street urchin into revealing the location of a guild leader. He decides to discreetly cast Dominate on the petty thief. Yan overcomes the urchin by a MOS of 2 – Flawless effort! The storyteller describes the urchin spilling his guts, and he makes it quite obvious that the urchin won’t even remember telling Yan anything. If Yan had beat the urchin by a MOS of 3, the thief may have taken Yan to the guild leader himself!

Spending successes:It may also be useful to give the player the option of interpreting what the number of successes mean based on the Scope of the spell.

While in disguise at a gathering of thieves, Cian needs to prevent one of the characters from recognizing him. Cian casts a Warp spell with Duration 2. When Cian gains a Margin of Success of 3, the Seanachai gives Cian’s player the choice. He can use all 3 successes for an Extraordinary success for lasts for a few hours, or he can use fewer than that for a smaller grade success that lasts longer, effectively spending his successes on a longer Duration. Cian knows that an Extraordinary victory might grant him bonuses in other related tests, but he’s not sure how long it’s going to take to find out what he wants. He decides to put two successes into the overall potency of the spell – a Flawless victory – and spend the other success on the Duration. Since his Duration scope was “Short”, the storyteller decides that the spell will last for several hours.

Strength: Potency can also be used to measure a spell’s strength. The strength of a spell is the level of manifestation it exhibits. The player should multiple the number of successes by the Mastery to determine the real-world attribute replicated by the spell.

Yan’s 3-success Mastery 2 Wield spell to help his friend Marten lift fallen debris off a fallen ally would be considered 6 STR (3×2).

Wounding: Sarrumiza must often use their power to injure their foes. Cruel sorcerers may attempt to harm an enemy directly by targeting one of their temporal or mental essences. Clever spellcasters may also attempt to indirectly wound their enemy by creating harmful obstacles.

  • Directly harmful spells do Basic Damage based on its strength (MOS x Mastery). Living targets are given a chance to Resist.
  • Indirectly harmful spells follow the regular damage tables based on their concept. The wound level is also based on its strength (MOS x Mastery). Living targets may be allowed to use Armor and TO as usual.

Cian is eventually found out by the thieves’ guild he was investigating. He finds himself cornered in an alley by 4 cutthroats. Having sworn to his master to never use his sarrum to kill, he decides to cast a Wield 2 spell and smash his foes against the alley walls. The Scope is Range 2: Sight, Target 2: Complex (Motion), Duration 0: Instant, and Magnitude 1: Small since he’s targeting four foes at once. The Mastery is therefore 2, and the total CTN is 5. The cutthroats are already very close, so he knows he has to fastcast the spell instantly, which raises the CTN to 6.

Cian is using the forces of motion and not targeting his foes’ directly, so the thieves aren’t given a Resistance roll. Afraid for his life, Cian rolls almost all of his Cantrip Sorcery Pool, leaving almost none for the Strain roll. He wins a solid 4 successes. The four thieves are quickly lifted off their feet and with a deafening thud smashed against the wall with an effective strength of 8. Even with with TO 4, each of them takes a Level 4 Bludgeoning wound to their chest.

Cian’s enemies fall unconscious to the ground with several broken ribs and serious internal bleeding. Cian’s leaves quickly, already feeling the strenuous and exhausting effects of the spell.


RESISTANCE

Living beings whose essences are targets of a spell may contest the spell with a resistance roll. The TN of these rolls is the ART attribute of the caster. Sarrumiza also have the option to actively resist by using dice from their sorcery pool. Dice used in this way recover the same as dice spent in spellcasting.

  • Roll HT if the spell would directly injure or alter the target’s physical body or health
  • Roll WP against spells that affect the mind and will of the target
  • It may also be appropriate to roll other attributes depending on the spell of the effect. For example:
    • Roll STR if the spell attempts to magically restrain the target
    • PER or even WIT might be used in certain instances to resist types of illusion magic instead of WP.

THE STRAIN ROLL

The second half of spellcasting is the Strain roll, which is made with the remaining SP dice.

  • Every spell inflicts Strain points equal to its CTN.
  • This can be reduced by levels in apotheosis or by successes on the Strain roll. The Strain roll TN is the CTN of the spell. So a CTN 8 spell inflicts 8 points of Strain unless 8 successes are won on TN8.
  • Strain can not be negative.
  • If there is any Strain left after considering apotheosis and successes from the Strain roll, the casting has inflicted Strain on the sorcerer.
    • A sarrumiza can accumulate Strain equal to his VIM before the magic beings to eat away at his flesh and life force, effectively aging him one month for every Strain point.
    • In addition, the sarrumiza must roll KO. The TN for this roll is 5 + every month aged.
  • Strain accumulates. The VIM limit is not per spell but is subject to a slow recovery as outlined below
  • Mundane mortal do not have a VIM attribute. If they are somehow able to cast a spell either through a artifact, relic, or being able to read Grimoric, the magic instantly overwhelms them, aging them as above and requiring a Knockout roll.

After using several spells to locate his enemy, Yan faces his rival with an accumulated Strain of 4. He decides he better play it safe. His VIM value is only 5. Any more Strain accumulated from spellcasting will result in him prematurely aging and may result in Yan falling unconscious in front of his enemy!


KNOCKOUT

If the caster suffers even one point of Strain, it is necessary to make a Knockout roll to determine if the sudden strain too much for the caster’s mortal mind and body. The TN of the Knockout roll is 5 + the number of Strain points suffered. Failure means the caster loses consciousness for 1d10 measures of time. The measure depends on which kind of spell was cast.

  • Cantrip: Moments
  • Casting: Minutes
  • Ritual: Hours

RECOVERY

A caster has two recoverable resources in spellcasting: his Sorcery Pool and his Strain. Each of these recovers at a different rate. Both may be recovered more quickly through meditation.

Sorcery Pool Recovery

  • Sorcery pool dice allocated on Tactics or Strain refresh immediately on the next round.
  • Sorcery pool dice expended through casting or active resisting of spells recovers automatically at 1 die per hour
  • Dice bound in a sustained spell cannot be recovered
  • The Sorcery pool is always expended and recovered “from the bottom up”, i.e. the base dice from KA and SGT are lost first and recovered first.

Recovery from Strain

Daily Activity Recovery
Resting 1
Light: on-road travel, guard duty, etc 1/2
Strenuous: off-road travel, combat, exhausting work 1/4
New wounds suffered 0

Meditative Recovery: Some traditions have mastered the art of mystical meditation. Some Cheiu academies and palaces have special rooms just for meditation. During this time the sarrumiza becomes almost corpse-like in repose as they align themselves again within the Chain. Meditation requires almost complete silence and a comfortable environment. Anything less than ideal will affect the likelihood of a successful session.

  • Meditative recovery can only be preformed once in a 24 hour period
  • The caster announces before he begins what he is attempting to do
    • Recover his Sorcery Pool by refreshing his mind and spirit and by slowly drawing in sarrum
    • Or recover from Strain by activating his naturally healing
  • After one hour of meditation, the sarrumiza faces a WP/Occult: Meditation challenge.
    • For every extra hour spent in meditation add 1 die to this contest up to a maximum of 3.
    • Meditating in a place of power or during a time of power grants an addition 1 die to this roll if the caster is attempting to recover his SP. Places and times of power grant no bonus to recovering from Strain.
  • If the caster was meditating to speed the recovery of his Sorcery Pool, he regains one SP die for every success on his WP/Occult: Meditation contest up to his maximum amount. As usual SP dice are recovered “from the bottom up”; KA -> SGT -> ART -> VIM. The caster still regains his SP dice as normal during the hours in meditation; i.e. 1 die every hour.
  • If the caster was meditating to recover from Strain, a successful test moves the effective recovery of that day up one row in the Strain Table. For example, a caster who is injured on a day he successfully meditates still can recover a little.

Magic and Mysteries 2

Legacy of Orphans seanpmcochran