02. The Runelands
Artifice • Divinity • Elementalism • Sorcery • Relativistics
Permissions: One aspect reflecting that you’ve been trained in a field of magical study.
Costs: Stunts, Skill ranks (specifically those invested in the skills related to a School's curriculum).
Benefits: All Runelands characters gain a third stress track at character generation. Called Magic, it is the equal to the most robust stress track a character possesses when this extra is taken. People who are trained in magic are able to use their knowledge to perform supernatural effects by employing esoteric principles to their skills.
We can get as esoteric about how things work on a metaphysical level as we go along with the story, but for now I'm going to stick to bare rules without a lot of filigree.
The core skills for magic are Deduce, Education, and Resolve. Deduce represents one's ability to investigate and research arcane secrets, Education represents one's overall body of knowledge, and Resolve indicates a character's mental fortitude and force of will, all useful skills when altering reality. Some expanded uses for these are detailed below.
Overcome an Obstacle
Use Deduce to learn about unfamiliar magic. Use Education to prepare and perform magical rituals successfully, or to answer questions about arcane phenomena related to their particular field of study.
Create an Advantage:
Use magic-related skills to alter the environment with magic or place magical, mental, or physical impediments on a target, such as Slowed Movement or A Foggy Head. Draw an external reserve of magical power to use in spellcraft.
Use magic-related skills to directly harm someone with magic, whether through conjuring of elements or mental assault. Targets can defend against this with Vim or Resolve depending on the nature of the attack, or Education if the target also has magical training.
Forewarned is forearmed. Use Deduce, Education, or Resolve to prepare defenses against hostile magics or other supernatural effects, as applicable.
I've divided the practice of magic into five very broad Schools, represented mechanically by Stunts. As Magic requires the permission of an appropriate Aspect, each of these Schools are likewise restricted; you can't just pick them thither and yon, because I'm seriously not about min-maxing. You can have as many of these as make sense within the story. Cost-wise, they're Stunts, and after you've spent your initial three, they each cost a point of Refresh.
Artifice: (Craft, Standing)
It is perhaps easiest to describe the School of as a 'bag of tricks' style of magic, as it concerns itself with creating concrete magical effects. Whether they're devices cobbled together on the spot or creations of magic pulled out of a hat, Wondersmiths do exactly what their name suggests. Often, these creations possess a lasting material presence, so Artifice adds Craft and Standing to its core magic skillset; when you're able to build saleable magic items.. to say nothing of the ability to turn lead into gold.. money follows.
Since the Dawn War, the relationship between Divinity and Mortality has been a symbiotic one; in return for responsible stewardship, gods gain power from the prayers of their flock. Once-mighty deities have found reversal of fortune which has left them obscured in history by denying this truth, and comparatively minor gods have risen to great prominence and lasting authority by embracing it. Their disciples find their fortunes rise and fall with their patron's, and while this may not engender faith it certainly does inspire devotion. And devotion earns powerful rewards.
Elementalism: (Combat, Marksman)
Papa got a brand-new Six Demon Bag. Wind, Fire, Earth… that sort of thing.
Sorcery: (Bearing, Vigour)
Magic which affects body and mind; this school covers illusion, charm, polymorph and necromancy.
Relativistics: (Travel, Discern)
Wibbly-wobbly, Timey-Wimey Stuff like whoa.
Magicians gain an attribute called Pool, which represents the amount of magical power they have on hand to produce their magical effects. There are two types of Pool, personal and peripheral. Personal pool is stored in a caster's person; it is a part of them, and does not diminish with attrition. Peripheral pool is stored externally, either released from a talisman or summoned in the moment, and only lasts a single scene. The maximum number of points in either of these Pools may not exceed the higher of a character's Resolve (for Peripheral Pool) or Vigour rating (for Personal Pool.)
Pools do not regenerate on their own. To replenish depleted Pool, a magician must perform a channeling ritual using Resolve for the roll, against a difficulty appropriate to the surrounding magical field. The details of this ritual are left to the player, but the mechanical bits go like this:
Create an Advantage: Pool
The difficulty for channeling power in this way is Mediocre (+0), yielding a number of MP equal to the result of the die roll. MP in excess of a magician's personal pool are hung in the ether around her, to be drawn upon as needed. When channeling mana into one's pools, the personal rating is refreshed first, followed by the peripheral. This takes a whole action, during which a character cannot take any other action beyond concentration. When power is spent, it comes first from the peripheral pool, then the personal. Any unspent power in a character's peripheral pool fades at the end of the scene.
Other Sources of Power
Items of Power can contain a small amount of mana, but must be kept on hand and used in conjunction with spellcasting. The vast majority of these are expendable trinkets or components, which provide their charge and then are useless. For more on this, see the Artifice School description. As usual, pairing these with an Aspect makes it more robust; My Grandfather's Pocketwatch is more interesting and story-relevant than a 2-point Magic Battery Talisman.
Places of Power, such as manses and sacred groves, grant mana to those who are attuned to them according to the specific rules of the place. Most often, they grant a single MP at a certain point of the day, which may be used to refill personal Pools or recharge Items of Power. Once the character has attuned to a location, the benefit remains in effect indefinitely, though many locations grant extra benefits if the character is actually present, most often with accelerated mana gain. However, certain places of power have unique benefits (such as granting extra MP, allowing the mage to keep a reservoir of 3MP, or allowing the attuned mage to breath underwater) or limitations (MP only usable for fire magic, all MP lost if you kill a seagull, etc.).
However, getting and keeping attunement is rather tricky. Places of power are hotly sought after by magi and other magical beings, so there is usually a current owner with a vested interest in the place, especially since most places of power have a limit on the number of people who can attune to it. But even without worrying about such guardians, it is not always obvious how to attune to a particular place, so knowledge and research may be required. Moreover, you can lose your attunement if you are forced out by another attuned individual of greater standing, at the consensus of the other members, or if the bond is directly attacked by one seeking to claim your power. As such, places of power are greatly valued by magicians, but are also drivers of much magical politicking and bargaining. Magi have been known to kill for membership in a particularly powerful College.
[[Divinity | Higher Powers]] offer many of the benefits and qualifiers of places of power, but they skip the middleman. The magician cuts a deal with a being of power, agrees to abide by its rules, and gets a certain amount of power—and possibly other benefits—in return for the being getting constant insight into that power’s use, and allowing the being a constant connection to the mage—a connection that may well see use in further bargaining.
The exact nature of beings of power can vary—gods, spirits, totem beasts, fae lords, axiomatic universal constructs, or nearly anything else might offer power. The trick with such beings is figuring out how to get in touch with them. For some, it’s easy, but for others, it may involve uncovering some deep secrets.
There is nothing that keeps a magi from forming pacts with multiple beings, at least until those pacts come into conflict with one another. At that point, the player may discover that breaking these pacts also has a price. Check that link for more details.
Magic Stress measures a character's capacity for magical energies, whether wielded or experienced. It is equal to the greater of the character's physical or mental stress track. It has the following uses.
- When a character taps his personal Pool or creates a peripheral Pool, take magic stress. This represents the strain of channeling eldritch energies through one's mind, body and soul.. it's tiring.
- A character may carry a number of existing enchantments equal to the total shift value of their magic stress track in points. This includes magical artifacts, blessings, and other ongoing works of magic.
Here's where things get a little bit grey. Summoning is a discipline involving the Magic skillset in the creation or summoning of Minions to aid a magician in their day-to-day tasks.
Whether you're building minions out of scratch or calling them across a great distance, Summoning is a slow practice which demands a fair deal of effort. Whether it's the creation of a summoning circle and the use of appropriate sacrifices, long hours of construction or endless training sessions, it takes effort to gain the service of one of these creatures. The character’s Resolve rating is also the limit on the number of Minions that he may have bound at any one time. Their combined difficulties cannot exceed his Resolve score, so a Great (+4) could control four Wisps, or one Wisp and one Servitor, or some other combination totaling up to four. It is common—if noisy—for a summoner to have multiple minions summoned at a time.
Overcome an Obstacle:
Resolve can be used to renew the bond of an already-summoned minon without the time and effort spent on the initial summoning. This simply requires an overcome roll against the rating of the creature—see the minion summary table. A Summoner can also dismiss a bound elemental at will, so long as it is within his presence.
- Fail: The creature is immediately released, and it will flee or fight, depending on the situation and how it has been treated.
- Tie: The bond is not renewed, and will expire normally.
- Success: Renew the bond for a week.
- Success With Style: Renew the bond for a month.
Create an Advantage:
Summoning a minion is a specific sort of advantage creation. Doing so requires a summoning circle and an amount and type of sacrifice based on the being to be summoned. For a Companion, a handful of interesting material will suffice, but an Attendant will be much more demanding.
Roll against a difficulty based on the type of creature being summoned—see here.
- Fail: The creature is summoned, but immediately breaks free. Companions and Drudges tend to run for it—causing problems elsewhere—while Servitors and Attendants may turn on the Summoner if they sense an opportunity.
- Tie: The minion appears, but will only perform a single service taking less than a night.
- Success: The minion appears and is bound to your service for a week.
- Success With Style: the minion appears and is bound for a month.