Exotic Magic Systems

   Word Magic is purchased as Spellcasting and includes Egyptian Heka Magic, Cabalistic Magic, and quite a lot of Folk Magic. While it uses the standard spell slots, spell level limitations, and spell casting times, it employs five special skills – Creation (associated with Air), Preservation (Earth), Transformation (Fire), Destruction (Water), and Divination (Void) – rather than specific spells. Practitioners normally have access to the first four skills, but access to the Divination skill is a rare gift, and must be purchased as access to an exotic field of magic.

  • Word Mages may weave spontaneous skills of up to level (Skill/2, rounded down), as long as that is equal to or less than their Spellcasting Level. To do so successfully requires a casting check using the relevant magical attribute and skill against a difficulty of (Step Size) x (Spell Level +2). The level of any given spell effect is assigned by the game master.
  • Sadly, a spell which fails by more than two steps can go drastically wrong at the option of the GM. Characters using charms crafted to produce specific effects (as per making Scrolls) get a bonus step when invoking those effects.
  • Word Magi may select one skill with which spells are treated as being one level lower than usual, but must select a second in which they are treated as being one level higher than usual if they choose to do so.
  • Characters who begin as Word Magi gain Skill 2 in two fields and Skill 1 in each of the others
  • Characters using Word Magic, whether directly or through devices, may opt to bind and command Spirits, rather than casting spells directly. While this bypasses the usual spell level limitations derived from the character’s (skill/2) and spellcasting ranks, or from an items level (trivial/minor/major), the casting roll is still required to properly direct the spirit – and if it fails at all the spell will go drastically wrong. If it fails by 11 or more, the spirit is freed, and may do as it pleases. If you’re going to try and command spirits, it is best to treat them with great courtesy, to do favors for them, and to never call on them unnecessarily. The choice between binding spirits and casting spells directly is permanent once made, although characters may opt to learn acquire the second method as a secondary technique as usual.

   Mantra or Invocation Magic is purchased as Spellcasting and includes classical Ceremonial Magic (where effects are prepared in advance and bound until needed), “Vancian Magic” (as featured in older editions of Dungeons and Dragons and the writings of Jack Vance), the magic of Amber, and – to some extent – the classical “Mantras” of India.

  • The usual spell slots, level limitations, and casting rolls used in standard Spellcasting apply, but the casting check is two steps more difficult and is made in advance.
  • Mantra Magic does not, however, require any special skills or specific spells: the user is free to attempt to produce any effect within his level limitations. However;
  • To cast a spell a Mantra Mage must spend at least half an hour chanting and gathering energy. He or she then makes the casting check to bind that energy into a spell, declaring what any available steps will be used for after the roll. Fortunately, if the practitioner does not like the check result, he or she is free to try again.
  • The spell, whatever it may be, is then “prepared” and occupies two relevant spell slots until released by the utterance of a final word – requiring but a single action regardless of the level of the spell in question.

   Personal Magic includes Inherent Magic, Mana Shaping, and pretty much all other systems of “personal” magic. It’s purchased as Spellcasting, and uses the standard spell slots, spell level limitations, and spell casting times. The Casting Check is based on Spellcasting Rank and on a game-master selected attribute appropriate to the spell list.

  • Personal Magi are unaffected by local magical conditions, and can enhance their spells by investing additional personal energy in them – raising and focusing it through dance, chant, ritual, drumming, and similar practices (granting up to four free steps) – or by simply expending a portion of their own vitality/taking damage (up to four steps worth of wounds for a similar number of free steps on their casting check).
  • Personal Magi must use a limited, themed, list: suitable lists include the Art Magic, Black Magic, Guuzou Kami, Nymic Magic, Negative Chi Magic, and Psychic Power spell lists.
  • Personal Magi must buy their spells as Innate Powers to use them.
  • Personal Magi using charms crafted to enhance specific spells get a free step when casting the matching spell. The difficulty of creating such things is (Step Size) x (Spell Level) x 2.
  • Personal Magi may use any spell slot for any spell. Sadly, using slots which are ill-suited to the spells risks backlash – inflicting one wound on the would-be caster per point by which a nymic mage misses the casting check.
  • Finally, Personal Magi may work some of their spells over arcane links, such as a targets blood, hair, or true name.

   Rune or Totem Magic is purchased as Spellcasting, and uses the standard spell slots, spell level limitations, and casting checks, although the casting time is always a single action. However, a Rune or Totem Mage permanently fills each spell slot that becomes available with a particular Rune – a flexible spell that can be cast at various levels to produce a variety of effects. For example, the Rune of the Salamander could be used to light a campfire or warm a chilled individual at L1, to cast a bolt of flame or illuminate an area at L2, to scorch a modest area or produce a blinding flash of light at L3, to erect a temporary wall of flames or heat weapons and armor to unbearable temperatures at L4, and so on. Unfortunately, this flexibility and ease has it’s price: rune and totem magi cannot power their spells with Void slots or C’hi. If a runemaster has Fire 3, and has taken the Salamander Rune twice and the Hare Gift (a totem of speed and agility) once, he can use the Rune twice and the Gift once before he has to rest or meditate to refresh his magic.

  • Characters who begin as Rune or Totem Magi may use their void slots to learn a secondary field of magic. Characters learning Rune and Totem magic as a secondary field may learn up to (Void) runes, but must devote a void slot exclusively to each rune they learn.
  • Rune and Totem magic may use medicine bundles, carved staves, and other awkward foci to get a free step on the Rune the item was constructed to aid. The difficulty of creating such an item with an appropriate skill is (step size x 6).

   Kabari or Clerical Magic draws on the energies of particular deities or dimensions directly. A kabari mage can draw on the energies of his or her own Realm, as well as the energies of any two “nearby” Realms (IE: the game master may rule that some realms are not available), or on the power of any three locally-active Deities. Sadly, while Realms are somewhat more flexible about what you can do than most Deities, you cannot draw on the energies of a realm while you’re actually in it without an additional special (10 point) Technique.

  • Kabari Magic is purchased as Spellcasting, and uses the standard spell slots, spell level limitations, and casting times. However, the user may opt not to bother with a casting check, instead simply assuming a check of (Spellcasting Level + 1) x (Step Size) plus any Free Steps – a minimal success for their best spell effects.
  • If a Kabari Mage does opt to roll, they use an Attribute relevant to the Realm or Deity in question and their Total (not Spellcasting) level.
  • Kabari mages may produce any effect suited to the nature of the Deity or Realm they channel, but but cannot produce effects of a level higher than (the relevant trait – 2) or other effects at all.
  • If they do opt to “learn” a specific “spell” they receive a free step when using it. If they upgrade it to an “Innate Ability” they receive two. If they create a specific talisman to aid in its use (at a difficulty of creating such things is (Step Size) x (Spell Level) x 2), they gain yet another.
  • Kabari Magi power their spells with whatever slots are appropriate to the effect or with Void slots. Characters learning Kabari magic as a secondary field must power it with Void slots, as usual.
  • Characters who begin as Kabari magi begin with four specific effects on which they get a free step.
  • Kabari Magi tend to find themselves entangled in the affairs of the beings and realms they draw upon. Many or most Spirits employ Kabari magic – although they do get some extra spell slots to use.
  • Additional realms may be added by going to the realm in question, finding a powerful native spirit, killing it, and absorbing its spirit into your own. Aside from the difficulty of such a quest, and the risk of shattering your own spirit, this tends to drive you quite mad.
  • Additional Deities may be added by going to see the deity in question and persuading it to allow you to draw upon its powers. This is also quite awkward.

   Likely realms for Kabari mages to draw on include:

  • Battle Realms are associated with raw physical strength, and provide unsophisticated effects involving raw destruction, violence, and combat enhancements.
  • Chaos Realms are associated with agility and evasiveness, and provide effects which involve luck, entropy, and disruption, ranging from pranks through sabotage and on to major disasters.
  • Dream Realms are associated with alertness and perception, and provide effects involving visions, phantasms, scrying, and illusions.
  • Elysian Realms are associated with charisma, and provide personal augmentations and ability enhancements.
  • Heavens (home to the powers of good and to truly enlightened souls) are associated with the intellect (since only sapient beings can be truly good), provide effects involving light, purity, and healing. Sadly, Heavens are often non-interventionist, and thus “distant”. In many settings this is the ONLY realm normally unavailable to mortal kabari magi.
  • Hells (realms of evil and torment) are associated with the intellect, since only sapient beings can be truly evil, and provide curses, destructive and corrupting magic, and evil information.
  • Limbos (realms of the restless and unappeased dead) are associated with physical endurance, and provide effects which sap vital energies and kill.
  • The Material World (usually the campaign setting) is associated with Positive Chi (unless far gone in decay and generally negative, in which case it is associated with Negative Chi), and provides effects involving growth, life, and the binding or release of spirits and forces.
  • Order Realms are associated with mental endurance and willpower, and provide effects involving structure, patterns, and communicating with, summoning, or asking for the assistance of the dead who are not otherwise destined.
  • Realms of Renewal are associated with mental endurance or willpower, and provides effects involving renewal, survival, and second chances.
  • Wylds (realms of plants, animals, and wilderness) are associated with physical dexterity, and provide effects which manipulate or enhance plants and animals or which grant plant or animal powers to other beings.
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