For today, it’s the next section on the advanced metamagic magic rules for Shadowrun – in this case for Thaumaturgy, the magical skill of channeling the powers of normal and free spirits. As living links between the material world and astral space, Thaumaturgists have some unique talents available to them.
Astral Fold allows the user to create a pocket of astral space which exists only in relationship to him- or her-self and can be used to store physical objects. Such a “pocket” does not encumber the user, can store up to (Magic Rating) kilograms, is only accessible to the user, and can be accessed as a complex action. Upgrades include hiding the existence of the pocket from astral observers, increasing it’s capacity (multiply by 1+[the number of times this option is taken), allowing the pocket to be accessed as a (1) simple action or (2) a free action, allowing the user to make worn articles – clothing, armor, or restraints – appear and disappear, allowing the user to store liquids and gases and keep them separate, allowing the user to shunt bullets (not an easy check) or injected toxins and similar contaminants (automatic) into storage, to keep stored items in time stasis, and allowing the user to cause stored doses of compounds and drugs to reappear within his or her own body.
Arsenal allows the user to store spells, partially bypassing the basic “so-many-times-within-this-time-period” limitations of basic thaumaturgy. Unfortunately, due to the amount of sheer, raw, power which backs up most thaumaturgic spells, each level of Arsenal will only allow the user to store one major or two minor spells. Almost as importantly, the power-aura of such a concentration of magic is virtually unconcealable; each level of the Arsenal metamagic that a character is currently using effectively cancels out one level of Masking – at least as far as attempting to appear as anything but a major magical entity goes.
Devotion allows a thaumaturgist to draw power from abstract concepts, albeit only from major philosophical and religious views or from universal ideals. Unlike actual spirits, drawing power from such forces does not require karma: instead it requires actual dedication to the ideal or philosophy – usually demonstrated by appropriate actions. Adhering to such requirements will allow the user to draw on a package of effects associated with the ideal in question. Each time Devotion is taken, it applies to a different concept, ideal, or viewpoint.
Drawing Down the Moon allows the user to build up a temporary spell structure and then pour raw power from his or her patrons through it. Unfortunately, the effects of such constructs are limited by the magical skills used to create them, by the fact that such jury-rigged constructs tend to leak random magic in all directions when subjected to such an overload, by a drastic reduction in the effective force due to such power leakage, and by what energies the user’s patrons make available. The user may keep one temporary construct ready per level of Drawing Down the Moon. Other upgrades can reduce the side effects, reduce the time required to create a temporary construct, or provide bonus dice on the necessary skill rolls. In general, creating a temporary structure calls for a specific knowledge in a particular field of magic.
Extension allows the user to spread the effects of his or her granted spells over a much wider area and/or a greater time. Thus, for example, the user could change a mighty fireball into a citywide heatwave (unpleasant, but not damaging), or a rain of sparks that confuses thermographic vision, use it to ignite small fires in a wide radius, or set something on fire for a considerable length of time. Additional improvements can provide finer control, allow the user to combine multiple spells into an effect, or allow effects to be built up over ever-greater stretches of time (potentially incorporating large numbers of spells into a single effect).
Warding Aura infuses whatever the user wears with arcane energy, in an ever-increasing progression. The first level protects your clothing and equipment, rendering it more resistant to destructive forces (thus allowing, for example, the old “indestructible pants” effect). More importantly, the first level protects the user against armor-piercing or armor-ignoring effects; laser, antivehicle, shock, and similar effects do not half the user’s armor and astral attacks do not ignore it (although it still doesn’t work against physicla combat spells). Upgrades include the ability to infuse (1) melee and then (2) ranged weapons with magical energy as well, to cause damaged items to function normally, to enhance the functions of various items (providing a pool of enhancement dice to draw upon), to enhance armor even further, to allow the user to manipulate the environment immediately about himself or herself, or to pass through the earth more readily (by controlling it and moving it out of the way).
Advanced Thaumaturgy Abilities:
Accumulation enhances the link between a thaumaturgist and his or her patrons, allowing them to draw on his or her experiences to gain tiny amounts of karma (trivial to a mortal but – over time – well worthwhile to a free spirit) and gather information, as well as to influence events about their clients. In return, the user can refresh his or her allotment of spells somewhat more quickly. Upgrades apply to particular spirits, and allow the user to build up pools of bonus spells by doing specific favors for that spirit.
Bestowal is essentially the magical version of skillwires, allowing the user to draw on the skills associated with a particular spirit. Unfortunately, this is limited to particular patron spirits and to relatively low skill levels. Additional upgrades can be used to add additional spirts and their associated sets of skills or to upgrade the level of skills which can be accessed form a particular spirit. Perhaps sadly, it is easier to access knowledge skills than it is to access active skills with this ability. On the other hand, powerful spirits often have access to information which can be found nowhere else.
Channeling allows the user to unleash his or her spells through another character to whom he has an astral link. Unfortunately, this tends to disrupt such links, at least temporarily and – for passive links, such as DNA samples – often permanently. Upgrades can allow the user to release additional spells before the link breaks, to release spells through links without the cooperation of the individual on the other end,
Compact is simply a permanent link with a very powerful spirit which grants a permanent spell effect. This may be taken repeatedly to obtain additional spell effects, but works best with protective or relatively passive effects: direct enhancements tend to overstress the user’s body unless he or she is careful not to push his or her limits – which prevents even the most powerful compacter from competing with physical adepts and aces on their own terms.
Consecration allows the user to link items with spirits, although this normally requires the consent of the spirit involved and a fair amount of karma. Upgrades here include reducing the karma cost, allowing the user to attempt to force links upon unwilling spirits, tapping into the power of spirits which you have found a link to, linking with greater and more powerful spirits, and using such items to (1) communicate with and (2) attempt to summon the spirits such items are linked to.
Countermagic simply allows the user to ground out incoming magic. Upgrades include the ability to ground out existing spells, to affect an additional target at the same time, to drain background counts, to create low-magic areas, to injure dual-natured creatures by draining their magic, to drain spirits, to attempt to remove quickened of otherwise permanent magics, and to temporarily return awakened creatures to their base states.
Guardian allows the user to anchor spirits serving a particular patron to the material plane – and normally means that such a patron will assign a spirit or two to take advantage of that ability. In compensation to the user, such spirits will also do him or her an occasional favor. This may be taken repeatedly, to allow the user to serve as a spirit anchor for an ever-larger collection of spirits, but caution is in order: having too many spirits using you as a contact point is a wonderful way to get in ever-increasing amounts of trouble.
Guidance is actually extremely simple: one of your spiritual patrons occasionally offers you hints and clues – as well as occasionally tweaking events (an effect roughly equivalent to spending a karma point or two) to steer things in the direction they want them to go. You can, of course, align yourself with more than one patron; all you need to do is take Guidance again.
Miraculum is fairly straightforward: you can sense what powers your patrons have available, and offer them small amounts of Karma for a single use of whatever power you happen to find convenient at the moment. That isn’t strictly a “miracle”, bit getting just the power you need at a moments notice can be extremely convenient. Further upgrades can (1) allow the user to determine what other pacts his current patrons might be open to without having to research them, (2) determine what pacts a potential patron might make available, and even (3) allow the user to determine what patrons can be reached at particular times and locations.
Prophecy allows the user to sense metaplanar events and disturbances, providing clues as to future events, to upcoming mana disturbances, and to the activities of major spirits and powers. Further upgrades can provide greater range and accuracy, allow the user to analyze spirits on the fly, to monitor the activities of particular groups of major spirits, or to more readily research metamagical techniques.
Resistances provide the user with minor innate powers – such as the ability to ignite flammable objects by touch – or immunity to highly-specific effects, such as particular spells, or “building fires”, or any of a wide variety of other minor abilities. A character can acquire as many resistances or minor powers as he or she cares to pay for. Unlike the Compact metamagic, however, the user may turn these powers on and off.
Spellweaving allows the user to channel aspected background count as if it was a spirit, producing effects appropriate to the aspect. For example, a “sacred place of purity” could be tapped into to purge a poison, to cast out an intruding spirit, or to cure an addiction. Upgrades can be used to set up links to particular places to allow limited use of their powers elsewhere, to upgrade the user’s fine control of the effects he or she produces, or to tap into geomantic effects from afar.