Shadowrun Penumbra: Metamagic for Witchcraft

   For the next item in the advanced metamagic series, here’s the list for the Witchcraft skill.

   Covenbond allows Witches who are part of an astral contact group to assist each other: while using the technique places too much stress on the contact to be maintained for long, it can still provide a vital edge. A witch with this technique may add part or all of the number of witches in the group to his or her effective witchcraft skill once per day up to a maximum of (Charisma) extra dice. If he or she adds only a part, he or she can use the remainder later. It a complex action to tap such assistance, however, making such efforts require two actions. Upgrades can increase the number of times per day such assistance can be used, reduce the target numbers for effects created with such assistance, and allow the user to tap into the groups assistance for other magical tasks, such as conjuration – although this is again limited to allies who use the same mode and style. Unfortunately, groups using Covenbond tend to require a good deal of commitment from their members, and may occasionally draw on their members powers at inconvenient moments.

   Hexcraft allows the user to manipulate the forces of fate. Refreshing karma pools is relatively easy, although it becomes rapidly harder as it’s done more often. Draining karma pools is a little trickier, since the effect is actively resisted, but still practical. More advanced applications can temporarily (or permanently with the aid of the possessor) transfer karma, cause unlikely coincidences, or set up effects that will active when triggered by some external event, such as being caught in a major fire (either aiding escape or hindering it, depending on the nature of the prophecy uttered).

   Linguistic Adjustment allows the user to adapt to any language in widespread use or which someone in the immediate vicinity speaks. More advanced versions allow the user to (1) handle written languages similarly, to (2) translate more obscure languages, (3) to translate long-dead human languages, (4) to translate non-human languages, including animal “languages” (although these are usually very limited), visual signals, and body language (allowing some quite reliable lie detection), (5) to translate computer languages, and (6) to translate all forms of codes and encryptions, including computer encryption.

   Psychic Reservoir is essentially identical to the Sorcery Metamagic, although it’s really only useful to those witches who regularly push their powers. As with the sorcerers version, it provides a two-box “stun buffer” that can only be used to absorb damage from drain the first time it’s taken and provides one additional box per additional time it’s taken. Other upgrades can increase the rate at which it recovers above the base of one per hour. Unlike the Sorcerers version, witches cannot learn to use such a reservoir to cast spells under low-magic conditions.

   Psychometry – in an essentially identical form to the Astral Access ability – is also available to Witches, and has advanced forms which allow the user to deduce spell and enchantment formulas from the traces left by the use of spells, to determine the age and provenance of objects by touch, to trace the history of magical effects in a location, to examine what impact magic has had on a target’s consciousness and life, to determine what psychic constructs (including spells) a target has, to recover memories from corpses, to relive echoes of the past, and – at least in legend – to recall specters of the great events of history or to establish links to departed spirits.

   Symbiotic Adjustment allows the user to force normally hostile organisms into symbiotic relationships with his or her body, gaining near-total immunity to their undesirable effects and access to whatever minor enhancements they may provide, such as a greater tolerance for food contaminants, the ability to release controlled doses of various biochemicals, and so on. Unfortunately, major enhancements from such sources require some magical effort to sustain, reducing the users effective magic rating in a fashion similar to bioware. More advanced versions can reduce the “effective” body index rating of such talents, allow the user to infect other people with the hostile organisms he or she carries, and allow the user to adapt to, and secrete, various toxins, chemicals, and drugs.

   Temporality allows the user to warp time. Unfortunately, the base effect only allows the user to alter his or her sense of time – but being able to grab a few moments to think, or look for the source of an attack, is often well worthwhile (even pre-awakening there were reports of people’s sense of time slowing at critical moments). Upgraded versions can allow momentary bursts of incredible speed (the classic “catch the bullet” trick), allow the user to take the occasional extra action – which, oddly enough, works best when the user is heavily outnumbered.

   Warding Aura is identical to the Thaumaturgic ability: it 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 versus 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 Witchcraft Abilities:

   Aura allows the user to enhance or suppress background counts in the immediate area. More advanced options include aspecting background counts, slowly removing or creating permanent background counts, and physically corrupting or cleansing areas.

   Beglamourment allows the user to employ Witchcraft as a complimentary skill to social skills. Upgrades are straightforward, allowing the user to enhance physical skills is fairly easy, but technical, build/repair, and similar skills normally must be taken skill by skill, rather than as a group.

   Brewing simply allows the user to take extra time, and conduct some sort of ritual, to reduce his or her witchcraft target numbers. Upgrades can increase the reduction, reduce the time required, or allow the use of less and less obvious ceremonies.

   Domain simply allows the user to gain bonus dice, and have lower target numbers, within a small or medium-sized area (small offers the best bonuses). Further upgrades can increase these bonuses, expand the size of the domain, or add additional domains. Rumors of less-tangible domains, such as areas of historical study, exist, but have never been confirmed.

   Dowsing allows the user to trace ley lines, locate power nexi, and map out mana surges and storms from afar. Further upgrades allow the user to look for smaller foci – eventually being able to locate individual magical signatures – and to work from further away.

   Guardianship allows the user to disrupt incoming spells and other magical attacks – including spirit powers – in a radius, rather than having to protect individual people. Further upgrades allow the user to leave specific targets unprotected, increase the number of dice available for protection, or can even allow the user to provide a certain level of physical protection as well. Rumors of witches who are able to do things like selectively jam firearms in a radius may be an advanced application of this technique or they may simply be relatively normal – if difficult – telekinetic effects.

   Magebane allows the user to gradually drain both magical energy and their ability to use it from a victim. This is usually temporary, but there are upgrades that allow the user to divert his victims magic to his or her own purposes, or to drain it permanently.

   Mysterium uses the web of astral links – blood, nymic, symbolic, emotional, and ritual – which spreads out around every sapient being in reverse: when a link forms, the discipline automatically reaches across the link to wipe it out. Records are corrupted, memories dim, photographs fade, and cell samples quietly decay into uselessness. Upgrades can allow the user to exempt specific targets, to manipulate his or her reputation and records in other ways, to make himself or herself nearly impossible to find, and to upgrade the basic effect – wiping or manipulating records ever more quickly and throughly.

   Poppetry allows the user to use witchcraft against targets using physical links. Upgrades can allow (1) the ability to use symbolic links, such as images of a target (albeit at a penalty), (2 and 3) the reduction or elimination of that penalty, (4) the ability to use Nymic links at a serious penalty, and (5 and 6) the reduction or elimination of that penalty. Note that, unlike the similar use of links in ritual Sorcery, Poppetry does not require a ritual – although it also does not allow others to participate.

   Spirit Link allows the user to locate a compatible companion. That’s usually a free ally spirit who will be willing to help out the user in exchange for similar aid on occasion, but it is also possible to find boon companions, spirits of other types, friendly and loyal animals (awakened or not), and romantic interests. If you take it more than once, you get another such companion for each time.

   Sustaining simply reduces the witchcraft-style penalties for maintaining magical effects. Further upgrades can allow the user to maintain spells while (1) sleeping, or even while (2) knocked unconscious, or to transfer the effort of maintaining an effect to an allied spirit.

   Wild Magic is simply impersonal witchcraft – using the limited amount of power a witch can channel as a tool to shape the ambient stuff of the Astral Plane. The result is a cross between a spell, a spirit, and a mana storm. It has the general form the witch imposed on it, far more power than the witch could normally handle, and a tendency to run wild and leak random magic in all directions. This greatly reduces the target numbers required for most effects, but isn’t recommended for fine work or healing. If Witchcraft is a scalpel, Wild Magic is a scythe. (The user may reduce the relevant TN by anything up to his or her level of initiation, but must make an Intelligence check at that target number to avoid an uncontrollable disaster. Six or more successes allows full control). Upgrades can provide extra dice on the control check, shield the user against major side effects, allow the user to specify some of the “special effects”, or allow the user to shape the “landscape” of the astral plane in the area.


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