For today, it’s the Advanced Metamagics for Enchantment – yet more things for the various mages in the group to drool over. As usual, the ones that haven’t been mentioned yet are first, advanced applications of the list from the character-creation handout are provided afterwards. Anything with a number in () is part of a sequence that needs to be taken in order.
Compounding allows the user to activate the magical properties of materials. At the basic level this is a slow and careful process, allowing the user to create magical compounds and elixirs from the appropriate materials. At higher levels it can be used to refine alchemical radicals into true elements, to tap into the latent energies of magical materials to enhance other magical operations (although this swiftly exhausts the inherent energies of such materials), and to create elixirs capable of retaining a spell for later use – although, unlike anchoring, such “potions” gradually decay.
Focus Activation allows the user to activate and use foci without having to bond them. Each level provides the user with six “virtual karma points” which can be assigned towards the cost of activating any focus the user touches – instantly.
Focus Tolerance simply allows the user to effectively ignore the Focus Addiction rules; each level of Focus Tolerance increases the user’s effective magic rating by +2 for the purpose of being able to handle foci only; increase the “safety limit” by four and providing two extra dice on the magic check if they still exceed those limits.
Karmic Link allows the user to form an active magical bond with the mystical essence of an item or creature – or even a group or area – with an effect dependent on the nature of the target and the direction of the flow of magic. The process is much like attuning a focus, save for the fact that the item or creature on the other end does NOT need to be magically active. It must, however, have a distinct essence on the metaplanes – something which most higher life forms have automatically, but which inanimate objects, casually-associated groups, and generic areas (even if heavily populated with individual living things) do not normally have, although they may have developed one if they have BOTH an individual name and a notable history.
Finding that essence to bond to can be quite a project, and is even harder if you don’t know its name and history. Fortunately, once the target essence has been located, the user may creating a bond to it for a mere 6 Karma. Since the bond operates through the metaplanes, even characters with metamagics such as Severing cannot easily break (or even detect) such a bond. Unfortunately that means that maintaining such a bond is relatively difficult, limiting characters to one Karmic Link per level of Initiation – and if a link is severed or abandoned, there is no karmic refund. On the other hand, such links are magical links to the user’s own metaplanar essence.
Upgrades include Bonded Enchantment (the user may simply invest karma to create an item, although he or she must always pay the full karma cost instead of being able to apply modifiers), Wyrd (the item gains a point of karma whenever it’s involved in major events – all of which goes towards enchanting it, most often as an Ace Power Focus), reducing the karma cost (to 4/3/2 minimum), increasing the bonuses provided by a particular type of link,
A Karmic Link with mundane personal item (a piece of equipment, personal vehicle, or similar object) provides (the square root of the user’s Level of Initiation) extra dice when the operator is using that item or when the item itself is resisting damage. If a bonded item is damaged, it will repair itself at one box per day. If destroyed, it can be rebuilt or recreated within a month unless someone undertakes an astral quest to destroy it permanently. The astral quest to locate the essence of such an item normally has a rating of 1-4 (+2 if the user does not know the name or history, +4 for both).
A Karmic Link with a focus allows it to remain active (if unable to aid the user; usually only important to weapon foci) at range. More importantly, the focus receives the same bonus to resisting damage and repair / recreation benefits as a mundane item. There are no other benefits: foci are already driven by the user’s magic. The astral quest to locate the essence of a focus has a rating equal to the (focus rating +1) (+2 if the user does not currently have the focus bonded normally, +2 if the focus is unnamed or the name is not known to the operator, +2 if you don’t know the name of whoever had it attuned previously, if anyone).
A Karmic Link with an ally grants that ally +1 to an attribute, +1 to a skill, and +1/1 armor, although – no matter how many people ally with a given target – no single skill, attribute, or armor rating may be increased by more than +3. Presuming that said ally is available and cooperating, the necessary astral quest has a rating of a mere 4. If you want to grant bonuses to someone who isn’t physically available add +4. Add another +4 if they’re not cooperative, +4 more if you don’t know their name, and yet another +4 if you don’t know a fair amount about their history. Trying to enhance “that guy who hates Aztechnology and keeps hitting their systems like he did last week” is going to be murder.
A Karmic Link with an opponent grants the user a -2 on target numbers against that opponent, including on defensive tests against their attacks, and inflicts a +1 penalty on their target numbers against the user. Sadly, the quest here is usually the same as linking with an uncooperative, unavailable, ally (unless you trick said opponent into helping you out). This is usually impractical unless you can find an indirect link.
A Karmic Link with a friendly group grants the user +1 to an attribute, +1 to a skill, and +1/1 armor as long as he or she is working with or for the group. Unfortunately, such bonuses are subject to the same limitations as ally bonuses; no combination will provide more than a +3 total bonus to any single value. The quest has a base rating of 6 unless you’re formally allying with the group, in which case it’s a 4. The modifiers are the same as for creating a link with an ally.
A Karmic Link with an enemy group grants the user a -1 target number modifier against all members of that group, including defensive tests against their attacks. The quest has a base rating of 6 unless you’ve tricked someone from the group into helping you out, in which case it’s a 4. The modifiers are the same as for creating a link with an ally.
A Karmic Link with an area provides benefits as long as the user remains within that area. He or she gains a -2 to all target numbers, +2 to an attribute, and +2 to a skill. In addition, the user gains he spirit powers of Accident, Guard, and Search (with “Essence” replaced by “Initiate Level”) within the area. The quest ratings for areas depend on their size:
Small areas, such as a mansion, laboratory, street full of shops, major ocean vessel, small castle, or patch of woods, usually have quest ratings of 5-8. Modifiers include not spend at least a day attuning yourself to the place before undertaking the astral quest (+4), not knowing the name (+2), not knowing the history (+2), and trying to start the astral quest from some other location (+2).
Intermediate areas, such as cities, groups of mountains, medium-sized forests, and similar areas have a base quest rating of 9-12. Modifiers include not spending at least a month attuning yourself to the area (+8), not spending at least a day attuning yourself to the area (+4), not knowing the name (+3), not knowing the history (+3), and starting the astral quest from some other location (+3).
Large areas, such as large countries and subcontinents, have a base quest rating of 13-24. Modifiers include not spending at least a year attuning yourself to the area (+12), not spending at least a month attuning yourself to the area (+8), not spending at least a day attuning yourself to the area (+4), not knowing the name (+4), not knowing the history (+4), and starting the astral quest from some other location (+4).
Grandiose areas, such as continents, have a base quest rating of 30. Modifiers include not spending at least ten years attuning yourself to the area (+20), not spending at least a year attuning yourself to the areas (+12), not spending at least a month attuning yourself to the area (+8), not spending at least a day attuning yourself to the area (+4), not knowing the name (+6), not knowing the history (+6), and starting the astral quest from some other location (+6).
Alternatively, the magician can attempt to find an object which already represents the core of the essence of the creature, group, or area he or she seeks to create a Karmic Link with. That could be the foundation stone of a building, the architects initial design sketches, the blade on which every member of an organization swears their oath of loyalty, the eldest tree in a forest, the shovel that was used to break the ground for the street, the founding document of a nation, or whatever. While such objects can be extraordinarily hard to find, such an endeavor is rarely as impossible as an astral quest rated at 30+.
Once you have obtained such a thing, the astral quest to locate the essence you seek normally has a rating of a mere 1-4 (+2 if the user does not know the name or history of the item, +4 for both). Alternatively, magicians without Astral Access can try to use the item itself as an indirect link, making a (Magic)10 test with a base time of one week. If successful, the magician can set up his link. Of course, if you don’t have astral access, why are you playing around with Karmic Linking?
Karmic Transfer allows the user to transfer good karma between voluntary sources without the need for complex spells and rituals. Upgrades include the ability to transfer karma pool as well as good karma, to transfer karma from involuntary sources (although this always results in problems for the recepient, ranging from karmic backfires on through raving madness), the ability to temporarily drain or enhance karma pools, and the ability to transfer karma to spirits at improved ratios (sadly, it appears to be impossible to extract Karma from spirits again, no matter what).
Radiance allows the user to tap into physical energy sources to fuel magic. The basic version allows the user to tap major sources of a particular form of energy to reduce the drain of relevant spells (most commonly electrical sources used to reduce the drain of casting elemental lighting spells and such). Upgrades can allow the user to tap into additional energy sources, to tap more diffuse sources, to use the energy to upgrade the force of relevant spells, to handle more physical energy without damaging themselves, to use the energy to upgrade the area of effect of spells with areas of effect, and to use physical power sources to maintain magical effects.
Recycling allows the user to extract the karma invested in foci for his or her own magical purposes. Perhaps fortunately, upgrades are required to extract the karma invested in wards, allied spirits, and other constructs that are capable of active resistance. The base rate of return is a mere 50% of the originally invested karma – and even that is pro-rated depending on the remaining duration for recycling from sources with limited durations. Fortunately, that can be improved as well, to 75% for one upgrade and 90% (the maximum) for two.
Swift Enchantment allows the user to complete alchemical and other enchanting operations in one-quarter of the usual time. Additional upgrades can reduce this to one-eighth, one-tenth, one-eleventh, and one-twelfth the base time, but that appears to be the limit for time reduction. Once that limit has been achieved, however, the user may upgrade again to begin binding the raw energies of astral space into temporary foci – items which can be prepared in a few hours, which do not need to be attuned, and which last as long as the user sustains them. Each level of Advanced Swift Enchantment allows the user to maintain 4 karma points worth of temporary foci – for example, a spell category focus I and a specific spell focus I. Such temporary foci can be handed off to, and used by, other people and do not contribute to focus addiction.
Advanced Enchantment Abilities:
Anchoring allows the user to bind spells into anchoring foci – more advanced versions of sustaining foci. Upgrades can reduce the karma cost, allow the user to place a triggering-divination effect in the focus that deactivates when it triggers the primary spell and remains deactivated until the triggered spell is shut down (thus allowing the spells to “share” points from the anchoring focus rating), being able to take the drain for an anchored spell when creating it rather than when it goes off, anchoring a watcher spirit in an anchoring focus to allow it to actively control the triggering (or to take other actions), and adding astral concealment to the anchor.
Artifice allows the user to create advanced magical foci, usually at (Int) such additional types each time this ability is taken (although reducing the cost of creating a particular type of foci also counts as a selection). Other upgrades include reducing the karma cost of enchanting items in general, reducing the target numbers for designing foci, reducing the effective force of foci as far as special ingredients checks are concerned, and the ability to enchant multiple foci at the same time.
Biomanipulation allows the user to produce bioware and cyberware-like effects via magical ritual. While this has the advantage of not requiring a hospital, it does require ritual components and has similar effects. Upgrades can reduce the costs (much like higher grades of cyberware do), allow the user to alter genetic codes, or – at least according to rumor – allow the user to imbue creatures with awakened powers.
Bloodbinding renders spells truly permanent, outside of equally major sacrifices to undo them. Upgrades of this ability allow the user to (1) voluntarily take damage when using a power (in addition to any damage it might do as a base) to enhance another ability for a few moments, (2) to take boxes of permanent damage instead of giving up points from his or her magic rating, (3) to attach spells to other people, including mundane characters, who opt to give up damage boxes to power the spells.
Ceremonial Magic allows the user to both build up power, and imprint a pattern on it, over considerable lengths of time. Fortunately, the upper limits on time, complexity, and the total amount of energy which can be build up are large, but not infinite. Just as importantly, energy is built up very slowly, and ceremonial magic is easily detectable. Upgrades can extend the duration over which the ceremony can be conducted and power built up, increase the total amount which can be built up, and allow the user to impose and stabilize a more complex pattern – but will do nothing about helping the user design that pattern.
Charmsmith allows the user to tap into ambient mana to reduce the cost of major enchantments and allows the creation of extremely minor charms without karma expenditure. Upgrades can slightly further reduce the cost of major enchantments, but ambient mana is simply too weak (at least at the moment) to do much more. Other upgrades will allow the incorporation of inherently-magical materials such as the True Elements into items (if you can find any such materials to include) allow the construction of Spell Talismans – very minor foci which embody a spell formula, allowing any magician who spends an hour or so bonding the Talisman (no karma is required) to use the relevant spell, or allow the user to more easily and quickly locate magical raw materials.
Energization is the ability to enhance or act as a focus. Upgrades can extend the user’s range beyond basic foci, allow the user to channel magical energies into powering conventional devices, and even allow the user to affect multiple targets at the same time. Note that it is indeed possible to set up an infinite positive feedback loop by acting as a power focus for something which is doing the same for you: the ensuing explosion or burnout is generally quite dramatic.
Feng Shui allows the user to manipulate power lines and nexi by rearranging minor features and exerting his or her own power to manipulate the manaflow. This is both far less permanent and far less powerful than actual geomancy, but it also doesn’t require rearranging millions of tons of earth and stone. The basic version can enhance, reduce, or aspect background count. Further upgrades allow the user to (1) learn to taint or purify areas, to (2) channel the power into maintaining an ongoing magical effect, and to (3) provide good or ill fortune for those working in the area.
Focus Block allows the user to neutralize the effects of foci. Further upgrades can allow the user to affect multiple foci at the same time, to maintain the effect while unconscious, to cause activated foci to drain the energies of the user rather than enhancing them, to give the effect a duration, and even to unbond foci from their users.
Linking is the the ability to set up “instant” astral links with a mere touch. Upgrades include Grounding (this allows mages to use the link of an active focus to transmit spells to or from astral space at a minimum initiate grade of 5; this is becoming harder and harder to do as the magic level increases), the ability to set up links at modest ranges, the ability to spend karma to make links permanent, the ability to make links extraordinarily difficult to break, and the ability to influence the people or items so linked.
Quickening allows the user to spend small amounts of karma to make spells self-sustaining. Upgrades include reducing the karma cost, making the spells more difficult to break, inscribing the spells to make them more stable, and allowing (1) the user to turn such spells on and off, and (2) the person they’re cast on to turn such spells on and off.
Transmutation allows the user to produce wealth – at it’s base, valuable gems, minerals, and other simple natural materials worth (Initiate Grade, albeit normally one die at a time)d6 x 1000 NY per month, using available energy in spare moments. Treating it like a part-time job can double that, working at it like a full time job can triple it, and working overtime can quadruple it – allowing a hard-working high-grade initiate to support a luxury lifestyle. Of course, high-grade initiates who are willing to work that hard can usually get a luxury lifestyle in a lot of ways. Upgrades are more interesting, since they can both considerably increase the amount of money available (increase the multiplier by 500 NY per upgrade), allow the user to do so in (1) minutes, (2) turns, or even (3) an action instead of requiring a couple of hours, allow the user to produce (1) simple tools and goods, (2) foodstuffs, (3) complex chemicals, (4) simple mechanisms, (5) guns, rockets, and other mid-level mechanisms, and even (6) electronic and optronic goods. (Yes, if you want to spend three or four levels of initiation learning to produce assault cannons and ammo with a wave of your hand, you are welcome to do so. Most people just go shopping).