Continuum II – Arcane Cantrips

   Here we have the next portion of the Continuum II Cantrip list – in this case, Arcane Cantrips. Cantrips in this category involve either the manipulation of pure magical energies or calling on magical beings for assistance. Many are surprisingly potent, as they merely direct and channel other forces rather then acting directly.

   Optionally, the effect of those which invoke the assistance of magical beings may be modified by the result of a charisma roll. From the list, this includes; Benediction, Earthfast, Firelash, Malediction, Ritual Summons, and Splash.

   For those who haven’t been reading this series, here’s a repeat of the basic information on Cantrip Magic. For those who have been, it’s been offset for easy skipping.

   Cantrip Magic, drawing upon the modest reserve of magical energy which accumulates in any living creature, is the simplest and easiest of all forms of magic. That power is immediately to hand, focused, and attuned. It is inherently readily handled by the user – and the mere desire to use it is enough to get it partially shaped. Minor talents, basic magical training, or comparatively trivial talismans – such as the infamous “Cantrip Rings” – will suffice to channel it. Even more usefully, the simple instinct for self-preservation allows anyone with defensive cantrips available to use on of them per round as a reflex action, albeit at the cost of a “+2” on the user’s next initiative check.

   Unfortunately, Cantrip Magic is also the weakest form of spellcasting. The complexity of any given effect is moderate at most, and the personal mana which powers it is a very limited resource. Gods, fey, and spellcasters may build up substantial reserves – the residue of the energies they channel in other ways – but everyone else will only have a little based on their Endurance and the level of natural magic in the world they live in.

   On the other hand, Cantrip Magic is by far the most common form of magic in Continuum II. Minor mages, dabblers, and laymen use it, minor talismans and amulets produce and sustain cantrip effects for a time, embedded cantrips affect whatever inanimate object they’re embedded in permanently, and focusing talismans – such as those aforementioned “Cantrip Rings” – can focus their wearer’s personal mana into a list of up to seven cantrips whose patterns are embedded in item.

   The stuff is everywhere – and so a list of cantrips can be quite important. Their classification is somewhat arbitrary, but here’s the section on Arcane Cantrips – charms which manipulate other sources of magical energy.

  1. Activate Materials: This charm is used to activate the magical potential of various materials, mixtures, and charms – typically prepared by some form of ceremony or alchemical formula. Note that this merely focuses any innate magical potential, it does not create it. Effective use of this charm is likely to require some research. See “Ceremonial Magic” and “Minor Alchemy”
  2. Amplification: Provides a modest boost to a single spell cast during the next round, boosting the effective level of the caster by two.
  3. Auric Lock: Lays a minor binding charm on a small container, bottle, box, or whatever. It is especially effective if combined with a physical lock of some kind. The charm is attuned to the personal aura of either the caster or whoever he has touch the item when the charm is cast, for that person the lock will open without resistance, others must force it open.
  4. Benediction: Literally a “good-speaking”, this charm tries to bring its recipient to the attention of any benevolent supernatural forces in the area. While the effect is rather variable it is usually guided by the wording of the benediction and will be expended after one or two strokes of good luck (About equal to a +1 bonus on a die roll). Especially minor blessings (“May your cookies always turn out well”), may continue to work indefinitely. Normally a character cannot be under the effects of more then one significant benediction at a time, but up to three minor ones may be applied.
  5. Blastcrystal: Channels explosive energies into a crystal or gem. Any significant shock during the next turn will detonate the crystals structure, doing 1D4 damage in a five foot radius. Anyone hit by the gem gets no save, others save for 1/2 effect, rounded up. The crystal needed has a base cost of 1SP, every 10x increase in value gives a +1 on the blasts damage.
  6. Blend Materials: Combines, and intermingles as desired, up to two pounds of materials. This includes normally immiscible ingredients such as oil and water or some metals, using this charm on such items will produce various sorts of emulsions and “impossible” alloys.
  7. Concentration Lock: Used after casting some spell which requires concentration to maintain, this charm allows the user to “keep concentrating” automatically under normal circumstances and with a roll versus wisdom under unusual ones. The charm will remain effective until the user needs his full attention elsewhere, he fails the roll, or 24 hours have passed.
  8. Countercharm: This defensive charm can be used to neutralize any incoming cantrip or level one spell and has a 50% chance of stopping a level two spell – provided that the user is familiar with the spell in question, has an action reserved to cast this charm, and uses the same style (cleric, mage, etc) of magic as the spellcaster.
  9. Dedication: This short ritual sets up a weak link between an item and a being to which it is dedicated. The link is permanent once established, but the range at which it can be established is limited by the power and willingness of the being. Normally such objects are used as holy symbols, in ceremonial magic, or in spells or rituals involving the being. At the option of the being it may give the object very minor magical properties. Items can be linked to ordinary mortals who touch them, such objects are useful in divinatory spells about, and show indications of the health of, the linked being.
  10. Earthfast: Causes the ground to hang onto the feet of any single target within 30′. It usually requires a man-sized creature 1D4+1 segments to free itself, during which time he or she is at a substantial disadvantage. Larger creatures will free themselves in a single segment, smaller ones will require proportionately more time.
  11. Firelash: Causes any flame within 30′ to lash out, striking any single target within 10′ and doing damage as appropriate to the fire source.
  12. Focusing: This charm aids its user in making a supreme effort, making it easier to channel his total energies into a single action. While this can produce remarkable effects, the strain will do a fair amount of damage to the user, knock him out unless a constitution roll succeeds, and leave him totally exhausted and virtually helpless for hours.
  13. Forces Test: This charm allows the user to “probe” the balance of magical forces in an area, although the charm cannot distinguish between extremely localized forces and genuine environmental energies beyond its twenty foot radius of effect.
  14. Invoke / Petition: These are really two separate, if closely related, cantrips. Both are designed to send a message to some particular being or small group of beings. An invocation is binding and always brings a response, but it requires that the user have made some sort of bargain with the being invoked, the invocation merely calls on the binding force of that pact. A petition requires no such prior bargain, it is simply a plea for aid addressed either to some particular patron or to whatever powers are present. Unless said powers have some direct and immediate interest in the matter, any response will be minor at best.
  15. Item Trigger: This charm is a sort of “skeleton key” for magic items, allowing the caster to trigger them without knowledge of the proper commands and procedures. The caster can selectively trigger any known function or simply trigger one at random. This charm often fails with devices requiring complex procedures, attunement, or where the activation procedure is an integral part of the magic, rather then just a trigger for it.
  16. Malediction: Literally an “ill-speaking”, this very minor curse “steers” appropriate misfortunes toward the victim according to the original wording. While such occurrences are usually trivial, they can become a major annoyance, as the waitress always spills soup on you, your shoes always pinch, young maidens seeking champions always pick you, and so on. The charm lasts anything from a few hours to forever, depending on the magnitude of the effect. Oddly, the truly trivial curses are sometimes the hardest to remove, apparently due to the participation of minor supernatural fauna who find them amusing.
  17. Mana Focusing: This charm is a magical “lens” which concentrates any ambient magical energies in roughly a 20 foot radius. While this is most useful if the user has some way to manipulate the energy, it can be used to concentrate the inherent magic of powerful devices or places. If cast on an altar that had minor healing effects upon whoever touched it, it might manifest a major healing effect on the touchee, but this would drain the altars power temporarily – or even permanently if the energies were simply stored or residual.
  18. Masking: This cantrip is used with another spell, allowing the user to “hide” his spellcasting, reducing verbal components to subvocalized mutters, gestures to finger twitches, and the waving of material components to tapping the appropriate pocket.
  19. Oath: Used when swearing an oath, this charm invokes the notice of the appropriate entities. This will double the normal loss of honor/reputation/reaction associated with oathbreaking and allows the caster or those swearing to contribute magical energy towards having something really nasty happen to whoever breaks the oath.
  20. Offering: This charm tries to draw the attention of a being to an offering or sacrifice, dedicating it and linking it to the entity. While this does not fully replace the appropriate rituals, it is an effective shortcut in many ways.
  21. Ritual Summons: This charm summons a minor nature or elemental spirit, allowing the caster to bargain for some service. Such entities are very weak, but can still manage a wide variety of minor tasks in exchange for equally minor rewards. Those who use this often “collect” a few spirits who find them congenial and “hang around” to answer, or sometimes even anticipate, their calls. This charm, at least initially, requires a clear place to work, about 10SP worth of materials, and the patience to wait until something responds.
  22. Soulbond: Creates a psychic link between the caster and whoever he invokes it with, permanently attuning them to each other. Both will be aware of the others general location and condition, will recognize each other despite transformations or disguise, and so on. It can be dangerous if those linked are incompatible, requires a strong pre-existing emotional link between the users, and can be quite unpleasant if something nasty happens to one partner.
  23. Soundgathering: Allows the user to regather the faded echoes of sounds from the last several hours, repeating a few minutes of the sounds that occurred in a 1″ radius of the casting point. Such sounds are faded and echoing, but clearly understandable unless they were incomprehensible to begin with.
  24. Spellholding: This cantrip allows the user to hold a spell ready, needing only a final word to trigger it. Such a spell must be released within one turn or it will dissipate and be wasted. Worse, while the spell is being held, the user cannot cast other spells or, indeed, do much of anything beyond simple walking and speaking.
  25. Spellshaping: Allows the caster to drastically tamper with the “special effects” of a spell, altering its appearance and details within broad limits. A “fireball” might manifest as a vast flaming skull, magic missiles can trail smoke spelling out “eat at joes”, and a “slow” spell might become smoky tentacles which hinder opponents. While this has little or no effect on what the spell actually does, it can alter peoples reactions to it a great deal.
  26. Spellshatter: Dispels any of the casters spells and has the normal “dispel magic” chance against other cantrips and level one or two spells. Knowing this cantrip includes a technique for leaving a personally attuned “weak point” in more powerful spells, allowing the caster only to dispel them with this charm.
  27. Spellchannel: Allows the caster to transmit a spell with a range of “touch” through an object up to about ten feet long which weighs up to about 20 Lbs. While this effectively “insulates” the caster from physical effects, toxins, and such, it (unfortunately) conducts magical energies both ways.
  28. Spiritfire: This charm allows the user to pour his own life energies into a blast of energy at any one target within 3″. The blast does 2 points of damage per point the user takes generating it and allows the target to save versus breath weapon for half damage. Even with magical aid, the user recovers these HP at a maximum of (Endurance) points daily.
  29. Splash: Causes a quantity of any exposed liquid within 30 feet to “splash” onto any target within 10 feet of the liquid, with effects appropriate to the liquid in question. The quantity is normally a cup or so, but this is somewhat variable.
  30. Timed Speech: “Delays” the casters next utterances for up to 24 hours, when up to a minute of speech will be released. This will also work on music, horncalls, and so on, but will not be effective with noise beyond the “very loud” category – such as damaging levels.
  31. Trace Collection: Allows the user to gather small quantities of loose materials, gases, or energies from up to a 10 foot radius. While the maximum quantity is about half an ounce, the cantrip selective enough that the sample is usually quite pure. It will gather the material into a small sphere or container but, as the effect fades in a few rounds, the container must be appropriately sealed to contain it. It is often used to gather enough of something’s traces for detailed examination.
  32. Ward Activation: This charm is used to activate or “trigger” preset magical defenses or inscriptions. It is chiefly used with ceremonial or device oriented defenses, as it allows them to accumulate power until needed, increasing their strength when activated, rather then remaining active at a low level.

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