Sith Sorcery and the Multiverse – Eclipse d20 and d6

Since the characters in the Anomaly game currently have enough sources of information to get a good idea of how “Sith Sorcery” works, and one of their opponents is using it, here’s a summary of the current state of their research. I’m not guaranteeing that it is 100% correct, but they do have enough information to be sure that it’s pretty close even if a few details have been left out. Technically this only applies to the Anomaly campaign and our d6 Star Wars games, but parts of it may be useful elsewhere. 

Some universes have no variants at all. Some have a few. A very few have a great many – but that number is always very, VERY, small compared to the number of possible variants. Some people call that “probability summation”, but the actual exclusionary principle is much more general than that.

Everything organized above a certain level – dependent on perceptual feedback from the local sophonts – is at least a little different in two different universes. Personalities. Appearance. Composition. Cultures. Natural Laws. Whatever. There are no two universes where everything is the same except for some tiny difference. There are no two universes where ANYTHING is quite the same, although it can be pretty close. Did you “split the timeline”? Your original universe continues, and the “new one” will prove to be simply a shift into another locally-similar existing universe.

Perhaps Timeline One Earth will soon be confronting the dread million-year-old Bladoon Empire and their psychic dinosaur steeds, while Timeline Two Earth will be dealing with an influx of Space Gypsies because the Bladoon never existed to wipe them out. You may be able to find some “Nazi Worlds” – but there will be differences in their histories all the way back to the beginning, the people will always be notably different, and if you liberate one of them… it actually means something. There may be a number of other Nazi Worlds out there, but the number is finite and relatively small on the cosmic scale. That’s probably a good thing. Most people don’t LIKE Nazi Worlds.

Honestly, the “Quantum Fan” model turns into a mathematical disaster as soon as dimensional travel comes into play.

Lets say you transfer a rock from one Tier 2 Universe to Another. The universe that lost the rock now has fewer particles. Its rate of branching drops by many orders of magnitude, and its branch of the quantum fan and all subsequent branches become less important to overall reality by many orders of magnitude every second. The universe that receives the rock experiences the opposite effect; it’s now branching many orders of magnitude faster than the rest of the fan. It’s reality is rapidly heading towards dominance.

Don’t even THINK about time travel. It makes that sort of problem retroactive.

If you want dimensional and/or time travel, you really need to discard the Tier-2 Multiverse Quantum Fan model – and for games, that’s a good thing. It means that the characters actions can actually make a difference in the wider universe and that they can actually be somewhat individual. They may still be able to meet an alternate versions of themselves, but they won’t be just a part of a nigh-infinite set of indistinguishable duplicates with every successful intervention just splitting off a world where they didn’t succeed.

As it happens, the Star Wars Universe Cluster is one of those with a great many variants. That’s due to a local definition of “hyperspace” that adds several additional degrees of divergent freedom to the cluster. These universes are non-relativistic, maintain an absolute “now” even in the face of locally varying time rates, do not permit true time travel, and offer a localized system of “Force” and “Anti-force” powers that interact with those extra hyperspace axes. That has its advantages – the Force and Anti force have as many effects and uses as (say) electromagnetism does – but there are disadvantages too.

In particular, it cripples most forms of True Magic.

While there are many local technologies that offer weird powers in particular universes and clusters thereof, True Magic relies on the same perceptual feedback effect that helps define universes through the exclusionary principle – allowing its practitioners to interact with other universes and the substrate that separates and defines them (whether that substrate is known as “subspace”, “the informational level”, or whatever). In crude terms… a practitioner of “true magic” draws on a world where what they want to happen makes sense and manifests a bit of that universes structure on their local universe. Or perhaps they perceive, and then manifest, a tiny pocket reality that’s more accommodating. Or they just distort the laws of nature locally. All or none of those options may be correct, depending on how you look at it.

There are an awful lot of techniques to make that (whatever “that” is) happen. You can draw on the substrate directly or you can take various shortcuts – such as attunement to specific worlds, asking powerful entities to help out in exchange for spreading their influence and promoting their goals, drawing energy slowly and binding it into prepared effects, drawing on natural “subspace channels” that provide links to particular universes, and so on – to make it easier). Sadly, as a rule… you get what you pay for. Each technique has its advantages and limitations, more general techniques are more work to master, and the range of effects that any one technique can produce tends to be limited. In universes where there are complicating factors, access to True Magic may be very limited indeed.

Basic Sorcery is very limited in the Star Wars universe cluster because the substrate is supporting a large number of timelines separated by local rules – and thus in very close proximity from the viewpoint of the substrate. When power is drawn from or through the substrate the vast, vast, majority of it gets uselessly lost into “nearby” timelines. Unless you find a way to compensate… learning or using True Magic in the Star Wars Universes is extremely difficult, time-consuming, and grossly overshadowed by Force and Anti-Force powers. You can do it – but gathering up enough power to fuel any notable effect will take a great deal of time even if you know how to collect and store it. Those few small oddities that do occur are generally simply taken as minor force, anti-force, or force/anti-force “monotalent” effects. It’s not like the difference is readily discernible to anyone except the user (and possibly not even to them unless they’re exceptionally well-informed about the local physics).

About the only upside is that the Galactic Censor – the self-protective part of the Star Wars Galactic Mind that inhibits cheap super weapons and other major threats to life – doesn’t pay much attention to people dabbling in True Magic. It’s not very threatening on a planetary scale and it doesn’t really interact with the Force anyway.

  • D20: There isn’t enough power available for spontaneous casting. Prepared casting is possible, but it takes a full day to prepare a set of one-use Cantrips, a week to prepare your spells of levels 1-3, a month to prepare your spells of level four to six, a year for levels seven to nine, decades for levels 10-12, and so on – and trying to shortcut that time with things like Rite of C’hi simply does not work. Similarly, items that store magic will work until they run out of magic – but constant-use and rechargeable items will soon deplete their reserves and then take a very long time to charge up again before they can be reactivated.
  • D6: Whatever you name your magical field, you can build up to seven (arbitrary, but a traditional magic number) prepared effects, How powerful they are depends strictly on how long you spend building them – although, for comparison purposes, their “level” cannot exceed the number of dice you have in your magical skill.

There is one natural way to compensate: just as their are natural hyperspace routes, which tend to speed travel and funnel traffic through themselves, there are natural subspace routes or nexi (Since most of the “route” is outside the local universe) – areas which are better connected to some other universe. Those lose less energy to alternate timelines that aren’t a part of the nexus and make it easier to draw on more power to compensate for what is lost. Thus, if a world happens to be linked with a nexus, minor tricks drawing on whatever effects are most natural to the linked universe are actually practical – often giving such worlds a reputation for being haunted, or odd occurrences, or for being home to species with exotic powers.

  • D6/D20. L0 (minor nexi) or L0 and L1 (major nexi) effects can be produced spontaneously. Minor nexi reduce the time required to prepare greater effects by one level (A week becomes a day). Major nexi reduce the time required to prepare greater effects by two levels (a day becomes an hour). In both cases, however, only effects suitable to the energies provided by the nexus are affected.

A skillful user of True Magic can tap into such nexi to produce reasonably impressive effects with little delay, and can even store some of them for later use elsewhere – but will still be limited to the effects that a particular nexus makes available. It doesn’t matter if you know how to produce a thousand different effects if the local power sources will only support ten of them. Of course, location-specific skills that are immensely difficult to develop aren’t well-supported in the Star Wars Galactic Mind – making it extremely difficult for any resident of the Star Wars galaxy to develop them. After all, who wants to waste time on “(Planet) Magic” that only works in one place when they can learn “piloting” and use any starship in the galaxy? Thus native skill-based True Magic Users are virtually unheard of in the Star Wars Universe.

Monotalent Sorcery uses the Force and Codex to cause many of the local timelines to overlap, so that energy can be drawn across the substrate without impossible losses – while simultaneously anchoring the user so that he or she can pull harder without yanking himself or herself out of the Star Wars universe. A monotalent can pull off any minor tricks they know how to use anywhere. If they happen to be at a nexus, however, they can pull off or store reasonably impressive stunts appropriate to the nexus considerably more quickly than normal.

  • D6/D20: L0-L1 effects can be employed spontaneously anywhere. Minor nexi allow the spontaneous use of effects of up to L2, major nexi allow the spontaneous use of effects of up to L3. Preparation time for effects beyond that are reduced by an additional level, albeit to a minimum or one hour. In D6 this is a normal monotalent. In d20 this is usually purchased as a specialized form of Mystic Artist / The Path Of Whispers / through Worldgate

While many sorcery monotalents never really put their ability to use, and those who do often never bother to learn anything beyond a few basic tricks, those few who do make a determined effort to try to exploit their power often wind up being labeled as Sith or working with the Sith. After all, how many Jedi are really focused on enacting strange rituals on distant, haunted, worlds in hopes of acquiring bizarre and unnatural powers that violate the very laws of nature?

Hybrid Sorcery: A hybrid Force-Anti-force user can theoretically learn to duplicate the relevant Monotalent – but a full hybrid has many more power options than they can explore in a lifetime open to them, many of them far more obviously rewarding than trying to force a localized timeline convergence. Even worse, force-based precognition has a very hard time showing things being imported from other universes where the Force doesn’t reach – so anyone trying to let the force guide them will see this particular avenue of development as a complete waste of time. Similarly, using the anti-force to peep into other timelines in search of guidance will generally reveal nothing. After all, getting anything useful out of the project will, at least initially, rely on nexi that don’t extend into all that many timelines – and so this method will also tend to show “no results”.

A sufficiently skilled wielder of True Magic can learn to set up remote links into nexi or even into other universes, becoming a master of unnatural, alien, powers and a likely figure of myth and legend – but without advanced training from a genuine master of True Magic, the chances of anyone getting THAT far are so close to zero that it probably only happens once or twice in the history of a hundred galaxies.

  • D6: This is another specialized skill for each nexus. Fortunately, you only two dice to tap a minor nexus and three to tap a major one.
  • D20: You want Mystic Link with Power Link. Sadly, the monotalent “generating an overlay” effect really doesn’t work with remote links unless you can project it over them to the nexus you want to affect.

The most common form of Sith Sorcery on the Anomaly in Eclipse d20 is Rune Magic, drawing on a particular Nexus – most commonly Specialized for Increased Effect (Double effective rating of the user’s Mastery and Casting skills) and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Spells can be prepared in advance and held. although the total number of spell levels that can be so prepared is equal to the user’s effective Casting skill level). This is usually coupled with the ability to draw Mana only at power nexi. This allows a Sith Sorcerer to have a limited selection of fairly powerful preset effects ready – but he or she must return to an appropriate nexus and spend a good deal of time there to renew them, making Sith Sorcery a very limited resource.

Unfortunately, given that we’re using point-buy systems for both d20 and d6, every Sith Sorcerer is going to be somewhat different – but hopefully that’s enough detail on the general theory to allow for some sensible builds and guesses about the current Sith Sorcerer running about.

4 Responses

  1. Reading this over, I have to say that the Galactic Censor needs to step its game up. There are probably a few people out there who learned “Alderaan Magic” who are quite upset now!

    All joking aside, what about links to sources of magic that are (or at least, seem to be) built to deal with local interference by the conditions of a particular universe? The Opening of the Ways feat (The Practical Enchanter, p. 143) seems to be set up specifically to deal with this sort of thing. Likewise, the Faith occult skill says it’s for channeling divine power to a realm where it doesn’t normally exist.

    Admittedly, both of those have their own limitations, in that you need to have trained in the universe that The Opening of the Ways is drawing from, catch the attention of the deity you’re calling on with Faith, etc. But still, those seem to suggest that there are methods of bypassing or compensating for the local conditions that otherwise make magic so difficult to use in those universes.

    • Well, for the more game-mechanical bits…

      The Opening Of The Ways feat is basically Mystic Link with Power Link again – but it’s tapping into the source universe directly, rather than tapping into a local nexus which is only empowered by a trickle of energy from the source universe. It’s much more efficient to do it that way (at least if the setting allows Mystic Link and Power Link) – but generally requires that the user have had direct access to the source dimension and enough experience in tapping into it’s powers to set up a link with it. There are some technical limitations – for example, if one universe doesn’t allow The Opening Of The Ways / Mystic Links, then trying to set up a remote link to draw on it’s powers (including not allowing remote links) is kind of self-defeating – but they’re fairly rare and so are handled on a case-by-case basis of the game master saying “I’m not allowing THAT!”.

      Now if you were clever, and went and trained in a universe that DID allow Mystic Link and Power Link, set up your link, and then returned to a universe that did not allow those things… it would work until something disrupted the link, at which point you’d have to go visit the universe you were linked to to get it working again. Still, unless your game master is running a multiverse setting with major rules differences between each realm, that’s pretty unlikely to come up.

      Faith, of course, is there to allow the occasional unaccountable miracle – albeit usually on a small scale – in more scientific universes. Basically, it’s a good reason for Religion to still be a notable factor even if the setting rules are telling us that it’s all nonsense and that no one with a modern education would ever bother with religious notions. That, of course, is because settings with no religions are alien enough to most people to be awkward to play in.

      Thus the Faith skill originally popped up in the Federation-Apocalypse setting to explain why – despite centuries of universal psychological treatment to eliminate irrationality in early childhood and education by a coldly rational and incredibly competent computer-program Teacher – various Religions were still socially important when the Opening finally put them on an observable basis centuries later. It meant that – once in a while – religious beliefs produced observable miraculous results with no apparent mechanism to account for them. Ergo… there was something to them.

      Faith does turn up occasionally in the Star Wars universes – but even if someone manages to make contact with an appropriate entity, it is (once again) really hard to tell the difference between a small “Miracle” and someone who just managed to tap into the force / anti-force for a moment – especially since someone with a bit of talent that way is likely to be able to come up with stuff on a much more reliable basis.

      Or, of course, if the game master allows it, you could just purchase an Immunity to the limitations – a major natural law immunity that a Star Wars character would probably consider a hyped-up version of Monotalent Sorcery.

      Now, as for Alderaan…

      Fortunately for the people of Alderaan, in that campaign (which you probably know, but for those who don’t) the events of the movies were quite widely known because the movies were actually holo-dramas and were entirely fictional. The characters did eventually find a ship that looked like a “Death Star” – but it was designed to swap endangered planets for asteroid belts of similar mass in another solar system. That sometimes looked like blowing up a planet, but it didn’t really hurt anyone at all.

      There were also a lot more Sith around, since a “Sith” was just a force-sensitive who’d used the force to excess in pursuit of something and had accidentally burned an obsession into their brain.

      That was pretty dangerous if it happened to be Vengeance (Avenger Sith. Darth Vader would probably have been an Avenger Sith if he’d ever actually existed), Hatred (Despiser Sith, Palpatine would fit in here), Ambition (Tyrant Sith, Count Dooku probably fits in here), Rage (Marauder Sith, they tended to go out in outbursts of uncontrolled violence pretty early), Wrath (Ravager Sith), or being the perfect killing machines (Glaive Sith. Darth Maul might fit in here).

      Others were a lot more bearable. Were you obsessed with Plotting and Posturing? Then you were a Classical Holosith (although other Holosith just trained based on holos). How about Vanity? then you were a H.I.S.S (And while you might react very badly to being ignored you could do quite well as an actor). Perhaps Money? Then you were a Corporate Sith. There were plenty of them on Coruscant, running the galactic banking system, and no one cared very much. Bodybuilding and Martial Arts? Then you were an Iron Sith – and were probably employed as an exhibition fighter, commercial spokesmen, or martial arts teacher (think about all those Chuck Norris jokes being literally true). A Science Project? You were an Artificer Sith (they were as much feared as any other obsessed mad scientist if no one was riding herd on them). Channeling “Spirits”? You were a Sith Shaman.

      The players found those kinds of Sith quite helpful at times. They might be overpowered maniacs, but they were RELIABLE overpowered maniacs.

      Perhaps the most dangerous Sith they ever found was obsessed with Cooking. He put everyone in the hospital for addiction treatment when someone asked for his best coffee (Luecross the would-be Necromancer and an Alternate-Valerie who thought that everything was a training sim were more directly dangerous, but mostly to individuals). The most benign? The Arethi Sith – the galaxies best, kindest, and most beloved doctors. Of course, they did tend to cure diseases by adjusting them to become symbionts, and focused on universal love and pacifism to the point where they would save you and turn you loose even if you were the greatest villain in history.

      There were failed Jedi too. For example, the “Hedi” – sensitives who knew that remaining mellow was the key to remaining sane when you were force-sensitive but who didn’t have the patience for all that Jedi meditation and self-discipline. So they relied on drugs instead. Lots and lots of happy drugs – resulting in doped-up hippy Jedi. They weren’t very powerful – the drugs interfered with their control of the force too much – but they were usually pretty happy.

      Not surprisingly, the use of the anti-force led to it’s own problems. Thus the players had to deal with an entire galaxy (in fact, many galaxies) full of high-powered maniacs. Ah, the chaos!

      And I hope that helps!

  2. […] Sith Sorcery and the Multiverse – The basics of Sith Sorcery and the mechanics of how it interacts with the structure of the Multiverse […]

  3. […] Sith Sorcery and the Multiverse: The basics of Sith Sorcery and how it interacts with the structure of the Multiverse […]

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