Limits Of Thaumaturgy
I put this in because 1) a lot of effects are mentioned in the books or under the Occult skill, but no system is given for them, 2) the books allow for skills higher than 5, but don’t provide any information on them (I presumed that the basic effects were about the same, but you could get better control with more successes), 3) because the system as presented is a tangled over-lengthy mess and is scattered through the sections on Occult, dramatic systems, equipment, and the players guide, and 4) because it’s very vague and contradicts itself in a number of places. The un-annotated version of these charts fits in two pages. The annotated version is here first, the condensed version is available as a .PDF download.
– Cost 3 motes, or 1 Will, or 2 Health Levels of Bashing damage (no Soak) or one of lethal damage (no Soak). Blood magic simply inflicts that damage on a victim instead of on the caster. Essence users may can let casters use their motes at 50% efficiency or may use more efficient charms to transfer motes to you temporarily. You can’t normally burn health or will fast enough to power Charms and Sorcery, but a D3 art-based spell will let you do so.
Straight out of the Players Guide for this part, although the ability to burn health for essence was not mentioned. It seems reasonable enough to insert into the basic system though.
– Can be disrupted. If the user is distracted or injured during casting he or she must make a reflexive (Wits + Occult) roll at D2 to avoid fumbling the spell. Mortal sorcery isn’t powerful enough to produce major side effects when disrupted.
Straight out of the Players Guide again.
– Arts normally take a couple of minutes to use. Sciences normally take several hours. Reducing hours to minutes adds +2D, as does reducing minutes to a turn. Doing both adds +5D.
The system is rather vague on this. The basic book has no guidelines at all. The players guide has a section labeled “mortal spells and timing” on page 125 which states that “Mortal spells are typically treated the same as spells of the three circles and use the same rules, with a few exceptions”, then says that “mortal thaumaturgy always goes last in a round” – and then refers you to the same page “for more information” (which isn’t there). Page 126 says that simple effects can be performed in minutes, but that most uses take hours or days when powerful or lasting effects are desired. Of course, this makes “going last in the round” pretty irrelevant. A few things list their own times, as noted below. Presuming that the “always goes last in a round” and “uses the same rules” means something, I elected to continue the progression from standard sorcery at +5 difficulty on the theory that a thaumaturgic effect fast enough to be potentially useful when you’re counting time in rounds is a “legendary” feat. This seemed to fit in with the usual progression as well – 3 extra rounds of shaping, 2 extra rounds of shaping, 1 extra round of shaping, and shaping until the end of the round.
– Except for defenses, thaumaturgical bonuses do not stack with those from Artifacts, Charms, or Sorcery.
The Exalted book and Player’s Guide doesn’t actually restrict things this way, but it’s implied under Alchemy listings. The exemption for defenses is to accommodate the talisman listings in the main book (where thaumaturgic defenses do stack) and due to the general exalted rule that “defenses win”.
– Duration is purchased by spending successes. Effects with a duration last for (2x Caster’s Essence) Turns (0), Minutes (1), Hours (2), Days (3), Weeks (4), Months (5), Years (6), Decades (7), or Centuries (8). Successes on recasting at D4 can be used to extend the duration.
Another vague area in the basic rules. Outside of the note that enchanters can make talismans which last “a century or two” and the warding chart there aren’t any general rules for how long a thaumaturgic effect can last. This listing is taken from the Warding chart slightly modified to account for higher-essence casters.
– Area of Effect is purchased similarly. Single Target (0), Room (1), House (2), Farm (3), Town (4), City (5), State (6), Region (7), Continent (8), Hemisphere (9), and Global (10).
Another vague area. Warding notes that bonus successes for taking extra time should be adjusted downwards for particularly large areas and that “The difficulty for a warding is based on size. One success is sufficient to protect a good-sized room, and three successes will protect a decent-sized house, while five successes will protect a small town”. It’s not mentioned in most of the other arts; apparently enchanting a castle or city is as easy as enchanting any other talisman under the basic rules. Weather magic has one level listing which refers to “local weather” and no more information. Weather magic also has an built-in +2D. This fits in as buying more area, since weather generally doesn’t produce effects much smaller then house-sized. Even a dust devil is a swirl at least ten feet across.
– Range is normally about equal to that of a good bow.
Again, this isn’t generally listed. A few of the arts could apparently reach anywhere in the world, others are rather ill-defined. Hence a general rule for the ill-defined ones. Exceptions are noted with each art.
The Basic Arts
Attack: (Dex+Occ). (Int)B or (Int/2)L. Unlike a bow this costs 3 motes, but it can be spread over an area and has a bewildering variety of manifestations. Attempts to attack large areas usually run into countermagics. Area effects may be dodged, individual attacks may be dodged or parried (not both). Piercing +3D, Attacking dematerialized opponent +3D, Aggravated +4D and a successful (Lore+Wits) check at D3 to find an effect that does aggravated damage against a particular target.
” Attack” isn’t covered in the rules except to note that weather magic can be terribly destructive and the general notes about thaumaturgic spells. It covers hitting people with lightning, rituals that set fire to their house (via Link), exploding potions, and enchanted pebbles which blow up. While it can be fun to use the variety of effects available (“I send a swarm of flesh-eating locusts to devour him!”) in combat, the basic +5D for a fast spell makes it a bit impractical in most cases – especially when compared to a conventional weapon or actual Sorcery. A gun or knife is more damaging and doesn’t cost any motes to use.
Compel: (Man+Occ) OR (Will+Ess) versus D(Control Rating-2) (Animals). Opposed roll for sentient beings. Use (Will+Ess) (Humans), (Will+ [Ess x 2] +2) (Fey, Exalted, and other physical magical beings). Spirits may only be compelled to leave for a time via an extended test. They resist with (Will) at Ess 1-3 or (Will+Ess) at Ess 4+ and require (Will+Ess) successes to banish. Mortals can’t banish Demon Lords, Elemental Princes, and Deathlords, but Exalts can at 2x (Will+Ess) successes. Spirits must pay 3 motes per resistance roll if they choose to resist.
Ghosts and other “undead” may be compelled as per humans if you have a piece of their old body to use.
“Compel” is the actual mechanism behind summoning and controlling animals, summoning mortals and exalts to you, hypnotizing people, and exorcisms. Under the Players Guide rules you can rule the beasts, reach across the world and place a compulsion on an Exalt to travel to you without taking time to pack, and command gods to depart – but you can’t get a waiter to bring you a glass of water (not to mention that the exorcism rules are a horrible mess). I’m presuming that the ability to compel can be used for small things as well as for major ones. The note on Ghosts is due to the notes under Hungry Ghosts and similar undead.
Countermagic: (Int+Occ). D(Caster’s Ess + 2 + Type Mod) to disrupt magic being cast, D(Caster’s Ess + 2 + 2x Type Mod) to counter existing effects. Type Mods; Thaumaturgy (0), Charm (1), Terrestrial Sorcery (2), Celestial Sorcery (3), Martial Art (4), Solar Sorcery (5). Two Thaumaturgists may also simply make opposed rolls. Oddly, D3 countermagic allows the user to make physical attacks against dematerialized spirits.
The players guide mentions removing curses and, while any form of distraction may disrupt a spell being cast, it seems reasonable that an actual magical disruption to the spell might be a bit better than throwing a rock – although it might not, since disrupting a solar spell being cast has a base D(7 + Caster’s Essence +2 [for speed]) – making a minimum of D14. Thaumaturgy is pretty useless against more powerful magic. While this also allows the possibility of a thaumaturge breaking an existing Solar Circle spell such a stunt has a base D(12 + 2x Caster’s Essence), +2D if you want to do it quickly. A minimum difficulty of 22 or 24. Again, theoretically possible, practically useless even for an Exalt. It’s much cheaper to use the appropriate counterspell than it is to boost thaumaturgical countermagic to that level.
Detection: (Per+Occ). Magic D(11-Motes), Spirits D(10 – Total Ess/10), natural elements (e.g. water, which way is north, etc) D1, Mystical Forces D3, nonmagical forces/ materials D5 (e.g. the structure of a lock, the presence of poison, diseases, etc) D5.
Detection covers detecting real talismans (Players Guide, page 143), sensing magic, detecting spirits, and elementary geomancy (basic book page 250-251). There is no actual system given in the books to cover dowsing for water, detecting if something is cursed, checking to see if someone is really sick, or determining if it was the wine that was poisoned, but it certainly seems like that ought to be possible through simple geomantic, alchemical, or similar procedures.
Divination: (Int+Occ). D1 for nations, D3 for cities, D5 for individuals, +3D for insufficient information on subject. Split successes between Duration & Accuracy (Worthless /Vague/Enlightening/Somewhat Accurate/Fairly Accurate/ Precise for 1/2/3/4/5/6 successes. Astrology is best. Other forms of divination work, but at +1-3D. Short-term results are used for immediate questions. Divination ignores range
This, of course, covers mortal astrology. While the basic book notes using astrology to predict the fates of groups and kingdoms the players guide fails to cover this, although it does note that mortals can take a speciality in the stars of the dead. This was left out because it made no sense. It also gives a base D8 minus Destiny, but does not give a penalty for inadequate information. This presumes that almost all astrology that interests the players will be performed with inadequate information and that nations and large groups are easier to make predictions about than individuals are. Secondarily, characters can read tarot cards or tea leaves, but that’s less effective than astrology.
Fortune: (Wit+Occ). Can be used to add or subtract dice. In general, D1/3/5 to add or subtract 1/2/3 dice from a particular roll or to subtract them from an opponents checks against you, D3/5/8 to negate 1/2/3 levels of damage, to enhance damage against something, or to alter a target number by 1/2/3, D3 to counter a botch, D5 for a reroll. Countering botches or allowing rerolls are normally either built into automatically-activating talismans or are set with a duration. Fortune effects with durations act once plus once per extra success rolled during that duration.
These effects are from the basic book section on mortal talismans, from the references to (unspecified) curses and good luck charms under Occult, and from the Players Guide notes on Enchantment. The various talismans for resisting effects or success in (whatever) usually add dice or reduce the target numbers, warding talismans (and curses) subtract them, Walkaways negate damage, and Luck charms negate botches. Reroll charms are a variant on Luck charms from the enchantment listing. Mortals often use enhancement rituals before trying another spell. Exalts rarely bother with such things. They have better ways to get extra dice on things.
Healing: (Int+Occ). As per Medicine at +3D. Special actions include doubling a patients healing rate (D3), transferring a health level or converting lethal damage to bashing (D5, up to 1 box per success), stabilizing a dying character (D8) and genetic alterations (D10). +2D if working at range.
Healing magic is generally ineffective compared to ordinary medical skills; that +3D is roughly equivalent to a 6 die penalty. While it can do a few things that medicine can’t, basic medical Charms will do any of them much, much, better. The genetic alterations are most useful when you want to breed blight-resistant crops, faster horses, and similar things. Genetic Redesign – creating new species or winged tigers – is the province of greater magics – or the touch of the Wyld.
Illusion: (Per+Occ). +1D per extra sense involved. +1D each for detailed, animated, mobile, and convincing.
This is pretty basic; you can make images. As always, you have to pay extra for the scale of the effect. A mobile illusion can be moved from place to place, a detailed one has fine detail, and an animated one can change. “Convincing” means “not obviously an illusion” and normally requires at least “Detailed”. Covering a door with an convincing illusion of a blank wall for a few days is D8 (3 for duration + 3 for sight, touch, and hearing [in case someone knocks on it] + 2 for detailed and convincing). Most illusions are only good for entertainment.
Lifeweave: (Int+Occ). Modify Attribute by 1/2/3 D3/5/8 (max. duration of days/hours/ minutes for enhancement, no time limit on reductions), cure/induce baldness; D1, induce sleep or hibernation; D2, minor environmental adaption, cure/cause impotence; D3, add +1 lethal soak; D4, induce fertility/sterility, extend life, cure/induce addictions and chemical imbalances: D5. Shapeshifting into animal form is D8. Unwilling targets and all Exalts resist with (Sta+Ess).
Lifeweave effects are primarily from the basic Occult listing. Negative attribute modifiers are mostly used for curses (weakness, ugliness, etc), positive ones are simply the inversion. Shapeshifting is traditional, but – like every other Lifeweave effect – is extremely unlikely to work on an Exalt, since they automatically resist whether they like it or not. Still, if a mortal manages to scrape up 20 successes somehow they can indeed turn someone into a frog for a while.
Link: (Int+Occ). For communication or the transmission of other magical effects. Targets with Ess 2+ may trace the link back automatically – and Spirits may travel over it. D depends on the target: Ghosts: D1, Gods, Elementals, Demons I or II, and Objects; D2. Deathlords, Demons III (these can’t appear), and Areas D3. Range is irrelevant.
Link is the first half of any summoning. First you create an arcane link, then you transmit other magic over it. For most practical purposes a cell phone is just as good.
Travel: (Wit+Occ). Reduce travel time by 25%; D1, 50%; D3, 75%; D5, or 90%; D8. Teleport 10 ft; D5, (10 x Ess) ft; D8. (Teleport also covers passing thru matter).
There’s actually nothing in the book about this one. It was derived from the tradition of ship and journey blessings and the thaumaturgy material for the World Of Darkness. I put it in because 1) I wanted an even dozen arts, 2) because it established a clear progression for teleportation magic from thaumaturgy through solar circle magic, and 3) given that we seem to be commuting via teleportation at the moment, why not?
Warding: (Man+Occ). Successes go to Ward Strength. +1D for Alarms, +2D for Keyed. Speciality Wards (not vrs general categories) add (Int+Occ) vrs D(1-5 based on rarity of target) extra successes. Spirit Might = Ess + (Ess -4 if essence over 4). Exalted, Demons III, and Gods with Ess 8+ double their base might. Ward Effects are based on (Ward Strength – Might)
– Target ignores ward.
0 Target needs two turns to break the ward.
1 Target can reach, but not use magic, thru the ward.
2 Target can approach, but not penetrate, the ward.
3 Target spends Will to approach, touching it causes bashing damage (Maker’s Ess) versus natural soak.
4 Target will not willingly approach. Contact causes (2x Maker’s Ess)L damage vrs natural soak.
5 Target will not approach. Contact causes (Maker’s Ess) unsoakable lethal damage.
6+ Target will not approach. Contact causes (Maker’s Ess x2) unsoakable lethal damage.
Note that creatures without active mystical senses may not automatically notice wards.
An existing Ward can be reinforced: Reroll at D4, split any excess successes between Strength and Duration.
Each full day spent raising a Ward adds +1 success.
Skipping the material components reduces the net successes rolled to raise a ward by 2.
Wards may also be created against forces, effects, energies, and even materials. This uses (Int+Occ) and simply blocks the entrance of such things. Their effective “essence” is set by the game master.
This is mostly straight out of the book. The Twilight Caste book mentions warding against the Wyld (and presumably other forces, effects, energies, and materials) in the fiction section but provides no information on doing so whatsoever. The effective essence of such a force can be set by the game master to whatever suits the needs of the storyline. Oddly, Warding seems to have it’s own private definition of “Ritual”; it apparently means simply picking the right technique here, rather than a specific magical procedure. Secondly it has a unique rule for warding talismans which does not correspond to the rules from the basic book or to anything else. Wards are noted as “nearly always” having a physical component, but no detail is given. Hence the difficulty increase for skipping them.
The Thaumaturgic Sciences
The Sciences are simply advanced occult techniques. You can do anything you can do with a Science with the basic Occult skill, but you take a -10 die penalty. Actually buying the science substitutes that skill level for Occult and negates the penalty.
The basic book (and the original character design) list quite a few things you can do with Occult. The Players Guide stated that many of those effects required sciences. To maintain consistency you still can; it’s just at a massive penalty.
The Ancient Sciences
Alchemy (Int+Occ): Transmute 2x (Sta+End) lbs of mundane material, enhance materials, bypass training time for mundane traits and merits/flaws, create poisons, L1/2/3 artifact effects with ordinary/uncommon/rare ingredients and a max duration in hours. L2+ artifact enhancements generally don’t work on Exalts, spend 30 motes to create a block of Ambrosia (D1 with the help of a god, D3 in a god’s sanctum, or D5 if you’re simply wandering around Yu-Shan. It won’t work elsewhere).
Alchemists need not pay any essence for their effects if they’re working in a properly-stocked lab (Cost ***) or take their time. Ingredients normally cost ! to !!!! (depending on the power level of the effect and GMO),+2D per 1-dot reduction.
Working without equipment adds +2D but is risky; a failure may result in illness (-1 to 5 dice in pools), poisoning (2-10L damage), explosions (4-20B damage), or other effects based on the level of the desired effect. Botches are potentially disastrous. The usual “special effect” is Internal Alchemy, but other styles work just fine.
Personally, having been amused by the Full Metal Alchemist series, I inserted a variant on the Internal Alchemy effect that just involved touching things – and possibly having them blow up in your face.
Enchantment (Dex+Occ): Render items Perfect, give Perfect items 2x +1 enhancements or +1 die, make things unbreakable. D3/5/8 to produce a talisman which can invoke an art effect with (excess) successes three times per week/day/scene. Create a talisman which can store (Successes, maximum 9) motes.
Enchanters may gain +1/2/3 successes by taking a full day/a week/a month to make something.
This provides a definite mechanism for enchanted devices; they produce art-based effects every so often. Unfortunately, it also means that they have to buy Duration. Most enchanted devices will be pretty weak.
Geomancy (Per+Occ): Map essence flows (hours to days depending on scale), provide ongoing good luck throughout an area our household (things go well, no obvious game effects, hours to days again), create a demesne (via years or decades of landscaping), tap a dragon line for one mote every 10 minutes.
While geomancy doesn’t cost anything to use there’s no way to reduce the time required.
I’ve no idea why this was promoted to an expensive science; it accomplishes practically nothing in game terms and any Exalt is sensitive enough to essence flows to do pretty much the same thing.
Shadow Weaving (Wit+Occ): Create impenetrable darkness, solidify darkness (Object Soak 2 per success used up to 12, 8 levels to damage, 12 to destroy), roll vrs (Will) to induce terror, see in darkness (D2, +1 success per additional character), turn yourself into a shadow (D5).
Like Travel, there’s actually nothing in the book about this one. It was derived from the thaumaturgy material for the World Of Darkness. I put it in because 1) I wanted five ancient and five modern sciences for symmetry, and 2) because it let unpleasant thaumaturges put out the lights and scare people. That seemed appropriate enough and really unlikely to seriously upset the game.
Weather-Working (Cha+Occ): Predict the weather D1, sense origin of weather systems D2, make minor/major/ massive changes in the weather D1/2/3. Local effects take a few minutes, city-scale and up takes hours.
Weather-workers may gain +1 success per extra hour of working up to +7 maximum. Altering the weather costs 12 motes. It still only costs 3 to predict or evaluate it.
It’s also worth noting that the Solar Exalted do have the privilege of weather-working.
This is pretty much out of the book, but lowers the difficulties slightly because weather-workers will now have to buy their area of effect with some of their successes. Overall, it’s just a bit weaker since the scale has been defined.
The Modern Sciences
Why modern sciences? Because occultism is still rampant in the modern world, it just has a different style. Rituals and mystic diagrams are OUT, “psychic powers” are IN. Unlike the ancient sciences, the modern sciences all share the same special advantage; they normally only take a couple of minutes to use. Besides, I wanted an even set: 12 arts, 5 ancient sciences, 5 modern sciences, 2 lost sciences, and 1 bit of secret lore to match the 25 charm-fields and constellations in Exalted.
Clairvoyance (Per+Occ): Basically visual divination, with the option to peer more deeply into the past (D1-5, dependent on range), to “see” brief scenes from an item’s or character’s history and/or past lives (D2, +2 successes per dot in past lives emulated), or to have random prophetic flashes (GMO as to when this occurs).
Clairvoyance is, like Past Lives, at least as much plot hook as power. After all, no matter how many dice there are, the game master decides what information to give out.
Energetics (Sta+Occ): The manipulation of raw energy and forces, such as gravity. Uniquely, Energetics doesn’t do anything particularly unique; you can power things with technomancy, ward off damage with telekinesis, and make energy bolts with attack effects. Energetics does, however, bring together a number of useful advanced effects in one science, so it’s sometimes worth knowing anyway.
This is here both for symmetry and because it makes logical sense as a discipline. It really doesn’t have any unique effects though. On the other hand it does bring together several useful ones in one place.
Technomancy (Int+Occ): Repair or sabotage things (+2D over base, additional +2D if working at range), make things work without fuel/power D3, D5 for planes and other large machines, control machines within normal parameters D2, D5 if working at range, remote computer link D3, transfer data mentally D5, instant programming D8. Analyze unknown device D3.
Technomancy can be very effective in dealing with computers and security systems. If it’s too effective it might be best to upgrade the difficulties of working with computers somewhat.
Telekinesis (Int+Occ): Use successes as ranged Str D2, affect many small objects D3, re-arrange many small items (reweave clothing, etc) D4, Molecular Reconstruction D5. Create force fields D3 (6L/6B bonus Soak, +1 target per +2 successes, will block Ping damage), +2D to apport objects instead of simply moving them.
Telekinesis has the unique benefit of providing a bit of instant armor. It’s not a lot, but every little bit helps – particularly in a modern setting where armor isn’t an ordinary thing. Note that “ranged str” can be given a duration to do things like bar a portal.
Telepathy (Man+Off): Communications D1+1 per extra target, astral projection D3, may Compel spirits at D(Will + 3x Ess), read surface/deep/subconscious thoughts roll vrs Will at D(0/3/5), borrow skills D1/3/5/8 for 2/3/4/5 dice, reduce cost of learning a skill from a teacher or of teaching one by (extra successes XP, minimum 1/2 normal) D5.
These abilities represent the upper limits of power for Thaumaturgy at effective skill levels of 6+. There is no way to go beyond this point except through…
The Lost Sciences
Necrotics: The unspeakably reckless art of tapping into the power of oblivion to power your magic. Such spells can bind spirits into bodies or objects, annihilate things, shatter destinies, and warp time itself. Fortunately, the use of Necrotics has been lost to both the living and the dead for thousands of years.
Necrotics has been lost since the Great Contagion, although that may simply be because the last of it’s practitioners died. The price of Necrotics – a power as great as Celestial or perhaps even Solar Sorcery – is accepting a shard of oblivion into your soul. When a Necrotic Mage is finally slain, they are cast into oblivion forever. It’s included here both because it’s an obvious possibility for crazy thaumaturgists and because the Players Guide mentions the existence of lost sciences, but fails to give any information about them.
Necrotic Rituals don’t involve accepting a shard of oblivion into your soul. Anyone who’s insane enough to take hideous risks and (un-)lucky enough to find and learn one can perform it.
Wyld Magic: The art of using Wyld energies to power your spells. Wyld magic includes true transformations, creation (including the fine art of spinning pocket realms), and manipulating space. Wyld magic only works in areas where such energies are present, and is dangerous even then; it often goes out of control. Q.V. the Solar Wyld-Shaping Technique charm (Lore). The only wyld magic rituals are those intended to banish it’s influences or protect against it; active wyld magic cannot be so constrained.
Generally only the fey-touched play with this, if only because wyld-touched areas are 1) hard to find near civilization, 2) very dangerous, and 3) using wyld magic almost always results in wyld-taint, weird mutations, and entanglement with some of the more dangerous fey. Still, it can be very powerful if you’re willing to take the risks.
You can’t do this with Thaumaturgy. At least, not with just Thaumaturgy. Very little is actually impossible if you know the right people – or gods.
The “back door” is pretty simple; you need to have a pattern spider of the appropriate constellation who will help you out – i.e. you need to have one as an ally. (How did you manage this?). Given that, you simply use Link to contact it and make an (Int+Occ) roll at D4 to submit a sensible request. Extra successes translate to points of effect or Resplendent Destiny. Sadly, while the user can gain a few (Ess) bonus dice with basic offerings and rituals, he or she can’t gain the huge bonuses Sidereal Exalts can. They also gain paradox normally and have no way of dissipating it other than the pattern spiders forgetting about it naturally. Mortals, or even non-sidereal exalts, are well advised to avoid attracting Sidereal attention by using any effect that would “invite the censure of his peers” for a Sidereal.
Contacts/Gods and Influence/Spirits may also be useful.
A fairly obvious possibility and one that was even mentioned in the Sidereals book – although they noted that “the pattern spiders simply ignore such ill-formatted requests”. Apparently the possibility of having an “in” with a pattern spiders didn’t occur to the author. Of course anything like that would require a pretty good explanation or some major method of tinkering with the world.
Mastery of an Art provides +2 dice whenever you’re working with a particular art. You can buy one mastery for each art if you want, but only one applies at a time even if you’re working a spell that calls on more than one art. Natural essence users (Exalted, Blooded, Spirits, etc) buy arts at 1 bonus point or 3 XP each. Normal humans pay 2 bonus points or 5 XP each.
Sciences simply substitute for the Occult skill in higher-level operations. Dots in sciences cost 2 bonus points or 3 XP to start and 3xL XP for natural essence-users, 5 bonus points or 6 XP to start and 5xL XP for mortals.
Specialization works normally. One can specialize in an art, in a type of target, or in a wide variety of other ways.
Rituals give you an effective base level of 5 in a science or art, but only with regard to one, highly specific, application. Each costs 1 bonus point or 2 XP for essence-wielders, 2 bonus points or 4 XP for mortals.
At the game masters option every two levels or part thereof taken in Occult during character creation will provide knowledge of one ritual.
This structure gives active essence-wielders, who have both a far easier time manipulating magic and more powerful charms to spend their efforts on to acquire thaumaturgy more easily if they want to bother with it, bringing it’s costs more into line with it’s actual effectiveness. The special modifiers are not included in the base chart; it’s concerned with actually using thaumaturgy, not with buying it.
It’s worth noting that – theoretically – a skillful mortal may have an attribute-5, skill-5, +5 dice from mastery and specialization, +2 dice from perfect equipment, and +3 dice from a preparatory spell (Fortune), for a base total of 20 dice even before adding in any special modifiers for the art or science in use.