Sorcery: Magic, Rituals and The Occult

Index

Introduction

Magician Character Generation
(Basic Requirements, Ritual Skills & Colleges, Ritual Skill effect on Casting Time & Energy, Learning Rites, Mastering Rituals)

Powering Rituals
(Te and what is is, Recovering Te, Sarcred Sites [Optional], Improving Te, When it runs out)

Casting
(Requirements and Components, Power without Knowledge, The Mechanics of Magic, Ritual Castings, Speedcasting, Casting on the sly, Power over Skill, Long Range).

Te Cost
(High Ritual SKill, Critical Success, Critual Failures, Spell Fumble Table)

Duration, Function and Strength
(Instant Spells, Sustained Spells, Stackable Spells, Stackable-Sustainable Spells)

Resisting Magic
(The Battle of Wills, Spell Strength)

Spell Lists
( Curing Illusions Kinetics Necromancy Onieromancy Protection Veracity Telepathy)


INTRODUCTION

This file deals with the power of magic. The intention is to give a more behind the scenes or hidden powers approach, not the typical fireballs and brimstone of RPGs. Telepathic illusions, hypnotic suggestion or remote viewing are very powerful if used intelligently. These rules are the default magic system within Dark Age.

Moonset over the seaBear in mind that the Dark Age setting is somwhat of a parallel to the real world in many respects. Despite all the technology and science - maybe because of science - there are no "overt" magicians. Anyone claiming magical powers will get the same response as the so-called quacks we see on TV or read about in the gutter   press: disbelief, ridicule and sometimes hostility. Remember, society often fears, or hates, what it does not understand.

Mankind decided long ago how the world works - something's just don't fit into that pattern. Some people, like magicians, young children, some of the mentally ill or those who have experienced serious "weirdness", are not so bound by these beliefs and it is that which can lead them on to other experiences.

Of course, just because you have had some supernatural experience does not mean you are destined to see what is behind the metaphysical curtain. As we have defined the rules to "natural world" - or rather what we believe is possible - just about everyone justifies what they see and adjusts the memories to fit the rational world.

Shout too loudly and you could end up under "medical supervision". Well, until you are no longer a threat to yourself or the community. Seriously strange effects are likely to be put down to hysteria, or a hoax or some very clever holographic than real magic. People just don't want to believe and if they did the world wouldn't work they way it does. However, that doesn't mean that everyone subscribes to this point of view...

What if the Illumanti really do exist? What if the Greys were really the Fey? - flashing lights, missing time, strange medical experiments. Why is it alleged that one of the investigation squads for INTERPOL acts as a termination unit for serial killings that involve people who've been bitten?


Magician Character Generation

Basic Requirments

Would-be magicians will need to have the magicianship quirk. A high spirit score is useful as it provides the magicians with the power to fuel rituals. Reasonable intelligence and willpower scores are also useful, but not vital. An intelligent wizard may be naturally good with magic, but a skilled mage will have other powers to draw on.

Magicianship (Four+ point edge)

You are one of the rare few who has some skill in the magical arts. Your "gift" will greatly affect what powers you can use and to what level.
Grade I (four points): You can sense energies and manipulate them to some extent. You may learn any magic skills at no penalty. But any spells you learn may never exceed half your socercy ability.
Grade II (eight points): The Art is strong inside you. You can learn skills and spells at no penalty.
Grade III
(ten points): You have control over your powers and in addition to being able to cast spells, your sorcery rating is one point higher.
Grade IV
(twelve points): You have total mastery of your magical powers. You have the potiental to be a powerful magician and your sorcery rating is increased by two points.

Having the magicianship edge does not give any extra skills. You must purchase spells and skills seperately. Ask your referee about this.

Most players will buy the grade II version of the quirk. Grade I is suitable for dabblers or researchers, people who know a lot about magic, but not how to use it. Referees must decide if this quick can be developed. Is magic a natural talent that some people have and others never will? Or, is it a case that if you know the right words of power and read the right books, that you will be capable of true magic? (nb: as a guide, grade I magicianship should cost at 40 exp to learn AND require some sort of spirtual event - maybe a journey into the DreamWorld, possession or months of hard studying).

Beside the actual skill of Ritual (type) and learning spells, some players may wish to invest in ancient languages (Latin, Old English, etc) and the occult skill. While these may not come into to play on every occasion, they will prove useful. Sensing is the ability to detect magical energies, some non-magicians have this too and it helps a person to be aware of their environment.

The supernatural quirks section is a good place to find ideas for a magician's background. Maybe this would help explain why the person has these powers. There are also some magician quirks here that are only suitable for wizards. Referees may choose to withhold some of the spell lists from players - it is unlikely that any tome contains a definitive list of all the rites. Indeed, a single spell may be known by many different names. Most magicians can be a secretive bunch, they don't reveal their secrets to anyone. Paradoxically, they join groups - societys, covens, vurt-meetings - to discuss theories and even take on students, however, they won't teach just anyone.

Ritual Skills & Colleges (Ritual Skill)

In order to use magic, a character must have some knowledge of a ritual and the magicianship quirk. Rituals are split into Colleges, with each area dealing with a certain style of spell: i.e: healing or illusions. These skills are referred to as Ritual Skills and characters should concentrate on one or two disciplines initially.

Ritual Skill Type
Effects
Ritual Skill: Curing Health and harm spells
Ritual Skill: Illusions Phantasms and the make believe.
Ritual Skill: Kinetics Psychokinetics: mind over matter
Ritual Skill: Necromancy Rites to talk with spirits & the dead
Ritual Skill: Onieromancy Dream-magic
Ritual Skill: Protection Rites to guard against harm & magic
Ritual Skill: Veracity Improved sensory perception
Ritual Skill: Telepathy ESP and reading thoughts

Example: Raven buys +6 in Curing which costs her 9 Curting points. She also buys +3 in Protection. Raven now needs to buy a few spells.

The level of a person's skill has a significant effect on the time to complete a ritual and how much power they need to put into it. Consult the table below and make a note of the effects. As mentioned earlier, a skilled magician has the advantage over a natural.

Ritual Skill effect on Casting Time & Energy

Skill
Effect on Casting Time and Energy
0
Triple casting time. Must meditate and remain motionless.
1 and 2

Double casting time. Must meditate and remain motionless.

3 and 4

Normal casting time. Must concentrate and remain motionless (but may talk).

5 and 6

Normal casting time. Must concentrate but may move and talk normally*.

7 and 8

Half casting time. Concentrate only and may move freely. -1 TE cost

9 and 10

Third casting time. Only concentration required. -2 TE cost.

11 and 12

Quarter casting time. Need only to concentrate and -3 te required to cast any spell.

[ Round all decimals of 0.5 or more, up and below .5, round down ]

* While it is possible to walk and talk fairly normally at this skill level, if the magician is required to chant or call powers at various stages, then normal conversation will not be possible.

Example: Raven's +6 in Ritual (Curing) means that she can cast Health College rituals while interacting with other people. She does not have to meditate and remain still, so she could heal herself on the quiet.

Once your character has their ritual skills, you need to have some spells to cast.

Learning Rites (Spell Skill)

Each College has a number of rituals that a magician can use and learn. Some spells require the knowledge of previous spells before they can be cast and these are listed under Requirments in the spell's description (as the old saying goes: you can't run, if you can't walk). More powerful spells can be harder to cast and (in game terms) they have a penalty to the caster's skill totals.

Once a magician learns a ritual skill, he must then learn a spell. Each spell costs 1 CP (character point) or 10 EXP (experience points) to learn. It is possible to cast spells that the caster does not know, but it is difficult (see casting, below).

Example: Raven's player chooses Purge the Body, Antidote and Healing Hands. Purge the Body and Healing Hand do not have any spell prerequistites, so Raven's player may buy them. The Antidote ritual requires the caster to know the Purge The Body spell, as Raven knows this, this is not a problem. Her player expends 3 CP and Raven now has these spells.

Mastering Rituals (Reducing Spell Complexity)

Spell complexity is a penalty that applies to a magician's total spell skill. It represents the difficulty of a ritual - powerful rituals tax even the most educated of mages. Having said that, a complex spell can be masterd! Every additional CP or 10 EXP spent on the spell, reduces the spell complexity penalty buy one.

Example: Jack Ching uses his Evil Eye spell so often, that he is very fairly with it's tricks and complexitiies. The black rite has a complexity of -7, but by investing EXP into the spell, he has reduced this to -3 (having spent 40 EXP). Another 30 EXP will buy the complexity off completely.

Note that while spells are complicated, they are easier to master than the ritual skill. Spell complexity can be bought off at a flat rate of 10 EXP / 1 CP per -1 penalty, whereas Ritual Skills cost the same EXP and CP as other skills. Players should choose if they want to be an expert with rituals, or a master of a few spells.


POWERING RITUALS

Te and what it is

Spells and rites require power as well as knowledge. A magician draws on their inner strength to calls spirits and bind Powers to carry out the ritual's effect. This energy is called "Te" and is equal to the character's spirit score.

Recovering Te

Just as we recover from physical exercise from rest, so does rest let magicians recover from psychic exersion.

Activity
Te regained
Sleep
3 te per hour of sleep
(or 1 te per 20 minutes)
Meditation
2 te per hour
(or 1 te per 30 minutes)
Inactivity
1 te per three hours
Activity
1 te every six hours

Meditation requires the magician to make an average [15] meditation roll. Sucess means he enters a trance and begins to recover Te at the rates mentioned above. If the roll is failed, the magician may try again in another ten minutes.

Optional Rule: Sacred Sites

Referee's may rule that some locations help store energy and can be tapped by a magician. Big churches, old sacred sites or remote mountains could all act as such places. Keep in mind that sites with a good energy source are likely to be used by others and in some instances the other worshippers may not take kindly to an intruder.

If you do plan to use sacred sites - add +1 to +3 to the recovery rates listed above. Thus a +2 site would make the recovery rates thus: sleep = 5 te / hour; meditation = 4 te per hour; inactivity = 3 te per three hours and activity = 3 per six hours. You may change the hours to minutes if you see fit.

Improving Te

Experienced magicians often develop their Focus skill. This allows them to make greater use of their Te and this increases the amount of energy they have available.

Focus Skill & Te Gain
Skill Level
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Extra Te
+1
+2
+3
+5
+7
+9
+12
+15
+18
+22

The focus skill be learned at a later date, or the player can buy it during character generation with the Weird Background quirk.

When it runs out

Te is certainly not endless and running low tires a magician. Running out completely is not fatal, but it isn't pleasant either. Magicans who have very low te will be tired and will not want to risk any more spells.

A magician must have enough te to begin casting a spell. If he does not, then it automatically fails. So, how does a magician loose more te than he has? Well, a badly miscasted (fumbled) ritual can cause massive te loss and some supernatural creatures are capable of draining te out of a person (think: fangs, strong dislike of sunshine).


Casting

Requirements and Components

Before a magician can cast a spell, there are a few things that he needs to have satisfied. Firstly, he must have enough te points to cast the spell. If the magician does not have enough te, the spell automatically fails, although no additional te is lost.

Additionally, some rituals require material components, such as herbs and bandages for healing spells or chalk to draw protective wards. Inventive magicians, or those more familiar with a modern tradition, may use alternatives - it's really a case of the spirit of the law, than the letter of the law. A streetmage may use spray paint to draw protective wards, while a new ager would prefer a healing crystal to channel psychic energies.

Power without Knowledge

Skilled magicians may be able to cause a ritual effect without actually knowing the full rite. The caster must know at least two spells from the College before attempting this. If the caster:

The Mechanics of Magic

Spells can be cast in two ways: as a ritual, which takes time and speedcasting, which is significantly faster but a lot harder. A magician's sorcery skill is a total of their sorcery base rating and ritual skill added together. This total is reduced by the spell complexity, although as mentioned above, a magician may reduce this penalty by mastering the spell.

Sorcery Base Rating + Ritual Skill - Spell Complexity + Luck + D10
vs
Spell diffculty (15 for rituals, 20 for speedcasting)

* A magician can boost their chances by pumping in more power than is necessary. This is covered under Power over Skill (below).

Ritual Castings:

These take x number of minutes to cast and have a base difficulty rating of 15. Magicians with high ritual skills may have a time reduction (see the Time & Energy table above). The magician starts the ritual and it completes at the end of the time. At this point, the player expends the necessary te points and makes a skill roll. In the sample above, a healing hand ritual takes 20 minutes to cast.

A successful roll means that the spell is cast and the amount by which the spell difficulty was beaten should be recorded. This is as some rituals make use of the wizard's success. If the test is failed, one point of te is spent but the ritual does not work. If the caster fumbles the ritual (rolls a 1 twice) then consult the Spell Fumble Table (below).

Speedcasting:

Using shortcuts and other tricks, the magician reduces the time it takes to complete the rite. Speedcasting replaces ritual casting time from minutes to seconds at the expence of making the spell very hard to complete (Given the sample spell below, Healing Hands would take 20 seconds to speedcast). Speedcasting increases spell difficult from 15 to 20. As with rituals, casting time may be reduced further if the caster has a high ritual skill (see Time & Energy table above).

[NB: A combat round is five seconds, so for convenience, one action is one second. A character begin casting on her first action, then the spell comes into effect so many actions or rounds later.]

Example Spell

Healing Hands (-2)

Effects: Add +1 to first aid or medical tests.

Cost: 2 te per +1

Time: 20 minutes

Duration: During the ritual the caster is performing first aid.

Requires: Crystals, herbs or bandages, etc.

Example: Shift X has Ritual: Technomancy +9 so using the Time & Energy table shows that all his casting times are reduced by a third.

Casting on the Sly

There will be occasions were a wizard will want to use magic, but will not want to be noticed. This is can be tricky for novices as they must speak power words, make gestures (the famous Darth Vader deathgrip?) and handle any necessary materials.

Refer to the Ritual Skill effect on Casting Time & Energy Table. As a rule of thumb, unless the magicians skills are such that they only need to concentrate, add +2 difficulty to all spell attempts when attempting to cast a spell on the sly.

For all attempts, successful sensing rolls (by a mundane or a magician) will tip a person off that something is happening. The only way to avoid this is to have some sort of mask that hides magical power. A succesful occult roll may grant a bonus to spotting someone trying to hide a spell.

Power over Skill

Very complicated rites can tax even the most skilled of magicians. To this end, it is possible to put extra power in, te, to help complete a difficult spell. Feeding the spell with more energy than is required, gives a bonus of +2 to casting per multiple of the basic te cost. However, it is not possible to gain a bonus of more than half the caster's original ritual skill.

Example: Sharrow's Telltale ritual is unlikely to work when she tries it in a speedcasting. It needs 2 te but Sharrow could double this to 4 te - which would grant her a +2 skill bonus. ,Tebbling the te cost would give her a +4 bonus, but would cost her 6 te. As Sharrow's ritual skill is only +3, the maximum bonus she could get is +2 (half of three is 1.5, which is rounded up to 2).

Long Range

Normally spells will be cast with the subject being fairly close, although there are time where the recipient (or "target" moreoften) will not be within the magician's sight. Targets who are visable to the wizard do not incur any penalty, although they should be visable with the naked eye (practically 50m or so). Spells that seek a person out, or those that curse are good examples.

For a ritual to target a person who is out of sight, or is not physically present, then the magician must have a item from the subject. This is a sympathetic link to the person and allows the ritual to reach the intended. Without any link the spell is almost impossible (-8 penalty). The table below lists the ranges and the amount by which the ritual's difficultly increases.

Range (meters)
Ritual Difficulty
Up to 50m
+0
1 mile
+2
5 miles
+4
10 miles
+6
25 miles
+8
50 miles
+10
100 miles
+12
200 miles
+14
400 miles
+16
etc.....

 


Te Cost

When a spell is cast, the magician uses up the te associated with the spell. He must have had the te necessary before casting the spell, otherwise the ritual will not work. However, high ritual skills reduce the amount of te the mage has to use and a lucky (or unlucky) roll will alter the amount of te lost.

High Ritual Skill: As per the Time & Energy table, a magician may get a reduction in te cost. Ritual skill levels of 7 & 8, 9 & 10 and 11 & 12 have a reduction of -1, -2 and -3 respectively. These reductions are applied to casting and maintain a ritual. Despite the reduction in costs, a spell costs a minimum of 1 te unless is says otherwise.

Critical Success: If the caster rolls two 10 in a row, this is critical success. There is no te cost for this spell, although spells may require extra energy if they are sustained.

Critical Failure: If the caster fumbles the spell casting roll, by rolling a 1 twice in a row, then consult the Spell Fumble table below. If the caster has used extra te to boost his ritual skill, then add +1 to the roll.

D10 Roll
Spell Fumble Table
1 - 2
Caster's powers wane - cannot use magic for D4 minutes
3 - 4
Caster's powers wane - cannot use magic for D6 minutes
5 - 6
Loose D4 extra te points.
7
Loose D4 extra te points and no spells for D4 minutes
8
Loose D6 extra te points and take D4 damage.
9
Loose D10 extra te points and take D6 damage.
10+
Roll again and double the results.

 


Duration, Function and Strength

Spells can be broken down into the following types: instant, sustainable, stackable and finally a combination of the latter two: stackabale/sustainable rites.

Instant Spells: There are other factors that affect the te cost of a spell. Instant spells are simple, the magician expends the energy and on a succesful casting, the spell carries out the effect. The do not need to be maintained and can be considered "fire & forget".

Sustained Spells: These are rituals that the magician can maintain by refueling them with psychic energy. These spells have two te costs: the first is the initial cost to start the spell, while the second is to continue the spell's effect for a certain time period. High ritual skills will reduce the cost of a sustained spell accordingly.

Example: During an interview, Agent Vallen uses empathy to gain more information from his subject. The spell costs two of Vallen's eight TEP to cast initially. The interview lasts around thirty minutes, so Vallen end up expending an extra three TEP to keep the spell going. If he knew it was going to be that long, Vallen could have pumped three TE into the original casting and he would not have had to keep supplying the spell with energy.

These sustained spells can be dropped by the magician at any time. In fact, where a spell must be consciously maintained (telekinesis) it will be cancelled if the mage looses consciousness (the Ref has final say in the matter). However, if the magician provides the spell with lots of surplus energy before the original duration is up, then the ritual will continue to function until no power is available.

Stackable Spells: Some rituals provide more power if more energy is put into them. Rites such as Healing are like this. Healing grants a +1 bonus to medical rolls per two te spent. Remember that high ritual skills reduce spell costs, but the minimum cost is always one te. [So a high skill may reduce the healing spell cost by 2 te, but as there is a minimum cost of 1 te - the spell will never drop below 1 te per +1 bonus.]

Example: Needing to sneak past a sentry, Crowe uses the cloak spell to help hide her: she casts the spell and throws in six TEP for a +3 stealth bonus.

Some spells go a step further, in that they are stackable and sustainable. Cloak is such as spell and grants a +1 bonus per two te to stealth and hide rolls. The effect lasts for ten minutes, or may be increased at a cost of one TEP per extra ten minutes.

Example: Following on from before, Crowe makes it past the guard and into the complex. She spend around eight minutes searching an office when a group of lab technicians come in. Knowing she can't sneak past them, Crowe expends another te point to boost the original cloak spell; boosting it's duration by another ten minutes.


Resisting Magic

The Battle of Wills

A lot of magics involved tricking the mind into believing in things that are not real. In these cases, the magican and the victim must make a tes and this is called a battle of wills. The caster makes a ritual roll as before, but makes a note of how many points they passed the roll by. The victim must then roll under their willpower stat less the mage's success points. If the victim fails, the effects take hold. If they succeed, the magic is shrugged off harmlessly.

With the test there are few rules to keep in mind:

Most mudanes will not feel the pull of magic, but anyone with the sensing skill may make a skill roll against the magician's original spell test to detect a ritual's attack. Failure means they do not notice anything but a critical success gives the magician away (or rather, the target has a feeling that the magician has just tried something).

Spell Strength

Just as a magician uses rites to alter a person's perspectives, so to can magic affect magic. When such an attack occurs, a test is made between the two magicians. The defender performs their ritual as normal, and the amount of success is added to the caster's willpower (make a note of this!). This value is known as the spell strength. The attacking spell's success point should also be recorded.

Upon attack, both parties add a D10 to their respective spell strength totals. Should the defender win or draw, the attacking spell is repelled or absorbed as per the defence ritual. Should the defender loose, the attacking spell goes through as if there was no defence. However, this may mean that those defended originally may still get a battle of wills to resist the attacking spell.

Example: Moonlocke knows that the Brotherhood are after her blood. She only has to lie low for the next hour or so, after that help should arrive. She prepares a two meter Warding circle to hide herself. She completes the ritual and expends the four TE necessary. Moonlocke makes her Warding roll by eight success points and her willpower is nine. This gives the warding spel a strength of seventeen.

The Brotherhood send out a spirit to hunt Moonlooke down, their leader manages and spell strength of nineteen. The spirit begins its search and the ward takes effect. Both parties roll dice, Moonlocke's player rolls eight; the referee only a six. That gives both the warding and the spirit searcher twenty-five; as it's a draw the warding manages to shrug off the baleful glare and the spirit moves on unknowing....


Colleges of Magic

The links below jump straight to the spell lists. They are broken down into indivdual colleges, but that is not to say that some magics don't overlap.

Curing Illusions Kinetics Necromancy Onieromancy Protection Veracity Telepathy