Sorcery

Below you'll find the mechanical information on how the Sorcery quality works. We're leaving the thematic elements up to the player to decide as each magical tradition may do things a bit differently. A coven of wiccans may pray to a pagan entity while a witch may recite spells from her inherited book of shadows. Thematically they are very different methods of spell casting but mechanically they use the same system. There are no end to the various ways magic can be invoked thematically.

For some example spells see Sample Spells or to create your own spells see Spell Creation.

Game Lingo

Magical incantations and invocations have a few features that must be taken into account when using the art of mojo in the game. Each spell has a Power Level. This determines the overall strength of the spell - a spell that helps cure a toothache is less powerful than one that can transmogrify (as that old lady who turns into a cat likes to say) the population of a small city into barnyard animals, for example. The higher the Power Level of a spell, the more difficult it is to cast properly, and the more damaging the consequences of failure. Additionally, spells have Requirements - the ingredients or ritual components needed to attempt the magical endeavor. Finally, spells have an Effect. This is usually descriptive ("all the body hair is removed from the victim," for example), but can also include rules concepts like damage inflicted, area affected, and duration

Purpose

First, your character needs to know what she wants to do. Okay, that's sort of a "duh" statement, but it's not as straightforward as it first sounds. With magic, being specific is key. If the caster's intentions are too vague, the powers invoked by the spell may "interpret" them as they wish, and that's rarely a good thing. "I want to make my ex-boyfriend's life miserable" sucks as a mission statement. Such a spell might do almost anything, including killing the caster herself (if her death would make the ex-boyfriend miserable), turning him into a monsterous creature (bad if he holds a grudge), or killing everybody he likes (which may include people the caster likes). "I want my ex-boyfriend's nose to spew a constant stream of mucus for five hours starting at 7pm next Saturday" is much better (pretty gross, granted, but better).

So, what can a magician wish for? In theory, anything; in practice, not so much. Magic can affect living and non-living things, can build and destroy, affect people's minds and manipulate matter and energy. There are limits, however. Making objects appear out of thin air is exceedingly difficult, for example. It is a great deal easier to transform or destroy something that already exists rather than create something out of nothing. Permanent effects are more difficult than temporary ones: your character may be able to turn lead into gold, but the gold reverts to lead a short while later. Healing some diseases may have unfortunate side effects–this is especially true of any problem affecting the patient's mind. The more ambitious the purpose, the harder it is to find a spell that can accomplish it. The best spells have simple and straightforward goals.

Finally, spells that squash enemies like bugs or overwhelm all challenges on the Game are not going to be available for the most part (and when they are, they will exact a high price from those who use them and will only be allowed in approved TP-like situations). Other than being silly and rude to the rest of the player who have worked so hard on their characters, that's way too much of a cop out. Magic cannot solve all or even most problems.

Research

Alright, your character knows what she wants, and has formulated it with some specificity. Is she going to get it? That depends on how good her research is. This step is mostly RP intensive control. Once you decide what type of spell your character needs, you(or staff if you like) must decide two things: Is the spell available, and how difficult will it be to find?

The first part is the trickiest one; does the desired spell exist? Generally speaking, any reasonably effective spell should be available-if the spell doesn't get in the way or upset game balance. By the same token, once a spell is "discovered," the Cast will have continual access to it, so you(or staff) must consider whether the spell in question is potentially unbalancing or inappropriate in the long term. Alternatively, the spell may exist, but it may require unique components. Of course, you will not know if the spell is available until your character spends some time looking for it (and how much time depends on your character's research skills and whatever your RP dictates).

All of this exists to feed RP. Having your character and their friends RP searching for a much needed spell can fuel endless amounts of RP. It's not intended to hinder a character at all but to enhance their RP. Use it as much or as little as needed.

Preperations

Setting up the spell may require very little effort (cracking open a book and reading it, for example), but preparations often must be made beforehand. They include things like setting up a ritual site, finding all the ingredients to be used in the spell, or waiting for the right time (midnight, the full moon, a total solar eclipse, or a Jackson Five reunion). Common elements used in many spells include:

CANDLES: Electricity is for muggles-magic works best in flickering candlelight, just like grandma used to spellcast. Many rituals call for lighting a number of candles (four to thirteen, usually), generally arranged in a circle, square or pentagram.

ITEMS: Some spells need specific items to be effective. These objects have a special meaning or inherent trigger. They may be crucial to the ritual's success or they may simply make it easier.

MAGIC CIRCLE: Gather a few of your best friends in a circle, have them hold hands and chant and presto! - they'll definitely think you're insane. That's the way a lot of rituals work, though. Sometimes the circle is drawn on the ground, and if someone smudges or erases the lines, the spell fizzles-or does something unexpected (and keep in mind there are precious few good surprises when you're using magic).

OCCULT SYMBOLS: Some spells work better when you paint a few pretty pictures. You've got pentagrams, hexagrams, candygrams, runes, Sumerian cuneiform writing, and Amazon Indian pictographs. Stick figures might do it, but don't count on it.

Like Research these are all RP driven not rules driven.

Spellcasting

Once everything is in place, casting a spell requires a Willpower and Occultism(+ Sorcery [if any]) roll. If the roll fails (i.e, the total is less than nine), the spell doesn't work-the ritual simply fails. Generally, there's no other down side here; your character just wasted some time, candlepower and pretty speechifying. Actually, it's when the roll succeeds that things get interesting … in the sense of the ancient Chinese curse "may you live in interesting times."

The roll's Success Levels are compared to the spell's Power Level. If the number of Success Levels is less than the spell's Power Level, something magical happens- but it is rarely what the caster intended. The spell's intent may be twisted or perverted, and the caster may be injured-or even killed-as the magicks draw on her life force to fulfill their purpose. You can decide what happens based on RP, or you(or staff) can roll on the Spell Side Effect Table below.

If the roll results in Success Levels greater than or equal to the spell's Power Level, the spell works perfectly. Unless, of course, it takes an unexpected turn no matter how many Success Levels were rolled. In the TB Universe any frequent use of magic is going to go wrong at some point. Best to expect some nasty consequence with magic (regardless of the die rolling result), and plan accordingly.

Casting multiple spells without resting is very difficult, as the magician's will is sapped by the constant strain. Every successive spell cast without a significant period of rest (at least two hours per spell Power Level) suffers a cumulative -2 penalty. So, the second spell of the day is at -2, the third at -4, and so on. Only powerful Witches can cast multiple spells in a row, and even then they will eventually fail. Even worse, using the same spell more than once adds an additional -1 to the penalties above.

Example: Ericka is trapped in a room. The door has several locks on it, and the walls are reinforced steel (although she doesn't know that). First she tries to unlock the door with a spell. It works, but only one of the locks is released. Frustrated, Ericka decides to try and blow out a portion of the wall. That spell suffers a -2 penalty given Ericka's fatigue. Reinforced steel says "no way". Realizing now how strong the walls are, Ericka returns to the locked door. She attempts the unlock spell again. This time it suffers a -4 penalty due to fatigue, and -1 for repeated use-the total modifier is -5.

Togetherness

Spells that require multiple magicians don't require multiple rolls. The participant with the highest casting bonus (Willpower + Occultism + Sorcery [if any]) or Quick Sheet Magic Maneuver Score is called the primary caster. She does the rolling. The casting bonus of other participants is not used.

When more than the required number of participants is available, the extra help comes in handy. Every magician above the minimum needed adds +1 for every Success Level she achieves on a separate casting roll. So, if a spell normally requires three casters and four Witches are around, the one with the lowest casting bonus adds +1 per Success Level to the primary caster's casting total. The bonus for a single helper may be small, but it could be the difference between arcane achievement and pain-inducing prestidigitation. Making magic with a full coven of 13 Witches can really put some mustard in the mojo. There is a downside though-each additional caster's failure subtracts two from the primary caster's final result. Regardless of the quality of the help though, the total bonus added by the additional magicians cannot exceed the primary caster's Willpower and Occultism (and Sorcery) bonus. In effect, the primary caster's bonuses can be doubled, but no more than that.

Magic in Combat

In your typical fantasy roleplaying game, magicians are walking artillery pieces, able to fire spells left and right and smite orcs and goblins by the cartload. In the TB-verse, only Witches and Warlocks can use magic effectively in combat(those with the Sorcery quality) and even they can't just blast away at their enemies for very long. Magic is mostly the stuff of lengthy rituals and careful preparation, and a fistfight isn't the right place for it. Practitioners should do their spells before or after a fight.

Any spell that requires a ritual fails if the caster is attacked before the ritual is complete. Witches can use their speed-casting ability to invoke spells in combat, but even they are hindered by the roll penalties for multiple castings. Again, feel free to impose a magical downside even when combat spell-casting rolls are succeed cleanly.

Dispelling Magic

Some spells have continuing effects (curses, for example) or may even be permanent (some transformation spells). Canceling their effects requires access to the spell itself (ideally taking it directly from the magician's own books) and a spellcasting roll as above with the effective Power Level of the spell reduced by one (it's easier to undo a spell and return nature to its natural state). There is another way to stop an ongoing magic effect-find the caster and get her to stop the spell, say by cutting off her head or turning her into a sports trophy. Either way, continuing spells stop working, but permanent ones may not. For this reason, and others, wholesale slaughter is discouraged.

The Sorcery Quality

Anyone can use magic, but Witches and Warlocks(those with the Sorcery quality) live, drink and breathe magic. They are the pros of the magic biz. In the TB-Verse, these powerful humans are able to apply their will directly on reality. They can skip some or even all of the ritual steps and components, at least for the simpler magicks. It's not clear whether this is an inherited trait, but it does seem to run strong in some families. The power can be awakened by exposure to the supernatural- usually (but not necessarily) by studying and practicing magic. A Witch who has mastered her powers can be the match of a werewolf or a powerful vampire. Of course, getting to that level isn't easy, or pain-free.

Sorcery Witches and Warlocks must have at least one level of the Sorcery Quality. A beginner Witch has one or two Sorcery levels. A powerful Witch may have five or more levels. Sorcery goes beyond mere spellcraft, and provides a number of special abilities for those who can wield it. Either through practice or because or some inherent power, Witches can use magic more easily than your average student of the mystical arts. In the end, none of these abilities take the danger out of magic. Any regular use is going to lead to problems.

Improved Spellcasting Characters add their Sorcery level to any spellcasting roll, to a maximum bonus of +5. After that, additional levels of Sorcery stop adding to any one spellcasting roll. Still, levels over five do help with the repeat casting penalties (the decreases can be absorbed by levels of Sorcery above five, thus leaving the full, allowable +5 bonus intact). Thus, Witches can cast high-power spells with a better chance of success than your typical bookreading spell-flinger.

Quick Casting Most spells require the caster to recite a formula or incantation out loud, or perform some type of ritual. All that hooha takes time. Witches can cast some spells almost instantly, with only a single word or phrase, or even just a simple gesture. This won't work on spells that require a very specific ritual and cannot be sped up, but some can be cast in a few seconds (as an action in a Turn). Whether a spell can be quick cast is indicated in that spell's description. Spells that feature a decreased Power Level due to special ingredients lose that benefit when quick cast. This not only makes sense (can't be futzing with demon's blood when whipping off spells) but it reigns in the casters a bit.

Telekinesis Sorcery comes with the bonus power of Telekinesis. Instead of Willpower + Telekinesis, however, the Sorcerer uses Willpower + Sorcery to determine success.

Spell Side Effects

The Spell Side Effects Modifiers Table accounts for special circumstances when a spell goes wrong. All modifiers are cumulative-casting a brand new ritual in the back of a moving SUV while really angry is a good way to bring the bad. To determine the side effect +roll a single die and add the Power Level of the spell to the roll(+roll <Spell Power Level>).

Spell Side Effects Modifiers

+1 The caster is upset or otherwise highly emotional when casting the spell.
-1 The caster spends at least ten minutes sitting and quietly meditating just before casting.
+3 The caster attempts to rush the spell. Rushing a spell halves the time needed for a ritual spell but mistakes are far more costly.
+3 The casting occurs somewhere that is extremely noisy or unstable such as the backseat of a moving car or the restroom of a crowded dance club.
-3 The caster has succesfully cast the spell in the past.
+3 The caster has never attempted the spell before.
+1 The caster has never successfully cast the spell before but has tried and failed.
+1 The caster has never successfully cast a spell of this Power Level or higher before.

Spell Side Effect Table

Roll Total Effect
4 or less Lucked out, no side effect.
5-7 The spell is delayed. It appears the spell failed but it will work normally at a later time(determined by staff or you can choose something dramatic).
8-10 The spell works but it is leff effective than expected. Theduration, damage or effect is halved.
11-13 The spell works but the caster is damaged by its energies. The magician takes five Life POints of damage per Power Level of the spell.
14-15 The spell affects the wrong target(decide yourself or call staff or have another player in the scene choose).
16+ Spell has a completely unexpected effect. The magical energies run rampant, often causing physical damage to the area or summoning dangerous entities from beyond our reality.
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