According to sense and reason, magic shouldn’t work. If it weren’t for the consistent objective evidence that it does, many would dismiss the world’s schools of magic as mere superstition. Somehow, although each school has mutually exclusive theories on how their magic works, they still do.
To start the game as a magic user, pick one of the nine professions that comes with the Magical Benefit (there is one for each nation). If you wish for your character to pick up magical skills later-on in character creation, you’ll need to purchase the Arcane Awakening benefit (see Advanced Benefits) so you can use your XP to purchase magical skills.
There are two kinds of magical skill:
Rituals are large, time-consuming, delicate affairs performed by one person or a group of people. They tend to have large, lasting effects that can have profound impact on the world around them. They are difficult but very rewarding.
In combat, fractions of a second count for a lot and you can’t afford the time or attention that’s required for the big effects of ritual magic. Instead, the quick, decisive, small-scale spell is preferred as the primary means of eliminating threats on the battlefield.
Spells are a special kind of Skill. Levels for your spells are purchased with XP in the same way that other skills are. If your profession grants spells at character creation time, you may boost spells in the same way you would boost any other skill.
Rituals constitute the magic that most people encounter in their daily lives. Most of the world’s religions and other cultural traditions are rife with rituals. Sometimes, the participants don’t even realize they’re performing a magical ritual when they do it.
When the Earthhewn Clan builds their vehicles, the hammering, stamping, cutting and welding emerge with a symphonic rhythm that goes all day. The tones and rhythms have worked their way into the local music and poetry — both of which have become beloved art-forms around the world.
This ritual causes an object to spin at a constant rate. Its spin can motivate a small machine such as a grandfather clock for the duration. Motivating heavier machinery requires improvements proportional to the mass of the machine.
Cadavernauts have learned to make substances found within the corpse of a fallen demon to heat up and radiate light. Five ingredients must be ground, kneaded, and mixed with painstaking precision until they become a think, black fluid called “demon’s blood.” Apply the demon’s blood to a hard surface (preferably metal) and wait until it heats up and begins to illuminate.
Spellsayers from the Frostbeard clan use algorithms to predict the shape of the market and the state of global finance. The hardest part is collecting all the relevant data but the hours of calculations done to the data aren’t much easier. While this spell is active, a specified character gains the following benefits when using the Commerce skill:
Participants must inscribe an intricate sigil made up of interlocking heptagons enclosing the emblem used for infernal beings. The more permanent the inscription, the better: using salt works, chalk is better, carving it into wood is excellent, and stone is best. The sigil must be newly-engraved each time and destroyed when the ritual concludes. Once the sigil is destroyed all participants get an intuitive sense for the general location of the nearest demonic or fouled creature.
Demons can’t tell if the ritual is being attempted but will immediately know if they have been positively located by it and may flee when they do. The more powerful the demon, the more (over) confident they tend to be, and the more likely they will be to stay and wait for their pursuers.
Dancing around a fire under the open sky, chanting a prayer to the totems of nature, and continuing this for the entire casting time, never breaking the rhythm of the dance or chant, will summon an indigenous animal that will be willing to aid in navigation, foraging, finding shelter, water, or protection (though it will avoid putting itself in harm’s way).
Once the animal has provided aid asked for or the spell expires, the animal returns to a wild state and will not respond to your communications in any way.
Animal aids can be used to skip legs of some journeys in travel charts (subject to GM fiat) but will avoid combat.
A smooth river stone must have been prepared for the purpose of establishing a teleportation. It must be split into two halves; one being the “Inlet” half and the other the “Outlet.” The participants in this ritual must all have visited the location of the Outlet half. They sit in a circle surrounding the Inlet half, envisioning the surroundings of the Outlet. As they do, each halves of the stone enlarge and shift until their halves face one another in the exact relative position they had before splitting. A hole will form in the enlarged stone, appearing as a short cave that one may pass through.
Any magical items in your possession at the time of entering the portal will fall to the ground as you pass through the Inlet end. Any food in your possession will instantly rot.
From the Outlet side, no such hole is visible and its entire surface, though large, is hard and opaque. No return trip is possible through that same pair of stones. Once used, the river stone cannot be reused for that same purpose.
The dangers of traveling are innumerable — which is why people get paid to do it. When on the road, your character can sustain all kinds of ailments that will impose setbacks to your journey. Those with an acute connection to Heaven are able to channel its holy light and boost the immune system, accelerate healing, and revitalize a person with a touch.
While traveling, this ritual may be done once per leg of a journey.
Traditionally used to read the will of the True King of East Isles, islander priests would inscribe an incantation on a piece of rice paper and drop it into a pool of water. After it dissolves and the water settles, one may peer into the water and see what is happening above the surface of another similar pool some distance away — as if the caster were submerged in that distant pool.
This ritual must be done in the dark (night time or deep in a cave) by an open flame. The flame must cast a shadow onto a flat surface which the casters must focus their vision on intensely. In time, the shadow will transform into a thin sheet of onyx plate which can be used for duration of the spell’s effects.
Unlike the careful and methodical ritual, a combat spell is spontaneous, messy, aggressive and temporary. Performing combat spells is a juggling act as you divide your attention among all the demanding tasks of not dying as well as commanding the fabric of reality to bend to your will. If you ever wish to cast a combat spell, combat automatically begins if it’s not already going.
Combat magic is nothing like mundane combat. Although you must still consider your Tactical Point distribution, manage your placement on the battlefield, you don’t merely swap spell skills in for weapon skills and roll to hit enemies.
The role of the battle mage is very different and can wildly change the dynamic of the battlefield. It’s designed for experienced players to really change-up the dynamic of a fight.
Every combat spell has a number associated with it called Focus. This number represents the amount of attention this spell will draw away from the fight in order to sustain its effects on the battlefield.
You may have multiple spells active at a time and the cumulative Focus levels of all active spells will determine how difficult it is to keep all those spells running.
Most combat spells have gradual effects that accumulate in effect over time so keeping a spell constantly active is good. Doing so is a spiritually draining experience which can become even more strenuous if you’re confronted with great fear, distractions or pain.
If, at any time, the rules call for you to Fuel your spells, you must mark one of your available Essence numbers. If you can not or do not choose to do so, you will suffer the Ethereal Backlash that naturally comes when you’ve failed to maintain the disciplined control over your magical energy.
The times when you will be called upon to Fuel your spells include (but are not limited to):
Whenever you suffer backlash, you will suffer a number of wounds equal to the cumulative Focus (see Spell Focus) of the spells you have active.
After those wounds are applied, each of your spells is released.
If you have at least one spell at level 1 or better, you may perform the following Full Action:
It is also possible to cast multiple spells with a single cast action. This is called “Cascading” your spells and it works like this:
As soon as you cast a spell, you create an “Instance” of that spell. Multiple instances of a spell can be created; one for each individual casting. You may keep track of your spells by writing their names, focus requirements, and descriptions on an index card. You can track instances of each spell by placing a sticky note on the index card that lists the target of that instance (see Spell Relevance and Targeting).
When you cast a spell, you must specify a valid target to be the subject of the spell’s effects. If there is no valid target, you may not cast the spell (for example, if the spell targets locations but there are none in this fight, you can’t cast the spell).
Unless otherwise specified, each spell you cast must target a combatant on the field who is not yourself. Some spells may target locations instead of combatants and spells which target yourself will explicitly state as much in their descriptions.
An instance of a spell is “relevant” to another if it is active and targeting the same thing as the spell in question. For example: if you have an instance of Borne on the Wind targeting Bob and also have Gale Force of Fury targeting bob, that first spell is relevant to the second spell’s effects.
Recharge is a magical skill but it is not a spell. You can only purchase this skill if you have a Profession Benefit that allows you to do so.
Having this skill at level 1 or better grants you the ability to perform the following Simple Action: