- 1 Low Magic
- 2 High Magic
- 3 High Magic Skills
- 3.1 Abjuring
- 3.2 Blessing
- 3.3 Cursing
- 3.4 Divining
- 3.5 Elements
- 3.6 Enchanting
- 3.7 Entropy
- 3.8 Glamour
- 3.9 Healing
- 3.10 Shadow
- 3.11 Shaping
- 4 Stunts for High Magic Skills
Low magic requires some sympathetic connection between the caster and the target of the spell. The weaker the sympathetic link, the higher the difficulty for the spell. In addition, the target, if a living thing (or undead) has resistance as well and a defensive roll of the dice that adds to it. Because of the necessity of having a sympathetic link, this type of magic is also referred to as sympathetic magic.
Spell casters that have access only to low magic are referred to as hedge wizards or witches, witchdoctors, elementalists or arcanists, depending on the region and culture.
The minimum difficulty for any low magic spell is Mediocre (+0) and goes up from there. For example, let’s say you wish to move a stick. If you have a piece of the stick in your pocket, your sympathetic connection is quite strong so you’ll have the minimum difficulty to try to manipulate it. If you just have a stick from some other tree (but it’s the same kin), then the difficulty goes up a point. If your stick is a different kind of wood, then it goes up again. If you don’t have a stick but a piece of wood and you are trying to manipulate a stick with it, then it goes up yet again.
Distance isn’t a big factor. Your sympathetic connection to the target usually overcomes any problem distance might impose, unless you can’t see your target at all. If you can’t then add +2 to the difficulty.
The effect of low magic usually lasts for as long as you concentrate, unless it’s an attack doing direct damage. There are exceptions, however. For example if you set something on fire, then that fire is going to last until someone puts it out. But if you want to keep a section of floor Unnaturally Greasy you will need to keep the effect going. To do so, you split your Lore skill. In story terms, you partition off a piece of your consciousness to keep the effect going. In game terms, your effective Lore skill is reduced by one point for each effect you maintain. You can do this until your effective Lore skill is +0. Once you decide to release all your magical effects, your effect Lore skill returns to its normal rating.
Low magic uses Lore with a stunt and requires an aspect to reflect the special schooling or training it requires.
Like all magic, using low magic also carries with it a cost. It’s up to the character how to pay it. It can be paid with a fate point, a free invocation of an appropriate aspect, or by checking off a stress box. The aspect associated with the character’s low magic training is a common choice as an aspect to invoke. Free invokes can be created by spending an exchange creating an advantage on the aspect, and then invoking that for the spell on the following round. The cost can also be paid by checking off a physical stress box.
Paying a cost does not grant a bonus to the roll; they simply pay for the magic.
Low magic rolls using Lore can receive bonuses for boosts, invocations or stunts like any other skill roll. In addition, the GM may allow the character to take physical consequences in exchange for a +2 bonus per consequence. A desperate character might even offer a concession in exchange for a bonus to the roll. Regardless of the level of consequence taken, however, each consequence will only provide a +2 bonus to the roll.
The most powerful practitioners of low magic, elementalists have an elemental companion representative of their specialty. These are purchased as an extra. See the extras section on how to purchase companions.
The benefit to practitioners of low magic is that they always have a sympathetic link to whatever element their elemental represents. So for example, to light a fire, an elementalist wouldn’t need to have a fire handy (or ashes from a fire, or candle, their own body heat or whatever sympathetic link they might otherwise need). This usually results in the minimum possible difficulties for the working of low magic.
High magic does not require sympathetic links, but doesn’t use a general skill like low magic does. This type of magic has special skills that are purchased as extras, and requires an aspect that describes the character’s relationship to magic, though that aspect can be shared with one allowing access to low magic. Practitioners of high magic are often quite capable with low magic as well.
Most folk refer to practitioners of high magic as wizards or sorcerers, if they really have no idea of what sort of magic the practitioner employs. If a practitioner’s talents are well known, they might be more commonly referred to by their specialty. See descriptions of the high magic skills below for ideas.
High magic is available to those who have the talent and training to attune themselves to specific forms of high magic. This requires buying high magic skills as extras. Each high magic skill covers one specific type of magic.
To use high magic, you must use the particular skill for whatever effect you wish to create and pay a cost. It does not require any kind of sympathetic connection to the target.
Difficulties start at Mediocre (+0), just as for low magic, but since the sympathy isn’t needed, difficulties aren’t adjusted according to the strength of your connection to the target.
Distance is a factor, however. Each zone distant you are to the target adds +1 to the difficulty. If you can’t see your target, you can’t use high magic to affect it. You can also pay twice the cost for casting the spell in order to ignore distance as a factor.
You can affect more than one target with an attack action, but you must split your skill + dice roll total among your targets, with a minimum of 1 point applying to each target. For example if your total is +5 and you wish to affect two targets, you can put +3 toward attacking one target and +2 toward attacking another target. Or you might put +4 toward one target and only +1 to the second. They same goes for creating advantages against multiple targets.
You can also affect an entire zone, but you must pay twice the cost to do so. When you do, all targets in the zone must roll to defend against your single attack or create an advantage roll.
You can also affect an entire scene, but remember that anyone can invoke scene aspects.
High magic can be more lasting than low magic. Aspects placed using high magic last as long as it makes sense or for about the length of a scene. More permanent high magic usually requires the target to be Taken Out and then has a permanent aspect changed to reflect the desired result of the spell. For example if you wish to turn your enemy into a squirrel, you’ll need to get a Taken Out result using the right high magic skill. Since you dictate what happens when you achieve Taken Out against someone, you can stipulate duration and any circumstance that can reverse the spell.
Like low magic, high magic carries a cost. It may be paid with a fate point, a free invocation of an appropriate aspect, or by checking off a mental stress box. It can also be be paid with an appropriate boost. Qualifying boosts are those that are described as rare arcane materials which are consumed when the boost is used. Such boosts can be acquired with skills such as Resources (buying rare items on the market), Contacts (perhaps exchanging favors for magical ingredients), or Investigation (searching the wilds for rare herbs or other items). They might also be discovered as part of treasure or loot.
Note that the option for paying the cost of magic by checking off a mental stress box is different than for low magic. This is because the nature of high magic is very different. It’s more about identifying a powerful magical force in the world and calling upon it or actually requesting it to do something for you.
From the above section you will realize there are extra things you can do with high magic by paying an extra cost. Affecting an entire zone with a spell requires paying extra and ignoring the effect of range costs extra. For triple the normal cost, you can ignore range and affect an entire zone as well. One other thing you can do by paying an extra cost is to affect a scale larger than you. So, your wizard could attack a creature of Giant scale by paying an extra fate point, using another boost or spending an extra free invocation to make the spell work.
High Magic Skills
High magic skills and stunts are purchased with extras and therefore are listed separately from your skill pyramid and regular stunts. You can use your pool of extras skills and stunts to buy them, or you can even take skill slots and stunts from your normal character allotment to pay for them. After game start you can spend awarded skill points to improve your high magic skills and spend Refresh to purchase stunts for your high magic.
Unlike normal skills, high magic skills cannot be used at Mediocre (+0) levels. You must have spent at least one skill point to command some type of high magic.
Abjuring is using magic to deny. It is used to counter magical attack of any sort, and can even be used to create magical defenses against physical attacks. Abjurers often find very gainful employ reinforcing the defenses of strongholds and private residences against the use of magic. Abjuring is taught by magical schools and individual abjurers.
Abjurers have a tendency to be stubborn. Characters with Abjuring might have their high magic aspect compelled to maintain their opinions, even when shown to be wrong.
Overcome. Use this skill to overcome aspects and effects of ongoing magic.
Create an Advantage. Use this skill to place useful aspects that provide defense against hostile magic.
Attack. This skill is not used to attack.
Defense. You can use this skill to defend against magical or physical attacks.
- Defensive Runecasting
- You specialize in using your magic to inscribe magically-powered sigils. When you create advantages in this way, you can imbue drawn or inscribed sigils with magical power that will cause the aspects to last indefinitely or until the sigils are removed. They must be overcome for magic to penetrate and the aspect has one free invocation per scene that can be used to defend against incoming magical attacks.
This magic is used to promote good luck and wellness, to grant temporary magical properties and to make mental attacks against undead or create advantages meant to drive undead away. Blessings are granted by priests or priestesses and usually flavored by whatever god they revere.
This kind of magic is taught at places of faith such as temples or by people of faith such as priests or druids. The high magic aspect of people with this magic often indicates their pious profession. Priests can be compelled to take time out to help common folk with helpful blessings.
Overcome. A powerful blessing can be used to overcome aspects bestowed by curses.
Create an Advantage. Place aspects for good luck, wellness and to grant magical properties to things or people.
Attack. Blessing can be used to make mental attacks against the undead, who usually defend using Will.
Defense. Blessing magic might be used to defend against curses as well as powers of the undead.
- Holy Symbol.
- When you hold the symbol of your faith before you, you gain a +1 bonus to actions having to do with resisting, overcoming, or attacking the undead.
- Destroy Lesser Undead.
- Successful attacks can automatically destroy one nameless undead npc per shift of success.
This skill is rightly feared by common folk. It’s used to cause bad luck, illness and even direct effects like withering body parts. Warlocks use curses as well as evil witches, and they are typically the ones to teach magic like this. You won’t find Cursing taught at a magical academy or university.
This kind of magic is seductive to use. Characters with Cursing might have their high magic aspect compelled to use curses against their enemies and rivals, even when it is unwise to do so.
Overcome. Curses might be used to overcome blessings and to temporarily take down magical properties that things or people might have.
Create an Advantage. One could get very creative in wording and placing aspects. They usually only last for a scene. Virtually any sort of misfortune could be described as a curse.
Attack. A direct attack with Cursing is meant to either do immediate physical harm, or to achieve a Taken Out result and thereby make whatever curse was intended permanent. Targets might defend against curses with either Physique or Will.
Defense. Cursing isn’t used to defend against things, but see Create an Advantage. You might conceivably bestow a curse aspect and invoke that against a person for a bonus on your own defense roll.
Diviners use their powers to detect and identify magical things, search for missing things and people, see through illusions, and ask questions of the gods or Fates (depending on whether they are of a priestly or more secular profession).
Diviners might have their high magic aspect compelled when they are suddenly distracted by an unexpected vision of the future. These can happen at inconvenient times and might be more cryptic or confusing than useful. Such visions only include probable futures. The future is never firm until decisions are made and actions taken to set it in place. On the other hand, a Diviner could spend a fate point to declare they have seen the future of some specific action. If the GM agrees with the declaration, then the what the diviner claimed comes to pass.
Diviners are sometimes are overwhelmed with sudden, confusing visions of which they can make sense. This kind of situation is an excellent compel for a diviner character.
Overcome. Use Divining to detect magic and magical things. It might be resisted by things deliberately trying to hide their magical nature.
Create an Advantage. Using Divining to prepare for the future by placing aspects on yourself or others such as Prepared in Advance or I Knew You Were Going to Do That!.
Attack. Divining is not used for attack.
Defense. Not directly useful for defense, although placed advantages might be invoked to aid in defense.
In high magic, elemental forces can be called upon for a wide range of effects. This is in fact manipulation of energy and potential rather than calling upon substances. This is the most popular type of magic and is used by wizards and sorcerers all over the world. Elements magic does things with stone, wind, fire, lightning, and water. The focus is on doing. Thus, Elements might be said to use the Wind, but not simple Air because air without motion has little energy. Stone is used to call upon active things such as earthquakes and landslides. Fire and lightning provide the simplest tools of this type of high magic, and the most flexible because both fire and lightning are considered to be pure forms of energy.
Characters with elements magic might tempted to make snap decisions that might be better to think through — or simply to channel more power. This is the type of magic most commonly associated with the terms “wizard” or “mage”.
Overcome. Elements might be used to overcome barriers violently.
Create an Advantage. Use this skill for things like knocking a target Off Balance, or stunning them with a big static electric charge, or burying them in rocky rubble.
Attack. This is the most common use of this skill. Direct attacks are plausible, anything from a lightning bolt to a fireball. Targets typically use Athletics to defend.
Defense. This skill is rarely used for defense.
- Burning Spray.
- Gain +2 to create an advantage actions to place an On Fire aspect on multiple opponents.
- Chain Lightning.
- Gain +2 to attacks against multiple opponents using light night.
- Ignore the extra cost associated with affecting an entire zone with an attack action.
- Ignore the extra cost associated with affecting an entire zone with a create an advantage action.
This is the skill used to charm people, influence or inspire emotions, change memories, levy powerful geas, directly attack someone’s mind, or defend against mental attacks. A geas is an imperative delivered by an enchanter and is usually permanent, having been the result of attacks against a target’s mind that result in Taken Out. Such geasa can be used to make servants of people, or to force them to undertake even tasks that risk life and limb.
Enchanters and sorceresses are credited with having these powers and the temptation to influence those around them is sometimes difficult to resist.
Overcome. An enchanter might use his powers to overcome mental commands and aspects placed upon someone else, or himself.
Create an Advantage. Aspects that influence people emotionally or mentally can be placed with this skill. Note that beneficial aspects such as Courage and the like can be placed as easily as negative ones.
Attack. Direct attacks against a target’s mind or emotions can be made in preparation for a Taken Out result or negotiated concession in order to create servants or slaves, or to deliver a the powerful geas. Targets defend using the Will skill.
Defense. Enchanting can be used to defend against mental attacks.
- Mind Burn.
- This stunt grants bonus shifts upon a successful mental attack. This is a weapon:2 bonus that inflicts mental stress.
This kind of magic is that closely related to death and dying, fatigue, fear, sapping will, and decay. It may also raise the dead, creating things not alive nor dead. This magic is not taught at universities or academies, but only by private masters of the dark arts. It is, in fact, the dark art wielded by evil priests and dark sorcerers.
Etropy magic can be used in complex rituals to raise dangerous undead such as vampires and death knights. It is simpler, however, to simply raise animated skeletons or zombies via a stunt. Creating powerful undead usually requires special substances and complex rituals.
This power is seductive and insidious. Once one has begun using the dark arts, rarely will one ever turn it aside in favor of any other magic. Mages with this form of magic feel an addictive power rush and can be compelled to use it even when it might not be the best tool for the job, or when it might put them in danger.
Overcome. Use Entropy to command even rebellious or independent undead. They resist with Will, but if you succeed, they will obey you for an exchange. Success with style means they obey you for a scene. Nameless undead, or mindless undead can be commanded for a scene on any success; success with style means you command them indefinitely. You can also use Entropy magic to destroy physical barriers or other things of a physical nature.
Create an Advantage. Use Entropy to place death or decay oriented aspects on people, places or things.
Attack. Direct attacks using Entropy might be made against body (physical stress, usually defended with Athletics) or mind (mental stress, usually defended with Will).
Defense. Entropy is not normally used for defense, but see below.
- Bone Shield.
- You can instantly summon a floating bone shield, or armor of bone whenever it is needed. It comes with a single free invocation per scene. The free invocation may be “repaired” with a create an advantage action using Entropy or you may spend a fate point to gain its benefit as needed. Bone Shield works against physical attacks.
- Death Blossom.
- When using Entropy to attack an entire area, you do not need to pay the extra cost.
- Undead Champion.
- You have a sidekick or ally that is a powerful undead. This is built as a supporting npc and is attached to your character. However, it does have independent will and is run by the GM like other npcs.
- Undead Minions.
- You have on hand or can instantly summon a group of zombies or skeletons. These should be described in one the following configurations: 6 Average, 3 Fair, or 2 Good nameless npcs. These are essentially mindless undead, but they will either assist the dark master or do his bidding independently.
Glamour is often related to the magic used by the fae races. It’s useful for creating illusions of sight, sound, and even touch. Powerful glamour called seemings actually summon things into existence from the thoughts of the illusionist, but are always temporary.
Illusions created to emulate harm on a person actually inflict mental stress instead of physical, reflecting that the target imagines himself hurt and believes it is so.
Glamour can also be used to make yourself or others invisible, as well as to camouflage yourself. Either application places a simple aspect upon yourself or your target that remains until the free invocation is used, at which point the invisibility or camouflage disappears.
Illusionists are often tempted to deceive, or if basically truthful beings then they might be given to mislead folk or speak cryptically.
Overcome. Glamour is rarely used to overcome challenges.
Create an Advantage. This skill is ideal for placing aspects such as Bright Globe of Light to illuminate a place, placing Invisible upon yourself or others, creating Illusionary Treasure Chest, and more. Such aspects remain until the end of the scene or until there is reason for them to go away.
Attack. When you create an illusion of a weapon and attack someone, or create an illusionary creature to defend you, you can use your Glamour to make an attack with the illusionary thing or creature you made. The defense is Will, and stress done is mental.
Defense. This skill isn’t used for defense actions.
- You can make illusions that are “real”. So weapons or creatures created with Glamour do very real, physical stress. A merchant might bite a gold coin that is a seeming and find that it is real. Success with a create an advantage action will usually cause the seeming to last for a scene. Exceptional success can make it last until the next sunrise or sunset.
Magical healing is rare and often highly sought after. It’s not a skill that is well understood because it relies more on faith than herbology or knowledge of anatomy. Healing taught in universities and by town or village healers focus on the use Lore (and a character might purchase a stunt to reflect specializing in healing using Lord). Healing as high magic, however, is more powerful and available only from temples, personal dedication to the gods, or by an intuitive and sympathetic connection to nature in the case of druids.
Using Healing to make recovery rolls on behalf of characters with physical consequences. You can also use it to remove stress during battle, remove corruptive influences, regenerate missing body parts, and possibly even raise the (recently) dead.
Healers are usually referred to as priests, priestesses, or druids. Usually, they will not turn away a person who is in need of their services, even if they are poor or a criminal (and having to offer such services at these inconvenient times might be an excellent compel). The drive to heal the wounded, cure the sick and purify the corrupt is often a mandate of their temple or part of vows meant to protect and preserve nature. In this world, such healers are truly rare and can easily be overwhelmed with demands for their time and magic.
Overcome. Using healing to overcome aspects of poison and corruption. You can also use your Healing skill to make rolls to begin healing consequences. In a physical conflict, you can also use Healing to remove stress from yourself or anyone you can touch. To do so, make a roll versus a Mediocre (+0) difficulty. Each shift of success can be used to remove stress from boxes at a rate equal to the stress box. So for example, you could spend two shifts to clear the second stress box. You might spend three shifts to clear the first and second stress boxes, or just clear the third stress box. This applies only to physical stress boxes, and cannot heal stress taken to pay the cost of low magic.
Create an Advantage. Use Healing to create aspects like Invigorated or Second Wind for allies.
Attack. This skill is not used for attacks.
Defense. You might use Healing to defend against attacks made by disease or poisons instead of your usual Physique skill.
- Battle Priest.
- You gain a +2 to overcome rolls to remove physical stress.
- Mass Heal.
- You do not need to pay an extra cost to remove physical stress from everyone in the same zone as you. One roll applies to everyone individually. So, if your total is 4 shifts, then all characters in the zone may remove stress from boxes totally 4. In this example, that would mean the fourth stress box might be cleared or the third and first stress box, or the first and second box might be cleared, etc., for each character.
- You gain a +2 to overcome rolls when attempting to remove physical stress from multiple targets.
- Raise Dead.
- A recently deceased character whose Taken Out resulted in death, might be resuscitated. Assuming the corpse an be repaired and is not missing important parts and organs, the priest may spend a scene executing a complex ritual. It may be wise to include using boosts from rare items or sacrifices to ensure success. The base difficulty for the overcome action at the end of the scene is the peak skill of the deceased individual. If successful, the character is resuscitated, but it is costly; the resuscitated person loses one point of Refresh permanently. If this would reduce his or her Refresh to zero or lower, then the attempt fails.
Shadow is simply a place without light. As such, it might not be recognized as high magic. But when one refers to shadow magic, one refers not to the absence of light, but of the things that dwell within shadow. The things can glide or creep or crawl in the deep, dark place, things whose very essence is anathema to the light and therefore absorbs it into pure blackness. In shadow lurks demons.
Shadow magic is rarely taught in universities or other places of learning, save for the dark halls of night elf cities nestled deep in the bowels of the earth. Folk consider using shadow magic the same as dealing with demons and call it black magic and partitioners, dark sorcerers. They might not be far wrong.
Practitioners of Shadow magic can be compelled to eschew the light.
Overcome. Use Shadow magic to dim or quench magical light or even light shed by fire.
Create an Advantage. Many uses of Shadow magic are used to modify the environment. Patches of shadow might be placed, items might be conceals in shadows about oneself, and you might use it to place aspects to aid in hiding.
Attack. The power of Shadow lies in fear and terror. Use Shadow magic to make mental attacks. Targets defend with will.
Defense. This skill is not used to defend.
- Tentacled Horror.
- You can make physical attacks that tend to slip right through armor. Not only can you make physical attacks, they gain a weapon:2 bonus.
- Shadow Step.
- You can use Shadow magic in place of Athletics to move from zone to zone by stepping into one shadow and stepping out another within line of sight. They can allow you to bypass obstacles.
- Shadow Servants.
- You can summon a number of minions of pure shadow any time it is dark. They are built as nameless npcs and the number depends on their peak skill. You could have up to 6 average, 3 fair or 2 good shadow servants. They can assist you or carry out simple tasks, even attack your enemies. They last until killed, full light is shined upon them, or until sunrise.
Use Shaping to grant physical aspects like natural grace, or ogreish strength to yourself or others. It can be used to shape one being into the shape of another, such as a man into a wolf. It can also be used to shape air to affect things at a distance with your mind, shape locks to unlock themselves, shape air and water to make fog, reshape a door in its frame to jam it shut, or reshape a lock so it cannot be opened by the original key (or any key if you like).
Shapers are said to know the true names of things and this is what gives them the power to command things to change their shape. They can be highly sought-after individuals.
Shapers can command one group of related substances, chosen when the magic is learned. This could be:
- Body: Blood, bone and flesh
- Earth: Fire, metal and stone
- Nature: Air, water and wood
The magic allows manipulation of each of the three items singly or in combination with each other for a variety of effects limited only by the shaper’s imagination.
Overcome. Use Shaping in a number of ways to overcome obstacles. Doors and windows might broken, gripping tentacles forced to release you. As long as the action is within the purview of your brand of Shaping, you can make an attempt.
Create an Advantage. Body Shaping can be used to provide Grace, Ogreish Toughness or Enhanced Strength or other aspects to individuals by modifying their bodies. You might inflict more negative aspects upon your enemies. Earth and Nature Shaping might create aspects upon the environment, objects, or worn items.
Attack. Shaping can be used to make physical attacks. Attempts to use Body Shaping are usually resisted by Physique, with consequences taken being rather grisly. Creative use of Earth and Nature Shaping could do things equally dangerous. Athletics might be used to defend in some cases, but Physique is a more likely defense.
Defense. This skill isn’t used for defend actions.
- Requires Shapeshift. You can choose any form among the class of creatures you chose for Shapeshift. So, if you can take the form of the wolf with Shapeshift, you could choose any mammal if you learn Anybeast. It takes one exchange to shift to any form not specified by Shapeshift.
- Requires Body Shaping. Choose the form of one living creature; you can take that form whenever you wish. You can rearrange your skill tree to reflect the creature you become, but avoid raising skills representing knowledge. The overall shape of the tree should be the same — you are just shuffling skills around in the slots. With GM approval, you might even swap out some stunts for things typical of the creature whose form you take. The key thing to recall here is that you should never end up with higher social or knowledge skills. But your physical ones and ones related to senses certainly can increase. Taking your alternate form happens instantly.
- Requires Nature Shaping or Earth Shaping, depending on the item. If you have Nature Shaping, you can use it to seal , doors, windows, anything that normally opens and closes and is made of wood. Use Earth shaping to do similar things with locks, chests, and any other things made of metal or stone that open. With this stunt, when you create an advantage to magically seal something it resists being overcome with your skill instead of the default (usually a Fair (+2) difficulty to remove an aspect that has no one there to actively resist).
Stunts for High Magic Skills
The example stunts should get you started when thinking of amazing things you can do with magic. You might have noticed some common themes, here as well. Specifically, the following kinds of stunts are popularly used with high magic skills.
- To affect an area without having to pay an extra cost.
- To ignore the effect of range without having to pay an extra cost.
- To affect something of a larger scale (one step only, though — so you could buy a stunt to let your PC affect something of Giant scale, but not Epic Scale).
- Gain a +2 bonus to rolls to affect multiple targets. This is handy because you must split your total among multiple targets.
- Gain a damage bonus upon a successful attack, typically weapon:2.