SG: Dark Magic
Vampires who learn this skill (it cannot be used at a default Mediocre (+0) level) can use Vampire Witchcraft to call upon arcane powers they normally do not possess, but it always has a cost. How it’s done depends on tradition, and this tradition determines the cost. Some use a bloody system of rituals that has been handed down from vampire sire to vampire child over generations. Others use a rigidly religious approach that demands self sacrifice and restraint. When Vampire Witchcraft is purchased as a skill, the player must determine what that path is and what kind of sacrifice it requires.
The sacrifice is always one of either blood or an expression of will. In game terms, every spell cast using Vampire Witchcraft uses requires the vampire to mark off a physical stress box or mental stress box. It can never be either or both — once you decide what sacrifice your power demands, it is always the same sacrifice. It may be useful to rename this skill to reflect what that sacrifice requires. For example if it requires physical sacrifice, then you could rename the skill “Blood Magic”. If it requires religious or moral sacrifice, then perhaps “Thaumaturgy” is more evocative. What you name your dark magic matters less than how you must pay for its use.
Spells usually require two exchanges to cast — one to summon the power and another to cast a spell. After power has been summoned, you can continue to summon power, hold the power, or cast the spell as you wish. Casting the spell after power is summoned uses a skill value of Mediocre (+0), but you may add to that bonuses from invoking the aspect or aspects created by summoning power. Spells can be used in overcome, create an advantage, or attack actions. The difficulties involved in casting the spell depends on the goal. Note however, there is nothing to stop a vampire from summoning power ahead of time in some scene prior to the scene the vampire expects to use it. However, the physical stress or mental stress sacrificed for the spell cannot be recovered until the spell is cast.
Examples of spells follow.
- Overcome: Vampire Witchcraft isn’t used to directly overcome challenges. However, when the magic is released it may well overcome obstacles.
- Create an Advantage: Use the Vampire Witchcraft skill to place a Summoned Vampiric Power aspect on your character. Sacrifice one mental or one physical stress box by checking it off as your magical tradition requires. When you release the power, which can be on your next action, you use a skill value of Mediocre (+0) and add a bonus equal to the invocation. This can be a +2 (or +4 if you gain an exceptional success creating Summoned Vampiric Power and using both free invocations at once), and you can invoke other aspects your character has if they are related to dark magic.
- Attack: Vampire Witchcraft isn’t used to directly attack anyone. It may, however, deal stress when the spell is unleashed in an exchange following the one in which power was raised.
- Defend: Vampire Witchcraft isn’t used to defend.
Any of the following spells can also be purchased as a stunt. All spells require power to be successfully summoned before they can be cast. When bought as a stunt, the character can cast the spell starting at a Fair (+2) level instead of the usual Mediocre (+0) level used when releasing the spell. Most spells don’t require physical contact, but close proximity is desirable; each zone distant increases the difficulty of successfully casting the spell by one.
Spells are usually closely guarded secrets. A vampire character might start the game knowing one or two of the following spells, but the rest must come through discovery or perhaps by trading favors with other characters in game. You may also then buy a stunt in order to gain the above benefit to casting the spell.
Remember that every spell has a cost, whether a stunt was purchased for it or not.
Curse of Tongues. Use the spell to inflict the aspect, Speaking in Tongues upon the target. Targets can resist using Will. This aspect can be subsequently resisted; each attempt requires the victim to make a Will roll to overcome a difficulty equal to the original bonus to the spell casting roll. So, if a single Summoned Vampiric Power invocation had raised the roll to Fair (+2) when it was cast, then that’s the difficulty to overcome. If two invocations had been used, then the difficulty to overcome is Great (+4). This aspect remains until overcome, or until the next sunrise, whichever occurs first.
Curse of Weakness. Use this spell to inflict the situation aspect Curse of Weakness. It’s resisted with Will. If successful, then the victim’s Curse of Weakness can be invoked against him to increase stress done from any successful physical attack, or to make it easier to overcome the victim in physical contests. The aspect lasts until the victim is no longer in danger.
Deathly Constitution. Unleash the spell to inflict an aspect such as Deathly Constitution or Rigor Mortis upon a victim. This would usually be resisted by Physique.
Thwarted Doom. The difficulty to cast is Mediocre (+0). This handy spell allows a Thwarted Doom aspect to be placed on a subject that lasts a full 24 hours. While the aspect is in effect it can be invoked to foil one attempt to drive a stake through any part of a vampire’s body, even if the vampire is incapacitated or unconscious.
Touch of Supernatural Destruction. This is an attack that can be made against supernatural characters, only. Targets defend with Athletics, as the power of this spell is delivered with a touch. Some supernatural creatures can only be affected by magic — this spell is especially useful in those cases. Yet with enough channeled power and aspects ready to be invoked, it can be devastating regardless the intended target.
Option: Limited Spells
In games where access to vampiric magic should be limited, the GM can rule that a vampire may command no more spells than his Vampire Witchcraft skill level. So, a character with Great (+4) Vampire Witchcraft could know no more than four spells. The exception is any spell for which a stunt was purchased — these would not count toward the limit.
Next: Vampire Healing