Magic

Contents:

  • Basics1
  • Conjurer Skills2
  • Skill Use3
  • Inscription4
  • Technology vs. Magic5
  • Regional/Racial magic variations6

Basics

1 Magic exists on Resolution, and can be utilized by Conjurers or certain animals possessing magical ability. Not just anyone can make use of magic: In rare cases, people are born with the natural aptitude for magic. This tends to be more (or less) frequent in some regions and populations than in others, suggesting that the mutation allowing magical aptitude is either passed through genetic lines, induced by environmental factors, or both. While some of these lucky few show obvious magical abilities spontaneously at an early age, others develop aptitude and skill slowly over a lifetime. Some Conjurers who were not lucky enough to be born with their abilities have been biomodified with a special gland that grants them magical ability. Still others may have been born with their gifts, but have had them enhanced through additional biomodification. Regardless of the source of a person or animal’s magical aptitude, the function is the same. Either way, the use of magic is a strictly biological affair; while technological dampening and dissipation of magical effects has been achieved to some extent (more on that below), neither robotic beings nor technological devices have yet been created which can conjure magical effects.

Regardless of the narrative source of your character’s magical ability, mechanically it’s all the same: characters require an aspect indicating they are a Conjurer in order to make use of the special Conjurer skills. The only exceptions are Speed Freak Gadget Conjuration and Bayou Charm Conjuration (more on that below). If you want to add a Conjurer aspect as a result of character advancement (as opposed to at character creation), the PC must visit a (hopefully qualified) surgeon, pass a resources roll to afford the biomodification surgery, and take a moderate consequence to indicate the process of surgical recovery.

Conjurer Skills

2 The types of magic possible are not necessarily the types of magic familiar from myth and legend. While scientific study of magical phenomena has been frustratingly slow and limited, it has been established through the accounts and personal experience of Conjurers that “spell casting” is effectively the manipulation and focusing of ambient magical energy. The fringes of possibility have not been fully explored, but evidence indicates that magic does seem to follow some fairly predictable, almost natural rules. This leads many in the academic community to believe that non-Conjurers may yet be able to develop a more comprehensive understanding – and perhaps even control – of the magical powers of Conjurers.

There are four Conjurer skills that cover the broad mechanics of spell-casting. Potentially the four skills may have some overlap in the effects they could generate (the same could be said about the non-magical skill list), but the concepts behind each are reasonably distinct. These skills are:

  • Concentration: Increasing the concentration or density of energy and matter. This includes effects such as heat, electrical charge, generating light, speed, crushing matter, creating matter from energy, and speeding the ability of the body’s cells to heal damage or fight disease.
  • Dissipation: Reducing the concentration or density of energy and matter. This includes effects such as cooling, draining electricity, dimming/scattering light, slowing, deteriorating matter, converting matter to energy, and slowing the progress of disease or poison.
  • Manipulation: Moving or conducting energy and matter. This includes effects such as transferring/directing heat/electricity/light, changing the direction of moving objects, changing the shape or type of matter, animating dead or inanimate matter, knitting wounds and broken bones, and altering the perceptions or even thoughts of others.
  • Attunement: Sensing the presence and nature of energy. This includes effects such as detecting heat/electricity/light, detecting life, diagnosing disease/poison/injury, reading emotions, motives, and even thoughts.

Magical energy is usually invisible to non-Conjurers until cast as a spell, however, Conjurers with very strong abilities will begin to develop a glowing aura which is visible to Conjurer and non-Conjurer alike. This indication of unmistakable power can inspire great awe and respect, or great fear and mistrust depending on the disposition of the observer. To conceal such symptoms of great magical power is difficult at best, even with concerted effort and practice.

If a character has any Conjurer skill at Great (+4) or higher, that character will begin to give off a blue glow, dimly visible in daytime and plainly visible at night. In rules terms, characters will get +1 bonus to their Notice or Attunement rolls to notice/sense a Conjurer’s magical ability for each of his/her Conjurer skill levels beyond Good (+3). This is not cumulative; only the character’s highest Conjurer skill is taken into account for this calculation.

Skill Use

3 Spells are cast via a series of complex and delicate movements (and exactly why these movements elicit particular effects is unknown). Conjurers universally report that they can somehow “feel” the magical energy around them (most describe it as being similar to the sensation of moving through a thin fluid), and they are able to manipulate this energy to produce magical effects (to “cast spells”).

All spells require some kind of movement (usually hand movement). There is no requirement for a verbal component to any spell (unless you particularly feel like shouting). As an exception, a limited number of spells can be Inscribed to be used without movement (more on that below).

The movements are immensely complex and delicate, and are complicated further by the fact that they will be slightly different for each spell caster; as all casters are physically different in shape and size, the movements must be tuned to the individual caster through careful practice, so a theoretical knowledge of a spell is not enough to cast it properly. Imperfect spell casting movements can at best have lesser or no effect, and at worst lead to entirely unexpected and usually undesirable results. While extremely patient and intelligent mages have been known to modify or, more rarely, invent new spells, it is far more common for spells to be taught in some fashion. A well-connected, socially-savvy, or financially persuasive mage may be able to convince a more experienced mage to pass on his or her knowledge, though such knowledge is often well-guarded. Additionally, more empirical mages have, over the years, developed a vast array of arcane symbols into a sort of language which broadly and generally describes the required movements to cast their spells. While recorded instruction of this sort is unambiguous and usable by anyone familiar with the language, the personalized nature of spell casting requires a great deal of practice beyond a simple reading of instructions before the student will be able to successfully cast the spell. Neither personal magical instruction nor written spell tomes are commonly available; a prospective student will need to spend many diligent years in pursuit of instruction before amassing any quantity of spells.

To keep things simple mechanically, we will say the skill level of the caster vs. the difficulty of the spell accounts for this. Also, Conjurer skills cannot be used at default and require narrative justification for skill increases and stunt additions.

Some spells appear simpler to cast with predictable results than others. Generally, the more complex, powerful, or delicate the desired result, the more skill required to satisfactorily cast the spell.

Conjurer skills are rolled against passive opposition equivalent to the difficulty of the spell. The following numerical list equates to shifts of difficulty. Broadly, the difficulties are:

  1. Interaction with raw energy types in a basic way, in a roughly targeted area.
  2. Interaction with raw energy types in a more specific way, or in a more specific area or direction.
  3. Interaction with matter (condense/deteriorate/move), or basic identification of energy pattern types (eg. life, thought, electronics).
  4. More complex interaction with matter (eg. basic conversion to/from energy and shaping), or patterns of energy (eg. identify basic emotions/intentions/programs).
  5. Very complex interaction with matter (eg. conversion to/from specific types of matter/energy), or patterns of energy (eg. understand thoughts and detailed programs).

The degree of magical aptitude has an effect on both the skill and power of spell casting. The higher the Conjurer’s skill, the more likely the success of spell casting, and the more powerful the effect.

Conjurer skills are used per the Channeling rules.

Inscription

4 The majority of spell casting is performed by way of complex movements. Unfortunately this requires at least a small amount of time to perform the movements, as well as the ability to physically move (so a bound or otherwise physically incapacitated caster will find his or herself out of luck). However, it is in fact possible to cast a spell nearly instantaneously and with very little movement if one is willing to pay the price for such ability: In order for a mage to cast such instant effects, the mage must undertake the daunting and agonizing process of Inscribing a series of arcane glyphs into his or her own flesh. The deep, distinctive, and permanent scars seem to somehow substitute for the otherwise-required movements. The Inscribed symbols are similar in appearance to written spell symbols, but just as with casting movements, must be customized by the caster. The process of Inscribing a spell into the flesh is a delicate and painful ritual. The mage must be extremely familiar with the spell to be Inscribed, and must Inscribe the spell into his own flesh; only the caster can know exactly the shape the symbols must take for his own use. Additionally, no pain medication or other action to mitigate the pain can be used as it interferes with the accurate Inscription of the spell. Such spell Inscriptions are permanent as they cannot be removed without risking dangerous magical backfires. The number of spells a caster can Inscribe is limited by available free space. In almost all cases, the Inscription of a spell will be an event that involves a great deal of planning, physical/mental preparation, solitude, and physical/mental recovery.

In rules terms, Inscription allows a PC to directly cast a specific effect without having to use Create an Advantage first, and without the requirement for movement. This process involves several steps:

  1. The PC must have the related Conjurer skill at Great (+4) or higher.
  2. The player must succeed a roll of the related Conjurer skill against opposition two shifts higher than the spell difficulty. Eg. for a Great spell (+4), the opposition to overcome would be Fantastic (+6). Failure means the spell fizzles, or succeeds at cost (eg. backfire, different spell, etc.).
  3. The player must succeed a Craft roll equal to the spell difficulty. Regardless of success or failure, take the Mild Consequence Exhausted. This consequence recovers as usual. Failure means the PC is unable to craft an inscription, or succeeds at cost (eg. the Inscription will not exactly have the desired effect).
  4. The player must succeed a Physique roll equal to the spell difficulty. Regardless of success or failure, take the Moderate Consequence Lacerated. This consequence recovers as usual. Failure means the PC passes out from the pain without completing the Inscription, or succeeds at cost (eg. the Inscription will not exactly have the desired effect, or the consequence is upgraded from Mild to Severe).
  5. If any of the rolls are failed, the process fails and cannot be re-attempted for X sessions, where X = the number of shifts of failure. If the player succeeds all rolls (even with cost), the PC takes the Inscribed aspect. This only needs to be done once, regardless of how many Inscriptions the PC possesses. Additionally, success means the desired stunt can be purchased (as long as the PC has the required refresh to do so).

Technology vs. Magic

5 While spell casting requires biological aptitude, some headway has been made into electro-mechanical dissipation of magical effects. Such devices typically involve certain rare metals, spun into strands, twisted into a great number of plant-root-like branches, and arranged into a sort of web that covers most or all of the person (or object) requiring protection. This web is powered with an electrical current which is modulated by an oscillating piezoelectric crystal. As long as the web is in contact with the ground (or a body of water), incoming spells will to varying degrees be captured and dissipated. The effectiveness of this system is dependent upon a number of factors, including the power and complexity of the spell, the power provided to the system, and the quality and quantity of materials used.

An Anti-magic Web (yeah… help me come up with a better name) is an item that acts as an Extra with its own Aspect. You can invoke the aspect to get a +2 or a re-roll on defence against a spell. They are a new technology and are temperamental; be creative with the downside to the aspect such a device grants.

Regional/Racial magic variations

6 There are a couple interesting variations/exceptions to the standard magic system in Resolution.

The Speed Freaks have a special ability to make working technological items out of seemingly inadequate parts. Neither Speed Freaks themselves nor anyone else knows exactly how they do this, but these items function nonetheless…

The witch doctors of the southeastern Bayou area perform a type of magic involving charms and suchlike.

The Speed Freak racial aspect and Witch Doctor high concept aspect each grant permission to buy a special type of stunt. Once per session, Speed Freaks and Witch Doctors can use Crafts to create a magical item of simple or moderate complexity. For example, a Speed Freak could create a small engine (for a chainsaw, moped, or similar), or makeshift repairs on a larger vehicle or piece of machinery, but could not build an entire working car from scratch. A Witch Doctor could create small charms that cause slow flesh damage to a person, increased chance of weapon misfire, faster rate of healing, etc., but could not cause mass destruction or severe and sudden damage. What types of items these stunts can be used to make is something the players and GM need to discuss. Such items only last between one scene and one session, depending on the number of shifts of success on the skill roll.

Magic

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