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Magery

Magery, in the Adventure Role-play Gaming system, is understood to be the manipulation of preternatural energies to achieve effects in the natural world. In the World of Anghar, this force is called Xaris (pronounced CAR-iss), though other world settings will likely use other terms. More will be said about this force in the World of Anghar section.

When a mage performs a work of magery he is manipulating this energy into patterns called Schemas. It should be remembered, however, that magery is an art and not an exact science. Though there are a number of schemas that claim to give certain results, there is a wide margin for bizarre and unpredictable results. The preparations are often painstakingly tedious and the slightest deviation can spell trouble.


Invoking Schemas

In the ARG system, magery is treated like a skill. Who can learn to use these skills depends on the world setting. In some "low magic" worlds, magery may be restricted to a few rare and especially talented individuals. In other worlds, magery may be restricted by race. For example, humans may not normally have any mage skills unless they have fae (fairy) blood.

The World of Anghar is a "high magic" world. Here everyone has the ability to learn at least a few mage skills. Even many peasant women know some useful little schemas to ensure the cow gives milk, the crops grow plentiful and to attract the eye of the man she loves. (Just think of medieval superstitions as if they really worked.)

In earlier versions of the magecraft system, we replaced the standard long spell list with a list of spell elements by which players could create their own spells. In this, somewhat, simplified version of the game we decided to treat schemas more like skills with each "sphere" of magery represented as a separate skill.

When a players wishes to invoke a schema, he simply tells the GR which schema he is invoking, the method he is using, and the target of the work. Then he makes a skill roll.


The Seven Spheres

All schemas are divided into seven categories or "spheres". These are:


Choosing Schemas

For every point a mage character spends on his Learn magic skill, he gets 1 SP to spend on a sphere of magery. Whether only one sphere, all spheres or just a few spheres are available to a player is left to the GR to decide. It will be based on both the mage customs for the world (or area) in which the game takes place and on that particular character's background. One option which may work for a general approach is to require a primary, secondary (and possibly) a tertiary sphere. If this approach is used, the character is not allowed to spend more points in a lower sphere than in a higher one.

Schemas

Some suggested schemas are listed below under their respective spheres. Some schemas may be listed under more than one sphere (i.e. Bind Schema under both Xaris and Enchantment). Other schemas in one sphere may be very similar to schemas in another sphere. (For example, an elementalist may be able to alter an element "air" to enable one or more people to walk on it, while an enchanter might be able to enchant one or more people--or perhaps just their boots--to walk on air.) The differences may be slight, but appropriate to the sphere being invoked.

Xaris

Elements

Nature

Enchantment

Mysticism

Spirit Mastery

Hieromancy/Necromancy


Difficulty Levels

When a player announces his character is invoking a schema, the GR must establish a difficulty level for that task--just as in any other skill. The GR may also simply declare some schemas off-limits to relatively inexperienced characters. (For example, a mage with only a few SP in Hieromancy may be able to heal some wounds, but not perform a full restoration or resurrection.) If the GR has very many of these limitations, he should draw up a list of SP requirements for various schemas.

With the exception of very powerful or complex schemas, the bulk of the schemas a mage is likely to attempt should be ranked on a scale of 1 to 10. The base value will be further modified by the casting method, power, range and duration attempted. In many cases, changing the cost and difficulty level of the schema may alter these parameters.


Invocation Methods

Once the modifiers are chosen, they are added to the schema's base rank, then multiplied by the method of invocation selected.

Invocation Methods Multiplier Table

Cost

Method

Time Required

x1

Ceremonial

1 minute per rank

x2

Ritual

1 second per rank

x3

Talismanic

1 phase (1/2 second) per rank

x4

Word of Power

One word per schema

x5

Dragonic

One thought per schema

 

Ceremonial method is the easiest to perform and the most reliable. However it takes the longest to do and the time listed does not include the time it takes to set up all the props required to perform--bells, books, candles, braziers... If you want to take your tricks on the road, be prepared to bring along a mule train.

Ritual method is a lot more useful to adventurers. The schemas are memorized so no books are necessary, and the props are limited to just a few small items per schema. These items are often rare and/or semi-valuable and are often destroyed during the casting. The GR should make sure the player keeps track of these items (and their costs). Like Ceremonial casting, ritual casting requires chanting and gestures and requires the mage to have both hands free.

Talismanic method is the most sophisticated method most mages will ever accomplish. It requires a talisman to be prepared in advance (1 per type of schema). The talisman's function is to partially "shape" the Xaris for the mage requiring the mage to only chant a few words and make a few gestures to initiate the schema and specify the appropriate parameters (i.e. pick a target). Talismans are very rare, very expensive, and difficult to manufacture. They are often booby-trapped, so only a very foolish mage would attempt to pick up and use another mage's talisman without extensive and cautious investigation. The mage must (usually) be free to touch the talisman and utter a few words to invoke it.

Words of Power are available only to a very few of the most powerful mages in the world. If a mage has spent a lifetime mastering a particular schema, he may (through research) reduce an entire schema down to a single spoken word.

Draconic method is a source of great controversy. Dragon's create schemas by directly manipulating the flow of Xaris with their minds. It is not even known if a mortal creature can do this. It is rumored that, once per age, a man/woman/or child comes along who can. It's not even known if this can be learned or is innate--if it even exists.


Schema Costs

The final modified rank is the "cost" of a schema. When a schema is successfully invoked, its cost is added to the mage's Xaris level (XL). If the mage's XL has exceeded his Maximum Xaris Level (MXL) then the mage suffers a penalty (-1 for every point over) to his skill roll when invoking any further schemas.

There are a number of other factors that will also affect a schema's cost. The player may alter the normal power, range or duration of the schema. He may increase his chance of success by "pushing" the invocation and adding extra Xaris to the cost. The GR may also allow the player to choose certain advantages/disadvantages when invoking chosen schemas, or even take stunning or killing damage in exchange for lowering the difficulty level and/or cost.


Schema Rolls

All schema skill rolls are treated as "special" skill rolls--meaning that the final cost is added to 10 to determine that schema's difficulty level. If the target resists the effects of the schema, then additional factors will have to be added. If the schema's effects are physical in nature (a physical attack) then the defender can resist with either the Athletics or Endurance skills though the GR may wish to average in the defender's Spirituality attribute. If the attack is mental in nature, then Mentality and Personality might be averaged (with or without Spirituality). If the GR is using a horror genre, then a separate "will" or "sanity" skill might already be established.


Combat Magery

Range Modifier table

Cost

Range

+0

Self

+1

Touch

+2

Projected

+3

Ranged

+4

Multiple Targets

+5

Area of Effect

No discussion of magery in an RPG would be complete without the mention of combat magic. Generally a rank 1 attack schema will do .25 damage and require the mage to touch his target either with his hand or with a wand, rod or staff. (If he uses the ritual method this rank is doubled, if talismanic, it is tripled.) Some possible modifiers, which might be considered when determining the rank of an attack schema, are:

Self--means the schema's effects only affect the mage invoking it.

Touch--means the schema only effects the person or object touched either with the hand, or a wand, rod or staff.

Projected--means the schema's effects start at the mage's location and shoot outward.

Ranged--means the schema's effects start at a pre-determined location somewhere away from the mage.

Area--includes ranged by default. The usual area starts at a 10-yard diameter sphere unless increased.

The form of the attack depends on the sphere being invoked. Some possibilities include:

Sphere

Attack Forms

Xaris

kinetic force, light, lightning

Elemental

 

--Air

wind, sonic, subsonic*

--Fire

flame, heat

--Stone

bludgeoning, burial (suffocation)

--Water

acid, drowning

--Vacuum

vacuum--nuff said

--Frost

cold, ice

--Shadow

disintegration

--Salt

desiccation

Nature

attack only through animal, plants and weather

Enchantment

weaken attributes or abilities

Mysticism

attack mind or senses (illusion)

Spirit Mastery

attack spirit, will and emotions

Necromancy

attack vitality directly or through disease or curse

*Subsonic attacks do not require that the victim can hear. A strong enough subsonic attack at the right frequency can be more damaging than a physical blow.


Enchanted Items

Wands are long and slender magical tools. They are usually about a foot long and made of wood, though other biological material can be used. The most common wands are fashioned from a living tree (from which it draws some of its binding power) which is why many mage guilds keep special well-protected groves.

While advanced mages may craft wand-like items with special powers, the primary purpose of a wand is to store schema. Any mage may create a wand. It is a long ceremony which culminates in an enchant skill roll against a Hard difficulty level. If the wand is crafted from any biological material other than from a living tree it is at a Very Hard difficulty level.

Up to 1 schema per point of Magery skill may be bound to a wand, however a wand can only hold multiple copies of one type of schema at a time. Once all the schemas are used, the mage must spend time and energy invoking new schemas into the wand. An enchant skill roll vs. an easy difficulty level must be made in order to prepare the wand to receive the schema(s). Then the schema must be successfully invoked before it can be bound to the wand.

Rods are thicker, larger (1.5 to 3 feet long) and more versatile versions of wands. Rods, unlike wands, may store different types of schemas. Rods are fashioned from similar materials by similar means, however the difficulty level rolled against is Hard +5 (or Very Hard +5 for rods not cut from living trees).

Staves are the ultimate multi-purpose mage artifacts. Much larger than wands or rods (up to 6 feet long) the staff may not only store multiple schemas, but may be designed to recharge the schemas itself so the mage does not have to do it. (This usually requires the inclusion of ergonite crystals as well as other special materials.) Like wands and rods, staves are usually made from living trees. An enchant skill roll vs. Hard +10 (or Very Hard +10 for staves not cut from living trees) is required to prepare a staff.

Scrolls come in two varieties. There is the common scroll, which is simply a detailed description of how to invoke a schema. Such scrolls are useful for learning new schemas. The mage must first be able to read the scroll (a successful read magery skill roll is made vs. a difficulty level of 10 plus the rank of the schema) then after a period of study (at least 1 week per rank of schema), the mage may attempt a learn magery roll.

A Xaris scroll contains powerful glyphs that will actually invoke a schema once a successful read magery skill roll is made and the triggering word(s) is spoken. The glyphs are destroyed when the schema is invoked, so if a mage wishes to learn the schema written on a Xaris scroll, he must first make a successful read magery skill roll and then an analyze magery roll to translate the glyphs. Once this is done he may attempt a write magery skill roll to copy the glyphs on a normal scroll in the language of the mages.


Improving Schemas

Like any skill, a mage's ability to invoke schemas improves with both practice and study. How EPs are used to modify schemas depends largely on how much detail the GR want to go into. EPs can be applied to individual schemas, or only to entire spheres. (If the GR allows advantages/disadvantages for individual schemas and maintains detailed lists of schemas, then EPs probably should be applied to individual schemas) Whatever approach is chosen, the 3 to 1 rule still applies: the 3rd SP earned by a schema is applied to the entire sphere, the 3rd SP earned by a sphere is applied to the Learn Magic skill and the 3rd SP earned by the Learn Magic skill is applied to the Magery skill.