Rough Magic 3e EN:Magic
Magicians manipulate the raw essence of the universe through a combination of training, education, and inherent ability; if it were easy, everyone would do it. All magic is opposed, if not by the struggling of the victim, then by the contrariness of the universe as a whole. Unless otherwise indicated, using Occult to cast a spell is a remarkably difficult (DV 6) task.
Avenues Of Magic
The Société Impériale de Thaumaturgie divides magic into five approved "avenues", or categories: Alteration (changing one type of matter or energy to another type of matter or energy), Conjuration (creating matter or energy from nothing), Divination (perceiving through time, space, or both), Enchantment (influencing the minds of others), and Illusion (creating images without substance). If a magician has chosen to specialize in one of these avenues, they receive a +3 bonus on their Occult roll when working within that avenue of magic. However, they incur a -3 penalty when working with any other avenue of magic. When dealing with magic of a general nature, the specialized magician receives neither a bonus nor a penalty.
- Alteration is concerned with the magician's ability to change, often radically, the structure and composition of any object. Alteration may change one form of matter or energy to another form of matter or energy.
- Conjuration is concerned with the magician's ability to create matter or energy out of nothing. In truth, creating something from nothing is impossible, even for a magician, but the actual source is somewhere far enough away that it makes no difference.
- Divination is concerned with obtaining information through magical means. Divination can find hidden things, reveal the truth behind deceptive magic, and see into the future or the past.
- Enchantment is concerned with beguiling and controlling the minds of others. Enchantment can make someone see something that no one else can see, can influence someone's behaviour, or even alter their memories.
- Illusion is concerned with appearances. Illusion spells can be used to camouflage, illuminate, or obscure something without changing its structure or fundamental nature.
There are two additional avenues which the SIT has prohibited, and which carry a harsh sentence for those convicted of using them: Diabolism (communing with entities beyond the mortal world) and Necromancy (manipulating the forces of death and undeath).
Jazz Sorcery has roots in the magical and musical expression of West Africa and the western Sahel, in the magical traditions of the Savages of the American West, and in European military sorcery. After originating in African American communities in the late 19th century, Jazz Sorcery became internationally known by the 1920s. Since then, Jazz Sorcery has had a profound influence on other magical styles worldwide.
Jazz Sorcery is not explicitly prohibited, but neither is it recognized by the SIT as legitimate. However, due to its pagan associations, Jazz Sorcery is condemned by the Gallican Catholic Church as a heresy, and its practitioners may run afoul of the law for that reason. Jazz Sorcery was originally developed by African musicians around the beginning of the 20th century. As the first original magical style to emerge from the Confederation of American States, Jazz Sorcery has been described as "American thaumaturgy". Its practitioners often rely upon musical rituals, pagan symbolism, and sympathetic magic.
The Société Impériale de Thaumaturgie refuses to recognize Jazz Sorcery as a legitimate branch of magic because its practitioners steadfastly refuse to submit themselves to the authority of the SIT. In fact, some in the Société maintain that such resistance to authority is one of the basic tenets of Jazz Sorcery.
If a character with the Occult skill witnesses a spell being cast, or is able to examine a spell currently in use, they may make a moderately difficult (DV 3) Occult (Reason) roll to identify the avenue of the spell, and whether it is offensive, defensive, or utilitarian in nature. If they make a remarkably difficult (DV 6) Occult (Reason) roll, they are able to analyze the spell in great detail: the range, the scope, the intended effect, and so on.
If the spell was cast with subtlety, the character attempting to identify it incurs a -3 penalty on this roll.
Any character with a Power Level of 1 or greater has the gift the Société Impériale de Thaumaturgie calls "mage sight". Mage sight allows a character to use a standard action to sense the presence of magic and those who can wield it. To perceive a source of magic, the character must succeed at a moderately difficult (DV 3) Perception (Presence) roll. If the target of the magician's attention is another magic-using being, the magician knows their opponent's Power Level. If the target of the sorcerer's attention is a magic object, the sorcerer learns the general purpose of the object's magic, and has a rough idea how to activate it.
Mage sight has other uses, as well. For example, if a character with mage sight is being spied upon using Divination, they may attempt a remarkably difficult (DV 6) Perception (Presence) roll to notice the fact (a person without mage sight does not have the ability to notice when they are being magically spied upon). If they succeed at an extremely difficult (DV 9) Perception (Presence) roll, they also notice whether the person spying on them is in the past, present, or future.
Casting a spell has three prerequisites: the character must have a Power Level of 1 or greater, the character must have the Occult skill, and the character must have the Arcane Caster gift. A character who meets these requirements may attempt an Occult skill roll to cast a spell.
Casting a spell has three steps:
- Count the aspects to determine the level of the spell
- Make an Occult roll, incurring a penalty equal to the level of the spell
- Reduce the Power Pool by an amount equal to the level of the spell
A very simple spell, or "cantrip", has the following:
- Requires a standard action to cast
- Requires the caster to repeat magical phrases and gestures
- Affects a single target, or less than a two meter diameter area
- Has hand-to-hand range
And does one of the following:
- Creates an ordinary object of mediocre quality, up to 5 kg
- Inflicts or restores at most 1 Endurance damage
- Moves a 5 kg object up to 5 m (but not as an attack)
- Protects against natural attacks (adds character's Power Level to their defense roll)
- Causes a noise, odour, taste, image, or other simple sensory effect (but not as an attack)
- Has a result that is found in nature
- Has an otherwise ordinary effect that would take a person with proper tools and training up to an hour to accomplish
A cantrip does not require a skill roll unless the target is a person or a creature, and it does not reduce the character's Power Pool.
The number of aspects a spell has is called its "spell level". The level of the spell determines the penalty on the caster's Occult roll and the amount deducted from the character's Power Pool.
- Area: The spell affects everything within an area (maximum area based on the caster's Power Level)
- Creation: The spell creates an ordinary object of good quality (maximum mass based on the caster's Power Level)
- Duration: The spell lasts beyond a single round (maximum duration equal to "general effect", based on the caster's Power Level; rounds for combat spells, hours for noncombat spells)
- Information: The spell provides information about a person, place, or thing (maximum range based on the caster's Power Level)
- Injury: The spell inflicts or restores +1 Endurance damage
- Motion: The spell moves an object to a location (maximum mass and range based on the caster's Power Level)
- Penetration: The spell is penetrating (any of the defender's dice that show a "6" are re-rolled until each die rolls lower than 6)
- Perception: The spell allows the caster to perceive a person, place, or thing (maximum range based on the caster's Power Level)
- Protection: The spell grants protection against both natural and unnatural attacks (adds character's Power Level to their defense roll)
- Range: The spell has range beyond hand-to-hand (maximum range based on the caster's Power Level)
- Salvo: The spell affects multiple people simultaneously (maximum number of targets equal to "general effect", based on the caster's Power Level)
- Sensation: The spell creates a convincing illusion with all associated sensory effects (maximum area based on the caster's Power Level)
- Summoning: The spell summons a creature to aid the caster (maximum attributes of creature equal to "general effect", based on the caster's Power Level)
- Transformation: The spell changes a person, place, or thing into something else (maximum attributes of a creature is equal to "general effect", based on the caster's Power Level; if a transformed creature is reduced to 0 Endurance, the transformation ends)
- Travel: The spell moves a person or a creature to a location (maximum range based on the caster's Power Level)
- Unnatural: The spell has a result that does not occur in nature, such as a supernatural power
- Utility: The spell has an otherwise ordinary effect that would take a person or persons with proper tools and training more than an hour to accomplish
A spell may have the same aspect multiple times. For aspects pertaining to quantity, distance, or area, each additional level of that aspect multiplies its effect tenfold. For aspects which help or harm the target directly, each additional level of that aspect adds +1 to its effect.
Count the number of aspects the spell has: this is its level.
The spell level can be reduced by the use of techniques. Each technique used reduces the spell level by 1. The spell level can be reduced by up to half (rounded in the character's favour), to a minimum of 1.
- Contagion: The caster has an item important to the target, or a part of the target itself
- Focus: The caster holds a wand, staff, amulet, holy symbol, or other obvious object
- Material: The caster uses rare or valuable materials which are consumed by the casting of the spell
- Ritual: The caster spends 20 minutes or more to cast the spell
- Sacrifice: The caster ceremoniously kills something... an animal, let's say
The caster can expend more of their Power Pool than necessary in order to offset the spell level penalty on their Occult roll. For every extra point the character spends from their Power Pool, the penalty on the Occult roll is reduced by 1, to a maximum of -0. The points spent to improve the Occult roll are deducted from the character's Power Pool even if the skill roll is unsuccessful.
If the spell's level is 1 or greater, or the target is a person or a creature, the spell requires a skill roll to cast. The caster makes an Occult roll, adding attributes according to the type of spell. The level of the spell is then subtracted from the roll.
The spell is either resisted by the intended target, or it is a remarkably difficult (DV 6) task when the target is not a person or a creature.
|Normal attack||Occult (Agility + Power Level)||Target's Ranged Combat (Agility) plus armor, etc.|
|Mental attack||Occult (Power Level)||Target's Mental Combat (Presence) plus Mental Resistance (Power Level)|
|Alteration attack||Occult (Power Level)||Target's Ranged Combat (Agility) plus Alteration Resistance (Power Level)|
|Unusual attack||Occult (Power Level)||Target's Ranged Combat (Agility)|
|Creating a defensive ward equal to Power Level||Occult (Agility + Power Level)||Remarkable (DV 6)|
|Creating a useful effect||Occult (Reason + Power Level)||Remarkable (DV 6)|
|Moving a willing target a distance||Occult (Agility + Power Level)||Remarkable (DV 6)|
A magician can cast a spell with subtlety (without using audible incantations or obvious gestures), but this imposes a -3 penalty on their Occult roll. Subtlety does not alter the level of the spell.
If a magician has chosen to specialize in one of the avenues of magic, they receive a +3 bonus on their Occult roll when working within that avenue of magic. However, they incur a -3 penalty when working with any other avenue of magic. Neither the bonus nor the penalty alter the level of the spell. When dealing with magic of a general nature, the specialized magician receives neither a bonus nor a penalty.
An arcane caster has a Power Pool, which is an expendable resource used to empower their spells. The character's maximum Power Pool is equal to their Power Level ×2.
If a character's Occult roll is successful, and they cast a spell, they then deduct the spell level from the character's Power Pool.
The character regains all of their spent Power Pool after a solid night's rest. They may also regain a partial amount by studying their magical texts and meditating. They may recover half of their spent Power Pool (rounded in the character's favour) by studying their magical texts and meditating for about an hour.
If the spell inflicts Endurance damage or accomplishes some straightforward goal, the effects are essentially permanent. If the spell causes some unusual effect or affects the target in some unusual way, it lasts for the duration of the current scene or conflict. However, a spell that deprives a character of their movement or free will can be opposed.
To "break out" of a spell with an ongoing physical effect, such as blindness or being forced to sleep, the target must use a standard action to make a successful Athletics (Presence) roll or Survival (Presence) roll against a Ranged Combat (Power Level) roll of the attacker. If the target has Alteration Resistance, they add their Power Level to their roll.
To "break out" of a spell with an ongoing mental effect, such as mind control, the target must use a standard action to make a successful Mental Combat (Presence) roll against a Mental Combat (Power Level) roll of the attacker. If the target has Mental Resistance, they add their Power Level to their roll.
If the target's roll equals or exceeds the attacker's roll, they recover from the ongoing effect, and the spell ends.
If a spell transforms a target physically, or it affects one of the target's attributes other than Endurance, the transformation ends if the transformed creature is reduced to 0 Endurance. The target's Endurance returns to its pre-transformation value, and any damage taken while physically transformed is ignored. (This assumes that the transformation is against the will of the target. If the caster is using transformation magic to try and make their warrior friend immune to damage, it won't work, and it may backfire horribly. The fates are cruel to people who try to find loopholes in the laws of magic.)
Magic is not natural to mortals. It is alien at best, and at worst magic is an insidious and corrupting force. Careful and skilled magicians can avoid the negative consequences of magic for a while, but no one escapes them forever.
When a magician attempts to cast a spell but fails their Occult roll, the uncontrolled magical forces wreak havoc with their body, twisting and corrupting it. The worse they failed their roll, the more severe is this corruption. In the interests of simplicity, this usually results in the reduction of the magician's maximum Endurance. Alternately, the player may choose to roll on the fun and terrifying "Optional consequences of failed Occult roll" table below. If the player chooses to roll on the optional consequences table, the character's maximum Endurance is not reduced: they suffer the optional consequences, instead.
|1-3||1||Trickle of blood from the nose||Minor|
|4-6||2||Bleeding from the nose and ears||Moderate|
|7-9||3||Blood flowing from the eyes, ears, and nose||Severe|
|10-12||4||Blood gushing from every orifice||Critical|
- White hair: All of the character's hair turns luminescent white, all over their body.
- Obsession: The character develops an uncontrollable obsession or fascination with an object, color, or circumstance. Pick a word randomly from the dictionary: the character will seek this thing out, cut out photos of it from magazines, collect it, and so on.
- Hair loss: All of the character's hair falls out, all over their body.
- Phobia: The character develops an uncontrollable fear or revulsion toward an object, color, or circumstance. Pick a word randomly from the dictionary: the character will avoid this thing at all costs.
- Pallor: The character's skin becomes ashen grey in color, and powdery in texture.
- Stench: The character exudes a putrid smell, like rotting flesh and sewage.
- Lame: One of the character's knees, or ankles, or hips becomes painful, giving them a pronounced limp.
- Webbed digits: The character grows membranes of skin between their fingers and between their toes.
- Hunched back: The character's back twists and bends, giving them a hunched-over appearance.
- Blight: Plants within ten meters of the character wither and die. Milk-producing animals stop producing, or give milk that is sour.
- Tumours: The character develops numerous benign skin tumours, ranging in size from as small as an olive to the size of a tangerine. This doesn't impair their movement; it's just grotesque.
- Bulbous eyes: The character's eyes triple in size and protrude slightly from their head. This doesn't affect the character's vision; it's just freaky looking.
- Lesions: The character's skin is covered in oozing sores. This isn't painful; it's just gross.
- Glowing eyes: The character's eyes becomes translucent, and they glow with a sickly yellow or green light. This doesn't impair the character's vision; it's just freaky looking.
- Scaly skin: The character's skin becomes hard and scaly, like that of a desert lizard or alligator. This doesn't provide any protection from injury; it's simply ugly.
- Face rot: The character's nose, ears, and lips rot away and fall off. This doesn't impair their senses; it's simply grotesque.
- Polymorph: The character is transformed into a ordinary animal no smaller than a cat, and no larger than a medium-size dog. They can think and speak normally, and their Power Level attribute is reduced to 1. On the bright side, the polymorph removes any other magical consequences from which the character may be suffering: when they recover from the polymorph, they are their normal, human-appearing selves again.
- Eye stalk: The character grows an additional, completely functional eye on their face or head, on the end of a 20 centimeter long stalk.
- Gelatinous skin: The character's skin becomes sticky and translucent, and has a wet, gummy texture. The doesn't make the character more vulnerable to injury; they're simply grotesque.
- Extra arm: The character grows an extra arm from their torso. This new appendage is somewhat clumsy, and not entirely under the character's control.
- Tentacles: The character's arms become boneless tentacles. They are as useful for grasping and manipulating objects as hands; they're just grotesque.
The player of the magician who has been disfigured should make a note of the severity of the failure (minor, moderate, severe, or critical), because this will have an impact on the difficulty of reversing the effect.
Recovering From Magical Consequences
Normally, a character suffering from the consequences of a failed Occult roll recovers one maximum Endurance after they have refrained from any use of magic for half an hour or so. After that, a character who completely abstains from using magic will regain one maximum Endurance per day; a character who has used magic in the past 24 hours will not.
A character who has been altered or disfigured by an optional consequence does not recover from that consequence until they completely abstain from using any magic for 24 hours. Additionally, a character who continues to use magic while suffering from an optional consequence risks their condition becoming permanent. Each morning after a day in which the character used magic, the player rolls 2d6. On a roll of 2, their character's disfigurement has become permanent.
The minimum level of the spell needed to reverse the unintended consequences of a failed Occult roll is based on the severity of the failure.
To reverse the unintended consequences of a failed Occult roll, the character attempting to cast the restorative magic must succeed at a remarkably difficult (DV 6) Occult (Power Level) skill roll.
During their turn, or as a forced action, a character who is able to cast spells may use a standard action to counter a spell cast against them (no Occult roll is required). A counterspell might entail conjuring a magical shield to try and block the spell, trying to neutralize the spell with an inverse effect, or it might involve using finesse to try and divert the spell away: the choice is up to the player.
Casting a counterspell grants a +3 bonus to the character's defense roll against all spells until they take their next turn.
A character may choose to cast a counterspell after the attacker has determined that the attack will successfully hit: there is no need to counterspell an attack that misses.
Any character with a Power Level of 1 or greater can temporarily imbue non-living materials with magic. In practice, this allows a character to create pieces of magical "equipment" which operate similarly to ordinary equipment one can buy at a shop. This allows a character to create a charm that grants a character Expertise with the Deception skill, a potion that grants an additional two character points of Brawn, a bracelet that grants the protection of rating 3 armor, and so on.
The number of days it takes to create an empowered object, or a number of identical empowered objects, is equal to the object's spell level (techniques may be used to lower the spell level of an empowered object). The magician may eat, sleep, and attend to matters of personal hygiene, but may engage in no other significant activity while empowering a new item.
The maximum number of objects a character can have temporarily empowered at one time is equal to their Power Level. If all of the empowered objects are identical, the magician may prepare multiple objects simultaneously. If the character creates a new empowered object which would place them over their limit, one of their previously empowered objects ceases to function (the player may choose which one).
Empowered objects last about two weeks before the magic fades, unless the character spends a number of character points equal to the spell level of the item. This makes the empowerment permanent, and that item no longer counts against the character's maximum number of empowered items.