You are Awakened. But what did you Awaken from? Or, perhaps it’s better, put, what did you Awaken to? The answer is deceptively simple: the Truth. And what is the Truth?
The Truth is that reality has been fabricated and humanity has had their true potential stolen from them. The Truth is that this world is only one of many, but the doors have been closed to you all your life. The Truth is there are monster more terrible than you could ever imagine, but they have stayed hidden from you. The Truth is that everything you’ve accepted as law until now is part of a great Lie, a conspiracy made to keep you asleep and docile.
And the Truth is that for untold millennia, the Awakened have tried to peel back the Lie and see what lies beneath and after untold millennia, there is still so much to discover. The Truth is that knowledge is power, but until now you had no idea how powerful knowledge can be.
Let’s cover a couple of basics real quick: there is this world. The Fallen World. A world of limits and matter and Sleepers. There are also other worlds beside this one. There is a spirit world, a Shadow of the Fallen World that is a primal and alien wilderness, where the spiritual reflections of all creatures and objects exist. There are the Astral planes that exist in your mind and in the space between all minds. There are also, no doubt, a thousand tiny planes of existence created by Awakened that are hidden from all but a select few who know the secret to reaching them. And finally, above all others, is the Supernal Realms. This is where reality is made and where the Awakened draw their power.
In times long past, the Supernal Realms touched the physical, perhaps overlapped, and anybody could wield its power should they open their mind to the call of the Supernal Realms. These early Mages were the protectors and leaders of humanity and they built the great city of Atlantis, a city of magic. In Atlantis, they built a bridge between this world and the Supernal Realms, and they called it the Celestial Ladder. A handful of powerful mages climbed the ladder and ascended to the Supernal Realms. All humanity would pay the price for their greed and their hubris. A war of ascension broke out in the Supernal Realms and the Celestial Ladder was shattered, driving a wedge between our now Fallen World and the Supernal Realms. That wedge, that void created by hubris, became the Abyss.
Those mages who won the war of ascension became the Exarchs and when they created the Abyss, they stole magic from the world and cast humanity into a slumber. They created the Lie, and they erased Atlantis from existence. But the Exarchs were resisted by the Oracles, a group of Mages who ascended the Celestial Ladder and fought against the Exarchs. In secret, they built the five Watchtowers, one in each of the five Supernal Realms. The Watchtowers shine the light of the Supernal into our world and offer a select few a chance to see through the Lie. Those who journey into the Supernal Realms and scribe their names on the wall of the Watchtower that called them, they are the Awakened. Their soul is attuned to one of the five Supernal Realms. How does one make this journey? How does one Awaken? Why were you called by the Watchtower? Congratulations. You’ve uncovered your first Mystery. Be sure to tell us if you solve it.
So, what now? Seek the Truth. Scribing your name on the Watchtower was not the end of your journey, it was only the first step. The doors are open to you now. The Lie has been revealed. Ask more questions, pull on more threads, follow more trails, find mysteries and solve them. The more you learn, the more powerful you will become. One day you might become a master and take apprentices of your own. One day you might become an Archmaster and begin your journey towards ascension. One day you might ascend and join the Oracles, maybe you’ll tip the scales, overthrown the Exarchs and liberate us all. Or will you join them and hoard power for yourself?
Before you go digging up ancient lore and looking for Atlantean relics, there’s a couple more things you should know. Although the Exarchs rule, the Oracles still wield great power. Look for the signs they give and the clues they leave. You can thank them for anything from Atlantis that wasn’t wiped from existence. The Exarchs are also active. They have their own agents called Seers to The Throne, Awakened who have been promised power in exchange for service. At least, that’s what the Seers say. I’ll be real with you: the dirty little secret is this whole business with Atlantis might be bull. The Atlantean tradition works, but so do a lot of other magical traditions. So maybe the Seers are just crazy and hearing voices. Maybe we’re all crazy.
Anyway, one thing that’s real enough to touch is the Abyss. No, really, go far enough into Astral Space and you can touch it. It’s also a real threat. Sleepers are attuned to the Abyss like you’re attuned to the Supernal Realms. We call this Quiescence. Any power you draw from the Supernal Realms must travel through the Abyss to reach you, and sometimes a little of the Abyss gets tangled in with it. It’s worse if Sleepers are watching. The Abyss is the negative charge to the Supernal’s positive. The two are not meant to touch. When the Abyss does taint your magic, it’s called Paradox. I’m sure you’ll see how that works before too long.
Finally, you should know we’re not alone. If you’re interested in Spirit magic and visiting the Shadow, you’ll not only meet whole choirs of otherworldly entities, you’re guaranteed to get a visit from our furry shape-shifting friends eventually. There’s no animosity between Awakened and Werewolves and mostly we stay out of each other’s way, but they’re real sensitive about Spirit magic. There’s probably a whole host of other creatures out there to meet, some a result of Supernal Magic, some entirely unconnected. You’ll have to find that out for yourself. But what you really need to know is that the Abyss is not just an emptiness, it is a living power. And there are things living in it, things that sometimes crawl through the cracks in reality and into our world. What do they want? Nobody knows. But what they do is destroy and corrupt. Some mages are tempted to serve these abyssal demons in exchange for power. They are the Scelesti and they are not your friend.
That’s it. Well, that’s not nearly it, but it’s enough. You don’t get anywhere by handing out your secrets or having them handed to you, so whatever comes next, you’ll have to unravel that mystery for yourself.
The Million Dollar Question is: What Can I Do?
Primarily, a mage’s power depends on their understanding on the ten threads that make up the universe, the ten Arcana: Death, Fate, Forces, Life, Matter, Mind, Prime, Spirit, Space, and Time. With increasing knowledge of the Arcana, they can work their will on reality in more elaborate and dramatic ways. The ways in which they work their magic are called the Practices. To understand what you can do with the Arcana, you need to know the Practices, which are, organised by skill level:
Initiate (1 Dot)
- The Practice of Unveiling: Uncover knowledge within the arcanum’s purview. Perceive and understand phenomena within the Arcanum’s purview.
- The Practice of Compelling: Push phenomena within the arcanum’s purview in natural and/or expected directions. Reinforce an innate factor of phenomena.
Apprentice (2 Dots)
- The Practice of Ruling: Exert command and control over phenomena within the purview of the Arcanum, even causing unnatural behaviour but within the confines of regular function.
- The Practice of Shielding: Create protective effects that grant armour. Hide phenomena within the purview from mundane senses. Simple illusory alterations to phenomena. Hide from the purview’s phenomena.
Disciple (3 Dots)
- The Practice of Weaving: Make small alterations the properties and functions of phenomena within the Arcanum’s purview. Like-to-like transformations, or from one natural state to another. Strengthen, improve and repair phenomena.
- The Practice of Fraying: Decay, strip away, or break phenomena within the Arcanum’s purview. Deal bashing damage to targets using the Arcanum’s purview.
Adept (4 dots)
- The Practice of Patterning: Radically transform or replace the properties and functions of phenomena within the Arcanum’s purview. Infuse the arcanum’s phenomena where it would be expected to exist.
- The Practice of Unravelling: Deal lethal damage to a target, degrade its capabilities or negatively transform it. Destroy a phenomena with the Arcana’s purview.
Master (5 dots)
- The Practice of Making: Create phenomena within the Arcanum’s purview from nothing.
What Does This Mean In Practical Terms?
Below is a break down of how these practices look according to each Arcana. These are a sampling of effects and not exhaustive. Some examples include what the mechanical effects could look like for casting a spell. Some examples include how you can take your magic that extra bit further with Reach. Some examples include how the Arcana can be combined.
(At present, only the Arcana taken by players at the levels learned are listed.)
The Arcanum of: Shadows, decay, ectoplasm, ghosts, souls, cold, enervations, endings, entropy.
A note on ghosts: Ectoplasm, also called ephemera, is the malleable supernatural material that makes up ghosts and ectoplasmic constructs (ghost objects). These exist in a state of Twilight. Twilight is not a plane of reality but a state of existence, a unique frequency out of phase with normal matter, rendering regular interactions impossible without supernatural aid. Astral bodies and spirits can also exist in Twilight, as ephemera, but on a different frequency to ectoplasm. Death is unable to interact with these entities.
- Determine the cause of death of a corpse.
- See the presence of a soul.
- Determine the state of a person’s soul, if the subject is awakened or has an otherwise supernatural soul, has made a soul stone, or a Legacy.
- See and communicate with ghosts in Twilight
- Detect a ghost’s anchor
- Shape ectoplasm
- Shape shadows
- Force a loose soul into a soul jar
- Physically interact with ghosts in Twilight
- Cause a decaying object to decay faster
- Cause lethal injuries to worsen, causing [Potency] further bashing damage
- Force a soul into an empty vessel
- Call a nearby Ghost into your presence
- Hide the causes of death on a corpse.
- Make yourself invisible to ghosts
- Create a shield that saps the vigour of incoming attacks (Armour = Potency)
- Counterspell death magic.
- Appear to aura perception as a corpse (auraless)
- Make a person appear physically dead
- Stop from shedding dead hair or skin cells or blood
The Arcanum of: blessings, hexes, probability, fortune, oaths, promises, intentions, and destiny
A word on Fate magic: It might seem that Fate is a particularly power – or at least a particularly exploitable – Arcanum. After all, if one can shift probability, create fate, and dictate that even the most unlikely things happen, can you not just raise the probability that your enemy will be struck by lightning to 100%? Can you not just open a locked door by declaring that, luckily, it was always unlocked? Or that it is destiny your rival throws himself on his sword? If this is true, nobody would need to learn Forces, Time, or Mind. The answer is no. Plucking at the strings of fate does not rewrite history, nor does it make grand changes to the current state of the universe. Fate is about what can, might, and will happen sooner or later. A door locked door won’t unlock for you because you’re lucky, but with a little help from Fate, you could pick a random key from a keyring and be so fortunate as to pick the right one first try. Similarly, Fate cannot give you skills you don’t have, but it can improve conditions when you act, increasing likelihood of a greater success.
It is helpful to think of Fate in terms of the butterfly effect. Fate makes small changes that compound, setting in motion events like falling dominoes, to get a desired result. The bigger the event, the more time Fate needs. It’s also worth remembering that you might not always like how Fate decides to give you what you want.
- See if somebody has broken an oath
- See the ties of fate between people
- Detect people with destinies
- Discover sympathetic connections
- Know when a chosen event befalls a target during the duration of the spell
- Glimpse all the possible choices before you in a decision and how which ones might resolve beneficially or poorly, allowing you to make the best choice
- Compensate for all the negative factors of a situation and benefit from minor lucky breaks, reducing dice penalties on a roll by [Potency]
- Cause a coin to fall a certain way
- Bestow minor good fortune at some point during the spell’s Duration (eg. target stumbles upon a lost $20)
- Curse a target with small misfortune at some point during the spell’s Duration (eg. Target drops $20 after making a withdrawal at an ATM)
- Grant a target a boon of exceptional good fortune in their endeavours, granting 9-again rule on [Potency] rolls during the spell’s duration
- Lay a curse on a target that causes exceptional bad luck, imposing: a dice pool penalty (divide Potency between dice subtracted and number of rolls affected); or decrease their Defence by [Potency] to minimum of zero.
- Act with excellent etiquette and grace in a situation you know nothing about, removing all untrained penalties for social rolls
- Correctly guess a password, pin, or telephone number
- Point yourself in the correct direction of a person or object you want to find and travel towards it by following your “intuition”
- (Conjunctional Effect) Create a condition in a spell that causes it to end prematurely.
- Grant a target [Potency] armour in the form of fortunate timing and lucky stumbles to avoid damage by near misses
- Infuse an object with a touch of destiny for better or worse, increasing or decreasing its equipment bonus by [Potency] (max 5)
- Fate bind a creature to yourself (or another with increased Scale) so that whatever befalls one, befalls the other. Damage and injury, misfortune, even intoxication apply to both. With Reach, the effect is one way.
- Ensure everything goes perfectly on a task, granting the Rote quality to a roll.
- Bind an oath with Fate, enforcing the promise (for [Duration]) with a curse on any oathbreaker, adding Potency to resistance for mind-control effects to force the pact be broken, and granting the 8-again on rolls to fulfil the oath.
- Ensure a target suffers a painful mishap. The next time a target suffers bashing damage (within the spell’s Duration), increase the damage by Potency.
The Arcanum of: healing, disease, food, animals, instinct, plants, evolution, metamorphosis, physicality, and vitality.
- Discern physical details of a creature including age, species, sex, or current health.
- Detect the presence of disease or infection.
- Speak to and understand the language of animals
- Become aware of the presence and location of life around you (out to [Scale]). Can be all life, or specific creatures like dogs.
- Push the body to fight an infection or toxin, allowing the target to make an immediate resistance roll against it.
- Clear and heighten your senses, removing [Potency] penalties from Perception rolls.
- Slow your breathing. The amount of oxygen needed to live is divided by Potency.
- Slow your heartbeat. The interval at which you are affected by a toxin is multiplied by Potency.
- Regulate your metabolism. The time you can go without food and water without suffering is multiplied by Potency.
- Increase your reflexes and response time, adding [Potency] to initiative.
- Control a creature’s release of pheromones. Alter the strength of body odour.
- Push the body to recover faster, halving healing time during Duration.
- Trigger an animal’s instincts, such as the fight-or-flight response.
- Make a target creature feel suddenly hungry or fatigued.
- Direct an animal to act in a natural way (eg. Make locusts form a swarm, control a plant’s growth in a certain direction, a wolf attack a rabbit, a bird collect an object for a nest)
- Call an animal or animals towards you
- Purge a body of disease, reducing the illness severity rating by [Potency]
- Harden your skin and strengthen your bones, adding [Potency] to armour.
- Make minor cosmetic alterations: changing eye, skin or hair colour, hair length, obvious sexual characteristics, tone of voice. Will fool most observers, but not closer scrutiny like fingerprint readers.
- Increase muscle mass, improving your Strength up to normal maximum (or higher with Reach)
- Rapidly increase recovery, knit your wounds back together, repair your body. Restore [Potency] bashing damage.
- Alter your body to resemble any other person, even changing sex and physical health and fitness (moving physical stat dots around).
- (With Time 3) Change your physical age to any place you like.
- Transform parts of your body, gaining benefits and features of similar creatures (mammals). Add [Potency] features like claws, a prehensile tail, fur, immunities, etc. (With Reach, the changes are encoded into the DNA for [Duration] so that any offspring will inherit the features)
- Bruise and degrade a creature’s body, causing bashing damage.
- Tear a creature’s muscles, age their body, weaken their bones, reducing a physical stat by Potency. Affect an additional stat with Reach, dividing Potency between them.
Arcanum of: alchemy, gases, solids, liquids, shaping, crafting, transmutations, stasis
- Reveal the intended purpose, if any, of an object or machine. With Reach, discover exactly how to use it (remove untrained penalty, learn the combination to a safe or lock)
- (With Fate 1) Reveal any object within [Scale] that is designed to assist with a chosen endeavour.
- Learn what materials or elements make up an object.
- Detect the presence of a particular object or material. With Time 1, detect if an object or material has been present.
- Learn the weight, dimensions, internal shape of an object.
- A certain object or substance is drawn towards you. This won’t make immobile objects move, but dropped coins will roll towards you and water will flow in your direction.
- Make mechanical objects perform an action to function in an as-designed way. A lock will lock/unlock, an engine will start. With Reach, maintain control for the Duration as though “driving” the object.
- Manipulate and shape liquids
- Manipulate and shape gases
- Control a mechanical object so that it moves and functions in a way that is physically possible but intended (a vacuum cleaner will reverse and blow rather than suck, a mobile phone will overwork its circuits to act as a small heater)
- Handle normally dangerous materials without risk of harm (hold acid in your hand). Protect from bashing damage, or Lethal with Reach.
- Make an object appear insignificant and beneath notice of observers. It is not invisible, just seemingly irrelevent.
- Render yourself undetectable by machines like cameras or microphones.
Arcanum of communication, language, hallucination, Goetia, thought, memory, mental projections, the Astral Realms.
Astral projections and goetia naturally exist in a state of Twilight as a kind of ephemera. However, they are not ghosts or spirits and are not made of ectoplasm, so neither Death or Spirit arcana can affect astral bodies.
- Determine a person’s virtue or vice
- Determine a person’s mental or social attribute
- Read a person’s surface thoughts or current emotions
- Perfectly recall a memory or learned information
- Witness the dreams of somebody sleeping.
- Perform two distinct concurrent mental tasks without a problem. (eg. Hold a conversation while writing a poem)
- Influence and direct somebody’s dreams.
- Push a target’s emotions further to an extreme or towards calm.
- Make somebody pay more attention to you
- Change a target’s current thoughts, drive, and feelings so they do what you want in a way that makes sense for the target. With Reach, the target does what you want the way you want.
- Speak to someone telepathically. With Reach, the communication is two-way.
- Call a Goetia to you.
- Alter your thought patterns, current emotions, and subconscious drives, adding Potency to Subterfuge rolls to hide true intentions.
- Hide your presence from a target, making you effectively invisible to them.
- Bury information or memories so that, for [Duration], a target cannot recall them or even know they existed.
- Block your mind’s ability to register pain, reducing wound penalties by [Potency]
- Improve a target’s mind, and increase their mental or social attributes.
- Temporarily suppress a derangement.
- Tap into the Tenemos and draw out information, temporarily gaining dots in a skill
- Summon a Goetia from your Oneiros.
- (With Space 2) Summon a Goetia out of the Tenemos or Anima Mundi.
- Make yourself appear as somebody else in a target’s mind.
- Keep yourself awake.
- Speak, read, and understand all human languages including purely written languages (braille) or non-verbal language (sign language). Does not include High Speech (blame the Exarchs)
- Reach into a target’s subconscious to pull out deeper thoughts and feelings, or memories.
- Cloud and overwhelm a target’s mind, decreasing their mental or social attributes.
- Inflict bashing damage by assaulting a target’s mind, overwhelming it in an effect similar to a stroke.
The Arcanum of distance, separation, sympathy, conjuration, scrying, warding.
Space can be a difficult arcanum to work with conceptually. Many space effects influence what is unseen by most, but what mages can see with Mage Sight or intuit with their knowledge of the Truth. What this means is that the mage must still be able to see or touch the areas of space or the connections they want to manipulate. If a mage wants to strengthen a sympathetic connection between woman and her pet snake, she must be able to perceive that connection and thus perceive both ends of it. If a Mage wants to teleport, she must see her end location.
At Space 2, the mage can using Ruling magic to see at a distance and even affect things at a distance using Sympathetic connections. This allows the mage to affect connections with access to only one half the connection. Remote casting doesn’t count as combined spells, but the strength of the sympathetic connection does. Intimate connections (lock of hair, close family member, prized possession) is a -2 penalty, a Known connection (friend, co-worker, photo, clothing) is -4, an Encountered connection (somebody you passed on the street, a thrown out hamburger wrapper) is -8, and a Described (a person or place you’ve been told about, or you once saw a photo of) connection is -10. It also requires Reach.
- See a target’s sympathetic links to [Potency] people and objects
- Know exactly where a target object is within the spell’s area even as it moves. With Space 2, know where the object is anywhere.
- Perceive with equal clarity in all directions.
- Build a 3D spatial map of your surroundings in your mind
- Subtly compress or stretch space around a target, increasing or decreasing their speed by [Potency]
- Make an empty space seem vast and forboding or a crowded space packed and claustrophobic around a target, penalising their social rolls by [Potency]
- Force a door, window, gate, or other portal to open for you.
- Twist a target’s sense of direction and location, making them wrongly believe a path to go somewhere. (eg. The way they think they need to go to get to a hospital actually goes to a supermarket)
- Scry on somebody or somewhere
- Open a scrying window that can be seen through in both directions
- Warp space around you, pushing attacks away, granting [Potency] Armour.
- Make a door effectively invisible to mundane senses
- Conceal a sympathetic link
- Create a ward on an area, creating [Potency] resistance to attempts to work Space magic on the area. Spend Reach to create a Key – a way of bypassing the ward.
- Change one end of a sympathetic link to a similar target
- Invert space around a location, removing its connection from its surroundings, so nothing can move into or out of it.
- Create a portal between locations
- Co-locate. Overlap yourself on multiple points of space at once, seemingly creating physical mirrors of yourself.
- Strengthen a sympathetic connection, allowing for easier sympathetic casting.
- Reinforce the effects of a sympathetic connection between yourself and another, making you more alike, granting the 8-again rule on rolls for social interaction.
- Twist and warp the space a target occupies in painful ways, causing bashing damage.
Arcanum of prophecy, change, postcognition, time travel, time contraction and dilation
Time is one of the most difficult Arcana to understand and take advantage of, because for a human mind (which a mage still has) thinking four dimensionally is unnatural. The tapestry also resists temporal manipulations more than most magic, making long term changes difficult. Finally, the future is never set until it becomes the present, and so movement forward to even looking forward doesn’t present definite answers. Still, even the power to rewind time a few seconds and have a do over is an awesome magic.
- Look into a target’s future, seeing in broad strokes the most likely path they will follow.
- (With Fate 1) View the many possible futures of a target in broad strokes and know which ones work out best and which work out poorly.
- Know exactly how old a person or object is.
- Glimpse a target’s immediate future to see if they are a threat to you, an aid, or indifferent.
- Know the exact moment to take an action for the best result (eliminating dice penalties equal to [Potency])
- (Death 1) Know how far someone is from death. (Reach to see exactly how and when someone is likely to die)
- View the past of a person or object, watching a select period of its history unfold in real time. With Reach, the vision can be slowed, sped up, paused, rewound, and generally examined in as much detail as the mage wants.
- Make small shifts in an event’s timing, enough to make something that would happen take place at a more convenient moment.
- Ensure the ideal future plays out for you. For the next [Potency] rolls within the spell’s duration, roll twice and choose which result applies. With Reach, spell casting and supernatural rolls are included.
- (Conjunctional Effect) Trap and hold a spell in stasis, creating a Hung Spell that does not take effect until the stasis expires or is ended by the caster. Add Fate 2 to create a conditional trigger.
- Protect yourself against changes to the timeline, making yourself aware of and unaffected alterations to the past.
- Slow time around you, creating a shield that slows incoming objects, granting [Potency] armour.
Great. Now, how do I cast a spell?
Creative Thaumaturgy is the art of inventing and casting a spell on the fly. Following a formula to cast a spell uses essentially the same mechanics, but such formulaic spells are called Rotes. They are explained further below.
Step 1: Imago
The mage imagines what the spell effect is to be. This includes not only what the end result of the spell is, but how the magic accomplishes the result, who or what it affects, how wide the area of effect is, how potent the spell is, how long the spell will last.
After the spell has been described narratively, determine the spell’s mechanical requirements. Determine what Arcana is required, what level of the necessary Arcana, what the Spell Factors are and how much Reach must be used, by referring to tables at the end of this guide.
Step 2: Suffer Paradox
A spell is cast and the effects of Paradox are resolved simultaneously in the narrative, but the Paradox dice must be rolled first. Paradox is caused by sleepers witnessing obvious magic and by mages using Reach. For any spell, Mages can use Reach equal to 1+ the difference between the spell’s required Arcana and the mage’s rating in that Arcana without risking Paradox. (eg. A Compeling (2 dots) Forces spell cast by a Forces Adept (3 dots) mage can use 2 Reach safely).
The base dice pool for Paradox is equal to the rating of the effect being used (eg. A Weaving (3 dots) spell Paradox pool of 3). The first unsafe Reach creates the base Paradox dice pool, which is further modified by the following factors:
- A dedicated Magic tool sympathetic to the mage’s Path reduces Paradox by -1 dice. This counts as using a Yantra (see below).
- Casting a Rote Spell reduces the Paradox dice pool by -1.
- One or more sleeper witnesses (ie. Totally normal humans) adds +2 dice. If a sleeper witnesses magic that isn’t already paradoxical, they create the base paradox dicepool +1,
- Each previous Paradox roll made in the scene adds +1 dice.
- Each additional use of Reach increases increases the dice pool by +1.
- Mana can be spent to reduce paradox 1-for-1.
Every success on the Paradox wreaks greater havoc on the world around the mage and on the spell itself. It is also a penalty on the spell casting dice pool (to every interval of a ritual).
The Mage can try to contain the Paradox in their body by immediately rolling their Wisdom. Each success negates a point of paradox and causes the casting Mage to suffer a point of bashing damage. Any remaining successes do not affect the spellcasting dice pool, but infect the mage with the taint of the abyss.
No matter how long a ritual takes, only one paradox roll is made.
Step 3: Cast The Spell
The base dice pool for the spell is Gnosis + Arcana – Paradox. Conjunctional and combined spells use the lowest Arcana. Dice are subtracted depending on the Spell Factors in the Imago. The Mage can then increase the dice pool in the following ways. This will also determine what the spellcasting process looks like.
- Mana can be spent to increase dice pool 1-for-1. In a ritual, a mage chooses whether or not to spend Mana for each interval and need not use the same amount in each.
- The mage may use Yantras equal to half their gnosis (rounded up) for +1 dice each.
- The mage may spend one round concentrating for +2 dice. The mage cannot act, defend or move for this round and must succeed on a meditation roll.
- Willpower can be used as normal for +3 dice.
Combined spells (spells that create two distinct, non-complementary effects such as turning water to ice and slowing time) impose a -2 penalty on the spell casting dice pool. Conjunctional spells (spells that use two Arcana for one affect, such as conjuring fire with Prime and directing it as a fireball with Forces) imposes no such penalty.
Once the spell’s dice pool has been finalised, roll the dice.
Spells that direct some kind of attack at a target – a missile of raw magic energy, a telekinetically thrown bowling ball, a conjured lightning bolt – require an attack roll in addition to the magic roll. If the spell is successful, immediately make a Dexterity + Arcana – Target’s Defence roll to hit the target. A mage can use Reach to negate the target’s defence, as though making an attack with a firearm.
What are those Spell Factors you mentioned?
Spell Factors use the Standard metric, unless the Factor is upgraded with Reach.
Spells are cast as a ritual by default. This is an extended action and requires a number of successes determined by the chosen Spell Factors. The length of each ritual interval (dice roll) depends on Gnosis, and a caster can only cast for a number of intervals equal to their gnosis. To cast as an instant action, the caster muse use 1 Reach. For instant spells, Spell Factors impose a dice pool penalty rather than a required number of successes.
Potency begins at 1 and can be increased by taking a -2 penalty (Or increasing required successes by +1) for every increase of Potency by 1. Potency determine a spell’s damage, healing, or dice bonus. One Reach is used to upgrade any healing or damage to the next higher type (Bashing>Lethal>Aggravated). Inflicting and healing Aggravated damage also requires a point of mana. One Reach can also be used to increases the spell’s Resistance to dispelling by +2.
Potency May be selected as a spell’s Primary Factor. In this case, after the dice pool has been built, increase the Potency by up to the caster’s highest relevant Arcana – 1. Choosing a Primary Factor is not required.
Living creatures and supernatural creatures have an innate resistance to magic. Their pattern rejects the alteration. Subtract the target’s Stamina, Resolve, or Composure (the most appropriate for the spell) from a spell’s Potency. If the Potency is reduced to 0, the spell has no effect. For spells that affect multiple targets (specifically selected or in an area of effect), determine the resistance for each affected target individually. Mages can add their Gnosis to this resistance by spending a point of Mana (other supernaturals may use their Gnosis and Mana equivalents). Mages who plan to combat vampires, werewolves, or each other must be especially creative or tenacious.
A spell’s range is the caster themself, or anything/anybody they are touching. This is increased to anything/anybody they can directly sense with the use of 1 Reach. A target seen through scrying, CCTV, or similar remote means requires an additional Reach. Casting at Sympathetic range requires Reach, 1 mana and Space 2.
For many spells, duration is insignificant. This is true of magical attacks: using a Death Fraying spell to hurt somebody happens and no more need to be said. Some spell effects are naturally lasting: you use Life to call an animal to you, and the animal comes. The magic is done cannot be dispelled to make the animal pop back to where it started. In these cases, the Tapestry does not resist the state of change. Healing bashing damage is similar. The Tapestry accepts what was wounded has recovered. Although magic made it happen, it is does not fundamentally undermine the Lie.
Sometimes, though, the Tapestry is not so relaxed about your reality bending shenanigans. When you use Matter magic to melt wood, the Tapestry rejects this as unnatural, and so once the duration expires, the wood will solidify. An amputated leg regrown will vanish after the spell’s duration expires as the Lie reasserts the natural laws.
What lasts and what doesn’t is somewhat nebulous and falls into the area of GM arbitration. The game’s world and rules will help as much as possible, but not everything can be accounted for because it is as much a balancing act to stop magic and the game being too easy as it is a contrivance of the fiction.
*Requires using an additional Reach and a point of Mana.
Duration may be selected as a spell’s Primary Factor. In this case, after the dice pool has been built, increase the Duration by up to the caster’s highest relevant Arcana – 1. Choosing a Primary Factor is not required.
Can You Explain Yantras Now?
Yantras are tools, places and actions used by the mage to assist in reaching out to the Supernal realm and drawing power into their will. Any Yantra used in rote (except the Rote Skill) or improvised casting must have a semiotic link to the spell’s effect. Usually this means a link to the Arcana (a bone wand when casting a Death spell,) to the Practice (A knife in a Fraying spell,) or to another important element of the spell. The following can be used as Yantras and all provide a +1 bonus each.
- A physical object held or openly worn (not in a pocket or under clothing.)
- An action such as drawing or playing an instrument. Note: this is different to and does not stack with using a skill in a Rote.
- The location the mage is casting the spell (A bath house for a Mind spell to soothe emotions, a supernal verge matching the arcana used.)
- Chanting in Atlantean (Orders teach a variety of standard chants for the different Practices and Arcana.) Chanting must be done vocally and be audible.
- Dedicated Magic Tools can be used as a Yantra only if there is a semiotic link. Using a Dedicated Magic Tool as a Yantra still reduces Paradox dice pools by 1.
- Inscribing Runes adds +2 dice to the dice pool, but the caster must spend time equal to a ritual interval to carve the necessary runes, and they must be freshly inscribed for each spell. Not much use for casting in a hurry. Inscribing runes on the target of a spell (or at the perimeter of a spell’s area in the cardinal directions) also increases the duration by 1, but ends it prematurely if the runes are broken.
- Uttering a person’s Sympathetic Name (aka True Name) acts as a Yantra.
A mage is limited by both Gnosis and practical considerations in what Yantras they can use. A gagged mage cannot chant, a mage pinning a struggling vampire cannot play the flute. Each Yantra must also be unique. A knife is a good Yantra, but holding two knives does not add +1 for each knife.
When Yantras are used in a ritual, they must be used during each interval. The exception is runes, which are inscribed before the ritual begins and apply their bonus to every interval.
You Mentioned Rote Spells?
A Rote Spell is one which the mage has practiced and studied to great length in order to formulate a standard Imago and casting method. It is designed using the same method as Creative Thaumaturgy but is refined, perfected, and encoded into a precise formula. This means that the Spell Factors (except Potency), Primary Factor, Reach, and Yantras are set in stone once the Rote has been created. To vary them is to resort to Creative Thaumaturgy.
The benefit of a Rote is that all Rotes treat the caster’s relevant Arcana as 5 for the purposes of determining safe Reach, and any Paradox roll is reduced by -1. Additionally, the Mage uses a skill as a Yantra (this takes up one of the available Yantras the mage may use). The casting dice pool for a Rote Spell is Gnosis + Arcana + Skill.
The inclusion of a skill as a Yantra in Rote Spells represents physical actions used as as a memory aid for the mage. An Adamantine Arrow who uses a martial arts form to cast a Time spell has built an association between that Imago and the physical action of performing the form. Unlike other Yantras, the skill used for a Rote does not need to be symbolically connected to the spell’s effect, it’s purely for the mage’s benefit.
The simplest Rote Spells, and those taught to new mages, use Rote Mudras – a limited symbolic Atlantean sign language. Rote Mudras use the Occult skill and are thus favoured by the Mysterium, but are also popular with traditionalist mages from every Order and Path. The Guardians of The Veil developed a system of Rote Mudras (the practice is now common in all orders) that are less obvious and look like more casual movements of the arms, hands and facial features. Using these subtle Mudras adds the Expression skill instead of Occult. Rote Mudras require free use of at least one hand. Rote Mudras cannot be used as Yantras in improvised casting.