Compendium

Agrimancy

AKA LANDBREAKERS, TAMERS, SODBUSTERS

In the beginning, we were alone at nature’s mercy, naked and afraid, ignorant animals. But we did something the flying birds and racing horses and screaming tigers could not.
We gave names.
We said to the wolf, “Your name is dog. You serve me now and I do not fear you.”
We said to the lightning, “Your name is fire. You serve me now and I do not fear you.”
Floods struck us and we named it irrigation. Our food spoiled and we named it fermenting. One by one, challenge by challenge, we took nature’s chaos and bent it to the service of the human order. This is the oldest, deepest, most profound magick. What we call science is a collection of triumphs so old and chewed-over that their novelty is gone.
We seize from nature and make it feed us, clothe us, protect us.
We say to the world, “Your name is farm. You serve me now and I do not fear you.”

Generate a Minor Charge: To generate a minor charge, the agrimancer takes back the life she has given. By personally slaughtering a small animal she raised from pup/egg/infancy, she recalls to herself the effort she put in — with a dividend. It’s OK to eat the animal afterwards.

Generate a Significant Charge: Significant charges require a more significant animal sacrifice. Killing a steer raised from a calf, or a sow she’s owned since it was a piglet, releases a greater store of occult energy.
Alternately, instead of taking power from nature and bending it to human will, she can change the course of human energies directly. The fertility ritual takes about fifteen minutes and a sharp knife, and culminates in human sacrifice. Some landbreakers insist that this is a corruption of the art, either because they’re squeamish about murder or, more commonly, because it’s a cheapjack shortcut around wrestling with Mother Nature.

Generate a Major Charge: Fully domesticate a species previously unknown to science. Feed a million people at once with the output of a single farm. Control a farm of a hundred square miles or more for a single year, or a ranch of over a thousand square miles. Note that once an area has had a major charge harvested off it, it can’t produce another for ten years. To get another major before that, move to an entirely new plantation that has no overlap with the old one. Commit prolicide on your adult child.

Taboo: When nature gets the better of the sodbuster, their mojo fails. Being discomforted by weather or treading in manure aren’t sufficient to drain the agrimancer’s charges, but being bitten by any wild animal does it. So does weather that’s bad enough to force some sort of roll. Driving through rain or snow breaks taboo, even if the roll to keep the car on the road or your horse under control succeeds. Finally, crossing wild water — an ocean, sea, or great lake — breaks taboo. That includes flying over them. Most ponds, small lakes, and rivers aren’t powerful enough to steal charges, but the mightiest rivers of each continent can drain a landbreaker if she crosses it by boat. Those rivers are the Amazon, the Mississippi, the Volga, the Nile, the Yangtze, and the Murray-Darling. Oh, and technically the Onyx, if your farm-wizard ever makes it to Antarctica.

Random Magick Domain: Agrimancers have a fairly narrow field of random magick. They are mostly concerned with taking what is chaotic in the natural world and bending it to a human order through renaming and organization. They have little power over other people’s minds, and civilized devices are already tamed and therefore resistant to their influence. But anything that grows, and isn’t already serving someone’s commercial or agricultural interests, could be subject to meddling by a landbreaker.

CAMERATURGY

AKA LENSERS, IMAGICIANS, PAPARAZZI

It used to be that producing an image was the domain of a privileged few, those who had access to pigment to put on a cave wall, had the time to do so and, most importantly, had the inner eye that takes the transitory and unique image that I see and transforms it to a permanent and universal image that I display. As humankind became more sophisticated, and our paintings gained fidelity, the technical demands on their makers became more stringent.
The camera changed all that.
With a box you could hold in your hand, you could cage light, freeze time, show the world something that existed only for a moment in the reflection of your eye. The chemicals that fix the photo to paper are alchemical, and the darkroom an underworld from which the hero returns, triumphant, with wisdom to show the tribe.
There is the world you know and directly experience but there is, too, a much vaster world you’ve seen only through pictures. Pictures span space to show you the pyramids, the war, and the mountains of Tibet. They transcend time and offer resections of it, a sailor embracing a nurse at war’s end, the face of a princess, people long dead but immortal in photos, Edgar Allen Poe and Marie Curie and Aleister Crowley.
These images fix the transient, take what is momentary and make it infinitely repeatable, and they steal souls. For while the image can unveil the nature of what it depicts, or preserve it forever, it can also eclipse it. It’s possible that nurse was actually a dental hygienist and she didn’t want that sailor to kiss her, but history doesn’t care. The image is in the gallery of the world’s mind, and that matters so much more than mere fact.
Cameraturges are those who recognize how important it can be to take a picture of something that doesn’t look like what it looks like.

Generate a Minor Charge: Every hour spent setting up and taking photographs yields a minor charge, as soon as an image so created is safely stocked away in the lenser’s gallery. The gallery is part of the taboo.

Generate a Significant Charge: Cameraturges get one significant charge by taking a picture of a unique moment of emotional intensity, which is why some of them are wedding photographers and some of them are creeps who hang around emergency rooms snapping furtive shots of weepy kids.
You only get one charge per episode: a wedding is worth one charge, maybe two if you also happen to catch a bridesmaid and groomsman lustfully hooking up. One car accident or disaster, similarly, is only good for one charge. Have you considered becoming a war photographer?

Generate a Major Charge: Take a defining photo of a critical moment in history — the last chopper out of Saigon, Earth seen from the moon, or Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother.

Taboo: There are three things that can drain a cameraturge of all charges. The first is using a digital camera. To a lenser, if it’s not on film and developed chemically, it ain’t real.
Secondly, going twenty-four hours without taking a film image of some sort breaks taboo, and usually leaves the adept extremely anxious and unhappy.
Finally, if someone burgles his gallery, the imagician loses charges immediately. A gallery, in this instance, is where he keeps his images. It could be a handsome room full of framed beauty on the walls, or it could be a storage locker with thousands of tacked-up Polaroid creepshots. What matters is, this is where the images belong, and when they’re removed, the whole thing goes out of whack. He can gain new charges after that, but recovering a stolen picture won’t return what was lost. It’s OK for the cameraturge to take pictures out of the gallery, but leaving them anywhere but there is trouble. Developing them is permitted if there’s no way to do that on-site.
Note that inviting someone in doesn’t break the taboo, nor does the power fail if someone enters and leaves respectfully without disturbing anything. But as soon as an intruder steals a picture or damages one, or even moves one, the charges disappear… and the lenser knows it.
This does not forbid the lenser from making copies. He could sell them or publish them or donate them to a museum. But the first print and the negatives must, must be safe in the gallery.

Random Magick Domain: Images, reflections, sight, the preservation of things in time and the disconnect between things as they are and as they’re depicted.

CINEMANCY

AKA AUTEURS, CLICHÉS, TROPERS

You know movies are life. People watch movies over and over until they accept the clichés, hack writing, and unrealistic ideas as real. Then it’s your turn to direct.
From the chanbara of Japan to the dance spectacles of Bollywood, cinema has become a global, pan-humanity thing. You may think anything starring Adam Sandler is horrible, but chances are you’ve seen at least one of his films. So have people in NYC, London, Tokyo, Moscow, Riyadh, São Paulo… You can’t get away from this crap.
Because many writers are lazy, and because many moviegoers seem to prefer it that way, many movies have the same conventions, clichés, and tropes. When one character in a horror film won’t leave with the rest, someone says, “Fine, then you can wait here by yourself” and walks away. What happens next? Exactly, that character gets spooked and runs to catch up with the group. (And usually gets murdered.) These tropes have been driven into the collective mind of humanity, like ruts driven into the ground by the same damn car riding on the grass.
Everyone knows you can cure amnesia with a blow to the head, right? Except you can’t. That only causes more brain damage. But it’s been used as a cheap writing technique in so many movies that it’s become part of our collective knowledge. More importantly, people believe in that amnesia cure. If only a few people believed that, no biggie. But so much of humanity has seen that cliché so many times, the illusion is more real than the truth.
That’s where cinemancers come in. Not only do they see those ruts in the ground, they can get other people to agree that it was caused by a 1998 Nissan Sentra that wouldn’t start when a monster was creeping up on it. Cinemancy uses magick to make clichés real. After all, everyone knows about them already. Magick just gives the tropes a push needed to manifest in our world.
The central paradox in Cinemancy is that movies are fake but more accepted than reality. When you think of a newborn, chances are you picture a pink, impossibly large baby of several weeks old rather than the tiny, jaundiced wad that newborns really are.
Cinemancers are often called clichés or tropers. They like to call themselves auteurs, but other people only use that term when they’ve been properly scared.

Generate a Minor Charge: Much of a cinemancer’s power comes from humanity remembering these clichés. Thus, when they get someone to remember and describe an overused cinematic cliché, the troper gets a minor charge. Thinking about it isn’t enough; it must be described either verbally or in writing. Neither the cliché nor the person can be reused until a week has passed. Quoting a memorable line is typical, though it has to be verbatim, acted out, and can’t just be repeating what the auteur says. So if a cinemancer tricks you into a Darth Vader “NOOOOoooo!” it only works with your hands out, back arched, and head back.

Generate a Significant Charge: Scenes and plots are not the only clichés used in Hollywood. Many times, entire characters are walking clichés, their role in the film easily recognizable the moment they come on screen. A cinemancer can build a significant charge by acting as one of these stock characters for five straight hours. This doesn’t have to be a specific character from a movie, just the type of character. The cinemancer doesn’t have to play Jamie Lee Curtis in Trading Places, just a Hooker with a Heart of Gold. Examples of these cliché characters include the Hardboiled Detective, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, the Dumb Jock, the Magical Negro, and many more. The mask cannot drop or the cinemancer must start from scratch.

Generate a Major Charge: None of these tropes and clichés ever happen in real life. Yet if the cinemancer can get people to act out one of these without knowing it’s a cliché, she can get a major charge. This must be planned by the cinemancer — she cannot stumble upon this happening and get the magick — and those involved cannot be in on it. But the cinemancer can spend as much time and effort as possible to encourage people to act it out.

Taboo: Because cinemancers are dependent on these tropes manifesting in real life, they cannot see the beginnings of a cliché and not fill whatever role necessary to ensure the cliché finishes. If a cinemancer is driving in a chase and sees a fruit cart, she must ram it. Otherwise, she loses all power. They tend to be polite but reserved in order to avoid the entanglements of the dreaded meet cute, as the behavior of a character in a romcom is usually legally actionable.

Random Magick Domain: Cinemancy is focused on movie banalities. It’s powerful magic for creating illusions, especially those based on popular movie tropes. But Hollywood is far from real, so its Cinemancy is weak for creating anything permanent or concrete.

NO TV SHOWS
If a cinemancer preys on people’s knowledge of clichés, can they generate charges or cast spells based on television tropes? Nice idea, but nope. True, there are some crossover clichés (no explosion can hurt you if you turn your back on it while walking slowly away) but here’s two reasons why TV shows don’t generate the same mojo as movies.

  • Movies have global releases. Thanks to Mr. Internet and Mr. Torrent, one country’s shows can be downloaded anywhere, but that’s a far cry from a worldwide theatrical release. That means movies are much deeper in the collective unconscious of humanity and therefore more readily available for use and abuse.
  • Movies are still the gold standard. TV shows have really improved over the years and provide more options for character development and storytelling than the traditional one and a half hours of a movie. But neither of those matters to a cinemancer. He wants clichés, not quality. Besides, people still hold movies as the pinnacle of video work. Who gets more red carpet press, a sitcom star or a movie star?

FULMINATURGY

AKA ARMIGERS, GUNSELS, SLOPPY SECONDS

Picture an oblong that you can hold in one hand, or maybe two. It must be fed with carefully prepared reagents, copper and lead and less common minerals, all arranged in an exacting form. When thus prepared, the device needs only to be pointed, and invoked, to call forth light and fierce thunder.
If that doesn’t sound like a magic wand, I don’t know what does. Or, if you want to imagine a shotgun, perhaps a wizard’s staff. I was picturing an ordinary black 9mm pistol. Though, of course, when it’s pointing at you, there’s really nothing ordinary about a handgun.
This is not a school about violence, however. The thousand-yard stare of the gun mage is fixed, not on some sordid squabble, but on the disconnect between the crystal-clear individual and the amorphous mass of humanity. In the frontier era, one could take a rifle into the wilderness and thrive or perish, separate from civilization. That’s less of an option now, but the gun within the city is still the tool that steels the individual to resist coercion when outnumbered… or that forces him to knuckle under… or that culls him when his resistance is insufficient.
Fulminaturges are known to each other and their friends as armigers. Those with less kindly inclinations towards the school call them gunsels or sloppy seconds in what is presumably a reference to the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.
Fulminaturges often have multiple firearms, sometimes entire arsenals, but there is always one gun that is theirs in a uniquely meaningful way. This is referred to as their totem weapon, and it’s critical to their charging and taboo structure. A fulminaturge must have the totem weapon to cast any spell, though it doesn’t necessarily have to be out and brandished. If you’ve got the gun in your purse, it can stay there.

Generate a Minor Charge: Any time they move around in a public place openly carrying their totem firearm, they get a minor charge. They can amass a minor charge every two hours by doing this. For charging purposes, it must be visible. For this, you can’t be carrying it in your backpack. The fulminaturge’s own property is usually considered public as long as it’s visible from a road. If some stranger could drive by and see them marching around armed, that’s good enough.

Generate a Significant Charge: The significant charge also depends on the prized totem gun. Carrying the weapon secretly, for ten hours or more outside their home, generates a significant charge. It does not matter if the weapon is spotted or briefly revealed, as long as the fulminaturge knows that he is carrying it hidden from common view. Naturally, this is a lot easier if your totem is a small derringer than a sniper setup. That said, carrying a disassembled totem rifle in a briefcase works fine. The weapon can be in pieces, as long as all the pieces are present. It doesn’t even have to be loaded.

Generate a Major Charge: Designing a gun that was crucially important to human history, such as the AK-47 or the Gatling gun or the Winchester lever-action — that could get an armiger a major charge. The M-16 is probably an edge case. Alternately, a fulminaturge could make himself a new totem weapon, and its bullets, unaided and entirely from scratch. If he mined all the iron and saltpeter and copper himself, made his own forge, his own charcoal, his own hammer and tongs, and built the weapon with no help from anyone, touching it with no tools but those he made himself, then he could get a major charge if the gun was any good. This would require a successful roll with an identity like Gunsmith, but first the very attempt would need a successful local objective roll.

Taboo: There are two main strains of Fulminaturgy, and their philosophical divisions are reflected in their taboos. One strain, which sees firearms as fundamental tools for the enforcement of civilization, loses their charges if they ever shoot a human being with any gun. Bows and arrows are OK, rocket launchers are not.
The other faction, which regards guns as the key means by which the individual offsets encroachment by over-reaching authority, loses their charges if they are ever disarmed. Any time they leave their house or vehicle without some form of firearm, their charges dissipate.
Both branches, however, are bound by an additional taboo, in that they each lose their power if anyone else takes their totem gun.

Random Magick Domain: Fulminaturgy is concerned with the relationship of the individual to society. Guns are very often found on the hips and in the hands of civilization’s anointed defenders — cops and soldiers. They’re also a very fast path to being rejected by the community. The reason the debates about open carry and gun control aren’t just tranquil discussions about regulating a machine, is that a gun is a lever that changes how society relates to you, and how you relate to it. So fulminaturges have power over perceptions of social position, and some influence when it comes to the Self, Helplessness, and Isolation meters.

A GUN MAGE DOESN’T SHOOT ANYBODY?!
This popped up loudly in playtesting, where a player wanted to be a badass magickal triggerman and shoot all the bad guys. Or somebody. He was sorely disappointed that this was not encouraged.
Look, if you want to be the awe-inspiring John Woo-ish gunslinger, you don’t need a school of magick. Put many points in Gunslinger, make it your obsession, give it features that provide initiative and firearm attacks. But magick in Unknown Armies is about people who go against expectations. They see things in a way that is violently different from ordinary folks, and need that opposition to fuel their will. From what I’ve seen, in RPGs especially, “I have a gun to shoot people” is the exact opposite of unexpected. Or run it through Google. “Gun, hunting” gets about 83 million hits. “Guns kill people” gets 140 million, even though one would expect a three-term search to be narrower. It’s not conclusive, but it certainly suggests where the mind-share’s at.
That’s without considering the alternate taboo, embraced by paranoid loner adepts, that forbids them to leave their home or vehicle without a firearm. They can shoot as many people as they like, they just surrender their charges as soon as the SWAT team disarms them.

MOTUMANCY

AKA FLAG-BURNERS, ANARCHS

People are sheep, and sheep are meant to be led. A person can be more than a sheep, but only in the singular. To shrug away the wool and push back the shepherd’s crook, a person must break the taboos that hold her back, and destroy the labels that limit what she can become.
Reality is a lie, the Invisible Clergy exists only to limit who we are by forcing us into roles that are as unnatural as a fish on a bicycle. We made the world what it is by blindly buying into the system, and breaking out means breaking everything. If enough people practice strong magick, it can shatter the whole structure from the Statosphere down, propelling everyone to godhood in a systemless cosmos of pure potential.
The problem is people. The weak believe they need tribes, labels, and controls to be safe. They love their chains, knowingly or ignorantly supporting constructs like racism, nations, and the Clergy itself because they’re afraid to break free. Every rebellion, every incredible rush of boundary-crossing transgression fuels the motumancer. The best juice comes from convincing someone else to break their own taboos, defy their own labels, and rebel against their own reality.
The central paradox of Motumancy is that when you define yourself as a rebel against definitions, you’re still defined. If you free someone who resists freedom, have you really enhanced and respected their individual agency? Motumancy needs structure and order to destroy order and structure. You can’t scatter the flock if there was no shepherd to gather them.
In short, they need people to do things too.

Generate a Minor Charge: Do something that would force a stress check based on your fear, noble, or rage passion, except that you’re too hard for that now. That is, if you have four hardened notches in Isolation and are scared by being lonesome, you can get a minor charge from something that would provoke a rank 1 stress check on that meter, like being by yourself all day without seeing anyone you know. You don’t need to roll a check, but you still need the situation.

Generate a Significant Charge: Testing the edges of your limits isn’t enough. You need more. Do something that forces a stress check based on your passions, suck up the roll, and either gain a hardened or failed mark. Hardcore!
Or maybe you’d prefer the route that isn’t a minefield of self-loathing and lawsuits. If you’d rather do it the easier way, be involved in having someone else take a stress check based on their own fear, noble, or rage passion. Like anything else an adept does, though, you cannot use magick to make the other person to test their limits. Persuasion works fine. So does throwing a snake on someone who’s deathly afraid of them.

Generate a Major Charge: To generate a major charge, the motumancer has to push against who she believes herself to be at the core and judge herself weak. She must do something that forces a stress check of all three of her passions at once. And she has to fail.

Taboo: Any activity that involves building lasting structure or order. Helping out with Habitat for Humanity, working at a school, or obeying a police officer behind his back all rob a motumancer of all charges.

Random Magick Domain: Motumancy is about breaking down systems, stirring up trouble, and pulling away the lies society slaps on top of its designs to keep us all complacent. Motumancy is about transgression and becoming powerful through rebellion and violence against order.
Motumancy also takes advantage of and uses those people still in the system. People who power their own oppression because they are too weak to resist or hoping to somehow get ahead by buying in are all fair game. Break free, or be broken. It’s true for the motumancer and it looks good spray-painted on a cop car.

Motumancy Charging Tips
How fast a motumancer can generate charges depends on how he operates. Going solo is rough, because the limit for significant charges constantly moves as you get hardened, unless you’re getting fails, which is an entirely different kettle of suck. Getting minors just involves a lot of constant engagement in distasteful behavior: if your rage stimulus is Israel’s actions in Gaza, you’re going to have to shrug dispassionately whenever someone mentions that.
The other option is to build a cadre of fellow traveling reality-revolutionaries and push them to psychologically dangerous extremes. The drawback to this is that you cannot, cannot organize them yourself because that’s taboo. Though, if you do it when you’re already charge-dry, you lose nothing…
The ideal is to have a St. Paul figure organizing your admiring disciples, leaving your hands clean as you decry their adoration. The peril there is that your right hand may tire of playing second fiddle. Moreover, a group that’s exclusively “people who receive the contempt of the person they admire without quitting?” That’s a recipe for instability. Which, of course, a truly committed motumancer celebrates.

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