Magic

Magic

The occult arts are alive and well at the start of the 20th century, and Europe is an epicentre of activity in those arts. Indeed, there are probably more practitioners now than ever, and they organise and commune in shared appreciation of their arts. Nonetheless, they remain part of the 'Mystery', the great informal masquerade that blankets the truth from wider society, a lesson that has been ingrained in occultists over centuries.

In 1912, most practitioners of the occult arts belong to one of four traditions.

  • Alchemy, the art of drawing magic out of the natural world and shaping it into concrete forms.
  • Hematurgy, the art of channelling one's own life essence to gain control over one's own body and the world around them.
  • Intercession, the art of drawing upon the power of a divine patron.
  • Evocation, the art of communing with spirits and eldritch entities.

At the start of the game, a player may decide that their Operator will be an occultist; if they do so, they choose one of the four traditions above. Each has its own unique flavour and manifests in different ways, and they all have their own effects and areas of specialty, but they all follow a similar basic structure, outlined below.

Structure of an Occult Discipline

All Occult Disciplines are structured around a framework consisting of the following: Occult Rating, Source, Growth, Activation and Ability List.

Occult Rating

Occult Rating (OR) is a standard measure of the arcane strength of an occultist. It is a trait that every occultist possesses, with a number from 1 to 10 (although some exceptionally powerful entities are higher than 10), eg. Occult Rating 1, Occult Rating 5. Occult Rating is often used to determine the strength of an occultist's magic- for example, an occultist might have an attack spell that deals 1d10+OR damage, meaning it naturally grows stronger as Occult Rating increases.

  • All occultists, regardless of Discipline, increase their Occult Rating in the same way: they must spend XP equal to 100 times the OR to which they wish to advance. So an occultist with OR1 must spend 200 XP to reach OR2, and in turn they must spend 300XP to reach OR3 from OR2.
  • However, each OR past 1 requires the occultist to have spent 1500*OR XP already. So for example, to advance to OR2, the occultist must have already spent 3,000 XP in buying advances.

Source

Source represents the origin of the occultist's magic. In essence, the source is what powers their magic and if they are separated from it, they become powerless until it is regained.

  • Alchemists' Sources are their ingredients, which they take and turn into potions and instruments. Without ingredients, they cannot produce new things.
  • Hematurgists' Sources are their own excess life energy, as well as the energy of their vessels. Obviously they cannot be easily separated from this, but using this energy often exhausts them, and in an exhausted state they struggle to manifest it.
  • Intercessionists' Sources are their divine patron, and it is assumed that the two of them are in a holy communion with one another. This communion may have certain stipulations which, if broken, remove their power.
  • Evokers' Sources are their 'Familiar', a spirit with whom they've created a special pact with. The Familiar acts autonomously (within boundaries) and so long as it is safe and healthy, the Evoker can cast their spells. If the Familiar dies or the pact is broken, then the Evoker cannot use all but the most basic Evocation abilities until they reforge a Familiar bond.

Growth

Growth details how an occultist increases their expertise in their discipline- that is, how they gain new abilities.

  • Alchemists gain new abilities through finding or purchasing recipes, or even through random experimentation.
  • Hematurgists gain extra abilities through increasing their OR.
  • Intercessionists gain extra abilities through deeds done that venerate their patron.
  • Evokers gain new abilities by forming learning pacts with spirits- the type of spirit they've pacted with determines the sort of power they can learn.

Activation

Activation represents how an Occultist actually uses their magic- the mechanics of using it, essentially.

  • Alchemists create potions and instruments in their own time, which can then be used like any other item. The activation element is in the creating, not the using.
  • Hematurgists can activate their powers freely at Base Power, but using them at Focused Power requires taking fatigue. This fatigue can be inflicted either on their own body or on the bodies of their vessels.
  • Intercessionists possess a special set of powers known as 'Vows', which provide a passive bonus but also possess certain devotional acts. Satisfying the act of the active Vow grants the Intercessionist the 'Faith' resource. Intercessionists can activate their powers freely at Base Power, but using them at Focused Power requires spending Faith.
  • Evokers can activate their powers freely at Base Power or Focused Power, but when used Focused Power they run the risk of dangerous side effects.

Ability List

Ability List lists all of the abilities available for that discipline. Each discipline has its own list, although there may be some similarities, they tend to be their own thing.

  • Alchemy has two lists, divided into potions (consumable liquids that are either drunk or applied as a coat to objects) and instruments (which are either magical implements, or components that can be added to an item during its creation process to enhance it)
  • Hematurgists have a single list, known as Hematic Magic.
  • Intercessionists have two lists- a small list known as Vows, which are passive abilities that grant Faith, and a larger list of active abilities known as Miracles.
  • Evokers have two lists: their primary list, known as Conjurations, and a small list of permanent physical changes known as Mutations.

Using Magic

All magic Abilities are divided into two broad types: Passives and Spells.

  • Passives are passive effects that take no energy to maintain. They require actions (usually a Half Action) to activate or swap to, but once on they are always on and are otherwise are freely maintained and provide whatever bonus they possess. You may only have one Passive active at a time.
  • Spells are effects that represent active use of your magical powers. They require actions to activate. Some can be maintained, requiring you spend an action each round to maintain the effect, whilst others are one-use that occur and are resolved immediately. Spells have Action keywords such as Attack, Concentration that are governed by the normal rules on action limits. Spells all have an effectiveness usually based off your OR.

To use a Spell, you must first possess it, and have the actions needed to activate it. Every spell has an effect, the strength of which depends on your OR. For example, a power that harms enemies might deal OR damage to them. Furthermore, every power has an 'OR Threshold'; you must have this much OR to activate its base effect (if your Base Power is below this threshold, you cannot use it at Base Power!). When you activate a Spell, you must first decide whether to activate it at Base Power or Focused Power.

Base Power activates the Spell using your OR as a value. If you have an OR of 2, and you activate the power, you follow its instructions as though you had an OR of 2.

Focused Power activates the Spell using your OR*2. However, it has the following effects, not including unique ones based on the Spell or the discipline:

  • You lose all benefits of your Passive ability until the start of your next turn. If the spell is a Maintain action, then you lose all benefits until the start of the turn after you stop maintaining it. You may only maintain a single Focused Power spell at once.
  • You may only use Focused Power once per round.
  • The spell takes twice as long to activate than normal; if a spell lists Half Action, it now takes a Full Action, and so on. If this makes the spell an extended action (eg, 2 Full actions), then you lose the benefits of your Passive at the start of using the spell, not the end.
    • Reaction Spells take a Half Turn from your next turn instead.
    • Free Actions are now Half Actions.
    • Spells marked 'One Chapter' are unaffected.

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Magic Mechanic Terminology

Below is a list of special magic terms and mechanics and how they work.

Attack types. Several Spells deal damage to enemies and use the following keywords to determine how the attack is performed. All of these are subject to the same modifiers as a normal melee or ranged attack as appropriate.

  • Bolt. The user nominates a single target within range and Line of Sight, then makes the listed test. On a success, the target is struck by a single hit. The target may dodge this as normal. May be called.
  • Barrage. The user nominates a single target within range and Line of Sight, then makes the listed test. On a success, the user generates a single hit, plus another hit per 2 DoS, up to a total equal to their OR. One hit must be allocated to the target, but the other hits may be allocated to different targets within 5m of the original target, so long as the other targets were not any harder to hit than the first one. The targets may dodge these as though it were a burst/flurry, negating one hit per DoS.
  • Blitz. The user nominates a single target within range and Line of Sight, then makes the listed test. On a success, the user generates a single hit, plus another hit per 1 DoS, up to a total equal to their OR. One hit must be allocated to the target, but the other hits may be allocated to different targets within 5m of the original target, so long as the other targets were not any harder to hit than the first one. The targets may dodge these as though it were a burst/flurry, negating one hit per DoS.
  • Wave. This attack acts as though it has the Spray quality, automatically hitting everything in range within a 30 degree cone. The target may dodge this as normal.
  • Blast. This attack acts as though it has the Blast quality. The user nominates a single location within range and Line of Sight, then makes the listed test. On a success, then everything within the radius of the power is struck by the attack. The target may dodge this as though they were dodging a Blast attack.
  • Line. This attack acts as though it has the Line quality. The user nominates a single location within range and Line of Sight, then makes the listed test. On a success, the power hits everything between the user and the location, unless negated or blocked (eg deflected, parried or sacrificed against). The target may dodge this as normal. May be called.
  • Opposed. This power is an Opposed test against a target. The user nominates a target (or more, if the power allows) and makes the listed test. The target then opposes with the 'Opposed Test' listed. If you win, you apply the effects to the target. Opposed tests may not be Parried or Dodged, but they may be Deflected.

Focused Power Bonuses. Some Spells are augmented in certain ways when used at Focused Power. The details are on the Spell's profile. Note that these augmentations are optional and do not need to be used.

Maintained Powers. Some Spells are maintained, meaning that their effects apply for as long as the user maintains the power (unless this is interrupted somehow). If the power has the 'maintain x' phrase in its Action line, then that means it may be maintained. Each turn, the user must spend that action type maintaining the power. maintain duration is not increased by using Focused Power.

  • Characters may maintain multiple Spells at the same time. Any character attempting to maintain more than one power at once must spend the longest action from all maintained powers to maintain them (eg, if the character is maintaining 2 maintain Halfs, they spend 1 Half Action to maintain both; they do not spend both Halfs. Similarly if they are maintaining 1 Half and 1 Full, they spend 1 Full).
  • However, maintaining multiple Spells can be very taxing. A character may maintain a number of Spells equal to their OR without problem, but if they exceed this amount, they must test Willpower at the start of each turn or take a rank of fatigue. They take a -10 penalty to the test for every Spell in excess of their OR. Even beyond this, they have an absolute limit of OR*2 on the number of powers maintained.
    • Spells with the 'Simple' or 'Passive' Keywords do not count toward this total.
  • The user must stay within range of the target(s) to continue maintaining, unless specified otherwise.

Division. Many powers divide by 2 or 4. In this case, they always use your effective OR as the base (ie. For a Base Power, they use half your SRB; for a Focused Power they use all your SRB), and always round down unless otherwise specified.

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Links

Here are links to the pages dealing with the four Disciplines:

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