Scholarly Magic Skills
Alchemy: The art of mixing balms, draughts, elixirs, nostrums, ointments, philters, potions, powders, salves, tinctures, tonics, and more, with varying magical effects.
Non-mages can have knowledge of the processes and ingredients and final products of alchemy, but are not able to create magical substances themselves; see the Alchemy (Knowledge) skill.
Magical Feats: The GM can have elixirs in the game which produce any magical effect she wants. Alchemical mixtures are used up when applied; unless provided in multiple “doses,” they only work once.
In-Game Requirements: Alchemical processes take a lot of time and materials to prepare. A fully equipped alchemical lab requires great wealth, which means either a high status or a patron to support them. Each alchemical concoction takes weeks or months to prepare, with a high rate of failure, and rare materials that render mass-production impractical. Player character alchemists are not likely to prepare many alchemical substances, simply because of the time and effort involved.
Restrictions: The Gamemaster may require an alchemist to also have a Magic or Knowledge Skill appropriate to the alchemical effect desired. For example, a potion of healing may require skill in Herb Lore, Medicine, or First Aid or the equivalent Hedge Magic skills, hence requiring a Magical Talent: Hedge Magic Gift as well. A philter of flying may require Kineticism (see below) or collaboration with a Kineticist.
Artificing: Bestowing magical properties on items.
Magical Feats: As with alchemy, the GM may allow any enchanted items she wishes in the game. There are three categories of magic items: charms and talismans, with long-lasting but subtle magic; “One-shot” items such as scrolls that release their magical effect all at once (some may be enchanted to work more than once, but will stop working under pre-set conditions, or after a set number of magical feats are performed); and permanent magical items, such as magical swords, cloaks of flying, and the like. “Magic vessels” are permanent enchanted items that are relatively easy to create; they collect and store mana (magical power; see below) for later use, providing scholarly mages with a “magic battery” of sorts.
In-Game Requirements: As with alchemy, artificing requires lengthy rites. Even a simple talisman or charm takes several weeks to ritually prepare, although actually imbuing it with magical power may require only a short ceremony and a GM-determined expenditure of mana. Powerful, permanent enchantments require the item to be specifically created and prepared with the enchantment in mind, and may require the item to be crafted out of rare or precious materials. It’s not enough to take any old sword and slap an ever-sharp enchantment on it; the sword must be forged in a prescribed manner, with rituals of artificing and enchantment performed on it throughout its creation. Artificing also requires much mana, which is usually expended in several stages throughout the artificing process.
Restrictions: Artificing requires the mage to also be skilled in the type of magic bestowed on the item. A wand that turns the target into a frog requires the Transmutation skill; a bag of winds requires the Elemental skill; and so on. Magical scrolls that allow the reader to cast spells require two skills; the Rune skill (for knowing the symbols to use to “write” the spell on the scroll) and the appropriate magic type skill (Mesmerism for a sleep spell, etc.). The GM may also require the artificer to be skilled in crafting the item to be enchanted. Magic swords may need an Artificer who is also a swordsmith (Smithy professional skill). If the artificer collaborates with another magician or with a skilled craftsman in creating an enchanted item, each participant must match or exceed the Difficulty Level set by the GM at each stage of the artificing in order for the final enchantment to work.
Note:The ability to create magic vessels is included in the Artificing skill, as the ability to store mana in an enchanted item is at the heart of all artificing.
Conjuration: Creating objects (even creatures!) out of “thin air” or making objects disappear.
Magical Feats: A conjurer can produce magical energy (in the form of heat, or light, or both) or non-magical items (such as water, air, food, or anything else the GM allows), or creatures (normal animals, magical creatures, and even sentient creatures). The Gamemaster decides whether such conjurations actually create these things, or whether they’re “called” from another dimension or world. Most conjurations have a limited duration, and will disappear after a GM-set amount of time. Fairy Gold is an example; it looks and feels and tastes like real gold, but disappears when the spell has run its course.
The GM may allow conjurations to be “renewed” by expending more mana. Conjuration may also be used to banish items or creatures, including creatures and spirits called up by Elementalism, Necromancy, Shamanism, or Sorcery. Such “banishments” are resolved as an Opposed action the Conjuration Skill versus the original skill roll that called the creatures or items into being.
In-Game Requirements: Conjurations typically have short casting times (an hour or less), but require a lot of mana (magical power) to perform.
Restrictions: Conjuration creates or calls items and creatures it doesn’t control them. For a conjurer to have control over his creations, he’ll need Elementalism (to control any element conjured), Kineticism (to animate items), or Mesmerism (to control conjured creatures).
Elementalism: Elementalists specialize in controlling and transforming the four elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.
Magical Feats: Just about anything involving controlling or transforming Earth, Air, Fire, or Water can be done with Elementalism. Working with Earth, one could turn rock to dirt (or vice versa); cause (or calm!) an earthquake or rockslide; or turn a hard metal brittle. Air magic includes stirring a gentle breeze into a fiercer wind, or directing it to carry your words to a particular person’s ears in a whisper spell. An Elementalist’s campfire could remain bright and warm without consuming fuel; or shoot forth a spark to set some nearby flammable material alight. Water magic includes feats such as purify water and turning water to ice. Many materials have the properties of multiple elements mud is Earth and Water; lightning is Air and Fire; a living creature is made up of all four elements; etc. The more elements a Feat involves, the more difficult it will be.
In-Game Requirements: Elemental magic is often quick to perform. Mana costs vary with the scope of the feat being performed. Parting a river to allow safe crossing will take much more mana than magically bringing a small cup of water to a boil. (Parting a river or a larger body of water can be done by many elementalists working in concert, or with a fabled and powerful Staff of Water Command.)
Restrictions: Creating some amount of an element (a fireball, for example) requires the Conjuration skill.
Transforming one element into another requires the Transmutation skill. Calling forth an Elemental a powerful construct imbued with the very essence of one of the four Elements requires Shamanism or Sorcery.
Extra Sensory Perception
Extra Sensory Perception: Perceiving things with more than the usual five senses.
Magical Feats: Examples of “Esper” magic include Empathy, Telepathy, Clairvoyance (seeing at a distance), Clairaudience (hearing at a distance), Astral Travel (moving out of body, or taking a soul journey to another plane), Divination, and Sensing Auras. An Esper mage also knows how to block Esper magic. Espers excel at detecting the presence or patterns of magic and mana.
In-Game Requirements: Esper magic requires concentration and focus. Typical rituals are relatively short (a matter of a few minutes), but may require a period of purification and meditation before beginning. Espers are vulnerable when experiencing out-of-body travel, and should arrange protection or safety for their physical bodies while their spirits roam.
Restrictions: The information received through Esper magic is not always crystal-clear, and may be subject to misinterpretation. Any distractions, even slight ones, while the Esper is attempting extra sensory perception requires a Willpower roll to ignore (Difficulty Level equal to that set for the magical feat itself).
Kineticism: The magic of motion.
Magical Feats: Levitation, Telekinesis, Teleportation, Animation of objects, and magical “Force” shields or weapons are all possible.
In-Game Requirements: Most kinetic feats require concentration, especially when they involve precisely targeted movement. Mana is expended to start something in motion, and then concentration and willpower are used to direct that motion. Teleportation requires the Kineticist to be at the originating point (although he can Teleport either himself or another), and also to have recently been to the destination point. Without a clear picture of the destination in mind, a Kineticist may “miss” during a Teleportation, with potentially dire consequences such as appearing a bit too far above (or below!) ground level. . . .
Restrictions: In the case of magical “force” weapons (such as a magic missile of harm), the GM may require the player to roll once against the character’s Kineticism skill (to create the magic force) and again using either the character’s Kineticism skill or Willpower attribute to direct the missile. A magical “force” shield could be accomplished as one task the creation of a magic force that moves with the target and blocks contact with anything physically harmful. If a Kineticist wishes to animate an object but also grant it some self-direction or even intelligence, the Shamanism or Sorcery skill is required to bind a spirit to the animated object.
Mesmerism: Affecting minds with magic. Mesmerism may be opposed by the Willpower attribute.
Magical Feats: This skill covers Hypnosis, Illusion, Mind-Control (of humans or animals), and other mind-affecting magic. The ubiquitous “Sleep” spell falls under this skill. “Invisibility” can also be accomplished with Mesmerism. At its simplest level, Mesmerism can confuse a creature’s senses. At its most insidious, it can completely enslave a creature’s mind, bending it to the Mesmerist’s will.
In-Game Requirements: Mesmerism works only against living creatures that also have at least a rudimentary mind. A Mesmerist must be within a certain distance of his targets to be able to affect their minds the distance varies with the difficulty of the feat being attempted.
The more complex the “confusion of the senses” being attempted, the more difficult the feat. The more creatures to be Mesmerized, the more mana is required. The same goes for intelligence, to a point. Normal animal intelligence, such as that of a dog or a horse, is the easiest for most Mesmerists. Affecting the minds of creatures that are more or less intelligent than “normal animal” requires more mana to overcome the target’s intelligence (or lack thereof).
Restrictions: The GM may rule that certain non-human creatures (especially intelligent ones) simply have minds that are too “alien” for a Mesmerist to affect. Mammals will be the easiest to affect. Insects, with their tiny and differently-wired brains, are not easy at all. Any creature with a Willpower attribute may oppose Mesmerism (resolve as an opposed action, Mesmerism skill vs. target’s Willpower attribute), plus any applicable modifiers.
Necromancy: “Death Magic.” Necromancy is a “Black Art,” although not as dangerous to wield as Sorcery.
Magical Feats: Creating (or destroying) and controlling undead creatures, summoning spirits of the dead for divination, and driving a spirit from a living body are all possible with Necromancy. Necromancers can also cause hauntings or release ghostly spirits to the afterlife. The most powerful Necromancers may be able to bring the dead back to life (a far more difficult feat than simply animating their corpses).
In-Game Requirements: Necromancers require access to the raw materials typically needed for their magic dead bodies. Most cultures frown on such uses of earthly remains.
Restrictions: As Necromancy is illegal in many cultures, most Necromancers have the “Secret” fault.
The GM may require Necromancers to have the Kineticism skill to animate corpses (as zombies, skeletons, or other undead creatures), or she may substitute Shamanism as the means by which a spirit is tied to a corpse to create an undead creature. A generous GM will allow Necromancers to use their own methods to call the spirits or raise the dead. Necromancy may be restricted to non-player characters.
Runes: The use of arcane symbols (runes, sigils, hieroglyphics, and other marks) to cast spells and enchant items.
Magical Feats: Runes are symbols that are inherently pre-disposed to attracting mana and shaping magical power toward a desired end. Some runes are used to enhance other Scholarly Magic skills, aiding the mage’s concentration (lowering the Difficulty Level of a given magical feat), tapping into or focusing magical energy (decreasing the power point cost), or delaying or modifying the effects of a magical feat (triggering the actual spell when certain circumstances are met, for example).
Other runes act more like spells, with the drawing of the rune in the prescribed manner being the only ritual required to perform the magical feat associated with that rune. Most Artificers are well versed in runes, as runes are used in preparing spell scrolls and in many other magical items. Artificing can also be used to make a rune and its effects more permanent. For example, a Sigil of Warding drawn above the archway to a room would repel an intruder only once, unless applied in conjunction with the Artificing skill.
In-Game Requirements: The appropriate rune must be carefully and correctly drawn. Simple runes may be traced in the air or on the ground with a finger. More complex runes may require the mage to draw them in blood on a ritually prepared skin, or painstakingly create them in colored sands on a flat, swept surface, or perform some other equally detailed ritual to create and invoke the rune. Generally, the more complex the magical feat being attempted, the more complex or numerous the runes required, hence the more time required in applying the runes.
Restrictions: Each rune or symbol has a different purpose, and the mage must know the appropriate rune for a given magical feat. The Gamemaster may create a list of runes or other symbols the mage knows, with brief descriptions of how they may be used in the game.
Note: When used in conjunction with other Scholarly Magic skills, the player may roll against the Rune skill even if Runes is not the lowest skill level involved but only if the runes involved are directly related to the magical feat.
Shamanism: Spirit Magic. Shamans interact with spirits of varying powers. Spirits include ancestral spirits, anima (spirits that imbue every object; some anima are more powerful than others), and “guardian spirits.”
Magical Feats: A Shaman can cause any magical effect the spirits he deals with are capable of creating. Shamans can also exorcise troublesome spirits and ghosts, and even creatures (or constructs or demons) called through Conjuration, Necromancy, or Sorcery.
In-Game Requirements: Shamans don’t typically need to expend much mana, as any magical feat beyond the initial contact with a spirit is performed by the spirit itself. Once contacted, a spirit may require a bribe, or bargain, or some other method of persuasion to actually perform the requested feat. Spirits must be honored, with each spirit requiring a different ritual. Dancing, sacrificing (of goods, animals, or even sentient creatures), and singing are often essential features of Shamanistic rituals.
Restrictions: The Shamanism roll made when a Shaman character wishes to perform a magic feat determines whether or not the Shaman successfully contacts the desired spirit. An additional skill, such as Flatter, Intimidate, Parley/Negotiate or other persuasive means may be needed to convince the spirit to actually perform the magic feat requested of it. Shamans who fail to uphold their part of any spirit bargain tend not to be able to practice Shamanism well for long. The Gamemaster may require a Shaman to use the Extra Sensory Perception skill for communicating with the spirits through trances and out-of-body experiences. Artificing is required to create shamanistic objects (charms, talismans, and the like) imbued with spirits that perform magic for the wielder.
Sorcery: The “Black Arts.” Sorcery relies on summoning demons and other powerful, evil beings to trick or bribe or force them into doing the sorcerer’s bidding.
Magical Feats: Anything that can be done by a demon, devil, or evil spirit can be accomplished with Sorcery provided the sorcerer is powerful enough to summon the required entity and crafty enough to convince it to do his bidding. Sorcerers may gain innate magical gifts and other magical powers, either permanently or temporarily, through their dealings with powerful evil beings.
In-Game Requirements: There are three facets to sorcerous dealings summoning the evil being; controlling the evil being (by holding it within a circle of power, for example); and persuading it to do the summoner’s bidding. The summoned being will seek to twist or distort or otherwise alter any deal struck with the sorcerer, so sorcerers must take care to protect themselves and negotiate their deals carefully.
Restrictions: Penalties of failure are severe, and often gruesome. Evil beings do not take kindly to being summoned against their will, and even less kindly to forced servitude. Should a sorcerer’s control slip, even for an instant, the demon or spirit will do its best to harm its captor. Few cultures welcome sorcerers, so the “Secret” Fault may be required. The Gamemaster may (and probably should) restrict Sorcery to non-player characters, or to PCs with specifically crafted backgrounds (such as a sorcerer-hunter who was once a practicing sorcerer himself).
Transmutation: Turning things into other things. Living creatures may oppose such transformations with Willpower.
Magical Feats: The more unalike the original object and the transmutated object are, the harder the feat. Turning living objects into inanimate objects (such as statues) or vice versa is especially difficult. Turning water to wine, or a glutton into a hog, are easier. Such transformations are usually of short duration; it takes much skill and power to affect a permanent transformation.
In-Game Requirements: Transmutation is a difficult art, often requiring much mana. Affecting a permanent transformation usually requires the use of a powerful enchanted item, such as a staff of transmutation or wand of frog princes.
Restrictions: If the magician’s target has a Willpower attribute, it may resist the magical change. Resolve as an Opposed Action, the mage’s Transmutation skill versus the target’s Willpower attribute, plus or minus any modifiers the GM sets.
Wizardry: The “Wise Arts.” The most scholarly of scholarly magic, Wizardry concerns itself with the laws of magic, the flow of mana, and the underlying structures of spells, incantations, and enchantments. Wizards know many ways to gather mana, and how to use it efficiently.
Magical Feats: Wizardry can detect or analyze magic and magic items, dispel magic, alter mana flows, and perform similar feats that directly affect the forces that make magic possible. Wizardry can also lower the cost in power points of a given feat (see Mana).
In-Game Requirements: When applying Wizardry, the Wizard must take time to consider applicable magical laws, mana flows in the area, and any circumstances present at the time of casting that could affect the outcome.
Restrictions: The GM may require the player to refer to “laws of magic” (Similarity, Contagion, or whatever “laws” are appropriate for the game world) , create rhyming “incantations,” or otherwise embellish the description of what the mage is doing when using Wizardry in a magical feat.
Note: When used in conjunction with other Scholarly Magic skills, Wizardry may provide a +1 bonus to the character’s skill roll. This occurs only if the character’s Wizardry skill is higher than one or more of the other Scholarly Magic skills involved (see Mana).