WP&WS Reorganized Draft 1.1
CREDIT: Dying Stylishly Games, Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0
Magicians are the rare few humans who explore the potential uses of magic. In more civilized times, magicians will organize, developing systems of writing and organization to better share and preserve their knowledge. During the ice age, though, there is no writing, no colleges of magic, no networks of magicians to share their knowledge with.
Instead, each magician researches in isolation. Every act of magical research, as the magician experiments with what their spells are capable of or creates places and items of power, risks causing dangerous and unpredictable supernatural fallout. For this reason, most magicians keep somewhat apart from other people, either through their own choice or because people fear the danger they represent.
Although magic has almost limitless power when used properly, magicians at this time lack the frame of understanding to properly utilize it. Rather, they learn various discrete spells, each one a particular trick that the magician has learned to safely perform. The magician learns spell as much through rote as understanding, but a skilled magician can alter their effect or bind them into items of power.
Magic is an art, as such the magician begins play with 2-in-6 Art skill. This aptitude increases as they advance in level according to Table 4: The Magician seen hereafter.
Casting & Sanctums
The magician can cast spells performing a special ritual taking 1 turn as many times in a day as they wish.
Any of the magician’s spells can be cast while in their Sanctuary, a place special to them and where they record the process and method for casting the spell as art. Creating a Sanctum requires a full month of work, and a defined space such as a cavern, hut, or circle of monoliths. Creating a Sanctum also requires 2d6 different Magical Reagents. There is no limit to the number of Sanctuaries the magician can have.
As an alternative to casting from their Sanctum, the magician may also memorize spells, holding their complete information in their minds and can cast it without being inside their Sanctuary. This takes one turn like casting from the sactum, however the magician stops just before the last gesture and phrase. The number and rank of spells the magician can memorize are detailed on Table 5 hereafter. Once such a spell is cast, it is no longer memorized.
It is possible to cast and memorize spells of any rank, and there is no limit to how many times the magician can memorize spells in a day. If the spell memorized is not of a rank they can safely capture in their mind, the magician is open to dangerous and unpredictable outcomes. On casting such a spell, the magician must make two rolls. The first is an Art skill roll, if passed the magician succeeds on casting the spell. If failed it does nothing. Pass or fail, the magician must then make a successful Save against Magic or suffer from Backlash per Tables 30-33 Magical Backlash (p63-66).
Starting Magic & Beyond
At character creation, the magician knows three random spells and has a Sanctum. Randomly determine two first-rank spells from Table 38 (p71). Roll 1d6+1 to get a number between 2 and 7. Randomly select a third spell from this rank using Tables 39-45 (p71-72).
When a magician gains a new level, they may add a new spell to their Sanctum. They select a rank for the spell, and randomly determine a spell from that level. Transcribing this spell to their Sanctum takes three days, but has no material cost. Once transcribed, the spell can be cast or memorized as normal.
Table 4: The Magician
See p14 for more levels.
Table 5: Spells The Magician Can Memorize At Once
Many of the special tasks the magician may attempt, such as binding a spell, will state a requirement for one or more Magical Reagent. Magic is in a state of constant flux, and the Reagents required will be unique to each attempt at the act. A magician cannot even create magic items in identical batches — each item is its own work. When a magician first begins one of these tasks, they should work out how many Reagents are required, and then randomly determine what they are by rolling on Table 25: Magical Reagents (p59).
A magician can attempt to cast a modified version of a spell, either in their Sanctuary or that they have memorized. They utilize the same magic, producing a similar effect in-game, but use the spell for a different purpose to its normal use. They might, as examples, try any of the following alterations, or one of their own:
The spell’s effect can be inverted or reversed, such as a spell that protects from fire instead making the subject more vulnerable to fire.
The spell’s effect can be reduced or contained, such as a Fireball creating a small burst of flames rather than spreading to fill the air.
The spell’s effect can be made more diffuse, such as a healing spell that heals a variable number of subjects by a small amount, rather than a single subject by a larger variable amount.
The spell can have the same in-game effect but utilized in ways that the mechanics don’t explore, such as a spell that creates a wall of ice being used to preserve food rather than trap an enemy.
The spell can be directed against a target that it can’t normally affect, such a spell that normally only affects the magician instead being used to affect the magician’s ally.
Casting an experimental spell takes the same amount of time as a normal spell. On casting such a spell, the magician must make two rolls. The first is an Art skill roll, if passed the magician succeeds on casting the spell. If failed it does nothing. Pass or fail, the magician must then make a successful Save against Magic or suffer from Backlash per Tables 30-33 Magical Backlash (p63-66).
If the magician encounters a spell, such as in another’s Sanctum or bound in an item, they may pass an Art roll to translate it. If the Art roll is failed, they must then make a Save against Magic or suffer Backlash per Tables 30-33 Magical Backlash (p63-66). This process does not use the bound item’s power. A translated spell can be cast or memorized as if the magician was in their own Sanctum.
If the magician translates all of the spells in another person’s sanctum they can use it in the same ways as if it were their own.
A magician with a spell memorized can transcribe it to their own Sanctuary rather than completing the casting. Transcribing a spell requires one different Magical Reagent for each rank of the spell, and takes at least three days solid work, during which the magician stops only to eat and sleep.
The magician can bind a spell into an item, allowing it to be used later by anyone. Most magicians will have a number of minor trinkets that contain spells they need access to in a pinch.
Binding a spell into a single-use item, such as a potion someone can drink or a fetish someone can smash to release the spell, is a fairly simple endeavor. Binding the spell requires one Magical Reagent, and takes a day of solid work for each level of the spell, during which the magician stops only to eat and sleep. The magician does not need to be in their Sanctum to do this. If traveling, this takes twice as long and halves the magician’s speed.
At the end of their work, the magician must actually cast the spell in question (either within their Sanctuary or a memorized version) and then make an Art roll. On a successful Art roll, the spell is successfully bound. If it fails, then the magician has wasted the effort and Reagent and the magician must then make a successful Save against Magic or suffer from backlash per Tables 30-33 Magical Backlash (p63-66).
More complex items can also be produced. These work as alterations to the basic process listed above.
An item with a spell bound into it can have multiple “charges” of that spell, allowing it to be cast multiple times before its power depleted. Each such extra charge adds another +1 to the number of Reagents required, and +1 day of work.
An item can also have more than one different spell bound within it. When the item is used, the wielder can choose which spell is cast. Binding an additional spell into the item adds +1 to the number of Reagents needed, and +1 day of work.
An item can have the spell bound into it so that it activates automatically in response to some event, rather than requiring the “use an item” action to activate in combat. For example, a weapon that takes effect when it strikes an enemy for the first time. Doing so adds +1 day of work to the process.
A spell bound into an item might have a slightly different effect than normal without affecting the creation process. If the magician wants to bind the spell into an item to have a noticeably modified effect, then doing so adds another one or more to the days of work determined by the Referee. In addition, the magician must actually cast the experimental version of the spell they want when the item crafting is complete. This includes the Art and Save versus Magic that comes with any experimental casting. If the Art skill roll fails, then the item successfully has a spell bound into it, but it does not have the effect the magician intended. If the Save against Magic fails, then the item is still successfully made, unless the specific result of the backlash would somehow prevent that.
For items to have a permanent or ongoing effect, the spell Permanency must be cast during the item’s creation. Doing so adds an +1 day to the time required to create the item.
Researching New Spells
The magician learns a new spell whenever they advance in level, beyond this they may attempt to research new spells that match their specific desires at a time of their choosing. This could either be a given spell from the standard lists or a custom spell of the magician’s own devising. Through a process of risky magical experimentation, the magician can slowly refine a spell that matches their aim.
The process requires twice as many successful Art skill rolls as the spell’s rank. Each Art roll requires a day of work, and a single Magical Reagent. The magician does not need to be in their Sanctum to do this. If traveling, this takes twice as long and halves the magician’s speed. Pass or fail, the magician must then make a successful Save against Magic or suffer from Backlash per Tables 30-33 Magical Backlash (p63-66).