Sorcery

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Sorcery is a power that seems to spring from Shadow itself. Not internal like Trump and Shapeshifting, not based on some great artifact like Pattern and Logrus, rather it seems to be part of the makeup of Shadow. This could mean it is the youngest of the powers, not springing into being until the Pattern was created and Shadow was formed, or it could be the oldest of them, predating perhaps even the Logrus.

Whatever the origins of Sorcery, it is known to be the most malleable and finicky of the powers. So much of the abilities of Sorcery are affected by the current shadow environment, and it requires a great deal of preparation, study, and planning. The trade off for those difficulties is that no power is more flexible than Sorcery. It may not have the raw punch of Logrus’s ability to sunder entire Shadows, it may not have the instinctive ease of Pattern, or the shadow-spanning reach of Trump, but within a single shadow you can hardly find a more versatile power.

Sorcerers are limited by their ability to design, power, and contain spells only. Otherwise, what their imagination can conjure, their magic can make real. Sorcerous spells are prepared ahead of time, and stored in an object, or even a Power. They are then released with words of power that were omitted from the original casting, called Lynchpins. These lynchpins describe key elements of the final spell, like the target, special options for the spell, its duration, and so on. Thus Lynchpins not only allow Sorcerers to spend all the time needed for casting in advance, but also to customize spells on the fly.

Casting a spell to prepare it takes a long time. Even the simplest spells take at least ten minutes to cast. An average spells is more like thirty minutes, and spells of real power can easily take upwards of an hour. Not all of that time is spent chanting, some spells require the caster to make elaborate gestures, use special implements, and so forth. Sorcery is flexible and powerful when properly applied, but a sorcerer will really have to stay on top of being prepared before any kind of major engagement.



Sorcery Particulars

Sorcery has a few extra things that the user must be aware of that aren’t factors for other powers. These things are Spell Storage, Shadow Environment, and Lynchpin Effects. It is also possible to cast special magic under certain circumstances for an effect that’s stronger than spells can normally be. These spells are called Rituals, and if you thought regular spells took a lot of prep time, you’ll be amazed at the sheer time that a Ritual takes.


Spell Storage

Every sorcerer who doesn’t want to laboriously cast spells at the time they’re needed must store the spell energy somewhere until the lynchpins free it. There are basically two alternatives to solve this problem, one, store the spells in a magical item, two, store the spells in a Power. These solutions cannot really be combined. A magical item can only store so many spells that the caster can draw back into himself, and no more than one such item can be attuned at any time. Establishing that kind of link with a Power overwhelms and erases any such link with an item. The spells might remain inside the item, but they are no longer linked to the Sorcerer and will not respond to his Lynchpins.

Spells in a Power:
Storing spells in a power cannot be done at the basic level. It requires a special power Specialty that is listed here instead of with each power description, because mechanically it works the same for all powers, and it is really an upgrade to the character’s sorcerous power instead of the power that will act as storage.

  • Sorcery Conduit: 5 point Specialty for any Power
    • The character may store a substantial number of spells within a Power that can be recalled via Lynchpins. In fact, powers are so robust that they can easily hold more spells than the character would ever have time to cast or maintain. These spells will not last forever under the corrupting influence of the other power, but give the character access to far more prepared magic than he would otherwise be able to use.

Each power degrades spells at a pretty constant rate, requiring the sorcerer to maintain those spells to keep them ‘fresh’ and usable. Each power also does so in a slightly different way.

  • Pattern: Pattern causes spells to ‘ossify’, freezing them into immobility. Missing lynchpins will be filled in, and locked. Unless the spell is repaired in time, it will become impossible to use it in a flexible way at first, and then eventually impossible to cast it at all, so specific will the requirements become.
  • Logrus: Logrus twists and reshapes spells. The effects of the spell will shift over time until it is a completely different, and probably quite useless spell. Eventually, given enough time without maintenance, the best one could hope for when casting such a spell will be that it will explode in a burst of harmless magical sparks.
  • Trump: Trump sends spells… somewhere else. It is perhaps best not to think too much about where that power goes, but Trump leeches power out of the spells it holds until there is nothing there but the faintest outline of the spell, with no power left at all.
  • Shapeshifting: Shapeshifting spells begin to express their power through the body of the character. This can be very, VERY bad, but at least there’s a visual and immediate way to tell if one’s spells are starting to go rotten. Left alone long enough, the spells will work on the shapeshifter in unexpected and possibly catastrophic ways.

Spells in an Item:
The alternative to spending those points and dealing with all that trouble is securely storing spells in a simple magical item. The item in question costs no points, and is not an object on the level of an Artifact or even a Trinket. Its only purpose is to store spells. It can appear as anything the character wishes, something small and portable is best to use, but it can be anything. Items can be used for storage even if the character has a specialty to store spells in a Power, as long as no spells are actually being stored in that power at the moment.

An item can store at most five spells. However, the spells do not ‘go bad’, or otherwise decay. In exchange for less spells at his fingertips, the Sorcerer is freed from the need to pick at his spells constantly. If sorcery is not a primary power for the character, then this can be an excellent option. It keeps the work to a minimum, and if the character picks up one of the more evocation-based specialties it can make Sorcery a potent addition to the character’s arsenal without slowing him down.


Shadow Environment

Every shadow is a little different, and has its own ways of dealing with Sorcery. Some have no native magic at all, some teem with it, some have only very specific types of magic. While a real Sorcerer can carry his magic to nearly any shadow, these differences still change how he must operate while in that world.

Shadows that possess magic at all have three basic types. They can be Physical, Subtle, or Etheric. Physical magic is the sort that exists in Chaos, heavily based on conjuration, evocation of elements, and generally producing physical objects or immediate energy effects. Subtle magic is the sort that holds more sway in Amber. It is not flashy, always seeking the least amount of change to get the desired effect, employing seeming coincidence and anything nearby to produce the desired effect. Etheric magic can be found in especially magic-heavy shadows. This is the complex, cerebral magic that weaves great wards or bans across large areas or generations, that picks into the deepest secrets of things, and builds complex, almost computer-like structures of magic that respond to certain conditions.

Examples:

  • Physical Magic
    • Fireballs, conjured food, a sudden appearance of 20 swords that fly at a target, a shuddering ball of lightning that explodes, a conjured swarm of carnivorous bees. Physical magic doesn’t draw from its environment, and thus is not hindered or helped by the presence or absence of the kind of thing the magic is conjuring. It all comes straight from the sorcerer.
  • Subtle Magic
    • Lightning strikes someone during a storm, a step breaks on a stairway and sends someone tumbling, someone screams nearby and the guards are distracted, the lock on a door just happens to be broken. Subtle magic draws heavily from the environment, it’s easier to cast lightning in a storm, fire if there’s a fireplace nearby, and so on. The more the sorcerer goes with the current condition, the better his magic will be.
  • Etheric Magic
    • Wards that distinguish between different types of creatures, glowing walls of magical force, a spell that empowers all the weapons of a friendly army, spells to call forth beings of the shadow for aid, a spell to alter one’s environment such as making one’s opponent suddenly miss a lot more by shifting ‘luck’. Etheric magic focuses on places, concepts, broader effects. It is very complex and slow, but can be extremely powerful especially in the context of defending places and affecting large forces.

Sorcerers can quickly determine what sort of magic a shadow leans toward the most when they enter it. Once that’s known, a wise sorcerer casts his spells to take best advantage of the local magic type, or hangs new ones to maximize his potential. Casting spells against the grain is possible but will severely dampen the power of the spell. On the other hand, a spell that is particularly well designed to match the local magic may be substantially more powerful than normal.

Some shadows are simply Barren, that is, they do not have magic. Sorcerers can try to cast spells there, but they will be weak at best, and many of the more elaborate spells are unlikely to function at all, though sadly the magic will still be expended if the sorcerer tries a casting.

Lynchpin Effects

Lynchpins are as unlimited as the spells a sorcerer can create. There will always be a need for some strange and unorthodox lynchpin to fit an odd or interesting spell’s conditions. However, some lynchpins are basic to most spells, and merit a bit of additional discussion.

The most commonly used lynchpins are Target, Area of Effect, Duration, Sustain, and Shadow. Target, area of effect, and duration are all pretty self-explanatory, although it’s worth noting that actually naming your target with their full name rather than simply indicating a visual target makes a spell more potent. Sustain lynchpins tie the spell to the caster, allowing it to run for much longer than it normally would, and be far more resistant to being dispelled or otherwise broken. However, a Sustain lynchpin also causes the spell to run off the caster’s Endurance, which is a slight drain in most cases, but picks up substantially if the spell is attacked. Finally, the Shadow lynchpin can only be used if the caster has had some time, at least a few hours if not a day or even a week, to study the local shadow magic and learn all it’s nuances. It provides a bit of an advantage to caster’s on the defensive, as using this lynchpin increases casting time but makes spells noticeably stronger.

Lynchpins add to the casting time. At least one is needed, or the spell will simply complete right away, and not be hung. Beyond that, every lynchpin added makes the spell more flexible but makes it take longer to cast. Single lynchpin spells can generally be cast within a single player ‘turn’, but obviously are not very flexible in their application. Each two lynchpins beyond the first adds a turn or so of wait to the spell, depending on the current situation of course.


Rituals

Rituals are elaborate magical effects that require at least a cast of shadow acolytes, if not several real sorcerers to pull off. These can take anywhere from half a day to weeks or months to set up properly and cast, but their effects can be far-ranging and extremely powerful. Because they are time-consuming and draining, sorcerers avoid using rituals when they can, but they can be the answer to a problem that cannot be solved by more basic magic.

Rituals are not unlimited in power. They cannot mimic the effects of the penultimate expressions of another Power, such as the Primal Chaos of Logrus, nor can they destroy entire Shadows or create new ones. They also can’t affect power sources, like the actual Logrus or Pattern, but within those guidelines, the sky is pretty much the limit. Rituals can even cause effects that traverse many shadows, though this is tricky and with all the different types of magic, has the potential to get out of control.



Basic Sorcery – 20 points

The basic level of sorcery allows for spells that are very useful, but have some key limitations. Basic level spells cannot leave the shadow they are in. They crumple before the might of other Powers, if they have to contest against that power directly. So you can’t cast a basic spell to just stop a shadow walker cold, opposing the Pattern directly, but you could alter the shadow yourself to screw up the pattern walk.

Create Spell Item: Sorcerers, real sorcerers, don’t have to scrounge around for an item to hang spells on. They can simply create one with their own personal power. This ability also leads later to the power to create minor magical items that are eventually consumed, but useful while they last.

Cast Basic Spells: Obviously, sorcerers can cast spells! This ability is more significant than it sounds, it represents the power to cast spells anywhere, regardless of the magic type. A real sorcerer can even manage some minor magic in a place that is supposed to have none at all. Power is a bit limited at first, but as the sorcerer gains in power and knowledge, stronger and stronger effects come easily enough.

Surge Spells: If desperate, a sorcerer can just gather up raw energy and shape it more or less into a spell. This is brutal on the Endurance, and doesn’t result in any kind of finesse at all. Complex spell effects are impossible when surging spells, there’s no elaborate constructions of magic here, just raw power creating a fast and dirty effect.

Words of Power: Sorcerers at the basic level can use power words to create cantrip-level effects. Float a glass of wine over to oneself, make a small spark of light, create a minor illusion that is obviously illusory, and so on.

The Sight: A good mage isn’t caught blindsided by magical effects. All mages can sense magical effects to some extent, even if it may be unclear or confusing at times. This extends to other power effects as well, but is less informative on non-sorcery effects.

Sorcery Specialties

Adept Magic: This specialty is a must for the really dedicated sorcerer, it directly improves spell casting, the power of spells, how durable they are to decay if being placed in a power, and so on. Nothing fancy, just a direct gain of knowledge and power.

  • Cost: 10 points for the first Specialty, 10 points per additional improvement.
  • Abilities:
    • Spell Mastery, spells become more powerful and robust.
    • Spell Durability, spells are less affected by being hung on a power.
    • Spell Speed, the casting time of spells is reduced a little.
    • Lynchpin Mastery, lynchpins roll more easily off the tongue, and can be more flexible in their application.

Energy Mastery: A specialty for the more battle-oriented sorcerer. For those who like to surge spells or have a bit of extra fire at one’s fingertips.

  • Cost: 5 points for the first specialty, 5 points per additional improvement.
    • Words of Might, power words can deliver more useful and potent effects.
    • Energy Bolt, the sorcerer learns to surge a very simple bolt of some kind of energy without too much drain, such that it can be used as a basic ranged weapon.
    • Reserves of Power, surged spells don’t tire the caster as much.

Physical Specialization: The caster becomes a true adept in the Chaos style of sorcery, mastering Physical magic and enjoying great benefits whenever the local shadows match his preferred type of spell.

  • Cost: 10 points for this specialty and the 5 points for further improvements.
    • Elemental Affinity, the caster chooses a specific element that he is attuned to, which is stronger and more flexible for him whenever it is conjured by his spells.
    • Conjuration Master, conjurations can be made more precise and a great deal more can be conjured.
    • Strength of Chaos, the caster can more easily cast powerful, energy draining magics, and is not as affected by surging Physical type spells.
    • Student of the Void, the caster’s magic becomes much more effective against Logrus energies.

Subtle Specialization: The caster becomes adept in the Amber style of sorcery, mastering Subtle magic. The caster’s magic is less obvious in general, and is more effective in subtle environments.

  • Cost: 10 points for this specialty and the 5 points for further improvements.
    • Threads of Fate, the character can push the threshold of ‘coincidental’ effect a lot further, into the territory of an action movie as far as what events can chain up.
    • Invisible Hand, telekinetic effects become both stronger and more precise.
    • Whispers, the sorcerer’s magic becomes much more subtle when casting and taking effect. Spells that are themselves subtle may be able to be cast without anyone noticing.
    • Student of the Sun, the sorcerer’s spells become much more effective against Pattern energies.

Etheric Specialization: The caster becomes adept in the Shadow style of sorcery, mastering Subtle magic. He favors elaborate, far ranging and long lasting effects over the ‘one shot’ style of other sorcerers.

  • Cost: 10 points for this specialty and the 5 points for further improvements.
    • Master of Wards, spells that persist and react to their environment last longer, are more powerful, and more flexible in their effects.
    • Mystic Anchor, using the Sustain lynchpin is much less draining on the caster.
    • Ritualist, the sorcerer can streamline the requirements for rituals in all aspects, reducing time and resources required to use them.
    • Countermagic, the sorcerer’s spells become much more effective against the sorcery of others.

The specialty for storing spells in a power is reprinted here for ease of use.

  • Sorcery Conduit: 5 point Specialty for any Power
    • The character may store a substantial number of spells within a Power that can be recalled via Lynchpins. In fact, powers are so robust that they can easily hold more spells than the character would ever have time to cast or maintain. These spells will not last forever under the corrupting influence of the other power, but give the character access to far more prepared magic than he would otherwise be able to use.

Sorcery

The Scions of Amber Drascus