In times gone by, and perhaps even today, summoned and incarnate spirits have been known to mate with mortal creatures. The few human offspring of these unlikely unions who survive and are not completely nonfunctional psychotics have come to be known as the "Mageblooded".
These rare (lucky?) individuals are blessed (?) with the ability to work magic without the direct aid of Spirits. Each mageblooded has the use of powerful magic forces in two aspects: Actions (Verbs) and Domains (Nouns).
The mageblooded character may manipulate her magic domains in ways governed by her magic actions. There is no spell list in this option for Plot Point Core. The effects of magic, much like all other character actions, are described by the player in improvisational form, using the character's domains and actions, and resolved through the use of MURPHY'S MAGIC DECK.
The emphasis rests on player creativity. Whimsical, even farfetched improvised intended effects are encouraged. However, player and GM should keep a careful eye on the character's domains and actions. Failure to restrict wildly improvisational magic to at least the confines of the character's nouns and verbs results in all-powerful spellcasters. Bad.
There are additional constraints on the power of magic, however.
Use of magic is resolved using the following means.
When the individual actions of PCs and NPCs are adjudicated, the GM checks to see that the intended magical effect falls within the character's actions and domains.
If it does not, the spell will automatically fail. Proceed with the subsequent steps anyway, since playing with magic is dangerous. And danger is fun.
First, the player shuffles MURPHY'S DECK and draws a card. The indicated number is the PLOT POINT cost of the spell.
The player BURNS the shown number of PLOT POINTs. If the character does not have the amount shown, they spend all of their remaining PPs, and the spell fails, or may work with reduced efficacy (at the GM's option).
Or, if the player's really desperate for the spell to go off, she may spend a single KARMA point in lieu of the deficient PPs.
If the character draws Erg from sources other than herself to power the spell (ie., others, devices, etc.), then the PLOT POINT cost is reduced by one.
If the character is successfully using a LAW OF MAGIC to power the spell, the PLOT POINT cost is reduced by one. Note that the GM's good judgement should be used to determine if the Law of Magic has been used appropriately.
Finally, if the character has made a point of practicing this spell (the exact intended effects, action and domain) then the Plot Point cost is also reduced by one.
Finally, if the environmental circumstances provide the right situation, the GM may allow that the PLOT POINT cost of a spell may be reduced (or increased!). For example, casting in a Place of Power, or At the Full Moon.
Note that under no circumstances does casting a spell increase the PLOT POINTs held by a character - the lowest cost is zero.
Next, they player must test for wild magic by performing two psychic feats of ESP. With a shuffled deck, face down, the player must guess which ESP symbol is on the top card. The player announces her guess, and then turns over the top card in the shuffled deck to see if she is correct.
If she is correct the first time, the spell goes off with enhanced success - positive consequences amounting to one additional fact.
If she is correct the second time, the spell goes off with enhanced negative consequences. The player and/or GM decide what wild magic ensues.
It is not possible to negate the negative conquences of wild magic by spending PLOT POINTs.
Note that it is possible for both situations to occur - they do not cancel one another out.
If the magic attempted was Black Magic (see [MAGIC & CORRUPTION] below), the player then reshuffles the deck and deals a single card for the effects of dabbling in things Man Was Not Meant To Know.
No legislature passed the Laws of Magic. They are more like fundamental truths of physics or musical harmony, having been observed in practice over centuries. Magic obeys these laws.
"Knowledge is power."
In some ways, the law of knowledge lays the foundation for all other laws; they are built upon it. Like Francis Bacon says, "Knowledge is power." Understanding leads to mastery. The greater one's grasp of the subject, the easier it is assert will over it.
For example: Sybil tells the GM, "I have a trait of Chemical Engineer at Good, so when I throw the fireball spell, I know it's consuming all of the particles of sawdust floating in the air around the sawmill."
Growing from from the law of knowledge, this law tells us that a mage who knows herself is the most effective. To control magic, a spellcaster must first control herself.
For example: Tim remarks, "My barbarian Krog may not be smart, but he knows that Kyta has been his comrade in arms, and Krog has a trait of 'Loyal to a Fault'. He knows that healing Kyta is something he must do."
"Where there's smoke, there's fire."
Put another way, every effect has an adequate antecedent or simultaneous cause. Every mage knows that causality forms the basis of their work. If you see smoke, it has a cause: fire.
The difficulty with weaving magic is knowing what causes what, and limiting the influence of outside factors. Casting spells is a bit like using a bread recipe or making beer. Even the best recipe doesn't work sometimes, usually because the spellcaster didn't control all of the variables (causes).
For example: Tyrell the Windrider says, "To cause a lightning strike on the Goblin King, all I need to do is spin my hands like this, here, moving the air around us in just the right way... Ah! See? The wind is creating a vortex now, and... Yes... It's causing a storm to start brewing right above us..."
"There are no coincidences."
You might think things happening at the same time are unrelated, or related merely by chance, but you're wrong. This law tells us that those events are inextricably interlinked. Arguably, nothing happens in isolation.
For example: Sybil says, "What the Goblin King doesn't know is that today just happens to be the day of the Fire Moon, when pyromagical effects are strongest."
When X and Y share some common attribute Z, then one can use X to control Y. The more common attributes that X shares with Y, the greater its influence is. Association rivals the law of knowledge in its power and ubiquity.
For example: Tim the Enchanter, raising his hands to the heavens, casts a pinch of sand and begins to sing a magical lullaby, putting the Goblin King's guards to sleep.
"Look alikes are alike."
What do a figurine, an image, a picture, and a voodoo doll have in common? They are ways of representing the target of a spell. These models offer power over their targets because a representation of a thing in some sense is the thing itself.
For example: Abby Rogue, a magic trickster, commissions a painting of a rich merchant. When she wants to read his mind from afar, she questions the picture as if it is the merchant himself.
"The power of touch."
When two objects touch, they create a magical connection. This magical link persists over time and distance, though the link may grow weaker the more time passes, or the more distant the objects.
Prolonged, repeated or intense contact increases the power of this link. Thus, possessing a part of someone's body (nails, hair, excreta, etc.) gives the possessor a magical advantage.
"No one is 'nobody'."
What's in a name? Everything, as it turns out. The true (magical) name of a person, place or thing is a complete magical model of the thing itself. (See the laws of association and similarity.) In some sense, the magical name is even a part of the thing named, connecting this law to the low of contagion as well.
With this law, the mage uses the true name of the target of the spell as a magical stand-in for the target itself. Thus these names are powerful magical tools, and jealously guarded.
If one possesses a true name, it's kept secret, divulged only to the most trusted inner circle. True names of events, places and spirits might have incalculable value and are worth more than any material treasure.
For example, "I know your true name!" Shouts Abby Rogue, and she shouts, "K'tor Karack," as flames engulf the Goblin King.
Saying certain words, words of power, can cause magical effects by themselves. Perhaps because of the sounds made during saying them, or because of their meaning (whether known or lost), or perhaps because of some connection to powerful magical flows, big mojo resides in these special words.
Creators of magical tools often enscribe words of power into the tools, or repeat key magical words while creating these items.
For example: Tim the Enchanter opens the ancient scroll. Unfolding the dry, yellowed parchment, he reads from it. Upon uttering the very last word, the air around him begins to vibrate and dance, shimmering with electric blue magical light.
"Dogs are people too. And rocks."
All that exists, lives, and has a personality. Events, ideas, people, places, objects, and even magic itself can be treated as people. A mage assigns names, thoughts, emotions, a human appearance, and even speech and actions to things she wishes to exert magical influnce over.
For example: Tyrell the Windrider bellows, "I, Tyrell Windrider, call forth the North Wind, naming him Altirio, the Prince of Arctic Air. Altirio, join us now!"
"Voices in my head"
Any person, place, thing, event, idea, whether internal or external, can be said to live inside the mage. Further, by internal communication with said entity, the mage can gain magical control and power over the thing.
For example: Tyrell the Windrider closes his eyes, and speaks words as thoughts alone, without speech. He pictures Altirio the North Wind, and in his mind, converses Altirio. "Altirio," he begins. "You are not my friend, but my sacrifices to you have made you my ally..."
"I'm not just talking to myself."
Like the law of invocation, it is possible to communicate externally - through the spoken word - with entities from either inside or outside oneself, said entities seeming to be outside oneself during the communication process.
For example: Much to the annoyance of Abby Rogue, Tyrell the Windrider begins talking to someone he calls "Altirio", though no one is present on the lonely mountaintop. "Altirio, my ally, my protector, why do you fly so far from your skyward havens today?" Abby Rogue rolls her eyes, muttering, "Great. He's talking to his imaginary friends again."
Using deep, persistent, intense association and focus, the mage can in some sense become another entity. In so doing, the mage gains deep knowledge of the entity, granting her power to wield magic for, against, or with the entity. This is the law of possession.
For example: Abby Rogue wakes in the small hours of the night on the lonely mountaintop to find her companion, Tyrell, hovering in the air, bouncing to and fro without touching the ground, like a leaf in the wind. Gasping, she draws a knife and crouches to defend herself. "Tyrell!" She shouts. "What are you doing?" Tyrell opens his mouth to speak, but Abby hears no human voice, only the sound of bonechilling wind.
"You keep your version of the truth. I've got my own."
Many mages find this law difficult to understand, and even more difficult to apply. Every thinking creature resides in a universe wholly unique to itself. From all accounts, these universes closely match one another, and match if there is a deeper, "universal" or shared universe, they closely resemble it as well. However, no two universes match identically. Thus the "reality" we commonly speak of is in fact an illusion.
For example: Abby Rogue sees the attack coming, but can't stop it. Instead, she casts a spell of displacement, knowing that although her attackers see her cornered at the edge of the cliff, in her reality, she's a few inches to one side, well clear of their attack.
"A universe of universes."
The combinatorial total of all existing things creates an infinite number of universes. Anything might possible in one - many - or an infinite number of these universes. However some things are more probable than others.
Carelessly flitting from universe to universe may have unintended consequences, however.
For example: Tyrell can't dodge the spear in time. However just as he feels the cold goblin iron bite into his flesh, he slips from this universe into a nearby one, where the angle of the goblin weapon is slightly different, merely giving him a grazing fleshwound instead of a mortal wound. What he doesn't know is that stepping into this universe, not only was the angle of the goblin weapon different, but it was coated with the poison of corpse toads.
"Works for me."
If it works, it's true. A pattern of belief or behavior that has material effect - that "works" - is "true". Truth can be viewed as synonymous with reality, with beauty (in the abstract sense), and with what's "commonly known" or accepted.
For example: Abby snarls, "Look, Tyrell, I don't care if 'garlic is the bane of the undead'. Turnips can work too, with a little magic oomph added to them!"
"That can't possibly be true. Except when it is..."
Seemingly absurd and self-contradictory statements can be (always are?) true, if only generally, than usually in certain specific situations. If it's a paradox, it's probably still true. Sometimes, anyway. This law might also be called the "law of absurd magic".
For example: Trying to pull Abby away, Tim screams, "Abby, what are you doing!? You can't heal the innkeeper by kicking him in the head like that!" Abby begins weaving her hands in a magical pattern, even as she keep kicking the prone innkeeper in the solar plexus. "Wrong, Tim! You have to be cruel to be kind!"
Opposed patterns (person, place, thing, idea, event, etc), when brought together, form a new pattern that is "truer" than either of the two were separately. The new pattern has greater applicability, more effectiveness. It "works" better. It's more beautiful, and more true. This new pattern may be something entirely new, rather than a middle ground between the two opposing patterns.
For example: Struggling to keep the flux of magical energy in check, Tim mutters, "See, Abby? By combining the chocomagic with the peanutimagic, I am... creating... LIFE ITSELF!"
Any "pure", essential entity, (such as "light", "evil", "understanding", etc.) always contains its "opposite" pattern, by providing information about what the pattern "is not". By gaining control over a pattern's "opposite", the mage gains power over the pattern itself. Any pattern always contains the essence of its opposite.
For example, "Abby, I'm going to cast a spell to wrap you in shadows so you can sneak into the Goblin King's treasury," Tim says. "Here, put on this glittering cloak." Abby snorts, "Tim, this cloak makes me sparkle like sparks from the hammers of a thousand blacksmiths." Tim nods slowly. "Exactly."
"Strike a balance."
Balance isn't static. Change never relents. Forces constantly play on every aspect of the world the mage lives in, and on herself. Keeping these elements balanced requires constant work. Letting any element get too extreme will magnify that aspect, until it dominates the world the mage lives in.
An "evil" mage constantly associates with pain, death, misery and suffering, until those very same aspects of life come to consume the mage herself. Death will eventually beget the death of the mage focused on death.
For example: Beginning to hum a magic melody, Abby says, "Don't you feel it, Tim? This Goblin King has caused so much death and destruction. This place is just seething with it. It wants to consume the Goblin King. It's waiting for him. All I have to do is give it a little nudge, and death will come for him, putting things back into balance..."
"If it can go wrong, it already did."
Murphy's Law! If anything can go wrong, it will. It probably already did. In some miserable, unpleasant, rotten way.
Magic backfires. Often. Reversals are so common as to be comical. Meaningful coincidences are just as likely to be unpleasant as pleasant.
When "nothing can go wrong", thing have a tendency to go so extremely "right" that they're wrong. The gods are definitely toying with you. Count on it.
For example: The player running the character of Tim the Enchanter says, "Geez, I'm out of plot points. Ok, Tim starts to cast a spell to charm the huge pet lizard in the Goblin King's menagerie, but it backfires, and instead, the lizard attacks us instantly! Can I have that plot point? Pretty please?"
"It's all connected."
Every element of existence is tied to every other element. It's one big web. Pluck on a strand, and the whole thing vibrates. Even time is tied back on itself, so that every moment touches every other moment. The separations we perceive between things, between moments, and most of all between each other, is all illusory.
For example: Miles underground, Abby Rogue picks up a rock at random from the floor of the cave and begins you cast a spell to use it as a kind of divining rod, to show them the way out. Tim looks puzzled. "You see, Tim," she says. "Maybe this rock hasn't seen the light of day in millions of years. But... the water that's dripping from the ceiling has. And the air down here has touched air from outside. It's all connected. Something has touched this rock, sometimee, that knows the way out."
What is Black Magic?
Black Magic is any magic that hurts someone or something, including nature. Anything that's overtly unnatural, extremely unlikely, grossly subvertive of the laws of physics, etc. In short, most effin' magic is BLACK MAGIC.
Conversely, any magical effect that is consistent with observers desire and ability to see phenomenon as coincidence is known as "coincidental magic". Coincidental magic does not incur the drawback of black magic.
For example: During a shootout, a ricochet hits nearby and strikes the target. A sudden jet of steam erupting from a broken pipe. Or the target having a heart attack from being overweight. Each of these effects can easily be dismissed by observers as coincidental. By design and definition, coincidental magic can't be distinguished from coincidence, and black magic (vulgar magic) can.
Vulgar magic can not be easily explained by coincidence or chance. Stopping a speeding train, emitting lightning bolts from your eyes, reading a stranger's mind, and making wounds disappear suddenly are all vulgar magic.
Black magic and coincidental magic are subjective, depending on the perspective of the observers. A potion of healing would be black magic in a modern western city, but might go uncontested in a rural eastern European farming village, and could even be mundane in a magic setting.
Each time a mageblooded character works Black Magic, he or she draws a card from MURPHY'S MAGIC DECK.
A PLOT POINT may be spent to avoid drawing a card.
The results are interpreted thusly:
Average (1 card): Absent
The character's memory of his existence prior to this moment begins to fade. The character is unlikely to notice (or care about) things that seem unimportant to his current main focus.
Fair (2 cards): Eccentric
The character develops a quirk or quirks that separate him from "other" people. He is drawing away from society and has built up a wall of defense that includes this eccentricity to mark his change. Quite often he will no longer refer to his life prior to this moment.
Good (3 cards): Delusions
The character gains a firmly-held false belief about the world or himself. Examples include thinking any of his actions are morally justified, that he has attained superhuman capability, that he has been Chosen By God, etc.
Great (4 cards): Hallucinations
The character begins seeing things that aren't there, or that the character thinks should be there. Hallucinations last D6 hours and are usually triggered by stress, and require a PLOT POINT to avoid in nasty situations. By now the character has probably created an entirely new history for himself prior to his dabbling in Black Magic.
Superb (5+ cards): Schizophrenic
At this point the character has his own reality. The character must spend a PLOT POINT to do anything constructive at all.
Average (1 card): Stubborn
The character is more self-involved and stubborn. The character usually thinks he is smarter and / or stronger than the others, and his ideas are better.
Fair (2 cards): Conceited
The character's stubborness takes a new turn and the character begins thinking and acting as if he is in fact better than others. The character will make sure that his efforts are rewarded, and may take skills to improve his appearance or reputation.
Good (3 cards): Egocentric
The character views things only as they relate to himself. Others' needs and desires are neglected for his own desires. An average Leadership or Persuasion roll will be required to convince the character that another plan is in their best interest.
Great (4 cards): Narcissistic
The character becomes obsessed with his own appearance, skills, comfort and/or reputation. The character will be hard-pressed (Difficult Leadership or Persuasion) to do anything for other people.
Superb (5+ cards): Megalomania
The character has delusions of grandeur. As such, everyone else is inferior and can be neglected. The character also seems himself as immortal or at least bullet-proof. The caharcter will ignore risks, seeing himself as impervious to danger.
Average (1 card): Distracted
The character likes to play with his magic using them whenever free time presents itself. Unless the character is concentrating, he receives a -1D on all rolls (usually applicable when things get boring or people start talking about other stuff).
Fair (2 cards): Compulsive
The character compulsively plays with magic drugs, using it whenever possible. Others will find this irritating as he is constantly showing off or tripping out.
Good (3 cards): Addict
The charcter has to play with magic. It starts taking over his life, and acts as a serious distraction (as DISTRACTED, but a -2D penalty). The character becomes progressively more agitated each hour not allowed to work magic.
Great (4 cards): Obsessive
The character attempts to use magic continuously. This interferes in social activities (-2D on most social rolls) and will probably ostracize the character from any situation not conducive to such behavior. The character becomes progressively more agitated each minute not allowed to work magic.
Superb (5+ cards): Monomania
The character must play with the magic all the time. This is a serious distraction, with a penalty of -3D applied to all actions not directly related to magic. The character is essentially a vegetable, 100% addicted and dedicating his entire life to the addiction.
Average (1 card): Edgy
The character is a little more nervous than the average person, seeing things, shapes, stalkers, etc. The character is frightened very easily.
Fair (2 cards): Hypochondria
The character now is always afraid that he is getting sick or being ambushed or some such. The character feels the symptoms of various diseases, spots ambushes and so on.
Good (3 cards): Phobia
The character now develops a severe phobia...
Great (4 cards): Paranoid
The character begins to think that people are out to get him, that he is the target of some conspiracy. Any time a character does something selfless towards this character, he must make a successful Empathy check at Good difficulty (>2 successes) or learn to hate that character, as he is obviously part of the conspiracy. The character gets a -4D penalty in any frightening situation.
Superb (5+ cards): Homocidal
Fearing that people are secretly plotting against him, the takes things into his own hands and begins to hunt them down.
A phobia is an irrational fear of a (usually commonplace) object or situation.
Average (1 card): Avoidance
The character will alter their friends and activities to avoid the object of fear.
Fair (2 cards): Compulsion
The character's fervor intensifies. Situations and persons related in any way to the object of fear are avoided.
Good (3 cards): Obsession
The character's life revolves around the avoidance of the source of fear.
If a phobic character is directly confronted by his obsession, he's likely to become panicked by the object for 1d6 minutes. Spend a Plot Point to avoid.
Great (4 cards): Delusions
The character develops elaborate delusions about their obsession and will engange in reckless or dangerous behavior, including socially taboo or dangerous behavior, in regards to the source of fear.
Superb (5+ cards): Catatonia
The character's fear drives them into a completely non-functional state. Spend a PLOT POINT to do anything.