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Magic and Miracles

Page history last edited by Adrian 10 years, 8 months ago

Magic and Miracles



How it Works

Supernatural effects in the setting stem from a character's religious beliefs. A Christian Saint, Priest or Monk can invoke the power of God to heal the sick and condemn the wicked or blasphemous, a Mithraic Priest or Priestess of Isis can entreat the blessings of the gods brought to Britain with the Romans, while Druids, Priestesses and other wise men and women call down the power of the Old Gods of Britain to phrophesise, inflict a geas or bless the land.


Whatever the source of their power, mechanically magic or miracles work in the same manner:


  • The character must have an appropriate aspect, such as Christian Priest or Druid, and possess the Magic or Piety skill.


  • The magic or miracle attempted must be both endorsed by the God in question and appropriate - and nothing too overt like fireballs or invisibility spells. I'm definitely thinking along the lines of curses, blessings, wardings, augury, divine healing and so on. As a rule of thumb, the effects of magic or a miracle should never provide conclusive proof to a sceptic of the existence of the supernatural.


  • Magic and miracles generally require significant preparation time and unusual ingredients or paraphenalia - a curse may require something personal to the victim, toenail clippings or a stolen brooch for example. Unless waived by the GM, magic or miracles either require preparation in a previous scene ``or`` the expenditure of a fate point.


The specifics of the spell depend entirely on their effects: if the spell does not affect a large group of people or a large area, it may require nothing more than a Piety or Magic roll. If, for example, a Priest curses a heathen in God's name the conflict can be resolved by opposing the Priest's Piety with the heathen's Resolve and is not really any different mechanically to a man with a bow trying to shoot an unarmed man. If the bowman or Priest succeeds, the target is injured, physically in the case of the bowman and spiritually in the case of the Priest. Temporary aspects inflicted are things like 'Wounded Leg' for the bowman and 'Cursed by God' for the Priest. If the target succeeds, either the unarmed man escapes or the heathen rebukes the Priest's attack, possibly even inflicting temporary aspects of their own on the hapless bowman or Priest.


Things get more complicated when the goal of the magic or miracles extends beyond the province usually ascribed by a skill: Melee can be used to strike down a group of enemies, but it can't be used to stab an unseen enemy miles away, whereas magic is more flexible in scope. To prevent it getting out of hand the GM has three main resources: preparation restrictions; complications to the roll; a fate point cost.


  • Preparation restrictions mean allowing the attempt but requiring extensive ceremony leading up to the attempt and/or rare or costly trappings, including sacrifices, holy relics, and so on and beyond the usual preparation requirements.


  • Complications to the roll apply penalties based on the stated goal: cowing one man with a Druid's power might be a straight opposed roll, but cowing a group should involve the Superior Numbers complication against the Druid.


  • Fate point costs are the final approach, allowing a skill to be used with wider scope provided the player spends fate points before or after rolling.


Finally, stunts provide an easy mechanism for representing regularly-used spells or miracles or for providing specialties. These will either give a +1 edge, cancel a -1 complication, such as the Superior Numbers example above, or allow a wider use of the Magic or Piety skill, potentially negating a fate point cost or the need for extensive preparations.



The examples below illustrate the theory:


Example Pagan Magic: The Ghost Fence


A Ghost Fence consists of severed heads mounted on stakes set at periodic intervals, creating a supernatural barrier. The dead spirits bound to the Ghost Fence prevent people from crossing its length and alerts its creator to their attempt.


Who Can Create One?

Any character worshipping the Gods of the Britons with the Magic skill can create a Ghost Fence but it's easier and cheaper if he or she has the Ghost Fence stunt. Without the stunt the player must roll their Magic skill and beat an Average difficulty, paying 1 fate point if successful. If the character has the Skull Fence stunt the creation requires no roll and no fate point expenditure.


To create a Ghost Fence the character must have time and access to several severed heads and stakes to mount them upon, varying based on the size of the fence. Once created, its strength equals its creator's Magic skill.


Mechanical Effect

A Ghost Fence prevents people from crossing its length, filling them with dread if they attempt to do so. To cross a Ghost Fence the character must succeed at a Resolve test against the Ghost Fence's strength.


Roll Result Effect
MoF 3+ Character cannot cross the Fence. The creator is alerted to the trespass attempt
MoF 1-2 Character cannot cross the Fence. The creator is unaware of the trespass attempt
MoS 0 Character crosses the Fence but takes a Hexed temporary aspect. The creator is alerted to the trespass
MoS 1-2 Character crosses the Fence. The creator is alerted to the trespass
MoS 3 Character crosses the Fence and is immune to the creator's Fences this Story. The creator is alerted to the trespass
MoS 4+ Character crosses the Fence and either destroys the Fence's power or does not alert the caster to his or her crossing


Bypassing/Destroying a Ghost Fence

Unless the result of a very good Resolve roll (MoS 4+), this requires a character with the Magic skill. The would-be trespasser rolls his or her Magic or Piety skill versus the Ghost Fence's strength, and if successful either deactivates or destroys the Fence. A deactivated Fence can be restored by the creator visiting the Fence and repairing the damage - no roll or fate points required.


Roll Result Effect
MoF 3+ Character fails and takes a Hexed temporary aspect. The creator is alerted to the attempt
MoF 1-2 Character fails and the creator is alerted to the attempt
MoS 0 Character fails but the creator is unaware of the attempt
MoS 1 Character succeeds in deactivating the Fence and the creator is alerted to the fact
MoS 2 Character succeeds in destroying the Fence and the creator is alerted to the fact
MoS 3 Character succeeds in destroying the Fence and either the creator is unaware of the fact or the creator takes a negative temporary aspect - eg. Fearful, Exhausted
MoS 4+ Character succeeds in destroying the creator's Fence, the creator is unaware of the fact and takes a negative temporary aspect


These are just guidelines: perhaps with a MoS of 4+ the trespasser destroys all the creator's Ghost Fences in the nearby area instead.


Example Pagan Magic: The Geas


Example Cult Magic: Blessing of Mithras


Example Christian Miracle: Laying on of Hands


Example Christian Miracle: Plague of Locusts



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