Boil and Bubble: Magical Ability Defaults from Skill

Sometimes I have entire rules or systems download themselves into my head. This usually happens while I’m asleep or getting there. This came to me last night after I was trying to figure out how to make Thuamatology: Sorcery-style magic have a more urban fantasy/realistic feel. (No, I’m not using Ritual Path Magic – I know, a shocker, but it doesn’t work for the setting so that’s that.) I’ve talked about this a bit before, but I think I’ve come up with a better way.

First, use figure out what sort of spell or effect you are going for just as you would normally for Sorcery. For example, if you wanted to start a fire that would merely be Ignite Fire (Sorcery, p. 16), Note the point cost of the spell, Second, total the number of character points spent in Thaumatology (or Ritual Magic if magic is more ritually flavored). Third, total the number of character points spent in any of the following skills and halve them: Alchemy, Exorcism, Herb Lore, Hidden Lore (supernatural related lore), Ritual Magic (or Thaumatology if magic is more ritually flavored), and Symbol Drawing. Next, total the points spent in skills and compare them to the cost of the spell being performed. For every 10% of the value of the spell compared to the totaled skill points, roll Thaumatology at -1 and two of the following: perform magic gestures and words or spend 2 FP or 10 seconds concentrating. Success results in one use of the spell you were trying to cast. For example, if a caster were attempting Ignite Fire 2 and had Thaumatology-12 with a combined 8 points in Thaumatology and/or magical skills then he’d need to roll a 7 or less on his Thaumatology skill and either spend 2 FP and 10 seconds concentrating.

If the caster wishes doesn’t have a skill of at least 3, then the spell is impossible for him to cast. To counteract this he may increase his skill point total by adding limitations and then treating them as enhancements (but round down). For example, the caster in the previous example could add Immediate Preparation Required, 1 minute (-20%), Onset, 1 minute (-10%), and Trigger, Requires crushed ruby powder (-10%) to bring his skill points to 11, instead of 8, reducing the penalty to -4 instead of -5. Thus he could use Ignite Fire 2, but he’d have to concentrate for a minute, have some expensive ruby dust, and the spell would only take place a minute after he had finished. (Note: Preparation Required, the required 10 seconds of concentration counts as the first -10% of that limitation and increases normally thereafter. Additional FP cost the same, while requiring magical gestures and words is worth -20%)

Picking Over the Bones
I must say, I wish I had thought of simplifying Abilities at Default to a even 10% per -1 – but I didn’t. That was all +Hal Batty. It’s a clever simplistic approach that makes it easy as hell to GM instead of looking it up constantly. Overall, this is a way to make a somewhat skilled caster without actually going full-bore and giving them Sorcerous Empowerment. In fact, I think this may be the perfect way to simulate my “hedge witches” in Aeon. It keeps the flexibility of Sorcery, but forces it to be less tactical and more strategic and that is exactly what I was looking for.

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