Carpe Blogiem: The Chronicles of Ceteri Primer – Extrinsic Magic Part I

The last of the paranormal powers posts for The Chronicles of Ceteri is extrinsic magic (it might take two or three entries to do). Extrinsic magic (called “gramarye”) is probably the most common form of magic in the Chronicles setting. It can be understand by anyone willing to learn and meet its harsh requirements. These casters (called “hedge magicians” or just “hedges”) can cast spells – even powerful spells – but they cannot do it quickly. Though they can perform magic, only sorcerers can truly master it. Sorcerers are born with a gift that allows them to cast spells quickly ­– what would take a hedge mage minutes to do a sorcerer can do in mere seconds. However, they too must learn magic just as a hedge does. So what is extrinsic magic in the context of the campaign setting? Well, for starters it’s a highly modified version of Ritual Path Magic. I wanted the magic system to “feel” like real world magic. I must have made a dozen major changes to get the feel just right and it took me the longest out of any thing I’d written up to then to do. In Ceteri magic is the echo of God’s most significant act: creation. It draws upon the literal fires of that event to make things true. It does this by making changes in reality itself by sheer force of the caster’s will.

Energy Gathering vs. Effect Shaping

This was the first big change. I’d been experimenting with Effect Shaping RPM for a long time – it was from these experiments that the version which appeared in Pyramid #3/66: The Laws of Magic sprung. I personally prefer effect shaping over energy gathering. It feels more like skill matters with effect shaping ritual path magic than it does with energy gathering. I know that’s probably not entirely true, but that’s my perception of it. It also jives with the rest of GURPS. Make a skill roll, add up modifiers, compare margin if need be, and you’re done.

Greater Effects and Fatigue Cost

Greater Effects no longer multiply energy for a spell. Instead, a spell with a Greater Effect costs a number of LFP (Long Term Fatigue Points from After the End) equal to the Greater Effects Multiplier; that is, a spell with two Greater Effects would cost 5 LFP to cast. LFP lost this way require the user abstain from magic-use , recovering 1 LFP per 6 hours abstained. Ley Line Recovery can speed this up!

With this change magic can’t be thrown around willy nilly without things like Energy Reserve, foci, and other items that can “soak up” this cost.

The Inside Outs of Magic

A quick excerpt on how magic is seen by those in the campaign world itself.

The Anatomy of a Spell

Extrinsic magic spells require five things: focus (incumba), willpower (mandato sua), a material component (materia essentia), a somatic gesture (gestura), and a linguistic trigger (incantata).

The first, focus, it not just a matter of will – but getting into the right frame of mind – it’s basically about thinking in a specific way or “priming the pump” of your mind. This frame of mind or “macrolinguistic mentality” allows the caster to “charge up” his focus for the spell. This component also relies a lot on sense memory ­– the smell of a particular incense, the texture of a piece of silk, the taste of chocolate, and so on. All of this puts the caster in a particular headspace that allows him to build the foundation of the spell. It’s also at this stage that the caster decides what the spell is, though this is technically done first.

The second element, willpower, is all about pitting your will against reality itself, forcing it to do something it might not otherwise do on its own. Reality is mostly malleable to those who understand how to shift it about, despite the laws of nature. Indeed, magic has its own set of laws that must be followed. Casters tend to have high levels of Will just for this reason.

The third element, material component(s), is about harmonizing oneself with the world through a symbolic item.

The fourth and fifth elements are so close that they are practically the same thing. The gesture is about releasing “the charged focus” and the linguistic trigger is what makes the spell happen. Both of these things must happen at the same moment in order for the spell to go off – similar to how a lock with two different keys must be turned at the same time. The gesture is typically individualized from caster to caster, but the linguistic trigger is similar to the first two components and requires the caster to learn another language. Failure to do so can result in uncontrollable powers. Imagine summoning up a fireball every time you said the word “fire” in your native tongue. Thus, almost all casters speak at least two languages and many of them speak more than that. This is also the reason why a given “casting language” is often a dead language or at least one the caster never plans to converse in.

Material Components

All spells require the use of material components to properly harmonize with the greater aspect of creation the sorcerer is tapping into. Here’s an excerpt from the setting bible for what material objects harmonize with Path of Spirit.

Materia Essentia: Path of Spirit

Rituals with Path of Spirit effects can make use of the following:

  • Sense Spirit: bloodstones, faerie glass, stones with water-eroded holes through them,
  • Strengthen Spirit: Cats eye shells, sage, salt, sandalwood, wind chimes, witch bottles,
  • Restore Spirit: Bell, candles, ectoplasm, hibiscus or lily petals, incense,
  • Control Spirit: Fresh animals’ blood or skin, human blood, pennies that have fallen more than 7 stories, pentagrams or pentacles, virgin’s blood
  • Destroy Spirit: artesian water, axes, hammers, rowan wood,sickles,
  • Create Spirit: Acacia, bones, rhino hide, knives, white-flecked azure,
  • Transform Spirit: Ambergris, cypress, taproots of plants, white noise,

Rituals that use parts of spirits (e.g., the finger bone of a brownie) count for any spell that affects any such creature.

Picking Over the Bones

And that’s it for part I. Part II will continue with the laws of magic,  enchantment, and the rest of the rules for extrinsic magic.

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