As we were talking about in the previous installment (TBA), this post is also about extrinsic magic.
The Limits of Magic
I made it so magic had a few limits, things it couldn’t do no matter how powerful you were:
- Creation and Transformation: Magic cannot be used to permanently create or transform objects any such item lasts as long as the duration of the spell and then disappears or reverts back to normal. The sole exception to this is magic stabilized with quintessence (p. 00).
- Large-Scale Changes: Magic cannot be used to create large-scale physical changes in reality. This is specifically for stuff like “changing the Eastern seaboard to cheese” or “I want to turn that skyscraper into dust.” Such massive changes are simply impossible. Illusions and other mental magics are still possible, however difficult.
- Nameless Ones: Nameless Ones cannot be directly affected with magic at all. Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to them being summoned by others – even indirectly. They are subject to being banished, external attacks that conjure energy or other forces, and similar indirect magic.
- Teleportation: Moving a subject from one place to another without a gate is not possible.
- Time Travel: Magic cannot allow travel either forward or backward in time. Divination is the notable exception allowing your senses to travel forward or backward.
Ceremonial Rites and Ritualistic Triggers
Extrinsic magic requires five things to work (see previous entry). At the player’s option, he may exclude one of those five things and substitute them for something else. Assume that if a caster knows a spell he knows how to use these alternative substitutions. Alternatively, some spells may require a specific ritualistic substitution (and are noted in the spell description). These substitutions are afflictions (e.g., a spell forces you to cough for a specific amount of time after casting), blood (e.g. HP loss), exertion (e.g., FP loss), posture/stance (e.g., specific positioning of feet, legs, and/or body), skill over will (e.g., taking a penalty to skill to cast), symbolism (e.g., using theban runes), time (e.g., doubles the time to cast), will over skill (i.e., a high Will is required for the spell to work).
Additionally, a caster can take more substitutions (up to 13) to get a bonus to his spellcasting. This allows casters who are not particularly skills to rack up the bonuses for a spell by taking extra time, getting more components, sacrificing HP or FP, and so on.
The Laws of Magic
I set down thirteen laws that govern the nature of magic in the campaign setting. Each one governing an aspect of magic.
- The Law of Calamity (Si Quid Errare Potest, Errabit “If Anything Could Go Wrong, It Will Go Wrong.”): Governs how critical failures work.
- The Law of Flesh (Si Anima Valet, Corpus Valet “If the spirit is strong, the flesh is strong.”): Represent by physical rites for stance, HP sacrifice, FP sacrifice, and gestures.
- The Law of Knowledge (Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est “Knowledge itself is power.”): The bonus to spells may never exceed your Thaumatology.
- The Law of Lexicons (Dictis Vis Est “Words Have Power.”): This covers the fact that magic requires a linguistic trigger to perform.
- The Law of Names (Nomen Est Res, Et Res Suum Nomen Est “The Name Is The Thing And Thing Is Its Name.”): Covers the fact that knowing a thing by its more intimate name or names allow a bonus to spellcasting.
- The Law of Opposites (In Aliquo Suum Adversum Est “Within Something Is The Opposition Of Itself.”): This law is represented by the fact that each Path skill can affect its subjects in positive or negative ways. For example, Path of Body magic can be used to heal a subject . . . or harm him.
- The Law of Paradoxes (Verum Falsum Est, Et Falsi Sunt Verum “Truth Is A Lie And Lies Are The Truth.”): This law is represented by Greater and Lesser effects within extrinsic magic Path skills.
- The Law of Resonance (Materia Immateriaque Sunt Unum “The Material And Immaterial Are One.”): This law is represented by the more physical aspects of spellcasting (e.g., attuned locations, symbolism, or materia essentia).
- The Law of Self-Mastery (Temet Nosce “Thine Own Self Thou Must Know.”): This law represents ritualistic triggers for focus, Will over Skill, Time, and Willpower itself.
- The Law of Similarity (Simile Movet Simile “Like Affects Like.”): The more two or more subjects have in common the easier it is to affect multiple subjects at once.
- The Law of Sympathy (Semel Cunctus, Cunctus Semper “Once Whole, Always Whole.”): The more contact you have with the subject or its being the easier it is to caster a spell. For example, having a bit of blood would give +4 to rolls to cast magic on the subject.
- The Law of the Macrocosm and Microcosm (Velut Supra, Ita Infra “As Above, So Below.”): This law governs geotrinsic phenomena (especially astrological occultations).
- The Law of the Unknowable (Solum Quid Sciri Potest Est Nulla Omnia Posse Sciri “The Only Thing That Can Be Known Is That Not All Is Knowable.”): This law represents how spell formula must be learned as Spell Familiarities and the invention of new spells that may break the known limits of magic.
I went far away from the normal methods of enchantment for ritual path magic. Instead, I hacked together a system from GURPS Sorcery. Unfortunately that’s’ about all I can say about it. I will post a example magic item and maybe others can piece together what I did. I’d love to actually write it up for GURPS officially, but till then it’s a bit of a secret only I and my player share.
Hidden Cache Ring
This small signet ring bears the heraldic device of the House of de Sousa. It allows the wearer to store up to 100 lbs. of nonliving, non-animate items. Unlike most such magical items, this one allows the bearer to exchange something they are already wearing for something stored within the ring. This requires an IQ or Path of Crossroads roll, 1 FP, and takes one-second per 10 pounds of exchanged material. You may shorten this by taking a -1 to your roll per second shaved off or make it instant by accepting another -2 when the time is already one-second.
Anyone who grapples your hand must then win a Quick Contest of DX to remove it; alternatively, a thief may attempt to fool you during a handshake by winning a Quick Contest of Sleight of Hand against your Per (at +5 if you have reason to be wary). SM -11, DR 4, HP 3, $162,600, 0.25 lbs.
Statistics: The magic used to create the ring is Lesser Create Crossroads (6), Lesser Sense Mind (2), and Altered Traits worth (12) with the following: Payload 5 (Cosmic, extradimensional, +50%; Magic, -10%; Reduced Time 1, +20%; Static Life, BL 200, +50%)  + Shtick (Always item that’s needed is readied) .
Base EP: 20. It is a “Usually On” binding (+0% EP), SM -11 (+180% EP), Limited, Only members of de Sousa family (-60% EP), No Command Word (+10% EP), and No Gestural Trigger (+10% EP).
Other Notes: The ring is made of solid gold (+$4,200, 0.25 lbs.) with a 20-carat golden topaz carved with the heraldic device of the wearer’s family ($16,800).
Picking Over the Bones
And that is the end of the entries on paranormal powers. Next up, supernatural creatures and objects. I hope folks are enjoying these posts, it feels an awful lot like navel gazing. I might put up the full laws on my blog at some point for those who are interested in such things. Perhaps on Patreon first. I’ll think about it.