Magic is defined as the manipulation of people and environments through supernatural or occult means. In Immortal Legacy, magic is the collective term for spells and magic items, their game effects and limitations, and the rules governing their use.
Those who cast magic spells are known by many names — wizards, witches, magic-users, magicians, sorcerers, warlocks, and shamans. In this game, they are called mages. Some examples of famous mages in history or fiction are Merlin, the Weird Sisters, Doctor Faustus, Prospero, Odin, Baba Yaga, Marie Laveau, Circe, the Wicked Witch, and Fairy Godmothers.
The use of magic is not limited to the stereotypical old, long-bearded man in pointed hat, nor is it restricted to the particularly sagacious. It could be commanded just as easily by an oafish swordsman, a canny diplomat, or a slippery thief.
In The Story
It is up to the Game Master to decide how to govern the use of magic spells and items in game. One GM might decide on a world where everyone can use at least a little magic, while another GM could create a world where magic hasn't existed for years or never did.
Below are some examples of how magic could be perceived in a world where it is present:
- Magic is to be hated and feared. It is unpredictable and too powerful, so mages are untrusted, attacked, or alienated. This viewpoint is usually held by those who don't understand magic or have suffered at the hands of a cruel mage.
- Magic is a property of the natural world just like the weather and gravity. It may or may not be helpful in any way. Those who wield magic are no different from a skilled artisan or scientist. This viewpoint is usually held by those for whom magic is a normal, but uncommon part of daily life.
- Magic is a necessity and completely indispensable. It is an inexorable force of the world. Magic is life. This viewpoint is usually held by those who continuously rely on magic and its effects.
Similarly, views on the cause of magic ability also vary:
- Through rigorous and extensive study, a mastery of magic is possible. Anyone can learn how to use magic provided one has the time, chance, and desire.
- Magical ability is scientifically proven to be the result of mutation. Those who find themselves able to use magic are affected randomly or chaotically.
- Innate ability to wield magic is passed down through bloodlines. Either one is born with the talent for magic, or one is not.
- Magic is a divine gift, and bestowed upon worthy heroes or faithful adherents. As a supernatural boon, it cannot be comprehended by mere mortals.
- Certain items bestow upon their carriers the talent for magic. If deprived of these wondrous relics, the ability to cast spells is lost.
Furthermore, views on magic can be divided across sex, gender, age, race, religion, geographical location, philosophy, and time.
| "Yeah, yeah. Enough of the literary stuff, how do I cast a spell to eviscerate my enemies?"
Cool your jets. Magic is a tough game dynamic with lots of rules you need to understand first. Here is "How to Make Stuff Blow Up in 3 Easy Steps".
First, spells can be cast at different potencies, from 1–5. Intensity 1: simple, Intensity 5: ridiculous. In order to cast spells at all, you must buy a rank in the Spellcasting Special Power. Each rank you buy of Spellcasting allows you to cast any spell you know at that level of Intensity (e.g. if you have 3 ranks in Spellcasting, you can cast your spells at Intensity 1, 2, or 3).
Second, you need skill ranks in the Elements of spells you want to cast. The rolls you make when casting a spell are influenced by the amount of ranks you have in its Element. If you don't have ranks in an Element, you can't cast spells in it. If you want to wield spells that deal damage, you should probably also put ranks in the Magic Weapon skill if you actually want to hit your targets.
Third, you must find the spells themselves. One spell may be more rare than another; ask your GM if you are able to learn a specific spell. Certain spells could be rare in a given geographic area, but not in others (for example, the barren wastelands of the frozen tundra could be home to ice casters, but no fire mages). Once you find and learn a spell, you know it forever.
When you cast a spell, you spend 1 MP per Intensity of the spell. If you cast a spell at Intensity 3, you spend 3 MP to do so. You gain back all of your MP each night you rest fully.
Any character capable of casting spells is free to learn new spells as he or she sees fit. Each spell has a rarity: the ease with which your character can learn it. In game terms, a character must learn the spell either from experimentation, a mentor, or a set of detailed instructions, therefore your GM should have the final approval for whether your character can learn a given spell. For instance, the availability of spells could be limited to a geographical area, and if your character from the burning desert wants to learn how to summon ice cubes for frozen cocktails, it's likely he'll have to travel to a place where the spell is common.
All spells have a target: another creature or group of creatures, an area, an object, or oneself. Spells that are cast on other creatures which cause negative effects usually require an offensive roll from you and a defensive roll from the target. Spells that a mage can cast on him or her self automatically succeed — no roll is required. Also, beneficial spells that a mage can cast on another creature automatically succeed (unless of course, the creature doesn't want the benefit of the spell, then a roll is required as usual).
Magic spells and abilities are fueled directly by Magic Points (or MP), which represent the raw pool of magic power available to a character.
MP is used to power special abilities, much the same way as gasoline is used to power cars. Every character has an MP score, whether or not they have the ability to cast spells, or any other special abilities. Characters begin the game with 10 MP. At character creation, a mage can choose the Attribute used to cast spells (see Casting Attribute, below). A mage can add their score in this Attribute to their MP total. As the game progresses, a mage can further increase their MP total by purchasing the Magic Point Trump.
The term mana refers to the physical embodiment of consumable MP in various states of matter. Mana can be found as a raw material in either gaseous, crystalline, or liquid forms. Such sources of mana are highly sought after by mages and merchants alike, since they allow magi to call upon extra reserves of Magic Points. The physical mana is consumed in the using of it. It is simply held in the hand of the mage during the casting of a spell.
Spellcasters refer to the use of Health Points in exchange for Magic Points as lifemana. If a character has depleted their reserve of mana, they can use the very life force in their body in its place. By expending a Fate point, a mage can exchange Health Points for Magic Points at the rate of 5 HP per 1 MP received. For example: a character can exchange 20 Health Points for 4 Magic Points, by spending a Fate Point.
A spell's essence describes its makeup, purpose, and means of operation. It's the very fabric of the magic that is enacted by the spell. Every spell falls into one of the following essences.
A spell with the compulsory essence forces intelligent creatures to act against their will. Compulsory spells use MP to change moods, allegiances, and behavior. This type of magic is often opposed by skills which keep a character collected: Guts, Mind Control, Sanity, or Virtue.
A spell with the dynamic essence alters or releases energy itself. Dynamic spells use MP to temporarily change energy into matter, invoke effects, and control power. Dynamic spells operate very specifically — even magic must obey the rules of the universe in which it operates. This type of magic is often opposed by Stamina or Guard. It's also very often aimed.
A spell with the mutative essence transforms matter. Mutative spells use MP to change materials into different types, tweak a thing's shape and size, or alter a thing's properties (e.g. buoyancy, flight, speed). This magic is often opposed by Resilience.
A spell with the illusory essence produces false sensory information. Illusory spells use MP to fabricate images, sounds, smells, tastes, and sensations in the minds of creatures or in the real world. This type of magic is often opposed by Lucidity.
A spell with the perceptive essence reveal information. Perceptive spells use MP to grant a creature enhanced or altered senses, or allow a creature to detect the normally undetectable. These spells are never harmful.
A spell with the stygian essence manipulates the border between life and death, pushing creatures past it or pulling them away from it. Stygian spells use MP to inflict pain, poison, disease, curses, blessings, and healing. This type of magic is opposed by Mettle or Vitality.
A spell with the transportive essence conveys objects or creatures through space. Transportive spells use MP to instantaneously relocate things across distances. These spells are not necessarily harmful, but creatures may not wish to be relocated, so this type of magic is opposed by Resilience.
A spell with the warding essence prevents or protects. Warding spells use MP to lessen effects or block them entirely. These spells are never harmful.
Immortal Legacy recognizes twelve distinct elements of nature; all magic is based on one of these. The wheel below depicts their relationships.
Starting from the top: Dark opposes Light, Ice opposes Fire, Air opposes Earth, Water opposes Electricity, Slime opposes Metal, and Verdance opposes Ruin. These relationships are important as some creatures which exhibit properties of these elements are vulnerable to the opposing one. For example, when battling an elemental, attacks using its opposing element deal Tainted Damage.
Elementals are sentient personifications of the arcane elements. Elementals exist as pure energy, and are normally invisible to the naked eye, but they can materialize under their own accord, or be summoned into physical form by a mage. If mana is the fuel for spells, elementals are the engines. Behind the scenes of magic, elementals are what actually make a spell happen. They are eternally bound to this role, and while some may despise the constraint, they are compelled to do it nonetheless.
There are five tiers of elementals: Least, Lesser, Greater, Major, Arch. Elementals of the lowest tier are small and quirky. They like to appear as roughly humanoid. Elementals of the highest tier are enormous, majestic, and often manifest as wingless, bearded, serpantine dragons.
- Sylphs. Nimble and graceful. All sylphs are airborne. They either bear gossamer wings or can float. Smaller sylphs can alight, but never on the ground.
- Infernals. Diabolical and avaricious. Many infernals are adorned with a set of membranous bat-like wings. Many also bear horns of varying sizes and shapes and some have a reptilian tail.
- Gnomes. Stubborn and tough. Gnomes are jovial and keep busy. They might appear as burrowing creatures or small fellows with pointed hats.
- Sprites. Energetic and speedy. They speak fast and think faster. Sprites are often yellow in appearance. Drawing close to one would make your hair stand on end. Arch-elemental sprites are thought to incite thunderstorms.
- Salamanders. Rash and passionate. The salamanders are hot to the touch and short-tempered. Most of them have amphibian fingers and tails, like a newt. They're generally red or orange.
- Nix. Aloof and callous. The nix are cold to the touch; nearly always blue or white. Freak snowstorms are assumed to be their doing.
- Supernals. Righteous and brave. Many supernals appear as physically strong, luminescent humanoids and adorned with a pair of majestic, feathery wings. Very often they have long, flowing hair.
- Gremlins. Clever and ornery. They're likely to either fix something metal that's broken, or take apart something that's whole just to see how it works. They like objects related to tinkering: optics, tools, and the like. They're scaly and seem to have a lot of pockets.
- Boggles. Mischievous and destructive. Messes, disorder, and chaos are their stock-in-trade: spoiled milk, missing objects, and sickened household pets. Boggles tend to have an insect appearance. Lesser boggles very closely resemble locusts. They hate music.
- Blobs. Distasteful and lazy. The blobs ooze their way around with repulsive comments and a corrosive touch. Many are amorphous and some translucent. The brighter the color, the more dangerous the blob.
- Dryads. Uplifting and nurturing. Dryads tend to be associated with lush forests and gardens. They love to sing and delight in new romance and the laughter of young children.
- Undines. Playful and enchanting. Undines inhabit bodies of water from fountains to the sea. More than one sailor has met death in an attempt to catch one. Some bear fish scales, few have clothes.
Casting is the process by which a spell has its effects invoked. A character must have one or more ranks in the Spellcasting Special Power to make this possible.
To cast a spell, a magic user must recite a specific vocal incantation and perform one or more physical gestures. Some spells require that the caster possess a physical object (which may or may not be consumed in the casting). If deprived of the use of either vocals or movement, a mage can still cast, but takes twice as long (double the AP of the spell). If incapable of both speaking and moving, a mage cannot cast. A mage capable of Focus Casting (see the Trumps chapter) doesn't need to recite the incantation nor gesture, but must have his or her focus object to ignore this requirement.
Spells may be cast at one of five levels of Intensity. Intensity 1 spells are mild compared to the awesome fury of Intensity 5 spells. The greater the Intensity at which a given spell is cast, the more MP will be consumed in the casting and the greater the effects. It costs 1 Magic Point per level of Intensity, thus an Intensity 1 spell costs 1 MP while an Intensity 5 spell costs 5 MP.
At character creation, the mage must choose an Attribute to be tied to their spellcasting talent; this is called the Casting Attribute. By default, a character uses Intellect, but it could be any of the 12 attributes listed on the character sheet at the player's option. The Casting Attribute not only influences the rolls to cast spells, it also determines the character's starting MP total.
Choosing a Casting Attribute has as much storytelling potential as it does game-play potential. Each Attribute grants an interesting and unique ability and describes the style with which a mage casts spells. The Attributes and their effects are as follows.
- Aggressive, forceful, and relies upon physicality and raw power. Able to cast using only gestural elements; requires no incantation for spells.
- Quick, fluid, and tough to pin down. If the caster successfully dodges an attack spell, he gets +4 on his next Attack Spell.
- Steadfast, sturdy, and skilled at manipulating the flow of life energy. Channeling Health into Mana has no Fate cost.
- Studious, scholarly, and well-versed in recognizing and responding to the arcane. When this character makes a successful Counterspell, his opponent takes the difference in opposed rolls as Damage.
- Intuitive, sensitive, and adept at unraveling negative magic. When this character makes a successful Dispel, she receives Mana equal to the original casting cost of the nullified spell.
- Devious, pragmatic, and excels at knowing the odds. Can identify other mages and their Casting Attributes on sight.
- Confident, personable, and at home addressing large groups. +2 bonus to Casting roll against multiple targets.
- Glib, loquacious, and especially effective one-on-one. +2 bonus to Casting roll against a single target.
- Charismatic, glamorous, and mesmeric. Able to cast using only incantations; requires no gestural component for spells.
- Selfless, protective, and skilled at mystically defending others. Can Counterspell spells targeted at allies, not just themselves.
- Iron-willed, unflappable, and projects an aura of unbreakable resolve. Nearby allies may use this mage's Saving rolls against harmful magic instead of their own.
- Disciplined, meditative, and trained to turn mystic energies inwards. May channel MP into HP at the cost of 1:5.
The Casting Roll is performed when a character casts a spell that has an offensive component — a spell that causes either damage or effects on one or more targets. The Casting Roll is also necessary if the target of a beneficial spell doesn't wish to receive the effects. Attack Spells will typically give you a bonus to this roll per level of Intensity.
|+||Casting Attribute||+||Elemental skill||+||Spell Harm bonus (if applicable)|
This roll is opposed by a save, which is a skill listed in the individual spell. Defending characters may add to this save either Magic Defense or their ranks in the spell cast on them, whichever is higher.
Attack Spells cause direct harm to one or more creatures. They call for a mage to target the spell, and the defending creatures to try to evade the attack. As far as the rolls go, a mage wields an Attack Spell much like a weapon.
|+||CUN||+||Magic Weapon skill|
If the mage's Attack Roll exceeds the defender's Dodge Roll, the spell hits the target and the mage can determine damage by making a Casting Roll. If the defender's Dodge Roll is the same or higher than the Attacker, no Casting Roll is necessary because the spell misses.
Support Spells cause an effect. These may be beneficial (give you or your allies bonuses), detrimental (give an opponent penalties), or utilitarian (cause an effect that entails no roll adjustments). Unlike Attack Spells, these do not require the mage to aim the spell like a weapon. The mage simply chooses a target and the target must resist the effects of the spell. This is similar to how opposed skills work (for instance, Seduce vs. Virtue).
To cast a Support Spell that causes detrimental effects (or even one that causes bonuses but the intended recipient doesn't want the effects), the mage must make a Casting Roll.
Sure, magic is fun to make, but what happens when you want to get rid of it? A mage who casts a spell that has a duration can end its effects voluntarily at any time. Defending characters, or those who want to remove a pre-existing spell, have some options at their disposal.
Counterspelling is the means by which a mage can thwart a spell from an enemy caster as it's being cast. It is very similar to a parry, except instead of defending a weapon's attack with another weapon, this is defending a spell with another spell. Just like a parry, performing a counterspell takes place outside your turn, and involves no AP.
Any mage who is targeted by a spell (either directly or in the area of effect) has a chance to counter it. Be careful — a character can either save against the spell or make a counterspell but not both! If a mage is targeted by a support spell (one with no Attack Roll), he can opt to counterspell instead of the save. If a character is subject to an attack spell (one with an Attack Roll using the Magic weapon skill), both the attacker and the defender make Casting Rolls. If the defender fails, he's caught wide-eyed on the Dodge Roll to avoid the spell.
To perform a counterspell, the mage chooses an opposing spell to cast. Spells can be canceled by using either the Nullify Magic spell, or a spell that is opposite to the one being cast. Each spell lists a Counter if it has such an opposite. The mage then makes a Casting Roll opposed by the Casting Roll made by the attacking mage. The spell by which the mage is targeted and the spell used to counter it must be at equal Intensities or the counterspell action fails.
|Aelfin the evil sorcerer targets Phineas with an Intensity 2 Slow spell.|
|The spells counteract one another. If he were to have cast Haste at Intensity 1, or failed the Casting Roll, he would be subject to the effects of Slow.|
The process of a mage erasing an existing spell is known as dispelling. Whereas counterspelling is used against another spell as it's cast, this action is performed when a spell has been active for a time.
To perform a dispel, the mage chooses an opposing spell to cast. Spells can be removed by using either the Nullify Magic spell, or a spell that is opposite to the one in place. Each spell lists a Counter if it has such an opposite. The mage then makes a Casting Roll opposed by the original Casting Roll made by the mage who cast the spell already in place. The spell in place and the spell used to dispel it must be at equal Intensities or the dispel action fails.
|Celeste realizes that one of her allies is suffering from the effects of an Intensity 3 Curse spell.|
|The spells counteract one another. If she were to have cast Bless at Intensity 2, or failed the Casting Roll, nothing would have happened.|
Note also that a spell can be dispelled at will by the mage who originally cast it.
Magic can be found in many forms. In addition to casting magic spells, characters can wield magic weapons, armor, or enchanted household objects.
There are several kinds of objects with innate magical power or that can act as a magic conduit. Their availability to characters is entirely up to the GM. Perhaps any mage with the correct knowledge can craft these arcane objects and sell them at auction, but perhaps that knowledge is lost to time and only the objects still hanging around are available. Maybe there is no magic in the world, and these devices simply don't exist, or they've been replaced by technology.
In the Immortal Legacy game, it is assumed by default that anyone can use magic items like an enchanted sword, a talking mirror, or a shield that shoots lightning, since the magic is inherent to that item. However, a creative GM may decide that magic items become inert in the hands of a non-mage (the flaming, enchanted sword becomes a normal sword), or that non-mages cannot use the item at all — it jumps out of one's hand, seems stuck in place, or burns the hand of the would-be wielder.
Below are descriptions for different categories of items infused with the power of magic spells.
These items are "use and lose". Once activated, the effects of the contained spell occur and the item becomes useless. Often times it disintegrates when used. When a mage creates a single-use magic item, he makes a Casting Roll and spends the necessary MP for the desired spell Intensity. When the item is later activated, the stored Casting Roll is used along with the number of ranks the mage has in the spell to determine any variable effects (such as area and duration of the spell).
- An inkantation is a temporary tattoo, scrawled by a mage on a creature's skin with a concoction of liquid mana and expensive ink. The runes written are specific to the spell. Typically, this is done on the back of the hand. These tattoos can contain beneficial spells with a target of self or creature. To activate the spell, a creature must run a single finger over the runes, which takes 1 AP. The tattoo can be activated at any time, but disappears upon release.
- A pabulum is a consumable item which can contain spells with a target of self or creature and cause effects but not damage. In liquid form, these are often marketed as potions or elixirs, but you could just as easily store a Poison spell in a cup of coffee. Pabula are also available in solid and edible form ranging from typical food items to pills. Sometimes pabula occur naturally as fruit on rare trees, or flowers with curative powers. When a creature consumes a pabulum with negative effects, it rolls its save as per usual. It takes 1 AP to consume a small pabulum such as a pill, but 3 AP to consume anything larger.
- Runestones are objects which can contain beneficial spells with a target of self or creature. They're typically smooth, glossy stones, marbles, or tiles, although they much less commonly appear as bones or sticks. They always have small runes etched into the surface. To activate the spell within a runestone, it must be crushed, snapped in half, or thrown to the ground and shattered. The creature doing this receives the effects of the contained spell for the appropriate duration. It takes 1 AP to activate a runestone.
- Spellbombs are objects that are activated by being thrown or launched. These can only contain spells with a target of area. Upon impact, the effects of the spell are released to the area surrounding the object. Projectiles are usually ball-shaped, but sometimes they're crafted from disposable ranged ammunition (e.g. rocks, arrows, crossbow bolts, cannonballs). They are rarely if ever crafted out of expensive weapons as the object disintegrates as the spell releases. If thrown, it takes 3 AP to attack with a Spellbomb. If the Spellbomb is crafted out of a piece of ammunition, use the normal AP cost of the firing weapon. See the Combat chapter for information on the use of thrown weaponry.
- Talismans are hand-sized scrolls, cards, or labels bearing specific artwork, runes, or writing. These can contain spells which target a creature and cause effects but not damage. When a talisman makes contact with its intended target, the target is automatically subject to the effects of the contained spell for the appropriate duration. To attack with a talisman, the character rolls an Attack Roll using ranks in the Hand-to-hand weapon skill. This attack takes 3 AP. The defending creature makes an Evasion Roll. The attack deals no damage. Once stuck with a talisman, it takes 2 AP and a Might check of 18 to pry it off (it also takes a Gymnastics check of 12 to reach one on your back). Talismans are almost always spells of a Compulsory, Warding, Dynamic, or Mutative essence, and they are rarely beneficial to the recipient.
These items can be used multiple times, but each activation of the object requires the user to supply the necessary MP. When a mage creates a user-powered magic item, he chooses the spell to store, makes a Casting Roll, and chooses the desired spell Intensity. When the item is later activated, the stored Casting Roll is used along with the number of ranks the mage has in the spell to determine any variable effects (such as area and duration of the spell).
- A runebrand is a permanent tattoo scrawled or burned into the flesh of a creature by a mage. It's a laborious process and very precise, so it calls for the recipient to make a DL 10 Vitality check to ignore the pain, or else flinch and risk ruining the pattern. The runes written are specific to the spell. These tattoos can contain beneficial spells with a target of self or creature. The tattoo can be inscribed anywhere on the creature's body, but to activate the spell, a creature must run a single finger over the runes, which takes 1 AP. The mage can also make the tattoo activate by vocal command (0 AP), but this is expensive and even more time-consuming. The tattoo can be activated at any time, and as often as the user has MP to supply it.
- A glyph-bearing object is one which has engraved into it a specific magic symbol. These are typically worn or carried in hand. Glyphs can contain beneficial spells with a target of self or creature. The object typically is related to use of the spell which is stored in it. For instance, a suit of armor which activates an Attack Ward, a sword which activates Elemental Weaponry, a monocle which activates See Magic. If a spell requires a certain item in the casting, the glyph must be inscribed on such an item (e.g. Farsight engraved on a mirror). A glyph can support several spells, but this greatly increases the cost, as does engraving a large object with several glyphs. Activating a glyph on an object takes 1 AP and is done mentally. A glyph can be activated at any time, and as often as the user has MP to supply it.
- A totem is an ornate object, often small enough to hold in one hand. People unfamiliar with spellcasting believe them to be powerful objects with vast supernatural power. Sometimes totems comprise the parts of bigger objects, for instance the hilt of a dagger, or a belt buckle. A character that can identify a totem for what it is (DL 15 Clairvoyance check) can cast the spell stored inside as if he could cast it himself. If the stored spell requires an Attack Roll, the user must use his own Cunning and ranks in the Magic weapon skill. A totem can be activated at any time, and as often as the user has MP to supply it. It takes as many AP to activate a totem as the stored spell normally requires. Some totems are built in a way that allow the user to choose the Intensity of the casting, up to the maximum of the stored spell. For instance, a totem containing Fireball at Intensity 3 could be cast at Intensity 1, 2, or 3 if the creator so chose. Totems can support several spells, but this greatly increases the cost. A coin, ring, staff, wand, or scepter makes an excellent totem.
Very rare and powerful indeed, these items require no power from the user and may simply be activated. When a mage creates a self-powered magic item, he chooses the spell to store, makes a Casting Roll, and chooses the desired spell Intensity. When the item is later activated, the stored Casting Roll is used along with the number of ranks the mage has in the spell to determine any variable effects (such as area and duration of the spell). Creating a self-powered item can cost a fantastic amount of MP.
Both glyphs and totems can be made to be self-powered.
A device that invokes magic which can be used basically at will with no cost to the user is absurdly powerful and extremely rare. The following qualities, one or more of which a self-powered item may possess, that may help to place boundaries on their use, or make them easier to find.
- Depleting self-powered items may only have a limited number of uses before the item cannot be used ever again. A brand-new depleting object has at least 3 uses.
- A self-powered item that's depleting and can also be recharged or refueled. Perhaps it takes manacells (essentially magic batteries). Maybe in needs to be soaked in liquid mana, blood, or booze. The fuel for the item may be as hard to find as the item itself.
- When activated, cooling self-powered items become too "hot" to use for a time. The user might have to wait a bit before another activation (e.g. a round, a minute, an hour, a day).