Magic in Irongrave

Last time on Savage Saturday, I looked at Wild Cards and Extras. This time, powers. The Irongrave campaign permits three Arcane Backgrounds; Magic, Miracles and Weird Science (this last to create all the minor magic items that lie around in an old school fantasy game). Those who choose Miracles must abide by their religion’s tenets, or their powers will be degraded or even removed. Those who choose Magic are not limited in that way, but can injure themselves if the spell fails badly.

Magic is fuelled by power points. Most casters have 10, and nobody below Legendary has more than 30. Most spells cost 3 to cast for 18 seconds, and a further 1 per 6 seconds after that.

Spellcasters have various ranks: Novice, Seasoned, Veteran, Heroic and Legendary. The detectable difference between them is that there are some spells only a high-level spellcaster can use. For example, if a caster uses Fly, you know he must be at least Veteran.

These five ranks are mapped to Apprentice, Journeyman, Master, Grand Master and Archmage respectively for Arcane Background (Magic or Weird Science); the equivalents for Arcane Background (Miracles) are Acolyte, Deacon, Priest, Bishop – there is no specific title for a Legendary clergyman.

The most effective way for a spellcaster to demonstrate their rank is to learn Shape Change, because what you can turn into is limited by rank. In fact, the only reliable way to prove Archmage status is to shapeshift into a Great White Shark.

WHAT EVERYONE KNOWS

  • Spellcasters fuel their effects from their personal mana.
  • Arcane spellcasters can injure themselves if the casting fails, divine ones lose their powers if they stray from their vows.
  • There are some spells which only the more powerful spellcasters can use.
  • Most spellcasters can’t keep a typical spell going for more than a minute or so.
  • Some spellcasters can heal you so long as the injury is less than an hour old, but they can’t bring you back from the dead.
  • Use of the Puppet or Zombie powers is illegal; Puppet because it can compel you to commit acts against your will, and Zombie because nobody wants to see their granny raise from the grave as a mouldering corpse.

THE IMPLICATIONS

  • Most formal magical schools require students to learn Shape Change. The final examination for promotion to the next rank includes demonstrating which animal shapes you can assume.
  • Secure locations are set up to preclude access by the Burrow, Fly, Invisibility, Puppet, Shape Change or Teleport powers.

SITE SECURITY 101

  • To detect Puppet and Shape Change, security at an important fixed location includes one or more spellcasters, who scan those entering with Detect Arcana. The more worried you are about Conceal Arcana, the better these casters are.
  • As a defence against Invisibility, the approach to the location should include dog (to smell the intruder), floors covered with flour or water (to make his footsteps visible), squeaky floorboards (to make his footsteps audible), etc.
  • Defending against Burrow means there can be no areas of raw earth in sensitive locations. Stone or wood are preferred.
  • Thwarting the Flying intruder simply requires a site with no airborne access – common methods include sites deep within a building with no windows, or underground.
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