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7.8 Determining Magical Difficulty

The process of setting the base difficulty for a task is left essentially to the GM's discretion, but suggestions for difficulties are given at the end of this Chapter (see
section 7.22). Throughout this Chapter, we have assumed that you will be using the suggested difficulties.

There are certain ways to improve a character's chances of success, however. Instead of performing what is termed spot magic, where the effect is chosen and performed without preparation, the sorcerer could use an already prepared spell or ritual.

Using a spell gives a -4 Backlash bonus, and takes 1 Round to cast.
Using a ritual gives a -6 to -10 Backlash bonus, and takes from 10 Rounds (about half a minute), to 1 hour and possibly more than one person to perform.

More on spells and rituals can be found in section 7.9, and section 7.11. To give an example of assigning Difficulties for magical effects, let us consider Sarakiel creating a fireball using Alteration (Skill level 30). She describes the fireball as a Damaging spell (base 10) which will last for Combat duration (+5) and can be invoked at Combat range (+5). It only affects one target (+2) and has a +2 Damage modifier (+15). The total Difficulty is initially 37. Because this can be used to ignite flammable objects, the GM deems that an additional +5 should be applied, for a total of 42.

If she tries to create a fireball on the spot, she will be at +2 on the Backlash table (difference of 12 between difficulty and Skill level, which is two blocks of 5 against the caster). If she knows a spell which can carry out this effect, she will be at -2 on the Backlash table (base modifier of +2, -4 for a spell).

If the same task were to be carried out by a neophyte in Alteration (Skill 4), they would be at +7 (difference of 38 against the caster, which is 7 complete blocks of 5) with spot magic and +3 with a spell. A grand master in Alteration (Skill 49) would be at -1 (difference of 7 in the casters favour which is one block of 5) with spot magic, and -5 with a spell.

7.9 Spell Creation

The following steps describe how a spell is created:
1. Choose Effects:
The player will list the effects of the spell they want their character to create. If the effects are to be variable, such as a variable Damage modifier, use the maximum case. For instance, if the player wants a Damaging spell with a bonus that ranges from -4 to +4, the +4 case would be used for purposes of spell creation. It should be noted that the higher the maximum case is, the harder the spell will be to create.
2. Determine Difficulty of Effect:
The GM determines the Difficulty for this effect, as if it were to be cast as spot magic. Guidelines for spell Difficulty are provided by section 7.22.
3. Determine Restrictions:
The player decides on any Restrictions on the spell, and the GM lowers the difficulty accordingly. Guidelines for spell Restrictions are provided in section 7.23.
4. Determine Research Time:
The player chooses the period of time (at least a day) over which the spell creation attempt takes place. The longer the attempt time, the easier the attempt is. However, if the attempt fails, the time taken for that attempt is lost. Modifiers for spell creation according to time spent are as follows:

One day: No modifier
One week: -10 modifier
One month: -15 modifier
One season: -20 modifier
Half a year: -25 modifier
One year: -30 modifier

Each additional year: Cumulative -5 modifier.

5. Calculate Difficulty of Spell Creation:
The base difficulty for the creation of the spell is the spot difficulty (as determined in point 2) plus 20.
6. Attempt Spell Creation:
The character rolls a Passive Task Resolution on this Difficulty, using the School of Magic Skill that relates to the spell being created. If this is a success, the spell has been created and can be used to create the desired effect with a -4 Backlash modifier bonus for being a spell. If the spell creation attempt was a failure, the magician can try again, with no changes. However, the time taken for the attempt is lost, and the player must decide upon another time period for the next attempt.
It should also be noted that if the spell effect has previously been successfully realised using spot magic, a modifier of -5 to the Difficulty of creating a spell of that effect is applied. Any spot magic attempts that fail neither increase nor decrease the difficulty of creating a spell.

Players are advised that they are often better making multiple, short attempts, than going for one long attempt. If the roll for spell creation fails, it indicates that the magicians research was misguided, and nothing comes from the time spent in research. If it succeeds, they have developed the desired spell.

It is intended that spells should provide powerful tools for the magician. Any one spell should be described in terms of what it can do in it's most ambitious case. When it is actually used, the GM should determine the Difficulty for the actual case it is applied in, and then award the -4 bonus for using a spell if the effects being produced are equal to or less than the effects covered by the spell. Note that the individual aspects of the spell (range, area of effect etc.) must be equal or less than the base case, and not the overall Difficulty.

For example, let us consider a spell which is going to have the same maximum properties as the fireball effect in the previous example. It could be used to cast a spell which only had a Damage modifier of +0. The spell normally has a Difficulty of 42 (see section 7.8 for how this Difficulty was determined), but that Difficulty is for a Damage modifier of +2. A +2 Damage modifier provides a +15 Difficulty modifier, whereas a +0 Damage modifier provides a +10 Difficulty modifier, hence the same spell cast with Damage modifier +0 would have a Difficulty of 37.

If the caster wishes to push beyond the limit of the spell, there are penalties. The GM should consider the aspects of the spell that have been pushed beyond the limits, and the amount of Difficulty has been added in this way. For each complete block of 5, the -4 spell bonus drops by 1, until 0 is reached, after which the magician would do better to use spot magic.

As an example, if the caster wished to use the fireball spell to produce a fireball which had a +4 Damage modifier, they would be increasing this aspect of the Difficulty by 10 (+4 Damage bonus is +25 Difficulty, compared to +15 for +2). This is two complete blocks of 5, so the spell bonus is -2. If they wanted to cast a spell which did +8 Damage (Difficulty +40), the spell bonus would be +0, since this is 5 blocks of 5 above the normal Difficulty: the spell would be no use in creating this effect.

7.10 Spell Research

Starting characters will naturally have some years of spell research behind them. To simulate this, they are granted some `ready-made' spells according to how high their Skill is. This is measured in Research Points, where each point can be spent on one month of research. Because of other demands on people's time, and the fact that the wizard may be sent insane or put into a coma by the research, the conversion rates from one time period to another, shown in Table 45, are not linear.

Table 45: Spending Research Points
Points Research time Modifier
1 quarter One day None
1 half One week -10
1 One month -15
2 One season -20
3 Half a year -25
4 One year -30
8 Two years -35
12 Three years -40
each +4 + one more year -5

The times in the right hand column of Table 45 refer to the times mentioned in the fourth step of Spell Creation (section 7.9, above). In effect, characters `buy' time with their Research Points, which give modifiers to the Spell Creation Difficulties. Note that a minimum of 1 day (quarter of a Research Point) must be spent on each Spell Creation attempt, and that the points used in Spell Creation are lost regardless of whether the attempt succeeds or fails.

The number of Research Points a character has is equal to the number of points spent on that Skill (i.e. the percentage of time spent - see section 3.9). Note that characters who have multiple magic Skills will have Research Points in multiple Schools of Magic. Research Points have no value once the game begins: they must be spent in advance. They may be spent on the creation of magic items (see section 7.13 and section 7.14).

7.11 Ritual Creation

Rituals are similar to Spells, in that they provide an easier route to a magical effect, but differ in so much as they take longer to perform than Spells and are generally more intricate. In addition, because of the time taken to invoke a ritual, it is important that the caster's concentration is not broken. If a ritual is interrupted, it fails. There are three different classes of ritual: rites, minor rituals and major rituals:
Rites:
The shortest and simplest form of ritual. A rite takes 3d6 rounds to perform (somewhere between 10 seconds and 1 minute). It grants a -8 bonus to the Backlash roll, and generally requires only one person to perform. It requires at least -5 in Restrictions (see section 7.23).
Minor ritual:
This could not usually be performed in a combat situation, and takes from 1d20 +10 minutes to perform. Minor rituals confer a -12 bonus to the Backlash roll, and may require more than one person to perform. They require at least -10 in Restrictions (see section 7.23).
Major ritual:
These take around an hour (or more) to perform and confer a -16 bonus to the Backlash roll. Major rituals require considerable Restrictions - at least -20 (see section 7.23).
The rules for developing rituals are analogous to those for developing Spells. Instead of the regular +20 to Task Difficulty for Spell Creation there is a +30, +40 and +50 addition, according to which type of ritual is being developed, and a corresponding multiplier to the development time of x1, x2 and x3 (hence three years spent developing a major ritual bestows a -30 bonus, and six years bestows a -35 bonus).

Rituals present a more powerful way of carrying out magic, but it is expected that most players will not bother developing their own major rituals. However, there is nothing to stop them learning (or performing) rituals developed by other wizards.

When a ritual involving more than one person is carried out, the outcome of the ritual is determined as if the individuals were part of one group. The group's Skill and Phase should be combined using Table 15, and a group Mental code should be worked out from Table 43. The same Backlash will be suffered by all people, so if the Insane state is reached, everyone involved in the ritual will have to roll on the Insanity table.

As an alternative, the other people involved may merely focus into one person leading the ritual. In this case, only the person initiating the proceedings need suffer the Backlash effects. Their Mental code is still worked out from the combined Phase of the participants, in this case, but the Skills are not combined. GM's should decide which of the two cases applies for a certain ritual.

7.12 Theomancy

One separate School of Magic is theomancy: magic provided through deities. Priests, clerics and shaman do not have Skills in magic schools like sorcerers do. Instead, they have a standing within their religion (their rank), which determines the amound of their god's power to which they have access.

All gods have a worship rating, which is the number of units of Population that believe in them divided by the total Population of the world, expressed as a percentage (see section 2.8). This value, along with the rank is used to determine the theomancy Skill of the worshipper by referencing on Table 46, below.

Table 46: Theomancy Levels
God's % Worship Worshiper's Rank
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
Up to 1% 0 2 4 8 12 20 30
2-5% 1 4 7 12 16 24 34
6-10% 2 6 10 16 20 28 38
11-15% 3 8 13 20 24 32 42
16-20% 4 10 16 24 28 36 46
21-25% 5 12 19 28 32 40 50
26-30% 6 14 22 32 36 44 54
31-40% 7 16 25 36 40 48 58
41-50% 8 17 26 37 41 49 59
51-60% 9 18 27 38 42 50 60
61-70% 10 19 28 39 43 51 61
71-80% 11 20 29 40 44 52 62
81-90% 12 21 30 41 45 53 63
91-99% 13 22 31 42 46 54 64

Starting characters can determine their rank by how much of their Skill points (hence percentage time) has been spent in service of their deity, and the number of Fate Points spent.

Rank 0: Lay members and ordinary believer (at least 1% of time spent in service of god).
Rank 1: Acolytes and fanatical worshippers (5% of time).
Rank 2: Respected or renowned zealots (10% of time).
Rank 3: Highly active crusaders (20% of time).
Rank 4: Fanatic Priests and Paladins (30% of time).
Rank 5: Archpriests and zealous hierophants (40% time plus a minimum of 1 Fate Point).
Rank 6: Avatars and demigods (50% time plus a minimum of 2 Fate Points plus GM discretion).

It should be noted that when a god commands a large percentage of support, the Theomancy values get very large (as high as 64). For this reason, it is advised that the GM applies discretion whenever the character would end up with a theomancy Skill in excess of 40.

What can be done with theomancy is influenced by that god's Affinities. A god whose domain is Chance, Love and Rivers would be able to perform magic which influenced these matters in almost any way. At the GM's discretion, all (or most) gods in a particular world may have influence in a certain domain or set of domains (for example, Healing).

Lay members of a cult or religion cannot `cast' spells as such, but they may pray and have magic performed over a relatively large time base as a result. Priests may create Spells but will more often learn, or develop, Rituals. Starting characters in a cult or religion may already know Rites and Rituals, at the GM's discretion. If more than one member of a cult or religion work together (through prayer or Rites), Table 15 can be used to work out their effective theomancy Skill.

Because of the nature of gods, the followers of any particular deity would lose their theomancy ability if they betrayed their god's ideals, although it could probably be regained if a suitable penance was carried out. At the lower ranks, this may be a simple quest or perhaps just a large donation to the Church. At the higher ranks, the follower's dedication to the religion must be correspondingly higher. At rank 4 and 5, the follower would have to be so committed that if they do anything against their god, they could suffer excommunication or death. An avatar (which is generally assumed to be a manifestation of the god as a person) would be practically unable to act against the god's creed.

Gamesmasters are advised to watch for any abuse of the theomancy rules. Creating a god of Selfishness and becoming its avatar is an obvious abuse. This can be avoided tactfully during the History phase, by destroying all support for the god (it is too selfish to help its followers!), or simply disallowing such ideas when suggested.

7.13 Enchantment

The process of endowing objects with magical powers is known as enchantment. In essence, enchantment is much like creating a Spell, except it is in fact the process of Binding an effect (or more than one effect) to an object. This allows the effect to be invoked from the object, or empowers it with certain magical abilities. Binding involves making the object connect between Shadow and Twilight, and this has a related cost to the magician.

The advantages of enchantment are two-fold. Firstly, the object can, if endowed with enough of the creator's Phase, act independently of its creator. Additionally, Backlash from the effect is taken by the object. Therefore, the magician has no risk of going insane while using the object (though the effect may still fail).

When a magician attempts to create an enchanted object, it costs them a certain number of points of Phase (possibly causing a reduction in the character's Mental State code). This is permanently lost, and is only restored if the object is destroyed or has its magical powers removed. The reason for this is that they are increasing the Phase of another object, and this consequently decreases their Phase. Note that if the magician dies, this has no effect on magical objects that they might have created. They still function normally. In general, because of this cost to the magician, they will seldom create magical objects for other people.

The increased Phase of the object has a secondary effect: because the object now exists more prominently in Shadow, it gains a certain degree of cognition, intelligence and, ultimately, volition. Whereas sentient beings, such as people, possess the ability to be intelligent as a nature of their construction (that is, they have brains), inanimate objects lack this attribute. As a result they have no natural presence in Shadow.

However, if they are artificially linked to Shadow by having their Phase increased, this will cause them to form a certain kind of intellect in Shadow, which will be unlike any naturally occurring mind.

This mind will have a greater presence within Shadow the higher the object's Phase becomes, hence an item can ultimately gain the ability to think (and possibly act) for itself. However, any actions have still got to be within the powers of the item in question. For example, it is one thing to have a torch which is intelligent enough to decide when to light itself, but if it does not have some means of lighting itself, this will become irrelevant. If the torch has an ignite incantation Bound to it, it would then be able to light itself on demand.

The exact nature of an item's intelligence is a matter of some nebulosity, but it is assumed that it will gain a certain degree of identity from its creator. The creator of a magic item acts as a kind of parent to it. For this reason, the creator of a sentient magical item can determine the initial Demeanour traits of that item.

For each Demeanour trait pair, the creator has a choice of giving the object the same Demeanour trait as themselves, or neither trait. If they themselves have neither Trait from a pair, they may give the object either of the two possible Demeanours, or neither. For example, if a certain magician was Angry, Selfish and neither Bold nor Fearful, she could give her magical items Angry, Selfish, and either Bold or Fearful, but not Sedate or Altruistic, as these are directly opposed Demeanour traits. Despite enchanted objects having defined Demeanour traits, role-playing an object is not recommended.


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Last Updated: April 16th, 1999