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7.14 Binding

To bind powers to an object, the wizard must first create a Spell with the desired effect. If they already have a Spell which has a similar powers, they may create a second version of the spell (intended solely for the purpose of binding) by Spell alteration. This is a relatively easy task and has a fixed Task Difficulty of 30, unless the GM rules otherwise. If no suitable Spell is available, the enchanter must create a Spell to provide the required effect (see
section 7.10).

There are two distinct stages to binding: giving the object Phase, so that it can perform magic successfully, and bestowing the actual powers onto the object. The amount of Phase an object has determines its Mental State code (see Table 43). When an object invokes an effect, the effect only fails if reduced to a Coma. The Stun and Insane results do not affect it. In effect, all the Mental States are combined into one Coma State, containing the sum of all three States. For example, an object with a Phase of 6 has a Coma State of SLL.

The amount of Phase transferred to an object need not be in whole points of Phase - anything down to one hundredth of a point of Phase can be transferred. However, the minimum Phase an object can have and still function is one hundredth of the total Difficulty of any effects it has. For example, if a gem stone had the fireball effect from section 7.8 bound to it, it would have to have at least 0.42 Phase, since the fireball effect has a Difficulty of 42.

The caster only loses a point of Phase when a whole point has been invested elsewhere, that is, an enchanter could put 99 hundredths of a point into an object and still be considered to be at their normal Phase value. Whenever they invest the final hundredth, their Phase is treated as one lower.

Transferring Phase is a risky procedure. In most respects, it is treated as if the magician were trying to cast magic, but using their Phase as if it were a School of Magic. The Task difficulty is 10 x Phase to be transferred, and if the casting succeeds (that is, if the donor is not reduced to being Stunned or worse), the transfer succeeds. If it fails, something untoward has happened, with the exact details depending on what Mental state the Phase donor was reduced to:

Stunned:
The transfer fails, and the donor temporarily loses the Phase they were attempting to transfer. The lost Phase is regained at a rate of 10% of the lost Phase every 1d6 minutes (hence all lost Phase will be regained in an hour).
Insane:
The donor suffers an Insanity and the Phase they were attempting to transfer is temporarily lost. It returns to them at the rate of 10% of Phase lost every 1d6 hours. Coma:
The donor lapses into an Insane Coma and all the Phase they were attempting to transfer is lost, bleeding away into the environment.
The difficulty of binding the actual effects is based on the difficulty of the effect being bound, plus a certain value known as the binding value. The binding value represents the degree to which the enchanter attempts to imprint their knowledge of the techniques of magic into the object. The higher this value is, the easier it is for the object to invoke its effects. The binding value adds directly to the difficulty of the effect being cast onto the object.

Whenever an object is invoking an effect, it uses the same process as a magician invoking the effect: it compares its Skill level to the Difficulty of the effect. The object's Skill level for the effect is determined, in part, by the binding value. Table 10 is used, with the binding value being used as if it were the Time allotted, and the Governing Value being determined from the object's Demeanour traits.

For each effect a magical item can invoke, there is a Skill value assigned to it. Since the Difficulty of the effect is known, this can be used to work out the Backlash modifier when that effect is invoked, with a -4 included because it is a Spell.

For example, a certain object has had 0.5 Phase bound to it (giving it a Mental State code of L), and is Arrogant, Inquisitive and Mystical. Its creator, who has Alteration 28 and a Mental State code of MML, wishes to bind the fireball effect from section 7.8 into it. This has a base of 42, and the magician chooses a binding value of 50. The total Difficulty is 92. This is 12 blocks of 5 against the magician, but the magician is using a Spell to invoke the effect, so the modifier is +8 on the Backlash table.

He decides to cast the binding spell using Reckless magic (section 7.4), and rolls a 9. Including the +8 gives 17 which is two Major disorientations. This sends the Magician Insane, but because Reckless magic was used, the binding succeeds.

The object has a Governing value for Alteration of +8 (+4 each for Arrogant, Inquisitive and Mystical, -4 for a Phase of under 2), and the binding value was 50. 1d20 is rolled and comes up 9, giving a total of 17. Cross-referencing 17 and 50 on Table 10 gives a Skill level of 34 for the fireball effect.

Since the effect has a base Difficulty of 42, this gives 1 complete block of 5 against the object, -4 for a Spell gives a base Backlash modifier of -3. Since the effect will fail if a Light disorientation or worse is rolled, a fireball can be created from the object if a 5 or less is rolled on 2d6. Of course, the wizard could always bind some more Phase into the object, to raise its Mental State code.

Rather than binding Spell effects in to an object, a sorcerer may wish to bind Spot magic. This works precisely the same as normal binding, except the effect can only be invoked once from the object. This allows the creation of one-shot magical items, or objects with one use powers. These objects wouldn't gain the -4 Backlash bonus for using Spells.

Phase invested in an object also provides that object a certain degree of self-awareness, as mentioned previously. The degree of intelligence and volition that an Enchanted object has is given by Table 47, below. It is assumed that an Enchanted object can communicate with its wielder via Shadow (mind to mind). Note that a sentient object is intelligent all the time, and not just when its powers are in use.

Table 47: Object Intelligence
Phase Intelligence level
Under 0.1 Negligible
0.1 to 0.49 Barely intelligent and non-volitional
0.5 to 0.99 Semi-intelligent and non-volitional
1.0 to 1.49 Sentient but non-volitional
1.5 to 1.99 Sentient and partly volitional
2.0+ Sentient and fully volitional

Semi-intelligent can be assumed to be of animal intelligence, and Intelligent can be assumed to be more or less in the human range of intelligence. Non-volitional implies it has no will of its own, and does what it is `told' to do. Partly volitional suggests it may try and persuade its owner against an action, but will ultimately comply. Fully volitional means it doesn't have to do anything it doesn't want to and may act independently, according to its personality traits.

The powers of an Enchanted object only apply all the time if the duration of effect was Permanent and, if this is the case, the effect does not need to be bound. However, it may be wise to bind the effect anyway because Dead Zones strip all residual magical effects, and hence any unbound Permanent effects will be removed by a Dead Zone. If, however, the effect is bound to the object (that is, the object is capable of casting the Permanent effect itself) it can recast the effect whenever it is necessary to do so. All bound effects apply when invoked by someone using the object, or by the object itself.

Gamesmasters should note that Phase ripples and Shadowquakes (see section 7.17) may cause a momentary disruption in local Phase, disrupting any Permanent effects. This should be pointed out to players who do not intend to bind their Permanent effects to objects.

In general, sentient beings and parts of sentient beings cannot be enchanted because sentient beings are self aware and hence too resistant to this form of alteration. However, at the GM's discretion, it may be possible to get around this in several ways. One way would be to Enchant something which was not any part of a sentient being but very close to the individual, such as a tattoo. Individual GM's must decide whether or not to allow this kind of Enchantment in their campaigns.

7.15 Glyphs

A Glyph is a rune or symbol involved in Enchantment. It is quite possible to Enchant an object without using Glyphs or Runes, but using them improves the object's ability to perform magical effects.

Most worlds will already have a language of Glyphs and Runes to use. If the GM rules no such language exists, then the enchanter will have to create a set of runes. However, the GM would be justified to say that since the magician has not been familiarised with this concept, they would not think of doing so.

Using a Glyph means that the enchanted object will have a certain degree of description of its powers and abilities inscribed on it. An enchanted object without Glyphs would be nearly impossible to learn to use without instructions from its creator or intervention by Divination or Theomancy.

Glyphs work because they provide a clearer definition to the object. In a way, the object draws on a certain degree of stability from the Glyphs, which enable it to cast magic more effectively. If Glyphs are used, the degree of description given lowers the Difficulty associated with a particular Binding value:

Terse description:
In this case the Glyph gives a very scant description of the object's powers. It might give the command word required to activate a power, or merely give the object a name, and a description of the object's powers. This reduces the Difficulty for a particular Binding value to three quarters the base Difficulty (e.g. a Binding value of 50 would only add +38 to the Difficulty of the Binding spell).
Standard description:
This gives enough information for someone who deciphered the runes to be able to invoke the powers of the object and know its name.This halves the Difficulty for a particular Binding value (e.g. a Binding value of 50 would only add +25 to the Difficulty of the Binding spell).
Verbose description:
This provides all the details of the object's powers, as well as its history: who created it, when and where. From runes of this detail, it is even possible to determine the basic details of the object's personality, and how intelligent it is. This reduces the Difficulty for a particular Binding value to a third of what it would normally be (e.g. a Binding value of 50 would only add +16 to the Difficulty of the Binding spell).
If in the example from the above section, the enchanter had used Glyphs, the fireball creating object would have been considerably more effective. Assuming a Verbose description was given in the runes, a Binding value of 150 could have been used - giving the object a base Skill of 54. This would make its Backlash modifier for fireballs -6, meaning the effect would succeed on an 8 or less on the Backlash table.

Note that if an object is intelligent enough to operate itself and has the desire to do so, it could teach someone how to operate it, regardless of any information written in glyphs.

7.16 Shadow Links

As noted earlier, there is a link between an object and its creator. This link allows the object to communicate with its master, via Shadow, as a form of empathy or telepathy (although it is suggested the range of this communication is restricted to a normal audio range, as if the object were talking, but only its master can hear it).

This shadow link can be transferred to someone other than its creator. Anyone who attempts to attain control of a magical item must overcome the previous owner's Phase to master it. This is resolved as a Phase versus Phase Active Task Resolution: the loser suffers a straight Backlash roll, the winner gains mastery of the item. If the object is content with its current master, it adds its Phase directly to its master's total.

If an object's master dies, the object will no longer have a master. Any attempt to become its master is resolved as a Phase versus Phase Active Task Resolution using the object's Phase versus the Phase of the person attempting mastery.

If a person is shadow linked to a magical item and that item is destroyed, they suffer a straight Backlash roll. If the object is still shadow linked to its creator when it is destroyed, the Phase invested in that object may return to them. If it is no longer shadow linked to its creator, its Phase is lost to the environment when it is destroyed.

Whether or not the creator's Phase is restored is decided by the Mental state of the creator after the Backlash roll for the object's death has been suffered. The same cases as given in section 7.14 should be applied. If the creator is not Stunned, Insane or in a Coma, the Phase they invested in that object returns to them almost instantly. If they are Stunned or Insane, they get the Phase back gradually, and if they are put into a Coma they never regain that Phase.

7.17 Local Phase

As was mentioned in section 1.13 and section 2.14, different areas have different local phases. To keep things simple, areas can be classed as dead zones, low phase, average phase, high phase, extreme phase and peak phase.
Dead zones:
No magic can be cast, and magic items will probably not function. Any attempt to cast magic will automatically fail (except on the borderlands to a dead zone, which is usually treated as an area of low phase). A dead zone can have its Phase increased, but this generally produces a new dead zone elsewhere. Whenever people enter a dead zone, they should make a Task Resolution between their Phase and their Endurance. If their Phase is higher, they will feel slightly unwell. If their Phase is higher by 10 or more, they may feel sick. A difference of 20 or more could mean they have fallen feverish, or worse.
Low phase:
In these areas, magic is harder to cast. Backlash is worse in such places and a penalty of +2 to +4 is applied to the Backlash table. Magic items will usually function normally, although they might be slightly less effective.
Average phase:
Here magic behaves in what might be called a normal fashion. In general, you would expect most of a world to be made up of areas of Average Phase.
High phase:
Here, magic is easier to perform. The casting of spells is granted a -2 bonus on the Backlash table.
Extreme phase:
These areas should be quite rare, and should never be very large. In such places, a Backlash bonus of -4 or more could be gained.
Peak phase:
At some point in areas of extreme phase will be the point of Peak Phase. This is the optimal point for casting magic, and a Backlash bonus of -6 or more (with GM discretion) is applied. In addition, it is possible (but difficult) to use the high Phase for other purposes. However, doing so effectively decreases the Phase of the area and results in the area of peak phase being moved to somewhere else (in much the same way as a dead zone `moves').
The `movement' of areas of high and low Phase can also result in shadow ripples. This phenomena can cause certain areas to contain a large number of different degrees of Phase, oscillating between limits. The Backlash bonus (or penalty) would depend entirely on where you stood within this area.

A similar, but rare, phenomena is a shadowquake. During such an event (usually caused by a dramatic alteration in Phase somewhere) the Phase of a particular point varies over time, starting at its normal value before rising and falling rapidly between two upper and lower limits, and finally settling at some value (which may not be the same as the original value). Anyone attempting to use magic within such an event could attempt to cast a spell only to find a modifier of +10 or -10 applied to it!

7.18 Hazard

In section 7.3, the concept of hazard was introduced. The hazard value indicates when Backlash dice should be rolled again: if any of the dice come up on the hazard value, that value is counted, and the die is rerolled. Whereas Local Phase indicates how magical an area is, hazard indicates how stable magic is in that area. Any particular area is, in general, either stable, settled or unstable.
Stable:
Here, the hazard value is only 1. Magic is less dangerous to cast in these areas, as it generally behaves in more or less predictable ways (at least by magical standards). Stable areas are uncommon and usually only created by strange, circumstances.
Settled:
The hazard in these areas is usually 2, 3 or 4. Most areas become settled after a certain amount of time, although unusual events, may unsettle them. In general, 3 can be considered an average hazard.
Unstable:
In these areas, magic is wild and unpredictable. Hazard is high - 5 or 6, and casting magic is generally dangerous.
Whilst Local Phase does not generally change much, the hazard of an area can change quite significantly in a short amount of time. The site of a magical duel is likely to be left quite unstable, whereas the area where an avatar has manifested might be left stable, or unstable, according to the nature of the god concerned.

An area experiencing Shadow ripples will almost certainly be unstable, to some degree. An area experiencing a Shadowquake may vary considerably in its degree of stability - with the general result being quite unbalanced. The GM is advised to roll 1d6 twice, and take the higher of the two rolls as the current hazard whenever magic is cast during a Shadowquake.

The GM should decide on the hazard of an area at any one time, on the basis of what form and degree of magic has been performed there recently, and any other factors they would like to consider. In addition, if the GM feels that a particular effect is likely to be unsettling in nature, they may assign a higher hazard value when that effect is invoked.

7.19 Teaching Magic

As well as creating their own Spells and Rituals, magicians can teach other people to use the products of their own research. A Minor or Major Ritual may be taught by a successful Teaching roll of 10 or 20 respectively, as these are relatively formal in construction, and easy to teach. A Rite or Spell tends to be a much more personalised affair. When two people use the same Spell (or Rite) they create similar versions of the same Spell, each suited to the personality of the individual.

The base Difficulty of teaching a Spell to another magician is 10, modified by differences in personality and ability. If either the teacher's or the student's appropriate magic Skill is less than the Difficulty of the Spell being taught, these differences are added to the Difficulty of teaching the Spell. In addition, each different Demeanour trait bestows a +1 penalty and each opposing Demeanour trait adds a +2 penalty. For example, if the teacher has the Demeanour trait Secretive, there would be no penalty if the Student was Secretive, a +1 penalty if the student was neither Secretive nor Candid, and a +2 penalty if the student was Candid.

It takes about a day to make an attempt to teach someone a Spell or Rite, and Gamesmasters are advised to make the Teaching roll in secrecy. When the student attempts to cast the Spell, having been taught it, there is an additional Backlash modifier applied until the student has become fully familiarised with the Spell. This is always a minimum of +2, and is increased by +1 for each 5 the Teaching roll failed by. A Minor Ritual takes several days to teach, and a Major Ritual can take up to a week to teach.

Every time the Spell is successfully cast, this Learning Penalty decreases by 1. It should be noted that if the Teaching roll is missed by more than 10, the student would be better off using improvised magic instead of the Spell, but this does not preclude the option of trying to learn the Spell by continually attempting to cast it.

It is possible to write down the method for a particular Spell (or Ritual), and hence to learn the Spell from the written version. In this case, a roll is made on the average of Teaching and the School of Magic in question, without including the modifiers for personality differences and the student's magical ability. The written version of the Spell has a coherence equal to the value rolled minus the calculated Difficulty of the effect.

A written version of a Spell can be used in Spell research (see section 7.10) to gain a bonus on creating the inscribed Spell. The coherence value is subtracted from the Task Difficulty of creating the Spell. A written Spell can never have a coherence in excess of the inscribers Skill in the School of Magic the Spell was created under, and may have negative coherence. In cases of negative coherence, the written version will actually hinder any magical research attempted with the knowledge it provides.

7.20 Sixth sense

Because people with a high Phase are more attuned to magic, Phase acts as a kind of magical Awareness. Whenever a magical effect occurs near someone, they can make a Phase roll to be aware of it. Typical difficulties should be 20 to 30 to be aware that something has happened, with higher results allowing them to learn more - perhaps even the nature of the effect.

Similarly, Phase rolls can be made to tell whether or not an object is Enchanted, or whether a certain area is a temple or not. The exact application of Phase in this context will depend on the world being used, and the decision of the Gamesmaster.

7.21 Magic in Combat

Ordinarily, the number of Actions a character has, and hence their Strike Rank, is dependent on Agility. However, if a character wishes to perform magic in combat, they also have a second number of Actions - their Magical Actions. These are worked out from Table 16, but using Phase rather than Agility.

In the Abstract system, casting magic is treated as the wizard's activity for that round, and they act using a Strike Rank based on the number of Actions indicated by their Phase. If they are attacking an opponent, the opponent has the option to attempt to block the effect by creating a counter-effect, which must have a Difficulty equal to or less than the offensive effect's Difficulty (because the defending magician has only a limited time to produce a defence, and this is taken to be proportional to the Difficulty of the effects).

In Duellist combat, the magician has two Action totals: physical and magical. Any physical actions count off both totals, and any attempts to cast magic cost 1 physical action regardless of effect, and 1 magical action for each 5 Difficulty of the effect being invoked.

Magicians may attempt to create effects faster, reducing the magical action cost by 1 (to a minimum of 1), at the cost of a +1 penalty to their Backlash roll. If there are magicians to oppose them, they can always attempt to protect themselves against the effect by creating counter-effects. Such counter-effects must cost the same number of magical actions or less.

Unless the results of an effect and counter-effect can be clearly resolved (a damaging spell versus a protection spell for instance), the Gamesmaster will have to act as final arbiter as to whether or not a counter-effect is successful. In general, the Difficulty of each spell should be used to resolve an Active Task Resolution between the two sides, with the GM awarding a bonus or penalty to the attacker or defender according to how appropriate and imaginative the attack and defence were.

For example, a certain wizard with necromancy attacks another wizard with naturalism in a graveyard. The necromancer casts a spell to cause the bones of the dead to rise up out of the ground and drag her opponent underground. Her spell has a Difficulty of 35, and the naturalist decides to cast a spell which causes the roots in the ground to snare the undead bones. His spell has a Difficulty of 30. Both survive the Backlash from their effects.

The GM decides that the counter-effect is unlikely to be effective, because of the scarcity of trees in the graveyard, and the abundance of bones, and assigns a -5 penalty to the defender. Dice are rolled, with the necromancer rolling a 9 and the naturalist rolling a 12. The totals are 44 against 32. The poor naturalist is being dragged into the ground. The GM would then probably assign a Strength to the bones and resolve the outcome on an Active Task Resolution between the naturalist and the bones.

When an effect is targeting a particular opponent, the attacker must make an Awareness Task to strike them (or to strike a particular target). The GM should assign an appropriate Difficulty for this Task, but it need not be too high if they are just targeting an individual (to hit a specific location they would need to succeed the Awareness roll by 20 or more). For most ranges within line of sight, a Difficulty of about 5 to 15 is reasonable.


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Last Updated: April 16th, 1999