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7.22 Sample Magical Difficulties

Table 48 gives a set of possible values for use in determining the Difficulty of magical effects. They should not be treated as law, and GM's should use their own judgment when determining effect difficulty. To use the subtables in this section, refer to each in turn, and add on the appropriate modifier according to the effect, or aspect of the effects, appropriate to the magical effect being produced.

• General Effects:

Animal control:
Any effect involving the manipulation of animals and wildlife.
This effect covers any effect which provides a semblance of life to something which would otherwise be inanimate, such as animating a skeleton, or making a table move of its own volition. Animation provides the motivation for movement, but not the method. In order to make a rock move of its own volition, it would require some kind of motion or levitation effect to be able to move, as well as animation for it to control its movement. Animative effects physically alter an object to allow it to move, i.e. allowing a table to bend its legs, and ensuring that an animated skeleton does not simply fall apart.
Any effect which causes physical damage.
Effects which allow the caster to locate something or someone, or apply their normal senses to a greater degree.
Any effect which is used to predict future events (not necessarily precisely, but with a certain degree of accuracy).
Any effect which cures wounds, poisons or diseases.
Effects which generate light.
Any magical effect which deludes people's senses, whether visual, aural, tactile or olfactory.
Effects which seal an object which can be opened, such as a box or a door.
Any effect involving something being raised upwards without support.
It is important to distinguish this effect from animation and levitation. Motion effects are simply those effects which deal with objects moving as if they have been pushed. Such objects do not have control over their movements; this would require an animation effect as well. To make an object fly would require a combination of a motion and a levitation effect.
Object creation:
Any effect which produces an object of some kind, possibly without using material components.
Personality control:
Effects which attempt to manipulate the actions or psychology of an individual.
Effects that protect a certain area from harm.
Any effect which brings an entity from another plane into the caster's plane.
Effects involving communicating without speaking, or reading people's minds.
Any effect involving movement from one location to another without physically moving between.
Effects which turn one object into something different.
A form of alarm effect which triggers another effect when anything of a particular clearly defined type, class or group enters a particular area, or passes through a particular opening. For example, a certain town might have a ward placed over it, which triggers when men enter the town. This could be linked to a damaging effect so that any men attempting to enter the town would take damage, or to a motion effect so that any men attempting to enter would be pushed away.
Weather control:
Any effect which alters the prevailing weather conditions. The Gamesmaster should assign an appropriate Difficulty according to the nature and magnitude of the effect.
This list is not exhaustive! Players and GM's should invent their own possibilities, and then use the suggested base Difficulties to determine the Difficulty of the desired effect.

• Duration of Effect

This indicates how long the effect will remain in force. Most of the categories are self explanatory. Combat duration is taken to be somewhere in the region of minutes, but less than an hour. Permanent effects last indefinitely, but passage through a Dead Zone will strip any residual magical effects, thus destroying any effects with permanent duration.

• Range of Effect

This is the distance between the caster and the target object or objects (including people). If the effect applies to everyone or everything within a certain area, starting at the caster, then the effective Range is contact. This situation is dealt with under Area of Effect: Sphere of Influence, below.

Effect occurs at the caster, or affects whatever the caster is directly in contact with.
Effect occurs no more than several metres from the caster's position.
Line of sight:
Target or target area is clearly visible to the caster. This Range bracket can be taken to reach its limit at about maximum bow Range (a few hundred metres at most).
Maximum range is no more than the size of a large city, perhaps several kilometres.
Local Area:
Incorporates Ranges up to several tens of leagues away.
Effect can occur at up to a country length (several hundred leagues) away.
Effect can occur at up to a continent's length (several thousand leagues) away.
The effect can occur anywhere in the world.
• Area of Effect: Individual Object

If the target of the spell is an individual object, and the effect should vary in Difficulty according to that objects size, these modifiers should be used. As an example, a damaging, healing or telepathy effect is going to be unaffected by the target's size, a teleportation, motion or transmogrification effect will be. As ever, the GM is the final arbiter as to what is and what isn't affected by target size.

Object would fit into the caster's hands.
Object could reasonably be carried by the caster, without too much hindrance (anything between fist-sized and man-sized can be assumed to be carryable in size).
Target object is about the size of a human.
Cart sized:
Target is larger than human proportions but not so large as to be considered house sized.
House sized:
Anything of sufficient size as to be comparable to a house in size.
Ship sized:
Almost anything larger than a house, but smaller than a city can be considered to be ship sized.
• Area of Effect: Sphere of Influence

If the effect covers a certain area, or a certain number of target people or objects within a certain area, these modifiers should be applied. Be careful to separate the Sphere of Influence from the Range of Effect. The former is the area affected by the effect, the latter is the distance to the area affected by the effect.

Self only:
Effect only affects the caster, or the area in close proximity to the caster.
Affects one individual person or object only, or an area about the size covered by one person.
Small group:
Effect applies to a group of people (no more than about ten, who should be clustered together), or the area taken up by a small group of people.
Line of sight:
Can be applied to anyone or anything within normal combat range (up to a few hundred metres), or an area about the size of an average combat area.
Can be applied to everyone in a town (up to a few hundred people), or an area about the size of a town.
Up to a few thousand people can be affected, or an area about the size of a typical city.
Local Area:
Affects everyone within the region, or the entire local area (up to a few tens of leagues away).
Effect can be applied to everyone within the country, or an area covering a few hundred leagues.
Can be applied to everyone within an entire continent, or an area of several thousand leagues.
Effect covers the entire world.
Note that if the effect is malevolent, it must also overcome the combined Phase of the targets (see
section 7.24).

• Detection effects

This type of effect involves any spell which enhances the senses or detection abilities of the caster, such as a spell to detect how far to the nearest source of water, or whether there are any creatures who are naturally Violent in the area, or a spell which enhanced the casters range of vision. Detection effects are geared to either a particular sense, or to a particular target type (people, water, precious metals and so forth). The base Difficulty of +3 is applied in addition to all other aspects.

This effect reveals how far away the nearest member of the target type is. If combined with number, it will reveal how far away each member of the target type within Range is.
Reveals the size of all members of the target type within the effect's Range
Discloses how many instances of the target type exist within the effect's Range.
Reveals the direction to the nearest member of the target type within Range. If combined with number, it will reveal the direction to each member of the target type within Range.
Determines if any of the entities within the effect's Range possess a particular, specific intent, or Demeanour trait. When combined with number, it will reveal how many of them possess that intent or Demeanour trait. Examples include detecting truth, hostile intent or sexual attraction.
Enhanced senses:
This covers use of detection effects to enhance an individual's senses. The actual Difficulty added is related to the degree to which the sense's capabilities have been enhanced. Take the modifier for the Range (take this value from the Range of Effect subtable in Table 48) at which the sense normally operates, and the Range at which the enhanced sense will be able to operate after the effect is cast and determine the difference. Then, multiply this value by two and add the enhanced senses modifier. This determines the Difficulty. For example, a normal human sight Range is Line of Sight (+10). If someone wanted to increase this to Local Area (+20) the difficulty would be +30 (20 -10 multiplied by 2, plus the +10 for enhanced senses) plus the duration of effect.
Table 48: Sample Magical Difficulties
General Effect
Effect Diff Effect Diff
Animal control +10 Motion +5
Animation +10 Object creation +30
Damaging +10 Personality control +20
Detection +3 Protection +10
Divination +30 Summoning +20
Healing +5 Telepathy +5
Illumination +3 Teleportation +30
Illusion +5 Transmogrification +10
Lock +10 Ward +20
Levitation +10 Weather control +20

Duration of Effect
Duration Diff Duration Diff
Instantaneous +0 Half a Day +12
Combat +5 Whole Day +15
Hour +7 Week +20
Quarter of a Day +10 Permanent +30

Range of effect
Range Diff Range Diff
Contact +0 Local Area +20
Melee +5 Country +30
Line of sight +10 Continent +40
City +15 World +50

Area of Effect: Individual objects
Object Size Diff Object Size Diff
Fist-sized +0 Cart sized +10
Carryable +2 House sized +20
Man-sized +5 Ship sized +30

Area of Effect: Sphere of influence
Sphere Diff Sphere Diff
Self only +0 City +15
Individual +2 Local Area +20
Small group +5 Country +30
Line of sight +10 Continent +40
Town +12 World +50

Damaging effectsa
Damage Diff Damage Diff
-6 +0 +0 +10
-5 +2 +1 +12
-4 +4 +2 +15
-3 +5 +3 +20
-2 +6 +4 +25
-1 +8 Each extra +1 +5

Detection effects
Detecting Diff Detecting Diff
Distance to... +2 Direction to... +2
Size of... +2 Intent of... +10
Number of... +2 Enhanced senses +10b

Healing Effects
Healing Diff Healing Diff
Each Wound +5 All Wounds +20
Each Rank +5 All Ranks +20
Cure Poison +10c Cure Disease +20

Illusionary effects
Aspect Diff Aspect Diff
Invisibility +5 Silence +5
Bond to object +5 Animative +5
One sense only +0 Each extra sense +5

Motion effects
Speed Diff Speed Diff
Walking pace +0 Speed of spear +40
Running pace +10 Speed of arrow +60
Riding pace +20 Lightning speed +80
Galloping pace +30 Controlled motiond +5

Protection effectse
Aspect Diff Aspect Diff
Each Index Dice +5 Modifier +1 +10
Modifier -2 -15 Modifier +2 +20
Modifier -1 -5 Modifier +3 +30

a For effects which cause multiple wounds, add the Difficulty for the Damage modifier of each wound being caused by the effect together, then include +2 Difficulty for each wound being caused e.g. an effect which caused two wounds at -4 would add +12 to the Difficulty.
b Plus twice the difference in Range modifiers (the Range before and after enhancement).
c Plus the Potency of the Poison being cured.
d Motion is in a fixed direction, with a fixed speed unless this is specified. The caster determines who controls the direction and speed of motion.
e Total of modifiers (positive or negative) cannot exceed number of dice, e.g. 1-1, 1 and 1+1 are legal, 1-2, 1+2 and 1+3 are not legal protection values.

• Healing effects

These effects reduce the degree of damage someone has suffered. They can affect individual Wounds, or all Wounds suffered, and lower these by one Rank only (for example, a Serious wound becomes Light), or by several Ranks, or by all Ranks (the wound is completely healed). Also included are any effects which purge Poisons or diseases from the body. Effects which overcome Poisons add the Potency of the Poison to the Difficulty of casting.

• Illusionary effects

Generally these effects involve making images or sounds appear from nowhere, or anything else which deludes the senses.

Makes the subject of the effect invisible.
Makes the subject emit no noise.
Bond to object:
This allows the illusion to be fixed to another object, for example, if an illusionary face is to be worn as a disguise, it must be bonded to the target.
Allows the illusion to progress through some sequence of forms. For example, an illusion of a tree need not be animative, but a convincing illusion of a horse, or a waterfall, would need to be animative.
One sense only:
The default for an illusion is that is affects only one sense: visual, aural, tactile or olfactory.
Each extra sense:
If the illusion is to affect more than one sense (it can be seen and heard for instance), this is the cost for each additional sense.
• Motion effects

The default speed for a motion effect is about walking pace, but this can be raised as fast as the speed of lightning. It should be stressed that motion effects are only paid for if the subject cannot normally move at those speeds. A magical arrow does not need to have a speed of arrow motion effect cast on it, since it normally moves at this speed. Conversely, humans do not normally fly at all. They would pay full motion costs for any effect which allowed them to do so.

If the desire is to increase the speed of something, the Difficulty is worked as the difference in the Difficulties for the subject's normal speed and its magically enhanced speed. For example, a horse can normally move at up to a galloping pace. To allow a horse to travel overland at the speed of an arrow would be +30. Similarly, to get an arrow to travel at lightning speed would only be +20.

Note that increasing the speed of some objects may require some degree of additional protective factors. For example, a horse moving at lightning speed will require some method to allow the horse to breath, a method to allow the horse to steer fast enough, and some form of protection from the increased air velocity. The rider will similarly require such protection.

Controlled motion:
This aspect of the effect must be specified for there to be any aspect of control over the motion. The caster can choose who or what controls the speed and direction of travel if it is controlled motion, otherwise the speed and direction are constant.
• Protection effects

Any effect which offers physical protection will have an Armour Index (see section 5.11). The caster simply determines what Index they would like, and pays the appropriate costs. The positive or negative modifier cannot exceed the number of dice in the Index.

• Additional factors

It cannot be stressed enough that these Difficulties are just guidelines. If, after working out the Difficulty for an effect, the GM decides it's too Difficult, they are at liberty to make it easier. Conversely, if a magician comes up with an effect which is devastating, but comparatively easy to cast, the Difficulty should be increased accordingly.

A loose magic system such as this is, by its very nature, open to many forms of abuse. In particular, it is possible for a magician to create an apparently simple effect with awesome results, e.g. a spell which creates a handful of air used to create a coronary embolism. That is not to say that creative use of magic is wrong, just that there is a thin line between creativity and abuse. GMs should watch for any abuse and are reminded that they have ultimate control over the laws of Shadow, and they can disallow anything they feel is inappropriate or unfair.

One area where the GM is advised to be careful is with permanent effects. Whilst there is nothing wrong, in theory, with effects that remain in force indefinitely, they can cause some awkward problems for the Gamesmaster. However, disruptions in Shadow can disrupt permanent effects. Whenever someone or something with a permanent effect cast on it passes into a Dead Zone, that effect ceases to function (this does not apply to effects Bound into an object, but these objects will not be able to use their powers in a Dead Zone, and any bound permanent effect will have to be recast after the object leaves the Dead Zone).

7.23 Restrictions

Players are encouraged to come up with restrictions for their effects so that the Difficulty is lowered. These represent mental crutches that a magician uses to make casting easier, and hence the more arrogant wizards will avoid using them except where neccessary. Restrictions can be placed on Spells, Rites and Rituals, but never on Spot Effects.

Any Spell with restrictions on is much slower to cast than the same effect without limitations. How this affects play is left to the Gamesmaster, but it is suggested that restricted spells cannot be used as a counter-effect (see section 7.21). In addition, the -5 bonus for researching a Spell which has already been manifested as a Spot Magic effect (section 7.9) does not apply to Spells with restrictions.

For example, a magician wants an effect to allow them to see over a long distance. They create a Spell called Eyes of the Hawk. This affects the caster only (+0) for an hour (+7) giving them the detection effect (+3) of enhanced senses (+10), allowing him to see clearly across a City, instead of just Line of sight (+15-10 = +5 x 2 = +10). The total Difficulty is 30. However, the caster also states that whilst under the influence of the Spell, he can only see in black and white. The GM decides this is worth a -3, so the final Difficulty is 27. Some suggested restrictions are given in Table 49, below.

Table 49: Sample Magical Restrictions
Example of Restriction Mod
Words must be spoken for Spell to be cast -2
Hand gesturing required for Spell to be cast -3
Elaborate motion (dance for example) needed -5
Common material components are required for Spell to be cast -2
Rare material components are required for Spell to be cast -5
Rare material components are required, and these are destroyed when the Spell is cast -10
Symbols must be traced -3
Symbols must be etched into a surface -5
Cannot be cast during daylight/nightime -3
Can only be cast in certain relatively common weather conditions e.g. rain, sunshine -2
Can only be cast in certain relatively uncommon weather conditions e.g. storms, snow -5
Can only be cast at dawn/dusk -5
Can only be cast at certain specific times of the month e.g. full moon, high tide -10
Can only be cast at certain significant times of the year e.g. eclipses, solstices -20
Spell requires several minutes of preparation -5
Spell requires several hours of preperation -10
Spell requires several days of preperation -15
Ritual requires 3 to 5 people to cast* -5
Ritual requires 10 to 20 people to cast* -10
Ritual only possible in certain type of place* -10
Ritual only possible in a specific place* -20

*Refers to Rites and Rituals only

Restrictions can never lower the effect Difficulty below half its base Difficulty, and cannot be used with Spot Magic, only with Spells, Rites and Rituals. Rites and Rituals have a minimum restriction associated with them:

Rite: At least -5 in restrictions.
Minor Ritual: At least -10 in restrictions.
Major Ritual: At least -20 in restrictions.

These values represent what is required in order to allow the Ritual to be performed. Any additional restrictions above these minimum values subtracts from the Difficulty normally. For example, a certain Minor Ritual has a Difficulty of 38. It has restrictions such that it can only be cast during a storm (-5), on the edge of a cliff (-10) and it requires both spoken words (-2) and elaborate gesturing (-5). The restrictions total to -22. However, the first -10 is part of the minimum restriction, so the Difficulty of the Ritual is 26 (38-12).Except where the restrictions obviously overlap, these modifications are cumulative, and players are encouraged to come up with more imaginative restrictions that those listed in Table 49.

7.24 Malevolent Effects

If an effect is Passive, that is, it does not directly alter or afflict sentient beings, then target Phase has no direct effect on the Difficulty. If the effect is Active, such as anything which damages or influences sentient beings against their wishes, their combined Phase (use Table 15) should be added to the Difficulty of casting the effect. This does not affect the Difficulty of the Spell from the point of view of Spell creation, only the Difficulty of actual casting.

The GM must decide in each case whether the targets are willing or not. For example, let us consider a Detection Spell being cast to locate all humans within a few leagues. Two of the humans in the area are injured and want to be found - their Phase does not act against the Spell, but there is a group of five brigands, all with a Phase of 10, in the area. They have no desire to be discovered, and hence their combined Phase of 21 (using Table 15) acts against the caster, and adds directly to the Difficulty of casting.

7.25 Magical Fatigue (Optional)

For those people applying Avatar to a specific world, the Backlash and Insanity rules may be inappropriate. If this is the case, the rules can be used as normal but treating the disorientations as fatigue (Lightly fatigued, Major fatigue etc.). Treat the three Mental states as tired, exhausted and unconscious. At exhausted, the character is treated as if Wounded - all Skills and Attributes are halved. All other rules remain essentially the same. It is recommended, however, that the Backlash and Insanity rules are used if it is at all possible.

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Last Updated: April 16th, 1999