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Hermetic Magic


See also : Alchemy
  : Charm
  : Divine
  : Elemental
  : Shamanism
  : Petty Magic
 
 
  : Hermetic Aspects Tables

see also:
[Magic in SLuRP]
[Alchemy] [Charm Magic] [Divine Magic] [Petty Magic] [Shamanism]
[Realms Magic] [Elemental Magic] [Grimoire] [The Mages' Guild]
[Aspect of Energy] [Aspect of Focus] [ Aspect of Matter] [Aspect of Time]

Introduction

Hermetic mages have learnt how to breach the barrier between the Realm of Magic and our own, and shape and focus this pure magic into useful forms. Although the power of a mage is awesome to behold, it has yet to reach the infinite power wielded by the Elder Races. The gods still jealously guard some of the remaining secrets of pure magic (most notably the Aspect of Life) and keep them inaccessable to any but the devoted faithfull.

These (minor) limitations are made up for in independance. A Hermetic Mage can, with diligence and study, cause virtually any effect he can imagine. A simple effect (move that rock) requires a simple spell, while a more complex one (create an illusion of a dozen damsels in distress if any half-elven warriors come through this door within the next half an hour) requires a significantly greater amount of thought before the spell can be constructed.

Of course, complexity aside, a mage has no obligation to take morality into consideration. The spell could be considered good, evil or indifferent, in any mythos or pantheon, and it makes no difference to the effectiveness (or difficulty) of the casting. The only price you will ever have to pay is hard work.

However, not everyone is willing to put in the hard work.

Specialist Schools

Hermetic magic is a complex but powerful magic. To understand the full scope of it's complexities requires a significant amount of study, and that takes time.

However, many of the people who seek the power that Hermetic magic represents are doing so for the blatant reason of power. They don't care about the complexities or the flexibilities, they want to cast fireballs.

It was only a matter of time before Hermetic magic was distilled into specialist schools, each one concentrating on one aspect of Hermetic magic, thus reducing the amount of arduous study required. Of these specialist schools, the first, largest, and most well-known is the school of Elementalism.

Of all the Hermetic mages in the world, a huge percentage (especially of adventuring mages) are Elementalists. Because of their size and influence, they get their own pages.

Elementalism, Elemental Components

Rituals and Talismans

Opening a link to the Realm of Magic, pulling power through, focusing it, manifesting it, it's all quite an arduous task. From start to finish, the casting of a Realms spell by a mage will take around an hour. It will involve a lengthy and intricate ritual, involving an array of paraphernalia that - although not essential to the actual mechanics of the spell - are essential for the mage to focus on the task in hand.

The task can be sped up based on various factors. If the mage is familiar with the spell, and has learnt it by heart, it will be quicker, easier and more reliable. Certain areas of the world are, in a sense, 'closer' to the Realm of Magic (places such as the Enclave Woods), and actually breaching the barrier is easier. Finally, and most effectively, the spell could be cast within a Ritual Circle.

Ritual Circles

A number of powerful mages can, with extremely lengthy rituals and the expenditure of a great deal of magical energy, set up permanent gateways to the Realm of Magic. In these places, casting a spell can take as little as half the time. These Ritual Circles are normally setup in places where a number of powerful mages congregate and settle down permanently. The mages who create the Circle will then invariably form a guild, and restrict access to the Circle to trusted members.

Keese has one such Ritual Circle in the deepest basement of the Mages' Guild. All members can book time in the Circle for free as part of their conditions of membership, and non-members can purchase access with hard cash.

You will notice however, that even if all the factors are in your favour, you will not be able to cast a realms spell in much less than half an hour, and when stuck in the middle of nowhere on an adventure it will normally take a lot longer.

So, does this make Realms Magic useless in practical terms? It would, but for the invention of Talismans.

Talismans

Talismans are any item (it has to be of good quality) that has been enchanted to store magic. Creating a Talisman is a skill that can be learnt (it's actually an Alchemists' skill), although lazy mages can simply buy them from the Mages' Guild.

At the time of casting, a mage can elect to cast the spell into the Talisman. The magic will be stored there until the mage elects to release it (normally through the use of a magic word). Note however that a spell must normally be stored in an incomplete form so that, when it is released, such details as a target can be specified. The more details left out, the more general the stored spell becomes, the the longer it takes to complete and release.

If only one or two simple conditions are left out of the stored spell, it can normally be released within thirty seconds. Even if fairly complex conditions must be filled in at the point of release, the spell can often be squeezed out in a matter of two or three minutes.

A word of warning - Many people have the skills to examine a Talisman and discover (a) what spell is contained within, and (b) how to release it. This make theft and black-market trading of Talismans a lucrative business (that the Mages' Guild is very keen to stop).

Casting - the Mechanics

To cast a spell, you must be able to construct it using components. Each component must be used at a level from one to five, and you must be of sufficient ability to cast the component at the required level.

In addition, your power-level in a particular Realm determines the total number of component levels from that Realm you can combine into a spell.

A number of Mages can combine their abilities. Their levels and spell points can be added together in whatever combination works best.

Finally, you must have the required number of spell points.

Spell Points

Spell points are bought like Life points. Spell points for Mages use the Intellect list-multiplier and have a base cost of one ep each. One component, cast at level one, costs one spell point to cast. There is no limit to the number of spell points you can buy.

Mages regenerate spell points after a full night's rest.
Note: Spell points used to cast spells into a Talisman do not regenerate until after the spell is released, and released by the caster (or one of the casters). If a Talisman is stolen and the spell released, those spell points are permanently lost, and must be re-bought with more eps.

Power Levels

Power levels go from level nought to level ten. A starting mage is level nought in all Realms, and must buy levels at a cost of level-squared in each Realm individually. A Mage could be (and often is) of very high level in one Realm, and very low in another (and will always be level zero in the Realm of Life).

Guild Hierachy Level

The Keese Mages' Guild - as with most Mages' Guilds - is very hierachical. There are ten levels to the Mages' Guild, from Novice to Grand Vizier of the Inner Circle. Although a mage's hierachy level tends to correspond to his power level, politics will often dictate otherwise.

Neither hierachy level nor power level have any bearing on what spell components a mage can use. Power level only determines how many, and at what level, while hierachy level can have an influence on your access to grimoires and the Ritual Circle.

Verbals

Learning a spell requires an expenditure in eps equivalent to its casting cost in spell points. However, unless it's a standard spell that is found in one of the grimoires, you must research it.

To research a spell, decide what components it uses and how, and ask the ref. He will say "yes", or "yes but..." (or sometimes "no"). Once the spell is ageed, you must write a ritual.

A ritual must take at least one side of A4 in writing, and it must be a detailed description of all the verbals and all the actions required to cast the spell. Although it need not take an hour in real time, in should take a good minute or two.

It is not likely you will be forced to perform this ritual at any time, as you will normally be assumed to have cast it into a Talisman before the adventure begins. However, if all your stored spells have been released, or you neglected to store one that you needed, you may have cause to cast it in the wilderness.

As part of the written description, the verbals for releasing the spell from a Talisman must be included. These verbals should take around thirty seconds to recite (the ref has final say on how long they should take), but it could be one phrase repeated many times.

These verbals should give a good idea of what the spell is doing, although it can be dressed up in flowery and metaphysical terminology. They must end with the word "SPELLCASTING", the name of the spell (as agreed with the ref), and the basic effects (target person/area, damage, duration, etc). Everything from the word SPELLCASTING onwards must be spoken loudly enough that everyone can hear it clearly.

For each spell you store before an adventure, ask the ref for a spell card. This is a piece of paper on which you write the name of the spell and, if you wish, its basic effects and targets. When you release the spell, the card is returned to the ref or torn in half in a dramatic manner (although I cannot condone littering the countryside with torn-up live roleplaying accessories).

Improvised Spells

It is possible to create a new spell in the course of an adventure - i.e. a spell you haven't learnt. While it is possible to cast an improvised spell into a Talisman, it will fade away within an hour or two (the spell points will be released).

To cast an improvised spell, the Mage must already know a spell (or spells) of roughly similar effect. The ref is consulted, and if he says "yes" you must then perform a ritual. Again, the ritual need not take an hour in real time, but it will take at least that in game time, and any disruptions beyond someone muttering in the background is likely to destroy the whole thing.

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