Foundations – Sorcery System

rutors_hand_ritual_by_karnadas-d5cczmk

Sorcery & magic is the backbone of most exciting role playing systems.  While it isn’t fitting for the default Star Wars universe, there are several very good re-skins of Edge of the Empire that could benefit from a true system of sorcery.  This system draws concepts from narrative games such as Mage: The Ascension and the Dresden Files version of FATE core to better complement Edge of the Empire.

My planned use for this system is in a Modern Urban Fantasy re-skin I have been contemplating.  It would work equally well in some fantasy settings, albeit not ones that follow a more structured magical system (ala D&D or Alpha Chronicles).  These settings should use an expanded system similar to the Force Powers, likely a tree detailing each school or discipline.

The Basics

This system uses elements already present in Edge of the Empire, Age of Rebellion, and Force and Destiny.  When the rules as written refers to Force Rating, replace with Magic Rating when using this system of sorcery.

Most practitioners choose to learn white or black magick as best represents their desires and viewpoint.  Those that choose a path are not restricted from using magick from the alternative path, but they will suffer involuntary Strain as they fight against their nature.  This Strain cannot be reduced by any means.  Those that do not choose a path will not suffer any additional Strain from casting white or black magic, but must always flip a Destiny Point to cast a spell.

White magick proponents are often caring and loving people who try their hardest to save lives and protect the innocent.  While white magick may be used to protect, it cannot be used to harm a person in any way.  Healing and protection magics are often the most common forms, but can include magics with no moral polarization.  In cases where they choose to use black magick, they must flip a Destiny Point and will suffer 3 Voluntary Strain.

Black magick users are often arrogant and selfish bastards who use magic to better their own ends.  Black magick is often used to harm other people and often is called curses or the evil eye.  These practitioners may also use magics with no moral polarization as they desire.  In cases where they choose to use white magick, they must flip a Destiny Point and will suffer 3 Voluntary Strain.

Street Sorcery

Street Sorcery is a more common and easier to learn form of sorcery.  It is often used in situations that require quick wits and sudden action.  Many snobbish wizards and ritualists look down upon practitioners who rely too much on street sorcery instead of the more refined High Magick.

Street sorcery is represented in the EotE / AoR / FaD Core Rules as the following Force Powers: Enhance, Influence, Move, and Sense.  Each power must be purchased as normal and can be upgraded as per the standard rules.

High Magick

High Magick is also known as ritual magick.  It is a time consuming, meticulous, and precise endeavor that requires expert planning and concentration.  It can be used to create a wide variety of effects and is easily the most powerful form of sorcery.

High Magick must be purchased like any Force Power and it will cost the practitioner 30 experience points.  It can be purchased at character creation, or it can be added at any time as long as the character has a Magic Rating (MR) of 1 or higher.  Unlike the Force Powers, this system is closer in execution to that of normal skill use.

The skill used in High Magick is called Rituals and is based on the Willpower Characteristic.

Step 1. Determine the Effect & Scope

The first step in casting a ritual is to determine what the ritual is intended to accomplish.  This information is reflected in the Scope and Effect of the ritual.  The Scope of the ritual is the particular range, duration, and the number of targets the ritual will affect.  The Effect is what the ritual will actually do to those within the scope of the magic.

Look at the various charts to determine what the Scope and Effect of the ritual should be to accomplish the desired results.  Each entry will include a set Difficulty and Complexity modifier for the final ritual.  These aspects will be used later during the actual ritual casting.  The Difficulty of the ritual is the highest of all the chosen aspects and will be the base difficulty when attempting skill rolls.

The Complexity of the ritual is how complicated and time consuming the ritual will be.  The Complexity is derived by adding all of the various costs together for the Scope and Effect, and multiplying this base by any multiple from the number of targets chosen.  To make your first rituals easier, for those unfamiliar with on-the-fly magic systems, a listing of common rituals will be listed at the end of this article.

Foundations – Sorcery System Scopes & Effects

Step 2. Perform the Ritual

Once the aspects of the spell have been determined, the ritual may be performed.  The ritual is rolled much like any other extended skill check, except that each skill check will voluntarily inflict Strain equal to the Difficulty of the ritual.  This Strain cannot be reduced with Soak or any talent/ability that does not directly refer to performing rituals.  Until the total number of successes generated equals the Complexity of the ritual the ritual is not complete.

The Magic Rating of the caster is important when making this skill roll.  If the Difficulty of the ritual exceeds that of the caster, then the Difficulty of the skill roll must be upgraded by one for every missing point of Magic Rating.  If the Magic Rating of the caster is greater than the Difficulty of the ritual, then the Difficulty is down-graded accordingly.

If the ritualist is being assisted during the ritual, they may share the Strain suffered in any division they desire.  Refer to the rules on assisted skill rolls in the Core Rule Book for more information on how to adjudicate assistance.  The Difficulty of the Ritual will be upgraded and downgraded for every participant as normal.

Advantage can be used to reduce the amount of Strain that would normally be suffered by that skill roll by one Strain per EotE - Black Advantage.  Advantage can also be used to grant a Boost Die to the next skill roll as the ritualist hits an easier portion of the ritual.  Multiple Advantage can also be used to improve the situation if someone is attempting to halt or interrupt the ritual.

Threat should be used to increase the amount of Strain suffered by the ritualist during casting.  Each EotE - Black Threat can inflict one additional Strain for that skill roll.  EotE - Black ThreatEotE - Black Threat may represent a single point of Wound inflicted upon the caster, as they either use their own blood to strengthen the ritual or suffer that injury as blow back from the magical energies being created and channeled.

The time required for each skill roll is based upon the Difficulty of the ritual.  Game Masters may wish to require resilience checks or impose EotE Setback Die Icon for long rituals as the practitioners become weary and exhausted.  Unless the ritual is halted in some manner, the ritualist may continue to perform the ritual as long as required.

Casting Times

  • Simple                     1 Action per skill roll.  May be attempted during combat.
  • EotE Difficulty Die Icon                              1 Minute per skill roll.
  • EotE Difficulty Die Icon EotE Difficulty Die Icon                          5 Minutes per skill roll.
  • EotE Difficulty Die Icon EotE Difficulty Die Icon EotE Difficulty Die Icon                     30 Minutes per skill roll.
  • EotE Difficulty Die Icon EotE Difficulty Die Icon EotE Difficulty Die Icon EotE Difficulty Die Icon                 1 Hour per skill roll.
  • EotE Difficulty Die Icon EotE Difficulty Die Icon EotE Difficulty Die Icon EotE Difficulty Die Icon EotE Difficulty Die Icon             3 Hours per skill roll.

Step 3. Apply the Effects

Once the ritual is accomplished, the effects are applied to the targets.  Targets are not able to resist a ritual being cast upon them.  Some effects may be reduced by the victim’s Soak or grant a resistance to individual instances once the effect is applied.  These are discussed in greater detail under the applied effect.

Sample Rituals

Blessing

Blessing is a white magick ritual that is intended to ward off any black magick or the evil eye from another Engages with the caster.  It has an Easy Difficulty, Complexity of 5, and will last until the end of the scene.  It will grant a single EotE Setback Die Icon to any attempts of dark magick to harm the recipient.

Death Curse

A Death Curse is a black magick ritual that intends to kill the victim.  It is a powerful and evil spell that utilizes the darkest of intentions.  This particular curse relies upon the victim being near the ritualist (within the Extreme Range of Personal Scale) when it is performed.

This curse mimics the vector of a deadly disease that strikes three times within single session inflicting a critical injury each time with a bonus of +10 to the chart.  The Difficulty for this ritual is Hard, and it has a complexity of 27.

Healing

This white magick ritual is a regular staple for adventurers.  It can be used to instantly heal 5 Wound Threshold of another person.  It is an Easy ritual, with a complexity of 5.

Final Notes

These rules are intended to provide the lowest common denominator for sorcery rules using the FFG SW system.  Every setting and genre should have their own tweaks to the basics that help set it apart from every other setting.  One of the best ways to reflect this is by limiting what can be done by magick and what it costs.  Just because everything is possible with magick dissuade you from using some reasonable limits to keep the game exciting and fresh.

Setting Re-skins

Designer Notes

The artwork used at the top of the article is “Rutors Hand Ritual” by Karnadas on Deviant art.  You can find his gallery here.

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This entry was posted in AoR - Age of Rebellion RPG, EotE - Edge of the Empire RPG, FaD - Force and Destiny RPG, Foundations, Shadowgates and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Foundations – Sorcery System

  1. Pingback: Shadowgates – Part 1: Skills | Consummate Gamer

  2. I dig the tables for determining the difficulty of the checks. The wording of the scope of effects reminds me of the Burning Wheel / Torchbearer series of games.

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