What it isEdit
Magic is the force the Soul exerts on the material world. Of all beings that live in this galaxy, less than 30% have the capacity to wield it. Most beings are called Sterlings, whose souls are so carefully enclosed that no power escapes to be used. There are also a small number of Zombies, whose power is entirely sublimated into keeping their bodies functional after death.
For everyone else, however, the membrane around the Soul is permeable, or broken, or non-existent. And these are the magicians.
How it worksEdit
Magic workers have the same stamina bar normal people possesses, but theirs serve a second purpose - it is the fuel for casting.
Each spell is cast at a variable strength, depending on many factors, such as it's strength, area of effect, range, duration, and complexity. This strength is defined as a spell's Teir. For each Tier level, a spell uses one Simple Action and expends 1 stamina point. Among other things, this means that mages often start out very powerful, but suffer quite a bit in a prolonged fight, and failing to win may leave a magician too weak to flee or defend themselves. A caster may perform a Resilient Will maneuver while casting.
A spell is cast by applying soul pieces to a spell node. A magician must be at least a Trainee in their Soul skill tree to cast - for each level in their tree, a magician may apply 1 soul pieces to their Tier spell value. To cast a spell, the caster selects one or more soul pieces (at least one for each tier of the spell to be cast, and the first must match the spell's type) and adds them together, along with a Spell Proficiency that matches the spell type - this is the Spell Value. A number of d6 are then rolled against this value (2d6 for each tier of the Spell) - if that value is less than the Spell Value, the spell is cast successfully.
- Jane wants to light a fire. With her mind. Since it's a pretty low end effect, the GM tells her it's a Tier 1 Spell. Fire and heat are Immaterial sorts of spells, so she needs to use an Immaterial Soul Piece (of which she has 2, a 1 strength and a 6 strength), and her Immaterial Proficiency (2). She decides to save the 6 for an emergency, and uses the 1. 1 (piece strength) +2 (proficiency) means the Spell value is 3. To cast the spell, she will need to roll 2d6 for each tier (1, in this case, meaning she just rolls 2d6). Jane hopes for very good luck, since she has to roll a pair of 1s to be under her Spell Value and have the spell work.
How it works on othersEdit
Casting against a person can be harder than an object. If a spell would fundamentally change a person, a second check is made. The first thing to know is that everyone has some amount of stability to their body/mind/soul unity, which resists changes. Sterlings have a stability of 5 - everyone else has a stability based on 1/8th their Soul Piece count (Dead Inside with no pieces get a 2, just because there is so little there to anchor a spell on to). Secondly, the defender resists via a stat, which varies based on what is being altered. If it is to change a body, Hardiness is used, and Wisdom for mind stuff. This check is contested - the caster uses (d6 + (soul tree tier) + (spell's tier) + (piece proficiency)) vs. the defender's (d6+(stat)+(associated tree tier)+(spiritual stability)). Most people will have a save of something like d6+9 or 10. However, a smart caster will examine an opponent and pick a spell targeting a weaker statistic to better their odds of success. Under most circumstances, healing spells are not resisted (mainly, a player must specifically declare they are resisting healing spells). Spells have an easier time effecting the unaware. Targets that are unconscious or willing have their resistance lowered by 1/2. Targets that are aware that they are being cast at, in an immediate sort of sense, and know who is casting, have their stability value double.
- Jane is not having a good day. First, she couldn't light a fire, so she was cold all morning, and now someone is shooting at her. She spots her assailant, and decides to light her attacker on fire to make them drop their weapon. The GM rules that the spell is tier 1 again. She uses the 6 strength Immaterial piece she'd saved, and her Immaterial Proficiency 2, and rolls 2d6 as before. Chance smiles and she rolls a 7 - the spell goes off. Since being lit on fire is sort of a big deal, the GM rules that her target's personal resistance kicks in. Her target is a 8 piece Dead Inside, so their stability is 1. This is a body effect, so the gunner's Untrained Hardiness(3) is to be used. Jane and her attacker make a contested roll, Jane rolling her Soul Tree (Trained, so 1)+Spell tier(1)+Proficiency (2) + a d6, versus the gunner's stat (Hardiness 3)+ stability (1) + Stat Tree (Untrained, so 0) +d6 - since the numbers both add up to 4, whoever rolls better triumphs.
If a target critically succeeds this contest, the target immediately becomes aware of the spell, it's general nature, and the general location of the caster. If the caster critically fails, they can't cast anything for 1d6 rounds.
Variations in CastingEdit
Occasionally, a Caster will need to do something unusual. In most cases, this involves casting an extended spell. As the name implies these spells take longer than a few beats to cast or engage. No other spells may be cast while the extended casting occurs. Only one form of extension may be used at a time. There are a few reasons for making an extended cast.
The first is to reduce the number of SAs needed to cast a spell. When using this variation, a number of turns are set aside for this purpose. For each turn after the first, the SA spent Each Round is reduced by one. The SA cost cannot go below 1. The spell may not be rushed or further extended, and must be cast on the final turn. The stamina cost is not reduced, and is paid the first round (Resilient Will may also be used that round). This is often used to cast spells more complicated than a mage has SA for. It is also used to enhance a mage's use of Resilient Will, since it frees up more SAs to be put to use in that maneuver.
The second reason is complexity. Many spells require a lot of complex applications or manipulations - while restoring a point of Health is generally easy, re-attaching an arm properly is not, and re-growing one is nuts. Creation and some transmutations are also very complicated affairs. Most Creation spells nominally require 3 or more tiers of complexity to create a permanent effect, for example. However, by turning the spell into a Ritual (which is simply a very long spell), this aspect may be reduced, because the process is made more gradually, limiting the mental and etheric strain caused by the spell on the caster. Reducing the effective tier by one in respect to complexity extends the casting time by 1 hour (roughly 42 beats). Each subsequent reduction takes 6 times as long. Each hour, another Caster Check is required, along with 1 Stamina. The mage must stay within line of sight of whatever they are casting the spell on (or closer, if they have a spell limit to that effect). Sleep is, obviously, not an option, which means that Stamina penalties start to be applied if the mage doesn't plan well, or tries to reduce the complexity by more than 2 (concentrating for 36 hours straight is hard on anyone). The casting cost must be paid twice, once at the beginning, and once at the end. A mage may attempt to meditate during the casting in this instance. However, upon successfully meditating, the mage must make a concentration check against the successful check of the meditation, or become too unmindful and lose the spell.
The third reason is to make it easier on some one else. Many spell can have negative effects on their targets, and are immensely unsubtle. For example, most memory searches are immensely obvious and leave the target with a migraine. Taking an extra round or 6 lowers the damage threshold quite a bit, and keeps a willing participant from becoming unwilling one and throwing up their maximum defenses. Similar care can be taken to remove a foreign object from a structure, be it a bullet from a person, or exploded rebar shrapnel from a wall. This change does not affect casting cost or tier in any fashion. The effects may not extend the normal spell's casting time (1 round for instants) by more than 6 times. Each extra iteration reduces all challenge ratings relating to stress on the target(s) by 1. If the casting duration would last more than 15 minutes (~10 beats), an additional stamina point must be paid for each 15 minute period.
The fourth reason is more or less because the caster wants to - many spells are designed to last "until I say so," and doing so often has several benefits. The primary benefit, because the caster is minding the spell, is that its duration is considered to be one, making it a much lower tier spell than would normally be expected. Secondly, these spells are more easily tailored to a situation, for much the same reason (literal x-ray vision that can ignore it's source, for example). Magical constructs are often of this variety for this reason. Communication spells that need to be maintained (and possibly filtered for content) are also often of this type, with the caster remaining near one of the spells targets to maintain the spell. These spells must receive a new influx of 1 stamina point every 15 minutes (~10 beats) or so. These spells do not allow a caster to recover stamina in any way (except for Resilient Will during the initial casting). "Stealthy" spells are often of this variety - trading time for impact on a person's awareness - but this aspect needs to be built into the spell node in question, unlike the third option.
Extended spells do carry risks, however. They are subject to being disrupted, for example. When a caster is surprised, notably injured, or otherwise stops paying attention to the spell, they must make a Wisdom check vs a GM derived DC (a small surprise, like bumping into something unexpected, might require a 1 or a 2, while a major surprise, like the building across the way is blowing up, might require a 10 or 12. Injury is generally +5 DC per wound; certain skills may prove useful - Spellcraft being the obvious one, since it explicitly handles this sort of case, but using Meditation and Badassary to ignore minor turmoil or pain may reduce the DC as well, at the GM's discretion). In most cases, failure means the spell just fizzles. In the case of the third option, the stress reduction is limited to whatever the actual time spent was, and the effects were only partially successful (a memory extraction may become garbled or cut out suddenly, or details may be lost. Removed objects may be only partially removed, or their surroundings may break more than intended). The biggest issue comes from the second example - make a spellcraft (or wisdom) check. On a 15 or more, the changes made/things created so far remain perfectly intact (this may mean, however, the arm you were regrowing is only finished to the elbow. Not a bad result, but not a great one. Oh, and the patient is now bleeding out; do something, quickly). On a confirmed critical, the spell snaps in a way that completes itself. You lucky person. On an 2-11, the spell unravels entirely - you are in the same place as you started, mostly, minus a fair amount of stamina. On a critical failure, the spell snaps destructively. The die is now explosive. Keep rolling it until it does not rolling a 1. For each failure, something takes damage (appropriate to the spell-type). Trying to create material? Objects around you start to disintegrate (including things like your glitter, the floor you are standing on, etc.). Repairing an arm? Well, the injury is now necrotic, and your patient is about to die of blood poisoning. Or, your arm now looks like the patients - nonexistent. Or both - your arm is gone And the stump is necrotic. The worse the critical failure, the more hideous the effect.