This trade represents the simplest and most basic of local and folk magick in the game. In the point of view of the full trade Wizard or Witch, the CunningMan or WiseWoman stands on the bottom rung of Power. There is likely to be a CunningMan or WiseWoman in almost every shire in the realm to serve the needs of the common folk. These is the ones to whom the common folk will come before any other folk of greater knowledge or Power, with whom they will feel most comfortable, although still fearful of them. One might have to travel a shire or two to find a Hedge-Wizard or Hearth-Witch, and that only adds to the average citizen’s anxiety about dealing with a greater Power, much less having to go to a great city or deep wilderness to find a true Wizard or Witch who wields the High Magick.
Cunning-men and Wise-women are part of the counter-culture of magick in the deep rural areas, reactionaries to the formal social structures backed by the Church. These are the folk that remember the stories of what the world was like when it was truly alive under the ancient Celtic tribes, and they practice a sort of folk medicine. More than full trade or even Hedge-Wizards or Hearth-Witches, the CunningMan or WiseWoman carries on the ancient traditions in folk magick, which plants, fungi, rocks, or animals carry magickal power to hurt or heal that can be unlocked for use by those with the knowledge.
They are closely tied to their knowledge of the Herbal craft, which is how they generally make living, though they sometimes forego the herbcraft in favor of Midwifery or Leechcraft. All are available for either Secondary trades or as an Allied trade. Sometimes the Herb lore is lost in one locality, the master dying before he can pass it on, and the medical skills are all that are left the CunningMan or WiseWoman. The need for healers is far greater and more regular than the need for nostrums and simples, amulets and talismans for love and luck, fertility and a good harvest, which is by and large the extent of the powers they are asked to exercise when called upon. In the small localities where they can be found, the folklore is passed on to the one who shows an interest, and the CunningMan or WiseWoman only hopes for a candidate who also has talent. It does not always happen that way. The prime concern for them is that the ancient lore and folkways not be lost. In many ways they are the heirs of the Witch’s Olde Ways, but much dwindled among the common folk since the coming of the Light.
As a rule of thumb, the minimum requirement for MGA score for this magickal trade is 11. It is rare that a pupil with at least this amount of “talent” can’t be found to teach.
Like the Hedge-Wizard or Hearth-Witch, the CunningMan or WiseWoman may follow either the tradition of Witchcraft or Wizardry. Which tradition, Wizard or Witch, the CunningMan or WiseWoman follows is entirely up to the player.
During his trade training, the CunningMan or WiseWoman uses what magickal talent he may have to cultivate a meditationally keyed, tiered eidetic memory for the sole purpose of retaining his vast store of magickal lore.
They are only allowed to begin play with only (MGA x 0.5) dweomer skills, however, instead of (MGA x 0.75) as for Hedge-Wizards and Hearth-Witches, or (MGA) as awarded to full trade Wizards and Witches.
Like the traditions and lore of the Druids, Bards, Filidhs, Witches, etc., the great store of knowledge of things magickal and the specific skills for their dweomers are all handed down orally, memorized by rote in typical Celtic rhyming triads using the ancient High Cant (Witchcraft) or Ancient Arcane (Wizardry).
The simple nature of the CunningMan or WiseWoman’s trade training is expressed in a few different ways. Between the descriptions of this and the Wizard and Witch trades, the bonuses that CunningMen or WiseWomen derive from their trade training do not accumulate as quickly as would a fully trained Wizard or Witch. The M-RES bonus for this trade accumulates at a rate of (1 point per 4 trade SL’s) instead of (1 per 2 trade SL’s) as it does for Hedge-Wizards and Hearth-Witches, or (trade SL) for full trade Wizards and Witches,
Their AV’s for sensing the Ambience and magick are equal, however, as is the vulnerability of their magick to iron and steel, in the case of Witchcraft (as applicable).
The main differences between CunningMen or WiseWomen and the full trade Wizards and Witches lie in the limits on their uses of magick, however.
This is defined by the tradition in which the character is schooled, whether it was mainstream Wizardry or Witchcraft or one of the several different folkways described under “The Folkways of Magick”, previously.
Those instructed in mainstream Wizardry or Witchcraft follow its forms, just as described for full trade Wizards or Witches. For the reader’s convenience, and also in order to avoid having to repeat the same information over as many times as there are trades of magickal practitioners, the reader is directed to the passages that appear under the heading “Common Elements of the Trades of Magick”, as follows and, especially within those passages, that found under the heading “Under the Mantle of Power”, for this is where most of the vital information concerning the trades’ magickal trade benefits and abilities are detailed.
Mainstream Cunning Men & Wise Women
A CunningMan or WiseWoman taught in the mainstream traditions of Wizardry or Witchcraft is skilled ONLY in the use of Low (ritual) Magick.
This in no way limits the player’s choices of the specific dweomer-skills he may choose from the rosters provided in Appendix C. for Wizards and Witches, it only restricts the form in which the CunningMan or WiseWoman may cast them.
When casting his magicks, a mainstream CunningMan or WiseWoman is required to have in hand a Talisman to use as a focus, in addition to the normal requirements of freedom of movement to gesture and the ability to speak clearly to chant or utter the incantations required.
This Talisman takes the form of either a wand equal in length to the distance from the CunningMan’s or WiseWoman’s fingertips to his elbow (1 cubit), a rod equal in length to half his height, or a staff equal in length to the his height, the same as employed by a Hearth-Witch or Hedge-Wizard. Which type of Talisman the CunningMan or WiseWoman carries is entirely up to the player and his character concept. At the player’s option the character may carry all three and vary which one he uses according to the whim of the moment. There is no advantage to using one over the others.
At the base of its construction, each Talisman is made of rowan, oak, ash, hazelwood, or some similar wood of magickal tradition. The Talisman is considered “all-purpose”, designed and constructed specifically for the CunningMan to whom it belongs, in accordance with his starsign, its associated element, the Quality of that sign (fixed, mutable, cardinal), and the planet(s) associated with them, their associated metals, gems, and the like, but grants no advantage whatsoever to casting any magicks the way any other Talisman normally would. The whole purpose of this Talisman is to facilitate the casting of the CunningMan’s magicks – all magicks equally.
Without his wand, rod, or staff in hand to aid him, the character suffers a penalty to his AV’s to cast any and all dweomers. This penalty is equal to [(trade SL required to reach Master LoA) – (current trade SL)], and endures as long as he continues to try to cast his magick until he has his Talisman (wand, rod, or staff) back in hand.
The character must be very careful to protect his focus due to the difficulties he suffers trying to work without it. Wands are difficult to conceal the nature of, while rods like walking sticks or canes and staves are fairly common. If the character should lose his focus or in the event that it be stolen, it takes a long time to make the replacement – as long as a year.
The GM can find the details on the process should it be needed spelled out in the passage on making Talismans under the heading “The Tools of Power”. The general nature of the Talisman in this case means it will have a fair number of aspects incorporated so it can be used for any and all occasions
Alternately, if the player does not like the idea of having to carry an obvious accessible focus to perform his magick (wand, rod, or staff), he may choose another form for his CunningMan’s or WiseWoman’s magick, instead. The player has a choice of several different and sometimes rather colorful folkways his CunningMan or WiseWoman may have been instructed in, instead. These range from the more sedate Cabalists and Knot-Weavers to the more traditional Alchemists, as well as Mediums and Magi, and the exotic Drug- Trance Wizards & Witches.
These conform to the descriptions presented for them under the Hedge-Wizard/Hearth-Witch trade, previously, except that as a CunningMan/WiseWoman, the character is restricted to Low (ritual) Magick only, and only (MGA x 0.5) in number of dweomer skills at the start of play.
This aspect is one the player should give some thought to, as it has a direct and heavy impact on the character and his needs and methods in regards to his craft during play. This dictates the method by which the character casts his magicks, bringing some interesting variations to the process and also to the career path of the CunningMan or WiseWoman.
Choosing one of the folkways described previously indicates that the master under whom the character studied magick was himself schooled only in that form of magick.
Depending on the form or folkway of magick chosen, the CunningMan or WiseWoman may have the ability to progress to the Common and High Magick and then to be free of previous encumbrances on his Power, as described for the Artisan, Master, and WorksMaster LoA’s for mainstream CunningMen above, the equal of any full trade Wizard or Witch.
For the reader’s convenience, and also in order to avoid having to repeat the same information over as many times as there are trades of magickal practitioners, the reader is directed to the passages that appear under the heading “Common Elements of the Trades of Magick”, as follows and, especially within those passages, that found under the heading “Under the Mantle of Power”, for this is where most of the vital information concerning the trades’ magickal benefits and abilities are detailed.