Low Magick, Common Magick, & High Magick
As stated previously, magicks in RoM are considered to be “formulaic”. For all intents and purposes, almost all magick in the game world is performed by means of a combination of various sorts of gestures and/or poses and chants/incantations that have been handed down from master to apprentice over many centuries, even millennia. These are pre-established, tried and proven by the research of those who have gone before – at great risk to life and limb – and determined to produce a similar, established effect when performed correctly (depending directly on the caster’s talent), according to dictates of the particular Art used (Divination, Glamourie, Naming, Enchantment or Sorcery).
In accordance with historic tradition, during Character Creation and the start of active game play (and in general terms for most cases throughout the life of the GM’s game), all the charms that comprise the Quinque Artes exist and are taught to initiates during apprenticeship in only one (1) primary form, either ritual, spell, or cantrip.
These are referred to by the class-conscious medieval-minded practitioners of the fantasy game world as general classes known as Low Magick, Common Magick and High Magick, respectively.
Low Magick: Rituals
Ritual magick is the most ancient of the forms, the original vehicle by which magick was first discovered and harnessed. This is the most physical and taxing method of performing magick. The processes for casting each charm are learned through years of arduous study and practice and are honed to the exact form that works best for each individual. They are slightly different for every practitioner, personal needs discovered intuitively and instinctively through practice over the course of time. Each must discover his own most effective variation. It is the epitome of art and artifice, mesmerizing to behold, and commands respect and even admiration in practice.
Ritual magick is referred to as “Low Magick” among Wizards due to the fact that it is the most cumbersome and time-consuming method for performing magick. Nonetheless it has a very right and proper place and for some tasks there is no substitute for it. It provides a familiar ceremony through which the caster may more easily gather and maintain the Potence he desires as he slowly and carefully crafts the patterns of magick. It is commonly used to more safely and easily employ greater power than might be safely gathered and expressed by means of spellcraft – MUCH more so than cantrips.
In order to properly perform ritual magicks, the caster’s mouth must be clear and unobstructed, so he may intone a wide variety of vocalizations from oration to chant or plainsong, to actual melody and harmonics, in executing the secret syllables of the incantation which help maintain the vibration for the charm and helps mold the dweomer to be manifested. In addition, the caster’s entire body must be free and generally unrestrained in order for him to complete the physical movements, from simple gestures to the striking of percussion instruments from chimes to striking gongs to beating intricate tattoos on drums, to grand gestures and/or static whole body postures, often shuffling many times about the area inscribed with the sigils and signs needed with measured steps, rhythmic marching or other patterned steps, sometimes even including true dances, especially in circular patterns.
IF the practitioner is bound, shackled or otherwise restrained from moving his hands and/or body, or his mouth is blocked, muffled, or gagged so that he cannot speak and enunciate clearly, he may not perform any ritual magick.
Rituals are ceremonies that require the use of a number of props and special preparations in their execution. Before any character (PC and NPC alike) can even begin to cast one, there are a few tasks that must be completed first.
The Wizard must obtain a “ritual kit.”
This kit is a rather eclectic collection of candlesticks, braziers, censors, bells, chimes, embroidered banners and/or draperies (and stands/rods to hang them on), gongs, cups, chalices, platters and plate special to the practitioner and dedicated solely to being used in performing ritual magick. It is discussed in the Notes on Character Kits section of the character gear rosters, where its particulars are given.
The spiritual vibration of a ritual kit is very special and personal to the practitioner. Its vibration is dedicated to his magickal pursuits and his alone, and must be guarded.
The Wizard must NOT allow any other to do more than casually and only briefly handle the items in his kit, and must not allow any to borrow or use any item from it – especially for mundane/household purposes. This precludes servants or even apprentices from being employed to lay the kit out in the Wizard’s stead.
Allowing such contact/use to happen lowers the effective POT for which the kit may be used by (CHM ÷ 4) of the one who has had such contact/made such use of the object(s).
IF the one laying hands on the item(s) from the kit is also an adept of any magickal trade, their (TR) is added to the amount subtracted from the effective POT of any rituals that can be performed with the kit.
In the event that his kit becomes tainted with another’s vibration in this way, the resulting penalty may be erased by ritually purifying the object(s) and rededicating it to its magickal purpose. This is a process with guaranteed success for which no d100 roll is needed, only time and seclusion, one full day (sunrise to sunrise, OR sunset to sunset for any Druid or Witch) for every point of penalty to be removed.
For Druids and Witches, the kit’s vibration is ALSO vulnerable when being taken from it’s protective wrappings and special bed of sacred herbs in the precincts of a town where there is a low-mana rating of zero (0) or less for the practitioner, the coarse vibration of civilization can mar the kit’s vibration, imposing a penalty equal in number to the low mana rating, in the same manner described for allowing a stranger to use or hold any items from it.
In this case, the kit is affected at a rate of 1 point in penalty per (owner’s CHM or HRT, whichever is greater) minutes of exposure.
Up to (Druid’s/Witch’s HRT att. mod. + TR) points of this penalty can be erased through the procedure described above, BUT if the penalty is greater than that, the kit’s vibration is wrecked. It is useless from that point forward to the character for the purposes of his magick. This does NOT apply if it should be bared for use in a garden or plaisance within the town where Nature is encouraged to flourish for the ease of hearts and troubles where the level of POT of the Ambience is higher than zero (0) for the practitioner, as it is likely to be in such places.
Ritual Supplies: Consumables
In addition to his kit, the practitioner also needs a variety of special “ritual supplies” to perform his rituals. These consist of small bundles or packets of things like fine scented candles, exotic brazier fuels, rare incenses, crayons and chalk-sticks, colorful and combustible powders, some including rare herbal elements, essential oils, ointments, and the like incorporating rare and strange ingredients, all specially prepared for the needs of the practitioner. These are the “consumable materials,” or “consumables,” used up in the casting of a ritual/rite, their traces to be cleaned up afterwards to protect trade secret lore. They must be purchased anew in amounts determined by the POT of the ritual/rite to be cast when the Wizard runs out. These are found on the rosters of adventuring equipment and supplies under the name “ritual supplies.”
The supplies purchased for casting a given charm cannot be used to cast any other, they are specific to a given charm, and the charm for which they are intended MUST be stated at the time of purchase, and labeled accordingly when recorded on the character sheet.
These supplies are purchased in lots according to the POT the caster wishes to be able to achieve with his casting, so the player must make a note of not only the specific charm the supplies are for, but the points of POT they represent.
The supplies for a given ritual charm may be divided up into several castings according to the points of POT-worth purchased.
For example, Calixtimus the Blithe has gathered 10 points of POT-worth of supplies for performing his “Swift Heal” ritual. While he may choose to invest all 10 points of them in one casting for a direly injured comrade, he might also break it up into 2 castings of 5 POT each, OR 5 castings of 2 POT each, OR 2 castings of 4 POT and 1 of 1 POT, or any other variation desired.
The choice is entirely in the player’s hands how his character uses his supplies up. In this case, how quickly the patient needs to be back in prime health and not only the coin available but the quality of market the Wizard has to shop in to replenish supplies afterwards are deciding factors.
The Casting Site
You must first choose the casting site for your Wizard’s ritual.
The site of the ritual casting is also of great importance.
The casting site must be no smaller than (POT of ritual charm to be cast) feet in diameter, to a maximum of (MGT) feet, in which to set up his kit and scribe the arcane symbols on the floor/walls that help focus the energies, and also guide him in performing the requisite physical motions/actions accompanying it.
IF the practitioner tries casting in any area smaller than this, the DV for the casting rises in a Progressive manner by the number of feet by which the area is smaller than this.
The space chosen for the casting must be totally clear of any serious irregularities, obstructions, or other hindrances, or the casting DV rises.
To eliminate the penalty from any unavoidable irregularities and obstructions encountered in a given circumstance, the practitioner may go over the casting site to become familiar with it and walk the necessary figures of the ritual within it over and over again to fix those features in his mind, to become closely familiar with them in order to compensate as best he may.
Up to (AGL att. mod.) points in DV penalties may be eliminated in this manner.
IF the practitioner is also skilled as a Dancer or Acrobat, a bonus based on the SL/TR(s), respectively, may be added to the AGL allowance.
Before he may commence with his casting, your Wizard must spend at least (POT of ritual to be performed) minutes considering the site and the proper placement of his kit in it, laying it all out (including the consumables) in position for easiest access and most efficacious use in casting, according the order in which each thing is used.
The configuration of the props from the kit is always specific to the charm performed.
This is the minimum amount of preparation that must go into a ritual.
Your Wizard may not begin performing his ritual until he has completed this phase.
Doubling the CTM to maximize chances of success (reducing the casting DV by half) indicates that your character has taken twice the time noted to prepare beforehand, ALSO.
Common Magick: Spellcraft
Spell magick or spellcraft is called “Common Magick” because it is the form most commonly seen and encountered in use by those within the magickal community, and also to formally distinguish it from the other two forms. A practitioner’s spells generally make up the bulk of his arsenal for taking into battle with those who are not throwing magick back at him.
Spells are much faster and easier to execute than rituals, but in some ways much more demanding to perform. Precision and accuracy are far more critical, and thus they are much more difficult to master. In order to properly craft a spell, the Wizard’s mouth must be clear and unobstructed, so he may chant the secret syllables of the incantation that help maintain the vibration and help mold the mana. His hands must also be free to move in order to perform the manual gestures needed for the caster to have control to shape the mana he has drawn and properly weave it into the desired pattern of power, although the full mobility of body required for casting rituals is NOT necessary.
IF the character is restrained from moving his hands/arms by some means, and/or his mouth is blocked, muffled, or gagged so that he cannot speak and enunciate clearly, he may not craft any spell magick.
High Magick: Cantrips
The cantrip is the highest form in which magick can be performed, from the professional practitioner’s point of view. The cantrip represents a form by which the caster constructs the pattern of power for a charm all at once, realizing and loosing it instantaneously, in a single gestalt. It is accomplished completely within the caster’s mind, without any manual or other physical aid of movements or gestures in the weaving nor any chant or incantation to vocally aid its vibration. It is the only form referred to as “True Magick”, but more commonly as “High Magick”, discovered by true masters of magick at a much later date than the Low and Common forms. It is by far the most difficult method for casting magick. The Common Sphere is the only Sphere of Power in which a practitioner can find charms written in all three forms.
Cantrips may generally be attempted at will during the normal adventure sequence of play. The rate of speed at which they may be performed is only accounted for during combat and other tactical situations, where such timing may be critical to the outcome, or in tactical situations in order to provide other character types who may be present with the opportunity to act, as well. Under those stressors, two (2) cantrips can be cast for every physical action a practitioner receives.
The formulaic nature of magick described previously applies only to Low (ritual) and Common (spell) magick. Cantrips require no such physical aid to support them in casting. This is why they are classed as “High Magick”, discovered by the greatest masters of magick at a much later date than the Low and Common forms, and at much greater risk than was ever known prior.
As mentioned, rituals are the easiest and cantrips the most difficult of the methods of casting. This is why cantrips of somewhat lower POT or spells of somewhat higher POT are usually preferred in battle or tactical play. Thus, cantrips and spells are likely to see the most use. Of those two, whether cantrips or spells see the most use depends on whether or not the players really understand the versatility and value inherent in even low-POT cantrips. If they do, cantrips are likely to be the most widely used. If not, then spells are likely to be the greater part of your magickal worries as GM. Due to the preparations and time involved, use of rituals is likely to be most carefully and deliberately planned and the most likely to provide changes that affect the basic conditions for the party for play in the campaign for the longest periods of time, to the PCs’ benefit or their adversaries’ detriment.
Realms of Myth presupposes game worlds where the amount of knowledge passed on to initiate or apprentice Wizards in cantrip form is only the most common, basic and (generally) innocuous of lore, while the deepest and most powerful magicks exist to be learned only in the Low, ritual form. Thus, the charms of the Common Sphere are broken up and divided between all three forms, either ritual, spell, and cantrip, as shown on the roster of charms for that Sphere, and as noted in the heading for every charm in the Compendium.
The charms of the Noble Sphere are broken up and divided between the ritual and spell forms. They exist to be taught only in their “native” or “original forms as found on the rosters of the charms of that sphere. In the same vein, manuscripts for those charms allowing a character to learn such charms on his own, by dint of study and practice, exist only in their “native” or “original forms. The charms of the Sovereign Sphere exist to be taught only in their “native” or “original” ritual form. In the same vein, manuscripts for those charms allowing a character to learn such charms on his own, by dint of study and practice, exist only in their “native” or “original” ritual form.
Greater works of Common magick tend to be retained and passed on in ritual form, more commonly needed works as spell craft, and only the most innocuous of effects taught as cantrips.
There are no Noble charms innocuous enough in concept to be passed on in cantrip form. Those having earned that facility with any of these are often historically noteworthy.
Sovereign charms are life-changing, potentially world-changing or earth-shattering effects that can only be passed on in ritual form. The thought of being able to fling these about as spells is mind-boggling, much less in cantrip form. Any having earned spellcraft facility with any of these are not only historically noteworthy, they are most likely purely legendary.
Because so few ever survive to attain these thresholds in LoA, Sovereign Sphere magick mostly remains the stuff of legends and folktales and the great deeds and especially MIS-deeds of the ancient practitioners who commonly used it to build dreams and frighten children into behaving themselves. The rarity of any earning the ability to learn it has contributed over time has caused a gradual loss, furthered by an active effort by the greater part of the practitioners of the Arts to make this knowledge disappear, creates a vicious cycle resulting in a great dearth of such knowledge to be found. Indeed, many who do become ready for it often die before they can locate it.