Ripples in the Ambience: Sensing Mana & Magick 

As noted previously, the Ambience permeates and overlays every corner of the Mortal World. While it is always in motion, both the drawing and release of power used in dweomercraft creates a disturbance of its own that passes through the Ambience, regardless of whether it is a Mystic expressing a Feat or channeling miraculous interventions from On High or the magickal work of a Druid (any trade), Witch or Wizard. It causes a ripple-like wave to radiate outward through the Ambience. These disturbances or waves in the Æther are created in part by tapping the Veil between Spirit and the mortal world.

The Arts of the Druid trades and of the Wizard and Witch trades, or even Mystic, affect many other aspects of the character’s life than just those providing him with the ability to manifest magickal or miraculous powers and perform extraordinary feats with it, including the ability to sense these disturbances or ripples over the course of their trade training and magick-wielding careers. This sensation encompasses a see-feel-smell-hear-taste experience that defies any meaningful description to those outside the trade.

All practitioners in the vicinity can automatically feel the gathering of mana and the process of crafting it into a dweomer if it takes place within [(MSS) + (TR)] feet of them.

Beyond this distance a successful MSS check on d100 allows the practitioner to “feel” it.

The AV to Sense Magick is equal to [(MSS att. mod.) + (AWA att. mod.) + (TR)].

The DV for these checks is equal to the number of feet by which the casting is taking place beyond the practitioner’s prescribed range, 

MINUS the number of points by which the POT of the casting is greater than the practitioner’s MGT

OR

PLUS the number of points by which the POT of the casting is less than the practitioner’s MGT.

When a magick is finally loosed or cast (whether successfully or not), it crashes back into the Ambience like a stone suddenly dropped into a still pool, causing a wave radiating outward in a sphere from the caster. This is a MUCH stronger wave than the little ripple caused by the process of crafting the magick.

This wave can be immediately and automatically “felt” if it occurs within [(MSS) + (TR)] yards, regardless of POT.

For this check, the AV is [(MSS att. mod.) + (TR)], again.

The DV for the MSS check is 1 if the practitioner Sensing Magick is located within (POT) furlongs.

IF the POT of the wave when it reaches the practitioner is greater than his CHM or HRT (whichever is greater), the roll should be foregone and the character simply informed. It is deemed strong enough to get the character’s attention immediately and automatically.

IF the POT is less than a practitioner’s CHM or HRT (whichever is less) when the wave reaches him, the DV for the MSS check rises by the difference, per point, again in a Progressive manner.

After the first (POT) furlongs the wave travels from the practitioner who loosed the magick that made it, the effective POT drops by 1 point in strength every furlong of distance, until it dies out at zero (0).

This raises the DV to sense the wave when it finally reaches the practitioner, by one per furlong per furlong traveled, again in a Progressive manner, MINUS the effective POT of the wave.

Beyond this distance, EVERY magick cast causes a ripple in the Ambience that travels outward in a sphere from the site of the casting (POT x 2) furlongs, allowing the practitioner to “feel” the wave washing over him upon making a successful MSS check on d100.

Not only is a PC able to sense the ripples caused by others’ magicks, his player must understand the fact that every magick his PC casts creates the same disturbance to alert others of the trade who may be in the vicinity.

The lesser, day-to-day activity in the Ambience, those disturbances of (CHM or HRT, whichever is less) in POT or less, are normally screened from every practitioner’s consciousness in accordance with his trade training to protect his sanity, so he can maintain some sense of continuous mortal existence separate from Spirit and his magick, allowing him to interact normally with the mortal world.

Those disturbances he “feels” or senses, whether automatically or as a result of a Sense Magick check, as above, are sufficient for him to note the general direction whence it came. This can provide a link by which any direction-finding charm may be cast to zero in on the point of origin of the disturbance.

The wave of disturbance from the casting of a magick can be used by the clever practitioner to cover the loosing of subsequent magicks, provided he stays within (MGT) yards of the original casting site and is careful to keep their POT smaller than the original magick whose shadow he is trying to use.

This raises the DV for sensing the disturbance by one per point by which the following magick’s POT is less than the one it follows, per point, in a Progressive manner.

This “shadow” of disturbance following in the wake of the wave, equal to the POT of the first magick cast, fades at a rate of 1 effective point of POT per minute.

In practice, the player should be aware of the order in which he casts his magicks if he is concerned over the possibility of disturbing other folk of power, casting rituals before spells before cantrips, and greatest POT to lowest, to use the shadow of the ripple caused by the greater magick to cover those of the lesser magicks cast in its wake.

One never knows whose elbow one may unintentionally jog.

Taking advantage of this phenomenon can be a very useful tactic when one is matched on the battlefield against another practitioner, a means of catching them off guard, of denying them any notice of more magicks to come following the first.

The players and GM alike must be aware that any other practitioner of magick in the same town or its immediate hinterlands (surrounding supporting farmlands) may well note the use of any magicks cast with POT greater than c. 10-15, especially if any of them live in a location that gives them an overview of the town. Any in the closer surrounding villages might take note, as well. Caution is prudent. Careless flinging of magick, especially at high POT, can attract unwanted attention. Rival practitioners may be curious or even irritated if they are in the least bit protective of their territorial rights to monopolize the trade in magick where a character has ventured to practice his craft. Ignorance of the presence of a local rival or guild monopoly is no excuse, in the same manner as ignorance of the law.

This is simply an occupational hazard.

Rivalries keep the already small numbers of those who practice the magickal arts even smaller, and tend to insure that those of lesser power keep a low profile until they are well and truly prepared and sure of their defenses, should such a conflict of interests arise.

There may be certain places in the GM’s world where those of power gather to practice their art by tacit approval, an unspoken bond that may be as strong as any guild charter. These places gain a general on-going disturbance due to regular magickal activity that swiftly becomes evident to those who wield the Arts approaching within range to sense it. The level of activity is rated in POT in the same manner as the prevailing Ambience and added to the DV for sensing any specific magickal disturbance (as described above) that is of lesser POT than that of the æthereal “background noise”. This “white noise” of magickal activity makes sensing other magickal activity so difficult that the MSS checks described previously are required even within the normal ranges at which the Sense Magick ability is commonly automatic and immediate. The DV’s for these checks are increased by the amount by which the POT of the magick in question is less than the POT of the ætherial “background noise” using the same procedure applied when the POT of a magick to be Sensed is less than the practitioner’s CHM/HRT (as above).

Sometimes there is no better place for a character of lesser power to hide his craft than out in the open, under the cover of the disturbances created by his greater colleagues routinely exercising their own craft.

In addition, the level of the Ambience itself may actually work to betray disturbances, high-lighting them. To keep things on an even footing, the POT of the Ambience, of the mana readily available flowing through a given location, is always rated in POT relative to the Common Sphere. The greater the POT of the Ambience, the more magickal energy that is present for the wave of a disturbance to displace. In short, it amplifies the effect of the disturbance, making it more noticeable.

The POT of the Ambience is subtracted from the DV for any Sense Magick check to feel a disturbance.

Magick that is already in existence lies quietly, as a part of the natural world, doing as it was bidden when created. It is much more difficult to sense. The Wizard has the option of casting a bit of Divination to “Reveal” the presence of magicks, should the player have equipped him with that lore, OR ply his skill with a set of dowsing rods or crystal or other pendulum for the same purpose, using it as a guide if he has this Spirit Skill, OR the Wizard may slowly walk about with his hand held out before him to try to “feel” it’s presence by “Seeking” it by Divination.

On the other hand, once a Wizard touches an object which carries an enchantment, or creature or being laboring under an ensorcelment, or steps into an area which bears a dweomer, he feels and knows it and the GM must tell the player (preferably slip him a private note), without the need for a d100 check of any kind. Of course, where Banes and Wardings are concerned, his coming into contact could be rather hazardous to his health and perhaps that of any compatriots accompanying him.

 

Shielding & Safe Havens

The only saving grace in the fact of the disturbances made by loosing works of magick into the world lies in the fact that certain types of physical obstructions can absorb part of the wave or ripple in the Ambience, making it more difficult to sense the passing wave that heralds the loosing of a magick. Thus there are relatively “safe” places to cast magick, places that are so materially dense that they dampen the passage of the ripples normally caused in the Ambience by casting magick, effectively hiding the presence and magickal activities of the practitioner. These are commonly sought out and used to disguise a practitioner’s magickal activities, and goes a long way to explain the use of the stereo-typical “wizard’s tower” and “witches cave”.

The caster should think of the ripple as more of a bubble really, or a light in which material objects can cast shadows in which the disturbances in the Ambience do not penetrate. When the caster cannot find a completely enclosed shielded area to cast, he should think in terms of the shadows cast on the world by the shielding, such as a ridge or high hill might afford, as if the echo of the dweomer released were a flash of light. Wherever the shadow falls due to the shielding, the ripple is dampened to a degree according to its density – or even completely extinguished. If the caster only fears detection by rivals from a specific location, he need only really find some hill or rocky outcropping that cuts a “shadow” in the ripple that falls over the area where his rival(s) lies.

 

Material Shielding Allowance
Wattle-and-daub (half-timber) 1 POT per 2 walls
Woods/forest, light 1 POT per 50 feet
Woods/forest, heavy 1 POT per 25 feet
Wood (structural, dead) 1 POT per foot
Stone, sedimentary 2 POT per inch
Stone, metamorphic 3 POT per inch
Stone, igneous 4 POT per inch
Metal, soft (gold, lead, tin, etc.) 5 POT per inch
Metal, hard (bronze, silver, etc.) 6 POT per inch
Iron/steel 8 POT per inch

All of the POT quotes are in terms of Common Sphere power. For Noble Sphere magick, divide the effective shielding by 5; for Sovereign Sphere magick divide by 25.

 

Holy Sites & Consecrated Ground

Generally speaking, high and low mana areas for Mystic characters are measured by the number of local worshippers. The closest correspondent to high mana areas for Mystic and Witch trade characters alike are holy sites and consecrated ground; while the divine version of the low mana area can be so severe that not even a similar deity can be found to intercede for the character in the absence of his own deity.

Holy sites are sites that a given deity has claimed as his own holy ground – similar to Mount Olympus, Apollo’s oracle at Delphi, Mount Sinai and Mecca. Holy sites are very rare. No deity should possess more than one, MAYBE two. A deity may manifest any appearance he chooses upon a holy site, and may wield essentially unlimited power there. In game terms, power equal in POT to the total number of worshippers he has in the game world, and with equal skill. The deity’s manifestation in these cases are as insubstantial as any visual illusion if attacked, immune to any and all attempts at harming it, though it can move and act as any other material person. No act the deity does not like may be committed in his holy site, no magick he does not allow.

Holy sites are not the best places to try and profane, for if the deity is truly offended, he may strike back at any time, even waiting to hurl his power at the MOST inconvenient time. Once one has trespassed on a holy site one has that bond of resonance with it, and time does not work for the gods the way it does for mortals. Once there, a mortal is always there, range for revenge irrelevant to the god even after departing.

Consecrated ground is that ground sanctified and dedicated to a specific deity by his faithful worshippers. This should be standard practice when the foundations of all churches or temples of the GM’s world are laid, regardless of the religion. All temples should be consecrated ground for the Mystics of the deity to which it is dedicated. This should also extend to all official temple burial grounds administered by the religion, as well, for the dedication and consecration is what keeps the dead from rising again (or at least inhibits them). That is why churchyards can be seen to have been so commonly used as cemeteries.

Like holy sites, the deity may also manifest in an area consecrated to Him. Upon consecrated ground, the god’s manifestation is limited to no greater than the POT of the consecration of the foundation, plus the number in the congregation currently possessed of and using that facility, in both POT and SL. Here, however, unless the deity wishes to confront a character and whatever company he is keeping (rather than communicating in a dream or some such), He must generally first be provoked to appear – the deity’s principles, the tenets of his religion must be violated in some way, the building somehow violated or profaned, before he may manifest, unlike holy sites.

As mentioned, the distribution of the power and influence of the Mystic’s or Witch’s deity can vary. Some deities may be bound only to the cities, as Christianity was in its beginnings, or to the specific cities that the deity patronizes, as the Greek deities, Athena to the city of Athens, Hera in the city of Argos, Poseidon in the city of Corinth.

The GM may consider the areas where the various gods or groups of gods hold sway as making up vast international communities of deities. In the areas where their religions and therefore their influences do not overlap, the GM may allow deities of similar mien and sphere of influence limited access to their Mystics when they are out of their specific domain, either by proxy through a related deity (provided the Mystic acknowledges and pays homage to the source of his divine aid, and his deity at home is not TOO jealous a one), or through cooperation between the two deities.

At worst, the character’s deity will have no worshippers at all in the area where the Mystic is located, with not even a deity of similar sphere of influence to intercede on behalf of the god who can no longer reach him.