The Demands of the Trade: A Magician’s Honor

The trades of magick represent a number of ancient tradition spanning centuries and millennia of history, having provided many high points both light and dark in its annals. Practitioners of magick are commonly depicted as staid, stodgy, hide-bound and conservative to the point of being living fossils, and one of the excesses of character that makes them a favorite target for the japes of mundane folk is their dignity and the honor and respect that they insist be shown for their Power, and their general lack of humor in this regard.

What few understand is that there is a legitimate claim behind it.

Every practitioner must approach the Power with respect.

It should never be used “frivolously.”

The daily pursuit of the craft, performing works for those who are truly in need, making the various tools which can make the character better and more useful when on an adventure (dweomer caches, enchanting carts and wagons, tack and harness or beasts of burden to aid travel) is one thing, but to impress a girl one desires or to otherwise tickle her fancy or flatter her vanity in the absence of love, to embarrass a rival for petty vanity, or anyone at all merely for spite, for a cruel jape just to get a laugh, as a lark to bully or demean, to pursue a lust or flatter one’s own vanity, or to accomplish for one’s self anything that could as easily be done by mundane means should generally be deemed frivolous, especially if the practitioner has servants to accomplish such things for him. Exceptions to the last condition should include situations where every means available must be used to avoid what would surely be a mortal confrontation with a dire enemy, or any other circumstance where time is legitimately deemed to be of the essence, especially where life and limb of another is at stake.

The law of conservation of energy applies in magick, too. Why should the practitioner expend the enormous effort to cast some mighty work of magick that can shake the pillars of the Spheres when the same effective end result can be arrived at with a much more economic and tightly focused magick applied more cleverly, after due measure of consideration of the situation and the various ways in which magick might be applied. There is ALWAYS more than one way to skin a cat – so to speak. Knowledge and canny craft is always more effective that brute force, especially in the use of magick, and has the added benefit of causing less of a disturbance in the world, thus a smaller rebound of the power unleashed.

The exception to this should be putting on a display to give pleasure to small innocent children, particularly for a special occasion, or to make an occasion special, providing a dazzling spectacle for the gentle-hearted pleasure of the hard-working commons, or any other circumstances where the player can justify its use as being in line with an exercise of one of the Virtues or in due payment to alleviate a debt, especially a moral debt.

“Frivolous” is a subjective term and requires you to make judgement calls as GM throughout the course of the game.

In doing so, you should be both sympathetic AND flexible. This principle concerning the use of magick is NOT a stick with which to beat PC Wizards indiscriminately, to make them fear using their Arts, and especially not to make them regret following the trade of their choice. It is to make sure that a certain amount of respect is paid to the power those characters hold. The light-hearted use of magick on occasion should not only be allowed but encouraged. It helps build morale and bring the characters closer together, and sometimes the craft can be used in light and entertaining ways to repay moral obligations, or to reward the deserving whose efforts so often might otherwise be overlooked. These are all laudable uses of the craft.

The wild beast which is the Power these characters wield is nothing if not full of the Joy of Life.

Those who would “test” the Wizard’s Power are a waste of his time. Any display of Power simply for the sake of display, to prove his ability, is frivolous by definition. Even to request a test should be deemed insulting. If anyone wishes a display of Power as a test they had best come with a task to be accomplished that actually requires attention, the kind of task that mending makes a difference in peoples’ lives, to further their goals or restore a situation or condition to its previous, desirable state.

Magick is a force with a heart and soul that is little understood, but it is known to be alive in its own right – how can it not be? The energy of Life is a major constituent of it! Like any wild beast, magick can be eventually brought to heel under the right conditions, to provide the power to manifest the caster’s desires, but the practitioner should never presume that the beast has been or can ever be tamed by his hand. Magick understands emotions, it knows dignity and honor, and it knows condescension, dismissive attitudes and disrespect, far more sophisticated than the common view of common mortal beasts. Thus, when the practitioner stays his own hand and looks for the worthy cause, the opportune moment, and matters of importance it is pleased at being so well-used, it might even be said to purr, a feeling the caster receives when he looses the dweomer. When put to demeaning and frivolous use, however, the Beast prickles and then seethes. The greater the disrespect and the more frequently it occurs, the angrier the Power can become. Like a slighted lover, all history of noble and proper use of the art fades and is forgotten. They are the minimum that is expected of the privilege of having been taught the Mysteries of the craft. All that matter to the Power is the slights and transgressions.

In play, the practitioner should start to get a prickly and uncomfortable feeling when he looses his dweomers every time the Power is used in a frivolous or meaningless manner. The player deserves such a reminder.

As GM, you need to make judgement calls on the uses of magick as they occur during play and “keep score” of the number of “Frivolous Magicks” cast (as applicable). When they reach a sum greater than the practitioner’s own HRT score, the Power begins to seek to balance that score. Once that point is reached, the number of such offenses that have accumulated start to affect the character’s magickal craft.

The DV for casting ANY magick from that time forward suddenly increases by that amount until the offenses have been redressed, how pure its cause or the nature of its use may or may not have any impact (GM’s discretion). When the dice are rolled and the roll to cast a magick is missed, this Frivolous Magick score is added to push the result towards the occurrence of a Bumble. 

IF a Bumble should be indicated, this number is either a) added to the result to make the result harsher, and also to increase the POT of it, as well, or b) the POT of the Bumble plus the Frivolous Magick score combined determine the POT of whatever magick might wound the practitioner’s pride the most deeply, so as to settle the score.

IF the practitioner has, prior to or during the time when the Power has sought an outlet, lied or violated an oath against the prohibition described for the magickal trades, any and all instances must be added to the Frivolous Magick score and, when the inevitable Bumble occurs, those infractions are the ones on which the Power focuses its efforts to right.

It may be that more than one infraction must be redressed. In this case, the total POT of the Bumble including the Frivolous Magick score might be divided between the issues to be addressed, OR the Power might hold its grudge until all infractions of word are addressed and corrected, saving its own honor for last.

Not until all is put to rights should you let the Wizard off the hook, to start over again fresh.