The Demands of the Trade: A Magician’s Word

It is widely said that the words of men of Power are never to be trusted, but this is a grave misconception, for the stamp of Power upon them affects the meaning of their words. They are vague, evasive, and difficult at best to come to an agreement with, but this is because of the weight that their words hold for them. One should never assume that an understanding has been reached unless the man of Power dealt with says that it is so. Unbeknownst to the public, the Druids’, Witch’s and Wizard’s knowledge and the Power he exercises are almost an entity itself with which the PC must come to grips. These men of Power cannot afford many of the illusions and self-delusions that common folk use to make their lives more comfortable. Their magicks depend upon the true names and speech, as mentioned in the description of the Druids’ and Wizards’ trade languages. The name is the thing; and for him, the word is the deed.

A Wizard must not swear to anything that is not so or that he does not fully intend to do. The oath of a Wizard is his bond and should never be lightly given for, if he fails it, his own power seeks to force him to carry it out.

This is one of the best kept secrets of the trade.

IF he swears falsely, his own Power (with POT equal to his TR) seeks thereafter to twist events, making the situation fit his words, increasing the likelihood of a Bumble and then using the event of one to set things right, or forcing him to recant his falsehood, haunting him and inflicting bad luck upon him until he does. One who fails his sworn word can be made a hollow and empty man by fighting his own Power; he may even reach a point where he dares not use it. 

On the other hand, there is no restriction upon what the Wizard may say. He may lie as boldly as the next man if he makes no pretense of honor and swearing to its truth. Silence is another haven of safety. A man’s words cannot be used against him when he says nothing. Niceties of definition and vague terms are the best friends of folk of Power, enabling them to live comfortably with their power. Maintaining honor becomes problematic in this case, however. Though tricky, the Wizard can always try to take advantage of vague wording and imprecise or misused terms and assumptions of others to leave himself a loophole even when forced to give his oath.

One of the most famous Celtic vows hinges on this very concept, and is very dangerous to the one speaking it, and so is always accepted as an undeniable guarantee:

“May the Earth open up and swallow me, 

May the Sky fall upon me, 

May the Sea rise and cover me, 

May Fires consume me, 

If I am foresworn.”

Enforcement of this restriction in general is, of course, subject to your interpretation and discretion as GM. In aid of this, you should refer to the passage concerning “Frivolous Magick,” as follows.

Unlike the Druids, Witches and other Bronze Age powers that are allied with Færie and thus vulnerable to the effects of iron and steel, Wizardry is the magick of Man and the age of Fire and Iron. 

Iron and steel go hand in hand with Wizardry, without complication or limitation.