A Primer: The Magickal Mortal World

This part of the Grimoire covers all the processes and procedures and all conditions surrounding the casting and manifestation of magick in the game world.

It also includes the descriptions of the trades that wield magick, and a few items the GM must consider, also, such as the various casting modifiers, are there high and low mana areas and, if so, where, and the adjustments that the GM can make according to the character’s birth reflecting the movement of the stars in the destiny of men and the impact of the primal forces that make up the world (wind, earth, fire, and water) on the lives of those characters who tread paths of magickal prowess and puissance.

Magick must have rules, and yet it is a wild and natural force whose very essence demands that its use remain flexible in order to achieve the caster’s will, desires and needs that can change from one use to the next. To accommodate this, I have set up a series of rules that abide by the main laws described in the Introduction, by which magick in play can function as handed down in the ancient tales as nearly as may be. I have tried to describe the special conditions that surround the use of magick in play as best as possible in game terms. Also included in this section are the rules that govern the interplay between the magicks themselves, between the characters and the magicks, and between the characters, the magicks, and the game world at large.

 

The World through a Magician’s Eyes

The magickal nature of the skills and knowledge gained by those that have endeavored and persisted in assaying the Paths of Power, and the exhaustive spiritual exercises required and the insights that training brings, give the practitioners of those trades a unique perspective on the world. They see far more of the world and are far more aware of their place in it than do common, everyday folk. They know much more of its truths and reality. Many of the truths with which they are acquainted are held close as trade secrets, to aid in maintaining the status quo and the secret nature of their knowledge, whence comes part of their power. So the world remains flat, and the world is the center of the universe, with the celestial luminaries swinging sedately around it, although those with the Power to see know better.

There are many aspects that are shared in common by all the trades practicing magick in the game. This passage should give the player and GM alike a good over-view of the common experiences and points of view shared by the members of ALL the magickal trades, and the magickal world they share in common as described in the Primer that follows.

Magick is almost always subtle when it has its own way, but is sometimes discernable, like emotions on the faces of the members of the races of Men. It is far easier to change an existing connection, impulse, object, creature or being than it is to change any aspect of the fabric of reality wholly and solely by the practitioner’s will, to conjure something – anything – wholly from the incontinent air. Loves and hates, for example, or similar strong emotional connections, whether fixed on people or things, have magickal power and can be used or manipulated by one who has the knowledge and power. Those who wield magick seek these subtle connections in the world around them to gain greater control over their Arts and their environment, to increase their effective power. Others who practice the Arts are simply curious, possessed of a drive like a great thirst for the secrets of the universe, not knowing what they will do with them once they have obtained them, the quest being sufficient to hold their attention, the thrill of the hunt, the journey itself. Around their colleagues and others known to have Power, they are cagey and careful, to protect themselves from being victimized by their own connections to the world, the objects and people that surround them.

First and foremost, the members of the magickal trades are folk of Power, the very eldritch Power on which the Universe swings, the embodiment of the only constant in the universe – Change, named Chaos pure and simple by many who fear it. The Power of magick gathers about all who wield it, very nearly making them walking nexus’ of Fate insofar as their connection to it never wanes but is always carried with them, whether visible to the untrained eye or not. With their Power they can warp reality to their own needs, and even their own designs and desires, though to use their magick in such a selfish way with any regularity can have unpleasant consequences. In the case of Mystics, the supposition is that the world is largely already the way the gods want it, so there is little they are willing to do to alter it for fear of falling into Vice in catering to vain or selfish desires. They know well about omens and portents, respecting and observing them, even looking for them or calling for them by their Arts, knowing them for the natural signs of the movements of Power in the world, the natural by-product of the connection to magick they carry within themselves, the express Will of the Light.

The members of the magickal trades know well not only the role they fulfill in the world, but their role in helping to further the designs of Fate and/or the Light, or perhaps the Green Lords, in helping to shape the reality and course of events of the Mortal Sphere. They have seen, and indeed see everyday, and know for a fact that they have yet to see still many other strange and uncanny things, and many of them will be of their own doing. They almost invariably want to see and do more. With a man of Power, especially a Mystic, there is no need to waste time dithering or pussy-footing around with the “Oh, we aren’t supposed to know we’re the main characters in the story” commonly associated with players involved in roleplaying games, because ALL practitioners of magick DO know it. They are at the center of the local action and drama, or soon to be embroiled in it due to circumstances, and they know it! This is one of the major reasons that many men of Power, whether Witches or of the Druid trades, Mystics or Wizards, hide themselves away in secluded fastnesses or disguise themselves as humble beggars and hermits in huts and hovels seeking solitude far from the teeming masses, far from humanity’s beaten paths. Some, having traveled the long hard road to earn their power and knowledge, find the lifestyle far too demanding and arduous. It never ends. In their hiding places there are far fewer lives and affairs in which to get tangled, except for those for which Power, Fate, or what-have-you, seeks them out to foist upon them, to which they have no other choice but to assay themselves.

The Power of the Path followed by the members of the magickal trades leaves a mark all members can see upon them, in the faces of the Mystics they meet, in the eyes of the Druids, Witches and Wizards – all who share Power. This is actually an aspect of their ability to Sense Mana and Magick. When one or more of their paths cross it is a momentous and even portentous event, for those who wield Power are not common by any means, and they are all well aware of it. When two must join on the same road it is a potent herald of great and important matters afoot. When more meet and embark on the same road it is a harbinger of tumultuous times and high heroic deeds, perhaps even of cataclysmic events, certainly of events on which history itself may turn. Every practitioner knows it well, and should be hard-pressed to resist going along for the ride to witness and participate in shaping such important events.

Among the people of the wider world, the practitioner’s special bond with the Power of magick can often act as a magnet for troubles great and small, for the rise of feeling either good or bad or, simply enough, just trouble. The stamp of their power tends to spark extreme reactions or feelings, and inspire the moving of events, great loves, hates, and even oaths may be sworn, but any attempt to point this out to those being affected can only rain down ruin. More accurately, the character’s tie to Power acts as a catalyst, enabling people to rise to their potential, or sending them down just as low in failure. After a period of time in a given location, the practitioner’s very presence can cause situations to evolve and change, especially those that have hung longest in balance. Stalemates and situations that have hung in limbo for years may suddenly be re-stimulated in such a way that they MUST be resolved. Stasis is the antithesis of Change, which lies at the very heart and soul of Magick.

Very little actually surprises those who wield magick, insofar as the nature of events that transpire around them are concerned, for they are constantly looking to be surprised, trying to anticipate the next turn or twist of events around them. They accept changes and new information rather easily.

They must.

Those who practice magick KNOW that great and pivotal events are going to occur around them because of the Power they wield, and that certain persons cross their paths and get entangled in those great events by Fate’s design. The reasons behind are many and varied but always compelling, one need merely inquire. The Druid, Witch or Wizard out traveling the world for whatsoever his cause may be should always be on the lookout for other wanderers and travelers with strange and moving tales willing to join him on his road, or seeking to recruit him to join them on theirs, for these are his natural comrades. These are his brothers in arms come to lend aid unbeknownst, his counterparts equipped with the often more mundane skills and abilities he himself commonly lacks, or lacks in proper measure to accomplish the task at hand. They can be the signposts marking the way to the next series of events or adventures in which he is to participate.

Around these somewhat less exotic, occasionally more eccentric people, the magick wielder can see events gathering about and then turning upon. The tales of their lives are often as astounding as the practitioner’s own, if not moreso. These are the other “heroes”, and the man of Power should always be aware of their great importance in the scheme of things, just as he is of his own role as a catalyst to events surrounding them all, though he only rarely ever recognize it. He should look for the significance in their actions, the way they help to steer the manner in which events unfold. These are the folk with whom the man of Power should KNOW he is destined to become involved and perhaps even more firmly associated with, in time. They cannot avoid being drawn together and throwing their lots in when important matters are a-brewing, perhaps even to creating a fraternity in the aftermath to maintain contact and provide mutual support. The practitioner should know well it is only these who are likely to be doughty enough in a scrap to provide the sort of protection he may not be able to provide for himself, to withstand the dangers that all-too-often plague their paths (especially those of a more eldritch or horrific nature). Their common backgrounds in bizarre and exotic experiences can lessen the solitude of the trade of magick, as well.

Knowing the position they occupy in the general scheme of things, those who follow the magickal trades are commonly driven to find out what is to be their part in the immediate situation in which they find themselves tangled, to look around and find out who the “heroes” available to support them are, to unravel any intricacies of the plot at hand requiring their attention, and finding a reasonable course of action to take in response, if they determine that they should react at all.

Some things DO occasionally work themselves out just fine.

It is sometimes difficult to see that, however.

Generally, those who wield magick begin play with portfolios of magickal skills in some ways much more powerful than expected, like the legendary magickers, but having still a great deal more work to do, much greater skills left to discover and learn. The magicker’s skills are without doubt in need of honing, and his reputation as a man of Power yet remains to be established, perhaps even locally depending on how public a figure he is.

The power these characters wield is balanced against a number of restrictions (see “The Price of Power) and a complex set of rules for making the process less dangerous and more fruitful, based on the traditions handed down to us from the historical record of astrological and spiritual practices.

At the start of play, these characters are likely to have to contend and compete with local men (or women) of Power every now and then. This is likely to continue until they have established a reputation and a home base territory they can call their own. Those who practice the High Magick may be rare, but most every shire with a decent population is likely to have somewhere tucked away in it a Hedge- or Hearth-Wizard or Hearth- or Hedge-Witch OR, failing that, a WiseWoman or CunningMan, trying to eke a living from the locals.

Colleagues who wield the High Magick should be cause for concern. Even Hedge-Wizards and Hearth-Witches may cause some trouble, despite their “lesser knowledge” and the commonly “archaic” or “antiquated” forms of magick they often practice, according to the prevalent opinions of the members of the four main trades of magick. But even the occasional WiseWoman or CunningMan of long years and a goodly amount of experience may provide a challenge. The actual trade of magick practiced by such rivals and colleagues in relation to the character’s own, their leanings towards Virtue or Vice and the types of mortal mana they indulge in using (if any) can all affect the footing on which they approach, and the character’s reception and the basis on which their relationship will start, if he is Savvy and cautious. Roleplaying during the course of the game must determine what comes of those sorts of encounters, however.

Some skilled and knowledgeable folk of Power commonly gain the resources to become great and powerful by keeping their eyes open and their ears to the Ambience for signs of those of lesser power and/or skill whom they can overpower with successive magicks, slowly and subtlely eroding their wills and bringing them under their influence through over-exposure to their magicks without otherwise revealing their presence, so they can then be manipulated by simple mundane CHM and Presence. This way they can keep a rival under their thumb, eliminating a potential threat, providing a source of additional power and physical resources, or to provide them with a pawn to act as a blind to hide their own activities. No doubt, even some of the Druid’s or Witch‘s brethren or some of the Wizard’s own colleagues in the Art towards which he leans may stand ready to prey on him this way, especially among the territorial Dark Covenant Witches (survival of the fittest). But then again, protection from this and other dangers and pitfalls of the magickal trades are what building an adventuring fellowship is all about.

This would be by far the lowest and pettiest end of the spectrum of the members of any and all magickal trades, however. Regardless, there are few true friendships among the members of these trades, and much suspicion and rivalry. Though men of Virtue can be found in all walks of life, the nature of these magickal trades tests the character of every one of them. Casual academically-based acquaintances are much more common. Among the solitary masters who take on apprentices, alliances and oaths are sealed with magick and commonly with bonds of blood in marriage, much as they are among the feudal lords.

Virtue and religion are common bones of contention between not only the magickal trades and the outside world, but also between the members of the trades themselves.

If the follower of any religion comes to a Wizard to petition for magickal dispensation after first having sought aid from the gods through a Druid, Witch or Mystic and having been denied, it leaves what is known as “god-sign” on the petitioner that any Wizard with the Sight can clearly see, or must otherwise feel upon touching them, or see upon beginning to cast any magick in their presence. How the Wizard proceeds should be dictated by the Wizard’s relationship with the deity or religion in question. No penalties can accrue to him for dismissing the god-sign, but it may be cause for a bit of friction with The Powers That BE in the future.