The Witches in RoM are modeled after the Anglo-Saxon successors to the ‘lost’ or simply deteriorated Druidic lore. In practice, they are much more closely tied to the actual worship or at least acknowledgement and even propitiation of gods and spirits of Nature than their Druid predecessors and mentors, but more specifically the local gods and spirits of the mountains, hills and dales, the beasts of the fields and forests they haunt, of high, wide sky, wind and storm and lightning, and the beasts of the air, of burbling stream and wide, slow river and of the raging sea, the beasts of the water, and hungry fire which consumes all, all the elements – the building blocks of the universe, of the turning of the seasons and the phases of life in the natural world. Druids merely kept the traditional calendar and made sure that the holidays were observed as they occurred and that the rituals were enacted precisely in accordance with the ancient traditions they safe-guarded, while the Witches pay all the Powers due homage in the practice of the Arts, including the denizens of Færie.
Akin to the old Anglo-Saxon folkways, the Witches are tied to the ancient nature gods and especially the spirits and creatures of the mysterious Spirit-realm of Faerie. Their ways are the Olde Ways. The Olde Ways are quiet ways. Rather than traveling about promoting the goals of their deities and the tenets of their religions, proselytizing and exhorting the masses to follow the Færie Faith, most Witches tend to be somewhat reclusive, just as they are commonly portrayed in the fairytales of old. Cunning folk of subtle knowledge, they choose their own personal moral code and morés, commonly follow their own interests in “smaller matters”, though devout holy persons in their own right and loyal to the elemental spirits of the world in “greater matters”. As a group, they lack any semblance of the formal structure kept by the Druid trades on behalf of their peoples, or of the (relatively) “new” Church of the Light.
Despite the fact that the Witches grew out of the Druidic tradition, the Witch traditions come from a much later time when the Olde Ways were being tested by newer religions, being carried by peoples whose numbers were growing as they looked for new lands to settle. Their covenant with Nature reflects a schism between the angry devotees who would strike back in retribution against the invading late-comers who so often condemn the Olde Ways, those sworn to the Dark Covenant, and those who embrace all life and seek ways for all to live in peace and harmony with Nature, those sworn to the Light Covenant. These fall in the same factions as the two camps into which the Færies are divided, the Dark Covenant with the wicked and spiteful Unseelie Folk, still looking for ways to break the power of iron and Man in the mortal world so they can return, and the Light Covenant with the gentler, kinder, yet stern and formidable Seelie Folk who are content enough to live in Spirit but visit the mortal world to intervene when the desire strikes them or conditions seem to warrant it.
The Witches are free of most of the formal religious constraints as maintained by the Druids, and use what are considered unorthodox personal methods of dealing with the divine powers. There is a certain tension between the Witches and the establishment made up of and administered by the Druids, Brehons, Fathi, Filid ands Bards, and the Gowans (who among the Druids favor them most). The latter are socially initiated, ceremonially inducted according to established orthodox methods into the recognized religious establishment and organization. Each of them fulfills a certain prescribed function and holds a certain social rank as a result, as tenants of established offices.
While they have the respect of the local peoples whom they commonly serve, Witches are not nearly as prominent socially as those of the Druid trades, nor do they consider themselves as socially responsible, either.
While their teachings are not quite so scholarly in nature, they echo very strongly the lore and wisdom of the Druids from whom they draw the lion’s share of their lore.
“Truth in the heart, strength in the arm, honesty in speech.”
“The gods must be honored, no injustice done, and manly behavior [integrity] always maintained.”
“Three things from which a true Man must never be moved:
One’s Oaths, One’s Gods, and the Truth.”
“The three highest causes of the true Man are:
Truth, Honor, and Duty.
Among them, Honor above all!”
“The three candles that can illuminate every darkness:
Truth, Nature, and Knowledge.”
These are all prime, basic Celtic principles, framed in the typical Celtic triadic mold. In the end, the Witches believe as the Druids before them, that ALL are answerable for their own conduct and the consequences of their decisions.
Like the Druids before them, the magick of the Witches harnesses the energy of Life shared by all living things universally: plants, insects, animals, and all sentient beings, all forms of life no matter how great or small. In their view, Spirit is invested in EVERY-thing in the world. All is living and connected together by common bonds of Spirit. These wise folk are bound by their training and the Path that they traverse to gain their power and knowledge to intercede with the lesser gods and spirits mentioned previously, and so are accountable to them.
The interests of the Lords of Nature are measured on a clock of seasons and only occasionally do they specifically include the Witches or the folk of the day-to-day world about them, thus leaving most Witches to their own devices and diversions. For the most part, Witches are primarily only concerned with their own pursuits and other folk only insomuch as they affect those pursuits or the Witch’s environment.
Light Covenant Witches, or White Witches, are those who foster the lighter, more benevolent side of Nature. They are the most likely to go about and act in the manner of liaisons, traveling locally to protect the land for its own sake and foster some sort of reverence or respect for it in others. They know the needs of the land and its creatures, but they acknowledge the needs of man and know that they must either learn to live together or end up fighting one another. White Witches can often be found working with the people of the land, those who till the earth and have to glean their living from it, trying to teach them how to live in harmony with their environment. The White Orders do not like to use force but, when their ire is roused, they can be as dangerous and even as vindictive as their brethren of the Dark Covenant – an eye for an eye. Just because they are generally benign in disposition does not mean they do not have teeth.
The Dark Covenant Witches, sometimes called Black Witches (somewhat of a misnomer), are better acquainted with the more dangerous and destructive sides of Nature. They tend to be the most reclusive, and often seem selfish and self-absorbed in the point of view of any people living nearby. They put the needs of the creatures of the earth and all other living things ahead of the needs of the races of Men. Men in the point of view of the Dark Witches are despoilers and in need of correction and often punishment for their transgressions against the living world, rock, root, and beast. In this they share the sentiments of the faction among the fey that would see them supplanted and the right rule of the fey restored. The elfs of the Mortal World they almost never have any grounds to quarrel with. When not pursuing redress of grievances against the races of Men, they interpret their covenant with the nature gods as giving them the role of lord and caretaker, to guide or hinder, cultivate or encourage by their magickal Arts as they see fit.
They know their responsibilities and attend to them.
Dark or Light, Witches can be as implacable as the Immortal Sidhe in their fury when they, the land, or its creatures (whom they also consider to be part and parcel of their magickal domain) are threatened, or the laws of Nature and their faith are broken, for this is the sphere of their power, the heart of the influence they wield.
However, Witches in RoM should NEVER be confused with the horrific concepts and images conjured by Real World 16th and 17th century zealots. The practices and teachings of the Witches described here PRE-date the advent of what became the universal faith of the period of the game, and the subsequent invention of Satanism and “devil-worship”.
Witches are liaisons between the people and Nature, nurturers helping people who ask for it to get along and lead good lives, protectors of nature, warning of its importance, and the reapers of vengeance against those who foolishly flout the Olde Ways and teachings. They are not there to spread the faith of the Green Lords, to inspire it, nor to explain it, that is the job of the Druid trades or the occasional Mystic who has taken on that mission. They serve those who come to them, having at best small local organizations, using the gifts and knowledge borrowed from the more useful teachings of the Druids’ establishment. At the yearly holy quarter day celebrations the Witches sometimes assist the Druids as deacons to a parish priest. In many ways, Witches are the Fiana of the Druid religious community.
To embark on the Path of the Witch is to step outside the accepted, normal routes to the sacred. One who has been rejected by the Druid establishment as unsuitable could take his calling to the Witches. It is the difference between service to the gods and goddesses of the pantheon and service to the great spirits resident throughout the mortal world, the totemic spirits of a shaman, wild primal spirits over defined religion and its doctrine, dogma, and practices. For all of that it is no less rich a religious experience, however, and the Witches’ work with the great spirits does not mean that they do not know and acknowledge the gods and goddesses of the Druids.
The local people of the faith come to the Witches for magickal dispensation, as one might a Wizard, or healing – for what they want and perhaps need, but seek out a priest for reassurance, solace, to pour out their hearts, or to seek shelter or charity. If a follower of the Olde Ways comes to a Witch to petition for magickal dispensation after first having sought aid from the gods through a Druid, regardless of specific trade, or Mystic serving the Green Lords and having been denied, it will leave what is known as “god-sign” on the petitioner that any Witch with the Sight will clearly see, or otherwise will feel upon touching them, or see upon beginning to cast any magick in their presence, and would be foolish to disregard.
To fulfill the request of one who has been spurned by the Green Lords incurs a penalty equal to the POT of the magick worked on their behalf that endures until such time as the Witch has appeased Them for his transgression.
Witch folk are strange. Their Power sets them apart from more mundane folk, and this is one of the primary reasons they do not often or long dwell willingly among them. The presence of the Power within all Witches that marks their Covenant with the Green Lords lays upon them, surrounding them like a mantle. While not nearly so strong as that which a Mystic bears, it is still almost palpable to those who are sensitive to it. While it can shine from their eyes, reflected in their faces as a half-feverish light, it generally only does so when they work their magick or exercise their Spirit Skills (as applicable). Where the special Grace of a Mystic is always visible in his face, especially his eyes, for all to see at any time, a Witch is not so easy to spot except when he wields his trade knowledge or Power.
These facts all serve to explain somewhat the rather extreme personal diversity among Witches as a group, and the widely varying character we see of them as handed down to us in literature. As mentioned, they are rather solitary and tend to be strong individualists. They exist together best at a distance, coming together only to celebrate the great quarter-day feasts of their faith. However, towards the common folk they are mindful of their duty to serve. How they fulfill this duty varies with the individual, however. Some stand on ceremony and command respect and gifts and/or the ancient requirement “Cross my palm with silver.” Others work humbly and ask nothing of those they help except what is freely given in return. What never changes is that every Witch will serve the need brought to him to the best of his ability, regardless of covenant, and in return warn each and every one that for such magickal aid as they can render, some change will come into their lives to make room for it. There must be balance. Change is inevitable, the only constant in the universe, and comes even more swiftly when magick’s wild power is invoked to help it along.
While the Witch never knows and cannot predict even by Divination what change will come or when, the fact that they have a little rule of thumb to judge such things is a carefully hidden trade secret. The truer the real need, the more hopeless the cause, the less selfish and more in line with the Virtues the request brought to them for magickal remedy, the more painless and positive the change will be in their lives once the magick has been given them. In the same vein, the closer the supposed need is to baser wanting and the mire of the Vices, the more selfish the request, the more abrupt, disruptive and harmful the back-lash of Fate in return for the Witch’s work of magick. Those of the Dark Covenant delight in serving the needs of the latter and helping them to the just rewards for their weakness of character.
In contrast to the Druid trades, Witches have a vocation and follow a calling, more like Mystics. Without a series of summonses in dream, trance, vision, or the throes of religious ecstasy to follow the Path of the Spirit, one cannot become a Witch.
The calling to the Path compels a person with a power he cannot resist, drives him to the solitude of the heart of the nearest wilderness area, where he must live for a time. There he fasts and meditates, laying himself open to terrible visitations and apparitions. In the space of a few nights he may undergo many incarnations of the soul, generally behaving as if mad. This culminates in some dreadful hallucination of death or self immolation, spirits dismembering him, plucking out his eyes, hunting him down through flames. Then he ascends to Spirit on a tree or pole with the aid of a spirit-guide in the form of an animal associated with the elemental alignment of his birth, to finally achieve stasis, his personality dissolving in cosmic consciousness, union with the gods, the spirits of the dead, and all the spirits of sky, sea, earth, and primordial fire, his guides and helpers thence forward.
Afterwards, if he can, he returns to earth via that same vehicle, which retains its magickal significance to him for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, some candidates actually die, suffering massive failures of the physical body, so great are the stresses of the trials and ordeals. Some candidates are unable to pull themselves back out of their cosmic contact, and so never really return, remaining mad in the eyes of the world for the rest of their days. The people of the period of the game sometimes described those who had lost their wits as having been touched by god, called “goddess prisoners”. Even the successful candidate who returns to his right mind with his soul intact can only begin after a minimum of 10 days to stammer out coherent speech, to join the other Witches, who will recognize the mark of the Path on him, and his new readiness to begin to share the magickal secrets of their trade.
To any who follow a Path of Power of any sort, regardless of specific trade, Death holds no fear. It is a fact of the natural world, merely a change in consciousness. As the Flesh is only a vessel to hold the spirit and soul temporarily, it is considered a doorway between worlds. Along with the act of birth, Death is the means by which the mortal and spirit worlds remain in balance.
New Witches often take new names as a sign of the spiritual regeneration and rebirth undergone during this process. Most are given new names before entering the master’s hall for formal training, told to abandon their old name and life in preparation for this life-changing evolution. Sobriquets like “Lord Thunder”, “Moon Sister”, “Twilight Rider”, “The Lady of the Lake”, or “Lady Blue” are often coined and adopted during the period of schooling to further obscure the original name. Witches tend to prefer sobriquets embodying a location with which they are or will be associated when done with their training, such as simply “Master of Craig Corrie”, “Mistress of the Misty Marshes”, “Master of Lake Dubh”, “Mistress of the Dapplewood”, or “Keeper of Cranston Moor”. This makes getting a fix on the Witch through means of bonds of Sympathy much more difficult.
Having undergone this spirit journey leaves an indelible mark on the spirit or aura visible to any who have been fully trained in the trade who may be looking for it.
The new candidate’s nascent magickal talent generally expresses itself in one or more abilities commonly referred to as Spirit Senses, or Othersenses, included in the rosters showing the overall portfolio of skills available to those following the Witches’ Path. These can take a number of forms, as explained in the description in Appendix C. It is often through the raw untrained expression of these senses following taking the first steps on the Path that the candidates for further training in the craft are identified.
Every Witch must have a MGA score of at least 14. None can hear the calling to take even the first steps on the Path whose score is not at least that high. Talent was required of old, and those traditions are followed strictly by those who deign to teach the craft.
While studying in their hidden covens, all Witch characters will have the opportunity, and will have been strongly encouraged, to explore the hidden power of Nature and its world through Alchemy and to nurture Life through the arts of healing during their trade training.
For those playing under Intermediate or Advanced rules, characters training as Witches have the opportunity and are strongly encouraged to strengthen their tie to Nature through the Husbandman trade or explore the hidden power of Nature and its world through Alchemy or to nurture Life through the arts of the Healer (any) by way of a Secondary trade, especially Herbal, or as an Allied trade in the case of the Advanced rules.
Having the Husbandman Secondary or Allied trade of course enables the Druid to also practice any Herbal skills he may have upon the animals he is trained to take care of, without penalty or restriction.
What other trade the character takes on to facilitate his Wizardry is up to the player’s discretion, if he takes on any at all. It is by no means required that he do so.
The heart of Witch trade and the true measure of how effective he is in play is determined by the charms in his portfolio, however.
What dweomers can he craft?
What can he can do with his Arts?
During character generation, the player must answer these questions by choosing the charms or “dweomer-crafting” skills with which his character begins play.
All Witch characters may be equipped with up to (MGA) charms with which to be brought into play.
These are chosen from the following roster.
Anchor of Earth
Anonymous Glamour, Magnetic Presence
Beast of Burden (Hearty Hero; Feeble Waif)
Bonds of Concordance
Burden Charm (Carefree Burden; Wearisome Burden)
Cache, Dweomer Cache, Power Cache
Candle in the Window
Charm of Common Shaping
Charm of Direction
Charm of Finding
Cloud of Obfuscation, Veil of Obfuscation
Common Caloric Charm
Commune wi’ Animals
Commune wi’ Plants
Draw Harm, Deflect Harm
Far Flight, Earthbound
Far Speak, Eavesdropper’s Charm
Fat The Boar, Wasting Hex
Gas Bag, Bloat
Glimmerfoot, Untraceable Path
Hedge of Lances
The Milk of Mother Nature
Nature’s Saving Graces
Slick Charm, Stick Charm
Stinging Nettle Charm
Summon Spirit Hound, Summon Screaming Skull
Swift Heal, Slow Heal
Swift Rest, Cat’s Breath
Treeskin, Dragonskin, Stoneskin, Skin of Adamant
Veil of Lightning
Walk in Another’s Shoes
Walksafe, Undermine Structure
Web of Awareness
It is very important that the player make a note of which of the Ars Quintates may be used to cast each of these charms, as he may not always want to use the same Art to cast it.
Due to the fact that each charm in the game may be cast by a number of different Arts, the character develops a separate SL for a given charm for each Art by which it can be cast, and the difficulty of the task, or DV, is determined in part by the Art used for the casting.
IF the player has chosen to neglect any of the Five Arts, leaving them out in the process of Character Creation, the master he apprenticed under is assumed to suffer from a similar lack, or all five would normally have been learned.
While no player is required to equip his Witch with skill in all five of the Arts, and he is encouraged to do so, he must have at least one of them. The lack of any one of them may be a matter of note to friends and rivals alike should it be discovered.
If a character has come into the craft of magick through a trade apprenticeship, the GM can use the charms with which the character begins play as a starting point for determining the skills of the master under which the apprenticeship was served, for he must have had all of these and no doubt at least a few more.
Disturbances in the Ambience:
As mentioned in the Introduction, mana is the spirit and power of magick. As a general force, it is seen by the trained practitioner to permeate and overlay every corner of the Mortal World, constituting a vast continuous energy field known as the “Ambience”, as discussed in the Primer. While the Ætherium is always in motion, both the drawing and release of the power (mana) used in crafting charms or “dweomer-crafting,” creates a disturbance that passes through it, regardless of the trade of the practitioner. This is best described as a ripple-like wave that radiates outward in all directions through the Ambience. These disturbances or waves in the Æther are created in part by tapping the Veil between the Spirit and the mortal world. This sensation encompasses a see-feel-smell-hear-taste experience that defies any meaningful description to those outside the trade.
A Wizard can automatically feel the gathering of mana and the process of crafting it into a dweomer if it takes place within [(SPT) + (TR)] feet of them.
Beyond this, a successful SPT check on d100 is needed to allow him to “feel” it.
The AV to Sense Magick is equal to [(SPT 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 MGA
PLUS the number of points by which the POT of the casting is less than the practitioner’s MGA.
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 [(SPT) + (TR)] yards, regardless of POT.
For this check, the AV is [(SPT att. mod.) + (TR)], again.
The DV for the SPT 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 SPT 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 SPT 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 (MGA) 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 SPT 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.
During his trade training, all aspiring Witches use their magickal talents to cultivate a meditationally keyed, tiered eidetic memory for the sole purpose of retaining their vast store of magickal lore.
The character’s special trade memory enables him to retain up to [(MGA) + (TR) ÷ 4] charms or specific skills of arcane knowledge in a single AWA-slot, rather than the same amount of space in the character’s memory that such knowledge would occupy if learned by more mundane methods (1 skill per AWA-slot).
This works in a similar manner as other groups of related skills, like languages for a Linguist character, Social Graces, Lore specialties, or weapon skills. Otherwise each skill would fill a whole AWA-slot on its own
In order to maintain the knowledge in his special trade memory, the various nuances of magickal lore in the character’s special trade memory must be refreshed periodically. In order to maintain this knowledge intact, the Witch must meditate, review the entire contents of his trade memory, and practice chanting all of the secret rhyming triads of his craft from time to time, for a period of time dependent upon the number of charms he knows and his SL’s with them and the constituent Arts and Forms of his trade.
The Witch must spend [(number of charms) + (TR)] MINUS [(AWA) + (MGA att. mod.)] in days meditating on and reviewing his Common Sphere charms, minimum one (1). Once completed, he need not meditate and practice his trade lore again for [(MGA) + (TR)] days.
For example, the TR16 Witch Arnaud Osset has 18 charms, for a base study time of 34 days, and an AWA15 and MGA 16 (att. mod. +3), so he must spend 16 days in meditation, chanting in review, and practicing (18 charms + TR16 = 34; 34 – 18 = 16 days).
For every (MGA ÷ 4) days that the character does not review the magickal skills in his trade memory with one of his reference tomes, his casting AV’s drop by one (1).
For those Witches that keep a written tradition, this penalty can be momentarily avoided by casting directly from the pages of his book, open to the dweomer and Art he is working. It also places the practitioner at risk, revealing the nature of his ability and giving his foe(s) a valuable object to focus on in hopes of thwarting his efforts – one that is HIGHLY valued in the open market, whether it ends up having to be sold on the black market or not.
- IF the PC does not wish to sequester themselves away to plow through the time required (during which time no other activities might be undertaken), the time may be divvied up in the same manner as a craft project, stretched out over up to (AWA ÷ 4) times the required length so long as at least one (1) daily activity slot (by AWA) is devoted to it every day without exception until it is completed.
For example, Arnaud could spend his last daily activity slot (between supper and bedtime) working at his craft for 64 days (16 days discharged @ 1/4th a day per day elapsed is the same as 16 x 4 = 64 days) and incur no penalties as he goes.
IF the Witch lapses in observing this practice and the time for which the character is free of the burden of study has expired, penalties begin to accumulate immediately for weaving charms of any kind, by any Art or Form until he resumes fulfilling that requirement. When he resumes, the penalty does not go away until the requirement is met, BUT it does not get any worse, either.
Once this requirement is met, the Witch need not meditate and practice his trade lore again for [(MGA) + (TR)] days.
For example, once Arnaud has completed his 16 days, he is free for the next 32 days (MGA16 + TR16 = 32).
IF the player decides to have his character study and practice during his freedom from it, when he doesn’t have to, each full day spent is subtracted from his requirement when he is again required to study. The character’s AWA activity-slots may be used to gradually accumulate day’s-worth of chanting and review/practice, as explained above, BUT only FULL days completed towards this requirement are counted once the time arrives to fulfill the requirement again.
For example, Arnaud’s 15 AWA gives him 4 activity slots per day. If he takes the last of those 4 activity slots to study each evening before bed (as above), to meditate, chant, practice and review for the 32 days while it is not required, he can discharge exactly 8 of those days, cutting the number remaining down to 8 (32 ÷ 4 = 8), down by half. He can continue doing this until his circumstances change due to changes in SL’s and TR.
Even only studying a half day (2 AWA-slots), allowing half the day (2 AWA-slots) for domestic things, adventuring or what-have-you, Arnaud could then discharge refreshing his trade memory in 16 days. Afterwards, he has 32 days of light attention to his Arts.
But the cycle can be varied according the character’s requirement, the number of AWA-slots the character has and the player’s preference, as desired.
The Witches’ High Cant
The great store of knowledge of things magickal and the specific charms for the dweomers of all Witches, heirs of the Druid trades in the faith of the Olde Ways, of “The Green Lords”, are handed down by the same traditions, orally. Their lore is memorized by rote in typical Celtic rhyming triads using their ancient High Cant.
For all intents and purposes of the game, all magicks in RoM are generally considered to be “formulaic.” That is to say, magick is performed through the use of gestures and some form of chants or incantations handed down from master to student over many centuries, or even millennia in some cases. These have been pre-established by the research of those who have gone before, determined to produce a similar, established effect according to the method used (Divination, Enchantment, Glamourie, Naming, or Sorcery) when performed correctly (depending directly on the caster’s talent and training). This applies primarily to Low and Common magick, (spells and rituals, respectively). Cantrips require no such physical support to cast, having been discovered at a much later date than the Low and Common forms. Cantrips are High Magick because they are the latest and greatest of the powers of magick to be discovered, most effortless in appearance, but most difficult of the three to perform.
The Druids’ training in the lore of the magickal Arts and that of the Witches their heirs has caused them to develop a system for preserving the very roots of language from deep in the past, to the first languages of the first ancient civilizations, for it is in these languages that the Words of Power are hidden that help maintain and control the energy that they draw for their spell and ritual magicks. Language is Power. The Word IS the thing.
The Witches’ Cant is based on the languages of the northern lands, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Scotland and the northern isles, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall, largely Celtic and Germanic in derivation, where the magickal traditions of the Druids are rooted. The tongues of their ancient forebears, from all the regions those ancestors roamed, have been preserved and forged into one language, that of the Druids’ teachings, and of the Witches who are their heirs, the language in which the Witches call on the gods and the Druids the spirits of Nature, the language in which they converse among their own kind and weave their magicks.
Indeed, all of the magicks worked by those who follow the trades of magick are spoken/chanted in that trade’s secret tongue. Due to the sheer power that it invokes when spoken aloud during spell and ritual casting, all listeners are smitten with overwhelming images and emotions which actually blot out the words themselves. The words themselves are always completely burned out of the memories of any who overhear. The gestures that are required in spell casting and the actions and movements required in rituals always vary a bit from one Witch to the next, as well, so each Witch must discover the variation that works best for him. No two ever practice their Art exactly alike, even when using the same form (spell or ritual) of the same Art (Divination, Enchantment, etc.) for the same specific charm. All these facts make magick extremely difficult to learn, even for those who have talent and a willing instructor, while providing an effectively impenetrable barrier that prevents nosy outsiders from “stealing” the secrets of any of the arts of magick through simple observation.
The character may communicate freely in his secret tongue with any other trade member, Druid, Baird, Filidh, Fiana, Smith, Witch or any other initiated into the mysteries of the Power of their trade, such as a Huntsman of great accomplishment, but never with any not already accepted and initiated into the magickal lore of their trade.
No Witch would ever teach this secret language to any not already initiated into the trade themselves, on pain of a lingering punishment, even death, from his brother Druids, for doing so is to betray the secrets of the trade and craft of magick – and it is not rendered easily in written language. Indeed, the trade knowledge is held too valuable to risk writing down by many, for fear of the horrors that would befall them should their enemies obtain such secrets, but those of the Witches that are literate have been known to put their quills to work recording those secrets for fear that they might be lost over time.
The traditions of this trade are primarily oral, but the player must decide for himself if he is a traditionalist or more “forward-thinking”. Those of the Druid trades are aware that there is a quiet movement to render the lore passed down to the Witches in written form, but it has been so long that they have developed lore of their own, charms that the Druid trades themselves cannot generally emulate. Nonetheless, the very thought of doing so is viewed by many across the whole spectrum of Druid trades as a violation of the ancient trust passed down to them so long ago.
Each of the Five Arts has its own special jargon or vocabulary to describe its special processes and address concerns confined to its practice. If a character is lacking one of those arts, he will also lack the language skills to discuss that art with his colleagues. This will, of course, stand out as a matter of note to his colleagues, if or when it should be discovered.
For those players that opt for their Witch characters to follow a written tradition, instead, the character must be equipped with the requisite Literatus and Scrivener skills.
To meet the needs of life’s eclectic challenges the Witch needs two tomes, both for Common Sphere magicks. The first one travels with him for taking notes on lore he discovers and insights achieved while on the road, almost a diary of his magickal pursuits, while the other acts as a formal repository for ALL his knowledge, polished with glosses and commentary assembled and written as transcribed from the first book. The greater a Wizard’s SL with a given magick, his skill and knowledge with the Ars Quintates and his skills in High, Common, and Low Magick, the more he knows of its inner workings and the more he has to say about it in his tome.
Each book weighs c. 7.25 lb’s and has 100 pages in it, enough for the descriptions of 35 charms at SL1, assuming Art and Form SL’s also of 1, but these books can easily be added to and expanded with the help of a competent bookbinder up to a limit of about 200 (14.5lb’s, more than a stone) OR an absolute maximum of 300 pages (21.75lb’s). It is doubtful that any such character is going to be toting the 200-page book around in their rucksack, and the 300-page book actually requires a case or chest or some such to haul it along on travels, most likely to be carried on pack horse or in a cart or wagon with other supplies and equipment.
IF the character is beginning play with SL’s higher than 1, the contents and size of his books must be increased commensurately, additional pages added as play progresses and the character’s knowledge grows, according to the guidelines provided in the Grimoire.
Under the Mantle of Power
Those trained to arts of magick have an invisible stamp upon them, the residue of a will that transcends the natural order. This is unnerving to animals and requires an Encounter Reaction check on d100 every time a beast is first encountered. This sets the tone for all subsequent encounters, but it may mellow with the passage of (game) time (GM’s discretion). The sorts of mana the character has used can directly influence this, also. Some of the vibrations of mana available for use are easier in nature than others.
The natural Ambience that flows throughout the mortal world is completely neutral; it merely makes the natural reaction a little more intense, one way or the other.
- IF the magick-wielding character’s Virtues should outweigh his Vices, his [(CHM att. mod.) + (TR)] is added to make the Encounter Reaction more positive.
- IF his Vices outweigh his Virtues, his [(CHM att. mod.) + (TR) is subtracted to make it worse, stoking the animal’s fear and provoking its anger.
Under the Optional Rules, there are a number of sources throughout the Mortal World from which the practitioner can draw alternate types of mana. These and the manner of their release into the Ambience for the caster’s use are discussed in detail under the heading “Tools of the Arts”: “Alternate Sources of Mana”.
For those who use Nature Mana (any element, inc. Life, Sun and Moon, Day and Night), the Reaction check roll is always increased by [(CHM att. mod.) + (TR)].
For those who use Life and/or Carnal Mana, or whose strongest skill among the Five Arts is Sorcery or Glamourie, the Reaction roll is either:
a) increased by [(CHM att. mod.) + (TR)] if the Reaction roll is positive,
b) decreased by [(CHM att. mod.) + (TR)] if the Reaction roll is negative side.
This makes the reaction more extreme, whether for better or worse.
- IF the result is neutral, it remains that way, and the creature instinctively resists any attempts to influence that status one way or the other, the same modifier reinforcing the DV to aid in preserving that status.
For those who use Death and/or Blood Mana, or whose strongest skill among the Five Arts is Naming (Conjuring, Summoning and Binding), the Reaction roll is always reduced by (CHM att. mod.) + (TR).
One of the character’s Vices is increased one (1) point every occasion on which these types of mana are used. These are the lowest vibration of power and their use can only corrupt the character’s spirit over time with prolonged use.
On the Character Record Sheet there is provided a place on the Magick Record where all the forms of mana the practitioner might use are listed. The player is responsible for recording the greatest amount of POT used in a single dweomer of each type as they are used in play. Some of them he may never find a use for.
At the greatest extremes, animals may try to either crowd around the practitioner or follow him hoping for some attention or attack him in a rage or seek to escape his presence at any cost, violently if they are restrained, regardless of their normal temperament.
The practitioner may try any Beastmastery he or a hireling may have to try and calm down those animals that react badly, as applicable. Animals may be acclimated and domesticated through the Beastmaster’s craft so as not to react this way to practitioners of magick. This can never overcome any reaction response to those tainted with Blood mana if the beast has already reached sexual maturity. That is a visceral predator-prey response that can only be overcome by raising a beast from birth in the presence of that vibration of mana so the response is never learned.
Casting magicks near any animal commonly triggers the fight-or-flight reaction towards the caster again in the same way, whether the beast(s) have been domesticated to exposure to magick or not. In these cases, the Reaction is even more extreme: the POT of the magick performed is added to the original [(CHM att. mod.) + (TR)] modifier, so the Druid must be careful about using magicks around beasts, particularly if he intends to use a magick, such as a “Soothing Touch” or simply “Thrall” to eliminate all such reactions, to overcome this very stumbling block to his power. Carrying an active dweomer in hand into the beast’s presence elicits the same response. The beast’s presence in this case is defined as anywhere within (beast’s AWA) feet of it, effective POT felt by the beast being reduced by 1 point per foot of distance between the practitioner carrying the dweomer and the beast. Substances that can shield or dampen the vibration of the dweomer may allow the practitioner to approach closer. Casting while in the saddle of a beast unused to such forces is likely to get the practitioner bucked and pitched off the beast’s back before the beast takes off or continues to jump and buck, trampling the intrepid character.
In the same manner, the practitioner or his henchman who is also skilled as a Beastmaster may acclimate beast(s) to tolerate the presence and workings of magick, or he may hire a one to reside with him to work with his animals until he has accomplished this for him.
Due to his repeated and intimate exposure to the power and patterns of the charms he weaves, the Witch also gradually builds up his spiritual defenses against those magicks directed against him that can also be resisted.
A Witch’s (base) M-RES score is innate and protects him from those magicks that may be resisted, even if he is consciously unaware of them. His subconscious grows and becomes trained to be on guard so that in effect he cannot be Surprised magickally, which in the case of any other target would reduce his M-RES to one (1).
When he is aware of a magick directed at him, the Witch receives a bonus of (TR) to his normal (base) M-RES score for resisting those magicks that allow it.
Under the Optional END rules, every Witch is trained over the course of schooling in the magickal Arts to develop and harbor within his own spirit a personal reservoir of mana that can be tapped for casting magick.
This personal reserve consists of [(MGA ÷ 4) + (TR)] points-worth of POT in mana, to be used at the player’s discretion.
This resource can be used to bolster a magick that needs to be strong in POT while taking no more time to cast than normal. The player should look on this reserve as being more for use in emergencies when things look dark because it takes time and effort to restore afterwards, a period of rest and meditation where the spirit is opened to the flows of mana and the reservoir slowly refilled.
The mana may only be collected or drawn into the reservoir at a rate of one (1) point per [40 – (HRT)] minutes, but the character must make a point to take the time to settle down in a calm, quiet atmosphere and meditative state, preferably alone, to accomplish this.
- IF necessary, the Witch can use the points of POT in mana in the reservoir for physical activities as additional points to add to his END to be spent normally but, to do so, the personal reservoir must be completely emptied, whatever points of POT in mana remaining in it dumped wholly into the physical body, and the procedure for replenishing the reservoir afterwards remains the same.
Unlike physical energy, a practitioner of magick can actually become over-charged with POT in mana, over-filling the personal reservoir until it is brimming-over with spiritual energy. This is accompanied by something of a euphoric feeling, and loosens the bonds between soul/spirit and the body. In effect, the number of points of POT in mana above and beyond what the practitioner can normally contain in his special trade reservoir is counted as equal to points of POT in alcohol consumed, loosening inhibitions, impairing AGL, CRD, and AWA. The same rules are used to describe the effects in play. The character remains in this state until the excess in POT is used up, burned off.
Some magickal folk become addicted to this feeling, like any drug addict or alcoholic. Pursuing this sensation for its own sake rather than for a higher purpose or for accomplishing specific works of magick contributes to the Vice of Gluttony (+1 point in that score for every incident) and leads the character to a place where he requires a HRT check vs. Vice in order NOT to indulge himself in this way anytime he meditates to draw power.
The practitioners’ bonds with the power of Life and Nature he wields with his Arts also provide a gradual benefit over time.
This life-affirming aspect of the Witch’s Power also grants him a bonus of (TR) to his P-RES score.
This is limited ONLY to the purposes of resisting disease, healing wounds, and recovering from sickness, regardless of whether mundane or magickal in origins.
Steeped so long and so thoroughly in this life-affirming Power, the Witch’s own life-energies will be reinforced, to the point where they are augmented and preserved, slowing the aging process. The GM determines the degree to which the character’s lifespan is enhanced, according to the Sphere of Power of the mysteries into which the character has been introduced.
The Witch only ages one (1) year for every [(1 per 4 TR’s) + 1] years that pass, as long as he is initiated only into the Common Sphere mysteries, to a maximum of 1 year per (MGA ÷ 4) years.
On initiation into the Noble Sphere mysteries, this slows to one (1) year for every [(MGA) + (TR)] ÷ 4 years, to a maximum of 1 year per (MGA ÷ 2) years.
On reaching the Sovereign Sphere, the character only ages one (1) year for every [(MGA) + (TR)] ÷ 2 years, to a maximum of 1 year per [(MGA) + (TR)] years.
Of course, this makes little or no difference to those of the longer-lived races, especially those of elfin blood. For others it is a little bit of insurance against any charms that age the body unnaturally. In the face of such a charm that carries great POT, it at least provides some defense to blunt the effects.
Over the course of the initiation and subsequent trade training, all Witches become highly attuned to the spirits and Powers of nature, knowing intimately the animus of field, stream, beast and fowl, of all of Life.
To the Witches, wholly in tune with the wholesome power of Life and Nature, the un-dead are viewed as fetid corruptions of the loving essence of Mother Earth. Regardless of the Covenant of the Witch’s calling, these creatures embody the antithesis of their philosophy and thus are their sworn foes, especially those whose bodies are physical/material (skeletons, ghouls, wights, vampires, liches, etc.).
Un-dead live on anti-life and hunger only to consume the heat and fires of life about them. They are the ultimate perversion and abomination to Witches, to be investigated, pursued and wiped from the face of the earth where and whenever possible. When facing the physical un-dead, no quarter may be given. Un-dead spirits (unlawful ghosts, wraiths, etc.), not including lawful hauntings, are similarly horrible to Witches, but lack the physical corruption and may be parleyed with, their destruction postponed, if other business demands, but destroyed in the end they all must be. Black Order Witches are not nearly so adamant in these views, particularly concerning willful un-dead spirits and lesser forms of undead, particularly simple skeletons safely in their control (GM’s discretion).
Through their magickal Arts, which shine through their very auras, they absorb the vibration and Power of Life, which grants them power over the rootless, restless wandering spirits that can abound in the worlds of fantasy. This Power extends to both the ancient wild spirits of the elements and the creatures and beings of Faerie, but also to earthbound spirits of mortals who have died and shed the mortal bodies, and especially to the unlawful dead and the ‘un-dead’ in particular.
This power takes the form of the Banish, Command, and Dispel commands. Each of these commands exacts a cost from the character the same as casting a dweomer.
If successful, the practitioner will cause the target creature or being to flee, speeding away along the easiest and most direct route at its maximum movement rate for (practitioner’s HRT + TR) minutes without ceasing. When the time expires and the creature or being stops its flight, the distance between it and the practitioner who Banished it will mark the radius of a circle centered on the practitioner into which that creature or being will not be able to trespass again for (practitioner’s HRT + TR) hours.
If successful, the practitioner may command any one act, including one of service, of the target creature or being. The creature or being so Commanded will remain under the practitioner’s Power for up to (practitioner’s HRT + TR) hours, or until the service commanded has been rendered, whichever expires first. Demands for information are the most common and universally useful regardless of the nature of the creature or being subjected to the practitioner’s Power. The player should be conscious of the nature of his character’s Covenant in using this Power, and its possible effects on Virtue or Vice.
If successful, this Power completely destroys the physical manifestation of the wicked or troublesome creature or being targeted, removing it from the Mortal or Material Sphere and returning its spirit or essence back to the Sphere of Spirit whence it came.
Creatures and/or beings so Dispelled will be barred from interfering in any way in the Mortal Sphere, unable to even TRY to return, for (practitioner’s HRT att. mod.) or (TR) years, whichever is greater. If a creature or being once Dispelled by a practitioner is called back by some agent or ally in the Mortal Sphere, the Dispelling practitioner (TR + HRT att. mod.) will be added to his DV to cross the Vale and manifest physically again.
If the Druid can track down such a creature or being’s physical link with the mortal world, such as the remains of its former body (but not limited to), sanctify and lay them to rest again in hallowed ground, the DV for its return is increased by the POT with which the ground was sanctified.
This power is the most commonly exercised in the Druids’ and Witches’ crusade against the unlawful dead and un-dead. The Druid will have to be careful of lawful spirits though, who may be trying to get the practitioner to redress some grievance.
The Witch’s att. mod. for the use of any and all of these Powers is based upon his CHM and HRT scores.
The powers above are tools for battling or dealing with the willful spirits of the Æther such as the fey, but also the unlawful dead and un-dead, but the Druid or Witch must be very careful how he uses them, as those creatures are anathema and Dispelling should be the first response. Banishing is for ill-behaved and wicked spirits, but the Mystic might seek to Command information from his foe before Dispelling him and sending him back to Spirit where he belongs. While also subject to his Power, lawful spirits must be treated justly, for the very fact that they returned to the mortal world in a lawful manner indicates that they have unfinished business and a right to attend to it, or seek help in so doing.
The DV for any and all of these abilities is equal to the POT of the creature or spirit the Druid is facing, the highest among them if more than one, plus the number of others he is trying to affect at the same time. If such creatures have a material form to which they are tied, as some Un-dead do, the STA will be added to this DV.
These Powers can be exercised with the speed of a cantrip, with no Action cost.
The DV’s for Commanding and Dispelling are higher than those for Banishment, and Dispelling DV’s higher than Command DV’s. This may affect his decision to use these powers when he suspects he is facing a particularly powerful foe. In addition, the DV’s for Dispelling un-dead and spirit creatures who have physical bodies or physical components to their manifestations is higher than simple spirits, as they have a physical link to the mortal world, usually some artifact of its previous existence, or a person who dwells upon their loss and lends them the strength to bridge the gap to the mortal world.
The Price of Power
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 Witch’s knowledge and the Power he exercises are almost an entity unto 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 trade language. The name is the thing; and for him, the word is the deed.
It is the best kept secret of the trade that a Wizard must not swear to anything that is not so or that he does not fully intend to do. The oath of any character who wields magick of any kind is his bond and should never be lightly given for, if he fails it, his own power will seek to force him to carry it out.
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 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, allowing them to live comfortably with their power, as they wish. 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 forsworn.”
Shamanism and the Celts: The Fellowship of the Wise
To swear by ‘sun and moon, water and air, day and night, sea and land’ is another dire oath, indeed. Enforcement of this restriction in general is, of course, subject to the GM’s interpretation and discretion. In aid of this, the GM should refer to the passage concerning “Frivolous Magick” under the heading “Demands of the Trades”.
Unlike the Druids, Witches and other Bronze Age powers that are allied with Færie and vulnerable to the effects of iron and steel, Wizardry is the magick of Man and his Age of Iron and Steel. Together they go hand in hand, without complication or limitation.
The Ars Magica represent an ancient tradition spanning centuries and millennia of history, having provided many high points both light and dark in the annals. Those who practice these Arts 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.
What few understand is that there is a legitimate claim behind that demand.
Every practitioner must always approach the Power with respect.
It should never be used “frivolously” nor “profligately”, to any excess.
The daily pursuit of the craft, performing works for those who are truly in need, making the various tools which can make the practitioner better and more useful when on an adventure (dweomer caches, enchanting carts and wagons, tack and harness or beasts of burden to aid travel), aiding his compatriots to make them more effective, that is all 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 sheer cussedness, or anyone at all merely for spite or to put them down, for a lark to get a laugh – especially at another’s expense, and especially when the target chosen is downtrodden already, to pursue a lust to flatter one’s own vanity, or to accomplish for one’s self anything that could as easily be done by mundane means should be deemed frivolous, especially if the practitioner has servants already 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 self or 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 of Spirit 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, providing a spectacle for the 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, particularly a moral debt.
“Frivolous” is a subjective term and requires the GM to make judgement calls throughout the course of the game.
In doing so, the GM should be sympathetic AND flexible. This principle concerning the use of magick is NOT a stick with which to beat the PC’s 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 usage of magick on occasion should not only be allowed but encouraged. It can help 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 go unnoticed. 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 practitioner’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 in its completion 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 ever can 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 any common mortal beast. 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 suffusing the caster’s spirit by the time he looses the dweomer. When put to demeaning and frivolous use, however, the Beast 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 Arts 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 of the present.
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.
The GM needs to make judgement calls on the uses of magick as they occur during play and “keep score” of the number of “Frivolous Magicks” cast. 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 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 the GM let the character off the hook, to start over again fresh.
All Witches are responsible for observing all holy days and all holy forms or observances of their faith, including any special restrictions on actions or activities, whether generally forbidden or by the season. The GM must make some decisions in regards to the holidays in the practices of the of the followers of the “Green Lords”. The bases of their festivals rest upon the high quarter day holidays (Vernal Equinox, March 21st; Summer Solstice, June 21st; Autumnal equinox, September 21st; and Winter Solstice, December 21st) and the cross-quarter days between each of these (Imbolg “IM’olk”, February 1st/2nd; Beltaine, April 31st/May 1st; Lughnasad “loo-NA-sa”, July 31st/August 1st; and Samhain “SA-wain”, October 31st/November 1st).
Special restrictions and observances can be all inclusive, of the nature of “Thou shalt not kill”, “Thou shalt not bear false witness”, “Do no harm”, or may be by the day of the week (no eating blood meats on Fridays, no working on Sunday), or by the season of the religious calendar (sacrifices of the Lenten season, gift-giving during the Christmas season), and so on. In many instances a Mystic ordained as priest may find himself acting as chaplain for his adventuring party, performing services for them when they are in the wilderlands out of reach of a temple.
In the Celtic calendar there are many candles to be lit for Imbolg and bonfires to celebrate the return of the sun, and again bonfires to be lit on Beltaine. Sheaves of new grain are presented to celebrate Lughnasad, along with feasting and games of skill and physical prowess, also a very popular time for negotiating winter lodgings and trial hand fastings in the Celtic tradition, lasting a year and a day to determine if a more permanent arrangement is acceptable. Samhain marks the end of the year, “summer’s end”, from sam “summer” and fuin “end”. It is Celtic New Years and the festival of the dead, when the gates of the Spirit World and Færie are open wide, celebrated for three nights, during which the final harvest is celebrated with bonfires and feasting and tales of dead ancestors, for whom a place will always be laid at table. All fires in the community are extinguished as the great bonfire is lit, and then all hearth fires rekindled from its flames, bonding the community together. A second bonfire is lit and couples walk between and cattle are driven between them for a blessing and to cure disease, also young men take turns leaping over the flames to show their physical prowess. With summer’s grass gone and the harvest in, the livestock that cannot be supported through the winter can be slaughtered. With the frosts come, the meat can keep for the winter, and the bones of the slaughtered beasts are thrown on the Samhain bonfires. All of these occasions are considered propitious for performing various sorts of divinations, as well.
These duties to religious attendance are required in addition to the time these characters must spend maintaining their special meditationally keyed, tiered eidetic trade memories for magickal lore.
Two specific examples of special observances and restrictions associated with the “Fairy Faith”, or Olde Ways of the Green Lords, can be found among Witches.
All Witches labor under a geis or vow/requirement to wear or carry only items made of pure metals upon their persons (copper, lead, tin, silver, gold, etc), as the mana that they draw for their works of power is tuned to the unspoiled power of Nature in the world about them. For the Witches, it is an important part of their Covenant with the Green Lords. Those who follow these trades have no tolerance for any alloyed metals either (brass, bronze, pewter, etc) either, as their earth essences have been corrupted by these processes, each warring with the other for identity and dominance. However, objects composed of many parts may have their component parts made of different metals, so long as each part be made of a pure metal. Objects constructed in this way are felt to work together, to sing in harmony rather than fight with one another for dominance.
The Witches’ Power reacts in a similar manner to that described for metals when any other materials are similarly mixed, particularly in the clothing that they wear. Mixed fiber fabrics are forbidden them. While the character may wear garments of different fibers (cotton, wool, linen, etc.) together in one ensemble, no fibers may be mixed in the spinning or weaving of any single garment that a Druid wears. Appliqués and applied borders, sleeves made of different fiber material tied on by points, embroidery and similar adornment all fall into the same category as objects made up of pieces composed of different metals, above. As long as the materials used for each part is pure, there is no problem.
Both mixed metals and garments of mixed fibers, called adulterated or adulterine materials, are considered spiritually unclean, corrupting the power worked by the Witch, especially when he is working his magickal Arts, and thus a source of corruption to the soul, leading to sickness in the body and possibly even eventually death.
Wearing any such adulterated materials actually make the Druid feel under the weather, give him flu-like symptoms. The greater the amount of such materials worn, the more sickly he feels until they are removed. Should a character try to work his magickal Arts while wearing such substances the corruption is drawn into his spirit so he falls sick in fact with a malady of POT equal to the POT of the magick worked while so clad, PLUS the number of offending items he was wearing. Until the offending materials have been removed and he has received proper medical attention, he cannot recover. Recovery is administered the same as that for any normal, mortal poisoning.
Furthermore, Witches must avoid all commercially gathered or prepared animal by-products in their dress and household goods, as the slaughter of living creatures and commercial purveyance of their flesh for profit flies directly in the face of their philosophy. While a Witch can wear any animal fur, hide, claw, horn, antler, or other by-product, he must be sure that the beast was slain out of need and that neither the creature’s flesh nor carcass was wasted. In addition, animal goods must not be “over-worked”. One must be able to readily tell what the material is, if not necessarily what animal it came from. Skins must be prepared in such a way that they retain their natural hair, feathers or fur. Feathers must either be gathered singly from cast-offs fallen to the ground or be left on the whole skin of a felled bird to be prepared so that the bird may yet be identified, horn and antler must not be so carven or shaped that they cannot be identified for what they are. Those items worn in violation of this restriction cause the same reaction when the character works his magickal Arts wearing adulterated materials, above.
Witches are steeped in the power of Spirit, but most closely that of Nature, which corresponds to Færie where the dwindling Green Lords find refuge and most comforting rest, and the era when they roamed free and the magickal traditions for those trades were created, the Bronze Age. Some of their lore and magickal traditions predate even that age, lost in the mists of time.
Iron by nature, and steel by extension, are deeply material – the strongest in the mortal world of the Age of Men. Its raw deposits can dampen local availability of mana and subdue the gathering of spiritual energies, even absorb the manifestations of magick. Iron and thus, steel, are the bane of the Powers of Færie. Its touch can dispel Færie magicks and burn the flesh of the Færie-born.
The Witches wield Power closely related and so are forbidden to have more than (HRT + TR) ounces of cold or wrought iron or the same amount in pounds of steel within (MSS) feet of them when they are casting magicks, or suffer a DV penalty to every magick they attempt while in violation.
The DV penalty is equal to the number of ounces of iron or pounds of steel the magicker is carrying beyond the [(HRT) + (TR)] limit.
The effects of steel are less than that of iron because in it the iron is mellowed in nature by the carbon that hardens it and the very work of the hand of Man, and sometimes also corrupted with traces of nickel and other metals.
The (MSS) distance to be kept from iron/steel is raised by 1 foot for every point by which the character’s MSS score is greater than his MGA score or lowered by 1 foot for every point by which the character’s MGA is greater than his MSS score.
Where the Optional END rules are in play, any DV penalty imposed on a casting due to violating the iron/steel restriction is added to the END cost for casting the magick, making it more taxing and tiring.
While the Witch may never have any tolerance for carrying iron, he has an allowance of (HRT + TR) ounces of steel to carry on his person without penalty.
Again, the DV penalty is equal to the number of ounces of steel the magicker is carrying beyond the [(HRT) + (TR)] limit.
When steel is clad in one of the two noble metals, gilded with gold or silvered instead, the power of the noble metals cancels out the base influence of the iron used to make the steel. Not only are these metals considered “noble”, but they also have great sacred significance. This is the ONLY condition under which a Witch might consider the use of such otherwise “adulterated” materials. In this case, the gilding or silvering doesn’t have the sickening effect it would otherwise.
Among the folk of their faith, the Witches are mindful of their duty to serve. How they fulfill this duty varies with the individual, however. Some stand on ceremony and command respect and gifts and/or the ancient requirement “Cross my palm with silver”. Others work humbly and ask nothing of those they help except what is freely given in return. What never changes is that every Druid and Witch serve the need brought to him to the best of his ability, but in return he must warn each and every one that, for such magickal aid as they can render, some change must come into their lives to make room for it. Change is inevitable, the only constant in the universe, and comes even more swiftly when magick’s wild power is invoked to help it along.
While the Witch never knows and cannot predict even by Divination what change may come or when, the fact that they have a little rule of thumb to judge such things is a carefully hidden trade secret. The truer the real need, the more hopeless the cause, the less selfish and more in line with the Virtues the request brought to them for magickal remedy, the more painless and positive the change in their lives once the magick has been given them. In the same vein, the closer the supposed need is to baser wanting and the mire of the Vices, the more selfish the request, the more abrupt, disruptive and harmful the back-lash of Fate in return for the work of magick.
If a follower of the Olde Ways has fallen out of the favor of the gods or offended one or other of the major spirits of the realm and comes to petition for magickal dispensation, especially after first having sought aid from the gods through a Mystic serving the Green Lords and having been denied, he bears what is known as “god-sign” that any Druid or other magick-wielder with the Sight will clearly see, or otherwise will feel upon touching them, or see upon beginning to cast any magick in their presence. It would be foolish for any Druid or Witch to disregard this warning. The sign of the will of the gods will be clearly visible to any and all Mystics when dealing with those of their faith, a sign worse than foolish to ignore. To fulfill the request of one who has been spurned by the Green Lords or the Light incurs a penalty equal to the POT of the magick worked on their behalf that will endure until such time as he has served penance for his transgression.
Though their aspects and demeanors vary, Witches are all bound by their covenant with the Lords of Nature, many aspects of which are shared by the members of the Druid trades, who share their religion. Players must get more complete information on the Lords of Nature in the gameworld from the GM in order to help determine which faction the character belongs to – IF ANY. It is far more common for a character to serve the whole pantheon equally; no specific patron is necessary.
It is of vital importance that the reader become familiar also with the passages titled “An Introduction to Magick”, “The World through a Magician’s Eyes” and “A Primer on the World of Magick” before also reading through the rules for magick contained in the passages headed “Magick in Play”. There are certain basic essential concepts in those passages that, in concert with the trade descriptions are vital to a clear understanding of magick, its place in the world and how it is created and the rules under which it manifests in the game world, especially in mechanical terms.