Monday, July 14, 2014

Sorcery (Final...?), Part 1 (So That's a No)

I'm posting this here rather than Karl because we need to understand how sorcery will function before we understand the meat and potatoes of Karl's character. 

There are several posts floating around here where I outline my thoughts on how sorcery works in GURPS. Some of them actually contradict each other. Fuck. Some of the background material is just violently contradictory in nature. That's because the blog is my workshop. It's where I vomit out words instead of patiently and quietly thinking thoughts about things and then writing them down. Sorcery comes up a lot  on the blog because it is important. I designed this campaign around "Fuck magic!" while retaining it as a functioning aspect of the campaign setting and with background material explaining that. The background reasons for sorcery being the way it is are important, so it is important that sorcery rules fit with the background material and whatnot. 

So we're going to start with what sorcery is. Sorcery is an external force that sorcerers learn to manipulate through training and experience. It surrounds everyone in Hekinoe (presumably) and only becomes dangerous and deadly when sorcerers call upon it to force their will out upon the world. It is not living or sentient, nor is it good or evil. It is energy that exists that can be called upon by sorcerers to do stuff. It also has a tendency to break out of the control of sorcerers to unleash energy and potential on the surroundings of the sorcerer, and prolonged use of these energies warps the flesh of its practitioners. 

So what does it take to be a sorcerer? 

I Can Use Sorcery! Template
  • Background story indicating how, where, etc you learned sorcery. 
  • 1 point of physical disadvantages or quirks stemming from the fleshwarping nature of sorcery per 10 points of sorcerous traits purchased by the player (see below). If the character has a HT of 15 or higher, this ratio becomes 1 point of physical disadvantages per 15 points of sorcerous traits. These disadvantages do not count for your cap on disadvantages. This aspect of sorcery does not apply to Fallen or Soulless (or a Rankethlek if they should somehow gain the ability to wield sorcery).
  • Magery 1 with the Radically Unstable Magery: Stabilization Roll Allowed limitation for -10% limitation and the Can't Use FP limitation for -10% (this means Magery above level 0 has a base cost of 8 character points per level, rather than 10). These modifications mean that when you roll against your skill level and fail, your spell misfires due to your inept casting. You get a chance to reroll the check again and that keeps it from misfiring even though you botched the casting. The second limitation just means you can't use your own FP or the FP of others as energy for a spell. Normally, it's a -60% limitation, but sorcerous energy is readily available from the environment in Hekinoe, so it's not exactly a crippling limitation.
  • The Social Stigma (Second Class Citizen) or (Monster) disadvantage. The version taken depends on where the campaign takes place. Social Stigma (Monster) is used if the campaign will occur primarily in The Plains of Dust or The New Empire, while Social Stigma (Second Class Citizen) is used if the campaign will occur primarily in other nations. These disadvantages provide the normal amount of points and count towards your disadvantage limit. It should be noted that the penalties associated with these disadvantages do not apply to interactions with Fallen, most Fell Humans, most Sereth, most Soulless, and Vyanth. If the campaign will take place primarily in The Fallen Empire of Man, The Fell Peaks, Serethnem, or Vyanthnem, these social disadvantages aren't relevant or mandatory. 
Character points spent on the Magery advantage are considered to be character points spent on sorcerous traits. There will possibly be a list of other advantages considered sorcerous traits. I need to read through all the advantages a few times and determine what can be taken and how and whether or not it is magic. Additionally, all character points spent on spells themselves are considered sorcerous traits, as are techniques to modify the casting of spells. 

Typically, spellcasters mutter incantations, wield weird components like bat shit, and make gestures while casting spells. They also have spellbooks. Sorcerers in Hekinoe do that all as well, but it isn't always mandatory. Making gestures and speaking incantations helps to assist the sorcerer's concentration and willpower in binding the sorcerous energy to do as he wishes. If you cannot speak or gesture while casting a spell, you can't cast it. Period. However, as you advance in skill level with a spell, you don't need to gesture or speak so much (in addition to reducing the casting time and energy cost of the spell). When you reach a base skill level of 20 with a spell you can just stare off into space while casting it. You also halve the time needed to cast the spell and reduce the net energy cost by 2. These are GURPS rules, not my specific rules, and some spells are unaffected by advanced skill level reducing the time and cost of casting them. 

Moving to spellbooks, spells don't fly out of a sorcerer's head when he casts a spell. That's stupid. If you can't recall how a spell is cast how would you identify other spells as they are being cast or in the world around you? Spellbooks are a good reference material though. Spells are complicated, so a sorcerer that has not reviewed his spellbook in the past 24 hours (it takes 5 minutes per spell) gains a -1 to his skill level with his unreviewed spells. Every full 24 hours a sorcerer goes without reviewing his spell book confers another -1 to his skill level. If you know a spell at a base skill level of 15, these values change to a week per -1, and at a base skill level of 16, it changes to a month. 

Learning spells isn't particularly complicated. You don't really need to go out and buy scrolls and such and write them down. Actual sorcery in Hekinoe is almost like being a multi-classed Wizard/Sorcerer in Pathfinder. Once you've learned the basics of manipulating sorcerous energy (Magery 1) it basically becomes about focused intent and the willpower to control the energies while managing to dissipate excess energy without blowing everything up. Having someone else's process written down or having them explain it to you (via teaching and whatnot) would certainly assist in your own process, but you'll figure it out eventually. Basically learning new spells amount to this: meet all the prerequisites and have sufficient character points (through rewards for scenarios or down time learning) to buy the spell. How neat is that? You don't even need special inks that cost 500 marks to write them down in your grimoire/spellbook. I like grimoire. It sounds cool. 

Just a note, I've said it before, but spells are based on your Magery and Will, not Magery and IQ. This is because you are attempting to force chaotic energy into a certain form to achieve a certain effect. You are binding primal chaotic energies with your willpower. This does cheapen sorcery slightly, with Will being 5 character points per increase and IQ being 20. While I'm talking about Magery, I will also mention that your level of Magery improves how quickly you learn a spell when you are researching or practicing during your down time to gain character points to spend on purchasing a spell or increasing your skill level with one.

Normally in GURPS you pay energy to power spells, which can be taken from multiple sources (FP, HP, the Energy Reserve advantage, powerstones, manastones, etc). It doesn't work like that in Hekinoe though. Sorcery is a completely external source that only some races can access (it can be stored in powerstones though). There's a previous post around here where I talked about that, and I'm basically copy and pasting from it, but here goes. When a sorcerer begins casting a spell, he automatically draws sorcerous energy to him and the amount of energy he draws is dependent on the sorcerous energy level of the area. He can draw more than the initial burst of energy, but it takes additional concentrate maneuvers to do so, which will delay casting the spell. So you initiate the casting with your first round and concentrate maneuver, get X amount of energy, decide you need more energy so you take a concentrate maneuver on your next round to draw more, then continue casting the spell, but with an extra round added to the casting time. This makes Compartmentalized Mind super useful for sorcerers in Hekinoe, as you can perform multiple concentrate maneuvers per round so one can be used for casting and a second in the same round could be used for drawing more energy to you. This sorcerous energy persists around you until such a time as you dismiss it, so it sort of lingers around you (as long as you don't move around a bunch) and is accessible for maintaining spells that require energy to be maintained. If you are not actively casting a spell though, the energy nearby dissipates with a sort of half-life. So you cast a spell and end up with 20 energy lingering around you, then don't cast anything during a round, and it drops to 10, a second round of not casting or maintaining anything drops it to 5, then 2, then 0. 

Ambient Sorcerous Energy Levels
  • Extremely High: 20 energy on 1st round of casting, 20 per each additional concentrate maneuver. At this level of ambient sorcery, all failures to successfully cast a spell are misfires and actual msfires are truly spectacular. 
  • High: 15 energy on 1st round of casting, 15 per each additional concentrate maneuver.
  • Normal: 10 energy on 1st round of casting, 10 per each additional concentrate maneuver.
  • Low: 5 energy on 1st round of casting, 5 per each additional concentrate maneuver. All spells, including enchanted items, perform at -5 skill level. When rolling to determine misfire, improve the regional misfire level by 1.
  • Extremely Low: 1 energy on 1st round of casting, 1 per each additional concentrate maneuver. All spells, including enchanted items, perform at -10 skill level. When rolling to determine misfire, improve the regional misfire level by 2.
  • Absent: None.
One thing I didn't mention in the previous post was what areas are what in The Known World. This knowledge would be well known at this point. Sorcerers have been around for 10003 plus years, and pretty much every nook and cranny in The Known World has been explored to a reasonable degree. 
  • Extremely High: AB4 (animal, healing, and plant colleges only) AB32 (body control, fire, and illusion and creation colleges only), N4 (enchantment, making and breaking, and meta-spell colleges only), N32 (making and breaking, necromancy, and protection and warning colleges only).
  • High: AA3, AA4, AA5, AA31, AA32, AA33, AB3, AB4, AB5, AB31, AB32, AB33, AC3, AC4, AC5, AC31, AC32, AC33, AL18 (making and breaking, necromancy, and protection warning colleges only) D18 (body control, fire, and illusion and creation colleges only), M3, M4, M5, M31, M32, M33, N3, N4, N5, N9, N31, N32, N33, O3, O4, O5, O31, O32, O33, T-3, T-4, T-5, T39, T40, T41, U-3, U-4, U-5, U39, U40, U41, V-3, V-4, V-5, V39, V40, V41
  • Normal: Everywhere not listed above or below.  
  • Low: A band of low sorcerous energy is known to begin approximately 333 miles north of Haven. 
  • Extremely Low: A band of extremely low sorcerous energy is known to beging approximately 666 miles north of Haven.
  • Absent: Approximately 999 miles north of Haven the ocean is absent of sorcerous energy. Reports indicate this area lasts for approximately 16 miles before entering into an area of extremely low sorcerous energy. 
Sorcerers in Hekinoe don't automatically know what level of sorcerous energy exists in a particular area (unless it is well documented like The Known World), but they may sense when they move to an area of stronger or weaker sorcerous energies (Perception + Magery -3, +3 bonus if they are actively searching for the boundary). This information immediately shows you that sorcerous energies are concentrated in certain areas of The Known World. How neat is that?

Given that drawing sorcerous energy to you is a thing, there are probably people who are better at it than others. Thus the following advantage:

Efficient Drawer (Supernatural)
10 points/level
This advantage allows sorcerers to increase the amount of ambient sorcerous energy they call to themselves when they begin casting a spell. Each level of the advantage increases the amount of energy you automatically draw to have at your disposal when you begin casting a spell by 20%. So in an area of normal sorcerous energies, you would draw 12 energy for casting your spell, then 10 with any additional concentrate maneuvers. A low level area would draw 6 and 5 and an extremely high area would draw 24 and 20, etc. Characters may posses no more than two levels of this advantage unless they receive training from someone with higher levels of it.

So that's kind of the first heap of words to be vomited at you about sorcery before we get to the final version of Karl. But before I end this already lengthy post, I want to talk about some other appropriate limitations on the Magery advantage. The ones listed above are mandatory. Regardless of age, race, competence and so on, everybody has those two limitations listed above. But The Known World is a large place full of lots of people doing lots of things and lots of traditions and styles develop.

Karl is an Uncout who was trained by his uncle, the clan shaman. The Uncout tribes of The Beast Lands have developed a system of complex rituals that allow them to better control the energies of sorcery. So Uncout spellcasters might have the Extravagant Rituals 1 limitation for -10% (bringing the cost of Magery 1 down to 7 character points). Each level of this limitation moves the gestures and vocalizations for a spell down one step. So instead of being able to stare off into space silently at a base skill level of 20 while casting a spell, you'd need to get it up to 25. This limitation has no effect on the cost reduction and time reduction of higher skill levels of spells.

Karl is also a gunslinger sorcerer. He channels his spells through his firearm. This could just be that he's enchanted his firearm via the magic staff spell so it amplifies and assists his casting. It could also be that he can't use sorcery without it and he applies gadget limitations to levels of Magery above 0 (you can't limit Magery 0, and it costs 5 points, not 10 like higher levels). So Karl could have Magery 1 (Breakable: DR 4 -15%, Can Be Stolen: Quick Contest -30%) plus the Extravagant Rituals 1 -10%, Can't Use FP -10%, and Radically Unstable: Stabilization Allowed -10% for a whopping -75% to his the cost of Magery 1. This means Magery 2 would cost him 5 character points (Magery 1 would cost 3, as you always round up when applying modifiers to advantages), less than Magery 0 cost him. With that style of dependence on his guns he wouldn't be able to add his Magery level to his Will to determine his skill level and he couldn't cast any spells that required a Magery level higher than 0 if the gun(s) weren't in his hands.

The Vyanth are very bold practitioners of sorcery. They understand it is wild and uncontrollable, so a lot of their teaching techniques involve pitting your belligerence and adrenaline and ego against the chaotic power of sorcery, so they tend to purchase Radically Unstable: No Stabilization Roll -30%, unlike the milder -10% version.

The Fallen are considered the most powerful sorcerers in The Known World, they understand the risks of sorcery and respect its many dangers and they have taken a more sober route to practicing it than the Vyanth, so many of their teaching focus on meditation and mental preparations. So some of them buy Magery after modifying it with the Preparation Required: 1 minute, Weakened Without Preparation limitation for -10%. The way this would work is that before casting spells, a Fallen would center himself with meditation or chanting or whatever (a solid minute of concentrate maneuvers), then go ahead and cast spells for a few minutes (an encounter) and then need to center his mind and steel his will again afterwards. He could still cast spells without centering himself, but it would halve their duration, range, and effect.

There are some sorcerers who just never paid attention during schooling, or they stumbled into sorcery and spells with no real formal education and it would be appropriate to give them the Unreliable limitation on their Magery. This means any time you wanted to cast a spell, you would roll against your activation number (4 - 14, with a cost modifier of -80% to -10%) and if you fail, you don't add your Magery to your Will to determine your skill level with a spell and you can't cast a spell if it requires a Magery level above 0.

There are lots of applicable limitations to Magery (one college only, a small selection of colleges, day, night, song, etc) and most of them can reasonably be applied to Magery in The Known World.

Alright, so that's a shit ton of sorcery basics. This will be the first of at least three posts with the second hopefully appearing Wednesday and the third on Friday. We'll see though. 

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