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Arcane Background for an Aztec low fantasy game (sacrificial blood magic)

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  • Arcane Background for an Aztec low fantasy game (sacrificial blood magic)

    I am planning to run the game that is in the title of this thread and could use some pointers on how to mechanically represent certain trappings in an arcane background.

    Nagualism is when you are born with the ability to physically change shape or spiritually adopt aspects of various spirit animals as well as other sorcery, kind of like a European witch archetype. This I will just represent using the Gifted Arcane Background as it is.

    Skinwalkers are those grisly sorcerers who remove, curate and then wear the skin of other beings in order to wholly change shape into their likeness or generally absorb parts of their abilities in other ways. This will function like the Weird Science Background, with every "Device" representing a new skin.

    What I'm wondering about though is the slower and more ritualistic magic that anyone can perform and that is primarily based on sacrificing the lifeforce of oneself or another, from a very small sacrifice of just letting a few drops of blood to an industrial slaughter of thousands of people and / or animals. It would presumably function like the Miracles Background but I need to find some good way to represent sacrifices to make each spell more powerful. Should I represent it as sacrificing levels of Fatigue and Wounds to empower the powers? How much do you think each should empower and in what way?
    Last edited by Aristarkos; 01-27-2019, 06:51 PM.

  • #2
    I'd probably start with the Soul Drain Edge to sacrifice your own Fatigue for Power Points, and then some kind of Improved Soul Drain Edge to use other people's Fatigue.

    There aren't any ritual magic rules out for SWADE yet, so it's hard to tell where to go with that. You'd want some kind of ritual magic rules that you can use a TON of PP/Fatigue to really empower to represent really big magic, but as written SW doesn't really do a lot of big magic.

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    • #3
      Welcome to the forum!
      Originally posted by Aristarkos View Post
      Nagualism is when you are born with the ability to physically change shape or spiritually adopt aspects of various spirit animals as well as other sorcery, kind of like a European witch archetype. This I will just represent using the Gifted Arcane Background as it is.

      Skinwalkers are those grisly sorcerers who remove, curate and then wear the skin of other beings in order to wholly change shape into their likeness or generally absorb parts of their abilities in other ways. This will function like the Weird Science Background, with every "Device" representing a new skin.
      Sounds like you've got these figured out.

      Originally posted by Aristarkos View Post
      What I'm wondering about though is the slower and more ritualistic magic that anyone can perform and that is primarily based on sacrificing the lifeforce of oneself or another, from a very small sacrifice of just letting a few drops of blood to an industrial slaughter of thousands of people and / or animals. It would presumably function like the Miracles Background but I need to find some good way to represent sacrifices to make each spell more powerful. Should I represent it as sacrificing levels of Fatigue and Wounds to empower the powers? How much do you think each should empower and in what way?
      If you have, or have access to, the Horror Companion then I'd strongly suggest using those ritual rules. They're reasonably well balanced, easily adjusted to a particular setting, have a wealth of modifiers to adjust a specific ritual, and can be used by anyone with the Occult skill. Note that the book was written for Deluxe, so minor changes will be required to use with Adventure.

      I don't think this should primarily be handled by an Arcane Background, unless I'm misunderstanding the phrase, "magic that anyone can perform".
      Arcane Backgrounds are for performing magic that only a few can perform due to requiring innate talent or special training. What you've described is something that anyone can do, which doesn't require a specific Edge. However, if the Arcane Background is to represent characters that have learned how to do this kind of ritual in combat situations then that's fine.
      For that latter case, use whatever AB seems like the best baseline but with fewer Power Points and an automatic Soul Drain Edge. (The existence of Holy / Unholy Warrior makes me question the choice of Miracles, but it's your setting.) The really big rituals, including rituals performed by normal people, would still use the Horror Companion ritual rules.
      I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
        If you have, or have access to, the Horror Companion then I'd strongly suggest using those ritual rules. They're reasonably well balanced, easily adjusted to a particular setting, have a wealth of modifiers to adjust a specific ritual, and can be used by anyone with the Occult skill. Note that the book was written for Deluxe, so minor changes will be required to use with Adventure.

        I don't think this should primarily be handled by an Arcane Background, unless I'm misunderstanding the phrase, "magic that anyone can perform".
        Arcane Backgrounds are for performing magic that only a few can perform due to requiring innate talent or special training. What you've described is something that anyone can do, which doesn't require a specific Edge. However, if the Arcane Background is to represent characters that have learned how to do this kind of ritual in combat situations then that's fine.
        For that latter case, use whatever AB seems like the best baseline but with fewer Power Points and an automatic Soul Drain Edge. (The existence of Holy / Unholy Warrior makes me question the choice of Miracles, but it's your setting.) The really big rituals, including rituals performed by normal people, would still use the Horror Companion ritual rules.
        Thanks for the suggestions. I just read the Ritual Magic rules from the Horror companion. They seem fine but I see nothing that indicates what you are saying that anyone with the Occult skill can perform them as it still mentions Arcane Backgrounds and Power Points. I suppose it is possible to waive this however by applying the "no Power Points" rule specifically to such ritualistic magic so that anyone can use those powers but get a hefty penalty based on PP costs.

        The Horror Companion did contain rules for sacrifices that were quite handy though, so thank you for those!

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        • #5
          D'Oh! Yeah, sorry, I wrote that post off of memory and I apparently confused it with some other material I'd read.
          Probably the related and similar Ritual Magic rules (pages 50 to 53) from East Texas University , which don't require an Arcane Background or Power Points but are much more limited in other ways. I blended the two together when I was running an ETU campaign, so they're hybridized in my memory. Apologies for the error.

          ETU is a genuinely fun setting, with a pretty good Plot Point Campaign and some innovative Setting Rules, if you're into "supernatural adventures in a modern college education".
          I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

          Comment

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