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Mage style magic in Savage Worlds

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  • Mage style magic in Savage Worlds

    I have always loved Mage (both Ascension and Awakening) especially the flexibility of the magic systems. But the both the background of the game and the system is more complicated (and honestly pretentious) than my usual play style which is fast, furious and fun... obviously!

    So here is an attempt to recreate the magic system from Mage with all the flexibility but less needlessly complex. Note this is a very rough draft and I would love constructive feedback! Also this intended to be a stand alone magic system and is probably far to overpowered to stand side by side with characters using other more traditional savage world magic.

    New Skill

    Arcana – Magic is not one skill but 10 separate skills: Space, Time, Matter, Mind, Spirit, Prime, Fate, Death, Forces and Life.

    Mages gain access to these skills through the Mage Edge. Arcana skills cost double the usual cost to improve and mastery level of each skill (d12) can only be obtained through buying the Mastery edge (see below for details).

    New Edges

    Mage (Background) – You are an awakened Mage and have access to the Arcana of magic. You can only get this Edge once as a background edge. The edge bestows access to three Arcana – your two Path Arcana and one more – one at d4, d6, and d8..

    New Arcana - Gaining access to further Arcana beyond the first three requires this edge. Each time it is bought provides access to one new Arcana.

    Mastery (Special) – This edge is required to gain access to the mastery level of any Arcana. Each Arcana Mastery must be bought separately. Furthermore, this edge can only be purchased after seeking out a master to teach it and successfully completing a quest or mystical test to prove the mage’s worth to that master.

    New Trait

    Mana – Characters start with a small amount of magical energy (mana) that they can draw on and which can be used to provide more power to spells and mitigate penalties for casting more powerful spells. Doing so causes fatigue for 10 mins for each point of mana spent. Mana can also be used during casting to mitigate paradox. Starting mana is equal to 1 point for every die level in Spirit (i.e. d4= 1 point of mana, d6=2points, d8=3 points etc.)

    Mages divide the art of magic into thirteen Practices of increasing complexity. Each die type in an arcana skill allows access to a higher arcana.

    Initiate (d4)
    Compelling spells nudge reality so making a possible outcome probable
    Knowing spells allow the mage to discover a piece of knowledge of something
    Unveiling spells allow the mage to see what is hidden from mortals

    Apprentice (d6)
    Ruling spells allows the mage to have limited control over something and not merely compel it. Such a spell cannot change the nature of the target
    Shielding spells offer protection against the purview of the arcana.
    Veiling spells can conceal things under the Arcanum’s purview from detection.

    Disciple (d8)
    Fraying spells degrade things or weaken them.
    Perfecting spells strengthen or improve things.
    Weaving spells alter a thing's properties without fundamentally transforming them.

    Adept (d10)
    Patterning spells allow a mage to completely transform a target into something else that falls under the Arcanum’s purview.
    Unraveling spells can significantly impair or damage phenomena under the Arcanum’s purview, or directly inflict severe damage using the forces of an Arcanum.

    Master (d12)
    Making spells allow for the creation of whole new phenomena from nothing.

    At certain levels of Arcana Mages gain certain magical abilities that can be used as innate abilities.

    Counterspell – Having d4 in an Arcana allows the mage to counter spells of that Arcana. The Prime Arcana allows countering of any other Arcana. The comparative ratings of the two mages’ Arcana are irrelevant; an Initiate can, in theory, counter the spell of a Master.
    Roll – The acting mage’s Arcanum skill roll against the countering mage’s Arcanum skill roll.

    Mage Sight
    Mages have a number of means by which they can open their eyes to the supernatural, seeing (or even hearing, smelling, touching and tasting) the subtle currents of supernatural powers at work in the world. While all mages have an innate sixth sense to detect the presence of active powers , it does not allow them to identify or analyze such powers. For that, they need to enchant their senses with one of the Unveiling Practices of the many Arcana.

    Mage Armor – Adds 2 points of magical armor

    Spell Casting

    Step One: Declare Intent
    Decide exactly what you’re trying to accomplish with your spell.

    Step Two: Determine Arcanum and Practice and whether it is Vulgar or Coincidental
    Determine which Arcana and which Practice (see below) applies to the spell e.g. making someone act more friendly towards you would be Mind and Compelling (d4) whereas shielding your mind against such an effect would be Mind and Shielding (d6). Also determine if the spell can be cast as a coincidental effect (a camp fire blows into the target and burns them) or if it requires a vulgar effect (fireball!).

    Step Three: Determine Effect
    The following are standard effects for spells cast on the fly. Any greater effect e.g. higher damage, effecting more than one person or a wider area, or lasting longer than one turn incurs penalties on the roll as determined by the GM.
    Casting time – The default casting time is “Instant” (One turn)
    Potency - The spell grants a +1 bonus or -1 penalty, deals 1d6 weapon damage, or heals one wound.
    Duration - The spell lasts for one turn.
    Scale - The spell hits one subject of Medium Size or less, or an area equal to an arm’s-length circle around a point.
    Range - The mage must be touching the subject of the spell, or be casting on herself. The mage incurs a -2 penalty for casting at sensory range. The mage can only cast a spell beyond sensory range by using the Space arcana in conjunction with the spells primary arcana.

    Extended Spellcasting – Rather than take penalties for instant casting Mages may take longer to cast a spell in achieve the same result. Extended casting can also produce some effects that are beyond the bounds of instant casting such as making a spell effect indefinite or an enchantment permanent. An extended spell casting requires the mage to maintain the process of casting until they have achieved a required amount of successes to achieve the effect they wish.

    High Speech – Using ancient mystical languages makes it easier to cast spells. The mage can choose to recite incantations for a turn and delay the effect of the spell. Doing so gives the mage a +2 on the Arcana skill roll.

    Mana – Mana is magical energy contained within mystical places and things. When you cast in a place that contains high amounts of mana or have access to an item that contains mana you may use an amount of mana as determined by the mana rating of the place or item to unleash mana and provide extra power to your spell. This allows the caster mitigate penalties they would otherwise incur when increasing the potency, duration, scale or range of the spell. Most places or items can only provide a certain amount of mana at any one time (usually between 1-4 points) and some have a finite amount and are depleted when the mana is used. Each point of mana mitigates one point of penalty on the casting roll. A ritual of some kind is usually required to access the mana and it takes as many turns to cast the ritual as the amount of mana. The specific ritual required depends on the nature of the place or item.
    All people have a small amount of mana and this can be drawn upon by mages to power their magic. Doing so however fatigues the caster for 10 minutes per point of mana spent.
    Note: There are certain ways of gaining mana that are known but expressly forbidden among mages. The most well-known is the practice of blood magic which involves killing a sentient being. Using some amount of blood either from sacrificing animals or from humans but without killing is sometimes acceptable but this only provides minimal amounts of mana and thus is primarily useful only in as part of a ritual or to provide sympathy for sympathetic magic.

    Step Four: Determine Difficulty
    The default is the usual difficulty of 4 unless the GM determines otherwise.
    Spells that directly target a subject’s body, mind, or soul are contested by the appropriate trait roll by the subject of the spell e.g. Stamina for physical effects or transformations, Intelligence for mental attacks or Spirit for battles of will or emotional manipulation.

    Foci – mages may use a focus to reduce the difficulty of the spell A focus may be an item or material (e.g. lock of hair from the subject of the spell, eye of newt, magic wand etc.) or a time (midnight, full moon, when the stars are aligned) or place (magic grove, holy ground)

    Step Five: Cast the Spell

    Instant Improvised Spell – Roll the Arcana trait die.

    Rote Spells – Mages can also learn to do certain spells as rote spells i.e. spells than they do on a regular basis and thus are easier to cast. Gain +2 on the Arcana roll

  • #2

    Various magical actions can incur paradox. The most common situation is when the spell is vulgar or when the roll is botched (rolling 1 on the Arcana Die).

    Vulgar Magic – When the mage casts a spell that is obviously magical and cannot be explained by any natural phenomenon the universe pushes back and paradox can be created. The chance of paradox and the level of paradox depends on the power of the spell cast. If a vulgar spell is successfully cast the GM rolls a die based on the die level required for the practice used to cast the spell (d4 for unveiling, d6 for shielding, d8 for weaving etc.). If they succeed in the roll there is no paradox. If they fail the roll paradox is invoked (see below). This roll can Ace but raises have no effect.

    Botching – Magic is unpredictable dangerous and sometimes can just go wrong in a way that means a spell fails with a bang and not a whimper. When a mage rolls 1 on the Arcana die roll paradox is incurred. The level of the paradox depends on the power of the spell cast.

    Containing Paradox – Instead of incurring paradox a mage can choose to contain the paradox resulting in taking physical damage equal to the paradox roll. Armor is not a factor in calculating damage in this circumstance, only toughness.

    Paradox Roll – If paradox is unleashed the player rolls a die equal to the practice of used for the spell. Add +2 to the roll if the magic was not only vulgar but witnessed by one or more sleepers and +2 Per Paradox roll after the first made for the same caster within the same scene. Also add +1 to the roll if as a result of a botch in which the caster also rolls 1 on the Wild dice. Subtract -2 for using Foci and -1 for each point of man used to mitigate paradox. Paradox rolls do not Ace.

    1-3 Havoc -- The spell effects a different random target which could include the caster’s allies or even himself. Or the spell hits the intended target but its effects are reversed e.g. damage becomes healing, blessing becomes curse, slowing down becomes speeding up etc.

    4-5 Bedlam – The mage suffers a derangement which increases in severity depending on their rank in the arcanum they were using.

    6-8 Anomaly – The mage creates a tear in reality that results in unbelievable and unpredictable events to occur or allows an entity of minor to moderate power to sneak through to the material world and creating problems or being a physical or spiritual threat to the mage and those around him.

    9-11 Branding -- The mage gains some form of attributes that that is either physically or mystically obvious and that ranges from their aura being changed in a negative way to a bestial physical disfigurement (e.g. a pig snout or a tail) to a malevolent spirit attaching itself to them.

    12 + Manifestation -- The Paradox cracks the world open and allows a malevolent entity through into the material world. To get rid of such entities usually requires intense research or the death of the mage who called it in the first place.