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Shadowrun Overhaul: Background Count Official Rules and Commentary

Magicians can perform magic because of the nature of mana. Mana is fueled by life and rises and falls in different locations and times. We are in the Sixth World and mana is rising overall each year except for the Year of the Comet when it spiked and later dropped. From a game mechanic point of view the increase of mana allows for today’s magicians to be just as effective as magicians in 2050 using a fetish. Mana is very sensitive to metahumanity and psychoactively charged by emotions, violence, and events charged with meaning and psychological significance. Repeated use of magic performed by a Tradition or through the use of geomancy can aspect mana towards supporting that Tradition. Widespread worship, prayer, and meditation can create a spiritual oasis as well. An area can also become a domain and aspected towards a specific magical skill like a master enchanter’s forge who loves what he does used over decades could develop additional layers of aspect for joy, creation, artificing, the enchanter, and the enchanter’s tradition.

Mana is also sensitive to the environment of the mundane world getting warped by pollution or radiation or naturally aligned to certain types of magic by powerful physical variables like the area around volcanoes being aspected towards fire magic and friendly to fire spirits. Feng shui, geomancy, and geomasonry are able to manipulate how the mana flows and what aspect it might have.

From page 30 Street Grimoire:

“A background count is a measurement of a variance from normal of mana levels in the area. Arcane scholars have developed a scale to measure the strength of these areas, ranging from –24 to 24, with 0 considered normal mana levels. A negative value relates to lower-than-normal mana available to be used for magic (meaning mana ebbs and voids). A positive value relates to mana that has been aspected in some fashion, making it harder to control unless your aspect overlaps with it (domains and warps). Regardless if it’s a positive or negative number, we use the absolute value in determining how it affects the Awakened’s use of magic.”

So what this means is that any BC that isn’t 0 that hasn’t been acclimated will impact either in a positive or negative fashion an awakened entity or astral denizens magical abilities. A place with less mana than normal will have a negative rating which means that ALL MAGIC will be penalized. A place with more mana than normal will have a positive rating and could help or hurt an awakened entity or astral denizen depending on many different factors. It is very possible for a positive BC to provide aid for one magical test and harm the next.

“Acclimated individuals are able to ignore background counts, but aligned people take it one step further. They are able to completely mesh with the aspect of a domain, getting a boost from the mana in that area.”

Acclimation is something that an awakened being or astral denizen can develop while spending time in that type of mana environment. Since most Universities in most areas focus on the Hermetic Tradition one could assume that any magician who achieved an undergraduate degree at such an institution would have achieved a certain degree of acclimation to a knowledge and hermetic environment. In the NAN the dominant BC at an University would be knowledge and shamanistic and in China knowledge and Wuxing for other examples. The awakened with a rarer tradition would still not gain the benefits of alignment to the dominant tradition and so would have to work harder than their compatriots privileged with alignment to the background count.

From page 31 Street Grimoire:

“The most powerful mana lines or events that have emotional or magical significance to most of humanity. Examples include the five sacred mountains in Chinese lore including T’ai Shan, where the great dragon Lung lives (Rating 15), The Great Cairn line in Tír na nÓg (Rating 14), The blast sites of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Nazi death camps, or the Native American Re-Education Center at Abilene (Rating 13).”

The problem with this comes in with a later bit in which a greater than -12 or +12 BC causes Stun damage every combat turn. How does the Dragon Lung survive his home? Obviously he has an insane Willpower as a Great Dragon but with this rule he would be pummeled into unconsciousness in a day as the rule specifically says even if it is a domain. No matter how high his rating eventually the dice will fail. So, there must be some technique that Lung is able to do to survive this and that he is able to provide to his spirits, awakened servitors, and others unless he exists utterly alone in his home except for mundanes!

“It can take weeks or months of exposure to become acclimated to the background count before his skills aren’t affected by it. Generally speaking, you should plan on one week of exposure per rating point of the background count.”

I have an house rule I am still polishing up that will help quantify what BC a starting character would be acclimated to prior to play.

From page 32 Street Grimoire:

“A background count impose a negative dice pool penalty equal to its rating for all tests linked in any way to magic (such as spellcasting, summoning, and skill tests that use active adept powers such as Killing Hands or Improved Sense). The exception to this rule are background counts from domains, where a tradition, person, skill group, or skill may be exempt from the penalty as they are used to or aligned with the domain. Dual-natured creatures or purely astral creatures take a negative dice pool penalty to all actions equal to the background count. Again the exception of a domain can apply to specific types of creatures or spirit types. Pre-existing active foci, sustained spells, quickened/anchored spells and rituals are reduced by the background count. If they are reduced to 0 or less, spells fizzle, wards and rituals collapse, foci deactivate. A foci cannot activate while under the influence of the background count. Anchored rituals and quickened spells if they have not expired revive themselves at 1 point of Force per hour, up to their preexisting Force. Preparations triggered while within a background count have their potency immediately reduced by the background count. Adepts may use a Simple Action to turn on or off a passive power in cases where penalties from background counts might exceed bonuses from their powers. Background count makes Assensing, Astral Perception, and Astral Combat more difficult to do. Impose a negative dice pool penalty for tests associated with these skills. When attempting to track an astral entity through an area where the background count is higher than the target’s Force or Magic Rating, the tracker loses the astral link at the point of the background count.”

Many questions should immediately pop out at you upon reading this. Does a spirit summoned by a magician share his alignment or acclimations? Does a preparation or focus gain the benefit of alignment or acclimation from its creator or owner? Does it acclimate on its own or is there something the magician can do or must do? What if the quickened spell was made before the magician was acclimated? Wouldn’t an astral tracker benefit from tracking a target if it enters her domain which lets say she created?

This is a benefit of the Home Ground quality (p. 74, SR5). The quality allows characters to ignore the customary background count of an area, and only count half of the background count tied to temporary events.”

Well, earlier the book says that acclimation can be gained by any magician just by spending some time there. This kind of makes that option of the Home Ground Quality pretty weak if two weeks hanging out in a neighborhood acclimates you. It would make much more sense if Home Ground provided alignment for the magician. After all if you’re taking this quality you have a very strong tie to the area to the point where it is a key part of who the character is and what better way to show that than that over the years or decades you’ve been living in a neighborhood you’ve become so in tune with the astral realm and its mana that you and it naturally align together. Your home is a part of your magic now.

The background count is applied as a positive modifier to the limit tied to the skill or skills for an Awakened character aligned to a domain. For example, a Wiccan shaman trying to conjure a Force 4 spirit within a Hag Bolette ring (Rating 3 aligned to the Wiccan tradition) will have a Conjuring limit of 7 (4 + 3). A background count with an absolute Rating value of 12 or greater is dangerously powerful, regardless if it’s from a domain or void. Anyone magically or astrally active in any way (dual natured, astrally perceiving, casting a spell, active adept power, etc.) takes background count – 12 Stun Damage each combat turn they are exposed to it. They can resist this damage with a Willpower Test.”

Alignment can be an on/off thing like a domain of fire may align with a hermetic casting a flamethrower spell and the catholic priest throwing a censor with incense imbued with a preparation to unleash a fireball but penalize a shaman performing a Rain making ritual.

There are domains so great that an unprepared mage could be knocked unconscious by their sheer power, and there are great flaring bursts of mana called mana warps, which are more powerful than even the most powerful of domains.

This implies that a prepared mage could handle a powerful domain!

So, that covers the rules from Street Grimoire. A little known and lightly covered bit with a BC forming temporary spikes in potency is important as is the rule for alleviating half of the temporary BC because of acclimation.

From Aetherology:

Any area of magic lower than normal is termed as having a negative background count. Places that have higher-than-normal positive background count do not affect a magician’s ability to cast magic unless it’s been psychoactively fixed, which brings me to my second point. The second thing you should understand is mana is very sensitive to man. His emotions and his exploits can disrupt the accessibility of magic. From a rock concert to a violent robbery, from toxic waste to smog, mana becomes psychoactively charged, making it difficult to use if your magic is not aligned. A positive background count that is affected by this charge is called aspected. If it’s based on a physical place with some emotional or psychological significance, the aspected mana is tied to a domain.

This brings up something that is a bit of a contradiction to previous rules in Street Grimoire which state that positive BC must be aspected. With this added bit it makes sense that most any place with higher mana is more sensitive to life, man, and the environment making it very likely to aspect. Also later on it contradicts the information in Street Grimoire about mana warps which in Street Grimoire on page 33 it states are areas with -16 to -20 BC while in Aetherology and in other parts of the Street Grimoire it states that higher levels of mana are called mana warps. Later on in Aetherology it mentions that certain high BC areas are very attractive to awakened animals. One would think that the animals if attracted would not be penalized or harmed by the higher mana and must gain some benefit otherwise why would they be attracted to those areas?


A bit of fluff in previous editions is about how shamans don’t like to spend time in polluted or irradiated areas as spending too much time might be dangerous to them and push or tempt them into toxic shamanism. This could be a danger of acclimation and alignment with a BC is that the psychoactivity of mana is a two way street which is described in the Street Grimoire as various things like dragon lines purifying the environment or domains controlling denizens to pick up litter for examples. The mana can influence your emotions and viewpoints over time. This should be roleplayed and could be a good explanation for a quality gained in character generation or in play.

For example a neighborhood focused on learning, academia, and knowledge that a character has the home ground quality may have become more studious and respectful of knowledge in general because of her home. A Desert Wars magician might have spent years in mana soaked in the Battle aspect and as a consequence become more martial in outlook and more likely to use violence as a tool. Where does the experience and where does the mana aspect start and stop?

I also like the idea of aspected mana having multiple aspects or layers. A Spiritual place may provide the prime aspect for a hidden church in Aztlan and a secondary aspect might be Fear caused by the emotions of the worshipers about getting caught by the Nahuatl and sacrificed. A tertiary and temporary aspect might pop up from a lover’s spat taking place in the church a few hours earlier leaving traces of Anger. In this case the priest would be aligned to the Spiritual aspect and acclimated to the Fear aspect but vulnerable to the Anger until it faded away. Since the priest is aligned to the prime aspect he would gain the increased limit for his magic, acclimated to the secondary aspect so it would have no effect on his magic, and the tertiary aspect since it was temporary and he was acclimated or aligned to the more dominant aspects he would only face half the BC from it rounded down as a penalty.

I am working on a system to allow for a magician to gain at character generation various acclimations to different types of mana that they would have developed based on their character background. It utilizes a variation of the Contact system to work and just like contacts the magician will need to occasionally spend some time and effort in order to get exposure to that aspected mana and maintain their acclimation.

It is also important to realize that 0 is normal. If BC is a bell curve it should be -1 to +1 at least two thirds of the time.

Here are some previous rules and viewpoints I had developed prior to the release of the Street Grimoire with various alternatives and house rules.

BC in 5e

Primer on Mana

An Abstract from the Journal of Practical Thaumaturgy

Shadowrun Overhaul: Using the Draconis awards to explain Mystic Adepts in 5e

One of the main differences in 4e and 5e is how Mystic Adepts are more powerful and capable now that they can apply their full Magic rating to both Adept powers and Magician skills. In fourth edition a Mystic Adept was forced to divide their abilities between Adept Powers and Magical Skills like Sorcery. Now in 5e they are able to apply their entire Magic Rating to their Magical Skills and develop with Karma expenditure up to their Magic Rating with Power Points.

As I have previously mentioned I love using the Draco Foundation’s awards as a way to introduce new technologies and magics to the player characters. In this case the Draconis Awards give an opportunity to explain or retconn why things are different now and how to explain why and how converted characters from 4e to 5e would gain their new gifts. It also allows for a new beginning for Awakened characters converting from fourth edition to fifth edition. Enjoy the surprise the when the PC’s archvillain who was just a physical adept suddenly drops a manaball on them.

If you used the year of 2074 as a downtime year for conversion to fifth edition then you can just use the time for any Mystic Adepts to take a class or classes and have lifestyle cover any costs and use the story of going to school to explain increasing academic knowledges or skills. Going to the University is a great excuse to pick up new contacts for your runner during conversion. Adepts and Magicians becoming Mystic Adepts can also use 2074 as a downtime year to change their Awakened Qualities but must pay at least the Karma costs.

If playing before this or during this research being released there are many potential run opportunities because of this research. One might ask why this whole idea necessary at all? Well, the better the background the more stories arise. How much you want to bet an early version of the Mystic Adept Enhanced Theory of Magic would be worth to lets say a megacorp or a magical group? Maybe the Black Lodge had it two years before it was released to the public. That would make them really dangerous and give them recruiting power and maybe their rivals want their secret. Maybe another group or organization tried to kill Schwartzkopf to prevent this from going public. The mystic adepts that have this increased power would have a major advantage if the public lacked it. All sorts of run potential. Maybe there is an even better more refined theory that Schwartzkopf is sitting on to give his Benandanti an edge and Lofwyr wants hit for his drakes and elite operatives.


2074 Draconis Award for Magical Theory and Application:

The Draconis Award for advances in Magical Theory and Application in 2074 goes to Professor Schwartzkopf the Great Dragon and his research team at Charles University of Prague for their work in applying Professor Schwartzkopf’s Grand Unifying Theory of Magic towards unlocking the full abilities of Adepts and Mystic Adepts. A few decades ago the first Mystic Adepts appeared and until recently they were forced to divide their power between two paths but have now fully Awakened to their power. With these techniques and training around 15% of “normal” Adepts have been found to have the talent to become Mystic Adepts and have begun to learn Magical Skills which by itself would’ve been an advance worthy of a Draconis Award. Some 5% of Magicians have also made the transition to becoming Mystic Adepts by learning how to channel their magic inwards but as of yet none have been able to keep their ability to astrally project as tying their magic to their bodies makes it harder it seems to free the astral body from the physical.

We at the Draco Foundation are amazed and happy to support such magnificent research and applications of research into the real Sixth world we all live in. We are also pleased by the fair and extremely low licensing cost that Professor Schwartzkopf allowed so that magical schools, colleges, and universities all over the world could train their teachers and professors in this advancement and return to their homes and spread this incredibly valuable knowledge to all corners of the globe.

Game Mechanics:

Classes at a magical school or university can range in price and length depending on the training involved and powers that need to be learned. A good lifestyle can alleviate all or part of this cost. A personal instructor can also be hired which will speed the process greatly.

Generally a Mystic Adept/4e can go to an university and in 3 months of 12 hours a week learn how to be a Mystic Adept/5e. The price can range from 5,000 nuyen to 50,000 nuyen. No roll is necessary and missed time can be made up later in the quarter as the pace is slow and explained thoroughly by experts who spend some time one on one with each student. Character must have at least a 2 in Arcana to comprehend the basics of what they are learning. The Mystic Adept must pay the 5 Karma cost for each Power Point he learns. GMs who don’t allow Mystic Adepts to purchase Power Points after character creation should allow 4th to 5th edition converting characters to spend karma for Power Points and should consider allowing karmic debt if the newly converted Mystic Adept has no Karma.

For an Adept of either edition to become a Mystic Adept they must spend 50 Karma and take either four quarters of university or have the personal instruction of a Mystic Adept with at least four in instruction and in all Magical Skills. They must get four training periods with an instructor representing one for basics covering assensing, arcana, and heavy introspection with aural manipulations and three for sorcery, conjury, and enchanting. At the end of training they will need to have at minimum an Arcana 3, Assensing 1 (if the have Astral Perception), Sorcery group 1, Conjury group 1, and Enchanting group 1 to represent the rigorous training and education necessary to overcome the Adept’s previous self-taught limitations and bad habits from learning magic from a flawed theory or cobbled together self taught philosophy.

For a Magician of either edition to become a Mystic Adept requires two quarters of schooling and 25 Karma.

Cost of a personal instructor is between 500 nuyen to 2500 nuyen a day (8 hours) depending on area, contacts, skill of the instructor, and negotiation. The teacher must be a Mystic Adept who has gone through the training process either legally or illegally and as such the price is reflected by that.

Arcana + Intuition [Magical Lodge] Test. The time is equal to 28 days divided by number of successes and is the equivalent of a quarter of education at a school or university. If the full 8 hours is not spent for at least five days in a week or if a roll is failed then Karma is not spent but the training must begin again.

Below is the link for training to learn Power Points for Mystic Adepts as Adepts get their Power Points for free whenever they raise their Magic Rating. A Power Point covers whatever Powers learned equal to that Power Point. If spending 1.5 Power Points simply increase time/costs by 50%.

Training to learn Power Points

Shadowrun Overhaul: New Definitions: Schwartzkopf Scales

Schwartzkopf Scale of Ambient Mana Density: This scale was designed by the great Dragon Schwartzkopf and his team of researchers at the Charles University of Prague in order to measure the amount of mana in a given region, locale, or mana line or power site. The scale is normalized by the worldwide median average mana level in 2075 at a 0 rating with a minus rating showing lower than normal mana and a positive rating showing a greater than normal amount of mana. It is known that the higher the mana density the easier it is to perform magic and the lower the mana density the harder. At the extremes of the Scale such as found in space or powerful magical locales during Sha events it can be hazardous to magicians and other dual natured awakened entities to astrally perceive or perform magic. A good way to look at it is using Boyle’s gas law. If the amount of mana differential between that contained within the magician and that of the surrounding environment becomes too great then harm can happen to the magician should they become dual natured which connects the magician’s mana to the ambient mana around her. If the ambient mana is too low then astrally perceiving or casting a spell is like taking a needle to a water balloon surrounded by air (which is lower density than the water) and watching the water explode out. If the ambient mana is too high compared to the magician’s mana then when the connection is made the water rushes in like a submarine punctured by a rock. This uncontrolled flow of mana in rare cases can kill those without sufficient talent or skill.

Schwartzkopf Scale of Aspected Mana Vicissitude: This scale was designed by the great Dragon Schwartzkopf and his team of researchers at the Charles University of Prague in order to measure the degree of distortion or change in mana within a Domain. This distortion is measured using an analogous system starting at 0 with higher numbers representing greater mana distortion or aspect. This can be caused by anything from a murder which causes an Ephemeral Domain which can sometimes last just a few hours to the holy aura found at a place of worship to a place of natural power like a volcano or river. Mana Vicissitude in a Domain makes magic use easier for those who are aligned with its Aspect and harder for those who oppose it. There are ceremonial rituals that can create a domain and are usually designed to make an Aspect that aligns the mana in the area towards that magician’s tradition or magical group. A Domain can be created by environmental disaster in which case the Domain is Toxic and the mana is connected to the Physical Realm or an invasion of Insect Spirits in which case the Domain is aligned towards insect magic with the mana connecting and colored or flavored with the Hive metaplane’s mana.

An Abstract from the Journal of Practical Thaumaturgy Volume 17: Mana Theory

Dr. Joseph Mentem Professor of Ritual Spellcasting at Charles University of Prague.

Mana is the energy that allows those entities capable of using it to perform work by an understanding of memetics or neoplatonic thought, controlled concentration, imagination, force of personality, and training alone. A mage has no need of a tool or physical exertion to harness the power of mana to change the world around him.

Mana flows and ebbs from the Metaplanes though it seems to be influenced by activities in our universe as shown by the increase of mana during Haley’s comet. Mana flows through our physical realm of existence and through our astral realm of existence. There is some feedback between physical realm mana and astral realm mana but as it is today it is minor and slow to transfer and it places certain limitations on how mana can be used to effect change in a Realm the mage is not currently inhabiting. An astrally projected spellcaster cannot cast a spell on an entity or target that is wholly in the physical plane because of the feeble flow of mana from one realm to the other. Decades ago it was possible for an astrally projecting mage to ground a spell through an active focus so it would be released into the physical realm but that is no longer the case though we do not know why precisely however it is theorized that it involves an emergent property of the physical/astral barrier when mana saturation reaches a certain point on the scale.

Mana flows through the astral and physical realms and sometimes forms what could be considered through a metaphor as rivers and lakes. These locations have an abundance of mana and are called power sites and the mana rivers are most often called ley lines. Usually if a ley line exists in one Realm the contiguous area in the parallel Realm has one as well with the same going for Power Sites though the degree of flow may differ.

It is known that aspected mana tends to attract like and repel the dissimilar as a rule thus on occasion a new Power Site will emerge in an area and exert a “pull” on a nearby Domain thus encouraging a ley line to flow between them. Geomancers and Geomasons specialize in encouraging this especially for a megacorporation’s new magical research lab. This can sometimes lead to a war in the shadows as various organizations try to create Power Sites or Domains to alter and weaken the other’s mana network.


Domains are Power Sites that when Named and invested with a genius loci become aspected which means that it helps and hinders different types of magic or uses of magic. With this abundance of mana it should be obvious that it can allow magic wielders to attempt more powerful or difficult work than would ordinarily be possible. Most commonly newly created Domains are aspected towards certain traditions of magic, magical societies or individuals of great power or Influence such as Dragons as well as military, political, and corporate leaders. The Domain provides enhanced mana towards those who serve the Individual or to those who share a certain mindset about how magic works and are in line with the genius loci of the domain.  Emergent Domains tend to provide enhancement towards certain magical activities and the genius loci tend to have more personality and variety as every emergent domain is different and usually oriented more towards either the astral realm or the physical realm as well as more vulnerable to changes in Background Count of feeder ley lines than a created domain which tends to be very stable and balanced evenly between the astral and the physical.

For example a minor power site near the university is on land owned by SK and was Named to be aspected to Lofwyr the great dragon. As a consequence those who are either Named Lofwyr or serve him can tap into the greater mana at the site while those opposed would find the power site working against them once the genius loci of the site became aware of them otherwise neutral spellcasters would find themselves unaffected and unable to use the extra mana around them. The genius loci of the site is no surprise in the form of a dracoform. There are rumors of metamagical skills or rituals that allow the renaming of a power site or grant the ability to ‘spoof’ the genius loci into thinking that you are Named by altering the aura of the spellcaster to match the weave of the site and thus gain approval of the genius loci.

Geomancers and Geomasons claim to have the ability to manipulate mana flows as to create domains called Power Sites (analogous to a lake) and Ley Lines (analogous to a river) through manipulation of astral energies in the case of Geomancers and through manipulation of physical energies for Geomasons who often sculpt and modify a physical environment to promote certain aspects onto the mana in the domain. In Europe skilled practitioners are often Freemasons or caretakers of the cathedrals, mosques, and temples while in Asia they are often students of Feng shui. There are specialized “types” of mana described by experts in mana manipulation as being very similar to each other but lending themselves to certain magical activities and derived from different sources as varied as places of worship to tectonic plates. As a consequence of the increased effectiveness of magic to do work at certain locales these power sites tend to be highly prized by magical societies, governments, dragons, and megacorporations.

(The types are known as Song grooves and pools, Dragon Paths and Nests, and are differentiated by the dominance of either astral or physical mana flow compared to a balanced flow between both realms found in what are traditionally called ley lines and power sites. -Editor)

As the pre-eminent scholar of power sites and the ley lines that connect them in Europe the Great Dragon Schwarzkopf has developed the ‘Schwarzkopf Scale of Ambient Mana’ which is most often used when rating a power site and goes from -10 to 10 with 0 being the current world norm. So far no location has been rated above 5 on a permanent basis and above 8 on a temporary basis. However a -10 is found in the void of space representing the extreme sparseness of life, emotion, and mind in outer space. During the year of the comet many regions saw a temporary rise of one or two points and it was a time of power for many mages who achieved effects that they normally would not be capable of doing.

Not all changes in the mana flow of an area are good for the practitioner. Mana can be distorted by powerful emotions or experiences in the astral realm and by environmental damage in the physical. When this happens the mana becomes harder to work with leading to what magicians call Ephemeral Background Count and it is rated based on degree of distortion using the Schwarzkopf Scale to provide an estimate of degree of difficulty in mana manipulation compared to a lack of mana. It is common for there to be bleed-through from one plane to the next in these cases and if there are causes for mana pollution in both realms sometimes that can start a feedback loop leading to more permanent damage to the mana flow in the area known as Persistent Background Count which can lead to regional problems. Certain twisted and deviant traditions can actually reinforce this feedback loop creating near permanent areas and by rumor can use the Background Count as a normal magician would use a power site.  We know some mages are capable of creating domains that match their tradition out of the background count if it is aspected appropriately .

The Filtering Metamagic is known to allow Initiate’s to bypass some of the problems involved in using mana for magic in an area with a Background Count. However despite an area having a similar rating on the Schwarzkopf scale they behave differently as an area with a -2 on the Schwarzkopf scale that has a background count typically has a normal amount of mana it is just polluted to make it harder to use while an area with a lowered mana level simply has less mana to use. Since mana pollution is commonly stronger in one realm than the other knowledge of the state of the local mana in both realms can be really useful in helping a wise mage in spell choice as a physical realm background count without a mana realm background count would naturally lend itself to mana based spells.

If the damage is temporary then the background count is what theorists call ‘ephemeral background count’. A series of traumatic events or a long term and powerful experience can all provide greater difficulty in mana manipulation. What makes this type of mana distortion ephemeral is that as soon as the aggravating element is removed the mana flow returns to normal.

Longer lasting Background Count would be such as the Cermak blast site. In this case the combination of massive defensive magics on the part of the insect spirits, nuclear detonation, and loss of life was enough to disrupt the mana in the area to prevent all but the most skilled Initiate’s from making mana work in the vicinity. This is an example of Persistent Background Count and without the constant presence of Knight Errant and periodic Cleansing Rituals it would be inevitable for a vulnerable shaman to be influenced into becoming an insect shaman should they spend too much time around the Cermak area as it is known to have some sort of astral connection or bridge to the metaplanes of the insect spirits.

Depending on tradition of the mage there are many ways that mana is imprinted on in order to be effected by the mage into having a real world effect. The key to magic involves perception of the nature of something and the ability to rewrite the song of that secret nature. Some call it “Renaming” while others use basket weaving analogies or storytelling metaphors and even religious contexts. But, in effect we all end up reweaving the narrative of whatever it is we are seeking to manipulate with our magic. The pattern of our reweaving varies depending on the spell, ritual, conjuration, or enchantment we are attempting as well as the Name of the target we are attempting to create or alter.