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Shadowrun Overhaul: Magical Dueling


There are several ways that the ancient tradition of dueling as re-entered society as we go deeper into the Sixth World. Dueling pervades all strata of society and takes many forms from taking credit for an idea to get promoted over your rival at the office to a little amateur urban brawl action so your bike chummers think you’re chill to outright blazing guns and headless enemies. One of the most common forms of dueling is through proxies in which the rich and powerful pit their chosen against each other sometimes with challenges and sometimes in gladiator style combat.

The first is the basic duel in which the magicians choose a melee weapon and can use magic but nothing prepared beforehand and can only wear obvious armor if agreed to before the duel starts. This is more common for Adepts but the occasional magician or mystical adept has dueled in this way. The problem with this form of dueling is that it tends to be injurious to both duelists and possibly even deadly. Even with each duelist having a second to protect bystanders and their charges from errant magic it is just too easy for things to go wrong.

The second involves combat in the Astral realm which is evolving very rapidly as it becomes more popular. Hidden Arenas in Domains linked to the Battle metaplace have spread like wildfire in the past two years with the arrival of tempo and the rising popularity of spirit vs spirit combat. It is rumored that a cabal of free spirits has inordinate influence on the dueling scene one of whom takes the form of an older african male with wild and crazy hair.

With the introduction of the first martial art form created for Awakened Orks and by Awakened Orks: Hez Errit’grumrutra has changed the landscape for magical duels. Masters of this new martial art have dominated the metahuman combat leagues while sparking interest in Astral Combat official competitions and the magical society Egran’den Er’rek Wejoto has profited greatly despite suffering from half a dozen deadly attacks on its Jrikrek or school building by unknown but powerful magical assailants. The Egran’den are made up of an unique blend of ex-military or mercenary Orks with extensive Awakened combat experience and street shamans with a bent towards social justice. Many of the new outer circle members are former gang toughs who are being rehabilitated with tough love from the military crowd and a little wise gentleness from the street shamans.

The third involves direct magic to magic battle extreme. There are two methods by which this duel takes place. The first involves the duelists channeling their power and essence into a centerpoint until it gels into a form and a duelists dominates it. The second option involves a Ritual which is cast by a neutral third party that has evolved into the popular collegiate game Astral Total War.

The Arcane Duel

 Traditionally the two duelists face off with their seconds watching for treachery and their thirds creating mana barriers up to prevent accidental harm to bystanders. Each bows towards each other and stand within 10 meters of each other. Now both cast the Arcane Duel spell targeting the area between them. The Force of the spell acts as a limit to most Tests between the Duelists and the spellcaster can pick whatever Force they want but they have to handle the Drain from the spell which is quite demanding so they risk gaining penalties from before the actual duel for higher potentials. The spellcasters decide whether the duel shall use Sorcery, Conjury, or Enchanting.

The two duelists continue to pour power and weave threads into the center of the dueling area which slowly takes on an appearance based on the personalities of the duelists, the Skills involved in the duel, whatever mentor spirits they might have, and their Tradition.

In battles between master conjurers the audience can watch two pseudo-elementals slug it out for their amusement while another might involve a single elemental that both conjurers are trying to control. A duel between two Chinese sorcerers may play out visually as a game of go played by two elaborately designed Shen. It was once common amongst Hermetics familiar with the Old Matrix sculpting for their duels to take on the clear lines and geometric shapes of the Old Matrix protocols but that has become rarer in the modern day.

There is a moment when the spell gels and combat can begin usually sometime after the combined total of the two spell’s Force x 3 Seconds but can happen earlier or later depending on how difficult it is for the spell to find an appropriate venue. The better duelist at Assensing tends to win first action which is a big advantage as from then on the duel goes back and forth between the duelists until the victory conditions are met.

The duelists trade blows or moves back and forth until victory is achieved. For the vindictive they prefer to deal several light to medium blows to weaken the mage before hitting them hard so as to “Scorch” their opponent and possibly cause permanent damage to a magical faculty or mental facility.

Victory conditions can be the collapse of the opponent or first blood or first to five damage boxes dealt.

Weapon Foci bonded to a duelist provide an increase in DV by the rating of the Focus. Power or Spell/Spirit/Enchanting Foci add to the Attack or Defense Totals by choice of the duelist at the beginning of combat. For a duelist with two Foci one could be applied to Attack while another to Defense or both to Attack or both to Defense.

 

Initiative: Intuition + Assensing Opposed Test (only rolled once at the beginning of the duel; after that it goes back and forth)

Attack: Logic + (Spellcasting/Summoning/Alchemy) + (Power Focus or appropriate Focus such as a Spell Focus for a Sorcery duel) [Force]

Defense: Intuition + (Counterspelling/Banishing/Disenchanting) (Power Focus or appropriate Focus) [Force]

Damage Value: Charisma + Net Hits on Attack + Weapon Focus Rating + (Ritual Spellcasting/Binding/Artificing)

Resistance: Willpower + Arcana

Boxes of damage: Magic Rating x 2 (If damages overflows and is greater than Willpower then the mage is knocked unconscious (Stun Damage) and her astral form is disrupted which can cause permanent psychological or magical problems and is called Scorching your opponent.)

Edge: The Special Attribute of Edge is replaced by the Mage’s Grade. A non-initiate has a Grade of 0 and thus would act as if they had no Edge throughout the duel. “Edge” spent on the duel has no impact on the Edge Special Attribute.

-Don’t forget Wound penalties from before and during the duel.

-Reagents can’t be spent during the duel itself to alter Limits.

Arcane Duel Technique:

This arcane technique costs no karma to learn and can be taught in an hour or two with a good instructor. The Arcane Duel doesn’t conform to the standard categorizations of spells and rituals as it involves parts of all five spell categories and some of the steps of a ritual. Both duelists must have this Quality for the Duel to work. Some of the principles of Attunement are used as well as the anchoring technique of Ritual Spellcasting. Rumor has it that this technique involves elements of ancient and foreign magics.

Both duelists must be within 10 meters of each other. Both duelists expend Reagents equal to the Force of they choose for themselves at the same time which creates a temporary magical lodge just for the purposes of this duel in a sphere surrounding the two duelists. The initial prep time can usually takes about a minute. Each attack takes a full minute after which the other duelist begins their attack which lasts a full minute.

Drain is handled normally for your tradition as if casting a spell with a Drain Code of Force and Centering can be used.

 

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Shadowrun Overhaul: Astral Total War


Today on Magicknet!

Astral Total War college semifinals: MIT&M’s blue doubles team faces UW’s purple doubles team live in the meat world and the astral at Three Crones in Boston at 7 PM East Coast Time tonight! {Buy Meat Tickets} {Buy Astral Tickets} {Watch on high definition Trideo}

How the Fashion spell can make a smelly loser into a winner with the ladies. {Buy Article} {Buy Spell Formula}

Ryan Two Tusks takes on Kamol “The Smasher” in Mixed Martial Adept Arts for the Ork heavyweight Championship next week. {Watch Live} {Buy Tickets}

Can too much magic lead to a radical change of personality? -By Martina Novoliska {Read Opinion Piece}

How to deal with the inherent difficulty of applying micro effects in a wide area. -Essay by Thomas Bonesage {Read Journal}

 

Astral Total War:

Astral Total War is a relatively new and very popular game that has spread like wildfire and has been very quickly codified and organized into various teams on every campus with a major magical program in North America, Japan, Australia, and Northern Europe. The standard freeform or professional game involves five players called pentacle games and a Ritual team that acts as judges, casts the ritual, and prevents outside interference. University play focuses almost entirely on doubles games with many Universities putting out several collegiate teams which compete against each other within the same conferences that they compete in with sports and matrix games.

The Ritual begins by the lead Sorcerer beginning the ritual and using the Attunement Metamagic to link via mana threads to each player and to an item usually a large cup or award at the center that acts as an anchor for the ritual. The players arrange themselves around the cup. The Force of the Ritual is decided with higher Force Rituals giving an advantage to stronger magicians and lower Force Rituals giving an advantage to weaker magicians as the Force of the Ritual acts as a Limit for each player for their magical actions. Once the Force has been decided then the Ritual leader begins the spell and each player begins to astrally craft his or her defenses, offensive forces, and sculpt their terrain which is visible from the Astral but each player is blocked by a Mana Barrier that prevents their observation of what their opponents are doing. From above in the astral a pentacle game looks like a pizza with five pieces with the people playing with miniatures.

The ritual is fully ready when Force x hours are spent with the setup. The moment that happens the Judge orders the mana barriers dropped and combat begins. There are various rules for winning range from having the most astral territory to who has the most Wizard’s Towers to control of the heart or area around the Cup in the center of the players. Some games have a built in time limit while others go until there is only one magician standing. Each player has a Wizard’s Tower which is key to their connection to the Ritual which if an enemy takes makes it impossible for the player to create or craft any new servitors and makes it harder to handle drain on any spells cast into the game.

The audience can watch in the physical realm since part of the ritual is a variation of the Trid Entertainment Illusion which makes an exact co-locational duplicate of the Astral Realm in the play area within the physical realm for those who can’t astrally perceive and for viewers on their commlinks or home trid player. The audience can zoom in and watch a single battle between champions called Tactical View or enjoy a fanned out Strategic view showing a Phalanx of melee troops fighting cavalry units. In pentacle games viewers will have alerts on their commlinks about surprise attacks or treacherous dealings going on. It can be hard to keep up with all the action. In doubles play it tends to be less chaotic then your typical pentacle game.

The kind of troops, defenses, creatures, and spells the Wizard can cast in his Tower depend on his skill set.

 

Ritual: Astral Total War: (Material Link, Spells, Anchored, Leader must have the Attunement Metamagic)

The Ritual Leader casts the Ritual which includes for the initial part a mana barrier in the form of a five fingered starfish for a standard individuals game (pentacle game), quarters for a standard double duel partner’s game, or a single barrier for personal duels and once the ritual is complete the Trid Entertainment spell which reflects the goings on in the Astral Realm so those without Astral Perception can watch the game. The Ritual Leader also has a Material Link for each player and for the cup which binds the players together.

The game concludes based on whatever the rules of the event say is a winning requirement. Standard collegiate rules are that the winner of a pentacle game is a player with three Wizard’s Towers. For a doubles partner game it is when you have both Wizard’s Towers of your opponent.

Rules of the Game:

The force of the Ritual is chosen. High School play is capped at Force 3 to prevent the chance of players passing out from Drain. Collegiate Student play is capped at Force 6. Professional games tend to sit at Force 8 or 9 when the players are all Initiates especially duels between Professors.

Each hour prior to the game is time that the mage uses his magickal skills to the fullest spending time shaping terrain, building units, spy networks, defenses, traps, creating champions, and the infrastructure to support them. The game copies many factors from popular Matrix games like Civilization 23 Orichalcum Edition and Age of the Fourth World: Total Conquest.

Once the prep is done then game play begins with most games lasting one to three hours. Many games involve treachery and social skills especially Leadership for partners games. Often the most powerful magician in University play ends up falling first to more subtle players in pentacle games as they tend to lack the diversity of skills and knowledges the sneakier players tend to master. In doubles play it is extremely common for teams to pair up as a powerful magician and a jack of all trades or a powerful magician and a face.

 

 

Shadowrun Overhaul: Ritual Sorcery: The Magic Staff Ritual


Black Eagle was proud of his wizard costume for the big Halloween party and was admiring it in the polished chrome of the elevator walls leading from his condo to the parking lot below. It was nice to be able to take his staff with him as the other mages and shamans had been teasing him the entire time of his thesis when he took the staff with him everywhere. It had been sitting in a corner since last year’s Halloween gathering dust despite being his greatest magical creation. Leaving the elevator he started walking to his parked Eurocar Westwind 3000i when he noticed four suspicious looking riff raff Anglos and Japanese standing next to a beat up van that really shouldn’t belong to anyone in his condo. One of them a white skinned Ork pulled out a gun and shoots the woman who just came out of the elevator behind him in a blinding flash of movement.

“Oh, my creator what’s going on?” Black Eagle said in shock having never personally seen violence outside of the gym or an Urban Brawl match on the trid.

“Keep out of this Gandalf and you’ll live but mess with us and you’re a geeked.” snarled an Anglo human in heavily accented Nipponese style Cityspeak like someone from San Francisco or a Japanese ghetto in Seattle not a sane and safe place like Sante Fe.

Two of the men ran to the woman just outside the elevator and one of them shouted “The narcojet worked she’s out!”

“Grab her and move, I want this extraction done and done in fifteen.” snarled the Anglo Ork who must be the leader.

The two street trash were dragging the woman dressed to the nines in faux Elven costume including a fine looking bow. “She must be going to the same party I am going to!”

Screwing up his courage Black Eagle raised his staff and pointing it at the two gangers or whatever they are and said “Crear Fuego!” thus casting his first spell in combat. Flames leapt from the tip of his staff engulfing the two men carrying their victim causing them to drop her and run and roll on the ground trying to stop the burning.

The Anglo Ork spun and fired two shots at him striking his chest. Black Eagle looked down expecting to see holes in his chest but instead saw two small darts trapped in the folds of his wizard’s robes.

“Drek! Marty grab the girl and get her in the van I’ll geek the mage.” The ork tossed his gun through the window of the van and turned to Black Eagle and started sprinting while his hands started to glow.

“Crear Fuego!” Black Eagle screamed at the ork as the flames poured into the space he had been a second before as he weaved back and forth zig zagging until he was suddenly only a few feet away untouched by the flames.

Panicked Black Eagle realized that he had no chance of hitting him with a flame bolt but the only other spell that might be useful was Sleeptouch and there was no way he…wait I attuned this Staff so I could channel that old spell I used to put my brother and sister to sleep when I was a kid through the staff he’d just need to touch him with it.

Black Eagle thrust the staff at the Ork who dodged the blow with ease and moved in to strike when Black Eagle awkwardly turned the thrust into a push and the Ork automatically grabbed the staff between Black Eagle’s hands which would ordinarily allow the Ork to overwhelm quickly his opponent only this time it let Black Eagle put him to sleep with a single whispered “Crear Sueno.” The Ork could feel the magic flow into him through the staff as he had just enough time for his eyes to glaze over and his face to turn slightly puzzled looking as he slumped to the ground.

Black Eagle turned to the last man and brought up his staff and the last man ran. Bringing up his AR GUI from his ‘link he called Knight Errant and alerted them to the situation with the lady and her location along with the two dead and one sleeping gangers. After getting his first close look at her he realized she was Holly MacMann the network reporter who had had several major successful stories in the news about corruption in the Pueblo Corporate Council and had done a piece on racism against Anglos and Utes with their glass ceiling in the upper echelon corporate and government positions most of which are held by Hopis and Zunis.

“Whoa.”

 

Magic Staff Ritual:

[Metamagic: Attunement and Ceremonial Magic, Spell]

This metamagical Ritual allows the mage to “enchant” or more properly ensorcel a staff (or other item) to become an extension of the magician. This allows the initiate to cast touch spells through the staff as if the mage is touching the target and also allows the casting of elemental spells onto the item. This adds that type of elemental damage for as long as the combat spell is sustained. If the staff successfully damages an opponent when used normally as a melee weapon the elemental spell channeled into the staff provides its Secondary Effect. Only one spell at a time can be channeled through the staff or on the staff so if an elemental spell is active then it can’t be used to channel touch spells until the elemental spell is no longer sustained.

The item is attuned by spending time in meditation with the item in a Magical Lodge with a Force equal or greater to the Ritual. The force of any spell cast through or on the newly magical staff is limited by the Force of the Ritual. The Ritual cannot have teamwork as the Initiate mage is working alone and others can’t help him or her make the attunement. The ritual takes as many hours equal to Force to cast and lasts as many days equal to hits on the Ritual Sorcery test against the Object Rating of the item limited by the Force of the Ritual. The Initiate may spend Karma equal to the Force to make the attunement permanent immediately after handling Drain.

Ephemeral Background Count


[The Game Mechanics have changed since I have posted this. ]

The copycat killer grinned at the litter of ork babies screaming as the new Mayan Cutter went to work on their mother and father with the many surgical blades and lasers that were part of his trade as a professional interrogator.

“Tell me where and when Project Freedom is having an inner circle meeting.” He spoke slowly and carefully as he had during the entire process with never an hint of hurry or worry.

“Frag you!” Whimpered the once strong frame of the ex linebacker and minor hero of the ork rights movement and prop 23 known as Ryan Two-Tusks.

“Tsk-tsk now I suppose removing your eyes by laser after the dental surgery Mr No-Tusks means you won’t be able to see what will happen to this creature you call a baby.” The copycat killer reached down and grabbed the ankle of a few week old baby girl dressed in a purple onesie emblazoned with UW representing the University of Washington one of the first universities to allow in goblinized people to the school and where Ryan had been a star.

“Nooorrrarrw!” Came a roar from Ursa Two-Tusks as all the rage she had felt at watching a former government torturer mutilate her husband merged with the fear for her children and she awakened for the first time to her long latent magical gift and a shamanic bear mask covered her face.

“There is nothing you can do little cub. The background count I have made here interrogating and cleansing the world of your filth over the past year will block any attempt to save you and renders you helpless…”

Reaching deep down Ursa remembered the training the tribe shaman had given to her before she had goblinized into an ork and cast from her traditional tribe. Calling out to the spirit world and Mother Bear with all her heart and all of the sudden the swirling chaos of fear, terror and pain stopped and a dozen children and a great Bear appeared in her mind’s eye.

“Mother Bear is here daughter to quiet the maelstrom and these cubs who have suffered so much are here to help.”

The dozen children rushed her and entered her spirit and from her gift were transformed with her gift into a spell that charged like an enraged bear from her soul into the copycat killer’s semblance of a soul.

“Geeeeeaaaooogghhhhcht.” The torturer fell to his knees his mind teetering over the abyss as the suffering experiences of a dozen children flooded his mind.

Little Tara chose this moment to free herself and place her newly erupted tusks into his wrist.

Ryan saw everything that had happened in the astral with his Adept powers but instead of Mother Bear he saw the wise warrior form of his old coach telling him his ordeal had initiated him to the inner mysteries granting him increased physical strength and that the chains holding him suspended were no barrier to the prepared and thoughtful player who remembered his lessons.

Ryan used his great ork strength bolstered with his newly improved Adept strength and rocked back and forth with tremendous force causing the bolt in the ceiling to give way dropping him ingloriously onto the concrete of the basement floor.

Using his astral sight he saw his wife exhausted from her first spell and the copycat killer’s aura starting to become ordered again.

Dragging his body up Ryan wrapped the chains that had once imprisoned him around the shaking form of the copycat killer’s neck and began to squeeze.

Game Mechanics

Mana can be distorted in the astral realm by powerful emotions or experiences in the astral plane and in the physical realm by environmental damage or loss of life. When this happens the mana becomes harder to work with with the degree of difficulty rated by the area’s Background Count which uses Schwartzkopf’s Scale of Ambient Mana  by comparing the mana pollution to a lack of mana. A lightly polluted locale rated 1 is roughly equivalent to a locale with under the normal ambient mana for 2075 at -1 or the worldwide average ambient mana in 2050.

If the pollution is just in one realm than the BC for the other realm’s BC is usually half rounding down given the imperfect flow between Realms as described in Street Magic.

Astral pollution or BC interferes with ‘mana’ based spells like stun bolt or influence while Physical BC interferes with physical spells like a lightning ball or physical mask. It does so by removing X dice from all magic active skill tasks with X equaling the BC of the locale. This increase in difficulty represents how mana pollution disrupts the mage’s fine control and equations from an hermetic perspective or by disrupting the intuitions of a shaman by unpredictable flow of mana.

Ephemeral Background Count can be dealt with by removing the cause of the mana pollution which could be as easy as cleaning up the toxins in the soil and planting a garden or by finding an abusive parent and freeing the children from their terror. Sometimes in a matter of hours the BC can start to disperse.

However if there is mana pollution in both realms of an area for a long enough time a feedback loop can begin making the area have long term BC with the game term “Persistant Background Count” which usually requires the Cleansing Metamagical Ritual to remove or it can be tapped by the Create Domain Metamagical Ritual and the history of causes of the Background Count and the Ritual participants would shape the Nature of the Domain. For example a Background Count provided by centuries of humble prayer and the occasional powerful experience of Nirvana by Buddhist monks could fairly easily create a Domain of Tranquility should a Geomancer or Geomason connect a ley line to the location and a Ritual Initiate Sorcerer with Create Domain succeed in the Ritual.

There is a chance that a magical action could gain a bonus instead of a penalty should the action align with the cause of the BC and the PC expend an Edge point on a task but it should only happen if it makes for great story.