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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.
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.
As an alternative to the Priority Table path to character creation I decided to try my hand at using Build Points as previous editions have done. In order to help the character creation process I also made Archetypes which use half the BP’s for a standard character to provide a template and aid for character building. This system is compatible with my Shadowrun Overhaul Rules on Karma and Character Advancement House Rules and the standard ruleset. With this system Magicians, Mystic Adepts, and Technomancers will be weaker, Aspected Magicians will be much stronger, and characters that rely on nuyen will be a little bit better off.
Street: These are the young, the disadvantaged, the has beens, the almost was, and the burnouts.
125 BP +13 Karma
Limit on Resources to 10 BP or 75,000 nuyen. Skill limit at 6 for 1 Skill or Skill Group, 5 for a second Skill or Skill Group and the rest at 4 or less. Knowledges and Languages limit at 6, Attributes have One Terminal Rating and One (Terminal Rating -1) and the rest at +3 added to the minimum Attribute Rating for their metatype or less (Humans for all Attributes except Edge would be at a 4 or less). Availability at 10.
Standard: The young geniuses, the competent professionals, and the cream of the crop amongst the disadvantaged.
150 BP +25 Karma
Limit on Resources to 35 BP or 450,000 nuyen. Skill limit at 8 for 1 Skill or Skill Group, 7 for a second Skill or Skill Group and the rest at 6 or less. Knowledges and Languages limit at 8. Attributes have One Terminal Rating and the rest at +4 added to the minimum Attribute Rating for their metatype or less (Humans for all Attributes except Edge would be at a 5 or less). Availability at 12.
Prime Runner: The experienced geniuses, the exceptional professionals, and the best of the best amongst the disadvantaged.
175 BP +35 Karma
Limit on Resources to 45 BP or 600,000 nuyen. Skill limit at 10 for 1 Skill or Skill Group, 9 for a second Skill or Skill Group and the rest at 8 or less. Knowledges and Languages limit at 10. Attributes have One Terminal Rating and the rest at +4 added to the minimum Attribute Rating for their metatype or less (Humans for all Attributes except Edge would be at a 5 or less). Availability at 14.
High Life: The very best of the best. World class shadowrunners, mercenaries, hackers, and magicians. For those who seek the limelight their names are known to almost all in their fields of expertise.
200 BP +50 Karma
Limit on Resources to 65 BP or 1.1 million nuyen. Attributes have just Metatype limits. Standard Skill, Knowledge, and Language limit at 12. No Availability limit.
Karma Conversion: 1 BP is roughly 5 Karma give or take a few.
Attributes and Special Attributes: 3 BP’s per +1 Rating.
Alternative rule: 6 BP for +1 if it is a terminal rating for the PC’s metatype such as a 6 in Logic for an human. (Don’t forget everyone starts out with their “free” minimum attributes.)
Skills: 1 BP per +1 Rating.
Alternative rule: 2 BP per +1 Rating for terminal rating based on character creation limit of the campaign.
Skill Groups: 2 BP’s per +1 Rating. (I prefer to encourage characters to use Skill Groups by providing a discount but if you don’t agree you can change it to 2.5 BP’s per +1 Rating)
Alternative rule: 4 or 5 BP per +1 Rating for terminal rating based on character creation limit for campaign.
Specializations (and Concentrations for Overhaul rules): 1 BP per new specialization or concentration.
Knowledges: 1 BP per 3 Ratings. 2(Intuition + Logic) for free. (Overhaul rules gives 10 free Knowledge points to be spent only on Interests)
Languages: 1 BP per 5 Ratings. (I like to encourage Language taking at character creation for realistic reasons because it is much harder to learn languages as an adult then it is to learn them as a child. Plus, most games seem to assume someone who knows lots of languages is rare probably because of the bias of americans. It isn’t uncommon in Europe to see well educated people able to minimally comprehend four or five languages and speak well two or three others.)
Spells, Preparations, Rituals, Power Points, and Complex Forms: 1 BP each.
Contacts: 5 Points to spend on Connection and Loyalty per 1 BP.
Registered Sprites/Bound Spirits: 5 Tasks or Service per 1 BP.
Technomancer: 15 BP’s and includes a 1 Rating in Resonance. (Some GM’s may increase to 20 BP but TM’s have been blunted in many other ways and don’t need to be artificially expensive as they are on the Priority Table.)
Mystic Adept: 20 BP’s and includes a 1 Rating in Magic. Mystic Adepts must purchase Power Points to unlock Adept Powers.
Magician: 15 BP’s and includes a 1 Rating in Magic.
Aspected Magician: 10 BP’s and includes a 1 Rating in Magic, an Active Skill Group equal to their final Magic Rating, and as many Spells, Preparations, Rituals, or Bound Spirits (each with 5 services; # of spirits is limited by Charisma) equal to their final Magic Rating. (In my opinion the Priority Table as setup in 5e really discourages anyone from picking Aspected Magician as a trait and I think having the extras added on makes it a viable choice. Also, by leaving Magician without any extras it allows for a full magician character who is as new or untrained in magic as a minor talent but has greater potential which can be a lot of fun depending on the style of the campaign.)
Adept: 10 BP’s and includes a 1 Rating in Magic with an Active Skill equal to her final Magic Rating, and automatic gaining of Power Points equal to Magic at character creation and whenever their Magic Rating increases.
Minor Talent: 5 BP’s and includes a 1 Rating in Magic. At character creation the PC can only have 1 Magical Skill and 1 Spell, Preparation, Ritual, Bound Spirit or Power Point. After character creation the minor talent can learn new abilities by purchasing Power Points if an Adept up to their Magic Rating and once that is done they are a full Adept and automatically gain Power Points when they increase their Magic Rating. If a potential Aspected Magician then they can learn other Skills in their Skill Group and new Spells, Preparations, or Rituals by spending Karma as normal. This is a good special trait to have in a Street level campaign and it can be quite fun to watch the nascent Awakened grow into their full power. (An example of a common Minor Talent would be someone who can Astrally Perceive. Buy 1 Power Point for the Astral Perception Adept Power and buy a Rating in Assensing and voila!)
Nuyen: (A PC who wanted 80,000 nuyen would pay 11 BP’s) an alternative system is to simply have 1 BP = 10,000 nuyen.
1 BP = +5,000 nuyen
5 BP = +30,000 nuyen
10 BP = +75,000 nuyen
15 BP = +140,000 nuyen
25 BP = +275,000 nuyen
35 BP = +450,000 nuyen
45 BP = +600,000 nuyen
55 BP = + 800,000 nuyen
65 BP = +1,100,000 nuyen
Each Archetype includes an example of a standard character brought to step 5 and thus still have Karma to spend.
Standard PC: 150 BP
(35 BP) +450,000 nuyen in gear and cyberware
(69 BP) B: 8 A: 6 R: 5 S: 6 W: 4 L: 2 I: 3 C: 2 E: 1
(32 BP) Close Combat Group 6, Firearms Group 6, Pilot (Ground) 1, Sneaking 2, Perception 2, Intimidation 2, and First Aid 1.
(1 BP) Knowledges (10): Law Enforcement 3, Safehouses 2, Small Unit Tactics 3, Triads 1, Yakuza 3, and Seattle Gangs 1.
Interests (10 free): Great Restaurants 4, Poetry 2, Matrix Fantasy MMO’s 2, and Akira Kurosawa movies 2.
(2 BP) Languages: English N, Or’zet 5, Japanese 4, Aztlaner Spanish 1
Standard PC: 150 BP
(15 BP) 140,000 nuyen in gear.
(7 BP) Elf
(10 BP) Adept
( 75 BP) B: 3 A: 4 R: 3 S: 3 W: 4 L: 3 I: 3 C: 7 E: 1 M:5
( 39 BP) Acting skill group 3, Influence Skill Group 6 (Negotiation 8*), Close Combat Skill Group 4, Stealth Skill Group 2, Pistols 5, First Aid 1, Perception 5, and Pilot (Ground) 1.
(0 BP) Knowledges(12): Business 4, Neuro-Linguistic Programming 2, Psychology 2, Bartering 1, and Nonviolent Communication 3.
(4 BP) English N, Cantonese 5, Mandarin 5, Japanese 4, Sperethiel 4, Aztlaner Spanish 2.
(0 BP) Interests(10 free): Designer Clothes 4, Elven Wine 3, and SF trids 3.
(0 BP) Voice Control 4 levels (2), Kinesics 2 (.5), Improved Reflexes 1 (1.5), Improved Negotiation* 2 (1).
Standard PC: 150 BP
(10 BP) 75,000 nuyen in gear.
(16 BP) Troll
(10) Aspected Magician: Sorceror (includes a 1 Rating in Magic, an Active Skill equal to their final Magic Rating, and 6 spells or rituals.)
( 75 BP) B: 6 A: 4 R: 4 S: 6 W: 4 L:5 I:3 C:2 E: 2 M:6
( 27 BP) Sorcery Skill Group 6* (free), Close Combat Skill Group 4, Perception 4, Assensing 4, Arcana 4, Sneaking 3, Pilot (Ground) 1, and First Aid 3.
(2 BP) Knowledges (16 free): Critters 3, Magic Theory 4, Small Unit Tactics 4, Military Procedures 3, Russion Vory 3, Triads 2, Yakuza 1, and Street Gangs 2.
(4 BP) Languages: English N, Aztlaner Spanish 4, Latin 4, Greek 3, Hebrew 3, Sperethiel 2, Or’zet 2, and German 2. (He likes to read Arcane Texts in their original languages)
(0 BP) Interests (10 free): Action Trids 3, Urban Brawl 3, Fantasy Matrix Games 2, Ancient Languages 2.
(6 BP) (6 free) Spells and Rituals: Heal, Stun Bolt, Combat Sense, Ball Lightning, Flamethrower, Increase Reflexes, Armor, Detect Enemies Extended, and Invisibility. Ward, Circle of Healing, and Remote Sensing.
Gaining access to Purviews is now through its eponymous Birthright Trait and can’t be learned through the old advancement rules using relics.
With Purviews a Scion can invent or learn formulas that can create effects of differing complexity and power split into four categories: Supernatural Stunts, Cantrips, Rituals, and Boons. Boons require the Scion to spend experience to learn them while the Rituals can be learned or invented in game.
A scientific background is really useful in understanding and testing out Occult knowledge and Academics is useful for researching what a Scion is capable of with access to a Purview. Many scions never discover their versatility simply because they never think of trying out new things or obey the limitations of ancient Traditions.
A Scion with Occult can develop or adopt a Tradition that provides a framework for using their Purviews and Talents. The Tradition’s philosophy uses their understanding of the secrets of the universe to channel the Power in different ways.
An Aesir might chant Galdr or carve a rune stick while a Taoist might create an alchemical potion, compose poetry, or simply get ridiculously drunk and a Buddhist might meditate or solve zen koans.
To apply Divine Power requires the Scion have one dot in Occult to use an existing Tradition (usually a Tradition based from his Divine Parent, culture, or Guide) as an arcane philosophy or 2 dots to create an eclectic blending of two or more Traditions (Wicca is a lite version of Celtic, Germanic, and other nature Traditions or Chaos Magic which sometimes is a weird blending of hermeticism and computers but is a blanket term for a mishmash philosophy) or 3 dots to invent a new system based on an existing Tradition but bent in a new direction and 4 dots to create a new philosophy wholesale like the first Scion to create an industrial technological or information age Tradition.
For example, an American God with a focus in Industry or some other technological Purview might be able to provide a Guide to a Scion of his that can teach the Scion the Tradition which could involve calculators or slides and blue prints in order to enact his power while an Old God might grant an ancient Grimoire filled spells and rituals along with treatises on Egyptian or Greek magic and the theory/philosophy that allows Divine Power to enact change on the world and beyond.
The advantage of using an existing Tradition or being eclectic is that other Scions and Gods have developed many ready made Boons and Rituals that a character can quickly adapt to and add to his repertoire. The disadvantage is that a knowledgeable opponent can predict what is being attempted and dispel it with countermagic or prepare for it somehow.
The advantage of inventing a system of your own is that you’re creating something completely new that no one else understands or can predict. This makes it much harder to countermagic and also allows the Scion to use his Divine Power how he would like in a preferred style. Rumors say that Legend can flow to those who innovate and are imitated but that Fate often gets involved with very successful innovators.
Relics are created and shaped by the Tradition/s used to Forge the Relic. A Sword Relic of any Tradition works well as a focus for the War Purview because of its innate nature. Relics can give bonuses to Magic and Purview rolls if appropriate to that Tradition or Purview and if designed to do so.
Different Paths are inclined towards certain Traditions.
Rituals are larger and time consuming spells that take at least five minutes to cast (rumors talk of titanspawn witches with rituals taking decades to cast) and a lot more props to focus the Scion’s power than a boon, cantrip, spell, or supernatural stunt.
Often Rituals are often required to activate ancient devices, open portals to other worlds, scry far off locations, open paths into terrae incognitae, enable magical mcguffins or counter magical mcguffins or other such one shot uses that push forward the story. As a rule it is far more effective to make use of a Magical Path’s Spells or a Purview’s Boons.
In order to cast rituals the Scion must have at least one dot in Magical Talent and any Purviews used in the Ritual.
A typical Ritual might be creating a field of Darkness around the caster to gain a bonus to intimidation or stealth, illuminate a room, stop a wound from bleeding or cause sickness.
Rituals have a duration of an hour without expending extra effort.
Higher power rituals could create storms or modify storms or shroud an entire building in darkness. They can do damage to individuals connected by fate or a sympathetic connection like blood or hair. A powerful ritual might create a Golem with Earth Magic or give a bonus to an entire army’s campaign or next battle.
To research about a ritual or Boon: Intelligence + Academics.
To find an ancient hidden or forgotten ritual: Intelligence + Investigation
To invent a new ritual or Boon: Intelligence + Science.
Formula design time: Rituals can take minutes to design on the fly or weeks of tweaking for the perfect equation. The advantage to belonging to an ancient tradition is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel and most mages have a library with typical rituals that they can learn in five minutes for low complexity rituals to an hour or two while most Permanent constructions can take days to learn and longer to cast.
Optimized Rituals can be treasured Birthrights for lucky Scions.
Sometimes a Tradition’s style and foci can require a longer casting time such as meditation but since meditation doesn’t require material, verbal, or somatic components it tends to balance out.
If the Ritual is especially complicated it might have Secondary Purviews which the character also needs to have in order to cast the Ritual.
The better designed the Ritual the quicker it is to learn and to cast. It is also easier to cast if well designed for the caster’s Tradition or Style.
The higher the caster’s ability in the Primary (Purview or Magic) the quicker and less props the caster needs.
The Storyteller declares how many successes are needed to successfully cast the Ritual. Leftover successes are then used against a target or towards the effect wanted.
If the caster is lacking or surpassing the requirements in the Primary (Purview or Magic Talent) than the number of successes needed goes up or down per dot along with increasing or decreasing the Willpower cost of the Ritual by that number. So, if the Ritual requires Sun Purview at 5 than a Scion with Sun Purview at 3 would need two extra successes which would be subtracted from his Ritual roll and have to spend 2 additional Willpower. On the other hand a Scion with a Sun Purview at 7 would have his required successes be two less and the Willpower cost of the Ritual would be two less.
A powerful and complicated Ritual can be simply to difficult for a would be Ritualist in the case of Rituals with secondary Purviews or Talents. If the caster doesn’t meet the secondary requirements than he can’t cast the ritual. If he surpasses the requirements he doesn’t receive any additional benefits.
All Rituals cost at least 1 Willpower to cast.
Basic complexity effects (level 1) Cantrips with longer durations. (no cost)
Simple complexity effects (level 2) Creating or summoning animals. Sense a storm approaching. Bless a follower with enhanced combat bonuses. Influence a human being or charm an animal. Break a wall. (Legend cost: 1)
Intermediate Complexity effects (level 3) Creating Creatures with 1 Legend. Mimic Hero level boons. Move a storm front around a city. Bless a squad with bonuses in battle. Charm a human being. Cause a building’s foundations to crack. (Legend cost: 2, Willpower cost:1)
Advanced Complexity effects (level 4) hit multiple targets with subtle effects or have stronger effects like aggravated damage. Can mimic Demigod level boons. Can create/summon a Creature with legend from 2 to 4. Some effects require additional Willpower at this level and possibly even experience points. Stop a storm front from advancing towards a city or slowly weaken it. Create a tropical storm. Heal aggravated wounds. Bless an hundred men with bravery and hardened wills to withstand a titanspawn’s fear based magic. Ward a neighborhood from artillery bombardment. (Legend cost: 4, Willpower cost: 2)
Master Complexity effects (level 5) can mimic boons on the God level or create/summon a Creature with legend greater than 4. Dissolve an hurricane or create one out of thin air. Provide a morale boost to thousands after a terrible defeat returning faith in your leadership. Ward a city from a nuclear explosion. (Legend Cost: 8, Willpower cost: 3)
Basic: (level 1) One person or target. A couple of meters of area effected. Range of a city block. (no cost)
Simple: (level 2) Group of under 10. 25 meters of area effected. Range of a couple of kilometers. (Legend cost: 1)
Intermediate: (level 3) Under a hundred. Area effect of an half kilometer. Range of 25 kilometers. (Legend cost: 2, Willpower cost: 1)
Advanced: (level 4) Thousands. Area effect of 25 kilometers. Range of 500 kilometers. (Legend cost: 4, Willpower cost: 2)
Master: (level 5) Millions. Area effect of 500 kilometers. Unlimited range in a world or into another world with a strong sympathetic link. (Legend cost 8, Willpower cost: 3)
Basic: An hour (no cost)
Simple: Until the next sunset or sunrise. (Legend cost: 1)
Intermediate: From a week to a season specified by the Ritual. (Legend cost: 2, Willpower cost: 1)
Advanced: A year and a day. (Legend cost:4, Willpower cost: 2)
Master: Permanent. (Legend cost: 8, Willpower cost: 3)
Some costs can be alleviated by using rare materials or by sacrificing as mentioned in Scion: Hero in the Magic Purview section. Other rituals may require rare materials regardless which can be a way for the Storyteller to control certain Rituals that might be game unbalancing.
The Primary (the main Purview or Magic Talent) grants an automatic success per dot on Ritual success rolls. For Ritual DV’s the default Primary is the Ritual’s Primary (a Sun Ritual uses Sun for defense) but an opposing Purview can often defend just as well. Such as Moon or Darkness countering a Sun Ritual. Regardless of the chosen Primary the defender can add it (with Storyteller permission) as automatic successes per dot.
Typical Rituals: (Perception, Intelligence, or Stamina + Occult) + Epic Bonus – Required Successes
Some Traditions use Stamina especially those that demand sacrifice, asceticism or suffering from the Ritualist while the typical Ritualist focuses on everything being done in the right order in the right way. Those whose Traditions focus on Intelligence tend to be the more modern technologically based or those of neoplatonic Hermeticism. Once an attribute is picked based on the Scion’s Tradition it rarely changes but for some Rituals it might change if it would be logical to do so.
Direct Attack Rituals: To Hit: (Charisma + Occult) + Epic Bonus – Required Successes
Subtle Attack Rituals: To Hit: (Manipulation + Occult) + Epic Bonus – Required Successes
Occult Dodge DV: (Perception + Occult + Legend)/2 + Willpower + Epic bonus
Countermagic DV*: (Intelligence + Occult + Legend)/2 + Willpower + Epic bonus
Occult Resistance: (Stamina + Integrity + Legend)/2 + Willpower + Epic bonus
*Countermagic DV gets these bonuses: +1 if knowledgeable of Tradition, another +1 if trained in that Tradition, +1 if defender knows the same or similar ritual, spell, or boon, and +2 if using a defensive action. Also, receives an automatic success per dot that the defender has in the Primary be it a Purview or Magic Talent whichever is higher.
Countermagic also allows the Mage to attempt to unweave Rituals by creating a new Ritual designed to destroy the target effect.
A Mage may shield a number of allies equal to his Magic Talent dot with this defense if it is higher than their natural defense.
Some rituals might be additionally defended against by Armor such as most elemental medium spells.
For transformative Rituals such as being turned into a pig the character may choose to replace Stamina with Appearance when resisting as it represents a sense of self.
If the Ritual is successful and penetrates defenses it takes effect. Extra successes leftover can enhance the Ritual’s potency or damage.