Casting Magic

          Because they're so central to the game, and because most of us can't use our natural intution to know what a mage with an "average" ability can do, the magic rules will be a bit more complex than those for other abilities.

Casting Spontaneous Spells
          Takes 10 seconds to cast. No spell focus required. Determine the power level of the desired effect using the spell tables (see below). Roll as many d6s as your skill level in that spell type, add them up, compare the total to the spell's level, and consult the following chart. Exceptionally high or low rolls increase the potency of the spell or the botch.

over spell level by 10+ points spell succeeds, no fatigue
over spell level by 1-9 points spell succeeds, take one fatigue
match spell level spell succeeds, take two fatigue
under spell level by 1-5 points spell fails, no fatigue
under spell level by 6-10 points spell fails, take one fatigue
under spell level by 11+ points botched spell, take one fatigue

          Spontaneous spells can never exceed the following limits: They cannot affect an area larger than you can see (though IntÚllego spells may effectively increase your range of sight and effects may linger after you leave). They cannot have durations longer than a month. They cannot be used to perceive the past or future.

Casting Formulaic Spells
          Takes one minute to cast. Subtract 1 from each die if you don't have the appropriate spell focus. (Note that foci are re-usable.) Roll as many d10s as your skill level in that spell type, add them up, compare the total to the spell's level, and consult the following chart. Exceptionally high or low rolls increase the potency of the spell or the botch.

over spell level by 5 points spell succeeds, no fatigue
over spell level by 0-4 points spell succeeds, take one fatigue
match spell level spell succeeds, take two fatigue
under spell level by 1-10 points spell fails, no fatigue
under spell level by 11-20 points spell fails, take one fatigue
under spell level by 21+ points botched spell, take one fatigue

          Regardless of the outcome, if the number of natural 10s rolled on the dice exceeds the character's willpower then roll for the possibility of Wizard's Twilight.

          In addition to using vis to increase the spell roll (see below), most formulaic spells have a special built-in option for vis boosting which will increase either the range or the duration.

          Formulaic spells cannot be used to perceive the past or future.

          Formulaic spells can never exceed the following limits unless it is the result of vis boosting (as above): They cannot affect an area larger than you can see (though IntÚllego spells may effectively increase your range of sight and effects may linger after you leave). They cannot have durations longer than a month.

Casting Ritual Spells
          Rituals have a variable casting time, though this must be chosen in advance. Foci are mandatory, the ritual just doesn't work without them, and are consumed by the power of the ritual. Multiple casters can join together as long as all know the ritual. The base time is 15 minutes per 5 levels of the spell. Every 15 minutes expend 1 fatigue (from any caster involved) and 1 vis. At the end of the first hour all ritual participants must make a willpower roll over 15 to avoid entering Wizard's Twilight. Roll again every hour after, increasing the target by 5 each time. If a participant is forced out of the ritual by the effects of the Twilight, the ritual leader (usually the caster with the highest skill) must make a concentration roll of 20 to keep the ritual from being interrupted. Interrupted rituals tend to have very bad consequences.

          For every multiple of the base time, roll as many d6s as your skill level in that spell type (if multiple casters use the average), and add them up. If the total die roll exceeds the ritual's minimum level, compare the total of the dice to the spell effect tables to determine the effect; the effects are open-ended and the casters can choose exactly how to apply extra power beyond the minimum. If the roll is below the minimum level, then it fails. Particularly low rolls can result in spectacular failures.

Modifiers to the Roll
          Vis can be expended to boost any spell roll by +5 per point (in addition to the special boosting powers it may have in formulaic magic).

          All spells require two-handed gestures and speaking aloud. Formulaic and ritual magic simply can't be cast without these conditions. Spontaneous magic can with the following penalties. Note that an individual die can be a negative number.

caster whispers -1 on each die
caster does not speak -2 on each die
caster uses only one hand -1 on each die
caster has both hands occupied -2 on each die
caster's arms are bound -3 on each die

          All spells require the magus's total concentration. Assign the following penalties due to distracting conditions.

caster walking -1 on each die
caster running -2 on each die
caster actively dodging blows -3 on each die
general confusion (such as a raucous party) -1 on each die
extreme confusion (combat or a fairy revel) -2 on each die

          In addition, if any of the following events occur while casting or maintaining a spell, then the caster must make a Willpower roll to continue, using the target values below. If the roll fails, then the spell fails or concentration is broken.

caster poked or tickled 10
sudden light, noise, or other surprise 10-20 (depends on severity)
caster jostled 15
caster knocked down 20
caster damaged 20 + 5 per point of damage

          Both spontaneous and formulaic magic can be performed a little faster or slower. Subtract 1 from each die for each five seconds cut off the casting time. (Yes, spontaneous spells are instantaneous with a -2 penalty). Add 1 to each die if the casting time is tripled.

Wizard's Twilight
          Being a magus is all about learning to control magic. But sometimes, when the powers involved become too great, the magic controls you. This event is generally known as a Twilight event, when uncontrolled magic courses through your body, part of the whole phenomenon of Wizard's Twilight.

          Individual Twilight episodes are highly variable, depending on the cause and the conditions surrounding it. You may remain fully conscious, retain only limited control, fall unconscious, or go into fits. They may last for seconds or days. Depending on the strength of the episode, Twilight may leave permanent marks on you, some good (increased understanding or magical affinities), some bad (physical deformities, mental aberrations, or magical flaws). You may use Willpower and Enigmatic Wisdom (a unique ability taught by House Criamon) to attempt to "control" the Twilight episode and influence toward beneficial outcomes. Whatever the outcome of an episode, it tends to leave a residue known as Twilight points. Each Twilight point is a negative ability which subtracts one die from attempts to resist (but not control) further Twilight episodes.

          As the years pass and Twilight points accumulate, some magi reach a point where they enter "final Twilight", when the magus's soul leaves the worldly realm for some other place. (The body may or may not pass on with the soul.) Hermetic theory holds that final Twilight is not death, but a translation to some higher plane of being. It is a certainty that magi who pass beyond Twilight may not be summoned as ghosts or contacted with any spell.


More Information on the Game System:
Abilities
Casting Magic
Spells
List of Characters
Game Session History

Return to the Index of Background Files

Caledonia: A Light in the North