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Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Dirty Street Magic: Spellcasting

The last Street Magic post laid out the basics with one deliberate but glaring omission. How you actually go about casting spells.

Magic is fantastical in nature so that's where I'm going to set the base difficulty level. At Fantastic (+6).

Yes this is pretty high but it's in keeping with the aims of keeping magic magical and not simply allowing those with magical talents to be a jack of all trades replacing skills that they don't have with a magical fudge. I want street magic to be difficult so that in most circumstances doing things the mundane way IS easier. That way magic will be of most use doing magical things, and the efforts needed to make it work will deepen flavour of both setting and story.

Magicians are encouraged to prepare in advance, creating advantages that will aid their spell casting. Some of these will be straight advantages created on the spur of the moment but a significant number will be extras, realised as fetishes, trinkets, tokens or other magical ephemera. Sometimes the desire or need to create or recover these items can become the focus for adventure in itself.

Magicians are also encouraged to consider taking stress and consequences to gain success at a cost.

The casting test itself is straightforward. You need to have the Incantation stunt, but after that it is a simple case of making a Gnosis test to overcome a Fantastic (+6) obstacle.

Example

Finn needs to whip up a darkness spell to help his friends ambush the drug dealers that know who killed his cousin. He hits the books [Using Gnosis to Create an Advantage] and discovers that he can gather "Shadows from the Tree of Death" and use them to bind the spell. Catching shadows in the yew trees at the local cemetery requires great (+4) Legerdemain. Luckily, Finn was "Schooled by Witches" and successfully gathers a "Bag Full of Shadows". This is an extra that gives a one time advantage (+2) for creating darkness effects. The shadows will dissipate after the spell takes effect.

When the time comes Finn and his team mates are lying in wait for the dealers who roll up to the meet in their lowrider. The team leaps out of hiding and Finn hurls the contents of his "Bag of Shadows" over the car to prevent the dealers escape. He needs fantastic (+6) success for the spell to come off. Finn's Gnosis is great (+4), and he gets (+2) from his "Bag of Shadows". Dice hit the table and the final result is superb (+5). Finn really wants this to come off and offers to take a minor consequence to ensure success. They agree on the mental consequence of "Burnt the Candle at Both Ends". Nothing a good nights sleep won't cure but when's Finn going to get that?