Sorcery Mechanics


A Sorcerer performs magic by use of a focus, which can be anything from a method to a type of object to a specific object.

Each Sorcerer has a different focus. As a Sorcerer, your focus is the defining characteristic of your magic, and impacts how you utilize each Path. It also introduces an inherent weakness, since you are dependent on it.

A unique focus (such as a ring or amulet) is possible. However, if it is lost or destroyed, you lose all your magic.

It is possible to work Merits and Flaws (such as Phylactery) into a focus. If you do so, you must start with them; they cannot be acquired later.

You must be able to explain exactly how your magic works. This is particularly important since belief is critical to sorcery (belief in sorcery, belief in your ability to perform it, and belief in your focus). Of the three branches of magic, Sorcerers have the greatest academic mastery of underlying principles; they are experts and scholars, with a thorough understanding of the technical underpinnings of magic. (Of course, technical explanations may vary radically from paradigm to paradigm.)


The Sorcerer makes the activation roll (an Attribute + an Ability) as specified by the Path. Masteries and Powers can add dice, and specializations can allow rerolls. However, dice may be added from only a single source: A Power, an Ability Mastery, or some other source.

Most Paths have several Aspects. For example, Conjuration has four Aspects: Weight, Range, Accuracy, and Number. Each Aspect can range from rank 1 to rank 6; this typically varies with each casting. Certain Paths have Effects instead of Aspects.

The base Difficulty is 3 plus the highest Aspect (or Effect) you are trying to access. (You cannot access an Aspect or Effect higher than your level in the Path). This may be further modified by Items, Powers, Masteries, use of a Secondary Ability instead of the Primary Ability indicated, and so forth. Mana may be used to reduce the Difficulty to a minimum of 3.

Add up the number of successes on your activation roll. Mana may be used to gain extra successes. If you botch this roll, something really really bad is going to happen …

You may divide successes between Aspects. The first rank in each Aspect is free. Each rank after the first costs 1 success unless otherwise indicated. You cannot exceed the maximum Aspect rating as determined when the Difficulty was calculated. You do not have to use the maximum Aspect rating; you may use a lower Aspect rating if you wish, but you cannot use a higher.

In some cases (primarily in Rituals and Ritual-only Paths), successes must also be spent towards a specific effect.

Casting Time

For spontaneous effects, casting time is a number of turns equal to the highest Aspect rating used. This may be shortened by the Fast Casting background, but can never be reduced below 1 turn. Sorcery is always a full-turn action, and thus does not qualify as a Defensive Action. For Ritual effects, casting time will be a minimum of 10 minutes (sometimes longer), plus a variable time.

One of the major limitations on Sorcery is the fact that it is a full-turn action. Sorcerers can never receive extra actions, or any way of speeding up their Sorcery (beyond Fast Casting). Only one effect is possible in a single turn, and it takes the full turn, taking effect at the end of the turn. This is true even of hung spells. Also, Sorcery is a committed action; while casting a spell, you cannot split your action or take any other action.


John attacks a Big Ugly Thingamajigger (BUT) using the Path of Destruction.

John's stats are:
Manipulation 4
Alertness 5
Alertness Mastery 4
Destruction 5
Ring (-1 Difficulty on all Sorcery)
Fast Casting 4 (reduces casting time by 4 turns)

His base pool for any Destruction spell effect is 13 dice. He's going to attempt to destroy the BUT. His Difficulty will be 6 [3 + Aspect rating (5) - 1 (Alertness Mastery) - 1 (Ring)], and he'll get to reroll all 10's. We'll say he got 11 successes, when all is said and done. Now he gets to apply those successes as he sees fit, up to his maximum Aspect rating. We'll say the BUT is relatively close (25 feet away). The first rank in the Aspects of Range and Area are free, so he'll put 2 successes into Range to hit the BUT. Then he'll put the next 5 successes into Damage, for 15 levels of damage. 2 successes into Intensity will make the damage Aggravated, and the last 2 success will increase the soak Difficulty by 1. So the BUT will have to soak 15 levels of Aggravated Damage at +1 Difficulty.

Defensive Sorcery

All Sorcery techniques include methods for "spoofing" the selfsame magics. A Diviner can "cloud" attempts to use Divination around a particular subject/topic/timeframe, just as Conveyance can manage "teleport wards" and similar. Defensive Sorcery is usually employed through rituals.

Rituals and Ritual-Only Paths

A Ritual is a formula or tried-and-true method which a Sorcerer can purchase for any Path at a cost of 2 XP. Generally they allow the Sorcerer to do more than the level of the Path at which they are purchased but take hours or even days longer, depending on the difficulty of the Ritual. It is only possible to learn a Ritual if your level in the Path is equal to or greater than the level of the Ritual. (You must also have access to the Ritual, of course, most likely from a tome, another Sorcerer, or successful research.)

Alchemy, Arcano-Surgery, Enchantment, Shapeshifting, and Kabbalah are Ritual-only Paths; they have only Rituals, and no spontaneous spells.

At each new level in a given Ritual-only Path, a Sorcerer receives 1 new Ritual of that level without paying for it. Any additional Rituals must be researched and purchased before they can be used. New Rituals must be approved by at least two regional GM's.

Rituals from Ritual-only Paths cannot be hung, as they typically are tailored to a specific object or require time-sensitive materials.

Many Rituals are part of a Ritual Tree – a related series of Rituals of levels 1 through 6. Each Ritual in a Tree builds on the prior one, becoming increasingly complex. Thus, it is not possible to learn a higher-level Ritual in a Tree without first learning the lower-level versions. This represents the Sorcerer's increasing mastery of the subject at hand. For example, an Alchemist who wishes to learn to make healing elixirs (and who has Alchemy, Healing, and Chorus to the appropriate levels) cannot learn to make only level 6 potions. If he knows how to make level 6 healing elixirs, he necessarily knows how to make lower-level potions as well.

Special Effects

Some Sorcery Paths allow Special Effects. Each Special Effect costs 3 XP. It is only possible to learn a Special Effect if your level in the Path is equal to or greater than the level of the Effect.

Hanging Spells

Hanging spells incurs +1 Difficulty on all rolls for the first spell, and another +1 Difficulty for every 2 hung spells after that.

Hanging a spell is a Ritual effect, taking 10 minutes + casting time. It is not possible to hang a Ritual from a Ritual-only Path. Hanging a Ritual from a Path which is not Ritual-only takes 10 minutes plus the time required by the Ritual.


Researching a Ritual requires an extended Sorcery Lore (or Alchemy, for alchemical formulae) skill check at Difficulty 8.

Each roll requires one Downtime. A botched research roll results in the loss of all accumulated successes. You cannot receive Study Points or teach or be taught by another character in any Downtime in which you conduct research.

Success requires a certain number of successes, generally at least 10 times the level of the Ritual, and sometimes more. Of course, a line of research may prove to be a dead end, or may lead in a completely unexpected direction.

If you spend your Downtime in research, you begin the Game at half Willpower, as you spend Willpower on a daily basis in the course of your research.

In most cases, players conducting spell research must detail the approach they are taking and roleplay as appropriate. A Side Game may be necessary. (Roleplay is not needed if the research is strictly derivative, e.g. creating a formula for a healing potion which duplicates healing the caster can already perform).

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