Magic is an expression of a world's nature. Or perhaps it is a facet of the cosmos itself, incarnated in a particular wielder. Or it could be that it is all trickery and illusion, crafted to mislead the unwary. Whatever the case, all of the seven magics are potent forces in their particular world, and no less so here in the Forest of Doors.
In Forest of Doors, characters can learn magic that gives them access to a huge variety of unique, in-game effects, including raising mighty walls of fire, commanding foes, shielding others from harm, healing, and transformation. Magic is a difficult practice, however, demanding that characters perform rituals to gain the necessary energy to cast their spells. As well, all spells have verbals that must be spoken to activate their effects, and in some cases have other reqirements needed to maintain them.
The first part of casting a spell is spending a single Charge of the appropriate School of Magic. The second part of casting a spell is the verbal requirement. Each spell has a spoken verbal requirement that must be recited from memory. Verbals are usually ten to thirty syllables long, and they all incorporate the name of the spell, in some fashion. If the verbal is incorrectly spoken, the Charge is lost and the spell fails. If spoken correctly, the spell’s effect then takes place. Some spells (Readied spells specifically) require a second, shorter verbal requirement to activate their individual effects.
Magic Skill Progression
For each level in a magical skill up to 6, a character gets 1 spell and 1 ritual of their choice. After level 6, a magician may either pick the standard spell + ritual, or an advanced ability of the indicated type.
|| ||Mastery = Highest Level School + Willful
||1||15 CP|| Spells Known 1, Rituals Known 1
||2||5 CP|| Spells Known 2, Rituals Known 2
||3||10 CP|| Spells Known 3, Rituals Known 3
||4||15 CP|| Spells Known 4, Rituals Known 4
||5||20 CP|| Spells Known 5, Rituals Known 5
||6||25 CP|| Spells Known 6, Rituals Known 6
||7||25/5 CP|| Empowered Spell --or-- Spell + Ritual
||8||25/10 CP|| Greater Working --or-- Spell + Ritual
||9||25/15 CP|| Empowered Spell --or-- Spell + Ritual
||10||25/20 CP|| Greater Working --or-- Spell + Ritual
||11||25/25 CP|| Empowered Spell --or-- Spell + Ritual
||12||25/30 CP|| Greater Working --or-- Spell + Ritual
Mastery is a measure of a character’s magical power, which governs the potence of each and every spell a character knows. Every spell incorporates Mastery in some manner, either through duration, scope, number of uses, or damage. Whenever a character casts a spell, the character’s Mastery dictates how powerful the spell will be. For instance, most Readied spells give the caster their Mastery in uses when the spell is cast, and Circle spells can measure up to five yards in circumference per point of Mastery. Exactly how Mastery increases the power of the spell is listed in each individual spell description. Mastery is equal to a caster's highest level spell school, plus their level in the Willful Trait, plus any bonuses from Occult.
Charges and Rituals
Charges are what fuel magic, and each and every spell costs but a single Charge to cast. Most commonly, magicians get their charges through performing rituals, which are learned (like spells) as they increase in skill. All rituals take a certain amount of time to perform (1-15 minutes, most commonly), with the general rule that if a ritual is easy to perform, it will take a longer time. Rituals that demand sacrifice, or only operate under very specific conditions, are usually quick. Note: no ritual can be performed while a caster has a Readied spell active.
Upon successful completion of a ritual, a character gains a single charge of that ritual's school, which can only be used to fuel spells of that type. For example, if a character performs a Ritual from the Runes of the Stormfather (the magic from the Rock of Storms), they will receive a Charge that can only be used to fuel its particular, runic arcana. Characters with the Occult ability known as Channeling can pull Charges out of items or places of power with but a few moments of uninterrupted concentration. Also, characters who are naturally Attuned to the forces of magic can use a "Feat of Attunement," which instantly grants them a single Charge. Charges obtained by Feats of Attunement and Occult (usually) are generic in nature and can be used to fuel spells of any School. No matter what their source, a character cannot "carry" more active charges on them than twice their level of Mastery; if they have no Mastery at all, a character can carry only a single charge.
Resetting Rituals, Beginning Charges (Take Note!)
If a character uses a Ritual and successfully gains a Charge from it, then that Ritual is considered Active and cannot be used again until it is reset. All Rituals of a School of Magic reset when the character no longer carries any Charges from that School of Magic.
At the beginning of an event, characters begin with a full compliment of Charges from all the rituals they know, which are then considered to be active. As an example, a character with Woodsong and Moonsecret at level 4 and the Naming of Things at level 2 would begin the game with four Woodsong Charges and two Naming Charges. They could not perform one of their four Woodsong rituals until they used those charges, and the same goes for their Naming of Things rituals.
A Ritual, if performed incorrectly, simply does not work. If a Ritual is performed really incorrectly, however, it can become Fouled. A Fouled Ritual cannot be used until a certain action is taken to purify it. This can be something as simple and quick as destroying an item, or something as time consuming as taking on a difficult taboo for a few days. Even though some Rituals can expressly become Fouled through specific means, as detailed in their descriptions, any Ritual can become Fouled if the magician performing it acts in a manner directly against the spirit of the Ritual. Plot members and marshals can, at their discretion, declare a character’s Ritual Fouled if the character is using the Ritual in such a manner.
There is nothing wrong, however, with benefiting from Rituals in ways peripheral to gaining Charges. For instance, it is acceptable for a character to perform a Ritual in a manner that directly leads into another Ritual. Also, some rituals blend in with spell requirements, and using this relationship to your advantage is part of being an effective magician. We encourage the creative use of Rituals as long as it doesn’t run against the spirit of the system. Note that only one ritual can be performed at a time, in any case.
"Books of Spells" are not required for casters in the FoD. However, as we have quite a few spells with long or multiple verbals, we allow players to read off such from an in-game text, if desired. This spellbook should be aesthetically appropriate, but need not be a tagged item. Note that some spells do not allow their caster to hold objects in their hands, and a spellbook is not an exception to this rule. Essentially, all a spellbook is is a memory aid, and nothing more. Characters may not learn magical schools from spellbooks, at all.
There are four different types of spells, each with their own specific in-game mechanics. Also, many spells will have a subtype, listed in parentheses, which will typically be (touch), (packet), or (caster). Touch spells require a willing target or an item; in order for touch spells to be cast, the magician must hold/touch the object/person for the entire duration of the verbal (and after 5 seconds of concentration for some spells). After this, the spell takes effect. Note that you cannot forcibly grab an item held by another person, unless they allow it. Packet spells are delivered by saying their activation verbal, then throwing a cloth packet that is filled with birdseed. This packet must be the color of the magic used.
Note that touch spells require that the caster have at least one hand free in order to cast them; a caster who has two arm wounds or is suffering from the Shackled condition may not cast touch spells at all. Conversely, packet-based spells may be cast regardless of whether or not the caster has wounded or bound limbs, as the act of throwing a packet is actually out of play, in most circumstances. Caster spells are only usable on the caster themselves, and only require that they spend the charge and say the verbal correctly.
Circle spells only affect a specific area, as defined by a circular length of cord or rope that must be the color of the spell's school. The circumferance of the circle must be at least five yards, and can be no longer than five yards per Mastery of the caster. When the spell is cast, the rope is laid on the ground with its ends connected in some fashion. The circle must be able to remain mostly circular, or else the spell fails. Once a Circle is laid, it cannot be moved. Circle spells cannot overlap one another, and if a circle’s radius would overlap with another, it simply fails. A Circle can be cast at a lower level of Mastery, so as to fit in a specific area, assuming the caster has the appropriate physical representation for it. Circle spells end if the caster leaves the circle itself, becomes Critical or Unconscious (by in game effects or actually sleeping). While maintaining a circle, a caster can move about in its boundaries freely, perform rituals, fight, or do anything else that does not result in the above conditions. Note that some circle spells have secondary requirements, which are detailed in their individual section.
Instant spells have a single effect that takes place immediately. Some effects, such as those delivered by packets, have an effect and then immediately end (although persistent effects, such as damage, Blindness, or Poison will remain). Instant spells that target the caster typically last one hour per level of the caster’s Mastery, though there are exceptions. The verbal requirement for many packet-delivered Instant spells often incorporates the character’s Mastery (usually referred to as “(Mastery)-fold”) so that targets know the level of power the effect has. Some Instant Spells are performed by touch, and can be cast on any willing character. Note that whatever the type of spell, characters cannot have multiple effects of the same type on themselves at any time. If a spell is cast on a character that is currently under the effect of the same spell, the previous instance of the spell is replaced with the new one and the spell’s duration is reset.
Readied spells cost a single Charge, just like all other types of magic, but allow the character to use an effect a number of times equal to the caster’s Mastery. These uses persist as long as the spell is active. While a character has a Readied spell active, they cannot cast any other spells (unless the readied spell's description says otherwise), nor can they perform rituals. Readied spells also have a specific requirement listed in the spell description, and which that must be maintained. If the requirement is not met, typically the spell ends and any remaining uses are lost.
There is usually no specific duration for Readied spells, meaning a character can cast one and have it "ready" almost indefinitely. However, if a character goes Unconscious or becomes Critical, then the spell drops.
Wards are protective spells that allow a caster to "burn" charges of their school in order to resist magical effects of all sorts. A ward can also be dropped in order to call a single instance of this kind of resist, and can also be ended to create a single specific "spell-like" effect unique to that Ward. Wards are caster-only spells, and casters may only have one up at a time.
Spell Duration (Take Note!)
Most spells explicitly describe how long they last. If an enchantment spell does not list a duration, however, it is assumed to last for 1 full event, or until used up, whichever comes first.
This advanced ability allows a caster to, in a sense, "specialize" in a spell they already know, unlocking its true capabilites and expanding its power. This ability may only be chosen once per spell, and what it does will be revealed upon reaching level 6 in a spell school. Alternately, characters may do Scholarship actions to learn about Empowered versions of spells.
Some spells will have their duration dramatically increased, some will get a damage boost, while still others may gain additional casting abilities outright, once they are Empowered.
Greater Workings are powerful ritual magics which have broad, game altering effects whenever they are cast. A specific Greater Working can only be cast once per game season (year), by a particular person, and other time/opportunity constraints may apply. All Greater Workings must be discovered in the course of play/during downtime actions; they are, almost by definition, the most arcane and secretive powers in a given school. Each magical school is rumored to have a several of these spells, but the exact number is generally not known.
Seven of the eight worlds have a full school of magic. The Realm of Castles, however, is unique in that it has none at all (while characters from a particular world get a skill cost reduction in their own school, denizens of the Realm instead recieve a reduction in that most noble of weapons: the Sword). Each of the seven schools consists of twelve spells and twelve rituals, and a caster recieves one of each for every level they achieve in the school...at least up to level 6. Though charcters may increase their facility with magic (or any other skill) beyond 6, what they get at those heights of power is not clearly known.
Each school of magic is a reflection of the world of its origin and the people that live there. Although every school has a certain affinity for a set of particular elemental forces, they are not simply aspects of such. Magic is hard thing to quantify, for as the sages from the Desert of Brass say: "if you think yourself wise in the ways of Naming, then wisdom truly escapes you."
Currents of Deepspirit
Undersea is a strange, alien realm whose inhabitants practice an equally strange, alien form of magic known as the Currents of Deepspirit. This discipline focuses on spiritual matters, primarily, though the watery nature of the world of its origin obviously has some influence upon it, and it has some very efficient peripheral healing magics. Currents of Deepspirit uses dark blue as its signature color.
Dooms of Light and Shadow
The Lords of the Dark Mountains (and certain troublesome rebels) practice a magic known as the Dooms of Light and Shadow, which is a discipline whose power comes from the interplay between light and darkness, void and substance. Light and Shadow spells offer a variety of effects, many of which are singular in nature (most spells are instants). Light spells cause damage, cure conditions, and offer protection. Shadow spells cause conditions, obscure the self, and interact with the forces of death. Note that all of these spells, regardless of their “alignment” use identical charges, and their rituals are not restricted. The Dooms of Light and shadow uses white and black as its signature colors, according to the alignment of each particular spell.
Mysteries of Flame and Iron
The denizens of Goblin City practice a dangerous magic that derives its power from the forces of creation and destruction. Mysteries of Flame and Iron has some of the most destructive magic in existence, yet many of its spells are creative in nature. Fire, forge, transformation, and the secretes of the inanimate are aspects of this discipline and the rituals that power it. This discipline uses red for its color.
The Naming of Things
In the Desert of Brass, magic is commonplace. Though casters are valued and honored members of society, they are treated almost like any other intellectual profession. Indeed, the cultivation of knowledge and individual scholarship is prized above all other pursuits in this civilized land, and their magic--The Naming of Things--is but another road to that knowledge. This spell school uses light blue as its signature color.
Runes of the Stormfather
The Skairn of the Rock of Storms practice the ancient and dire magics known as the Runes of the Stormfather. These arcane glyphs and ciphers grant them power in battle, protection from their enemies, and healing from their injuries. Many of the rituals of this discipline are grim and demanding, reflecting the cold, rainswept world of their origin. This magic uses yellow as its signature color, and its packets must be marked with a single rune of making.
Thirteen Harmonious Changes
The Justicars and Inquisitors from the Empire of Perfect Unity practice a rigid and orderly magic known as the Thirteen Harmonious Changes, which emphasizes law, duty, and harmony. The outcasts from beyond the North Wall have practicioners of this magic, as well, though their take on it is often radically different. One of the most difficult questions asked by a master magician to their students is "what is the Thirteenth Change?" This magic's color is brown.
Woodsong and Moonsecret
Woodsong and Moonsecret is the magic of the fairies of the Enchanted Glade, and it reflects their whimsical, ephemeral natures. Woodsong spells, and the rituals that power them, are fundamentally lighthearted and playful, though what constitutes "play" for a fairy can be downright dangerous. Many of the fairies who practice this "discipline" do not even know they are performing magic; a fairy trick is a fairy trick, after all. Woodsong uses silver for its color.
Detailed information about the Occult Skill can be found here