Monday 6 April 2015

Magic in the Twin Lands

My favourite Prediction ad ever.
Magic. The role-playing game writer's dread.

Ok, then. This is how.

If you have one or more points in Psychic, you can do magic. It's tremendously common in Atlantis, magic is. Exactly what magic you can do depends upon which of the five cultures you come from.

Through solo and communal meditation, the Lemurians access the Ak√Ęsha, the repository of cosmic memory; through it they make things heal and grow. They ward away harm and make friends of the plants and animals of the world around them. Lemurians sing their magic in their hard, cracked voices, and these songs create, protect, heal and, sometimes, wither. Lemurians can access forgotten knowledge from their ancestors.

Rmoahals learn the Speech-Words, passed from parent to child in secret over these five million years. When a Speech-Word is pictured in a Rmoahal mind and spoken by a Rmoahal mouth, new things come into being, broken things are mended, and things that are and should not be cease to ever have been. Rmoahal magic is used for mending, calming, creating and erasing from existence. Rmoahal magic is subtle.

Tlavatli psychics channel the spirits of their deified ancestors who, overshadowing their minds and temporarily inhabiting their bodies, supply them with powerful clairvoyant talents. Tlavatli psychics use their magic for healing, knowing the past and the future, seeing far away, moving impossible weights and reading thoughts and emotions. Tlavatlis have mastered bilocation and psychic travel.

Atlanteans treat their psychic talents as a science, based around the drawing of vril, life-energy from sources. Black Atlanteans and White Atlanteans differ primarily with respect to the sources from which they draw this energy.  White Atlanteans use seeds and other plant forms (consider the life potential of an acorn, having inside it the potential for an entire tree). Black Atlanteans use seeds too, but are not above the coarser, weaker, but easier to extract energy of living creatures. Both Black and White Atlanteans use complex tools to extract this energy, which they use to infuse other items with energy. Atlantean magic makes sky chariots fly. It makes deadly weapons. It energises artificial limbs and thinking simulacra. It creates thralls and Bestials. Repairs and healing will always leave their mark (a replaced limb will be made of metal and wires; an eye a glass lens set in metal). Simulacra. An animal or human placed under psychic control might have blank white or black eyes. A machine that knows will have the sigils of the Atlantean priesthood prominently displayed upon it. Atlantean magic is unmistakeable and has permanent effects. Atlantean magicians keep sets of complex tools.

Muvians use a series of mathematical and spiritual threefold figures - magic circles, prayers, philosophical axioms - to bring powerful energies, drawn from within themselves under the rule of will. Their magics, blinding lights and cold coruscating flames, command, destroy, assault and defend. Shields of light. Bolts of gleaming force. Muvian magic burns, blinds, scars.

All magic effects work the same way, with a contest. Magic saps the energy and requires an exertion of will, and is never used lightly.

Choose the Suit you're using as you would with any other conflict.

If you're doing magic that affects or uses air or the mind or which accesses clairvoyant talents, use Swords.

If you are performing magic that creates or affects static earthly matter or living bodies, or which defends or protects, use Pentacles.

If you are performing magic that creates or affects water or other liquids, or which affects feelings or the soul, or which heals or soothes, use Cups.

If you are performing magic that affects fire or other energies, or which destroys or harms, or uses force, use Fire.

If I'm flying, do I use Swords or Pentacles? If I'm making a wall of fire as a defence, do I use Wands or Pentacles? Does restoring the free will of a Thrall of Leagh require Cups or Swords?

In the end, you can use whichever feels right.  whichever you can describe best.

If you're trying to achieve an affect that's permanent, the GM can add two extra cards. If you're trying to achieve something that's difficult or spectacular, the GM can draw two more.

(By the way, and this goes for all conflicts, If your only opponent is the environment, or if your recipient is willing, you play against the World. The World starts with all Suits at 5, a Force of 5 and 5 cards. If you're using Wands, the World opposes with Pentacles. If you're using Cups it opposes with Swords. But more on that in the playtest doc.)

Otherwise, play it like any other conflict. Essentially you can do anything with magic as long as you can justify it in the context of your character's culture and tools.