Wanted: Brave, competent, talented young Adamant Circle spellcasters to act as the executive assistants to the head of the Department of Miscellaneous Affairs. If you are not brave, talented, a spellcaster, or especially young, apply anyway. We'll take pretty much anybody.(Seeking one or more players for a modern-day fantasy romp that will be at times serious and rather dark, smutty as hell, and very very funny at all times.)
A Novices Guide to Magic
By James Sinclaire, Master Warden of the Adamant Circle
Magic, in the raw, is quite simply the universe itself: The fundamental and essentially infinite building blocks of all existence in a malleable, unfixed state. Casters from all over the world use different terms for it, the most common being Mana, Chi, and Essence - but they're all the same thing.
Spellcasting is the act of shaping magical energy, which we'll call Mana for the purposes of this guide, using complex formulas and focusing techniques and objects to cause some phenomena that would not or could not occur naturally under the current conditions. The first step to becoming a spellcaster - called a mage, witch, wizard, warlock, shaman, mystic, and many other names besides depending on the culture of the person you're talking to - is to have a source of unformed, or at least free-flowing, mana. There are a few different ways to acquire such a power source: Some people are born with a well of magical energy in them, usually due to having magical heritage of some kind, or because of long-term exposure to magical energies due to a powerful blessing or curse or spending a lot of time in close proximity to magical beings or places. The Gifted
The descendants of gods, demons, and mythical creatures nearly always have some innate magical power, and the children of any kind of spellcaster have a small chance of being born with the Gift as well. These natural magic-users often display mystical talents early on in life, and some of them develop their power instinctively and unintentionally into a unique magical style. A good many psychics and other extraordinary individuals unknowingly wield magic; for example, it is a known fact that Adolf Hitler had a natural ability to entrance and sway others on a massive scale that he honed and developed over time without knowing it. Some scholars of magic believe that he was descended from some powerful celestial or infernal being, and his entire regime was essentially a sacrificial ritual that fueled his powers, which meant that when his reich collapsed, so did his powers.Channelers
Many magic-users find a specific magical location and intentionally spend time meditating there, changing their attitudes and their natures and 'attuning' to its energies to make that location the source of their power. There are a great many places of power in the world, the most famous of which is probably Stonehenge (Which, by the way, is controlled by a very powerful family of arcanists who do not take kindly to others attuning to their ancient ancestral power source). Some channelers draw their energy from a powerful magical artifact as well, and the rare but extremely dangerous Devourers are a subcategory of channeler that can consume magical energies from other beings' spells and even steal magic from places of power they are not attuned to. Devourers are nearly universally despised as power thieves and despoilers of sacred sites because greedy or untrained devourers can damage or completely destroy magical sources permanently, and to make matters worse devouring gives an immense rush of addictive power unlike anything else - seriously, there is nothing that compares to the feeling of raw magical power flowing into you, and believe me I know - i'm a Devourer myself. The Oathbound
Another method is to make a pact with a supernatural Patron - a demon, djinn, god, faerie noble, or even the primeval darkness itself. Demons and Djinn are numerous and relatively easy to contact, and are especially keen on making pacts with mortals, and so the magic-users called Oathbound are the most common spellcasters you'll find. Many Oathbound are solitary practitioners of magic, since they have a ready-made teacher in the form of their patron and thus often don't need any help from other magic-users. Unfortunately, some patrons are less than kind and make horrible demands of their vassals, and Oathbound are also frequently spell-slinging nightmares or mad servants of some powerful being that end up needing to be put down for the good of everyone. I will note that not every Oathbound is evil or dangerous, though - sometimes patrons are benevolent or just don't ask much of their vassals, or the oathbound himself manages to outmaneuver the being or gain their powers as a reward for some favor or service rendered.
The last step is finding and learning spells - this is the hard part for some people, but if you are Gifted or Oathbound you may not have as much trouble with it, or may just not care to learn any spells, since the Gifted can rely on their potent innate powers and Oathbound can learn spells from their Patrons. Channelers might not have it too rough either if they come from a lineage that has a lot of spellcasters, or happen to be apprentices to a knowledgeable older spellcaster. The rest of us have to do it the hard way, and that means finding a Circle to teach you your spells. That's where I come in - I am the Warder and chief recruiter of the Adamant Circle, one of the largest and best-organized circles in the world, and head of the circles Department of Miscellaneous Affairs.Blood Price
Once you have a power source and a way of getting spells, the only thing left is to pay your blood price - now don't freak out on me, it isn't necessarily as bad as it sounds. You see, magic by its very nature works on the law of exchange. It doesn't create something from nothing, it changes things from one state to another, and to change yourself from your original non-caster state to a new state - that of a magic user- you need to sacrifice something important and resonant to you. The blood sacrifice is nearly always something esoteric like a powerful memory, an emotional bond with a specific person or persons, your birth name, or anything like that, but whatever it is once you sacrifice it, it's gone forever - if you give up your wifes love, she will never love you again, no matter how hard you try to reestablish that bond. If you sacrifice your name, its erased from the universe forever more and you won't remember what it was, or be able to hear it spoken or see it in writing ever again. Sacrifice an eye and be forever half-blind, or give up your beauty and be plain jane until the end of time. If you're a real cold piece of work, you could make your blood sacrifice very literal and murder someone important to you, but only the most evil sons of bitches do that kind of thing. In the magic-using community it's considered rude to ask someone what their blood price was, so if a spellcaster tells you what theirs was it's a sign of great respect and trust. Many masters tell their apprentices what they sacrificed upon graduation from apprentice to full-fledged spellcaster to cement the bond between them.How magic is viewed in the world
The existence of the supernatural isn't exactly a secret - a fair number of ordinary mortals know of it, and practitioners are fairly ubiquitous. Most magic-users, though, quickly learn the value of secrecy and subtlety, for one simple reason - mortals are drawn to magic, and those who are exposed to it experience a phenomena known as the Calling, which gives them a none-too-subtle attraction to the source of the magic they experienced, not unlike the addiction that some Devourers experience, but less severe because the mortal isn't a channel. People under the effects of the calling can be very dangerous - some of you probably already know this, as it was likely what drew you to becoming a magic-user in the first place. The calling makes lovers into obsessed stalkers hell-bent on staying near the source of their adoration, or devoted enemies who will do anything to destroy that with which they are obsessed. This is where witch-hunters come from. On top of that, lots of mythical creatures feed on mana - vampires savor the taste of a caster blood above all else, and more than a few spellcasters have found themselves held captive and constantly drained of their energies by a malignant devourer or undead captor. To make matters worse, most civilized places have government agencies whose sole purpose is to monitor and contain dangerous magic-users, and they are extremely efficient and usually utterly ruthless at their task. Dangerous spellcasters have been known to disappear after a visit from scary men in black suits search warrants, so tread lightly.
The Calling has some benefits too - its easy for a magic-user to build a cult of personality by exposing select mortals to magical energies, and this is exactly how some unscrupulous circles like those lunatics (literally, lunatics) the Moon Seekers and eco-terrorist Circle of Gaia get new members.
Step one: Concept. Come up with compelling character concept, keeping in mind that your character is a member of the Adamant Circle, the pre-eminent magical security and detective agency in the world. In paticular, you work for James Sinclaire, your immediate superior and (probably) magical mentor. Something about you got the attention of the Adamant Circle and caused them to recruit you - are you a spellcaster who was discovered by a circle member? A mortal in the throes of the Calling? A mythical being who works with the circle? Or maybe you're a relative or descendant of a circle member who inherited their position upon their death or retirement. Whatever you are, describe it in as few or as many words as you like, with a background that touches on the important points of your character.
Step Two: The Numbers. Assign your character levels in the following traits based on your vision of the character by Die size. A smaller die size in a trait is always better, because it means you have a better chance of rolling under a tasks difficulty. Trait levels are listed below, and the system is a modified version of The Window ( available for free at www.mimgames.com
) but fear not, you don't need to be well-versed in systems to play in this game. Most of the time the system should just be in the background - its there for the times when an impartial resolution system is needed.Competency RungsIncredible (D4)
This is the highest rung of competency, and it is generally reserved for those characters who are absolutely unique
or singularly masterful at what they are doing. It is extremely rare to find a person with any ability at this rung. Skills
of this magnitude could be described as unbelievable, grandmaster, superhuman, supernatural, or even godlike.Very High (D6)
This level is generally the highest that a “normal” human can achieve. At this rung, one may assume that there are
only a small population of people with a similar trait. Einstein might have been on this rung of intellect, or perhaps
Bobby Fischer would fit in here with his chess talents. An ability adjective at this rung might be termed as a master,
astonishing, remarkable, amazing, stupendous, a prodigy, or unequalled.High (D8)
This rung is where a typical “expert” would fit in. It is not uncommon to find a skill or two at this level for those people
who are exceptionally practiced at their chosen profession or area of study. A few descriptive terms which work well
at this level are expert, highly skilled, very good, highly accomplished, a natural, and elegant.Above Average (D10)
This is the level of competence where those “good, but not particularly good” skills fall into. The typical person
would have perhaps one skill (generally their profession) which would be at this rung. Abilities of this level could be
described as professional, impressive, talented, skilled, proficient, or practiced.Average (D12)
This rung is the “average” level, and it could be considered the norm against which the other rungs are compared.
Generally, a person will have several of these skills, mostly in those mediocre abilities which everyone has a chance
to pick up as they go through life. A few adjectives which fit well could be average, competent, fair, not bad, pretty
good, decent, mediocre, and commonplace.Below Average (D20)
A person could expect to be at this rung on any skill they have begun to practice but not quite mastered. The
normal character would have a few of these, be they hobbies, or things they did a long time ago, or skills they just
can’t ever get the hang of. Some good descriptions of this rung could include below average, amateur, beginner,
hobbyist, struggling, and unreliable.Low (D30)
This rung is the bottom of the barrel, and usually it is only used for those abilities which are markedly horrible. Please
note that everyone has almost every “skill” imaginable at this level of competency. (Even if you’ve never driven a car
before in your life, that doesn’t mean you couldn’t try!) Skills here could be described as low, unskilled, incompetent,
poor, crappy, nonexistent, or bungling.AttributesStrength
This is the raw physical power which the character possesses, and it is tested in those situations where the character must lift, move, push, pull, or throw something which is unusually large or heavy. It also includes the character’s ability to crush or break sturdy objects, hold down an enemy in combat, or other such trials of might.Agility
People who are highly agile are good at jumping over pits, swinging from ropes or vines, escaping from bonds, and picking pockets. It has to do with balance, manual dexterity, hand-to-eye coordination, and limberness, and it can be tested quite often in action oriented Anthologies.Health
Not only is this how good the character is at resisting disease, but also how good they are at running long distances, dealing with poison, holding their breath, etc.. Health rolls are very important should the character be wounded to determine how well they resist shock, pain, unconsciousness, and even death.Knowledge
Often referred to as “knowledge of the world,” this is a general measure of how much the character has experienced and how much education they have received. Older, smarter, or more travelled characters usually are more knowledgeable, and this ability is tested when a character needs to see if they know important information on government organizations, how a steam engine works, or similar feats of experience and wisdom.Perception
Often called “powers of perception,” the Storyteller will call for tests of this ability when the troupe has a chance to notice something in a scene that isn’t readily apparent. This includes seeing hidden or obscure clues, hearing distant noises, or smelling that telltale whiff of poison...Magic
Raw magical power and the size of your personal mana reservces. Magic is rolled whenever you cast a spell to determine how powerful and effective the spell is, and each spell cast in a scene temporarily drops your magic attribute down one die size on the competency ladder. Once your Magic trait reaches a D30, further uses of magic start reducing your Health attribute die as you burn your own life-force to fuel your spells. Your magic trait recovers at a rate of one competency rung per minute (thats ten rounds in combat).
You can also choose to intentionally power a given spell with Health instead of Magic (Some spells even require it), but it isn't advised that you make a habit of it. Injuries to health caused in this way cannot be healed by any known means outside of normal rest
The noteworthy non-magical skills your character has. If it's worth mentioning or important to
your character concept, put it here and give it a competency rating. Magical Skills
Your characters skill in the various schools of magic. Rate each category.
Alchemy - Often underestimated or derided as being hedge witches, the art of Arcane chemistry known as alchemy lets you bind magic into physical forms and changing things permanently from one state to another in ways that spells just can't manage. Potions, magic swords, cloaks of invisibility - these are the things alchemists make, and a really skilled alchemist can do anything a practitioner of another school can do, given enough time and the right resources. Best of all, Alchemists can make items that anyone can use. Even a mortal can swing a magic sword or fire an enchanted pistol, and you can't counterspell a Thundergod Shell fired from a shotgun. I personally am terrible at alchemy, but I've had my ass saved by a handy potion i got from R&D more than once, I think these guys deserve way more respect than they get.
Astrology - The art of Knowing, divination is the school that lets you cast your senses across the void to spy on distant locations, see through walls, create illusions, read minds, control others like puppets and even rearrange the future through a magical principle called the observer effect, which states that by viewing a thing you change it. Astrologers seem pretty weaksauce at first glance, but many an uppity individual has learned the hard way that you don't wanna mess with someone who can rewrite your destiny, control your thoughts and curse your ass with bad luck unto the tenth generation.
Conjuration - A powerful and versatile discipline, this school is all about drawing things from other places and rearranging matter, and conjuration is a popular school for spellcasters the world over due to its utility. Its so useful in fact that most spellcasters are at least decent enough in this school to conjure basic necessities, but a true master of conjuration can be a real powerhouse, since this school is second only to the school of Destruction in its ability to cause serious harm. You think you're a badass until you face a master conjurer who summons up a cloud of toxic gas or a rock the size of a volkswagen and drops it on your head.
Destruction - The art of making things go boom! This is my specialty, and man is it awesome. Fireballs, lightning bolts, motherfucking earthquakes - all that shit falls under destruction. I know it seems like a very arbitrary distinction and like some destruction spells could be used for non-destructive purposes, and that's completely true, but nonetheless spells that mainly wreck things with raw elemental force fall under Destruction because that's how the universe works.
Necromancy - Despite its name, the Necromancy school deals with both life and death. A skilled necromancer can heal a greivous wound as easily as he can make your flesh rot away or raise a corpse as a zombie. If you lead a dangerous life (like all warders do), you want to make friends with a necromancer - they can patch you up if you get hurt, and the most powerful and skilled necromancers can even bring you back from the dead.
Summoning - The difficult and often dangerous art of calling forth sentient beings, summoners are among the most powerful spellcasters around thanks to their ability to call forth and bind other beings to their wills. Binding more intelligent and powerful beings is more difficult, and most spellcasters and the mightiest of mythical creatures are nigh-impossible to call forth, let alone control, for all but the most potent masters of this school, though some extraplanar creatures such as demons and elementals are very easy to summon due to their very nature. It is impossible to summon a specific individual against their will unless you have Anchored them with a spell, but non-specific callings are usually doable. Summoners nearly always have a Familiar, a being bound to their will magically that shares their senses and acts as an extension of their will, though some choose not to have one for various reasons.Gifts/Powers
Special powers you have that are not spells, which you can do without exhausting your magical power or having to go through the motions or having the apparatus requires by alchemy and spellcasting. If you are Gifted, or you are a Mythical being of some kind, you definitely have a few of these. Decide what they are, describe them, and rate them.
One problem which arises in representing truly amazing abilities is how to fit them onto the competency ladder. Obviously there wouldn’t be much variety if the actors were sitting around rolling D4s for everything — contest rolls would be tied too often and success rolls would be mostly pointless. The basic competency ladder only represents the levels of ability that a human being can achieve; what happens when the character in question isn’t really human at all?
To address this, the Window uses a second competency ladder which is “above” the normal one. A simple system called the Shebang! notation (with a nod to Larry Wall) is used to delineate these amazing traits and skills from normal abilities. It works by placing an exclamation point (!) after the die and including more specific descriptions of what the character is able to do.
For example, a character with superpowered physical strength which allows him to lift up to the weight of a car would have the following trait listing: Amazing strength. Able to lift a car. (D12!)
The Shebang! lets you know that his strength is “superheroic,” which means that he would never have to make a strength roll against “normal” tests; if he wanted to break down a door or carry a companion to safety he would simply succeed. However, if he were going up against a challenge that itself was “superheroic” in magnitude (perhaps he’s wrestling with a powered up supervillian), he would use a D12 to make that roll.
The idea is that superheroic or unearthly characters exist on a level all their own. They are so astonishing that competition is only meaningful if it is against someone (or something) in their own league. The important thing to do with any Shebang! ability is to describe the power sufficiently enough that it’s at least somewhat clear what is possible with it. From there the actors and the Storyteller can roleplay through superheroic encounters without much slow down.
Once you have an idea of what your talents are, fill out the application below so we can get your paperwork processed and start your training (This is the character sheet you should use).
Physical Description: (You can attach a photo if you have one handy)
Rate your Attributes:
And your mundane skills:
Gifts/Special Abilities:Tell me all about your Kewl Powerz that are not spells.
A brief summary of your personal history, including how you became a spellcaster (if you are one):
Anything else you would like to tell us:
Here's an example: My own personnel file, because i'm a trusting kinda guy and everybody pretty much knows it all anyway
Name: James Ulysses Sinclaire|Baal, the Archdemon of Destruction
Height/Weight: 5'9"/150 pounds|Infinite
Physical Description:"I don't have time for your games, so if you don't wanna have a really bad day you better tell me what I wanna hear or I'm going to shove this .45 up your undead ass and pull the trigger until it goes click."
questioning a suspect"Come to me, children of the Pit. The time has come when we will burn this world to cinders and dance on its ashes."
-Baal, to his demon hordes just before being bound
Magical Specialties: Destruction. I really like fireballs.
Rate your Attributes:
Strength D12 - I'm no weakling, but I don't exactly have a lot of time to hit the gym either.
Agility D10 - I've gotten pretty good at moving fast, and my hand-eye coordination is decent.
Health D8 - I have taken a lot of asskickings in my life, and I try to eat right and get plenty of exercise.
Knowledge D10 - I'm smarter than the average bear, and i've been around the block a few times.
Perception D4 - Nothing gets past me.
Magic D30! - I'm a wizzert, 'arry. A really poweful one. First-Degree Archmage, to be exact.
And your mundane skills:
Brawler D12 - I've gotten into a lot of fistfights. Mostly at Department Head meetings.
Bureaucracy D8 - I play the political game better than any other department head.
Demonology D4 - I have learned a lot about demons out of sheer necessity, since I am technically a demon lord by proxy and demons flock to me like flies to shit.
Firearms D10 - I have yet to meet anything that was completely immune to lead poisoning.
Investigation D6 - Part of my job is being a detective, and i've had ten years to get really good at it.
People Person D6 - What can I say? I'm a likable guy. People like me.
Writer D12 - I'm a decent writer. I make my mundane living writing fantasy novels, though it's not much of a living and i've never had a bestseller or anything.
Alchemy D30 - I really, really suck at alchemy.
Astrology D20 - Not my strong suit, but I can pull off basic divinations if I really need to.
Conjuration D12 - I can conjure myself a nice lunch or some extra ammo pretty easily when I need to.
Destruction D20! - If there is someone better at blowing things up with fireballs, I either haven't met him or already killed him.
Necromancy D20 - I'm no great shakes here, but I can call up a ghost or heal a minor injury with some effort.
Summoning D8 - If I didn't have bound demons to handle paperwork for me, i'd never get out of my office.
Gifts/Special Abilities: Devourer D12! - Some people eat Coco Puffs for breakfast. I eat demon lords.
A brief summary of your personal history, including how you became a spellcaster (if you are one): Everybody knows my history, so i'll keep it brief - I come from a long line of rich, powerful, and extraordinarily evil Oathbound, but unfortunately nobody ever figured out that i was a Devourer before they had me try to seal a pact with the family's demonic patron, and I accidentally consumed part of his essence, which contributes to me being extremely good at destruction magic. I spent a long, long time as a magic-addicted psycho with a hostile demon lord lodged in my soul until the Adamant Circle tracked me down and kicked my ass, sealed the demon in my heart, and told me I could either join the circle or die. Given my options, I wisely chose to join the circle, and they assigned me to the Department of Miscellaneous Affairs to keep an eye on me while also ensuring that I couldn't actually get any rank with real authority, and I can only assume they thought they might even get lucky i'd get killed in the line of duty. I have deeply disappointed the higher-ups in one regard: I'm still alive, and my department has solved a lot of really difficult and high-profile cases, and to add insult to injury I got powerful enough to qualify as an Archmage and outlasted everybody who outranked me, so now i'm the head of the DMA and they have to give me and my department some respect whether they like it or not. Suck it, assholes.
Anything else you would like to tell us: I'm completely immune to any harm from heat or fire thanks to the fiery world-destroying demon lord bound in my heart, and I can walk around buck naked in a blizzard without so much as getting chilly. I really like the taste of Astrology Spells, which Internal Affairs constantly keeps me fed with in their silly and nigh-constant attempts to catch me being naughty so they have an excuse to call me up in front of a review board again. Seriously guys, get a life. I'm on your side.