Victoriana: Liber Magica by Hostile V
EMPIRICAL THAUMATURGYOriginal SA post
I Want To Make a Sailor Moon Joke But She and Her Squad Just Straight Kick Ass
There are basically new rules that augment Thaumaturgy and generally in a "shit shit it doesn't work how we initially designed it" way. Let's all return back to our halcyon days of Wizard College and peep these changes.
- Overcasting: the magician can choose to pump more Quintessence into the spell to make it more powerful. Anything that has a tangible effect (healing, damage, armor) can be overcast. Every extra point of Quintessence pushes the value of the spell up by X (where X is the tangible effect of the spell divided by the cost of the spellx2, round down if a fraction). If the spell costs 1 Quintessence and does 8 damage, you get +4 damage for every extra point of Quintessence. However, overcasting is risky because you're pumping excess energy into a stable system. Every extra point of Quintessence added to overcast adds +2 black dice as a penalty to the roll. You can only add Quintessence up to your Resolve and a failure with Black successes leftover deals straight lethal damage back to the caster.
- The Principle of Knowledge: knowing more skills can add bonuses to relevant skills if you pay extra Quintessence to cast. Basically this lets you pick a relevant complimentary skill and boost your dice pool by up to 1/3rd of your Thaumaturgy skill rank at the cost of 1 Quintessence per dice. So if you have 4 Thaumaturgy, you're adding 1 dice (you round down) if you have say enough ranks in Medicine if you're casting a medical spell assuming you pay the extra 1 Quintessence. This is a decent rule that would be better if the ratio of extra dice added was better and not just...pretty minor without substantial skill investment.
- The Principle of Association: things that are similar can overlap and enhance manipulation of one the more control is exerted over the other. Therefore, astrology is cool and real and my friend and knowing my sign will let me do magic better. This is not optional.
The "upside" is you can basically pay points to always be in sync with your Zodiac sign. I say "upside" because it's basically just feat tax. The Zodiac weakens bonuses and penalties depending on what you're doing. If you've got a penalty to Entropy dice for X school of magic then you get -3xEntropy penalty dice to cast with. If there's a penalty to Order out in the cosmos, then any Order successes against you get reduced by whatever penalty. And then of course depending on the day of the week certain spells are easier.
There are now rules for basically finding ley lines. Currents exist in the form of lines and nodes and you can find and follow lines by dowsing or using other means of detection to follow the flow back to a node. When a line or a node has been found, you can then tap into the node to regain Quintessence. Lines are easier to find but give less Quintessence. Nodes are harder to find but give much more. Either way only one magician can tap either type of source at a time, based solely on initiative.
These rules are fine. They don't really do much. They're not like wholly necessary but they don't make things any easier for spellcasters.
Ceremonial Magic is just ritual magic between a bunch of hermeticists working together to cast a spell. You need 10 minutes of prep per Quintessence point cost (halved with a dedicated workspace) to prepare a ceremonial spell. Everyone involved in spellcasting pays the full Quintessence cost of the spell and they have to pay it in a set order of participants. Every success adds 1 automatic success to the Primus, the magician who is leading the ceremony, for when they make a Resolve+Thaumaturgy spell.
So why not just have one hundred screaming magicians hollering about the working of the spheres? Because except for the Primus, every participant in the ritual inflicts a 1 black dice penalty to the rolls to give the Primus successes. A ceremonial casting of 13 people (including the Primus) inflicts a 12 black dice penalty on everyone's effort to pump up the Primus. There's also the fact that a dedicated and set schedule of participants means party-crashers can target people who haven't gone yet to deny the Primus further bonuses (it doesn't stop the ceremony though). Really the only upside is that as long as everyone is inside the prepared space, if a ceremony fails you can just keep casting as long as you have Quintessence to try again. Outside of that, ceremonial casting really isn't worth it.
So Hermetic Colleges are completely optional which is good because the only time they really matter is when you pick that one Talent that reduces your Quintessence cost for spells of that college. That's it. That's literally the only thing colleges are for, that and days of the week discounts and also lumping the schools into collective groups of like spells for easier sorting. There's further information below that, uh, heavily involves the Yehudi (this universe's version of Judaism) dividing magic into groups. Also, most annoyingly: in this book they stopped grouping spells alphabetically by translation. They are now alphabetic by Latin name. I don't know why they decided to switch that up but I'm putting them back in English alphabetical order.
The school of Aether is often taught by war colleges or by colleges that at least want to teach mages a little bit of offense or defensive magic. Aether also includes Aetheric Bludgeon, Bolt, Inferno, Pocket and Steely Skin.
- Aetheric Blade is a neat idea on paper except for the fact that you have to keep concentrating to keep it manifested. That's annoying. Mix that with the fact that the weapon doesn't do a lot of damage and, well, pass. Stick with the ranged attacks, all attacks run off Dex anyway.
- Aetheric Cannon is completely impractical due to its difficulty dice and the rules of ceremonial magic. You're looking for at least five or six other mages to cast it with you and they have to have a decent enough shot to make three successes apiece minimum if you want to guarantee some degree of success. If you can make that work, rad. You better find a fucking high place to fire it from...and have three hours to spare to set up for the ceremony.
- Aetheric Stick is as useful as the blade which is to say it isn't.
Bios deals with healing and manipulating bodily functions. Knowing these spells and having a medical license means you legally count as a chirurgeon. Bios includes the spells Cure, Groom, Hair of the Dog and Heal.
- Dionysus' Blessing absolutely owns because it's one of the best enemy debuffs in the game. Two applications and it's bedtime for foes, absolutely groovy.
- Healing of the Land is nice if you need it, I guess.
- Life Leech has the issue of also needing to make attack rolls against people...in a skill they might not be great at. Hard pass.
- Nausea is a debuff that really isn't worth the time unless you want to watch people throw up. And even then in the case of the latter, Dionysus' Blessing exists.
Ignotis studies the unknown which means it really just studies ghosts and shit. It's popular in America and popular amongst people interested in ectoplasm. Ignotis gets the spells Ectoplasmic Bonds and Ectoplasmic Hand.
- Apparition it's just baby's first illusion magic. Useful in the occasions you need it.
- Ectoplasmic Bolt is a pretty weak AV-piercing attack...and sucks against mages who will also have access to magic AV.
- Ectoplasmic Seal is probably good when you need it but...again you need a lot of helpers.
- Ectoplasmic Sheath is just what you need to shoot ghosts in the face, fuck exorcisms.
- Paintis good except for the fact that it lights up ghosts OUTSIDE of the range of casting. See things that are farther away from you instead of things that are closer! Barf.
- Phantom Mount is always generally good for flight.
Lux controls light, both literal and metaphorical. Lux also contains the spells Darkness, Firespark, Gaslight, Instant Beauty, Invisibility, Second Sight and Spyglass Eyes. Lux only has more spell added.
- Illuminate sure is a thing you can do I guess.
Machinam solely focuses on magic that affects technology and machines. It's pretty popular in Scotland. Spells include Animate, Pepperbox Volley, Power of Steam, Repair and True Lock.
- Blessing of Daedalus is good for when you have to jury-rig broken stuff or your crap breaks but that's really it. I don't actually know if there are rules for your things breaking.
- Golem is by far one of the most practical spells for ceremonial use. Reasonably difficulty to deal with, reasonable cost.
- Puppeteer is...useful? Maybe?
Motus is the school of magic that has to do with movement. It was originally home to magic that let people do impossible feats like traveling the world in steps or raising flying cities. Now it’s mostly just movement bonuses and such. Motus also includes the spells Flight and Flight of the Wyvern.
- Arachne’s Touch is your classic spider climb. Always useful.
- Neptune’s Breath is your basic gills/breathe under water spell. Motus is full of a lot of spells that are just taken from D&D and renamed.
- Phaeton makes you go faster. Good if you really need it I guess.
- Sky Sail really only has emergency uses and even then I’m skeptical because it takes one hour and 20 minutes to prep a room in which to use this spell. I guess they dedicate certain rooms in airships to be used for this spell and have the magic staff stay in that room the whole time in case of emergencies. That’s the only way this spell makes sense. Actually upon thinking about it, that’s probably the best form of world building and atmosphere creation this book has ever done.
- Snail’s Pace makes people go slower. Again, good if you need it I guess.
- Wish of Icarus is feather fall. I think this exists solely because I don’t know if you can cast Flight on other people but…probably, right? Anyway I would call this useful except Flight exists and it has Feather Fall baked into that spell.
Tempestas is magical manipulation of the weather and the environment. That’s really it. It had its heyday a while back and now people study it mainly for the purposes of weather manipulation for offensive or defensive purposes. Tempestas has no old spells that roll over into this one and it’s 100% shiny and new.
- Atmospheric Pocket could the better Neptune’s Breath because it has the exact same cost but it also keeps out gases and such. Does it work underwater? I don’t actually know, so don’t write off Neptune’s Breath just yet.
- Control Embodiment of Nature goes hand in hand with a later spell and is 100% important if you ever want to use that other spell. Outside of that it’s only useful if you need to temporarily seize control of a rampaging elemental.
- Cyclone would be better if it didn’t screw over allies in addition to enemies. Oh well.
- Fortress Miasma is a bad name for a spell that could either be very useful or absolutely useless. Chloral hydrate is a sedative and the rules don’t say if the caster (or their allies) who throws up the spell around them is immune to the effects of the spell. So. Maybe avoid this one.
- Kelpie’s Kiss is kinda rough. Drowning does 5 damage dice per round. Not too bad for a DoT if you need one.
- Raging Thunderstorm is a mediocre debuff. The upside is the free attacks. Still gonna be hard to pull off.
- Summon Embodiment of Nature is a fun way to bring elementals into the mix except for the fact that they’re rampaging jerks. Make sure you know how to control them. Outside of that, could be useful.
- Winter’s Chill is a mediocre melee attack.
Vox controls language, which…well go figure. People specifically focus on studying Vox to study the interaction between language, magic and thought. It includes the spells Botheration, Farspeech, Scholar’s Guard and Tongues.
- Babel is like Silence I guess except it doesn’t really do much outside of make the target unintelligible. I’m not entirely sure what the major uses of this are in combat or most situations outside of “well now they can’t talk properly”.
- Blotted Out is actually kind of cool. It’s annoying that it also affects the casters of the spell but it’s pretty powerful.
- Ventriloquism is a cantrip.
- Warrior’s Eye is a decent buff and it’s strange that it’s the last thing in this whole section and that there aren’t more combat buffs like this.
So those are all of the new spells and rules offered for Empirical Thaumaturgy/Hermetic Magic. Ultimately I think only a few spells are worth anything. Costs and weaknesses changing based on days of the week and zodiac sign is annoying, tapping into ley lines is fine but doesn't really add much, ceremonial magic exists, Overcasting is okay and I'm not a huge fan of the whole magic school thing. Really the idea I like the most is skill compatability giving you a dice bonus...if you actually got a dice bonus that was worth a damn. Oh well.
But we're not strictly done with Thaumaturgy! NEXT TIME we get a new form of magic based off Hermetic principles, ALCHEMY!
Spoilers: it's bad! It's at least interestingly bad and bad in an unexpected way for alchemy!
ALCHEMYOriginal SA post
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Give All My Money to the Poor and Also My House and Also My Velocipede and Also My...
Alchemy is performed by, well, alchemists but more specifically it's done by anyone who has the skill Alchemy. You certainly don't have to be a legally-appointed alchemist to do the work but you do need the equipment.
Anyway alchemy is explicitly not like petty conjuring or engineering. Alchemy is, thematically, in league with the principles of Chinese internal alchemy wherein the world is not changed but the body is. The effort put into making the potion is in turn reflected by how the drinker is changed, etc. etc. philosophy etc. Of course there are some petty conjurors who know alchemy but they're just like "I'm laying claim to this magic as falling under what I know". The main reason it's counted under hermeticism is that it has construction principles similar to thaumaturgy and also because it's formally taught under Guild tutelage. So in short anyone can know a little alchemy if they want to sink the knowledge into it and also the equipment.
If you are going to play an Alchemist do not take that stupid complication.
Alchemical products are called physics. There are, specifically, sixteen different types of physics and here's where things get stupid: their only purpose is to help the drinker reflect a certain Vice or a certain Virtue. That's it. D&D shit like alchemical fire is strictly under the purview of industrial engineering and chemistry. Same with acid flasks, tanglefoot bags, slime-inna-jar, etc. unless it falls under Conjuring. Where things get complicated is that each type of physic basically has a level of strength. It doesn't cost any Quintessence to brew a physic, instead you need to brew against a Difficulty that depends on level/amount of Quintessence to activate the potion. The levels are Knight (2), Duke (4) and King (6) (or as they're called in France, Citizen, Gentleman and President apparently). They last for Resolve+1 Periods of Time depending on the Alchemist's Resolve and take up to the activation cost to prepare but really only need half of that spent on actually monitoring the physic. Plus if brewing a high level one doesn't work you can salvage what's left for a lower one.
Also physics only work for the alchemist who brews it. If you want to brew potions for other people, well, let's continue getting stupid. Because this is all written up for me, I would please ask you to read this little box below.
So yeah. Want to provide the party with buffs and such? Well I hope you like turning the entire party into a stumbling band of adventurous drug addicts who are running the constant risk of not being empowered but instead are useless because they're too busy trying to get laid or provide moral support to the downtrodden. And normally an Alchemist won't know too many of the different types of physics because, well, there's 16 of them and you have to keep learning them and only know 1 or 2 at start. If you want to learn a new physic, the Guild will teach you any physic for 90 dollars per physic. Alternately you can just find some seedy dude who runs a lab out the back of what used to be a Wendys' in a suburb outside Des Moines and get them to teach you but you still have to pay money. I'm exaggerating the location but the methods are the same. And while I'm at it: there are no actual rules for selling physics. They don't exist. There are no sample prices, there are no examples of doing such a thing.
Ultimately alchemy isn't entirely worth it. The Virtuous physics are alright. They're not super amazing but they do provide some solid buffs if you really need them at that moment. The Vice physics, on the other hand, are pretty good and safe...at the Knight level, generally speaking. The more powerful the Vice physic, the more severe drawback they provide to the extent that some of them are just flat not worth it. So let's get into it.
PHYSICS OF VICE
Despair has some uses for buffing your casting when you really need it...at the cost of being very squishy. The King physic is weird. You can't be mind controlled but you smell like metal and egg farts. Sure, alright.
Envy is actually an all-around handy physic to use. Bonuses to thievery when you need it is great. Intangibility in a bottle is rad. Shapeshifting to impersonate people is excellent. Plus the last one actually has a downside and the others don't and there's no real mechanical penalty! Pretty good shit, Envy.
Gluttony is just annoying. The base form is fine. Having to eat trash or human flesh is just a little too ~ooh how sinful~ for the purposes of roleplaying and all that. It's also pretty uncomfortable considering the actual bonus you're getting is meh.
Greed is kind of like Envy but not as useful? Knight Greed is stupid. Duke Greed is handy but kind of requires more of an expenditure of time and effort than it's worth, go figure. King Greed is pretty good for scams but you know a GM running this game is going to cackle and rub their hands together the moment you try to use it.
Lust could honestly be better. Like at least the Knight says "desired sex" so you can be gay and flirty with dudes or ladies and I'm pretty sure the workaround to that stupid little penalty stipulation is to say "I'm bi/pan". Dominor is a bad creepy mindfuck spell and nobody needs that stupid thing in any form. The King form is ultimately what should be the Duke form, switch those around. Either way Lust is a little too skeevy to use.
Pride is actually neat in the sense of you getting to be a little saucy. The Knight is meh. I like how the Duke is just flat "armor bonus" and they couldn't think of anything better than that. The King is actually surprisingly good for when you need to use it.
Sloth is the physic where they realized "oh wait these drinks are supposed to have actual downsides" again. As such it absolutely has its uses but again the downsides are a little heavier than they should be. I mean the Duke is basically the same as King Despair except you don't smell awful you're just boring. The King of Sloth will absolutely be abused though and should be. I mentioned this to a friend and they said "oh so you can run into an area with a bomb and pop the potion right before they explode".
Wrath is another "oh these need downsides" thing but then they gave up. Having to act like an angry drunk is basically a non-penalty for a very good buff to shooting better. More Dex is always good because Dex is the god stat. The King physic is stupid and dumb and should be ignored.
PHYSICS OF VIRTUE
Charity is pretty good and definitely a top recommended physic to take. All of the levels are paced well in terms of power vs. investment into the spell and magic healing is good. This is also, as far as I know, the only way to instantly restore someone to perfect health which makes it good.
Chastity is straight broken considering how if you're going to be making some of these physics you're going to want to have a good Resolve. Hell, any time you can swap one stat for another, welcome to breaking the game over your knee and making someone at the table cry. You basically will want to use this to bolster either a bad Fortitude or a subpar Dexterity when you need to.
Diligence is...alright! Fortitude is good when you need it. And that's pretty much all this is.
Hope is good for buffing another spellcaster...or yourself. Because this doesn't say you can't just touch yourself. One can trust in powers greater than oneself, can't one? That got tangled. Anyway abuse this physic.
Humility would work better if you didn't need to explicitly be naked to be invisible as per the spell Invisibility. I don't know exactly how absolute nudity works with virtues but I can tell you it probably isn't covered under humility to be buck naked. Maybe if you're modest about it?
Kindness reeks of "we couldn't figure out what to do with this so we decided to split Diligence into two separate potions". At least this gets around the problem of getting your players addicted to potions because you can just sip on this for them. True kindness is stopping your friends from getting the taste of pewter in their mouths.
Patience is, again, good if you really need it in the moment but outside of that it's nothing super stellar. Which is the point, yeah, but also remember you can really only start with affording a few of these physics and there are much better physics to take than this.
Temperance is pretty much the only one that's outright dumb and "we didn't really know what to put here, sorry". You made the last one the poison immunity and not like the middle one, whee. Also technically none of this is temperance because you defined temperance as restraint and, uh, being able to eat anything really doesn't count as restraint unless it's a survival situation. I dunno, this is all kind of a wash.
So out of all of these Envy, Pride, maybe Wrath, Charity, Chastity, Diligence, Hope and Kindness are the only ones really worth much to me. They have the biggest or widest uses and don't require you to get other people addicted to drugs. The book also mentions that there are Baron, Queen and Emperor physics that exist out there but ~people don't know about them yet~ to which I say fuck you. This form of alchemy isn't awful but it is stupid. I like the idea that the more concentrated the potion is, the different the effect on the imbiber is. I hate the fact that this is based on the Eight Deadly Sins and Eight Saintly Virtues (because they added one more each for reasons explained in the religious backstory) and also that you can get people addicted to these because they're not the person that brewed the physic. Also I hate that they're called physics. It's probably period accurate but fuck you, just call them potions. Long story short, I don't actually care too much about this form of magic to be tempted by your giggling insinuations that there might be more power variants that modify these extant forms of potions. The one main thing I'll say I'll like is that there's zero restrictions to how many you can carry around. You can only have one active at a time, but you can just have a sack full of healing physics if you need to.
NEXT TIME: we return to the magic I hate the most, SIGIL MAGIC! New lexicons to use such as Not Hebrew and....Geomancy! And also a new form of Sigil Magic called DIVINATION which is absolutely not what you expect it to be and is in fact worse than normal sigil magic and is downright useless most of the time!
SIGIL MAGICOriginal SA post
It Was FORETOLD By GYROMANCY!
Hi and welcome to a really short update because, uh, man they did not change much about sigil magic. Sigil magic literally operates the same way it did in the core book, there are just new languages from Europe or America and other places. And again...you can just choose to use whichever symbol from whichever language you want at any time, there are no restrictions to language.
Anyway. Uh. Yeah. New sigil languages.
The problem with taking stuff like astrology is that they have to bend and break the meanings of the different terms to make them fit in with the world they've created. Like all things considered sure use astrology for that but this should've been in the core instead of fucking Futhark and that's nothing against nomadic German tribes of the 5th century and the languages they knew. Any knucklehead can throw around astrology to make a +3 bonus to kneecapping people with a hammer or a -4 black dice reduction to seduction while drunk (Phaeton and Leo, probably). Real-ass runes don't really play ball because hey guess what, it's a real fucking language. Anyway. Astrology works. It's nothing super fancy but it works.
Hell so does geomancy. A limited library of symbols is good and works fine. Puer can be used for a whole mess of stuff as can Rubeus, Populus, Tristia. They're symbols, they're symbolic, they work for the idea of meditating on a single thing and then finding a specific application within the symbolic idea. Again, this should have been in the core. Remove Enochian, replace with Geomancy.
Okay I can actually leave this one for now because it sounds really goofy when I think about it. If you whip out your rock that has a magic 13 on it I'm gonna be like "oh am I being hexed? 'cuz that shit is unlucky, isn't it?". Also numerology in general is stupid and can be interpreted differently by every single culture and every single person, a Japanese magician is gonna react differently to a scroll with the number 4 written on it. Plus there's the fact that the authors shrug and say "look here's some numbers, fucking...come up with shit on your own or whatever". Lazy, pass this one over.
Yay it's the tarot and it's here and it should have been in the core. Tarot, Geomancy and Astrology should have been the core. Anyway there are two problems I have with this use of the tarot. The first is that once again they're stretching and changing what the different items mean in order to fit the world-view. Like I don't think the Hanged Man has a damn thing to do with Communism. Everything else is spot on. Same with Death, Death never means anything like necromancy, it means change. The Devil is replaced by Legion, etc. There's just too much stretching and also too many literal implementations of the symbols, it's hardly meditating on the meaning of the Death tarot if you're just thinking about how cool it is to raise skeletons better. Second is the fact that there's zero explanation how to implement these when you inscribe them on a rock/paper/whatever. Do you write down the number? Do you etch the contents of one of the cards like a tower or a high priestess? Do you just painstakingly write the word THE LOVERS on a bit of paper or rock? This is a minor gripe, sure, but god's sake give a little bit of direction! It's atmospheric to know exactly how one is supposed to express their magic and what it looks like for them to whip out a sigil, empower it and toss it to an ally.
Alright so this is straight-up the Hebrew alphabet and I am absolutely unqualified to critique the actual interpretations of the words of a religious language I have no real grasp of. That said, no, I'm not really a fan of this implementation of a language. For starters to me it feels like it's kinda fetishizing by taking an extant language of a religion and a people and giving it magic properties if you know how to make it be magic. It's a language of prayer and study and again this is something I will fully admit I don't have a lot of personal experience with but it feels weird to make it be straight-up magic. The Golem was more than just magic letters inscribed on its forehead. Second, this continues the game's trend of taking real-life religion and then twisting them to fit the world's cosmology but doing so lazily. The Sons of David/Yehudi are already Not Judaism with a rebellion against Rome/desire for an independent state instead of a messiah. It's just insulting to not give their language a name, sure you can't call it Hebrew but just calling it Yehudi Script is dumb and bad. But again, not my religion, not my people, grain of salt, this is just how its inclusion makes me feel.
Divination is an elaboration on sigil magic because, well, it's not divination in the D&D sense. Magnetists and psychics already have the ability to see the future and that's as good as you're going to get for classic tabletop fantasy divination. No, this divination is the kind where you have a tarot read or throw knucklebones or roll dice or stick your hand in a bag of Scrabble tiles and try to spell words out of what comes up.
It's amazingly worse than actual sigil magic.
Let me explain. First you have to pick a form of sigils and then you have to spend 6 Build Points and spend 6 hours crafting a set. A divination set has to have a specific intention behind each sigil and fundamentally what it boils down to is that you have a 1/20 chance of getting a specific type of sigil. You can't just have a set of 50 rune stones, say, and 25 are +shooting and the other 25 are +heal spells. You have to sit down and create a pool of 20 possible unique draws proportional to the total amount, so a bag of 20 or a bag of 100 or a bag of 500 rune stones, whatever is equal and proportional. Every result has the exact same bonus/black dice reduction level that's determined during set creation.
Still with me? Alright well first you can't stack the deck by removing a whole mess of less desirable results before using it. You perform a brief five minute ritual, pay the activation cost and then roll Resolve+Divination to see what you draw for someone else or yourself. For every success over the necessary 2, you can draw an extra result and ultimately choose what the result is. This results in a buff applicable to the selected resulted that lasts for a few hours. To use the set again, meditate on each possible result for a half hour.
So let's go over this again. You're spinning the Wheel Of Buffs to see what random result you get. You can very lightly adjust the results, but the results are completely random. And while you get to decide what every single result inside of the pool is ahead of time, the odds of it being the right thing you need start at 5% depending on how you built the deck. And you can't even quickly pass out buffs, you have to spend downtime re-energizing the deck so only one person gets a randomized buff at a time.
So yeah Divination is neatish maybe somewhere in the planning phases but uh yeah don't bother. Like the upside is that you make all the runes you'd ever want in one little set to cut back on you hauling around a bag of runes, fine, sure, I get that. But the randomization is bad and so is the cooldown. Just a hard pass on this whole mess.
NEXT TIME we check out the final form of sigil magic, a completely new execution of the idea that is actually rather decent and properly Punk, TATTOO MAGIC! They have some glaring flaws but honestly they're the best thing to ever come from sigil magic and it's the only idea that is really in line with actual punk shit instead of boring cogservative stuff.
TATTOO MAGICOriginal SA post
Stick M'Necky Out Real Far
This is gonna be a short one. Tattoo magic is magical tattoos. Well goodnight.
Alright so tattoo magic has existed all around the world before the Europeans found out about it. They are found in China and Japan, on Polynesian island countries like Samoa, Hawaii and New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Africa, amongst Native American tribes, etc. Then European sailors discovered they existed and also that they were practical and brought the magic and style back to the Netherlands and Portugal and etc. This lead to a lot of uproar amongst aristocrats and high society types who decried tattoos and tattoo magic as being lower class or of common morals or vulgar. The Guild itself classifies magical tattoos as petty conjuring because you're channeling the Quintessence through the tattoo which means you're a shit wizard.
Now, that being said, magic tattoos are pretty useful...in theory. To get a tattoo, you need to see a tattooist that knows the design you want. They have to succeed at an average Tattoo+Resolve test and pay a cost to inscribe the aetheric designs into the tattoo. The nice thing is that they can just be a shitty little prison tattoo. You just need the aetheric designs weaved into it. You can also have, in effect, limitless magical tattoos and you don't need to have any magical ability whatsoever to receive them.
To use a tattoo, simply expose the tattoo and spend an action to make a Resolve+Concentration check to pay the Quintessence cost and engage the magical effect. The Resolve of the user determines how long the effect is. Honestly I'm not a huge fan of needing to make a test to use the tattoos. This just makes you have to spread more points over Resolve and a skill you won't use too often except now you will because of your tattoo magickries. It's really not great design. Quintessence and an action cost is good enough.
Anyway let's look at the tattoos themselves! Spoilers: there are only ten of them.
- Animal Guardian has possible use but, uh. I can't really think of them. We didn't exactly get to the bestiary to find out what animals can be your friends and how exactly they attack. Either way it's summoning which is okay for the extra attacks, plus the animal can't really be killed and you can just keep summoning the animal.
- Beast Trait is okay. There are some that are pretty useful like water breathing or getting a bonus to lying. Perhaps you can stack beast traits with what you already have obtained if you were a Beastfolk or a hybrid? Who the fuck knows.
- Elemental Blasts are the only Magic Attack tattoos. They're okay. Lightning is probably the best of them because it does the most lethal damage and you probably want to just have a lightning bolt tattoo on the inside of your lip. Eat shit, society!
- Heal is a mandatory tattoo to get because it casts off the host's own Quintessence. Substantially up the power of the whole party and bond over it after a few drinks!
- Host's Gift means Heavenly Host. Also the spell is pretty nice for busting out flight...at the cost of needing to take your shirt off every time to do that. The downside of course is no baked-in feather fall but you can just like turn them back on if you need to and you probably do.
- Serpent Limb probably has its very specific uses but I know how long my arms are from a glance and I can't imagine it would be entirely worth the price of getting the tattoo to let my head do that.
- Stygian Protection absolutely needs to just be, like, a chest/neck/collarbone tattoo to eliminate the stupid sexist aspects of this tattoo. Hooray women get to be protected from the back if they wear a backless dress, otherwise they have to go topless. Hooray.
- Summon Equipment is a handy tattoo and definitely something your players will want to sink points into.
- Third Eye is okay if you don't have anyone in the squad with light psychic abilities but it's not super necessary.
- Wadjet's Kiss is bafflingly different from all of these other tattoos. I'm not super crazy about it. It's probably pretty useful if you really need poison Right Now but also I skimmed the poison rules.
And yeah why not just turn any damn spell into a tattoo, why not. The big upside of this is, at least, you can tattoo something like Aether Inferno onto a person and they can just expend all of their Quintessence at once to set everything on fire should they have enough mojo and health to power it.
But that's tattoo magic! It's marginally more useful than Rune Magic because it's a lot more concrete plus you have access to magical healing all the time. As a whole I'm not a huge fan of the whole "society looks down on it!" and the fact that tattoo magic was stolen from native cultures so Europe undivided could just insult it and call it shit-magic. And then you can just get hermetic spells tattooed on you because fuck you.
Ugh. Anyway that does it for all Runic-based magics. NEXT TIME we'll see what Petty Conjuring is up to. Spoilers: it too is focusing on breaking its spells down into core components and seeing what makes them tick and then providing bad spells for you to know.