A current of essence runs through Creation, drawn from the realms that touch upon it. This essence pools in the sacred places of Kith Kanaan, and travels in rivers, unseen by mortal eyes. Sorcery is the act of harnessing this essence, using rituals practised over generations, and allows the sorcerer who knows the proper methods to shape this essence into the results that they desire.
The Development of the Paths
Each path was developed through trial and error, surrounded by superstition and misconception. Tradition and mythology are integrated parts of sorcery, having woven themselves into the very fabric of magic. This heritage has helped develop the sorcerous paths which are known to the people of Kith Kanaan today. When an apprentice is trained in the arts of sorcery, they inherit the traditions, and many of the biases, of their mentor. The world view espoused by each school is part and parcel of its methodology – there is no ‘plain sorcery’ uncluttered by dogma. A sorcerer who wishes to cast a spell uses the rites and rituals handed down for generations, or creates their own, informed by their paths’s perceptions of how magic works.
Learning a path involves not just learning to channel magical forces in a particular way, but to perceive the cosmos in a particular way. This perception makes for strong, confident spell-casting, but greatly impedes a magi’s understanding of one another. When sorcerers try to discuss how their different paths work, they attempt to frame the information they’re getting according to their school’s world view, and they become frustrated at the parts that don’t fit. Some magi conclude that everyone else’s sorcery is misguided. Others reason that each path works by focussing on a different aspect of the universe – though they will tend to think, if only to themselves, that their path’s focus is the best one.
Learned prejudices are not the only source of friction, however. When a sorcerer witnesses another sorcerer using magic, they feel how the magical forces are being shaped, and the particular kinds of shaping taught by other schools feel wrong to them. To a Wild mage, the experience of allowing spirits to ride him provides a joyful freedom, mixed with the exciting challenge of knowing when and how much to nudge the spirit in the right direction; Azure sorcery seems, to him, to be forcing magic into rigid, unnatural lines. To the Azure mage, the mathematical precision of her school’s rites brings a sense of clarity and rightness, while observing Wild magic induces a stomach-dropping vertigo. On the other hand, catching a glimpse of the psychic intimacy between a witch and her familiar would cause both to squirm uncomfortably, as though they’d witnessed something far too private.
This disturbance is often hard for sorcerers to put into words, so most refrain from discussing it altogether. For these reasons, it is extremely difficult for a sorcerer to learn a second path, though some persevering souls have, either out of ambition, insatiable curiosity, or some dire circumstance. To do so requires the mage to both build up a tolerance to the particular flavour of ‘wrongness’ that the second path’s magic induces in them, and to figure out some way to fit the teachings of the second school into the world view they’ve initially been taught. Some make the justification that while the focus of the other path isn’t as important as their own, studying it may be necessary for filling in gaps in their knowledge. Others maintain that they have found enough common elements between two schools for an educated person to conclude that the second school is in fact an early offshoot of the first, but one that did manage to discover some valuable tricks in its ignorant experimentation. Over the ages, fourteen paths have been developed within Kith Kanaan. Each path possesses their own philosophy about Creation and the working of magic, and is integrated into the understanding of how reality works.
While some sorcerers consider the use of tools a crutch, many find that having materials to assist in developing focus a great boon. Anything can be made into a focus as long as the sorcerer can place significance on the tool at hand. The most common tools for sorcery is the spell book, which holds incantations and mantras which a sorcerer repeats as part of their incantations or visualisations, or the spell pouch, which holds mementos important to the sorcerer, helping them concentrate. Other sorcerers carve inscriptions upon their staves or on wands, or write out scrolls which hold the proper techniques used to harness magic (and most magi then use wand or scroll mastery to further augment these tools). Not everything has to be ritually prepared – a sorcerer whose tool of choice matches the Skill being used for casting can benefit from the tool chosen. In the example listed under Skills, above, the battle mage was using their sword as a tool for the Blades Skill. In this circumstance, the sword is considered an appropriate tool for spell casting. Any tools that are used for spell casting grant an equipment bonus to the spell casting roll. The rolls for equipment bonuses apply as always.
When a sorcerer wishes to cast a spell, they perform an invocation. The first step of invoking a spell is calling upon the source of the sorcerer’s power, drawing it within themselves. The second step is to focus it through the three principles: voice (incantation), mind (visualisation), and gesture (direction). All spells require the sorcerer to be able to draw in the mana granted them, and then focus it to release as an actual spell.
If a sorcerer is prevented from drawing upon the mana needed to cast, they simply can not cast the spell desired. Wards are usually the most reliable method of preventing a sorcerer from harnessing mana, though in some locations, magic is considered dead, making it impossible to harness mana. If the sorcerer has difficulty using the three principles of focus, spell casting simply becomes harder. If the sorcerer is prevented from using at least two of the three principles, spell casting becomes impossible.
Invocations are not subtle, and when the sorcerer begins to focus on casting a spell, the mana being gathered and the way the spell begins to manifest is obvious. Each sorcerer has a signature that is associated with their magic. You should decide what kind of signature your sorcerer has, tailoring it to the feel of the Path the character uses. Signatures do not always manifest around the sorcerer themselves, but may manifest around the target of the spell, or in the environment. It is never subtle, however, and is a clear indication that magic is being performed.
A sorcerer who wishes to conceal their signature can do so, taking extra time to cast the spell and slow the draw of mana that they take in. It is still possible the spell casting may be noticed, by those who are suspicious or actively alert for such things.
- Describe the spell’s visual effect, and mechanical effect. What does the spell do?
- Determine which form is most appropriate.
- Is the spell area effect? Is it targeted? How far does it reach, and how long does it last?
- What tools or ritual is being used for casting?
- Pose the casting of the spell. More powerful spells should take larger poses or even multiple poses.
Drain and Casting Time
Casting a spell can be tiring. The greater the spell effect, the more tiring it becomes. To offset this drain, spell casters perform ritualistic invocations, increasing the amount of time it takes to cast the spell and reducing the amount of drain they suffer. Simpler spells may take only a few seconds to cast, but larger effects may take a minute or even an hour depending on the type of effect being created.
A caster should only be able to perform one or two large effects in a scene. When casting spells, remember to make the poses interesting and complex -- remember to keep in mind the Path being used, the caster's signature, and any rituals or tools that the caster might use to help offset the draining effect a spell might have.
A sorcery may wish to prevent another spell from being cast, or remove the effects of a spell once it has been cast. Attempting to counter a spell in the process of being cast takes an action and pits the caster's will against the one performing the counter. If the counter is against a spell which has already been cast, it may take a few minutes to unravel the spell. If the spell is a permanent effect, the creator of the spell is allowed to recover the expended Plot Point (if any).
While casting a spell, or maintaining a spell which has a duration but is not permanent, a sorcerer must be able to retain focus. Any distraction from harnessing the mana which flows through them may result in the spell being disrupted. If the sorcerer has multiple spells maintained, it becomes harder to keep them all active.
By spending a Plot Point, a character can become an initiate of a Path. The character learns and accepts the philosophy of the Path, and gains the advantages of the Path chosen. Additional Plot Points may be used to strengthen the character’s understanding of the Path, allowing her to perform greater effects and cast more powerful spells, or she can choose another Path, gaining an understanding of another philosophy and becoming an initiate of the new Path. Some Paths compliment one another, acting in accord and allowing the character more versatility, while other Paths are philosophically incompatible, forcing the sorcerer to make hard decisions about what they believe.
The Path of bards and druids, these sorcerers promote traditions through tale and song, use divination and can command the power of True Names. Sorcerers of this path typically harness the essence of unspoiled nature and are commonly found in Arag'On, Rath Sliabh Dorca, and the Wold.
The Path of the Sinti, masters of fate and fortune. Only those of strong Sinti blood are capable of learning this Path. The largest concentration of followers can be found within R'Tal and Anansie.
Creators of a variety of useful items, the masters of this path are incapable of casting spells themselves, and instead make wondrous items which produce effects for them. Most often found in Anansie, R'Tal, and Tarantis.
Typically reviled with no more than a mention of this form of sorcery's other name, Necromancy offers power to those who seek the manipulation of the energies of the Underworld as well as communication with the spirits of the dead and the control of that energy to animate corpses into servants, or to transcend mortality itself.
Commonly known as the ways of Shamanism, those who practice this form of sorcery can communicate with the spirits found in nature, in plants and beasts and even honored ancestors. There is a subset of this Path, commonly called the Path of Atter by its adherents which focuses on the spirits of nature and their relation with the physical world, seeking to alter the physical and protect the natural from the advances of manufactured change. The largest concentration of followers can be found in the Northern and Southern Wilds.
The magical art laid out by the Elder Dragon Ashurra, granting access to the Four Alchemical Elements (Air, Earth, Fire and Water) in focus as well as the manipulation of time itself.
A rare and dangerous form of sorcery that calls upon the very magic rumored to have created reality itself, Aria must be sung or otherwise performed through an instrument to be cast, and a broken note or imperfect pitch can have deadly side effects for the sorcerer.
Hotly debated as being truly a field of magic, this is the realm of improvement of self and mind over body and soul, more commonly known as Psionics.
The Path of infernalists, sorcerers who draw upon infernal powers, either weakening them and preventing them from influencing Creation or seeking out bargains, offering sacrifice in exchange for fel power. Sorcerers of this Path are often assumed to be in league with evil and are typically low key about demonstration of their skill.
A magical path that combines faith in the Taw'Hid teachings of the Joshuite church and binding of powerful elemental spirits (known collectively as janni) to perform tasks for the sorcerer.
An alien path of sorcery that was made known in the lands by the archmage Kyn'Elwynn S'yalin's treatise, "An Essaye on the Nature of Magick". This magical path allows the user to draw power from the Shadow Realm, a dark plane that mirrors Creation, full of mutable destiny and doppelganger shades.
This practice of magic is utilized by those who consort with the fae and their ilk. It is the magic of illusion and glamour, sometimes made maddenly real in the hands of an expert.
A form of magic without being as showy or flashy as others. This is the magic of transmutation of the self, and those upon this path do not cast spells, but instead bend and warp their bodies to take on elements of fantastical creatures form myth and legend, performing amazing physical feats far beyond the ability of mortal kind.
Also known as Hearth Magic, this form of sorcery focuses upon the use of potion, poultice, hex, curse and the removal of same. Often seen as a 'simple' form of magic, those who are Witches know full well a charm carried at the right time or a curse at the wrong one can alter the course of a person's history.