Adventure Trove: Sorcery 101
As mentioned in a previous article, sorcery is a common everyday skill, that you have to take multiple times to get access to a wide selection of spells. I am going to further explain that today. First however, I’m going to show you Prestyn Littletree and then one of his sorcery paths .
Prestyn Littletree, Brownie Hedge-Wizard
Strength 1 (Condition 2*, Muscle 0*), Agility 1 (Dexterity 2), Perception 1 (Intuition 2*), Intellect 3, Presence 2 (Resolve 3)
Healing 2, Labor 1, Sorcery: Golden Weather Path 3, Stealth 1, Survival 2
Other Skills (Academic, Mental, Practical)
Discipline 1, Insight 2, Navigation 2, Notice 1, Research 2, Riding 1, Sorcery: Four Pillars Path 2, Tactics 2, Weapons: Pole-Arms 1
Contacts (Wisdom Hall 2, Magus Gaius Templeton 2, Loyal), Exploits (2X x 2), Lore (Magical Beasts-Mastery), Skill Group (Mental)
Defense: 4, Armor Thick Cloth (1) Total: 5
Punch AC: -1, 2D!, 1 Damage, 4 Damage on Strong Strike
Short Spear AC: +0, 3D, 2 Damage, 5 Damage on Strong Strike (medium range)
2X Sorcery – Fast Caster: This spell takes two thirds the normal time, costing 1 less AC per 3.
2X Healing – Field Medic: Halve the AC cost to perform basic healing.
2X Tactics – Outmaneuver: Immediately make an Outflank maneuver for 1 less AC.
! indicates a Desperation Check is required for this die pool.
I’m not going to delve into exactly what a brownie is, but suffice to say Prestyn is a short humanoid with darkish skin, who will live a long time. Notice that Prestyn has a couple of things going for him that the other example characters don’t, most importantly the fact that he purchased exploits with traits and only has one given by skill rank. I believe I mentioned that this is a possibility, as is the extra skill group he has mastered.
So what do I mean by sorcery path? Each sorcery “skill” is a school of magic unto itself. It may have access to spells that exist on other paths, but the spells on these paths are thematic or otherwise tied together in some way. Each path has a number of tiers with spells on them. You can equate a spell’s tier to a spell’s level in D20. Essentially, higher tier spells are more difficult in general, and more powerful as well.
As a sorcerer of a given path, you have access to all of the spells on the tier that equals your skill rank, plus the tier above it, (if one exists.) You are said to have mastered the spells on your skill tier, so if you make a mistake casting one, nothing bad happens. However, if you fail to cast a higher tier spell, you suffer backlash as the magic goes wild. Given that in most instances the TN of the spell is set by a variable called Power, that means that the sorcerer decides what TN he is willing to risk.
Here is a sample path (I’m not going to post the spell data this time).
Four Pillars Path
The Four Pillars is a school of elementalism which entails command of the raw power of fire, air, earth or water. The spells of the path provide great offensive and defensive powers, but little in the way of utility. Students of the school learn how to draw upon their inner elemental affinity, as every person has one. Those with an affinity to Fire find Water opposed to them. Those with an affinity to Air find Earth opposed to them. Sorcerers who master this path are capable of great feats of showmanship or destruction, but as most of these manifestations of power are combat based, they are not often called upon in peace time, except by adventurers. Due to this bias, most graduates of the Four Pillars are warrior mages, and not philosophers.
The teachings of the Four Pillars have been around for thousands of years, and have been rarified and codified into a cohesive path from its disparate beginnings. It is one of the most commonly taught forms of magic, but it does require both introspection (to discover ones elemental affinity), and a thick skin, as mishaps often harm the caster. Only those who want power, or gain a mystic peace with the path ever carry it through to full mastery. So while many sorcerers have tried the Four Pillars version of the Minor Conjuration spell, few have mastered it and gone on to greater things in the course of their academic exploration of magic.
Casting Modifications: Each mage of the Four Pillars has an affinity element and an opposed element. They can increase TN by 1 to choose a different elemental expression than their affinity, and they can increase TN by 2 to choose their opposed element when casting any of these spells.
Backlashes: Backlashes that occur to Mages of the Four Pillars are often damage related, as the power leaves their control temporarily.
Tier 1: Minor Conjuration, Control Element, Elemental Aura
Tier 2: Elemental Bolt, Elemental Shield
Tier 3: Elemental Burst
Tier 4: Element Shaping
Tier 5: Summon Creature “Elemental”
Tier 6: Energy Storm
It is actually common to see a single spell on a tier in the higher ranks, but it isn’t a guarantee. Spell tiers do not change, no matter the theme of the path, or whether it should be easier for the caster of one school to perform a specific spell. So one of the paths looks almost like a bell curve with the most spells around Tier 3, and another has double spells on a few of its upper tiers. One thing that tends to be the same is that most of the paths have a similar number of total spells assigned to them. Of course, getting a skill to rank 6 is more expensive than getting it to rank 5, so some schools naturally seem more economical because of the static tier numbers for certain spells.