Alloy: Natural Magic part 1
Natural Magic is the second subsystem for Alloy. It represents a series of mystical gifts which are fueled by the mage’s own body, but made possible only by Nature. Natural (or Instinctual) Magic is only available to those with the right background, it isn’t something which can be taught to everyone. This means that for humans, it is a rare trait garnered from growing up in heavily magically saturated places or for those who have non-human ancestors, while many non-human races have a bond with one of the six natural forces of the world.
These powers are called birthrights. The forces of nature are tied to the natural mage at birth, and the character’s development of this connection allows them to shape power into various forms and for various purposes. While there are six different elements this power may express as, each individual can be tied to only one element.
The main difference between a natural mage, as the possessors of active birthrights are called, and a channeler is one of lineage versus choice. Characters with birthrights often have unusual lineages, as many nonhuman races possess birthrights which breed true. Humans descended from such races can have them as well, even if they do not resemble their nonhuman parents physically.
The main difference between a natural mage and a sorcerer is in the breadth and power of the manifestations they can produce. Natural mages channel elemental power through their bodies, so there is a limit to how much they can do, yet that limit is often high enough that few would think them weak. This however forces them to stop before burning themselves out, while sorcerers have access to highly powerful expressions of magic which they can overpower if they dare.
Natural mages often express in one of two ways, as elementals or witches/warlocks. The former is one who directly manipulates their element, shapes it to fit their desires and uses it to do their bidding. The latter is one who mimics the sorceries of the world, yet powers such spells through their own connection to nature. The term elemental is often reserved for a master of this art, but the word is often used to refer to the archetype as a whole.
The six natural elements are Light, Dark, Flora, Water, Earth, and Flame. They make up the whole of creation, and are present in all of the seven known realms. There are elemental realms which seem suffuse with the power of one element, such as a plane of Fire, but the other five elements exist there in equal measure. There is no place in the multiverse where a natural mage’s powers falter, so that means there is always an element of each of the six types to draw upon.
Nature of the Elements
The Elements are linked to one another, and are often referred to by color as well: White, Black, Green, Blue, Yellow and Red. Each spoke on the wheel represents one element, which is superior to the one that follows it, and is inferior to the one which precedes it. This relationship is vital for those who become true elementals, but it isn’t the only relationship each element has.
For example, the elements of Light and Flora both foster life and growth. They are considered to be in alliance with one another. The elements of Flame and Water however are at odds with one another, and are rivals. Each element has these relationships as well as the superior and inferior ones. This is crucial to remember because there are plenty of situations where natural mages of different elements can aid one another, or come into situations where the conflict can easily go either way.
It is also important to think about the fact that while a birthright tends to mold a certain personality type, they do not force a character to behave in a specified way. Many consider Light Elementals to be compassionate or brave, Dark Elementals to be callous or deceptive, Green Elementals to be passive and inoffensive, Blue Elementals to be inscrutable or mercurial, Yellow Elementals to be stoic or stubborn and Red elementals to be passionate or hot headed. However, some Light Elementals come across as cold, others as righteous or even self-serving, and some Red Elementals are disciplined, others mischievous and others passionate.
No elemental birthright makes a character good or evil, selfish or altruistic. The ability to spy on others, or trick them almost at will, the power to destroy, or heal without reservation does tend to shape the personalities of those with that power. It just doesn’t force anything in place. Natural mages are not all the same.
Using a Birthright
The powers of a birthright are called talents, and simply from having a birthright means the character begins the game with a single passive talent. This talent varies by element, but is almost always the same. The game master may allow a character to express a different passive birthright that has few or no prerequisites, but this would most often occur only in a human coming into their birthright after childhood.
The reason that certain intelligent creatures can see perfectly well in darkness is because of their Dark Birthright. If such creatures invest training in unlocking further mysteries of the Dark, they could accomplish actual deeds using it.
Any passive talents possessed by a character are functional at all times. Active talents must be activated with a Resolve + Discipline test which takes time. Some passive talents may also be pushed to get more use out of them. This also involves a Resolve + Discipline test. Because of this shared required skill, many powerful mages also pick up a channeler’s bond with ease, although they tend to rely upon themselves for day to day needs and ask for intercessions when they are outmatched rather than using rites.
The number of successes achieved is often important, but some birthright talents are open ended, and others require the mage to choose the level of effect before attempting them. Flare for example is an attack which does more damage with more successes. Gather Power on the other hand summons a quantity of the user’s element, but the amount summoned is dependent upon the choice of the character in most cases.
While the game master may call for fatigue checks after long battles and other strenuous activities, and while sorcerers may need to make them after extended spellcasting sessions, natural mages almost always have to test for fatigue after exerting their magic and often multiple times during a scene. It is the major downside to being such a magician.
Modification: A character may cut loose and see how much power he or she can throw into a specific active talent. When doing this the character accepts a bonus success on his test, but his eventual fatigue test is made at +1 TN higher. This can be done multiple times, but only if the game master allows. As using a birthright is a tiring endeavor, more tiring than sorcery, this last scenario often results in total collapse.