In the Seattle Chronicles, magic can be performed by mortals – mages – whose souls have become suspended between the mundane world, and the Otherworld. This allows the mage’s soul acts as a sort of gateway from which he can draw the power to reshape reality through sheer force of Will. How this magic manifests will differ from person to person, as it is very much tied to their beliefs – one that does not truly believe in their ‘magic’ whether it be latin incantations, spiritual communion, or reality hacking, finds themselves unable to advance their abilities.
In game terms, magic is represented through the use of normal skill rolls, using the skill most appropriate to the action:
- Throwing a bolt of lightning? Attack with Combat.
- Peering back through time to examine a scene? Discover with Investigate.
- Communicate with spirits of the dead to learn information? Discover with Rapport.
- Turn invisible to sneak past a group of guards? Overcome with Stealth.
When creating your character, you need to determine how they view their magic and the methods they use to cast it. This is in part described in your Supernatural aspect, but is further detailed in the form of your Paradigm. A mage’s paradigm is a mix of belief, methods, and tools they use in their magic.
Once you’ve established the type of magic your character can cast, and how they do it, you then need to consider the details of what she can do, and how difficult it is to do it. This difficulty is the base Control Rating of the spell.
For each of the four tiers of control rating (Mediocre, Fair, Great and Fantastic), consider two to three examples of your character’s magic and what skill they might use. These will act as a quick reference and a benchmark for other spells they may cast (see Example).
Note: The Mage the Awakening Core book is a good guide for giving a ballpark figure for the spell tier, where the tier is equal to the number of dots in an arcana -1.
Spatial Sympathy Modifiers
|Connected||The two subjects are metaphysically one e.g. a mage and her familiar or soul stone. The connection is unassailable without Unmaking magic and casting using the connection is not Withstood.||+0|
|Strong||The two subjects are closely metaphysically linked; a woman and her lifelong spouse, a mage and his dedicated magical tool or an item she has imbued, a Legacy mentor and her student, best friends, parents, children, bodily samples (blood, locks of hair,) murder weapons.||+1|
|Medium||The two subjects are linked; a mage and her own spells, items marked with a mage’s Signature nimbus, friends, siblings, lovers, items of emotional significance like medals, wedding rings, a soldier’s weapon, or a sportswoman’s bat.||+2|
|Weak||The two subjects have barely touched one another metaphysically; the subjects of a mage’s spells, or items she has used as Yantras. Casual acquaintances, coworkers, replaceable belongings.||+3|
|—||The mage does not know the target’s true name. This is in addition to the above modifiers.||+1|
Temporal Sympathy Modifiers
|Unchanged||The subject has not changed with intervening time. A sealed room left untouched, a diamond in the same setting, a person who has not spoken to anyone or been anywhere since the target time. The connection is unassailable without Unmaking magic and casting using the sympathy is not Withstood.||+0|
|Strong||The subject has not significantly changed; a person days later who has not changed physically, or hours after an injury, a street after hours of foot traffic or a building after days of habitation, a gun that has been fired.||+1|
|Medium||The subject has significantly changed; a mage before joining a Legacy, a person before a prolonged illness, an item that has been broken or built, a street after several businesses have changed, a building under new ownership.||+2|
|Weak||The subject is vastly different; a mage before her Awakening, an item before being imbued, a different building on the same lot, a ruin when it was new.||+3|
Sometimes there are situations where a mage’s magic can spiral out of control, causing damage to themselves or the environment. This is known as Backlash.
When a mage casts a spell, he rolls the appropriate skill. However, before checking to see if the spell succeeds (as per the Five Actions), he must check to see if he controls the spell.
The mage compares the spell dice result to the Control Rating as if performing an Overcome action, the only difference being is that if they roll less than or equal to the control rating, they must always succeed with a cost. A mage cannot simply fail when casting a spell – once the magic has been drawn through the soul, it has to go somewhere.
This cost is usually in the form of stress or consequences (as the mage absorbs the magic), or aspects on the scene (as they mage releases the magic into the environment in the form of fallout). The GM may also choose to take a boost (on a tie) in order to have the uncontrolled magic to build up over time.
Once the backlash, if any, has been resolved, continue determining the results of the skill roll as normal.
But why go through with the trouble of using magic if it’s more dangerous than a mundane approach to something? Magic gives you a much broader scope to which apply your skills, making some things easier, and impossible things possible. It’s a tad difficult to convince your GM that you want to punch through a solid steel door as an ordinary human, but with magic the only limit is your imagination.
Whenever casting a spell, undertake the following steps:
- Determine what you want to achieve, and from that, what skill is most appropriate.
- Determine the Control Rating for the spell. The base Control rating is determined by your paradigm (see below), and is modified by environmental factors such as Gauntlet strength, the presence of sleepers (non-mages) and the likes.
- Roll the skill, and calculate the resulting number.
- Compare the result to the Control rating, and determine if there is any backlash.
- Compare the result to the opposition value, either passive or active, to determine the outcome of the spell.
Improving Magic Top
When creating a stunt that provides a bonus to a spell roll, it needs to either affect the Control check, or the resulting Effect.
- Medicine Bag. Utilising a mix of modern medicine and ancient techniques, the mage is able to provide a physical focus for her healing spells. This grants her a +2 bonus to Control checks for healing spells that make use of these tools.
- Phase Parkour. The mage gains a +2 bonus to the spell Effect (but not the Control check) when using space magic to Overcome physical obstacles.
In addition to stunts which cover more focused effects, a character can increase their overall potency with a group of spells. For the cost of 2 Refresh, the character can reduce the Control rating of all spells in a given spell group by 2 (effectively dropping those spells down one tier). This effect can only be taken once per Major Milestone, but can be taken multiple times (up to 4 times) for each spell group, its effects stacking. This only changes the difficulty of the Control check, and does not change the final opposition to the spells effect.
- Ephemeral Apprentice (2). Reduce the Control rating of all spells that manipulate ephemeral matter by 2.
- Spatial Disciple (4). Reduce the Control rating of all spells that manipulate space by 4.