Magic & Religion

Copyright © 1998-2005 Ken St-Cyr. All rights reserved. This is a work in progress.

Basic Concepts

To the layman, magic is a mysterious, invisible power. To the experienced magician, magic is the effect an individual can have on the vital energies that permeate the universe. An adept can feel these energies, direct them, manipulate them, summon them up from his own body, or tap them from his surroundings. An aspiring magician realizes that, unlike traditional methods of getting things done, magic has versatility, offers power to those lacking other means, and can sometimes be untraceable.

Anima: The animating force of all motile creatures is commonly called the soul, but to avoid confusion with modern uses of the word the term anima is used instead. The anima exists primarily on the Astral Plane and is thus sometimes called the astral body. The astral body is capable of sensations analogous to the physical world. The anima is not immortal but normally dissolves about one week after the body dies.

Aspect: Entities on the Astral and Spirit Planes do not have physical form, and thus no set appearance. Different cultures induct their members into a traditional guise. The term aspect is used to describe the appearance to such an entity to a given culture. Many supernatural entities with different names and different appearances are actually different aspects of the same being.

Aura: The expression of the spirit and anima. A person has two auras: one on the Astral Plane emanated by the anima, and one on the Spirit Plane emanated by the spirit. The aura is unique to each individual like a fingerprint and is associated with the individual's True Name in the Universal Language.

While all matter contains latent charge, living creatures can spontaneously release charge through emotional excitation. Since the flow of energy is not perfect, some of it is inevitable “release into the wild”, as it were. The effect is to produce an aura of magical energy around all living creatures. The energy of an aura can be manipulated, infused, or drained. It is also possible to induce a temporary aura onto an inanimate material.

Magical Charge: Every bit of matter in the universe carries latent magical charge, which measures the amount of vital energy it retains. The amount of magical charge an object holds is the upper limit on how much energy a magician may draw from it. Nonliving objects can be completely discharged, but living things will naturally recharge their vital energy.

Magic Power: Any manipulation of magical energy takes work on the part of the magician. The quantity of work is called magical power, and is determined by the complexity of the spell being cast, the range to the target, and the target's magic resistance. Raising enough power to cast a spell is one of the fundamental skills of the magician.

Magic Resistance: When vital energy flows through a body or substance, it is carried by the Ether. The Ether is a sea of varying densities of transmissivity highly responsive to the physical and mental world. In places where magical energy flows easily through the Ether there is said to be high magical flux, and in places where magical flow is restricted, there is said to be low magical flux. The property of limiting flux is called magic resistance.

Spirit: The immortal part of a creature, also referred to as the mind or will. The spirit exists on the Spirit Plane, sometimes called the Mental Plane. The spirit communicates with the physical world via the anima, and exists also on the Astral Plane as long as its host lives. Once the anima dies, the spirit departs the Astral Plane and exists only in the further reaches of the Spirit Plane.

Universal Language: The Universal Language is a natural “system” of mental images, sounds, and gestures by which magical energy is manipulated. The language is metaphorical and cannot be readily understood as most languages are, but is effective on an intuitive level. Intelligent beings use the Laws of Magic, intuition, and experimentation to interpret the meanings of the Universal Language. When a set of these elements is discovered and is reproducible, then it may be packaged into a procedure called a spell. A spell is usable by others.

Vital Energy: The energy generated by interactions between the spirit and the anima. Vital energy flows and permeates all things. Magic allows an individual to accumulate, channel, manipulate, and direct this energy.

The Practice of Magic

All magic has the use of mental and spiritual abilities as its foundation. There are two basic factors that flavor the actual practical use of magic: the degree to which the magician depends on external aid, and the traditions that define preferences for the various elements of magic.

From a skill definition perspective, magic is categorized into mental powers, spells, and rituals. Spirit powers are the inherent powers of an individual. They operate on both the Astral and Spirit Planes. Spirit powers are limited by the abilities of the magician, with each power having its own skill. Spells are relatively quick and simple operations involving the manipulation of energy waves using elemental correspondencies. Spell skills are categorized by procedural similarities, usually with a corresponding non-magical skill. So there are spells that work by brewing potions, spells that work by writing or tracing power symbols, and spells that work by combining objects in formulaic ways. Rituals, or ceremonies, are longer, more formal procedures for interacting with supernatural entities. There are rituals for invoking (channeling) powers, and rituals for evoking (summoning) powers.

Magic is traditionally performed at a consecrated site. A magician can himself perform a ritual of consecration to create a suitable spot. Astrological influences affect the effectiveness of times and locations.

Spirit Powers

All mental power skills require a minimum perceptivity score of 13 or higher to learn. Information-gathering mental tasks are based on perceptivity, interpretation tasks are based on intelligence, attack tasks are based on charisma, and defense tasks are based on willpower.

General Procedure:

A magician may use a mental power at any time. However, every time a power is used the magician must make a check to see if he is mentally fatigued. The difficulty of the check is based on the difficulty of the mental task, the amount of time spent doing it, and works with the caster's skill and willpower.

Mental Task Modifiers
VisibilityTarget Mod.
Via Scrying Device*+3
Time Spent
Target Mod.
10 minutes+0
1 minute+1
5 seconds+3
Less than 5 seconds+5
DisplacementTarget Mod.
up to 1 m+0
10 m+2
100 m+4
1 km+6
10 km+8
MassTarget Mod.
100 g+0
10 kg+5
100 kg+10
1000 kg+15


Clairvoyance is the power of astral sight, the ability to see into the Astral Plane. Clairvoyance takes only one round (5 seconds) to activate, and once activated can be used to perform perception-based information-gathering tasks.

RangeTarget Mod.
up to 10 m+3
100 m+5
1 km+8
10 km+10
100 km+13
1000 km+15

Receive Vague Sense: (15, Clairvoyance, Per) The magician does not project his senses, but relies on astral sight to receive vague metaphorical clues.

True Sense: (20, Clairvoyance, Per) The magician does not project his senses, but uses astral sight to pierce through illusions, concealment, and disguises.

Project Single Sense: (25, Clairvoyance, Per) The magician project one sense, such as sight or hearing, and can perceive information as if he were actually there.

Project Multiple Senses: (30 for two senses, +5 per additional sense, Clairvoyance, Per)

Maintenance of a clairvoyance session requires a concentration check once each minute at base difficulty after the first minutes, and +5 difficulty each minute thereafter. The clairvoyant may also increase the difficulty in an attempt to focus or clarify the vision. Failure of the concentration roll means the magician is fatigued.

Unlike other mental skills, clairvoyance is made easier with the use of a scrying device (see Enchantments, below).


The use of this ability alternatively recovers mental and physical fatigue, or exercises the powers of concentration and visualization.

Train the Mind: (5, Meditation, Int) During downtime a magician with meditation skill may use it as an exercise for experience points in the Magician field.

Recover Fatigue: (10, Meditation, Int) Meditation used for relaxation works like a healing skill, increasing the recovery rate for fatigue. Each ten minutes of meditation counts as 10 minutes of rest per success level.

Raise Energy: (15, Meditation, Int, +1 per success level) Meditation used for mental exercise provides a preparation bonus for casting spells.

Enhance Mind: (20, Meditation, Int, +1 per success level) Temporarily increase task modifier for intelligence, willpower, perceptivity, or charisma. The bonus lasts for ten minutes.

Enhance Body: (25, Meditation, Int, +1 per success level) Temporarily increase task modifier for strength, endurance, agility, or dexterity. The bonus lasts for ten minutes.

Self-Healing: (30, Meditation, Int) Meditation used for healing increases the healing rate by subtracting 1 day per success level. Self-healing may only be used once per wound.


Telepathy is the ability to send and receive thoughts and emotion to or from another intelligent mind via extra-sensory means. Telepathy is a contest between the telepath's telepath skill + perceptivity task modifiers and the target's Magician rank + perceptivity task modifier + task base target.

Detect Life: (10, Telepathy, Per) Determine if the target is alive and thinking.

Detect Lie: (13, Telepathy, Per) Determine if the target believes it is being honest.

Sense Feelings: (13, Telepathy, Per) Determine the target's emotional state.

Induce Feelings: (13, Telepathy, Per) Induce desirable feelings in the target. Undesirable feelings must use mental combat rules.

Read Thoughts: (15, Telepathy, Per) First level of success is surface thoughts, second level deep thoughts, third level memories.

Assault Mind: (15, Telepathy, Per) See section on spirit combat.

Heal Fatigue: (15, Telepathy, Per) Induce relaxation in the subject to increase recovery rate for fatigue.

Send Thoughts: (20, Telepathy, Per) First level of success is surface thoughts, second level deep thougts, third level memories. Thoughts can also be sent in a form of attack called a thought barrage. See section on spirit combat.

Enhance Mind: (25, Telepathy, Per, +1 per success level) Induce a meditative state on the target to temporarily increase the target's intelligence, willpower, perceptivity, or charisma. The bonus lasts for ten minutes.

Enhance Body: (30, Telepathy, Per, +1 per success level) Induce a meditative state on the target to temporariily increase the target's task modifier for strength, endurance, agility, or dexterity. The bonus lasts for ten minutes.

Faith Healing: (30, Telepathy, Per) Telepathic magical healing increases the subject's healing rate by subtracting one day per success level. Faith healing may only be used once per wound.


The ability to affect matter with the mind. Base target is 20. Modifiers include distance moved and mass of object moved.


The mental ability to transfer matter from one place to another. Foreknowledge of the destination is a requirement. Base target is 25. Modifiers include distance and the amount of stuff carried.

Spirit Combat

Attacking: The attacker rolls 3d6 and adds his telepathy skill and perceptivity task modifier. To succeed in the attack, he must beat the sum of the attack task base difficulty, the target's Magician field rank, and the target's willpower task modifier. If the task succeeds, the attacker rolls to inflict damage, described next.

Inflicting Damage: Mental attacks target the victim's intelligence, willpower, perceptivity, or charisma, depending on the attack type. To inflict damage in a telepathic attack, the attacker rolls 3d6, plus intelligence task modifier, magician damage modifier, and the surplus from his attack roll. The target to beat is the victim's specified attribute score. Every five points counts as an additional level of success.

Mental Illusions: The telepath manipulates the target's inner vision (perceptivity) to create images. The typical negative effect is fear. Conversely, the images can be used to counter a pre-existing fear condition.

M5:Feelings of dread and/or revulsion. -1 action modifier.
M10:Fear. Defensive actions only. -2 action modifier.
M15:Fear. Defensive actions only. -3 action modifier.
M20:Panic. Movement only, and must be away from source.
M25:Paralyzed with fear. No actions.

Pain/Pleasure Induction: The telepath manipulates the target's pain or pleasure centers (willpower), causing distraction and fatigue.


Psychic Erosion: This attack causes damage to the target's mind (willpower) in an attempt to induce madness.

M5:No effect.
M15:Mild psychosis.
M20:Moderate psychosis.
M25:Severe psychosis.

Psychic Influence: This attack attempts to insinuate ideas into the target's mind (charisma) and disguise them so the target thinks they are his own original ideas.

M5:Just a nagging feeling.
M10:25% control, check each round.
M15:50% control, check each minute.
M20:75% control, check every hour.
M25:Complete control.

Sleep Induction: The telepath attempts to activate the target's sleep mechanism.

M10:Sleep for 1 hour.
M15:Sleep for 2 hours.
M20:Sleep for 4 hours.
M25:Sleep for 8 hours.

Thought Barrage: This attack uses telepathy to send a barrage of random thoughts in an attempt to overload the target's ability to process them (intelligence). The typical result is confusion.

M5:Lose half actions.
M10:Lose all actions this round.
M15:Vertigo-1 for 1d6 rounds.
M20:Vertigo-2 for 1d6 rounds.
M25:Vertigo-3 for 1d6 × minutes.


Spells are pre-packaged procedures, learned as rotes, for utilizing symbolic actions and objects to reproduce a mental effect without the need to be an expert psychic. All that is needed is the ability to memorize and perform sequences of incantation and gestures, and the skill of charging the spell with power.

The magician must memorize the formula — it cannot be performed while reading it. Memorization is simple: spend the required amount of time according to the spell complexity, then mark the spell as being memorized. Every time the magician wishes to use the spell, he must perform a task using the appropriate spell skill against the spell's complexity. This determines whether or not he has remembered the procedure correctly. If he fails the roll, he has forgotten the spell and must study it again.

It is also possible to “figure out” a spell formula on the fly, but the procedure will not be committed to memory. Casting spells on the fly increases the complexity by 5 points over memorized spells. The magician must also have the proper elements on hand to perform the spell.

The magician is limited in how many spells he can memorize by the applicable spell skill. He is also limited in the total amount of spells memorizable by his magician field rank. However, any spells memorized may be cast at any time and as often as time permits until he forgets the spell. A spell may be mastered so that it is never forgotten, but this will reduce the available number of spell memorization slots.

Spellcasting Procedure

  1. Supply energy. The magician may accumulate power within himself, or use an external source. The energy is accumulated beforehand, but this step checks to see if the mage has enough energy on hand. See Raising Energy and Tapping Energy.

  2. Lay the path. The magician uses the powers of his imagination to visualize the flow of energies from himself to his target through any intervening obstacles. This task is normally automatic, but hostile conditions make it a concentration task.

  3. Cast the spell. If the magician's power level is high enough, he may attempt to cast the spell. Make a memorization test to follow the procedure correctly (10, spellcraft skill level vs. spell complexity, Int). If successful, the spell is cast and its effects are determined. If the memory test fails, the magician has forgotten the procedure and may have done something wrong. Check for misfire.

  4. Close the spell. The magician makes a fatigue check. If he fails, he is exhausted and cannot close the spell. An unclosed spell may attract unwanted visitors. Check for misfire. An exhausted magician must rest 4 hours before using mental powers again.

Spell Complexity

The complexity of a spell is based on the number of steps, or elements, in the procedure. To simplify spell design, specific incantations and gestures are ignored. Instead, the intended purpose is abstracted into the elements below. The purpose of each spell element is to specify and supply energy for a particular aspect of the effect.

One target+0
Two to four targets+2
Five to nine targets+4
Ten or more targets+8
Simple area of effect+5
Complex area of effect+10

Spell Power Requirements

The amount of energy supplied to a spell is determined at casting time. Any spell can be cast with any amount of energy; the amount supplied determines the effectiveness of the spell. The formula is this: spell power = power from magician - largest magic resistance (MR).

Power Factors (PF): Power is on an exponential scale, so the power factors do not directly add up. Always use the highest value of all spell power attirbutes. If there are two or more attributes that tie for highest, use the highest value +1.

Touch1 round00
Up to 1 m1 minute1-51
Up to 10 m10 minutes6-102
Up to 100 m2 hours11-153
Up to 1 km1 day16-204
Up to 10 km2 weeks21-255

Raising Energy

This is the process of accumulating energy within the mage's own body. This takes a lot of work and the results tend to fade quickly. Still, it's very convenient to be in a charged state when one wants to use magic. There are numerous technqiues for raising energy, differing according to the mage's tradition.

Chanting or Singing: Every 16 minutes spent chanting generates one level of power. The magician may chant for up to one hour. This energy remains available to the magician for 1 hour.

Dancing or Sex: Every 5 minutes spent engaging in ritualistic physical activity generates one level of power. Maximum 30 minutes. This energy remains available to the magician for 30 minutes after stopping.

Herbals: Using herbalism skill, a magician can concoct a potion that generates up to 4 levels of power within one round. The potion's effects last for 1d6 hours.

Meditation: With the meditation skill, the magician can generate power that lasts until used. Roll 3d6 + Meditation skill level + perceptivity task modifier vs. 15. Every 5 points over target counts as one level of power and adds 5 minutes to the base time of 5 minutes. The magician may interrupt meditation any time prior to achieving the rolled level of energy with no ill effects.

Tapping Energy Sources

A magician can acquire energy from an external source to power his spells. Typical sources include condensers, natural features, familiars, spirits, or even other persons.

Before drawing energy from a source, the magician must first attune himself to the source. The difficulty varies upon whether the power source is associated with a compatible astrological sign: roll 3d6 + Magician field rank + perceptivity task modifier vs. 10 (for compatible signs), 15 (for neutral signs), or 20 (for incompatible signs). This procedure takes 10 minutes. Once performed, the attunement is permanent as long as the magician maintains his faculties (i.e., damage to the mind can break the attunement).

Once the magician is attuned to the source, he may draw energy from it freely as long as he is in direct skin contact with it, or indirectly through a trace (such as a ley-line). It is assumed that living creatures being tapped for energy are willing donors. Unwilling donors may not be tapped in this manner.

For more information, see the section on Magical Properties of Materials, Places, and Beings.

Spell Misfires

Spell misfires occur when an exhausted mage attempts to cast a spell, or if he flubs the procedure whilst in an energized state.

3d6Effect Description
3-6 no ill effects but spell is cast at reduced spell level if possible
7-10 energy is absorbed by ground or nearby large object with no effect
11-121 die bad luck
132 dice bad luck
143 dice bad luck
15 the energy strikes the caster with random effect
16 the energy strikes a random target with random effect
17 the energy disrupts the Ether and nullifies magic for 100 meters around the magician
18 the energy summons a demon that attempts to possess the magician


Magical Power Sources

A magician may create a magical power source from any object by attuning himself to it and activating its magical potential.


A magician may employ herbalism, cooking, and incantations to produce potions with magical effects. Potions take a variety of forms and transport mechanisms: imbibed (effective when drunk), externally applied to target, injected into the bloodstream (via a coated weapon or syringe), aromatic (effective when smelled), gaseous (effective when inhaled), vaporous (effective when seen).

A vial of liquid might hold one or more doses of the potion. A single mushroom, a flower, or a half-dozen of seeds, for example, is one dose. Overdose will have typically have negative effects similar to spell misfire, except that any energy discharged tends to effect (i.e., damage) the consumer.

Potions can have differences in factors such as intensity, duration, and range. See “Power Factors” under Spell Power Requirements. It is up to the Game Master to decide how powerful a discovered potion might be.

Sample Potions:

Agility Enhancement: Increase task modifier for agility by 1 to 5 points, depending on intensity.

Blink: Teleports the consumer to a random location.

Charisma Enhancement: Increase task modifier for charisma by 1 to 5 points, depending on intensity.

Clairvoyance: Project a sense through the astral plane.

Confusion: Induces severe vertigo.

Depression: Induce suicidal tendencies.

Detect Lie: Sense whether the target is being honest or not.

Detect Life: Sense the presence of life.

Dexterity Enhancement: Increase task modifier for dexterity by 1 to 5 points, depending on intensity.

Empathy: Read the emotions of others.

Endurance Enhancement: Increase task modifier for endurance by 1 to 5 points, depending on intensity.

Energy: Raise energy for casting spells.

Healing: Increase healing rate for wounds.

Insanity: Erodes the psyche.

Intellect Enhancement: Increase task modifier for intelligence by 1 to 5 points, depending on intensity.

Love: Induce feeling of love.

Pain: Inflicts excrutiating pain, causing the victim incapacitation.

Paranoia: Induces feelings of fear and anxiety.

Perceptivity Enhancement: Increase task modifier for perceptivity by 1 to 5 points, depending on intensity.

Restoration: Increase recovery rate of fatigue.

Sleep: Puts you to sleep for the duration of the spell.

Strength Enhancement: Increase task modifier for strength by 1 to 5 points, depending on intensity.

True Seeing: Perceive the true nature of hidden or concealed things, and disbelieve illusions.

Willpower Enhancement: Increase task modifier for willpower by 1 to 5 points, depending on intensity.

Zest: Induce feeling of joy. This counteracts depression and gives the user 1d6 luck.

Scrying Devices

Scrying is the use of a device such as a crystal, mirror, or pool of water for clairvoyance. Some preparation is usually required for the device: the device should be ritually cleansed and attuned to the magician. Such a process takes no more than a night and is simple enough to be considered automatically successful by someone with the Magician field. Once prepared, the device must be kept pure by allowing no other sentient being to touch it than the magician, or else it must be cleansed again.

A variety of scrying devices can be used, the most common being quartz crystal, because it is cheap and effective. A more precise calculation of the affinity of a magician to a particular material is possible, but left to detail until another time. The table below is a simplified summary of devices, ignoring astrological details for now.

Scrying Devices
Device Bonus
Obsidian +1
Flames +2
Bowl of Black Ink +3
Bowl/Pool of Water+4
Glass Ball +5
Other Crystal* +6
Quartz Crystal +8
Silver Mirror +10

Through the device, the magician may perform any clairvoyance task, but using his Scrying skill instead. Thus, no minimum perceptivity score is required. The scrying device gives the indicated bonus to scrying tasks.


Symbolic divination involves the interpretation of some kind of signs or objects, that act as indirect channels to some supernatural force. There is usually a body of knowledge that applies general interpretations to each sign. This skill represents knowledge of those general interpretations, not the ability to apply the interpretations (that's for the player). A failed roll indicates that the caster does not know the meaning of the result. A success means the GM may give the caster the sign, which may then be interpreted by the player.

There are innumerable techniques, listed here are a few categories.

Procedure: Symbolic divinations take 3d6 minutes to perform, but the time need not be a continuous block. Astrology can take longer to prepare a complete set of charts.

A failed roll indicates that the caster does not know the meaning of the result. A success means the GM may give the caster the sign, which may then be interpreted by the player.


Talismans are simple objects (e.g., a piece of paper, a wall, a book, a ring, an amulet, etc.) inscribed or traced with magical symbols. The magic does not come from the construction of the item (as with artifice) but solely with the tracing or inscription of the glyphs, sometimes accompanied by an incantation. An incantation is a minor form of invocation that embues the talisman with additional power.

Talismans are activated by some kind of trigger, which may include a command word, or by proximity or by trespassing. It is up to the magician to specify the trigger. Creating talismans takes at least 3d6 + 20 minutes just for inscribing the symbols.

Magical Properties

Ratings are given for magic resistance (MR) and power factor (PF). These represent the difficulty of charging and the capcity of holding magical charge.

Properties of Materials

Blue CrystalWater13
Green CrystalEarth13
Red CrystalFire13
Yellow CrystalAir13
White CrystalAny22
CopperEarth, Air21
LeadEarth, Air41
MercuryAir, Earth21
TinFire, Water21

Properties of Places

Air NodeAir04
Earth NodeEarth04
Fire NodeFire04
Water NodeWater04
Forest GladeEarth12
Lava PoolFire12

Properties of Beings

A living being has a magic resistance based on its willpower.


Ritual Skills

Rituals are similar to spells in how they are memorized. The rituals must be tailored to each individual supernatural entity or entity type if not unique, and this specific ritual must be memorized before use. Rituals are more time consuming than spellcasting and carry an additional element of risk. Memorizing rituals counts against the character's total spells memorized.

Rituals may also be “figured out” on the fly, but the associated risks makes it even more dangerous than usual.


Invocation means establishing a direct channel with a supernatural entity, be it a spirit, demon, or deity. The difficulty of establishing the link depends on the availability of the being and its attitude toward the magician.

The direct nature of invocation allows the magician to converse with the spirit, and thus provides him an opportunity to ask for favors, to channel powers, or to gain information. The type of spirit contacted has a big influence on the type of information or services that can be got.

Once the link is established, the magician must accomplish a maintenance task once every minute. The difficulty of maintenance goes up by three points with each passing minute. Once the roll fails, the magician is considered exhausted, and must rest for four hours before trying again.

A talisman may be created to form a permanent link. This only means that establishing the link is no longer necessary. Maintenance rolls must be made whenever questions are asked. Links to anima, for example, require the ritual preparation of sympathetic materials from the victim (clothes, hair, nail clippings, etc). For other types of spirits, contact talismans provide a channel of communication.

Influencing the Elements:

The magician can communicate with local elementals to make them modify the environment or weather: temperature, wind, light, or precipitation.

Influencing Luck:

The magician can call upon gods or spirits to bless or curse the target, adding good or bad luck dice for the duration of the spell. Add one die of luck, good or bad, per spell level, up to three dice.

Complexity: 15.

Touch1 round0
Up to 1 m1 minute1 die1
Up to 10 m10 minutes2 dice2
Up to 100 m2 hours3 dice4


Evocation is a request or a demand for a supernatural entity to manifest itself on the Physical Plane. The term sorcery applies to evocation through force. When such force is used, the magician engages in spirit combat with the conjured entity. Evocation through request requires communication with the being first. The being then manifests itself of its own accord, relieving the magician of that work. This technique is used in witchcraft. Another way to look at the difference between sorcery and witchcraft is that the witch is “in league” with the supernatural beings. Technically, witchcraft refers only to the practice of dealing with evil spirits. Otherwise, it resembles some non-evil religious practices.

Religion ... requires reverence, an inclination to trust, to be open and to please, and be pleased by, powers superior in every way to humankind; magic may wish to subordinate and to command these powers.

— Valerie Flint, The Rise of Magic in Early Medieval Europe

Every spirit has resistances to evocation. These are almost entirely psychological. The more powerful or dangerous the spirit, the more likely the magician will flub the ritual.

Evocation Rituals
RankBasic Ritual
Target Level
Basic Time
Least3010 min.
Minor3520 min.
Lesser4030 min.
Greater4540 min.
Noble5050 min.
Prince5560 min.


A magician reverses the process of conjuration with an abjuration. A magician that abjures a spirit he has evoked is said to dismiss it from duty. A magician that has no control over a spirit may attempt to banish it, but this is difficult and risky.


A magician acquires control over a supernatural entity by binding it. Once a supernatural being is bound (to the mage or to a device), it can be commanded to use its abilities and powers, with success according to the magician's Magician skill rank.

A vessel must be prepared. This requires an appropriate Artisan skill (either the magician's or a hired craftsman) in combination with a spellcraft task. Vessels have a cost geometrically proportional to the power of the spirit contained. A complex woven pattern is a typical example of the symbol driving the binding. Doors and gates are significant to movement, and thus mazes, which obfuscate the path to the door, are powerful tools for trapping supernatural entities.

Bindings vary in how long they last. They are almost never permanent, but instead might last thousands of years. A typical binding will last a few minutes and not tax the magician at all. Sometimes a binding has a set and known duration, other times it is variable. For example, when a binding object can no longer supply energy to the supernatural entity, the binding breaks and the supernatural entity is free.

With an unbinding, a magician may attempt to override the magical commands binding a supernatural being to an object or person. This is more difficult than the binding process, being a difficulty level higher than the level of the binding.

Example: The priestess Lorna summons a healing spirit to aid poor Sionnach's recovery. Lorna will bind the healing spirit to herself and command it to heal the boy. She can't bind it to Sionnach because it might kill him. The healing spirit will draw energy from Lorna and apply it to Sionnach. Lorna can continue healing Sionnach until she is exhausted.

Possession: Normally only one spirit may be bound to an object at a time. When two spirits are bound to the same object one of them tends to dominate and the other is said to be in possession of the dominant. Dominance is determined by a contest of Charisma (attacker) vs. Willpower (defender).

Familiar: Normally a spirit can only be bound to one object. If a spirit, already bound to one object, is then bound to a second object, then the second object is an auraculum (for lack of a better term) of the first. But if the second object also had a bound spirit, and is thus now possessed, it becomes a familiar of the first.

Side Effects of Using Sorcery

The basic risk involved in evocation is demonic possession. At best, this leads to insanity. At worst, it means the demon has complete control over the magician's body.

There is no risk of demonic possession when using invocation, because the spirit never actually manifests itself. However, the magician has to be careful with the amount of power channeled. When using invocations of a difficulty level 15 points more than the magician's level brings risk of nasty side effects called Wizard Signs. These are idiosyncrasies forced upon the magician by demons.

A bound spirit will attack its master in subtle ways, typically through mental suggestion. Spending too much time in proximity to large numbers of hostile supernatural entities (bound in items, for example), may lead to bad dreams, nightmares, and even insanity.

Supernatural Entities

Supernatural entities are of two fundamental types: those that exist on the Astral Plane and those that exist on the Spirit Plane. Inhabitants of the Astral Plane include the astral bodies of living creatures, beings of the elements, noncorporeal undead, larvae, and common supernatural beings with close ties to the physical world: dryads, genies, and elves for example. On the Spirit Plane are the gods, elementals, thought-servants, and spirits of the living or departed.

Supernatural entities are ranked by their power and difficulty of summoning, binding, and warding. The type of supernatural entity describes the general range of powers. Powers nearly always manifest themselves as controlled natural events. Other than these guidelines, the limits of supernatural power are the limits of the Gamemaster's whim.


The animating force of humans and animals is termed anima. Control over the anima gives a mage great power of creatures of all kinds. Such a magician can acquire familiars and slaves, call animals out of the wild, and create undead servants.

The anima is bound to its living receptacle. It normally can survive about one week in a dead body, but it is possible, though difficult, to transfer the anima to another receptacle. The anima is not subject to summoning. More easily, the anima can be commanded by magic.

When an anima is be bound to an object, the object becomes animated, and can be commanded. Controlling anima is the secret to controlling people. The working of charms and glamours involves the manipulation of the aura generated by the anima.

The anima has no mind of its own, but can operate the physical components of its receptacles, including senses. It also responds to base animal desires. The anima will have the physical attributes of whatever receptacle contains it.


Spirits are the inhabitants of the Spirit Plane, including the minds of all thinking creatures. Not all creatures have spirits, and not all spirits inhabit a physical body.

A spirit separated from its physical and astral body dwells in the furthest reaches of the Spirit Plane, but may still hold some attachment to its corpse, former possessions, relatives, and dwelling places.

The spirit of a dead individual will have the same intelligent, perceptivity, willpower, and charisma as it had in life. All spirits are capable of engaging in spirit combat.

Ancestral Spirit: These are spirits that have maintained an attachment to their bloodline after passing away. Ancestral spirits are usually associated with a fetish as a point of contact.

Familiar: These are servant spirits granted a magician by a Power upon sealing of a pact. The familiar serves as an intermediary between the Power and the magician, so that the magician is relieved of the burden of contacting the Power (and the Power of the burden of being contacted...)

Spirit Servitor: This is a powerful spirit summoned by the magician as a guardian or chief spirit assistant.

Demons: The term demon is a generic one, and may refer to any hostile spirit. It is also used for supernatural creatures bound for the purpose of engaging in combat.

Least Minor Lesser Greater
INT 1d6+1 2d6+3 2d6+6 2d6+6
WIL 2d6 2d6+3 2d6+6 2d6+8
PER 2d6+3 2d6+6 2d6+6 2d6+8
CHR 2d6+2 2d6+3 2d6+6 2d6+8
# Actions 2 3 4 5


Thoughtforms are intelligent entities of the Spirit Plane created by the imagination or spawned by emotional energy. Thoughtforms are capable of engaging in spirit combat.

Thoughtforms are classified according to their strength and type:

Thought Servant: This thoughtform is created only by the deliberate intention of a magician. It has its own intelligence, but is completely subservient to its creator. A thought servant is capable of performing only one task.

Thought Larva: This thoughtform is conceived by powerful emotions and feeds off them. Thought larvae attack with fearful mental illusions or psychic erosion.

Phantasm: A phantasm is a manifestation of the victim's own fantasies or nightmares. Phantasms attack with pain induction, sleep induction, or thought barrages.

Phantom: A phantom is the manifestation and realization of the memory of a departed individual. Phantoms attack with thought barrages.

The Magician skill evocation, allows the mage to attempt to summon any of the standard thoughtform types, with a strength according to the quality of the skill check.

Least Minor Lesser Greater
INT 2d6+2 2d6+2 2d6+2 2d6+6
WIL 2d6+2 2d6+2 2d6+2 2d6+6
PER 2d6+2 2d6+6 2d6+6 2d6+6
CHR 2d6+2 2d6+4 2d6+6 2d6+6
Telepathy 10 15 20 25*
* — Greater phantasms also get a physical attack

The Elementals

An Elemental is a spirit entity created from a pure element. Elementals have no physical body for themselves, but can be contained in vessels strongly associated with their element. They can exert control over their element, be it the temperament of an aura or the actual physical element.

Least Minor Lesser Greater Noble
STR/END 1d6 1d6+6 1d6+12 1d6+18 2d6+18
INT/WIL 2d6+1 2d6+1 2d6+1 2d6+1 2d6+6
PER/CHR 3d6 3d6 3d6 3d6 2d6+8
# Actions 2 3 4 5 6

A separate skill must be taken for the evocation of each of the four elemental types: Air, Fire, Earth, and Water. The strength of the elemental depends on the quality of the mage's skill check. Summoning one of the eight noble elementals is a special skill which must be taken for each elemental type in addition to the standard skill. Summoning a noble elemental requires knowing the elemental's name.

The Undead

An undead creature is one in which the anima or spirit or both continue to inhabit and control the body after death. The body must be sustained somehow or it will crumble into dust. How the body is sustained and whether it is the spirit, anima, or both are factors in how an undead is categorized. Additional powers or abilities can produce further variations.

An undead with an anima will have physical stats and the ability to interact with the physical world. An undead with a spirit will have mental stats, freewill, and the ability to use magic.

A noncorporeal undead is a spirit or soul lingering around the vicinity of its death. Corporeal undead sustained by magic turn to dust when the magic holding their body together is dispelled. Corporeal undead sustained by mummification will survive for centuries until its body is destroyed. Corporeal undead sustained by blood will have the best physical and mental stats, but become dormant when the blood supply is gone. A typical feeding will allow the creature to be active for one week.

Types of Undead
Body/Sustenance Anima Spirit Both
Noncorporeal I V VII
Mummification III VIb IX
Blood IV VIc X

These creatures are individually described below.

Type I Undead (Spectre, Wraith)

An unintelligent appearance of a person. Causes fear but has no influence on the physical world. Easily confused with the phantom thoughtform.

Type II Undead (Animated Corpse)

An unintelligent animated skeleton or rotting corpse.


Size: 4 (20 kg)
Move: 4
Morale: Belligerent (as per controller)
Physical: STR 10, END 10, AGL 10 (typical)
Mental: INT 0, PER 11 (or as per controller)
Fighting: 2 actions, Attack 5, Defense 5
Armour: Bone (DR -6, Pen 27)
Weapons: Sharp Teeth & Claws (3d6-2 Tearing) or by weapon

Rotting corpse:

Size: 10 (70 kg)
Move: 4
Morale: Belligerent (as per controller)
Physical: STR 10, END 10, AGL 10 (typical)
Mental: INT 0, PER 11 (or as per controller)
Fighting: 2 actions, Attack 5, Defense 5
Armour: None
Weapons: Sharp Teeth & Claws (3d6-2 Tearing) or by weapon

Type III Undead (Lesser Mummy)

An animated mummified corpse. No intelligence, but tougher and hungrier than your non-mummified variety.

Size: 10 (70 kg)
Move: 4
Morale: Hostile
Physical: STR 15, END 10, AGL 10
Mental: INT 0, PER 11
Fighting: 3 actions, Attack 8, Defense 8
Armour: None
Weapons: Sharp Teeth & Claws (4d6-3 Tearing)

Type IV Undead (Ghoul, Barrow-Wight)

An undead of bestial intelligence that sustains itself with blood.

Size: 10 (70 kg)
Move: 4
Morale: Hostile
Physical: STR 15, END 15, AGL 10
Mental: INT 5, PER 11
Fighting: 3 actions, Attack 8, Defense 8
Armour: None
Weapons: Sharp Teeth & Claws (4d6-3 Tearing)

Type V Undead (Lingering Spirit)

A regular disembodied spirit still lingering in the vicinity of its death, or alternatively tied to — but not inhabiting — some physical object. It can use magic providing it is given a means of perceiving the physical (for example, with magical eyes or scrying device).

Morale: Varies Passive/Normal or higher
Mental: INT 3d6, WIL 3d6, PER 3d6

Type VI Undead (Chained Spirit)

Lacking an animating force, such an entity cannot use its body to physically affect the world but can be communicated with and can use magic. Type (c) is forced into dormancy unless delivered blood regularly by an external agency.

Morale: Varies Intractable/Aggressive or higher
Mental: INT 2d6+6, WIL 2d6+6, PER 3d6

Type VII (Ghost)

An intelligent animating force that can take possession of objects at will, or of a living creature through spirit combat.

Morale: Varies Stubborn/Aloof or higher
Mental: INT 3d6, WIL 3d6, PER 3d6

Type VIII Undead (Revenant/Lich)

An undead being sustaining itself through the magic of its willpower (Lich) or emotional energy (Revenant).

Size: 10 (70 kg)
Move: 4
Morale: Belligerent
Physical: STR 2d6+6, END 2d6+6, AGL 2d6+6
Mental: INT 2d6+6, WIL 1d6+14, PER 2d6+3
Fighting: 3 actions, Attack 10, Defense 10
Armour: None
Weapons: Sharp Teeth & Claws (4d6-3 Tearing)

Type IX Undead (Greater Mummy)

Like a lesser mummy, but self-willed.

Size: 10 (70 kg)
Move: 4
Morale: Belligerent
Physical: STR 2d6+8, END 3d6, AGL 3d6
Mental: INT 3d6, WIL 2d6+6, PER 3d6
Fighting: 4 actions, Attack 12, Defense 12
Armour: None
Weapons: Sharp Teeth & Claws (4d6-3 Tearing)

Type X Undead (Vampire)

The classic undead being, sustaining itself by drinking the blood of the living.

Size: 10 (70 kg)
Move: 4
Morale: Aggressive
Physical: STR 2d6+13, END 2d6+13, AGL 2d6+8
Mental: INT 2d6+8, WIL 2d6+6, PER 2d6+6
Fighting: 4 actions, Attack 15, Defense 15
Armour: None
Weapons: Sharp Teeth & Claws (5d6-4 Tearing) or by weapon

The Powers

The Powers are spirits that have undergone a transformation to a permanent transcendental status. Powers differ from ordinary spirits primarily in their ability to perform acts of creation and to draw vital energy from worshippers. Powers do not depend on the energy of their worshippers to survive, but rather use it to enhance themselves.

Selected Works

Bardon, Franz. Initiation into Hermetics. (Salt Lake City, 2001)

—. The Practice of Magical Evocation. (Salt Lake City, 2001)

Bonewits, Isaac. Authentic Thaumaturgy, 2nd Edition. (Austin, 1998)

Diagram Group. Little Giant Encyclopedia of Spells & Magic. (New York, 1999)

Encyclopedia Britannica. (1994)

Flint, Valerie I. J. The Rise of Magic in Early Medieval Europe. (Princeton, 1991)

Frazer, James George. The Golden Bough. (New York, 1922)

González-Wippler, Migene. The Complete Book of Spells, Ceremonies & Magic. (St. Paul, 1997)

Suggestions & Acknowledgements

For other possibilities, check out Ron Edwards' game Sorcerer. It introduces the ideas of Needs, Desires, and Punishments as issues in dealing with the care and maintenance of demons.

The sorcery rules were originally inspired by the Chaosium game Stormbringer (1st ed.) and the book Fantasy Wargaming. Thanks also to members of the RPG-Create mailing list for other suggestions.

The Tales of the Carnelian Coast game attempts to describe a system of magic consistent with historical use, particularly in Europe, but without the specific Christian elements. Elemental correspondencies have been abstracted both for simplicity and for portability. Also, some elements of modern magic were included (particularly the concepts of "raising the power" for spells and of mental abilities in general) because it made sense to do so in a game. I like to consider mental abilities to be a modern explanation for certain powers and a piece of the underlying mechanism for how magic worked, or was thought to work, historically.

Last modified Mon, Feb 7, 2005
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