Sorcery is a General Ability, allowing the casting of spells. At character creation, each point of Sorcery rating costs 3 General build points. Once you enter play, you need only spend 1 build point to improve your Sorcery rating by 1, but may only do so once you have read an occult tome, been taught by a mentor, visited particular locations or communed with unholy beings, each of which will unlock additional potential Sorcery points within you.
Tomes come in two varieties: clues and resources. Any given book can be one or the other, or both over two or more adventures. A clue tome is a book containing a fact, spell, or other requirement to solve the mystery or reach the climax of the adventure. A resource tome is a volume kept handy in the Investigators’ headquarters for general information, a trophy, or simply something stolen from the villains to deprive them of its possession.
Reading a clue tome is called skimming. Skimming takes one hour per 100 printed pages, or one hour per ten handwritten pages. A 1-point Research (or appropriate Language) spend halves this time; a 2-point Research spend immediately discovers the vital fact, spell, etc with a few minutes’ search. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, a benefit gained by skimming a tome can only be gained once per adventure, but can be repeatedly gained in multiple adventures.
Reading a resource tome is called poring over it. Poring over a tome usually takes place between adventures, and can take as long or as little time as required. Poring over a tome grants you a basic understanding of its contents, possibly including spells or other secrets. If the tome grants (potential) Sorcery points, you gain them all at your first pore-over; repeated porings-over do not add further points unless stated otherwise in the tome’s description. Tomes in foreign languages also require use of the corresponding Languages ability.
- Learning Sorcery from a tome requires you to pass a two-point Sanity check with a Difficulty equal to the Sorcery Potential of the tome
- Improving by interacting with a thus-inclined “titanic” inhuman being adds two Sorcery potential per encounter, but of course each encounter will also require a Stability check and possibly incur Sanity loss
- Being taught by a mentor takes one month uninterrupted study per point of Sorcery Potential. Learning or teaching Sorcery is incompatible with visiting Sources of Stability etc.
Your Sanity + Sorcery ratings can never exceed a total of 10. If you spend XP to increase Sorcery to a point where the total of both ratings would be 11 or more, you automatically reduce your Sanity down to the level required to add up to 10. You do not recover any build points by losing Sanity in this way (or in any other way).
Between investigations, an Investigator can learn a spell from a resource tome, a teacher, or an arcane being. The time required is one month of study per Order of the spell (so First Order spells take one month to learn, and Third Order spells take three months); during this time you do not have the opportunity to visit Sources of Stability etc. It also costs one build or experience point per Order of the spell. Some spells have a minimum Sorcery level required to learn them. If your Sorcery rating doesn’t equal or exceed this minimum, you can’t learn the spell.
Learning a spell requires a Stability test, with a Difficulty and potential loss depending on the spell’s Order. This test does pose the risk of Sanity loss.
|Order||Test Difficulty||Stability Loss|
In most cases, casting a spell usually requires only a Sorcery Test, usually against a difficulty of 4. The exception is summoning spells, which require a contest, usually against a summoned creature or the fabric of space-time. Such things resist using an ad hoc pool called the Inertia pool
All spells require the expenditure of pool points, usually from Sorcery. If a spell allows the expenditure of another ability in addition to Sorcery, you can swap one ability for the other at twice the cost.
A failed spell costs the half the listed amount.
Multiple sorcerers can share the cost of casting spells. Those who know the spell in question can share costs in cooperation. Only the leader must make the Sorcery test. Those who do not know the spell in question and willingly partake in the casting may spend 3 points to contribute 1 to the spell.
Your can refresh your Sorcery pool once per session if you can take an hour or more without interruption to study a tome, stare into the eyes of an idol, or otherwise open yourself to the energies of the universe.
If you roll a 1 on a Sorcery Test while your Sorcery pool is at 0, you must roll 2D10 on the Magical Mishap Table:
|2||You completely and absolutely lose control of the dangerous forces in your grasp and the cosmos backlashes upon you with great fury. Perhaps your body lays dormant in a coma as your spirit becomes unstuck in time or perhaps your spirit stays as your body dies and you become an animate corpse. Perhaps you’ve created a rip in space and time, permanently sucking you and your fellows to some awful elsewhere, or perhaps you just burst into flames and die a simple screaming death.|
|3||Rips in the fabric of reality course through your mind – the eldritch energies force you to see beyond. Your mortal psyche is ill equipped to process much of what you see and you lose four Sanity rating points. Fortunately the things you see beyond don’t see you.|
|4||As the spell reaches its climax, something brushes your soul and leaves something behind. You have been tainted by an Outsider, meaning (on the up side!) the effectiveness of your Sorcery spends doubles (i.e. each time you spend 1 point, it counts as 2). However, you are classified as a threat by the New Earth Government and if discovered as such would be arrested, incarcerated, and possibly experimented upon. Your condition is detectable by genetic scan, which makes it difficult to get into arcologies. You manifest a permanent physical change (such as unnatural eyes, nictitating membranes, extra digits, unnatural cravings, vestigial claws, hentai genitalia, or the like) within one to six days.|
|5||Though you are blissfully unaware for the moment, out of control cosmic forces have affected your memory. You may lose chunks of it or certain memories might be altered. Unless presented with contrary evidence, you’ll never know which memories have been changed or how. You may lose access to some skills or spells, as proficiency disappears with their memory. On the other hand, the ritual is not disrupted and counts as having succeeded.|
|6||Quietly and sneakily, an astral parasite latches onto you during the ritual. It is completely invisible and can only be identified through the Eldritch Faculties Scrying spell or the Powder of Ibn-Ghazi. As the parasite feeds, it will drain one pool point of Sorcery every four hours and any of your personal Wards decay twice as fast. A Purify Form Transmogrification spell is necessary to destroy the astral parasite. On the other hand, the ritual is not disrupted and counts as having succeeded.|
|7-8||Backlashing power rearranges a few things in your brain, shifting your personality. To represent this, your Drive changes. Roll one die to find out how many weeks this personality shift lasts, but with a result of six the effects become permanent.|
|9-10||The ritual fails and the spell fizzles as cosmic energy is redirected and loosed into the world around you. Perhaps it manifests as a power surge, a sudden temperature change, an arcane sound and light show, or static electricity coursing through the air. Or perhaps clocks run backwards in the neighborhood, water boils without heat, plants wither, or a dark storm sweeps in.|
|11-12||Multiple dimensions converge on your ritual. You may temporarily be able to see ghostly things, and they you, but nothing can affect anything else across the boundaries. Some physical things are lost to these alien places upon completion of the ritual. Small items will disappear randomly – maybe a coffee mug, a pen, someone’s wallet, a shoe, or a book. On the other hand, the ritual is not disrupted and counts as having succeeded.|
|13-14||Your commune with the powers of the universe has altered your perception. This disjunction is always troublesome. Perhaps you now see colors in opposite or your hearing is delayed. Or perhaps you now hear people a split second before they actually speak, you smell otherworldly smells seemingly at random, you see phantom movement out of your peripheral vision almost constantly, or perhaps you find yourself interacting with people who turn out not to be there. The effects may or may not be permanent. Your Director will determine how this affects your Investigative Abilities. On the other hand, the ritual is not disrupted and counts as having succeeded.|
|15||The cosmic energies that ravage your body leave it unharmed, but changed. Perhaps you are now deformed or perhaps your genetic code is permanently altered. Perhaps you now smell like vanilla or perhaps you sing in perfect pitch. Perhaps your weight radically shifts, you lose all body hair, you become an albino, you lose feeling in your fingers, or your eye color changes .Your Director will determine how this affects your General Abilities, if at all.|
|16||You successfully complete the ritual and cast the spell, but its effects are felt outside of space and time. You have no idea where or when it went off. It most assuredly affects someplace, someone, or something that is metaphysically sympathetic – that is, attached to the sorcerer in some sort of physical or emotional way. Maybe the spell appears next week in a friend’s apartment or maybe it already appeared and no one could figure out why strange things were happening. Or maybe it waits until the next time the magician is casting the spell or it appears the next time he is in danger. Wherever and whenever it appears, it is bound to be unnerving.|
|17||The ritual takes on a life of its own, as forces beyond your control take over. The spell is cast almost of its own volition and in half the time. Whatever stepped in has affected the effects and the spell is tainted in some way.|
|18||The forces summoned for the casting weaken the dimensional walls of the area, creating a dimensional shallowing. This shallowing may or may not be permanent, but it makes all summoning spells easier to cast under its shadow – reduce the Difficulty by one. However, the weakening can also be noticed from outside and something might just leak through one day… On the other hand, the ritual is not disrupted.|
|19||The energies upon which you call spin ever so gently out of your control. When the spell is finally cast it will be successful, but it will be altered in some way. Perhaps it is marginally less effective or perhaps it affects a different target. Perhaps it is more effective or the effects are unpredictable.|
|20||As cosmic energies backlash through your body, you become more sensitive to the emanations of the universe – and to those beings powerful enough to be called gods. Your dreams are no longer quite your own as they are altered by things in higher dimensions. Nightmares become commonplace. Each month, you must now succeed at a Difficulty 5 Sanity Test or lose 1 Sanity rating point.|
Countering a spell, or “unweaving” as it is known among occultists, requires knowledge of the spell one wishes to unweave. Once a sorcerer knows a spell, they can unweave it by using the same ritual required to cast it – even if it was cast by another sorcerer.
- Dreaming Spells – These spells are used legally in therapeutic settings, but are most often the domain of dangerous people out on the streets, who use it to manipulate a person’s subconscious or violate their privacy.
- Enchantment Spells – These are spells designed to capture cosmic power within a crafted item, so that its power can be called upon in times of need.
- Protection Spells – These are spells designed to ward a user, object, or location against a variety of possible harms.
- Scrying Spells – These are spells designed to allow a user to perceive in ways that go beyond the five senses.
- Summoning Spells – These are spells designed to call up unnatural creatures, either for communion or servitude. They can also force such creatures into bondage.
- Transmogrification Spells – These are spells designed to fundamentally alter or control another being.