Nephilim FATE Magic – Introduction

Note: I am slowly converting Nephilim, an old Chaosium game, over to Dresden Files FATE. I am just flopping all the posts on my blog because I can tag and collect them all later. This stuff is in no particular order. You can buy Nephilim in PDF from DriveThruRPG for ~$17. You should also buy Dresden Files RPG.

This is an overview for those who have never opened the Nephilim RPG.

Magic is the heart of the Nephilim RPG.  Magic is the glue making Nephilim go. Magic is the Nephilim path to Enlightenment.  Humans, while having some of their own routes to magic, have no direct route into controlling the primal fields the same way as Nephilim.  Only the Nephliim, made up of magical fields, can reach out and control these same fields.

Nephilim Magic divides into three areas of mastery: Sorcery, Summoning and Alchemy.  Each of these are sub-divided into three levels of Initiation.  The mastery of one of these complete Magic disciplines is one of the conditions to reach Agartha.  Mastery of higher levels requires mastery of previous lower levels of magic.  One cannot drop to the front of the line and learn the secrets of the universe without learning how to first cast a spell to light a cigarette.

Nephilim refer to magic as “occult techniques” or “the occult sciences.”  To Nephilim, magic is not magic.  It’s applied scientific theory to manipulating the cosmos.

The Occult Techniques:

Sorcery Summoning Alchemy
First Circle Lower Magic Seals Black Stone
Second Circle Higher Magic Pentacles White Stone
Third Circle Grand Secret Keys Philosopher’s Stone

Sorcery focuses on utility for the Nephilim: ability to warm a cup at a touch, send a whisper miles, understand any spoken language, restore stress, and create light.  At higher levels, Sorcery embraces the classic evocations — magical spears appear in the hands of Nephilim, gives the gift of flight, clears mental afflictions, digs through the earth.  At the very highest levels, the Nephilim manifests their own Plexus (an area of automatic +1 shift to all spells), create earthquakes, rewrite the memories of a single human being, call up a tidal wave, and bring someone back to life.

Summoning manipulates the magic fields until a sentient being with its own aims and desires manifests.  Summoners do not see the magical fields as simple ley lines of mystical power but as higher dimensions overlaid on the material world.  Summoners reach into these dimensions and invoke great powers to perform tasks.  However, those beings are sentient and ask for something in return.  The pains of failure to negotiate the summoning with the creature ranges from annoying to complete loss of the Simulacrum to the summoned creature.

Alchemy is most powerful and the hardest to master.  Alchemists look down on Summoners as religious fanatics pulling Angels and Demons out of pentacles for fun and profit, and Sorcerers as merely crude.  Alchemist are Nephilim Scientists.  They experiment their way to Agartha.  All Alchemists have an athanor, a clay and brick oven for combusting magickal substances together to produce a mastery of matter.  Many early Alchemical spells only cancel Sorcerous spells but as the Alchemist perfects their craft, they produce portable, reusable spells to create armor, shift features of a target, open third eyes to see through matter, and even raise Golems.  The ultimate Alchemist creates anything out of matter like god-creatures with power over the Earth.

Note and Aside from Me: much of the original BRP mechanics for magic suck.  The rules are horrible.  As written, the average Nephilim gets a very basic Lower Sorcery spell off about 20% of the time — horrible for some creature performing magic for 3000 years.  The alchemy rules are nearly unworkable in practice and require a constant and unthinkable sacrifice of Ka to cast spells.  I intend to radically simplify all three circles of magic to turn this into a playable system that is fun, playable and GMable but still keeps the occult flavor of Nephilim.  The stunt/skill/shift system is elegant for spellcasting; we’ll use that and move forward with sorcery tomorrow.