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.
The last post on Nephilim Sorcery shall be examples of the system in practice. And then I start on the fun stuff: Summoning.
Elijah the Moon Serpent Nephilim with his Stasis from an Ancient Egypt so Ancient even those who are called “Ancients” consider it Ancient, incarnated, much to his incredible consternation, in a homeless, alcoholic ex-Physics Professor. No one is going to miss the man as Elijah uses the Simulacrum to his own ends but occasionally the human trapped within complains. Not often. Normally it dreams in the magic of Man: mathematics.
Elijah has no library yet so he must stick to spells he inscribed on his soul. He has learned through his many lives Lower Sorcery and Higher Magic so he has the capacity to cast a wide variety of spells once he locates them. But, without the physical Foci for the spells, he is momentarily screwed — except for the spell he has inscribed on his soul, Spleen. Sure, Spleen is a Lower Sorcery spell, but it’s a Moon spell, it’s easy, and he can cast it at will.
Being a Moon Serpent Nephilim and being inclined through his Metamorphosis and his nature to cause random havoc, Elijah takes a bus to a nearby shopping mall. He begins walking the halls and Spleening random targets. Spleen causes mild scene-long mental confusion. It is resisted by the target’s Conviction. The average Conviction of a random human target is 2. It’s Fair. It’s a bit more than Average but not quite Good. It’s Fair.
Elijah’s Lore is a 5 (see his sheet without magic). This is spell is easier for him to cast because it is of his Element. The words sit better in his mind than other spells. He easily overcomes the Complexity of 2. Elijah’s Conviction is just Average — he’s great at understanding spells but sort of lame at actually casting them. He can only bring one shift of power to this spell, but that also means its easy for him to cast. He rolls and gets a 0 ( – + 0 0 on Fudge Dice) and his Discipline is a +1 so he can control the 1 shift of power he brought to the spell. However, the Complexity is a 2 and he has to control up to the Complexity. He needs a tad more power. Elijah rolls again:
+ 0 0 + = +2 on Fudge dice + +1 Discipline = +3
He has controlled 4 shifts (+1 on the first roll and +3 on the second) of magic. Elijah controls a Complexity 2 spell with a effective Lore of 6 (+5 Superb Lore and +1 for it being a Moon spell) and controls up to the Complexity of the spell with his terrible Conviction and Discipline. He casts a whole bunch of Spleens on the denizens of the Mall. It’s nothing fantastic but it kills an afternoon in mild mayhem. Success! Of course he should work on raising that Discipline because then, more likely than not, it will just work.
Elijah could have failed to control the spell. Now, it is not that he could not cast the spell, because he can, but it gets away from him. On failing to Spleen, Elijah could absorb the spell and take a backlash of the difference between the failed Discipline roll and the target number. He would take the backlash as physical stress and continue with the spell. It wouldn’t be much as the amount of power controlled is simply one shift. But Elijah wouldn’t take backlash if he didn’t have to because that’s a selfless action and Moon Nephilim are selfish beasts. Backlash is only when he cares the spell fires and, on a fun traipse through a mall, he doesn’t much care.
Instead, Elijah deals with the fallout of a failed spell. Had Elijah failed to Spleen his intended targets, and he let the spell go haywire, it could potentially Spleen at a far more powerful level than he wanted. Instead of a fun afternoon of Spleen, he may melt the minds of the shoppers in the mall. He would develop a fascinating Problem with getting away with the scene of chaos as people froth at the mouth and go mad.
Important to note: spleen really is a single target spell so technically Elijah is shuffling around the mall, mumbling in tongues to himself, and spleening over and over. This is a little high maintenance as major chaos is concerned. There’s a summoning (the Kerabim of Exasperation and Confusion) that will do what Elijah wants with range. And that’s why next up is Summoning.
This system feels a little complicated but it is far simpler than casting a spell in the original BRP system which required considering the astrological signs and calculating a number of bonuses and penalties and reconciling Ka vs. the Sorcery skill before rolling d100 to cast the spell. The big thing here is the spell actually casts — it’s controlling its power that’s tricky. And best of all, no magic points (ch’awe) to count.
For thaumaturgical spells like Spleen, the flow is:
– Determine complexity of the spell. Lower Sorcery < Higher Magic < Grand Secret.
– Overcome complexity with Lore + Bonuses — Foci, Plexus/Nexus, particularly excellent copies of the spell, Aspects, etc.
– Regardless of die rolls, if the caster overcomes the Complexity of the spell, the spell always casts. Does it cast correctly? Or well? That’s another story…
– Control the power of the spell with Conviction up to the level of the Complexity. The power may be split up into manageable pieces depending on how long the caster wishes to cast the spell.
– Roll Discipline to control the lines of elemental magic in the spell.*
– If the caster controls the spell, it fires correctly. Some spells have a magnitude of success depending on the number of success shifts. Resolve the result.
– If the caster fails to control the spell, he can either absorb backlash and continue rolling or deal with the fallout of magic lines of elemental power run amok.
If the spell is a Higher Magic weapon or armor spell (as indicated by adding to Fists, Weapons or Armor):
– The spell has no Complexity. A focus with the spell suffices.
– The caster determines how powerful a weapon or armor they desire. Matching Element gives one free shift to Conviction.
– Caster takes 1 shift of mental stress over Conviction. If Bob the Fire Djinn wishes a sword of 7 shifts and has a Conviction of 5, he takes 2 shifts of mental stress to summon his weapon.
– Caster rolls Discipline. He gets a free shift if the Element of the spell is his Element. Bob is casting a fire sword spell, so he gets 1 free shift. If he was standing in a Plexus he would get 1 extra free shift. In a Nexus, 2.
– Bob has a Discipline of +3. He gets the free bonus of +1. He rolls a 3 on Fudge Dice. (+ + 0 +). He manages to control the sword and how has a Weapon: 7 until the end of the scene.
* I am considering Element bonus to Discipline as well to make casting easier. So a Moon Nephilim casting Spleen gets a +1 to overcome Complexity (he GETS the spell) and a +1 to cast (it’s easier for him to control lines of Moon Elemental Power). That would make all the rules align nicely.