Nephilim FATE Magic — Realms of Summoning

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.

As the Kabbalists sat in their secret covens and probed the worlds beyond the physical, the Summoners discovered four new planes of existence.  They drew pentacles and drew servants from…

Assiah, also known as Olam Asiyah, the weakest of the four spiritual realms.  The Realm of Action, the Nephilim easily invoke the creatures here and pull them forth to do their bidding.  This is the world of Korrigans, of Fairies, of Elementals, of Those who Creep and Nibble and Those who Inhabit the Sunset Homes.  Assiah is associated with the Tarot suit of the Pentacles.

Yetzirah, known as known as Olam Yetsirah, the World of Formation. Yetzirah is the Astral World, a plane of lesser devils and angelic servitors with glimmers of independent intelligence, elementals who embody concepts and creatures smart enough to bargain. These are the Princes of Salt Wisdom and the Spirits of the 24th Part of an Instant, those who stay until the day is favorable for their return. Yetzirah is associated with the Tarot suit of the Swords.

Briah, or Olam Beri’ah, the World of Creation, the planes of Heaven and Hell, the dwelling worlds of true Angels and Demons. They are cunning and wise and good and more evil than human comprehension. The Angels and Demons stand in their Choirs and bow before their Archangels. While the Angels and Demons hate one another, they hate Nephilim more, and do not stand to be summoned for trivial requests. They have full autonomy, full intelligence, and are difficult to control. Briah is associated with the Tarot suit of the Cups.

Atziluth or Olam Atzilut, is the World of Emanation. Atziluth is the dwelling place of the Arch Angels and the Demon Lords, of Gabriel and Beelzebub. They are proud and some have spent millennia worshipped as deities. These beings are the most dangerous of all to summon, for they greatly desire escape from their Pentagrams to walk the world of Men and they love to drag Nephilim slaves to their domains to serve them for eternity. The contracts with these beings are life-and-death pacts and drenched in blood. Atziluth is associated with the Tarot suit of the Wands.

Note: for those interested, Summoning is where Nephilim and In Nomine cross in super interesting ways, especially when it gets down to Contracts and Rupture. We’ll leave that exercise up to the reader for the time being. Suffice to say, one can assume In Nomine angels and demons can agree on one thing: they do not like these strange inhuman elemental endlessly incarnating abominations called Nephilim who can speak the forbidden Enochian tongue of Heaven and Hell and summon angels and demons to a Pentacle and force their bidding for a day short of a week.

Nephilim FATE Magic – Summoning

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.

In the second decade after the Death of the Fool in Judea, a cluster of Nephilim of a highly Kabbalistic Jewish bent clustered around a single Nephilim named Simeon bar Yokkai.  Clutched in this nigh-Agarthan Nephilim’s hands were the final scribblings of the Fool which told of worlds beyond the physical full of creatures waiting to be controlled and enslaved by Nephilim will.  Only through chanting the right syllables in the right manner could the veils be pierced and a Nephilim could invoke a creature to come to its side.  Simeon bar Yokkai called his application of Kabbalistic Theory Invocation.

When he passed beyond this world — by ascending to Agartha or simply passing on to a new Incarnation — his followers scrabbled through the dust of a Roman-dominated Levant and picked through the leavings of two thousand years.  From lost scrolls found buried beneath Solomon’s Temple to the new Gnostic beliefs of Alexandria, they cobbled together a new magic they called Summoning and, much to their surprise, it worked.  From their pentagrams scratched out in the dust, creatures emerged and demanded bargains and contracts for their services.  The creatures came, and Nephilim conversant in Summoning found themselves more powerful than their Sorcerous brethren, for while a spell sword may last an hour, a summoned sword may last a week.  And where Wahlsinn drives a man mad, the Powerful Pale Queen of Pain with Tears of Flame causes madness and unspeakable infinite torment.

Good times.

In modern times, a summoner draws the pentacle on the ground to restrict the movements of the summoned creature.  He chants the Invocation and calls to the creature in Enochian, the language of worlds beyond the veil.  If the word reaches the creature, it appears and the test of wills begins.  Some summonings are merely beasts or mindless apparitions, but some are full Angels and Demons with wills and plans of their own.  Should the summoner win the contest, he forges a contract with the creature for a certain time — a day, a week, until the next full moon.  But should the summoner fail the contest, the summoning ruptures and the angry summoned creature can enact its vengeance.

Summoners swear by their craft.  These Nephilim abandoned the well-trod sorcery path to Agartha to reach into the nether realms to converse with beings of power, great and small, and harness that power to the Nephilim’s whims.  Summoners claim the few known summonings of the Keys, the most powerful summonings, far outstrip the pedestrian castings of Grand Secret spells, but these summoned creatures are intelligent and malevolent in the extreme.

Nephilim summoning involves the four planes of metaphysical existence beyond the physical, the circles of summoning and the realms, the contracts, and the ruptures should summoning fail.

 

Nephilim FATE Magic – A Nice Bit of Spleen

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.

Quick Roundup

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.

Nephilim FATE Magic — Inscribed Spells and Personal Foci

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.

Inscribing a Spell

When a Nephilim pops out of its Stasis and incarnates into its new Simulacrum, it has nothing: no books, no mystical laboratories, no places to work, no Foci.  It may have the Stunts up to Grand Secret — it can cast any spell it pleases — but it cannot cast the spell unless it possesses the spell.  The moment a Nephilim incarnates into a new body it immediately begins the hunt for new spells* to rebuild its library.

However, some Nephilim figure out the trick of tattooing the Foci for their favorite spells directly on to their souls via a mystic ritual. An Inscribed Spell requires no Focus — no books and no extra preparation. The Nephilim may cast this spell at will. The spells travels with the Nephilim from Incarnation to Incarnation.

An Inscribed Spell can be from Lower Sorcery, Higher Magic or Grand Secret. All the penalties for casting a more complex spell applies. For example, if the Nephilim inscribes Spleen, it will have a much simpler time wandering around spleening targets than if it has the Grand Secret analogue, Wahnsinn, inscribed, a spell requiring a room and Foci and concentrated magicks and plenty of chanting. Wahnsinn still requires the Complexity and trappings of a full Grand Secret spell.

A Nephilim cannot inscribe a spell of a level greater than the Stunts it has. Thus, a Nephilim cannot inscribe spells for Higher Magic or Grand Secret if it lacks the Stunts for Higher Magic and Grand Secret.

All Inscribed spells, regardless of level, are -1 Stunts. A Nephilim can have many Inscribed spells as it can maintain without having less than 1 Refresh.

Personal Foci

Sorcerers who practice Higher Magic or greater craft for themselves a Personal Focus. The Focus is a physical object that helps the sorcerer focus its concentration on the spell. These items are crafted to the sorcerer’s personality. They can be religious items, items typically related to Sorcery (rings, staves), books, or other personally suiting items. The form of the Focus is intensely personal and varies from Sorcerer to Sorcerer. All Sorcerers who have mastered Higher Magic possess or may create a Focus.

A base cost for a Focus is -1. A Focus may be upgraded twice for a total cost of -3. A Focus grants between 1-3 shifts of bonus depending on the power of the Focus.

A Focus can add +COST to Lore (to overcome Complexity), +COST to Conviction (to gather power) or +COST to Discipline (to cast). This is identified at the time of purchasing the Focus.

When the Sorcerer has a Focus and reincarnates into a new Simulacrum, the Sorcerer must either:

1. Create a new Focus or…
2. Locate its old Focus. The old Focus may be anywhere and may require an Adventure to locate and retrieve.

The choice is up to the GM depending on Dramatic Necessity.

A Focus may be paired with an Aspect during Incarnation if the player wishes but this incurs equal benefit to above and being able to Invoke the Focus as an Aspect.

Yes, the Nephilim’s personal Focus can also be its Stasis. The Nephilim will never misplace its Focus! But it also cannot be locked in a vault, it gets used in dangerous Sorcerous rituals, and has to be toted around into battle with Templars. On the one hand, the Nephilim can have a mighty keen ancient broadsword covered in sacred runes as a Focus and a Stasis. On the other hand, if something happens to that Stasis — and we wouldn’t want another to happen to the Stasis — things get mighty interesting mighty fast.

(I’ve noticed I have changed my rules for Foci slightly so they will be folded into the Sorcery rules once the Sorcery rules are complete.)

LiveJournal was down last week so if you are only following on LJ here’s links to last week’s posts:

* Sorcery (ver. 1)
* Lower Sorcery Spells (Chart)
* Higher Magic and Grand Secret Spells (Chart)

All Nephilim FATE posts.
Any obvious similarities between a Nephilim and a Bookhound of London is merely a happy coincidence. And interestingly, plenty of cross-over in content, if not system.

Nephilim FATE Magic – Higher Magic and Grand Secret

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.

Presented for reference: big table of Higher Magic spells and Grand Secret from the original Nephilim source book that continue to work with Nephilim FATE. For full description of the following spells, please acquire the Nephilim sourcebook.*  It’s cheap!

Nephilim FATE no longer requires thresholds rolls, but Higher Magic spells may be contested if they directly affect a target. All Higher Magic spells last a scene unless noted otherwise.

Higher Magic

Spell Name Element Summary
Sword of Sun Tzu Fire Summons a sword of flame.
Ka-Shout Fire Paralyzes all in 20m radius of caster.
Shoal of Fire Fire Flaming armor provides the caster with Armor equal to number of shifts.
Pyromancy Fire Sets any object on fire, even non-flammable ones. Fire spreads to flammable objects.
Pyretic Body Fire Transforms target into a human fighting torch. Shifts on success adds to Fists.
Shoal of Air Air Dense air armor provides the caster with Armor equal to number of shifts.
Scry of the Wise Air Allows caster to visualize some hidden information about a target. Target must be in line of sight.
Hermetic Satori Air Caster understands any language it reads.
Spear of the Valkyrie Air Summons a translucent vapor spear. Shifts on success adds to Weapon.
Winds of Lifting Air Flight! Woosh!
Companion Winds Air Allows any consenting target to fly with the caster.
Shoal of Earth Earth Coat of solid matter provides the caster with Armor equal to number of shifts.
Drill of Pluto Earth Causes hand to transform into a hammer of stone. Shifts on success adds to Fists.
Voice of the Earth Earth Caster can communicate with a vertebrate animal.
Grounding the Fool Earth Cures all mental afflictions of one person. Permanent.
Caress of Lilith Earth Causes target to feel intense mental and physical pleasure. May be addictive to humans.
The Mole Bore Earth Allows caster to move through the earth and speed determined by shifts on success.
Shoal of Water Water Water coat of armor provides Armor equal to number of shifts.
Spring of Lameth Water Creates a spring of pure water.
Chameleon Skin Water Caster may take physical appearance of any human known by the caster.
Slashing of the Shark Water Magical axe appears. Shifts on success adds to Weapon.
Water Deluge Water Causes a sudden thunderstorm on a cloudy day.
Shoal of the Moon Moon Luminous moon coat provides Armor equal to number of shifts.
Visage of Terror Moon Caster strikes fear into the heart of one target.
Evasion of the Earth’s Seduction Moon Allows the target to jump very high (but not fly). Shifts on success determines effectiveness.
Mirror of Thoth Moon Reflects all spells and magical weapons over the duration of a scene.
Deception of the Moon’s Cold Light Moon Allows the caster to persuade a target the caster is a true friend. Spell continues until the caster does something to counter this truth. Permanent.

Grand Secret

Nephilim FATE no longer requires thresholds rolls, but Grand Secret spells may be contested if they directly affect a target. Most Grand Secret spells are permanent.

Completely drives one human target mad. Permanent.Creates a zone of total darkness 100m radius around point chosen by the caster. Lasts a scene.

Spell Name Element Summary
Pyretic Consumption Fire Totally burns any matter up to 500 kg.
Eruption Fire Creates a mini-volcano 100m radius. Volcano erupts for a dramatic scene. Shifts on success determines damage.
Manifest Fire Plexus Fire Manifests a fire plexus giving +1 Lore Shift to all Fire spells during casting. Lasts until following Tuesday.
Stigmatic Idea Air Allows caster to permanently plant or change a memory in a target.
Typhoon Trust Air Creates a hurricane of 100m radius. Lasts a scene. Shifts on success determines damage.
Manifest Air Plexus Air Manifests an air plexus giving +1 Lore Shift to overcome complexity on all Air spells during casting. Lasts until following Wednesday.
Seismic Concussion Earth Creates an earthquake of 100m radius. Lasts a scene. Shifts on success determines damage.
Manifest Earth Plexus Earth Manifests an earth plexus giving +1 Lore Shift to overcome complexity on all Air spells during casting. Lasts until following Thursday.
Resurrection Earth Caster may bring back to life one human or creature. Does not work on resurrected simulacrum.
Grasp of the Invisible Octopus Water Creates whirlpool of 100m radius. Lasts a scene. Shifts on success determines damage. Needs a serious body of water.
Tidal Wave Water Creates a huge tidal wave. Lasts a scene. Shifts on success determines damage. Must target a large body of water.
Manifest Water Plexus Water Manifests an earth plexus giving +1 Lore Shift to overcome complexity on all Air spells during casting. Lasts until following Friday.
Wahnsinn Moon Drives one human target completely mad. Permanent.
Eclipse Moon Creates a zone of complete and total darkness centered on a point selected by the caster 100m in radius. Lasts a scene.
Manifest Moon Plexus Moon Manifests an earth plexus giving +1 Lore Shift to overcome complexity on all Air spells during casting. Lasts until following Monday.

Nephilim FATE Magic – Lower Sorcery Spell Table

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.

Presented for reference: big table of Lower Sorcery spells from the original Nephilim source book that continue to work with Nephilim FATE. For full description of the following spells, please acquire the Nephilim sourcebook.*

Nephilim FATE no longer requires thresholds rolls.  The duration is a scene for all spells.  No Lower Sorcery spells cause permanent change to targets or the environment.

Complexity for these spells is low — an environment target number (PvE) or the target’s Conviction, save Pyretic Limb, which can be considered a weapon-based spell.  Spells are available to all Nephilim provided they have access to the spell’s Focus: a book, parchment, a scroll, a fortune cookie, or some other physical artifacts.  Spells that match the Nephilim’s dominant Ka receive a +1 bonus to Lore when working out complexity to cast, as the Nephilim finds a spell of matching “color” easier to understand than one of a different color.

 

Spell Name Element Summary
Pyretic Palm Fire Create a small flame.
Pyromantic Temper Fire Heats a solid about size of a cup of water.
Choking Vapor Fire Create dense smoke 10m radius.
Pyretic Limb Fire Transform a limb into a torch. Can be a weapon.
Dowse Fire Plexus Fire Helps locate nearest Fire Plexus.
Aerial Whispers Air Makes whispered speech audible.
Translucent Veil Air Makes transparent 1000 cm3 of an object.
Purify Air Air Makes air pure and breathable.
Dowse Air Plexus Air Helps locate nearest Air Plexus.
Babel Unbound Air Allows target to understand spoken languages
Terra Mobile Earth Makes solid 1000 cm3 of any gas, fluid or plasma.
Caduceus Press Earth Heals 1 box of physical stress.
Purify Matter Earth Purifies solids of bacteria and rot.
Dowse Earth Plexus Earth Helps locate nearest Earth Plexus.
Balance the Humors Earth Cures 1 illness in a human target.
Seething Aqua Water Boils and purifies a cup of liquid.
Liquifaction Water Makes liquid any solid size of a cup.
Mobile Aqua Water Flows 1000cm3 liquid uphill.
Pelagic Survival Water Allows target to breathe in a liquid.
Dowse Water Plexus Water Helps locate nearest Water Plexus.
Lunar Crescent Moon Creates luminous crescent in hand of caster.
Monotonic Tintinitis Moon Creates continuous annoying sound about as loud as a phone ring.
Lunar Veil Moon Creates 3-dimensional, immovable illusion.
Dowse Moon Plexus Moon Helps locate nearest Moon Plexus.
Spleen Moon Dazes target.

* I would have posted them all but it has to wait until I am less super tired.

Nephilim FATE Magic – Sorcery v1

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 version 1 of my rules.  I will need to rewrite them post feedback.)

Sorcery is the oldest of all Nephilim magics.  When the world was new, Sorcery was old.  When Nephilim were pretend Gods in their Simulacrum to the men in their first settlements and cities, Sorcery was old.  Sorcery is a crude golden hammer — when all you have is Sorcery, everything looks like a nail.  It is the Path Well Traveled to Agartha.

Sorcery is also the simplest of all of Nephilim magics.  It confers no special wisdom about the universe.  It gives the wielder no immaculate powers to spontaneously create from their wills.  It’s Sorcery, plain and simple.  Summoners and Alchemists find Sorcery a crude road at best with no subtlety and no special understanding.  It’s cheap and easy but it looks cheap and easy.

The three circles of sorcerous magic cost the base of -1 Refresh for lower sorcery and each subsequent circle is an upgraded stunt through grand secret.

First Circle Lower Magic -1
Second Circle Higher Magic -2
Third Circle Grand Secret -4

Casting spells requires a Focus*. Lower Sorcery requires books, scrolls, tablets, ancient codexes, web browsers**, or anywhere else a Nephilim reads the written word. Higher Sorcery requires a Focus and a personal focus — an amulet, a ring, or other device the Nephilim uses to help control greater powers. This focus is another Stunt (-1) granting a bonus to sorcerous magics while casting spells. Grand Secret needs some serious shenanigans with chalk, a basement, some ancient tongues, and some serious long-term chanting.

Note: Sorcery is based closely on Thaumaturgy in the Dresden Files RPG Your World Sourcebook. It is highly recommended to review that section as it has all the nice examples and this is merely a blog.

Casting a spell:

1. Choose a spell to cast.

2. Determine the spell’s complexity.  The GM may apply bonuses and penalties depending on the scope of the spell. Complexity is below.

3. If complexity is less than or equal to the Nephilim’s Lore, the Nephilim casts the spell.

4. If the spell’s complexity is greater than the Nephilim’s Lore, the Nephilim must prepare the spell. This represents preparation for casting the spell — creating the pentagram, putting on a funny hat, reciting words off a screen. The Nephilim may invoke Aspects to spend FATE points to have a mini-scene for preparation to help close the complexity gap.  The Nephilim may also add to the Lore by adding in ritual objects required for the spell or sitting in Power Sources like a Plexus or a Nexus.

5. If preparation still does not close the gap between the spell’s complexity and the Nephilim’s Lore, the Nephilim may accept consequences to give some of itself over to the spell to help it along.

6. Once the Nephilim can cast the spell, the Nephilim decides how much power to bring to this spell. The Nephilim can take up to its Conviction in shifts in mental power to help overcome the target’s resistance. If it puts more effort into the spell than its Conviction, it takes a box of mental stress for each shift.  The Nephilim gets an automatic Conviction shift for the spell being the same type as the Nephilim.  (Fire for fire, air for air, etc.)

7. The Nephilim rolls its Discipline. The target is the power brought to the spell (determined in step 6).

8. If the Nephilim has channeled the power in the spell, Yahtzee! Entire cities vaporize! Brains melt!

9. If the Nephilim fails, the spell backlashes, and depending on the size of the spell, this could be annoying or very, very bad.

Complexity:

1. If the spell is causing a simple action, the complexity of the spell is equal to the target number of a simple action.  For example, pyromantic temper heats any solid about the size of a cup of water.  The utility spell’s complexity is typically a 1.  The Nephilim can read the spell off the back of a fortune cookie fortune and poof.

2. If the spell inflicts a short term consequence like choking vapor or spleen the complexity depends if it is affecting the environment or a target.  If the environment, use the same as step 1 to determine target.  If the spell is on a living target, the target gets to resist.  The target number is the target’s Conviction.  If the target has a Conviction of 3, the Nephilim must overcome a 3 to get the target.  The Nephilim can add power to overcome the target’s resistance.  On success, the tag target, environment or otherwise, with a temporary Aspect like “Full of Deadly Gas” or “Addled.”

3. If the spell is to inflict a permanent consequence on a target or an environment, the complexity is that in a contest.  The complexity must account for the target’s ability to resist, his stress track, and the level of desired consequence.  Inflicting visage of terror, for example, would need to overcome a target’s Conviction, plus his mental stress track, plus enough shifts to get a consequence.  The mole bore which allows digging through the earth depends on the type of ground to burrow through (sand vs. concrete vs. metal flooring) for complexity.   All Grand Secret Spells are a Contest and the target may be modified upward for number of targets.

Weapons:

Many Higher Sorcery spells summon mystical weapons.  These are essentially evocation fireballs and lightning bolts.  The spell has no complexity but the Nephilim decides how many shifts to put into the weapon.  The mental stress is a minimum of one up to the Nephilim’s Conviction and one more stress for each level over Conviction.  Then the Discipline roll is equal to the level of power called up.

Bob the Djinn Nephilim summons sword of sun tzu (a sorcerous flaming sword.)  He has a Conviction of Superb (+5) and a Discipline of Good (+3).  He summons up 8 shifts of power for the sword.  He is a fire Nephilim so he gets one shift for free (+1).  He takes three tracks of mental stress — one for up to 6, one for 7, one for 8.  The difficulty to cast is +8 (Legendary).  He rolls his Discipline (+3) and gets a 3.  He just makes it and now he has a Weapon:8 in his hands and he is going to go to town.

The weapon disappears at the end of the scene.

Quick Note:

Contrary to original core rules a Nephilim can attain the Grand Secret stunt in character generation. A full Grand Secret Sorcerer Nephilim spent all its lives studying Sorcery and has traded many other advantages through Reincarnation to focus alone on this part of the path to Agartha. Yes, the Nephilim is a Great Sorcerer, but that does not mean the Nephilim is anywhere near ready for Enlightenment.  And it doesn’t mean it can cast the big spells often.

* Unless the spell is inscribed on the soul of the caster.

** Only available to Chariot Initiates and their specially built mystical iPods.  If anyone has grasped the 21st century, it’s the Chariot.  Anyone else has to stick to the boring, old fashioned way: dry parchment written in blood.

Nephilim FATE Magic – Refresh

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.

Refresh is a nice mechanic introduced in the DFRPG to manage FATE pools and allow players to make a conscious trade-off between being FATE-point heavy and Stunt heavy.  FATE points allow a player to make some in-game choices to affect positive outcomes for their character: spend a FATE point and get a skill roll shift; spend a FATE point and frame a scene; spend a FATE point and invoke an Aspect to “do something cool.”  FATE points give PCs command over their own narrative during the game time and the Refresh limit dictates the tradeoff between just-in-time FATE spends and always-on Stunts.

Stunts modify skills.  For example, a high Endurance character might have SUPER TOUGHNESS or FAST HEAL.  The player pays for this stunt out of their character’s refresh pool.  In return for having, in essence, an always-on FATE point spend, the player spend a permanent point from their Refresh pool.  If SUPER TOUGHNESS costs -1, the player has the Stunt and now a Refresh of CAP-1.

Magic is a Stunt.  It modifies the Lore skill.  How it modifies the Lore skill depends on the Magic and the Stunt.  As all Stunts have a cost, Magic has a Refresh cost associated with it.  Thus, for example, if White Stone Alchemy has a cost of -3, the player can use White Stone Alchemy, and all that entails, as a Stunt and has a Refresh of CAP-3.

Nephilim FATE uses the Submerged Template from DFRPG — 35 skill points, 10 Refresh.  Magic-based stunts have a Refresh cost.  The Alchemist above has a 7 Refresh pool and Alchemy.  When the session ends or the GM decides the current story arc has wrapped, the player then fills the character’s Refresh pool up to a maximum of 7.

No Nephilim can go below 1 Refresh.  Less than 1 Refresh represents a state of permanent Khaiba.  The Nephililm pushed the boundaries of the forces with magic to a breaking point and no longer has any control of their self.  The Strength Arcanum* hunts down and destroys these Nephilim as they pose a threat to the Nephilim community at large.

Nephilim do have a number of Stunts they can spend their Refresh on: circles of Magic, spells inscribed on their souls, and special Arcanum tricks. First, and foremost, though, is a conversation about the Refresh costs for magic and what buying those will get a character. The next series of posts will talk exclusively about purchasing magic and casting spells.

* A Nephilim Arcanum dedicated to an Anti-Khaiba stance.

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.

Nephilim Character Creation — Aspects and Incarnations and Skills and Stasis!

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.

To polish off the discussion on skills, I’ll finish off Elijah with his Aspects, Incarnations, Skills and Stasis.

In Elijah’s first incarnation, he was a religious artist to the Court of Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV).  He was young, knew nothing of death, and launched his snaky self on the path to Agartha.  He joined a swanky new Arcanum, the Wheel of Fortunue, learned a bit about them and some Sorcery, and learned how to do some basic research.  He picks up some Lore, Scholarship, Craftsmanship, and a little Deceit as he learns to be Deceitful.  He dies an old man in his bed, fat on wine and with a young wife at his side.  All in all, a pretty good life!

Then, Elijah wakes in AD 30 in the body of a young Jewish Scholar.  What a better time to launch into more research on Sorcery!  And once the Fool has come and gone and all the new Cults appear in his wake, Elijah the Moon Nephilim takes advantage of an unstable political situation to build little cults around him.  He pulls out the Presence, a bit more Deceit and maybe a little more Scholarship as he learns the languages of the region.  Again he dies an ancient man having seen the rise of a new religion seeping its way across the Mediterranean.

It’s the Third Incarnation where things to horribly wrong.  Elijah incarnates into the form of one of the last of the Fisher Kings, a Merovingian clinging to the secrets of the Fool and the tattered, passed remains of the Roman Empire.  The depths of the Dark Ages is no place for a Nephilim; no research, no books, no reading.  Instead, Elijah finds himself hunted by Charlemagne’s Paladins across Central Europe.  For a while he rallies his men with his Presence, Weapons, Endurance and Survival but they find him and kill him.  Elijah is lucky — the techniques for making elixers do not exist yet.

Elijah wakes in 1590 London full of wrath and vengeance.  He throws himself into the new, hot magic of the time: Alchemy.  It’s a switch from Sorcery and more work with nastier downsides but, in some ways, more potent.  He also throws himself into the hedonist life of the Alchemist: some Lore, sure, but Deceit, Presence, Rapport, and some Empathy to pretend he cares.  He has the Conviction of his hate and the Discipline to focus it.  He develops one of his Metamorphosis as he throws himself into a life of hate for all humans around him.  He kills himself in this life with drink.

Finally, Elijah is in New York in 2011 in the body of a homeless man who was once a Physics Professor.  From his Simulacrum he gets just enough Investigation, Scholarship, Survival and Drive to start making his way back to the secret underground of the practice of magic.  But if he wants to contact his fellow Nephilim and return to the way of Agartha, he better find a way to find a way to make some cash.  Meanwhile, a WWII Secret Society, the Thule Brundeschaft, hunts all Nephilim who were once Fisher Kings because they desire the artifacts of the Fool so they can rise a new Reich: the Staff of Longinus, the True Cross, the Holy Grail.  Only the FIsher Kings know what these are and where they are hidden — and the Thule has contacts with the Order of the Black Star.  And the Black Star desires to make Nephilim into Elixers.

Elijah uses a 2 Superb, 2 Great, 2 Good, 3 Fair and 5 Average scheme for his 35 points to allocate his skills.  After working it out, Elijah has:

Superb:  Lore, Deceit
Great:  Scholarship, Presence
Good: Weapons, Survival
Fair:  Rapport, Empathy, Endurance
Average:  Drive, Investigation, Empathy, Conviction, Discipline

Elijah has some Endurance (physical), Presence (social) and Conviction (mental) skills.  These affect his stress tracks.

Endurance: OOOO
Presence: OOOOOO
Conviction: OOO

In his current Incarnation, Elijah is loaded with Moon Nephilim charisma, and some decent Physical fortitude, but he’s a little loose in the mental department: precisely what one would expect from a Serpent.

Now, if only Elijah could cast a spell, he’d be ready to find his fellow Nephilim and stop the Thule Brunderschaft from rising a new Reich!*  Time to spend time digging into the meat of Nephilim: Magic.

It’s no good without a few cloned Hitlers.