Summoning is different than Sorcery. Sorcery is about reaching into the magical lines which wrap the world, exerting mental will, and forcing the magic to respond. Either it works or the caster loses control and it flies everywhere. Summoning is about having a conversation.
Drawing the Pentagram is the simple bit. The Summoner references the right Pentagram in a dusty tome, finds the words, locates a good basement, and executes. If the strength of the Summoning Pentagram overcomes the will of the Summoned, the Summoned pops into the center of the Pentagram. This almost always works if the Summoner is even passably good at this trick, has the right Stunts, and a half-way decent Lore. Getting the Summoning to appear is a purely mechanical exercise. A Summoner’s understanding contested against the Summoning’s willingness to show up.
And there stands a pissed off Summoning, trapped in a Pentagram, interrupted from whatever it was doing five seconds before, glaring at a Summoner and wondering if the Summoner is tasty on toast. What happens next is a straight up social contest. Talk fast, little Summoner, or else the thing standing there will reach for the ketchup.
Summoning moves into a haggle mode. The Summoner can lie, can plead, can persuade, can use any social tools at its disposal.
The Summoner talks.
The Summoning listens.
Either the Summoning agrees to do what what Summoner wishes — one week, one day, one hour, one question, one task, whatever the Contract stipulates — or the Summoning ruptures. The bigger the Summoning, the worst the Contract failure, the bigger the Rupture. Ruptures are, as they say, bad. How bad? It depends on how big of a trick the Summoner was trying to pull. Some Summoners quickly disappear, never to be seen again.
Should the Summoning agree to hang around and do something, sometimes for a price, the Summoner gets to walk off with said Summoning hanging around them invisibly and at their command. Should Those who Creep and Nibble, a perfectly useful Assiah-plane, Seals-level, Earth-inclined Animal Summoning show up, and the Summoner cons them into sticking around and listening to him, the Summoner can order them to eat cars, couches, hats, deck chairs, holes in yachts, anything the Summoner wants consumed for a whole week. Yay!
But fail to establish a Contract with the Procurators Whose Eyes are Basilisks or Ruby? They like to force their Summoners to get on their knees and confess all their sins…
Stunt Refresh Cost
Summoning costs Refresh just like Sorcery. Nephilim FATE has three levels of Summoning: Seals, Pentacles and Keys. These Stunts attach to the Lore skill.
Keys, the highest level, is very difficult to purchase in character generation. The rules reserve Master-level Summoning for NPCs, both good and bad. A character may purchase Seals and Pentacles in Character Generation.
How to Summon 101
1. Determine the Complexity of the Summoning. This is the target Summoning’s Conviction. If the Complexity is higher than the Summoner’s Lore, the Summoner must find ways to gain bonus shifts to equal to or overcome the Summoning’s Conviction.
- If the Summoning’s Element is equal to the Summoner’s Element, the Summoner receives +1 shift to overcome Complexity.
- If the Summoner is in a Plexus, the Summoner receives +1 shift to overcome Complexity.
- If the Summoner is in a Nexus, the Summoner receives +2 shifts to overcome Complexity.
- If the Summoner has a Focus, the Summoner may use the Focus to overcome Complexity.
- If the Summoner has applicable Aspects, the Summoner may invoke the Aspects for proper shifts.
2. The Summoning arrives. Social Combat begins. Deceit, Intimidation and Rapport are typically used to attack; Empathy and Rapport to defend. The player can throw other skills in for good measure during combat if they fit — Conviction and Discipline may get involved. Presence modifies the stress track.
3. Rules for combat starts on page 197 of Dresden Files: Your Story. This includes throwing in bribes, using Aspects, and giving gifts. The Summoner will exchange with the Summoned Attacks, Blocks and Maneuvers until one side or the other is Taken Out.
4. If the Summoned Creature is Taken Out, the Summoned Creature agrees to terms with the Summoned. The creature carries out the contract.
5. If the Summoner is Taken Out, the Contract Ruptures.
Should the Summoner fail the social contest with the Summoned, the Contract Ruptures and the Summoned has the upper hand. Depending on the Conviction of the creature, the kind of Summoning, the level of failure against the Summoning, and the GM’s perchance for handing out pain, ruptures are from Gentlest to Harshest:
Disappearing: the creature returns to its plane of origin.
Immobility: the creature just sits there in the Pentacle during the entire duration of its Contract. It cannot be dismissed; it just sits there.
Flight: the creature escapes from the Pentacle and flies loose until its Contract expires. It is fully visible to humans and Nephilim alike.
Befuddlement: the creature executes the Contract in the wrong way.
Attack: the creature turns its powers on the Summoner. This begins Physical Combat between the Nephilim and the Summoned Creature. Once the Nephilim defeats the creature, the Summoned returns to its home plane.
Capture: the creature turns its powers on the Summoner and begins Physical Combat as above. Should the Summoned Creature Take Out the Summoner, the Summoned Creature will attempt to carry the Nephilim off to its home plane.
Possession: the creature turns its powers on the Summoner and begins Physical Combat as above. Should the Summoned Creature Take Out the Summoner, the Summoned Creature will kick the Nephilim out of its Simulacrum and walk off with it. The Nephilim must immediately find a new host body or return to its Stasis. The Summoned Being in the Simulacrum may stay on the physical plane wreaking havoc until defeated.