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.
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.
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.
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.
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.