World of Wu-Yu
In the world of Wu-Yu, magic can be quite common or extremely rare, depending on the level of power. It is common for ordinary people to know Low Magic: low-powered professional spells, like Bless Crops for a farmer or Glue for a carpenter. With a little imagination, these can be turned to adventurous uses. On the other hand, high-powered and potentially destructive High Magic is rare. It is the exclusive province of society’s trusted leaders: priests and shamans. The world would fall to chaos if everyone had access to such spells (or so goes the argument). Therefore, priests and shamans take care to teach lay folk only Low Magic spells related to their professions. This serves the dual purpose of maintaining social order and suppressing competition (the last thing priests and shamans want are magical rivals!).
Note also that some spells are banned by Imperial law. For example, the spell Golden Tongue, which allows the caster to get the better of price negotiations at market, and Read Thoughts, which allows the scanning of surface thoughts, are outlawed under the Freedom of Trade Proclamation. Unscrupulous priests and shamans sometimes teach them, so they are not impossible to learn. Nevertheless, their use may incur the wrath of the law.
Since spell learning is no simple matter but requires interaction with spirits and deities, it can only be done with the aid of priests or shamans, or by studying sorcerous texts. Characters beginning with spells will have learned them through one of these sources. The character’s source of learning will be readily apparent from his or her style of casting, and this source carries social significance. Shamans are revered by hunter-gatherers and nomads, and by the lower classes of agricultural peoples, but shunned by urban folk and the educated elite of agricultural societies. Meanwhile, priests are respected by urban folk and the educated elite of agricultural societies, but despised elsewhere. Sorcerers are universally feared and outlawed everywhere but the Plateau of Trulkor. Choose the character’s magical tradition wisely.
Characters working magic in the shamanic tradition command spirits, binding their energies into foci such as feathers, bones, engraved jewelry, or tattoos. Contact with the focus, whether visual, tactile, or through some other sense, is necessary to release the energies needed to cast the spell. Add one such focus per spell to the character’s equipment list.
Those working in the priestly tradition pray to deities and require no focus. They cast by gesture and chant. Such characters may add a holy symbol to their equipment list as a token of their faith, but this is not necessary to cast spells.
Finally, characters casting by sorcery manipulate the laws of nature through force of will. Gestures, verbalizations, and foci are unnecessary. They need nothing more than thought to cast spells. However, learning and relearning spells requires sorcerous texts. Add one such text per spell to the character’s equipment list. Possession of such texts is illegal outside the Plateau of Trulkor.
To cast a Low Magic spell, roll POW x5. A success means the spell goes off, failure means it fizzles. The character’s method of casting must not be inhibited (i.e. shamans must be able to contact the appropriate focus, priests must be able to chant and gesture, and sorcerers must be able to think clearly). Each casting costs Magic Points equal to the spell’s Magnitude (Low Magic is always Magnitude 1). Failed castings cost one Magic Point. Low Magic is not forgotten once cast, and may be cast as many times as a character’s Magic Points will allow. A character’s Magic Points refresh after eight hours of undisturbed rest.
|To Cast Low Magic|
|Roll POW x5|
|If successful, mark off Magic Points equal to Magnitude (always 1)|
|If unsuccessful, mark off 1 Margic Point|
To learn new Low Magic spells in the shamanic or priestly tradition, a character must approach a priest or shaman, gain his or her approval, offer an appropriate gift or donation, and undergo a ceremony. A shaman will lead the character into the spirit world to battle a spirit and bind it into a focus. A priest will instruct the character to fast and pray at a temple for an appropriate number of days, after which knowledge of the spell will be imprinted on the character’s mind by divine grace. Priests and shamans will also instruct characters new to magic in the use of Ceremony to improve chances of success (see below).
To learn new Low Magic spells in the sorcerous tradition, all a character must do is acquire and study an appropriate sorcerous text. Of course, this will require both literacy and knowledge of the Gnomish language. Initial study of a new text may require weeks. Most texts also contain basic information on how to work sorcerous spells, including how to use Ceremony (see below).
Access to High Magic is available to characters only by advancing on the path of shamanism, priesthood, or sorcery.
See also the Spell List of the most common spells in Wu-Yu.
All who learn magic learn how to use this basic technique. Effectively, the chance of successful casting is increased in exchange for time. By conducting an elaborate Ceremony, the caster builds, attunes, and focuses energies prior to casting. No skill roll is needed to perform a Ceremony.
The table below shows the bonus granted by spending the corresponding amount of time in Ceremony. If used to augment non-ritual spells, the time refers to melee rounds. If augmenting ritual spells, it refers to hours.
Ceremony will not eliminate Divine Magic’s standard 96-00 chance of failure.
|Rounds/Hours||Bonus to Success Chance|