Magick is quite possibly the biggest secret in the world. Sure, people know weres and vamps exist -- or at least, have heard that they do but have no proof themselves. Yes, the aliens are among us and they prove PSI powers exist at least for their species. But magick is something else entirely. magick is, quite simply, the ability to change reality, to be able to NOT conceive of a universe that won’t let your magick work -- as Diane Duane calls it, “the will that was desire, the will so strong it could not be resisted by all the powers of normality.” To put it bluntly, magick is your obsession -- its what drives you to be what you are and might become.
In UA, magick is very fluid but follows 3 basic laws.
Tell the GM what you want to do. Spend the round and cast the spell. Roll your dice. Flip-flop the roll if you wish. If you succeed, the spell happens and you pay the charge. If you fail, nothing happens and you likely keep the charge. Simple, isn’t it? No gestures, words, mumbles incantations ... just pure will.
Spells come in 4 basic types, outlined below: Blast Spells: This is your basic hurt someone spell. Not all magickal schools have it. The minor version (costing minor charges) does the sum of 2 dice while the significant (costing significant charges) does the total of two, dice, so 5 + 4 = 54 damage, not 9 as it would be for a minor spell.
Formula Spells: These are the 5 minor and 5 significant spells you make up for your school of magick. They’re the ones that everyone in that school knows of and can cast.
Random Spells: At its heart, magick is about shaping reality. Using the given paradox and meaning of your school of magick, you can invent spells on the spot. This only works if the GM approves of it and costs whatever the GM says it does.
Rituals: Rituals are not spells so much as the traditional chalk circles, sacrifice animal, numbness words and get magick effect. Anyone can do rituals, but real ones that do what they claim are few and far between. No major rituals are known to exist.
That’s the easy part. Now comes the fun stuff: making the magick. First off, the GM can veto any school or formula spell. Work WITH the GM to make the school and it goes off much easier.
Paradox: Every school of magick is based on a symbolic tension or inherent paradox. For example, a healer can heal others but can never heal themselves with their own magick.
Taboo: Something forbidden to your school of magick. Doing it will cause you to lose some (or possibly all) of your charges. magick isn’t a free ride: if it was easy, anyone would do it.
Charges: Part of the price of magick is the energy to use it. Its easier to spend money than it is to gain it. The same applies to magick. The types of charges are minor, significant and major. Generally speaking, minor charges should be relatively easy to come by and require minor concessions. Significant ones would come by about one a week or once a month. Major ones come by once a lifetime, if you are lucky.
Random magick: What is the basis for your magick? What is the specific thing it effects, the one principle it revolves around? Figure this out and you have an idea of what your random spells can do.
Formula Spells: make up your 5 minor and 5 significant formula spells for your school of magick.
Balance: Balance it out.
Healers are adepts who have the obvious ability to heal the wounds of others (though not their own). Almost all healer abilities affect living beings. A brief summary follows:
Blast: The healers energy blast (often called the “dose of health”) affects one target. The foe is overcome with a wave of blissful healthy energy and is unable to act for a number of rounds equal to the sum of the dice rolled, or until they are harmed, whichever comes first.
Minor effects: To gain minor effects, healers must witness the birth of a child, assist directly in said birth, or heal someone’s wounds in a conventional manner (application of first aid). If using the latter method, the charge should be used to help heal that person first if they require it. Preventing someone from being harmed can also grant a charge.
Significant: Perform CPR successfully, nurse someone back to health from a debilitating injury, perform major life-saving surgery.
Major: Save some one from certain death and restore them back to full health physically, mentally and spiritually. Also can prevent massive amounts of deaths (perhaps even a war).
Taboo: If they harm someone unnecessarily, they lose all charges they have gained (this does not include self-defence against attacks but does include killing someone else. Healers are not necessarily pacifists, they just can not abide killing).
Random: A healers random spells must focus around protecting others. This can prevent a weapon from hurting, take damage into oneself from others and such. Some are listed at the end of this section.
Healing (costs 1 minor)
Heal someone of 2 dice of wound points. Requires the healer to touch them.
Sense Pain (1 minor)
Allows the healer to sense what person within a 40 metre radius is feeling the most pain at that moment. If they heal the person, the healing gains an additional die to use.
Healthy Self (2 minor)
The healers magickal blast. Described above.
Hold Pain (3 minor)
The person affected by this spell feels no pain from any wounds they currently have for 24 hours. It acts as an anaesthetic, prevents external bleeding from those wounds and prevents them from being infected. It is possible to use 1 charge to just prevent the infection.
Lay on hands (4 minor)
This powerful spell affects 1 to 10 people and restores the sum of two wound points to each of them. The healer takes damage equal to the sum of the dice rolled for the laying on hands as a result of the strain.
Deep Heal (Costs 1 significant)
Deep heal can heal 1 person of their last wound. The healer takes half that in damage.
Slow Death (1 significant)
This spell prevents someone from dying a number of hours equal to the sum of the dice rolled to cast the spell. The spelled person exists in a coma-like state, but suffers no ill effects from it and requires no food, water or air. Once the spell wears off, and if they have not received medical attention in the mean time, they begin to die as normal. Only one can be used on someone at a time and multiple ones just increase the amount of time the slow death lasts.
Prevent Harm (2 significant)
This is the only healing effect that works on non-living organisms. It prevents a strike the healer is convinced would harm someone from happening. If uses on, say, a sword, the weapon becomes rubbery and won’t work. It is most effective on guns, causing them to jam so that they are useless until taken apart, cleaned, and put back together.
Stress Relief (3 significant)
Heal someone of mental damage. This effect is unique and requires the healer to be able to see the subject in some way and be touching a part of their body (hair, blood etc.). They heal one failed or hardened notch (failed first) for each additional minor charge they place into this spell. The healer can choose which type of madness is affected.
Regenerate (4 significant)
This spell can restore lost limbs to people, as well as re-connect damaged nerves (the latter possibly curing someone of paralysis).
Major effects with healing magick include curing permanent injuries (mental as well as physical), reversing age, raising the newly dead, and speaking with spirits who have not been gone from their bodies for a long time, which requires being near the body and quite possibly mass healing and miracles.
Healers (if they have 3 minor charges and have not lost their charges during the last week) have a few minor effects they can do as sample random magicks.
It should be noted that the power of healers to affect the emotions of others has never been adequately determined, or explored in a magickal sense, mostly because most healers would find such an invasion grossly unethical. It is possible for a healer to reverse their powers and become a sort of “dark healer” if they achieve a ranking of 3 failed notches in Self.
Being different is part of life. Everyone experiences it, some choose to embrace their differences from others (such as adepts or artists), most don't. Then there are those people who are born different. They can do things others can't, know things no one else does. And they don't know why. You're psychic. That's easy enough to figure out, but no one else in your family is. How'd you get it? How do you get rid of it? What can you do with it?
Well, the first 2 are up to the player and GM respectively, the last is going to be covered here. Psychics powers are innate (super)natural abilities certain people are born with. They don't have to be your obsession skill and you use no charges like adepts do to use magic. Sounds great, right? Wrong. Sometimes dead wrong.
Psychics tend to be very common but few ever use their power, or consciously admit it exists. Others use them as often as possible; some refuse to use them at all and try to be normal. Regardless of your response to your power, it exists. And, like all power. it exists to be used.
Psychics fall into 4 broad groups:
Aliens tend to call Peeps Speakers and Teeks Movers, but the other two remain the same.
Now, the powers work in the same basic sense for everyone, be they human, alien or half-alien. What changes is the degree of the power. For example, a human Teek with a skill of 40 can move 4 pounds with no roll, up to 40 with a roll (matched successes double the roll so a 33 would result in 66 pounds) and 400 with a 01. A half breed could use 8 without effort, 80 with the roll etc. Aliens do the human level multiplied by a multiplier of 5, at least.
Also, Psi powers don't work like magic. There are no charges to pay, just power to use. However, the price of failing in the powers can be high. As most Psi (especially telepathy) is less noticeable than magic, failing it in repeatedly can lead to Self checks as to the reality of one's power. Also, a roll of 00 means the power burns out. You lose it, unless you can find a psychic healer willing to repair you. A double failure gives a really, really nasty headache and using power after getting one means you could burn it out by a normal failure.
Telepathy covers any attempt to read minds, probe basic thoughts, and learn people's secrets as well as communicate mind to mind. Attacking someone's mind can be done, such as shouting at them or sending enough energy into them to burn their minds out.
TK is a very useful power. The basic use is allowing someone to lift things in the air and toss them around. More specific uses are creating electric or gravitational effects can be accomplished and some psychics can manifest their power as elemental effects in general. Using TK for other things, such as opening doors, causing agony in someone's brain or stopping hearts is possible but the latter is very, very unethical.
Shifters are psychics who specialise in affecting their own body. Stat increases, sudden increase in a skill, heal wounds and change ones shape. Most notably, a shifter can also heal others wounds. Unlike the other powers, it does drain you physically to heal and change your body so one can drop unconscious due to exhaustion if they push the power too far.
Masters are the most powerful psi, according to some. Very rare (even among the aliens) their powers work chiefly with controlling others. They can telekinetically take over people's bodies, see through their eyes, override their will and make them commit suicide and other lovely things. Their powers are often seen as a combination of telepathy and telekinesis (and indeed both can accomplish a Masters effects, but not as well.) There true power is simply dominance. Masters, due to this powerful gift, also make very good psychic healers provided you're willing to trust them.
Most psychics have some form of mental shielding and all normal people have innate shields, whereas psychics have to learn theirs. Generally speaking, a normal persons mind imposes a -10 to -30 shift in a Psi's skill because their minds are so cluttered and unordered. (-10 per 20 in mind roughly.) Having been affected by psychic powers can increase or decrease this resistance. A psychic, once they learn now, can shield their minds intuitively.
A psychics shield is equal to their mind score. The 10's column represents the degree to which another psychic's abilities are shifted. So a human psychic with Mind 40 has a shielding of 30 since that is the maximum. However, against half aliens, one receives a -15 to their mind score for purposes of shielding so the humans mind is now 25 = -20 degree shift against the invader. Half aliens get no bonus going against human minds and obviously the -15 modifier doesn't apply to each other. It is against pure aliens that the limits of innate shielding become more apparent. One's mind is considered to be half its normal score for purposes of shielding against such alien thoughts.
In game terms, a mental shield simply throws up diversions and false paths to deter a mental probe for information or turns a Master away from the parts of your mind it wishes to control. Psychics using this defence do have the advantage that their minds are almost as aliens to the aliens are to them. This form of shield is considered passive but can be used by a psychic on themselves to prevent picking up random thoughts and the like.
Getting a skill of Mental Shields is something else entirely. You can wall your mind off from others and impose your skill in mental shields as a direct penalty to the roll. 33% in mental shields = -33 to the foes roll. Very nasty. The disadvantage of such shields is that it closes others minds to your own as well. Physical based effects such as producing fire could still be used but would be less efficient. If someone's mental shields are broken it takes ten hours to rebuild them during which time they can't even use innate shields. naturally, trained shielding can be lowered at will as far as one wishes. For example, you could lower your shield to 15% and accept a -15 to your attempts to probe an area as well. In game terms, using powers through your own shielding is like turning normal cheese into Swiss cheese and makes it that much easier for another psi to get into your head.
By now you may have noticed that there IS no specific power list for psychics. That's because each psi uses their powers in a different manner and to keep options wide open for players using their powers. Specific gifts - such as TK limited to fire (pyrokinisis) exist, as well as the TK's who can just move things through the air (like Hubert so far). This is not to say that all fire generation powers are psychic. (See the Other Powers section below for info. on that.) As well, an astute observer would have noticed that certain powers (like teleportation and remote viewing) are missing. The fact is that they exist, but are the result of combining powers and some of the results of that are only known to (and possible for) the aliens.
Lastly, a psi cannot increase their mental power beyond 70-80% without training from someone whose gift is higher, which often means an alien. As well, without anyone else to bounce ideas off, a psychic is unlikely to discover many of the possible applications of their own powers without seeing other psi's or that outsiders view point. It's a simple fact that people can only go so far alone without the help of others. Magick doesn't suffer this limit because it has rituals and formula spells and each caster knows (in a general sense) what their random magick can do.
For people who think that Psi is too munchy, it does have its own limits as magic does. Psychics may fit into the normal world better than adepts, but their powers are more likely to manifest themselves spontaneously, such as suddenly telling someone "I'm sorry about your wife." when he never said a word to you about her. Psychics also have that deep fear -- courtesy of a generation of sci fi novels -- that the government would like to dissect them. In truth, the government would just force you to work for them. Or else. Finally, in this campaign, anti-psi weapons have been developed to deal with the aliens. Nothing of the sort exists against magic. At least, nothing that the PCs know of.
Sometimes things never go as planned. The universe is a strange place and, on occasion, makes itself stranger for no known reasons. These are other powers, abilities that stride the line between magic and psychic talents, from raising the dead to being able to produce ice at will or fire or any of a number of strange gifts.
In general, these powers act just like their normal equivalents. Animators capable of raising the dead pay in charges for each corpse raised and can only raise them during the night. Ice shapers can call up ice at will as if they were telekinetics. But differences become apparent. Animators seem to be imbued with their charges daily and can only do so much with their power. Ice shapers, unlike psychics, can not burn their power out and only get tired if they use it too long or a minor head ache for failing. Granted, they hate fire and being burned, but many psychics think it would be a small price to pay.
The exact reason these mutations exist isn’t known. They tend to be more stable than psychics or adepts but are also very limited by their power as to what they can do with it. Many adepts tend to examine them and governments would love to be able to examine the genetic structure of one of these people but they are rare and often too good at hiding to be captured.
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