If you ask ten people to define “magic,” you will probably get ten different answers like:

  • Casting a spell like Merlin or Gandalf.
  • Performing illusions and sleight-of-hand tricks.
  • Mesmerizing a crowd with a song or story.
  • A saint performing a miracle of faith.

The funny thing is that they’d all be right. Like art, magic is in the eye of the beholder.

In Tattered Magicks, we’ll use the word “magick” to distinguish between those other descriptions and what we are trying to achieve. At its most basic level, “magick” is the transformation of something into something else. Sometimes that appears to be pulling something out of thin air, but for our purposes we’re always transforming one thing into another.

Here are a few examples:

  • Changing a handful of leaves and berries into a healing poultice.
  • Harnessing the power of wind to blow an opponent off their feet.
  • Lulling an enemy to sleep with a wave of the hand.
  • Launching a ball of fire at a group of enemies from the end of a staff or wand.

We will walk through each of these examples eventually, but let’s start with the system mechanic for magic.

Each discipline or form of magic has:

  • An associated attribute such as Presence, Accuracy, Morale, or Toughness
  • An associated trait indicated specialized training plus secondary traits that may aid in the task
  • And a articular energy source that fuels each magical act

For instance, let’s say you want to cast spells the old school way using Shakespearean rhyme:

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

William Shakespeare, Macbeth

This could be considered a magickal craft of language, using either willpower or memory as fuel. That lends itself to the Craft Language trait, which can be fueled by either Presence (will) or Education (memory and learning). Such a wizard uses the power of reading as fuel, gaining points from reading during downtime and using that energy to power their magick. And when their gathered energy runs out, they fuel their spells by burning their own essence, whether that is Education or Presence.

Or a different wizard, perhaps a martial one, may use Athletics to not only generate energy for magickal effects but build such power into a devastating force blast that knocks an opponent off their feet or forms a force wall to stop a charging enemy.

Maybe even a naturalist, using knowledge (Education) of nature, uses the items found growing in the world to fuel their spells to create potions, poultices, and powders to help and hinder their enemies…

Imagination is the key here and we will offer many different styles of magick to choose from. Like I said in the beginning, magic (and magick) is in the eye of the beholder, but also in the mind of the player and referee. Our goal is to leave it open to interpretation with guidance on various ways to not only gather energy for the casting, but effects for the doing.

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

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