The Neo-Anarchist's Guide to the Awakened is a sourcebook for Shadowrun, Second Edition. It provides material on a variety of different magical manifestations in the Sixth World, as well as expansions and clarification of existing rules material from the Shadowrun Rulebook and The Grimoire, Second Edition.
This book is intended as a resource for both gamemasters and players. It is divided into two main sections. The player's section contains downloads from a variety of electronic sources in the Shadowrun world, all commented upon by a variety of shadow-types. As usual, the gamemaster may decide exactly how accurate any of the rumors and comments posted in shadowtalk are. This section is intended to be read by both players and gamemasters alike and provides a more complete picture of the current state of magic in the Sixth World; how it is viewed, how it is used and what the latest developments are.
The second section of the guide contains Shadowrun rules for the various magical phenomena described in the articles. Gamemasters may choose to limit player access to this information if they wish to spring some of the new twists in the arts arcane on unsuspecting shadowrunners, but there is no "secret" information here that needs to be kept from players. Many of the new rules have warnings for the gamemaster to consider carefully before allowing their use in a Shadowrun campaign and, as always, the gamemaster has final say on which of the new rules and material will be included in the campaign and which are only rumor and speculation.
In addition to the SRII rulebook, access to The Grimoire, Second Edition is important for understanding some of the new material presented in this book and gamemasters will likely want to have a copy. The additional magic rules presented in The Germany Sourcebook and Tir Na nOg are useful, but not vital.
STEP INTO THE CIRCLE
>>>>>[What's this, you ask? Magicians on the Matrix? You'd better believe it, chummer. The world at large has this image that all magic-wielders are technophobes who don't have electric lights and live in gloomy isolated towers filled with leather-bound tomes of arcane lore. Yeah, right.
Truth is, most magicians these days live pretty much like everyone else. I'm a praciticing mage, but I live in an apartment, not a hidden tower and my arcane library is on multimedia optical chips instead of ancient parchment. I drive a car and for the most part look like anyone else you might run into on the street (in some of the meaner areas of the Boston metroplex, anyway).
Sure, you say, mages are like us normal folks, but what about shamans? Okay, there are some back-to-the-land-and-our-tribal-heritage shamans, but most of them still have refrigerators, telecomms, homes with indoor plumbing and yes, even trideo sets. Shamans are connected with the natural world, but don't believe all of the stereotypes you see on the trid. Some shamans, you'll soon discover, are as techno-saavy as they come.
That's why MagickNet is here: first, it's a place for the magically active to share our ideas and insights. We live in a world that others can only begin to understand and that isolates us. Second, this node gives you mundanes out there a chance to learn a thing or two about how magic really works. As any magician will tell you, knowledge is power, and in the shadows it may be the only thing keeping you alive.
In the old days, a group of magicians would sometimes create a collection of their personal magical spells, formulae and insights known as a "Book of Shadows" to share among their community. Here on the Matrix we've revived that tradition. Take the knowledge posted here and do what thou wilt, chummers, but remember, take everything you read with a grain of salt, especially when it's about magic.]<<<<<
- Talon (22:05:46/02-25-55)
>>>>>[Like the man said, this collection of files is about magic. Since no shadowrunner in his right mind would dispute that magic is one of the most dangerous forces you can face on a run, the administration here at Shadowrun decided to actually let those neo-Anarchist feebs upload this collection from MagickNet to our database (after a through screening, of course). It's been annotated and commented upon by all sorts of folks, both magical and mundane. Read carefully and you might just learn something about the Art that could save your ass some day.]<<<<<
- Quirk (16:20:18/05-29-55)
>>>>>[This info-pak was put out a few years ago by the AAAT as a kind of "everyman's guide to magic;" mostly a public-relations thing (also known as their "no bad magic" campaign). It's being posted here because one; it's still a pretty decent guide to magic for us mundanes who don't have a clue what it's all about and second, it provides a look at how the general public out there views magic and what questions groups like the AAAT think need to be answered.]<<<<<
- Quirk (21:34:55/06-18-55)
What You Need to Know About Magic
Published by the American Association for the Advancement of Thaumaturgy
Do you believe in magic? It's hard to imagine that only a few short decades ago the average "man on the street" would have answered "no" to that question. Since 2011, magic has become as much a reality of our everyday lives as the weather and trideo, but even today magic remains a somewhat mysterious force; shrouded in centuries of folklore and misconception. If you've downloaded this public access file; then magic is something of interest to you.
>>>>>[And your name and LTG# have been noted in our database for future exploitation. Thank you very much...]<<<<<
- Control-C (13:22:04/06-20-55)
What is this file for?
This publication is intended to help clear away some of the confusion about the magical arts and their practioners in clear, simple language. The Awakening has changed the world in numerous ways and we must all learn the we now live in an Age of Magic. It is made up of a list of the most commonly asked questions and myths about magic in the modern age, along with some answers. As any magician knows, "knowledge is power," so read on.
>>>>>[Knowledge may be Power, but no mundane reading this drek is going to feel very empowered. Like the Association is going to reveal any trade secrets in this little public download.]<<<<<
- Whisper (23:14:24/06-20-55)
>>>>>[Well that's the tone of this whole thing: "we live in an Age of Magic," etc. In other words, "we're the future and the rest of you mundanes are dinosaurs."]<<<<<
- Crash (20:17:03/06-21-55)
>>>>>[Do I sense a touch of magophobic hostility here?]<<<<<
- Archangel (17:24:10/06-23-55)
>>>>>[Maybe so, but has anyone seen some of the graffiti that some punk wizzer gang has been spreading in Redmond? The implications of ³Awaken or Die² to us mundanes in this day and age is pretty serious.]<<<<<
- Murphy (13:45:23/07-02-55)
What is magic?
The most basic, and the most difficult, question. Many modern magical theorists define magic as "the art and science of causing change in conformity with the will." That is to say that a magician can use his willpower and imagination to affect change in the physical world. This is accomplished through a connection with a parallel universe known as the astral plane. The magician draws energy from the astral plane and shapes it with willpower so that it creates a real effect. The use of magic is limited by the magician's ability to draw on the energies of astral space and the strength of will. Excessive use of magic is exhausting and can even endanger the magician's health.
>>>>>[Yeah, I'd call a cerebral hemorage from astral overload "dangerous to one's health."]<<<<<
- Gabriel (20:18:31/06-21-55)
>>>>>[That explanation leaves out the book-length thesis of Drs. Kano and White-Eagle, filled with ndimensional Chaos maths and talk of "astral symmetry," but it pretty much sums it up: a magician taps into astral space, draws energy into manifestation and imposes a pattern on it through the power of the mind and poof, magic happens.]<<<<<
- Talon (22:41:13/06-21-55)
>>>>>[These bozos sidestep the issue but; what are the limits of magic?]<<<<<
- Blade (19:03:45/06-22-55)
>>>>>[Theoretically, magic can do anything. It's magic, after all. In practice, it's limited by the conditions of the work, the training of the individual magician(s) and the amount of power that can be tapped. For example, it's theoretically possible to cast a spell to turn the Moon into cheese, if you could form an effective magical link; and if you could channel enough energy to affect such a massive object; and if you could focus your mind to entirely encompass such a large and complex target; and if you could channel that much power without being instantly reduced to ash. Possible, but infinitely improbable.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (17:56:09/06-23-55)
>>>>>[Great trick if you're a rat shaman, tho. Heh-heh]<<<<<
- Crash (21:23:32/06-23-55)
>>>>>[You're cruisin' for a manabolt, chummer.]<<<<<
- Rikki (01:19:50/06-24-55)
What is the astral plane?
The astral plane is best described as another dimension, separate but existing in the same space as the physical world. A magician has the ability to tap into astral space, forming a "bridge" between the two dimensions and allowing energy from the astral to cross over into the physical world.
The astral plane is a place of energy and emotion. The Kano-White Eagle theory suggests that entropy is reversed in astral space, so a tiny amount of energy in astral space can generate a tremendous amount of force. The small amount of neural energy used by a magician in casting a spell release a huge blast of astral energy into our universe.
Astral space shares most of the same geographic qualities as the real world, but objects in astral space appear as reflections of their life-force and emotional content. Although similar to the real world in many ways, the experience of astral space is quite different. Many things in the physical world, such as written language, cannot be seen or heard in astral space.
>>>>>[Cute. Notice how they play down the fact that magicians can use astral projection to spy on pretty much anybody they want at will? Sure, you can't read written language in astral space, but you can make out the emotional intent of the words (if any). You can also overhear normal conversation perfectly well (living speech carries over into the astral, it's things like recorded music that are difficult to hear). Those with the means may be able to get wards and other astral protections, but the other 99% of the population is out of luck.]<<<<<
- Kelso (15:16:30/06-19-55)
>>>>>[Feeling a tad paranoid, chummer? I think that most magicians have better things to do with their abilities than play peeping tom.]<<<<<
- Agassi Blue (20:13:25/06-20-55)
>>>>>[I'll admit that it gives me the creeps, though; the idea that there could be someone or something in astral space just watching me and I would never know. Brrrr.]<<<<<
- Ms. DOS (16:25:46/06-24-55)
>>>>>[Who know's? Maybe someone's watching you right now... bwhahahahahah.]<<<<<
- Killroy (was/here)
- Ms. DOS (17:05:20/06-26-55)
>>>>>[I knew a guy that crossed a street shaman once. We expected a payback, some kind of nasty ritual or big ol' spirit, but instead all this guy got was watchers, tiny spirits that followed him around... everywhere. Every once in a while one would allow itself to be seen, just to let him know that they were always there, watching everything he did. The poor fragger was a paranoid, nervous wreck inside of a week.]<<<<<
- Patriot (09:14:22/06-28-55)
What makes you a magician?
The truth is no one is entirely sure. There are numerous theories, and each magical tradition has its own methods for selecting new students. We do know that the ability to use magic is a kind of talent some people are born with, just like the ability to draw, sing or excell as sports. A series of simple tests developed in 2027 allow for the testing of magical ability.
Dr. Etienne Dumas of the Sorbonne is well known for the quote that "magicians are born and not made." Dr. Dumas was the head of the Sorbonne study of 2027 that determined that lass than 1% of the world population was able to use magical energy and developed the techniques for testing magical aptitude.
>>>>>[People are pretty sure that the ability to use magic is genetically determined. Why don't they just say so?]<<<<<
- DRAM (20:13:41/06-23-55)
>>>>>[For one thing, no one has come even close to isolating what genetic factors grant magical ability. At this point it's just a very plausible theory until someone isolates the "Magus Gene" (or gene-complex). I'd tend to guess that the other reason is to downplay the genetic angle; it makes magician's seem too much like something "other than human" when you say that they're genetically different from everyone else and look where that's gotten metahumans. Better to call it a "talent" or "gift" and leave the source mysterious.]<<<<<
- Wolfman (22:36:18/06-25-55)
>>>>>[Neuroscans of magicians doing magic do show tiny changes in brain chemistry and the electrical charges of the neurons in certain portions of the brain. Most of the areas displaying these changes are portions of the brain whose purpose was unknown before the Awakening. Mundanes apparently display no organized brain activity in these areas.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (18:15:22/06-27-55)
>>>>>[I've even heard that there is a fringe movement for magicians to be considered another race, homo magus or something like that. Most magicians are aghast at the idea (especially seeing how metahumans are treated), but there's apparently some support for it among the young hip radicals. I don't know how they plan to classify metahuman magicians, though. A sub-class of a sub-class?)]<<<<<
- Wildfire (19:59:24/06-27-55)
>>>>>[I've read stuff that suggests that everyone is at least a potential magician. Is that true?]<<<<<
- Blade (01:42:16/06-30-55)
>>>>>[In the way that everyone is a potential fine artist or Olympic athelete, I suppose. It's a matter of talent. Some people are naturally good painters, others have a gift for mathematics, still other people have a gift for magic. I wouldn't expect a color blind person to be a great painter, nor would I expect a completely astrally blind person to be a magician.]<<<<<
- Sereena (13:22:19/07-01-55)
>>>>>[But what about adepts? Aren't some of them astrally blind?]<<<<<
- Silk (21:30:43/07-01-55)
>>>>>[Yes and no. Sereena misspoke a bit. All magically active individuals have a connection to the astral plane (indeed, all living things are connected to the astral to some degree). It's that link that allows a magician to do magic, whether they can perceive the astral or not.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (15:13:20/07-03-55)
Can I become a magician?
That depends. The first thing is to take a test to determine your level of magical talent. If you have already taken a magicial activity test and it has been negative, you should probably consider another field to go into, just the same way a tone-deaf person wouldn't have much success at becoming a musician.
>>>>>[I like how they hold out a little hope for all of the mundanes out there, too. In my experience, its pretty much all or nothing. You're either Talented or not, and if you haven't got the gift there isn't much you can do about it.]<<<<<
- Kelso (20:10:54/06-24-55)
>>>>>[That doesn't stop people from trying. For every mundane with a wish and no talent there's a con man who's willing to exploit them for every last nuyen. An evening of watching late-night infomercials where they offer you every kind of magical scam that ever was in the space of a couple of hours demonstrates it pretty clearly.]<<<<<
- Walker (21:04:43/06-29-55)
>>>>>[I would also imagine that it's also gotta be tough for kids. There's a steady stream of kid-trid where all of the heroes and villains are magical powerhouses: from the noble young shaman in training to the fantastical golem biocomputer with magical powers. Just imagine some of these kids growing up believing in magic only for 99% of them to discover that they just don't have the Talent? No wonder teen suicide rates are up.]<<<<<
- StatsMan (16:39:02/06-30-55)
How many magicians are there?
Magicians are fairly rare. Statistics show that about one person in a hundred has enough talent to make active use of magic. Of these only about one-tenth are fully capable magicians, while the others are adepts or untrained individuals. There are approximately three to four million fully capable magicians in the world and studies show the number to be rising each year.
>>>>>[Those stats are pretty hard to believe; seems to me like you can't throw a brick without hitting a magician these days.]<<<<<
- Razorback (13:20:55/06-20-55)
>>>>>[That's because magicians are heavily concentrated in two areas: the corps and the shadows, both of which we interact with a lot, so it just seems to be a lot more than average. Plenty of good U2Cs go their whole life without ever seeing a magician (or at least someone they know is a magician)]<<<<<
- Tesseract (03:45:00/06-22-55)
>>>>>[In the corps, magicians are primarily concentrated in R&D and Security. Then Technical Services, Entertainment and General Management, in order of frequency. After corporate service, magicians are found in (in order of frequency): the government, the military, schools and universities, and private contractors or independant consultants. Tough to say how many magicians there are in the shadows, but I'd say that it's a pretty fair number; probably including some of those "independant consultants."]<<<<<
>>>>>[The kid's figures also don't include the SINless; just some ballpark estimates from the gov't that are almost always too low by a factor of ten.]<<<<<
- Pops (17:18:32/06-24-55)
>>>>>[Yeah, but SINless magicians are almost always so by choice. If you're a SINless kid in the Barren and you have the Talent, there'll be half a dozen corps willing to get you a SIN and put you through school if you'll sign a contract to be a good little wagemage for them forever when it's all said and done.]<<<<<
- StatsMan (13:45:27/06-25-55)
What about the Ghost Dance?
The Ghost Dance was a powerful magical ritual performed by shamans of the Native American Nations. The ritual is very complex and requires a great deal of preparation and effort. The Ghost Dance has not been performed since the formation of the NAN. It is a ritual to be used very sparingly because it is so difficult and costly. Other nations have magical capabilities similar to the Ghost Dance, which are used only in times of serious need.
>>>>>[???? What nations have capabilities like the Ghost Dance??????]<<<<<
- Kelso (19:01:08/06-20-55)
>>>>>[Amazonia, for one. The rapid regrowth of the rainforest there has got to be Ghost Dance-level magic. Tir Tairngire and Tir Na nOg have access to some big deal magic like the Wild Hunt. Tibet has magic powerful enough to seal off the entire country behind a magical shield that has never been penetrated (not that anyone has been trying too hard since the collapse of the Chinese government). UCAS realpolitik says that they have enough magicial capability to offset the effects of another Ghost Dance, but the only way we'll find out if they're right will be the same way would could have found out if the Old US of A and Soviet Union had Mutually Assured Destruction with their nukes. I, for one, would rather not know.]<<<<<
- Fortune (22:18:40/06-22-55)
>>>>>[Interesting to note the very conciliatory attitude about the Ghost Dance these days. The AAAT is likely more sympathetic than the general population of say, the UCAS, but even still there's a certain amount of respect and even fear of what the NAN has got up their collective sleeves.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (16:55:30/06-23-55)
>>>>>[One thing they're wrong about: the Ghost Dance has been performed since the 20-teens. Just a couple of years ago, in fact, according to a friend of mine in Renraku. I don't know the details, but it sounds like something big-time went down in NAN territory that had "Ghost Dance" written all over it.]<<<<<
- Daikoku (20:13:45/06-28-55)
Are there magical cults?
Not as such. There are magical groups that magicians belong to for purposes of study, education and professional advancement, but magicians in religious cults are a rare exception to the norm. Most cults follow dogma that prohibits magicians and makes it unlikely for them to be found among them.
>>>>>[You can tell that this info-file was written before Chicago...]<<<<<
- Farley (12:11:03/06-23-55)
>>>>>[Yeah, I've heard that the AAAT is hard at work on a new and updated version for general release in anticipation of the public backlash against magicians because of bug city. Everyone is worried about a magical conspiricy springing up in their backyard now.]<<<<<
- Magnus (19:27:34/06-26-55)
>>>>>[Lots of magical groups are running afoul of this issue. People naturally wonder exactly what it is that they do in those regular meetings and all sorts of visions of B-movie cults get conjured up for them.]<<<<<
- Mist (14:55:49/06-27-55)
>>>>>[A cult involving real magic usually revolves around some charismatic and unhinged magician as a leader with a group of devoted followers who are all awed by their boss' power. Most set-ups like that tend to self-destruct eventually and are usually just ego-boo for the leader.]<<<<<
- X-Star (16:41:30/06-30-55)
>>>>>[One or two anti-magic "cults" might even have magician members. For example, I suspect that the leader of the Shiite "Crescent Blade" cult is some kind of magician or adept who uses his abilities (consciously or otherwise) to provide the "immunity to devil-spawned sorcery" that his followers enjoy.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (18:04:22/07-02-55)
What's the difference between shamans and mages?
Shamans and mages are two different types of magicians, each following a magical tradition. A tradition could be considered to be a particular ³style² of magic, a way of thinking about and doing magic. There are many magical traditions, but ultimately the abilities of all magicians are basically the same, much like there are many artistic or musical styles that all use the same instruments. For the most part the differences are a matter of style.
>>>>>[I wouldn't tell most magicians that. Sounds like a "talk simple for the mundanes" explanation.]<<<<<
- Damon (20:21:34/06-22-55)
>>>>>[So's this whole file, but it is pretty much true. The differences between mages and shamans (and druids, and nature magicians, and et fraggin cetera) is mostly a matter of style. A spell is the same no matter what kind of magician casts it.]<<<<<
- Daikoku (19:23:54/06-25-55)
>>>>>[Although the sterotypes in such popular culture as "The Odd Coven" (e.g., mages are all neat, logical, obsessive/compulsives and shamans are all slobs and party animals) are exagerated, there is some truth to them in that what kind of magician you are is largely dictated by what kind of magician you believe yourself to be.]<<<<<
- Magnus (18:45:00/06-30-55)
What are spirits?
More complex than spells, spirits are patterns of astral energy capable of independent action directed by their summoner, not unlike an expert system program that can perform complex tasks under human direction. A magician summons a spirit out of the energies of astral space and "programs" it to perform a certain task or tasks, after which it dissolves back into formless energy.
>>>>>[BZZZZT! I'm sorry, our judges cannot accept your answer, but we have some lovely parting gifts for you. Thank you for playing. Spirits are not just bundles of energy - any more than we are, anyway. I've talked to spirits and interacted with them enough to know that they're living things, not magical computer programs, and I'm a mundane!]<<<<<
- Ares (21:03:43/06-23-55)
>>>>>[Spirits as living, intelligent beings poses all sorts of problems. Putting aside the fact that it's difficult to prove that a spirit is a sentient being, if everyone treats spirits like individuals it becomes questionable for magicians to magicially command them. I'm personally waiting for a free spirit to take a summoner to court and charge them with slavery. I suspect that it's only the fact that spirits don't have SINs that has prevented it from happening so far.]<<<<<
- Connor (20:23;45/06-26-55)
>>>>>[There's actually another interesting "worldview" tidbit here: shamans tend to treat the spirits they summon as allies and individual, thinking creatures; and that's how nature spirit behave, with their own personalities and wills. Mages, on the other hand, tend to treat elementals as constructs or lesser beings to be commanded, and elementals tend to be more like magical automatons with less individuality and free will. The question is, which came first, the attitude or the reality?]<<<<<
- Talon (00:13:50/06-29-55)
How do I know if someone has put a spell on me?
Generally, the chances of being the target of hostile sorcery is many times smaller than the probability of being hit by lightning. If you have strong reasons to believe that you are the target of hostile magic, you should seek out the advice of a properly accredited specialist >>>>>[read: accredited by us...]<<<<< - Control-C (21:53:10/06-20-55) and you should report the incident to the local authorities.
>>>>>[If Lone Star got a tenth-yen for every call they got from someone who thought they were being attacked with ritual sorcery, they'd double their annual profits.]<<<<<
- Silk (15:32:12/06-21-55)
>>>>>[They sidestep the issue again, but the truth is if a magician has it in for you and you don't have any magical help on your side, you're hosed. Totally fraggin' hosed. The Lone Star dips aren't going to get involved in the case until the post mortem investigation, which will bring the victim a lot of comfort, I'm sure.]<<<<<
- Scorpius (01:12:55/06-25-55)
>>>>>[Fortunately such incidents are very rare; at least on a personal scale. Ritual sorcery tends to be used for bigger things than a simple vendetta.]<<<<<
- Sereena (13:25:19/06-29-55)
What about magical items and talismans?
This is an area for people to be cautious in. True magical items are really only useful for magicians, despite popular opinion. There are a great many fakes and con-men who attempt to pass off their junk trinkets as "magical amulets." Be a careful buyer and make sure that anyone who you seek to buy magical goods from is properly accredited and licensed.
>>>>>[Again, that is to say, licensed by the AAAT or some similar group.]<<<<<
- Control-C (22:36:17/06-20-55)
>>>>>[They do have a point, though. There are plenty of talismongers who make a living selling phony magic items to unsuspecting mundanes.]<<<<<
- Skiff (23:45:19/06-20-55)
>>>>>[Of course. Selling only to real magicians is too specialized a market for any but the best talismongers to make a living at. Selling junk fetishes and charms to the mundos and wannabes is the only way some can make ends meet.]<<<<<
- Talon (21:58:26/06-24-55)
>>>>>[I remember running into a newbie razorboy who actually believed in this drek and wore a whole truckload of amulets and fetishes that he was convinced would protect him from magic. I felt almost guilty about fireballing him. What a loser.]<<<<<
- Blazer (10:33:28/06-28-55)
>>>>>[Evolution in action, chummer.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (18:29:01/07-01-55)
MAGIC IN THE SHADOWS
"Geek the mage first!"
common street saying
>>>>>[This file is the work of street-mage Tommy Talon. He's been a street magician for several years now and before that he was a student at MIT&M's thaumaturgy program, which makes him as qualified as anyone to comment on how magic and magicians fit into the shadows. Despite his relative youth, Talon knows a lot about the Art. There's some interesting stuff here, so read carefully.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (15:55:09/06-24-55)
>>>>>[Thanks, chummer, your nuyen's been transfered.]<<<<<
- Talon (20:34:26/06-24-55)
I am a Magician. Wielder of Power, Walker Between the Worlds, Wise One, Magus, et fragging cetera. I am also a shadowrunner, which makes me a rare breed even in dimly lit twenty-first century. We magicians are (as much as some try to deny it) a breed apart from most people. We live in a world that mundanes cannot see and do not fully understand and we have power, which makes us dangerous. While some might think that I'm giving away all of the club's secrets here, the purpose of this file is to let the rest of you out there in the shadows in on how being a magician works, what you need to know about it and how you can use that information to keep yourselves alive for one more day in the shadows. Magic is Power, chummers. If you don't fear it, learn to.
>>>>>[Geez, Talon, you don't sound nearly this lofty after a couple of Grim Reapers at the '93...]<<<<<
Josie Cruise (18:40:21/06-28-55)
>>>>>[Yeah, and you're usually a lot cuter after I've had a couple. So what's your point?]<<<<<
What is magic?
Good question. The real answer is: nobody really knows. Plenty of experts have theories and some of the theories are more sound than others, but nobody can definatively claim to know what exactly magic is. Suffice to say for most people that magic simply is, beyond that, who cares?
The most widely accepted theory of magic is stated in the report of the CalTech research team headed by Drs. Akiko Kano and Arthur White-Eagle. Known as the Astral Space Theory, this paper (which won its authors the first Nobel Prize in Metaphysics in 2036) fills over 200 pages with complex chaos mathematics and equally obscure philosophy.
Basically, the theory says that there is a parallel universe called astral space which is similar and tangential to our own universe. However, the laws governing astral space are radically different. The theory suggests, for example, that entropy is reversed in astral space. A tiny amount of energy in astral space can generate a tremendous amount of force. The small amount of neural energy used by a magician in casting a spell releases a huge blast of astral energy into our universe.
>>>>>[Somebody wake me when he's done.]<<<<<
- Crash (20:13:45/06-20-55)
>>>>>[Try reading the whole thing before commenting, chummer.]<<<<<
- Wiley (19:10:17/06-22-55)
What's the point of all of this? Simply this: we may not know exactly what magic is, but we do know two important things. First, magic is real and second, magic has laws and rules and we can learn about how it works. Magic has been called the defining force of our era and that sounds to me like something important enough for any shadowrunner to devote a little thought to. Everyone who runs the shadows is going to come up against magic sometime and you can't always count on having a magician around to take care of things. Knowledge is Power and knowing a little about how all this works might just save your life sometime.
One of the demands of doing magic is having a fairly "fluid" consciousness. A magician needs to be able to attain altered states of consciousness on demand, often under stressful conditions. This means that magicians develop the ability to think creatively and holistically on their feet and to improvise quickly. You need to be an artist as well as a scientist to be a magician of any skill.
That's not to say that there aren't unimaginative or slow-witted magicians (there are), but most of them don't go too far.
>>>>>[Evolution in action...]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (15:36:18/06-24-55)
Whether it is altered brain chemistry or the psychological acrobatics required for thaumaturgy, magicians are different from mundanes. A friend of mine observed that we (magicians, that is) all seem to "think sideways." Magicians are intensely individualistic people, even the most rigid corporate wagemage. This means that magicians don't often fit smoothly into mundane plans and arrangements, something that the smart shadowrunner can take advantage of.
>>>>>[Talon has a point. I've never seen a corporate magical department that didn't cause all kinds of friction. Magicians drive the corporate bean-counters absoutely to distraction with their disregard for many of the "mundane" concerns that they find so important. Disattisfaction and defection among magical talent is high and corps have to balance the need to keep their magicians happy with keeping their business running efficiently. That's why corp magicians can usually get away with murder; the company doesn't want to lose them.]<<<<<
- Silk (20:15:56/06-22-55)
>>>>>[It works the other way, too. There are a lot of magical prima donnas in the shadow business who can be a real pain in the hoop to work with, but most of the time you don't have much choice. If you find a capable magician that you can work with well, keep a good relationship with them, they're worth their weight in gold.]<<<<<
- Argent (22:17:50/06-22-55)
No, I'm not talking about that grokking new age stuff from the last century. What I mean by holistic thinking is that most people have a tendency to ignore things that they don't see as directly relevant to them. Lots of shadowrunners I know concentrate on one thing that they do and that's it. Now, there's nothing wrong with knowing what you're good at and sticking to it, but it's also important to at least be aware that there are other things out there. Specialization is for bugs, good shadowrunners need to be generalists.
Take astral space for example; most shadowrunners are aware that astral space exists and not much else. They don't need to know about it, they figure, let the magician handle that. Most of the time they're right, but it's that one in a hundred time that you're wrong than can frag you up.
This is where we get into some of the things that you might want to think about on your next run. These are the things that the magically active have to keep in mind all the time. They're just possibilities to consider, because you never know.
One of the things that astral space is very good for is information gathering. An astral magician can observe a subject with basically no chance of detection if the subject does not have any kind of astral awareness. Also, watcher spirits can be used to perform extended astral surveillance for multiple or scattered targets.
If you don't have astral capabilities to detect this kind of evesdropping you still have options. The most basic is to meet somewhere that provides astral security. A good ward will keep out trouble and alert you if anyone does try listening in. Warded meet sites can be expensive, but then the question is what is the success of a run worth?
>>>>>[Don't rely to someone else's astral security totally. Even places like Dante's Inferno don't have 100% clean records when it comes to that sort of thing and even the most powerful ward can be broken if you try hard enough.]<<<<<
- Tellin (02:34:12/6-23-55)
If acquiring astral security is too expensive or problematic, make use of electronics to secure your communications against magical intrusion. Iconferencing in the Matrix can't be evesdropped upon magically and you shift your concern to Matrix security, which is often easier for shadow-teams to secure than the astral side.
Aura-reading is the other main means of gathering information on the astral. The aura reveals a great deal to someone who knows what to look for. The best aura readers seem to read minds because they've mastered the art of watching people and can learn a lot from how someone's aura reacts. Basically, the aura reveals the general health or life force of the subject: healthy or ill. This includes cyberware, which causes a change in the aura that has been described as a "blurring," "warping," or even "darkening" where the implants are. It's almost impossible to tell what the cyber is, but if someone is loaded with it, their aura will show it.
The aura also reveals the basic emotional state. Most people radiate a variety of emotions depending on the situation. A skilled empath (emotion reader) can do a lot with that information. For example, you can sometimes tell when someone is lying or faking an emotion, or sense a hostile feeling behind a pleasant facade. Lying to someone (or something) with astral awareness can be a tricky proposition.
>>>>>[Try and learn how to tell when a magician is using astral perception. Most tend to get a slightly ³zoned out² look when they're seeing into the astral. They also tend to react to things that you can't see. A magician who's assensing may also have difficulty with simple tasks in the physical world because they're splitting their attention.]<<<<<
- Killian (20:33:54/06-25-55)
>>>>>[It is possible to fool an empathic reading, but it's diffiult. A really good method actor might be able to "get into" a role enough to fake the aura that goes with it. Of course, there comes a point where you're faking it so well that you really do feel the emotion and it's not faked anymore.]<<<<<
- Capt. Gray (13:22:09/06-26-55)
Always be aware of the possibility of attack from the astral. It is a common myth on the streets that astral space is only of concern to magicians and only the magical need worry about astral attack. I'm telling you that's not so. There are plenty of threats that could come from the astral.
The most obvious one is if an astral magician has a spirit with him, he can have the spirit manifest and direct it from astral space to frag you over and you still can't touch the mage by mundane means.
The other trick is called "grounding." Magical things are active in astral space and that means that an astral mage can affect them, so the mage could cast a spell at the spell lock you're wearing and BOOM! a fireball manifests around the lock in realspace and you're toast. Luckily the only way grounding works is if you're wearing an active magic item, which is pretty stupid. If you're a mundane, carrying an active spell lock is just asking for it.
Now put together the two threats above: an astral mage is attended by a weak elemental. He commands the spirit to manifest in realspace right next to you. The critter's too puny to do much harm, but the mage hits it with a killer Hellblast spell from astral space. Remember that the elemental is active on both the physical and astral planes, so the spell overwhelms the poor thing and grounds out right in the middle of your team... and you still can't touch the mage.
That one's for free. Enjoy, chummers.
>>>>>[Oh, frag me.]<<<<<
- Impact (23:14:17/06-24-55)
>>>>>[I think that's the idea.]<<<<<
- Silk (00:05:31/06-25-55)
>>>>>[Geez. So some mage could go astral, call up some matchstick elemental and blow me and my chummers to hell (literally)?]<<<<<
- Rakker (19:07:14/06-26-55)
>>>>>[Not exactly in that order. The magician has to call the spirit first, since you can't call up spirits in astral form.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (19:15:03/06-26-55)
- Rakker (19:15:54/06-26-55)
>>>>>[You would have to give him an excuse to lecture...]<<<<<
- Agassi Blue (19:16:23/06-26-55)
>>>>>[You jokers want answers or not? Basically speaking (for the more basic among you, Blue) astral symmetry is required: the magician's physical and astral forms create a balance that allows the barrier to the metaplanes to be bridged so a spirit can cross over. You can command a spirit in astral form, but summoning one takes the "grounding" that a physical body provides.
In a like vein, if you are sustaining a spell and astral project, you break the "circuit" between your astral and physical bodies that is feeding energy into the spell and *poof* it's gone (likewise if you're astral projecting and return to your physical body). Just becoming astrally active won't break the circuit, so astral perception is perfectly possible while calling a spirit or casting a spell.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (19:18:03/06-26-55)
>>>>>[I notice that Talon's example used a "weak elemental," a very careful choice of words. Does this mean that you can't use other types of spirits for that grounding trick?]<<<<<
- Argent (20:45:33/06-29-55)
>>>>>[Glad you noticed. Yeah, that trick pretty much works only with elementals. Watchers can't manifest, so they have no physical component to ground through. You could use an ally spirit, theoretically, but with all of the effort that goes into creating one a mage would have to be crazy to even think about it. Besides, the effect works best if the spirit is weak enough to be quickly overcome by the spell and most allies are too tough for that.
Nature spirits could be used for the trick, again theoretically, but I don't know any shaman in the world who would abuse a nature spirit in that way. Shamans consider nature spirits to be more like allies rather than expendable servants.]<<<<<
- Talon (22:12:45/06-29-55)
>>>>>[Some mages are also wise enough to regard elementals as the manifestations of the basic forces of nature that they are and not magical puppets for us to dispose of at our whim. Play around with Talon's "trick" at your own peril, for the elemental forces have long memories indeed...]<<<<<
- O'Connell (23:04:06/07-02-55)
The other major concern of astral security is attacks via ritual sorcery. Almost every shadowrunner shudders a bit at the thought of being the target of ritual magic and it is wise to take precautions The simplest one is pure common sense: don't leave things behind that can be used as ritual links to you. That means anything with your DNA pattern like blood, hair and assorted other bits and pieces.
If you are the target of a ritual, magical protection is your best bet. If that's not an option for whatever reason, your next best option is to go on the offense, believe it or not. If it is possible to track down where the ritual is being performed, you can hit the place hard. Unless the ritual magicians have a lot of mundane defenses, they will be forced to turn their attention away from the ritual. Of course, all that might gain you is a chance to get geeked in person. You pays your nuyen and takes your chances.
>>>>>[Don't forget that a saavy enough magician can also use things that have strong personal connections to you. More reason than ever not to lose your favorite, customized Predator II while on a run, even if the serial numbers have been burned off.]<<<<<
- Walker (14:55:20/06-23-55)
>>>>>[Worse, if a magician just gets a good look at your aura, I hear they can send spirits to find you. And if the spirit is acting as an advance scout for a ritual...]<<<<<
- Ares (20:30:02/06-24-55)
>>>>>[Not too likely. Possible, but a magician needs more than a glance at your aura to send a watcher after you. Also, watchers aren't too bright, so if you go into a warded area it could easily lose track of you and wander off confused.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (16:17:24/06-27-55)
>>>>>[Astral static and areas with a high natural background count also confuse the bloody heck out of watchers.]<<<<<
- Runt (22:34:55/06-28-55)
Magic makes noise. Sometimes a lot of noise. In the physical world it might not be any sound at all, but on the astral plane magic can light you up like a flare for anyone who might be watching. Magicians need to take precautions when they go into a secure area, because excessive use of magic can attract some very unwanted attention. Stick to mundane solutions where possible and don't use magic just for the sake of using it or you could find yourself up to your neck in guard spirits and paranormals.
>>>>>[I'm always rakked off at the mundanes who think that magic is the answer to everything. "Can't you just, well, you know?" they say and wave their hands like I'm going to snap my fingers and make their nuyen for them. Sheesh.]<<<<<
- Gabriel (21:43:35/06-23-55)
>>>>>[What's even worse is the magicians who go into a stealth mission like an astral brass band, carrying every manner of active focus and locked or quickened spell with a swarm of spirits hovering around them on the astral. They might as well send out engraved invitations for magical security to come and frag them over.]<<<<<
- Whisper (03:54:15/06-27-55)
>>>>>[Using magic also leaves short-term traces in the astral plane where the magic was used, traces that another magician might be able to learn something from, maybe even who did it if they're really good aura readers and have a strong enough impression to work from. There are techniques that can eliminate or reduce these traces that are well worth a little extra time.]<<<<<
- Royale (19:18:22/06-29-55)
Astral overwatch or "riding shotgun in a-space" as a chummer of mine puts it, is a common and useful task for a magician on a shadow-team. A magician in astral space can perform many tasks to aid the team during an operation, including spotting and dealing with magical threats and security, blocking hostile incoming spells and performing reconaissance work.
There are two major drawbacks to astral overwatch. The first is the need to guard the magician's helpless body. If possible, there should be a safe and secure place that the magician can project from. The second is that an astrally active magician may actually trigger more magical security than a physical intrusion. Most magical security is designed to deal with an astral intrusion and only secondarily with a physical one, so a magician who is careful might be able to physically enter a place that he could never even get close to in astral form.
>>>>>[In order to get past astral security, it's usually wise to shut down all active foci since they have an active astral presence, that may mean not being able to call up all of the big guns in a moments notice, but if you're doing it right, you shouldn't need to.]<<<<<
- Necro (03:12:56/06-22-55)
>>>>>[If you have people keeping an eye on the magician's physical body, remember that any effect that hits the magician on the astral can ground out into his meatbody. That's no big deal if he gets chewed by a barghest (although it's pretty gruesome) but if a projecting magician gets hit by a hellblast spell, his body goes BOOM!]<<<<<
- Argent (20:19:43/06-23-55)
MAGIC ON THE RUN
There are lots of points in a shadowrun where magic could come into play, either as a hostile or helpful force. These are things to be prepared for in advance. Consider them when planning out your runs and while negotiating with your Johnson for that extra few nuyen in risk pay.
The most common type of magical security, wards are walls in astral space; opaque barriers that cannot be "seen" through and which prevent astral movement. There are other types of wards, but the general "stop everything" ward is the most common. Wards only affect astrally active things, so a magician who is not open to astral space can step right through a ward with no effect. Keep in mind that active foci and spells also have an astral presence. If you step through a ward wearing an active spell lock, the ward will try and block it and might very well overload the focus and destroy it. Keeping all magical gear inactive is the only way to bypass a general ward without incident.
While most sites are generally warded on their outside walls, separating the outside of the building from the inside, some larger or better protected complexes will have multiple "layers" of wards, often of different types, not unlike the layers of IC that can be found in a Matrix system. Any on-site magical talent will know the locations, strengths and functions of all of the wards (since they likely set them) and will no doubt use that to their advantage.
>>>>>[Also keep in mind that Hermetic circles and medicine lodges and the like are fixed according to their very nature but wards aren't. That means it's possible to place a ward upon the interior surface of a vehicle to keep out astral hostiles and provide limited protection from some spells.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (14:24:20/06-23-55)
>>>>>[Good thing, too, since that helps prevent a mage from calling a bound fire elemental and commanding it to enter the vehicle's fuel tank in astral form, then manifest...]<<<<<
- Josie Cruise (22:31:55/06-25-55)
>>>>>[Remember that Hermetic circles are only astral barriers when they're actually being used to do magic, while medicine lodges and such are astrally active all the time like wards.]<<<<<
- Watcher-of-Stars (02:45:14/06-26-55)
Using paranimals as astral guard creatures has become increasingly popular with many corporations and security companies as the number of trained and "domesticated" critters has risen. Whole menageries of creatures are used to keep watch on company compounds at night. Almost universally the guard animals are astrally aware and can attack targets in astral space just as well as physical ones.
>>>>>[There seems to be an unspoken competition among the corps to see who came come up with the nastiest awakened critter around to train as a guard animal. I've seen barghests, piasma, cockatrices, hellhounds and firedrakes. There are corporate facilities that look like the fraggin' zoo with all these things.]<<<<<
- Whisper (23:41:50/06-25-55)
Other magicians can be the most difficult kind of magical security to deal with because they are inheirently the most creative and capable. A company might have an astral magician patroling its grounds or simply have a magician on-call to deal with any magical threats that may arise. These magicians usually have plenty of resources to draw upon such as bound spirits as well as plenty of mundane backup.
>>>>>[The best way to deal with magicial opposition is to do your homework and know your enemy. Corporate magical talent is relatively rare and you should be able to compile a fairly complete dossier that will tell you their habits and weaknesses. Magicians have at least one thing right: knowledge is power.]<<<<<
- Silk (21:11:18/06-25-55)
Try to avoid magical healing when possible. It's not just that we're tired of healing all of you mundanes (we are, but that's beside the point). Magical healing, like a lot of other magic, can far too easily become a crutch. When magical healing is always available it becomes a "quick fix" for every little boo-boo that the team runs into. Then the magician gets geeked, or burnt out from drain or wounded himself and then you're fragged. When stealth is important, remember than any magic can draw attention from astral security, including healing magic. Concentrate on the mundane methods first and save the magic for the times when you really need it. Make sure that everyone has some basic first aid training and make doubly sure that someone knows the precautions to take when treating a magician who's injured or unconscious.
>>>>>[I've heard that using drugs to shake off fatigue and drain can frag up a mage's ability to use magic. True?]<<<<<
- Tangent (22:04:56/06-20-55)
>>>>>[First, a point of usage. It's magician when you're speaking of magically capable individuals in general. Despite popular belief and usage, "mage" refers to a magician who follows the Hermetic tradition, not magic-wielders in general.
To address the question, using drugs can cause damage to a magician's ability to wield magic in the long term, especially drugs that push the magician's delicately balanced system beyond normal limits. The risk depends on the drug and the dossage.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (18:43:22/06-22-55)
>>>>>[What kind of drugs and dossages are the worst offenders?]<<<<<
- Corvus (19:10:40/06-23-55)
>>>>>[Generally hard doses of strong stimulants are among the worst. I've hear that its possible to administer carefully tailored doses of the right drugs to magicians in order to slowly errode away their magical ability to almost nothing. It generally takes a week or two to accomplish. Not that anyone on this board would ever think of doing that, eh Corvus?]<<<<<
- Walker (23:48:50/06-23-55)
- Sereena (10:02:30/06-24-55)
>>>>>[Of course it is. The NACLU got the procedure banned as "cruel and unusual" punishment in most prisons. Of course, that ruling doesn't apply to the SINless, nor is it in force in Corporate Territory.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (18:55:35/06-24-55)
>>>>>[There are plenty of other techniques that have been developed to deal with those nasty magicians when you want to incarcerate them. The most common is to use drugs or simsense feeds to totally frag up the spellworm's concentration so that walking in a straight line becomes a challenge, much less spellcasting or astral projection.]<<<<<
- Ares (19:04:00/06-26-55)
>>>>>[I hear that they ship some magical prisoners up the well to an orbital prison, where magic doesn't work.]<<<<<
- Agassi Blue (21:15:05/06-26-55)
>>>>>[Bulldrek. There's no fraggin' way anyone would spend the nuyen to boost a bunch of criminals into orbit. It's way too expensive and there's not nearly enough space on the oh-so-valuable orbitals to use for a fraggin' prison.]<<<<<
- Tangent (22:03:15/06-26-55)
>>>>>[There may be some truth to the rumor, though. Way I hear, some corp is getting magically active cons from the UCAS gummint (SINless, of course) and shipping them to an orbital so they can "participate" in a study to discover why magic goes haywire outside of the atmosphere. Supposedly the prisoners get their sentences reduced for going along with the whole thing, but from what I hear they don't really have much choice about volunteering and all the "study" has managed to collect so far is an impressive list of the ways that a magician in space can die.]<<<<<
- Talon (01:14:38/06-27-55)
The magically active need to take precautions when it comes to modern medical treatments of all kinds, especially cybernetic implants. The basic problem is this; magic happens when a magician pulls energy from astral space, using his body as a medium. It requires a very delicate balance for the energies to flow properly and shocks to the body - like drugs or badly healed injuries - can upset that balance, sometimes permanently reducing the magician's ability to safely channel magical energy. Implants like cyberware create permanent interference in the magician's energy flow, forming "blockages" against astral energies. Even organic bioware throws off the balance between the magician's physical and astral forms needed for them to be in perfect "synch" and reduces power-handling capacity.
>>>>>[What about all of the childhood innoculations and medical treatments? If magicians aren't identified until they're young adults, why doesn't all of that invasive treatment affect their magical ability?]<<<<<
- Quirk (16:12:35/06-27-55)
>>>>>[As far as anyone can tell, this sensitivity doesn't come into play until the magician is Awakened, that is to say, open to the energies of astral space. Latent child magicians can have the same medical treatments as any other kid without any side effects, but once their Talent manifests, they need to take precautions like other magicians.]<<<<<
- Talon (22:50:24/06-27-55)
>>>>>[Most magicians I know go in for holistic, herbal and magical medical treatments as being less invasive and dangerous to one's magical well-being. Unfortunately, they also tend to be less effective (except for magic, which can get expensive in terms of nuyen or effort on the part of the magician).]<<<<<
- Argent (21:58:04/06-28-55)
>>>>>[Like Talon said, it's not easy to heal yourself when you've got a sucking chest wound.]<<<<<
- Silk (03:45:17/06-29-55)
Spirits are one of the most mysterious and often-debated things in magic. Everything from their sentience to their origins to their very existence is questioned and argued about by theoreticians from all over. As far as I'm concerned to debate over spirits is the same as the debate over magic. It doesn't really matter what they are: they exist. If you run into one, you're in trouble.
If you have the aid of a magician, let them deal with the spirit. If you have the bad luck to encounter a spirit without any kind of magical backup, my advice is run if at all possible. If that's not an option (for whatever reason), then believe it or not, hand to hand combat is your best bet. It's not actually the physical combat that makes the difference in dealing with the spirit, its the sheer guts it takes to duke it out with a spirit in close combat the ³warrior will² as Dr.Garrett put it that gives you a chance of disrupting the spirit.
If the spirit you are fighting is a nature spirit, you can try to escape by leaving the spirit's domain. Move to the most different terrain that you can find nearby, like getting off the street into a park or jumping into a river. If it's a powerful enough nature spirit (or worse yet, a toxic) it will be able to follow you, but lesser nature spirits are bound to their domain and can't operate outside of it.
>>>>>[Speaking of nature spirits, how do "domains" work? If a shaman is standing on the forested slope of a mountain under the open sky is that Forest, Mountain or Sky domain? Where does the domain of a sky spirit end? Could an area be more than one domain at once and, if so, could a shaman summon two spirits there?]<<<<<
- Domino (13:05:39/06-26-55)
>>>>>[Domain overlap is common, because Nature is multi-faceted. A forested mountainside under the open sky could be any of three domains: mountain, forest, or sky, but by conjuring a spirit of any one domain, a shaman magically identifies with that aspect of the environment and declares at that present moment that the environment of the summoned spirit is the real domain. If the shaman then turns to conjure another type of spirit (without physically moving from the spot) he has shifted his magical view of the landscape, and mentally, he has left the previous domain.
Two shamans, using Nature Spirits cooperatively or to oppose each other, in the same "overlapping" domain situation, could each take different views. One could conjure the Mountain spirit to hurl landslides at his foe, while another could summon a Sky spirit to assault him with storms.]<<<<<
- Watcher-of-Stars (04:18:20/06-27-55)
>>>>>[Sky spirits extend their Domain anywhere outdoors, under the open sky. The extreme limit of their reach appears to be the terminator (since crossing that would constitute sunrise or sunset and end the spirit's service).]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (17:04:19/06-27-55)
>>>>>[If a shaman conjures a nature spirit and then leaves the its domain, does the spirit's service end?]<<<<<
- Tangent (20:11:16/06-28-55)
>>>>>[You can only conjure one nature spirit in a given domain, but it is possible to assign the spirit a service that continues past the shaman leaving the domain, as long as the task doesn't exceed the spirit's normal time of service (sunrise or sunset).
For example, if I'm running through the woods, I can call upon the Forest spirit to conceal me and speed my passage. When I reach the river I can call the River spirit to flood and block my pursuers and when I finally reach the highway, I can have a Street spirit ready with a semi with bad brakes for any of my pursuers who make it past the river. Likewise, if I get jumped in my apartment, I can call the Hearth spirit to deal with my attackers, then scramble down the fire escape and have a City spirit waiting in the alley for any who follow me.]<<<<<
- Tommy Dre (22:36:35/06-28-55)
>>>>>[Is a City spirit's domain the entire city or only one neighborhood or suburb? What about malls and sewer tunnels?]<<<<<
- Rakker (02:09:38/06-30-55)
>>>>>[A City spirit's domain is the whole town (for example the whole of London), but does not extend into the more specialized niches within the City ecology. Interiors of buildings are Hearth domains; Hyde Park is Forest and Field, etc. So while the City spirit has vast reach, there are blind spots and holes in the coverage. Malls have Hearth Spirits. Sewers fall under the reach of the city spirit, but places in the tunnels where people live and have lived for a while tend to develop hearth spirits.]<<<<<
- Runt (21:14:05/07-01-55)
Elementals are not limited by domain and can pursue a target anywhere. The best way to try and escape an elemental is to get out of the controling magician's line of sight. The magician cannot send a bound elemental somewhere they cannot see (this trick works for nature spirits as well, but not watchers). Note, however, that if the magician can see you with some kind of magical enhancement such as clairvoyance, the elemental can come after you. It's quite common for a magician to command a spirit in astral form, allowing the magician to follow and control the spirit no matter where the target runs.
The last and most important thing to remember about magic is that nobody knows everything. The things that we don't know about magic and its implications for the Sixth World would fill gigapulses. The Sixth World is one where nothing is impossible and magic is a force where anything might happen. Don't think you know all of the rules and get complacent. Prepare for the worst. Expect the unexpected.
>>>>>[This paper was written by the late, lamented Dr. Randall Grant about a year before his untimely death in 2050. It demonstrates some of Grant's thoughts about the effects of personal world-view on the manifestation of magical talent, based on his theories on the origin of magical abilities. If you're wondering why it's being posted here, ask me again when you meet a self-proclaimed psionic while on a shadowrun. Know thine enemy.]<<<<<
- Quirk (22:03:44/08-24-55)
THE MAGICIAN IN SPITE OF HIMSELF
A study in awakened psychology
by Randall Grant, ThD.
It is important for those of us versed in the field of magic to remember that ours is a specialized knowledge. It becomes all too easy to forget that not everyone understands modern thaumaturgical theory today any more clearly than my father understood quantum relativity in his day.
The "man on the street" of the 21st century knows little more of magic than what is presented on trideo programs and taught (very basically, and only in the last few decades) in schools. There remain numerous superstitions, folk tales and "urban myths" - both pre- and post-Awakening - which further cloud the issue in the minds of the general public as to what is and isn't real about magic.
Magical talent and magical knowledge do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. I, for example, despite having earned a Doctor of Thaumaturgy degree and the right to expound on topics such as this with authority, have not the ability to cast a single spell, nor conjure any sort of spirit. Conversely, it is also quite possible for a person to have magical ability with any knowledge of the nature of magic. Indeed, magical talent always precedes knowledge and training.
>>>>>[Not always. There are some whose Talent is awakened by studying magic in school or on their own. In general, however, Grant is correct.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (13:23:38/9-11-55)
In most individuals who manifest some sign of the Talent, the path is often the same; that person is trained in the tradition of magic that he or she is most suited, either in an academic setting or a master/apprentice relationship, as practiced by many of the tribal nations and shamanic cultures. Magical talent is too rare to be wasted, so society carefully encourages those so talented to get education in the use of their gifts.
>>>>>[Magical ability is considered very valuable and there are plenty of stories on the trid of how some poor kid from the Barrens made his way out into corporate splendor with some magical talent and a lot of hard work in school. Not an option open to most of us mundanes, unfortunately.]<<<<<
- Killroy (was/here)
>>>>>[Lots of street kids with magical potential are also conned by corporate recruiters into signing their lives away for a song, since they have no idea just how valuable they are. The corp gets magical talent at wageslave prices, which is why defection is so high among corporate magical talent.]<<<<<
- Starfall (10:32:05/9-16-55)
However, there remain holes in the system. Firstly, many people without System Identification Numbers manifest Talent. They are often discovered by corporate or government recruiters and sponsored for training, but just as many are overlooked or never found in the first place.
Also, there remain many areas of even the North American Nations where knowledge of magic is no more advanced than it was in the twentieth century, even a few where magic is still considered to be superstition or a "supernatural" force. Individuals manifesting magical talent in such an environment might well have no conventional frame of reference in which to interpret their Gifts.
>>>>>[In some areas magically talented kids who display strange "powers" are still beaten to death in an effort to drive out the "demons" possessing them, often by their own parents. There are also plenty of places in the world where you can still get publicly stoned to death for using magic openly.]<<<<<
- Talon (15:04:26/9-12-55)
Consider the following premises:
While, we - as theorists - discuss things by set names, and as set concepts, individuals may well view things quite differently, based on their personal and cultural backgrounds. A Grade 2 Initiate may not call himself a Grade 2 Initiate - may not even be aware that he has undergone Initiation at all. Indeed, "magic" itself may not even be recognized as magic, but framed as another force or ability.
A Shaman can follow a Totem that he does not embody as a Totem - or a Totem that is not a "classic" cultural totem of a shamanic tradition. While this can lead to jokes among my collegues such as the Neil the Ork Barbarian Totem or the Fuchi Totem, there are also more realisitc possibilities such as religious icons expressed as totems, as well as less savory concepts like the Jack The Ripper Totem.
>>>>>[Theoretical nonsense. The Totems may appear in many forms, but their essential nature is unchanged. If I see Cat as Bast the Egyptian Cat goddess or Tezcatlipoca the Aztec jaguar god, I still draw power from Cat. Likewise a "ripper" totem is probably just a toxic version of Dog or Wolf.]<<<<<
- Chess (09:18:30/9-12-55)
>>>>>[Oh? Then how do you explain the totems that some magicians follow that just don't fit into the established framework like certain anthropomorphic religious totems (the Idols of European nature magic, for example) and some of the really twisted ones that are worse than any toxic ever dreamed of being?]<<<<<
- Talon (22:34:42/9-12-55)
>>>>>[There is more to the ways of the Powers than most mortals will ever know.]<<<<<
- Walker (18:45:10/9-13-55)
>>>>>[You can ask your "friends" at Aztechnology about that one, kitten.]<<<<<
- Talon (21:33:14/9-13-55)
- Chess (23:56:17/9-15-55)
Various types of adepts may not think of themselves as "adepts" per se. A Physical Adept might use the oriental concept of "ki" or "chi," as used in various martial arts traditions, to explain what he does rather than magic. An astral adept might think of himself as clairvoyant, or a medium or gifted with "ESP." A Conjuror might similarly adopt a mediumistic model, believing that they act as a vessel through which spirits manifest during seances and the like. It is thus possible that the spirits manifesting to this magician would assume the form imposed by this belief pattern (Watchers certainly would - Elementals as well - even Nature Spirits within limits).
>>>>>[Wait a minute. I use my ki in performing aikido, there's nothing magical to it and I'm a 3rd dan black belt.]<<<<<
- Kata (17:09:47/9-13-55)
>>>>>[Being a master of a marital art doesn't necessarily make you a physical adept, chummer. However, many physads are unaware of their true natures because they rationalize their abilities as talents, luck, training or ki. Maybe you should take a magical activity test sometime...]<<<<<
- Talon (23:50:30/9-13-55)
A magician need not even be consciously aware of doing magic. He may call it the power of prayer, focussing ki, ESP, or even perform it on an entirely unconscious or subconscious level.
>>>>>[You mean, somebody could be doing magic and not even know it?]<<<<<
- Argent (17:34:22/9-12-55)
>>>>>[Not only possible but documented fact. Parapsychologists in the 20th century (who were really studying pre-Awakening magic, after all) had numerous confirmed cases of Gifted adolescents who manifested "poltergeist" phenomena around them: levitating objects, spontaneous combustion, etc. all without being aware that they were causing it. They called it "recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis," or RSPK. It's much rarer nowadays; modern testing usually indentifies a kid with magical potential before they can make much unconscious use of their talents, but it's still known to happen]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (11:43:58/9-13-55)
>>>>>[I was involved in investigating a murder case a couple of years ago where it turned out that the victim had been badly abusing his eight-year old daughter. Her latent magical abilities were activated and she unconsciously conjured a some kind of spirit that killed him. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy, if you ask me.]<<<<<
- Walker (20:15:12/9-13-55)
These premises add up to what I have termed "the magician in spite of himself" theory, where magical abilities manifest themselves outside of the normally accepted frameworks. The nascent magician is forced to interpret his abilities through whatever cultural framework is available, and may therefore conceptualize his abilities in very different ways from other magicians. Since magic is very much a matter of perspective and world-view, these magicians can even manifest magical abilities that work in a different way than those of other magicians.
>>>>>[What did he say?]<<<<<
- Spyder (21:25:56/9-11-55)
>>>>>[Grant's basically saying that when it comes to magic, your point of view and beliefs are just as important as any kind of "objective" reality. The abilities and limitations of a magician are determined mostly by what is believed possible and how the magician sees things. That's the difference between a mage and shaman; how they see things. If you were magically talented, and saw things entirely different from both mages and shamans, you'd be something else, like the manifestations that Grant describes.]<<<<<
- Talon (00:14:20/9-12-55)
>>>>>[What if you were a magician and believed that you could do anything?]<<<<<
- Mischief (03:44:45/9-12-55)
>>>>>[You probably end up in a straight jacket in a padded room, talking to yourself and being treated for severe meglomania.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (12:05:11/9-13-55)
Examples of this theory are magicians who follow an alternate conceptual model of magic (which they may not consider to be "magic" at all). These alternative paradigms are generally based on other major modes of thought, such as scientific or religious concepts of the universe and how it works. The widespread effort to explain the existence of magic through a combination of hysteria, psychic abilities and electro-magnetism is once example of the ways in which the modern mind attempts to re-structure magic in such a way that it fits into an existing paradigm.
"'Magic' is no more than a convient term for what we might as well call "folk parapsychology," a primative science that allows for the harnessing of the inheirent psionic powers of the human brain to manipulate the forces of the electromagnetic spectrum. In our modern age, such techniques need to be refined and codified through scientific study to make them more efficient than the folk myths and rituals of a time long past."
from The Reality of Magic, by Peter Issac
The term "psionics" was first coined by John Campbell, editor of the magazine Astounding Science Fiction, in the 1950s to refer to superhuman mental powers. The term came to be adopted by researchers into parapsychology to refer to the hidden powers of the human mind. They believed that these abilities could be isolated, studied and explained according to the scientific method.
"Paranormal powers" or "psionics" were a topic of scientific study for over a century before the Awakening. Parapsychology researchers postulated that the human mind had untapped powers that led to such feats as telepathy, psychokinesis and extra-sensory perception (ESP). What the researches did not know was that they were actually studying the early manifestations of magical talent.
After the Awakening, it was demonstrated by modern magical theory that parapsychology research had simply touched upon early manifestations of magic during the rise in the mana ambient. There were several early efforts to explain magic in terms of psionics, but psychical research material was simply too limited in its scope to adequately explain magical phenomena.
However, psi research did not entirely die out. It remains in the 21st century as a "fringe" collection of theories to explain the nature of magic in scientific terms. One of the most famous proponents of the "psionic" theory of magic is Peter Isaac. His book The Reality of Magic, was a popular best-seller, despite its being panned as nonsense by the magical community. The public, however, found Isaac's statement that there was a rational, scientific basis behind magic to be reassuring because it made magic seem less alien and frightening.
>>>>>["Fringe" collection. Ouch. Note for the sake of objectivity that Dr. Grant was one of the theorists who almost singlehandedly wiped out the "materialist" theories of pundits such as Peter Isaac. Grant strongly objected to framing a model of magic in terms of psionics and psychic powers that were purely explainable by physics.]<<<<<
- Agassi Blue (15:19:43/9-12-55)
This paradigm of "magic as psionics" has had some impact on the magical community as well. Not all magically talented individuals are oriented towards the sort of world-view required even by a hermetic magician. They refuse to believe that there is any reality other than the material world, all of which is scientifically explainable.
Such individuals do away with all magical trappings ("mumbo-jumbo" as some call it) and work magic solely by the exertion of the will upon the mana (most definitely an example of "doing things the hard way"). Such self-proclaimed "psionics" produce effects almost identical to the classical psi abilities that were categorized by parapsychologists.
Most self-proclaimed psionics have abilities like those of sorcery adepts, although a few have the powers of full magicians. Conjuring is a rarely seen ability for psionics, although it does appear to be responsible for some "poltergeist" phenomena. Typical "psi-powers" include spells such as mind probe, control thoughts, various illusions and telekinetic manipulations and a variety of detection spells classed as "ESP." Because the acceptable list of "psychic powers" as defined by parapsychologists is considerably shorter than the range of effects possible in magic, it is believed that self-definied psychics place subconscious limits on their abilities to fit into their definition of psi, cutting off access to some capabilities they might otherwise possess.
>>>>>[Wait a minute. I thought that magic and psionics were two different things.]<<<<<
- Tangent (20:14:25/9-10-55)
>>>>>[And what's the difference? They're just two names for the same thing; the ability to alter reality with the Will.]<<<<<
- Kazuo (22:45:17/9-11-55)
>>>>>[If they're the same, what's the big deal over what it's called?]<<<<<
- Tangent (01:05:41/9-12-55)
>>>>>[Like I said before, chummer; world-view.]<<<<<
- Talon (20:53:02/9-12-55)
"I am proof that God does indeed work in mysterious ways."
Reverend Jeremiah Warren
When the Awakening came in 2011, religions around the world were rocked to their foundations by the implications of it. Being confronted with positive proof that magic existed as an active force in the world caused many churches to reevaluate their long-held beliefs about it.
Most religions were able to reconcile their doctrines with the existence of magic and welcome the Awakened into the fold, such as the Catholic Church did with the issuing of the papal encyclical In Imago Dei ("In the Image of God"). However, the transition was not always an easy one, and some religions refused to change their traditions and beliefs regarding magic.
Despite their arguments to the contrary, these religious sects are as prone to magically-gifted members through birth and accident as any other segment of the population. The difference is that these latent magicians are taught that magic is evil and unnatural, a tool of moral decay that brings all who use it eternal damnation.
In an environment such as this, most potential magicians suppress their Talent, building psychic blocks which cut off access to their magical abilities. Such people are almost totally untrainable and lose their gift forever, baring some major trauma to release it again. The Gift is not so easily denied, however. In some cases of magically-active people who suppress their talents, another avenue of expression is found.
Some magicians raised in this environment express their magical abilities through the focus of their religious beliefs. Their religion serves a role similar that of a Totem to a shaman. The magical manifestations take the form of "miracles" and the magician and the faithful take these as a sign that the magician is specially blessed (which is so, in a way).
>>>>>[Of course, there's always the possibility that some of these guys really are performing miracles.]<<<<<
- Fritz (03:54:27/9-11-55)
>>>>>[Could be. I've seen things from time to time that didn't look like any kind of magic I know. Who can say where the line between miracle and magic is?]<<<<<
- Talon (21:33:07/9-12-55)
>>>>>[Catholic doctrine draws a careful line between magic - a tool of Humanity - and miracles, which are the province of God alone. In fact, the Order of St. Sylvester is specially devoted to investigating "miraculous" incidents to determine if they are true miracles or manifestations of the Magic of the Sixth World. Don't ask me how they tell the difference, though.]<<<<<
- Archangel (14:20:24/9-10-55)
Magical feats performed by these magicians are those which fit the doctrine of their religion, such as Healing through "laying on of hands," transforming water into wine, creating food and drink, sensing those of "evil intent," divine visions and "flights of the spirit" (astral projection). Conjuring is used almost exclusively to combat and banish spirits via "rites of exorcism," although there have been some reports of spirits that appear in the form of divine messengers such as angels.
>>>>>[The very concept of which makes some theologians a little green around the gills. How do you tell a "real" angel from a fiery spirit that looks just like one? What are angels really and what's the difference between them and spirits? How many Nature Spirits can dance on the head of a pin, etc. etc.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (12:03:54/9-11-55)
Religious trappings are always used in conjunction with this type of magic. Spells take the form of prayers and invocations, often spoken in an arcane tongue such as Latin or Hebrew. Holy books and religious symbols find use as fetishes and in a few cases have even been unconsciously enchanted to serve as foci. Salt, wine and holy water serve as ritual materials and expendable fetishes. Geasa are also bound up in religious imagery, using holy symbols, prayer, ancient languages, fasting and the limiting of magic to holy ground such as a church or mosque.
Initiates are rare in this style of magic, but have been known. They are nearly always self-initiated and initiation usually stems from some greater spiritual enlightenment, fasting, prayer and vigil that serve the same function as ordeals in common initiation rites.
One example of this phenomenon was the case of Jeremiah Warren (CAS Magical Studies Journal, April 2034). Warren was raised in a very conservative Southern community as a boy. As an adult, he became a preacher of a small town in Alabama. His ministry was characterized by numerous "miraculous" events such as faith healings. Rev. Warren claimed his abilities were a religious blessing and denied any magical capability. Since he lacked any kind of magical training as well, it took some time for studies to discover that the Reverend's abilities were indeed magical and that his childhood training that taught him that magic was evil had caused him to repress his magical talents. Eventually they came to manifest through the medium of his religious beliefs.
>>>>>[Poor guy. Jeremiah Warren was the first real modern example of a magician who focued his abilities through his religious beliefs. When he agreed to submit to study by the Thaumaturgy Department at the Georgia Tech, he thought that he would be vindicated in proving that his abilities were in fact gifts from God. When the research staff fairly conclusively proved that Warren was a latent magician, he was disgraced and humiliated. He disappeared from his home town and hasn't been seen since.]<<<<<
- Alegro (21:43:29/9-10-55)
>>>>>[This is by far the minority manifestation of magic in religion, by the way. Most religions and religious people recognize a separation of magic and religion, but combine them harmoniously. For example, the aforementioned Order of St.Sylvester consists mostly of Catholic mages and adepts. In their view, magic is a tool and a blessing, but it is not miraculous. Many other religions, like Wicca and Voudoun, incorporate magic into their structure as part of their worship.]<<<<<
- Starfall (18:16:31/9-11-55)
"And you can share in this ancient knowledge for a small donation of just 25 nuyen"
³Doctor² Arnold Ledbetter, from the trid program Hour of the Magi on the Ancient Wisdom Channel.
In the latter half of the twentieth century, there was a resurgence in alternate consciousness and "mystical" modes of thought. This explosion of pop-occultism was alternately known as the "Age of Aquarius," "The Free Thought Movement," or simply the "New Age." The occult and the mystical became a subject of popular culture, an ³in² thing to be involved with.
While the pop occultism movement did revitalize popular interest in ancient traditions, it also unleased a flood of books, tapes and films that were intended solely to take economic advantage of the popularity of the genre and make money. All of which drowned valuable occultist literature under a wave of banality. Worse yet, some pop occult material contained valid magical theory mixed in with utter absurdities.
In the years leading up to and following the Awakening, many magicians struggled to liberate the kernels of their traditions from the chaff of popular culture. Valid magical theories emerged, were tested and codified by scholars whose work continues even today. Unfortunately, the Awakening only unleased another surge of interest in magic in popular culture, beginning the cycle or commercial exploitation and hype all over again, making the dissemination of accurate information about magic difficult at best.
Something interesting did develop out of popular occultism, however. In the fact of the return of magic, some sincere devotes of these pop-magic philosophies proved to be magically talented and manifested their abilities within the frameworks of those philosophies, generally as adepts. Thus while the majority of the magical community looked with disdain on such bygone ideas, those same "crackpot" ideas became systems of Power for some budding magicians.
>>>>>[Grant's letting his prejudices show a bit here. It's not all of popular occultism that's looked on with disdain, but how most of their ideas were presented. For example, there's much magical value in the runes and Tarot cards that became so popular at the end of the twentieth century, but not when they're packaged with a little instruction book and sold as parlor games for ¥20 at your local StufferShack. Likewise, many native shamanic traditions weren't very happy with all of the wannabe Anglo writers who where churning out volumes of their "ancient secrets" for big royalties.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (15:01:53/9-11-55)
>>>>>[That tradition (junk occultism) is still going strong. Just watch "Doctor" Arnold Ledbetter offer the "Secrets of Ancient Atlantis" for a 25¥ "donation" on the Ancient Wisdom Channel some Thursday night. Worthless trinkets, charms and "how-to" manuals of magic are also how most talismongers make ends meet. Selling only genuine magical gear to real magicians is a pretty specialized and limited clientele and a losing business proposition, considering the amount of work that has to go into each one.]<<<<<
- Talon (23:06:37/9-12-55)
>>>>>[With all of the totally faulty magical theory pouring out of the popular media in both fiction and ³factual² shows like the talk shows and trideo newsmags, its little wonder the average guy on the street has no clue how magic works. The funny thing is that lots of folks think they know how magic works from watching the trid and then they find out that things just aren't what they've been told.]<<<<<
- Marco (00:13;45/9-16-55)
"Moon's out, time to Howl!²
- from an advertisement for the simsense Howl III: the Changeling
Human lore is filled with tales of men assuming the forms of beasts from wolves to eagles to elephants, nearly every human culture has its stories and myths of were-creatures and shapeshifters, stories that, like many, have proven to have some basis in truth after the events of 2011.
While modern anthropologists like Mullins Chadwick (cf. Wake Up Call: Living In the Awakened World, Putnam-Izumo, 2048) attribute many of these legends of were-creatures to modern shapeshifters (insert scientific name here), we know that shapeshifters are paranormal animals able to assume human (or meta-human)-like form. While some man-into-beast stories might have it backwards, it's unlikely that all of them do.
>>>>>[Geez, couldn't it just be that some legends are just that... legends? Does every fraggin' folktale have to have some Awakened explanation behind it?]<<<<<
- Randi (14:34:26/9-10-55)
>>>>>[Too many legends have turned out to be true to overlook anything on that basis. There's an interesting hypothesis here, nothing more. Grant isn't claiming more than he has evidence for.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (18:54:36/9-11-55)
One possible explanation for "were-creatures" can be framed in terms of the magician-in-spite-of-himself theory: when an individual from a "non-tribal" (i.e., modern Euro-American) culture is possessed of significant shamanic talents, they might well lack a framework in which to express those abilities and their connection to their totem. Lacking an understanding of totems or the spirit world provided by an upbringing in a tribal culture, they might construct an explaination of their experience of a totem spirit in other terms.
>>>>>[Interesting, but the theory seems to assume that shamans are born and not made. I could just as easily argue that individuals with the Talent who are raised in a non-shamanic culture will simply grow up to be mages; or non-shamans at the very least.]<<<<<
- Connor (18:54:09/9-11-55)
>>>>>[The evidence doesn't support you there, chummer. There have been several case studied in journals like Proceedings of the AAAT of people who had shamanic experiences despite not having any background in shamanism. Whether you chaulk that up to subconscious activity or the will of the Totems, it seems there is some evidence that shamans are born and not made.]<<<<<
- Talon (22:13:45/9-12-55)
A common rationalization for visions and dreams of a totem animal is to draw upon changeling myths thus, a neophyte Wolf shaman could come to consider himself to be a "werewolf" of sorts, possessed by a wolf-spirit. This concept could even theoretically shape the manifestation of the budding shaman's magical talents to further reinforce his or her belief, which would further shape the manifestation and so forth. For example, the unconscious development of a limited shapechange spell that allows the shaman to assume animal form on the nights of the full moon. This, combined with manifestations of the shaman's mask, could easily convince someone that their abilities were based on something other than a traditional shaman/totem relationship.
>>>>>[Anybody remember the Full Moon Slasher from years back?]<<<<<<
>>>>>[So? The slasher was a real shapeshifter, everyone knows that. Nothing to do with this theory.]<<<<<
- Crescent (00:27:22/9-14-55)
>>>>>[Yeah, but the guy who finally took the slasher down, he's another story entirely.]<<<<<
- Terendel (19:02:23/9-14-55)
"Seek, but you will not find. They protect me and I will survive the time of Death."
from a note written by the serial-killer "Azroth" to the Los Angeles Police Department, 2046
In addition to the broad-sweeping currents of religious and scientific thought, there is also the phenomenon of personally developed belief systems functioning as the basis for a newly Awakened magician's talents.
An analogy might help illustrate how this phenomemon occurs. Studies in the 20th century with neglected and isolated children revealed a startling facility with language. Young children (twin siblings, for example) cut off from vitually all contact with society were able to develop their own unique language, complete with grammar and syntax, to allow them to communicate with each other. In the same way, some magically active individuals, cut off from interaction with major cultural paradigms of magic, can develop their own magical tradition, their personal "language" of magic if you will. This system proves itself in its ability to focus the individual's Talent to perform practical, funcitonal feats of magic within its framework.
A particularly horrible example of this theory can be found in the case of the psychotic serial killer known as "Azroth" who was active in California several years ago. Azroth proved to be magically capable. He invented a personal mythology and his Totem was drawn from within that framework. He self-initiated to the point where he could sever the astral trail on his cell samples, making ritual sorcery useless as a forensic tool (one of the earliest difficulties in capturing him). His spells and rituals were part of the ritual (in the psychological sense) pattern of his crimes. Azroth was himself totally unaware that he was a magician and instead believed his uncanny ability to carry out his grizzly crimes without being captured by the authorities to be a manifestation of some kind of favor from the bizarre entities that inhabited his personal delusions.
>>>>>[Grant's theory is basically correct, but Azroth didn't create his own tradition.]<<<<<
- Kazuo (22:43:15/9-14-55)
>>>>>[If he didn't, who did, fraggin' HP Lovecraft?]<<<<<
- Argent (20:13:36/9-15-55)
>>>>>[I have known magicians who just seemed to operate on their own unique wavelength. The human mind is an amazingly resiliant thing, and people are able to come up with all sorts of things that we think shouldn't work, but do. I even know one budding young magician I hesitate to call him a mage who has developed his own magical tradition based off of his devotion to some late-night sci-fi show on Channel 54.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (15:36:19/9-15-55)
>>>>>[I've seen a few examples of this, though I'll admit that traditions made up out of whole cloth are pretty fraggin' rare. Most of them don't last too long before "holes" and internal inconsistancies make them fall apart. Either that or they're just inefficient enough that a classically-trained magician comes along and blows the poor fragger to flaming bits. Most of the personal-trads I've seen have been little variations on traditional practice.]<<<<<
- Talon (01:20:25/9-20-55)
WAY OF THE INNER MAGIC
"There is no magic in what I do, only myself."
Dr. Francis Daniels, physical adept
>>>>>[Konichi-wa, fellow walkers in the shadows. Allow me to introduce myself. I can't tell you my real name, as names have Power, but I'm generally known as Johnny Zen. I dropped by to tell you a few things about the abilities of those of us who follow the Way of the Inner Magic, known to most as physical adepts. Our skills and powers are manifold, and those who live in the shadows would do well to know them. The following essay by Dr. Richard Caswell of the University of Chiacgo was published in the standard college textbook Introduction to Modern Thaumaturgy (2052 edition) as an overview of the physical adept, which it does pretty well.]<<<<<
- Johnny Zen (16:03:19/5-6-53)
Magic in the Sixth World has taken many forms. Perhaps one of the least understood of these is the physical adept. The Manual of Practical Thaumaturgy, even in its twenty-third incarnation, has only limited information on these magically active individuals. The general public is very familiar with magicians and their powers from numerous (often misleading) trideo portrayals, but physical adepts remain even more of an unknown.
This article looks at some of the major classifications of physical adepts, how they differ from magicians in mindset as well as abilities as well as some common misconceptions and little-known facts regarding physical adepts and their unique abilities.
A "physical adept" is defined by theoretical occultists as an individual whose magical talent is focused on the improvement of their physical body and abilities directly without these use of spells. Physical adepts are capable of amazing feats of strength, speed, skill and endurance beyond those of mundanes. They evidence abilities that can only be explained by magic such as astral awareness and extraordinary resistance to physical injury. No two adepts display exactly the same abilities.
>>>>>[A bit of an oversimplification, like much of this article. While physical adepts have displayed almost endless combinations of abilities, there aren't more than a dozen or so basic adept abilities that have been defined and studied by magical theorists.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (07:55:54/07-05-55)
>>>>>[They are discovering new adept powers all of the time, though. It seems that many abilities can only be developed through training, while others seem to appear naturally. Many magical groups are rumored to be the only ones able to teach a specific physical adept power and most such groups guard their secrets jealously.]<<<<<
- Spiritech (13:42:40/07-07-55)
Many, if not most, physical adepts have a decidedly mundane outlook on life. Apart from their own abilities, these adepts often have no knowledge of magic whatsoever. They have a decidedly "grounded" world-view; a physical adept needs an intense inward focus and drive to channel their magic into the improvement of their physical abilities.
>>>>>[Hey, I resemble that remark.]<<<<<
- Kure (23:02:45/07-02-55)
>>>>>[Another oversimplification. There are many physical adepts fully conversant in magical theory and knowledgeable about astral space. Many of them work as bodyguards against magical attack and investigators of occult phenomena.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (08:07:45/07-05-55)
Even with their broad variety of abilities, physical adepts are know to manifest their powers in certain "configurations" that have been studied and recorded by scholars. They are generally classified according to the overall direction or "theme" that their magical abilities follow. For example, an adept whose powers were all suited for combat use would be considered a warrior adept. Almost as important as the powers themselves is the way in which the adept perceives his or her abilities. Two physical adepts might possess the same power, but one will be a warrior adept because they fit the power into a combative path while the other will be a mystic who uses the power for its value in astral space.
>>>>>[Classifying magicians into pigeonholes is a tricky proposition at best. Classifying physical adepts is often even more difficult. There aren't any well-defined boundaries and one adept might fit into more than one classification.]<<<<<
- Talon (22:24:07/07-10-55)
The physical adept type best known to the general populace (in popular culture at least) is the warrior adept a physical adept whose abilities make him or her especially well-suited for combat. Warrior adepts range broadly, from masters of the martial arts to swordsmen, from Zen archers to those who have an uncanny ability with modern firearms.
>>>>>[I even know of a guy in the CAS Armed Forces who's a physical adept with a magical knack with I drek you not artillery.]<<<<<
- Josie Cruise (20:14:53/07-06-55)
>>>>>[There aren't many, but they're out there.]<<<<<
- Killroy (was/here)
Warrior adepts are generally characterized by an aggressive nature that allows them to focus their talent into increased combat prowess. Not all warrior adepts are bloodthirsty maniacs, of course, but they tend in general to have a certain common focus on martial development that shapes their personalities in similar ways.
>>>>>[What complete drek! All warrior adepts are "characterized by an aggressive nature," my hoop. Is this guy trying to say that a Norwegian bearsark frothing at the mouth in a battle rage, a 4th dan aikido black-belt and an Elven Paladin are all similar personality types? I don't think so, chummer.]<<<<<
- Mikhail Z (02:13:42/07-11-55)
>>>>>[The old boy has a point, but too general of one. Physical adepts, like most magicians, are strongly influenced in their personalities by their magical path (or vice versa). PhysAds who go the Warrior route do tend to have at least some few traits in common. True warrior types do tend to be fairly aggressive in one way or another. The trick is who is placed in what category, since many adepts who have enhanced combat abilities still might not fit in the "warrior" classification; they might fit into one of the others better.]<<<<<
- Brand (11:02:34/07-15-55)
Many warrior adepts find application of their talents in military or corporate service, while equally many others find the only use of their abilities is as a soldier-for-hire, mercenary or street ronin.
>>>>>[Most of the armies in North America have pretty decent integration of physical adepts at this point, and its standard to test for the Talent upon induction. Most physad soliders don't get special treatment if their abilities are basically the same as the cyber that other soldiers get ('cept the military saves a few nuyen). Ones who show a lot of promise get snapped up by special forces and the like.]<<<<<
- Killroy (was/here)
>>>>>[The NAN armies make much more use of physical adepts, especially in counterintelligence and special ops. Plenty of the dreaded Sioux Wildcats are physads and almost all of those are initiates.]<<<<<
- Wynde (20:18:19/07-07-55)
Close relations of warrior adepts are those physical adepts who channel their abilities to excellence in some athletic endeavor; from sports to dance and gymnastics. These adepts have a certain purity of focus. They are usually monomanically devoted to their chosen sport, driven in the same manner as champion athletes of the past, except that their devotion is backed and augmented by, and in turn feeds, their inherent magical talents.
>>>>>[I wish this guy would speak English...]<<<<<
- Seattle Jaz (03:02:57/07-04-55)
Athlete adepts are in a precarious position in modern society. Generally, their ability at their chosen sport is the primary focus of their lives and yet, modern prejudices regarding magical enhancements have prevented many adepts from truly excelling. Some sports that allows extensive cybernetic modification, such as football, also allow players that are physical adepts, but even then adepts often receive harsh and indifferent treatment from managers, coaches and even fans (cf. "NFL rules of conduct regarding the magically enhanced", 2045 ed.)
Basically speaking, the abilities of physical adepts are considered by many to be magical "cheats," that allow the adept to perform better than they "should" be able to. This view was the basis for barring physical adepts from the Olympics as of 2032. In this regard, physical adept gifts are treated the same as cybernetic enhancements or drugs: an outside "boost" to the athlete's ability.
>>>>>[Athlete adepts have presented a problem from years. They're tough to detect unless you want to run every athlete past a magician or astral adept and how many can afford that? It's also very difficult to separate out what is the adept's natural ability and how much of it comes from magic. A very good aura reader who studies the adept in action can get a good idea of when the magic comes into play, but that takes hours of study per adept! Add on top of that the fact that many athletes can be physical adepts and not even be aware of it and you've got a legislative nightmare on your hands.]<<<<<
- Legal Eagle (14:10:20/07-12-55)
Some physical adepts are an exception to the general view. These adepts embrace their magical nature and delve into the mysteries of astral space as ddeply as any magician. These adepts almost universally have astral perception abilities and many have speculated that it is their "window" into the astral that gives mystic adepts their fairly unique attitude among their bretheren.
>>>>>[PhysAds with astral perception do tend to be a little different from the norm. They have a bit more of a "magician-like" attitude and are often pretty good when it comes to dealing with things in the astral.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (18:23:41/07-05-55)
>>>>>[I'll say. There's a booming business in physical adepts who have astral abilities hiring out as "mystic bodyguards" and "occult troubleshooters." With astral perception and a couple of combat powers, these adepts can do some serious astral butt-kicking and are often just what the witch-doctor ordered to protect some big noise from a magical attack, and plenty of them can handle physical bodyguard duties, too. There aren't many street samurai who can tangle with a hostile spirit in hand-to-hand combat...]<<<<<
- Donnovan (16:05:47/07-08-55)
>>>>>[It's been done, but not by many.]<<<<<
- Daikoku (21:30:42/07-10-55)
>>>>>[It was a weak spirit. Don't become overconfident, mundane.]<<<<<
- Calleach (00:12:37/07-11-55)
>>>>>[Personal arguments elsewhere, chummers.]<<<<<
- Quark (00:15:40/07-11-55)
Mystic adepts tend to be most prevalent among the tribal or "shamanic" cultures in North America. Many of these adepts find themselves accorded positions similar to shamans in their tribes.
>>>>>[True. Some of the NA tribes barely even recognize a difference between mystic adepts and shamans. For some, it's the ability to perceive and interact with the spirit world that is the defining factor in what makes a shaman, not spellcasting or any other magic tricks. I know of Tribal communities that consider mystic physads to be shamans and conjuring adepts to be bad news traffickers in evil spirits.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (19:01:20/07-05-55)
>>>>>[Tribal mystics are well known as "spirit warriors" able to fight hostile spirits and critters on their own turf. Lots of them take on the role of tribal guardian and follow totems like Bear, Wolf and Eagle.]<<<<<
- Watcher-of-Stars (02:14:52/07-08-55)
>>>>>[Hey, I thought only shamans could have totems.]<<<<<
- Blade (21:09:10/07-13-55)
>>>>>[Everyone has a totem spirit, chummer, it's just that most folks are never aware of it. Shamans are the people most in touch with their totems, but some spirit warriors draw great strength from following the example of their totems.]<<<<<
- Walker (22:56:27/07-13-55)
>>>>>[Another common area where mystic adepts appear is in the esoteric martial arts traditions in Asia and India, many of which have migrated to the West. Spirit warriors are quite well known in war-torn China, for example.]<<<<<
- Tangent (20:18:34/07-18-55)
Something of a misnomer, "natural adepts" are individuals who possess physical adept abilities, but are not consciously aware of them. The development of their powers is guided by their subconscious tapping of their inner magical energy, usually driven by some sort of conscious force such as devotion to a sport or vocation such as that of soldier or mercenary. High-stress, physical-intensive situations are most likely to bring out latent adept potential and shape it towards manifestation.
>>>>>[It's entirely possible to be a physical adept and not even know it. Some adepts have abilities that make them truly extraordinary individuals, but not superhuman, so it's easy for someone unaware of magic to ascribe their achievements to talent, luck, drive, the blessing of the spirits, or whatever.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (19:22:58/07-05-55)
>>>>>[Look at Warren Cartwright; he was the star forward for the Hornets for years before anyone (including him) discovered he was an adept.]<<<<<
- NeonTeal (14:55:25/07-10-55)
>>>>>[Yeah, but Cartwright was a funny case. He was Ozark born and trained by his granny in folk magic, which he fully believed in. His powers were unconsciously based on his his use of folk charms and the like for "luck" during games.]<<<<<
- Hiro (20:33:18/07-12-55)
>>>>>[There have been a fair share of adepts, both in pro sports and in the shadows, who have gone and gotten cyberware, unaware of the damage they were doing to their adept powers. Then, when their performance didn't improve as much as they expected, they'd go and get more cyber, until they had little or no magic left and were none the wiser about what they'd lost...]<<<<<
- Lonzo (18:45:12/07-16-55)
For decades since the discovery of physical adepts, it was believed that that abilities and mindset of a physical adept was totally exclusive from the abilities and mindset of a magician; physical adepts "grounded" their magic so strongly in their physical selves that they were totally incapable of the more complex astral manipulations of sorcery and the like and magicians could only create effects like the powers of physical adepts only through the use of fairly complex metamagic techniques. The two paths were forever separate, never to meet.
In 2051, anthropolgist Helen Rainwater undertook a study of Japanese ninja clans with the hypothesis that much of the ninja's legendary abilities were early proto-examples of physical adept abilities. In her study, Dr.Rainwater came across numerous strange references that had been taken as local legend. Knowing how many legends have proven to be true after the Awakening, she formed a thesis that suggested there might be a hitherto undiscovered type of adept, a "physical magician" of sorts, who was able to use both the powers of a physical adept as well as make limited use of the more traditional abilities accorded magicians.
At present, Dr. Rainwater's theory remains unproven, as no subject have been documented with the abilities that she describes. The matter remains one of debate in theoretical circles.
>>>>>[WHAT!?! You've got to be drekkin' me. Physads who can cast spells, too?]<<<<<
- Crash (21:15:35/07-06-55)
>>>>>[Bulldrek. Rainwater's study is complete jetwash. I think that her subjects were just magicians with some quickened and anchored spells that allowed them to do physical adept-like things without any real concentration or effort on their part. Keep in mind that Rainwater's a mundane, and a shaman wannabe, I suspect. She's also a fragging anthropologist. She wouldn't know magic theory from a hole in the ground.]<<<<<
- Napoleon (19:04:26/07-08-55)
>>>>>[Does there have to be a real thaumaturgical basis to every fraggin' pre-Awakening legend? Maybe it's just that, a legend.]<<<<<
- Randi (20:16:55/07-08-55)
>>>>>[It's no legend. I've run into a guy who has abilities just like Dr. Rainwater describes: he has the enhanced physical abilities of an adept as well as limited use of magic (not just spellcasting but conjuring minor spirits, too). He wasn't using spells for the physical powers, either. Our mage got a chance to give him a good astral once over and he didn't have any quickened spells floating around him in astral space.]<<<<<
- Grace (19:24:31/07-15-55)
>>>>>[Who is this guy? Where'd he come from?]<<<<<
- Kyle (20:15:09/07-15-55)
>>>>>[Couldn't he have been masking his aura?]<<<<<
- Napoleon (21:04:55/07-15-55)
>>>>>[Sorry, chummers, more than my life's worth. We weren't at cross purposes with the guy when we first met and I don't ever want to be on his bad side. As for the masking, I suppose it's possible, but he'd have to mask a lot of spells to cover his abilities and our mage is pretty good at seeing through maskings. He also said that the guy's aura was really strange, not mundane, but like no magician or adept he'd ever seen.]<<<<<
- Grace (21:20:45/07-17-55)
reprinted from "Voudoun in the Modern Age," by Dr. Jean-Paul Dumaillier, CAS Magical Studies Journal, October 2051.
>>>>>[There's an interesting bit of background to this article. The author, Dr. Dumaillier, is Haitian-born and raised. He's also a practicing magician, but get this - he's a fraggin' Hermetic. That's right, a mage. Works as an R&D wagemage in the CAS currently. Dumaillier has both a great respect for Voudoun (because he was raised in that culture) as well as a sort of objective distain for it that shows up in his writing. Personally, I think that he regrets his choice of magical tradition from time to time; if it was a choice at all.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (18:24:53/6-14-55)
Voudoun is a magico-religious system comprising elements of African religion imported to the Caribbean with the slave trade and elements of Carib Indian tribal religions, plus magical systems from those two cultures, with a heavy dose of symbols from Catholicism.
Voudoun originated in the islands of the Caribbean, notably Haiti, and is still heavily practiced there. The tradition is also practiced in similar forms in many of the regions where African slaves intermingled with both European and Native American populations, such as the French settlements in Louisiana and Spanish holdings in South America. The traditions of Brujeria and Macumbe in South and Central America have many similarities to Voudoun, and are all considered to be part of a general "family" of magical traditions descended from ancient African traditions.
>>>>>[Has anyone ever wondered why it is that these magical traditions that are only a couple of centuries old work after the Awakening? I mean, how did the people who started all this know which techniques were going to work?]<<<<<
- Grace (20:51:59/6-14-55)
>>>>>[Who the frag knows? It's magic, for Ghost's sake! Magic is so head-driven maybe anything works if you really believe in it. And if your whole culture believes in it... well that's a whole lot of energy.]<<<<<
- Mojo (23:45:22/6-14-55)
>>>>>[The Awakening wasn't exactly an on/off process. There's plenty of evidence that magic worked before 2011, it just wasn't as visible or reliable. More "tribal" cultures like the Haitians were able to refine their magical traditions over generations of study so that when the Power woke up, they had a pretty functional set of theories to work with. The same with the Hermetic tradition, most of which developed in the last 500 years or so.]<<<<<
- Talon (21:34:40/6-18-55)
>>>>>[Keep in mind that Voudoun is also based off of African tribal traditions that are thousands of years old, possibly even dating back to a time when magic worked better.]<<<<<
- Islander (19:50:05/6-19-55)
Since the Awakening, Voudoun has spread rapidly outward from the small communities in which it was practiced into the mainstream. Voudoun is a major magical tradition of the Carribean League and throughout the gulf region of North America. Urban shamans in many metroplexes also follow Voudoun as a magical path and the tradition has practioners all over North America, concentrated primarily in the CAS and UCAS, with some few in California. A number of new Voudoun sects have developed since the Awakening, each incorporating different elements of the tradition, often blended in typical Voudoun-fashion with borrowed elements from other magical traditions and modern popular culture.
>>>>>[There are few Voudoun practioners in the NAN states or Tir Tairngire. There are some few vaudois in England, but it remains a limited phenomemon there. Most other places in the world, vaudois are few and far between.]<<<<<
- StatsMan (10:47:16/6-21-55)
Haitian voudoun is the most typically religious form of the tradition, specifically the Rada rite. A darker rite, Petro, also exists, and combines aspects of invoking power for harmful ends or gain, of propitiation of harmful powers, and the invocation of powers of violence. Rada is the expression of the spiritual in the vaudois (voudoun follower). Petro reminds us that Voudoun was born in the crucible of slavery, well-stirred by men with whips and brands.
The pivotal form of worship in both rites, and the central element of voudoun in all cases, is the invocation of a Loa, a powerful spirit, who possesses the worshipper. During possession, the "mount" of the Loa speaks with His or Her voice and acts according to the nature of the possessing Loa.
>>>>>[What's all this religion stuff? What about zombies and voodoo dolls?]<<<<<
- Jaxon (02:32:35/6-16-55)
>>>>>[Mundane alert! Listen, chummer, Voudoun isn't the stuff you see in the old Hollywood flicks about black magic and all that drek, it's a living, breathing religion followed by a lot of real people, not some sideshow.]<<<<<
- Islander (20:04:52/6-18-55)
>>>>>[Whoa! Feeling a little defensive are we?]<<<<<
- Jaxon (00:05:51/6-20-55)
>>>>>[Be careful about leaping to conclusions based on Dr. Dumallier's text above regarding Rada and Petro. Rada is not necessarily "good" nor is Petro necessarily "bad." Both are simply parts of the greater whole that is Voudoun.]<<<<<
- Samedi (02:34:56/6-20-55)
LES MYSTERES: The Loa
Unlike the shamanic tradition, Voudoun does not have Totems per se. Instead, the tradition is focused around worship of and service to the Loa, which are the gods or great spirits of Voudoun. The Loa resemble Totems in many ways, but are also quite different. First, they are mostly human-like, similar to the Idols of European nature magic. Secondly, the Loa often intervene directly in matters by "mounting" a worshiper, possessing them, and making them an avatar of that Loa.
>>>>>[So are the Loa gods or not?]<<<<<
- The Kid (15:54:28/6-15-55)
>>>>>[Depends on who you ask. Magic hasn't explained any of the previous centuries of debate about religion. If anything, its only increased it.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (20:13:41/6-15-55)
>>>>>[There's an interesting theory about Loa and free spirits, though. Take a look at the section on Loa Achete later in the file.]<<<<<
- Talon (23:40:55/6-19-55)
>>>>>[Note that vaudois don't manifest any kind of effect like the shaman's mask while doing magic, one of the reasons they are differenciated from shamans. A vaudois mounted by a Loa will manifest characteristics of that Loa, but only while the Loa is present.]<<<<<
- MWS (16:20:01/6-21-55)
Described here are the major Loa of the Voudoun tradition. There are also numerous lesser Loa, many of them aspects of these primary figures.
Agwe: Sovereign of the Sea
Agwe is the regal and noble ruler of the Sea. He lives in a fantastic court below the waves, where he often plays host to his fellow Loa. A man of royal habits and bearing, Agwe is both immediate and enduring, possessor of a ready strength and giver of great peace like the Sea itself. His moods are also as changable as the waters of the Sea, and Agwe is known for occasional bouts of temper. He has a rivalry with Ogoun, because of their natural opposition as gods of Water and Fire as well as their mutual passion for Erzulie.
Agwe's mounts act in a very regal and dignified manner. The mounts must immediately splash or immerse themselves in water. Agwe will remain only so long as the mount is wet. The Loa is known for mounting a drowning follower in order to aid them in swimming to safety.
Yearly rituals are conducted for Awge at the seashore, consisting of ritual baths and a great sarcifice of a specially constructed raft laden with a fine feast which slowly sinks into the sea to provide its ruler with a meal to entertain his fellow Loa.
In Petro rites, Agwe is called upon in his aspect as the angry Sea, dark and dangerous and filled with destructive power.
Azaca: Master of the Corn
Azaca is the Loa of agriculture and plant life, fertility of the soil and cultivation of life and sustenance from it. He is particularly identified with the corn gods of the Carib and Mexican Indians. Azaca has been known to have disputes with other Loa over areas of influence, and is considered one of the more minor Loa.
Azaca is eager and helpful, much like an attention-seeking younger brother. He has a tendancy to go rushing off at the first opportunity. He is consulted in all matters concerning planting and harvesting, as well as plant life in general. Azaca is not called upon in Petro rites.
Damballah: The Good Serpent of the Sky
Damballah Wedo is the great good Sky Father, who appears as a white serpent. He is the oldest of the Loa, dating back into the dim and forgotten past. He arcs across the sky, often joined and reflected by his female counterpart Ayida the Rainbow. Together the two of them circle the World Egg of Creation. Damballah has great wisdom, for he encircles all of creation and has seen everything. He is the bringer of peace and dignity, master of the elements and a powerful creative and protective force.
Damballah is the least human of the Loa, in many ways more akin to the primal animal Totems. Those mounted by him act like snakes, writhing on the ground, hissing and often climbing and hanging from trees. Damballah rarely speaks in any human tongue.
A force of good, Damballah has no real Petro equivalent and is not called upon in Petro rites.
>>>>>[Snake by any other name...]<<<<<
- Shadowdancer (04:56:53/6-15-55)
>>>>>[Really? Have you ever seen a snake shaman do this stuff, chummer?]<<<<<
- Kazuo (22:12:16/6-20-55)
Erzulie: Mistress of Love
Maitress Erzulie is the Loa of Love and Passion. She is incredibly beautiful, sensual and loving - the greatest of all women. She can also be possessive, shrill and violently jealous. Erzulie demands much, but she also gives much of herself in return. She is the Mistress of Dreams, who grants men desire, the ability to see beyond visible reality. All of the Loa love the beautiful Erzulie, and many often fight for her attentions. She is Agwe's wife Siren in one aspect, Ogoun's passionate lover in another and Damballah's mate in a third. All the while she remains what she is.
Those ridden by Erzulie become sensual and charming, gifted with incredible passion and charisma. The Loa loves gifts of fine clothes, perfumes and jewelry and prefers to wear such things whenever possible.
In Petro rite, Erzulie is known as Erzulie Ge-Rouge ("of the Red Eyes") and is associated with jealousy and the anger of a woman scorned.
Ghede: Corpse, Clown and King
If Legba is the Sun, Ghede is the dark abyss into which the sun must set. He is the god of Death and Twilight, but also the master of the cosmic void from which springs all life. Ghede is a sly and humorous figure, greedy and clever. He loves shocking others with his ribald sense of humor and has a love of good food, for Death must consume all things. Ghede is also a powerful healer and guardian of children, called the "Lord of Resurrection." He is master over both life and death.
Those ridden by Ghede are sly and gain a wicked sense of humor and the Loa's seeming disregard for all "respectful" behavior. They sometimes dress in the Loa's "formal" costume of top hat, black tail coat, sunglasses, cigarette or cigar and cane. Mounts will typically consume large amounts of food and liquor, yet feel no aftereffects from either once the Loa has departed.
In Petro rites Ghede is known as Baron Samedi, the loa of graveyards, black magic and zombies, one of the most feared Petro Loa.
Legba: Old Man at the Crossroads
Legba is the divine sun figure. He is an old man who serves as the center-post of all things, a bridge between the visible world of the living and the invisible world of the Loa. He is guardian and gatekeeper, god of the crossroads and opener of the way. He is well know and revered for his great knowledge and wisdom. In Voudoun rituals Legba is always the first of the Loa to be called upon with the invocation "Papa Legba, ouvri barie pou nous passer." ("Open the way for us to pass").
Individuals mounted by Legba always act like old men. Their limbs become weak, twisted and bent and they walk slowly and painfully. The mount's voice becomes forceful and commanding, filled with wisdom and charisma.
The Petro Legba is called Carrefour, master of the crossroads and ruler of the demons and night and ill chance, a night to Legba's day. Carrefour is invoked for his power over the creatures of the night as often for protection as to do harm.
Loco and Ayizan: The Priestly Parents
Loco and Ayizan are the First Priest and Priestess of Voudoun, risen to the status of Loa. They are the archetypical masculine and feminine. Loco is, like Legba, a walker between the worlds who stands at the center axis of reality. Ayizan is the nurturing and generative power of woman that creates and brings forth life. She is also the Loa of prosperity and therefore wealth. Together they are balanced, each completing the other.
Both Loco and Ayizan appear with great subtlty. It is often difficult to notice that they have mounted at all until they speak or act.
Ogoun: Warrior, Hero, Politician
Ogoun is the embodiment of might, power, authority and triumph. Lord of Thunder, God of Fire, The Iron Warrior. Since in modern times power is often political and economic as well as military, Ogoun is also a great diplomat, politician and master trader. He is Power in all of its many forms. He is handsome and dashing and is well known for being the most passionate lover of Erzulie.
Ogoun's mounts act much like soldiers: marching about, calling orders and taking command. Even normally weak or small people project a powerful aura of strength and leadership when ridden by the Loa. Mounts often carry a sabre (the Loa's symbol of authority) and demonstrate great resistance to pain and injury, being able to lie against the sabre's edge without piercing their skin.
As a force of violence, Oguon Ferei the Iron Warrior is often invoked in Petro rites.
CONTACTING THE LOA
Each Voudoun follower has a mait tete Loa (literally "master of the head"). This is the Loa who most resembles the vaudois' personality (or perhaps vice versa). The mait tete is a personal patron, much like a Totem or Idol. However, unlike shamans who follow only their own Totem, a vaudois may interact with many, even all, of the Loa at one point or another.
>>>>>[The mait tete Loa is part of a long and complex family lineage that measures which of the Loa are the strongest influences in the individual's heritage. People with the same mait tete Loa can be considered distantly related in a strange sort of way.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (21:05:00/6-15-55)
>>>>>[Many Haitians use the mait tete in much the same way as some Americans use one's Zodiac sign as a way of describing someone's personality. It's no surprise that someone who is agressive and forceful has Ogoun for a mait tete, for example.]<<<<<
- Islander (20:31:46/6-18-55)
As vaudois advance in Initiation, they may contact and make connections with other Loa. To do so, the vaudois must undertake an spirit quest to Guinee, the Island Beneath the Sea where the Loa dwell and convince the Loa to accept the bond. The more Loa the houngan has connections to, the more difficult it becomes to make new bonds, given the infighting and jealousy that sometimes exists between the Loa.
CALLING UP THE LOA
Vaudois can call upon the Loa they have established good relations with to enter their body and "ride" (possess) them. While ridden by a Loa, the vaudois gains various powers granted by the spirit. However, the vaudois' control over their own actions is very limited while possessed by a Loa.
The Loa will depart when it has finished the task it was called for or whenever it wishes to, generally leaving the vaudois exhausted from the ordeal.
>>>>>[There are many documented cases of Loa possession before the Awakening, but those cases required long and involved rituals full of drumming, dancing and singing, sometimes even drugs or self-inflicted torture, while vaudois these days can call up a Loa with little more than a brief chant.]<<<<<
- Mojo (20:54:10/6-15-55)
>>>>>[Calling the Loa is easier, true, but they are not mere spirits to be commanded.]<<<<<
- Samedi (00:12:20/6-20-55)
A vaudois may also call up a Loa to mount a willing and worthy subject other than him or herself. Such an individual is known as a "serviteur," literally a servant of the Loa. The possessed individual gains all of the normal benefits of being mounted by the Loa. However, since they lack the bond with the Loa that the magician possesses, serviteurs are much more likely to be overwhelmed by the personality of the possessing Loa and are less capable of taking actions on their own.
>>>>>[I was on a run down in bayou country once and ran up against this punk chromer. What I didn't know was that he was a serviteur and that a houngan had called up Ogun Fere to mount him. The razorboy was damn fast and much better than any punk like him had a right to be. The only way I found out that there was something strange about him was our mage seeing something weird in his aura. Scary.]<<<<<
- Impact (02:16:32/6-17-55)
A Loa may also occasionally mount a vaudois or serviteur without being called. The Loa generally do so for two reasons. The first is to warn a loyal follower of some danger or possible offense. The second reason for a Loa to appear in this way is to punish a follower who has given it offense. The Loa will often mount the follower and then put him or her through a series of exhausting and embarassing trials to teach them the error of their ways.
>>>>>[Scary thought. Could a voodoo shaman call a Loa to possess someone and make them into a puppet?]<<<<<
- Silk (20:30:04/6-16-55)
>>>>>[Vaudois have plenty of other things they can do to make someone into a puppet that have nothing to do with the Loa. See the section on zombies.]<<<<<
- Talon (23:58:50/6-19-55)
>>>>>[There have been cases of Loa mounting sketical non-believers who have attended Their rituals with a bad attibute, but no such cases at the behest of a vaudois; the Loa aren't anyone's puppets.]<<<<
- Islander (20:52:02/6-21-55)
In addition to the more powerful and well-know Loa described above, there are also loa travail (literally "work loa," classification anima voudoun laboris); minor spirits which the vaudois can bargain with and command to perform various tasks.
Work loa are similar to Watchers in many ways, but have additional powers. They are a class of spirits similar to Elementals and Nature Spirits, but unlike those spirits are wholly creatures of the astral, unable to manifest in the physical world, although they can affect it indirectly.
>>>>>[Voudoun tradition holds that the work loa are in fact the departed spirits of human beings that are called back from the depths of the mirror world. While some work loa often have a faintly humanoid appearance on the astral it is unknown if these spirits are in fact the astral forms of the deceased or simply "astral echos" or racial memories impressed upon the stuff of the etheric plane.]<<<<<
- MWS (16:40:25/6-21-55)
To conjure a work loa, a vaudois requires a hounfor and a govi, a red clay jar used for that purpose. Unlike Nature Spirits and Elementals, work loa require a "vessel" to contain them. When they are not performing a service for their master, the spirits reside in the govi. Damage to the govi will also affect the spirits, and if the jar is destroyed all of the spirits contained in it are disrupted.
Loa achete ("bought loa") appear to be Free Spirits of some type and are found in areas where Voudoun is practiced. Where these spirits come from is still a mystery, but Guinee appears to be their home metaplane. They are most likely Free Work Loa.
The vaudois can convince a loa achete to serve him in two ways. The first is by offering some service or payment in return. The other, more dangerous, technique is to use the spirit's True Name to compel it into service.
>>>>>[Loa achete are trecherous critters. They'll do just about anything to escape servitude. Believe it or not, reaching some kind of bargain with one seems to work better. The spirit doesn't seem to mind so long as its getting something out of the deal.]<<<<<
- Mojo (21:20:11/6-15-55)
>>>>>[Naturally enough, since such agreements usually result in the spirit increasing it power. There have been some studies of loa achete that indicate that they can become very powerful over time.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (18:15:42/6-16-55)
>>>>>[Of course they can, where do you think the great Loa came from? From little acorns do great oaks grow...]<<<<<
- Samedi (23:54:56/6-17-55)
>>>>>[So eventually these things turn into gods? C'mon.]<<<<<
- Randi (14:53:19/6-19-55)
>>>>>[Far fetched, I'll admit, but I've heard worse theories on the origins of the gods.]<<<<<
- Talon (21:13:40/6-20-55)
Guinee is the mystical Land Beneath the Sea, the ancestral world where the Loa are from. It exists beyond the mirror world of les invisibles (astral space). Guinee is aparently a metaplanemagical scholars suggest that it may be the same as the shamanic Metaplane of Manbut there is know way to know for sure. Vaudois make spirit journeys to Guinee to gain wisdom from the Loa and to seek out other Loa and form bonds with them that will allow the vaudois to call upon their aid.
A journey to Guinee involves the seeking spirit of the vaudois traveling deep into the primordial waters into the mirror world where the Loa dwell. The traveller is confronted with challenges by the Loa and their servants to prove their worth. These challenges range from answering riddles at the crossroad gates to escaping terrible sea creatures that dwell in the dark waters. If successful in the challenges, the traveller reaches the Island Beneath the Sea and may seek out the Loa for the purpose which brought them there.
When asked about performing magic, many vaudois will answer that "man makes the magic, not the Loa." In the Voudoun tradition, sorcery is considered to be a force separate from the Loa, as the proverb suggests. In fact, sorcerers and other magical adepts who are not able to make contact with the Loa are generally considered to be dangerous and suspect by followers of Voudoun, because they see their powers as being practiced without the necessary "supervision" of the Loa.
>>>>>[Dumallier is basically correct. Interesting to note that his own choice of magical tradition might be considered by some fall into the category of one who is not guided by the Loa and would therefore be considered a bocor, or evil magician.]<<<<<
- Walker (20:37:03/6-17-55)
Voudoun sorcery makes heavy use of fetishes of all kinds including: dried insects, herbal powders, chicken bones, rum or other liquor, stones or symbols, drums, rattles, bones, weapons, ritual clothing and jewelry. It is often connected with ritual sorcery and the famous "voodoo doll" of popular myth has its foundation in the ritual links used by the vaudois. These are traditionally humanoid figures of wax, clay or straw containing a genetic sample such as a lock of hair or a few drops of blood. The figures are made to resemble the target to increase the symbolic corresponance between the link and the subject.
>>>>>[Vaudois are usually very good a ritual sorcery and generally prefer it to an open flash-and-bang confrontation. Why stand where an enemy can shoot you when, with a little patience and care, you can bring him down from afar with no one the wiser?]<<<<<
- Runt (22:41:28/6-22-55)
>>>>>[Hey, when the slaves was tossin' hoodoos at massa, it sure didn't pay to make a big thing of it. You bet they got real good at snipin' from cover, and taking their time when they had to.]<<<<<
- Rikki (01:32:48/6-24-55)
A govi is a red clay jar that is used as a vessel for spiritual energies in Voudoun. Govis are used as mediums for the conjuring and control of work loa. They are also used to form astral links that the vaudois can use to perform ritual sorcery. Each vaudois traditionally makes their own govi from native clay, enchanting it for use as a magical vessel.
>>>>>[I've heard that houngans can use a govi to steal someone's spirit or astral form and turn them into something called a "zombie astral," any truth to that?]<<<<<<
- Starfall (17:53:10/6-13-55)
>>>>>[I've heard those rumors, too. So far as I know that's all they are, rumors. There's no confirmation of a vaudois ever being able to do something like that.]<<<<<
- Archangel (20:45:30/6-15-55)
>>>>>[It's quite possible that "astral zombies" are nothing more than work loa - which appear quite human-like in astral space.]<<<<<
- Walker (21:15:20/6-17-55)
The Hounfor is the temple in which the Loa are worshipped and where the vaudois performs magic. They are generally circular huts built around a poteau-mitain (center-post) with a small altar and storage area for fetishes and other magical tools to one side. Elaborate diagrams, known as vevers, are sketched out on the floor of the hounfour with flour or ash for performing rituals such as the summoning of loa travail.
>>>>>[Hounfors are the temples of Voudoun. They are sacred ground to the Loa. The Hounfor contains the vaudois' magical impliments and serves as a dwelling place for his servitor spirits.]<<<<<
- Samedi (00:25:02/6-19-55)
>>>>>[Sounds like a good way to fight one of these guys is to take out the hounfor.]<<<<<
- Tangent (04:32:24/6-21-55)
>>>>>[Not a bad idea, but very dangerous, since hounfors are well-protected. Vaudois often share a single hounfor as well, so you might end up rakking off an entire Voudoun secret society by just jandering up and scragging someone's hounfor.]<<<<<
- Ambros (20;16:43/6-22-55)
There exist adepts among the vaudois who are similar to shamanic adepts. A Voudoun adept may only contact and invoke their mait tete Loa and cast spells of their mait tete Loa. They cannot perform any other kind of magic. Since Voudoun adepts are incapable of astral perception or projection, they cannot form bonds with other Loa.
The Voudoun tradition given so far has described the Rada rite, the most common form of the tradition, but Rada is not the only path. The Petro rite focuses on the forces of violence, anger and the dark powers of the night. It is a vengeful path that was born in the crucible of cruel slavery that the African and Carib peoples were forced into on the islands.
The Petro Loa are darker versions of the Rada rite Loa. For example, as Legba is the Sun, Carrefour - his Petro counterpart - is Lord of the Night and master of the demons of ill-chance, misfortune and destruction. As a Petro Loa, Ghede is known as Baron Samedi, God of Death, Cemeteries and Zombies, Patron of Black Magic, who is able to turn men into ravening beasts.
>>>>>[Sounds like some bad juju. Toxics?]<<<<<
- Argent (21:34:14/6-19-55)
>>>>>[Not exactly. It isn't quite so clear cut in Voudoun. Petro is dark, violent and dangerous, but in Voudoun it is part of a whole. The history of the people Voudoun came from proves that lots of times the world is dark, violent and dangerous. Vaudois often call upon the Petro Loa for protection from the forces they embody as often to use their powers for violence.]<<<<<
- Islander (22:40:10/6-19-55)
In the Voudoun tradition a bocor is a magician who uses their powers without the benevolent supervision and guidance of the Loa. Bocors are mercenary rather than community-minded and will use their abilities for whomever can meet their price. Bocors are feared for their power and their willingness to use it and they tend to cultivate this fearsome reputation.
>>>>>[Bocors also have a reputation for being more compliant than vaudois; willing to cast curses or zombify one's enemies for the right price. A big element of the influx of money into the islands after the Awakening was the pool of magical talent that Petro Voudoun provided for all sorts of black ops.]<<<<<
- Mojo (02:44:19/6-20-55)
>>>>>[Bocor is a term with a lot of leeway to it. Some traditionalists consider all blanc magicians to be bocors. Others don't think foreign magicians even count. Sometimes bocors are considered evil other times they are looked upon with a certain necessity. Not cut and dried at all.]<<<<<
- Islander (15:24:32/6-22-55)
The Zombie is the most famous aspect of Voudoun, made famous in gory Hollywood film productions of the twentieth century. However, Voudoun zombies are not usually the walking dead of B-grade horror films. They are in many ways an even more sinister manifestation.
The most common kind of zombie is created when a bocor prepares a powerful biochemical powder that causes the victim to fall into a death-like trance when the drug is ingested or absorbed through the skin. The powder, known as "zombie dust," is prepared from various natural neurotoxins according to rites passed on in the tradition. It is then sprinkled across the victim's doorway, where it will be stepped on by bare feet or for greater certainty put directly into food and drink.
After the victim has been pronounced dead and buried, the bocor and his servants unearth him and apply a potion that that negates the first and also deadens the will . The victim can then be easily controlled by the use of spells and becomes a mindless laborer of the bocor. Some few have escaped such servitude and lived to tell of it.
>>>>>[There was a famous case back in the twentieth century of a Haitian man who claimed to have been a zombie and escaped servitude, only to be considered dead by his friends and family. It was the first time that zombies were really brought into the public eye.]<<<<<
- Wade (11:10:22/6-16-55)
>>>>>[There are rumors of corporate R&D lab working to isolate the bioactive agents in zombie powder and distill a more powerful and effective agent.]<<<<<
- Chrome Zulu (02:16:16/6-17-55)
>>>>>[And I've heard that at least one of those labs has suffered an unfortunate accident that was caused by one of the voodoo secret societies.]<<<<<
- Kazuo (05:45:48/6-17-55)
>>>>>[Zombification has been illegal in Haiti since before the Awakening, and is now illegal throughout North America and much of the world. Many of the voudoun secret societies have been know to sentence someone that they have found guilty of a crime to serve out their punishment as a zombie as a means of teaching them a lesson.]<<<<<
- Archangel (20:05:55/6-18-55)
After the Awakening, bocors can also create zombies that are truly dead. They do so through the use of animation spells to create Corpse Cadavre or through the inhabitation power of work loa. These mindless, shambling corpses make terrible servants who feel no pain and have no remorse.
>>>>>[I'll say. These things are fraggin' scary. Those old flatvids seem funny until you've actually had a bunch of these things trying to geek you and no matter how many you kill, they just keep on coming.]<<<<<
- Sherman (01:46:54/6-20-55)
>>>>>[The corpse cadavre aren't as tough as loa zombies, but there are usually more of them. Loa zombies are as tough as manifest spirits, but they are more vulnerable to magic and can be deprived of their animating force through banishing. Ya pays your nuyen and ya takes your chances.]<<<<<
- Talon (23:30:20/6-22-55)
>>>>>[Direct sunlight also seems to break down the biochemicals used in creating corpse cadavre; sunlight is intensely painful to them and will eventually render them inanimate if they are exposed long enough. Loa zombies have no such weakness, however.]<<<<<
- Islander (18:17:04/6-23-55)
>>>>>[Creating zombies of any kind is considered a crime in most North American countries and provinces, the severity ranging from a public nuisance to magical assault charges. Animating the dead isn't considered nearly as serious as enslaving the living, but it still carries a substantial legal penalty.]<<<<<
- SPD (20:15:58/6-23-55)
>>>>>[Of course, just because the UCAS gummit decided to outlaw zombies doesn't mean that Ares Macrotech or MCT are prohibited from animating corpses and using them in their own extra-territorial encalves if they want. Away from the prying eyes of the public, of course...]<<<<<
- zoomer (23:14:56/6-27-55)
Voudoun has always proven to be a highly adaptive tradition, "borrowing" liberally from other faiths (such as Christianity) for symbolism, while retaining a solid core of beliefs and traditions. Since the Awakening, there have been many Voudoun splinter sects that have borrowed from shamanic and even Hermetic magical traditions. Some of these sects even speak of new Loa that inhabit the Sixth World and which are only now becoming known to vaudois.
One modern manifestation of the Voudoun tradition has formed around the image of the Matrix. Some small groups of Voudoun worshippers have given the Matrix a place in their religious heirarchy as a kind of "otherworld" that is not unlike the "mirror world" of the Loa. They claim that there exist special spirits within cyberspace and that these Loa can also manifest through their jacked-in serviteurs. While studies have shown instances of trance-states and neurological changes by these vaudois while jacked into the Matrix, there is currently no solid evidence of the source of these phenomena, which may in fact be only a form of ASIST feedback.
Ceremonies of these Voudoun sects are always characterized by the use of simsense and virtual reality technology to generate the trance states associated with Voudoun worship. Some elaborate rituals take place entirely in virtual reality simulations of complex temples with sophisticated sensory images of the Loa and their symbols.
The "virtual voudoun" sect is one of many examples of the tradition's modern interpretations. The flexibility of a magical tradition is often its most powerful tool in allowing the tradition to grow and adapt to the new requirements of our ever-changing modern world. If so, the way of the Loa will be with us for many years to come.
>>>>>[What losers. Just goes to show; you give a bunch of primatives a techno-toy and they go and turn it into a god.]<<<<<
- Neon (23:04:55/6-14-55)
>>>>>[I don't know about that, chummer, some of those grid voodoo-types are very saavy deckers. I've seen one of their systems and it had some serious drek-hot icon work, supra-realistic but way-out strange at the same time. They may be a little wierd, but their Matrix stuff is bang on.]<<<<<
- Killroy (was/here)
>>>>>[It's more than just good programming. I've seen some of the stuff that these guys have done close up and let me tell you, the source code was like nothing I'd ever seen before, and I've seen stuff from every corner of the 'trix. This VR voodoo stuff made me feel like a kid sitting down in front of an Excalibur. There's something real about these guys. I don't know magic from a hole in the ground, but the programming was totally unreal.]<<<<<
- Agassi Blue (14:50:28/6-16-55)
>>>>>[Think there might actually be something to all of this hoodoo stuff they're doing?]<<<<<
- Contrail (20:12:37/6-16-55)
>>>>>[Voodoo programming? Come on, it didn't work for economics, why should it for the 'trix?]<<<<<
- The Kid (02:34:49/6-18-55)
>>>>>[What about the spirits that they claim live in the Matrix?]<<<<<
- Porky (15:44:08/6-18-55)
>>>>>[Drug and simsense-induced hallucinations if you ask me. Spirits can't exist in the Matrix. Everyone knows that.]<<<<<
- Randi (20:02:30/6-18-55)
>>>>>[Not classical spirits, no, but things that the vaudois might consider spirits could be in the Matrix. A sufficiently sophisticated program construct could appear to be like a spirit in the Machine, maybe even a Loa in voudoun terms.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (22:34:45/6-18-55)
>>>>>[Let's stop beating around the bush here. You mean an Artificial Intelligence. There could be an AI (or even more than one) that they worship like a Loa. The question is, what does that AI want and why does it encourage or allow this worship?]<<<<<
- DRAM (22:04:54/6-20-55)
>>>>>[Couldn't be an AI. There aren't any artificial intelligences, and there may well never be one depending on what the technical journals are saying this week. If there were an AI in the Matrix it would certainly have better things to do than be worshipped by a little cult of voodoo followers.]<<<<<
- Tesseract (04:34:21/6-21-55)
>>>>>[Maybe. Who can say what an AI would want? They would be totally alien to our way of thinking; maybe akin the Loa, in fact.]<<<<<
- Silicon Mage (16:30:59/6-21-55)
>>>>>[I also hear tell that at least one of these sects has developed a new kind of ice program that overwrites the target's mind and turns them into a mindless zombie.]<<<<<
- Killroy (was/here)
>>>>>[Oh, give me a break! Matrix zombies? Maybe these guys are okay deckers, but c'mon!!]<<<<<
- Neon (21:40:29/6-22-55)
>>>>>[Howcome there's no comment from any voodoo deckers... if they really exist?]<<<<<
- The Kid (01:18:11/6-23-55
>>>>>[Maybe they don't feel like talking to us?]<<<<<
- Killroy (was/here)
>>>>>[For you chummers out there for don't sling the lingo, here's a short lexicon of terms used in Voudoun:
Ange: An angel or good spirit.
Asson: A sacred rattle used in calling up the Loa.
Baka: An evil spirit or demon.
Blanc: A white person, foreigner.
Bocor: A mercenary sorcerer, usually with an evil reputation.
Cheval: "Horse." To be mounted by a Loa; to be possessed.
Connaissance: A knowledge of herbal cures and healing magic learned by skilled vaudois.
Engagement: The magical bond or contract between a Loa and a mortal, for special favor. A service is usually expected of the person in return.
Fort: "Strength." Refers to a person who is strong in magical skills and knowledge.
Garde: A magical charm or talisman.
Govi: A red clay jar used to contain spirits.
Gris-Gris: A magical spell.
Gros Bon Ange: The spiritual double of a person, the astral or etheric form (literally the "big good angel").
Hounfor: Temple, the ritual place. Also refers to the members of a particular temple, a "congregation."
Houngan: A practioner/priest of Voudoun.
Hounenikon: High official of the Hounfor, assistant to the Houngan.
Hounsis: Members of the Societe who act as assistants and helpers to the Houngan.
Installe: Possession by a Loa.
La-Place: An apprentice and assistant to the Houngan.
Loa: The deities of Voudoun.
Loa Achete: "Bought Loa." A spirit that serves a vaudois in exchange for some payment.
Loa Travail: "Work Loa." Lesser spirits a vaudois may bind into service.
Loup Garou: A werewolf.
Mambo: A Voudoun priestess.
Mange Moun: A fatal problem or illness sent as a curse by a malevolent spirit.
Nom Vailant: The ritual name of the Houngan.
Societe: The community underlying the Hounfor.
Vevers: Symbols used to represent and call the Loa. May be drawn or painted or sketched with flour or ash on the ground. Similar to cabalistic symbols.
Vaudois: A practioner of Voudoun.
Zombie: A human being who has had their will sapped away and been made the magical slave of a bocor or a corpse that has been animated by magic.]<<<<<
- Islander (19:17:55/6-15-55)
This section provides some expansion and clarifications of the magical skills described in the Shadowrun, Second Edition Rulesbook and the Grimoire, Second Edition, as well as describing a few new skills for magician player characters.
Like other skills, it is possible to default magical skills through the Skill Web (SRII, p.XX). Sorcery, Conjuring and Enchanting all default to Magic Theory as well as to each other (it is possible for a theoretical thaumaturgist to attempt some practical applications of magic, but they're not likely to be as good at it). Magical skills can also default to Attributes, generally Willpower. Remember that adepts and even mundanes can also make use of magical skill defaults. Even if they cannot use the applicable skill to do magic they can use it for various non-magical Tests. For example, a mundane who learns the True Name of a Free Spirit can default to Willpower in the Conjuring Test to control that spirit (Though they are better off spending the time and karma learning Conjuring if they want to succeed!)
Conjuring is the skill of summoning, controling and dismissing various spirits that dwell in astral space. Each magical tradition has a class of spirits that it can call upon. Conjuring includes knowledge of many of the rituals used to control and ward against spirits as well and is sometimes learned by mundanes as a means of defending themselves against spirit powers. Anyone, mundane or magician, who has the Conjuring skill, can substitute their Skill Level for an Attribute to resist the effect of a spirit's powers (Grimoire, p.XX).
Concentrations and Specializations
Summoning: This is the skill of calling spirits to attend a magician. While some magicians concentrate on summoning, it is generally considered poor magical practice (³Do not call up that which you cannot put down,² as Agrippa put it). Summoning can be further Specialized by spirit type (Fire Elemental, Forest Spirit and so forth).
Banishing: Banishing dismisses spirits of all types back to the metaplanes. It is the one Conjuring Concentration that is equally usable on all spirits by all magicians. Many magicians Concentrate in banishing, especially ³exorcists² and those that often deal with hostile spirits, like mage-detectives. Banishing can be further Specialized by Spirit Class (Elemental, Nature Spirit, Watcher and so forth).
Controling: Controling or binding involves taking command of a spirit from another magician (controling one's own spirits is covered under Summoning). Magicians can use this Concentrtion in control contests (SRII, p.XX) either offensively or defensively. Controling can be further Specialized by spirit type (Fire Elemental, Forest Spirit and so forth).
Spirit Type: Since each magical tradition has a class of spirits it can summon, further concentrations are within that class. For example, a mage could choose to Concentrate in Conjuring Earth Elementals gaining a bonus to summon, control and banish them. The only exceptions are watchers (which are a class of spirits of their own) and Banishing, which can Specialize by type (Fire Elemental, City Spirit, etc.).
It is possible to Concentrate in conjuring ally spirits (Grimoire, p.XX). Such a character would use the concentration for all Conjuring Tests involving the ally spirit (including Banishing the spirit). The concentration only affects allies that are summoned by the character personally and not the ally spirits of other magicians. Those spirits should be treated as free spirits (see below). If the magician's ally spirit goes free, the concentration still applies to it, but the magician will not be able to use Conjuring against the spirit without learning its True Name (Grimoire, p.XX).
Since each free spirit is a unique, Named being in its own right, there is no Conjuring Concentration for ³Free Spirits² in general. However, it is possible to Concentrate in Conjuring for a specific free spirit, provided that the spirit is known to the character. The character need not know the spirit's True Name, but will not be able to use Conjuring on the spirit until its True Name is known. Some obsessives (especially mundanes) have been known to learn Conjuring for a specific spirit and spend years seeking its True Name in order to use their skill.
Enchanting is the skill used for making magical materials such as foci, fetishes and alchemal radicals. It is also used for analyzing these items, especially in cases where they are, ahem, found unexpectedly.
Concentrations and Specializations
Talismongering: This concentration focuses on the creation of fetishes and other materials for magical use (such as the materials used in conjuring or ritual sorcery). This concentration is used for gathering materials and refining them, making fetishes and ritual materials and identifying magical materials. Even mundanes can use Talismongery and many mundane talismongers Concentrate in this area. Talismongering can be further Specialized in each of the individual tasks above (materials gathering/refining, making fetishes/materials and magic item identification).
Alchemy: This is the art of refining raw materials into alchemal radicals which are useful for making magical items. It is also used to produce the magical metal orichalcum that is so vital in many enchanting processes. Alchemy can be Specialized in each of the arcanna or materials (Herbs, Minerals and Metals).
Artificing: The artificing Concentration is used to create magical foci and can be used to reduce the bonding cost of ready-made foci (Grimoire, p.XX). An Enchanter can Specialize in a particular type of focus as listed in the Shadowrun, Second Edition Rulebook or the Grimoire, but there are very few Enchanters who can afford such a narrow field in their art. These rare few are all very skilled, however and can command the best prices for their master-pieces of enchanting work.
This concentration of the Etiquette skill deals with the unique sub-culture of the magically active. It is a fairly narrow group, but the Awakened tend to be fairly tight-knit, despite any other differences of opinion there is something about all magically active people that sets them apart from the rest of the mundane world. Characters with this skill know the right things to say and do to in dealing with magicians and their affairs: where they meet, what the social circles are like, and what to say and not say. Some mundanes learn this skill, especially if they people who are required to deal with magicians a great deal such as talismongers. Specializations of this skill are by magical tradition or specific geographic area.
Magical theory is the one magical skill that is the same for mundanes and magicians alike. Even a mundane who is totally incapable of any kind of active magic can still gain a complete understanding of the principles and theories behind magic, although there are fairly few who have the dedication to do so without at least some of the Talent. Those mundanes with the dedication to learn about magic generally make excellent theorists.
Concentrations and Specializations
History: This concentration covers the general history of magical thought and traditions. The general concentration covers all major periods in human history and their individual theories of magic, focusing on some of the movements and eras that were particularly influencial in modern magical theory like 19th century England and the early Americas. It is further Specialized by either geographic area (European, North American and so on) or historical period (the Renaissance, the first Ghost Dance Rebellion).
Spell Design: This is the skill of creating new spell formulae that allow the energies of astral space to be channeled in a particular way to create a particular effect. Even mundane theorists or adepts lacking full use of the Sorcery skill can design spells, even if they are unable to cast them. They cannot, however, teach these spells without active use of magic; if some magician wants to learn a spell from a mundane theorist's formula, they have to puzzle the exact casting out on their own. Spell Design can be further Specialized by magical tradition (Hermetic, Shamanic and so forth). Translating a magical formula from one tradition to another imposes a +2 penalty to TNs involving the formula.
Tradition: This concentration focuses on a particular magical tradition: Hermetic, Shamanic, Druidic and so forth. Each of the major magical traditions outlined in the published Shadowrun products counts as a seperate concentration. The gamemasters may wish to further break some of these down into Specialized traditions (e.g. English Druidry, Native American Shamanism, Post-Modern Hermeticism and so forth).
Parapsychology: This skill is a specialization of Magic Theory that involves the study of 19th and 20th century theories of ³psychic² or paranormal abilities based around a conventional scientific model. Most of the information in the discipline has no practical value beyond trivia, but there is just enough accurate material so that someone with Parapsychology may have a very limited knowledge of accurate Magic Theory. In 2055, parapsychology is only studied by a handful of historian and scholars and by magically active individuals who believe that their abilities fit into the parapsychology or psionic model.
Sorcery is the skill of manipulating astral energies to cause effects in the real world. Sorcery is the broadest magical skill, covering all aspects of controling and shaping the energies of astral space to the magician's will.
Concentrations and Specializations
Astral Sorcery: This concentration covers use of Sorcery directly in the astral plane astral combat and the complex manipulations of Metamagic (Grimoire, p.XX). It does not affect spellcasting while astral projecting or on a metaplane. A character could choose to Specialize in either aspect (astral combat or metamagic). Physical adepts with astral perception often learn a Specialization in Astral Combat.
Forensic Magic: This is a Concentration that deals with the peculiarities of gathering and using criminal evidence magically. Its main use is to find usable samples of evidence that can function as material links for ritual sorcery (SRII, p.XX). If the magician finds a usable sample they may make a Forensic Magic Test against a Target Number of 4 and multiply the sample's viability time by the number of successes achieved (Grimoire, p.XX).
Spellcasting: This is the skill of right-here-and-now magic that addresses an immediate need. Magicians learn to quickly channel astral energies into a preset pattern defined by the spell formula. Specialization is available for each Spell Category. Combat mages and many street magicians prefer to Concentrate on immediate bang-for-the-buck effects such as this.
Ritual Sorcery: The other side of the coin, ritual magic builds up power slowly, but is capable of more coordination and complexity than spellcasting. Specialization is available for each Spell Category. Academic magicians and some R&D wagemage-types tend to be better with ritual magic. Also, the few mundanes who bother to learn Sorcery often end up learning ritual magic.
Spell Defense: The skill of re-directing hostile magical forces back into the astral and away from their targets. If the magicians is capable of using Metamagic, this Concentration also applies to Shielding. ³Bodyguard² magicians and those who make wardings and the like their profession often Concentrate here. Specializations are available by Spell Category.
Spell Category: A magician can Concentrate on one of the five Spell Categories (Combat, Detection, Health, Illusion and Manipulation). Shamanic and elemental adepts often Concentrate in their own area of spells as do other magicians with a particular focus like Combat Sorcerers or Healers. A further Specialization is available by technique (spellcasting or ritual sorcery). Note that a magician who Concentrates in a spell category has reduced skill with all other spell categories, including using Spell Defense against those spells.
When applying a Sorcery Concentration or Specialization, adjust the magician's Magic Pool according to the current use of the skill.
Example: Zorch the street mage has a Concentration in Spellcasting with a Specialization in Combat Spells so he can really kick some butt. He has Sorcery 8 for spellcasting combat spells, 6 for other types of spellcasting and 4 for all other uses of Sorcery. When Zorch throws a fireball at a bunch of gangers, his Magic Pool is at 8 dice. When he tries to heal one of his chummers who's been shot, it's at 6 dice and when he uses spell defense to deflect the toxic shaman's acid spell, he has 4 dice (ouch!)
This special skill (also known as Psychometry) is used to gain information from assensing auras in astral space (SRII, p.XX). Characters with this skill can use their Skill Rating in place of their Intelligence when making Astral Perception Tests to gain information from an aura or subject in astral space.
If a character attempts to determine if a magician is using astral perception, roll a Perception Test versus a Target Number of the magician's Magic Rating. If the observer is capable of astral perception, but not astrally active, the TN is at -2. If the observer is astrally active, they can automatically tell if someone is astrally perceiving (i.e., astrally active).
Assensing a subject's aura gives the magician the basic idea of the level of the subject's Essence and Magic Ratings. This can be used as a crude means to determine if someone has cyberware (if their Essence is very low, they likely have cyber). It does not, however, tell the magician anything about what kind of cyberware or what it does. At the gamemaster's discretion, a magician who scores enough successes on an Astral Perception Test might be able to determine very generally where cyberware has been implanted (such as seeing the altered aura of a normal-looking cyberlimb). Bioware is virtually undectable through astral perception. The gamemaster should make a secret Astral Perception Test with a base Target Number of 12 minus the subject's Body Index to determine if an assensing magician detects the presence of bioware.
STIM PATCHES AND MAGIC LOSS
In the Shadowrun, Second Edition Rulebook (p.250) notes that stim patches can potentially damage a magician's Magic Rating. However, it is possible under that rule for a magician to use one Rating 1 patch after another with very little chance of failing a Magic Test (unless it somehow comes up all ones). To better reflect this rule, the gamemaster should keep track of the total rating of stim patches used by a magician in a 24 hour period and require a single Magic Test test against that total. Failing the Test means the magician must make a Test for the loss of a Magic point just as if they had taken a Deadly wound.
CYBERWARE AND MAGIC LOSS
When paying Essence for cyberware, magicians must also lower their Magic Attribute accordingly. This should be one full point of Magic for every full point or fraction thereof of Essence. In addition, magician characters who have cyberware or bioware implanted after play begins must also make Tests for Magic Loss if the surgical procedure causes Deadly Damage or if the surgeon implanting the cyberware does not take the +2 penalty for treating a magician when making Surgury Tests (SRII, p.XX).
This ability functions similarly to the normal metamagical shielding ability (Grimoire p.45). The magician allocates shield dice normally, but instead of adding to the opposition's target number, the shield has a different effect. If the successes vs. the spell's Force rolled on the shield dice alone exceed the successes rolled by the attacking magician, the spell rebounds and attacks the magician with the net number of successes.
Example: Talon is attacked by a wagemage and puts up a reflective shield using six magic pool dice. The attacking magician throws a Force 4 manabolt, augmented by three dice from his magic pool. The wagemage rolls 7 dice with a TN of 6 (Talon's Willpower) and gets two successes. Talon rolls his six shielding dice with a TN of 4, getting three successes. The manabolt rebounds against the wagemage, who may use his remaining magic pool to attempt to offset the damage.
A magician hit by a reflected spell may use unallocated Magic Pool as well as Spell Defense or Shielding dice to resist the effects. This may cause magicians to exhaust their defense dice resisting their own spells, leaving them open to the defender's attack.
This technique of spell reflection was fairly well known among both Western and tribal magical systems before the Awakening and is now used in both. Initiates cannot combine reflective and normal shields. Astral perception is, of course, required for this power to be used.
This type of focus provides enhanced concentration and additional dice for use with Centering Skills equal to the Rating (Grimoire, p.XX). The magician cannot gain more dice from the focus than they have base dice in a Centering skill and the focus must be active for the magician to gain the bonus. Centering foci are often items which are complimentary to a particular Centering Skill, such as a musical instrument.
When a magician relies too heavily upon foci, they become a "crutch" for their magic, which begins to weaken, just like a muscle that isn't exercised regularly. If a magician uses a total Rating of foci greater than their base Magic Attribute, they must make a Magic Test with a Target Number equal to the total Ratings of the foci. If the test succeeds, there is no effect. If it fails, the magician becomes foci-addicted. A focus-addicted magician gains an involuntary kind of geas (Grimoire, p.XX): if the magician is not using an active focus that applies to the magical skill being used, all magical Target Numbers are at +2. This is in addition to any other geasa that the magician may already have.
Example: Gus the burned-out mage (Magic Attribute 1) wants to throw a killer Fireball spell at some gangers who are threatening his chummers. He activates his Rating 4 Power Focus and casts his spell. Since 4 is higher than Gus' Magic Attribute, the gamemaster then calls for a Magic Test with a Target Number of 4 (the Rating of the focus). Gus fails the test and becomes addicted; any time he uses magic without having this or another focus active, Gus takes a +2 penalty to all of his magical target numbers.
The focus-addiction may be shed like other geasa upon initiation (Grimoire, p.XX), but the magician can become foci-addicted again if another Magic Test is failed. If a magician chooses to ignore the foci geas, they suffer a kind of "withdrawl" that has the same effect as the Path of the Burnout (Grimoire, p.XX); the penalty drops away, but the magician can never become an Initiate and loses any Grades if already an Initiate, dropping to Grade 0.
This metamagical technique allows an initiate to attempt to decativate another magician's foci by briefly severing the astral link between the foci and the magician. the initiate must use astral perception and be able to see the focus. A Sorcery or Enchanting Test and a Complex Action is required, with a Target Number equal to the Rating of the focus. If the test is successful, the focus is deactivated, but otherwise undamaged. If the owner wants to use the focus, they must expend a Simple Action to re-activate it. An initiate can block foci with a Rating equal to or less than Grade. After making the test, the initiate must make a Drain Test of (Focus Rating)M.
As described in the Shadowrun Second Edition Rulebook (p.138) a spell lock ³ vanishes once it is in place. It is still there, and operating, but mundanes cannot see it, touch it, or affect it.² When a spell lock is attached to a target and activated, the lock's physical properties do not change, instead the spell lock creates a magical effect that causes mundanes to ignore, rationalize, or otherwise take no real notice of the spell lock's presence.
Normally, this ³see-me-not² effect is automatic and requires no test; mundanes simply don't notice the lock and react as if it weren't there. If the spell lock is in the form of something particularly outlandish or unusual like a neon propeller beenie, mundanes might take notice of the item, but find themselves wondering about it only after the wearer has left the immediate area.
This effect of spell locks does not work against magically active characters (i.e., those with a Magic Attribute of at least 1). However, an awakened character will not necessarily know an item is a spell lock simply by looking at it. They must assense the object using astral perception in order to be aware of its magical properties. Of course, being able to see an object that no one else can is certainly a hint to most that something is up.
The Grimoire, Second Edition describes the phenomenon of Background Count on the astral (p.XX). This section expands upon that material, describing different types of ³astral terrain² and their effects on magic.
Energies in astral space often flow in ³streams,² thin ribbons of mana that follow the contours of the Land. These are known by many names; leys, feng lung, songlines, dream paths. Modern magical theorists call them manalines. Manalines represent flows of astral power that a magician can tap into and use to enhance or strengthen their magic.
A manaline has a Rating from 1 (the weakest and most typical) to 4 (the strongest lines, like the great leys of the British Isles or the Australian songlines). A magician who is standing on a manaline can add a number of dice equal to the Rating of the manaline to their Magic Pool so long as (in the gamemaster's opinion) their magic does not conflict with the energies of the line and the land. Multiple magicians can tap the same manaline so long as they are all in contact with it.
Locations tend to accumulate magical power if exposed to it over a long time and some sites just seem to be naturally more magically powerful than others. Places like caves, grottoes, towers, mountains, beaches, wells, crossroads and cliffs are sometime places of power for magical workings. Such places are often at a junction where several manlines cross. These places are Rated from 1 to 5. Magicians whose magic is in harmony with the energies of the place can tap the Rating as additional Magic Pool dice.
Manalines, power sites and background count are often ³aspected,² which is to say that the energies are aligned to favor one specific kind of magic or another. Over time, locations can build up powerful impressions from the emotions experienced at there, which can shape the astral terrain in various ways that affect magic. For example, a place that has been long devoted as a sacred site for nature magic might grant a bonus only for conjuring nature spirits. The same site might have a background count that only interferes with the magic of those who are not nature magicians.
Gamemasters can use aspected power sites as a means of balancing the effects of magic in their Shadowrun games. For example, if the adventure calls for magically powerful opponent, the gamemaster might choose to set the climax of the story at a site where the opposition's magic is enhanced and perhaps the characters' is inhibited.
TEMPORARY BACKGROUND COUNT
Much of the background count described in the Grimoire, such as found at highly sacred or polluted sites, is a fairly permanent phenomenon barring some major change in the site. However, there are also various ebbs and flows in the stuff of the etheric plane that produce temporary eddies and currents that can cause short-term background counts. Examples of these include any especially strong release of emotion or magic that impresses a great deal of energy into the etheric medium, including extreme violence, powerful spells, riots, massive rock concerts and ecstatic religious rituals. Once the source of the background count is gone, the impression will fade over time, from a few hours to several days or weeks depending on the strength and intensity of the original impression (gamemaster's discression as to how long any given impression may last).
Similar to dispelling, cleansing is a metamagical technique that allows an initiate to clear astral "clutter" out of an area. The ability has two main uses:
The first is the elimination of the astral traces left behind by the use of Sorcery, the presence of spirits, etc. The initiate makes a Sorcery test against a TN equal to the Force of the phenomenon that caused the trace, minus the initiate's Grade (minimum TN of 2). Each success on this test increases the difficulty of later noticing the traces in astral space by one. After the Sorcery test, the magician must make a Willpower test versus a Drain code equal to the damage that the source of the trace would have done in astral combat (SRII, p.147). Thus an initiate clearing traces of a spirit presence would have to resist (Force)M Drain, while clearing the astral traces of a Hellblast spell would require resisting (Force)D Drain. Centering may be used against the Drain. Cleansing has no effect on any physical traces left behind, only astral presences, so the burn and blast marks and other phyiscal damage caused by the Hellblast spell remains, but the astral trace of the spell becomes more difficult to assense and indentify.
Example: Felicia, a Grade 1 Initiate, is attempting to cleanse the astral traces of a Force 5 manabolt that she used to fell a guard Barghest. She makes a test with her 7 Sorcery dice against a target number of 4 (the force of the manabolt minus her Grade) and scores three successes. When the corp's wagemage later examines the site for clues, the gamemaster will increase the difficulty for spotting Felicia's handiwork by three.
The other use of Cleansing is to clear away Temporary Background Count (see above). For the cleansing to be effective, the cause of the background count must first be removed. Thus, attempting to Cleanse the background count from a poisoned river will have no affect until the waters are first cleared of the physical pollution. Cleansing cannot affect lasting, long-term background counts such as those found in powerful emotional sites like the Great Pyramids or Auschwitz. As always, the gamemaster has final say on whether or not a particular background count can be affected.
Cleansing Temporary Background Count also erases any other astral traces associated with the event that caused the background count, such as sorcery or spirit presences. Thus, if a magician wishes to assense the area for information, it must be done before any cleansing is performed. Cleansing can also dispell the background count created by the Astral Static spell (Grimoire, p.XX), but in this case, use the normal rules for dispelling instead of those listed below.
The Initiate may only affect background count less than or equal to Grade. Make a Sorcery test against a Target Number of (Background Count x 2). The background count is reduced by one for every two successes. The magician then must resist (Level)D Drain with Willpower. The initiate may Center against the Drain.
Example: Dr.O'Malley, a forensic magician, after completing his study of a murder site, works to clear the miasma of evil that hangs over the area. O'Malley is a Grade 2 Initiate with Sorcery 6. The crime has caused a Background Count of 2. He rolls six dice versus a Target Number of 4, gaining four successes. That is enough to reduce the background count to nothing and eliminate the eerie feeling that hangs over the area.
This section expands upon the rules for Wards (Grimoire, p.XX) and allows magicians to create several different types of wardings.
Normal wards are astral barriers that block all movement in astral space. Even the creator of the ward cannot penetrate it. While this is fine for most uses, there are occasions where it is necessary for the ward's creator to be able to move freely through the ward to perform some magical workings. In this case, a magician has the option of creating an "attuned" ward. Attunded wards are adjusted to their creator's auric "signature" and are transparent to it, allowing the ward's creator to pass through it as if the ward were not even present. The ward still functions as an astral barrier to all other presences in astral space.
Using an attuned ward, a magician can perform magic from within the ward without obstruction and still be protected from outside astral influences. One common use is for a magician to place an attunded ward around their physical body while astral projecting or questing to keep unwanted spirits away from the vacant body.
The drawback to attuned wards is that they have an additional weakness that can be exploited. Normally the only way for a magician to penetrate a ward is to defeat the ward in astral combat, which always alerts the ward's creator. Initiates, however, have an additional option. Through the use of deliberate masking (Grimoire, p.46) an astral initiate can attempt to "synchronize" his aura with that of the ward's creator, allowing him to pass through an attuned ward. Note that critters with the Aura Masking power (Grimoire, p.XX) may attempt to penetrate attunded wards as if they were initiates.
To attempt this the magician makes a deliberate masking attempt as normal. The gamemaster then rolls a test for the ward to penetrate the masking as if the magician who set up the ward were present (Grimoire, p.46). If the magician's masking is successful, he can pass through the ward as if it were not there. If it fails, the ward cannot be bypassed. Note that attuned wards created by non-initiate magicians do not gain a test to penetrate the masking and thus can be penetrated easily by initiates.
This type of ward does not block the passage of astral beings, but does inhibit the use of detection spells, assensing and critter powers such as Search across the boundaries of the ward. This also affects the Sending Test for Ritual Sorcery. Add the Rating of the ward to the difficulty number for these tasks.
Concealment wards cost 500¥ in materials per Rating point of the ward.
An alarm ward does not block the passage of astral beings or magic, indeed it is difficult to detect in astral space as anything other than a faint shimmer (astral perception test with a Target Number of the ward's Rating to spot it). Instead the ward simply alerts its creator when an astral entity passes across its boundaries. If the ward is attacked and killed in astral combat, its creator will be aware of it.
Alarm wards cost 500¥ in materials per Rating point.
A masking ward is a type of concealment ward (see above) that can only be created by an Initiate. In addition to all of the effects of a concealment ward, a masking ward can also cause any magical effect or phenomenon within it is bounds with an equal or lesser Force to appear as mundane or non-magical. The ward can be penetrated in the same manner as the casting magician's personal Masking (Grimoire, p.XX).
WARDS AND FOCI
Wards attempt to block all astrally active entities from passing. This includes magical things such as active foci or sustained, locked or quickened spells. If a character carrying one of these items passes through a ward, the ward will make a single astral combat test against the item as it passes through. If the ward inflicts Deadly damage, the spell or focus is destroyed, but if less than Deadly damage is inflicted there is no effect and the item or spell passes through the ward. There may be a slight visible discharge of energy, an astral echo-shimmer, when an active item or spell passes through a ward. The Target Number to spot this effect with a Perception Test is equal to the difference between the Rating of the item and the Rating of the ward. For example, a spell lock (Rating 1) passing through a Force 5 Ward would be TN 4 (5-1). A Rating 5 Weapon Focus passing through the same ward would be TN 2 (5-5 = 0, minimum TN of 2).
When a mundane attacks a manifest spirit in hand-to-hand combat, they are in fact engaging in a kind of struggle of wills with the spirit, which is why Willpower is used instead of the relevant Combat Skill. Since the combat is little more than a kind of ritual for the true struggle that takes place between the character and the spirit, the actual abilities of the character's weapon is not as important as its symbolism. Symbolically, a sword is a sword no matter what its physical properties may be. Against a spirit, an ancient broadsword is just as effective as a modern carbon-steel monoblade.
In game terms, technological enhancements to melee weapons such as monofilament edges, laser attachments, Dikote and so forth do not count for additional damage when fighting a manifest spirit. Use only the base damage value of the weapon to calculate damage. Any Strength enhancements that the character has do count towards damage, provided: a) they are magical in nature (spells, adept abilities and so forth) or b) the character paid Essence or Body Index for the enhancement (i.e., cyberware or bioware enhancements).
Example: Blade the street ronin is fighting an elemental with his Dikoted katana. His normal damage with the katana is 12S (the katana's base damage, modified by his Strength of 8 and the Dikote). Against the elemental, the benefits of the dikote are ignored and Blade does 11M base damage.
NATURE SPIRIT DOMAINS
Conjuring nature spirits is discussed in greater detail in the Shadowrun Rulebook (p.XX) and The Grimoire (p.XX). This section provides some additional rules and clarifications about nature spirits and shamans' ability to summon them.
In situations where an area qualifies as more than one type of nature spirit Domain, such as a wooded mountain slope, the shaman must choose a single Domain to interact with. If the shaman shifts attention to a different Domain, it is considered the same as leaving the domain and any nature spirit performing services for the shaman will depart.
Example: Sandra Willowfall is on the slope of Mt.Rainier, playing hide-and-seek with some Salish-Shidhe troops. She calls upon the Forest Spirit to conceal her from the troops. Unfortunately for Sandra, one of the troopers gets lucky and spots her, despite the spirit's help. She wants to cause a rockslide to disable their jeep, so she shifts her focus to the Mountain spirit and calls upon it. The Forest Spirit and the concealment it was providing fade and the other S-S troopers spot the shaman as she sings the song to call up the Mountian Spirit. Better be a high Force one...
It is possible to give a spirit a command and then physically move from its domain. The spirit will continue to carry out the shaman's last command to the best of its ability until the command is fulfilled or until the next sunrise/sunset. The shaman can conjure a new nature spirit in the domain moved to without penalty.
Example: Street shaman Tommy Dre gets an unexpected visit at his doss from Lone Star. He calls up the apartment's Hearth spirit and tells it to keep the 'Star busy for a while, then jumps out onto the fire escape and down into the alley, where he calls upon a City spirit to conceal him and help him slip past the cruiser out front while the Hearth spirit runs interference.
PARANORMAL ANIMAL TOTEMS
"The myth in a primitive society is not merely a tale told, but a reality lived."
- Bronislaw Kasper Malinowski, anthropologist
A creature of living stone, Gargoyle is patient above all else, able to remain motionless for hours, silently observing. He is a fierce fighter who knows well the value of awaiting the ideal moment to strike and rend his prey. From his silent perch high above the City, Gargoyle sees much and he knows well the value of knowledge.
Advantages: +2 dice for Detection and Illusion spells, +2 dice for Conjuring City Spirits
Disadvantages: -1 die for Conjuring Spirits of the Waters. Gargoyle shamans are plotters and schemers. They always prefer to carefully observe and gather information before making a move, planning for maximum advantage. They refuse to act hastily, and will retreat if they are caught awares so that they can plot out their next move.
Griffin is a proud and fierce hunter, savage lord of the winds. He is a most primal creature, intimate with the dance of life and death, hunter and prey. Griffin is a terror in combat, but he is not without honor and respect for a capable opponent. The hunt is a sacred task, not a sport. Living on high in his mountainous lair, Griffin sees far and learns the secrets of the prey he depends on for life.
Advantages: +2 dice for Combat and Detection spells, +2 dice for Conjuring Spirits of the Sky.
Disadvantages: Griffin shamans are prideful and do not suffer indignity from those they consider beneath them (which is most people). The shaman must make a Willpower (4) Test to avoid becoming enraged when insulted or offended. Treat a failed test as a berserker rage like Bear (SRII, p.xx)
Great Leviathan dives to the deepest and darkest depths of the Sea, where all is eternal night. His great and majestic bulk is carried with unusual grace in the heart of the waters and his song carries his wisdom and knowledge to all the creatures of the Deep. Life is as simple and as complex as the movements of the tides and the endless dance of life in the Sea.
Advantages: +2 dice for Health and Manipulation spells, +2 dice for Conjuring Sea Spirits.
Disadvantages: Leviathan shamans are almost preternaturally calm and unhurried, but also slow to react at times. They take a -2 penalty to all Initiative rolls and subtract 1 die from Illusion spells.
In myth Pegasus lept full grown from the severed neck of the gorgon Medusa. A creature of beauty born of blood, Pegasus is wild and free. He is skittish and shy, preferring to avoid strangers and those who seek to capture him, as elusive as the winds themselves. He fights fiercely against the bridle and only the bravest can earn his respect and friendship. Pegasus is loyal to such people, but not blindly so. An arrogant rider can still be brought low if they get above themselves.
Environment: Any non-urban area under the open sky
Advantages: +2 dice to Detection and Health spells, +2 dice for Conjuring spirits of the Sky
Disadvantages: Pegasus shamans cannot bear captivity or limits on their freedom of movement. They suffer a +2 to all TNs when confined or entrapped.
Bright and proud, Phoenix is a symbol of beauty and rebirth. When her time is due, Phoenix builds her own funeral pyre of the finest materials, then ignites it in a blaze of glory, only to rise anew from the ashes, once more young and vibrant to begin the cycle again. The song of Phoenix is legendary in its beauty, for Phoenix is a great artist and appreciator of beauty.
Environment: Desert and fields under the open sky
Advantages: +2 dice for Health and Illusion spells. Phoenix shamans can conjure Spirits of the Firey Firmament (see the Tir Na nOg Sourcebook, p.xx)
Disadvantages: Phoenix shamans are flamboyant, with a flair for the dramatic. They must assign a value of at least 4 to Charisma during character creation. Phoenix shamans must also know a performing artist skill such as a musical instrument, singing or dance, which may also be used as a Centering Skill or Geas.
Thunderbird is a great and majestic creature who is Storm incarnate. His wings are dark clouds, his beak and claws lightning and his cries the clap of thunder. He is a primal force, often savage but necessary to the survival of the land and the continuation of the cycle of life. A force to be respected and approached with great care, lest his anger be roused.
Environment: Under the open sky
Advantages: +2 dice for Combat and Detection spells, +2 dice for Conjuring Storm Spirits.
Disadvantages: Thunderbird shamans are moody and subject to bouts of fury in combat like Bear (SRII, p.xx). -1 die to spells cast while indoors or otherwise not under open sky.
Fierce and free, Unicorn is a creature of the wild. She is shy and shuns the presence of man, save only the most pure of heart. Though she prefers to avoid conflict, she is a staunch defender of the wilderness, protecting it unto death. Unicorn cannot abide corruption and the touch of her horn is a panacea for all manner of toxins and diseases.
Advantages: +2 dice for Health and Illusion spells, +2 dice for Conjuring Spirits of the Land.
Disadvantages: Unicorn shamans must follow a strict moral code, upholding the sacredness of the wild and all of its creatures. They will tolerate no corruption and work to root it out wherever the may find it, even at great personal cost. Double all power loses to the shaman from adding cyber- or bio-ware, due to it's "unnatural" and "corrupting" effects.
Winter hunter that dwells in the frozen wastes, Wendigo is wily and savage, a terrible killing machine that feasts on the flesh of man. When Wendigo hunts, humans tremble in fear, for they who are normally the hunters become the prey. Wendigo does not treat the hunt as sacred, but as a cruel game in which he toys with his victims before making the kill.
Environment: Tundra and Forest
Advantages: +2 dice for Combat and Health spells, +2 dice for Conjuring Tundra (plains) spirits.
Disadvantages: Note that this totem is not recommeneded for player characters as Wendigo shamans are rarely rational individuals, having given themselves over to their animal natures. Wendigo shamans eat only raw meat (preferably that of humans or metahumans) and live alone in the wilderness. They may go berserk in combat; if the shaman is wounded, he must must a Willpower (6) Test to avoid going into a killing frenzy that only ends when all of the shaman's enemies are dead.
The World Tree
Feathered Serpent (Couatl)
The Wild Hunt(er)
The Furies "Kindly Ones"
Jormungandr (Midgard Serpent)
Shadowrun products have an extensive list of totems from many different cultures and traditions, a list that will continue to expand as new areas of the Sixth World are explored and described in future Shadowrun products. However, it is very possible that some enterprising Shadowrun player has a concept for a totem that hasn't been covered in print yet. This section provides guidelines for Shadowrun players and gamemasters to create their own totems for use in their campaign.
Like all aspects of the mystic arts, totem creation cannot be reduced to mere number-crunching. There is as much art as science in the design of a totem, so there are no hard and fast rules here. Gamemasters should allow common sense and good judgment about their campaigns to prevail over statistics.
Why a new totem?
The first question the gamemaster should ask is "Is a new totem really needed?" It is quite possible that the concept that the gamemaster or the player has in mind fits in fine with an already existing totem from published Shadowrun material. Perhaps the new totem is only a variation on an already existing totem, in which case, the gamemaster can use the game statistics of the old totem and simply substitute the description of the new archetype. For example, Serpent and Wyrm are very similar figures among the Irish and Welsh Druids, so their game statistics (presented in Tir Na nOg and The London Sourcebook, respectively) are the same even though they are two distinct figures. The gamemaster should carefully consider the existing totems before allowing a completely new totem into the campaign.
Another option to consider is modifying existing totems slightly to suit. Gamemasters should be careful when changing existing totems not to make the totem's advantages or disadvantages too great. No totem should be inheirently more or less powerful than any other.
It is quite possible, however, that a gamemaster or player will come up with a totem that needs to be built from scratch, in which case the existing totems can help serve as models for constucting and balancing the new totem.
The first issue that must be addressed in totem creation is that of the archetype. This is not a player-character archetype, but it is similar in many ways. An archetype is a symbol for certain qualities and forms the basis of a totem's nature. For example, Coyote is an architypical Trickster figure, while Bear is a Healer. Some archetypes vary from one culture to another while others are fairly constant. Shadowrun totems usually represent the most universal qualities of the totem.
While creating the totem, ask what qualities the image brings to mind. What typical feats and actions do you associate with the image? Remember, it is not the physical, real things that are important, but the image. The totem is not a bear or even the bear, but Bear, the mythic archetype of all bear-kind.
Use these qualities (good and bad) to determine the totem's nature. Is it sly and tricky like Coyote? Stern and proud like Eagle or gentle and playful like Dolphin? These personality traits are reflected by the totem's shamans, who must act in accordance with their totem's Way to retain their power.
Totem archetypes are generally animal-figures, but they do not have to be. The Idols of European nature magic (presented in The Germany Sourcebook, p.XX) are human mythological archetypes like the Dragon-Slayer and other magical traditions have totems that are mythical creatures or figures or even places that have become invested with sufficient meaning to serve as totems. The gamemaster as always has final say on whether or not a given archetype is suitable for use as a totem.
Some totems are better at some things and worse at others, so it is only natural that the totem provides benefits and drawbacks when called upon for magic. In general, the totem provides bonus dice to two spell categories and for conjuring a class or type of spirit. For example, Bear is a strong and sensitive healer, so he provides +2 dice for Health and Detection spells. Forest is Bear's favored domain, so Bear shamans gain +2 dice for conjuring forest spirits.
Totems can provide advantages other than extra dice, usually the modification of certain Target Numbers or other minor effects. The gamemaster should assign whatever bonus seems appropriate, but should always make sure that greater bonuses are balanced out by greater disadvantages.
Just like advantages, following a totem implies certain drawbacks. Snake and Rat are not fighters, so their shamans subtract dice from Combat spells; Wolf and Bear can go berserk when wounded and Owl does not work well in the daylight.
Follow the qualities of the archetype and decide on the areas the totem has weaknesses in. Use these to balance out the advantages granted by the totem. Required behaviors can be drawbacks provided that they will sometimes hinder the shaman and are difficult to overcome (usually requiring a Willpower Test).
Balancing it out
Totems should generally even out in terms of their advantages and disadvantages. Totems with big advantages have big drawbacks while totems like old man Coyote have no bonuses, but no disadvantages either.
The basic question the gamemaster should ask is "will everyone want to play this totem over every other one?" If so, the totem is likely too powerful and needs more disadvantages. Likewise, if nobody in their right mind would follow the totem, it may be too weak, or better suited for non-player shamans (like the Insect and Toxic Totems).
Be fair but firm when it comes to working out totem modifiers. Generally, several small modifiers are better than one big one. +2 dice to Health and Manipulation spells is not nearly as unbalancing as +4 dice to just one category would be.
Examples of Totem Creation
A gamemaster is developing a shaman NPC from Aztlan. Intrigued by the images of the ancient Aztec jaguar knights, the gamemaster decides to make the shaman a follower of the Jaguar totem.
First the gamemaster consults the existing totem descriptions, finding Cat and Lion as the two closest totems to the one he is looking for. Unfortunatly, neither is exactly what the gamemaster has in mind for Jaguar, although Lion is closer than Cat.
The gamemaster then lists all of the qualities he can think of that embody the archetype of Jaguar. Jaguar is a hunter, he is stealthy; moving silently through the jungle and blending into the foliage with his protective coloration. Aztec myths associated the Jaguar with the sun and nobility, not unlike Lion. He is brave and fierce in combat; a warrior totem.
With these ideas in mind, the gamemaster begins to look at Totem modifiers. He decides that Combat and Illusion spells would be the best categories for the totem to provide a bonus to, to reflect Jaguar's skill as a hunter and a stalker. He also grant a bonus for conjuring Forest spirits, since Forest will be the totem's favored environment. For disadvantages, he chooses a penalty to Manipulation spells (too complex for Jaguar's taste) and decides that Jaguar shamans will not break off a fight unless they can make a successful Willpower test. The description of the totem is then written up like this:
Jaguar is a skilled and stealthy hunter who stalks the jungle in search of prey. He is a silent shadow of death who leaps from the foliage without warning and his heart is fierce and courageous. He is a warrior's totem, who hears the call to battle sing in his blood, part of the ancient cycle of life and death, hunter and prey. His hunting skills make Jaguar a master of all of the hidden paths of the jungle that is his domain.
Favored Environment: Jungle
Advantages: Jaguar shamans gain +2 dice for Combat and Illusion spells and +2 dice for Conjuring Forest spirits.
Disadvantages: -1 die with Manipulation spells. Jaguar shamans are cautious and wary, planning out their moves with the greatest of care. When the critical moment to act comes, they do so without hesitation or remorse; a Jaguar shaman in combat always goes directly for the kill. Born warriors, Jaguar shamans must make a successful Willpower (4) Test to break off from a combat.
A player is designing a character based on European Nature magic (see The Germany Sourcebook, p.XX) which has anthropomorphic totems known as Idols. None of the Idols in the sourcebook appeal to the player so she decides to create a new idol based on the mythic archetype of Prometheus, the Greek Titan who gave fire to mankind.
She begins by studying some of the myths about Prometheus. She decides that the Idol, known as the FireBringer, is a thoughtful, creative and caring archetype. He is also somewhat rash and is willing to go to great lengths to uphold his convictions, including defying law and authority. As a bearer of fire and light, he is a figure of truth, generosity and progress. Followers of the FireBringer would tend to be crusaders; very cause-driven and devoted to ideals of truth and duty.
With a good idea of the Idol's attributes, the player begins looking at Totem modifiers. A bonus to Detection spells seems obvious for a figure devoted to truth and bringing light into the darkness. Since the FireBringer is also considered a powerful creator and shape, Manipulation spells also seem appropriate. In most stories about the FireBringer, he is described as a great friend of humanity, so a bonus to conjuring Spirits of Man is assigned.
The gamemaster considers the new Idol and agrees that it is sufficiently different from the existing Idols to warrent a new one. He suggests that a penalty be assigned to Illusion spells, since the FireBringer's devotion to truth makes him a poor deceiver. He also requires FireBringer shamans to be willing to take great risks of their own safety for the benefit of their friends and associates. The final design of the Idol is written up like this:
The Fire-Bringer is the friend and ally of man who risked all to steal the secret of fire from the heavens and give it to humanity as a gift and tool. He is a figure of kindness and concern for others, but his good intentions have been known to get him in trouble and don't always work out as planned. He is a shaper and creator, forming new things out of the primal clay and breathing the firey spark of life into them.
Favored Environment: Urban
Advantages: +2 dice for Detection and Manipulation spells, +2 dice for Conjuring Spirits of Man.
Disadvantages: Followers of the Fire-Bringer are devoted to the truth, -1 die to Illusion spells. Fire-Bringer shamans are all selflessly devoted to the betterment of others, even at the expense of their own welfare. While a Fire-Bringer shaman is not required to sacrifice their life for the betterment of humanity, they will generally do almost anything short of it. Most Fire-Bringer shamans become devoted to some cause that they follow with great zeal.
This section expands upon the physical adept rules presented in the Shadowrun Second Edition Rulebook and the Grimoire, Second Edition.
This Special Skill allows the user to escape from restraints and confinement, such as ropes, handcuffs and other bindings. This is done by means of contortion and manual dexterity. The difficulty for an Escape Artist Test is based on the complexity of the restraints:
Restraint Target Number
Straight jacket 8
Containment Manacles 10
The base time to escape is 5 times the TN in minutes, divided by the number of successes.
Physical adepts with the Pain Resistance power gain an additional advantage in using this skill, because they can safely dislocate joints and twist them in otherwise painful contortions. The ability to resist each Wound level subtracts one from the target number of the escape artist test. Thus, an adept who is able to resist up to Moderate damage (3 levels of Pain Resistance) may subtract two from the target number, an adept who can resist Severe damage can subtract three, etc. Any pain resistance used to counter penalties from injuries that the adept may have does not count towards this bonus.
Example: Toshi is captured and worked over by some corporate goons, then put in handcuffs and locked up. Toshi has Escape Artist 5 and 4 levels of Pain Resistance. He has also taken Moderate Stun damage. His TN to escape from the handcuffs would normally be 8 (6, plus the damage modifier). His pain resistance negates the effect of the damage, bringing the TN to 6, with one level left over. Since he can resist an additional Light level of damage, Toshi subtracts one from his TN making it a five. He scores one success on his Escape Artist test and works his way out of the cuffs, then begins planning how to get out of the cell to pay back the corp goons...
NEW PHYSICAL ADEPT POWERS
Cost: .5 per level
Adepts with this power have an ability similar to Masking metamagic (see The Grimoire, p.XX) that allows them to "cloak" their presence in astral space, making them difficult to detect by magical means. For every level of the power, the adept gains one die to Resistance Tests against Detection Spells. If the spell is unresisted, the target number to detect the adept increased by +1 for every two full levels of the power. This ability does not affect Masking Tests, attempts to read the subject's aura via astral perception or otherwise spot the character in astral space.
Cost: .25 per level
Physical adepts who possess this power seem to have a supernatural ability to leap into action with startling suddenness. Each level of the power allows the adept to roll an additional die when making Surprise Tests against an opponent. These dice do not apply to tests by the adept to avoid being surprised or to Initiative rolls.
Cost: .25 per level
The adept's limbs are unusually limber and flexible, able to twist and bend more than a normal person's. For each level of this power, the adept may add one die to Tests made to slip out of ropes, handcuffs and other such bindings as well as to escape from a hold in unarmed combat.
Cost: .25 per level
The adept has enhanced coordination that allows for more equal use of both hands. Each level of this power counts as one level in the Ambidexterity Special Skill (see Fields of Fire, p.XX). The adept must have at least one level in Ambidexterity Skill in order to buy this power and may not have more levels in the power than they have levels in skill.
Cost: 1 per level
The adept with this power has a strong unconscious resistance to Sorcery, adding one die per level to Resistance Tests against spells in the same manner as spell defense. These dice are only usable by the adept and cannot be given to others. Magic Resistance does not affect voluntary spells or critter powers. Note that Initiate physical adepts who possess this power do not gain the benefits of Shielding.
This power is a limited form of astral awareness that allows the adept to sense magical energies and effects within a radius equal to the adept's Magic Attribute x10 in meters. Make a Perception Test using the adept's Intelligence and consult the description of the Detect Magic spell (Grimoire, p.XX) for general target numbers and levels of information that can be gained with a successful test. The Perception Test requires a Simple Action to perform.
The adept is astrally active while using this ability, open to the energies of astral space and therefore vulnerable to astral combat. If the adept does not have Astral Perception, he is incapable of defending against astral attack and simply must take his chances.
The adept with this power has such a developed talent for throwing weapons that normally harmless items such as pens, playing cards or paper clips can be turned into deadly weapons. Such items use the Throwing Skill, have a base damage of (adept's Strength)L and are resisted by Impact armor. Items with an edge or point do Physical damage, while blunt objects do Stun damage. Use the ranges listed for a throwing knife. Weapons that are meant to be thrown (such as shuriken and throwing knives) use their normal damage value.
This power allows the adept to magically inflict numbing strikes against a living target's nervous system. A Nerve Strike is made like a normal unarmed attack, using the Unarmed Combat skill with a base target number of 4. Instead of inflicting damage, however, every two net successes on the adept's Unarmed Combat Test reduce the target's Quickness rating by one. If Quickness is reduced to zero, the target is paralyzed. Lost Quickness recovers at a rate of one point per minute.
Physical Sensory Improvement
Cost: .25 per improvement
This ability is noted in the Grimoire. Physical adepts may purchase any sensory improvement that does not require technology (such as radio) to accomplish. Listed below are some additional options for this power.
Some general target numbers for Perception tests involving these power would be: 4, if the adept is examining things in line of sight, 6 for subjects out of direct sight/sensing range, or 10 for subjects present only in astral space. The number of successes determines the amount of information that the adept gains. One success gains only general knowledge. Two gives minor points, with only minor inaccuracies. Three successes give accurate details, but minor parts are obscure. Four successes gives complete and detailed information.
Direction Sense: The adept almost never gets lost and can easily retrace his own steps. He always knows where magnetic north is and if he is above or below the local ground level. Useful especially for the tribal hunter types.
Enhanced Sense: Additional dice for Perception tests with a single sense may be purchased for .25 Magic per die. Additional perception dice for all senses cost 1 Magic point each. These dice are added to the adept's Intelligence score for Perception tests.
Flare Compensation: The adept's eyes adapt quickly to intense light, preventing him from being blinded by flash grenades and the like.
High Frequency Hearing: The adept can hear sounds of a higher pitch than normal human hearing, such as dog whistles and ultrasonics (such as those used in range-finders and targeting devices).
Improved Scent: Adepts with this power can identify scents much like a bloodhound. They can identify individuals by their scent alone and can tell if someone has been in an area recently if their scent is known. The strong smells of most sprawls may dampen or confuse this ability.
Improved Taste: The adept can determine the ingredients of food or beverage by taste alone. Characters with Chemistry, Physical Sciences or a related skill can also identify ingestive poisons and drugs concealed in food or drink with a successful Perception test. Adepts with the Survival Skill and this power can determine if a sample of water is pure enough to drink with a Perception (3) Test.
Low Frequency Hearing: The adept can hear sounds of a lower pitch than normal human hearing.
Sensory Magnification: The adept has an extremely sharp sense. Each level of this power decreases effective range for perception between the adept and the subject by one step. Maximum of three levels. This power must be bought separately for Sight, Hearing and Scent.
Sound Dampening: The adept's ears are protected from loud noises and adjust quickly to sudden changes in ambient noise level.
Ranged Killing Hands
Cost: 2 (plus the cost of Killing Hands)
This power may only be learned by physical adepts who are Initiates. It allows the adept to use the killing hands power at a distance, the fabled "distance death" ability of legendary martial artists.
The power has a range in meters equal to the adept's Magic attribute. The adept makes an Unarmed Combat roll with a target number equal to the target's Body (Increased Ability levels may be used for this roll). The target resists with Body dice vs. the Power of the adept's Killing Hands attack (adept's Strength). Armor has no effect. Combat Pool dice may be used by either side to augment the test. Initiates may add their Grade in dice to their resistance test.
After the attack is made (successfully or not) the adept must make a Drain test with a target number of half the Unarmed Combat dice used and a Wound Category equal to the adept's base Killing Hands level.
Example: Falcon uses his Killing Hands at range on a guard. Falcon rolls his Unarmed Combat of 6, plus 4 Combat Pool dice, against the guard's Body of 4, gaining 6 successes. The guard rolls his 4 Body dice, plus 5 Combat Pool dice against Falcon's Strength of 5, earning 4 successes. Falcon's killing hands do a base 5M damage. Two successes make it Serious damage. Falcon then makes a Willpower test against 3M Drain and takes Light drain from the effort.
Cost: .5 per level
The adept recovers more quickly than normal from all forms of injury, using magical energy to boost the normal healing process. Each level of the power adds one die to the adept's Body Attribute for purposes of Healing Tests as well as Body Tests to determine if the adept suffers a crippling injury from a Deadly Wound. The power does not increase resistance to injury, toxins or pathogens, but does allow the adept to recover from them more quickly. Rapid healing has no effect on possible magic loss due to Deadly Wounds.
Cost: .25 per level
This power allows the adept to extend the force of his aura to "root" to the ground with the expenditure of a Simple Action and a moment's concentration, becoming a literal immovable object. Each level adds one die to the adept's Tests to resist being knocked down, thrown, levitated or otherwise moved against his will. The adept cannot take movement actions while using this power, but can otherwise act normally including combat actions.
The adept has a magical ability to sense immediate danger. Occultists speculate that the power is a very limited form of precognition that gives the adept a split-second insight into the future. When potential danger threatens, the gamemaster makes a secret Perception Test using the adept's Intelligence with a Target Number based on how obvious the danger is: 4 for threats in the adept's line of sight (such as someone about to pull a gun), 6 for threats out of line of sight (like a concealed sniper or trap) and 10 for threats in astral space (like a spirit or ritual sending). If the test is successful the adept gets a general feeling of danger and cannot be Surprised by the threat (SRII, p.XX). The adept does not automatically know what the threat is, only it's general distance (near or far) and the relative level of danger. The adept can only sense dangers that threaten personal harm, not danger for others.
Physical adepts who come from shamanic peoples such as the Native American Nations often have totems in the same manner as shamans and shamanic adepts. However, since physical adepts do not use magic in the same manner as shamans, their link to a totem functions in a slightly different manner than that of a shaman. Physical adepts must follow all of the restrictions of their totem (as listed in the individual descriptions). They do not have Sorcery or Conjuring bonuses or penalties (since they cannot use those skills). Shamanic physical adepts do gain an additional option for initiation, the Vision Quest (see below). Many shamanic physical adepts choose to place totem-based geasa on their powers (see Geasa, below)
It is rumored that there are shamanic physical adepts who follow the totems of Spider and Mantis, the solitary hunters and warriors of the Insect world. Very little is known of these adepts or their abilities. It has been suggested that they hunt and kill insect shamans and spirits, but if so, this may or may not make them allies of other enemies of the Insect Hives.
Magicians accept geasa as limits on their magic due to loss of magical ability. The magical powers of physical adepts are not as vulnerable to such psychic shock, grounded as they are in the physical world. However, physical adepts are able to benefit from one effect of a geas; by placing limits on one's magical ability, a magician can gain a greater focus for the same investment of effort and power.
A physical adept can choose to place a geas or limit on their powers. The geas may apply to one power or many and an adept can have more than one geas at a time applying to different powers in combination. No power can have more than one geas applied to it, however. A physical adept power with a geas applied to it costs 75% of the normal Magic cost (round up fractions to the nearest quarter-point) with a minimum cost of .25 Magic Points. For example, an adept who purchased the Astral Perception power with the Time Geas on it would pay only 1.5 Magic Points (2 x .75 = 1.5). If the power is purchased in levels, the reduction in cost is applied to the total cost of the power.
So long as the adept follows the strictures of the geas, the power works normally. If the geas is broken, however, the power ceases to work entirely until the conditions of the geas are restored. In the above example, if the adept had taken as her Time Geas that her Astral Perception power worked only at night, the power would not function at all during the day when the geas was broken and would only return after the sun had set each evening.
The adept must be in some state to use the power with this geas, e.g. drunk, touching natural Earth, meditating, etc. If the adept is not in that state, the power does not function. Note that this geas does not apply if there is something that must be done already to invoke the power (i.e. an adept could not take a geas on his Suspended State power that required him to be motionless in order to use it, since that is already part of the power).
The power only works in a particular domain or environment (e.g. City, Forest, etc.). Most shadow-types will choose City, natch. Many shamanic physical adepts will select their totem's favored environment as a place where their power is greater. A common version of this geas is a power that only works within the confines of the adept's homeland or home city, but nowhere else.
If the adept eats or drinks anything, the power with this geas ceases to function for 24 hours.
To make use of the power, the adept must perform visible magical gestures, having both hands and arms free to move. These gestures might be part of a special martial arts kata or like the mystical kuji-kiri gestures used by the ninja, but they are obviously magical and cannot be hidden. Note that an attack, no matter how graceful or well-choreographed, does not count for this geas.
To use the power with this geas, the adept must be able to speak, sing, chant, etc. in a clear and firm voice. The incantation is clearly magical and cannot be hidden. It can be anything from a battle shout to a mystical war chant or song. If the adept is unable to speak the incantation, the geas is broken and the power does not function.
This geas applies ONLY to non-player characters. The adept must kill a living being to make the power function for 24 hours. The killing must be performed by hand, although the adept may use a melee weapon or powers such as Killing Hands to do the deed. Note that this is not an option for player characters, it is intended strictly for bad-guy NPCs.
The adept needs a physical focus or fetish to make the power with this geas work. This item must be fairly specific. Generally, three qualities as defining factors are sufficient. Note that an adept with improved Armed Combat cannot take simply "a weapon" or even "a sword" as a talisman, but could use a fairly specific weapon, such as a samurai adept who has Improved Armed Combat only while wielding his family's ancient ancestral katana.
If the adept is unable to touch, use or wield the talisman, the geas is broken. If the talisman is lost or destroyed, the geas is broken until the adept can regain it or acquire another one. If the talisman is totally unique and it is lost or destroyed, the adept loses the power(s) with this geas permanently.
The power with this geas only works during the day or night or only during one season of the year. The rest of the time, the power does not function.
Gamemasters should carefully consider the effects of a geas on a particular power before allowing it in the campaign. If the geas does not limit the use of the power in some way (such as a geas to requires the adept to be touching the ground in order to use Rooting), it should not be allowed. Gamemasters should also feel free to exploit the characters' geasa in adventures. It's perfectly legal for a physical adept to take a Domain (City) geas on all of his powers and load up on extra magical goodies, but what's the poor fragger going to do when a run unexpectedly takes him out of the 'plex and into Tribal territory, where none of his powers work?
WAY OF THE BURNOUT
Unlike other magicians, physical adepts cannot choose to ignore their geasa and follow the path of the burnout as described in the Grimoire (p.XX). A physical adept who ignores geasa will lose the use of the abilities limited by the geasa until the restrictions are observed again. The only way an undesired geas can be removed is through initiation (see below).
This section addresses differences in Initiation between physical adepts and other magically active characters. For general information on initiation and initiates, see The Grimoire.
A physical adepts can choose to drop a geas that has been taken on one of their powers upon achieiving a new initiate Grade. The adept must immediately be able to pay for the cost difference in Magic points upon achieving the new Grade. If so, the geas is dropped and the adept may use the power without restriction. If the adept has a geas that applies to multiple powers it can be shed from one power at a time. A physical adept may only shed one geas from one power per Grade of initiation.
As noted in The Grimoire (p.XX), physical adepts can join magical groups in the same manner as other magicians and gain the same benefits from them. If a magical group admits physical adepts, the group has an additional +2 penalty to their Test for creating an Astral Contact (Grimoire, p.XX). This penalty does not apply if all of the physical adepts joining the group are required to have the Astral Perception power, which allows the adept(s) to be more than "astral deadweight" in making the Contact Test.
The following describes the types of Ordeals that physical adepts may use in initiation and any differences between them and those followed by other magicians. Physical adepts gain the same cost break on the Karma Cost for taking an Ordeal as other characters.
Due to their greater emphasis on the physical, adepts rarely take this ordeal. Some physical adepts who do not concentrate on physical development have been know to do so. This ordeal is also often the result of arduous ritual combats or pain and endurance tests. The attribute to be reduced cannot be increased through the Increased Physical Attributes power, although the Attribute Boost power can apply.
This ordeal is open only to shamanic physical adepts. By following special rituals, the adept's totem will guide the adept on an special Vision Quest to the totem's home metaplane. Generally the adept must meditate and fast in solitude in their totem's favored environment for as many days as the desired Grade +1. Follow all of the normal rules for the Astral Quest ordeal (Grimoire, p.39). The adept cannot astral quest for any purpose other than initiation and, like other ordeals, the Vision Quest may only be undertaken once.
This ordeal is always available to physical adepts. Remember that if the adept takes this ordeal, any Karma award for the adventure in which the Deed takes place is forfeited.
This ordeal is not available to physical adepts, since they cannot conjure ally spirits. Physical magicians are allowed to take this ordeal, but the Magic point spent to Conjure the Ally Spirit must come from their effective Magic Attribute (see Physical Magicians, p. XX)..
Taking a geas is not considered an ordeal for physical adepts and cannot be used for initiation purposes (see "Geasa" above for information on how geasa work for physical adepts). Physical magicians may take this ordeal by taking a geas that applies to all of their active magical skills (Sorcery, Conjuring and Enchanting). This is in addition to any required geasa and it cannot be shed through initiation.
This ordeal is perfectly acceptable for a physical adept, but is often more difficult due to the adept's generally higher physical attributes. Improved Attribute bonuses do count towards the target number when making the meditation tests, but Boosted attributes (Grimoire, p.34) do not.
This ordeal may be taken by physical adepts. Many magical groups of physical adepts require that new members take the oath ordeal, especially secretive organizations such as the Oni-do ninja or Tir Tairngire's Paladins.
At the gamemaster's option, a physical adept may prepare an alternate sort of thesis that is a master treatise on the character's area of specialization, such as Miyamoto Mushashi's Go-Rin-No-Sho (A Book of Five Rings), a treatise on the art of swordsmanship. The thesis encompasses the adept's magical world view and all of their knowledge of their path. Shamanic theses are usually complex artworks, ritual weapons, etc.
Use the appropriate skill (Athletics, Military Theory, Armed Combat B/R, etc.) with a target number of 5 and a base time of 30 days, divided by the number of successes. No successes indicates that preparation of the thesis takes twice the base time. The thesis can be worked on in smaller segments of time if the character wishes.
A thesis prepared by a physical adept has all of the properties of one prepared by a magician. The thesis acts as an astral link to its creator and if all copies of the thesis are destroyed, the creator immediately loses 1 point of Magic (with an equivalent loss in powers in the case of an adept). The powers lost should generally be ones closely related to the thesis, if possible; e.g., if the thesis was a complex philosophical study of unarmed combat techniques, the adept should lose some levels of Improved Unarmed Combat if the thesis is destroyed. If no particular power is appropriate, the gamemaster should choose 1 point worth of abilities at random.
Physical adept initiates gain the ability to use some of the metamagical abilities that other initiates gain. Some of the metamagical skills function differently for physical adepts and some are not usable by them at all.
Physical adept initiates with the Astral Perception power gain a special Astral Pool equal to their grade which can be used for Astral Tests, the same as other initiates (Grimoire, p.38)
As an optional rule, the gamemaster may allow an Initiate adept to use centering to resist the Drain caused by the Boost Attribute power (Grimoire, p.34).
Common centering skills for physical adepts would include kiai shouts, chanting, dancing, tai-ch'i, kuji-kiri (mystical gestures used by the ninja), and meditation. Under no circumstances should any Combat or Athletics skill be allowed to be used as a centering skill.
All physical adept initiates may mask their auras to appear as mundanes or non-initiate physical adepts. Adepts with the Astral Perception power may also attempt to penetrate the masking of others. Use the standard Grimoire rules.
Since they are unable to make active use of the Sorcery skill, physical adepts cannot use Anchoring, Dispelling, Quickening or Shielding.
The only type of magical focus that is of use to a physical adept is a weapon focus (SRII, p.138). All other types of foci cannot be used by physical adepts because they lack the necessary magical abilities. Physical adepts cannot make foci of their own, but may bond a weapon focus if they acquire one.
Adepts without the astral perception power can be very vulnerable to having an active focus used as a conduit for a spell from an astral opponent. At the gamemaster's option, an adept might seek out a Unique Enchantment (Grimoire, p.27) focus that can be bonded to the adept alone, but which is immune to the grounding effect of spells (the focus can still be killed in astral combat).
Warning! The following is presented as an option only. Gamemasters should carefully consider before allowing these characters into their campaign and may wish to limit them only to non-player characters.
Physical magicians are Magic Priority A characters that follow a different route from most other magicians. Instead of devoting all of their time to studying ways to control the energies of astral space, physical magicians channel some of their magical ability into improving their physical abilities in the same manner as physical adepts, while leaving some of their magical talent for traditional magical skills like Sorcery and Conjuring.
The character "spends" Magic Attribute points on Physical Adept powers normally (SRII, p.XX). At least 1 point of the adept's Magic Rating is "set aside" and used as the adept's effective Magic Attribute for using magical skills (Sorcery, Conjuring and Enchanting).
Example: Toshiro the kenzaninja is a physical magician. He spends four points of his initial Magic Attribute to purchase the adept powers Improved Stealth, Combat Sense, Improved Unarmed Combat and Killing Hands. The remaining 2 points are treated as his Magic Rating when using his magic skills for casting spells or summoning spirits. If he casts spells with a Force greater than 2, Toshiro risks Physical damage from the Drain.
As with physical adepts, once the character's Magic points have been allocated, they cannot be changed. Additional Magic Attribute points gained through initiation can be applied to either new adept powers or additional Magic Rating, but such points cannot be "split up," putting a half-point into a power and a half towards Magic Rating, it's one or the other. The character makes the decision on how the Magic point will be used before attaining the new Grade.
If a physical magician suffers Magic loss from cyberware, Deadly Wounds or Essence loss, the points are always subtracted from those set aside for the character's Magic Skills first. If the adept's effective Magic Rating is ever reduced to 0 through Magic loss, the character loses the ability to make active use of Magic Skills permanently. They may still initiate and buy new powers, but the delicate balanced that allowed for the use of active magic is gone. Treat the character as a normal physical adept from that point on.
Physical magicians must choose a tradition (Shamanic or Hermetic) that they will follow for use of their magical skills. This choice is permanent. Shamanic physical magicians have totems and totem modifiers just like normal shamans and shamanic adepts (SRII, p.XX). Physical magicians purchase and use physical adept powers in the same manner regardless of tradition.
Like other magicians, physical magicians are required to take a Geas (Grimoire, p.XX) for every two points of Magic Attribute lost. In their case, this include Magic Points spent on physical adept powers. The character may choose not to take geasa, in which case they follow the Way of the Burnout (Grimoire, p.XX) where their magical abilities are concerned; they can never become an Initiate and lose any Grades if they are already an Initiate.
Example: Toshiro has spent four of his Magic points on powers and must take two geasa. He chooses Gesture (the secret kuji-kiri gestures of his clan) and Time (his magic is fully effective only at night).
Physical magicians also have the option of taking geasa on their adept powers as well, just like physical adepts (see above).
With their focus on the physical, physical magicians start out with no access to astral space. They may purchase and use the Astral Perception power normally (SRII, p.XX), but can never use Astral Projection. Physical magicians can only use Metamagic if they have purchased the astral perception power, otherwise they may only use Masking to hide their auras and no other metamagical abilities.
Physical magicians with astral perception use Centering like normal magicians (Grimoire, p.XX). They may purchase the ability to use Centering for Physical Skills (as well as other types of skills) through the Enhanced Centering power like physical adepts (Grimoire, p.XX).
Physical magicians may bond and use foci normally like other magicians. The additional Magic Rating the character gains from using a Power Focus only enhances the physical magician's effective Magic Rating, not his or her adept powers.
MASTER ADEPT POWER TABLE
The following are modifications to the standard Shadowrun magic rules for use with the Voudoun tradition of magic. Except where specificed otherwise, all of the normal magic rules from the Shadowrun rulebook and the Grimoire apply.
This section describes the various Loa of the Voudoun tradition in Shadowrun game terms. Note that except for their ability to manifest through their followers, the Loa function exactly like Totems (SRII, pxx).
The Manifestation section describes how the Loa appears when it mounts a follower and Gifts describe what abilities the presence of the Loa enhances. The Mait Tete listing describes the bonuses granted to a vaudois who has that Loa as a mait tete, or patron. The bonus dice for dealing with spirits are used for all Tests involving that type of spirit, including Banishing and Resistance Tests against the spirits' powers. The mait tete is selected during character creation like a Totem and the various advantages listed function like normal totem advantages (SRII, p.xx).
The gamemaster should keep tight control over the presence of the Loa in a campaign. They are enigmatic beings with mysterious purposes of their own and are not at the beck and call of their followers to provide services or information. Keep in mind that it is the Loa who is in control during its manifestation and that the mount must make Willpower checks to even briefly wrest conscious control away from the Loa. A vaudois or serviteur who fails to demonstrate the proper respect for the Loa or treats them like servants to be ordered about will quickly suffer their displeasure.
Agwe is like the Sea the he rules: strong and gentle, but capable of sudden violence. He is proud and takes his role as a ruler quite seriously. Rituals to honor Agwe are generally involved and complex affairs and the Loa's followers are often capable diplomats and gracious hosts.
Manifestation: Agwe's mounts act in a very regal and dignified manner. The mount must immediately splash or immerse itself in water. Agwe will remain only so long as the mount is wet. He has been known to manifest spontaneously to followers in danger in or on the sea.
Mait Tete: Those with Agwe as their mait tete gain +2 Dice with Illusion spells and +2 dice when dealing with Water Spirits.
Gifts: Agwe increases his mount's Body and Charisma. He also increases Social Skills and Swimming.
The eger "younger brother" of the other Loa, Azaca is concerned with the growth and prosperity of the land, especially cultivated land. He has a tendancy for impulsive behavior and mounts must make a Willpower Test to restrain the Loa's exuberance enough to go along with carefully laid plans and strategies. Followers of Azaca tend to be rural caretakers of farming communities and the like.
Mait Tete: As a mait tete Loa, Azaca grants +2 dice for casting Health spells and +2 dice when dealing with Spirits of the Land.
Gifts: Azaca increases his mount's Quickness and Body, as well as enhancing Stealth (in rural areas only) and all skills dealing with plantlife, woodcraft or agriculture.
Damballah is an ancient and primal Loa, harkening back to Voudoun's African origins. He tends to have a slow dignity and grace about him, but can move with surprising suddeness if required to do so. Damballah is often difficult to communicate with and his wisdom is often couched in metaphor and riddles.
Manifestation: Damballah is the least human of the Loa. Those mounted by him act like snakes, writhing on the ground, hissing and often climbing trees. Damballah rarely speaks in any human tongue. A Willpower Test is required for the mount to speak and be understood normally.
Mait Tete: As a mait tete Loa, Damballah grants +2 Dice for casting Detection Spells and +2 dice when dealing with Spirits of the Air.
Gifts: Those ridden by Damballah Wedo increase Knowledge Skills, Intelligence and Willpower.
The Loa of love and passion is both the eternal innocent and the world-wise seductress. She is the female companion to many of the other Loa in her various manifestations, and she is loved and desired by all. Her desire is more than mere lust, but the motivating passion that drives all things.
Manifestation: Those ridden by Erzulie become sensual and charming, gifted with incredible passion and charisma. The Loa loves gifts of fine clothes, perfumes and jewelry and prefers to wear such things whenever possible (even if her current mount is male).
Mait Tete: Erzulie grants +2 dice to Detection and Illusion Spells.
Gifts: Erzulie gives her mounts increases in Charisma and the following skills: Etiquette, Negotiation, Psychology.
Dark and clever Ghede is the most feared of all the Loa. He respects nothing and laughs at mortals' fear of the twilight that awaits them at the end of their lives. He is a trickster and prankster who enjoys shocking people out of their preconceptions.
Manifestation: Those ridden by Ghede are sly and gain a wicked sense of humor. They sometimes dress in the Loa's "formal" costume of top hat, black tail coat, sunglasses, cigarette or cigar and cane. Anyone ridden by Ghede must make a Willpower Test to resist an offer of food or drink.
Mait Tete: As a mait tete Loa, Ghede grants +2 dice for casting Health and Manipulation spells.
Gifts: Ghede grants his mounts increases to Intelligence, Biotech Skills, and Negotiation. His mounts are also immune to the effects of pain, gaining a level of Pain Resistance (as the physical adept power, see Grimoire, p.xx) equal to the manifestation's Force. The mount is also immune to the effects of intoxication (although not poisons or pathogens). Individuals mounted by Ghede suffer a penalty to all Etiquette Target Numbers equal to the Loa's Force unless a Willpower Test is made to restrain Ghede's sarcastic and ribal sense of humor. Reduce the penalty by one for each success on the Willpower Test.
Legba is the divine messenger of the Loa, the opener of the way and the boundry figure between the visible and invisible worlds. He is the first Loa invoked in ritual, so that he may open the way for the others and is well respected for his great wisdom and authority. Followers of Legba are among the most wise of vaudois.
Manifestation: Individuals mounted by Legba always act like old men. Their limbs become weak, twisted and bent and they walk slowly and painfully (reduce Movement multiplier to 2). The mount's voice becomes forceful and commanding, filled with wisdom and charisma.
Mait Tete: Vaudois who have Legba as their mait tete gain +2 dice for casting Detection and Manipulation Spells.
Gifts: Legba grants increases to Social and Knowledge Skills, as well as increasing Willpower and Charisma.
Loco and Ayizan
Loco and Ayizan are the First Priest and Priestess of Voudoun, risen to the status of Loa. They are the archetypical masculine and feminine. Together they are balanced, each completing the other.
Manifestation: Both Loco and Ayizan appear with great subtlty. It is often difficult to notice that they have mounted at all until they speak or act.
Mait Tete: As a mait tete, Loco grants +2 dice with Detection spells. Ayizan grants +2 dice for casting Health spells. As the primordia vaudois, both Loco and Ayizan grant +2 dice for calling up other Loa.
Gifts: Both Loco and Ayizan increase Psychology, Sociology and Etiquette skills. Loco increases Magical Theory and Ayizan increases Biotech. Because they are more sympathetic to their serviteurs, those mounted by either Loa gain a -2 TN to Willpower checks to act on their own.
The iron warrior is a direct and active force. Ogoun is Power in all of its manifestations and his route is a direct and simple road to victory. Great warriors and politicians are often considered to be strong in Ogoun's essence and followers of his typically do well in those fields.
Manifestation: Ogoun's mounts act much like soldiers: marching about, calling orders and taking command. Even normally weak or small people project a powerful aura of strength and leadership when ridden by the Loa.
Mait Tete: Ogoun grants +2 dice to Combat and Health Spells.
Gifts: Ogoun increases Combat Skills, Strength and Reaction. His mounts also gain magical armor from the Loa's legendary iron skin (Impact armor equal to Force).
CONTACTING THE LOA
Each vaudois starts with a connection to their mait tete Loa. As vaudois advance in Initiation, they may contact and make connections with other Loa. To do so, the vaudois must undertake an Astral Quest to Guinee, the Island Beneath the Sea where the Loa dwell (see below), with a Rating equal to the number of Loa that the vaudois currently had bonds to. The final test in such an astral quest is always the Place of Charisma, where the vaudois must convince the Loa to accept the bond. If successful, the character expends a number of Karma points equal to the number of Loa that he has bonds to and creates a connection to the new Loa. The more Loa the vaudois has connections to, the more difficult it becomes to make new bonds, given the infighting and jealousy that sometimes exists between the Loa.
CALLING UP THE LOA
When the vaudois wishes to call up a Loa, a Force is selected as the base power of the manifestation, which may not exceed the magician's Magic Attribute. As the Haitian saying goes: "Little horses cannot carry great riders."
A Conjuring Test is then made against the chosen Force, taking a single Complex Action. The Test is Exclusive; the vaudois cannot perform or maintain any other magical effect while call up a Loa.
One success is sufficient for the Loa to enter the character's body and take control. A houngan may only call up a Loa that he has already established a bond with. If the Conjuring Test fails, the vaudois cannot attempt to summon that Loa until after the next sunset.
The Loa may increase it's "mount's" abilities according to its nature while in control. For every two points of Force (round down) apply the bonuses given under the individual Loa's description. Each two Force points increase the given Attribute by one point (which can exceed racial maximums and are cumulative with bonuses from other enchancements) and adds one die to the Skills (even if the mount does not normally have the skill listed).
Example: Papa Jambo, a houngan with Conjuring 5, calls up Legba to mount him during a ritual. He chooses to call the Loa at Force 4 and rolls his 5 dice against a TN of 4, coming up with 3 successes. Legba mounts the houngan and adds two points to his Willpower and Charisma as well as increasing all of Papa Jambo's Knowledge and Social skills by two dice.
While ridden by a Loa, the vaudois has very limited control over his or her own actions. If the character wishes to force the Loa to perform some action he must make a Willpower test with a base target number equal to the Loa's Force. The more powerful the Loa's manifestation, the more difficult the spirit will be to control. For every two successes on the Conjuring test that called up the Loa, subtract one from the TN.
The Loa will depart when it has finished the task it was called for or whenever it wishes to at the gamemaster's discretion. If the vaudois wishes the spirit to leave sooner, he must make another conjuring test with a base TN equal to the Force. The Loa may also be exorcised from the vaudois' body by another magician using Banishing. Use the Loa's Force as the target number and conduct the Banishing according to the normal rules (SRII p.143).
Whether the Loa leaves willingly or not, the vaudois must use Willpower to resist (Force)D Stun damage when it departs. Centering may be used to help reduce this Drain.
While inhabited by the Loa, the vaudois functions as a Dual Being. Attacks from astral space inflict damage on the Loa, and Deadly damage will distrupt the spirit and banish it. Any physical damage inflicted (including physical spells grounding from astral space) is done to the vaudois' body.
OTHER LOA POWERS
The powers of the Loa are broad, but they are best known for the enhancements that they grant their mounts. At the gamemaster's discression, a character ridden by a Loa could be capable other magical feats beyond their normal abilities, depending on the strength (force) of the Loa manifestation and the demands of the story. These could include (but are not limited to) altering the weather, healing mortal injuries and predicting the future.
These abilities are completely at the discression of the Loa. Player characters do not have the ability to call upon them or force the Loa to do so. They should be used sparingly when needed to enhance the storyline.
THE WISDOM OF THE LOA
The Loa are powerful spirits capable of imparting a great deal of knowledge. A common reason in Voudoun for calling up a Loa is so that it can answer questions that the vaudois may have. Generally, others will ask the Loa the questions, then give the answers to the vaudois after the spirit has departed.
No game system is presented for imparting information through the Loa. It is left up to the discression of each gamemaster how much the Loa can and will tell player characters. As a general rule, the Loa do not simply give all they know on a subject; the information may be incomplete or biased. There may be a price for the knowledge, either in Karma or by performing a special service for the Loa. The Loa are also not omniscient, and may simply not know some information, especially concerning matters outside their sphere of influence (Azaca isn't going to know the latest corporate politics nor will Erzulie have knowledge of the latest stock trends). The gamemaster is advised to use the knowledge of the Loa sparingly as a means to keep adventures and storylines moving along in the right direction. Remember that the Loa can appear to aid a follower without being called if the Loa sees fit.
FEEDING THE LOA
The relationship between the vaudois and the Loa is not a one-way street. The Loa will appear to assist their followers, but to do the work required of them they in turn require tremendous amounts of "nourishment." Vaudois perform numerous yearly rituals of sacrifice to support the Loa, ranging from simple and humble meals laid out upon a honfour's altar to the complex and elaborate ceremonies such as those performed at seaside to honor Agwe; where an raft laden with food and gifts is sunk into the sea to decorate the Loa's table.
In Shadowrun, a vaudois must also sacrfice something else to the Loa: (you guessed it) Karma. The first time during an adventure that a vaudois calls up a Loa, he must "feed" the spirit by paying a point of Good Karma. This Karma must be paid for each Loa that is called up, but only needs to be paid once per adventure (or per game session for long adventures) if the vaudois calls the Loa more than once.
If the magician does not have the Karma to pay on the spot, the gamemaster may still allow the Loa to appear anyway. However, the spirit will expect to be fed what it is owed eventually and will be very angry at a vaudois who chooses to ignore such a debt, generally resulting in a loss of Magic or unwilling possession (see below).
Seviteurs are believers in voudoun that can be mounted by Loa called up by a vaudois. However, since they lack the bond with the Loa that the magician possesses, serveiteurs must make a Willpower Test against a Target Number of twice the manifestation's Force to convince the Loa to do something it does not wish to.
To be eligible for such possession, a character must undergo a ritual performed by a vaudois to initiate them the societe of Voudoun, not unlike the rituals magicians undergo to become Initiates. This ritual creates the magical link needed for the vaudois to call upon a Loa to mount the serviteur. A player character must pay a flat fee of 10 Good Karma to become a serviteur. Serviteurs also pay a point of Good Karma when mounted by a Loa, the same as vaudois.
Becoming a serviteur is considered a serious commitment in Voudoun and is not something that player characters should be allowed to enter into lightly. A vaudois will take care in making sure of the character's sincerity before any status is confered upon that character and it is impossible to become a serviteur under false pretenses. Even if the vaudois can be fooled, the Loa cannot. Player characters who abuse the Loa's good will may also become subject to their displeasure (see below).
The gamemaster can use this as an adventure hook or as a means of warning a character who is acting in a way that is likely to offend the Loa. They can also use such possessions as an object lesson for a character who has been especially disrespectful. Gamemasters should be exceptionally sparing with this sort of manifesation, reserving it only for serious offenses committed by the character against the Loa.
Vaudois and serviteurs get no resistance to an unwilling possession. Other characters, should they be possessed by a Loa for whatever reason, should treat the possession as a use of the Free Spirit power of the same name (Grimoire, p.XX) at a Force choosen by the gamemaster.
Vaudois use the Sorcery skill in the same manner as other magicians (see SRII p.127). Their method of spellcasting is similar to the shamanic method.
Many Voudoun magicians choose to Concentrate in Ritual Sorcery. It is recommended that the Symbolic and Sympathetic Ritual Links rules (Grimoire, p.35) be used for Voudoun rituals.
Vaudois can create and use all of the types of foci listed in the Shadowrun rules and in the Grimoire. Note that normal spirit foci have no effect against the Loa. The Loa are more powerful then mere spirits and cannot be commanded by such items. Vaudois may use spirit foci of other types to aid banishing.
A vaudois may construct a Unique Enchantment Focus (Grimoire, p.27) to aid in calling up a particular Loa. The formula for this focus requires the vaudois to undertake an Astral Quest to Guinee with a Rating equal to the desired rating of the focus. The vaudois then asks the Loa for special permission to create the focus and seeks advice in it's construction. The vaudois must already have established a bond with the Loa to make the focus and the astral quest required to design the focus is separate from any quests that the vaudois makes in order to bond with new Loa.
A Loa focus provides additional Conjuring dice equal to its rating for calling up the Loa it is designed for. Use spirit focus values for Enchanting Tests and Bonding Costs.
To construct a govi, the vaudois uses the Enchanting skill (Grimoire, p.20). The construction has a base time of 30 days and a base Target Number of 5. Once the construction is complete, the vaudois expends 1 Karma to "activate" the govi. A newly created vaudois character may begin play with a govi at the cost of one initial Force point and 3,000 nuyen from starting Resources (govis are generally not sold, this cost reflects the time and effort the vaudois put into making the govi rather than pursing other things).
To form an astral link with the govi, the vaudois must astral project to the location of the subject, carrying the astral govi along. Make a Resisted Sorcery Test against the target's Magic Rating or Force. If successful, the vaudois "steals" a tiny amount of the target's energy that creates an astral link between the target and the govi. The govi may then be used as a material link to the target for Ritual Sorcery (see SRII p.127).
Note that this process can only be used against astrally active targets such as magicians, spirits or foci. It cannot affect mundane characters or objects. A Free Spirit can only be affected by this process if the vaudois knows the spirit's True Name.
The subject of the link may attempt to use astral combat against the vaudois to "steal back" the stolen energy. If the target wins, the link is broken and the subject is immune to being magically linked to that particular govi. If the subject loses, the power of the link is increased. Reduce the Target Number of Sendings against the subject by 2 when using the govi.
If the govi is destroyed (either physically or in astral combat, where it has a rating of 1), all of it's links are broken.
Vaudois can create spirit foci to enhance their ability to conjure and command work loa (see below). These follow the normal rules for Spirit Foci (SRII, p.137). It is also possible to construct a Unique Enchantment focus for conjuring Loa Achete. Such a focus require's knowledge of the spirit's True Name (Grimoire, p.79).
Vaudois cannot conjure Nature Spirits or Elementals, they instead use their Conjuring skill to call up Loa to which the vaudois has formed a bond. A Voudoun magician may, however, use Conjuring to banish both nature spirits and elementals. They cannot attempt to take control of either spirit type.
All of the other uses of Conjuring are available to a Vaudois. They may conjure watcher spirits or attempt to bind a Free Spirit if they know it's True Name. They may substitute their Conjuring skill for a resistance attribute when attacked by a spirit like other magicians (see the Shadowrun rulebook and the Grimoire).
Work loa are similar to Watchers (Grimoire, p.73), but have additional powers. They are a class of spirits similar to Elementals and Nature Spirits, but unlike those spirits are wholly creatures of the astral, unable to manifest in the physical world, although they can affect it.
To conjure a work loa, a vaudois requires a hounfor (see below) with a rating at least equal to the Force of the spirit and a govi. The ritual takes a number of hours equal to the desired Force. At the end of that time, the vaudois makes a Conjuring Success Test with a Target Number equal to the desired Force. Each success on the Conjuring Test equals one service that the spirit will perform for the magician. If no successes are generated, no spirit appears, but the vaudois must still resist Drain. Calculate the Drain Code for conjuring work loa in the same manner as Elementals and Nature Spirits (SRII, p.140).
Unlike Nature Spirits and Elementals, work loa require a "vessel" to contain them. When they are not performing a service for their master, the spirits reside in the govi. Damage to the govi will also affect the spirits, and if the jar is destroyed all of the spirits contained in it are disrupted. Fortunatly the presence of work loa within a govi provides it with armor equal to the greatest Force of the spirits present.
A vaudois may conjure and bind a number of work loa equal to the Charisma attribute. Work loa must be in the vaudois' line of sight to receive new commands, but may travel out of line of sight to fulfill those orders.
Indentification: Work loa are a class of spirits conjured by practioners of Voudoun. They exist solely on the astral plane and appear as bright, cloudly lights to astral senses. The spirits often seem to take on a semblance or outline of a human form.
Magic Capability: Innate
Habitat: When called away from their home metaplane, work loa inhabit enchanted clay vessels designed to contain their essence.
Powers: Work loa have all of the abilities of watchers (Grimoire, p.73) plus a unique form of the Inhabiting power (Grimoire, p.67). The spirit may inhabit any normal critter (paranormal animals and sentient beings are too magically powerful to be inhabited). While inhabiting a host, the spirit functions as a dual being and remains astrally active. The critter's attributes are increased by the spirit's Force and the animal gains the powers of Immunity to Age, Immunity to Pathogens and Immunity to Normal Weapons. Such a possession costs one service and lasts for 24 hours. Each additional day of possession costs another service.
Work loa may also inhabit the bodies of dead creatures (including humans), imparting them animation and a semblance of life. These zombies have physical attributes equal to their original value plus the spirit's Force Rating. They also gain the power of Immunity to Normal Weapons.
If it's host body is destroyed, the work loa is disrupted. If a work loa goes free while inhabiting a host, it becomes permanently bound to that host body.
Loa achete follow all of the normal rules for Free Spirits (Grimoire, p.XX). A vaudois can convince a loa achete to serve in two ways. The first is by offering some service or payment in return. This payment is nearly always an offer of Karma to the spirit in return for its service (Grimoire, p.76). The other, more dangerous, technique is to use the spirit's True Name to compel it into service (Grimoire, p.77). A bought loa's True Name can be discovered via an astral quest to Quinee, or (at the gamemaster's discretion) by an invocation of a Loa with great knowledge such as Legba, Ghede or Damballah. The Loa will certainly demand some kind of price in exchange for the spirit's True Name and it should be a high one.
Vaudois initiates undertake astral quests to Guinee to make contact with other Loa and form bonds with them. There also appear to be some Free Spirits who call Guinee their home metaplane and vaudois make astral quests to the metaplane in the same manner as the native planes of other free spirits.
Voudoun magicians use the hounfor in the same manner and for the same tasks that a shaman requires a medicine lodge. Hounfors have ratings and are set up in the same manner as medicine lodges. Their materials have the same cost.
There exist adepts among the vaudois who are similar to shamanic adepts. A Voudoun adept may only contact and invoke their mait tete Loa and cast spells for which their mait tete Loa grants them a bonus. They cannot perform any other kind of magic. Since Voudoun adepts are incapable of astral perception or projection, they cannot form bonds with other Loa. With regards to their contacts and interactions with the Loa, all Voudoun adepts follow all of the normal rules listed above.
The path of Petro is a tradition of violent and dark emotion. Practioners of this path are known as bocors (black magicians, literally "one who serves the Loa with both hands"). Bocors also serve Loa, but their pantheon is made up of dark and twisted versions of the Rada rite Loa. For example, as Legba is the Sun, Carrefour - his Petro counterpart - is Lord of the Night and master of the demons of ill-chance, misfortune and destruction. As a Petro Loa, Ghede is known as Baron Samedi, God of Death, Cemeteries and Zombies, Patron of Black Magic, who is able to turn men into ravening beasts. The Petro Loa are called upon for knowledge that fits their area of influence, and are most often called upon by vaudois in order to ward off the dark powers they control.
Bocors in the Voudoun tradition are magicians who hire out their talents as magical mercenaries or spellcasters for hire rather than serving the community as vaudois do. The exact description of a bocor in Shadowrun game-terms varies; many bocors are Sorcery Adepts who have no access to the Loa and hire out their talents to the highest bidder. Some bocors are full magicians following the voudoun tradition. Some are dangerous and toxic followers of a twisted Voudoun tradition. Technically, magician shadowrunners could be considered bocors, depending on who you ask.
Status as a bocor provides no particular game advantages, although bocors following a toxic path might gain additional Magical Threat Rating at the gamemaster's discretion.
American/New Orleans-style Voudoun uses the same game-mechanics described above. The tradition is somewhat different in style, indulging more in what Haitian Voudoun might consider "bocor work," as well as staging more gory and visceral rituals.
There are in fact three types of zombies that can be created by vaudois: biochemical zombies (also known as "living dead"), corpse cadavre (described in Paranormal Animal of Europe, p.XX) and loa-zombies (sometimes known as "zombie astrals"). The techniques of creating each type is outlined below.
Biochemical zombies are created through a special combination of neurotoxins. These are prepared through the use of the Enchanting Skill. While it is possible to gather the necessary raw materials by hand, in general the vaudois must purchase the necessary chemicals and materials from a talismonger or similar source. The raw materials cost 2,000 nuyen per dose of zombie powder the vaudois is attempting to make. The process of making the powder takes a base time of 28 days (one lunar cycle). The vaudois only needs to devote minimal concentration to the process, however, and can engage in other activities. At the end of the time, the vaudois makes an Enchanting (6) Test. Success indictates the creation of the desired amount of the powder, while failure indicates that the materials are ruined and that vaudois must start the process over again.
The powder must be ingested or touch the victim's exposed skin in order to be effective. The victim must make a Body Test with a Target Number equal to the Enchanting Skill of the powder's creator. If the test fails, the victim will sicken and fall into a death-like coma over the course of seven days. If the Test succeeds, the victim will become ill for a while, but will recover in 24 to 48 hours. Once the victim has been buried, the vaudois will then recover the comatose body and apply the second part of the formula, which reduces the victim's Willpower to 1. The vaudois will then generally use a Control Actions spell (either quickened or secured with a spell lock) to control the victim.
Vaudois can also create zombies from the dead bodies of humans and metahumans through the use of various magic. The first technique is to use a combination of Sorcery and Enchanting to produce a Corpse Cadavre. This requires the use of the Enchanting skill, with a base time of 10 days and a Target Number of 4 to properly prepare the corpse, followed by an application of the Corpse Cadavre spell (described below) to animate the creature. The enchanting materials required to prepare the corpse cost 1,000 nuyen. Once the corpse cadavre has been animated, it is permanent and will obey the commands of its creator. It will eventually rot away in a month or two.
Corpse Cadavre (Manipulation Spell)
When cast on a specially prepared corpse, this spell causes it to become animated as a corpse cadavre. The caster of the spell can issue simple commands to the zombie and have it carry out basic tasks. Zombies accept spoken commands from their creator. See Paranormal Animals of Europe for full details and statistics of corpse cadavre.
Type: Physical Range: Touch Duration: Permanent (20)
Drain: [(F/2)+2] S Target: 6
Lastly, a vaudois can command a bound work loa to use its inhabitation power to animate a human or metahuman corpse. The host body uses its original physial stats plus the Force of the spirit, mental stats are equal to the loa's Force. The zombie also gains Immunity to Age, Toxins and Pathogens and Immunity to Normal Weapons. Each 24 hours that the loa inhabits the body uses one service. The work loa can be fought in astral combat while inhabiting a body and can also be banished normally (SRII, p.XX).
Generally speaking, cybernetic or magical enhancements that a corpse possessed while living do not function for it as a zombie (requiring as they do a functional biosystem and/or living spirit). The only exception to this is locked or anchored spells, which may continue to function if they are Physical spells (gamemaster's discression), but which may have altered or reduced effects owing to the zombie's new "condition."
Taken from the pages of Jens-Arthur Leirbakk