Magic is a staple of the fantasy genre. Indeed, some would say it's the genre's defining feature!
Age of Ambition is no different in this regard. It presents a world where magic works in accordance with established arcane principles. It is a force of nature whose energy can be measured and directed by a skilled mage. Although there are a handful of creatures who possess innate magical capabilities, for the peoples of Trystell, magical ability is a learned skill, not an inborn talent.
In this post I want to share a bit about how magic, second sight and spellcasting works in the game.
If you're not familiar with Age of Ambition, you should know that it's coming to Kickstarter on January 21, 2020 and its blurb is below:
Age of Ambition is a roleplaying game set on a world rapidly leaving the traditional fantasy milieu behind. It's the game of forward-facing fantasy! Where the heroes guide the world into a brave new era of promise or peril.
So strap on your breastplate and pick up your pistol. There are discoveries to make, wrongs to right, tyrants to overthrow and new social orders to trial.
Magical energy does not arise from nothing. To use magic, it must be extracted from a source and then willed into the form required by the spell. On Trystell, two major magical traditions have arisen, each based around extracting arcane energy from a different magical reagent. A handful of magical oddities that don’t fit these two traditions also exist.
Kalid magic is by far the oldest magical tradition on Trystell. It centers around extracting magical energy from dangerous and innately magical creatures called kalids. These beasts are hunted, chopped up and their body parts preserved for later mystic consumption, giving rise to an entire industry. Kalid magic is generally considered to be the more mysterious and subtle of the two magical traditions.
Lunar magic was introduced two centuries ago during the Lunar Occupation. It centers around extracting magical energy from small enigmatic devices manufactured in foundries left behind by the occupation. It is thought of as the showier and blunter of the two traditions, as its use frequently involves harnessing the raw elements.
Students of the mystic arts don’t begin by casting spells, they begin by developing an affinity, and then learning the basics of perceiving, harnessing and disrupting magical energy.
Mages say that you don’t wield magic without the magic also wielding you. That is, repeated exposure to magical energy, aligns you to energy of that type, allowing you to shape it into spells, but making it harder or impossible to wield other types of magic.
This is called an affinity. It is the attunement of the mage to a particular type of magical energy. This is the first ability a new mage must develop, as it is what allows her to cast spells, use second sight or dispel magic.
Occasionally someone exposed to magical energy will spontaneously become attuned to energy of that type, gaining an affinity. This is called a wild affinity. While uncommon, it is a known phenomenon, granting the recipient the ability to manipulate magical energy, but with none of the training to do so effectively or safely.
To cast a spell, magical energy must first be extracted from a reagent. This will be a kalid part for kalid magic or a lunar device for lunar magic. Regardless of the mystic tradition, the reagent must first be readied—usually by drawing it from a pouch and holding it in the mage’s hand. Magical energy is then either released in a sudden burst or in a slow draw to maintain an ongoing spell.
One of the most fundamental skills in spellcasting is the ability to see magical auras. Called “second sight” or sometimes “the third eye,” this is usually the first ability that new mages practice after developing an affinity.
To see auras, all you must do is close your eyes, focus on your affinity and then reopen them. This reveals ongoing magical effects, which appear as a faint aura around your target. The brightness of this aura increases with the potency of the magic. Second sight can also reveal magical residue left behind by recent spellcasting, and sometimes intangible or invisible creatures.
Maintaining second sight is strenuous. Auras have the potential to be overwhelming, obstructing your vision or even blinding you. For every round after the first that you maintain second sight in an hour, you must make a Per-10 flip. On a failure, you go aura-blind and are unable to see anything for the next hour.
All spells fall under the auspice of an Arcane Lore. These are special skills that allow you to cast the spells under their purview. Like all skills, arcane lores have three ranks—proficient, expert and master. Unlike most skills, Arcane Lores may not be used untrained. All Arcane Lores are associated with a particular Mystic Affinity and may not be learned unless you have the associated affinity.