How different people learn new spells is simple: they find it, they are given it, they trade for it, they buy it, or they create it. Spells are typically collected by each person in a spell book, and each spell book is unique to the caster – but the spells within can be read and learned and then placed within their own spell book so long as the person doing so is of the same Axiom. This makes found spell books very valuable and important treasures.
For most, when you start out, you learn the spells that your Master taught you as an Apprentice – learned through hours of painstaking copying and study. Thereafter, you must pay for the privilege of learning from someone else’s book or tome, or you can learn them from scrolls you can purchase, or you gain them in the most common way: you go out and find them in some way. Barter is common among Mages, trading a spell they know for a spell from someone else.
Crossing Affinity often means having to do some conversion of the spell, but even Clerics and Wizards are known to share spells. It can also only be done by those who have learned to do so through some Aspect of their training.
Spells are little more than constructs and designs, and once you know the particulars of a spell and adjust for the peculiarities of the Affinity and Axiom, you can often use it. It is not universally possible – healing spells have proven very difficult to work with Eldritch or Arcane affinities, as an example and Mystical affinities are less effective.
Sensates essentially fashion their own version of spells or come up with a new way to use the power within them or have a need that arises, and the magic responds to. Even they need a way to be able to duplicate their unique combination of things to enable their magic.
For Servants, these new spells are granted after proper entreaty – that is, you ask for them, and they give them. It creates a strong structure. Usually, it is after intense prayer or rigid meditation, and the Powers That Be, peering into the future and listening to you, give you what you want, need, or may find a use for. Those come to them, whole cloth, though of course the Power may choose to instead allow a greater level of free will than the others.
Arabesque recalls one morning when she awoke with a spell for making pea soup in my head. It was rather disconcerting. Turns out that there was a beggar she encountered later that day whose last meal was pea soup conjured by her. As she says, “The Gods do not ignore us. They simply have their own motivations.”
But even then, we are inclined to collect what we know and preserve it for future use. For that, everyone has a use for a spell book.
A Spell Book is the core tool of a Mage. Any affinity, any Mage; they must have something in which they can store their spells, even if the magic they use isn’t always obvious otherwise.
Spell Books come in five very broad forms, but most folks just call them Grimoires or spell books. The forms are Grimoires (actual books), Occultaires (typically an item or object of import to the person), Nomicons, Picatrix, or Apocrypha (the sacred receptacle of knowledge from the gods).
The average Spell Book for a full Grand Master will run around 100 pages, containing 65 to 75 spells. A page is a loose term here – different kinds of spell books have different kinds of “pages”.
Apocrypha is what a grimoire held by those who use Divine Magic is called. This is often given to them, or passed down through lines, or fashioned from the common tools of the person using it.
It is said that many a Paladin has used their sword as a grimoire. The nature of this makes these books somewhat sanctified, though they are not truly holy or consecrated.
First, they must fashion, form, and create the Bundle for the Leaves – no one knows why they are called leaves, but that is what they are, even though what a leaf is can vary as much as an Occultaire. In some cases, the ritual might place the person as the Bundle, and the leaves will be tattoos. The thought of tattooing oneself to do this is uncomfortable, but it has and does happen.
This is a three-day effort requiring one spell point each day as they infuse it with mana and enable it to set.
Next, they must fashion the leaves themselves, always something sacred to the divinity they draw from, that they will place the sigil within or upon in a manner they can reclaim it, using 1 spell point for each object, during a day long effort per leaf of the Apocrypha.
Grimoires are books of spells. Grimoires are for those who use Arcane Magic as a standard – a book, fashioned painstakingly, only handwritten, highly illustrated, with sometimes multiples over the life of a person even though the creation of them is arduous in and of itself.
First, they must fashion, form, and create the cover and prepare the binding. This is a three-day effort requiring one spell point each day as they infuse it with mana and enable it to set.
Next, they must fashion the carefully handcrafted, thick, rough-edged pages, during a day long effort per page of the grimoire. Each page in turn also requires one spell point.
A spell book for Eldritch Magic. These very often take the form of a specific item, or focus, of the caster. The risk around a Picatrix is that without it, the Mage is unable to use their spells.
A Picatrix is best exemplified by the Totemic Fetish of a Shaman. The elements that go into it are, themselves, complex and changeable and each piece of the whole is the equivalent of a page for the Shaman. The complicated and arduous imparting of the spells into the bits and pieces of the whole requires a spell point for each one on incorporation, and the whole itself requires the spending of 1 point of mana each day for five days to construct the core of it, should they ever need to replace the one they start with.
A spell book for Mystical Magic. These take many forms – sheets of paper with musical annotation, long scrolls in elaborate tubes, and even tattoos, set upon the body. Famously the most common form is as some sort of design or pattern on an object of intense importance to the Mage – a Bard’s instrument, an armored chest piece, a carefully forged knife.
The cost of five days and 1 spell point per day still applies to the fabrication of the way they are collected, and then 1 point and 1 day for each spell incorporated into it. Nomicons may be comprised of several items – legend tells of an ancient wizard who crossed the Veil named Vekna whose Nomicons were parts of his body – and that he cursed them lest they ever be taken from him.
Occultaires are a form of grimoire that doesn’t take the form of a book. They are used by those engaging in Primal Magic. It may be a carved bone or a bit of stone or wood, a collection of items that together make up the repository of the Mage who develops them.
First, they must fashion, form, and create the container for the object or objects that will be used. This is a three-day effort requiring one spell point each day as they infuse it with mana and enable it to set. It may be a bag, a sheath,
Next, they must fashion carefully handcrafted, specially chosen objects they will place the sigil within or upon in a manner they can reclaim it, using 1 spell point for each object, during a day long effort per object of the Occultaire.
Collectively, they are all called grimoires, or spell books, even though they do have their specific names.
Each represents the collected and collective knowledge the Mage has about magic and the way in which they shape it, often using complex instructions, patterns, and designs, to explain and elaborate on the sigil that they will then fashion.
Grimoires, then, are costly and time consuming because they must be capable of ingraining the spell within them – which steals from it some of its power until memorized. With so much of their lives set within the creation of one, it is no wonder that mages are jealous and guarded about their spell books in any form.
As a result, spell books in all forms tend to have several pages or elements in them. The typical grimoire has between 300 and 500 of the carefully handcrafted, thick, rough-edged pages that are part of the ritual to create a book. An Occultaire might be a collection of small stones, and an Apocrypha may be like a book, a collection of preserved leaves, or the armor and weapons of a paladin.
Should a mage run out of space in a spell book, they must create a new one – and this has led some to seek the additional books of some mages that were thin or less detailed than many, on the presumption that perhaps they recovered a lost spell, such The Razing, or perhaps The Galavant.
Spell books contain more than spells, as well – they record rituals, they store observations and experiments; they hold the mental treasure of the Mage who crafted it. Most of the famous spell books are named after the Mage who created them and are often valued more for the additional information stored. One mage used his spell book as a record of his trips into the great Wild, where he delved into abandoned Imp holdings and struggled against one of the Great Dragons, recording his experience and knowledge for presumably himself, but possibly for those who would come later.
At 1st Level, a Mage will have a starting spell book, developed by trial and error or drilled into them by a pedant. These spells will be cantrips, 1st level, and 2nd levels spells with 1 additional 3rd level spell that they will be striving to master.
The number of spells is determined by a roll of dice:
These starting spells as a result from rolls can be selected by you, but the single 3rd level spell is always provided by the DM. After this, the only ways to add spells to your spell book are:
- to create them.
- to find them.
- to trade for them.
- to buy them.
- to steal them.
- to beg for them.
In addition, all Mages have thee spells they learn fairly early on: Candlespark, Duel Skin, Duel Seal, and Duel Bond. These spells are taught to everyone schooled formally, though even a self-taught Sensate will learn them eventually as they are simple, readily discernible spells that almost seem to present themselves.
One of the tasks that are socially expected of great Mages who lay dying is that they inscribe their knowledge onto scrolls that they then allow to be spread on the wind. These scrolls are essentially whisked away by the Pale, and it is rumored that they appear where they are most likely to be the most beneficial, most humorous, or most maleficent.
Finding a spell scroll is considered a Rite of Passage for Mages of all sorts. All spell scrolls rewrite themselves into Caligulan after completion, and so can be read by any Mage – but can only be used if the spell is of the same Affinity.
Scrolls are, like the spells they contain, somewhat aware. They do not seek to be learned, and so they are usable only once, for scrolls are merely imbued, not ingrained. As noted, a collection of scrolls is called a Grimoire – and it can be in all manner of forms.
And yes, this does mean that some scroll spells are pages from a Grimoire, and that some objects are the pieces of an Occultaire, or the leaves of an Apocrypha. Because the effort to create a Spell Scroll is the same as the effort for creating a spell book. I once found the spell book of a lost Adventurer in a dungeon that had been carved on pottery shards and kept in a small bag at his side.
Spell scrolls which are found are often not used and instead painstakingly copied into a spell book, so that the spell might be preserved for that Mage. By doing this, they avoid the use of the spell scroll, and can retain it for as long as it happens to feel like sticking around, or until they choose to use it.
To copy a spell into a spell book requires a Mana Check of DC10+1 per level of the spell, using the proficiency in the appropriate affinity. If they fail, the spell is useless, and that page of the grimoire (in whatever form) is ruined.
Spells which are outside the Affinity of the caster have a base DC of 15, Spells which are from outside the base Axiom of the caster have a base DC of 13.
The first time they try to memorize the new spell, they must make a check using Kno, Wis, Per, Cha, or Con (depending on the Affinity) with a DC of 9 plus 1 per level of the spell.
Creating a new spell means that one must combine the assorted sigils from glyphs, runes, and ciphers, as well as related elements into the complex and convoluted patterns of spells. That task alone can take some people years, for the nature of magic is enigmatic and capricious, with meaning changing and variables shifting according to the effect of other forces around them. It is said that even a simple cantrip has something on the order of 2.5 million variables. Complex spells have exponentially more variables to deal with. The level of difficulty is immense.
To be able to create a spell that can be properly recorded for use more than once, one must have reached the Professional degree of mastery or higher (5th Level and up).
The spell is written out following the theorems of Magic, and presented to your DM, who will allow or disallow the spell.
If it is allowed, then it is time to test it out – hopefully in a place that is safe to do so, such as the Mage’s workshop or an empty area.
The character must make a series of checks against a DC of 15: Kno, Per, and Mana. Each check must be successful. If they are, then the spell is successfully created. If not, then it fails and the character must spend 23 days minus 1 day per level before they can try again, as they examine the spell for flaws.
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Some DMs may choose to have a failure in creating a new spell be accompanied by some form of unusual effect.