Thaumaturgy (Low Magic)
Every Shadow in Creation, from Amber to Chaos, is based upon fundamental laws that define its Essence; its ‘reality.’ To the normal and unenlightened Shadow Dweller, these laws are predetermined and immutable. However, there are those who can perceive and comprehend this complex interrelation of laws. They are referred to by many names, such as thaumaturges, hearth witches, will-workers, or sorcerers. Although many Schools and techniques exist for their craft, most scholarly thaumaturges refer to the utilization of magick as ‘thaumaturgy.’ In the broadest sense, the thaumaturge can use their knowledge and inner will to influence Reality and thus produce a desired effect or intentional change. However, despite the power some thaumaturges possess, they still bound by the set Laws of Shadow (i.e., they couldn’t alter time-flow or make gunpowder work). For this reason, thaumaturgy is also known as Low Magic. Shadow-altering magicks are the realm of High Magic, better known as Sorcery.
As a thaumaturge progresses in their training, they gain a better understanding of Creation and thusly more control over it. Not only will they gain access to new abilities, but they will improve their previous skills with each progressive step. For example, while an Initiate can use the Art of Knowing to determine the aura of a single human, a Master could expand the spell to see the auras of an entire ball-room of people.
Different Schools of magick teach various perceptions on Creation, but in the end all will-workers effectively utilize the same method to produce a magical effect. When casting a spell, the thaumaturge chooses an Art (the ‘Verb’—what you wish to do) and then a Form (the ‘Noun’—what you wish to affect). For example, a Disciple that wishes to magically heal an injured comrade would use a Rule Body spell. Depending on the target, an additional Form may be required. For example, if you wished to transform yourself into a cat, you would need Transform Body/Animal.
Spells, unfortunately, require a great deal of concentration and inner energy to perform. There are two types of spells—Memorized and Ritual—and each type requires a specific amount of time to perform.
- Memorized spells are formulaic magicks that the thaumaturge has learned over the course of their education. Beginning characters start with ONE spell per level of Magic (so a Master begins with five memorized spells, while an Initiate only has one). The thaumaturge may cast any memorized spell without preparation. To avoid book-keeping, all memorized spells are considered ‘hung,’ so they may be cast at will. However, the more powerful the spell, the more energy it will take out of the character. Eventually, they will be fatigued and unable to continue.
- Ritual spells are formulaic magicks that the thaumaturge can cast, but does not have memorized. As such, they require research and intensive concentration, as well as ritual items or materials. The thaumaturge first designs the spell they wish to cast. They must then spend an amount of time preparing the spell equal to its Magnitude in 30-minute increments. Magnitude is determined by 1) Adding the required Forms, and then 2) multiplying by the spell level. For example, the previously mentioned Cat-Transformation spell would have a Magnitude of 8 (Body/Animal (2) X Transform (4) = 8), and thus require roughly two hours to complete. Once the ritual spell is completed, it can be ‘hung’ for later use. However, the spell will be lost if the thaumaturge losses their concentration, e.g., falls asleep, is knock unconscious, begins a new ritual spell, etc..
Arts & Forms
In short, Arts govern the essential manipulations that magic can perform, while Forms represent the essential natural phenomena that magic can manipulate. Each level of the Magic Trait is defined by a Circle: the scholarly name provided a thaumaturge and a representation of their control over Creation (i.e., the Arts they possess). Also, with each Magic level, the character gains control over one Form (so a Third Circle (Magic: 3) thaumaturge would have three Forms).
First Circle: Initiate
- Art of Knowing: Provides the thaumaturge with information regarding the nature of a specific Form.
- Art of Unveiling: Allows the thaumaturge to magically perceive the Form, even if it or its various qualities are hidden.
- Art of Cantrips: These one-word phrases allow the thaumaturge to magically direct a Form in an extremely brief and minor fashion (i.e., Power Words).
Second Circle: Apprentice
- Art of Ruling: Allows the thaumaturge to magically command and control a Form.
- Art of Warding: Provides the thaumaturge with magical protection against a Form.
- Art of Veiling: The thaumaturge may conceal, camouflage, or otherwise obfuscate a Form from perception.
Third Circle: Disciple
- Art of Fraying: The thaumaturge may now utilize the Form to directly injure a specific target.
- Art of Weaving: The thaumaturge may magically alter the capabilities or function of a Form, without disrupting its basic nature.
- Art of Perfecting: The thaumaturge may magically improve or fortify a specific Form.
Fourth Circle: Adept
- Art of Transforming: The thaumaturge may now completely transmogrify the Form into related shapes or phenomena, or replaces its basic functions with entirely different ones.
- Art of Unweaving: The thaumaturge may now significantly degrade or negatively mutate the aspects of a Form.
- Art of Compelling: Allows the thaumaturge to coax a Real creature to come to them (must be in same Shadow)
Fifth Circle: Master
- Art of Conjuring: Allows the thaumaturge to bring a Form into existence from nothingness.
- Art of Summoning: Allows the thaumaturge to summon a Real creature to them from any distance.
- Art of Dismissing: Allows the thaumaturge to destroy a Form, removing it from existence.
Sixth Circle and beyond: Archmagus
- The thaumaturge gains new abilities that can significantly alter and increase their use of magic, as well as control over another Form. Beginning characters cannot obtain this level of magick affinity.
- Air: This Form allows the thaumaturge to affect the element of air and most weather phenomena.
- Animal: This Form allows the thaumaturge to affect any species of animal, including ‘normal’ supernatural creatures such as manticores and wyverns.
- Body: This Form allows the thaumaturge to affect the ‘human’ body, including most humanoids.
- Earth: This Form allows the thaumaturge to the element of earth, including minerals and any other non-living solids.
- Essence: This Form allows the thaumaturge to affect things of pure magic, including enchanted items and spells. This Form is a prerequisite to affect creatures of Creation (‘Real’), i.e., daemons, dragons, Elders, Elementals, Fair Folk, Ghosts, etc.
- Fire: This Form allows the thaumaturge to affect element of fire, including fire's basic effects of light and heat.
- Mind: This Form allows the thaumaturge to affect things dealing with intelligence and the mind. Note: The minds of animals are the domain of the Animal Form.
- Plant: This Form allows the thaumaturge to affect plants and fungi, and their products - cotton, wood, flour, etc.
- Water: This Form allows the thaumaturge to affect water or any other liquid.
Sometimes a target is a mixture of two forms; for example, steam is both Air and Water. Use your intuition to decide if mixed forms are required.
Many will-workers, such as hearth witches and lay-healers, never study magick on a scholarly level. They learn to manipulate Creation by force of will or spiritual belief. Nor do they need to ascend to the ranks of an archmagus to ply their trade. However, most professional thaumaturges learn their skills in an academic setting. As such, they are exposed to the teachings and thoughts of other thaumaturges, which in turn defines how they see Creation. There are many Schools of Magick Theory, so of which are little more than folk traditions, but all provide their students with certain benefits, as well as certain disadvantages. In short, as the student’s perceptions of Creation are opened in one fashion, they grow ignorant in another.
There are three main Schools of Magick Theory taught at Faiella University. A beginning character may belong to any one of them or may join them at any point. However, once the student enters a specific School, they cannot change Schools later on (in essence, they’re too set in their ways) Each School provides the thaumaturge focus in two Forms at the expense of another. In effect, the thaumaturge can cast spells with their preferred Forms at one Circle higher than normal, while they cast spells involving their weakened Form at one Circle lower. Furthermore, the thaumaturge is also more vulnerable to magicks of the weakened Form.
- Ordo Devonian (Earth/Fire +; Essence -) Devonians believe in the repeatable, calculable nature of Essence and that it can be altered only through careful observation, logic, and experimentation. Their core principle is that “Essence is the Laws of Creation.” As such, they take an analytical and experimental approach to magic, utilizing sciences like astronomy and alchemy. By discovering and refining a Law, one can create a predictable result. Ironically, this scientific approach means Devonians have a more difficult time understanding the mutability of Essence. Most magitechs and artifiers in Amber come follow the School of Ordo Devonian.
- Ordo Salinan (Body/Animal +; Mind -) Salinans believe in the fundamental truths of Creations like the Devonians, but see Creation as a conscious entity (be it of the Pattern or the Logrus) and Essence is a reflection of its thoughts. Thus, all within Shadow are simply manifestations of Creation’s thoughts and that each entity is interconnected. By recognizing this concept, the thaumaturge can tap into this consciousness and alter the ‘thought’s as they see fit. Unfortunately, because they are so esoteric in nature, they have a difficult time understanding the more complex subtleties of the human mind. Most healers and natural-inclined thaumaturges follow the School of Ordo Salinan.
- Ordo Silurian (Essence/Mind +; Body - ) Somewhere between the regimented Devonians and flighty Salinans, Silurians believe that Creation possesses a Hidden Language, which defines every aspect of reality. To create a specific result or change, the thaumaturge needs to understand the True Name of something and to verbalize his/her intent in Creation’s language. This has become an increasingly popular School at Faiella University, due to its relative simplicity of use and the ease of teaching and understanding its general concepts. Unfortunately, this focus on improving the mind comes at the cost of understanding the intricate workings of the human form.
As with other Traits, you must pick a Specialty for Magic. Specialties should be appropriate to the Magic trait and are relatively narrow in focus (i.e., not an Art or Form), usually adding a bonus to some aspect of your spell casting. For example, ‘weather magic’ would be an appropriate, whereas ‘Air Magic’ would not. Likewise, ‘animal transformations’ would be allowable, whereas ‘Transformations’ would not.
Memorizing Spells and Research & Design
To memorize a spell, the thaumaturge must research and study the spell until they understand all of its nuances and can cast it spontaneously. First, the thaumaturge chooses a /known/ spell (one that can be taught or found in a tome) to memorize. They must then spend an amount of weeks spent researching and testing the spell equal to its Magnitude. Magnitude is determined by: 1) Adding the required Forms, and then 2) multiplying by the spell level. For example, the previously mentioned Cat-Transformation spell would have a Magnitude of 8 (Body/Animal (2) X Transform (4) = 8), and thus require roughly two months to memorize.
The thaumaturge may also develop a /new/ spell in the exact same manner. However, the time and resources required for starting from scratch are tremendous, so the final Magnitude is doubled when calculating the number of weeks required for designing a new spell (i.e., the aforementioned Cat-Transformation spell would require 16 weeks to formulate and memorize).
Examples of Spell-Casting and Research & Design
Because the spell-casting process may be an imposing one, we present to you three examples of the various aspects of Magick, following the magical life of Kalesh of Janosh-El. Kalesh possesses the following traits:
- Academics: 5
- Magic: 3, i.e., a Disciple (Third Circle)
- Doesn’t adhere to any Schools of Magick, so she has no strengths or weaknesses with the Forms.
- Knows the Fire, Body, and Mind Forms.
- Has Memorized three spells: See Aura (Unveil Mind), Heal Minor Wound (Rule Body), and Flames of Brighid (Fray Fire-3)
Example #1—Memorized spells: Kalesh is out picking mushrooms and herbs for one of her ritual spells when she is set upon by a mishipizheu; a thick and highly venomous, feathered serpent that makes its home amongst the boulders and high grasses on Mount Kolvir. Unwilling to risk being bitten, she casts Flames of Brighid and drives the snake off with a small blast of magical fire.
Still lacking spell components, Kalesh later goes to a herbalist. She suspects that the merchant is overcharging her, so she casts See Aura. Her Academics is higher than the merchant, so she has the psychic advantage. His aura reveals that he is not only lying, but is likely prejudice against her (a common occurrence for some Shadow-Dwellers). She promptly leaves the store.
In both cases, the spells could be instantly cast (and repeatedly, if needed) because she has them Memorized.
Example #2—Ritual Spells: Kalesh’s friend, Roshah, has accidentally burned herself while mixing alchemical fire. Embarrassed, Roshah doesn’t want to go to the infirmary and asks Kalesh to help her. Unfortunately, Kalesh’s memorized spell Heal Minor Wound is simply insufficient to repair this amount of physical damage. However, her Magic score is high enough for her to cast a Heal Major Wounds (Perfect Body) spell. So, she makes Roshah comfortable and sets to collecting her tomes, herbs, and ritual items and then begins working on the Ritual spell.
A Heal Major Wounds spell has a Magnitude of 3 (Form: Body (1) X Art: Perfect (3) = 3). After an hour and a half (Magnitude X 30 minutes= 90 minutes), Kalesh has prepared a Major Heal Spell. If she wished, she could ‘hang’ the spell for later use. However, considering her friend’s worsening condition, she casts it immediately and heals Roshah’s burns.
Example #3—Memorizing and Inventing Spells: Recognizing Roshah’s clumsiness and the potential for future injuries, Kalesh decides to memorize the Heal Major Wounds spell. Because this is a commonly known spell, she simply goes to the library and begins researching it. Fortunately, it isn’t a very difficult spell (Magnitude: 3), so only takes her three weeks to memorize and practice. From this point forward, she can use it whenever she wants.
While in the library, Kalesh becomes fascinated with an article by Professor Advocat on fire magic. Inspired, she decides to impress him by creating a new spell for her Sorcery mid-term, specifically a spell that creates a smokeless flame (allowing fire-fighters to see and breath more easily in a blaze). This is a Weaving Fire spell, so is Magnitude 3 (Form: Fire (1) X Weaving (3)= 3). Because this is not a known spell, the amount of time to research, test, and memorize the spell is twice the Magnitude in weeks, i.e., six weeks. Kalesh is barely able to have the spell ready for her mid-terms. Although Professor Advocat only gives her a B+ for the project, she now has a unique spell in her repertoire that can be used freely.
Overview of Spells
In addition to its defining Art and Form, every spell has four characteristics: Range ( R ), Duration ( D ), Target ( T ), and Aspect ( A ). These characteristics describe the various limits of the spell itself and are discussed below. NOTE: If the characteristic is separated by a slash mark (e.g., D: Moon/Perm), the second characteristic defines what a caster of one Circle higher can accomplish when casting the spell. The second option is not required, but must be chosen at the time of casting. (e.g., a Third or higher Circle thaumaturge could choose to cast Circle of Io (Warding Animal) with either a Duration of Ring or Concentration).
Range (How far the caster’s spell can reach?)
- Touch: The spell's effect is centered on whatever the caster has physical contact with.
- Reach: The spell's effect is centered on anything within the caster’s reaching distance, usually two paces.
- Close: The spell affects anything within fifteen paces of the caster
- Far: The spell affects anything within a hundred paces of the caster
- Sight: The spell affects anything that the caster can see. NOTE: With a height advantage, this range can be considerable.
- Arcane Connection (AC): The spell affects anything that the magus has an arcane connection to, i.e., a True Name or Sympathetic Foci (such as blood, hair, personal items, etc). Range can be Shadow-wide, but will not extend into adjacent Shadows without the use of Pattern, Trump, or Logrus.
Durations (How long the spell will last?)
- Instant (Inst): The spell lasts but a moment and then dissipates. However, any effect that it has remains and will degrade naturally. This is usually the duration of most combat and basic healing spells. Thus far, no will-worker has been able to create an Instant Transform or Weaving spell, and Perfecting spells of this duration are very rare.
- Concentration (Conc): The spell lasts only as long as the caster concentrates on it. It will immediately end if they are wounded or distracted in some fashion.
- Temporary (Temp): The spell lasts for roughly an hour or more.
- Sun: The spell lasts until the sun next rises or sets.
- Ring: The caster draws an runic circle around themselves or the target. The spell will last until the ring is broken, crossed, or otherwise dispelled.
- Moon: The spell lasts until both the new and full moon have been in the sky.
- Season (Sea): The spell lasts until the next solstice or equinox after its casting.
- Year: The spell lasts until the fourth equinox or solstice after its casting.
- Permanent (Perm): The spell effectively lasts indefinitely, but remains forever magical. Thus, unlike Instant spells, it can be dispelled at some point in the future.
Target (What or who will the spell affect?)
- Personal (Pers): The effect of the spell is centered on the caster.
- Individual (Ind): The spell can affect a single distinct thing, such as one person or one object. Larger objects, such as lakes and buildings do not fall under this category.
- Group: The spell can affect a small group of people or things; roughly a dozen individuals. Also, the individuals must be obvious to the caster, so targeting soldiers lining a tower wall will not affect troops hidden behind the nearby parapet.
- Room: The spell affects a small area or a chamber and everyone or anything within it. If utilized outdoors, roughly a 100 square-foot area is affected by the spell. If utilized indoors, the room affected can be very large (the nave of a cathedral, for instance, or a natural cave), but it must be enclosed and have definite boundaries.
- Area: The spell affects a broad area or a single structure and everything within it. The affected area can be up to one-half acre in diameter. The structure can range in size from a hut to a castle, but it must be a single, linked edifice.
- Sight: The spell affects everything within sight of the caster, including everything within a well-defined natural or man-made boundary, such as a battlefield, a city wall, center of a village, the shores of a lake, the edge of a forest, or bottom of a mountain.
Aspect (Can the spell be resisted?)
- Invasive (Inv): Invasive spells create a magical effect that causes an ‘internal’ change and/or injury to the target or victim; e.g. causing internal hemorrhaging, creating a mental link, or altering someone’s thoughts or perceptions. Note that the “victim” of any Invasive spell can choose to open themselves to it, negating the need for a psychic advantage.
- Non-invasive (Non): Non-invasive spells create an external change or effect, or alter the caster themselves in some manner; e.g. creating a fireball, summoning shadows, or turn a sorcerer invisible. These spells do not require the caster to penetrate the target’s psychic defenses, but other defenses may apply (such as armor). NOTE: Most healing spells are considered non-invasive as the injured target is considered willing to accept the spell’s effect.
Please see the following example for a formated spell:
Circle of Io (Warding Animal)
R: Reach, D: Ring/Conc, T: Group, A: Non
By drawing a ring around themselves (and/or a group), the caster creates an invisible barrier that no animal will cross. This barrier is dispelled if the ring is broken or their concentration fails.
The following spell lists are merely examples of commonly known and easily researched spells. However, this list is by no means exclusive and serves only as an inspiration for designing your own spells. Also, this list will continue to expand over time.