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The answer to a lot of these is "Rituals."

I'm going to need a fair amount of description in the Beta to describe what people can actually accomplish with magic and how long it takes. I knew I'd need this going in; it's just a ton of writing, much of which goes to the all-important purpose of keeping the description as short as possible. I don't want to write a textbook of pseudoscience for each Fount. I also know that some of this will need to develop organically during playtests.

To hit a few of these and give my initial thoughts:

  • Vehicles are Minor Rituals requiring Industry 2, or 3 if they'll be traveling through low-mana areas like space. If they're a first-of-kind, they're Major instead. (In fact, that's a good general rule: anything that's the first of its kind is one level of ritual up.)
  • Larger-on-the-inside is Minor / Trickery 2 if you're doing it via Red Space closets, or Major / Trickery 4 if you're making an Eschercondo.
  • Creating intelligent life is Major / Communion 3 + Self 3. (Along the rule above, the first one of a given species would be a Great Work.) Plant or animal life seems like Minor instead, and might be doable with Industry instead.
  • Animated corpses are one of Necromancy's version of Mystic Defenders. If you want one around forever, that's a Craft ritual, War 2.
  • Automata that aren't Mystic Defenders could be done with Industry instead. I'll drop "Mystic Servitors" into the rules. They'll be pretty sophisticated as long as you're supervising them, and once you leave the area you better have given them simple and easily followed commands. As for longer-lasting automata that you'd make as a ritual, that depends a lot on what they can do. If you want a robot bartender, that seems like Craft / Industry 2. If you want a self-replenishing swarm of brass termites that build cities for you, that seems like Major / Industry 4. Note that these things are not intelligent in any sense of the word. They're not even well-programmed or well-programmable. They just create what you tell them to.
  • Body Swaps feel like an Enchantment using Self and Communion - you're basically shapeshifting your minds together. Maybe Self 4? You could probably do it as a Craft ritual as well. Note that you can't force this; it runs into the Gift's prohibition against mind control.
  • I had thought I put perfect memory into Mystery somewhere. I'll drop in a slow version at 3 and an instant one at 4.
  • Not all of those fall easily into this game. Self's shapeshifting certainly takes care of the more physical ones, but you need War to spread plagues and Trickery to make bizarre drugs.
  • Cleaning up mana pollution is hard, because you can't de-summon mana. You need to send it through a lengthy process of some kind or just remove it. What most people do is have Those Above the Sky draw the mana into the Attic Lines and dump it, still polluted, off in some region near the edge of the Basin, where it will eventually blorp its way off the edge of the Basin. (Why not dump it into space? The Attic Lines don't do that yet and have safeguards against being modified for that purpose. I'm sure Those Above will try it eventually anyway because that's the kind of people they are.)
  • Industry is the standard way to handle mana flows and ley lines. And yes, ritual, typically Minor to Major.
  • Trickery will store some, but Industry stores it better. The shell game is more like tying someone's shoelaces together when they aren't looking, or unscrewing the top of their salt shaker.
  • I mean, you can always just literally fucking saw them in half because they're immortal, but that sounds messy and painful. Enchant them with Self for shapeshifting. It's probably a Self 4 trick for most folks, but some goofballs will be able to "give you a hand" at Self 2.

There's a quick reference for rituals (projects) on the SRD.

Also, I might need to rename the "Craft" level of project when it comes to Rituals.

Yes, very useful. I'll add those right now; you'll see them in the third Alpha release sometime in June.

So, the rules have Conjuration and Blessing/Enchantment. How to blast with an energy wave and defend against the same.

But how do we do other things?

Things that come to mind:

  • Build a flying ship, building, aerial chariot
  • Build an early earth swimming train
  • A swimming ship
  • Make a space larger on the inside than outside
  • Create life
  • Animate a corpse
  • Build automata that can do things
  • Conjure mystical servants other than defenders Industry 3+?
  • Swap bodies
  • Perfect memory
  • Do many of the Biotechnology tricks on SA2 p109 - 111? I suspect Self and Communion.
  • Clean up polluted mana sources
  • Redirect mana flows (ritual I'll bet)
  • Store mana - I'd think that would proceed the Shell Game
  • And one I always ask to see if a system could handle it without a hack - the sawing a person in half trick. Ideally without killing the person. I think a high Communion and Self might pull it off. Or a very strange swarm.

I've tried to put in page references to SA2 when there's a specific rule that might be a pain to track down. I'll definitely put in more of these as I go on. Is there a place where you feel they're particularly lacking?

On page 12 of SsA, refer to the pages for character creation (actually printed them off).
Page 32 of SsA should refer to pages 43-86.
Page 58 SsA should refer to pages 96 & 97.

Hope it helps.

It's fairly uncommon. Less common than learning a new language, more common than permanently moving to a new country.

"In addition" is definitely more common than "instead of", since you basically have to never learn your original one or go through some sort of forsaking ritual to get rid of it.

And i had a idea. The Lantern Corps.

  • Belief -> Invocation
  • Patrons -> Invocation


Yeah, they're limited, but max them out on Industry and Warfare and you have the basics. I like the Golden Aegis better though.

Fair enough - and by that indication, developing to 3 in one nature without aid probably amounts to a Ph.D in its own right. That makes repressing knowledge much easier.

Speaking of the Guild: How common is it, generally, to learn Traditions outside your Civilization and Society in addition to your civilization's canon? Instead of your civilization's tradition? "Yeah, I live Above the Clouds, but I went to college with the Guild and, as you can see just by looking at my house, I use Sacred Geometry as my own magic."

Thanks to universal repositories, it is damn near impossible to keep someone who is dedicated from learning.

However, speaking as an education researcher, learning is hard work. It takes a lot of time, practice, and effort, and it's even harder to do it on your own, when a lot of the knowledge might be stored in a language you don't understand yet. In a civilization that scorns certain types of knowledge, people who escape that social pressure and put in enough time to learn an entire new language will be the exception rather than the rule.

I should note that none of the listed civs are trying to do that. The closest, ironically, is the Geometer's Guild, where studying (let alone practicing!) any alternative approaches to magic is looked down on. There will probably be some societies that go in this direction.

Is it even possible to keep people uneducated in SsA (not counting Returner Cults)? I mean, it's entirely possible to self-train to 3 and create a rudimentary Tradition completely unaided, and at Mystery or Communion 3, Knowledge ex Rectum is among your powers.

It's hard to keep people from educating themselves when All Are Chosen. (Unless you keep people under control through bread and circuses, perhaps?)

I've tried to put in page references to SA2 when there's a specific rule that might be a pain to track down. I'll definitely put in more of these as I go on. Is there a place where you feel they're particularly lacking?

I definitely hope some folks run exploration / first contact games. If I were going to put in another setting (which I'm not), that would be a top candidate.

I'll be importing a bunch of societies from SA2. It's a LOT easier to come up with Societies than Civilizations, especially since all the Civs in this game follow a particular theme, so I'm planning to have maybe 20 of them by the time I'm done.

Chronotech is definitely blended in some - it's hard to do prophecy without something that looks a little like Chronotech. Programmer is probably dead for good, but a lot of the development of this game is still underway. If I end up having a programmable technology that's broadly used, that profession will come back; otherwise I'll just assume that some folks will port it into their games when one of the PCs invents computers. :)

There are generally no forbidden Paths for any particular Fount. There might end up being some, but if so I'll list them explicitly.

I'll definitely have a box of examples for mana aspects the way I did for Core Values. All of the Natures are good aspects, though they're almost too broad.

The totals for Nature caps definitely vary. I just went with what "felt right" for the pre-written Traditions rather than trying to fit everything into the same box. I might tweak them; I might not. The fact that the Cult of the Open Grave comes out slightly ahead of the Hearth-Kin doesn't bother me yet. We'll see how it comes out in playtesting.

Educational level across the Basin varies a lot from one civ to another. The Guild keeps their people smart; lots of Returner Cults keep people dumb. I figure they're as jaded as any other society of immortals (which, this being an SA spinoff, is "not very").

I suppose I should build a new part of the forums for Sorcerously Advanced so things don't get too mixed together. Give me a few days to get around to it.

And I'm back (at least for a little while).

  • Can we please get page references to SA2 and Chronotech?
  • Other styles of campaign that come to mind after reading this:
    • Exploration/Discovery/Rediscovery immediately comes to mind with a surface area thousands times of that of Earth.
    • Others are first contact, advancing their Civilization's interests.
    • Something like sublight's advancing the character's society interests could be another one.
    • Then there are the classics: politics and trade, though trade in a post scarcity situation may need some thought. At least from areas where the mana is properly aspected to others where it's not.
    • Then there are the nations/alliances and freelancers horning in on the Archive's act.
  • Societies. Not a bad overview. I can see several from SA2 fitting in. Organized Crime (competitive advantage in Crime?), Sleepers, Survivors, Explorers come to mind. The Inteligencers from the forum as well, and maybe a society of healers.
  • Natures - it looks like Chronotech is blended in especially with Mystery at high levels.
  • Expertise and Profressions
    • I'm not sure you should remove programming - or maybe rewrite it to fit. There's nothing in the setting that prevents babbage engines. And the automata might fit under it.
    • Linguist and Historian would need definitions. I posted Archeology and Historian in the distant past.
    • Please include Kismet, Oracle (Synthetist) and Augur (Analyst) with write ups. Kismet is so perfect for this setting it hurts.
  • Mana and its Aspects
    • This one is going to need examples. Just off the top of my head: Fire, Water, Earth, Air, Void, Life, Death, Light, Darkness, Blood, Sun, Moon. I'll bet money there can be more.
  • Paths and Founts - combined these are very evocative. Quick question on the Founts - There are typical and unusual paths. If a path isn't listed under that, is it forbidden? Example: Wild Magic + Necromancy
  • Civilizations and their nature totals
    • Colin, I tallied them from their quick descriptions and I get numbers that are above and below 25.
      • Cult of the Open Grave The Practice 26, The Rage 27.
      • Glimmermere. The Higher Talent 27, The Mad Power 26.
      • The Geometer's Guild. Sacred Geometry 27
      • The Golden Aegis The Calling 24, The Aura of Heaven 25
      • The Hearth Kin. What Binds Us 24, What Defines Us 24.
      • The Sovereigns of Hell. Devilpower 25, The Sage's Path 24, The Silent Path 25
      • Those Above the Sky. The Starlit Way 27, The Home-Builder's Art 24.
      • The Unroyal. The Key of Courage 24, The Key of Freedom 24.
    • Unruly Lands only get one Tradition. correct?
  • How sophisticated and educated are the typical Basin inhabitants? Jaded might be a better description.
  • Any spot to put sample characters and home built civilizations and societies?
  • Necromancy - mana as currency, currency as mana. This has some potential. Maybe more than soul fragments as currency.

Three external links I found useful in playing around with this. May be useful for others.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Magitek?from=Main.Magitech

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FunctionalMagic

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/CraftSequence

Oh right! It's been forever since I read L5R, thanks for the refresher. (I hope the new version does well.)

The Gaians would welcome the ability to disconnect from War, but I'm not sure that the Peacewalkers would. I interpret the Non-Violence CV (the Peacewalker ethos) to mean an aggressive non-violence, like Gandhi or Martin Luther King armed with Metatech 5: They may not lift a physical sword, but they absolutely argue vehemently and forcefully using all non-violent tools at their disposal, up to and including using a Voice of Peace to stop a fight in progress. And forceful argument and Words of Power fall under War if I'm not mistaken. ("Trigger instinctual reactions" is War 3.)

They practice their magic by petitioning the kami, though. So while their spells look mage-like, they're actually clerical (or in their case, shamanistic) in origin.

Sovereigns of Hell are also not what we would think of as clerics, after all. Patrons is a broad category.

After mulling this over some and considering what happened during the playtest, I think I'll need to have two rules for SsA:

  • The Bad Luck Rule as it is now. If the GM keeps a character from doing something despite their technology, they get a reduced number of Twists for that. Complication refunds are reduced by Power score as they are in SA2 (with Tech score). Their tech mitigates the effects in this situation. We'll probably keep the same name.
  • The Worst Enemy Rule rule, until I come up with a better name for it. (From the phrase, "You are your own worst enemy.") If the GM keeps a character from doing something because of their technology, they get the full Twist refund for that, regardless of their Power score. Their tech exacerbates things - it's the technology itself that is causing problems, and they can't use high Nature scores to get out of this bind.

If, as a GM, you can't tell which you should be applying, you're probably doing something weird. Remember that these apply specifically to Four Questions situations, and consider what the source of the problem is. If you still can't figure it out, downgrade the issue until it's in Bad Luck Rule territory, or complicate and intensify it until it's in Worst Enemy Rule territory.

Thanks! Glad you like it.

On the nonviolence point, the ultimate in nonviolence is disconnecting from War. Page 27 in case you missed it.

Fixes:

  • For Arete, it should be Communion. For Invocation, it should be Mystery.
  • Yes, all references to the Patterns path should be Geometry.
  • I've fixed all this up for the next release (due sometime in June).

Clarifications:

  • Nature limits are a soft limit. If you go past them, you lose a point of Import but that's it. The soft limit is there to subtly encourage people to pick up a second Tradition rather than stretching an existing one, but we'll see in playtests how that goes.
  • Patrons can withdraw power, but they do not normally watch you or even realize when you're pulling normal amounts of power from them. ("Normal" being "I'mm'a use War 5 to blow up this island here.") A patron withdrawing their blessings should be treated as a major storyline, and should involve regular use of the Bad Luck rule (or the stronger form of it that I mentioned elsewhere on the forums).
  • Kismet would normally be Mystery, with a fair number of Trickery uses.
  • Criminal is no longer difficult to obtain. Mystery is pretty great, but it's a lot easier to fool than the combination of Meta, Cog, and everyone around you being a walking recording device.

Yeah, runes probably fit under language better. Right now I'm squeezing mathematics into geometry rather than the other way around, but I may also use mathematics as a good example of a new path that someone could make - doing a little walkthrough of "how do I make a new path".

Interesting - why Patrons for them? I thought they were more mage than cleric?

Shugenja from L5R: Patrons, Elementalism

Nice work. I can see a lot of potential for adventure in here.

I liked making an aggressively nonviolent character in SA2 (in a world where ahimsa is a weapon in itself), and it says something about the SsA setting that that kind of nonviolence is a form of War now - to the extent that it's still possible with the Gift, anyway.

Some inconsistencies and missing data:

In the Character Creation section, we get: "Arete and Necromancy open up access to Polymath with Mystery 3+. Necromancy, Oneiromancy, and Invocation open up access to Polymath Communion 3+." Yet, in the Arete writeup, it says that Communion is the Nature for it. Which is correct? Likewise, Invocations leaves it out.

The Path of Patterns is mentioned in Sovereigns of Hell for the Sage's Path, but we have no data on that Path - do you mean Geometry?

Questions!

Is a Tradition's Nature limit a hard limit, a soft limit like SA1, or a recommendation like SA2?
Is a Patron Path normally able to withdraw its power from you?
What Natures are appropriate for using Kismet?
Is Criminal still a difficult skill to learn?

And a suggestion on Geometry, Language and runes.

Runes are actually more fitting as a form of Language. And if you go that way, geometric magic can be refocused on the mathematical aspects - feng shui and other geomancy, and similarly other kinds of mathematics unless you want to split those into a third path.

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