Agents of BIFROST
Magical Research Division
Magical research in SHIELD consists of seven types of magic, known to mages as spheres:
Demonology, the conjuration of infernal beings;
Elementalism, the study of the arcane elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water;
Fulmomancy, the magic of lightning and storms;
Necromancy, the study of the mysteries of Life and Death;
Sorcery, the magic of illusion and the mind
Technomancy, the study of the interaction between Magic and Technology; and
Tenebromancy, also known as shadow magic.
Within a sphere, spells are “subdivided” into two types: cantrips, spells that can be rapidly and easily cast (and thus are also known as “combat magic”); and rituals, which require a lot of time and preparation but tend to be more powerful than cantrips.
Magic isn’t taught at universities (though it is the subject of much academic study). Instead it’s passed on from one mage to another through the ancient system of apprenticeship. During the course of his career a wizard typically takes on at least one, and perhaps many, apprentices, and on his death he leaves his grimoires, workbooks, and mystic paraphernalia to one or more of them. In times past this method created a great risk for loss of knowledge due to fire, a mage’s premature death, or the like. Modern technology (photocopiers and fire safes, for example) have largely eliminated this problem, though despite the best efforts of computer scientists it remains impossible to store spells on computer hard drives or similar media (with the sole exception of Technomancy). For all other spheres, raw mystical lore (such as the names of demons, or a list of materials required to cast a specific ritual) can be computerized, but spells themselves cannot for reasons that no one fully understands. Thus most wizards remain dependent on such relatively old-fashioned methods as writing their spells by hand in books.
MAGIC AND DURABLE MATERIALS
While most magic is highly effective against flesh and bone, it doesn’t work as well against certain other substances. Scholars theorize that these materials have some sort of atomic-level “antimagic field” that protects them, but no one can say for sure. Each Sphere of magic has things that it does not work well against, and in most cases, they are very similar.
For most spheres (except Elementalism and Technomancy) find it hard to affect wood. Anything made mostly of wood, — such as many doors and types of furniture — is considered to have 20% more DEF for purposes of resisting magic, and to have Power Defense equal to its DEF.
Likewise (With the exception of Elementalism) packed earth (such as a sand dune or large planter) and concrete/cement/asphalt react the same way as wood. If a spellcaster that is not an Elementalist is surrounded by wood or earth (such as being locked in a cabinet, or buried up to his waist or higher in earth), they suffer a -2 penalty on all magic-related Power rolls.
Stone, in either raw or worked form, has 40% more DEF for purposes of resisting magic, Power Defense equal to its DEF except for an Elementalist. If another type of spellcaster is surrounded by stone (such as being locked in a stone chamber), he suffers a -4 penalty on all magic-related Power rolls.
Metal is one of the few substances that seems resistant to all types of “classical” magic, but not to the newer “technological”-based mysteries. Metal, in either raw or worked form, has 60% more DEF for purposes of resisting magic, Power Defense equal to its DEF – except for a Technomancy student, as they work with metal and processed materials constantly. If a non-technomancy spellcaster is surrounded by metal (such as being locked in a metal cabinet, or wrapped in chains), he suffers a -6 penalty on all magic-related Power rolls.
MAGIC IN GAME TERMS
A SHIELD Magical Researcher needs two things to buy and cast a spell. First, he needs a Power Skill for each of the spheres of magic he wants to learn spells from. For example, a character needs a “Demonology Skill” to use Demonology spells. If a character doesn’t have the appropriate type of Skill, he cannot learn spells from that sphere. (Some spheres impose additional Skill restrictions; see below.)
Second, he must pay Character points for the spell. The cost for each spell is its Real Cost divided by 3 (standard rounding rules apply).
Creating Spells and Rituals
All spells learned by SHIELD Magical Researchers follow certain rules of creation and use. These rules are reflected in how they’re bought in HERO System terms. The sample spells presented represent just a small fraction of the incantations found in wizards’ grimoires around the world; players and GMs should work together to create more, if desired.
All spells require a Power roll to cast (though the Power Skill varies from sphere to sphere, as discussed above). In other words, they have the Requires A Magic Roll Limitation. Usually they do not have the Side Effects Limitation as well, but sometimes they do.
Gesturing And Incanting
Almost every single SHIELD learned spells require the Limitations Gestures and Incantations. This is the basis of how magic is controlled.
Cantrips have relatively few Limitations (which is one reason they’re effective in crisis situations). Rituals, on the other hand, have lots of them. A typical ritual has Concentration and Extra Time at a minimum; Focus is also common, and Increased Endurance Cost not unheard of. Many rituals have Requires Multiple Users, but others can be cast by a single wizard.
Magic is powerful, and thus tends to be tiring to use. Few spells cost no END, or even have the Reduced Endurance Advantage at ½ END value. The Costs Endurance and Increased Endurance Cost Limitations are common, though not required.
SHIELD Magical Researchers may buy Endurance Reserves or the like to provide END for their spells. It’s common for casters, especially weaker ones, to buy Reserves through a Focus (typically a staff, wand, amulet, talisman, or fetish of some sort); more powerful casters often have personal Endurance Reserves that cannot be taken away. If a caster has an Endurance Reserve of any kind for his magic spells, he can cast them using his personal END instead, but they cost triple their normal END cost.
Some Powers Are Rare
Although it’s not a hard-and-fast rule, as a system design parameter Movement Powers, Body-Affecting Powers, and particularly Defense Powers are rare in SHIELD Magical Research. There are plenty of spells that offer protection against other spells, but no one has yet found a way to create a magical defense that blocks knives, bullets, fists, car crashes, or other mundane forms of damage. (However, the GM might permit magic in the form of Combat Luck, Danger Sense, or other “indirect” defenses.)
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