I’ve liked the Fate RPG engine for a long time- long before the latest iteration came out to play. I liked it so much, I cowrote my own Fate-powered RPG. But that’s not what this post is about. What it’s about is sharing a magic system I designed for Fate before Fate Core was around. I’m not currently using it for anything at the moment, but would if I wanted something a bit more like “typical” RPG magic in a Fate game. Here you go…
* * * * * *
Elemental Sorcery- A magic system for FATE
Under this system, there are three magical skills. They replace the Mysteries skill.
The sorcery skill is used to cast spells. Any character can learn this skill; however, without certain stunts, he is restricted to common magic, and can only cast spell from one of the five domains: energy, life, matter, mind, space. The element must be chosen when this skill is taken.
The character knows one common spell per level of his sorcery skill.
The countermagic spell is used to defend against a magical attack made against the character. Any spell affecting the character can be neutralised, even if he is not the only target. However, indirect attacks cannot be defended against with this skill. Further, without certain stunts, existing spells are unaffected.
A magic sensitivity skill check is made to sense the presence of magic, a character casting a spell, or magical creatures or objects, even if hidden from ordinary sight. If applicable, the character can sense the element involved in the magic.
The scope of this skill can be increased using stunts.
Adept (requires a relevant aspect)
An adept is not restricted to common spells, and can learn those labelled as adept spells. The character gains one adept spell for free when this stunt is taken.
Not every character can become an adept- it requires special talent and training. The knowledge required to train an adept is usually restricted to those in power; most adepts are either nobles or have a noble patron. In any case, a character needs a relevant aspect to take this stunt.
A character with this stunt can use the Countermagic skill to affect spells that have already been cast. Each Countermagic action affects a single spell.
This stunt grants a character a number of common spells equal to his sorcery skill, of any type available. Adept spells and magus spells can also be learnt with this stunt; however, an adept spell counts as two common spells, and a magus spell as three common spells.
A character with this stunt can identify the precise spell used when using the Magic Sensitivity skill. When he comes across a magical item, he has a general idea what it does and how to use it.
Magus (requires the Adept stunt)
The most powerful sorcerers of all are termed magi. This stunt means a character can cast magus-level spells- the most powerful available. Further, he gains on magus spell for free when this stunt is taken.
This stunt simply enables a character to learn spells from a new domain. Further, when it is taken, one spell of the new element is gained.
It can be taken up to four times, meaning a character has access to all five domains.
* * *
Unless otherwise noted, spells can be cast fairly quickly; casting a spell is no different to taking any other action in a conflict. A sorcery skill check against difficulty 0 is made to cast a spell.
However, magic has a cost. Casting a spell inflicts damage to the magus’ composure stress track. The damage is 2 stress for a common spell, 4 stress for an adept spell, and 6 stress for a magus spell. The stress is reduced by one for each level of success.
Countermagic has the same stress cost as the spell being neutralised, with each level of success reducing the cost by one.
A failed attempt to cast a spell or use countermagic costs 1 stress.
Electric Charge (Range: Self)
Causes the caster to crackle with electricity for a scene. Any hand to hand attacks have a +2 damage bonus.
Environmental Protection (Range: Same zone)
Up to one target per sorcery level is unaffected by natural extremes of heat and cold for half a day. Either the number affected or the duration is doubled on a critical success.
Extinguish (Range: One zone)
Puts out all fires within a zone.
Fiery Bolt (Range: Two zones)
A victim is struck by a fiery bolt; this is a normal attack that ignores armour, and has a +1 bonus to damage.
Flame Blade (Range: Touch)
Enchants a weapon so that it blazes with fire for a scene. Any attacks have a +2 damage bonus.
Resist Fire and Cold (Range: Touch)
The beneficiary is immune to the effects of ordinary heat, fire, and cold, and takes half damage from magical fire and cold for one scene.
Silence of the Grave (Range: Two zones)
This spell creates an area of silence within a zone. No sound can be heard at all within this area, or can pass out of or into the shielded area. This spell lasts for an hour.
Torch without Fire (Range: Short)
Enchants an object so that it casts light within the same zone for a week.
Unnatural Darkness (Range: One zone)
This spell creates an area of darkness covering everything within one zone. Normal sight within the area is impossible. Lasts for a day.
Bolt of Lightning (Range: Two zones)
A victim is struck by a bolt of lightning; this is a normal attack that ignores armour, and has a +3 bonus to damage.
Barrier of Fire (Range: Two zones)
Creates a wall of fire up to 60m long. A ring up to 6m across per skill rank is also a possibility. The barrier lasts lasts for half a day. Crossing the wall of fire needs a Superb athletics check; each level of failure inflicts 2 points of damage.
Up to 1 target per sorcery level can be trapped in a ring; each is allowed an opposed athletics check to avoid this.
Burst of Light (Range: Two zones)
Light blazes out from the caster, affecting up to one victim per sorcery level. This is an attack, with a +2 bonus to damage, but only affects undead creatures, demons, and similar creatures of darkness.
Flame Breath (Range: One zone)
The caster can breathe fire, affecting up to one victim per sorcery level. This is an attack, with a +1 bonus to damage.
Scorching Blast (Range: Two zones)
A victim is struck by fire; this is a normal attack that ignores armour, and has a +3 bonus to damage.
Shield of Flame (Range: Self)
The caster is surrounded by fire for a scene. The fires do not harm him, but any within melee range take 1 damage each round.
Fiery Devastation (Range: Three zones)
Explosions affect up to one target per sorcery level. This is an attack, with a +3 bonus to damage.
Incinerate (Range: Long)
This spell is typically used as an attack against a single target. It has a +5 bonus to damage, and armour is ignored. A target who is taken out is turned to ash.
Circle of Protection (Range: Self)
Undead creatures, demons, and so on cannot approach within the same zone as the caster for a scene.
Protection from Poison and Disease (Range: Same zone)
The target is immune from poison and disease for a day.
Skin of Stone (Range: Touch)
The target gains a +2 bonus to armour for a scene.
Touch of the Void (Range: Two zones)
An attack with a +1 bonus to damage that ignores armour. Damage from this spell leaves no mark.
Dead Men Walking (Range: Short)
Animates one corpse per skill rank as a zombie- an unintelligent undead being capable of obeying simple commands from the caster.
The corpses remain animated for a week.
Eternal Rest (Range: Three zones)
This spell is an attack only affecting undead creatures. It has a +3 bonus to damage, and ignores armour.
This spell can also be cast on a corpse, or on a location where someone died. In this case, the departed can never return as an undead being, be raised from the dead, or contacted with Whispers from Beyond the Grave.
Internal Alchemy (Range: Touch)
Reduces the effects of a poison or disease in a victim touched from major to minor, or from minor to none.
The Leeching Spell (Range: One zone)
This spell is an attack against a victim. Any damage inflicted is healed by the caster. The character can in fact reverse this spell, draining himself in order to heal another.
Two points of damage healed can reverse a minor consequence, four points a major consequence, and six points a severe consequence.
Rooted to the Earth (Range: Two zones)
A victim of this spell can resist with the athletics skill. He cannot move from where he stands for a scene, gaining a “Rooted to the Earth” aspect, but can otherwise act normally.
This spell typically affects a single victim. However, one extra target is affected per level of spin.
Water Breathing (Range: Same zone)
The target can breathe underwater for a day.
Curse of Undeath (Range: Same zone)
This spell must be cast on a dead body. It animates the body in the form of a wight. A wight is an undead being with a shadow of its old personality and a hatred for the living. It must obey commands from the caster, although instructions can be twisted and perverted.
However, the caster can keep control of no more than one wight per sorcery level. If he creates more wights, control of those created first is lost first.
Defy Death (Range: Same zone)
This spell lasts for one scene. While it is in effect, the recipient will not die, regardless of damage taken. However, if he has taken enough damage to kill him, he dies when the scene is over.
Immortality (Range: Touch)
The target stops ageing from the moment the spell is in effect. It costs a Fate Point, and permanently lowers the casters maximum Fate point total by one.
Petrification (Range: Three zones)
This spell is typically used as an attack against a single target. It has a +5 bonus to damage, and armour is ignored.
This spell can also reverse the effects of petrification, but any damage to the statue remains when the victim is restored (although the Instant Repair spell can potentially fix this). No time passes for the victim while in this state.
Finally, the caster can also partially petrify a victim, turning him to stone from the waist down. He does not age, and need not eat or sleep in this state, drawing sustenance from the earth. An unwilling victim who succeeds in an endurance check at the usual penalties takes no damage from this variant.
Return from Death (Range: Same zone)
This spell restores an individual to life who recently died, provided his body is largely intact. The victim can have been dead for no more than the last day. It costs a Fate Point.
Charm of Opening and Sealing (Range: Same zone)
The opening charm causes any door, lock, or knot to spring open.
The sealing charm seals a makes a door or other opening as strong as the surrounding material, and turns a number of objects chosen by the caster into keys; the maximum number of keys is the caster’s skill rank. Only an individual carrying a key can open a sealed door. The effects last for up to one day per level.
Clear Sailing (Range: Self)
This spell protects a ship from storms and hostile currents (including the Turbulence spell), and ensures good sailing conditions for the next day. The caster must be on board for this spell to work.
Cloud of Mist (Range: One zone)
This spell creates an area of dense fog covering everything within one zone. Normal sight within the area is impossible. Lasts for a day.
Favourable Winds (Range: Self)
The caster can dictate the direction and speed of wind around him for the next day. This spell is not powerful enough to create gales and hurricanes, but can, for example, always ensure favourable sailing conditions.
Instant Repair (Range: Touch)
Repairs all damage to a small object. This spell can also be used on larger structures, in which case the number of hit points of damage repaired is d6+1 per rank (double with a critical success). Only inanimate objects can be affected.
Local Storm (Range: Three zones)
Engulfs a target in battering winds for a scene. If flying, the target needs to make an athletics check each round, or be forced to land. Further, all actions made by the target have a -1 penalty.
Razor Sharpness (Range: Touch)
Turns an object into a tool that can cut through anything for one scene. If used on a weapon, it has a +1 bonus to damage, and ignores armour.
Repel Water (Range: Touch)
This spell lasts for half a day. While it is in effect, the recipient stays perfectly dry, water being repelled from his body. Perhaps more importantly, the repulsion is strong enough that he can even walk on water.
Shatter (Range: Two zones)
Destroys a small inanimate object dramatically. Shatter can also be used as an attack against larger objects, in which case it inflicts stress damage rather than causing instant destruction.
Sudden Deluge (Range: Self)
Causes it to rain, snow, or hail for the next day in an area within 1km of the caster per skill rank. The type of precipitation is whatever is natural to the region and season.
Sorcerous Craftsmanship (Range: Self)
The magecraft spell lets a character work earth, stone, metal, or wood at an impressive rate for one minute per skill rank, without using any tools. He can do as much work in each minute as he normally could in an hour.
Winds of Protection (Range: Touch)
All attacks made against the target have a -1 penalty for a scene.
Barrier of Stone (Range: One zone)
Creates a stone wall up to 1m thick and 30m long. The wall can be up to 20m high, and can be any shape. The wall begins to crumble after one day per sorcery level.
Ice Storm (Range: Two zones)
Falling ice affects up to one target per sorcery level. This is an attack, with a +1 bonus to damage.
Ice Structure (Range: One zone)
Creates an ice wall, bridge, crude building, or similar structure up to 30m and 20m high. It begins to melt after a few hours.
Incorporeality (Range: Self)
This spell turns the character and everything worn or carried into a cloud of dark gas. While incorporeal, the character can pass through solid objects. His senses are normal. However, he cannot interact physically with the material world. Even spells with physical effects are insubstantial, although other magic works normally.
However, while incorporeal, the character can only be damaged by magical weapons or spells. Damaging spells work normally. This spell lasts for one scene, or until the caster chooses to end it.
Water Jet (Range: One zone)
Blasts a victim with a jet of water; the force is enough that an opposed athletics check is needed for him to stay on his feet.
It is possible to use less force, using this spell simply to create drinkable water. In this case, up to one day’s water for a single person per sorcery level is produced.
Earthquake (Range: Self)
The earthquake spell affects an area 1km across centred on the caster. In that area, normal buildings are destroyed, and fortified buildings are damaged (and treated as normal buildings until repaired). A victim caught within a collapsing building must make a Superb athletics check, suffering one point of damage per level of failure.
At sea, all boats and ships are capsized or sunk, depending on size. This spell costs a Fate point.
Parting the Waves (Range: Three zones)
This spell causes water to flow away from an area up to 100m across per skill rank, exposing the river or sea bed. The spell lasts for a day.
Although dramatic, this spell is too slow to threaten ships and swimmers, although it can create a barrier.
Turbulence (Range: Long)
Surrounds a ship by pounding waves and hostile currents, meaning an opposed Sailing check is needed not to capsize or sink. Swimmers in the water need similar checks to avoid drowning.
Weather Control (Range: Self)
The caster can control the weather in an area up to 1km across per sorcery level. Storms can be created or safely dispersed. Any unusual weather lasts for a day.
Violent weather does no damage to living targets, but can make combat or even movement effectively impossible in the area affected. Other possible effects of created storms include the following.
Flying creatures: Flying creatures are forced to land, and must make an athletics check to avoid falling damage from whatever height they are flying.
Ships: The pilot of a ship must make a skill check to avoid capsizing or sinking, depending on size.
Buildings: Normal buildings are destroyed, and fortified buildings are damaged (and treated as normal buildings until repaired).
Dark Adapted Eye (Range: Touch)
A beneficiary can see in the dark for a day.
Dark Command (Range: One zone)
Forces an undead being to obey a single spoken command. An opposed Resolve check is allowed to resist.
Heart’s Fire (Range: Same zone)
Any effects of fear on targets chosen within the same zone, either natural or supernatural, are negated.
Whispers from Beyond the Grave (Range: Same zone)
This spell summons a shade of a departed being. It must either be cast on the corpse (actually, the head or skull of the corpse suffices), or at the location where the deceased actually passed away.
The shade remains for a scene, and can converse with the caster and others, although it cannot otherwise affect the material world. The shade has the same personality it had in life, and knows what it knew at the moment of death. It may or may not be cooperative when asking questions, although other spells can be used to compel it.
Words in the Wind (Range: Special)
The caster sends a short message to a fixed location within 10km per rank. It can be heard by anyone at the location.
Mists of Confusion (Range: Self)
This spell surrounds the caster’s current location with mists in a radius of up to rank km, or twice that with a critical success. The mists are almost impossible to navigate; finding the location needs a critical success on a Navigation skill check. Only one attempt is allowed.
Even escaping the mists requires a Navigation skill check at a -2 penalty. Only one attempt per day is allowed for a particular individual or group.
This spell lasts for a year. The caster, and a number of others equal to the sorcery skill level are unaffected by the mists.
Rouse Unquiet Spirit (Range: Same zone)
This spell must be at the location where a particular individual died. It creates a wraith. A wraith is an incorporeal undead being with a shadow of its old personality and a hatred for the living. It must obey commands from the caster, although instructions can be twisted and perverted.
However, the caster can keep control of no more than one wraith per sorcery skill level. If he creates more wights, control of those created earlier is lost first.
Clear Passage (Range: Same zone)
The caster, and one follower per sorcery skill level, can travel over any terrain as if it were clear flat level ground. The spell lasts for as long as the caster continues to travel without interruption.
Hand of Air (Range: Two zones)
For one scene, the character can manipulate objects within range as if using one hand. Direct attacks made by this spell are resolved in the same way as unarmed combat. A weapon can also be wielded using this spell. This spell does not grant extra actions; ranged actions are instead of normal actions.
Penetrating Gaze (Range: Self)
The character can see through solid obstructions up to 1m thick per skill level for as long as he concentrates on the spell, doing nothing apart from looking.
Spell of Seeking (Range: Special)
The spell of seeking locates an object, location, or material. It finds both the direction and the distance to the target. The caster needs a metaphysical connection to the object sought to use this spell. For example, the character could find a lost earring if he has the other one of the pair. A character can use this spell even with a poor choice of concection on a critical success.
Touch not the Earth (Range: Touch)
This spell affects a single individual touched, and lasts for one scene. While it is in effect, when he walks, his feet do not actually touch the ground, staying an inch or so above it. He can walk across any substance- even water- without sinking, leaving any sort of impression, or even touching it.
Burst of Speed (Range: Same zone)
A target can move with incredible speed for a scene. A +2 bonus applies to initiative, and he can take two actions in a combat round. Further, actions such as running (using the athletics skill) have a +2 bonus.
Flight (Range: Self)
The caster can fly for up to an hour. Normal flying is as strenuous as walking, and is approximately the same speed. Faster flight is certainly possible, but is as strenuous as running at the same speed.
Forcewall (Range: Two zones)
Creates a barrier of impenetrable force up to 10m long per skill rank. The wall can be up to 20m high. A dome up to 3m across per skill rank is also a possibility. The barrier lasts for half a day.
Up to 1 target per 2 skill ranks can be trapped in a dome; each is allowed an Evasion check at a -2 penalty to avoid this. A further -4 penalty applies to the check if the caster achieves a critical success.
Scrying Pool (Range: Special)
This spell conjures up an image of a distant place, object, or person in a pool of water. The target can be viewed for the next few minutes.
The caster needs a metaphysical connection to the target to use this spell. For example, an item of clothing suffices to magically spy on its wearer. A character can use this spell even with a poor choice of concection on a critical success.
Gravity Reversal (Range: Three zones)
Gravity is temporarily reversed within a zone. The reversal catches up to one target per sorcery. Victims are hurled up into the air before falling to the ground. The effect is that a victim cannot act for a round (losing their next action), and take damage as if suffering from an attack. An athletics check is allowed to defend against the damage.