Magic is an expression of a world’s nature. Or perhaps it is a facet of the cosmos itself, incarnated in a particular wielder. Or it could be that it is all trickery and illusion, crafted to mislead the unwary. Whatever the case, each of the seven magics are potent forces in their particular world, and no less so here in the Forest of Doors.
In Forest of Doors, characters can learn magic that gives them access to a huge variety of unique, in-game effects, including blasting opponents with fire, confounding foes, shielding others from harm, healing the injured, and transmuting objects. Magic is a difficult practice, however, demanding that characters perform rituals to gain the necessary energy to cast their spells. As well, all spells have verbals that must be spoken to activate their effects, and in some cases have other requirements needed to maintain them.
The first part of casting a spell is spending a single Charge of the appropriate School of Magic. The second part of casting a spell is the verbal requirement. Each spell has a spoken verbal requirement that must be recited from memory or read from a text of some sort. Verbals will vary wildly in style and length, depending upon the spell school, and they all incorporate the name of the spell in some fashion. If the verbal is incorrectly spoken, the Charge is lost and the spell fails. If spoken correctly, the spell’s effect then takes place. Some spells (Readied spells specifically) require a second, shorter verbal requirement to activate their individual effects.
Magic Skill Progression
For each level in a magical skill up to 6, a character gets 1 spell and 1 ritual of their choice. After level 6, a magician may either pick the standard spell + ritual, OR an advanced ability of the indicated type.
|Mastery = Highest Level School + Willful Trait|
|1||15 CP||Spells Known 1, Rituals Known 1||15|
|2||5 CP||Spells Known 1, Rituals Known 1||20|
|3||10 CP||Spells Known 1, Rituals Known 1||30|
|4||15 CP||Spells Known 1, Rituals Known 1||45|
|5||20 CP||Spells Known 1, Rituals Known 1||65|
|6||25 CP||Spells Known 1, Rituals Known 1||90|
|7||30 CP||Empowered Spell –OR– Spell & Ritual||120|
|8||35 CP||Greater Working –OR– Spell & Ritual||155|
|9||40 CP||Empowered Spell –OR– Spell & Ritual||195|
|10||45 CP||Greater Working –OR– Spell & Ritual||240|
|11||50 CP||Empowered Spell –OR– Spell & Ritual||290|
|12||55 CP||Greater Working –OR– Spell & Ritual||345|
*this is the total amount of cp spent on the skill at the corresponding level
Mastery is a measure of a character’s magical power, which governs the potency of each and every spell a character knows. Every spell incorporates Mastery in some manner, either through duration, scope, number of uses, or damage. For instance, most Readied spells give the caster their Mastery in uses when the spell is cast, and Circle spells can measure up to five yards in circumference per point of Mastery. Exactly how Mastery increases the power of the spell is listed in each individual spell description.
Mastery is equal to a caster’s highest level spell school, plus their level in the Willful Trait, plus any bonuses from Occult.
Empowered Spell This advanced ability allows a caster to, in a sense, “specialize” in a spell they already know, unlocking its true capabilities and expanding its power. This ability may only be chosen once per spell, and what it does will be revealed upon reaching level 6 in a spell school and formally requesting this information by contacting the staff of that LARP game. Alternately, characters may do Scholarship actions to learn about Empowered versions of spells. Some spells will have their duration dramatically increased; some will get a damage boost; while still others may gain additional casting abilities outright, once they are Empowered.
Greater Workings are powerful ritual magics which have broad, game altering effects whenever they are cast. A specific Greater Working can only be cast once per game season (year), by a particular person, and other time/opportunity constraints may apply. All Greater Workings must be discovered in the course of play/during downtime actions; they are, almost by definition, the most arcane and secretive powers in a given school. Each magical school is rumored to have several of these spells, but the exact number is generally not known.
If being taught, they must find a tutor who knows that specific Greater Working, and who is willing to teach them. Both student and teacher must spend an out-of-game action on instruction for the character to learn the new Greater Working, and a character can learn only one Greater Working per downtime session. A known NPC can also act as the tutor.
Charges and Rituals
Charges are what fuel magic, and each and every spell costs but a single Charge to cast. Most commonly, magicians get their charges through performing rituals which are learned, like spells, as they increase in skill. All rituals take a certain amount of time to perform, with the general rule that if a ritual is easy to perform, it will take a longer time. Rituals that demand sacrifice, or only operate under very specific conditions, are usually quick.
Note: no ritual can be performed while a caster has a Readied spell active. Similarly, no other spell may be cast while the caster is maintaining a readied spell.
Upon successful completion of a ritual, a character gains a single charge of that ritual’s school, which can only be used to fuel spells of that type. For example, if a character performs a Ritual from the magic school “Annotations of the Great Index”, they will receive a Charge that can only be used to fuel Annotations spells. Characters with Occult can pull Charges out of items or places of power with but a few moments of uninterrupted concentration. Also, characters that are naturally Attuned to the forces of magic can use a “Feat of Attunement” to instantly cast a spell with no charge cost. Charges obtained by Occult are usually Perfect in nature, meaning that they can be used to fuel spells of any School.
Resetting Rituals, Beginning Charges (Take Note!)
If a character uses a Ritual and successfully gains a Charge from it, then that Ritual is considered Active and cannot be used again until it is reset. All Rituals of a School of Magic reset when the character no longer carries any Charges from that School of Magic.
At the beginning of an event, characters begin with a full compliment of Charges from all the rituals they know, which are then considered to be active. As an example, a character with magic school “A” at level 4 and the magic school “B” at level 2 would begin the game with four “A” Charges and two “B” Charges. They could not perform one of their four “A” rituals until they used those charges completely, and the same goes for their “B” rituals.
If a character wishes to get rid of any or all the charges they hold, they may do so by concentrating for 3 seconds, then calling “Revocation!” The charges are then dispersed.
Spells and Wounds
Unless indicated otherwise in a spell description, arm wounds will not limit spellcasting in any fashion.
A Ritual, if performed incorrectly, simply does not work. If a Ritual is performed really incorrectly, however, it can become Fouled. A Fouled Ritual cannot be used until a certain action is taken to purify it. This can be something as simple and quick as destroying an item, or something as time consuming as taking on a difficult taboo for a few days. Even though some Rituals can expressly become Fouled through specific means, as detailed in their descriptions, any Ritual can become Fouled if the magician performing it acts in a manner directly against the spirit of the Ritual. Plot members and marshals can, at their discretion, declare a character’s Ritual Fouled if the character is using the Ritual in such a manner.
There is nothing wrong, however, with benefiting from Rituals in ways peripheral to gaining Charges. For instance, it is acceptable for a character to perform a Ritual in a manner that directly leads into another Ritual. Also, some rituals blend in with spell requirements, and using this relationship to your advantage is part of being an effective magician. We encourage the creative use of Rituals as long as it doesn’t run against the spirit of the system. Note that only one ritual can be performed at a time, in any case.
“Books of Spells” are not required for casters in the Forest of Doors system. However, as we have quite a few spells with long or multiple verbals, we allow players to read off such from an in-game text to activate their effects, if desired. This spellbook should be aesthetically appropriate, but need not be a tagged item. Note that some spells do not allow their caster to hold objects in their hands, and a spellbook is not an exception to this rule. Essentially, a spellbook is a memory aid, and nothing more. Characters may not learn magical schools from spellbooks at all.
There are four different types of spells, each with their own specific in-game mechanics. Also, many spells will have a subtype, listed in parentheses, which will typically be (touch), (packet), or (caster).
Touch spells require a willing target or an item; in order for touch spells to be cast, the magician must hold/touch the object/person for the entire duration of the verbal (and after a variable concentration for some spells). After this, the spell takes effect. Note that you cannot forcibly grab an item held by another person unless they allow it, nor touch another person in a similar way. Unless stated otherwise, a caster may cast a touch spell on themselves.
Packet spells are delivered by saying their activation verbal, then throwing a cloth packet that is filled with birdseed. This packet must be the color of the magic used.
Caster spells are only usable on the caster themselves and simply require that they spend the charge and say the verbal correctly.
Spell Type: Circle Spells
Circle spells only affect a specific area, as defined by a circular length of cord or rope that must be the color of the spell’s school. The circumference of the circle must be at least five yards, and can be no longer than five yards per Mastery of the caster. Every time a circle is cast, its rope phys-rep must be laid on the ground with its ends connected in some fashion, and the caster must take at least 1 minute of concentration while doing so before they can intone the verbal. When a circle spell ends, for whatever reason, the phys-rep must be taken up immediately.
The rope phys-rep must be able to remain mostly circular, or else the spell fails. Once a Circle is cast, it cannot be moved until the spell ends. Circle spells cannot overlap one another, and if a circle’s radius would overlap with another, it simply fails. A Circle can be cast at a lower level of Mastery, so as to fit in a specific area, assuming the caster has the appropriate physical representation for it. Circle spells end if the caster leaves the circle itself or they become Critical or Unconscious (by in game effects or actually sleeping). While maintaining a circle, a caster can move about in its boundaries freely, perform rituals, fight, or do anything else that does not result in the above conditions. Note that some circle spells have secondary requirements. During night or low light conditions, it is recommended that circles be marked with glowsticks for visibility.
Spell Type: Instant Spells
Instant Spells Instant spells have a single effect that takes place immediately. Some effects, such as those delivered by packets, have an effect and then immediately end (although persistent effects, such as damage, Blindness, or Poison will remain). Instant spells that target the caster typically last one hour per level of the caster’s Mastery, though there are exceptions. The verbal requirement for many packet-delivered Instant spells often incorporates the character’s Mastery (usually referred to as “(Mastery)-fold”) so that targets know the level of power the effect has.
Some Instant Spells are performed by touch and can be cast on any willing character. Note that whatever the type of spell, characters cannot have multiple effects of the same type on themselves at any time. If a spell is cast on a character that is currently under the effect of the same spell, the previous instance of the spell is replaced with the new one and the spell’s duration is reset.
Spell Type: Readied Spells
Readied spells cost a single Charge, just like all other types of magic, but allow the character to use an effect a number of times equal to the caster’s Mastery. These uses persist as long as the spell is active. While a character has a Readied spell active, they cannot cast any other spells or perform rituals. Readied spells also have a specific requirement listed in the spell description which must be maintained. If the requirement is not met, typically the spell ends and any remaining uses are lost.
There is usually no specific duration for Readied spells, meaning a character can cast one and have it “ready” almost indefinitely. However, if a character goes Unconscious or becomes Critical, then any readied spell drops.
Spell Type: Ward Spells
Wards are protective spells that allow a caster to “burn” charges of their school in order to resist packet-delivered magical effects of all sorts. A ward can be dropped in order to call a single instance of this kind of resist, and can also be ended to create a single specific “spell-like” effect unique to that Ward. Wards are caster-only spells, and casters may only have one up at a time.
While a caster is speaking their verbal, they may very well be attacked or targeted with various effects. It is perfectly acceptable for a caster to finish the verbal in a timely fashion before taking the effect or calling a relevant defense, and note that unless the caster actually flubs the verbal, their spell is not disrupted in any way.
Many spells and other abilities strictly require that the caster Concentrate before activating them or intoning a verbal. While concentrating, a character may not speak, use any skills, feats, or abilities, move, attack, or pretty much do anything but focus on the concentration itself. If attacked by spell or weapon, Concentration is automatically broken. Essentially, Concentration is as sensitive to disruption as is the delivering of a Killing Blow. Charges and activations are only spent when the verbal is said, so breaking concentration will not cause the loss of these.
Schools of Magic
Each school of magic is a reflection of the world of its origin and the people that live there. Although every school has a certain affinity for a set of particular elemental forces, they are not simply aspects of such. Magic is a hard thing to quantify, for as the sages say: “if you think yourself wise in the ways of magic, then wisdom truly escapes you.”
|Home World||Spell School|
|The Abyss of the Lost||Torpor of the Unfathomable Void|
|The Academy Arcane||The Degrees of the Elements|
|The Blighted Fen||Swamp Mojo|
|The Great Library: Restricted Section||Annotations of the Great Index|
|Labyrinth of Dreams: The Far Reaches||The Hymns of Mother Night|
|The Nightmare Dominancy||The Weirding Words and Hermetic Superstitions|
|Shogunate of the Death Gods||The Way of Annihilation|
Why don’t all worlds have a magic school?
In some cases, worlds do not have a magic school that originates from them. Characters from these worlds may learn magic from a teacher in play, but they cannot start the game knowing any spells. However, these worlds have a special quality of their own.
The Winedark Seas has its magic live on in the form of the Gentlefolk’s Herioc Trait instead of a traditional spell school. Other forms of magic may still exist within the remnents of the world, but that is typically reserved for the fallen gods and their pantheons.