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Cosmic Peril Fantasy: Magic

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Magic (or Psionics) in CPF is primarly a skill check to use a certain spell, requiring a sign, costing spell points, having a miscast risk, and rewarding the user with supernatural utility powers.

Truths about magic in this game:
  • Magic can be learned and used, but never fully understood.
  • Magic is dangerous and unpredictable, more so than the use or normal skills and weapons.
  • Magic is not allowed for all settings and campaigns. There may even be campaigns in which magic items and magic-users exist, but players are not permitted this luxury. Some campaigns may ban some magic schools.
  • Magic can be very powerful, regardless of these limitations. With enough arcane power, you can:
  • Risks and Requirements of Magic
    1. To use magic, a player must invest in the "Caster I" talent at character creation. This talent, and its upgrade "Caster II", each grant 1 free level 1 arcane skill.
    2. Level-1 of an arcane skill offers only a minor core power. Higher levels offer more spells.
    3. To cast magic, a player must spend spell points equal to the spell's level, and cannot if they do not have enough SP stored.
    4. To cast magic, a player must make an arcane skill roll. This is generally 2d8 + skill level and any other modifiers. Players may succeed, "upcast", critically succeed, fail, or critically fail, with magical consequences for each.
      • Higher level spells are more difficult to cast, even for masters of the skill, and have more severe consquences for failure.
    5. Casting magic requires a visible sign. This could be pointing or hand gestures, brandishing of an arcane focus, glowing eyes, or some other obvious sign. By default, it is an obvious 1-handed gesture, arm out and palm extended towards the target area.
    6. Some ongoing spells require maintenance of concentration, a resource of which the typical caster has 1. If subjected to any distraction during concentration such as combat or turbulence, there is a risk of losing concentration and a Meditation check must be rolled. By default, the caster must be conscious to maintain concentration.

    What are the possible outcomes of my casting roll?

    1. Critical Success (two 8's on 2d8): You get the intended effect plus multiple bonuses.
    2. Upcast (Total >> TN): You get the intended effect plus a minor bonus.
    3. Success (Total >= TN): You get the intended effect.
    4. Mixed (Total < TN): Slight complication or compromise. The GM may or may not offer you a choice.
      • For example, would you rather burn your enemy AND friend with your fireball, or kill the enemy only but realize this was not actually a fireball but something else?
      • Would you rather pour all your last spell points into this spell to teleport away to safety, or trust the gods to take you someplace safe 'enough'?
      • Would you rather strain your body (-3 hp) and scream out loud to cast this, or accept a subpar result?
    5. Failure (Total << TN): You do not get what you intend, and there's a serious complication.
    6. Critical Failure (two 1's on 2d8): Results are disastrous. You are rewarded with 1 XP, however.

    Arcane Skills

    There are 11 Arcane Skills, or schools. Their powers are listed on the spells page and are summarized on the skills list page.

    Spell Points

    Spell points are the fuel used for arcane casting. Usually, maximum spell points = 5 + your total arcane skill levels.

    All casters can regenerate spell points at a base rate of 1 per 4 hours of meditation or rest (travel does not count as either). Casters who have levels in the Meditation skill can regenerate spell points equal to their skill level in Meditation per hour of meditation..

    There may be other ways to refresh spell points as well, notably via mana potions and pacts with gods and demons. Explore and discover.

    Types of Spells

    Spell Levels

    There are 6 spell levels, each level corresponding exactly with a level of arcane skill in a given school. Each time you buy a new level in an arcane skill, you get two bonuses: (1) The core spell for that level and (2) one free new spell from that level or lower, if available.

    Arcane Spell Levels Spell Point Cost Casting Target Number Chance for success with +X Chance for success with +8
    1 1 10 +1: 56% +8: 100%
    2 2 12 +2: 44% +8: 95%
    3 3 14 +3: 33% +8: 84%
    4 4 16 +4: 23% +8: 67%
    5 5 18 +5: 16% +8: 44%
    6 6 10 +6: 9% +8: 23%

    How can I increase the chances of a successful casting?

    There are many known ways to increase your chances of a successful casting, and many more are unknown. Here are several possibilities:
    1. Gain the favor of strange gods, alien entities, and mysterious spirits to aid in your casting. Pray to make cosmic contracts. The ancient beings who created magic can manipulate it as easily as breathing.
    2. As an electromancer, cast in a power station, or cause nearby lightbulbs to explode in your ritual. As a necromancer, cast in a graveyard or tomb, and pre-arrange a circle of skulls. Etc.
    3. Carefully prepare the casting area beforehand, using specific work, specific time, and specific ingredients. If you can specifically explain how you are doing this with time and resources, the GM may give you +1 to the roll. The GM's role here is to reward roleplay and expenditure of time and resources with a +1.
    4. Design an elaborate and lengthy ritual for the casting involving singing, dancing, chanting, art, etc. (Ritual described with 1+ sentence of detail, and spend at least 1 hour of in-game time on it: +1 to roll)
    5. Get the help of another player or non-player caster who knows that same school of magic to aid you, for a +1.
    6. As a sorceror, embrace the wild currents of magic and cast recklessly.
    7. As a sage, seek out truth.
    8. As a witch, curse and bind your enemies or the environment.
    9. As a cleric, defend the flock.
    10. Search out places of power where many dimensions intersect, and casting is easy.
    11. Locate words of power and write, shout, transmit them in all possible ways, whatever the consequences.
    12. Avoid psionic storms...or embrace their untameable power.
    13. Explore and experiment in-game for more ways.

    How can I modify my spells?

    You can easily modify your spells by investing in the Metaphysics skill, which will grant many explicit ways to do so.

    Alternatively, when you roll above the spell's TN but below a crit, you get an "upcast" which means you can add one minor bonus to the spell such as increased effect, duration or control.

    That's it!