Magick in Victorious: or “It’s Magick, not Magic!”
The Victorious RPG is first and foremost a Superhero game with Steampunk elements. As such, a factor that looms large in both super-heroics and the Victorian era alike is the idea of Magic, or “Magick” as it was spelled at the time by its alleged practitioners. This was to distinguish it from the common view of magic as a stage act involving illusions and sleight of hand. At the time, Victorians believed that Spiritualism (sort of a catch-all term for supernatural phenomena of all types) was simply another state of reality, and that in time scientists would prove its existence much as scientists had proven the uses of electricity, the existence of germs, and the uses of steam. In fact, Spiritualism was a great craze throughout the century, and I write more about it in the Rule Britannia supplement for Victorious.
So, we know its relevance…what about its workings? Victorious as a game system is based on the Siege Engine™ rule set of Troll Lord Games, epitomized in the Castles & Crusades fantasy roleplaying game. C&C has magic for wizards and clerics to cast, and they work on what is called a “Fire & Forget” system. Namely, you memorize a given spell and when you cast it, it’s gone from your mind/source/whatever. To use it again, you have to re-memorize it over a period of time. This is a reasonable system for the fantasy genre, and can be used “as is” from the C&C Players Handbook in a Victorious game if that is the type of magician you wish to play as a character.
However, this sort of fire and forget system isn’t really appropriate to either the Scientific Romances of the Victorian era nor of super-heroics of the modern stripe. In this regard, while I provided for the fire & forget system if desired, Victorious does its own version of spell-casting; called “Magick.”
In brief, a magician would set up their spells as slots within a Magick package, much as a Theme. This is done at the beginning of the adventure, and the player will roll a Occult (Intelligence) attribute check to see if they can know a given spell if they’ve never used it before. A certain number of supernatural powers are placed within the Magick package and play begins. This is powerful and a certain advantage to the spell-slinger!
Yet there are costs to the use of arcane incantations. First, every spell/power has to have a certain limit to its use That is, a Blast bolt of lightning wouldn’t harm fire elementals. This is worked out between the Genteel Magistrate and the magician player, and such spell/powers are determined at the beginning of play. The other major limitation to magick is that the victim of a magickal spell get a saving throw to half its effectiveness. Thus the above lightning bolt (Blast) hits a target and said victim gets a saving throw. He succeeds, so the blast that did 6 hit points of damage now only does 3. Note that this save only applies to the victim not necessarily his/her equipment!
However, those ‘spells’ are thus set in stone for the duration of that particular adventure. Genteel Magistrates may be kind and allow the magician to change a spell/supernatural power in play, but the penalty is steep. Essentially, if the power is changed then the new spell has only half the number of ranks the original power had; again until the end of the given adventure.
Please note I said “adventure” and not “session.” A group of heroes attempting to stifle the plague of Jackals terrorizing London in the adventure module V1: A Night for Jackals will almost certainly require at least two sessions to conclude the threat, probably more. Any magician setting up their spells at the beginning of the adventure must keep them throughout the quest, until the evil force behind the Jackals is revealed and defeated. So, choose well great sorceror(ess)!
Next time I will discuss the various modifiers available to the practitioner of magic such as gestures, incantations, and rituals.