Welcome to No Books of Men! We are a modern alternate history board set in a magical school nestled in the Columbiana Valley of the Rocky Mountains. Students of the Collegium Illustrata Columbiana (commonly called simply The Academy) are free to explore their wildest imaginations in learning the mystic arts, so long as it does not jeopardize the ongoing Shadow War with the Exarchs. How will you live up to the legacies of Merlin?
darkkenchild is the Head Admin here at No Books. He enjoys long walks on the beach and debating the metaphysical underpinnings of reality, so any questions about your character , the plot of No Books, and/or how magic works on the site, please do not hesitate to ask him.
Squeeji is the head of “Human Resources” here at No Books, and responsible for pretty much everything related to our contact with the outside world. Advertising, orientation, and just about anything to do with bringing in new blood is in her wheelhouse.
Magic is a complicated and fickle thing. While it holds tremendous power and untapped potential for those willing and able to access it, it can also prove overwhelming and dangerously difficult to control. To aid the untrained and uninitiated in learning the processes of magic, the Cult of Thoth long ago created a unified system of magic and its permutations. While this system has been renamed, modified, and adapted many times since its inception (most notably into two different "systems of magic" to differentiate the Atlantean and Councilate approaches) the fundamental structure has remained unchanged.
Functionally, when making a Mage character a player should choose their Mage's abilities from the trees below. At creation, the player should only choose from the "schools" that are available to their chosen Society. This is to ensure that things remain simple and logical during the creation process, but theoretically any Mage is capable of learning any/all spells (and more) listed here. However, to represent the training and specialization of each Society (and the sort of Magi they attract) a Mage must master at least one School associated with their Society before exploring schools outside of your Society’s specialties.
Note: Mastery of a School requires all three non-Master level spells be learned before the Master Level can be taken. For example: To take the Avatar spell in Elementalism one must first learn Call the Elements, Cloak of Elements, and Shape the Elements.
Schools Decay: Things fall apart. The center cannot hold. The universe is constantly falling apart, and the Magi can choose to speed it along in a way that proves beneficial...
Cripple - The Mage causes a target's limbs to decay and grow decrepit, temporarily causing them to stumble and slow as if decades older than they should be.
Defile - The Mage causes an inanimate object to grow weaker. Doors rust. (Non-living) Flesh grows weak and soft. Wood rots. This isn't as potent as Dissolve, but can affect a much larger area (up to 20 foot diameter).
Dissolve - The Mage causes a physical object to literally disintegrate, but only an object (or area) smaller than roughly a foot in diameter.
Master of Decay: Become the Reaper - A Mage can cause instant death in a living creature and/or disintegrate an object of significant size (20 ft diameter). The Mage must be able to touch the target and the player must get permission if used on another player character. ((Also note: frequent use of this spell on living targets will attract the attention of the authorities, both mystic and mundane.))
Enchanting: Excalibur. Srivasta. Yata no Kagami. Magical objects imbued with the power of their creators, holding the magic in stasis until needed.
Note: All Enchanting requires other magics to use (i.e. spells from other Schools).
Imbue - Allows the Mage to permanently imbue an object with the effect of a single spell.
Relic - Creates a receptacle which, when conditions are met, create a mystical effect whenever it is "primed." An example would be a cauldron which, when food placed within it, produces a dozen more of the same food item.
Token - A single use item imbued with a single spell, usually the first Enchanting spell learned by the Mage. Once the spell is released, the item will never again have the magic. An example would be a "healing potion."
Master Enchanter: Weyland's Blessing - Able to craft a legendary object capable of multiple (up to 3) effects and impervious to (non-magical) forms of destruction.
Elementalism: Earth. Wind. Fire. Water. These are the elements of creation and they are yours to control...
Call the Elements - Summon an amount (roughly a 2x2x2ft "cube") of a single element. There can be some variance from "pure" element (i.e. summoning earth may contain jewels or summoning water may include diluted acid), but cannot be intentionally and specifically summoned. In other words, you can summon "fresh air" or "valuable earth" but not "diamonds" or "solar plasma."
Cloak of Elements - Create a protective barrier against a single element. A cloak of earth becomes immune to stones being thrown or falling. A cloak of fire becomes immune to flames and heat. A cloak of air becomes immune to falling damage or toxic gases. A cloak of water cannot drown.
Shape the Elements - Using already existing or called elements, the Mage can reshape the elements into any form or aspect desired. Shaping steel like it were clay, purging toxins from water, and moving a candle flame through a vent to burn a single sheet of paper are all examples.
Master Elementalist: Avatar - A master of the elements can become a being comprised entirely of a single element. As water, the Mage can flow through anything not water-tight. As fire, the Mage can burn through any obstacle. As stone, the Mage becomes almost immune to damage. As air, the Mage can fly and become invisible.
Fate: Time is not a river, but an ocean. It flows and churns within itself, but never disappears. Learn to ride the wave.
Precognition - A Mage using this spell can glimpse the future in brief (and often vague) snippets. The further out the moment glimpsed is from the present, the more difficult accuracy and clarity become. A second in the future may give the message "duck" and save the user from decapitation, but a decade in the future is about as specific as a newspaper horoscope.
Postcognition - By tracing the threads of fate backwards, a Mage can see a specific event tied to a person, place, or object they can touch. This vision can only interpret about a five minute span and only within about a dozen yard radius from the thing touched.
Ride the Wings of Luck - A Mage twists Fate in their favor. They have no control over the effects of this spell (In-character, at least). Fortune smiles upon the Mage however, and any luck-based event will skew towards the Mage's favor. Light's change just in time to save minutes from a trip. Coin flips always land on what the Mage calls out. Any number of tiny events will lead to better outcomes for the Mage.
Master of Fate: Living Backwards - A master of Fate has the ability to "remember the future" as if it were the past, but only when consciously doing so. This allows them to remember relevant details of a situation before they happen and adjust their actions to get a desired result. This is not foolproof (as free will makes perfect prediction (even for this power) impossible), but gives the Mage tremendous insight and influence over events.
Healing: Physician heal thyself! Or heal the sick. Or the lame. Or whatever. The power over life itself is within your reach.
Close the Wound - Most relatively minor wounds can be cured without incident or much strain (think scraped knees, minor cuts, etc). Major wounds, such as the sort caused by violent combat, can also be closed and divides healing time in half. Even mortal wounds can be cured, but only in the sense of preventing immediate death.
Cure Disease - This spell can cure most minor diseases. Potent infections or genetic disorders (i.e. late term cancer, Progeria, etc) are outside the scope of this spell, but almost any other infection can be cured by this spell. Most autoimmune and major infections (i.e. HIV, Hutchinson's, etc) can be suppressed, but the disorder still be present. Thus, the 'cured' might be able to survive but still be a carrier or pass autoimmune disorders to their children.
Fortitude - The best offense is a good defense. This spell does not heal, but instead prevents. The skin thickens and resists bruising or cutting. Disease and infection are less likely to take hold. Bones resist breaking. This spell effectively reduces any harm imposed on the target in half, or reduces the chance of infection by half.
Master of Healing: Restore - This spell exchanges health for health. Any disease can be completely cured, any wound repaired entirely, and any bone removed without a trace. Even genetic disorders and other 'incurable' diseases become no obstacle to the Mage. Even (recent, i.e. within the last hour) death can be reversed. The price of such control over life is steep however, and the diseases/wounds must be transferred to another living creature. In the case of resurrection, a life must be sacrificed to return them to life.
Hexing: The evil eye is upon you. Curses fly free to torment your enemies. To drain their life, turn their luck, and torment their lives for daring to defy you.
Drain - There are times when one needs more energy to survive, but after a long fight or when sorely ill a Mage can sometimes find that they just can't get enough to fuel their own magic. When one doesn't have enough, why not take it from someone else? Drain allows the user to literally suck the life force out of an enemy (or even a friend if one were calloused) and use it to heal themselves or even fuel their magic.
Evil Eye - Seen by many as the opposite of "Ride the Wings of Luck," the Evil Eye inflicts misfortune and ill luck on a target. Crowds always seem to get in the way when running late. Rain on one's wedding day. Essentially, everything in one's life seems to go wrong.
Torment - Pain is a powerful motivator. Pain can distract and weaken resolve. Pain can drive one to surrender. Pain can cause one to confess to a crime, even one that they did not commit. Torment gives the Mage power to control that pain, giving him a dial to turn up or down on a whim. Torment causes no lasting damage itself (of course if one used Torment on a rock climber...), but can easily incapacitate if not defended against.
Master of Hexes: Blight – “A pox upon one's enemies.” A common threat in ages past, and most often seen in magic as manifestations of the Evil Eye spell. Blight is something altogether different. Blight is a mystically virulent plague, and when cast the Mage must choose a target to which Blight will unfailingly infect. Examples of criteria might include all members of a family, all who bear a particular mark, or all who serve a particular lord. The criteria must be specific ("all women" is far too vague and broad) and while mortality may be high among the group, it is never truly complete. Survival rates are consistently around 15% and the curse can be cured easily with magic once correctly identified (but only with magic).
Scrying: Knowledge is power. The more you know, the more you can control. Scrying allows the Mage to find information from far away and remain in safety.
Astral Form - The Mage can use this spell to temporarily detach their soul from their body and cast it into the Æther, connected mystically by a silver thread. From that point, the Mage may travel either into the Astral Reaches (and from there to other Spirit Realms) or to some place in the physical world. When traveling in the Astral Reaches the Mage's spirit is effectively the same as their physical form (with the same capabilities and skills) but is free to explore the Collective Unconscious of this plane. With concerted effort (and the knowledge of their existence), the Mage could then find pathways to other Spirit Realms through connected Astral Concepts (e.g. Reaching the Spirit Wilds through the "Woods" of Little Red Riding Hood, or descending to the Underworld through the Legend of Orpheus). When traveling the physical world the Mage gains tremendous speed (traveling hundreds of miles in seconds) but is completely invisible and inaudible (though these two can be overcome with conscious effort) as well completely unable to interact physically with anything (which cannot be overcome except through other spells). Additionally, this spell leaves the Mage's physical body inert and unable to defend itself.
Clairvoyance - With a bit of focus and a specific question in mind, the Mage can reach into the Aether and pluck the answer from thin air. The question need not be a simple one but the more complex the question the more unclear the answer, meaning yes/no questions produce easy answers but one like "what is the meaning of life" will produce immensely vague and useless answers. Some facts may prove impossible to learn through this method, either because the facts have been clouded through Warding or cloaked by other (greater) powers.
Stroke of Genius - Sometimes there's a problem that the Mage cannot solve, or more frequently the problem is missing crucial details needed to find the solution. When struggling with a problem that seems unsolvable, this spell grants the Mage insight that she does not (or sometimes, should not) have which can lead to a solution. This is not a "pull useful information out of thin air" spell (Telepathy is closer to that), but rather a way to fill in identified gaps in information. An example would be an advanced scientific formula which the Mage cannot solve, but with a Stroke of Genius she realizes she's missing a variable. Another example might be a puzzle box containing a powerful artifact is frustrating a Mage and he uses this spell to realize its "trick" and can thus use his own knowledge to finish the puzzle himself.
Master of Scrying: Omniscience - A Mage with this power is capable, upon activation, of becoming one with the Collective Unconscious itself and thus can access the knowledge (but not thoughts or memories) of all living creatures not Warded or otherwise protected by some mystic force. The downside is that this only lasts about 5 minutes and the toll of so much information being contained in a single mind causes a temporary coma (usually roughly 24 hours) after its time expires. In the few minutes of Omniscience, the Mage can act however she likes, but any words she speaks come out in an archaic and unintelligible speech making the passing along of any knowledge impossible (and lending the spell a nickname: "Climbing the Tower of Babel").
Spiritus: The World and its realms are full of spirits, and only some of them were ever human. Spiritus gives Mages the keys to these kingdoms, and the tools to walk among the spirits as one of their own.
Exorcism - Sometimes spirits go where they shouldn't and those capable of Spiritus are among the few that can do something about it. Exorcism allows a Mage to force a spirit to depart a place. This may mean forcing a spirit out of a body it is possessing (living or dead), ending a haunting, or even forcing a Spirit to flee from a Mage's immediate presence.
Negotiate - Negotiate is actually two different but similar spells, differing only in tone/intent. Both spells compel a spirit to perform a service for the casting Mage, but the difference lies in how the mage approaches the issue. The most common (and least likely to anger the spirits and draw down a curse) is a referred to as "The Bargain," which is where the Mage forges a pact with the spirit in question wherein the Mage performs a service in exchange for the spirit's assistance. Less commonly (and officially condemned by the Council) is "The Command," where the Mage uses magic to force a spirit to perform its service with nothing in exchange. "The Command," except in the direst circumstances, tends to draw negative consequences when used: both from their Mage peers and from the offended spirit they have violated...
Summoning - There are many reasons to summon a spirit and this spell gives a Mage the power to do so. Perhaps the Mage needs information, or wishes to "hire" a spirit to watch over and protect an ally. Sometimes spirits of violence might be called to help a Mage survive combat, or a spirit of peace to prevent violence from starting. Regardless of reason, a Mage should be prepared to use Negotiate as well (or have a damned good explanation) when summoning, as without the power of Negotiate there is nothing to prevent the spirit from taking out its annoyance on the caster...
Master of Spiritus: Open the Door - The apex of Spiritus allows the Mage to enter the Realms which the spirits call home. It creates a portal (more literally: a tear in the boundaries of reality) which the Mage and/or her allies can use to enter the Spirit Realms. Any portal can only open into one of the Realms at a time, and must be defined as the Mage casts the spell, but can be any one of the three Realms: Astral Reaches, Spirit Wilds, or the Underworld. The portal persists until the next moonrise but can be closed by the caster at any time before then. Take care! Anyone can walk through an open portal, friend and foe alike!
Telekinesis: Mind over matter. The power of the mind over its environment. Telekinesis gives a Mage the power to interact with the world around them without so much as lifting a finger.
Crush - The Mage can channel the Æther permeating the air to create and direct force surrounding an object (no more than a volume roughly 2x2x2ft), and thus applying up to 500 lbs of force to any object within the area of effect. This spell alone does not cause sufficient damage to kill an organic creature, but creative uses can potentially cause serious harm or even death.
Float - The Mage can channel Æther to lift an object (up to 300 lbs) off the ground (up to 10ft) and move it around slowly (about 5-10mph) in any direction desired. This spell, slightly modified, can be applied to the caster instead and allow a limited form of flight. When applied to the self, the height and speed rates are doubled.
Push - The Mage shifts the flow of Æther towards a target and creates a wall of pure force to knock over any resistance. The range of this spell is up to 10 yards away before its effectiveness begins to diminish. The amount of force applied is as little or as much as the caster requires, from the lightest touch to a tremendous force (equivalent to a low speed car collision, non-fatal but very painful). Note that this can also be reduced to the point where a button could be pushed from far away or an apple plucked from high in tree, not just as a combat application.
Master of Telekinesis: Poltergeist - The above telekinetic powers are restricted to one target at a time, the level of concentration and effort to affect more than one object at a time is too great for a non-master. With Poltergeist, the Master of Telekinesis can now use any other Telekinesis power on multiple targets (up to a dozen) at once.
Telepathy: The mind is a book with a lock, thoughts written every day and protected from the perusal of others. A clever mage can learn to pick that lock...
Note: This power, more than any other, opens the door for metagaming/godmodding. Please don't. There is lots of room for interesting and engaging uses of these spells, but be sure to get the approval of any player OOCly before using these spells on a character ICly.
Direct Order - This allows the Mage to implant a single, simple command (no more than 3 words) directly into the mind of another. While this command does not force the individual to follow the command (free will can still over power this command), it is unlikely to be ignored for two reasons: First, it carries a strong "you should do this" feeling attached and, second, it appears in the subject's head in their own "voice" and thus seems like it was their idea. Please note that this power cannot make a target ignore survival instincts; commands such as "Kill yourself" will always fail.
Empathy - Empathy allows a mage to "see" the emotional states of others. In some cases, this is a literal "sight" in the form of auras around the subject. In others, the spell's effects might manifest as anything from a "vague feeling" to different "smells" for different emotional states. Emotional states can sometimes be more telling than reading actual thoughts, as it can prove easier to predict actions when an subject is angry or depressed, as opposed to reading the thought "I hate you" in the same subject.
Open the Book - This spell allows the caster to read the surface thoughts of a target. It does not allow the caster to see deep thoughts and memories, but rather lets them skim through a target's current thoughts and short term memory to look for information. This does not go unnoticed by the subject, and creates a feeling not unlike "someone walking over your grave."
Master of Telepathy: Possession - Similar to the Astral Projection spell, a Master of Telepathy can project their consciousness out of their body. Unlike Astral Projectors, Possessors do not leave the earthly plain and instead project their consciousness into the body of another. The "host" personality is suppressed and will not remember anything done during possession (much like a dreamless sleep) and the caster's personality takes over control of the body. The Possessor has access to the body's physical capabilities and skills (so things like strength and athletic "muscle memory") but not the memories or social/mental skills of the host. While possessing another, the caster's body lies inert and defenseless. Also note that, while less frequently done, Possession can be used on animal targets as well.
Transmutation: They say to always dress for the job you want, not the job you have... What should I do if my dream is to become a dinosaur? Learning Transmutation is the answer.
Become Like the Beast - This spell allows the Mage to change their shape to that of another creature. For up to 24 hours, the Mage can become almost any creature. The mage is restricted to animals that are no larger than ten times the size of the mage's human form (so a small rhino is possible, but an elephant is not), and no smaller than ten times smaller than the human form (so a dog is possible, but a rat is not). The human mind of the Mage is unchanged beyond gaining instinctive knowledge of how to use the body's natural abilities, such as echolocation or using a prehensile tail. This spell can be ended any time before the 24 hour time limit if the Mage so chooses.
Become Like the Stone - This spell allows the Mage to change their shape into that of an inanimate object for up to 12 hours. The object they become is the same rough weight and size as the Mage's base form, but can take any shape desired. While in "object form" the Mage cannot move any more than the object would be capable of on its own (e.g. A coat rack can't move at all, while a mannequin has almost full (if awkward) motion), but is supernaturally resistant to damage (roughly equivalent to the damage resistance of a human body regardless of the object's "true" material. When in "object form" the only thing that is always true is that the consciousness of the Mage remains unaltered (despite not having a brain) and they can always return to their natural form.
Enhance - Transmutation isn't just about the ability to change yourself into the form of a creature or an object, it is also about altering the base form of the caster. Though temporary (usually lasting a few hours), Enhance allows the Mage to increase their physical capabilities. Enhance allows a Mage to run faster, jump higher, survive tremendous damage without flinching, or even slow their breathing and heart-rate to the point of near death (thus allowing them, with occasional reapplication of the spell, to survive for days or even months without food or water).
Master of Transmutation: Share the Shape - Mastery of Transmutation allows the Mage to use any Transmutation spell on another. The only difference between the spell effects when cast on the self and when cast upon others is that only the caster can cancel the spell early, the target cannot. So if a Mage were to turn someone into a pig, the spell will fade after 24 hours or when the Mage cancels it but the victim cannot use their own magic to end it early (unless they find a way to perform the rituals, use the hand signals, and/or intone the words without a human body).
Warding: The best offense is a good defense, this is just as true in Magic as in anything else.
Barrier - This creates a "wall" of Æther which can prevent any magical attack from striking its target. For example: A fireball flung at the Mage dissipates into nothingness when it strikes the Barrier the defending mage creates. The Barrier can only defend one direction at a time, so two of the same fireballs sent from both left and right cannot be both stopped with the same barrier (one might, but the other would not). Barrier however can defend a range of rough 10x10ft and anyone who fits behind said barrier would be equally protected.
Countermagic - It is difficult at the best of times to utterly destroy or disrupt Æther once another Mage has set it in motion. Where barrier produces a wall for spells to break themselves upon, Countermagic is a more direct method to protect oneself. Countermagic is founded on a mystic equivalent of the physics concept of "for every action there is an equal or opposite reaction." Magic does not care for physics; in fact there is usually no direct opposing force to magic and instead it creates only reactive forces (i.e. Magic Fire burn as well "real fire) or punitive forces (i.e. the Scourge). Countermagic allows a defending Mage to provide their own "opposing force" and manifests in one of two ways. The most common use is to negate a spell's direct effect on the caster such as Magic Fire doesn't burn the defender, but still burns their clothes and surrounding. The other is to diminish the "area effect" of a spell, such as a summoned Storm becomes less a deluge and more a sprinkle (but does not make the Mage immune to getting wet).
Sanctuary - The Mage can declare a zone inviolate from invasion from a particular force or creature. Nothing of that force or creature type may enter the space so declared, but the space can be no larger than 10x10x10ft unless the space is confined by solid walls/roof (so a church building can be declared a Sanctuary, but only 10ft cube can be so warded in the woods). This Sanctuary must be "keyed" to a single and specific word description of its designated "target" upon casting, "Fire" and "Werewolf" are specific enough but "Magic" is too broad. While this area is a Sanctuary, nothing matching the description may enter and when attempting to do so is stopped by an invisible wall of force. No Sanctuary can be "keyed" to more than one "target" at a time and the Sanctuary lasts for one "turn of the moon" (or 28 days) before it needs to be recast or allowed to expire. For example: A Church might be a Sanctuary against Spirits, a Mage's home a Sanctuary against Goblins (i.e. Wyrdlings), or the area around a tree's base might be a Sanctuary against flames. (Note: Exceptions cannot be made. If a Mage makes his home a Sanctuary against Wyrdlings, they can't invite a friendly Wyrdling through the barrier. The only way to do so is cancel the spell early, which would allow [i]all Wyrdlings through. The spell could be recast with the Buddy Wyrdling within and they are free to move around within the building, but once he leaves he cannot come back in.[/i])
Null Zone - A combination of the above spells, a Null Zone is a space (either 10x10x10 or within the confines of a building's walls) that is warded against "Magic" instead of a specific target. While it allows creatures like Vampires or Werewolves through the boundaries, their supernatural abilities fail to function. A Vampire's fangs dull and their enhanced physical abilities fade. A Werewolf's ability to shapeshift fails to function. Even a Mage's spells fail and instead fizzle into nothingness, even spells cast by the Null Zone's creator. Supernatural attacks from outside the Null Zone strike an invisible barrier and fizzles into nothingness as it strikes a Barrier of Countermagic. The only spell that does not fail within the Null Zone is the spell which cancels its effect, which can only be cast by the original caster. This spell lasts until the original caster's death or until it is canceled by the original caster.
Weather: You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, but when you can control the direction of these winds...
Call the Storm - The Mage beseeches the heavens and calls down the rains. This can range anywhere from a light drizzle to a torrential downpour, even causing flash flooding and other similar effects from heavy rains. The uses of this ability depend which end of the scale the Mage wishes to operate the spell. A light rain is good for refreshing dry crops and providing relief from heat. A mid-range rain could be used to wash away grime, footprints in dirt, or even evidence of a crime. A heavy rain obscures vision of enemies and makes travel difficult. While such called storms do not require clouds to be in the sky (the fewer clouds the higher chance of Scourging though), it cannot cause precipitation if the season is wrong. No snow in July (at least north of the equator)! However, this does mean that this spell can instead call snow (or freezing rain) during the winter months if the mage so desires.
Guide the Winds - The name of this spell is something of a misnomer. While this spell does indeed confer the ability to direct and control the winds, it also allows the creation of winds where none exist. Once a wind is present, the mage can change its direction as well as increase or decrease its intensity. A slight breeze soothes the soul, a mid-range wind makes swift travel easier, and a gale-force wind can literally sweep enemies off their feet.
Weather Shield - This spell makes a Mage immune to the effects of all weather, regardless of its origin (i.e. mystic or natural). Any direct effect of weather conditions can safely be ignored by the mage. This means a Mage will not suffer frostbite or hypothermia even in sub-zero temperatures, will not suffer heat stroke in a desert (though dehydration could prove a threat), will not be blown over by the winds (though a falling tree could still crush them), and stays dry even in the heaviest rains.
Natural Disaster - Call the Storm summons rain, but cannot independently summon wind or lightning. Guide the Winds can summon winds of any strength, but lack control over other conditions enough to change those winds into something more. Natural Disaster pulls together these two abilities, increases their scope, and combines them with control over other atmospheric conditions to create something greater than the sum their parts. This spell allows the Mage to summon (but not control beyond an initial location) a storm of destructive scope. Hurricanes, Tidal Waves, Tornadoes, Earthquakes, Volcanic Eruptions, and the like now come at the Mage's beck and call. Note: This doesn't allow the summoning of a Hurricane or Tidal Wave in the Sahara Desert, there are too many factors preventing the forming of such a storm. Similarly, a Volcanic Eruption in central South Dakota is effectively impossible, while tornadoes are common in such a place.
So what exactly is the Scourge, you ask? It is a broad term for two individual entities: The Unseen Scourge and The Wrath-Borne. To put it simply, a Mage's spells are always judged by the Unseen Scourge. Some claim the Unseen Scourge is an instrument of divine will, some speak of the rule-of-three, and still others speak of Karma. No matter what it is called, they all hint at a deeper truth: that magic, while inherently neutral, is shaped by human actions. While it has proven tricky to define what draws the ire of the Unseen Scourge, Mages have learned that the Unseen Scourge's mission is to punish callous or reckless Mages who choose to abuse their magic and endanger mortal lives. When a Mage crosses that line, the Unseen Scourge sends down its Wrath-Borne.
Here on No Books of Men, the Scourge is simply what a Mage can expect if they use particularly obvious and/or abusive magic. Relatively minor spells, namely anything less than earth shattering or reality breaking, so long as they are performed within the Columbiana Valley are generally immune to the Scourge. This is due to the fluid nature of reality, but can still be overwhelmed. Generally, if more than 4 spells are cast in a thread set in a public and "mortal" place (such as anywhere downtown) than you can expect a showing of the Wrath-Borne.
In essence, the Scourge is there to protect mortals from flagrant domination by magic users of all sorts; a sort of antibody to prevent the 'virus' of magic destroying the fragile balance that has allowed mortals to forge their own destiny. Whenever a mage summons a hurricane under clear skies or causes a building to spontaneously combust, the Wrath rushes in its wake to punish the mage's hubris. How exactly this effect occurs varies however, but generally conforms to one of the following punishments:
- Witch Marks: For minor offenses the Wrath will curse the mage, marking her as a disruptor of the natural order. Strange scars, oddly shaped 'tattoos,' or ugly (but non-cancerous) tumours sprout across the mage's skin. These marks last for a week and are always in a conspicuous location, seeming to scream to all who see the mage of her hubris.
- Resonant Curse: Depending on the mood/intent of the mage when the offending spell was cast, an appropriate and likely ironic curse is cast. Attempting to manipulate a crowd to attack someone instead curses everyone to hate the mage. Attempts to create enough food out of thin air to feed someone results in a gnawing and terrible hunger. Attempting to make oneself impossibly beautiful results in terrible ugliness. These effects cannot be mitigated by magic and tend to last between 1-3 months.
- Scourgelings: These odd little creatures, sometimes called hobgoblins, are malicious trickster spirits dedicated to making an offending mage's life as difficult as possible. Only under the most extreme circumstances is a scourgeling overtly dangerous the mage, typically only being problematic and annoying. Spells go awry, objects in the mage's home relocate or go missing, devices fail at the worst times, and other misfortunes follow the mage everywhere. They harry the mage for anywhere from a month to a year, never letting the mage forget what she did to earn their ire.
- Scourge Realms: Sometimes, either due to extremely frequent transgressions or one particularly spectacular disruption of reality, the offending mage is considered too dangerous to exist within reality any longer. The Scourge tears a hole in reality and into the Abyss from whence the Scourge originates and drags the offending mage into a realm of constant torment. This punishment is generally considered permanent, but in a rare few circumstances a mage's allies have been able to rescue their stolen companion. Even then, though, the mage is never quite the same; mentally, physically, and mystically the scars of his imprisonment will haunt the mage for the rest of his days.
Any of these punishments are on the table for when and if player characters (or NPCs, we do not play favorites when it comes to blatant spell-working in mortal populated areas) utilize magics too dangerous or problematic when and where they should not be. This is not to say that you should shy away from using magic in-game, far from it. We want you to use your Mage's spells, just don't abuse these powerful abilities...