The Act of Hubris
Walkers on the Path of Ecstasy feel the savage joy and bottomless hunger at the heart of every emergent phenomenon. All flows from the primordial urge to grow and devour; the Thyrsus merely accept this truth without pretension.
THE SPIRIT ARCANUM
Purview: animistic behavior, anthropomorphism, concept expression, emergent behavior, essence, memetic propagation, the gauntlet, spirits, the spirit world
Overview: Spirit, the subtle Arcanum of the Primal Wild, holds dominion over emergent identity. Something’s spirit is its supervening nature, its core definition that’s evolved from otherwise incidental form and function. A spirit directs and animate its source, reifying an essence that transcends and often outlives the source’s material particulars. All spirits vie for survival, whether they’re born of strains of bacteria, isotopes of elements, or spellings of words, and each succeeds or fails in a savage, Darwinian struggle against its closest competitors based on its fidelity to its own identity and its capacity for viral spread. In the fallen world, essence follows existence to the extent that spirits manifest independently in entire ecologies of otherworldly creatures. Though the spirit world is largely hidden in the shadow of the material one, even Sleepers recognize the animistic potential of the world around them, albeit subconsciously.
Spirit magic actualizes and manipulates the emergent essences of subjects both concrete and abstract, as well as the ephemeral beings and circumstances those essences generate. It can control how things, places, and ideas express themselves to their surroundings, and can empower, transform, or enslave the spirits themselves. Almost anything can give rise to a spirit in either sense of the word, whether a creature, object, place, or concept, and Spirit magic can deal with the spirit of an animal as easily as the spirit of a meadow or the spirit of the law. Sapient creatures, for whatever reason, don’t have spirits of their own, but do produce phenomena of potential spiritual significance. A human’s religion, a vampire’s bloodlust, and a werewolf’s body count are all potential fodder for spirits and Spirit magic.
Spirit magic often stirs the abstract and inanimate to life and activity. It causes seemingly random qualities or behaviors, such as an animal’s curiosity, a car’s capacity to start, or a song’s memorability to manifest with coordinated agency. Animals and people might indulge archetypical instincts or urges, concepts might leap to the forefronts of minds, and objects or places might take on disinct vibes or more vigorously fulfill their functions. A gun can’t aim and fire itself, but it can weigh suddenly in its holster to remind its carrier that it’s there, pull its holder’s hand hungrily towards a target, or jam itself out of spite if it feels it’s been misused.
Resonance is crucial to Spirit. The emotional or conceptual tenor of a thing controls the kind of spiritual presence that thing will evolve, and the denizens of the spirit world starve or flourish based on their access to Essence of appropriate aspect. Spirit spells can easily identify resonance and almost always draw on it, but can’t actually change it; the underlying nature of a Pattern is spirit’s source, not Spirit’s purview. Similarly, Spirit magic can affect what kind of spiritual activity develops from an object or idea, but doesn’t edit the object or idea directly. Something with an altered or nullified resonance can still have spiritual significance; a knife that’s had its emotional undertones erased by Prime magic remains meaningful to a spirit of knives, or of metal, or of sharp edges.
In the physical world, Spirit magic often rouses or transforms spirits in the wake of its immediate influence on people, places, or concepts, and magic meant to contact or influence something’s inchoate essence frequently puts the caster in contact with a fully-realized and independent spirit if one already exists. Spirit is just as effective in places like the underworld that can’t metaphysically support a parallel spirit world. In such places, Spirit spells might have nonexistent, subtle, or short-lived aftereffects, or they might spur the gestation of one of those rare spirits that can sustain themselves in normally inhospitable environments.
Aspects: Sensory Spirit magic allows mages to read resonance, investigate the lifelike qualities of their surroundings, or perceive and investigate spirits, the Gauntlet, and other elements of the spirit world.
Covert Spirit magic exerts unseen influence to awaken and command spirits. It can cause things to exercise their natures in ways that seem coincidental to observers or directly manipulate incorporeal beings and phenomena.
Vulgar Spirit magic manifests spirits blatantly. Totemic avatars coalesce around mundane subjects roused to action, and already-existing spirits might be dragged across the Gauntlet, materialized, or otherwise made to grossly intrude into worlds they don’t belong in.
Mechanics: Spirit spells that influence behavior or inflict supernatural maladies are resisted by Composure plus Gnosis. Spirit possession or other effects that completely override a target’s will are resisted by Resolve. Spirits resist control or direct damage with Resistance plus Rank and suffer severe consequences from spells whose net successes equal or exceed Resistance. The physical attacks of materialized spirits are usually resisted by Defense, but might contest Strength plus Stamina, Strength plus Dexterity, or Stamina plus Gnosis depending on the nature if the attack.
Spirit magic can boost or hinder attempts to interact with the environment or use equipment by compelling the cooperation or reticence of the spirits involved. It can produce minions capable of launching attacks, blockading movement, or otherwise acting on the scene. Such creatures either boost the actions of those they serve or take instant actions in their controllers’ steads. Severe consequences of Spirit spells can trap targets in the Twilight or Shadow or leave targets immobilized or possessed.
Materialized spirits normally inflict bashing or lethal damage with their attacks, but might be composed of flame, silver, or other elements with metaphysical properties. It doesn’t take damage factors to wield a spirit against a supernaturally vulnerable target to extra effect, but it does take damage factors to force a supernaturally vulnerable target to inflict worse than lethal damage on themselves.
Spirit magic can deal in ideas, organizations, and other abstracts. Magic meant to analyze, awaken, communicate with, or reify an intangible concept treats the concept itself as a single target. However, a mage can only affect the particular, contingent instance of a concept present in the immediate scene. A Spirit spell might interact with a local manifestation of patriotism, or rock music, or state-sanctioned violence, but not the universal versions of those phenomena. Affecting the activity of a concept across an entire building, cave system, or municipality takes area factors. Spells that manipulate abstracts in order to tangibly affect specific characters or objects need area, size or target factors commensurate with their intended scope.
- Spirits: Spirit magic often deals with independent spirits, supernatural creatures with their own powers and agendas. Spirit spells often manipulate the various manifestations of spirits, but can’t directly reproduce the Numina or Influences that spirits wield. Spirit magic can boost a spirit’s mundane actions, change if and how a spirit manifests, or fuel a spirit’s powers.
A mage can use an instant action to force a spirit under their control to deploy one of its powers, but must pay the Willpower cost of that power themselves and completely cover the power’s Essence cost by Shaping or having Shaped the spell of control.
All spirits have Bans and Banes. Forcing a spirit to subject itself to its Bane is treated as a direct damage spell and requires appropriate damage factors. Spirits can’t be compelled to contravene their Bans for the same reason that a human can’t be compelled to fly up into the air; the best a mage can do is to ritually reconstruct a spirit into a new being with a new Ban. As usual, ritual attempts to reforge or create a spirit can’t produce a being of Rank higher than half the mage’s Gnosis or possessed of powers the mage can’t reproduce through their Arcana or Attainments.
- Twilight: Spirit magic can interact with intangible spirits, render incorporeal spirits material, or even translate physical beings and objects incorporeal. The Twilight accessible through Spirit is distinct from that inhabited by other ephemeral beings such as ghosts or angels, and Spirit magic can’t affect or even detect such beings absent the use of conjunctional Arcana. Similarly, ghosts or untethered consciousnesses can’t perceive or interact with Twilight beings in Spirit’s purview. No Twilight exists in the Shadow; there, all beings are equally material.
Spirit magic can translate physical things into Twilight or materialize Twilight spirits and objects. It can also affect Twilight targets while the caster is corporeal, or vice versa. Beings or objects rendered incorporeal aren’t in Spirit’s purview the same way that natural spirits are; a brick shunted into Twilight is still subject to Matter, although a mage would need to be able to perceive it before they could affect it with spells.
Vulgar interactions between physical and Twilight characters are always reciprocal to some degree. Apprentice spells that affect a spirit’s Influences and Manifestations empower the spirit to use Influences or Manifestations on the caster. Mages who, using Weaving, reach magically from one state to the other become visible and tangible to the other for at least a turn, and a tool or weapon’s physical or twilight presence bleeds out to suffuse its owner when that tool is put to use.
- The Gauntlet: A metaphysical barrier called the Gauntlet separates the Shadow from the material world. The Gauntlet doesn’t impede spells that establish perception or communication, but is applied as a penalty to Perception rolls made for a mage to notice details of one world from the other.
The Gauntlet doesn’t directly resist spells cast in one world that transform the other. However, it takes Patterning Spirit to project the effects of other Arcana across the Gauntlet, and a spirit or other target can elect to hide behind the local Gauntlet and use the better of its own efforts or the local Gauntlet rating as successes rolled to resist the spell. As with spells cast from or into the Twilight, magic that pierces the Gauntlet always allows the target at least a turn to interact with the caster.
Any spells that actually transfer something on one side of the Gauntlet to the other always contest the local Gauntlet rating, and need Potencies in excess of the Gauntlet rating to succeed.
Spirit mages can draw on Loci to ease the passage across the Gauntlet. Any ritual spell meant to project effects or move subjects across the Gauntlet at a locus isn’t contested by the local Gauntlet rating, and takes full effect as soon as it’s Shaped.
Aftereffects: Spirit spells often alter supernatural status quos by awakening, relocating, or transforming local spirits, who proceed to act on their own. Spirits befriended or enslaved through Spirit magic often serve as Allies, Retainers, or Staff. Spells can also alter if and how customs or ideas spread, or lend tangible quirks and personalities to otherwise inert objects or places. Aftereffects of this kind can work subtle but lasting changes to the social or physical landscape.
Paradox: Spirit paradoxes usually warp or agitate existent spirits, or imbue normally mindless phenomena with random agency. Mild paradoxes can create distracting or misleading impressions of the desires of local surroundings, while powerful paradoxes can drive machinery to bloodthirsty frenzy, tear the gauntlet asunder, or fuse local spirits into maddened hybrids.
INITIATE OF SPIRIT (●)
Initiates become aware of the spirits around them and make spirits aware in turn. They can directly determine resonance qualities with the speed and certainty of a Knowing spell. They can enjoy sensory boosts on attempts to navigate social situations, predict autonomous behavior, or track the spread of ideas. They can perceive, analyze, or and communicate with independent spirits or enjoy sensory boosts on attempts to find them. Scrutiny successes equal to a spirit’s Finesse yield hints at a spirit’s Bane or Ban, while the severe consequences of a Signifying spell can reveal such secrets more directly. With at least one success on a scrutiny roll penalized by the local Gauntlet rating, they can peer into or out of the spirit world.
Knowing Spirit analyzes the essences of subjects. It can analyze a subject’s resonance or its lifelike, animistic properties, revealing metaphorical fears, hungers, ages, or means of procreation; Knowing can glean that a package yearns to explode, that a fire has been burning for a scant few minutes, or that a joke is wanting for retellings and going stale. Knowing can analyze independent spirits, gauging Attributes, Influences, Numina, and Rank and hinting at deeper properties. It can measure a subject’s Essence reservoir, tell if something is tethered to or possessed by a hidden spirit, and discover the effects of Numina, Gifts, or other spirit powers.
Predict Spirit (Spirit ●/Sensory/Knowing) This spell reveals what kind of spirit a scrutinized subject would likely produce given its resonance and properties. Each success answers a question about the spirit’s powers or proclivities and can therefore provide indirect clues as to the subject’s nature. If the subject already has an independent spirit, this spell indicates that creature’s likely starting properties but not how it’s grown and changed with time.
Signifying Spirit makes the caster known to spirits and makes spirits known in their reflection of the caster. The essences of things, ideas, or processes can be made subtly or blatantly perceptible, and their random spiritual manifestations can be directed to reflect the caster’s nimbus or intentions. The caster can make themselves understood to and through spirits, imprinting messages into traces of Essence or causing spirits to instinctively understand their words despite a lack of facility with the Shadow’s language. The presences and properties of spirits themselves can be revealed to onlookers, even to the point of causing a spirit’s appearance to reflect the creature’s own ban or bane. Signifying can also aid attempts to communicate with other beings, but merely boosts normal attempts to get ideas across rather than enabling complex, fluid communication.
Whispered Wants (Spirit ●/Covert/Signifying) This spell causes a subject’s essence to wordlessly broadcast its immediate desires. Even Sleepers can pick up without quite knowing why that a car needs an oil change or a movie yearns for applause.
Unveiling Spirit makes spirits, both inchoate and coherent, perceptible to the caster. It allows a mage to immediately recognize things in their environment that have been invested with emotional or spiritual significance or which are currently subject to spiritual Manifestations, Influences, or Numina, though only scrutiny through Knowing magic reveals specific details. Unveiling allows a caster to immediately gauge the local Gauntlet rating, notice spiritual phenomena such as Loci or Verges, or perceive spirits in Twilight.
Speak With Spirits (Spirit ●/Covert/Knowing, Signifying, Unveiling) This spell enables the caster to perceive independent spirits in Twilight and to communicate with them despite language barriers. The spirit of the caster’s words is translated rather than the definition, so this spell hinders attempts by either party to lie through omission or semantics.
APPRENTICE OF SPIRIT (●●)
Apprentices can bid spirits to manifest, speak, and act. They can boost or hinder investigation, exploration, or socialization by directing pertinent spirits to act as guides or dissemblers. They can boost or hinder a variety of actions by reifying the spirits of the equipment or environmental features involved, and can compel sentient beings to action but not violate such beings’ traits, Morality, Intimacies, or long-term safety in so doing. They can boost a spirit’s mundane actions, fuel its powers, or heal wounds to its Corpus. They can direct the natural diffusion of Essence across the Gauntlet, changing how one world affects the other and allowing for interdimensional communication. Apprentices can force spirits to use or relinquish their Influences and Manifestations, or help fuel those powers with temporary Essence. They can compel spirits to act in general, boosting attempts at persuasion or straightforwardly forcing action; normal consequences against Resistance can cause spirits to obey their appetites over their judgment or to make an arbitray decision of the caster’s choice, while severe consequences can compel any action not obviously self-destructive or ruinous to long-term interest. Apprentices can also contest others’ attempts to analyze or identify emergent phenomena, Essence, or spirits.
Perfecting Spirit coheres and fortifies spirits, repairing their injuries and ensuring their ability to act. It can sustain organizations or ideologies against material harm, ensuring that emergent phenomena retain abstract significance despite material setback. It can sustain a spirit’s expression of its nature, boosting its mundane actions, augmenting its powers, healing its wounds, or guarding it against transformation or debility. By the same token, Perfecting can restrict a spirit’s behavior, ensuring that it obeys its instincts even when it might judge that it shouldn’t. Perfecting can rouse and empower the essences of objects, places, or ideas, causing them to boost attempts to wield or express them and hinder their own sabotage or misuse.
Bloodthirsty Weapon (Spirit ●●/Vulgar/Perfecting) This spell awakens the essence of a killing weapon, boosting attacks made with the weapon but hindering attempts to use it for anything but inflicting lethal damage. Mages who don’t want their whips to writhe like vipers or their guns to exhale licks of flame learn a covert version of this rote.
Ruling Spirit rouses and directs spiritual activity. It can control how emergent phenomena spread or make themselves understood, guiding the otherwise directionless motion of anecdotes or insect swarms. In combination with Perfecting, it can cause beings who comprise or participate in something with a spirit (such as a mob or a mail room) to take actions appropriate to that spirit, as long as those actions don’t contravene Intimacies, Morality, or well-being. It can awaken dormant essences, drawing the attention of a subject’s existent spirit or allowing mages to interrogate concrete or abstract subjects whose spirits are as yet inchoate. It can control a spirit’s Influences and Manifestations, trigger its use of Numina, or otherwise compel a spirit to take any action normally within its power; however, Ruling can’t cause a spirit to act out of character or betray itself or its appetites.
The World Remembers (Spirit ●●/Covert/Knowing, Ruling) This spell bids a subject’s spirit to recall and recount past experiences. Each point of Potency answers a question about the target’s past, but filtered through the subject’s perceptions; a video camera might remember things it’s seen, but a boulder remembers things it’s crushed or been pushed by. If the subject has an active and present spirit, this spell puts it and the caster in contact; on a severe consequence, the spell compels testimony of past experiences, and on a normal consequence the spell boosts attempts by the caster to interrogate.
Veiling Spirit disguises the presence or nature of spiritual phenomena. It can change the apparent significance of activities or states of being, making them seem to occur in a different spirit or to be totally arbitrary and random. It can hide the Essence released by events into the spirit world or hide a spirit’s deeper properties from supernatural scrutiny. Veiling can change how a spirit’s appearance expresses that spirit’s nature or disguise a spirit as another of the same approximate kind; a firebird might be cast as a comet, or a swarm of bullets as a faceless soldier.
Invisible Hand (Spirit ●●/Covert/Veiling) This spell conceals the telltale marks of an ideology, governing principle, or overarching agenda in a target’s activity, hindering attempts by others to discern motives or predict results. It’s useful in casing buildings or spreading unpopular ideas.
DISCIPLE OF SPIRIT (●●●)
Disciples can animate, move, and shape ephemera. They can inflict direct bashing damage on spirits, transfer wounds between spirits, or force spirits to take mundane or supernatural action. Except for long-term Claiming, they can allow or force spirits to use Manifestations those spirits don’t personally possess. Artificial tetherings, possessions, or other Manifestations produced through spontaneous magic only last so long as their founding spells are sustained, but those wrought ritually function as lasting aftereffects. They can launch damaging bashing or lethal attacks by allowing spirits to materialize and strike physically. By imposing temporary possession or stretching a nearby abstraction to cover the spell’s target, they can control individuals’ actions. When used to physically force targets into physically or metaphysically harmful action, such spells might inflict direct damage of any type, as appropriate to the spirit’s Bane or other qualities. They can boost resistance against a spirit’s debilitating powers or the metaphysical hazards of the spirit world. Disciples can redistribute or store Essence, carrying one Essence on their persons per point of appropriate spell Potency (usually two Essence per sustained covert spell) or storing a ritual spell’s final Potency in Essence in a designated object as an aftereffect. With a ritual whose Shaped Potency exceeds the Gauntlet rating, Disciples can transport subjects between the physical and spirit worlds.
Fraying Spirit wears away at living ephemera, reducing coherence and durability. It can hinder the growth and function of a wildfire, community, or other dynamic system. It can inflict direct bashing damage on spirits, contest the Influences and Numina spirits wield, or hinder the actions spirits take, producing paralyzing infirmity with a severe consequence. Fraying can render Essence temporarily scrambled and unpalatable, and through ritual can wear the Gauntlet thin enough that one or more subjects can slip through to the other side. While sustained and for at least a scene afterwards, such a ritual leaves a permeable area in the Gauntlet that its original subjects can use to return to their world of origin.
Muzzle Spirit (Spirit ●●●/Vulgar/Fraying) Contested by Resistance and Rank, this spell hinders a spirit’s attempts to consume Essence and might boost the resistance of the spirit’s prey. A severe consequence totally blocks the target’s Essence intake. Covert versions of this rote exist for use against weaker spirits.
Weaving Spirit moves and sculpts essences. It can alter how objects, organizations or ideas move their component parts to action or shift what things or people such abstract designations are understood to include. In doing so, Weaving spells can compel subjects to join crowds, take sides in fights, or otherwise become caught up in emergent behavior. This Practice can seize and puppeteer spirits themselves, forcing them to take actions or deploy their Numina against their wills and natures. Weaving magic can alter a Shadow spirit’s state of being, causing one to materialize, anchor itself, or otherwise display Manifestations normally unavailable to it; however, the long-term hybridization of Claiming can’t be instantiated with Weaving alone. Weaving magic can seize and redistribute spirit Essence, allowing mages to steal or donate Essence points, carry Essence on their persons, or ritually store Essence in objects and places. Weaving can also enchant material objects or creatures such that they’re tangible to and capable of interacting with Twilight spirits.
Impose Conformity (Spirit ●●●/Covert/Perfecting, Weaving) Resisted by Composure, this spell stretches the essence of an organization or culture to cover someone merely exposed to it, compelling the subject to act in the spirit of whatever abstraction they’ve fallen into the clutches of. This spell enforces the norms of an organization as it’s actually evolved, not been nominally described, so it’s very rare that the magic compels honesty or benevolence.
ADEPT OF SPIRIT (●●●●)
Adepts can transform essences and ephemera or destroy their coherence. They can control other characters by causing them to be overwhelmed with possessed by abstractions, even inflicting direct damage or trait loss by compelling self-destructive behavior. Adepts can grant Numina that spirits don’t naturally possess or change a spirit’s Influences for others over something available in the area. They can cause spirits to Claim their anchors even if such a Manifestation is normally beyond the spirit’s power; a spontaneous spell allows such a Claiming to advance [Potency – Rank] days immediately, while a ritual can bring a Claiming to full fruition immediately. Adepts can reshape a spirit completely, potentially dictating its desires and so rendering it a useful tool or faithful servant. They can destroy points of Essence or inflict any kind of direct damage against spirits, whether lethal, aggravated, or Resistant. With Patterning Prime, they can convert one Mana into Essence per point of spell Potency, and can perform an Oblation to turn Essence into Mana. Such an Oblation uses Essence instead of a Hallow and requires a simultaneous ritual spell, consuming up to its Shaped Potency in Essence and generating that much Mana plus up to that much more Mana from the successes on a Gnosis plus Resolve or Composure roll. Adepts can temporarily lower an area’s Gauntlet rating by one point per Potency over the initial Gauntlet rating, and tear gateways through the Gauntlet usable by anyone. Through ritual, Adepts can make lasting changes to a spirit’s traits and nature, but can’t increase a spirit’s Rank or its total dots of Influences or its number of Manifestations and Numina. Rituals also allow Adepts to create or close Verges, alter or weaken Loci, or reduce Gauntlet ratings on a long-term basis.
Patterning Spirit transforms spirits, whether inchoate or independent. It can alter the forms and particulars of spirits evolved from specific phenomena, turning a religious movement’s inclusiveness into elitism or a fear spirit’s love of cruel intimidation into a drive to provide urgent warnings. It can turn one kind of spirit into another, dissolving a denizen of the Shadow into an abstraction or reifying an abstraction into an ephemeral creature. Patterning can alter a physical creature or object’s relation with the spirit Twilight, dematerializing it if it’s in a place in which the Twilight exists. Such an explorer isn’t Spontaneous Patternings can’t change or defeat a spirit’s Ban or Bane and can’t cause a spirit to gain or lose overall power, but can otherwise cause drastic changes in personality, form, and ability. If need be, Patterning can change a spirit’s nature by drawing on some other resonance present in the scene, so it can admixture one spirit with another or color a spirit with an element of the caster’s Arcana or the spirit’s surroundings. Ritual Patternings can rebuild spirits completely, potentially changing their Banes and Bans, but can’t create resonance ex nihilo and so need to draw the particulars of the crafted spirit’s new nature from the ritual sacrament used. With Patterning Prime, Patterning spirit can turn Mana into Essence or refine Essence into Mana through an Oblation.
Subvert Mandate (Spirit ●●●●/Covert/Patterning) This spell inverts the methodologies of a movement or organization, such that its stated aims are the same but its material goals are reversed. Firemen fuel or start fires in the name of public safety, schoolteachers foment disobedience for educational purposes, and auditors aid in bureaucratic subterfuge in order to keep everyone involved happy. While sustained on an individual or over an area, this rote produces dramatic shifts in behavior, but it’s more commonly cast as a ritual with many area factors so that its aftereffects create subtler but much longer-term changes.
Unraveling Spirit rips apart emergent essences. It can spoil a complex system’s attempts to act cohesively, destroy the unspoken feel and culture of a society, or make people lose their intuitive hold on a particular idea or agenda. It can destroy points of Essence, dispel the ongoing effects of a spirit’s powers, or deal direct damage of any kind to a spirit’s Corpus. It can erode spiritual phenomena, lowering Locus and Gauntlet ratings or spreading Shoals. Unraveling can rip holes directly through the Gauntlet, creating Verges usable by creatures on either side. In combination with Patterning, Unraveling can directly shift creatures, objects, or spell effects from one side of the Gauntlet to the other.
Shunt Sideways (Spirit ●●●●/Vulgar/Patterning, Unraveling) If its Potency exceeds the local Gauntlet rating, this spell translates its target across the Gauntlet. Unwilling targets resist with Composure; on a normal consequence, they’re partially phased out and become both tangible to Twilight spirits and hindered in any attempts to perceive or exert force on the world they would have left.
MASTER OF SPIRIT (●●●●●)
Masters can create or destroy essences, reshaping the spiritual landscape. They can grant a spirit use of new Influences and Numina based on the Master’s Arcana, and through ritual can either permanently empower a spirit or create a new spirit all together. They can cause a spirit to temporarily cease to exist, or to suffer direct lethal or aggravated damage to a spirit that kills it outright rather than discorporating it regardless of remaining Essence. They can create Essence indirectly by imbuing a phenomenon with spiritual significance such that an appropriate spirit can draw its daily or hourly nourishment from it. Through ritual, they can forge Hallows or other rare Shadow phenomena, though such creations need proper support and tending to last more than a few days.
Making Spirit creates or magnifies emergent essences. It can cause potent and fully-formed identities to appear for nascent, disorganized, or insignificant phenomena to guide how such phenomena cohere and spread, or it can add properties and tendencies to already-existing ephemera. It can cause minor objects or events to bloom with potential Essence, allowing spirits to draw sustenance and power from things too meager to normally sustain them or that have been fed upon already by other spirits. Making can grow and empower spirits themselves, increasing their size and strength or granting them new Influences or Numina. It can create independent spirits from the caster’s Arcana or surroundings, either temporarily through spontaneous magic or permanently through ritual. Making can also produce rare or complex spirit world phenomena, concentrating areas of significance into Hallows or embellishing streaks of malignant resonance into Wounds.
Go Viral (Spirit ●●●●●/Covert/Ritual Making) This spell imbues the seed of an idea with vigor and fecundity, causing it to spread with incredible speed and force. The caster determines through their ritual Imago and sacrament how the idea is to develop and what kind of influence it’s to exert on its hosts, but should expect the meme to eventually take on a life of its own. Used deftly, this ritual can spawn entire spirit courts or social movements.
Unmaking Spirit causes essences to cease to exist, leaving meaningless matter or motion in its wake. It can subtract qualities from or outright destroy the inchoate spirits of teams, cults, or colonies, potentially allowing communities to start fresh and reinvent themselves or to abandon themselves to meaningless disarray. Unmaking can render material events and phenomena unable to produce Essence or totally inert to otherwise appropriate spirit Influences, strip spirits of specific powers or qualities, or cause spirits to temporarily cease to exist. It can annul the basic functions or qualities of the Gauntlet, Loci, or other spiritual constants.
Pangaean Meld (Spirit ●●●●●/Vulgar/Unmaking) If its Potency exceeds the Gauntlet rating in its area of effect, this spell erases the presence of the Gauntlet entirely and causes the physical and spirit worlds to merge into one. Material terrain fuses smoothly with its Shadow counterpart and all spirit and material beings become equally solid and able to interact. Ephemeral creatures other than spirits become as solid as they would be in the normal Shadow. When a character leaves the spell’s boundaries, or when the spell ceases to be sustained, the character’s Composure plus Gnosis is rolled; if the rolled successes exceed the spell’s Tenacity, the character is left in the world of their choice. Otherwise, they’re deposited wherever the caster wants them to be.
THE LIFE ARCANUM
Purview: animals, bodies, blood, disease, flesh, growth, healing, health, microbes, plants, reproduction, satiation, vitality
Overview: Life, the gross Arcanum of the Primal Wild, holds dominion over material vitality. Life is matter undergoing both dynamic growth and homeostatic equilibrium, physical substance that strives unceasingly to sustain its animation against the ravages of entropy. Life is ostensibly fragile, maintained by the rarest of coincidences and flimsiest of chemical status quos, but is at the same time possessed of a fierce resilience that transcends simple material sturdiness or energetic inertia. The supernatural forces of the fallen world frequently twist, disrupt, or counterfeit natural life, and the mysteries of natural biology have been thoroughly plumbed by Sleeper science.
Life magic manipulates living material, biological processes, and vital energy. It can warp or repair living things, sabotage or optimize the chemistry that sustains living things, and sap or replenish a living thing’s health, satiation, or overall vim. The thoughts and desires of biological creatures are bound intimately up with their bodies, so Life magic can indirectly affect moods, instincts, and urges. Anything part of a living thing is subject to the Life Arcanum, whether plant, animal, fungus, or microbe, or virus. Life on Earth tends to be carbon-based but doesn’t have to be, and even artificial life forms that grow, heal and reproduce might fall within Life’s purview if sufficiently advanced. Thus far, Sleepers haven’t developed androids or nanomachine swarms with the metaphysical spark of life, but supernatural creatures of deathly, inorganic or mechanical aspect usually fall within Life’s reach as long as they’re naturally material and capable of automatic growth, age, or healing. The non-biological aspects of such beings require other Arcana to engage directly, however. Life magic can heal, transform, or harm a vampire as well as it can a human, but it can’t suffocate or exhaust a vampire or otherwise strip a vampire of the advantages and disadvantages of undeath. Life doesn’t apply at all to ghosts, spirits, or other ephemeral beings lacking physical Attributes, even when they materialize.
Life magic only has direct effect on substance that’s currently alive, and can’t control or transform corpses, fingernail clippings, fallen leaves, or other once-living detritus. Spilled blood or cut hair loses vitality after a turn has passed, and severed limbs or other major body parts take at most a minute to die and leave Life’s purview. Creatures and characters cease to be subject to Life magic once their rightmost Health box is marked with an aggravated wound. Life doesn’t directly affect poisons, pheromones, or other organic secretions or byproducts, but can control if and how they’re produced and how living beings metabolize or process them. Life spells can bestow and trigger a bird’s sense for magnetic fields or an electric eels internal generators, but such secondary effects are entirely nonmagical.
Life magic that doesn’t use the practice of Making doesn’t quite obey conservation of mass, but does obey a broader conservation of vital force. Creatures that gain or lose size or strength in the course of Life-based transformation make up the difference in terms of hunger, health, and fatigue; Patterning can turn a human into a ravenously hungry tiger or a mouse brimming with vigor and satiation.
Aspects: Sensory Life magic detects and analyzes living things, revealing properties such as species, health, or instinctive drive.
Covert Life magic makes subtle alterations to living beings, altering their experiences of the world or tweaking their capabilities. It can enhance or alter senses, banish fatigue, or sharpen reflexes. Covert magic might work at a level beneath human perception, transforming bacteria or repairing faulty cells. Covert magic is enough to buffer against poisons, cure microbial diseases, or heal bashing wounds.
Vulgar Life magic makes drastic changes to living beings. It can transform one creature into another, rearrange body parts, or heal mortal wounds.
Mechanics: Life spells that transform or undermine the body or its vitality are resisted with Stamina plus Gnosis. Spells that use the body to manipulate emotions, provoke reflex actions, or direct bodily functions are resisted with Composure plus Gnosis. Spells that puppeteer the body to control physical actions are resisted with Gnosis plus the better of Strength and Composure.
Life spells can boost almost any physical action a living being takes, and can hinder actions of nearly any kind by undermining the living actor’s health or self-control. They can heal or directly inflict wounds of any kind to living targets, potentially using damage factors to render wounds Resistant or to steal the victim’s life-force in order to heal the attacker or a third party. They can launch bashing or lethal attacks by growing natural weapons, directing hostile animals, or animating plant life. Life spells that produce and control tangible minions can often attack, defend, and barricade simultaneously, but are also subject to conventional attack.
Creatures transformed by Life spells don’t change their core or derived character traits, but become able to use them in new ways and might enjoy boosts when they do so. By the same token, a transformation might hinder or outright disallow certain actions of the subject. Radical differences in size might boost or hinder interactions between different characters, make larger characters impervious to the actions of smaller ones unless the smaller ones use Willpower to pierce immunity, or make direct interaction all but impossible; titanic or minuscule characters act on entirely different scales from those of human size, and treat each other as environmental features or background details requiring special equipment or circumstances to meaningfully affect.
Aftereffects: Life spells can inflict or repair injuries, diseases, deformities, or other physical maladies. Ritual modifications that result in states of affairs a body could have reached on its own are lasting, but bodily transformations or preternatural senses only last as long as supernatural aftereffects normally do. They can make long-term changes to the health and development of living things, though it can take many years for such effects to bear out. By ritually creating or transforming living beings on a lasting basis, Life magic can allow for the purchase of a variety of Merits, such as Striking Looks to represent a sculpted appearance or Safe Place to represent animal guardians. Life aftereffects can produce carnivorous horses, clawed humans, or other life forms that normally wouldn’t exist, but not life forms that normally couldn’t exist; the mechanical impact of lasting transformations is generally in line with that of Merits or specialized equipment.
Paradox: Mild Life paradoxes change the appearances of living matter or alter the instincts and behaviors of insects, birds, or other simple life forms. Stronger paradoxes might materially impact the instincts, statuses, or capabilities of some or all living beings within their boundaries, and particularly severe Life paradoxes can drastically mutate or outright slay those trapped within them.
INITIATE OF LIFE (●)
Initiates can detect and imprint themselves on life. They can scrutinize creatures to gauge their physical traits, and can enjoy sensory boosts on attempts to notice, diagnose, or take aim at living things. Knowing spells with sufficient area factors can pinpoint nearby creatures, and Unveiling spells can completely trump stealth that relies on stillness or camouflage. Covert spells can boost the caster’s attempts to be noticed or understood by living creatures.
Knowing Life measures and analyzes life forms. It can gauge a living thing’s physical traits, state of health, energy level, or maturity, and reveal a subject’s physical capabilities or active physiological processes. It can compare one scrutinized subject to another to tell how closely the two are related and whether they’re affected by matching diseases, wounds, or other effects. In combination with the Knowing Practice of other Arcana, Knowing Life can predict how a life form will likely be affected by a chemical, weather hazard, or other phenomenon from the conjunctional Arcanum’s purview.
Tactile Empathy (Life ●/Sensory/Knowing) This spell pinpoints and describes what a scrutinized subject can feel by touch, whether the weight of a holstered gun or the pain of an unhealed wound. Each success identifies a distinct sensation of the target’s, starting with the most intense or unusual.
Signifying Life expresses the caster’s nimbus and resonance through the incidental appearance and behavior of surrounding life forms. It can pattern birdsong, goosebumps, or swarming after the caster’s intentions, or cause skin coloration, pheromone release, or other physiological communicative cues to become more noticeable. Signifying spells might encode information that only bears out over days, months, or years, altering how fungi spread, flowers bloom, or hair grows.
Inscribe Foliage (Life ●/Covert/Signifying) The caster ensures that the mold, lichen, weeds, or other sessile life on a target surface will grow in a pattern of the caster’s design.
Unveiling Life reveals living things to the caster’s senses. The mage can immediately tell if something they perceive is alive, how that living thing can be broadly classified (whether as a mammal, flower, fungus, or other category), and whether that living thing is or isn’t significantly hurt, diseased, virulent, or possessed of some other standout quality. They can also tell whether an object, surface, or environment is host to life or totally sterile. Unveiling can detect the aberrations produced by undeath, immortality, or other supernatural states of being, though identifying their specifics takes Knowing magic.
Vital Signs (Life ●/Sensory/Unveiling) A mage with this spell always knows whether something they perceive with their senses is alive, and whether it’s healthy, hurt, or dying.
APPRENTICE OF LIFE (●●)
Apprentices can direct or buffer against life’s functions. They can hinder the perception, concentration, or judgement of living creatures or boost others’ attempts to capitalize on such impairment. They can direct the behavior of animals and influence the desires of sapient beings, but can’t override ingrained instinct, devotion, or self-regard. Apprentices can boost physical actions or resistances by enhancing the actor’s body and heal living beings of any kind of damage. They can alter the long-term health and wellness of living subjects, producing obstructive or debilitating aftereffects but not directly hindering action or inflicting damage. They can launch bashing or lethal attacks by driving animals to violence, but creatures so manipulated rarely continue their assault upon suffering any serious injury or resistance and might still be forced to ignore their instincts through magical means.
Perfecting Life hones and fortifies living Patterns. It can optimize the function of living systems, allowing creatures to operate at their peak strength, agility, or coordination, thereby boosting physical actions or eliminating difficulties arising from exhaustion, illness, or poison. It can toughen wood, flesh, or other living tissue against damage or cleanly and completely repair any damage the subject could heal from naturally. Ritual Perfectings can completely repair grievous scarring or amputation, but not without the lost body parts or suitable replacements on hand. Ritual Perfectings can make long-term enhancements to a subject’s health and prowess, allowing characters to increase appropriate Attributes and Merits or blessing characters with long-term resistance to disease or other physiological inconvenience.
Mend Wounds (Life ●●●/Vulgar/Perfecting) This spell downgrades lethal or aggravated wounds caused by violent trauma. It can mitigate stabbings, gunshots, or car wrecks, but not incineration or necrosis.
Ruling Life activates and directs unconscious biological processes and reflex action. It can cause sudden sneezing, adrenaline release, floral bloom, or other physiological reaction. It can manipulate biochemistry or trigger instincts to alter moods or sharpen urges. It can trigger reflex actions like the clenching of a fist or the kicking of a leg. It can guard living beings against disease or halt the decomposition of biodegradable matter. It can prevent living bodies from harming themselves or their symbiotic components, curing headache, heartburn, or other internal malady or guarding donated tissue against rejection. Ruling can’t make a body harm or cease to sustain itself and doesn’t suspend a living being’s control of its own body, but can distract, embarrass, or manipulate sapient creatures and control animals already inclined to straightforwardly obey their instincts. By controlling the action of microbes and viruses, Ruling can spread or constrain diseases or infections. Ritual rulings can make long-term changes to the growth and development of living subjects, dictating how plants and animals change with age or whether congenital diseases manifest or lie dormant.
Parasympathetic Pacification (Life ●●/Covert/Ruling) This spell activates the instinctual and chemical cues needed to calm and relax a living creature. It can disperse swarming hornets, quiet guard dogs, or boost attempts to allay the suspicions and hostilities of a human being. This magic won’t stop a starving predator from attacking or a cornered person from fighting back.
Veiling Life hides or disguises living things. It can alter subtle or overt cosmetic features such as voice, coloration, or scent. It can hide normally unnoticeable life from specialized detection, falsifying the presence or absence of microbes or spores on objects or surfaces. It can alter the apparent subtle biological qualities so as to fool in-depth analysis, changing a sample’s apparent blood type, age, genetic code, or contamination.
Copy Biometrics (Life ●●/Covert/Ruling, Veiling) Resisted by Composure, this spell causes the subtle traces of the caster’s body (or that of a second target) to duplicate those of the subject. While the spell is sustained, its beneficiary leaves fingerprints, blood samples, or nail clippings behind as though they were the subject. Traces of the beneficiary remain changed after the spell ends, but the spell must overcome the resistance of a prior target anew in order to duplicate their leavings again.
DISCIPLE OF LIFE (●●●)
Disciples can twist life according to their desires. They can deal direct bashing damage to living beings, Resistant or otherwise, upgrade existing lethal wounds to Resistant, hinder or disable a living being’s physical actions, or transfer wounds of any kind between living subjects. They can use damage factors to reap health by inflicting damage, either in conjunction with a damaging spell or by using net successes to silently claim a subject’s health boxes. In the latter case, life force can be drawn from injury inflicted in the last turn or later in the scene as though that damage was inflicted by the claiming spell, but the triggering damage must have been dealt by the caster or the reaping’s intended beneficiary, who is included as one of the spell’s targets. Severe consequences can paralyze or puppeteer a living thing, such that they helplessly boost the caster’s actions or take complex physical actions in the caster’s stead. Disciples can launch bashing or lethal attacks, defend themselves, or blockade movement by commanding animals or animating plant life. By overcoming the better of Stamina and Composure, Disciples can inflict lethal damage or worse by forcing living creatures to harm themselves or expose themselves to danger, but forcing a body to subject itself to aggravated or Resistant wounds requires appropriate damage factors.
Fraying Life disorders living things and interrupts the coordination of biological processes. It can interfere with speech, manual dexterity, feats of strength, or locomotion by ruining the synchronicity of muscles and tendons. It can ruin the body’s deeper cohesion to cause headaches, mood swings, digestive problems, and other maladies, up to the point of inflicting direct bashing damage. Fraying can also confuse and unfocus urges and instinctive behavior, spoiling a predator’s hunting ability or a social insect’s productive labor.
Nearsightedness (Life ●●●/Covert/Fraying) Resisted by Composure, this spell prevents a living creature’s eyes from focusing properly, hindering or completely precluding attempts to read, recognize details, or take aim at anything beyond immediate reach.
Weaving Life adjusts, animates, and controls living Patterns. It can seize and puppeteer plants and animals, causing trees to lash out with roots and branches or people to go rigid with paralysis. It can manipulate the physiological characteristics and proportions of a living thing, changing a subject’s size, sex, build, or breed within the confines of its age and species. Weaving can mold organic matter like clay, animating wood, blood, hair, or other largely uniform living tissue, but can’t alter something’s mass or change how tissues connect; a Life mage can lengthen someone’s bones into protruding spines or shift an animal’s distribution of muscle, but not melt a complex creature into goo. Weaving can manipulate the flow of life force itself to transfer wounds between living creatures or allow one living creature to by healed as another suffers injury. Ritual Weavings can make lasting changes to a living Pattern’s configuration and appearance, allowing a caster to reshape foliage, straighten spines, or transform faces, and in combination with Perfecting can cure a variety of inborn or persistent conditions.
Writhing Blood Chains Technique (Life ●●●/Vulgar/Weaving) This spell extrudes the subject’s blood from their body and sculpts it into an array of razor-sharp limbs. The chains deal lethal damage with a +5 Edge and move on their own to boost both attack and defense in conventional melee combat; once the spell ends, the subject’s blood flows back into their veins, leaving them unharmed. Unwilling targets resist with Stamina + Gnosis. Chains conjured from others can be kept under the mage’s control and even used to attack their own host. An advanced version of this rote using Life ●●●● and the appropriate damage factor lets a caster use the spell itself as a weapon, inflicting Resistant lethal damage on the target in the process of drawing the chains forth.
ADEPT OF LIFE (●●●●)
Adepts can transform living Patterns completely. Their spells can inflict direct damage of any kind on living creatures or strip those creatures of their faculties and strengths. Victims of severe consequences might find their Attributes or Merits deteriorating. Adepts can transform living subjects, altering their senses, capabilities, or sizes, but can only be scaled to a degree; absent the appropriation of external material, a subject can’t usually gain more than half again their initial mass, based loosely on their health and satiation, and can’t lose more than nine tenths. Targets transformed by severe consequences might be totally disabled. Through ritual, Adepte can make lasting changes to subjects, granting senses and capabilities normally only available through specialized equipment or Merits. Patternings that transform the brain don’t affect the mind directly, but do give subjects new instincts and transform their thinking over time. The instincts of a new form hinder thoughts or actions that contravene them, and each day spent in an inhuman form might threaten the long-term loss of mental Attributes or Skills.
Patterning Life completely reconstitutes living Patterns. It can totally alter substance, size, and body plan, molding life forms according to the caster’s will. It can turn people into frogs or trees into swarms of hornets, but can also fuse or warp living beings into hybrids or mutants completely of the caster’s design. Such creatures are still subject to mass, proportion, and other physical design constraints (though Perfecting can lend unusual durability to otherwise untenable designs) but might have any combination of natural capabilities. Ritual Patternings can make long-term changes to living subjects, whether subtle or overt, potentially effecting grafts and transplants by changing which Pattern a body part belongs to.
Photosynthesis (Life ●●●●/Covert/Perfecting, Patterning) This spell allows its beneficiary to derive nutrition and energy from sunlight exposure, and near-flawlessly recycles the chemicals and nutrients involved. The caster still needs water, but otherwise does not need food so long as they spend the better part of each day in direct sunlight. Unless the caster arranges to extend the spell through their sleep, they’ll still need to eat a sparse meal after a number of days equal to their Stamina. This magic tinges the skin green and alters the digestive and circulatory systems in subtle ways, so medical scrutiny of the subject threatens Disbelief.
Unraveling Life tears living Patterns apart and spoils their capabilities. It can directly rip or blight flesh, dealing direct damage of any kind, or it can attack specific capabilities to inflict total blindness, muscle atrophy, or malignant cancer. Unraveling can be used beneficially to destroy the parasites, bacteria, or tumors afflicting a living Pattern. Spontaneous Unravelings can produce aftereffects that threaten a target’s traits, while rituals can directly cripple victims in lasting ways.
Life Tap (Life ●●●●/Vulgar/Unraveling) Resisted by Stamina and cast with at least two damage factors, this spell drains the vital energy of its subject, inflicting Resistant damage and healing the caster or a second target.
MASTER OF LIFE (●●●●●)
Masters create the context within which other Life magic operates. Their ritual aftereffects are lasting, allowing them to permanently reshape the lives of their subjects or seed the world with new life. They can create living Patterns of arbitrary size or banish living things from existence completely, either temporarily with a severe consequence or permanently by inflicting aggravated damage. By creating natural weapons of supernatural power, they can launch attacks that apply supernatural damage factors to living beings. Natural, currently-existing life forms made by spontaneous spells are lasting, but invented or supernatural creatures only outlast the spells that forge them if they’re created through ritual. They can render creatures immune to classes of injury or debility, such that other characters need Willpower for a chance at inflicting harm.
Making Life creates life or vital force from nothing, or imbues living Patterns with new or magnified properties. It can conjure living things of any kind, whether natural or imagined, limited only by the area, size, and target factors mustered. Making can grant entirely new traits to living things and enhance such traits to mythic proportions, producing life forms of titanic size or physical power. Making can generate and bestow raw vitality, ensuring that subjects never hunger, tire, or weaken or granting subjects such toughness or rapid regeneration that they become immune to forms of conventional damage. Making can create a functional and fully-developed brain, but not a mind, so a newly-forged human adult will have a full complement of instincts and the ability to competently pick things up or walk around, but no knowledge, memories, or identity of any kind.
Form of the Dragon (Life ●●●●●/Vulgar/Making) The caster or another target transforms into a winged, reptilian monster. This spell’s size factors determine the size of the resulting creature, and the spell’s area and damage factors determine the scope and lethality of the creature’s seemingly limitless caustic venom, which commonly inflicts aggravated damage on living beings and can be unleashed in enough quantity to dissolve a roomful of people. Beyond inflicting lethal damage or worse and boosting attack and defense, the dragon form allows for flight and underwater operation. The spell might afford its beneficiary enough size that they’re effectively immune to the attacks of normal-sized characters and can take physical actions to topple buildings or flatten land formations. Users of this spell intent on making efficient Shaping attacks often learn a separate Making rote that grants the user a dragon’s breath.
Unmaking Life erases living things or their properties from reality. It can cause life forms to wink temporarily out of existence, or destroy them with aggravated damage so utterly that they leave no traces whatsoever behind, but can also subtract specific traits from living things regardless of whether the results make sense. Unmaking spells can remove a life form’s size, instincts, hungers, vulnerabilities, internal organs, or growth and aging. In combination with Making, Unmaking rituals can create bizarre, lasting cryptids in complete defiance of known biology.
Form of the Germ (Life ●●●●●/Vulgar/Patterning, Unmaking) This spell shrinks and subdivides the target, turning them into a colony of microbes. Life magic ensures that the caster retains their own mind, is immune to antibiotics and other hazards, can drift through the world at a human’s walking pace, and can perceive the world as if through human senses. As a germ, the caster’s too small to interact with characters on the human scale, magically or otherwise, but can scrutinize them through Mage Sight or hide on or in their bodies. If they’ve taken the form of a natural microbe, the caster can subject any living thing they infiltrate to the appropriate disease as if by natural exposure. If the caster includes another creature as a target while casting this spell and achieves a severe consequence against that creature’s Stamina, they can disappear into the creature’s body as an incapacitating and potentially damaging infection. The germ is expelled and forced back into original form as soon as the victim of such an attack struggles free or resists ongoing damage completely.