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Building Sponsored and Superior Magic Powers

This guide intends to serve as a useful explanation of how to build a custom Sponsored or Superior magic power for your PCs. Generally, both of these powers follow a standard template, and so once you've been shown the template, it becomes much easier to get a handle on building your own custom Sponsored/Superior powers. As usual, all custom powers must be approved by the staff before use.

This guide will be split into four parts. The first part will briefly explain what the Sponsored and Superior magic powers actually are. The second will be dedicated to explaining Sponsored magic, and the third will build on the discussion in the second part to explain how to create a Superior magic power. The last part will briefly explain how you can modify already-approved custom Sponsored/Superior magic powers.

Before reading this guide, you should be familiar with the Channeling and Ritual powers (YS 181) and at least somewhat familiar with the basic mechanics behind evocation and thaumaturgy for the game, beginning on page 248 of Your Story, before reading this guide. You may also be interested in our Evocation Guide?.

What is Sponsored/Superior magic?

Sponsored Magic is magic that your PC has access to that is not a result of talent/training/experience, but rather is sponsored by some powerful being/force. It functions just like mortal magic in many ways, but there are thematic limitations to what effects are possible with a given Sponsored magic, depending on the nature of the sponsor. Usually, there's some narrower form of magic that your Sponsor is particularly good with, granting the ability to cast spells with thaumaturgical effects at evocation's speeds. A Sponsor's magic can only be used with their permission, implicit or explicit, meaning you cannot use a Sponsor's gifts to work against their agenda, and if they are displeased with you in some way your magic may not be forthcoming at all. This magic also provides your Sponsor with a conduit to you from which compels can be issued. On the other hand, because the source of your power is tied to a powerful Sponsor, that Sponsor can lend you extra temporary power when you need it--for a price, of course.

Superior Magic bears some mechanical similarities to Sponsored Magic, which is why it is grouped in the same article as Sponsored magic. It is a custom power developed here based on ideas found in on the DFRPG boards in order to help provide a framework for modeling some of the apparently-superior abilities that mortal spellcasters Harry interacts with have shown; skilled evocation-speed spells with effects that would normally require thaumaturgy, according to Harry--the Merlin erects large Wards in the middle of battle without a Threshold, Molly creates unbelievably complex illusions, etc. These kinds of abilities can sometimes be modeled by taking Incite Effect or other Powers, but sometimes they cannot or a player does not wish to take these powers and would rather focus on expanding their spellcasting Powers. For those occasions, you may want to consider Superior Magic. Taking a Superior magic gives you the ability to cast certain spells at evocation's speeds that would normally be considered to be in the realm of thaumaturgy, and provides some other minor boost or ability related to the same kind of magic.

How to Make a Custom Sponsored Magic Power

All Sponsored Magic costs a default of -5 Refresh, with rare exception. This is a house-rule from the Your Story RAW, where Sponsored Magic defaults to -4 refresh in cost. The staff feels that the way Sponsored Magic is built makes it worth more than -4 refresh; there is a clear disadvantage to taking thematically-paired Ritual+Channeling powers versus a similarly-themed Sponsored Magic for the same cost that also includes 1.5-2 refresh of extra benefits in the form of Sponsor Debt availability, evothaum, and extra benefit.

Almost every Sponsored Magic power has the same aspects built into it; with rare exception, you will need to fill in information for all seven of the categories below:

Description: What does this power do? Why is it interesting? Who is the Sponsor behind it, and why? Explain yourself!

Sponsor: Who is your Sponsor?

Agenda: Your Sponsor must have some kind of agenda/goals/reasons for being a player in the Supernatural community. Why are they interested in the mortal world/Washington, DC/the Sponsee?

• Theme: All Sponsored magic adheres to a certain theme. For example, Winter's theme (Unseelie Magic, pg 290) is summed up as "death, decay, slumber, cold, ice."

Channeling: You gain some form of evocation ability with similar elemental/thematic restrictions as the Channeling power. Generally this means you have access to one element for evocation, or a few thematically-linked evocations that are more limited in scope than normal evocation.

Ritual: You are able to cast ritual spells that fall within your Sponsor's theme. This generally should have the same scope of options from the thematic magic you could get from the Ritual power.

Evothaum: You are capable of casting some narrow type of thaumaturgy with evocation's speeds and methods.

Extra Benefit: You get some 1/2- to 1-refresh extra benefit with this magic. This might be a bonus to Complexity and/or Power and/or Control for certain spells (for instance, Hellfire grants +1 to power/complexity on spells intended to inflict stress or consequences), downgrading the toughness of certain enemies, a 1-refresh upgrade/purchase of Incite Effect, etc.

It can be very helpful to look over already-approved Sponsored Magic powers in the Powers Database first for inspiration or guidance. ((Please note that the RagnarokNYC database needs updating and should not be considered a perfect resource, though many of the Sponsored Magics on their are close to good.))

What is Evothaum?

So-called "evothaum," or "thaumaturgy with evocation's speeds and methods," is a magical skill described in YS 288, but there still tends to be questions on how it works after reading the box that describes it. We have written a guide.

Focus Items

You get 4 Focus Item slots with Sponsored Magic, unless you've taken Evocation and/or Thaumaturgy; for each of those two powers you have taken, you get 2 fewer Focus Item slots. These do not need to be listed/defined in the power writeup; this is merely a reminder they are included in the purchase of the power.

Once you've defined some/all of the above aspects of the power, you can work on variations if you want/need to. Usually, ‘variations’ are accomplished by limiting the magic in one or more ways by narrowing the theme or agenda and/or additional restrictions on the scope or availability of your magic. This may let you expand the power in other ways, like expanding the scope/themes of your magic, increasing the strength of your extra benefit, etc. A good example of this is Seelie and Unseelie magic--they have a relatively broad scope of magic options, while the extra benefit (downgrading the toughness of the opposite Court by one degree) is worth slightly less than a full refresh.

With Rare Exception

The phrase "with rare exception" has been thrown around a few times so far. What do I mean by that? One example of an exception to the typical format is the Sponsored Magic: Eris power. It does not grant any ability to cast rituals, but it has a fairly potent extra benefit, so it was discounted to cost -4 (there is no discount for possessing Thaumaturgy, and a +2 discount if you posses Evocation). Another exception is the Sponsored Magic: Druidic Magic power, which has several restrictions attached to it that also discounts the cost to -3 (and has the same modified discount scheme as Sponsored Magic: Eris). These kinds of exceptions are rare, and almost all Sponsors include both Ritual and Channeling in their Sponsored magic package. When these types of exceptions occur, they usually are discovered organically during the initial writing or when discussing the power with a GM; going out of your way to try to design a discounted Sponsored Magic is usually a failing tactic.

Template

 Please use this template when writing up and submitting Sponsored Magic for approval: 
  • [u]Description:[/u]
  • [u]Sponsor:[/u]
  • [u]Theme:[/u]
  • [u]Agenda:[/u]
  • [u]Channeling:[/u]
  • [u]Ritual:[/u]
  • [u]Evothaum:[/u]
  • [u]Extra Benefit:[/u]

How to Make a Custom Superior Magic Power

Generally, Superior magic powers cost -2 Refresh and grant some thematic evothaum, plus an Extra Benefit, with the same basic guidelines for defining these as with Sponsored Magic. Furthermore, Superior powers all have the same Requirement. Additional limitations, modifications, or requirements, a broader scope of evothaum or stronger/weaker Extra Benefit may be possible modifications to the standard template, and may affect the base cost of the power.

Description: What does this power do? Why is it interesting? Explain yourself!

Theme: What is the theme?

Evothaum: You are capable of casting some narrow type of thaumaturgy with evocation's speeds and methods.

Extra Benefit: You get some 1/2- to 1-refresh extra benefit with this magic. This might be a bonus to Complexity and/or Power and/or Control for certain spells, or downgrading the toughness of certain enemies, a 1-refresh upgrade/purchase of Incite Effect, etc.

Requirements: You must have an appropriate Aspect to take this power. You must also have at least one or more of Ritual/Channeling/Thaumaturgy/Evocation such that they that provide you with the ability to use thaumaturgy and/or evocation in the same theme/element as the evothaum granted by this Superior Magic. You must also have invested at least one point of Specializations in that theme before taking Superior magic.

'Template:' Please use this template when writing up and submitting Superior Magic for approval:`

  • [u]Description:[/u]
  • [u]Theme:[/u]
  • [u]Evothaum:[/u]
  • [u]Extra Benefit:[/u]
  • [u]Requirements:[/u] You must have an appropriate Aspect to take this power. You must also have at least one or more of Ritual/Channeling/Thaumaturgy/Evocation such that they that provide you with the ability to use thaumaturgy and/or evocation in the same theme/element as the evothaum granted by this Superior Magic. You must also have invested at least one point of Specializations in that theme (in Evocation and/or Thaumaturgy as appropriate) before taking Superior magic.

Modifying Existing Custom Sponsored/Superior Magic Powers:

Previously-created custom Sponsored or Superior magic powers may have room for variation, particularly when it comes to the extra benefit. If you are interested in a Sponsored/Superior power but would rather have a different extra benefit or want to modify it in some other way, work with a GM to create a modified version. Some of the custom Sponsored/Superior magicks may include several different options for the extra benefit in their descriptions. Some Sponsored Magics may modify how many Focus Item slots you gain, though this usually makes pricing difficult due to changes in how many Focus Items you get when possessing Evocation/Thaumaturgy.