Sacred magic: Wizardry meets liturgy

January 28, 2021 at 4:09 pm

“Life is a magic, God is the magician”

— Hansrajvir


There has been a persistent effort over the years to create rules for priests and religious figures to cast their own magical spells. This undoubtedly comes from the traditional class in Dungeons & Dragons (which many players, ourselves included cut their teeth on) and the desire for players to boost their healing powers to take on more monsters and grab more loot.

The value of boosting healing is also a hotly debated subject, and we firmly land on the restrictive side. so I suppose it’s not surprising that we’re not big fans of building out a system of D&D-style clerical magic. The secular and deadly world envisioned by TFT rules are distinctive and challenging, and one of the things that make the system unique. Making it more like D&D or your favorite long-slog video game isn’t going to make it better.

That said, there is nothing about the magic rules in TFT that precludes a divine source of power. There is nothing overtly secular about the lightning shooting from a wizard’s hand, and it can just as easily be described by faith as by willpower.


Belief in Magic

Sword and sorcery fiction is littered with servants of dark gods that are indistinguishable from wizards — their powers granted through blood pacts and wicked bargains. It would be just as viaable (and historically reinforced) for servants of powers of light and justice to get the same perks.

Traditionally, magic has been defined by manipulating and commanding powers and natural forces, while religious prayer beseeches similar forces to do the wizard’s bidding for a greater purpose. You could say that ‘magic’ is internal and individual while ‘religion’ is external and communal. While this difference is important and can be explored many ways through storycraft and role-play, but requires no mechanical changes. Even powerful spells like Wish can just as easily be defined as intervention by the divine and a summoned Demon may well be a powerful heavenly avenger with little patience for petty human requests.

And in a polytheistic world, a divine wizard can simply choose spells to reflect the aspects of their gods of fire, shadow, nature, strength, air, or whatever the imagination conjures. if you want a greater distinction between the divine and arcane magics, you could have priestly wizards use sacred texts instead of grimoires and sanctified ritual spaces instead of laboratories. These could be mutually exclusive between traditions, but should require similar costs and upkeep.

Most players would assume a religious wizard would take the Priest talent, and should probably be allowed to gain it for one point. Not only does the talent reflect the knowledge of sacred teachings and social status of being recognized clergy, but it should allow the wizard to perform rituals among believers such as weddings, christenings, funerals, and rites of passage. If these have any effects in-game (such as protecting the fallen from unlife) it should be minimal and situational.

Another way to reflect the communal nature of divine magic is to use the Ceremonial magic presented earlier. In this way, a spell caster could share blessings to all the congregants at a service at once. Typically such spells would provide minor benefits like Clearheadedness or Minor Medicament, but other spells Stone Flesh or Flight could be cast on an entire congregation if the ST can be obtained.

IQ 12 Spell: Ceremonial Magic: (S) Allows wizards to cast larger spells, on multiple subjects.The spell involves using strict ceremonies, including candles, special ingredients, chanting, etc. and must take place in a lab or sanctified space. The ST cost to perform this spell is 5, not including the ST cost of the ceremonial spell. The time to cast the spell is 10 times the normal casting time of the final spell.

Any spell can be cast using Ceremonial Magic, regardless of IQ level. To cast the spell, each wizard actively involved in casting the spell MUST know the Ceremonial Magic spell, as well as the spell to be cast. Wizards lending strength through Aid spells (such as apprentices or acolytes) do not have to know either spell, but are limited to how much assistance they can give. In a temple or sanctified ritual space, each willing participant can add 1ST to the spell. Unwilling or sacrificial victims can have their ST taken via Drain Strength to add power to a ceremonial spell.

Second, the energy cost of the spell is calculated by multiplying the cost of the spell by the radius of hexes it will ultimately affect. Note that for a spell designed for a single subject to affect an entire hex, would add one to the radius. So, if you wished to cast Stalwart on everyone within a three megahex circle (1 to cover a complete hex plus the temple’s 5-hex radius) it would cost 18 ST (3 ST for the spell x 6) plus the 5 ST for the Ceremonial Magic spell).


Bringing Light to Darkness

Another popular image of devout heroes are those committed to the fight against unlife, hunting down these abominations and returning them to the grave. While common wizards scoff at the power of prayers and talismans (Book of Unlife, p.4) these practitioners have mastered these tools and others to protect the innocent. Whether known as slayers, Van Helsings, Sabbatarians or Kresniks stand resolute against the underworld. The magical tools of the hunters include:

New IQ 12 Spell: Holy Water (S) This spell is used to create a vessel of pure water imbued with divine power that is dangerous effective against creatures of unlike. Similar in effect to an Explosive Gem, a holy water phial can be thrown for 1d of damage for each 5ST used in the casting (up to 8d) and phials of 6d or higher will do 1d of damage to underworld creatures in adjacent hexes. The water does not damage mundane creatures. Only pure fresh water can be enchanted this way.

New IQ 12 Spell: Soul Shield (T) This spell is used to provide some measure of protection against evil forces that try to possess mortal souls. If a shielded figure is attacked by the possessor, it gains a 3/IQ resistance test to avoid the control. If the spell is cast while possession is being attempted, the check is made against 4/IQ. It also offers +2 IQ to resist obsession, oppression, and stigmatization. It cost 5ST to cast and lasts 12 hours.