More rules for the FUDGE Occultism magic system.
By Sharon Tripp and Scott Gray.
Also see GRAPE, a complete roleplaying game by Scott Gray.
"That we do not know all there is to know about our universe is a given. Throughout history there have been advances in our understanding of how the universe works. Each new level of understanding, from Newton's ideas to Einstein's to Heisenberg's, contradicts ideas which we previously understood as fact.There are various theories as to the nature of reality. Some say that physicists are right about "our" universe -- but that our universe borders another with an alien physic, where will is interchangeable with matter and energy. In some places the veil between is thin, and the border between the two worlds indistinct. Others believe that we have within ourselves powerful, evil souls which long to gain dominance so they can devour us and all else. Some groups claim that spirits of the dead pursue various ends -- helping the living, or seeking vengeance against them for being alive. Still others maintain that we shape reality by our beliefs, but we are unfortunately beings prone to dwell on the unpleasant....
"Much of what exists in reality is outside the range that can be detected by our five senses. Though we have no direct ability to sense magnetism, many birds are born with a magnetic sense. Yet we understand the workings of magnetism by noting its indirect effects. We hypothesize grand quantum laws that explain the behavior of things too small to ever directly observe. But how much is there in 'reality' which we still have no notion of or hint about?
"As our questions about the universe turn to the invisible and unseeable, we must rigorously investigate any evidence against our current, admittedly simplistic, view of how the universe works -- looking for the reality that lies beyond our senses. We must hope that in so doing, the prejudices of 'common sense' do not prevent us from finding and recording what information we can about the true workings of our universe."
Dr. Alexander Drakkar, State University of Dresden, 1972
Some researchers into the paranormal claim that certain people are more open to sensation and experiences that lie outside "normal" reality. Such people can be said to have a "sixth sense." In an attempt to learn more about this "other reality," researchers concentrate on studies of the sixth sense and how it functions. Many reports seem contradictory, however; and as most of the subjects are deemed mentally unbalanced, they are not very reliable sources.
The fact that subjects seem to have different notions and experiences of the other reality continuously frustrates researchers. Some explain these differences using the Indian story of the blind men and the elephant. John Godfrey Saxe's retelling of this legend follows:
"It was six men of Indostan
Each man understands only one aspect of the whole, and so their assertions seem contradictory. It is much the same way with the various claims as to the nature of reality and of magic. Some spells seem to support the belief that there is a world beyond our own, and others seem to support solipsism. Both types of spells work, despite the apparent inconsistency.
Of course, this is only one way to handle a campaign setting in which multiple schools of magic are available. A GM using Occultism might instead choose which, if any, disciplines of magic work. Under such a method, it is very important that magic be subtle. This makes it difficult to know if events occurred due to a successful spell casting, luck, or just simple probability.
If a particular school of magic does not function within the game world, the player or GM should still roll Sanity checks. If the caster thinks the spell was successful, he might psych himself out.
A minus indicates the mage's Health drops one level.A character whose Health drops below Terrible lapses into a coma, goes into cardiac arrest, or the like, as decreed by the GM. If the effect is "temporary," the character has a chance of survival or recovery -- but it is by no means guaranteed.
A blank means that the mage acquires a physical affliction. The relative degree by which the Health roll fell short of the Difficulty Level determines the severity of the ailment.
A plus indicates the worsening of a preexisting condition. Unlike with Sanity-based Occultism, where a plus merely increases the difficulty of controlling the insanity, a worsened physical condition is actually worsened. It becomes a more serious illness, and may become life-threatening.
If an effect is permanent, this simply means that it is a condition that will not resolve itself. Medical treatments may be able to help cure "permanent" afflictions, depending on the time period/genre in which the campaign is set. A slight, temporary effect might indicate a cold or flu; a more severe form of the same could indicate pneumonia or other serious, but nonpermanent, illness. An example of a relatively minor permanent effect would be arthritis, and a major one would be cancer.
Maintaining an effect causes a continuous physical strain on the mage. At the GM's discretion, the mage might suffer action penalties to maintain a spell effect, or may suffer from a temporary worsening of physical infirmities.
Suggested Difficulty Levels in a sane world
Poor: Simple divination.
Mediocre: Mental suggestions.
Fair: Complex divination, blatant mind control.
Good: Affecting the probabilities of events, illusions.
Superb: Physical changes to an object, communicating with other planes.
Legendary: Physical changes to a creature.
Legendary+1: Creation of mundane objects.
Health problems gained from casting may decrease the ease of using certain casting aids. For example, if a spell aid requires mobility, a mage who remains bedridden due to his spell casting will have trouble making use of such an aid.
However, you may choose for the players to pick tendencies. These would denote their physical weak spots, rather than psychological ones. The character may be hereditarily prone toward certain disorders, or be at risk of others due to poor dietary and exercise habits.
Just as Sanity may be regained through various means, PCs may regain lost Health. Health might be recovered slowly through intensive physical training. Medicines or surgery might also allow a partial improvement of Health.