“It's still magic even if you know how it's done.”
Classic D20 systems, like d20 Modern with Urban Arcana, provide you with a simple system. You’ll become a spell caster, learn spells and cast them. Straightforward. These spells have Ranks, and the more you learn, the more powerful spells you’ll learn.
This approach is the most common, but it limits flexibility. Didn’t prepare the spell needed? Well, that’s sad, then you can’t cast it. Need healing, but don’t have a healer available? Then you’ll better have some first aid kits. This magic system differs from classic d20.
There are still limitations to the use of magic. It’s some kind of special power. There are also pre-made spells available, which have ranks and described spell effects. But there is also a system called “Flexible Spellcasting” available, allowing you to improvise a spell when you need it, with the effect you need at this moment.
Becoming a Magic User
To become a Magic User in WIREless seems a bit more complicated. But don’t worry, as always, there are templates for this. And the process can break down to these steps:
- Decide what kind of Magic you want to use. Mental (as for Clerics, Mages, Sorcerers and so on), Physical (like Monks) or both (like Paladins do). Then buy the advantage needed for that.
- Choose your tradition. This one is very setting dependant, but there are templates for the most common ways available. Your Chronist will tell you which traditions are available in his Chronicle.
- Pick your Schools (Mental and Dual only). Each tradition is aligned to at least two Schools of Magic. When you put up your first rank of Magic Talent, you’ll get two School Ranks, which you may assign to Schools of Magic. You need to assign at least one rank to a school aligned to your tradition.
- Select a Spell Pack or Power Pack. The last step is to buy a spell pack and learn the spells in it. If you are a Physical Magic User, you’ll select a Power Pack instead.
Step 1: Select your Advantage
In this step, you’ll pick what kind of magic your character uses. This does not define where the magic comes from. It’s a simple decision, how that specific magic manifests itself. In WIRE, we know three kinds of magic:
The maximum rank of Magic Talent is equal to the Magic Level of your setting.
Users of Mental Magic are the typical spellcasters of WIRE. They may be clerics, arcane mages, sorcerers, or anybody who channels their power into the effect of spells, creating a Fireball or other powerful effects in their surroundings. They may not buy Power Packs, but may buy other Powers outside the magic system.
Users of Physical Magic channel their source of power through their own body, pushing themselves beyond mortal limits. Monks or Martial Artists, Adepts and other exceptional athletes may be users of that magic. While Physical Magic Users channel their Magic into physical powers, they may not cast any spells. They may, however, buy additional powers outside the magic system.
Dual Magic Users use both approaches. They channel their source of power through their body or their mind, as the situation needs it. Paladins are a typical form of a Dual Magic User. These characters may buy both, spell and power packs, and are allowed to buy other powers outside the magic system.
Step 2: Select your Tradition
While your advantage decides how you channel your source of power, the tradition describes where this power comes from. In classic d20 terms, traditions may be arcane for mages and sorcerers, divine for clerics and paladins or occult for warlocks.
In WIRE, you make these traditions up with your setting. There are no general “all mages are arcane”-rules. These “standard traditions” are, however, available as a template. These don’t cost Character Points, but offer some specification for your magic. If your settings doesn’t have magic traditions, that’s perfectly fine. Just skip then.
Below, you'll find an example tradition, the deity Nys from Andrawyn.
Example Tradition: NysDeity of Night, Song and Poetry
Spells need a verbal component (must speak, or sing, while casting)
- Rank 1: Comprehend Languages (Divination), Disguise Self (Illusion), Empower Weapon (Transmutation)
- Rank 3: Tongues (Divination), Major Image (Illusion), Flame Weapon (Transmutation)
- Rank 5: Telepathic Bond (Divination), Seeming (Illusion), Telekinesis (Transmutation)
- Rank 7: Vision (Divination), Sphere of Night (Illusion), Control Weather (Transmutation)
Step 3: Pick your Schools
WIRE uses ten different Schools of Magic. Once you select your advantage for Mental Magic or Dual Magic, you’ll get two free ranks for schools. While one must be a school from your tradition, you may select the other one free.
Each time you raise your advantage by one rank, you’ll get another rank to spend on your schools. Remember, the school rank can never exceed your advantage rank. So if you have Mental Magic 3, you can’t learn a school above rank 3.
The schools of magic are: Conjuration, Death, Divination, Enchantment, Evocation, Illusion, Life, Protection, Time, and Transmutation.
Each school has some Minor Tricks assigned, which are no subject of school limitations. If you have at least one rank in a Magic Talent advantage, you can buy any Minor Trick.
Buying a Minor Trick will cost you 1 CP.
Conjuration spells allow you to manifest objects, creatures, or some forms of energy. They do also allow you to transport creatures over great distances or even different planes of existence, or create specific effects or objects on a spot.
This school manipulates the power and energy of death. It calls rotting energy into existence, creates undead creatures, or can even call a slow decay on creatures or objects.
The divination school is all about gathering knowledge and calling on guidance. If you want to know where the hidden stuff is, or where you can hit that creature right in front of you, divination is the school to go. This school will also allow to form telepathic bonds with other characters or creatures.
Enchantment is all about influencing the mind of other creatures or characters. You may create an effect that bends a creature to your bidding, or influence somebody to see you in a specified way. You may also spawn rage in a creature you are influencing – or calm that rage.
Evocation is a school about manipulating energy into a desired form. In short, you will create something out of nothing – at least in the eye of mundane characters. Most combat relevant spells, like fireballs and lightning bolts, belong to this school.
Illusion is all about bending the light or sound until something appears completely different. You can make your group invisible, or create a mask that will fool somebody who is watching you. You can create phantom noises or even illusionary terrain, that tricks a wanderer. It’s all about light, isn’t it?
The School of Life is all about healing and manipulating the streams of life in a creature. You may rip your companion from the border of death, cure serious injuries and diseases, or change a little something in them, to strengthen them, make them faster or more durable.
Protection is exactly what its name suggests. It’s about protecting things and creatures. You may create barriers, both physical and magical, that protect individual creatures. Or you may push yourself and guard an entire room or building. You can even deflect attacks from one of your companions if you need to.
The School of Time will teach you how to alter, manipulate, and see through time. You may stop the flow of time for a moment, so that you can prepare a trap. You may have a short glimpse into the near future, or unravel mysteries from an ancient past. But remember: Time takes its toll. Always.
Transmutation will allow you to physically change objects or creatures. You could become a dragon, or you could just grow yourself some fur to protect you from the cold winter night. Change your body in a way that allows you to breathe underwater, or an object to be smaller – or larger.
Step 4: Pick your Spells
In WIRE, the School of Magic determines which kinds of magic you can use. If you don’t know about the basics of Transmutation, you can’t buy transmutation spells. It’s that simple. You’ll get free spells for each rank you have in a specific school. For example, 1 rank in the Transmutation school would grant you 2 spells of rank 1. Once you raise your school to rank 2, you will get 2 spells of rank 2 or below.
Of course, you can buy additional spells for Level x2 CP, but the spell level may never exceed your school rank. Minor tricks, however, are not limited to knowledge of a certain school. You may buy all the Minor Tricks you like, as long as your Chronist allows that.
You will find a list of all available spells at your school page here.
If you are a Physical Magic User, you will instead buy powers. These are not limited by a school or tradition, but they are more expensive. You can find possible powers and power packs here: Supernatural Powers
Remember that your Power Rank is still limited by the rank of your advantage!