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Magic Powers

The Powers referred to by the word "Magic" cannot be easily categorized in the other Power classes. It is, as Jeff Grubb so quaintly put it in the Players'Book of the Marvel Super Heroes Advanced Set, "a can of worms that, once opened, may be difficult to contain." The subject of Magic in the Marvel Universe is dealt with at length by Kim Eastland's book, Realms of Magic (MHAC9) as well as this site's Magic Rules section.

This section is for those players and Judges who are not following following a strict interpretation of the aforementioned tome or are simply interested in forging a Magic system that is unique to their campaign. It can be treated as a supplement to, explanation of, or replacement for your current magic system.

If a Magic Power appears at any time during the character generation process, the player should convert the entire character to a Mage and convert all the Powers into their Magical equivalents. If the character was a High Tech type or possessed a physical type that was obviously technological in nature, these should be altered to reflect a Magical background for the character.

For example, Robots might be now considered to be clockwork automatons or Galatea-like animated statues.

The research for this section revealed that those Powers most often referred to as Magic had 2 basic components in the way they operated. I call these components Mechanism and Effect.
Mechanism: is the manner in which the, hero manifests his Magical Power. There are 10 basic types of Mechanisms with an infinite number of further variations. These further variations are the actual "spells" that produce a specific Power/Effect. When the Player rolls his first Magical Power, he must select a Mechanism. He can,choose 1 of those listed below or let pure chance decide. Upon gaining further Magical Powers, the player can stay with that first Mechanism or have another go at random determination.
Mechanism 1d100
Word: The hero needs to speak a single, specific word in order to manifest his Power. Subtle variations in pronunciation change the range, direction, and Intensity of the Effect. The higher the Effect's rank, the harder the required Word is to pronounce properly.

Chant: The hero needs to recite a series of words to manifest his Power. The Chant can be any length and form. Generally, the rank of the Effect determines the length of the Chant. The Chant lasts 1 turn for each 10 points of the Power rank number. For example, a Chant of In(40) effect takes 4 turns.

Song: The hero need to sing or play a specific song, tune, or rhythm to bring about the desired Effect. The name is a misnomer, since the nature of the Song can be as diverse as words-and-music, a hummed tune, a series of notes on an instrument, or an exotic drumbeat. The Song lasts 1 turn for each 10 points of the Power rank number. For example, a Song of SX(150) Effect takes 15 turns to be properly performed.

Gesture: The hero must perform a specific physical action to bring about the desired Effect. The nature and complexity of Magic Gestures varies. They can be hand and arm movements, facial expressions, acrobatics, dance steps, and or anything else the player can think of. The Effect determines the complexity and performance time of the Gesture. To properly perform a Gesture takes 1 turn per 20 points of the Effect's Power rank number (rounded up). For example, a Mn(75) Effect takes 4 turns to properly execute.

Alchemy: The hero can achieve a specific Effect by following a recipe that combines arcane or even commonplace substances in a special procedure. The resulting substance possesses enough Power to attempt the desired Effect. The length of preparation time and the cost of the ingredients increases with the rank of the Effect. Prep time is 1 turn per each 10 points of the Power rank number. The ingredients cost an amount of Resource points equal to 10% of the Effect's rank. For example, an Effect of SY(200) rank would require materials of Ex(20) cost stirred together for 20 turns.

Talisman: The Mage must possess a specific item in order to achieve his desired Effect. This can be a specific type of item for each type of spell, such as a marble sphere to communicate with spirits or a handful of eagle feathers to achieve flight. Common talismans have a cost of 1 Resource point for each point of the Effect's rank number. For example, a common talisman for a Rm(30) Effect would cost 30 points. Much rarer is the Magical Talisman, a unique item that possesses its own Power or focuses the Mage's own Power. Magic Talismans are general purpose devices that can serve the Mage's every need, regardless of the type of Effect desired. An example of this is Dr. Strange's amulet, the Eye of Agamotto. Magic Talismans can be of any nature, whether jewelry, implements, clothing, or your grandfather's skull.

Familiar: The Mage possesses (or is possessed by) a special lifeform who serves as an amplifier, conduit, and transmitting device for the Mage's Power. The hero must be in contact with the Familiar to achieve any type of Effect aside from communication. The Familiar can be any species, but generally is a non-sentient being of a lower order of life than the Mage's physical form. The Familiar's species is usually from the same world or dimension as the Mage. Of course, if the Mage is of a higher order than humans, he might have a human as a Familiar. The relationship between Mage and Familiar bonds them together so well that they can Telepathically communicate with each other. Common examples of Familiars include felines and owls.

Necromancy: The Mage can achieve an Effect by using the remnants of lifeforce contained in once-living biological materials. Unfortunately for everybody concerned, the most potent source of this lifeforce is a living organism which the Necromancer must slay in order to have the benefit of its lifeforce. Necromancy is the nastiest form of Magic there is. If the player rolls this form, he has 3 options. 1, continue creating the character and then give him to the Judge for use as an NPC villain. 2, say the magic word "Drat!," discard this Mechanism, and roll again. 3, go with this Mechanism and assume that your Mage is an "enlightened" Necromancer who only uses already deceased materials and is a valiant foe of nasty, evil, "unenlightened" Necromancers who still do things the old fashioned way. Higher ranked Effects require harder to acquire body bits. The Judge will have to decide his own standards for this. For example, a dead mouse is required for a Fb Effect while 400-year-old bones of somebody named Fredrikson might be required for a SX Effect.

Summoning: The Mage can summon supernatural beings and compel/bribe/beg them to go do the actual work that produces the Effect. Such beings include Spirits, Angels, Daemons, and any other Magical Beings who might exist in the Judge's campaign. Generally speaking, each Summoner specializes in a particular type of Magical creature. The Summoner can draw on the services of other types but this is an unlikely event brought about by special circumstances. For example, Illyana Rasputin can summon a variety of Daemons but has never tried to summon a Ghost.

The overall Power rank of the being to be summoned is dictated by the rank of the desired Effect. (If the being can't do the job then why summon it in the first place?) The Mage runs into danger as he attempts to summon more Powerful beings, many of whom might resent the Mage for dragging them away from their home dimension and sending them off on some ridiculous mission. Should the Mage loses control of the situation, things might get nasty, messy, and probably fatal.

Ritual: This is a combination of any of the preceding 9 Mechanisms into a compound Mechanism. The player rolls the dice to determine how many Mechanisms are to be combined into the Ritual.
# Mechanisms 1d100
The player then returns to the Mechanism listing at the beginning of this section and randomly generates the component Mechanisms. Duplicate rolls simply means that an extra effort is needed; that Mechanism is twice as complicated as your Mage had initially thought. Examples of Ritual combinations include Word/Gesture, Chant/Talisman, and Song/Dance.
Mechanisms are only effective if used by someone who actually possesses Magical Power. Mechanisms can be imitated by normal people but the Effect won't occur because the imitator doesn't have the Power to support the mimicry. So forget about tape-recording Chants and playing them back whenever you want. Of course, if the Mechanism is imitated by someone who didn't know that they possessed Magical Power, then the Effect might unexpectedly occur.

For example, the famous choreographer Rob Fusse created a ballet that incorporated dance steps he'd once witnessed in a Tibetan temple. He didn't know that the dance was really a Weather Control spell. He also didn't krow that his lead dancer was a budding Sorceress; she didn't know it either. On the opening night, the dancer's excitement finally allowed her latent Power to connect with the spell she was unwittingly casting, with torrential results. Critics hailed it as a new triumph in bringing realism into the theatre.

Curiously, if anyone who possesses Powers other than Magic tries to imitate a Mechanism, there is a chance it will succeed. In such a case, the mimic's own Powers provide the raw energy to achieve the Effect. Such a mimicry requires 2 red Reason FEATs to succeed. The first FEAT means that some kind of Effect has been achieved, while the second means the Effect is under the mimic's control.

Example: Kitty Pride has been watching Illyana Rasputin closely in order to figure out how Illyana creates space warps. Kitty tries to imitate her friend's actions. Kitty's Rm Reason gives her a slim chance of success. She lucks out the first phase (a 95) and vanishes into a glowing circle of light. Unfortunately she botched the second phase (a 32) and didn't reappear at poolside as she intended. An hour later Professor X accepts a collect call from Bristol, England. It's Kitty, asking if somebody could come get her.

The 2nd Component to Magic is the Effect. It's just another word for the Power the player has already acquired through the Power Generation process. There are 12 Powers that are unique to the Magic classification. Since Mages often display Magical Powers that are virtually identical to more normal Powers, the system had to account for those as well. These are handled under the category of Power Simulation.