Arcane Backgrounds

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Alchemy

Arcane Skill: Alchemy (Smarts)
Starting Power Points: 10
Starting Powers: 2

Alchemy is similar to Weird Science in that your powers are manifested in the form of objects which can be given to and used by others. Unlike Weird Science, however, the objects are not “gizmos” that can be repeatedly used but single-use consumables. When a character takes this Arcane Background, they receive two “recipes”. These recipes are long and complicated, and can’t be cast from memory. An alchemist can expand their repertoire by finding new recipes or taking the New Power Edge, which represents their independent research.

Alchemists need two things to perform their craft: a laboratory and access to suitable reagants. A basic alchemical laboratory can be assembled in any large city for about 500 silver; in the largest cities, renting access to a lab is also possible. A portable alchemist’s trunk composed of compact, durable equipment costs twice this. For 100 silver, you can obtain a portable “hedge alchemist” kit - a small cauldron, mortar & pestle, crucible and so on. An alchemist who attempts to brew potions with inferior equipment such as this will suffer a -2 penalty to the roll.

Alchemists have power points, which come in the form of reagants - the compounds and ingredients used to brew their potions. This means that their power points are physical possessions which can be lost, stolen or damaged. Once used, their power points do not regenerate naturally and must be replenished by obtaining new reagants. They can be purchased from herbalists for 10 silver per PP, depending on the area. In the wilderness, the alchemist can find reagants by spending an hour and making a Survival roll (in some cases, other skills may be permitted). With a success, they regain 5 PP; a raise increases this to 10. You cannot forage twice in the same area.

There is no upper limit to how many reagants an alchemist can procure. However, the common reagants used by an alchemist are bulky and do not have a long shelf life. The alchemist’s power point limit represents how many reagants they can reasonably carry; they can take the Power Points Edge as normal, increasing their limit through more efficient preparation and preservation of ingredients. Alchemists can carry enough reagants to exceed their PP limit if they wish, but will be Encumbered for as long as this is the case. Furthermore, stockpiled reagants will lose their potency either at the end of an adventure or after a month has passed.

Brewing a potion takes one hour per rank of the power. Exactly how it functions depends on the nature of the power. Buffing potions might be drunk, poured over the body or smeared over a weapon. The Burst power may be a potion of firebreathing or a poison powder that is blown through a pipe. Something like Bolt or Blast may come in the form of a grenade that is thrown at enemies. Note that modifying or maintaining the power happens while the potion is being brewed - if the alchemist wants to make a double-length invisibility potion, they must spend the extra power points when the potion is created.

Explosion: Alchemists deal in volatile reagants, mixed using medieval technology. An alchemist who rolls a Critical Failure when attempting to brew a potion produces some kind of deadly side effect: an acid fog, explosive reaction, or similar. Everyone within a Medium Burst Template must make an Agility check at a -2 penalty or suffer 2d6 damage. Alternatively, the alchemist can choose to sacrifice their equipment and avoid the damage. In this case, their laboratory will need to be replaced before it can be used again.

Chi Mastery

Arcane Skill: Focus (Spirit)
Starting Power Points: 15
Starting Powers: 1

Every person possesses magic, even if they never cast a spell or weave a dweomer. There are some who learn to cultivate their own magic through sheer self-knowledge and discipline; those who master this innate form of magic are known as Chi Masters. Most commonly, these practitioners comes from traditions of martial artists that seek to cultivate mind as well as body. Kyujitai, in particular, is famed for its reclusive schools of monks.

With the Chi Mastery arcane background, supernatural and superhuman feats of martial prowess can be achieved. Whether this is catching an arrow in your bare hands, holding your breath for hours at a time, or running at the speed of the wind - those who cultivate immense inner power are a force to be reckoned with.

Although chi masters are not restricted in which powers they select, they do not throw fireballs or shoot lightning from their hands. Their powers manifest as an extension of the training they have put their minds and bodies through. Despite this, they are still fundamentally supernatural; a healing touch, the power to turn invisible, or even flight are all within the grasp of a Chi Master. When in doubt, applying the Touch limitation is usually a good bet.

Backlash: If a chi master rolls a Critical Failure when activating a power, their chi flow is disrupted. All currently active powers terminate, and they gain a level of Fatigue.

Divine Magic

Arcane Skill: Faith (Spirit)
Starting Power Points: 10
Starting Powers: 3

Morus is a world of many gods, and those gods have many servants. Mechanically, clerics use the default Miracles AB from the Savage Worlds rulebook.

Most of the “specialty priests” of Morus have special powers granted to them by their gods. For example, Justicars of Belzor can see through lies and priests of Ammut gain a divinatory ability to track their prey. These special powers come in the form of Professional Edges that can be taken by clerics of that god. Some gods may even have multiple Edges that can be taken at different Ranks as the priest grows in power and understanding. These Edges are not mandatory, but are always available to priests of that god who qualify.

Note that you are not obligated to take your priesthood’s professional Edges at character creation; you can aquire them at any time. Priests who wish to begin the game with both an Arcane Background and the Edge provided by their god are encouraged to take the Obligation or Vow Hindrances in order to qualify.

Sins: Priests who critically fail a spellcasting roll lose all currently active powers, but take no other backlash. However, they must carefully follow the ethos of their god. Minor sins give them a -2 penalty to Faith rolls for one week. Major sins rob them of all powers for one week. Mortal sins cause them to be forsaken until the penitent hero completes some great quest or task of atonement.

Although priests do not usually take backlash, failing while attempting to short a power counts as a minor sin, as the priest’s presumptuousness offends their deity.

Wizardry

Arcane Skill: Spellcasting (Smarts)
Starting Power Points: 10
Starting Powers: 3

When most people think of magic, wizardry - also known as sorcery, or witchcraft - is what they are thinking of. It is a scholarly art which revolves around the preparation and casting of spells: complex lattices of words, runes and sigils that are keyed into the fundamental energies of the multiverse. A mage with the intellect to comprehend these spells can use them to great effect, and it is the most common form of magic found amongst adventurers - even if more scholarly practitioners may sniff at it as crude “quick” magic.

A wizard starts with 3 powers, but they cannot take the New Power Edge to increase their repertoire after character creation. Instead, they are capable of learning spells from spellbooks or scrolls that they find, allowing them to expand their powers or trappings without needing to spend an Advance to do so. There is no limit to how many powers they can learn in this way, but they only have access to their spells as long as they have their spellbook.

The great potential power that a wizard can wield comes with three drawbacks, however:

Backlash: A wizard who critically fails a spellcasting roll gains a level of Fatigue and loses all currently active powers.