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Advice for Lovecraftian sorcery in CofD

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  • Advice for Lovecraftian sorcery in CofD

    In the near future I am going to run Masks of Nyarlathotep using the rules of Chronicles of Darkness. One of my players will play as an occultist and worshipper of Hastur and so I will need to develop a simple but playable system for lovecraftian sorcery.

    ​Themes of magic in a Lovecraftian game:
    ​1) Magic is either an extension of the power of dark, alien and unkowable gods or exploitation of cracks and holes in reality, maybe both.
    2) Magic is a very "evil" practice which corrodes the sanity of the practicioner and corrupts their minds so that they eventually will either go raving mad or turn into servants of above mentioned alien gods.
    ​3) Magic is very ritualistic; even simple effects often needs lengthy preparation and ritual. Magic is not an internal power but has more in common with science, albeit twisted.
    ​4) Magic is not flashy with stunning visual effects. It may have very dramatic results such as earthquakes or calling down lightning from the sky, but the preparation and execution of the spell is not flashy.

    ​I am looking for advice on how to accomplish this magic system and to hear if anyone has done it before.
    ​I own Second Sight and I like it a lot. Has anyone made a conversion to 2E? If not, what potential problems would there be from using it?
    Finally, I imagine that for a low magic feel you can get quite far just from using the "Violent Skill" option for Occult that is presented in Hurt Locker.

    ​Mainly I have thought of simply going through the spells present in the Call of Cthulhu corebooks and just do on-the-fly conversions to CofD mechanics with them.

    I would be most appreciative of tips and advice for how to do this!

  • #2
    Dark Eras Companion has a sorcery system for 1E that might be useful here, which is based around using rituals to take advantage of the 'loose threads' of existence. It requires a 4-dot merit (Ritual Sorcerer), and requisite Attribute and Ability scores (must have witnessed something ordinarily inexplicable; have at least two of Intelligence, Wits and Resolve at 4 dots or higher, three Mental Skills at 4 dots or higher, one of which must be Occult; two specializations in Mental Skills, one of which must be for Occult).

    Sorcerers get slots equal to their Resolve, which they can spend on mastering Open Rites (ones anyone can perform) or on getting Closed Rites (ones only those who know the exact requirements can perform), and can buy more slots with another Merit up to their Occult rating. There's also an option to buy yet more slots, by encountering supernatural power that risks Morality, and deciding to make the loss permanent in return for a slot, and the suggestion that some sorcerers bypass the merit and learn their rites through Morality loss.

    It is specifically not a template, but something that anyone who fulfills the prerequisites can learn.

    Closed Rites work on the Rule of Three, requiring at least three separate and difficult components to perform.


    Scion 2E: What We Know - A wiki compiling info on second edition Scion.

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    • #3
      RE: Lovecraftian Magic

      It is good that your have Second Sight, since I recommend using the system presented under "Reality Bending Horrors".
      To update things to 2nd Edition/Chronicles of Darkness, try the following adjustments.

      - Replace Cult of Things That Must Not Be (Second Sight, pg. 137) with Mystery Cult Initiation (CofD, pg. 51-53). Use the benefits granted by the merits to grant abilities in line with the Cult. I will put an example below.


      Cult of the Unnamable
      Dedicated to the veneration of Hastur; the cult embraces entropy, madness and the ultimate dissolution of all things.They consider "The King in Yellow" - an ambiguous, dreamlike play originally written in 1895 to be a holy text.

      ● - The Initiate has been introduced into the lore surrounding Hastur, and its Avatar, the King in Yellow. The gain a Academics or Occult specialty in "Hastur"
      ●● - The Initiate delves deeper into the lore of the Yellow Sign, gaining a dot in Occult.
      ●●● - The Acolyte gains the knowledge to call upon Hastur's great power. The Acolyte gains 2 dots in the Rites Merit.
      ●●●● - The Acolyte gains an additional 3 dots in the Rites Merit.
      ●●●●● - The High Priest has achieved communion with Hastur,and gains 3 dots that may be distributed among Supernatural Merits (including rites) or a single Dread Power (CofD, pg. 144-148)


      - Treat Rites as a 1 dot Merit - each Dot represents a single Rite. As a prerequisite, the character must have a rating in Occult or Dots in Mystery Cult Initiation equal to or greater than the level of the Rite being purchased. Performing the Rite requires spending a point of Willpower, performing the Offering, and making an extended Intelligence (or Presence) + occult roll, requiring a number of successes equal to the level of the Rite. The base time per roll is half an hour, reduced to 15 minutes if the character has more dots in Occult or Mystery Cult Initiation than the level of the Rite being cast.Performing a Rite is always a Breaking Point with at least a -1 penalty.




      Curios, Relics, and Tomes - A collection of Relics (Cursed and Otherwise)
      The Horror Lab - A collection of Beasts, Monsters and less definable things.
      Strange Places - A collection of Dark, Mysterious, and Wondrous Locations
      Twilight Menagerie - A collection of Ephemeral Entities

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      • #4
        The Cleopatra era Sorcery marin mentions really is absolutely perfect for this. It's easy to craft your own rituals, the system actively encourages you to do so, and the system itself hits every point you describe. The only exception perhaps is that there's some mention of keeping the actual effects of these rituals somewhat muted, power-wise, but you can easily ignore that if you want to. The "Rule of Three" makes it pretty easy to justify more powerful effects, just demand a greater sacrifice.

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        • #5
          I wrote a Mad Science hack that was based on the premise of exploiting cracks in reality and in the process going mad. It wouldn't take much to reskin it as Lovecraft-style sorcery; just change the aesthetics from science to sorcery.


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          • #6
            "1) Magic is either an extension of the power of dark, alien and unkowable gods or exploitation of cracks and holes in reality, maybe both"

            That made me think of Demon the Descent.

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