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New System: Exceptional Rotes (research and experimentation in devising spells)

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  • New System: Exceptional Rotes (research and experimentation in devising spells)

    Here I define a system for experimentation and research in creating exceptional spells that defy the normal restrictions of the Practices. I made this because I wanted a means of incorporating spells into a story that are rare and special in the same way some Imbued Items and Artifacts are rare and special. I also wanted a way to systematize the idea that some Masters are engaged in research to push the boundaries of spellcasting beyond the dictates of the Practices.

    Any mage can use the Creative Thaumaturgy system to devise novel spells -- so long as those spells color within the lines of Practices available according to that mage's Arcana dot ratings. This system enables a Master to create Exceptional Rotes that bend or flout the Practices. These Rotes describe spell effects more powerful than their Arcanum dot ratings alone suggest.

    Exceptional Rotes are rare and fantastically valuable. A grimoire that contains even one of them would be an incredible prize or McGuffin for a cabal to pursue. They should only be obtained as an important element of story plot or through the research of a Master character, never by purchasing a Merit with experience. Any Mage who knows an Exceptional Rote will prefer to keep that knowledge to herself, only sharing it in exchange for something else of great value.

    Step 1: Define the Spell Effect and Innovations

    First define the spell using the normal Creative Thaumaturgy rules. Then, remap the spell's Practice "down" according to this chart:
    Proper Practice Desired Practice
    Making Patterning
    Unmaking Unraveling
    Patterning Weaving
    Unraveling Fraying
    Fraying Ruling
    Perfecting Ruling
    Weaving Ruling
    Ruling Compelling
    Shielding Compelling
    Veiling Compelling
    You may remap more than once using this chart. For example, you may remap a Making spell to Patterning and then to Weaving. Each such reduction in the spell's Practice is called an Innovation -- a cunning trick or loophole in the spell's Imago that defies the standard categorization of effects into Practices.

    Step 2: Define the Constraints

    Each Innovation must be matched by a supporting constraint to be observed when casting the spell. Constraint Yantras are specific Yantras employed to support and facilitate the Innovations of an Exceptional Rote. They provide no dice bonus to the spell casting roll, but do count against the caster's Gnosis-derived limit on Yantras per casting. Constraint Yantras, like all Yantras, must be appropriate and meaningful for the spell effect, and the specific Constraint Yantras needed for a particular Exceptional Rote are defined as part of the Rote's Imago. Only certain categories of Yantras work as Constraint Yantras, and they must be employed with a specific priority according to the chart below.

    Casting an Exceptional Rote costs one point of Mana per Innovation in addition to any other Mana costs intrinsic to the spell effect.
    Innovation Constraint Yantra Category
    First Sacrament (at least +2 value)
    Second Mantras
    Third Environment
    Fourth Demesne
    Example: An Exceptional Rote for casting Self-Repairing Machine as a Weaving Spell incorporates two Innovations, and so must be cast using a difficult-to-obtain Sacrament and a Mantra. The specific required Sacrament defined as part of the Exceptional Rote is an Anchor of the ghost of a machinist. The Mantra is a specific series of High Speech phrases. The caster must also pay 2 points of Mana when casting the spell. Suppose an Adept of Matter with Gnosis 3 casts this Exceptional Rote. Per her Gnosis, she may incorporate one additional Yantra into the casting; if she casts the Exceptional Rote from memory, this may be the Mudras Yantra for the Rote. Because the Exceptional Rote casts as a Weaving spell, the mage gets three free Reach for the casting. The spell may only be cast as a Rote (either from memory or from a grimoire).

    Step 3: Researching Innovations

    As a prerequisite, the Master must have already personally created a standard Rote for the spell.

    The Master must then research each Innovation of the Exceptional Rote separately as an Extended Action using Arcanum + Occult. This research effort involves experimenting with a potential unconventional modification to Rote's imago to "cheat" the normal restrictions of the Practices, and how a particular Constraint Yantra might support that modification. Due to complex symbolic interrelationships among the Constraint Yantras, each successive Innovation to be research requires a greater number of successes. The Master must spend one point of Mana for each roll. Researching each Innovation also requires specific Equipment related to its associated Constraint Yantra (which provides no bonus to the roll). See the chart below:
    Innovation Required Successes Required Equipment
    First 5 One instance of the Sacrament
    Second 10 Access to Advanced Library focused on High Speech
    Third 15 All research must take place within the Environment
    Fourth 20 All research must take place within the Demesne
    After succeeding on the Extended Action, the character spends one Arcane Experience to establish a candidate Innovation to the standard Rote and a candidate Constraint Yantra supporting that Innovation. Each roll represents several days of experimentation and research, which may be spread out across a long period of time (devising an Exceptional Rote may take years of effort).

    Step 4: Create the Exceptional Rote

    Create the Exceptional Rote using the normal rules for creating Rotes. However, an Exceptional Failure implies a flaw in the research of one or more of the Innovations. In the event of an Exceptional Failure in creating the Exceptional Rote, the Master must research all Innovations again from scratch before another attempt.

    An Exceptional Rote may be inscribed to a grimoire like any other Rote.

    Why would a Master create an Exceptional Rote?
    • To feed an Obsession
    • As a demonstration of supreme skill and dedication to accrue fame and status
    • To barter the knowledge of it for something else of value
    • For extra free Reach when casting powerful spells (i.e. to lessen Paradox risk)
    • To enable another mage to produce a spell effect that would normally be beyond their knowledge of the Arcana
    Last edited by galivet; 11-21-2020, 12:00 PM.

  • #2
    This reminds me of the system the Blood Bathers use to construct their ritual and its benefits, but a Hermetical ceremony flavor to it.

    I feel like fixing Warped Rotes should be part of the process of working out the glitches.

    New experiences are the font of creativity, when seeking inspiration, break your routine.

    The Agathos Kai Sophos, an Acanthus Legacy of strategists (Mind/Time)
    The Szary Stra┼╝nik, an Obrimos Legacy of Scholars of the Glyphs of Fate (Fate/Prime)


    • #3
      I suppose a Master could accept a Warped Exceptional Rote as the outcome of a Dramatic Failure in the action of creating the Rote. The Hitch would substantially degrade its value but it would still be useful. Repairing a Warped Rote is probably easier and faster than starting the prerequisite research effort over from scratch. I suppose I would make the effort to repair a Warped Exceptional Rote more difficult and complicated than with a standard Rote.

      Mostly I see Exceptional Rotes as products of genius, Mysteries that can yield insights into Supernal Truth. Actually casting them requires an inconvenient degree of preparation, but the preparation and casting of an Exceptional Rote might be an important element of a particular Story. Like if the cabal has a desperate need to punch above their weight to overcome an obstacle.


      • #4
        I'd suggest using Arcanum + Gnosis instead of Arcanum + Occult. It's really not hard for Master to have Occult 11+ with some Mind buffs on top of his already impressive Occult from years of life as a mage.