Magic is a means of consciously manipulating or altering reality by allowing a portion of the Shadow into our world. If that sounds dangerous, it’s because it is. If done without proper precautions, stray Shadow material can manifest into malevolent beings, drive the caster mad or even kill him and raise him as undead.
The ability to work magic requires the sacrifice of a point of Refresh, one of your five aspects granting narrative permission to do so (ie, “Dabbling Sorceress” or “Archmage of Brooklyn”) and at least 1 level in the Lore skill. Lore is the skill used to resolve magic test and challenges.
The most common form of magic, this is the classic circle of symbols, strange ingredients, candles and incense. These accouterments (called the “grid” in modern wizard circles) are used to hold the energies the caster summons from the Shadow so as not to take them into himself, a dangerous if not lethal act.
The power of the ritual (the amount of Shadow it uses) is determined by the caster’s Lore roll which can be aided by any number of casters assisting in the ritual. But the creation of the grid itself (as well as other magical constructs, such as Fetishes) is accomplished by a Crafts check. Because of the complexity involved, a failed Craft check is not noticed and its shifts of failure are added to the Lore roll for the ritual. Likewise, success with style of the Crafts check offers a boost to the ritual roll.
The difficulty numbers for the grid and the ritual are functions of the strength of the barrier between the Shadow and the zone of casting and, of course, the magnitude of the effect being worked. A failed Lore roll for the ritual can still succeed with a consequence imposed on the primary caster having to do with exposure to the Shadow or creatures thereof. Or it can simply be allowed to fail and the shifts of failure evenly distributed as stress to all the participants.
Generally, ritual casting requires a scene to accomplish. This time frame can be greatly shortened by either Spontaneous Casting, or the use of Fetishes.
This has the benefit of being instantaneous and requiring little if any accouterments. But it is also much more dangerous. With no grid to absorb the taint of the Shadow power summoned, the taint accumulates in the caster. So, even a successful Lore check to work magic inflicts a single level of stress. A failed roll can still succeed with a consequence imposed on the caster, or simply be allowed to fail and the caster takes the shifts of the failure as levels of stress.
– Almost anything can be overcome by magic. Physical barriers can be transported through. Countermeasures can be defeated. Other magics can be dispelled. Such complexity is best suited to ritual casting but if your in enough of a hurry, you could risk spontaneous casting.
– Though spontaneous casting can create advantages, this is the primary use of ritual casting. A wide variety of advantages can be placed on a being or object in or adjacent to the caster’s grid. This can be done at distance but it raises the difficulty number.
– It is highly impractical to attack using ritual casting. Sudden bursts of harmful forces are the purview of spontaneous casting.
– Though ritual casting can create “defenses,” these are represented by advantages. Only spontaneous casting is quick enough to be used in a combat turn.
– You gain a +2 to your Craft roll to create single use magic items that produce a spell effect as if you rolled shifts of success equal to your Lore to cast. As normal, a fetish’s magic wares off and becomes useless at the end of the session.
– You suffer no stress on a successful Lore roll when Creating an Advantage using spontaneous casting.
– You have a +2 to Crafts to draw an exceptional magical grid for the casting of a ritual.
– Making a Will check (Difficulty varying due to location) and taking a full turn to concentrate, you can enter or exit the Shadow. There you are invisible and intangible to the real world (except as a shadow on reflective surfaces). Entering and leaving the Shadow causes Stress equal to the difficulty number to Step Sideways. Staying any longer than a few turns risks the GM compelling the Aspect “Succumbing to the Shadow” which inflicts consequences.