The Sorcery of Earwa (R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing books)

Trait: The Few - This trait replaces Gifted on the lifepaths.
This character is capable of performing sorcery. Contact with Chorae is deadly to you. You are aware of all chorae in your presence due to their threatening whispers. You recognise the mark of the few on others you encounter with the trait.

Training Skill: Gnosis Training
Requirement: Sorcery Skill and The Few Trait
You receive +1D to all Sorcery tests. The mandate school of sorcery has exclusive knowledge of this kind of sorcery and are immensely jealous over it. Upon completing the training you instantly learn exactly two new spells with a combined total of 35 resource points or fewer.

Your nights become filled with nightmares. You dream as Seswatha, the founder of the Mandate and witness the death and apocalyptic prophecy of Anasurimbor Celmomas. You witness the No-God and the Consult’s demons bringing about the end of the world.

Seswatha refined his special breed of sorcery to never let the mandate school forget their true enemies. You must write a belief about the Consult, the No-God or the end of the world.

Training Skill: Psukhe Training
Requirement: The Few Trait
You do not exhibit the mark of the few and others cannot identify you as a sorcerer. In the course of the training become blind but are able to see through the eyes of a snake you are in contact with. You treat all Sorcerous type skills as being rooted in Will.

Gear: Chorae
Chorae is a small white stone, the tears of a dead god. The bearer of the Chorae gains the Eldritch Sink trait. Chorae are dangerous to the few and turns their flesh to salt should it make contact. Chorae can be added to the tips of spears. It is inadvisable to do the same with arrows due to their value. Acquisition of a Chorae is an Ob 6 resource test. A Chorae costs 35 resource points in character burning.

Simple and solid. I’m going to nitpick.

The Few is like Gifted: it means you’re capable of sorcery, but not that you have the training or knowledge to do it. Then you have training skills… but no Anagogic Training? That’s most sorcerers! I’m not sure what the skill would be, though. It’s the sad baseline ability with none of the extra benefits.

Gnosis doesn’t pack quite enough punch. What it really begs for is separate spell lists with Gnosis having spells that are simply better than Anagogic equivalents, and all those wonderful spell names, but that’s way too much work. Your solution has the merit of clarity. By the books, and not by what benefits a game, Gnostic schoolmen should probably have some absurd benefits like gray shading, but don’t open that can of worms.

It’s probably worth noting that the dreams of Seswatha make you immune to compulsion, including torture and magic, to give up the secrets of Gnosis. And that this is Mandate training, not true of Gnosis as a whole. An irrelevant distinction in large parts of the timeline but not in all of it!

I don’t know if Psukhe really needs to have all skills rooted in Will, especially since it’s not opposed to the other schools rooting in Perception. It would actually be interesting to tie the Psukhe into an emotional trait somehow, as it’s fueled by emotion instead of reason.

I like your quick, simple, and accurate chorae. But it’s worth noting that chorae archers are a big deal in the setting and fielded by any major power that has cause to fear magi, which is every major power. Also, dead god? I don’t recall that origin, and I don’t think Inrithism has any dead gods, or that the idea would make any sense for aspects of a single omnipotent being. The historical fact of the setting is that they’re not tears, but that has little bearing on nomenclature.

I thought Anagogic bits would be close enough to regular BW sorcery to not make a difference.

I jumped to the conclusion that the Chorae had something to do with the Scylvendi’s dead god. I don’t know why.

I’m not finished with the Warrior Prophet yet but having no one to talk about the books with is killing me! And I’m not seeking online conversations due to spoilers.

Wow… now I’m gonna have to read those books again… I finished the first trilogy, but I’ve forgotten a lot of the details. I have a love/hate relationship with the series.

On the one hand, the writing is excellent. It’s a pleasure to read. I like the parallelisms with the Crusades, and the way magic is treated with the different schools is excellent.

OTOH, the whole story feels so cynical that it just brings me down. I like my fantasy a bit more upbeat.

Akka rocks, though…

Great job, Guy! I like it a lot!

I agree. Anagogic=Sorcery. Gnosis is Sorcery+

As for the Gnosis, maybe increase the advantage die to Sorcery to +2 or +3, like Art Magic Schools in the MaBu? That’ll give it more power, and makes the other Schools anxious to get the same level of power, without going into the level of detail of making Gnostic versions of the same spells.

Sorry for the interruption of the thread… we now return you to the regularly scheduled program…

It’s the lack of symmetry that bothers me if there are training skills for Gnosis and Psukhe. It’s not like Anagogic sorcery doesn’t require just as much training, the results just aren’t as good as the Gnosis.

I love Akka, and I love the depth of history in the world (second to none but Tolkien, in my opinion, and far more historical rather than mythological) but I agree. These are some grim books!

You just said it. Same training time (Lifepath), but different result. Anagogic and Gnosis both use the Sorcery skill, it’s just that Gnosis comes with Advantage dice, which are balanced by the Mandate Seswatha nightmare, plus the requirement of the Belief regarding the Consult and such.

Gnosis is specifically called out as being superior to Anagogic sorcery.

Anagogic don’t have the Nightmare, the Belief or the Blindness disadvantages. So, they trade in less power for less weaknesses.

Perhaps Mandate Sorcerer’s should have some sort of a Reputation too, as others immediately covet the Gnosis.

Psukhe does not get the Mark, but has the Blind disadvantage,( with the additional snake trick thing…) It is emotion based. Sounds like perhaps it should be an emotional attribute, similar to Faith.

All Sorcerers should be required to take Affiliation to a School, no? Plus all have the Chorae vulnerability too.

Man, I’m gonna have to re-read PoN after I finish A Dance with Dragons… Now I want to play in Westeros AND Earwa AND 17th century Spain AND … (I need more hours in the day)

The reason I chose Gnosis to be an additional training was so that conceivably an anagogic sorcerer could acquire it with proper instruction or a book of gnosis secrets whilst still being unaffiliated with the Mandate. This makes the Mandate’s fear credible in the rules.

In my mind the Pshuke training happens before opening the sorcery skill so would be more appealing to the min maxed willful caster so would attract characters with passions over booksmarts. But the secrets of the Cishaurim are still able to be learned by an anagogic sorcerer if they were taught.

Is there anything in the books that says about when people become the few? Is it from birth? Can anyone become Cishaurim with the Pshuke or do they need to indentify that you are one of the few first?

I don’t disagree with Gnosis being training. I just feel like Anagogis should also be training. The Schools work basically the same way, and it’s not any quicker or easier to become an Anagogic sorcerer. It’s just more common because there are more Schools.

Until they are actually trained in one branch of sorcery or another, specifically until they have cast their first spell, the Few don’t have Marks and are able to handle chorae without harm. They can detect the Mark on others, though, without training. I can’t recall exactly how sorcerers identify the Few before they have marks; I can’t imagine it all relies on kids going up to sorcerers and going, “Hey mister, you look funny, what’s up with that?” and outing themselves. I’m also not sure if the chorae are particularly detectable to the Few before they become vulnerable.

Really, in the books Anagogis, Gnosis, and Psukhe would all be different skills that could only be taught to one of the Few. (Yes, Psukhe requires being one of the Few first, but Cishaurim then never develop Marks.) Psukhe training doesn’t happen before sorcery, Psukhe training is a type of sorcery with its own idiom (emotion), benefits (no Mark), and downsides (going blind, although that actually might be a religious practice rather than an inherent property of the Psukhe). I’m not even sure that they’re mutually exclusive; avoiding spoilers, it’s seems like there are some people who should have the means and inclination to learn different branches, but it doesn’t happen. On the other hand, I can’t imagine that there would be so much effort to steal Gnosis by Anagogics if they couldn’t actually use it.

Here’s how I’d rework it: make The Few a trait open to anyone, add more traits for training that go in the sorcerous LPs, and rename Sorcery depending on the practitioner to Gnosis, Anagogis, or Psûkhe.

Trait: The Few (1 pt)
You are capable of learning sorcery, and you can detect the Mark that remains on sorcerers and anything touched by sorcery.

Trait: Anagogic Training (4 pt)
Requires The Few. You are an initiate of one of the Anagogic Schools and can use the Sorcery skill. Add a 1D Affiliation to one of the Schools, or a 1D infamous reputation if you have become a wizard, unbound to any School. Your use of sorcery has left you with a Mark that can be perceived by any of the Few and a vulnerability to the chorae, whose touch will turn you instantly to salt.

Trait: Mandate Training (4 pt)
Requires The Few. You have been trained in the Gnosis by the Mandate and can use Sorcery. This art, superior to the Anagogis used by most Men, gives you +1D to all tests of sorcerous skills. Initiated through the ritual of the Grasping, you also experience dreams of your School’s founder, Seswatha. The unimaginable suffering experienced in those dreams protects you from any attempts to extract the secrets of the Gnosis by force, be it ordinary torture or use of the Cants of Torment. Your use of sorcery has left you with a Mark that can be perceived by any of the Few and a vulnerability to the chorae, whose touch will turn you instantly to salt. (Note: I got rid of the extra belief. It’s fine, but I think it’s fine to make Mandate Schoolmen take the Belief ordinarily. Or not, and be kind of lousy at the Mandate mission, at least until they run into Consult agents and take up the belief.)

Trait: Psûkhe Training (4 pt)
Requires The Few. You have been trained by the Cishaurim in their art, the Psûkhe, and can use Sorcery. This power, fueled by passion rather than intellectual understanding, is rooted in Will for you. Add a 1D Affiliation reflecting your standing among the priest-sorcerers of the Fanim. As a sign of your devotion you have put out your own eyes, but you are able to see through your art and the eyes of a snake that you keep with you as a symbol of office and a source of vision. The Psûkhe leaves no Mark, either on its practitioners or when spells are cast, so you cannot be perceived by the Few, but you share other sorcerers’ vulnerability to chorae: their touch turns you instantly to salt.

Wayfarer: Okay, you win. I like your version too :stuck_out_tongue: :smiley:

I have not read these novels but I have a suggestion: In Burning Wheel a wizard must rest after being taxed, and according to the rules “rest must be completely uninterrupted.” Gnosis wizards should roll the die of fate each time they rest, and on a “1” they do not regain lost fort as they are tormented by apocalyptic dreams.

I don’t know if tax and fort regain through sleep is even befitting of the source material, but it seems like a slight balancing factor for a strictly better magic school. (not that BW needs balance)

Reading a particular scene today highlighted just how much of a problem this can be. Things didn’t go so well for one of Proyas’ teachers.