Toil and Trouble: Witchcraft Advantage Dice

So I’m playing a game in which one player is playing a witch. The concept is pretty much the fairy tale witch. She’s especially keen on transforming people into pigs, frogs, etc. We’re using Art Magic as our magic system, however, which means very high Obs. Today we got in a fight with a pirate. I’m a fifteen year old kid with two lifepaths, and I bought her an exchange by engaging the pirate and getting my ass kicked. She got the spell off in the second exchange as the pirate chased her around and tried to turn the pirate into a frog (Ob 8!), failed, and ended up barely alive with three months of recovery time and a couple points of permanently reduced stat ahead of her.

So we talked about it and decided that rather than the D&D approach to spellcasting (I wave my hands at you and say something and you turn into a frog, bam!) we could go with a longer, more difficult, story-generating approach where the witch goes off with her cauldron and a bunch of weird stuff and casts her spell Macbeth-style. That way she could set herself up with loads of advantage dice by acquiring the right things.

To that end, I’ve sketched up some witchy bonuses. I really like this stuff because it adds so much to the fiction. Now witches will have houses full of jars of salamander eyes and baskets of live snakes, and they’ll creep up on you with magic apples to eat.

These rules do give witches loads of extra power, though, I realize. With a +2D enchanted cauldron, the blood of her subject, sacrificing an appropriate live animal, in a place of power, at midnight on an equinox, and delivering the spell via an item of food or drink that her subject must eat, a witch could get +11 advantage dice on top of her 5D sorcery and 2D magic school and +1 for astrology. 19 open dice! Yikes! And if the animal sacrifice had a birth defect, she could roll 21 dice! Still, that’s a pretty awesome scene, so I’m okay with that. And the tax if she fails an Ob 10+ spell will kill her dead, so she still can’t do it lightly.

Locus (the location where the spell is performed)
Any of these loci give +1D
[li]On an altar consecrated to Striga (there’s one in her temple in Fishbone)
[/li][li]On the Nest-stone (a wide stone on a mountain on the island, known to roden sorcerers)
[/li][li]In the Sinvaru (a grotto of sparkling white salt crystals in Grindvald, known to warren roden)

The Thread (the connection to the subject of the spell)
These do not stack. Use the highest bonus.
[ul][li]the subject’s name* +1D
[/li][li]the subject’s personal possession (something he carried for a time) +1D
[/li][li]the subject’s hair, nails, or sweat +2D
[/li][li]the subject’s blood, tears, or body part +3D[/ul]
[/li]* If the witch uses the wrong name, she instead suffers +2 Ob.

The Sacrifice
Only one sacrifice counts toward the spell completion.
[ul][li]no sacrifice or inappropriate sacrifice (dead or parts) +1 Ob
[/li][li]inappropriate sacrifice (live) 0 Ob
[/li][li]appropriate sacrifice (dead or parts) +1D
[/li][li]appropriate sacrifice (live) +2D
[/li][li]same race as the subject (live) +3D[/ul]
[/li]Sacrifices are appropriate if they match the intent of the spell. Live sacrifices are killed as part of the spellcasting. “Dead or parts” refers to ritually preserved bodies or important bits (eye of newt, wing of bat).
Appropriate Sacrifices
[ul][li]Transformation: chrysalis, carnivorous bat
[/li][li]Healing: venomous snake, fish
[/li][li]Curses: monkey, scorpion
[/li][li]Protection: salamander, dog, scarab
[/li][li]Death: crow, vulture, cat
[/li][li]Beast Traits: according to the trait (birds for flying, cats for seeing in darkness, etc.)[/ul]
[/li]Birth Defects
Sacrifices with birth defects are especially potent, granting an additional +2D.

The Trigger (the method by which the spell is delivered to the subject)
[ul][li]immediate, anywhere +2 Ob
[/li][li]the Evil Eye* +1 Ob
[/li][li]one of the subjects must accept a token –
[/li][li]all the subjects must ingest a token +1D[/ul]
[/li]* The Evil Eye: the witch carries the spell in her belly until she can meet the gaze of the target and unleash the Evil Eye. This is an obvious supernatural effect to anyone who sees the witch, and a frightening one for the subject of the spell, causing a Steel test if the witch’s spell is successful (in addition to the effects of the spell). However, if the witch fails to discharge the spell in her belly on its intended target in a number of days equal to the Ob of the spell, she suffers a Miscast.

The Implement (a tool the witch uses to move and command the arcane forces she calls upon)
The implement, which can be enchanted in its own right, is a tool the witch uses like a blacksmith uses tongs. It stands between her and the forces she taps, and if those forces overcome her the tool can protect her somewhat. When the witch suffers tax she can choose to direct tax into the implement up to its capacity, damaging or destroying it. She suffers any remaining tax herself.
Only one tool can serve as the implement. Enchanted tools only lend their enchantment bonuses if they are used as the implement.
[ul][li]small (wand, skull, knife) 1 tax
[/li][li]medium (staff, broom, crystal ball) 2 tax
[/li][li]large (cauldron, altar) 3 tax[/ul]
The Witching Hour (the time at which the spell is performed)
[ul][li]midnight on a full moon +1D
[/li][*]midnight on an equinox +2D[/ul]

I was musing on similar ideas. Looking at your mods for “The Thread”; I was thinking more along the lines that I’d set a personal possession as the base line +0 requirment, +1Ob if you don’t know their name., +1D if you have blood or fingernails or such.

I love Evil Eye.

I’m just about to start campaign in which one of the PCs will be an Art Sorceress, and we decided that we will be adapting some of these rules to fit our setting. The player and I agreed that we definitely wanted sympathetic magic (“the Thread”) to be a part of the game, and the group colectively decided in World Burning that they wanted Sacrifical Volcanoes to be apart of the setting, so we’re definitely going to have sacrifices be in play (though I’ll probably just use Blood Magic to represent human sacrifice). I’ll post more when we have some actual play under our belt.

You could blight whole towns with this!

I think I like it.

Ten and I just finished up our campaign in which the witch PC did just that. Gigantic Ob 12 spell, which she spent something like 5 or 6 game sessions preparing for and totally crushed with the 25 dice she accumulated (I was generous with a few of them in the end). She literally obliterated the entire island setting we had based our campaign around, as well as all the surrounding coastlands. Pretty badass climax. Good fun.

Why did the GM use that failure result? There are a ton of other great failure results in Art Magic. I think that’s the issue. I don’t think it’s the system, but the call made right there to swat down another player.

The failure result there should have been Eerie Nonsense in the form of A GIANT FROG hopping around trying to eat you both.

I’d retcon that tax result and start over.

I was the GM in that campaign. I chose “tax” as the failure result on a whim, it being the end of a 6-hour gaming session, and me being tired. And actually, I did offer to retcon the tax when I realized how badly it hit her. However, we all decided to stick with it, because the tax ended up fitting the narrative perfectly. Prior to that session, the witch had acted very much like a D&D sorcerer, all walking around and flinging magic everywhere. After her “incident”, we closed that story arc and had about 6 months of downtime, in which the setting changed dramatically, and the witch took up a cautious “Always prepare before a big spell” Instinct and started using the new witchcraft rules we made for her. The second chapter ended up having a much different feel than the first, and the witch came off as much “witchier” in play. It was a really fun campaign.

I appreciate you using the rules to guide the fiction. That’s the aim of this whole exercise, after all.

And I’m sorry if I came down hard in my post. The witch player also shoulders a bit of the blame, as he/she didn’t seem to be on the same page as the rest.

Anyway, I’m glad it worked out.

And I’m sorry if I came down hard in my post. The witch player also shoulders a bit of the blame, as he/she didn’t seem to be on the same page as the rest.

Oh, no worries! And for the record, there was nothing wrong with the Art Magic rules. We added the house rules for flavor, mostly, to fit with the witch theme. RAW Art Magic plays more freely than we wanted, so we tweaked it a tad. :slight_smile: