Phantasm

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Phantasm is the art of illusion and deception, used to confuse and alter the perceptions of reality. While this form of sorcery can not perform real effects, it is flexible in what it can offer the sorcerer by shaping their beliefs and desires into a pretence of reality. Phantasmal spells are used to confuse the senses of the target. This is usually done by imposing increased Difficulties on actions involving the affected sense, or to perform Social Attacks. If the victim does not attempt a disbelief roll, or fails one, the Phantasm uses the potency of the spell as Successes on the Social Attack being performed.

Adjudicating Phantasm

Going beyond mere illusions, Phantasm acts upon the minds of the witness and convinces them that there is some reality in what they experience, even when their rational mind is convinced the illusion is not real. Resisting a Phantasmal spell allows the witness to accept the illusion as it is, on a subconscious level. Saying ‘this is impossible!’ is not enough. The witness must have an understanding of why the illusion is impossible, and convince themselves that what they are seeing is not real. Since Phantasmal spells do not vanish when they are disbelieved, using disbelief and resisting these spells is much more difficult.

Phantasmal spells are difficult to deal with because even the most obvious illusions can react appropriately to a witness. A phantasm wall augmented with the sense of touch will feel like a wall. Placing a hand on the wall, the witness will feel texture and the pressure of resistance – because their own mind expects such to exist. If the witness attempts to bypass the wall, a disbelief roll is required, and if the witness fails, their own mind works against them, preventing them from simply passing through. They will believe they feel increased pressure and resistance against their hand, and react accordingly. If a leaf blows through the wall, it may give an indication that the wall is not real, though this may not be enough to convince the witness – causing them to try to rationalize what they just saw. Because these spells are illusions, they do not affect the surroundings in any real way. A phantasmal bridge will not allow those attempting to walk across it bypass a gaping chasm. If the illusion is interactive, however, it may appear to break where someone falls through, causing all other witnesses to see the victim falling through a weak point on the bridge.

A disbelief roll is a Passive Roll, the victim rolling (Mental + Skill). The Skill used can vary, depending on what the witness is looking for. Does the witness think a knight they are facing has an unusual fighting style? The witness could use Blades to discern that the knight does not actually have one. Does the bridge look suspect? Craft (Engineering) could show the faults in the illusion. The witness must roll more than (Potency) Successes to convince themselves that what they are experiencing is an illusion. This does not make the illusion vanish, and the witness does not ‘see through’ the illusion – they are just capable of ignoring it.

Unique Modifiers

It is possible to target senses beyond the five basic senses, but doing so is a difficult process. If the sorcerer does not have an understanding of the sense being targeted, they suffer a +1 Difficulty for each unusual Sense they wish to affect.

Realism

The first decision a sorcerer must make is to decide whether the phantasm is obvious or realistic. An obvious phantasm is one which can be identified as not real immediately, and is used to distract and misdirect rather than to actually fool an opponent. Obvious phantasms do not trigger a disbelief roll, as any witness can tell the illusion is not real if they wish to make the attempt. Realistic phantasms convince the senses that something is present, or conceals objects with something else. These spells distract and misdirect, but are more likely to fool the witness into accepting the phantasm as real – and thus act accordingly. Realistic phantasms trigger a disbelief roll if it contradicts reality in a way that strains believability, or if the witness interacts with the phantasm in a way it is not capable of compensating for.

When designing the phantasm, the sorcerer must decide how many senses are affected. This determines the initial Essence Cost of the spell. The sorcerer can select senses they are aware of, but do not possess themselves, though see Unique Modifiers, above.

Target

The sorcerer must then decide whether the phantasm is one that targets individuals or exists in the environment and sensed by any in the area. Directed phantasms are performed against a specific target, and use the defender’s Resolve (rather than their Resistance) to set the base Difficulty. The Potency of the spell is used for any disbelief rolls the subject makes. Directed phantasms are only sensed by the targets of the spell, and not by any other witnesses, and may be Obvious or Realistic. Being the target of a directed phantasm does not trigger a disbelief roll, if the illusion is convincing enough, the subject may never be suspicious enough to gain the opportunity to roll. Indirect phantasms are experienced by anyone who would be able to perceive the spell itself. Indirect phantasms are not immediately resisted unless they are realistic and a disbelief roll is made, otherwise they simply exist.

Interactive

The sorcerer must decide if the phantasm can interact with the environment. Interactive phantasms respond to those who experience it in a fashion which makes the illusion more convincing. Interactive phantasms are controlled and directed by the sorcerer in response to the targets of the spell. If the phantasm is not interactive, it remains a static illusion, doing what it was crafted to do, and does not react to the environment in any way. Independent phantasms can operate without the sorcerer’s direct control. The sorcerer keeps passive control of the phantasm, and can direct the spell as desired if they are paying attention, otherwise the spell operates as the sorcerer believes it should. Independent phantasms use the sorcerer’s Skills, Social Attribute, and Mental Attribute in an attempt to convince witnesses of the spell’s ‘reality’. The spell acts as the sorcerer believes the illusion should act, using the Potency of the spell to determine the rank it has in these Attributes and Skills, up to the sorcerer’s actual Attribute and Skill rank.

Type Difficulty Essence Cost
Realism Obvious +1 1 / Sense
Realistic +3 2 / Sense
Target Undirected +2 +3
Directed Resolve +2
Interactivity Not Interactive +0 +0
Interactive +2 +3
Independent +3 +4

Phantasmal Assault

The sorcerer unleashes an illusionary attack upon a person. Because of the personal nature of this attack this form of magic is more powerful than normal illusions. The sorcerer selects a Spell Effect as part of the Phantasm, weaving it into an intense experience for the victim. Phantasmal Assaults do damage through the Effect itself, against the target’s Essence, with any excess damage being removed from the target’s Health. If the victim is reduced to zero Essence, they must make a Death Save or fall unconscious.

Type Difficulty Essence Cost
Assault Resolve + 1 +1
Additional Effect +1 +1

Control

The sorcerer may use Phantasm to directly affect a target’s mind. Using Control, the sorcerer adds or alters memories, or manipulates the target’s emotions by instilling illusionary emotions in the target. The sorcerer can not directly control the target using phantasm, but may be able to confuse or alter how the target would act. The Difficulty is fixed for those who are willing. For those not willing the higher of the victim’s Resolve or the base Difficulty is used, whichever is higher.

Emotion (Charm)

The sorcerer creates an illusionary emotion within the target. The sorcerer may direct the victim’s emotions towards a specific target, or simply have the victim feel the emotions acutely by themselves. If it pointed out to the victim that these emotions are not their own, they may attempt a disbelief roll.

Emotion (Conceal)

The sorcerer conceals an emotion from the target, preventing them from feeling that particular emotion. This may cloud the emotion in general, or remove the emotional connection that the victim has for a particular target. If the victim is made aware of this effect, they may attempt a disbelief roll.

Emotion (Control)

The sorcerer gains control of the victim’s emotions, and can add or remove emotions as desired, manipulating these emotions as the sorcerer deems fit. The victim may attempt a disbelief roll to shake off each effect once aware of it.

Memory (Charm)

The sorcerer plants an illusionary memory into the mind of the victim. The victim will not immediately recognize that these memories are false, and will react to them as normal memories. If someone learns of these memories and provides evidence that they are not true, the victim may make a disbelief roll.

Memory (Conceal)

The sorcerer conceals and shrouds a specific memory. The sorcerer must have some sense of what the memory is they are concealing, such as ‘your happiest memory of your wife’ or ‘the most painful memory you have’. Most sorcerers use mind reading to help with this form of magic. If someone prods the target into trying to remember an event which has been concealed, the target may make a disbelief roll to remember the event.

Memory (Control)

The sorcerer attempts to place illusionary thoughts into the target’s head, making them think these thoughts are their own. This is a form of mind control, directing the target to think in a specific way and then act upon those thoughts. The victim of this form of magic must be given evidence that their thoughts (and the actions which come of them) are not their own before they may make a disbelief roll.

Type Difficulty Essence Cost
Emotion Charm 0 or Resolve +1
Conceal 2 or Resolve +3
Control 4 or Resolve +5
Memory Charm 5 or Resolve +4
Conceal 7 or Resolve +2
Control 3 or Resolve +6