Magical Rules Module #

Crafting Magic Items #

Potions, scrolls, and other one-use items are cyphers, and longer-lasting items are generally artifacts.

Crafting Cyphers #

  1. Choose Cypher Level. Creating a low-level cypher is easier than creating a high-level one. The character decides what level of cypher they’re trying to create, which must be in the level range for the cypher as listed in the Cypher System Reference Document. Note that some cyphers have the same effect no matter what level they are, so the character could make crafting easier by creating the lowest-level version of that cypher, but the GM is always able to rule that a particular cypher must be crafted at a certain level or higher for it to work. In particular, a stim is very strong for its level range, and should always be treated as a level 6 cypher when crafted by a PC.
  2. Determine Materials. Just as crafting an axe requires iron and wood, crafting a magical cypher requires strange and exotic materials—powdered gems, ink from monsters, mysterious herbs, and so on. The level of the cypher determines how expensive these materials are, according to the following table.
    Cypher Level Materials Cost
    1 One inexpensive item
    2 Two inexpensive items
    3 One moderate item
    4 Two moderate items
    5 Three moderate items
    6 One expensive item
    7 Two expensive items
    8 Three expensive items
    9 One very expensive item
    10 Two very expensive items
  3. Assess Difficulty. The difficulty of a magic item crafting task is always equal to 1 + the level of the cypher. The crafter can reduce the assessed difficulty of a crafting task with skill training (such as being trained or specialized in brewing potions or scribing scrolls), assets, special abilities provided by their focus or type, and so on. Using a formula, recipe, or other guideline for a specific cypher counts as an asset for this purpose. Because this is an activity requiring special knowledge, it is not possible for a character with no skill (or with an inability in this skill) to do this sort of crafting; the character cannot attempt the task at all.
  4. Determine Time to Craft. The amount of time it takes to craft a magical cypher is determined by the assessed difficulty, so decreasing the assessed difficulty not only means the character is more likely to succeed, but also that they have to spend less time on crafting it. See the table below. For any time in excess of nine hours, the process is assumed to have stages where the character is not actively working on it, just checking on it occasionally to make sure everything is going as planned— allowing the base ingredients of a potion to cook for a few hours, stirring to make sure the ingredients don’t congeal, allowing ink on a scroll to dry, and so on. In other words, the character is able to perform other actions in the vicinity of the crafting (such as studying, resting, eating, and so on), but couldn’t craft on the road or in the middle of a dungeon.
    Assessed Difficulty Time to Craft
    1 Ten minutes
    2 One hour
    3 Four hours
    4 Nine hours
    5 One day
    6 Two days
    7 One week
    8 Three weeks
    9 Two months
    10 Six months
  5. Complete Subtasks. The crafting character must complete multiple subtasks that are steps toward finishing the process. The number of subtasks required is equal to the assessed difficulty of the crafting task attempted. So a crafting task assessed as difficulty 5 requires five subtask successes. The difficulty of each individual subtask begins at 1 and increases by one step for each remaining subtask, until the crafter succeeds on the final, highest-difficulty subtask. Generally, subtask attempts occur at equally divided intervals over the course of the full time required to craft the item. If at any point the crafter fails on a subtask, the item isn’t ruined. Instead, the character only wasted the time spent on that subtask, and can spend that much time again and then try to succeed at that same subtask. If the crafter fails twice in a row on the same subtask, the character can continue crafting, but in addition to losing another interval of crafting time, more crafting material (equal to one of the kind of item needed to craft it) is destroyed in a mishap and must be replaced before crafting can continue. A player may ask to apply Effort to each subtask. Applying Effort is something they do in the moment, not over the course of days or weeks. Generally speaking, Effort cannot be applied to any crafting task or subtask that exceeds one day

Crafting Artifacts #

Crafting an artifact is similar to choosing a new type or focus ability—the character has many to choose from, they select the one that best fits their intention, and thereafter they can use the artifact much like they’d use any of their other character abilities. The main difference is that most artifacts don’t cost Pool points to activate, and character abilities don’t have a depletion stat that eventually removes the item from play. Crafting artifacts is handled as a long-term benefit of character advancement; the character and GM agree on the artifact to be crafted, and the character spends 3 XP. If the item is fairly simple, the GM can skip the crafting details and just say that after a period of time, the PC creates the artifact. For an item that significantly alters gameplay—granting the character vast telepathic powers or giving them the ability to teleport at will—the GM can give the item an assessed difficulty equal to 3 + the artifact level and require the character to follow the crafting steps for creating a magical cypher. Crafting this kind of artifact takes up to five times as many materials and up to twenty times as long as crafting a cypher of the same assessed difficulty

Ritual Magic #

Time #

Ritual magic has two aspects related to time: how long it takes to prepare the ritual, and how long it takes to perform it. The preparation time is how long it takes to get ready to perform the ritual. The performance time is how long the ritual takes from start to finish, once the preparations (if any) are complete.

Difficulty And Subtasks #

Completing a ritual has an overall difficulty level, usually equal to the level of the challenge. Sometimes there isn’t a clear idea of what level the challenge should be— teleporting a group of people to a nearby city and raising a person from the dead don’t have an obvious task level. In these cases, the GM should choose a level for the ritual based on what would make an interesting experience for the players. Instead of having the success or failure of this sort of magic come down to one roll, ritual magic lets the GM build tension by requiring the players to make rolls for multiple subtasks. The subtasks start at difficulty 1, and the subtask difficulty increases by 1 each time until the players make a final roll at the highest difficulty. A ritual with an overall difficulty of 4 has four subtasks, with the first one at difficulty 1, the second at difficulty 2, the third at 3, and the last one at 4.

If at any point the PC fails a subtask, the ritual isn’t automatically ruined, but it costs time—a failure means the time spent on that subtask was wasted, but the character can spend that much time again and try to succeed at that same subtask. The GM may decide that later attempts at that subtask are hindered, or that a certain number of failures during the ritual (perhaps equal to half the ritual’s overall level) means the whole thing needs to be started again. Skills, assets, and other special abilities can ease subtasks just like they do with any other task (which might make some of the subtasks routine and not require a roll at all). Characters may apply Effort to each subtask.

Pool Investment #

Some rituals might require the PCs to spend points from their Pools on each subtask, with Might representing blood or vitality, Speed representing energy, and Intellect representing will or sanity. Multiple PCs involved in the ritual could collectively contribute to this cost (and if a ritual costs many points, spreading out the cost in this way may be necessary to prevent a participating PC from dying during the ritual).

Accelerated Performance #

The GM may allow a character to speed up a ritual, reducing the time required for one or more subtasks. Generally, reducing a subtask’s time by half should hinder the subtask, and reducing it by half again (reducing the time needed to a quarter of the normal amount) should hinder the subtask by an additional step (two steps total). The minimum amount of time for a subtask is 1 round (unless the subtask is routine, in which case the GM may allow it to take no time at all).

Example Rituals #

The following are examples of common magical rituals suitable for many fantasy settings. Specific details of a ritual may vary depending on what the characters are trying to accomplish; for example, a ritual to ask a demon for a favor might be similar to one used to ask an angel, but the exact details are probably very different. Everything listed in a ritual is merely a suggestion, and the GM should alter, add, or remove whatever they like to suit their campaign.

Understanding The Examples #

Each ritual is described in the following format.

Level: The overall level of the ritual, which determines how many subtasks it has.

Time: The preparation time (if any) and performance time.

Roles: Things other characters can do to participate and help.

Side Effects: Negative consequences for failed rolls or GM intrusions.
Reagents: Resources that can help success.

Pool: What kind of Pool points the ritual costs.

Other Assets: Kinds of abilities that can help success.

Beseech #

Call upon a powerful supernatural entity such as a deity, archangel, demon lord, or ancient elemental to ask for a favor that the entity can and is likely to do (nothing it would ethically oppose). If the ritual is successful, the entity makes its attention known, such as by manifesting as a light, noise, or visible spirit. It may ask for more information, for a task or favor in return, or for a service to be named later. The entity is not compelled to do the favor; the ritual merely gains its attention and gives the characters the opportunity to speak their case.

Level: The level of the entity

Time: Four hours of preparation, one hour of performance

Roles: Chanting, lighting candles, holding gifts/reagents

Side Effects: Curse, hallucination, prerequisite quest (a challenge or task the characters must perform before the entity will consider answering)

Reagents: Scroll giving the history of and important details about the entity, offerings of gratitude or appeasement

Pool: Might or Intellect

Other Assets: Knowledge or control of similar entities

Beseech only draws the entity’s attention; the various Conjure rituals bring the summoned entity bodily to the ritual space to talk in person.

Conjure The Dead #

Summons the spirit of a dead person or creature (commonly called a “ghost”), which appears in the summoning circle prepared for the ritual. The spirit remains there for about a minute, during which time the summoners can interrogate them or persuade them to share information. The spirit usually wants something in return (such as messages conveyed to the living or unfulfilled tasks completed). If the characters don’t comply, they must magically threaten or compel the spirit to obey.

Level: The level of the dead spirit

Time: Three hours of preparation, one hour of performance

Roles: Chanting, holding hands in a circle, manipulating a spirit device

Side Effects: Haunting, possession

Reagents: Mementos of the spirit’s life, the spirit’s former physical remains, a person or creature to possess

Pool: Might or Intellect

Other Assets: Knowledge or control of similar entities, religious or cultural connections, secret name of the spirit

A ghost remembers much of its life, including whether it knows, likes, or hates the people summoning it, and will act accordingly.

Conjure Demon #

Summons a demon (an evil supernatural creature from another dimension, plane, or realm) to command or convince it to perform a task. The demon is primitive and bestial, not a creature of great wits and charm. The demon remains there for about a minute, during which time the summoners must bargain with or command it to perform a deed that takes no longer than an hour and requires it to travel no more than about 50 miles (80 km)—spying, murder, and destruction of property are common tasks. Usually the demon has to be threatened or magically coerced into obeying. If the summoners fail to get it to comply, it makes one attack against them and then returns to wherever it came from (and probably bears a grudge for the unwanted summoning).

Level: The level of the demon

Time: Three hours of preparation, one hour of performance

Roles: Bloodletting, chanting, lighting candles, holding gifts/reagents, tracing the summoning circle

Side Effects: Aggression, bad smell, curse, equipment damage or theft, possession

Reagents: Blood; meat; magical inks or paints for a summoning circle; contracts; a person to possess; objects representing anger, destruction, or hatred (according to the desired service)

Pool: Might or Intellect

Other Assets: Knowledge or control of similar entities, secret name of the demon

Conjure Devil #

Summons a devil (an evil supernatural creature from another dimension, plane, or realm) to command or convince it to perform a task. The devil remains there for about a minute, during which time the summoners must bargain with or command it to perform a deed that takes no longer than an hour and requires the devil to travel no more than about 50 miles (80 km)—spying, stealing, guarding, and murdering are common tasks. The devil usually wants something in return (even if just an agreement for a later favor); otherwise, the characters must threaten it or have some way to force it to obey. If the characters fail to strike a bargain, the devil returns to wherever it came from (and probably is annoyed at the interruption).

Level: The level of the devil

Time: Three hours of preparation, one hour of performance

Roles: Bloodletting, chanting, lighting candles, holding gifts/reagents, tracing the summoning circle

Side Effects: Bad smell, curse, infernal mark, possession

Reagents: Blood; magical inks or paints for a summoning circle; contracts; a person to possess; objects representing betrayal, deception, or greed (according to the desired service)

Pool: Might or Intellect

Other Assets: Knowledge or control of similar entities, secret name of the devil

Conjure Elemental #

Summons a primordial elemental spirit of air, earth, fire, or water, which appears in a physical form. The elemental remains for about a minute, during which time the characters must attempt to bribe, threaten, or bargain with it. An elemental is usually summoned to do something that takes no longer than an hour and requires it to travel no more than about 50 miles (80 km)—attack, guard, and scout are common tasks. The elemental typically wants something in return for its service, usually a gift or bribe appropriate to its nature—incense for air, gems for earth, oil for fire, salts for water, and so on. If the summoners can’t come to an agreement with the elemental, it might make one attack before it leaves.

Level: The level of the elemental

Time: Three hours of preparation, one hour of performance

Roles: Chanting, music, using ceremonial objects, holding gifts/reagents, tracing the summoning circle

Side Effects: Damage, weakness toward one kind of attack

Reagents: Gifts (black powder, gems, ice, incense, oil, salt, soil, water, wood), destroying opposing items or creatures

Pool: Might, Speed, or Intellect, depending on the kind of elemental

Other Assets: Elemental power, knowledge or control of similar entities, nature magic, secret name of the elemental

Elementals are simple creatures whose interests and attentions are focused on themselves and their element. Flattery and playing up their strengths are the key to bargaining with them.

Consecration #

Wards a location against evil influences and unwanted magic for a year and a day. The ritual affects an area up to a very long distance across. Evil creatures and magical effects of less than the ritual’s level can’t enter the area or use abilities against it. If the PCs are warded out of the designated area, they must make an Intellect defense roll to enter it (and another each minute while within the area, or retreat) and all their actions inside or targeted within the area are hindered by two steps.

Level: The level of the effects to protect against

Time: One hour of preparation, two hours of performance

Roles: Drawing lines and symbols along the border, chanting, calling out local features (with candles, runestones, or other suitable markers)

Side Effects: Lights, sounds, weak spots or “back doors” in the barrier

Reagents: Silver dust, sacred oil, buried blessed gemstones

Pool: Intellect

Other Assets: Warding magic, religious knowledge

Enchant Weapon #

Enchants a light, medium, or heavy weapon with magical power, granting an asset on attack rolls with the weapon for the next day.

Level: 3 or 4

Time: Thirty minutes of preparation, one hour of performance


Side Effects: Weapon attack hindered, higher GM intrusion rate

Reagents: Rare oils, gem dust

Pool: Speed or Intellect

Other Assets: Battle tactics, weapon crafting

In a high-magic campaign, a higher-level version of the Enchant Weapon ritual might grant a second asset on attack rolls, grant extra damage, affect multiple weapons at once, or all of the above.

Entombment #

Imprisons a creature in a vessel (usually a valuable box, clay pot, or other closeable container, but it might be a gem, the heart of a tree, or another atypical object) for as long as the vessel remains closed and undamaged. The ritual forces the creature into the vessel, either in a spiritual form or by shrinking it to a size that will fit within the vessel.

Level: The level of the creature

Time: Sixteen hours of preparation, one hour of performance

Roles: Chanting, carrying or protecting the vessel

Side Effects: Bystander imprisoned with the target, containment has a flaw, target lashes out

Reagents: Vessel, symbolic bindings (chains, ropes, shackles, and so on), anathema objects

Pool: Intellect

Other Assets: Control magic, grappling, imprisoning magic, wards

Exorcism #

Drives out unwanted spirits (ghosts, demons, or something else) from an area up to a long distance across. Once cast out, the spirits cannot return for a year and a day (although most of them decide to move on long before that time comes). Completing the ritual doesn’t prevent other spirits from entering or inhabiting the area, but it is likely that they can sense that an exorcism happened there, and most choose to avoid such an area so they don’t suffer the same fate. The ritual can also be used to cast out spirits from a possessed creature, preventing those spirits from returning for a year and a day. As with using the ritual to cleanse a location, this doesn’t prevent other spirits from afflicting the creature, but later spirits can sense the recent exorcism and prefer to avoid that creature.

Level: The level of the most powerful hostile presence to be exorcised

Time: Two hours of preparation, two hours of performance

Roles: Chanting, positive emotions, presenting holy objects, restraining afflicted individuals, tracing the area with incense

Side Effects: Lights, sounds, hideous physical transformations, injuries, telekinesis

Reagents: Bindings, candles, holy water, religious icons and books, scapegoats

Pool: Intellect

Other Assets: Warding magic, religious knowledge

Using an exorcism ritual on an area is mainly for getting rid of spirits afflicting the area in ways other than possessing a creature— throwing objects, causing nightmares, making noises, and so on.

Flesh For Knowledge #

Sacrifices some of the ritualist’s flesh, inflicting Might and Speed damage equal to the level of the ritual and permanently reducing the character’s Pools by 4 points (the character can divide this loss between Might and Speed as they see fit). The character experiences painful hallucinations that give them insight and understanding. They immediately learn one type or focus ability available to them (any ability they could learn by spending 4 XP as an advancement).

Level: Twice the tier of the ability the character wishes to learn

Time: One hour of preparation, one hour of performance

Roles: Chanting, restraining the subject of the ritual

Side Effects: Lasting damage, permanent damage, scarring

Reagents: Silver knife, silver vessel

Pool: See above

Other Assets: Pain tolerance, surgery

Instead of permanently reducing a character’s Pools by 4 points, the GM could allow other permanent penalties such as reducing an Edge stat by 1 (to a minimum of 0), gaining an inability in a useful skill, or permanently reducing all points gained through recovery rolls by 2.

Purification #

Rids a creature of an ongoing affliction, such as a disease or poison, or any unwanted magical effect, such as a curse or charm spell. In some versions of this ritual, whatever is ailing the creature gets forced into a nearby specified creature or object, which is then discarded or safely destroyed.

Level: The level of the affliction or effect to remove

Time: One hour of preparation, two hours of performance

Roles: Applying reagents, chanting

Side Effects: Affliction or effect spreads to another creature, target moves a step down the damage track

Reagents: Anointing oils, healing herbs, objects repellent to the source of the affliction, magical paint for writing on the target, scapegoat, silver dust

Pool: Might

Other Assets: Healing magic, resistance to the target’s affliction

Resurrection #

Restores a dead being to life. The creature is restored to full health and is ready to act as soon as the ritual is completed. Depending on how they died and the nature of death in the setting, the creature may or may not remember anything that happened after they died.

Level: The level of the deceased (at least tier 6 if a PC)

Time: Five hours of preparation, two hours of performance

Roles: Applying reagents, chanting, prayers, shielding the corpse from hostile entities

Side Effects: Creature moves a step down the damage track, enmity of a death god, lasting damage, scarring, sympathetic damage

Reagents: Deceased’s corpse, healing ointment, items of emotional significance (such as devotion, hope, or regret), items of importance to the deceased, parchment extolling the deceased’s history and deeds, soul-sympathetic items

Pool: Might or Intellect

Other Assets: Close relationship with the deceased (such as a connection or family relation), healing magic, necromancy, spirit knowledge, secret name of the deceased

A lesser version of the Resurrection ritual might bring the creature back to life, but only to the debilitated or impaired state on the damage track instead of hale, requiring further rest or healing.

Sacrificial Rite #

A creature is ritually killed and its soul is placed in an object. The soul object might be a temporary destination so the soul can be transported and used elsewhere (such as an offering to a demon or as part of a spell), or it might be the final destination for the soul (such as placing it in a sword to create a magic item).

Level: The level of the creature (at least tier 6 if a PC)

Time: One hour of preparation, one hour of performance Roles: Chanting, playing instruments, bearing the soul object, restraining the creature, slaying the creature

Side Effects: Creature rages or escapes, damage, dying curse, haunting

Reagents: Bindings, creature to be sacrificed, drum, flute, silver knife, soul object (its level must be at least as high as the creature’s level)

Pool: Might or Intellect

Other Assets: Death spells, instant-kill abilities, soul manipulation

Magical Technology #

To craft items of magical technology in a setting where they are commonplace, use the standard rules for crafting regular (nonmagical) items.

Magic Plus Technology #

Whatever technology exists in the setting could be magically enhanced if magic is also present. Such items would almost certainly be manifest cyphers or artifacts. Here’s an example cypher:

Frozen Timepiece #

Level: 1d6 + 2

Effect: Creates or transforms into a pocket watch that seems to be made of ice. Upon activation of the cypher, the user can take normal actions, but everything and everyone around them is frozen in time. The user cannot affect anything else, but they can move through the world and take actions that affect themselves or their own belongings (bandage a wound, repair a broken item, and so on). The effect lasts for one round per cypher level.

And here’s an example artifact:

Truth Binoculars #

Level: 1d6 + 2

Form: Pair of binoculars with a large runic symbol on them

Effect: Not only do these make it easy to see things far away, but looking through them also allows the viewer to see through illusions and see things that are normally invisible, assuming the effect has a level lower than that of the binoculars.

Depletion: 1–2 in 1d100 (check each use)

To craft items that are both technological and magical, either you need to make the device first and then enchant it, or you need to enchant it as it is made. Either way, the skills for making the device and for making it magical are likely very different.

Technology That Interacts With Magic #

In a world with scientists and engineers faced with the presence of real magic, some of them would develop ways to interact and cope with it. Technological devices that are not magical but deal with magic could include:

Magic detector (expensive): This simple white badge glows purple in the presence of magic. Once it detects something magical, it does not function again.

Mystical hazard suit (very expensive): This full-body protective suit is cumbersome and clumsy, not unlike a hazmat suit. However, all of the wearer’s tasks to resist magical effects are eased. If the wearer takes even 1 point of physical damage, the suit rips and no longer functions until it is repaired and resealed.

Spellscrambler (very expensive): Essentially a sonic grenade, this device produces a variety of strange electromagnetic signals—some audible and very loud, some not—on a number of frequencies. The mental processes needed to cast a spell are impossible to achieve for one round within a short distance of the device. Like any grenade, it can be used only once.

Magic That Interacts With Technology #

In a world where magic and technology coexist, wizards will have spells and effects that protect them from shotgun blasts as well as sword blades, and radiation as well as fire or frost. Consider, for example, these effects as cyphers:

Finding Prying Eyes #

Level: 1d6 + 3

Effect: Magically discovers if anything is watching or listening to the user right at that moment, and reveals the source. Electronic surveillance devices, long-range scopes, hidden cameras, and magical scrying attempts all trigger this effect. In all these cases, the “source” is the nearest representation. So a hidden microphone is revealed, but not the location of the listener.

Power Device #

Level: 1d6 + 2

Effect: Magically powers one device that can fit within an area a short distance across. The device is now fully powered, charged, or fueled. If the cypher is used on an automobile, for example, the gas tank is full. If used on a flashlight, the battery is fully charged.

Screen Control #

Level: 1d6 + 2

Effect: A technological screen (a television, computer monitor, smartphone, or the like) within short range shows whatever the user wishes for up to one minute per cypher level. The display can be pictures, text, or meaningless shapes and colors.

Because magic works on intuitive rather than scientific levels, mages could have spells that disrupt technology, even though the technology involved might not have any common principles

Mind Control #

From a rules perspective, mind control is fairly straightforward: one creature decides what actions another creature takes (perhaps limited in that the controlled creature won’t take actions that harm them or go against their nature, such as attacking friends). But what’s happening inside the controlled creature’s head—whether during the effect or afterward—often isn’t specified. There are several options for the GM to consider, either for all kinds of mind-control magic or on a case-by-case basis.

  • Confusion: The controlled creature doesn’t understand why they’re doing things they normally wouldn’t do, but they aren’t aware of any outside influence on their thoughts and actions. Once the control is over, the creature may admit that they don’t know why they did those things, or come up with an explanation justifying (to themselves and others) their reasons for those actions.
  • Dream: The controlled creature is aware of what’s going on but perceives it in a dreamlike state. They may believe that they’re in control of themselves the entire time, or somewhat aware that they’re not fully in control (similar to being intoxicated by drugs or alcohol or disoriented by an illness). Afterward, the creature might feel strange about the events but may not realize that someone else was controlling them.
  • Trapped: The active thoughts in the controlled creature’s head come from the controller, but the creature still has a small voice or awareness in the background, like they’re a prisoner in their own mind. This horrible situation usually means the controlled creature reverts to normal once the control is gone, and is probably very upset that their mind and body autonomy were violated.

One way to present mind control more safely is to disallow certain actions but otherwise leave the character in control. For example, being charmed by a vampire might mean the PC can’t attack the vampire (or its allies) or run away, but is still able to call for help, heal themselves, leave at a normal pace, and take other actions. Alternatively, the character can be given a specific command, and until they comply with that command their other actions are hindered by one or more steps. If the player is willing to engage with the parameters of the mind control, the GM may award them an additional 1 XP (or, to approach it from the opposite direction, the GM can offer them a GM intrusion that the mind control is happening, and allow the player to spend 1 XP to refuse it, or go into XP debt if they want to refuse it but have no XP to spend).

A rule for any game: don’t use mind control (or anything) to make a character have sex without the player’s permission. For more information and guidelines about consent in RPGs, read the free Consent in Gaming PDF at

Mystical Martial Arts #

If the setting calls for wuxia-style fantasy martial arts or similar types of action, you can make a few rule changes to portray the kinds of things characters in such stories can accomplish.

  • Running and climbing speeds and jumping distances are doubled. For those trained in running, climbing, or jumping, the speeds and distances are tripled instead of doubled. For those specialized, they are quintupled. For all intents and purposes, this means that everyone can run up a wall or jump very high in the air, and masters can practically fly or run across water.
  • Everyone knows kung fu. Unless a person is a simple farmer, herder, or merchant, they know how to fight with elaborate and powerful martial arts styles. This doesn’t change anything in the game mechanically—no one gets the ability to use weapons that they wouldn’t normally have under the rules. But it does change the flavor, suggesting that no PC is entirely ignorant of weapons or close combat.
  • Players are encouraged to come up with interesting names for their martial arts abilities. Instead of using a Bash attack, perhaps it is “The Three-Flower Fist,” and instead of Fury, a character uses “The Rage of the Sevenfold.” It is reasonable for high-tier martial abilities such as Amazing Effort, Jump Attack, or Finishing Blow to be described with a magical flare— blazing auras of fire, brilliant cascades of light, ethereal figures overlaying the character, and so on.
  • Materials and objects are easier to destroy. For the purpose of attacking objects, subtract 2 from the level of any material (minimum of 0). It should be relatively simple for any character to smash through a plain wooden door with little effort, and true warriors can shatter stones with their blows.
  • Wounds heal faster. Everyone gains +1 to all recovery rolls.
  • Superhuman abilities exist. Consider adopting some of the superhero rules from the Cypher System Reference Document, in particular the power shift optional rules. These may derive from almost supernatural levels of training in various techniques (such as dianxue) but probably mostly from neili.
Dianxue: The touch of death—killing by using precise nonlethal force on key points of the body. Neili: Internal force— building up and cultivating the energy known as qi and using it for supernatural effects.

Possession #

Some creatures (demons, ghosts, entities of living mental energy, and so on) have the ability to possess a living person, taking over a character’s body as if it were the creature’s own. The creature must touch the character to attempt possession (even if the creature’s touch normally inflicts damage, the possession attempt doesn’t inflict damage). The character must make an Intellect defense roll or become possessed, whereupon the creature’s immaterial form disappears into the character.

The first round in which a character is possessed, they can act normally. In the second and all subsequent rounds, the possessing creature can try to control the actions of the host, but the character can attempt an Intellect defense roll to resist each suggested action. Successful resistance means that the character does nothing for one round. When the creature isn’t trying to control the host, the character can act as they choose. Usually, a possessing creature’s actions are limited to controlling its host and leaving the host (the creature’s own abilities are unavailable to it while in someone else’s body).

While it possesses a character, the creature is immune to most direct attacks (though not so the host; killing the host will eject the creature). For example, hitting a demon-possessed human with a sword hurts only the human, not the demon controlling them. Mental attacks and special abilities that only affect possession or the type of possessing creature usually work normally

A possessed character is allowed an Intellect defense roll to eject the creature once per day. The defense roll is hindered by one additional step each day of possession after the first seven days. An ejected, cast-out, or exorcised demon is powerless for one or more days. One way to exorcise a demon is to command it out in the name of an entity that has power over the demon. This can be attempted once per day and grants the possessed character an additional Intellect defense roll to eject the demon.

Possession is like mind control in that it takes away a player’s ability to control their character, and that can make some players very uncomfortable. See the section on mind control and consent for more information (page 67).

Secret And True Names #

Learning a creature’s true name comes with a subtle and instinctive awareness and understanding of that creature, including its strengths and weaknesses. In general, this eases all tasks related to that creature (including attacks, defenses, and interactions) by two steps. In some cases, confronting a creature with knowledge of its true name might be enough to convince it to perform a service without compensation. A creature doesn’t automatically know if someone has learned its true name (although there is magic that can reveal this knowledge), but they can usually figure out that an informed opponent has some kind of advantage against them and deduce that their secret name is involved.

Learning a true name is difficult and takes time. A character wanting to discover a creature’s true name might choose the Uncover a Secret character arc to do so.

Wishes #

Unless the GM’s intention is to make the players regret that their characters were offered a wish, it’s best to give them what they ask for, as much as it is within the power of the creature to do so. If the GM wants to twist the wish, do so as a GM intrusion— that way, the character still gets a reward, and they can either accept the twisted wish (which isn’t as good as they had hoped) or pay 1 XP to reject the intrusion (which represents them coming up with airtight wording that can’t be twisted).

Second, consider the level of the creature granting the wish—that’s basically the level of the wish, as the creature shouldn’t be able to grant a boon more powerful than itself. Therefore, it’s reasonable that a level 6 creature could create a level 6 effect. The GM could look at the creature’s other abilities (or abilities of other creatures of its level), decide if what the PC is asking for is within its power, and either grant the requested wish or adjust the result downward until it’s appropriate for the creature’s power.

Wishing for more wishes doesn’t work because a creature shouldn’t be able to create something more powerful than itself—at least not without some investment of time and other resources, like a character using XP to acquire an artifact.