Spellcasting 101


Evocation has Elements. Full Evocation gives you 3 elements to play with, with a specialization (Either +1 power or +1 control) in 1. It also gives you 2 focus item slots. Channeling (bargain bin Evocation) gives you only 1 element and 2 focus item slots.

So Example Wizard Fred chooses Wind, Spirit, and Fire- specializing in fire(+1 power.)

Casting Evocations is fast but you need line of sight on your target. Most basic attacks, shields, and veils are Evocations.

Casting an Evocation always costs 1 mental stress. When you cast the spell you first decide how many shifts of power you want behind the spell. You can safely handle up to your Conviction rating in power, (so +4 Conviction lets you summon up a +4 damage spell safely.) If you want to summon MORE power you can but you take an additional stress box for each shift past your Conviction. (So a 6 damage spell would cost you 1 for casting, and 2 for exceeding your Conviction- 3 mental stress.)

Once you’ve summoned up the power you need to roll Discipline to control it. Your Discipline roll must equal or exceed your power to control and aim the spell properly. If it does not, the difference must be made up in either Backlash or Fallout.

Backlash is when you take the damage for messing up as either physical OR mental stress (you pick, but you can’t split it over both.) You can choose how much backlash to take and how much to let go as fallout. Fallout is just letting the excess power hit the environment, and the GM gets to have fun deciding what you’ve managed to muck up or light on fire (including other party members!)

So Example Wizard Fred wants to throw a fireball at Red Court Vampire Bob. He summons up 7 shifts of power but his Conviction is only 5 so he takes 3 mental stress for casting the spell. His Discipline roll ends up an abysmal 4. He decides to take 2 physical stress and let one shift go to fallout. The GM decides his aim was off and while he hit RCV Bob for 4 (the amount he managed to control) he also hit the Red Gasoline Filled Barrel next to him, giving it the aspect “About to Blow”.

Rote Spells are Evocation magic you do often enough that you’re fairly good at them. You get one Rote Spell for each point of Lore you have. (So 3 Lore = 3 Rotes.) A Rote Spell is ALWAYS EXACTLY THE SAME. It always has the same power or gives the same aspect. If you want to cast a +5 fireball instead of your normal +4 fireball it’s not your Rote, you’d have to cast it normally.

The benefit of Rotes is they give you the Discipline check for free at +0. This means if you have 3 Discipline, you get to cast a +3 shift spell without any roll for control. You’ve done it enough times that it’s second nature. You still have to roll Discipline to aim the spell, if it requires aiming. You can choose to include Focus Item bonuses in the Rote, but if you do, you MUST have the Focus Item to cast it. If you use your wand to cast your fireball rote, you cannot cast your fireball rote without your wand. I am House Ruling that Rotes may not exceed your modified-by-items Discipline. Yes the book says you can make an autofail spell, but we’re just not going to do that.

Example Wizard Fred decides to finish off RCV Bob with his “Spiritus Swordus” rote, a +5 damage spirit magic attack. He must use his staff to cast the spell, but he has it so that’s fine. He rolls to aim the spell and succeeds, so RCV Bob takes 5 physical stress, which is enough to finish him off.

*Note, my example enemy character is not defending itself at all because it’s not relevant. In game, you will have to overcome enemy defenses to actually damage them.

There are FOUR things you can do with Evocation:

ATTACK: 1 shift of power = 1 weapon rating. 2 shifts of power lets you fill the zone for an area attack. Area attacks are not selective, and will hit allies. You may split shifts among enemy targets, ie: 2 shifts to each enemy, but you also have to split your aim if you do this. So a 5 damage spell with a +5 discipline roll could be split to 2 enemies at +2dmg2aim, +3dmg+3aim each. AKA the spray and pray.

BLOCK: You can split your power shifts on either block strength or duration. 1 shift of power = 1 block strength. 1 shift of power = 1 additional round of duration (it lasts 1 round by default.) Any attack that bypasses the block’s strength breaks it. You can still attack while holding the shield. Alternatively, you can use the shifts as Armor. Armor is at a strength of half (rounded down) the shifts in a spell, but only ends when the duration runs out and it cannot be broken by overcoming the shield strength. A VEIL is a block on the target’s Alertness stat and works the same way as a normal block.

MANEUVER: Place a temporary aspect on a scene/target or remove one. Generally must overcome a +3 to get it to stick, unless the target has a better defending skill in which case you have to overcome that instead. Costs a shift to extend the duration by 1 round.

COUNTERSPELL: Brute force shutdown of someone else’s spell. Works like a type-less attack spell. You may make a Lore roll ahead of time to find out how much power you will need to counterspell a given spell, (difficulty determined by skill of enemy caster.) If that works, you find out what difficulty you need to overcome, if it doesn’t you have to guess. You can still try anyway. Beating the difficulty of the enemy spell makes it fizzle, failing gives no effect (except whatever stress you took calling up the power to try.)

And that’s Evocation!


Full Thaumaturgy grants one specialization in either complexity or control for one particular field, plus 2 focus item slots. Ritual (bargain bin thaumaturgy) limits you to one field or type of thaumaturgy, (ectomancy, divination, warding, etc.) Plus 2 focus item slots.

So here’s how we do it. First you determine what Effect you want from the spell. This (your GM) determines the Complexity. If the Complexity is <= your Lore, you’re ready to cast the spell and don’t need more prep time. If the Complexity is > your Lore, you need to spend time researching until you make up the difference.

All Thaumaturgy spells need a few things. First is the Ritual, which includes the casting space and any ritualistic stuff like dancing or chanting or funny robes or magic circles. Next is the Symbolic Link(s), blood, hair, a favorite toy, a photo, etc. Finally there’s the Power Source which can just be the wizard or it can be anything else he can draw power from (like the fae, or demons, or a leyline, or a human sacrifice.)

To make up the difference between your Lore and your Complexity you can:

-Invoke Aspects: each aspect you can tag is worth 2 shifts. Tagging in this case means using the aspect to complete one of the Ritual, Symbolic Item, or Power Source prereqs.

-Make Declarations: declare a miniscene/story and use a skill to create a temporary aspect to tag. (Use Burglary to steal someone’s hairbrush, use Contacts to get the bad guy’s photograph, etc.) If successful, each tag is worth 2 shifts. If unsucessful, no gain but no loss either. You can do this multiple times with different skills.

-Accept or Inflict Consequences: Are you willing to take “A Massive Migraine” for your work?! Add the value of the consequence in shifts (mild=2 shifts, etc.) Note: You may not inflict on other PC’s without their consent. Murdering someone outright is 20 shifts, just fyi!

-Skip a Scene: 1 shift for sitting out a scene. This is boring, don’t do this.

Once you’ve met the Complexity you can start casting your spell. You need to summon up your Complexity in power shifts. But you don’t have to do it all at once! This is why Thaumaturgy is more powerful than Evocation, you can spread the summoning over multiple rolls and thus get a much stronger spell. Of course, each roll takes time and if you’re in a hurry time is precious.

Rolls towards your completion work just like Evocation: You decide how many shifts to summon, then you roll Discipline to control it. Once you equal your Complexity, you cast the spell. If you haven’t yet reached it, you need to wait and roll again. Unlike Evocation it does not cause any mental stress to cast a Thaumaturgy spell. That’s what the Ritual is for, it protects you. But just like Evocation, if you summon up more shifts than you control (because you’re about to get eaten so you rushed it, perhaps,) you have to take Backlash or Fallout.

Failure to control your spell in Thaumaturgy is significantly nastier than Evocation. When you fail to control your spell you take ALL THE SHIFTS of power you’ve built up towards your completion as damage, not just your most recent roll. You can take this as Backlash (ouch!) or Fallout, but if you let ANY go to Fallout the spell fails utterly and you have to start all over.

The Buddy System: Multiple people can contribute to a Thaumaturgy spell. In prep time they can use their aspects, create temp aspects to be tagged or take consequences. In the casting phase they can roll to add to the total completion as long as they have full Thaumaturgy or the appropriate Ritual. BUT: If ANY of the casters fails the control check and it goes to Fallout, the spell fails. The casters can, however, split Backlash however they’d like. And anyone, even non-magicals, can take Backlash for the team.

There are basically infinite things you can do with Thaumaturgy and the book only lists a few. Go nuts and don’t blow yourselves up.

Spellcasting 101

Dresden Files: Nawlins mistaya