Magic System

Magic in Rome is an unknown force - it's existence is acknowledged but widely feared. It started with The Laws of the Twelve tablets prevented the beneficial use of spells and rituals in agriculture four-hundred years ago, and magic has been continued to be shunned and forbidden. A hundred years ago, the Chaldean astrologers were thrown out of Rome, and the powers in Rome are more mistrusting of magic every year, even though it's common enough that many nurses and midwives dabble in it.

Part of the reason it's feared is it's accesibility: despite the esoteric nature of the science that is magic, a little knowledge is all that's needed for most rituals. Power like that in the hands of the plebeians and slaves is rightly feared by anyone in power, and it's part of the reason the population of Rome is not literate.

Here's the secret: anyone can cast a spell. Anyone.

Those who have that knowledge tend to keep it secret, and the Sortiari, Magi, Witches, and other naturally talented magicians enforce the lie that it needs to run in the blood in order to shroud their own power in mystery.

Still, magic is dangerous, unstable business. It usually requires a precise reciting of the ritual, both verbally and non-verbally. Most, if not all, spells use physical and abstract ingredients. Generally, the spellcaster starts by researching a spell for a specific purpose. A true magical talent could just come up with a new spell, but the problem with formulas that aren't tried and true is that they have to be tried…and unlike the bread you baked, it doesn't just turn into a hard biscuit. A bad recipe can have extremely nasty unintended effects. There is a real reason magic is feared: those who dabble in it without raw talent often get killed. Ultimately, there is always a toll paid for the use of magic.

With that caveat, let's get to the mechanics. In order to perform whatever ritual is required, you'll need to make sure you have the right ingredients and components. Whether it's drinking the blood of your enemies or simply reciting ancient sumerian text around incense made from the ashes of a specific mountain depends on the spell. Every spell has it's own Power Level. This determines how hard the spell is to cast, and the user's spell casting roll must simply be equal with whatever that Power Level is. So, if you're casting a spell that's PL (Power Level) 5, you simply need to make a roll that's SL (Success Level) 5.

Regular People and Sortiari: Willpower/Arcana
Magi: Willpower/Arcana/Magus levels
Theurge: Willpower/Arcana/Theurgy

Every spell cast drains the user, and results in a cumulative -2 penalty for spellcasting. So the first spell of the day would be cast without a penalty, the second spell would be a -2, the third would be a -4, and so on. A full night's rest is often needed after casting multiple spells.

Avoiding Spells

Different spells can be avoided by their targets in different ways. All spells that manifest physical effects (Like Magic Missile or Lightning Bolt) can be dodged at various penalties as per normal combat. Many others can be avoided using doubled willpower or constitution roll. The director will notify you when such is the case.


During a combat round, you get a number of actions to cast spells according to your willpower, and the rest follows the usual action rules:

Willpower Extra Actions
5-6 1
7-8 2
9-10 3

Sortiari and Theurges treat each round of spells cast in combat as one spell, in regards to the penalty.


Those untrained and untalented in magic must research a spell in order to know it. Magi and other casters start with a number of spells equal to their intelligence, and learn the rest through research. Sortiari buy their spells as a quality.