Magic is a strange and mysterious thing in Nola. Voodoo has long been an important part of the culture of the region, but in the decades that followed Doomsday much of the original lore has been lost. What remains behind is a shadow of what once was, often corrupted by those who never understood the spiritual aspects of Voodoo and instead see it as a source of power. In many ways, the Voodoo practiced in Nola in this era is a caricature of what it once was; more closely related to b-grade horror movie interpretations of Voodoo instead of the actual faith.
A small sect of Voodoo practitioners, lead by Lady Rae, still practice the traditional ways and quietly oppose those other sects and factions that abuse the rituals of Voodoo for their own dark ends. Known as The Queen’s Circle, the sect reveres the historical figure of Marie Laveau as their patron saint. They believe it was the Voodoo Queen’s power that protected Nola during the war, and it is her power that protects the fragile civilization blossoming from the ashes of the old city now.
But Voodoo isn’t the only form of mysticism found in Nola. Fortune tellers, faith healers, and self-proclaimed witches and warlocks can be found throughout the city. In the century before the Great War, new age magic had gone mainstream with thousands of books published yearly on everything from astrology to Zoroastrianism. Some of these books were historical world that offered thoughtful overviews of belief systems within their cultural contexts. Some of them were opportunist bottom-feeders seeking to profit off of teen witches looking to rebel against their parents by dabbling in the occult. In the current era, there isn’t much to tell the type of books apart. The end result is a mystic culture that borrows heavily from an assortment of historical and fictional magic systems.
More recently, individuals who do not consider themselves “magic users” at all have begun to tap into the old gifts via the scientific method of discovery, unlocking ancient magic lore through clinical analysis and research.
Magic in Nola is not the “wizard throwing a fireball” variety. It is more nuanced, more personal, and in many ways, nor insidious. Magic is the type that creeps slowly into the back of the victim’s mind, digging dark phantom tendrils into the psyche and twisting it to the whims of the ritualist. Except where noted, all saves versus magic and rituals are Will based. Sympathetic magic is a system of belief. It is a world of superstition and mythology deeply rooted into the culture of Nola.
This does not mean, however, that the scientific-minded are immune to its effects. History has shown over the course of human history that one culture’s magic is another culture’s scientific fact. Enough bits of magical lore have been shown to have a scientific basis that even the most fact-focused people can be led to wonder about the reality of magical power.
Basic Magic System
- Spellcasters are not limited to how many spells they can cast per day and do not need to prepare spells in advance.
- Spellcasters have a smaller list of spells to work with, but supplement their spellcasting with the ample use of Talismans and Fetishes.
- All rituals have a verbal component. If a ritual is Language Dependent, it cannot affect a subject that does not understand the caster’s language. Some rituals employ the Evil Eye or the Voice of Power.
- Because all magic is based on belief, most spells are resisted by a Will Save.
- Instead of spell levels, all spells are divided into Minor Rituals and Major Rituals.
Who Can Learn Magic?
There is only one dedicated “magic” class in the setting: The Occultist. The Occultist is a dedicated spellcasting class that can master a variety of magical gifts. But any class that has the Occult skill as a class feat can learn lesser forms of magic. Both the Doctor and the Historian classes have Occult as a class skill, allowing them to buy Occult feats that give them access to spellcasting abilities. Both classes use their occult abilities to enhance and supplement their own class abilities.
Paths of Magic
When a character chooses to become a spellcaster, he selects a magical path that he will follow. This path represents the character’s general approach to magic. Your path dictates how easily you can learn new rituals and talismans from other players and NPCs, your Reputation with certain factions within New Orleans, and your ability to aid other spellcasters with their rituals. Because magic in New Orleans is based on belief, “looking the part” is often of vital importance to a spellcaster. Spellcasters tend to be some of the more…colorful…denizens of the setting.
- Alchemist: The Alchemist follows a pseudo-scientific approach to magic. Alchemists consider themselves the heirs to a high art, and often dress in fine clothing (as fine as is available in a post-apocalyptic world anyway) which is embellished with copper or bronze buttons or other metal adornments. Their fetishes are often made of items with moving parts, like pocket watches or compasses. And their focus is normally something worn over the eyes, such as eyeglasses, goggles, or even a monocle.
- Demonologist: Often called warlocks, demonologists believe their power comes from minions of the dark planes, whether those planes are called Hell, the Abyss, or Hades is a matter of personal interpretation. Depending on the warlock’s worldview, these demonic entities are either powerful masters to be appeased for power, or simply entities to be controlled by the warlock. Demonologists are normally identified by the amulets they wear, which bear the “seals” of the demons to which they barter. They often also wear signet rings bearing arcane seals.
- Magi: Dressed in brightly colored robes and donning large cone hats decorated with arcane imagery, magi (sometimes called sorcerers or wizards) are post-apocalyptic versions of Merlin. One part stage magician, one part occult practitioner, Magi make ample use of fetishes and assorted Items of Power to employ their rituals. They tend to have multiple foci for specific tasks, often carrying two or three wands and a staff decorated with gems and arcane symbols.
- Goth: The Goth Path is less of a true occult path than a hodgepodge of resurrected bad horror movie stereotypes and new age books. The typical Goth is anti-establishment, and many have nihilistic personalities. Life in the Post-Apocalyptic world provides plenty of fodder for their angst, and motivation to dabble in an wide range of occult lore. Easily recognized by their black clothes and black make-up, Goths have a surprisingly easy time learning new potion recipes and rituals from almost any source. Their foci tend to be sharp objects like razors or knives, often ornately crafted and decorated.
- Priest: Priests, whether they are street corner preachers or Voodoo priestesses, believe that their power comes from a divine source. They are committed to their faith, and see all trials as tests by their patron entity. A priest will always dress in the appropriate garb of his or her faith. Their fetishes and focus are normally holy symbols associates with the faith.
- Witch: Those that follow the Path of the Witch often have a naturalistic approach. They believe the war was the logical result of mankind’s abandonment of Mother Earth, and work to reestablish their own connection with the natural world. Despite the corruption radiation has wrought, the fact that life has flourished in its own way in the region is seen as evidence of Earth’s greater plan. They may sometimes call themselves Druids or Shamans depending on their particular viewpoint. They tend to wear earthen-tone robes and silver jewelry depicting a pentagram, the green man face, the moon, animal images (particularly owls and wolves), or supernatural creatures like dragons. Their focus is usually either a wand or wooden staff.