Evokers and Verve Effects

Arthur Reyes compiled an interesting article detailing two new magic systems.


This is the first draft of a magic system I am writing for my current work-in-progess. The setting is science-fantasy, influenced by a number of games, settings, and sci-fi/fan authors, so some of the details have a pseudo-scientific feel to them. Some details will seem strange or hopefully enticing, and I mention a few attributes/terms that are new to my setting. (My ruleset is a mix of RQ3, Stormbringer 1, HarnMaster 3) All of this, of course, could be changed pretty easily while still retaining the mechanic.


There are many unexplained phenomena in the universe, but two of these phenomena are so common and understood well enough, that they can be reproduced and taught. Evocation is the manipulation of ethereal matter. Psionics are incredible powers of the mind. Other types of magic exist as well. Verve effects, which are a natural form of exercising mental fortitude. Symbiosis, which is the strange practice of integrating one’s being with organic life forms found on the planet Vainu.

Evocation Magic

Magic in the Glittering Void is created via willful manipulation of the essence of ethereal pseudo-matter to produce matter and energy in various forms. The illithid manipulated essence using machines to produce matter for building their cities and slave-moons. Many of these machines are found through-out the glittering void, but are under strict control of various guilds and governments. When a new machine is discovered, there is usually an intensive struggle among existing guilds to acquire such devices.

Pseudo-matter can be extracted from the ethereal plane and stored within specially prepared vessels. If released into the Prime, pseudo matter will spontaneously take on random elemental forms resulting in sometimes spectacular displays. Once stored, a person can, with intense effort, will raw pseudo-matter to take on a desired element and form.

1 measure of pseudo-matter can affect or create up to six enc (1 SIZ) of real matter. Evoking any fraction of six enc of real matter uses the entire measure of pseudo-matter. Six measures of pseudo-matter weigh 1 enc.

Pseudo-matter remains under the mental control of the creature which last touched it.

Pseudo-matter is a grey misty substance. It is the raw material of the universe from which all matter is created. It is sometimes referred to as ether or ethereal matter, named after the plane from which it is drawn. All evocations require a certain amount of pseudo-matter to be on hand.
Unformed Pseudo-Matter is magical, meaning that an evoker can turn measures of pseudo-matter into magic points. One measure of pseudo-matter can be turned into one MP for free. In actuality, more magic points are created, but it costs magic points to manipulate pseudo-matter in the first place. The skill required to do so is based on the lowest skill of Earth, Fire, Air or Water. These magic points can be used immediately, in conjunction with another evocation, or placed in a nearby magic point matrix. If the magic points are to be used in combination with another evocation, roll against the lowest skill of all the elements and forms involved. If the roll fails, all the pseudo matter is expended. A critical failure can result in catastrophic results.

Evocation Skills
The art of evocation requires the caster to have both INT and POW (or at least MP reserve). Each element requires its own skill in order to evoke the element properly. There are also Form Skills which measure the evoker’s ability to mold ether into a desired shape.
Failing an evocation results in the loss of one magic point, and all pseudo matter involved in the evocation. A critical failure can result in catastrophic results.

Learning Evocation Skills
Form skills are the only ones that are actually taught to an apprentice. Since an individual need only see a rainbow, experience heat, or drink water in order to get an inkling of various elements and forces, all element skills are immediately available to the apprentice. These skills are opened with a rating of the characters Magic Skill Modifier + d6.

Evocation Equipment
Every evoker requires two pieces of equipment in order to apply their craft.

Gloves of Manipulation
This dull gray hand gear, when primed, allows the evoker to reach into the pseudo-barrier of a vessel to extract ethereal matter. It costs 1 MP to prime a pair of gloves, which remains primed for as long as the evoker wears the gloves. It costs 1 point of POW to create the gloves, and this is the final lesson that every graduating journeyman learns before stepping forth into the world.

Vessels come in a variety of shapes. A typical vessel is made of a glass like material, in order to see its contents, and has 3 AP. One end has a pseudo-barrier which prevents ethereal matter from making contact with the physical world, but allowing primed gloves to reach through or interact with the vessel’s contents.
A common hip vessel is typically 3 – 4 enc in size, holding 18 – 24 measures of pseudo-matter. Smaller amulets of size 1 hold 6 measures of pseudo-matter. Remember, an evoker can only draw essence from one vessel at a time.
An evoker can create a vessel by expending 1 point of POW.
If a vessel is broken, the contents will sudden react with the Prime Material Plane transforming into random amounts of various elements. This is rarely damaging in an of itself, but a GM may decide that a critical failure on a Simple Luck roll produces an extraordinary effect.

Staff of the Ethereal Eye
These rare illithid artifacts are capped with tiny portals to the ethereal plane. By expending magic points, an evoker can open the eye releasing ethereal matter as needed. Some staves are limited by the amount of ether which can be released in a single melee round.

Goggles of Ethereal Sight
These relatively common devices are used by most merchants to prevent them from being swindled by conmen. They allow the wearer to quickly determine whether an object is relatively permanent or under the effect of an evoker’s temporary pseudo-matter matrix.

Each evocation requires the caster to evoke One Element and One Form. The caster wills pseudo-matter to take on the quality of a certain element in the desired form. It costs 1 MP for each measure of pseudo-matter to be manipulated.
Evoking an element will produce the most generic example of such an element. Evoking water will produce the liquid, but it is not guaranteed to be pure or drinkable. It costs one additional MP per measure to produce a specific example of an element.
An evoker may attempt complex elemental compositions, such as a Radiant Ice Bolt, or Smoking Water for example. While such evocations do not require additional measures of pseudo-matter, they do require one addition MP per element evoked up to four points per measure. Evokers use the lowest skill among the evoked Elements or Form to determine success. They may not evoke complex forms.

Limits to Evocation

  • You cannot evoke living things, or the product of a living thing, such as a bird or a sandwich.
  • You cannot directly evoke Positive or Negative Energy.
  • You cannot evoke complex objects, such as moving parts.
  • You must be able to see your target. You can’t evoke into a closed box.
  • An evoker may only draw pseudo-matter from one source at a time.

While it is possible to evoke Minerals into the shape of a sword, without knowledge of actual sword forging or metallurgy, the object will be a sword at least in appearance. It will not be sharp and will likely break on first use. In order to evoke an object of quality, the caster’s evocation skill roll must be equal to or lower than the appropriate knowledge or craft skill.
For this reason, an artisan will typically evoke raw material, and then work it with more mundane skills.

Rule of Four
If the GM cannot determine what the elemental composition of an object is, she is free to rule that it is a complex object requiring a base of 4 MP per measure of pseudo-matter being shaped, instead of one.

Elements can be evoked into a variety of shapes and functions. The multiplier after the Form name is the additional cost in magic points to produce such an affect.

Touch, Maintainable
An existing object is touched and imbued with the desired element to make it more like the element in question. Objects can be granted luster with Radiance, grow hot with Fire, or become incorporeal with Air or Mist. Books can be made flame-retardant with Water, or a suit can become wrinkle free with Steam.
An antipathic effect damages the object. A sympathetic effect enhances or makes the object resistant to the elemental effect. Causing paper to catch fire is an example of an antipathy effect. Making paper fire-retardant is sympathetic.
The duration of Antipathy/Sympathy is instantaneous, and can be maintained by a number of time units equal to POW. The unit of time that this duration is measured in is subject to a magic point multiplier. To make the Antipathy/Sympathy effect permanent, sacrifice one point of POW.

Time Unit Multiplier:

  • Rounds x2
  • Minutes x3
  • Hours x4
  • Days x5
  • Months x6
  • Years x7

Ki’rin is running down a hallway, trying to escape her beholder friend who has gone temporarily insane. She comes to a dead-end. She decides to make a nearby wall sympathetic to Air, thereby making it insubstantial long enough to slip through. Based on Ki’rin’s size of 9, the GM rules that she can barely squeeze through a hole of size 6. She doesn’t want to risk getting stuck in the wall once the effect ends, but she doesn’t want to maintain the spell in case her crazy friend catches up with her. Ki’rin decides to make a size 12 hole, using 2 measures of pseudo-matter. The wall will remain sympathetic to Air for less than 1 round, giving Ki’rin enough time to squeeze through the opening.

Imbuing living things with pseudo-matter is random, incredibly dangerous, and possibly fatal. First, the evoker requires one measure of pseudo-matter on hand for each point of the target’s SIZ. Secondly, the evoker must touch the target and overcome the targets POW on the resistance table, with his own magic points. If the target fails, they must make a Simple Luck roll. If the Luck roll succeeds, the target is sympathetically attuned to the element, regardless of the evoker’s intent. If the Luck roll fails, the target then must make an Integrity roll. Failing the integrity roll, the target explodes. Take the size of the target and look up the resultant damage from the Bolt Table. Now double the dice. The blast is increased by one hex for each 6 points of size the target had.

Throw, Instant
The evoker wills pseudo-matter to remain unformed while held in the hand. She then throws the ether, wiling it to become a bolt as it is released. Not every bolt will do damage, but non-damaging affects are possible. Radiance can be used to blind. Vacuum could cause a singer to lose his breath. The table below can be used to determine how much damage is caused by the bolt, or a resistance the target must roll against to overcome its affects.

An evoker must succeed at a Throw attempt in order to successfully strike a target.

Measure Roll
1 D3

If Ki’rin were to fire a d10 bolt at a rushing guard, she would need 4 measures of pseudo-matter.

Line of Sight, Maintainable
The evocation creates a beam of element force emanating from the caster in a straight line toward the target. The number of measures to create the beam; per the damage table for bolt; is the same number required for each hex the beam will travel through. Beams nearly always hit. The chance of missing might be adjusted if vision is impaired.

Later on, the beholder manages to corner Ki’rin in the mess hall. Ki’rin doesn’t really want to injure her friend, but she is seriously reconsidering their relationship. She is running low on both pseudo-matter and magic points, and decides to gamble it all. She informs the GM that she is going to invoke a beam of radiance, hoping to blind the beholder. The beholder is three hexes away. She decides on an d8 affect (3 measures), which would use up the last of her (3 x 3) 9 measures. She can’t afford to extend the duration, but she is guaranteed a successful strike in this well lit room. Since radiance doesn’t really damage non-photosensitive objects, the GM decides that the damage roll will be a resistance roll against the beholder’s CON. Since the thing is all eyes anyway, he decides to double whatever Ki’rin rolls. Luckily Ki’rin rolls an 8. 16 vs the beholders CON of 13 is just enough to blind the beholder who breaks down into a sobbing fit.

Throw, Instant – Maintainable
Like a bolt, unformed pseudo-matter is thrown toward a target. On impact, the element is released in a radius. The size of the blast costs a number of measures per the Bolt Table and 6 additional measures for each hex outward from the point of impact.

By imbuing the bolt with extra pseudo-matter, the blast can be maintained for a certain time. You could for example, throw a ball of shadow at a lamp, suppressing its luminosity for several minutes.
The inner blast radius, being the point of impact and ½ the number of hexes in the radius receives full damage. The outer blast radius receives ½ damage.

Ki’rin wishes to throw a ball of fire that will do d8 damage on impact. She wants the radius of the blast to be two hexes in size. This will require 3 measures for damage, plus 12 for the increased radius for a total of 15 measures of pseudo-matter.

~, Maintainable
The element is evoked outward from the caster in all directions. Emanations require 6 measures of pseudo matter for each hex in the radius of the effect, after the first. See the description of blast for damaging effect. The evocation does not affect the caster.

Ki’rin is about to be grappled by several fortress guards. She decides to create a sudden emanation of Air in order to knock back her attackers. Using 11 measures of pseudo-matter, she can create a two hex emanation of air with a d12 intensity.

Touch, Permanent
The evoker wills an element into being gradually, between his open hands, without explosion. An object created takes on the form desired by the caster but will retain its form only if the element is solid. Such an object is permanent. An evoker could, for example, evoke water in the shape of a column, but as soon as the evocation ends, the column will splash to the ground.

POS +RadianceLightningMineralsRainbowsPositveShadows

Verve Effects

Anyone with POW has the ability to prepare themselves in advance of a situation. This is like psyching yourself out before rushing into combat, or bracing yourself to look into a semi-opened coffin. Heroes and Villains can do this automatically, while NPCs can do this so infrequently that it isn’t worth determining its probability.

Verve effects are very much like a limited form of psionic ability. Many psionicists have attempted to prove or disprove Verve as being anything other than vague manifestations of latent psionic ability, but the results have, as yet, been inconclusive. Verve differ from psionics in that there is no philosophical body of knowledge, learning, or training involved in honing these skills.

A character can produce one Verve affect as an action in melee. The effect lasts for a number of rounds equal to the character’s POW. Only one effect may be in play at a time, and attempting a different effect ends the previous effect immediately. The cost is 1 – 3 MP.

Steel Mind
This verve effect prepares your mind to see awful things, or to shut out distractions. The character gets a +5% boost to their Static SAN Score for each MP spent.

Steel Body
Sometimes you know you’re going to get hurt. This Verve effect revs you up and prepares you for it so it doesn’t hurt so much when it happens. The character gets 1 HP for each MP spent.

Steel Being
This verve effect prepares you to resist the corruption of Chaos. The character receives a +5% boost to their Integrity Score for each MP Spent.

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