Here’s a bushel of sample spells for Through the Breach, designed to give my players examples from some more familiar properties. I’ll take another run at making some more Malifaux-specific spells next, though any of these could certainly be renamed and flavored to fit the world. There’s a mix of spells that could be managed with a simple grimoire and a few Steps in the right Pursuits, and those which would ask for considerably more resources. The latter are likely the purview of Manifested Powers, but help to demonstrate the sorts of things someone might craft after completing a Destiny Step or two.
From the Files of Mister Harry Dresden
Fuego [Elemental Projectile,Fire x3(6), Increased Damage(2), Increased Severity x2(2)]: Screaming “Fuego,” the caster unleashes a writhing tongue of flame to strike the target.
Sorcery+Intellect, 1AP, TN 13(T), Resist Df, Range 5~, 2/3/6 and Burning +3
Started with an eminently simple spell, that nonetheless showcases how the system can be made to dance to a purpose. Dresden’s fire spells are deadly, sure, but more so when he actually lands a solid hit. He doesn’t always land that solid hit, particularly against faster foes, so Df-targeting Elemental Projectile seemed more appropriate than Elemental Engulf. Back-loading the spell with a high Severe rewards taking time to focus, something Dresden rarely does. Boosted overall damage and three levels of Burning, though, mean that anything taking a hit is likely to feel it unless it devotes itself to batting at the flames.
Blasting-Rod-Enhanced Fuego [Elemental Projectile,Fire x3(6), Increased Damage x2(4), Increased Severity x3(3), Focus Object(Runed Blasting Rod, -3)]: With the aid of a specially crafted, runed blasting rod, the caster can manifest a far more deadly version of the spell with the same effort. Sorcery+Intellect, 1AP, TN 13(T), Resist Df, Range 5~, 3/4/8 and Burning +3
A caster using the blasting rod would cast a standard Fuego with a TN of 10(T). Dresden lends itself really well to illustrating the application (and cost) of Focus Objects. Harry Potter arguably does this too, but I eschewed using the Immutos there because, in part, everyone having a wand feels out of the spirit of Focus Object. It means the items aren’t unique or special–wood and core and so forth aside, and I’m not enough of a Potter fan to be compelled by that. While Focus Object can absolutely be used with less unique items (there is a category for it), if every spell from every caster depends on an item, that’s either a global TN reduction or something you just build into your whole magic system.
Shield Bracelet [Occultation, Focus Object (Shield Bracelet, -2), Pulse (4), Alter Range (-4)]: A shimmering field of silvery energy springs into place around the caster, potentially protecting nearby allies as well.
Prestidigitation+Intellect, 2AP, TN 8(M), Resist Wp, Range 2//, target gains “Occultation: When this character suffers damage from an enemy attack, the damage is reduced by one step. Weak damage is reduced by 1 (to a minimum of 0)” for 1 turn. Characters within 1 yard of the target must pass a TN 10 Wp duel or gain the same condition.
I bounced back and forth between using Occultation or Shield for the Magia; both let some damage splash onto folks, but within the context of TtB, Weak damage is most commonplace. That means–particularly with guns and swords–that Occultation is going to break most hits down to very little. I shied away from using the Shield Magia, which has a long duration that doesn’t feel authentic to how Dresden’s defensive magics work. You could easily build a “Spelled Duster” Focus Object effect with Shield cast a few times at the start of the day to get something longer-lasting.
Lecture Notes from that Other Harry
Stupefy [Elemental Projectile, Terror x7(7), Reduce Severity (-3), Reduce Damage x2 (-2)]: Yelling “Stupefy!” with a cutting motion of the hand, the caster assails the target with a bolt of silver energy. Though the physical impact of the energy is almost nonexistent, it short-circuits the thoughts of the target and leaves them stunned.
Sorcery+Tenacity, 1AP, TN 5(T), Resist Df, Range 5~, 0/0/1 damage and target takes a TN 13 Horror Duel.
It’s tricky to make a spell that doesn’t do any damage without starting from a Magia specifically designed for that purpose. Reduce Severity doesn’t actually reduce Severe damage, but for a spell often snap-fired instead of aimed, hitting Severe damage is pretty unlikely. I could have built the whole thing on a Sleep Magia chassis, but I see Stupefy as a shorter-term effect. I don’t love the way TtB resolves Fated v NPC Unconsciousness duels anyway, and though Horror duels are similar I feel they’re a bit better rooted in how the game plays.
Patronus Charm [Disassemble Creation, Blast x2 (4), Increased Damage (2), Increased Severity x3 (3), Alternate Resistance (Wp, 2), Additional Suit (R,-2), Increase AP (-3), Wind x4 (4)]: Summoning up the warmest memories of love and affection that she has, the caster forms a mighty bulwark against fear, despair, and the unnatural creatures who subsist on such things. A massive silvery apparition flies forth from the caster, crippling targets and blasting those who survive like windblown leaves.
Enchanting+Cunning, 2AP, TN 16(RR), Resist Wp, Range 5~, 3/4b/8b and push 4 yards, ignores Armor and Hard to Kill, only affects Undead and Constructs.
Trying to craft a fascimile of the Patronus was an interesting challenge. It’s a big deal in the books and the films and that’s all theoretically cool, but viewed through the lens of a lower-fantasy lens the spell feels rather limited. It’s still a huge effort and explosion of power, though, hence the high TN and double-suit requirement. The Disassemble Creation Magia is basically a ready-built spell; chained to affecting Undead and Constructs, with the Spirit element and a dose of Increased Damage. Adding some Blasts and what is effectively a second element with Wind, then upping the damage and the Severity, creates a massive bomb-blast attack that would excel at clearing Incorporeal undead and the like. While this spell is a raw bucket of Immuto far beyond the reach of most Grimoires, that actually fits the fiction; the work involved in mastering a Patronus makes it feel more like a Manifested Power.
Floo Powder [Teleport, Increase AP (-3), Alter Range x2 (4), Pulse (4), Focus Object (Connected Fireplace, -5)]: Tossing a handful of glittering powder into an appropriate fireplace, the caster (and nearby willing targets) disappear into the green flames and travel to another prepared fireplace.
Prestidigitation+Intellect, 2AP, TN 12(T), Resist Wp, Range Line of Sight/Special, Targets w/in 1 yard of the caster are teleported through the focus object into a similar object. Targets w/in the pulse who wish to resist need to succeed at a TN10 Wp duel.
Technically the spell should only transport characters within line of sight, but if all fireplaces are assumed to be focus objects then the spell is limited enough to have a greater range. It’s an exploration of spells beyond the basic mechanics in TtB’s magic system. But in a magic-using society, innovations like a series of special sigils to turn grounded structures into semi-permanent gates only makes sense. In TtB, in fact, creating stable gates seems like the thing you’d want to master early on.
The Cruciatus Curse [Touch of the Grave, Increased Severity x3 (6), Spirit (4), Increase AP (-3), Alternate Resistance (Wp, 2), Alter Range x3 (-6)]: Uttering one of the Unforgiveable Curses, the caster grips his target with incredible pain. Generally requiring a target who is restrained or prevented from taking swift action to escape, repeated application of the Cruciatus Curse quickly incapacitates its victims and leaves them drooling, insensate, or brain-dead.
Necromancy+Tenacity, 2AP, TN 11(C), Resist Wp, Range 1//, target suffers 4 damage and gains “Touched by the Grave +1: Whenever this creature suffers damage, it suffers +1 damage” for 1 minute.
As I discussed in my previous post on magic in TtB, spells that don’t flip for damage can be incredibly powerful. The Cruciatus Curse is easier to cast than Patronus–because evil definitely seems easier than good in Potter’s universe. It’s still designed to be a spell most easily cast on an immobile opponent, however, and one that takes the caster’s full concentration. I also built it as something you’d use more to frighten a target and make an example of him than to actually gain valuable information from them. A less-damaging iteration of the spell could certainly serve that other purpose, and Touch of the Grave is great in that it steadily stacks its damage with each application. The stakes get higher the more you lay into someone with it.
Fighting in the Streets
Dragon Punch (Shoryuken!) [Elemental Strike, Reduce AP (5), Wind x3 (3), Extra Suit (R, -2)]: The caster drops into a crouch with inhuman speed, lifting herself into the air on a spiraling tornado of wind to land a brutal uppercut against the target. The strike transfers the levitating energy of the spell into the victim, sending the target flying away as the caster settles back to her feet.
Sorcery+Intellect, 0AP, TN 9(T)(R), Resist Df, Range 2//, target suffers 1/2/3 damage and is pushed 3 yards.
This spell helps illustrate the problem I mentioned with trying to create “combo” spells. Anyone worth their fighting stick knows that a good Dragon Punch hits several times, but there’s not really a mechanism for that within a single TtB Magia. That’s distinct from something like TriStat Silver Age Sentinels, where I used the autofire component to create everything from Magic Missile-style moves to Ukyo Tachibana apple cutters. So I focused on the primary utility of the Shoryuken: punishing folks who jump in. This is a quick, easy spell, with the extra suit helping to simulate the button-pressing efforts associated with a fighting game move. A more involved (but not more Immuto-intensive) approach would be to build three versions of the spell–one at 0AP with a short range, one at 1AP with a middling range, and one at 1AP with a longer range. You could stagger the TNs up from an easily-cast 0AP, or have that be the toughest one and have the subsequent attacks in the “combo” easier to cast but perhaps less damaging. Regardless, this approach would cut down on the Wind Immutos in each spell, so you have a situation where you push the target back, then hit him again, then push back and hit again. Which would, you know, be a true Dragon Punch.
Blanka’s Electric Eel [Elemental Strike, Ignore Caster (2), Pulse (4), Electric (3)]: The caster begins to emit sparks in a brilliant neon shower, stinging and burning nearby foes.
Sorcery+Intellect, 1AP, TN 12(T), Resist Df, Range 2//, target suffers 1/2/3 damage that ignores Armor. All characters other than the caster within 1 yard of the target must pass a TN 10 Df duel or take 1 damage that ignores Armor.
Another easy one. In general, Street Fighter lent itself to that, while also really helping me to start seeing the combo potential in staggering spell actions in TtB. I toyed with making the spell 0AP, or treating it as more resource-intensive and making it a full 2. I decided on 1AP because that’s suited to hammering on the attack multiple times in an activation. The damage is low, but with a Pulse and ignoring Armor it manages effective “chip” damage. With another player keeping a caster healed up or otherwise protected, this could provide a useful choke point in an engagement.
Conflicts Amongst the Stars
Force Leap [Teleport, Reduce AP (5), Alter Range x2 (-4)]: With the assistance of the Force, the caster (or another target) catapaults instantly through the air, reaching inaccessible places, evading foes, or positioning himself for a deadly attack.
Prestidigitation+Intellect, 0AP, TN 11(T), Resist Wp, Range 10, a target within 10 yards is instantly relocated to another point within 10 yards.
I wanted to do something that illustrated how you could reflavor Magia and Immuto to serve an aesthetic purpose. In many situations, there’s no functional difference between a teleport blinking a character out of existence and the same character leaping through the air. It’s absolutely the case that Force Leap would not logically let a character jump through a cell wall or unopened window–theoretically applications teleport as a Magia should allow. Those corner cases are often the cost of an aesthetically-cohesive character, and as a dyed-in-the-roleplayer, I’ll often choose to take such limitations on myself to more fully realize a character. This same effect could be a character flickering into fast-moving lightning, or moving out of phase, and so forth. Regardless, the truly useful element of this spell is that it’s 0AP and puts a character into position to spend her AP doing more violent things to a person. That builds into combo concepts like a Naruto-style substitution jutsu as well.
Trust the Force [Improved Fate, Increased Duration x3 (6)]: Closing her eyes for a moment, the caster finds peace and guidance in the force. Her strikes are truer, her reflexes sharper, and her purpose clearer.
Prestidigitation+Cunning, 1AP, TN 14(M), Resist Wp, Range 5, the target gains [+] on all Skill Challenges for 1 minute.
This effect just showcases a buff Magia in Improved Fate, with its duration increased. I could have reduced the range, since I don’t see this as a spell tha tmakes sense buffing others, but by this point in the build I was experimenting with building spells that could actually fit into a grimoire.
Force Lightning [Elemental Projectile, Electric (3), Increased Damage (2), Blast x2 (4)]: Cackling as lightning spills out of his fingers, the caster bathes his foes in hatred made manifest. The energy coils around a target, lashing out to strike at those nearby.
Sorcery+Intellect, 1AP, TN 12(T), Resist Df, Range 5~, target takes 2/3b/4b. This damage ignores Armor and does not randomize when firing into engagements.
The Potter and the Star Wars reaches are primarily pandering to my playerbase. With Star Wars, specifically, I just find the Jedi so boring. Sith, though, those are my speed. Force Lightning could have been another 2AP, stand-your-ground-and-unleash spell. Leaving it at 1, though, makes it something that could weave into a character’s turn. Alternately, because of the blasts, it could benefit from a caster taking an AP to focus and ensure that the spell sweeps across a few targets. The lack of randomization also makes Force Lightning an effective way for a second-line caster to support his melee allies–or minions.
Saber Throw [Telekinetic Move, Alter Range x2 (4), Focus Object (One-Handed Weapon, -1)]: Whipping a weapon through the air, the caster controls its spins and turns with the Force, allowing a simple axe or blade to dance between foes before returning to his hand.
Prestidigitation+Tenacity, 1AP, TN 10(M), Resist Wp, Range 15, the caster propels the Focus Object forward up to Cunning yards. the caster may continue to move the weapon–so long as he casts no other spells–by using a 1AP action. The caster may attack with the hoisted weapon using the appropriate skill rating+Intellect to determine AV.
Applying Focus Object to this spell is what makes it something more than just “telekinetically throwing stuff.” It creates a willingness for the caster to commit more actions to maintaining the effect, and highlights something very useful within Telekinetic Move: it’s a Magia that lets a low-Might character wield a weapon effectively, and a high-Intellect character contribute to melee combat at range. Moving the object also has the advantage of eschewing vulnerability to disengaging strikes.