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Spellbinders

Lars Kenning is an example Spellbinder.

Spellbinders are practitioners of an older and well established form of magic. Colloquially known as Spellbinding in the modern era, in ancient times it was known at various times and places as Hermetica, Sortiria, or simply the now loaded term "Sorcery"; eventually the term Ars Mercuria was retro-applied as Hermetic practices diverged and factionalized in the mid and late Middle Ages. In the post-Accords world Spellbinding is considered by many to be right up against the edge between acceptable Hermetic practices and the far more Sanctionable "Sorcerous Arts", for it is a riskier style of magic.

At the core of the tradition is the direct channeling of pure extradimensional energies. This is very powerful, but potentially dangerous and prone to collateral damage or unintended consequences. To mitigate these intrinsic risks Spellbinders learn to filter the raw energy they channel into specific types of spells that they have bound to themselves.

Spellbinding could fairly be said to be a "purer" form than other Hermetic styles, conceptually narrower and relatively straightforward. The primary focus of the art is on learning to channel extradimensional energies and developing the necessary internal mastery to reduce and mitigate the intrinsic risks of doing so.

In the modern era, Spellbinding is a receeding art practiced primarily within less than a dozen extended familial lines, taught either in the traditional master apprentice style, or via a handful of small and very private academies. Most of the venerable houses and clans that practice this type of magic are "old money", primarily rooted in Europe and various other places where European colonialism once reached.

Vocation

The basis of Spellbinding practice is represented on a character by taking the Spellbinder Vocation at a step appropriate to the character's level of mastery. An apprentice would take the Spellbinder Vocation at a d4, a journeyman at a d6, a master at a d8, and a grand master at a d10.

Unlike most Vocations, the Spellbinder Vocation only has one special Exploit. However it is quite strong, allowing a practitioner to channel pure mystical energies to attempt just about anything conceivable per invocation...if they are willing to accept the risk.

Spellbinder

Spellbinders practice a rawer art than Wizards, tapping directly into mystical energies, but to mitigate the great risk intrinsic to such an undertaking Spellbinders usually filter these raw energies into specific rote spell effects that they have mastered and mystically bound to themselves. However under duress, they can simply channel pure extradimensional energies on the fly in an attempt to do theoretically anything mystically possible.

The Spellbinder Vocation allows the following special Exploits:

  • Exploit: You may use your Spellbinder Vocation die (without stepping it down) to channel pure extradimensional energies, allowing you to emulate any other Ability for a single action or reaction; if you do 1's, 2's, and 3's count as opportunities (but only 1's are excluded from the results).

Vocational Variations

Some Spellbinders take one or more Signature Exploits for their Spellbinder Vocation to represent specialized training, particularly esoteric lore, a personal quirk, or a practice of their specific subsect of Spellbinding. This option offers an economical (in terms of Advances) and fun way to differentiate and add nuance to a Spellbinder; some thematically appropriate examples are provided below.

Signature Exploit: You may clear your Ego Stress or step down Ego Trauma.
Signature Exploit: You may cancel the activation of one (1) opportunity offered by your Vocation die roll.
Signature Exploit: You may reroll a dice pool that includes your Vocation die; the second result must be accepted.
Signature Exploit: You may double your Vocation die when casting a bound spell and you may keep an extra die for your total.
Signature Exploit: You may suffer d6 Ego Stress to double the face value of your Vocation die roll for purposes of calculating your total result.

Ability Sets

The bulk of a Spellbinder's capabilities are defined in Ability Sets; all Spellbinders have at least a Mystic Ability Set and a Spellbinder Ability Set.

Mystic Ability Set

Spellbinders are first and foremost Mystics, and thus all Spellbinders without exception have a Mystic Ability Set, in which various Ability traits and the Supernatural Aura Limit that is common to Mystics are contained. Though individuals vary in the exact composition of their Mystic Ability Set, the most common basic Mystic Ability Set is provided below.

Mystic

Senses: d6
Stamina: d6
Willpower: d6
Warding: d6

Limit: Supernatural Aura: You have a supernatural aura that is detectable by those with special senses. Gain one (1) Plot Point when this becomes a Complication for you.

Internal Mastery

Spellbinding is a largely internal art and practitioners often develop considerable internal magic, accrued over time as the Spellbinder's own body and essense is slowly tranformed by exposure to magic. Some of the most fundamental benefits of these mysteries such as extended lifespan, the ability to sense the supernatural, and to protect one's self from supernatural forces are nearly universally taught; this is well represented by the Mystic Ability Set.

However, more advanced practitioners can develop superhuman qualities, including but not limited to various forms of immortality, becoming resistant or even immune to mundane harm, attaining sufficient cosmic awareness to sense or manipulate probabilities, and other more subtle and esoteric powers. This can be represented by taking additional Ability traits and / or SFX in a character's Mystic Ability Set.

Spellbinder Ability Set

In addition to the Spellbinder Vocation and a Mystic Ability Set, a Spellbinder character must also have another Ability Set that includes the Spells trait, and by default usually also includes the Destabilizing Limit and the Risky Limit.

Generally speaking a Spellbinder's Spells trait should be one step higher than their Spellbinder Vocation step, though a precocious Spellbinder who's natural talent outstrips their formal education might have a Spells trait two steps higher than their Vocation step. However, a Spellbinder's Spells trait step should never be lower than their Spellbinder Vocation step.

An example is provided below for a baseline Master Spellbinder Ability Set. This basic Ability Set is easily adjusted to represent a baseline apprentice by setting Spells to d6, or a journeyman by setting Spells to d8, and a grand master by setting Spells to d12.

Master Spellbinder

Spells: d10

Limit: Destabilizing: To use one of this Ability Set's traits or SFX on an action or reaction you must either spend one (1) Plot Point, or take a die from the doom pool and include it in your dice pool. If you take a die from the doom pool, after the action or reaction is resolved step up that die and return it to the doom pool.

Limit: Risky: When using this Ability Set's traits and SFX, both 1 and 2 on your dice count as opportunities (but only 1's are excluded from the results).

Spellbinder Ability Set Variations

The default Spellbinder Ability Set is a baseline, a starting point for Spellbinder characters. However there is plenty of room for individual Spellbinders to distinguish themselves.

Bound Spells

Spellbinders are permitted to, and commonly do, take a SFX in their Spellbinding Ability Set named Bound Spell [Ability] multiple times, selecting a distinct Ability trait for each instance. This allows the Spellbinder to step their Spellbinding Spells trait down one fewer step when using it to emulate an Ability trait that they have a Bound Spell SFX for. For instance, a Spellbinder with Spells: d10 would normally have to step their Spells trait down two steps to d6 to emulate Counterspell, however if they also have SFX: Bound Spell: Counterspell they instead only step it down to a d8.

SFX: Bound Spell: Counterspell: You only step down Spells once when using it as if it were the Counterspell trait.

Binding an Ability trait in the Manipulation category is particularly advantageous. Because Spells is normally only stepped down once when emulating Manipulation Ability traits, stepping it down one fewer steps works out to not stepping it down at all. Thus a Spellbinder with Spells: d10 and SFX: Bound Spell: Transmutation would add a d10 to their dice pool (instead of a d8) when emulating Transmutation.

SFX: Bound Spell: Transmutation: You don't step down Spells when using it as if it were the Transmutation trait.

In the Here There Be Monsters default setting, only Spellbinders are permitted to take the Bound Spell SFX, and it is their primary distinguishing feature. Spellbinders practically never take one or more other Ability traits to represent a particular kind of magic, and instead take a Bound Spell SFX for that Ability trait. For instance a Spellbinder that is particularly good at teleportation magic can take SFX: Bound Spell: Teleport, and a Spellbinder that is particularly good at offensive magic might take SFX: Bound Spell: Hex.

SFX: Bound Spell: Teleport: You only step down Spells once when using it as if it were the Teleport trait.
SFX: Bound Spell: Hex: You only step down Spells once when using it as if it were the Hex trait.
Differentiation

The most notable way that individual Spellbinders are differentiated from one another is the specific set of Bound Spells they have each taken, however more can be done to differentiate a Spellbinder by taking additional Ability traits and / or SFX, or even one or more additional Limits, in their Spellbinder Ability Set.

Some Spellbinders take the Spells trait more than once, allowing them to emulate multiple other traits simultaneously. This can be cost prohibitive in terms of Advances, but it is quite effective. All of a Spellbinder's Bound Spell SFX apply to each of their Spell traits if they are in the same Ability Set.

Some Spellbinders have personal quirks or techniques, and represent these with additional SFX and / or Limits. For instance a Spellbinder might take the Fast Cast SFX to represent the ease with which they channel mystical energies, while another Spellbinder might take the Area of Effect SFX to represent their ability to channel more mystical energy to affect multiple targets. Spellbinding is conceptually a challenging art; a Spellbinder whose ability to channel energies fluctuates might take the Unstable Limit, while a Spellbinder that pushes the envelope of what they are capable of to the point of exhaustion might take the Burnout Limit.

SFX: Fast Cast: When taking an action or reaction that includes your Spells trait you may also move a zone in the same Panel.
SFX: Area Attack: When taking an attack action using one of this Ability Set's traits you may target multiple opponents; for each additional target add a d6 to your dice pool and keep an additional effect die.
Limit: Unstable: While you have no Plot Points remaining, all of this Ability Set's traits are stepped down.
Limit: Burnout: For two (2) consecutive Panels you may step up or double any of this Ability Set's traits; at the end of the second Panel shut down this Ability Set. You may roll against the doom pool to attempt to recover this Ability Set during a Transition Scene if it was shut down in this way.

Finally, many Spellbinders spend Advances to buy off either or both of the standard Destabilizing Limit and Risky Limit normally taken in a Spellbinding Ability Set, representing improved control over their abilities.