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Simple Magic Guidelines

This document provides guidelines for a simple and fast magic system utilizing the four standard actions of Fate Accelerated.

  • Mystical Archetypes: discussion of the prerequisite Archetypes that unlock the ability to cast potent spells or prayers
  • Spellcasting Classes: Classes? What Classes? (Abstracted)
    • Source Material As Inspiration: discussion of using the source material, i.e. the classes and spell lists of the Pathfinder RPG, as guidance...or not as you prefer
    • Justification: guidance on the thing that really matters, narrative justification for particular kinds of effect
  • Approaches: guidance on combining Approaches and mystic Archetypes
  • Defend: how to use the Defend Action with mystic Archetypes
  • Attack: how to use the Attack Action with mystic Archetypes to inflict stress directly
  • Overcome: how to use the Overcome Action with mystic Archetypes to solve problems
  • Create Advantage: how to use the Create Advantage Action with mystic Archetypes to create spell Aspects (this is the workhorse Action for complex magic)
  • Save Or Bad: guidance on absolute effects in the source material
  • Options: magic system options are provided to extend this magic system with things like prepared casting, alchemy, elementalists, and so forth
  • Sample spells: some sample spells are provided as examples

Mystical Archetypes

The mystical Archetypes of Arcane, Divine, and Primal of +3 or better allow on the fly casting of more significant and powerful magic spells and prayers, using the standard four actions of Fate Accelerated per the guidelines given in this document.

The mystical Archetypes of Arcane, Divine, and Primal of +2 allow a character to cast minor "spells" or "blessings", using these guidelines.

In terms of the source material, this is the realm of "0 level" cantrips and orisons, and the occasional "1st level" spell or prayer.

The mystical Archetypes of Arcane, Divine, and Primal of +1 allow a character to have basic topical knowledge of the applicable realm of expertise, and to use Scrolls, Wands, Fetishes, and similar "spell completion" items keyed to the applicable category of magic. However, this level of ability is insufficient for a character to cast spells.

Psionics, Ki & Spell-like Abilities

These guideline can also be applied to characters using Focused to accomplish Psionics, Wuxia style ki / chi abilities, spell-like abilities, or other similar not-exactly-magic-but-may-as-well-be effects, with merely a change of theme.

Option: A Few Known Spells

Effects more powerful than cantrips are beyond the +2 level of ability (unless the character is taking advantage of the Prepared Casting Option, trading the ability to free cast more spells for increased potency and reliability).

But to allow a character to get concrete benefit out of a +2 in one of these Archetypes without lowering the bar on access to serious magic, the GM can allow a player to define between two and five minor "1st level" equivalent spells / prayers that their character knows and is able to use per these guidelines.

Such a character might be able to "learn" more minor spells as they discover them in their travels, until such a time as the character gains a +3 in their Archetype and graduates to master status and can freely cast spells.

Skoth, a character with Arcane +2, demonstrates this option.

Spellcasting Classes

The degree of strict or open-ended adherence to the source material is left open to a given GM or group's preferences.

However, by default within this material the clearly delineated classes of the source material are not being imprinted on Fate Accelerated as anything other than inspiration.

So for instance "Wizard" vs "Sorcerer" vs "Witch" vs "Magus" vs all the many and sundry prestige classes and variants is meaningful only to the extent that it is echoed within a character's Aspects, choice of Stunts, and general flavor; functionally it is all just Arcane.

Source Material As Inspiration

Players and the GM are free to think up and suggest their own spell effects, but on top of that the source material (i.e. Pathfinder) provides copious spell lists to draw inspiration from and also to suggest what sorts of effects are permissible.

The Pathfinder System Reference Document provides an online reference library of all the open licensed content, including spell lists and hundreds of spells.

In many cases, a spell's name taken directly from the source material or something extrapolated from it can be used straight up as the name for a situational Aspect with an agreed upon meaning interpreted from the spell's effect in the source material. There is nothing wrong with this approach, and it can allow players familiar with any version of D&D to boldly proclaim things like "I cast Wall Of Fire!" or "Sleep!" or "Explosive Runes!" without requiring a lot of up front discussion about what that actually means.

Justification

Pathfinder FAE takes the general stance that "classes" and the categorization of magic into Arcane, Divine, Primal is partially just fluff and flavor, and partially an artifact of a regimented "class and level" system.

The Pathfinder FAE premise is that what really matters in all things is NARRATIVE JUSTIFICATION, capitalized for effect because it is really important.

For purposes of spellcasting, the most important question to be asked is "What narrative effects does this particular spellcaster's concept justify?". If a given spell feels out of character for a given spellcaster, it should be taken as a sign that something is amiss.

Pro Tip: for a given spellcasting character constantly ask, "given this character's concept and past exploits, what effects on the narrative are "in bounds" or "out of bounds" for them when using their magic?".

Tale Of The Tape

Generally, Pathfinder FAE suggests that a player of a magic using character attempting to introduce a new spell or effect to the narrative should first consider if there is anything in their character's Aspects, Stunts, Approach allocations, and how the character has been portrayed thus far that suggests that the spell or effect is or should be part of their character's repertoire.

Pro Tip: If a player tries to justify a spell or effect and the GM and / or other players do not think it sounds legit, that is direct feedback that the rest of the group does not consider the effect of the spell to be "in bounds" for the character.

Often times, one or more suggestions of an effect that people feel is more appropriate to the character and the situation might be forthcoming from the rest of the table.

If a given group is trying to adhere to the source material pretty closely, they will already have some notions about what kind of "spells" are and are not in bounds for a "Wizard" or a "Cleric" or a "Druid", etc.

Does it make sense that a "Wizard" can hurl a lightning bolt from his hands? The source material says yes.

A "Cleric"? The source material generally says no, but if they have an Aspect analogous to the "Lightning Domain", then sure.

A "Druid"? The source material says...not exactly...but they can pull a lightning bolt down from the sky for a similar effect because that fits their shtick of "manipulating the environment" better.

However, the concepts of the source material can be followed as closely as the play group desires, or not at all. Whatever makes for a more engaging game for that group is the correct way to go.

Omnipotence Is Narratively Boring

Though it might seem unintuitive, players should consider that a spellcaster that can cast any spell they want any time they like is actually quite boring from a narrative perspective as they can't be properly challenged and thus there is no dramatic tension involved in that character's evolving story.

Generally characters that have a well defined shtick and work within it to find clever solutions tend to be more relatable and narratively interesting, and this is as true for a magic using character as any other Archetype.

GM Veto

While Pathfinder FAE players have a tremendous amount of agency to define their own character concept and pursue lines of play that are interesting to them, ultimately if they find it necessary to do so the GM can veto a spell or effect that they do not think is narratively justified in a given scene, or that they think is out of bounds for a given character.

Pro Tip: GM veto should be exercised with care. There is a fine balance to maintain between permissiveness in the interests of fun vs. protecting the long term health of a campaign.

A GM that doesn't feel comfortable saying "No", or who is ok with a particular effect being used occasionally but not always, can just dial the difficulty up a few notches.

Pro Tip: a generally more interesting way to handle things (assuming they are not potentially plot-destroying) is for the GM to "say Yes", but raise the difficulty commensurately to how unlikely they think success should be. The player can then decide if they still want to make the attempt, or change their mind.

But even a GM that is reluctant to say "No" can and should veto any effect that ruins the fun of the game for the group as a whole or jeopardizes the long term health of the game.

Pro Tip: The GM should beware of effects that assert game mechanics over the narrative as they can strongly erode the point of using a narrative system such as Fate Accelerated in the first place.

Martial / Caster Disparity

By default, there is no "martial / caster disparity" in Fate Accelerated. A "wizard" using magic to attack, overcome, create advantage, or defend is using the same four actions as a "fighter" using their martial competence to attack, overcome, create advantage, or defend.

However, all of that intrinsic balance pivots on the fulcrum of justification. A character that can justify nearly anything can attempt more things than a character that can only justify a narrow range of things, and thus will have more overall impact on the story as their relevance to unfolding events is higher.

A more narrowly defined character that cannot justify very many effects might still be more reliable within their specialty, but will have a difficult time remaining relevant in the long term.

Pro Tip: if a GM finds that after a while most of their players seem to want to play some kind of spellcaster, they should ask themselves if they are being too lenient with what they allow magic users to justify, or too strict on what they allow non-spellcasters justify.

Non-mystical characters with high Combatives, Roguish, and Focused should be equally able to justify impressive effects appropriate to their shticks as spellcasters can within theirs.

Thus if spellcasting is allowed to be a blank check that can justify anything, and non-spellcasters are prohibited from using their abilities in similarly flexible ways, the classic martial / caster disparity will rear its head once again despite the system itself not asserting it.

Approaches

With narrative support, just about any Approach can theoretically be used for any sort of magic. However, there is synergy to be had by at least loosely tying certain kinds of spell effects to thematically appropriate Approaches.

Careful is good for rituals and spells that require fiddly components and precision, and conjurations.

Clever is good for divinations and crafty transmutations, and so forth.

Flashy is good for area affecting magic, prismatic spells and anything big, loud, colorful, or otherwise splashy and obvious.

Forceful is good for direct attacks and flat assertions or negations such as some abjuration effects.

Quick is good for simple effects, charms or other effects mixed in with a mundane activity, and reactive / defensive magic.

Sneaky is good for illusions, some enchantments, shadow magic, shapechanging magic used to deceive, and magic that lacks obvious tell-tales.

Defend

Each mystic Archetype can be used to Defend against itself. If one character uses Arcane to attack another character, the target can defend with Arcane, and so on. It's as simple as that. You can think of this as "counter-magic", or a "saving throw", or just a neat feature of the rules as you like.

If a character wants to use a Archetype to defend across a different Archetype vector like Divine types who want their "god to protect them" against non-Divine threats, or an Arcanist who wants to gain some physical protection from their Arcane skills without having to spend actions setting up "protective spells" via Create Advantage (and so on) a Stunt can be taken to enable that. For instance:

Arcane Aegis: Because I have mastered protecting myself with magic, I may use Arcane to defend against physical attacks without needing to first create an advantage to invoke.

Divine Aegis: Because my patron deity protects me I may use Divine to defend against non-Divine magical and unusual attacks without needing to first create an advantage to invoke, unless I have recently done something unworthy of my faith.

Primal Resistance: Because my primal nature and elemental affinity protects me, I may use Primal to defend against non-Primal magical attacks without needing to first create an advantage to invoke.

Attack

Damage spells are generally just resolved using the Attack action. It usually doesn't need to be any more complicated than that. Describe the nature of the attack, choose the Approach that seems to best apply to the situation, the caster adds that Approach to their relevant mystical Archetype, and rolls 4dF.

Range is fiddly as spells in the source material vary widely and Fate Accelerated abstracts such things.

As a rule of thumb it is useful to assume that attack spells can target opponents within the same zone or an adjacent zone.

A caster has the option to either take a one (1) shift penalty or spend an extra exchange of "casting" for each additional two (2) zones of distance.

Higher Level Attack Spells?

There aren't larger dice or bigger dice pools involved, so there's no point to stratification with "higher level" spells that do more damage than "lower levels" spells. A character with Arcane +5 adds two (2) more shifts than a character with Arcane +3 and thus inflicts two extra shifts of stress on average. Higher Archetype means more damage, basically.

Multiple Targets

Fate Accelerated handles affecting multiple targets by rolling for effect and then splitting shifts to allocate to multiple targets. This seems to create a bit of a friction point, as in the source material many spellcaster's main combat advantage is the ability to blow up groups of enemies with spells like Fireball and Chain Lightning.

Depending on how the GM treats "mooks" (nameless opponents), this isn't necessarily an actual issue. If the GM opts to treat a pack of nameless opponents as a single mob, the narrative effect of a Fireball type effect isn't lost as the mob's shared stress track respresents multiple notional "targets".

Regardless, it will often prove inefficient to split shifts between nameless mooks and named NPC's with full write ups. For one, named characters with the standard array of consequences are durable in Fate Accelerated, benefiting from a good deal of "plot protection". Secondly, from a pragmatic perspective, a capable named NPC with a full write up will often be able to defend against a measly few shifts of damage.

Yet, again, this isn't necessarily the end of the story. It is fully expected that many named NPC's with full write ups are important enough to the story (else, why bother with full write ups), that the GM will often have them concede should consequences start piling up. Character death is a narrative decision in Fate Accelerated, and this is as true for significant NPC's as it is for player characters. Thus, even though it is unlikely to take a significant opponent out, spreading some shifts around with big splashy magical attacks can still encourage concessions.

Zone Effect

It may sometimes be allowed to cast a spell that attacks everyone in a zone, but this can be very powerful and must be handled carefully. Many GM's may not want to allow it within the context of a free-casting magic system where a spellcaster could whip out such effects at will, and it is the default assumption of Pathfinder Fate Accelerated that zone affecting attacks are out of bounds for characters.

A GM might allow a character using the Prepared Casting Option to prepare one or more attack spells that affect a zone. If so, such spells do not benefit from the "double your Arcane bonus" prepared casting beneft. Care should still be taken to monitor such spells to avoid a "caster / martial" disparity.

Instead, one or more Stunts can be taken which impose a frequency of use such as once per conflict or once per session, and / or a cost to the user such as a Fate point or a conseqence.

Non spell casters can take this sort of Stunt as well, to demonstrate martial prowess or unusual competence. For instance, Suki demonstrates this option.

Chained Lightning: Because I am able to project a bolt of lighting that jumps from target to target, once per session when I am Flashily Arcane and attack I may affect all enemy targets in my zone without having to split my shifts between them.

Fireburst: Because I am able to cause a mystical explosion to occur, once per session when I am Flashily Arcane and attack I may affect all targets in up to two contiguous adjacent zones without having to split my shifts between them. This is non-discriminatory, and often causes collateral damage.

Mana Bolts: Because I am able to launch target-seeking magical bolts, when I am Cleverly Arcane and attack I may spend a Fate point or suffer the Mild Consequence Spell Fatigue to affect all enemy targets in an adjacent zone without having to split my shifts between them.

Boosts!

Players of spellcasting characters should consider taking advantage of the Succeed with Style option on Attacks to do one (1) shift less damage to get a boost. With a little narrative flair, interesting boosts can be used to add some "magical" flavor to an otherwise straightforward numerical outcome.

Overcome

Whenever a caster wants to use their magic as the justification to get past something, solve a problem, remove a situational Aspect, etc, it is typically just a standard use of the Overcome action.

This is useful for a wide variety of problem-solving spells, like Dispel, or Knock (using magic to pick a lock, basically), or divining things, or quickly charming a NPC to get past them, and so forth.

Beware Of The Universal Tool

This use of magic is the simplest to deal with mechanically, and quickly resolved in most cases, but it is this facet of magic that has the potential to allow spellcasters to dominate play. If magic takes on the role of a "universal tool" able to solve any problem, it particularly steps on Roguish abilities. This is a common problem for magic systems in general, but particularly "free-form" cast on the fly models where there is no real opportunity cost or need to guess what will be needed ahead of time.

However, for purposes of Fate Accelerated a GM can solve for this potential pitfall pretty easily. The most direct and reliable way is to simply set the difficulty +2 higher (or more) when a character uses magic to Overcome something that would more typically be solved via mundane abilities. Thus, there is a real reason to do it the "hard way"; it is more likely to succeed.

A second less reliable but often times more limiting restriction is to disallow the usage of certain Approaches when using magic to Overcome some tasks...particularly Sneaky.

In other words, if it is obvious when a character is using magic to solve a problem in lieu of mundane proficiency, it helps protect the Roguish bailiwick of doing things without being seen doing them. For instance, just strolling up to a guard and Flashily casting a charm spell on them to gain access to whatever they are guarding has a wildly different possible narrative outcome than a skilled con artist trying the same thing by bluffing or bribing their way in.

Create Advantage

Magic that asserts a fact to be true, interacts with or alters some fundamental trait (i.e. Aspects), modifies the environment, creates some pervasive long term effect, or otherwise does something lasting, is typically "cast" by using a Create Advantage action to apply a situational Aspect to a target, such as the caster, another character, an object, or the scene itself.

Note, this kind of situational Aspect is referred to as a spell Aspect herein.

Limit On The Number Of Spell Aspects

To keep magic users from getting out of hand by just "buffing" themselves or their allies with a bunch of spell Aspects, as a general rule a character can have a number of spell Aspects equal to their Archetype active at the same time. Creating a new spell Aspect beyond that limit causes one of the in play spell Aspects of the player's choice to be cancelled and removed from play.

Thus a character with Arcane +3 can maintain three (3) active spell Aspects at the same time, while an advanced character with Divine +5 can maintain five (5) active spell Aspects simultaneously.

Spell Aspects gained from other casters or items like Scrolls do not count against this limit.

Spellcasting Difficulties

Generally speaking, creating spell Aspects is just a Create Advantage action and thus the GM simply assesses a base difficulty per their discretion. Generally the difficulty for a spell Aspect will be based upon how powerful or pervasive the effect that the Aspect is meant to represent is.

However, these guidelines make some assumptions that extra shifts will be available to apply additional attributes to spell Aspects, so GM's using these guidelines are encouraged to be somewhat lenient and not go much above a Superb (+5) difficulty even for high end effects if the caster is unopposed.

Using the Source Material's Spell Lists As Inspiration

If using one or more spell lists as inspiration, as a convenient rule of thumb if the caster is unopposed assume a base difficulty of Mediocre (+0), and add half of the source material's spell level of the effect being approximated, rounding up.

Thus, assuming the caster is unopposed, to create a spell Aspect based on a 1st or 2nd level spell from the source material would be an Average (+1) difficulty, while creating a spell Aspect based on a 3rd or 4th level spell would be a Fair (+2) difficulty, and creating a spell Aspect based on a 9th level spell would be a Superb (+5) difficulty.

However, it is important to remember that this is just a rule of thumb, not a carved in stone mandate. The GM should feel free to set difficulties based upon their sense of how impactful a given create advantage outcome might be, particularly considering that the spellcasting character's player will likely want to use such an effect more than once over the course of a campaign.

Setting A Difficulty Is Also Setting A Precedent

The first time a new spell effect is introduced, it puts the GM on the spot to come up with a workable difficulty. This can be somewhat problematic as the difficulty chosen will become the precedent the next time someone casts the same spell or a similar one as casting the same spell under the same conditions should generally be the same difficulty. Thus setting a difficulty too high or too low relative to the impact of the spell, creates problems over time.

As the GM, just try to err on the side of consistency and sustainability; i.e. set a difficulty that isn't so low it creates later problems when the spell is cast again, nor so high relative to its effect that no one wants to use the spell anymore as the risk vs reward is upside down.

Generally, players will be more receptive if you later reduce the difficulty to cast a particular kind of spell rather than if you go the opposite direction and assert a higher difficulty on a spell they've gotten used to casting at a lower difficulty. Thus if you are on the spot and feel like a spell should be a little more difficult to cast, go ahead and bump the difficulty up by +1 or even +2 and see how it goes...if it proves to not be egregious as you feared you can ratchet the difficulty down later.

Success!

The normal rules for Create Advantage apply; successfully creating a spell Aspect grants one (1) free invoke, and succeeding with style grants an extra free invoke for two (2) total free invocations.

But in addition to the normal success outcomes, a spellcaster also gets to apply the extra shifts they rolled for further benefit.

Shifts get split up in various ways to increase duration (two (2) extra shifts per one (1) time increment up the scale), base difficulty for other characters to Overcome and remove the spell Aspect (one (1) extra shift per one (1) higher difficulty), extra invokes (two (2) extra shifts per one (1) extra invoke), and so forth as seems to make sense in the moment.

Note: Players can keep simple notes on the spell Aspects their characters have used before with assessed difficulties and basic effects for future reuse.

Spell Aspect Base Difficulties To Overcome

Each spell Aspect requires some interpretation on the part of the GM, but if a spell Aspect creates a situation that can be overcome the spell Aspect has a base difficulty equal to the difficulty to cast it. The spellcaster may apply extra shifts to increase the base difficulty.

One (1) extra shift can be applied to raise the difficulty to overcome a spell Aspect by one (1), any number of times.

For instance, a spell with a difficulty of Superb (+5) to cast would also present at least a Superb (+5) difficulty to overcome for anyone attempting to get rid of the Aspect. To raise the difficulty to overcome the spell Aspect to Legendary (+8) would take three (3) extra shifts.

Level Of Effect

Many spell Aspects that affect the scene or other characters can be thought of as having a 'level of effect', with some being more powerful than others based upon the skill of the caster and how well or poorly the spell Aspect was cast.

Unless specifically noted otherwise in a spell Aspect's description, if it is necessary to determine how much effect the Aspect has when it interacts with the scene or a character, treat the spell Aspect's level of effect as being equal to its difficulty to overcome.

For instance, a spell Aspect with a Legendary (+8) difficulty to overcome is assumed to also have a Legendary (+8) level of effect unless a different level of effect is specifically described for the spell.

Extra Invokes

Unless otherwise noted, spell Aspects function exactly like any other Aspect, offering narrative flavor but needing to be invoked to provide any mechanical benefit or to activate.

And though some spell Aspects are primarily passive and mainly serve to establish a fact (such as Invisibility or Flight), they can still reasonably be invoked for a bonus when applicable like any other Aspect.

As mentioned previously, success grants a free invoke and succeeding with style grants a total of two (2) free invokes, but extra shifts beyond success can be allocated to get additional free invokes.

Two (2) extra shifts can be applied for one (1) additional free invoke, any number of times.

Thus if a spellcaster succeeded with style to create a spell Aspect for two (2) total free invokes but got +4 more than they needed to succeed on their 4dF roll, they could apply the extra shifts for two (2) additional free invokes...a total of four (4) invokes!

Spell Aspect Durations

Generally speaking, spell Aspect are usually situational Aspects placed on a target. The target can be a character, a zone, the scene itself, or any other legal target for an Aspect.

Guidelines are provided for how long spell Aspects last. However, the narrative always trumps extended duration; if it no longer makes sense for a spell Aspect to exist, it is removed regardless of any other factor.

Active Spell Aspect Durations

Spell Aspects that are direct or overt rather than passive must be actively invoked to have a meaningful effect, but they usually stick around until discharged (have no further invokes remaining) even past the end of scenes. However, they are usually removed from play immediately once they are out of invokes. Their duration can thus be extended by gaining more free invokes.

For instance, a Mystical Shield spell that must be invoked to grant a +2 bonus on a Defend action, or a Flaming Sword spell that must be invoked to grant a +2 bonus on an Attack action would generally last as long as they have invokes remaining, but dissipate as soon as their last invoke is used.

Passive Spell Aspect Durations

On the other hand, spell Aspects that are fairly passive and assert facts into the narrative might last for a scene and possibly longer unless they are overcome or the narrative suggests that they should be removed.

Passive spell Aspects that simply assert facts on the narrative can have their duration increased by allocating two (2) extra shifts per time increment, or as negotiated with the GM.

Thus a spell caster could apply two (2) shifts to make a passive spell Aspect stick around for two (2) scenes.

Action Proxies

For more sophisticated spells, it can be useful to use Create Advantage to create a spell Aspect that can then be invoked later (or triggered by a narrative event) to cause an Attack, Defend, Overcome, or even a different Create Advantage action to occur.

To do this, a spellcaster describes the effect they are going for and what action will be proxied. If the GM agrees, the caster then use Create Advantage as normal.

However in addition to the things that extra shifts can be allocated towards, the caster may also allocate some number of shifts to the proxied action they are attaching to the spell Aspect. The number of shifts allocated to the proxied action provide the bonus that will be applied to the proxied action's 4dF roll when it is activated later.

If the caster succeeds with style they can choose to gain +1 extra shift instead of an extra invocation of the proxied action if that makes more sense for the spell in question.

For instance, Voxel uses a Create Advantage action while Sneakily Arcane to attach the Exploding Runes spell Aspect to a location. Narratively, he has inscribed Explosive Runes underneath a carefully placed book such that when a victim picks up the book the Runes explode!

The GM sets the Difficulty at Fair (+2). Voxel rolls ++-[], and adds his Sneaky + Arcane bonus of +5 for a total of +6. Voxel needed +2 to succeed, so he has 4 extra shifts; he also succeeded with style and opts for +1 shift. Therefore the Explosive Rune spell Aspect has 5 shifts of effect embedded in it, and will make an Attack roll at +5 whenever it gets triggered later. After it is triggered, the spell Aspect is removed from the scene.

Conjuration And Summoning

The source material has a variety of spells that summon an ally or monster to serve the caster's will. Other spells don't summon a creature per se but do create some kind of construct that acts independently from the caster.

For convenience, let's call this sort of "summoned" or "called" or "conjured" character a servitor.

This can be tricky in Fate Accelerated, as the rules don't really cover followers or sidekicks and the like. There is also the concern that a spellcaster summoning minions has a force multiplying effect, and also that they can summon minions that offer skill-like abilities or Stunts that step on the roles of other characters. Basically, this sort of effect will require quite a lot more adjudication than most other spells.

Servitors

Servitors are basically mooks, with a few differences. Like mooks, they have a simplified profile, and a write-up can represent either an individual or a "mob" that acts together as a group.

Any spellcaster can summon a servitor, regardless of whether they are Arcane, Divine, or Primal based. Generally, summoning a servitor is done while being Careful.

A servitor is summoned by casting a spell using the Create Advantage action to attach a spell Aspect to a scene, the caster themselves, or some other viable target as makes sense. The difficulty to summon a servitor starts at Mediocre (+0), and goes up for more powerful servitors.

Mechanically, the servitor spell Aspect anchors the servitor to the target. It can also be dispelled or removed by characters with appropriate abilities or narrative justification using the overcome action; the difficulty to do so is left to the GM's discretion but usually would be equal to the difficulty required to summon the servitor.

Descriptively, a servitor summoned in this way might appear or arrive in whatever manner suits the narrative or concept.

A spellcaster can reduce the difficulty to summon a servitor by spending extra exchanges prior to making the attempt. Each exchange spent "casting", neither moving or taking some other action, prior to making the 4dF check to create the servitor spell Aspect grants a +1 bonus to the roll.

Baseline Servitor

A baseline servitor gets two Aspects, uses a simple hit box track starting at zero (0) hit boxes, has one (1) skill-like ability that they are good at (+2) or two (2) skill-like abilities they are fair at (+1 each), and are either bad at one (1) thing (-2) or poor at two (2) things (-1 each).

The difficulty for summoning a baseline servitor is Mediocre (+0).

Summoning Difficulty: +0

2 Aspects

Good At: Spread +2 around 1 to 2 skill-like abilities

Bad At: Spread -2 around 1 to 2 skill-like abilities

Servitor Upgrades

Servitors can be improved upon from the default baseline, but the summoning difficulty that must be overcome to summon an upgraded servitor increases commensurately.

The Servitor Improvements chart details how much additional difficulty is incurred per upgrade. The difficulty increases are cumulative, and round up.

As a convenience, the difficulty to summon a servitor can be annotated on the servitor write-up.

Upgraded servitors can be written up on the fly as needed, but to avoid slowing play a GM might require all servitors to be written up and approved outside of play time. Existing mook write-ups may be repurposed as servitors by adding up the mook's upgrades to determine the difficulty. Characters with full write-ups are not mooks and thus cannot be used as servitors.

Upgrades
Summoning Difficulty Adjustment
Traits
Additional Aspect
+.5 each
Additional +1 "Good At" skill-like ability bonus
+1 each
-1 Refresh equivalent ability
+1 each
(such as a Stunt)
Stress Mitigation
Hit Box
+.5 each
Stress Box (up to [1][2][3])
+1 each
Mild Consequence
+1
Moderate Consequence
+2
Severe Consequence
+3
Hindrances
Reducing "Bad At" penalty by -1
+1 each
Additional -1 "Bad At" penalty
-1 each
Special retrictions
-var
Obedient Servitor

A servitor is not necessarily obedient to their summoner, but an Obedient or Loyal or similar Aspect can be added to a servitor to ensure compliancy.

Spellcasting Servitor

A servitor can be a spellcaster, but must have a relevant skill-like ability at +3 or better.

Servitor Autonomy and Initiative

Servitors act on their own, but unless they have a skill-like ability, Aspect, or Stunt that suggests otherwise, they have initiative 0.

Stress Boxes vs Hit Boxes

By default, the baseline servitor has zero (0) hit boxes; however it can be upgraded to have more, with each additional hit box increasing the difficulty to summon the servitor by +1. There is no cap on how many hit boxes a servitor might have.

A servitor can have stress boxes instead of hit boxes if desired. Each additional stress box increases the difficulty to summon the servitor by +1. The stress boxes follow the normal progression of [1][2][3], must be taken in order, and are capped at [3].

A servitor that has a full stress track ([1][2][3]) can have a Mild consequence, raising the difficulty to summon the servitor.

A servitor that has a Mild consequence may also have a Moderate consequence, raising the difficulty further.

A servitor that has a Moderate consequence may also have a Severe consequence, raising the difficulty once again.

Hindrances

Servitors can have additional "Bad At" penalties at the GM's discretion, each -1 penalty reduces the difficulty required to summon the servitor by -1. However, the GM should ensure that any such penalties taken are actually relevant and not a min-maxing attempt by a player.

Servitors can also have various restrictions upon themselves or upon the summoning of them; such restrictions lower the difficulty to cast the summoning spell by a variable amount. What constitutes a valid restriction and how much it lowers the difficulty to summon the servitor is left to the GM's discretion.

Servitors can reduce the default "Bad At" penalty the baseline begins with; each -1 removed raises the summoning difficulty by +1.

Example

Tamara is Carefully Arcane and uses a Create Advantage action while Carefully Arcane to attach the Murder Of Crows spell Aspect to the scene.

Tamara has summoned a Murder of Crows before and thus there is an existing write-up; otherwise one would be created on the fly.

Compared to a baseline servitor, the Murder of Crows has some hit boxes, an extra Aspect, and an extra Good At bonus, which collectively raises the difficulty to summon such a servitor from Mediocre (+0) to Good (+3).

Tamara adds her Careful + Arcane bonus to a 4dF roll and in this scenario succeeds at casting the spell. Narratively she utters a disturbing command, and a swarm of oily black feathered birds converges upon the area to do Tamara's bidding.

Arcane Spell (Conjuration), Summoning

Create Advantage while Carefully Arcane vs a Good (+3) difficulty to attach the spell Aspect Murder of Crows! to a target up to two zones away to summon a mob of angry crows and cause them to attack and harry the target. See the Murder of Crows servitor profile for details.

Servitors are explained in the Simple Magic guidelines.

Summoning Difficulty: +4

Caw Caw Caw, Murder On The Wing, Obedient

Good At: Pecking (+2), Distracting (+1)

Bad At: No Thumbs (-2)

Hits: [1][1][1][1]

Save Or Bad

The source material has a variety of "make a saving throw or a very bad thing happens" effects, up to and including the infamous Save Or Die effects. Fate Accelerated generally does not lend itself to such extreme and non-narrative outcomes, taking the stance that such absolute and capricious effects are not fun and have a lot of potential to wreck a story for no good reason other than randomness.

Nevertheless, many of the Save Or Bad type effects can reasonably be handled as simple Attacks, with applicable narrative interpretation if Consequences are suffered. Particularly vs "mooks", who are generally not very durable.

Against mooks, it is often possible to simply make a magic based Attack and narrate the outcome per the Save Or Bad effect. By this reasoning if you wipe out a mook or damage a mob of mooks, it doesn't really matter mechanically if you describe the effect as straightforward damage or something more esoteric such as disintegration or petrification or banishment.

However named characters with full write ups including standard stress and consequences generally can not be taken out in one shot from full health, and will thus be largely exempt from such instant death alpha strike effects.

From a narrative perspective this is actually a good thing; it prevents significant NPCs and by extension even entire scenes from getting anticlimactically one-shotted out of the session. It is also in the player characters' best interests in the long run as they enjoy the same protection. Think of characters with full write ups (vs mook write ups) as having built in plot protection, or if you must, as having a better "saving throw" than mere minions.

But Save vs Bad effects can still provide inspiration for creative Consequences. For instance a "Save vs Petrification" effect could be represented as an attack spell, and if a Consequence is applied to the target as a result of the attack a petrification theme would be applied. A relevant Mild Consequence might be Stoned Reflexes, a Moderate Consequence might be Stiffened Joints and Pebbly Skin, and a Severe Consequence might be Partialy Petrified.

Applying some creative interpretation to Consequences and concessions in this way opens up a lot of options for handling some of the more powerful and arbitrarily absolute abilities in the source material. However, to prevent abuse the GM might want to enforce some opportunity costs around this kind of overt Consequence manipulation.

Consequence Manipulation

At the GM's discretion, particularly strong, advantageous, or specific Consequence manipulating abilities or spell Aspects might also require a character to invest in a Stunt clearly defining how they are able to impose a Consequence and what benefit they gain from it.

Arcane Domination (-2): Because of my mastery of mind-affecting enchantments, while I am Forcefully Arcane I can make mental attacks against a living target in my zone or an adjacent zone. Consequences inflicted by this ability pertain to my gaining increasing control over the target's mind. If the target concedes to me, the target must do as I command in general but retains enough control to avoid doing anything fundamentally against the target's nature. If the target is taken out with this ability I assume full control of the target's behavior until they are able to recover from the Consequences.

Necromantic Enervation: Because I am a master of necromancy, I am able to drain the life energy from others. While I am Sneakily Arcane I can attack others with 'Life Draining' spells; in addition to the stress if I inflict a Consequence on my target I afflict them with enervation and ennui. Consequences such as Easily Fatigued, Fits Of Ennui, Prone To Depression, and Sunk Into A Deep Funk cause those afflicted to struggle to motivate and empower themselves, to unexpectedly lose interest in being active, become unconcerned about succeeding in their endeavors, and so forth. If a target is taken out in this way, they die and rise again as an Undead minion that I can control for the remainder of the scene and possibly longer at the GM's discretion.

Enchanting Empathy: Because I am a master of enchantment magics that allow me to manipulate the emotional states of others, while I am Cleverly Arcane I can engage a target in a social conflict and if I inflict a Consequence I can afflict them with a propensity for a specific emotion. Consequences such as Fits Of Uncontrollable Rage, Plunged Into Deep Sadness, Gripped By Passionate Love, and Overwhelmed By Euphoric Happiness incite those afflicted to act out in ways appropriate to the emotional state I have imposed on them. If, while I share a scene with the target, a Consequences I have inflicted with this ability is compelled and the target spends a fate point to refuse the compel, I gain the fate point immediately.

Magic Options

A collection of magic system options are provided to extend this magic system further with things like prepared casting, alchemists, elementalists, and so forth.

Sample Spells

A collection of sample spells are provided.