|You walk now on sacred ground. Go lightly, and do not speak.|
There’s magic out there older than books, older than bricks, older
than bread. Magic so old it’s hardly magic anymore. Magic woven of
golden savanna mornings when the apes looked up to the sky and named
the sunlight itself. It is the magic of a master’s hands, the
burning breast of the journeyman before his test, the tottering steps
of the infant.
you’re four years old and step into your grandmother’s kitchen,
it is the old magic you feel.
hate talking about it: the old magic strips them of their
star-spangled hats and gold-leaf diplomas and forces them to admit
that there was a time before wizards, and that those poor
unenlightened souls of the past weren’t so ignorant and
superstitious after all, and that when wizards and all their
universities have passed from the world the old magic will remain.
old magic breathes and lives and burns in mankind – there is no one
among Mother’s children, no matter how wretched or ignorant, who
could not learn these arts. The wizards sneer and the moralizers
wring their hands and the hateful spit bile, but the old magic lives.
spells listed below are the most common expressions of the Humble
Art. The majority of practitioners are ordinary common folk (making
the old magic fairly unpopular with kings and tyrants), and they can
be found in all but the most remote pickets of the world. Those who
make a profession of the old magic go on to become hedge mages and
of the following spells are less common or less popular in the modern
era, and several more have been co-opted by mainstream magical
traditions, but all are still known.
is important to note that the old magic is significantly more
hands-on than academic magic, and the lines between magic art and
mundane craft can become blurred.
|by Zdenek Burian|
Spells of the Old Magic
Call upon the Folk
The Folk are always out there in the wild places: watching, waiting,
listening. A man who shows the proper respect can call upon them for
aid through the old magic, and they will answer.
The mind opens up, and there is a moment of awareness beyond what the
senses can normally grasp. The spell can be amended to nearly any
specialized end, but the old forms tend towards animals, evil, the
Folk, people, place, poison and disease, time, and weather.
A spell to reveal enchantments and hidden names. In the basic form,
it might reveal the components of a simple spell, or the common name
of an unknown thing. If performed by a master, or by the aid of
sympathetic components, it may reveal hidden identities or even true
Each hunter has a sign, used to mark a beast as sacrosanct. No hunter
will touch a creature bearing another hunter’s Mark, for fear of a
curse falling upon their interference. It is reserved for beasts
deemed worthy adversaries, and is not to be wasted on simpler game.
The position of an item, person, place, or beast is burned into the
mind as long as the spell remains. This art is dependent upon
maintaining sympathy, and will not work at all without the
A boy is charged with a task and sent out. If he succeeds, his geas
is fulfilled and his father welcomes him home. If he fails, a boy he
remains. Some die before their task is done, and the mantle of
manhood remains unclaimed.
One of the three most common spells in the world (the others being
Produce Flame and Women’s Work), and friend to
housewives, craftsmen, and busybodies. But, be warned: Mend a thing
too much and it will stop mending right. Consequences are not meant
to be dodged, no matter how well one can recover from an accident.
Purify Food and Water
Wizards love to decry this spell as
simply boiling water and cooking meat. They are correct to a point:
beyond that point the practitioner might draw out disease and poison,
even rot and heavy metals. Doing so will result in dry meat, limp
vegetables, and rotball sprites that must be dealt with, but the food
Mother stole fire from the dragons and led us through the snows by
its light. All it takes is a snap of the fingers or a soft breath
into cupped hands.
Spare the Dying
One cannot delay death, but the pain of the dying might be lessened
by a measure. The pain must go somewhere, however. Without release it becomes a poison worse than death.
A collection of skills, spells, medicines, and clever tricks that
form the basis of witchcraft. There are many parts to women’s work,
but the four central pillars are easing birth, menstrual maintenance,
contraceptives, and proconceptives.
|by E. Irving Couse|
Omens are notoriously difficult to
wrangle at the best of times. Haruspicy
and nephomancy are the most reliable methods (+10% chance of a
relevant answer for every HD of the creature sacrificed or hour spent
watching the sky)
Contact other Plane
There are worlds besides our own, invisible and overlapping like
grease on water or a smell on the air. Like children tapping on the
aquarium glass, we are, attempting to glean the fish in the dark
A misnamed spell. Even with magic, weather can only be guided. This
ritual requires at least a dozen practitioners and a ritual taking up at least a full day. Wizards have generally taken over most of modern meteorology, but the rain dances continue. It's a good excuse for a party, if nothing else.
Runes traced in dirt, written in salt, or carved into mighty standing
stones – boundaries are laid out, blocking who may enter and who
may leave. Most common as a defense against evil spirits and
malicious Folk, most useful around the places where the space between
planes is rubbed thin. Some circles are never broken, and what
remains inside them has lasted to this day.
Passing the Torch
A ritual a lifetime in making. This is the greatest power of mankind:
not even the dragon lords considered that they might pass on their
There are several languages still spoken and read whose alphabets had
their beginnings in cloud-hieroglyphs. It is an essential skill for
those living on the plains. Settlements will often have permanent
cloud-signs above them, offering hospitality or warning.
Speak with Dead
The dead we have loved cannot speak, but for a few moments, they can listen. There
is time left.
Weave Tale / Weave Song
translation of reality into fiction into reality again. The creation
of that which fills the mead halls, of what muses sing and bards
dream. Old stories grow heavy, grow strong, pull life along in their wake. What is history, but a story? What is life, but a song?
The Oldest Trick in the Book
those wondering, the oldest trick in the Book is Gassy Lass,
a cantrip that makes the target fart. The second oldest is
Agharan’s Copper Spike, which is a method of keeping someone
alive for several days after impaling them from anus-to-mouth on a
The Book itself is doing quite well for itself, though it is about ready to outgrow its second library. It might have also recently eaten a graduate student.