The short answer is, there is no spell list. At least, not like you'd find in a game like D&D.
|Jareth is totally a D&D sorcerer multiclassed as bard.|
The long answer is, Mage's magick system is so robust and versatile that a simple spell list really wouldn't do it justice. Since this game assumes you're playing a mage, there's no need to call attention to whether you're playing a sorcerer or a cleric as you might in other games. There's no spell slots to keep track of, no daily limit to the amount of spells you can cast, no need to mark down which ones you can use for the day... in short, Mage is all about making your mage a badass who can cast a wide variety of spells, not just a short list of them.
Instead, Mage's freeform magick system revolves around two important mechanics: Spheres and Arete. The Spheres embody the nine spheres of influence (get it?) that mages can use in their magick. These are:
- Correspondence - the Sphere of spatial location. Any spell that you want to cast over a distance greater than line of sight will use this Sphere, such as scrying, teleportation, or co-location.
- Entropy - the Sphere of probability and decay. Any spell that affects chance or fortune will use this Sphere, from curses and blessings that affect people's luck to affecting the health or decay of a person or thing.
- Forces - the Sphere of energies and elements. Any spell that incorporates fire, electricity, radiation, wind, gravity, light or sound will use this Sphere, from invisibility to cones of silence to changing the weather.
- Life - the Sphere of organic patterns. Any spell that affects a living creature, person or animal, will use this Sphere, including healing magicks, shapeshifting, or altering someone's apperance or physical attributes.
- Matter - the Sphere of inorganic patterns. Any spell that affects non-living material, from chairs to buildings (even corpses, for you necromancer types) will use this Sphere to conjure and shape them as you please.
- Mind - the Sphere of mental prowess. Any spell that affects the mental faculties, either yours or someone else's, will use this Sphere, from creating simple illusions to outright mind control and manipulation.
- Prime - the Sphere of raw magickal power. Any spell that creates something from nothing will use this Sphere, in addition to enchanting people or items, fueling magickal attacks, and powerful countermagick defenses.
- Spirit - the Sphere of the Otherworlds. Any spell that affects spirits, ghosts, and the realms outside of and beyond the physical will use this Sphere, in addition to travel to other worlds and realities.
- Time - the Sphere of temporal location. Any spell that you want to send forward or backward in time uses this Sphere, which is useful for precognition, speeding up your reaction time, and even freezing another spell to go off under special circumstances.
|Aang excels at the Forces Sphere.|
Any time a mage casts magick, they'll use the above Spheres to figure out if they can pull it off. If you're lacking ranks in a particular Sphere, you may have to get creative to come up with an alternate way to pull it off, pending Storyteller approval. Fortunately, the Spheres overlap with each other in significant ways, and a truly creative player can do a lot with just a few ranks. While it's tempting to throw a lot of points into Spheres so you can do crazy things with them, there IS a game mechanic in place to make sure players don't go too wild with power. That mechanic is Arete.
Arete is like the "cast magic" trait of Mage. The higher the score, the more your mage understands how reality works and how it can be shaped by the Spheres. As a result, you can't have more ranks in a Sphere than you have dots in Arete. If your Arete is 3, none of your Spheres can have a rating higher than that. That's also the highest rating you can have as a beginning character, and it's the most expensive trait to raise with experience points as the game goes on. Sorry, power gamers.
Arete is also a rolled trait. Unlike the Spheres, which are primarily a way of tracking what your character knows, Arete is a reflection of what they can do. If we're going off of the aforementioned Arete 3, that's 3 dice you'll roll to cast an effect, versus a target number of the Storyteller's determination. The more dice you roll that meet or exceed that target number, the more successes you'll be able to put toward making a strong magickal effect.
|That's because Willow needs to raise her Arete instead of her other traits.|
For example, one of my players wants to scry into a nearby building. He wants to look beyond his line of sight and through the walls blocking his vision to get a better idea of the layout. Correspondence is used in this effect for sensing beyond his immediate area, and Matter is used to get a measure of the physical structure itself. If he wanted to take note of how many people are inside, he'd throw Life into the mix, but he doesn't have that Sphere yet, so he'll settle for the building layout. To cast the effect, he'd roll his Arete of 2 and hope for at least one success if he's in a hurry, or take his time with it to roll multiple times and accumulate successes for the effect.
There's a bunch of other smaller things that go into casting magick in Mage, but those two elements are at the center of it all. Once you wrap your brain around those, the rest is gravy.
Do you have any questions about the core of Mage's magick system, or how it's used in actual play? Post them in the comments below and I'll jump on those lickety-split!