"Grab-Bag" Magic

Some people are just slightly magical, or their magical training has not been systematic. Perhaps they are not obsessive enough to focus on a theme, or have not, or not yet, blossomed into shamanism or some other form of major magia, but they nonetheless have some magical talent. Their magic can be described as a "grab-bag," a random and individualized collection of minor tricks and knacks and edges, a small bag for the slightly magical, a large bag for the unsystematically magical. Also, many wizards and mages still have, or may pick up, a grab-bag of tricks besides their main really cool professional trick.

The following examples are given in terms of the Endeavor rule set.

Low-Level Enhancement

You can enhance some mundane ability to un-mundane levels, but you cannot start the character at more than 10% in any given Enhancement.

Low-Level Knacks

You can use any of the following Knacks from the FuRPiG rule set, but you cannot start the character at more than 10% in the Knack:


Edges are minor knack-like abilities of very limited scope. They don't change; you don't roll for them; they always work when they can. Contrariwise, because of the limited scope, they often can't.

Each edge costs ten character points.


See around corners
Have a hazy idea of whether and how big is an object just out of sight. Costs 1 Focus per use.

Hear through walls
Unreasonably well, with ear on wall or the standard glass tumbler, that is. Costs 1 Focus per use.

Hear quality of silence.
Did a fight just end? Is someone listening back? Is it crowded or empty? Is there a lot hanging unsaid in the air? Costs 1 Focus per use.

Size them up.
Quickly intuit when someone is likely to be hostile or violent or deceitful, in a face-to-face encounter. Costs 1 Focus per use.

Examples: academics, alcoholics, conservatives, cops, crooks, gamblers, gamers, heretics, liberals, papists, poachers, revolutionaries, spies ... A narrow version of the Knack of Dowsing. Costs 1 Focus per use.

(If it's there to be found.) Examples: bottle of whiskey, blackberry bush, hardware store, tool box, edged weapon. A narrow version of the Knack of Dowsing. Costs 1 Focus per use.

Unreasonable orientation
You always know which way is home base or which way is north. A narrow version of the Knack of Dowsing. Make an easy Focus roll to avoid paying 1 Focus point.

"Something odd about that..." Like Sundar only faster and more general. Make an easy Focus roll to avoid paying 1 Focus point.

Behind you
You cannot be snuck up on, regardless of stealth or glamour. It works automatically but pulls a Focus point out of you each time.

"Well, there's your problem."
You can walk up to a malfunctioning machine of a certain class (car, copier, computer, etc.) and immediately find what's wrong. It doesn't follow you know how to fix it, but see the next edge for that. A narrow version of the Knack of Dowsing. Costs 1 Focus per use.

"I can always get one of these to work."
Not "always," but rather more often than feasible, you can get broken machines of a certain class to work at least a little. A narrow version of the Knack of Tools. Costs 1 Focus per use.

Percussive maintenance
It starts working when you kick it, for a certain class of machine, rather more often than feasible. A narrow version of the Knack of Tools. Costs 1 Effort per use.

You affect luck magic. There are several kinds:
  Coolers inhibit luck magic in their presences. Mascots enhance it.
  A cooler or mascot can be low (10%) or high (20%; costs ten character points).
  A cooler or mascot can be voluntary (1 Psi per use; costs ten character points) or involuntary, always on (use free; costs five character points).
So a low-level always-on Cooler costs five character points and a high-level voluntary mascot costs twenty character points. As a mascot, you don't really need to blow on their dice or whatever, but they often think you do.

Analgesic kiss / Soporific kiss
You can ease pain or aid sleep, at least a bit, with a kiss. A minor version of the Gift of Healing. Costs 1 Psi per use.

"This is medicine to me."
Your favorite tipple or spice or treat or condiment speeds your recovery. A minor version of the Gift of Healing. Costs 1 Psi per use.

"Take some of my special recipe."
Your idiosyncratic chicken soup / posset / hangover cure / tonic speeds recovery (when you make it). A minor version of the Gift of Healing. Costs 1 Psi per serving.

Nice save
If an agility failure, by you or anyone else, fails to save a precious object within your reach (baby, scalding cup of coffee, heirloom), you get a second roll. You have no choice about it, and you will spend three points to boost the roll. If you're out of Focus, use Psi; failing that, use Effort; failing that, take a damage level for +30% (and a pulled muscle). A narrow version of Anticipation, or maybe Hysterical Agility.

"They're in trouble!"
If a beloved object (usually a living thing) is under threat, you are suddenly struck with an anxiety to check on them. (Got saved by this once myself.) No cost to use. I wouldn't dare.

Prophetic anatomy
"Storm's coming. I feel it in my bones" or in your bad knee or your water or sinuses or whatever. Pick an anatomical feature and some class of general event it foretells: weather, tides, civil unrest, war, fashion crazes, etc. A narrow version of Foresight. Costs 1 Focus per use.

"I can always make myself understood."
Your knowledge of the language is strictly from media and stereotypes, but you produce meaningful gibberish, and what with the voice tone, facial expression, and gestures, you get your point across. A narrow version of the Gift of Tongues. Costs 1 Psi per encounter.

"I get the drift."
Like the above, going the other way. A narrow version of the Gift of Tongues. Costs 1 Focus per encounter.

Left unsaid
Sometimes it's obvious what someone was about to say even when they break off and don't. With this edge, you know what they almost said even if there was no external clue. A narrow version of Telepathy. Make an easy Focus roll to avoid cost of 1 Focus.

Tells you if a given object belongs to someone else. A little more exactly, tells you if someone would come claim it Today, Tomorrow, Someday, or Never. Applies to objects up to the size of, say, abandoned houses, not newly discovered islands. Applies to personal claimants, not organizations. Costs of 1 Focus.

Truth for truth
If you say something a little extra-revealing about yourself and don't lie, the people you are talking to will have a hard time lying to you during that conversation. They can form the words, but their delivery will be unconvincing. The effect ends before the end of the conversation if you lie. Costs 1 Psi per conversation.

For a given class of animal, e.g. dogs, cats, horses, cows, small birds, corvids, raptors, parrots. You can't particularly control or summon them, but they're reluctant to harm you and will come for petting when they meet you, or will seek your help. This can be disconcerting to others when the class is snakes, spiders, or wasps. Someone with several of these may grow up to be a Friend To All Living Things. No cost to use.

"I have a way with THESE CRITTERS."
For a given class of animal, you find them biddable. Of course, they have to know what you want, so this works best with trained animals, and therefore mostly with dogs and horses. (Grasshoppers, not so much.) You could also combine this with an animal version of "I can always make myself understood." This does not override the animal's free will, and they will not be biddable if you have given cause for offense, though they'll know what you want. Make an easy Psi roll to avoid a cost of 1 Psi per encounter until they get in the habit.

Helping hand
You can make a willing assistant function at your own higher skill level for some given shareable task. Costs 1 Psi per use.

Hard stare
(Hat-tip to Paddington Bear.) Usable only out of combat. You lock eyes with someone and register severe disapproval. They are always startled and taken aback. They can still recover and resume, and then you can't use the hard stare successfully on them again for that issue, on that occasion. But you've forced a reconsideration. Costs 1 Psi per use.

Battle cry
You have a favorite battle cry. You can use this as an edge once per fight, spending N Effort points on it. The nearest N targets must roll 3 x Focus to not lose their next round due to being startled. You must be close enough for the cry to be good and loud to the targets. Costs 1 Effort per target.

Favorite attack
You have a favorite punch (roundhouse, uppercut, head-butt, Vulcan nerve-pinch), or a favorite ad hoc weapon (parasol, walking stick, crowbar, big purse, school bag) with which you have +20% to hit, no cost. For +40%, 1 Effort per use.

Never without it
You always keep this personal accoutrement (fedora, handbag, sonic screwdriver) even when turbulent events might reasonably make you lose it. It can still be taken from you, but you'll be able to retrieve it when you escape or are released. No cost to use.

"This is my lucky ITEM for THIS ACTIVITY ."
Example: "This is my lucky baseball toothbrush." Worth +20% on Baseball. No cost to use.

"THIS CLASS OF THING is lucky for me."
Example: "Orange is my lucky drag-racing color." Worth +10% to wear it while driving. No cost to use.

"I like to look my best."
Unreasonable ability to look groomed. You smooth down your hair, shake out your clothes, smile, and– Showtime! At worst, you look fetchingly disheveled. Costs 1 Focus per use.

Aunt Agatha
Agatha Ellen Theresa Vincey: An Example Use of Grab-Bag Magic

Agatha Vincey is a Grand Norman woman in her late fifties, the older sister of Charles Vincey, present head of the family. They are a prosperous extended family of traders, but not gentry. Agatha is not to be confused with Bertie Wooster's Aunt Agatha, "the one that eats broken glass and makes human sacrifices at the full of the moon," but the coincidence of names has been mentioned among members of the Vincey family. Very quietly.

Agatha is the spiritual as well as biological daughter of her Dear Father, the late Henri Vincey. Like him, she is energetic, ascerbic, but, people have to admit, fair-minded and even generous. She could have pushed against the custom of male primogeniture and become the head of the family business—her Dear Father offered this when he was making out his will—but she declined, reckoning that she would have greater freedom of action without those responsibilities. Her younger brother Charles handles the paperwork quite well and is happy to "put the queen into play" (send Agatha as agent and negotiator) as necessary. (Charles is a chess mage as a hobby. He also goes hiking because Agatha tells him he needs to get out in the fresh air.)

Agatha was educated by private tutors, as a child. As an adolescent, she was sent to the Barfield Academy for Sundered Young Women in London. There, she met people (mostly girls) from other cryptic nations and the monde-major generally. Then she went on a (two-year) wanderjahr around the world with an entourage of more advanced tutors, who gave her the equivalent of a college education—a Sundered college education.

Her traveling education was cut short by the deaths of her Dear Father and her fiancé Russell, at criminal hands, basically in combat. Being a Sundered international trader is a risky profession. She went home, of course, to help the family regroup and avenge their fallen. But soon she began traveling again, first on her three-year national service hitch in the navy (as a gofering cadet mostly working for quartermasters, seeing a lot of geography), then on family business, and additionally for her own edification and that of younger family members out on their own wanderjahre.


Agatha has never married, but she is part of a large extended family. Her mother is still alive, as are some other older relatives. She has several siblings, most of whom have several children, some of whom have their own children, so she is well-provided with family. Despite her brisk-to-prickly demeanor, she has to work to go on a trip alone, if she wants to, especially if she wants to be shed of young people; parents know their kids will be well protected; kids know this won't be dull in the least.

Between her travels, her business, and her school days, she is also well-provided with friends and acquaintances, monde-minor and monde-major, human and otherwise.


Sundered Traveler (lead trait): Spends more than half her time traveling the world, on family business, or escorting and educating young people (mostly family), or for pleasure and interest. This is the Sundered world we're talking about, so it includes excursions off-plane from time to time. Agatha also exhibits "savoir fairy" and other survival skills for the Sundered, and teaches them to her charges.
Sign: A couple of large suitcases with carefully hidden compartments for alternate paperwork and a Sindarin-English dictionary that would raise Tolkien's eyebrows.

Sundered Trader: Her trips are often to negotiate deals for the family, or escort valuable cargoes. This means recognizing and knowing the value of a wide variety of esoteric goods, e.g. enchanted items. It often means hiring and dealing with esoteric guards to fend off esoteric thieves. It also means slipping by the prosaic authorities, since a lot of her trade is smuggling in mundane eyes.
Sign: Possesses, along with many other cards and check books, credit cards and checkbooks for the Royal Bank of Grand Normandy, reckoning money in nujars.

Grab-Bag Magic: Agatha has never been silly enough (as she would put it) to develop the obsession necessary for thematic magic, excluding the practicalities of life, and does not happen to have any other forms of magia, though there is still a chance she could be a late-blooming shaman, especially if she takes up an interest in lucid dreaming. Meantime, she really has a lot of magical aptitude, shown in her grab-bag of tricks.
Sign: Abnormally knowledgable and prepared. Often echoes of magic, to those who can detect it. Her walking stick is also a sign: she's "never without it."


"I can always find AN OLD CONTACT."
At least, she can find one if there's one in the city.

Unreasonable orientation
She always knows which way is home base (the hotel, the plaza where you parted and agreed to meet, etc.)

She can if tell people are Sundered at a glance, and if seemingly ordinary events took place behind the Sundering. E.g., that looks like they're fussing with their tea, but actually they're reading omens.

"Take some of my special TONIC."
It's based on red wine. It tastes like road tar with the fun parts left out. It's been used for hangovers, shock, viral aching, headaches, sleepiness and wakefulness, diarhea and constipation, vertigo, fever and chills.

Nice save and "They're in trouble!"
A couple of nephews are still with us because of these.

"I get the drift."
Cannot quite translate Spanish, Portuguese, or Dutch, but very nearly. Somewhat foggier on other foreign languages.

"CROWS like me."
Crows, ravens, jackdaws, rooks, jays, and corvids generally like Agatha. They come begging treats when she eats outdoors and show up on her windowsill. Injured ones seek her out. Sometimes, she meets fays and jinn in crow form this way.

Hard stare
Rather free with it.

Favorite attack
Walkingstick. It was a gift from her Dear Father. (She walks briskly, without the slightest limp, but it has a pointy ferrule, an aluminum stiletto concealed in it, and the knob is heavy. It also has a small compartment hidden in the knob and a subtle striping in centimeters making it a ruler.)

Never without it
The walkingstick. Several people think it's magic. It isn't...

Languages: Chenelaise, unaccented English, unaccented French, basic Italian, basic German, reading Sindarin

Taken name ("Auntie." Also "Aggie," though now only her siblings, occasional old school friends, and she in her own thoughts use it)
Name oath, so she can bind herself in contracts (standard for Grand Normans); swearing by St. Theresa also works for her
Grand Norman loyalty oath (standard as a Crown subject)
Ghost sensitive, like most Grand Normans
Fay-friend, like a great many Grand Normans
Sundar (really Weirdar; see Grab-Bag Magic)
Prana-sensitive, quite good (can detect, analyze, and assist or resist give & take)

Religious position:
Catholic in the Grand Norman style, therefore okay with thematic magic and other magia used ethically. Officially Avignese Catholic but considers the divisions among Christians disgraceful and ridiculous, ignoring them as much as possible. Has a private devotion to St. Theresa of Avila, who is, by the way, the patron saint of such cryptic nations as feel they want a patron saint; she took Theresa as her name-saint when she turned fourteen and incorporated the saint's name into her own.

Planet: Mars || Tai-chi pole: yang || Birth: twice-born
Humours: sanguine (phlegmatic) || Volution: extrovert || Stability: very strong

Charity: Very generous with gifts, tips, salaries. Very forgiving of those she loses patience with (a large population; see Wrath) and willing to ascibe misdeeds to stupidity or ignorance rather than malice.
Faith: Loyal to country, friends, family, and principles, in ascending order.
Hope: Not notably optimistic, but giving in would be feeble, so she never does.
Justice: Paricularly down on theft, cheating, and lying. Is a little unclear why the bullied don't strike back more often. (Perfectly willing to strike for them.)
Wisdom: Not subtle, but very practical.
Courage: The only thing she's afraid of is threats to family and friends. See Wrath.
Temperance: Yes, actually, most visible when she clearly reins in her impatience.

Vanity: Really, really hates to look like a fool.
Envy: Not an issue. She considers herself very fortunate. Yes, there were a couple of tragedies in her life, but that's true of everyone.
Avarice: Not avaricious enough to suit the more avaricious members of her own highly commercial family. See Charity and Justice.
Wrath: Readily displays a sharp tongue to the foolish or timorous. Then generally forgets about it. Also forgets to apologise when she's wrong. Not big on vengance but was certainly in at the kill avenging her father and fiancé.
Lust: Not an issue. Russell was the only one for her. Anyone attempting to seduce her will be laughed at.
Gluttony: Not an issue. You can't count a partiality for red dessert wines and chocolates.
Sloth: Far too energetic for that.

Return to Inkliverse
Return to Wind Off the Hilltop

Copyright © Earl Wajenberg, 2019