This section is adapted from the "Thematic Psi" section of the FuRPiG rule set, available
In thematic magic, you may do any kind of magic under a single skill roll, but you can only use the power
when it is applied to your chosen theme. Thematic magics have levels; the harder a given trick in
that theme, the higher the level you must reach before you can do it.
There is no fixed list of schools of thematic magic; players should select the theme and map out the levels
with the GM when the character becomes dedicated to the theme. Note that the character is supposed to be
dedicated to the theme — fascinated by it, making it a major part of their life. The character’s obsession with the theme is the channel that directs the magic.
The rest of this section gives examples of thematic magic. But even these examples are fluid. An ancient Chinese practitioner of Paper Magic could have a different list of tricks than an ancient Egyptian or a modern Western one. And even the lists given for the versions given are not exhaustive. If the player thinks of another trick for a given school, they should rank it honestly on the difficulty scale and add it.
An example of animal magic; magics for other species can be patterned off this. This theme includes a geas
against harming a hawk except when fending off attacks on self, close kin or your own hawk, or as
euthanasia. (A rather weak geas, but hawks play rough.) Violating the geas will cost you hit points in
psychosomatic illness, the severity at the GM’s discretion. Characters with an animal magic should take
Animal Mastery for that species and role-play a great interest in the species.
Dowse for one of your hawks
Animal mastery (use to back up mundane Animal Mastery skill)
Store prana in hollow hawk eggs or feathers
Summon one of your hawks telepathically
Dowse for any familiar hawk
Audit memory of one of your hawks
Make your vision hawk-like
Regain prana quickly by napping with a hawk on your person
Call (but not summon) any hawk in eyeshot
Dowse for hawks generally
Audit memory of any hawk immediately present
See through your hawk’s eyes
See though eyes of any hawk in eyeshot
Project hawk familiar
Do astral projection in hawk form
- Very Hard:
Very Hard 90% Turn into a hawk (humans being limited to Second-Order Glamour instead of
Create a fertile hawk egg under your skin
Oak magic includes a geas of moderate psychosomatic illness for felling healthy oak trees.
detect oak wood
sense health of oak trees
hear upcoming weather reports in oak leaves
clairaudience in oak leaf-sound; claivoyance in oak fire (and use either for two-way communication)
store prana in an oak wand
visionary divination in oak fire or leaf-sound
life-key on oaks: stunt, grow, heal, shape (cost proportional to degree of change)
conjure oak materials: wooden articles, oak-based food & drink
recover prana quickly by sleeping under an oak tree
project familiar: squirrel, pig, purple-emperor butterfly, or twiggy little "eikling"
animate oak tree
- Very Hard:
assume oak shape
Spider magic includes a geas of moderate psychosomatic illness for killing spiders.
arachnology, rope tricks & string games, detect spiders & webs
sense health, life cycle of spiders
telepathy with spiders, summon, control spiders
read/write thoughts on webs
visionary divination through webs and web dew
detect & analyze magic at other end of a silk thread, or "caught" on a web
store prana in knotted silk cords
walk on walls & ceiling
conjure silk items, cast silk snares & nets
fly with silk scarves ("ballooning")
"kiss" of sleep/intoxication/death (hickey, usually)
recover prana quickly by resting or sleeping in a silk net
cast spider familiar, re-grow limbs
- Very Hard:
shapeshift/shapecast to spider, optionally giant (human-sized)
Wasp magic includes a geas of moderate psychosomatic illness for killing wasps.
vespology, detect wasps & nests, knife tricks
sense health, life cycle of wasps
telepathy with wasps, summon, control wasps
read/write thoughts on nests & flowers
visionary divination through hive-buzz or dew on flowers
retrocognition and if-sense in hive-buzz
store prana in a wasp nest
walk on walls & ceiling
conjure paper items & horn stilettos
stiletto of sleep/pain/death
recover prana quickly by sleeping or resting with wasps on your person
cast wasp familiar, conjure flower glamour
- Very Hard:
shapeshift/shapecast to wasp, optionally giant (human-sized)
An example of a material as a magic theme. Suitable, perhaps, for a were-wasp, or, of course, a scholar, book
collector or origami fancier. Paper magic includes a geas of minor prana loss against crumpling or defacing paper.
feel the presence of paper
write or draw by TK
dowse for author / title / subject
dowsing by paper dart
dowse for paper tag
unburn (or burn)
unshred (or shred)
store ("write down") prana on a piece of paper
long-range paper dart
hard paper (armor)
origami by TK
recover prana quickly by eating paper (rice paper is popular)
photography by TK
dictation by TK (you talk; the paper writes on itself)
read/write thoughts on paper
- Very Hard:
dowse for The Answer, as long as it’s written down
animate origami / cutout
enlarge origami / cutout
create origami / cutout / book familiar
create paper from vegetation / wood / scrap
Electric magicians (“electromancers”? “electronurgists”?) are basically preternatural electricians, and have
much the same abilities you might imagine of an electrician robot, only done by psi. Any character, organic
or robot, taking Electric Magic should also take mundane Electrician and work hard at it
Electric magic includes a geas of moderate prana loss against damaging electrical equipment.
sense currents and E-M fields
dowse for electrical equipment
detect radar and radio waves
start and stop electrical equipment
charge, magnetize, and induce currents in appropriate materials
create electric and magnetic fields
“glow” in the radio spectrum
store prana in real batteries and capacitors
do retrocognition on electrical equipment
do psychic wiretap
“hear” radio broadcasts
use unfamiliar electrical equipment "instinctively"
recover prana quickly from electrical sockets and batteries
"feed on" electric current
charge, magnetize and induce currents in inappropriate materials
“speak” in radio or on phone lines
cast radar glamour
- Very Hard:
“see” or send TV signals
divine how to fix electrical equipment
create ball lightning
display radio and TV with glamour and without a receiver
induce spontaneous repair
The theme of Flesh Magic is living bodies. Flesh mages have Fleshkey TK and Lifesense clairvoyance. At
low levels, they can do telepathy only when touching the target; at higher levels, they need to touch for the
initial contact only; at mastery, they can do it by sense-shot, like “normal.”
Flesh magic includes a geas of severe psychosomatic illness, prana loss, and lowered success for using the magic to harm bodies of your own species and a geas of minor prana loss against harming any living animal.
These mages can produce objects made from the materials of their bodies, or of similar bodies, the more
similar, the easier. Assuming the mage is human(oid), we would have:
make textiles woven of hair, ivory and bone artifacts, leather goods, dairy
make horn artifacts, woolens
make “casts” (see below)
store prana in leather or hair braids
make eggs, feathers, tortoise-shell
make casts that don’t look like you
make “shapeskins” (see below)
recover prana quickly by sleeping wrapped in leather or eating raw meat
make coral artifacts, pearls, silk, wax, honey
make casts or shapeskins of any mammal
make casts or shapeskins of any vertebrate
- Very Hard:
make wooden objects, cotton, fruit, wine, bread
make casts or shapeskins of any animal
Starting at the “moderate” level, the mage can produce a version of familiars, “casts.” The simplest form of
cast is a duplicate of oneself. It is a hollow skin, magically inflated and animated, with a slit up the back
where you exited. It lasts a full day, if not overused. If it has to exert itself, or as the end of the day
approaches, it becomes somewhat withered in appearance. At the end of its span, it deflates, and the eyes,
teeth and tongue disappear. Casts are tiring to produce.
As the mage advances, they can make casts that look like other people, or are smaller than themselves, then
other mammals, then other vertebrates, then other animals.
Starting at the “tough” level, the mage can start making “shapeskins.” These are pelts or skins, disturbingly
warm and slightly pulsating. Donning one transforms the wearer into a specific shape matching the hide.
The further a shape is from your own, taxonomically, the harder it is to make a hide for it. Thus a humanoid
mage can make disguises as other humans more easily than a wolf hide, which is easier than a bird.
Fire magic includes a geas of minor prana loss for quenching fires.
immunity to heat damage
dowse for fire, combustibles
hysterical speed and agility; hyperesthesia and patharchic notice for temperature
kindle/quench at a touch; cool (to ambient)/heat at a touch
visionary divination in fire (and use for two-way communication)
retrocognition and if-sense in fire; cool (to ambient)/heat remotely
burn, melt, etc. with very small rises in heat
cast fire glamour; kindle/quench remotely
store prana in candles, matches, oil, or other combustibles
"feed on" (pull calories from) combustibles and fuel
fireballs, firebreath, heat beams from eyes, fingers, etc.
recover prana quickly from fires (which diminish proportionately)
project familiar: phoenix or lizardy or draconian "salamander"
cast heat immunity
- Very Hard:
assume flame shape
Water magic includes a mild geas against fouling bodies of water.
freedom from thirst
freedom from hypothermia in water
drink salt water
"hydrotherapy" speed healing
recover prana quickly in water
elixir-making (storing prana in drinks)
swim at sprint speeds
enhanced agility in water
buoyancy control – make self float or sink more
buoyancy control – make a patch of water support more or less
swim at sprint speeds without tiring
freezing & boiling control (both pumping heat & changing phase point)
- Very Hard:
move through water at supernatural speed
project familiar: some aquatic animal
assume form of some aquatic animal
Star magic ordinarily works only when stars are visible. Star magic is assisted by your "lucky star," and most star mages have such a lucky star.
see by starlight well enough to discern colors
know when your lucky star is in the sky, despite cloud cover, being indoors, etc.
get lucky star bonus when the star is up and visible
create "stellar aura" or ball of light
astrotelepathy (stare at same star, at same time, touch minds) with holders of same lucky star
get lucky star bonus when the star is above horizon at night, but can be obscured by hills, buildings, trees, etc
astromancy (visionary divination by staring at stars)
recover prana at three times normal in starlight
enhanced speed and agility in starlight
astrotelepathy with other star mages
get your lucky star bonus even on cloudy nights
speed healing in starlight
recover prana at seven times normal in starlight
run at sprint speeds without tiring in starlight
astrotelepathy with other telepaths of any kind
recover prana at twelve times normal in starlight
move through starlight at supernatural speeds
astrotelepathy with anyone
- Very Hard:
use star magic in daylight
"stellar strike" (throw beam or fireball of starlight)
Your lucky star bonus gives you an increased chance of success in using star magic. It gives a smaller increase in using anything else that spends prana.
Mirror magic includes a geas of severe prana loss and lowered success for breaking mirrors.
recognize an enchanted mirror when you see one
use an enchanted mirror for visionary divination ("speculomancy")
store prana in a mirror
make a shiny surface into a perfect mirror
view and talk though a pair of enchanted mirrors
use an ordinary mirror for speculomancy
regain prana quickly by standing between parallel mirrors
make any surface into a mirror
create an enchanted mirror
show speculomancy to another
view and talk from an enchanted mirror to an ordinary mirror
conjure a mirror
view and talk through a pair of ordinary mirrors
make a pair of enchanted mirrors into a portal
- Very Hard:
do transformations by exchanging places with altered reflections
fetch reflections out of mirrors as props or ka-servants, lasting one day
make fetched reflections permanent (requires smashing their mirror of origin)
make a portal from an enchanted mirror to an ordinary mirror
make an ordinary pair of mirrors into a portal (even harder)
Pythagoras is famous as a founder of mathematics and, in the Megiverse and Inkliverse, as a ghostly vampire, member of the Seven of Patmos. He is also the founder of the Pythagoreans, who survive to this day as a minor but international esoteric group.
He's quite annoyed about it, really.
Posthumously, Pythagoras tried to enlighten his followers about his latest discovery, probability. They couldn't assimilate it properly, and instead developed it into a numerological school of magic. This is what annoys Pythagoras. Modern Pythagoreans do know about probability theory, of course, but continue the magic.
Within the esoteric community, they often act as a sort of hired help. If the esoteric world was a Victorian community, Pythagoreans would be the sort of people hired to be paid companions, governesses, or tutors. They're social inferiors, they're there to do a job, but they also have a certain level of refinement that earns them a certain level of respect above that of the servants at large.
A major esoteric group, like a Cabal or an Order (though Orders often have issues with magic, and the Pythagoreans might well have issues with Cabals), would hire some Pythagoreans, mostly to do esoteric detective work, or as medics. They aren't powerful, and their divinations are easily blocked if you know to do it, but they're handy.
They are sufficiently low-powered that spectacular magic is very expensive or tiring for them. They are required to have an abstemious lifestyle. That and their usually high prana levels means they are usually very long-lived.
Besides health, they use their magic for gambling. Besides winning money, they can play for less usual stakes, such as health, rest, prana, luck, geases, knowledge, or skills. Not love, though, or other things that involve the volition of third parties. Not that it hasn't been tried. Strength can be wagered, but not, apparently, beauty or youth.
They do a lot of divination, using tables of numerical correspondences that are almost purely superstition and only have meaning through the placebo effect it has on their magic. In short, like an astrologer, they think they are "reasoning" their way to a divination, using their occult knowledge, when really their interpretations are being guided by unconscious magic. Their divinations tend to go like this:
"Did you realize that the base of the Great Pyramid goes around the equator of the Earth 256,781 times? Now, this is a pentagonal number, but the number of Earth is four, which is of course a square number. The ratio between the sides of square and pentagon of equal area are..." Ultimately leading to something like, "Which is equal to the Golden Ratio to within a tolerance of one over twice 256,781, proving the existence of a ley line 11.76 kilometers west of the Great Pyramid." Which is ballderdash, but the ley line will be there.
Pythagoreans also make great use of music and sound, and combine it with astrology. (Many Pythagoreans also practice straight astrology.) The ancient Pythagoreans, after all, are the ones who invented the idea of the "music of the spheres."
When you enter the order, you take part in a ritual, the climax of which is rolling an eight-sided die with alpha, beta, gamma, and delta written on the sides twice over, or one to four pips twice over. This determines how many numbers you get. (Four is the most sacred Pythagorean number after one and ten.) Then, for each number you get, they roll another eight-sided die, with pips for 2 to 9 or the Greek letters beta through iota. (No one is allowed to have one or ten as their numbers.) Duplicated numbers are given higher significance.
So every Pythagorean has one to four special numbers in the range 2 through 9. They use these numbers to seek omens. They are always seeking numerical omens, but those involving their own numbers pertain specially to them. Finding their special numbers in omens also gives them an extra charge of prana, as do their numerical chants and hymns.
Pythagorean magic includes a geas of moderate psychosomatic illness and lowered success for getting drunk, or eating meat or beans, and a geas of severe prana loss and lowered success for cruelty to animals, or voting in public elections.
numerological divination (getting steadily faster and better as magical ability rises)
get prana from your lucky numbers
"hear" the upcoming weather in the wind
"hear" the tones of each planet, so as to know whether they are above the horizon or not, and their rough direction
store prana as luck, to be cast later at will, if a lucky number is involved
communicate with one another by dice or cards
speed healing with special Pythagorean music (live or recorded)
hear truth or falsity
know far too much about things from the sounds they make — examples:
— The mail beep tells you, "You've got viruses! And your disk needs defragmenting."
— The sound of the engine tells you what brand of wiper fluid the car uses.
— Voice, breathing, or footfalls let you diagnose a person or animal's state of health.
— Know what's being served from hearing the dishes rattle.
store prana as luck
recover prana quickly with special Pythagorean music (live or recorded)
"trace" a voice over a phone or on tape, as to location and circumstances
You can get prana from your lucky numbers in the following ways, where N is a lucky number:
- on the Nth day after a solstice or equinox
- on Nth day after new moon
- by encountering natural (unforced) sets of N and reciting “All is number.”
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Copyright © Earl Wajenberg, 2010