The Shadows Move
The first thing that you need to know is that all the spells, wards, initiation, magic groups, traditions, and spirit mechanics remain the same. The differences are as follows.
Magic in Steamshadow is far more subtle than in standard Shadowrun. A spellcaster may cast up to Force 5 without having to engage in all sorts of hand waving and chanting. This also applies to totem masks on Shamans. Only at Force 6 and above does any of that noticeable stuff occur.
It is harder for a magician to enter the Astral Plane. Why will be described below but for rule a magician must make a Magic roll scoring a number of successes equal to the Background count to a minimum of one. That means even should there be NO background count a magician must still roll at least one success. Remember that the rule of four still applies; for every four dice they would roll they may instead opt for an automatic success.
Magicians may only enter the astral plane in darkness. A dark room, a cloudy night, a forest grotto steeped in shadows. These are all places where a magician may leave their body and bound through the astral plane. If their unattended body should be suddenly exposed to light a magician will be instantly pulled back to their body and suffer 5S which can be resisted with Willpower + appropriate spell drain stat. In addition the magician will be disorientated for 10-Willpower minutes suffering a -2 dice pool penalty. Based on a magicians Willpower and Magic different effects also occur when they are unexpectedly pulled back into their bodies by light. These additional effects are easily determined take Magic – Willpower the result corresponds to the table below.
0 (or less) – No discernible effects. The Magician simply slips back into his or her body suffering only the normal stunning effects of an unplanned exit from the Astral
1 – The light that brought the Magician back dims a little, maybe a small breeze as they return to their body.
2 – The light dims noticeably and there is a distinct breeze, enough to make candles and unshielded lanterns flicker.
3 – Even electric lights dim at this level, the breeze is a gust of wind there is a vague and distant moan on the wind.
4 – The lights seems to retract into itself for a moment, the shadows pulse, the wind gusts and there is a distinct moaning, candles and unshielded lamps are blown out.
5 – The light seems to be blocked by shadows, the wind keens and the temperature drops abruptly.
6 (and above) – The shadows flex wildly blocking light, a great burst of wind knocks over light objects and sends sand and dust in a twirl, frost spreads across metal and stone as the temperature drops. At higher levels these effects become even more pronounced and even dangerous as the shadows take on weight and start knocking objects or even cutting bystanders, the wind could become a true vortex. At high enough levels a temporary mana warp could form bringing it’s own strangeness to the event.
So why are there the changes that there are and not others? Simply put the magic is shadow and shadow is the astral plane. According to the Great Dragon Dunkelzhan the world started as darkness and the things in that darkness were content that it was so. Then the light came and pushed back the darkness and revealed a world of earth and air and fire and water. A world where creatures not of darkness could exist and thrive. Now even the Great Old Wyrm himself has said that this story is simply only that, a story. But there are those, many of them magicians who spend a great deal of time in the astral that speak of things and sights stranger and far more threatening than the usual array of spirits and elementals. Many are the magician that attempts to initiate into the higher mysteries and simply never returns to his or her body.
The simple fact of the matter is that magic is not a thing of bright truths and unbiased powers. The magic of our world is dark and subtle and dangerous. The spirits that claim shamans as their own have agendas and goals and rarely do they share them with any mortal creature.
The Astral resembles the real world, the longer something has stood the more ‘real’ it is in the Astral. Some of the most ancient landmarks of London are separate realms within the Astral of London. The Tower of London is especially a dangerous place; haunted by the shades of the convicts put to death there. There is a story of the place being watched over by a spirit that takes the form of a murder of crows. The stories suggest that this spirit while strong enough to take a single or even pair of sorcerers it stays away from any group or even well prepared pair of sorcerers. All things are seen as they truly are in the Astral. Which makes for poor commentary on the city streets of London which are perpetually covered in fog and shadows in the Astral. The moon hangs heavy and yellow or red in the deepest and darkest night sky any are ever likely to see. Each and every building can stand as a simply foggy or translucent outline of itself or appear as solid as it does in the real world and any variation in between. Some newer buildings or even streets do not appear at all and instead ancient homes and huts, battlements and graveyards stand in there place. Few things, objects, or places glitter or shine in the Astral although people all seem to have a glow to them as they pass down shadowy streets totally unaware of their own reflection in the Astral. A traveler in the Astral could sit on a stoop and watch the people all walk by, all of them completely unaware of the observation. The glow of their flesh and spirits betraying their moods, strengths, failures, and true selves for a canny observer.
There are certain places within the city and without that are of especial importance.
The Tower of London as described above is a dangerous and fearful place; The Murder, a murder of crows shaped spirit that lords over the tower like a pall, is a spirit of middling power. Enough to destroy one or two magicians at a time but not undefeatable or inescapable. The tower is also haunted by the shades of those who have languished in the cells there and died and of course those that were executed on the premises. Many are the shades of nobility who seem a bit stronger than the others, perhaps because of the intrinsic superiority of the noble spirit? Or perhaps more likely because of the power of their name. There seems a correlation between the greater the power of the name in life the greater the power of the deceased’s shade.
The Thames is in many ways the lifeblood of the city and as such is a powerful place in the Astral. The Thames is a great pulsing vein in the Astral, a blue white river that seems far wider and far swifter than it appears in the physical world. Many Magicians have commented saying the river brings fresh mana sources to the city and that is why the city has stood for so long, strengthened by this never ending supply of energy and dynamism. Some whisper the black spots in the river are a symptom of the end to that flow. They speak of the industries that have grown along the river poisoning it and slowly killing the flow of energy through the city. Many of the older magicians do mention the magic coming with more difficulty of late as the city industrializes and many city shamans have tried to stop the rising tide of industry. The gears of industry carry on and the Companies have deployed their own magicians and even worse, politicians to keep the flame of advancement marching.
Buckingham Palace is a veritable fortress in the Astral. The grounds are guarded by spirits of all kinds and the building themselves are warded with intricate knots of power. Every kind of ward known and unknown keep safe the Royal Family; many having been set by the Royal Consort himself. The Astral of the place has also been sculpted to assist the Prince in…whatever it is that he does in that place. The wards and barriers of the Palace are not seen as solely a great Astral fortification but also as a work of art by many magicians. A beautifully draped lace work of energy across the grounds and buildings, like the finest wrought porcelain it is an enchanting sight.
There are many traditions, cults, circles, clubs, and groups of all names and types in the city of London practicing or claiming to practice magic. Among these organizations a few stand out.
The Merry Establishment of City Wardens are a rather cheeky group of young men and even some women that claims to have the cities best interests at heart. Often called the Wardens they are a group of Shamans dedicated to various city dwelling spirits. They are responsible for the destruction of many factories and establishments they see as polluting the cities spirit. While they have done little to curtail the overall development of industry they have made a name for themselves among the poor and destitute for their compassion and their willingness to feed, house, and cloth any one willing to take up their fight. While their politics mark them as outsiders their are few who match their knowledge of the city and where to go to get what. They are often hired as guides, rarely letting their politics interfere, lending this business an air of professionalism.
The Royal Arcane was founded by Prince Albert and they answer only to him and HRM Victoria. Acting as arcane bodyguards to both and to the royal children they take their appointment very seriously. They stand out amongst most magicians as they well versed in the physical aspects of protecting royalty and are considered some of the most well trained magical warriors in Europe. Though the Royal Consort is the titular head of the organization the actual leader is a Dwarf magician named Harold Innis whom the Prince appointed personally to the position. There are many who would see the Irish Dwarf fall from his lofty position but they all come across the same obstacle in this quest. He is good; very good at his job and considered one of the finest minds in England. He is also purported to be incorruptible.
Return to the Overview of Steamshadow