Classes, Powers, and Spells

Class Descriptions: Each class is described in the context of their common roles, historical and mythical figures, and common garb.  This is all meant to give an example of the class, rather than to draw any prescriptive lines.

Life Points: Characters all start with 2 Life Points at 2nd level. Every odd numbered character level, they will gain one more Life Point until they have ten.

Spikes: Spikes are a way for the different classes to do more damage in combat.  Whenever a Spike is used, the character will call the damage (unless it is one point) as the attack is made.  Whether it hits, misses, or is blocked or Countered, the Spike is expended.  The default number of Spikes a character has is one.  The number of Spikes a character has available resets at the end of each Short Rest.

Spike Damage: Spike damage is the amount of damage that the character will do when she uses a Spike.  The default Spike damage for everyone is one point (meaning some classes have spikes that don’t add to damage if used with a normal melee attack).

CP:  This number shows how many Character Points the character earns at that level.  These may be spent on Skills or Advantages in conjunction with Character Points earned at character creation.

Power Descriptions: Powers are learned abilities that are limited use, rather than being available at all times, or being a part of the character’s background.  For example, the ability to cast 2nd level divine spells is a skill, while the 2nd level spell “Burn” is a Power.  Powers are listed with a name, incantation, Call, Effect,  target, Accent, duration, Delivery, and refresh.  The call  is the suggested method of communicating what the power does to the target.

Sacrifice: Some Powers will require a sacrifice, usually Life Points.  This means that the character will lose the required sacrifice regardless of protections, armor, resistances, or even immunities.  These Powers will not always use the word ‘sacrifice’.

Accents:  Some Powers will allow a character to change or add Accents.  If the Power says add and Accent, then the Accent can only be used if there is no Accent normally Called (like by Skill or by Weapon).  If the Power says change an Accent, the Accent can be substituted instead of any Accent that is already there or added, if there is not one Called normally.

Triggered Powers: By default, all Powers activate immediately after the incantation (or focus) is completed.  Some, however, are “triggered” Powers which set up an ability that the target can use later.  On other people, this is handled by Imbuing them with a Power, but on one’s self, this is found in the description of the Power.  These Powers usually last until they are used or until a certain duration runs out.  By default, triggered spells go away if the character dies or comes back to life.

Incantation: The words that must be spoken out loud in order to activate the ability.  While performing an incantation, a character has a number of requirements that must be adhered to.  These are:

If at any time during the incantation, the caster is affected (i.e. takes an effect, rather than it being stopped by a defense) by a weapon or spell or disturbed in any physical way including blocking a blow, the incantation is interrupted and the Power will not work. The Power remains unused and the caster can try again immediately.  Calling a Counter or “No Effect” will not disrupt an incantation.  If struck by something that requires a Call (such as a Counter or Immunity), the player should make the call and then continue the incantation to the best of her ability.

Sometimes the incantation will then have a multiplier after it, indicating how often the incantation must be chanted.  Thus, the incantation for a Power might be “By my faith, I heal thee” x 3, which means the phrase must be repeated three times in order to activate the power.  

“Fake-casting”:  For whatever reason, it is always obvious to those watching the character if she is really casting a spell or activating a Power.  Because of this, "faking" magic casts and other incantations is not allowed unless all those present know that the incantation is fake.  This means that the caster is not allowed to trick others into believing that a real spell is being cast when that is not the case.  The converse is not true.  There are times when class Powers will give a character an ability to activate a Power without others knowing, such as using a poem or song to activate a Power.

Focus: Sometimes a Power will require focus.  This is listed under “incantation”.  It is a period of meditation or concentration required to make the Power activate.  Focus is basically a silent incantation and follows the same requirements as an incantation: it can be disrupted in exactly the same way with exactly the same results.  Focusing does not require a free hand, however.  The amount of time that someone is required to Focus is listed as a Quick Count.  See more on counts below.

Call: When a Power is used on another, the player should then give the description of the effect, referred to as “the Call”.  If using a packet (spell-packet or spell-ball), the description should be given as it hits.  This is not a requirement.  The only requirement is that the description is given in such a way that the target understands what has happened. Tymeria casts Heal by chanting “From shining hope and righteous might, I draw the power from grace and Light to heal you;” she then touches Triss and gives the Call “Triss, Heal 2”.  Knox casts Vampiric Bolt by chanting “From Darkness deep and blinding hate, I ask the Darkness seal thy fate to drain thee of vigor!” while holding a packet of materia.  He then throws it at Triss and calls out “3 Darkness and drain by Darkness”.  The Call is meant to keep things clear, it does not botch the spell or have any game effect (other than having to clarify more) if the call is made incorrectly.  Because players are assumed to understand their own Powers, there is no Call on Self-targeted Powers

Calls for Counters: The Call for a Counter is almost always simply the name of the Counter.  In Powers that have a Counter, the exact Call suggestion will be listed as the Call.  Protection is a particular kind of Counter that is called specifically as “Protect”.

Target: This lists what kinds of targets the power can be used on.  Commonly, this is “Individual” which means any one person, monster, or creature (living or undead).  It does not mean incidental or non-threatening animals, rodents, insects, etc.

Duration: This shows how long the effects of the power will last.  Effects are always applied for a certain amount of time.  No spell effect ever lasts past the end of the Event unless otherwise noted.  These can be as follows:

Instantaneous:  These Powers have no duration.  Their effect is immediate and permanent.  This is generally used for Powers that Mend, Rebuild, do damage, or return the target to a “normal” state like Cure.

Quick Counts: A Quick Count is given with a number, almost always 100.  To complete a Quick Count, the player must, out loud or preferably under her breath, count to the number in question.  She may count as quickly as she can or as slowly as she wants; this is not seconds.  The expectation is that every number will be counted (i.e. no “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,20”) normally.  When this task is completed, the duration expires.  This is an out of game count.

The First Lich’s Prayer: In Hollow Dawn, however, there is an alternative to Quick Counts:  The First Lich will remove Effects with Quick Count durations, if a specific prayer is made to him.  This Prayer is as follows:

My lord I keep the compact true

in kind I now call out to you

to aid me in my time of need

That I may serve in word and deed

[Repetition Count] time(s) I ask this of my lord

If the Prayer is repeated once, it can take the place of any Quick 30 Count.  If the Prayer is repeated five times, it can take the place of any Quick 100 Count.  In the Prayer itself, the [Repetition Count] number helps keep track of the number of repetitions made.  Unlike a Quick Count, the First Lich’s Prayer is in-game, and can be heard by other characters.  The Prayer is so ingrained in The People that repeating it can be done even in circumstances where it seems impossible, like while Slept, Paralyzed, or even Dead.

Slow Counts: Much like a Quick Count, a Slow Count is done out loud or under one’s breath, and the expectation is that every number will be counted.  The difference is that Slow Count is expected to approximate the passing of seconds and the player must try to do one count every second.  When this task is completed, the duration expires.  This is an out of game count.

Short Rest: Effects that have a duration of Short Rest will last until the player completes a Short Rest (a period of low activity during which time no other Powers can be used, which typically lasts about 5 minutes).  Spikes and Powers with a “Short Rest” refresh will both refresh at the end of the five minutes.  Powers with a duration of “Short Rest” will end at this same time.

Long Rest: Effects that have a duration of Long Rest will last until the player completes a Long Rest. Long Rests typically occur at specific points throughout a weekend, and are usually defined by the setting.  Taking a Long Rest also counts as a Short Rest.  In Hollow Dawn, the first Short Rest a character takes after 7am and after 7pm will count as their Long Rests.

Until Cured/Permanent: These Effects last until the end of the Event unless they are removed somehow in-game.  By default, if no duration is communicated, the Effect duration is Until Cured/Permanent.

Multiple Durations: If a character is being affected by multiple durations of either a Quick or Slow Count, each count must be completed individually.  For example, if a character is affected by an “Imprison by Ice, Quick 100” and a “Paralyze by Poison, Quick 100” the player will have to do both Quick Counts separately, and may choose which one completes which Effect.

Interrupted Durations: Often, a player will not get to complete a duration count in one go.  In this case, the player is allowed to pick up the count where it was left off.  Perhaps she is Rooted for a Quick 100 and, 43 into her Quick Count, she decides she needs to toss a Magebolt.  She can cast the Magebolt, then resume her Quick Count at 44.

Delivery: This lists what ways the Power can be used on others.  Weapon, Packet, Touch, are all very common. Note that any Power that has a Packet delivery can be used on a willing or helpless target as a Touch range power, even without the appropriate packet.  More can be found in the Effects and Conditions Chapter about these delivery methods.

Weapon Delivery: These Powers require a strike by a weapon.  Technically, normal combat attacks are Weapon Delivery.  Remember, weapon-delivered damage has to hit a person in order to harm, but Effects that are weapon-delivered can hit the person or their equipment.  Usually, Weapon-Delivered Powers are called as the weapon hits.  Weapon-Delivered spells are usually charged by a spell for later use.

Packet Delivery: These Powers require a packet (either a spell packet or spell-ball) to be charged and then later  thrown.  Many Powers that are delivered by packet need only hit equipment to be effective, but others, mostly cantrips, will need to hit the person properly.  Any Power with a Packet Delivery can be used as a Touch spell on a willing or helpless target.  Doing so does not require the user to have a packet.

Touch Delivery:  These Powers require the user to reach out a hand to within 6” of some part of the target, although actual touch is absolutely not required and must be avoided unless Physical Roleplay Consent has already been negotiated.  Touch spells will never be used against opponents in combat.  In order for a spell with Touch delivery to work (or a packet spell being used with Touch delivery) the target must either be helpless (dying, bound, paralyzed, etc.) or willing.

Role-Playing (RP): Role-playing delivery means that the use of the Power requires the character to perform some kind of in-game activities.  This might be teaching another character, making a potion, or sharpening a sword.

Verbal Delivery: A verbal delivery requires the user to call the name or a description of the target, and then give the Call of the Power.  These affect a single individual but are entirely verbal in nature.  Although characters can see who is being affected by a Verbal Effect, the Verbal is a Call and is thus out of game.

Voice Delivery: Unlike a verbal, Voice Delivery affects multiple people.  It is called with “By My Voice” and affects everyone who hears the Call.  As a default, the person using the Voice Effect is not one of the targets.  Although characters can see who is being affected by a Voice-Delivered Effect, the Delivery is a Call and is thus out of game.  Some Voice attacks may have an accompanying Accent that makes it obvious that there is an in-game component to the sound, such as “By My Voice Death by Scream”.

Room Delivery: This is the same as a Voice Delivery, but only affects people in the same room or demarcated area.  Room-Delivered Effects are called with  “In This Room”, even if they are in caves, cages, or other delineated areas.  If an “In This Room” Effect is delivered outside a demarcated area, it will generally only affect the person that triggers it or uses it.

Refresh: This tells you when the power becomes available again.  A power with a Refresh of “Short Rest” can be used again once a Short Rest has been completed.  Note that if a character has the same power more than once, each one can be used before the Refresh.  If Belswin has chosen the power Saving Flame three times, he can use it three times between each Short Rest.  If he only used it once, that one would still Refresh after a Short Rest.  Spells are listed with a Refresh of “Spell” because spell-slots will be refreshed by the particular refreshing Powers of each individual casting class as well as all spell-slots refreshing after a Long Rest.  Powers with a Refresh of “Immediate” can be used as often as desired.

Out of Combat: A number of Powers require the character to be “out of combat”.  A character is out of combat if they are not being actively struck or attacked in any way, and if they do not have to defend in any way against incoming aggression.  This means that the character does not believe there is a credible chance that they will be attacked or struck (so being in the middle of a pack of PCs during a large combat is not likely to qualify).  Basically, if the character feels she could close her eyes and turn her back and would be safe (rather that feel like she is taking a risk), she can activate “out of combat” Powers.

Power Conflicts: If there is ever any question as to whether one Power works against another, the higher level ability or spell always wins out.  Also, in the case of simultaneous effects, both events occur.  For example, if a Warder calls out a Hold spell (a spell that effectively paralyzes the target) and is hit by a blow that was in motion when the spell was called, the damage is still taken.  As long as a Call is begun, the Power will go off.   If a Mage calls out a Blast spell (a spell that does damage) as a Warder calls out Retributive Protection spell (a damaging spell) both occur, even if one of the casters is incapacitated or killed from the damage.  

Spell books and Preparation: Mages Warders, and other casting classes must have a scroll, book, or other special item to take with them into games.  These spellbooks should have all of the spells that the character has learned.  The number of spells a character can have in her spellbook will be determined by her class, level, and other Skills and Powers; you may not add Spells into a spellbook unless some feature allows you to.  The chart at the beginning of each spell-casting class lists the number of spell-levels worth of spells the character can add into her spell-book at each level (if it says “+4” that means the character could add four levels worth of spells, which might be one spell from 1st level and one from 3rd, or one 4th level spell, etc.)  At the very minimum, a character must record the name and level of a spell and the incantation for the spell in their spellbook in order to have learned it.  Often this is accompanied by description, effects, and various notes or diagrams.  Once a character has learned a spell, as long as the spell’s level is equal to or lower than her class-level, she may choose to prepare it and must study her spellbook to do so.  The character can only Prepare spells from their own spellbook; without all the special notes, personal significance, and meditative connection to the process of scribing the book in the first place, the caster cannot sufficiently internalize the necessary minutiae to Prepare a spell.  Finally, a spellbook need not be a book: it may be a lead with arcane markings, a stick with diagrams burned into it, or a clay slate; no matter the spellbook’s form, it must always have the minimum required name and level of a spell upon it.  There is no limit on the number of spellbooks a character can have.

        Spellbooks can only be created between Events, so if a character’s last copy of a spellbook is lost or destroyed, she will be unable to Prepare new spells and will have to make do with spells she has already Prepared.

Preparation: During a Short Rest, a character can Prepare spells by recording their names and levels in their spellbook and crossing off previous Preparation lists.  A character with multiple un-crossed-out Preparation lists is considered to have botched the Preparation and will have no spells available for casting. A character need not re-Prepare spells at every Short Rest.  Whatever the latest un-crossed-out entry will remain Prepared until it is actively changed. The number of spells they can Prepare is determined by their character class and level as well as the skills they have chosen.

Spell-slots: Casting classes also have a number of “Spell-Slots” that can be used to cast spells with.  These spell-slots are categorized as Novice, Intermediate, Greater, and Master spell-slots.  A Novice slot can be used to cast any 1st-3rd level spells the character has Prepared.  An Intermediate slot can be used to cast 4th-6th level spells.  A Greater spell-slot can be used to cast 7-9th level spells. A Master spell-slot is used for 10th level spells.   So, if Knox had three Novice Arcane slots and two Intermediate Arcane slots, he could cast the same 2nd level spell twice, a 3rd level spell, a 4th, and a 6th with those.

Once the casting is completed, that spell-slot is exhausted, regardless of what happens after that.  A character can always use a higher level spell-slot to power a lower level spell, so an Intermediate Magic spell-slot could be used to cast Burn (a 1st level spell), for example.  For some spells, this will allow for greater effect.  If so, this will be detailed in the description of the spell.  Spell-slots all refresh after a Long Rest and there are a number of Powers that can allow casters to refresh some number of slots earlier.

Cantrips: Cantrips are special kinds of spells that do not need to be Prepared and can be cast as often as desired.  The cantrips that the caster has access to must be recorded in their spellbook along with the other spells.  Once a cantrip is chosen, it is impossible to change without special use of Skills or Powers.  A cantrip cannot be taken more than once; each cantrip choice must be a different cantrip.

Materia: Many spells, and some abilities, use materia.  Materia is a special magical element that must be mined.  In some magically charged places it can be drawn from the earth, but elsewhere it must be pulled out of the magical weave that is everywhere in the multiverse.  Materia is then collected in sufficient quantities to power a spell and poured into packets.  These packets can be charged with magical power and hurled.  The force of their impact releases the magical power and delivers the effect. The packet, and the materia inside, are rarely destroyed or even damaged by this use.  Even a powerful firestorm-creating spell is unlikely to scorch the materia packet used to release it.  Any spell or ability listed as requiring packet delivery requires a materia packet to function.  The color of the cloth holding the materia is irrelevant to the type of spell or Effect being delivered.  In Hollow Dawn, colored cloth is rare and expensive, so coverings should be made from naturally colored materials (beige, off-white, etc.)   Small, weak spells like cantrips require smaller “spell-packets”.  These are generally an inch or so in diameter and hold very little power.  More powerful spells, anything of 1st level or higher, usually require a “spell-ball”.  These are packets that must be at least 2.5 inches in diameter.  Any spell with a “Packet” delivery will require materia.

Packet spells: Packet spells are delivered by throwing a spell-packet or spell-ball to strike an opponent. Packet spells can always be cast as touch spells on willing targets, even without materia.  The incantation for a spell is required to charge the packet and it is then ready to be thrown.  Once charged, it will remain so indefinitely, although the caster should call “Packet Charged” or “Magic Active” or the like when there are those around who might want or need to know that the materia is filled with arcane or divine energy.  A packet will lose its power if no longer held in a hand (usually discharging the spell on whatever it hits, if it strikes a valid target) or if another spell is cast.  Spells that charge multiple packets at the same time abide by these same rules; this means that only the packets from a single spell can be charged and active at any one time.  If the caster puts a charged packet back in their pouch, tosses it up and catches it, or sets it aside so they can use a pen, the spell will go off. When the packet strikes, the spell’s Call should be announced.  This is an out-of-game call to explain what has just occurred.  Packets hold materia (see above).

Spell-packet Construction:  Spell packets are small balls that are made out of cloth and bird seed.  Small bird seed varieties should be used, and even sunflower seeds should be avoided if possible.  Rice and other materials (like sand) may not be substituted.  To make the packet, place a small pile of it in the center of a square or circle of cloth approximately 6 to 7 inches across.  The fabric is then gathered up around the birdseed and held together (often with a rubber band or stitching).  Spell-packets should be loose, rather than tight, and the cloth should be of a suitable in-period material (no bright colors, no printed patterns, etc.)

Spell-ball Construction: Spell-balls are larger bundles that represent non-cantrip spells. Built in much the same way as spell-packets, they are made by putting a core of foam or soft material inside a square or circle of cloth 10 to 11 inches across. This is to make a mostly spherical object at least 2.5” in diameter. The core can be foam balls wrapped in cloth, rubber bands, or bundles of heavier cloth.  The fabric shell is pulled up around the core and bound with a rubber band or stitching.  Spell-packet cloth should be of a suitable in-period material (no bright colors, no printed patterns, etc.).

Other colors: Some campaigns may use packets to represent various other things such as globs of venom-spit, bursts of magma, or even arrows.  In these campaigns, the packets will generally be made from non-natural colors such as green or red, and those will be described in the campaign setting.