This page addresses information about shadow magic, otherwise known as sciomancy, and its in-character uses as they applies to World 42 role-playing. Any valuable contributors are welcome to add, especially as new content or ideas come out in-game.
The Basic Concept of Shadow Magic
To use shadow magic in role-play is to have a character make use of charms, runes, and spells to supernaturally manipulate the ancient force of shadow. At its most intuitive level, a magician using shadow magic has the ability to manipulate shadow around at his will so long as he has the runes and physical energy to continue. As with most magics, there is a direct correlation between the experience/skill of a magician, the quantity of shadow he can control at once, and the intricacy with which he can control it. So, a mid-level shadow-magician could either roughly control a large volume of shadow or could delicately control a small volume of shadow.
The ways to combat an enemy with shadow magic are really only limited to the creativity of the player and his character. The damage that shadow magicks do is very similar to that of real-life chemical burns, reacting with a body's organic substance and quickly eroding it away. That being said, these are two common techniques for attacking with the shadow: splashing, infecting, and entrapping.
"Splashing" is a blunt-force projectile method of using shadow magic. It is perhaps the most intuitive way to attack with shadow magic. In this technique, the mage generates/gathers a volume of shadow, the bigger the better, and hurls it like a missile at the enemy. Upon contact, this would be similar to momentarily splashing the opponent with corrosive acid. It's got a painful, weakening force to it, as well as some push from it. It seems to be "corrupting".
"Entrapping" is a technique that attacks the opponent's environment instead of body and clothing. For example, a shadow mage might summon a flurry of his magic around his victim, such that he could enclose it without the enemy escaping or would force the enemy to pass through it to continue. He could also put a barrier of shadow between himself and the opponent, especially while the opponent is charging, such that he would come in contact with the very painful magic and may very well be temporarily blinded. However it happens, the end result of this method is always the opponent faced with shadow in his environment.
Defending with shadow magic is just like attacking with it - the possibilities are limited only by creativity. Three basic ways to defend against an assailant include
"Wall" - This doesn't make an actual wall, but rather a replica made of shadow. With the level of darkness preventing an opponent from seeing through, they can take the time to go around while the magician charges another spell, or attempt to charge straight through part of the "wall", hoping that they get close to the magician to attack afterward. If they went through nearly any spot, they'd be hit with a painful magical effect effect, identical to the one in the offensive "splashing". Depending on how injured they were after passing through, you could finish them or get farther away. Keep in mind that this technique doesn't block projectiles, but reduces the chance of one being aimed at exactly where you are. Think of it as a one-sided "entrapping", but between you and your opponent, not around them.
"Hide" - This technique makes the magic user blend into nearby shadows, making him hard to find and thus giving him time for his next move.
"Darken" - This technique aims to blind the opponent by creating a layer of shadow, not unlike the "Wall" around his/her eyes. The enemy will be unable to see the mage (especially if he moves), giving you enough time for a new spell, or rapid escape.
Defending Against It
The key to staying safe from shadow magic is to either disable the mage, dodge the spell, or prevent it from hitting you. Disabling the mage is a basic idea - if he can't cast the magic spells, you won't be harmed by them. The way to go about disabling him depends on your combat style. Dodging spells works mostly for projectile-type fighting methods, particularly "splashing" attacks. The simple answer for these is to get out of the way or out of range. If all else fails, though, prevent the spell from colliding with you by using some kind of barrier method. Put another element - especially fire (light) or earth - between you and your enemy shadow magician. Jump behind a building or rock or fight the shadow off with the light from a fire. Wooden, cosmic, or dragonfire shields work well against shadow magic and any kind of leather armor will weaken the effects of a magical spell or, even better, cancel them entirely.
Shadow magic has a number of practical uses outside of combat, though it is certainly not considered legal in many places. The following is a list of potential ways to use shadow magic in everyday or commercial life.
- It would be a handy skill to have while traveling, especially with soldiers - a mage who could darken the air around travelers would make it easier them to sleep when convenient rather than when night falls.
- Given the fascinating properties of darkness, shadow magic would be successful in show business.
This category addresses traits that players, often new ones, give their shadow mage characters but that aren't actually legitimate or acceptable traits in users of shadow magic.
- Just because you can use shadow magic doesn't mean that you can use all of it effectively in every way. A 28 year old human would be competent if he had committed a lot of study to the one ancient magick, but the realm of expert is not yet within his grasp. Remember, if everyone is a prodigy, no one is a prodigy.
- Typically, role-players accept generating one level of spell per turn. That means a shadow spell the size of a low-level missile would be at full power immediately. In contrast, to build up to a shadow barrage, your magician would have to avoid the enemy for a few turns in order to operate it at full power.
- Given the archaic nature of ancient magicks, it would not be an easily known school of magic.
- As with most magics, metal conducts shadow magic. Shadow magic that comes into contact with an enemy in metal armor would most likely accelerate through the armor and continue on its trajectory.
- Also like most magics, leather weakens shadow magic. Shadow magic that comes into contact with an enemy in leather armor (especially dragonhide) would lose a lot of its power and do much less damage than it otherwise would have.