MnM3e Campaign Guidelines

Power Level
Power Level follows the same milestones as Ability Scores
PLCharacter ExampleCampaign Note
1CivilianBase level for normals
2-4Skilled Mundane-
5Notable Expert; Weak CinematicBase level for adventurers
6World Class; Skilled Cinematic-
7Historical Figure/ProdigyPeak level for normals
8Cinematic Figure (slight reality bending)Base level for pulp
9-11Superhuman (blatant reality bending)Base level for superhumans
12-13Potent Superhuman-
14Global-scale Superhuman-
15-17Interstellar-scale Superhuman-
18+Cosmic; lesser titan-

Third Age - Fantasy Genre
All characters begin at PL5 with 75pp.
Characters are capped at 7 in both Abilities and Power Level. However, there are ways beyond this ceiling for those willing to sacrifice a bit of their mortality.

Everyone will receive 5pp worth in bonus skills and advantages based upon their character’s cultural upbringing.

Bonuses to abilities received from racial templates add to the ability cap as well as the individual stat. Dwarves get a +1 to Strength, Stamina, and Awareness. Therefore, for these three abilities, their mortal limit is 8 while the cap is still 7 for their other abilities and power level.

Powers gained from racial templates are assumed to be Permanent and Innate unless otherwise stated. There’s no point in having a player pay more to protect his gnome from having his natural shortness (Shrinking) nullified.

Bonuses to abilities received from class templates do not add to the ability cap. These bonuses are the result of on the job training so they must fit within the character’s limits. If such a bonus would be negated by an ability cap, the player need not buy that specific trait from the template.

During the Third Age, the forces of civilization have put sorcerer-kings and necromancers in the past. The Federation of Keoghland moves toward monotheism and theocratic rule. Already, gods of the previous age have been recast as angels, servants of the Godking. Priests have forsaken theurgy in favour of the combat prowess to hunt magi. As a result of that hunting, many great orders are in ruin, their knowledge put to the torch, and their survivors in hiding.

Magic Rules

The Basics
Expertise (Arcane Lore) is the core skill for magical knowledge. It consists of a general knowledge of all things magical, including spellcasting.

The actual craft of magic falls under the advantages Artificer and Ritualist. Without Artificer, a mage has no aptitude to enchant items. Without Ritualist, a mage cannot grasp the flow of ritual, which bars them from spellcasting as spells are in essence simplified rituals. While not a critical advantage, Trance is common amongst magi, indicative of training in meditation or other consciousness-altering techniques. Generally speaking, most cultures keep these skills under lock and key. While many cults, sects, and orders begin as groups of like-minded folk, eventually, they begin policing their knowledge under oaths of secrecy.

There are two paths to power in most nations, by joining an organization or going it alone. Joining means access to spells, books, mentors, and perhaps influence. It also means adhering to rules, and a hierarchy of authority. Magi who go this route may find themselves changing to fit a single communal image. Those who go alone retain their freedom but have to find every scrap of wisdom they earn. The price for freedom may well be the path of the dabbler.

The good news is that while it is general, Expertise (Arcane Lore) is sufficient to learn the basics. At 4 ranks, the player may purchase either Artificer or Ritualist. At 8 ranks, he may purchase both.

Prerequisite: Expertise (Arcane Lore) 4 or more ranks, plus Arcanist &/or Ritualist
   1. Gain access to Magical Inventions &/or Magical Rituals,
   2. may purchase Riding the Synchronicity Highway: Luck Control 1, Luck 2, 5pt

Dabblers are fine knowing just the basics. They either shy from the hard road of learning true magic or have other priorities. While they perform rituals or enchant items, in a crisis situation, like combat, their lack of training leads to vague intentions that can’t focus a spell. The best they can muster is to conjure coincidence, twisting fate in their favour.

Going Deeper.
Unless one is born with it, such as those with Supernatural Power, becoming a magician requires committing oneself to a lifetime of study and practice. Someone can’t simply read a scroll and conjure a Balrog. Although reading the scroll will get the attention of a Balrog and it will watch its prey intently, separated from it by the thinnest of dimensional veils.

No, to conjure anything, a mage needs a grasp of conjuration, or demonology, depending upon his culture and order. In fact, most cultures and orders categorize acts of magic in their own way, leading to a great deal of overlapping variety. The Expertise (tradition skill) comprises these specialties that vary from one path of magic to another and from one magical order to another.

To purchase a magical framework requires purchasing spells, either as alternate effects to the base Luck Control power, or as premade effects for the Variable frameworks. However, to understand and cast spells, a mage must have an understanding of the philosophy and techniques underlying its design. In short, learning a spell requires research using the skill associated with the spell. If the research is successful, the spell is added to the mage’s magical framework. If it’s his first spell, he purchases the framework from his specific path (theurgy, wizardry, etc)

Magic is all in the Mind
All magic is invisible. Visible magic is possible but only for the most powerful. It’s far easier to throw an imaginary fireball that causes its target to manifest burns than to actually will into being a flame with no fuel, hovering in the palm of one’s hand to be thrown like a solid object. However, this does not imply spellcasting is undetectable because most magical traditions have very obvious processes, such as incantations, loud vibrating calls, bold posturing, and wild gestures.

The Sight
Since magical forces originate in the imagination, those with psychic sensitivity may eavesdrop on a magi’s visualizations and sense her castings. Not surprisingly, many traditions emphasize the development of this sensitivity.
     Senses 9 (Accurate Acute Mental Senses, Magical Awareness, Ranged Detect Magic), Distracting, Sustained; 5pt

        Traditional Practice: Switch Sense Group to one of four ‘natural’ Sense Groups (Hearing, Sight, Smell/Taste, Touch)
        Well-Practiced: Remove Distracting. +4 points.
        Deep Sight: Add Analytical to Mental Sense Group. +2 points.
        Extended: Add Extended to Magical Awareness or Detect Magic. +1/rank

The Hard Cap
With PL7 as the peak of ‘normal’ humanity, no ‘normal’ character can exceed PL7. This includes soldiers, warriors, generals, scholars, and magi. They might continue accumulating power points but their caps remain. However, there are ways around it. Through ordeals, pacts, and other methods, mortals can achieve PL8 and beyond.

PL8 signifies an exit from mundanity, going from elite to cinematic protagonist. Beyond this realm, the narrative holds greater dominance over circumstance than physics. At PL10, characters are genuinely superhuman; their power is palpable. Powers with a Magic descriptor used by characters at PL10 or greater have visible effects unless specifically countered with Subtle.

Magical Complications
Each form of magic has its own complications, fitting with their philosophies and styles. So, magical complications are discussed in detail in each sub-section. However, they all function the same. In essence, by some means (xp earned, roleplay, spells cast or learned), the mage triggers an ordeal. If she survives &/or succeeds, she is rewarded with a burst of wisdom.

The wisdom comes in the form of a magical complication suited to the ordeal. It represents the mage’s strengthening connection to his source of power. A magical complication may involve such things as taboos, self-flagellation, soul contracts, and blood sacrifice.

The benefit is that the mage’s power level increases by 1. He does not however gain additional power points; these are earned the old fashioned way - through adventure. So, a wizard may be tempted to sell his soul to a demon, if he knows it will take him beyond his humanity (raising his PL to 8, for instance). A complication may come to an end. Self-flagellation may be part of an oath lasting a specific period of time, for instance. If a complication comes to an end or is removed, the power level may or may not be reduced. A spiritual ordeal may end but its wisdom endures. A pact with a demon, however, might provide power only when the demon allows.

Example: A master wizard (PL7, 110pp) undergoes an ordeal that required him to sever his right hand as a blood sacrifice. He gains a Complication (Disability) but also gains an increase to his power level (PL8, 110pp). If he regrows his hand, he may lose the power he has gained. If he undertakes another ordeal, he will grow even more powerful.

    Everything is connected.

Wizardry is a hodge-podge of magical theories and techniques. It invokes and entreats spiritual entities like Theurgy. It trains and develops the mage’s inner power like Mysticism. It embraces everything and so enjoys a breadth as great as Supernaturalism.

Wizardry is the youngest of the four roads. It began long after civilization began when men had the resources to plumb the depths of ruins left behind by the Xysh. What they found were the secrets of the ancient Ancalome hoarded and hidden away. Men and Dwarves have always dreamt of power, power without cost, the power of the spirits. Emulating those strange powers, as the Xysh did, was a dream for those early adventurers and in time, that dream came true.

The power to bend reality exists for all beings. Physical reality is solid and slow to change but wizardry changes that. It is a system that uses deep focus to magnify a wizard's willpower as a lens magnifies light. Focused will is directed upon a tight network of associations and meaning developed millennia ago by the Ancalome.

These systems of association vary around the world but they act as a framework, channeling the wizard's focus down into the hidden mechanisms of reality where it can generate potent effect.

Unfortunately, when it began, wizardry was far inferior to theurgy. Causing supernatural effects without the power of a god was long and painstaking like working hard clay. But the Lesser Art did not die. Some wizards were drawn to the challenge while others enjoyed power without a bond of servitude. Wizardry continued to grow as wizards designed new spells and discovered shortcuts. New arts sprang up such as numerology, sacred geometry and alchemy, each of which produced new ways to help wizards develop strong networks of association.

With a full suite of metaphysical techniques, 'weapons-grade' spells came within reach and wizardry was no longer a 'lesser' Art. It continues to grow from those few seeds of ancient wisdom, cultivated by humans and dwarves into something uniquely their own.

A Taste of the Arcane
Experienced through the Sight, wizardry produces very rich mirages. As intellectual constructs, arcane effects appear as complex diagrams of alien words and sigils encased within geometric shapes, along with a sensation of dryness or hidden intelligence. A mage who hears magic might experience orchestral music, with each instrument representing a symbolic connection to thing or essence, combining in complexity to play out the drama of power.

MnM3e: The Build

Prerequisite: at least one Expertise (tradition skill) +5, Arcanist &/or Ritualist, Power Loss Complication (spellcasting)
Benefit: may convert Luck Control into an array and add spells as alternate effects
Note: Luck Control is the base power for the Magic array but it doesn’t limit the array. Players may make their most expensive spell the base power for the sake of enlarging the array.

Prerequisite: as Apprentice, except at least one Expertise (tradition skill) +12
Benefit: may purchase spells (and upgrade existing ones) as dynamic alternates

Prerequisite: as Adept, except at least one Expertise (tradition skill) +18
Benefit: may replace Power Loss complication with a different Arcane Complication

Wizardry is built as an array or a set of arrays. Spells are purchased as alternate effects, representative of a wizard’s need to focus the entirety of his will on one spell at a time. With experience, a magi can learn to split their attention and maintain multiple spells.

To purchase a Wizardry array, the aspiring wizard must have the Arcanist or Ritualist advantage, although many wizards have both. These advantages represent the raw craft of magic by grounding psychic forces into an object or the body itself. The aspiring wizard must also have a system of understanding, a framework to understanding magic and spellcasting. To have such a fundamental understanding requires a minimum total bonus of +5 in a magical Expertise skill, such as conjuration, divination, or aeromancy. These skills vary with each nation, ethnicity, and culture. As an example, Peter Carroll divides Chaos Magic into Evocation, Divination, Enchantment, Invocation, and Illumination. Skyrim uses Alteration, Conjuration, Destruction, Illusion, and Restoration. DnD uses 8 schools with similar names. Which skills the apprentice will need to learn depend upon which magical order or sect she joins.

These skills represent a mage’s understanding of the principles behind that specific facet of wizardry. When following the process for Artificing or Rituals, the mage uses the most appropriate Expertise skill instead of the general Expertise (Magic) described in the rulebooks. For instance, to create a staff of fire, a mage would call upon his knowledge of Evocation, or Destruction, or Pyromancy, while a staff of ice would require Expertise (Evocation, Destruction, or Cryomancy) as its operative skill.

This also applies to the learning of spells. In MnM, learning a new spell is as easy as spending 1xp and adding it to the array. Wizardry isn’t so easy. To learn a new spell, the mage must follow the process for casting a ritual (Magical Rituals, MnM3e Core, Chapter 7). Substitute Expertise (Magic) with a skill most appropriate for the spell. As mentioned above, learning to cast a spell of fire might require Expertise (Pyromancy), or which ever skill from the magi’s magical tradition calls for. Successfully completing the process allows the player to spend the xp and add the spell to his wizardry array. Failure doesn’t destroy the spell but the mage will need to take time away and return to try again later.

Finally, tradition skills may also define which limitations to use for each individual spell. For instance, Destruction may require the use of a wand to direct dangerous energies while Divination may call for a focus (crystal orb, deck of cards, tea leaves, etc.). While Evocation or Conjuration may require to call an entity to appear.

These limitations aren’t purchased as flaws but as the Power Loss complication that all wizards have. Essentially, every magical tradition has a process for spellcasting, whether that is throwing bones, or pointing a wand. If that process cannot be completed because the mage is physically restricted or other means, the spell cannot be cast.

Spell Research
Learning new spells requires study and practice. As covered in Chapter 7, performing a ritual takes many hours. Casting a spell successfully in the midst of a high stress situation like combat requires rock solid confidence in one’s performance.

The first phase of research is study. In this stage, the wizard is either designing a new spell or studying the design of a spell from another source. To do this, the mage needs the appropriate tradition skill. Expertise (Conjuration) for conjuring, Expertise (Abjuration) for defence spells, and so forth. The DC for either learning or designing is 10 + the spell’s power point cost. The time taken to complete this phase is 1 hour per power point for learning a new spell but 4 hours per power point for designing a new spell. Sitting down to a blank page is tougher than an unfamiliar recipe.

If this check fails, the mage does not understand the spell and cannot cast it. However, the spell isn’t lost. At some later date, the mage may have a realization that unlocks the puzzle.

The second phase of research is practice. Player characters aren’t librarians or accountants. They are protagonists so they need their spells to go off without a hitch with the quick pace of the high action lifestyle. This requires performing a spell over and over again until muscle memory takes over. Or, more specifically, 1 hour per power point of the spell is required to take the spell from a slow ritual to a spell cast with the speed of an alternate effect in an array.

A mage who reaches +10 with an Expertise (tradition skill) can make small on the fly alterations to spells associated with that skill. There are two means by which to do this.

Firstly, variable limitations. If a mage is well-studied in the school of a particular spell, he can chose different methods to cast it. For example, a wizard with Expertise (Destruction) +12, and Expertise (Divination) +4 knows a Fire Bolt spell (Ranged Damage 4 [fire], 5pt). Since Fire Bolt is a spell of destruction, he can veto the Power Loss complication by temporarily applying a Flaw. If the wizard were ever bound and gagged, he could still cast by adding a Flaw such as Distracting or Tiring. Should our example wizard learn the Comprehend Languages spell, he could not veto Power Loss on it until his Expertise (Divination) reached +10.

Secondly, minor modifications. Magi who study metamagic can learn secrets that add a twist or signature to a known spell. To learn these tricks, they are purchased as free Extras outside of the Magic array with a Variable Descriptor to apply to any spell. A couple examples:

Twinned Spell: Split 1, Variable Descriptor (any spell in Magic array), 2pt
Subtle Spell: Subtle 1, Variable Descriptor (any spell in Magic array), 2pt

Arcane Complications
To reiterate, magic is simple but very difficult. Magi can go to extreme lengths in their pursuit of power. Many magi avoid the temptation but completing a single ordeal is not so rare. Those who walk the path of ordeals, however, can become immensely powerful though they often lose their humanity along the way.

By invoking transformative powers known to her tradition, a mage can trigger an ordeal. This ordeal may take a variety of forms, such as an infernal pact, or a spiritually punishing vision. When the ordeal is past, the mage finds herself imbued with deep wisdom and power.

Power corrupts and wizards are not immune to this phenomenon. Some even claim that wizards are particularly vulnerable to this form of corruption. Truthfully, the accumulation of power is a very popular pursuit among wizards. One common means of doing this is for a wizard to turn her power back upon herself in hopes of opening the channel for a greater flow of power. It's a popular method because it does, in fact, work although the side effects are for the serious wizards only.

In game terms, the mage can attempt to trigger an ordeal by hitting a DC35 on a magical Expertise check. A successful roll allows the mage to take on an Arcane Complication in exchange for an increase in power level. They remain at their current power point total but their PL and caps all increase. Remember that Odin plucked out his eye and hung himself from a tree to gain cosmic wisdom while Faust sold his soul to Mephistopheles. These ordeals are not for the meek.

As the wizard shapes their inner self as a greater vessel for magic, their power causes pockets of impossibility to build up in their body. This may manifest as a glowing tattoo, eyes that lack both iris and pupil, and other features that make the mage blatantly stand out from his species. Wizards who rely on this method can become quite alien after many years of practice and embrace seclusion as much to avoid rejection as from their own desire for privacy.
Touched by the Eldritch: Complication (Prejudice or Quirk)

    One way to increase a magician's power is considered by many to be an affront to the principles of wizardry yet it is still tempting to some. Magicians who do follow this path often keep it as a personal secret since there is both pride and shame associated with this path, as well as a very political aspect. To follow this path, a magician must summon an extra-planar being and swear fealty to it. This is similar to but not the same as the Theurgic bond, which is deeper and very personal.
Soul Contract: Complication (Devotion to Patron Entity and his purpose)

    Many magical figures undergo a physical crisis or sacrifice. In ancient cultures, blood is sacred and so is the greatest gift to offer a spirit. In more advanced cultures, sacrifice is personal, an offering of one’s self to a cause or being. Many magi follow in Odin’s path and sacrifice themselves, piece by piece, to their art.
Blood Sacrifice: Complication (Disability)