Magic Rules

Broken since 2008.
Magic Rules

Spell entries

Throughout the magic section you will see several magic threads (Alchemy, Infernomancy, and the many Paths) and each is filled with separate spell entries. To use magic properly, you have to understand what everything in the entry is about. Below is an example of a spell entry:
Sometimes referred to as Burning Head, in this spell the caster's hand becomes surrounded by fire that they can launch with a sweep of their arm. The bolt is shaped like a skull that consists of almost pure heat.
Casting Time:0.5 Seconds
Dabble:Will turn water to steam instantly.
Adept:Will melt through steel like butter. Range increased to 150m.
Expert:Range increased to 200m.

While each spell is different there are common traits among them. The first is that all spells require some type of verbal command -- long spells use ritualistic chanting, short spells may require just a single word. The length of the verbal command's requirement is determined by the Time it takes to cast the spell. Taking the Firebolt spell for example, the Time requirement is only half a second. So a simple shout of "Burn!" would work. The exact words are up to you to decide, if you wish, for flavour. Spells also require hand gestures or movements and stances, again decided by you for flavour (if you wish) and the time the spell allows. The mage may need to hold his hands in a specific way, in several ways while casting the spell or perform and perhaps repeat a series of movements. The point here is that a gagged or tied up wizard cannot cast spells unless some exception allows him to do so.

Second, all spells require mana to work off of. Wizards naturally generate and store mana within themselves and each spell they cast depletes that mana. The amount of mana needed for a spell is detailed in the spell's description as Cost. This is the symbol for mana: . Taking Firebolt for example again, the Cost is 2. To get that symbol yourself, use [mana].

If a wizard pays the cost and fills the casting requirements -- see Casting below --, the spell is cast. Some spells can keep going indefinitely so long as mana is continuously supplied. If applicable, this will be listed as the Upkeep of the spell, detailing how much mana is needed during every unit of time to keep going.

Every spell that requires Upkeep has a Concentration rating, which states how much effort a mage must use to keep the spell going. A rating of none means the only thing required to keep the spell going is the upkeep, the caster could walk away and take a nap so to speak. Low means the caster is required to focus, like riding a bike, but nothing more than that. Medium is like doing complex maths, moving around is possible, but with effort. And High is like juggling, while doing maths: movement is nearly impossible. A rare few spells have concentration requirements of Very High. These spells take every ounce of concentration the mage can summon, and are easily disrupted as a result.

All spells are limited by Range, which is how far from the caster the spell can go. Some spells appear at points anywhere within the Range, some follow a path that hits anything or the first thing in its way, some completely fill the range with its effect. Just what happens is handled in the Description of the spell: the first paragraph under the spell name. With Firebolt's description, you can see an additional requirement for casting is a sweeping arm movement. It launches a bolt of heat that hits the first target it contacts with. We know it won't go further than 100m though, because that's the spell's range.

The effects and capabilities of spells improve as your nation's understanding of their Path improves. For low-tier spells the three stages are Dabble, Adept and Expert. For mid-tier spells the three stages are Adept, Expert and Mastery. For high-tier spells there are only two stages: Expert and Mastery.

Researching Magic

When researching magic you must invest arcane points in an entire Path. Your nation's understanding of a Path has five stages:
None: You may not cast spells from this Path.
Dabble: Basic access to the Path. You may cast low-tier spells from this Path at dabble level. Costs 1 arcane point.
Adept: Your power in this Path rises as you become adept. You may cast low and mid-tier spells from this Path at adept level. Costs 3 arcane points.
Expert: With expertise comes high magic and refinement. You may cast all spells from this Path at expert level. Costs 6 arcane points.
Mastery: The full potential of the Path is realised as you master it. Costs 10 arcane points.

The costs listed include the earlier stages (i.e. jumping from None to Adept costs 3 points, not 1+3 points). You may move up a stage by paying the difference in points (e.g. paying 4 points to move from Expert to Mastery). Arcane points are bought using Culture Points, as detailed here.

There are some restrictions on which branches of magic you may research. There are three general categories: Path Magic, Infernomancy and Alchemy. They are each exclusive to each other - you may not, for example, have points in both Infernomancy and the Path of Fire. This choice is made at nation creation. You can, however, have points in as many Paths as you like (a nation could, for example, have points in the Path of Fire, the Path of Water and the Path of Shadow). There is one exception to this: no nation may have points in both the Path of Planes and the Path of Enchantments.


All nations must choose one of three types of systems to use: Alchemy, Infernomancy or Paths. Alchemy nations do not use magic at all, but have Alchemists who create powerful mixtures with near-magical properties. Infernomantic and Path nations produce Infernomancers and Wizards (also called Mages) respectively, who may cast spells from their respective system and only from their respective system.

Scholars come in three levels or tiers, called Circles:
• The First Circle can cast low level spells, can store up to 20 points of mana and produce 4 mana every hour.
• The Second Circle can cast low and mid level spells, can store up to 50 points of mana and produce 10 mana every hour.
• The Third Circle can cast low, mid and high level spells, can store up to 75 points of mana and produce 15 mana every hour.

Most nations have hundreds of scholastic candidates, but there is simply no way to train or accommodate them all. As such, a nation only gets 160 scholars. 100 are First Circle, 50 are Second Circle, and 10 are Third Circle.

A Chosen may, at the player's discretion, possesses the skill of a Scholar, as outlined in the Chosen creation rules. Chosen who are Scholars of the First or Second Circle do not count towards your limits, but Chosen of the Third Circle will replace one of your 10 Third Circle Scholars.

Alchemists don't store or produce mana. Their mechanics are described in the Alchemy topic of the rules. Furthermore, whilst Infernomancers do make use of mana, they also make use of souls, explained in the Infernomancy topic.

When any Scholars die (except the Chosen), they're not automatically replaced. It costs 1 RP to buy back 1 Third Circle Scholar, 2 Second Circle Scholars or 4 First Circle Scholars. This represents the extreme costs a nation has to go through to replace these gifted individuals. Once bought, they're trained and ready to use the next turn. If you want to be able to have them replaced sooner than that, consider building Arcane Academies (see Node Features)

Silver and Gemstones

No magic spell ever has any effect on silver, nor may mages cast any spell while they are in contact with silver. Due to its mana-null properties, all spellcasters fear silver instinctively, leaving only Chosen capable of wielding it (though doing so would also leave the Chosen unable to cast). Both Infernomancy and Path Magic gets blocked by silver, but Alchemy which makes no use of mana can affect it like any other natural metal.

Magic does, however, have a very strong affinity with gemstones. Quality gemstones have a conductive property and mana will resonate in it, as well as anything the gemstone touches, like the item it is embedded in. More on both of this in the Artifice topic.


Q. Can I cast two spells at the same time?
A. No. However, you can cast one spell while paying for the upkeep of one or more other spells.

Q. Is it possible to miscast a spell?
A. If something interrupts the verbal, mana, or any other requirements of the spell it will not cast. This generally does not have any effect, but if part of the spell is already in existence it can become quite dangerous.

Q. Can I stop a spell after it has started, but before it is complete?
A. Yes. A wizard can choose to safely dissipate a spell by stopping the supply of mana.

Q. What's a scholar?
A. A scholar is a person capable of utilizing Magic. These people are Infernomancers, Path Wizards, Alchemists and above all, Chosen.

Q. What's a spellcaster?
A. A spellcaster is a term for an individual who uses magic through mana, either as an Infernomancer or a Path Wizard. Alchemists perform a different art, which doesn't follow much of the conventional rules spellcaster follow.

Q. Okay, what exactly is mana? Where does it come from?
These questions are integral to the back-story of Zanzibar, and like most of the back-story can be unravelled by the players through their actions in the game. Those who have played Wulf's Totems game may know some more about the nature of magic than most people, but suffice to say it's not common knowledge.
© 2008-2014 Zanzibar. All rules are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.
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