Class Notes: Arcane Secrets

-March 13th, 2013

If you’re familiar with Pinebox you know that it takes place in the “real world”– our modern, everyday life. But…not. (It’s a horror setting, after all.) I’ve already written about some of the supernatural adversaries you can expect, but up until today I haven’t really written about the ways you can fight back. As in the tv show Supernatural, packing heat can take the swagger out of many foes. Just don’t have a shoot-out in the street or get caught flashing your gun on campus or you’ll be making a quick trip to jail. You could take a page from Buffy or Angel and go low-tech. As I wrote in Degrees of Horror not only does a stake to the heart kill a vampire, it also does a number on just about any thing else you could name. The thing is, not every problem can be solved by beating it up. That’s where magic comes in.

For one last time Cody checked the knots tying Dr. Smith to the chair. The archaeology professor’s eyes were rolled up into his head but he turned to face Cody and spat out another guttural curse. Cody couldn’t help but flinch, but the rope was secure. He stepped back and took his place to the left of Alli. Together they began the rite of exorcism…

Yes Pinebox is the “real world”, but it’s also a world of shadows, secrets, and even magic. As befitting a horror setting, magic is neither easy nor without cost. All magic is performed using rituals, “cookbook” formulas for producing extraordinary results using words, movement, and various materials. It’s a difficult process made easier by assistants, but skilled ritualists can accomplish much on their own. It’s also a slow process. In Degrees of Horror, rituals are measured out in minutes, not rounds. This type of magic isn’t done on the fly but with careful preparation and forethought. You most likely won’t be slinging magic in combat, but you can fortify a room against zombies  or temporarily improve a friend’s chances at achieving a specific task.

The tall brunette paused to admire her reflection in the glass door. At least she wasn’t alone in that regard. She couldn’t help but notice the long, approving looks from students and faculty alike during the walk across campus. There was no doubt about it. She was beautiful. Her skin had cleared up, her posture straightened, and her hair practically shined. She sighed and pushed open the door to the Registrar’s office. Hopefully she could talk a student worker out of the information she needed before it all wore off and she went back to plain ol’ Kaylee.

Unfortunately tampering with natural law comes at a price. It takes a brave, strong-willed person to bend probability and reshape our world–especially when severe failure can result in a backlash to the ritualist. Possibly worse, even when a ritual is successful those involved must make a fear roll in the face of those reality-altering forces man was not meant to experience.

Finally, rituals are useful when you have time to prepare but sometimes you’re going to run into situations when you need an effect right now. That’s where talismans come in. Talismans are physical objects that have been imbued with a magical effect. These objects can take any form, from books to automobiles. They are also precious and rare. Ritualists create talismans using the same ritual that would produce the desired effect at once, but with increased difficulty due to the attempt at “storing” the effect for later use. So as dangerous as it is to attempt a ritual, creating your talisman is even worse.

That’s Pinebox.

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