HARP Something Wicked: The First Texts: Black Mana

Copyright Nicholas HM Caldwell and Guild Companion Publications Ltd © 2017

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

"Wrenching mana from the environment damages the surroundings, so evidence of its sustained usage in an area is readily apparent to ordinary forms of perception."

Author’s note: This is from the manuscript of Something Wicked and has not yet been updated for current rules—hence a First Text rather than a Preview Excerpt.

Black Mana

Black mana is a shadowy version of ambient mana. Spell users who tap black mana draw in the power as they need it rather than storing mana within their bodies. The difference between a black mana user and an ambient mana user is that the black mana user draws in the diffuse ambient mana at a faster rate by forcibly wrenching it from the environment. Black mana users require one round for every 3 Power Points (or portion thereof) used in the casting of a spell (the normal casting time for an ambient mana user is one round for every 2 Power Points; the normal casting time for a personal mana user is one round for every 5 Power Points). Casters can reduce the time taken to cast spells at a penalty of -10 for each round that the casting time is reduced (to a minimum of one round).

Example: An ordinary Blur spell requires 3 Power Points (or one round of casting) for Irgaash, a black mana user. The same Blur spell with scaling for extra duration requires 7 Power Points, and will take 3 rounds to cast by Irgaash. An ambient mana user would require 4 rounds while a personal mana user would need two rounds. By taking a -20 penalty to the casting roll, Irgaash can cast his improved Blur in a single round.

Instantaneous spells (e.g. Landing, Bladeturn, and Deflections) are not affected by this ruling. The subconscious mind of a black mana user forces the energy inward even faster in an emergency.

In areas of low mana, the process of internalizing black mana is slower and normal spell casting is reduced to one round for every 2 Power Points.

Black mana users recover much more quickly from the stresses of magic because they do not store the mana within their own bodies. A black mana-using character regains one quarter of his power points for every one hour of complete rest. Such characters will not be registered by Detect Magic spells or Sense Magic talents, unless they are in the process of casting a spell or have cast a durational spell targeted on themselves. This is again due to the absence of any significant dormant mana in their bodies.

While users of black mana do not normally register as magical, the black mana technique is not subtle. Wrenching mana from the environment damages the surroundings, so evidence of its sustained usage in an area is readily apparent to ordinary forms of perception. Small plants (such as flowers, shrubs, and saplings) will grow stunted or wither entirely, crops will have reduced yields or even fail, water sources will foul or dry up faster, and an area can become tainted. (See The Price of Power for the necessary game mechanics.)

Required Talent: Tap Black Mana
Tap Black Mana
The character has the ability to draw upon black mana for use in spellcasting
Cost 15/0