Hedge Magic

And I saw the most fantastic of displays unravel before my eyes, the mythic beasts alive within the courtyard for all to see, before truly the illusion unravelled itself as some slave walked idly. The slave was punished and I never saw Marcus choose such an inattentive magus again.

Gnaeus Patriscus Clito, writing of a dinner party in Rome

Slipping into the barbarian's camp was easy enough with everyone getting drunk and the guards too merry to care. Getting into the treasure-tent was a less forgiving task. I could distract perhaps two of the alert guards with more mundane skills, but all of them could be driven away for a precious few seconds by making the air smell foul of rot and death…

Alexandros the Spy recounting his stealing back of the tribute given to Attila the Hun

The Tricksters

Hedge Magic has some diverse applications, but is considered widely to be the purview of tricksters and charlatans. Travelling magicians are not the most common sight, but they do have their share of the entertainment market both in the Near and Middle East.

Of course, there are a large number of practicioners who find other uses and applications of Hedge Magic, from discerning thieves, to courtiers, who find it aids in their manipulations and games.

A Momentary Glance

Hedge Magic is quite unstable, and even at the higher levels of its power, effects are prone to disperse at the slightest hint of unbalance. On the other hand, they are capable of staying around and remaining believable for a while if others do not think too hard about what is going on.

The most practised and skilled Hedge wizards, use their tricks very carefully to aid in their great weaving of a story, lie or entertainment, enhancing their skills of show.

Variation and Application

Hedge magic is relatively versatile and a wizard can usually modify the spell as appropriate. Furthermore with adequate additional preparation, lower-tier spells can be cast with greater effect, duration or affect a greater audience.

The Limitations

Although Hedge Magic spells can usually be cast at a moment's notice, their preparation is time-consuming and requires adequate preparation. If a spell is prepared however (in game terms, the AP has been spent on 'casting' it), it can be cast at any time and used in many imaginative ways.

The length of the spells tends to vary and rarely exceeds, undisturbed, an hour or so. If, however, a close inspection of the properties of the spell are made, there is a high chance that it will vanish quickly.

The Cost

It costs 1AP to cast a first tier hedgemagic spell, 2AP to cast a second tier spell and 3AP to cast a third tier spell.

At each new tier, the spells of lower tiers can be case for more AP for these benefits. Thus, on reaching a tier two spell, the tier one spells can be cast at 2AP with a lot more freedom of variation.


Tier the First

The Smoke

Taking the hoarse powder of the desert sands, I have burned it with the incantations tought me by my father. The charred and black grain I have rubbed into leaves of palm and inhaled them three times at each of three sundowns. Now I shall cleanse myself in the waters of my brother's house and tomorrow will be ready to shroud the whole town square with smoke.

Salim al-Ramijan, notable hedge mage of Baghdad

A great disappearing act needs a smokescreen. This spell is it - the wizard creates a billowing cloud of smoke which, though dispersing quickly, is sudden enough to allow one to slip away behind it. Unless you're in the middle of the desert.

The Butterfly

A simple illusion which creates a fast-moving and colourful object which can't quite be caught by the eye, flitting at the periphery of the vision and oh-so-very distracting.

The Siren

“These are not the scouts you are looking for”

Chrysostomos Kalafatis, Spymaster to Princess Tamar

The wizard may subtly alter the perception of their voice imbuing it with a powerful imperative tone, filling it with the promise of unearthly delights or performing a near perfect impersonation of another's voice. The effect is not a strong one and a listener cannot be compelled to do something against their will but the spell can be used to manipulate, seduce or distract.

Tier the Second

The Chalice

The wizard is capable of changing the effect of an object or substance on one of the senses. Thus water may be made to taste or look like wine, sunlight may become dimmer or the cat may be made to bark like a dog.

Though it changes the effect, it does not affect the nature of the object. The water won't get you drunk, the sun will still burn and blind and the cat's scratch will still be worse than its bark.

The Crystal

This spell gives a simple insight into some person who the wizard has recently touched. It is believe to be a premonition of the future, but the images can often be very garbled and unclear. The spell certainly offers enough to provide a colourful reading of the future, but it is much harder to establish the true nature of what may happen from the flash.

The Spectre

I have spent some time learning from Marcia the Mede. She has spent some time now in Nantes, and believes me capable of these small distractions she requires me to use. She asks me to get this and that and now I must search out a bucket of fresh milk and the metal hoops, untouched by blacksmith's hammer. It seems ridiculous, but I have seen her myself make such shapes as stallions or rutting hogs suddenly appear, drawing the eye and senses, and then fade away just as suddenly, leaving one perplexed and baffled.

Joana, the apprentice of the Pernicious Thief of Nantes, also known as Marcia the Mede

A more potent illusion can be created, formed from an image within the wizard's mind and capable, with enough preparation, of acting out certain actions. The illusion remains intangiable however and cannot be touched and any form of prolonged study will usually show it up as something ineffable or unreal.

Tier the Third

The Mire

We chased the imposter for three days. He was quick and guileful but was no match for our hounds and horses. We were but yards behind him when we came to the crossroads outside the village of Kexby. The path he had taken was clear but as we followed it we found ourselves once more at the crossroads. We tried another path but again came back upon ourselves. Repeatedly we tried to leave that damnable junction but always found ourselves arrived back at it, we were most confused and the hounds became extremely bewildered. At last whatever held us there faded but our quarry had fled and we could no longer find the trail.

Rosamund de Stuteville, High Sheriff of Yorkshire

The Wizard may choose a specific point on a path such as a crossroads, a hallway or a bridge and muddle its way with a phantasmal labyrinth that bamboozles the senses and misdirects anyone who attempts to use that route, turning them around and about hence delaying their progress. The spell cannot ensnare a person permanently but it can severely delay them as long as they attempt to pass through the specific place the spell was cast on. If they become aware of the presence of the spell then the illusion is instantly shattered.

The Feather

The most skilled hedge wizards may attempt to “trick” the natural orderof things, briefly and in limited ways distorting the rules of reality. He might walk across a raging river unharmed; pass through an impossibly small gap in a barrier; or briefly conceal himself within a mirror. Even at their most skilled hedge wizards are still practitioners of low art, hence the more ambitious the effect the harder it will be to maintain it for any length of time. If the wizard attempts something too spectacular the Universe will almost certainly notice that someone is attempting to pull a fast one and the backlash will likely be most unpleasant for the wizard.

The spell acts upon the wizard alone and cannot be applied to another person or object.

news/bm/hedge.txt · Last modified: 2009/10/12 18:46 by oliver
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