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The new RPG from Monte Cook. A game of surrealistic fantasy, secrets, and magic played both at the table--and away from it.
A roleplaying game of surrealistic fantasy, secrets, and magic played both at the table—and away from it.
A roleplaying game of surrealistic fantasy, secrets, and magic played both at the table—and away from it.
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Vances

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First of the four (five) orders we’ll discuss, a Vance is an exemplary caster of spells. Vances know that spells are living things in their own right. They vibrate, squirm, and seethe. To learn a spell is to master it, like one masters a dangerous beast or—perhaps—like one makes an interesting friend. To study a spell is to ask it to inhabit you, like a spirit. And only a fool would put something dangerous into themselves, right? To cast a spell is to expel it from your mind and soul (unless you know the secret of grasping onto it even once cast). Vances use complex formulae and intricate words and gestures to tame the inherently wild and dangerous natures of unmastered spells.

Perhaps the most mathematical and studious of the vislae, Vances cast powerful, predictable, and reliable spells. Vancian spells have a mathematical and linguistic intricacy to them. This precision is displayed visually in the game with a special set of cards of varying sizes. These cards offer all the spell’s details, and also indicate how much of a Vance’s mental capacity is required to hold it. All the various spells fit together in a diagram like pieces of a puzzle, arranged as the Vance sees fit. Swapping out one spell for another is easy if they’re the same “size,” but if they are different, some monkeying with the arrangement might be in order. Of course, Vances can, over time, increase their capacity and hold more (or larger) spells in their arrangement.

A spell held in a Vance’s mind/soul can be cast with no cost to the Vance, or they can expend energy to retain the spell in their repertoire to keep casting it.

The Vancian Order is very traditional, with a strict hierarchy. Player characters can become more and more influential in the order if they gain the support and trust of their fellow Vances and master some or all of the key disciplines.

Players who enjoy a flexible but defined sort of character will enjoy playing a Vance. It’s the most like a traditional “wizard” or “mage” of all the orders, although such terms have long fallen out of favor in Satyrine. The element of arranging the spell cards on the diagram is appealing in both a visual and a tactile manner.

 

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    1. Oliver Peltier
      Superbacker
      on August 20, 2016

      @James, thats quite an interesting question, about a new spell bring created by a player or GM. I wonder if new spells are the purview of Makers, Weavers or the patrons of the Goetics? If the very hierarchal order of Vances is so bound by tradition, then possibly the act of creating a new spell could be an act of apostasy. One possibility is there may be a few blank or template spell cards. I'm looking forward to hearing more about the Actuality and the Invisible Sun.

    2. Missing avatar

      James on August 20, 2016

      Also, what happens if there are two Vances in the group? Two sets of cards?

    3. Missing avatar

      James on August 20, 2016

      So, the GM or a player creates a new spell, one that's obviously not in the cards that come prepackaged in the game; how is that modeled with the currently existing "special set of cards of varying sizes"?

    4. Monte Cook Games 10-time creator
      Superbacker
      on August 20, 2016

      (That last comment is from me, Shanna! Forgot to sign it :))

    5. Monte Cook Games 10-time creator
      Superbacker
      on August 20, 2016

      Owen: I played a Vance in our first-ever playtest, and it was great fun. I LOVED moving my spells around -- it was like there was a tactile representation of my magic-filled brain at the table, and that was really cool.

    6. Oliver Peltier
      Superbacker
      on August 20, 2016

      Vancian Magic is named after the magic system in Jack Vance's Dying Earth novels. It's common in Vancian magic, for spells to take a chunk of the mental capacity of the caster. Limiting even the mightiest of casters to a few spells they can hold onto per day. Turjan of Miir had a library of at least 100 spells, but could only hold onto 4 spells at a time. The magic system of D&D seems inspired by the magic of the Dying Earth books. Years later in Roger Zelaznys Amber books, we have different powers including Logrus Sorcery. Where the Caster would call up the Logrus (a Chaos connection construct) which had a limited intelligence and was slightly unstable. The Logrus could be used to hang or store spells. It was mentally taxing to hold the reins of the Logrus full of spells awaiting use. Amber series has relevance, Amber is the Actuality, everything else is Shadows and the Court of Chaos. In the Amber series, our world is one of infinite shadows.

    7. Owen Monsma on August 20, 2016

      I'm guessing the name of the order is an homage to Jack Vance? Great stuff, the arranging of spells physically as cards sounds very fun and strategic.