- Node: Casting through a node gives a +5 dice bonus to the effect, and needs only 1 success.
- Deep Wilderness: Casting in Deep Wilderness grants a +1 bonus to the roll, and needs 2 successes.
- Rural Countryside: No bonus or penalty, but requires three successes to cross over.
- Most Urban Areas: -1 penalty to the roll, and requires four successes
- Downtown: -3 penalty to the roll, needing five successes.
- Technocratic Lab: -5 penalty to any roll to effect across the gauntlet, and requiring 5 successes to cross over. Treated as Node with Dimensional Science.
Methods of Travel
- Stepping Sideways: Requires Spirit 3 or 4
- Astral Projection: Mind 4 or 5
- Astral Sojourn: Mind 4 or 5 / Spirit 3 / Prime 2
- Agama Re: Entropy 4 / Life 2 / Spirit 3
- Agama Te: Entropy 4 / Life 3 / Spirit 4
- Astral Agama: Entropy 5 / Mind 5 / Spirit 3
- Climing: Dexterity + Athletics
- High Umbra: Intelligence + Occult (or Investigate)
- Middle Umbra: Wits + Occult (or Survival)
- Lower Umbra: Wits + Investigation (or Occult)
- Old Roads: Wits + Investigation (or Survival)
- World Tree: Wits + Occult
The Avatar Storm: Between the Umbra and the Material Realm, exists the Gauntlet - and within the Gauntlet exists the Avatar Storm, a powerful and savage force which seems to rip away at the Awakened Soul and Will. The following rules operate when a mage crosses over into the Gauntlet:
- Shredding Winds:When a mage steps sideways into the Umbra, ferocious winds scour his Avatar with the screaming fragments of lost souls. Even if he merely reaches into the Umbra, this effect still applies. The player rolls his permanent Paradox + Arete; each success inflicts one health level in aggravated damage as the howling gales tatter his ephemeral form and rip gashes in his soul. This can be particularly dangerous to mages who have not insulated themselves from the effects of the winds.
- Bodily Protection: Magickal, and perhaps mundane, methods of protection from aggravated damage might help a traveler mitigate the damage from the Avatar Storm. Life Sphere magick, technomagickally enhanced armor, protection conferred by Wonders, and so forth can apply armor to the roll or even reduce the damage0. Because the damage is metaphysical, however, it’s a Storyteller’s call as to whether or not normal armor will protect someone. Can Kevlar deflect raging soul-shards, or will they go straight through it? The answer depends on each Storyteller’s judgment.
- Gauntlet Spell Damage: A mage who tries to set a spell inside the Gauntlet – like a Spirit 4 ward – can still take damage from the Storm, as described above. An Effect that has been designed to penetrate the Gauntlet (like a Mind-based message) gets distorted while passing through the Storm; the Storyteller rolls the usual Shredding Winds damage dice based on the caster’s Arete, and each success removes one success from the caster’s original roll. (A three-success Mind message, for example, that takes two levels of damage going through the Storm would have only one success left and would thus wind up distorted from its original intentions.)
Low-level Spirit Sphere Effects, like the ones that allow mages to see or contact spirits, remain immune to Storm damage or distortion, although mages who step sideways into the Umbra to use them suffer damage as usual. Also, Effects that travel only a short distance – say, a bolt of lightning cast from the physical world into the Umbra – arrive more or less intact; long-distance Effects, however, may be badly warped or often lost completely.
- Wonder Damage: Enchanted Wonder items take damage as well. In this case, roll the Arete of the object crossing the Gauntlet and apply damage as above. If that object takes more than double the object’s Arete, that Wonder gets destroyed by the Storm. A spirit bound into a Fetish might escape both the Storm and the Fetish unharmed... but if that spirit had been bound into the fetish unwillingly, the mage might have a whole new problem on his hands... For details about Wonders, see the Background of that name in Chapter Six and The Toybox in Appendix II.
- Spiritual Immunities: Spirit entities, shapechanging Night-Folk, and unAwakened sorcerers remain unaffected by the Avatar Storm. Although passing through it hurts a bit – like an exceedingly hot or icy shower – such beings do not take damage from it the way that Awakened mages do.
- Astral Immunity: Travelers who employ Mind 4 or 5 to project their astral consciousness may bypass the Avatar Storm. This method, however, can access only the High Umbra – not Horizon Realms or the Middle and Low levels. Such travelers also have a silver cord connecting them to their Earthly bodies; if that cord gets damaged, the traveler is probably lost. (See the Astral Travel entry for details.)
- Paths of the Wyck: For the few people who can find and navigate them, the Paths of the Wyck remain free from the Avatar Storm’s effects. Those who stray from those Paths, however, may find themselves in the middle of the Storm... or worse, somewhere beyond the understanding of even the wisest of Verbena!
- Shield of the Soul: Mages with the Familiar or Totem Backgrounds may ask their companion spirits for a favor... the favor of taking them across the Storm without harm. In this case, the mage creates what’s called the Shield of the Soul (a Prime 3/ Spirit 2 spell) between herself and her allied spirit. Successfully cast, this Shield disguises the mage’s spirit within the mantle of her spirit friend. With that Shield in place, the mage suffers damage only from her Paradox Trait, not from her Arete. Naturally, the spirit in question must be favorably disposed toward the mage on both ends of that journey; if not, the results could be rather painful.
- Bridging With Blood: Speaking of painful, the abhorred Bridge of Blood ceremony (Spirit 4/ Prime 3) forces a spirit to serve as protection. Offering up that spirit as a sacrifice, the mage essentially fakes out the Avatar Storm by filling the spirit with her own Quintessence and then using it as a decoy while stepping sideways. System-wise, this requires a roll of at least one success for each point in the mage’s Avatar Background rating and puts all that mage’s Quintessence into the spirit before pulling it through the Gauntlet as a light snack for the Avatar Storm. Such behavior is considered extremely bad form and may put the spellcaster on the shit list for other mages as well as spirits allied with the unfortunate entity.
- Stormwarden: A rare but precious birthright, the Stormwarden Merit – described in Appendix II – reflects atotal immunity to the Avatar Storm’s effects. See that entry for details.
- Peeling of the Soul: A botched roll while a mage steps sideways through the Gauntlet locks that mage in place - half in the material world, half in the raging Avatar Storm. That traveler remains stuck until some other party pulls him through to one side or the other. Each turn that he remains in this netherspace after the initial botch, the winds peel one point of Avatar away from his Avatar Background Trait. If he loses every point in his Avatar Background, plus one, then he’s effectively Gilguled until and unless he finds a way to heal his spirit. The mage might be able to undergo a Seeking to retrieve the missing bits of his soul, but until then, he remains spiritually crippled from the Storm.
- Quiet: A mage who takes more than four health levels in damage from the Avatar Storm might have to make a Willpower roll or fall into a Quiet from the trauma. The roll is penalized by each point of damage that the mage took from the storm. If the damage drops fills the mage's health track, the Quiet is automatic – a refuge from the horrific torment of his soul. For details, see Quiet in Chapter Ten (pp. 554-561).
Acclimation: Individuals entering and leaving the Spirit World, and even the other realms, often needs to take a period of adjustment when they first come. Mortals entering the spirit world suffer a -2 penalty to their attacks. Character's with the Umbral Affinity merit, or who have spent a few days in (or have made several voyages to) the spirit world do not suffer this. By that time, they've already acclimated to the Umbra and it's Realms.
On the other side of the fence, a character who spends too much time in the spirit world and returns to the mortal world feels disconneced and awkward, as though he were balancing between two worlds but not fully part of eitehr of them unto they reorient themselves to Earthly reality. Longer trips inflict higher penalties and greater recovery times, as shown in the following list:
- Up to One Week: None, except for mild disorientation.
- Two to Three Weeks: -1 penalty to all physical tasks; lasts one or two days.
- Four to Five Weeks: -1 penalty to all physical tasks and the difficulty of Pattern magics (Forces, Life, and Matter) for one or two days.
- Six to Seven Weeks: -3 penalty to all physical tasks for two days, lessening to -1 for a week afterwords; -1 penalty to pattern magics for three days.
- Eight to Nine Weeks: -3 penalty to all physical tasks for four days, lessening to -1 for a week afterwords; -1 penalty to pattern magics for a week.
- Ten or More Weeks: -5 penalty to all physical tasks for four days, -3 for an additional week, and -1 for a week after that. -3 penalty to all pattern magic for three days, then a -1 to those difficulties for a week after that.
The Spheres and the Umbra: Magic works differently depending on the realm and spheres used. Rules can be found in the M20 book - higher difficulties translate into penalties and lower difficulties translate into higher bonuses. For ease, a +1 difficulty is a -1 penalty, +2 is -3, and +3 is -5; Lower difficulties invert this and your storyteller may decide that certain realms are slightly more difficult or less difficult than this (inflicting a -2/-4 or +2/+4 difficulty). (May write down a short list for this later