Masks of Nyarlathotep: FATE Edition
Magic and Mythos
In the course of adventuring, investigators may come across Mythos-related tomes. More than just standard occult works, these volumes reveal the true and terrifying nature of the universe. If you dare to read such a tome, follow these steps.
Reading Mythos Tomes
1. Determine whether you know the language in which the tome is written. If you do, proceed to the next step. If you do not, but you have a sufficient Academics skill (a 3 or higher should do), find a library and get a dictionary.
2. Translate the tome. Even if you know the language, Mythos tomes are written by scholars and zealots who have gone beyond the verges of sanity. Translating these mad rantings will require an Academics roll and an amount of time based on the result of this roll.
3. Read the tome. If you’re translating, you’re likely reading as you go. Once you read through the work in its entirety, you’ll have to defend against its sanity-shaking implications using your Will, taking mental stress based on the result of this roll.
4. Learn spells or increase your Mythos skill. If you’re learning spells, record the spell’s Aspect on your character sheet. See the next section for information on casting spells.
If your Mythos increases, you must X out a box on your mental stress track equal to the rank of Mythos skill you’re gaining. For example, if your Mythos skill increases from rank 0 to rank 1, X out the first box on your mental stress track. If your Mythos skill increases from rank 1 to rank 2, X out the second box. This is Sanity scarring. You may not use these boxes to take mental stress until you resolve your Sanity scar somehow, perhaps by performing an act that shows the power of humanity in the face of the uncaring chaos between the stars. Until that time, your grip on reality and your resilience in the face of stress has been weakened.
So your character has gleaned an incantation from a musty grimoire. What now? Spells function as a special sort of Aspect, and so can be invoked in much the same way that you would invoke any other Aspect. This invocation can take one of three basic forms.
1. Sacrifice personal power. Spend a Fate point to represent your dedication of energy to the spell, and the spell is cast instantly. You may spend more than one Fate point (or use free invocations or energy gained from other sources) to increase the strength of the spell.
2. Perform an elaborate ritual. Roll your Mysteries skill to create an advantage representing your ritual. Chant, light candles, dance around; whatever floats your boat. In the next increment of time (usually between 1 and 10 minutes after starting the ritual) you may spend your free invocation of the ritual Aspect to power your spell.
3. Barter with the Mythos. By far the most dangerous path, you can roll your Mythos skill to beseech an Outer God to give you the power to cast a spell. If you succeed, you may immediately use the granted power for your spell…but such gifts generally come with hefty price tags.
Note that your investigator might not know exactly what a spell Aspect means, and that spell Aspects may function differently under different circumstances. Such is the nature of Mythos magic.
If more than one investigator knows a spell, then all may contribute to casting the spell. Any investigator who contributes to a spell may:
1. Add Fate points to represent a sacrifice of personal power.
2. Participate in a ritual. This means that an investigator who knows a spell can begin the ritual, and then pass the free invocation off to a second investigator who also knows the spell, shortening the casting time. Multiple participants can also stack advantages to gain additional free invocations.
3. Echo a grotesque chant in an attempt to barter with the Mythos. Not advised unless you want to start a cult.
The Mythos Skill
Mythos can be used like any other knowledge skill (Academics, Mysteries, Science, etc.) to identify denizens of the outer dark. It can be used to make declarations and create advantages related to these entities and can overcome obstacles where knowledge of obscure and eldritch rites would come in handy.
As described above, it can be used to channel the power of the Outer Gods into a spell, with all the cautionary notes that would go along with such an activity.
Finally, understanding the Mythos creates mental scarring, but also protects one from the ravages of future encounters with Mythos entities. Treat your Mythos rating as armor against Sanity attacks from Mythos creatures, spells, artifacts, or revelations, reducing any mental stress caused by these attacks by an amount equal to your Mythos (to a minimum of 0 stress). For example, if you have a Mythos rating of 2 and take a 3 stress hit from encountering an alien monstrosity, you would instead be subjected only to a 1 stress hit.