Sword of Cepheus: Military-Grade Black Magic

The Imperial sorcerers of old wove dark and terrible enchantments, crafted to wage their endless war. As the millennia went on, their spells grew ever more powerful, and ever more dangerous.

Most of them have been lost to time, but fortune hunters and obsessed sorcerers constantly scour the broken, ancient battlefields of the Dispute, hoping to recover these forgotten enchantments. They are considered incredibly valuable, and finding one might gain its discoverer a small fortune.

Note: This was designed for my Dispute setting, but should work in any Sword of Cepheus game.

Spell Boxes

This is a prop designed to Hellraiser 6 - Apparently there's a Hellraiser 6Particularly powerful spells were written on vellum scrolls, which were stored in elaborate armored puzzle boxes. The spherical boxes were designed to be opened with special keys, most of which are lost. They can be forcibly opened with a Sorcery 8+ roll. Some particularly dangerous spells will be found in Sorcery 10+ boxes.

Most of the spells were designed for martial purposes, and tend to be grey or black magic.

The Seventh Circle

Many scholars theorize that in the ancient days, the sorcerers of both the Empire and the Supremacy developed a seventh circle of magic. According to legend, these were spells of power far beyond anything developed before or since. The existence of a seventh circle is hotly debated. Some scholars deny that any such power ever existed, or is even physically possible. There are no known seventh circle spells in existence.

If they exist, and can be learned, they would only work on a 13+ Sorcery roll. They would cause 2 points of corruption when cast. Any failure would require rolling on the Mishap table.

Searching for and finding a Seventh Circle spell would generally be the focus of an entire campaign.

Sample Battle Spells

Here are three examples of ancient battle spells that might be recovered. They’re all pretty horrific.

The Shattered Smile / Reign of Teeth
3rd Circle (Black)
Range: 10m
Duration: 1d6 rounds
If they fail an END 8+ roll, the target’s teeth will begin to chatter uncontrollably for 1d6 rounds. They will be unable to speak or cast spells. If it lasts for more than 1 round, they will take 1d6 damage per round as their teeth shatter and their gums become bruised and bloody.
Bleakness Fortold
6th Circle (Black)
Range: 50m
Duration: 1d6 rounds
This spell allows the victims in a 15m sphere to see through the veil of Time and Fate. They will see and experience the worst possible future imaginable. The future will vary by the target. Whatever the vision is, the target will believe that it is inevitable.
If they fail an INT 10+ roll they will immediately try to take their own life. They each make an attack on themselves with a DM+4, and add 2d6 to damage if successful. This repeats for 1d6 rounds. They may make an INT roll each round.  If they succeed on the INT roll, they are stunned for one round.
Tide of Blood & Memory
7th Circle (Black)
Range: 500m
Duration: 2d6 rounds
Designed to turn the tide of a battle, this spell targets an circle of 75m. Every creature in the circle is considered a target. The spell summons the spirits of any being the target has killed in its life (animal & human). The spirits will appear as crude representation of what it looked like at its death, but soaked in fresh blood. From a distance, the spell appears like a wave of bloody figures washing over the target area.

As the beings are not physical, they cannot be harmed.

To calculate damage, there are two methods:

The simplest way is to roll 3D for each of the sorcerer’s ranks. This will take place for each round the spell is active.

Alternatively, you can roll unique damage for each target. Total up all of the combat skills the target has (Melee Combat, Archery, Sorcery). Roll that number of dice each round the spell is active. This is intended to represent the idea that the more violent their history, the more spirits they will have to face.

The Innocence Clause (Optional): The GM may decide that any creature in the target area that is truly innocent (infants, holy penitents, horses) will escape unscathed.

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