Lex Arcanum: Part 5

Posted by Peter Gates

Today I put together some extended spellcasting (or ritual casting) rules for Lex Arcanum. These haven't been tested yet, so I'd love to hear people's experiences with them if they use them.

Lex Arcanum

A Fate Core Conversion for Mage: the Awakening

Extended Spellcasting

Legends and tales of yore abound with images of witches spending hours over boiling cauldrons, sorcerers incanting ancient names of power for days, or mystics meditating for weeks to achieve miraculous effects. Each of these willworkers performs an extended spellcasting, also called a ritual casting, allowing successes to be accumulated over a series of rolls.

These rules will go through the step-by-step process of casting a ritual spell, and were developed from part Mage the Awakening, part Dresden Files Roleplaying Game.

1. Determine Complexity

The first step is preparing an extended spellcasting is determining the desired effect for the spell, and the Complexity required to achieve that effect (see factors, below). In general, Complexity can be determined by:
Complexity = Potency + Target + Duration


Potency represents how powerful a spell is, how much damage it could inflict, how hard it is to resist, and how hard it is to dispel or wear away with paradox. Each 1 point of potency adds +1 to the complexity of the spell.


The target factor of the spell represents how many targets the spell has, and the area for each of those targets.

  • Number of Targets: The base number of targets is one. Doubling the number of targets increases the complexity by +1 for each doubling.

  • Area: The base area for a ritual spell is a 1 metre radius sphere or 5 cubic metres in volume, with each doubling of this radius or volume increasing the complexity by +1. If the mage has a rating in the spell’s primary Arcanum that is one point higher than normally required to cast the spell or possesses Space +2, he can increase the radius or defined volume by four times, rather than just doubling, per +1 complexity.

  • Sympathetic Magic: If the spell is being cast using sympathetic magic, sympathetic spell factors are also added to the total complexity, using the weakest connection from all the targets as the sympathetic connection for the spell.


Duration determines how long the spell’s effects are maintained, and are dependent on if the spells is lasting (no defined duration, lasting as long as is nature. This includes things like healing or harmful blasts of energy) or prolonged (default duration being one scene or hour). Unlike in Mage the Awakening, Lex Arcanum does not make use of transitory spells in ritual casting.

The default duration for a prolonged spell, such as one created with create an advantage that isn't considered lasting, is one scene or hour. The following table shows how increasing complexity changes this duration. If a mage has dots in the spell’s primary Arcanum that are one or more higher than normally required to cast the spell or possesses Time +2, he can increase the Duration by even more dramatic steps, shown in the brackets in the table below.
  • Duration: 2 hours (24 hours), +1 Complexity
  • Duration: 12 hours (2 days), +2 Complexity
  • Duration: 24 hours (1 week), +3 Complexity
  • Duration: 2 days (1 month), +4 Complexity
  • Duration: 4* days (Indefinite), +5 Complexity

* Add +1 to the total Complexity per extra +2 days.

2. Undertake Preparations

If the complexity is less than or equal to your Lore, you have everything you need to cast the spell on hand and may proceed to casting the spell.

However, if it is greater than your Lore, you undertake appropriate research, assemble the appropriate components, or assemble additional source of power and overcome the deficit (the difference between your Lore and the spell’s Complexity)  before you can undertake the spell. This can be done in two ways:

  • Research and Preparations: Create an advantage, which you can then evoke for +2 towards the deficit. This represents work such as gathering ingredients, researching the spell, or preparing the ritual circle. Each of these preparations takes one hour.

  • Sacrifices: Inflict consequences on yourself or others, adding the value of the consequence towards the deficit (+2 mild, +4 major, +6 severe). Animal sacrifice is also an option, but only adds half the value that a human sacrifice would give (+1/+2/+3) for animal of about the size of a large dog or larger. Smaller animals simply have less consequence slots, dependent on their size.

3. Casting the Ritual

Once the total Complexity is met, the mage may then cast the ritual. Unlike a normal spell, the mage must decide how much power he intends to channel into the ritual each time he rolls, and uses that as the passive opposition that he must overcome in order to add to the ritual.

Once this is decided, he rolls the appropriate Arcana as an Overcome action, and if successful, adds the total value decided (not the total rolled) to the total Power gained for the ritual casting thus far. This process is repeated until  the total Power gathered is equal to the complexity, at which point the spell has been successfully cast.

The amount of time required for each roll depends on the mage's Gnosis:
  • Gnosis 1 - 2: 3 hours 
  • Gnosis 3 - 4: 1 hour 
  • Gnosis 5 - 6: 30 minutes
  • Gnosis 7 - 8: 10 minutes
  • Gnosis 9 - 10: 1 minute

If a mage fails the ritual casting roll, he can still succeed, but with a cost, as described in Fate Core. This could be stress or consequences, or paradox consequences (see Paradox). Similarly, if the mage succeeds with style, he can create a Boost which he can use in his next ritual casting roll.