I’m back with another look at the Fateforge setting, this time with the magical sourcebok called Grimoire. While the other posts that I’ve made about this setting from Studio Agate have focused on the setting and characters, this post is about the metaphysics of Eana and the spellcasting ability of adventurers.
Schools of Magic
One thing that I really love about Fateforge is its effort to make the arbitrary structures of a roleplaying game into sensible elements of a believable settting. The eight schools of magic have been part of D&D since the second edition but most people only talk about them out-of-character. The first chapter of the Grimoire goes through each of the schools in a short paragraph and provides multiple in-character sidebars from magical scholars about how they teach the theory of spell schools. This is a pretty short part of the overall book but it’s really cool so I think it deserves a call-out.
Geomagical phenomena are one of the most interesting parts of the Fateforge setting. The lands of Eana, like many fantasy settings, are steeped in magic but uniquely that magic isn’t evenly spread around on Eana. A region can have weak magic, strong magic, neutral magic, or it can be an entropic region.
- Neutral magic areas are the default spellcasting seen in the Player’s Handbook or Fateforge‘s Players Guide. You cast spells normally and things are pretty unsurprising.
- Weak magic areas are what you’d expect, regions where magic doesn’t work at its best. The exact details of the weakening are determined by a table of eight options ranging like arcane aridity (replenishing your spells takes more than one long rest) or endosmosis (sometimes taking force damage from a psychic backlash).
- Strong magic areas are also the expected, regions where magic works even better. Again, there’s a table of eight different options like arcane abundance (spells use a slot lower than normal and all Awakened characters can cast a cantrip innately) or gateway of the dead (spells sometimes cause a random opening of a portal to the Underworld).
- Entropic regions shift their characteristic all the time: strong, netural, or weak depending on the day. At dawn you roll on a table and around 16% of the time it will shift one way or another.
Specialists in the world of Eana study these sorts of effects and it’s even possible to predict a change in an entropic region like forecasting the weather. The easiest way to figure out the geomagic of a region is through Arcana but you can also use Nature or Religion with increased DC which means the party can figure it out regardless of whether they have an arcanist. There are also guides to using geomagical regions and a sidebar on making your own geomagical effects so there’s lots of ways to use this in your campaign.
Corruption and Madness
It shouldn’t shock you that the creators of Shadows of Esteren have a heavily gothic take on classic dungeon delving. If you want to include the horror module of Fateforge then you certainly need your characters to slowly go mad otherwise, like, what’s the point?
Madness checks are Wisdom saves with short-term, long-term, and indefinite madness which will be a familiar approach to just about anyone who’s played a horror RPG before. Once you know what kind of madness you’re dealing with you roll on the appropriate table and end up with Panic or Amnesia or Catatonia. Indefinite madness adds a Flaw to your character similar to the sort of thing you get from a Background. If you want to make things bloodier, there’s also an option to have the object of your madness trigger a murderous rage. So… neat?
Speaking of horror, though, there’s another section about adding Corruption to your campaign to show some of the insidious forces in the world of Eana. There are a number of different options for what the form of the Corruption actually is and how you want to include it in your campaign. Your character can become corrupt through contact with corrupt sources, by casting corrupt spells, and giving in to temptation. When you become more corrupted you get transformations and access to horrifying feats. The worst option is definitely Corrupt Polymorph which lets you transform yourself into a corrupting monster. Gross!
Most of the spells in the Grimoire are from the SRD but there are also some Fateforge originals. New spells include some which are pretty self-explanatory like acid blob, blindsight, bloodthirsty fury, duplicate potion, overpowering weapon, or vengeful weapon. Others like fateful twist (gain +1 to a check after you roll), hunter’s haven (summon a woodland refuge), psychic weapon (conjure a weapon of pure psychic energy), or raven’s claw (harm and blind targets in a burst) need some extra explanation.
Like the rest of Studio Agate’s creations this chapter (over 170 pages) is just gorgeous but I’m not going to belabor every little spell. It’s a work of art, check it out for yourself if you want to know.
I really love this book and would happily flip through its contents as entertainment as well as roleplaying tools. It’s gorgeous and has awesome ideas that I can’t wait to use, borrow, and adapt to my 5e games. I don’t love that all spells and magical topics are separated out into another book that people have to buy but I will say that if you are at all interested in what I’ve previously told you about Fateforge then there is no chance that you will be disappointed with the contents of Grimoire.