Drawing their name from a medieval term for black magic (as seen in fantastically named Lesser Key of Solomon), the Goetics are definitely the warlock option to the vance’s wizard (if we’re using D&D terms). Like the warlock class, mages of the Order of Goetica make pacts with otherworldly beings and gain power thereby. Mostly these are either the demons of the Red Sun or angels of the Legacy (check out my post about the Path of Suns to refresh your memory), but they can also be spirits of the dead, nature spirits, or other sorts of things. Goetics sometimes identify as left-handed (demonic) or right-handed (angelic) casters but this doesn’t correspond to anything as simple as morality.
What do Goetics get out of these deals? That really depends on the mage and what they’re after. There are thirteen different types of summoning depending on what sort of favor you want. For this post I’m going to be using the pregenerated Goetic named Lord Vryx, a bone-armored and iconoclastic argent of the Goetics who Hosts a Legion inside his body. In a word he’s super-creepy, but let’s see what he can do.
How Goetics Use Magic
The first step to the Goetics’ summoning magic is figuring out what you want out of deal. Summoned beings can offer one of thirteen different things: counsel, non-combat aid, guarding you from danger, spying, the answer to a query, some kind of theft, assailing one’s enemies, restoring the Goetic’s health, influencing another’s mind, creating things, glorifying the Goetic’s appearance, binding the entity into an item, or serving as a long-term ally. This means that Goetics can have armor with bound-demon strength, furnaces where fire-spirit allies live, an angel friend they can call for advice, and many other tricks up their sleeve. You start off with the first four available, then at the second degree you gain access to the next three, another three at the third degree, and then finally glorify, binding, and ally at the fourth degree.
Next up you take precautions you want to set up (protective circles, having bribes on hand, etc), then you pay Sorcery cost for the entity you want to summon. If you want a demon-general that’s going to take a lot more juice than calling up a little fire-imp. You can also call up specific entities if you know their name, which requires a Sorcery check. If you are just calling for whoever might answer or the specific entity you want is fine with answering then your summoning automatically works.
Once they show up, though, that’s only part of the story. You still have to convince them to help and that takes one of four different approaches. If your argument seems like a good deal or the entity might be happy to do it then you can try persuading them. If you don’t think it’ll be an easy sell then you can try bribery with something the same level as the summoned creature. A bribe could be a magic item or treasure, something to consume, a favor in return, or even a mortal’s soul (a good bribe for a demon). On the other hand you might be feeling gutsy and try coercion to threaten the entity. Lastly, there’s the roleplayer’s tried-and-true approach of using trickery to make it seem like something the entity would want to do, talk them into a wager, or some other underhanded means.
If your approach works and the entity is persuaded, bribed, coerced, or tricked then they do the thing! If not, though… well entities aren’t always happy to be pulled away from their own business. Their exact response depends on the desires and nature of the entity, as well as how brazen and demanding you were in your failed attempt to win them over. Summoned entities could attack, establish an unwanted influence over the Goetic’s mind, or just escapes into the area they were summoned to causing untold chaos. Needless to say, none of these is a great option for the poor mage doing the summoning.
Lord Vryx and the Lost Heart
As our example of Goetic magic, let’s assume that Lord Vryx is trying to find out the location of the Lost Heart, all that remains of a Goetic master who died centuries ago. This will be a long process and require calling on several different entities, which makes it a great example of trying out the system.
To start, Lord Vryx decides he’s going to call up a level 3 demon of secrets to see if he can find out where a secretive lorekeeper lives (the lorekeeper is strong but a level 3 demon should do). This is the answer to a query and Vryx wants to play it safe by using bribery to seal the deal. He makes sure his apotropaic talisman (gives a bonus to defend against demons) is around his neck and has a table full of delicious meats to tempt the demon. Since he’s not trying to summon a particular demon by name, Vryx just pays the 3 Sorcery and the demon appears in a whirl of red smoke. The Goetic offers some food to the demon but it’s more interested in knowledge. For the price of information about one of Lord Vryx’s friends and fellow player characters the secret-demon will give him the name of his target. Not one to stand on morals, Vryx agrees and makes two persuasion checks (9 and a close call at 3) so the agreement is struck and the GM happily notes down coming trouble for this player character.
Armed with the name of the lorekeeper and (thanks to some coins at a pub) his address, Lord Vryx wants to have this man followed to see when he goes someplace secretive. Unfortunately, the circle of player characters has another mission they have to concentrate on (something about demons blackmailing Vryx’s companion, a nasty business) and so he calls on another creature to take on the task for him. This depends on the level of the target (a level 3 lorekeeper) and since it won’t be an instantaneous spying the GM decides this will add one to the level of the task. Lord Vryx decides to try persuasion this time and when the level 4 wind-spirit is summoned he pitches the idea as a fun way to cause mischief. He adds 1 bene from his Interaction pool to bring this to a 3 challenge and rolls a 9 so this spirit eats it up. Two more checks are required (a bene spent on each) and he rolls 8 and another 9 so this spirit eats it up. While Vryx is off with his friends, the wind-spirit will spy on the lorekeeper and come find Vryx if the man does something secretive.
Once he gets word that the lorekeeper has been stopping at an abandoned building in Satyrine, Lord Vryx decides it’s time to beat more information out of him. Even though he’s got some considerable strength from the demons boiling in his blood, Vryx doesn’t necessarily want to get his hands dirty. Instead he calls on an entity he knows: Mazzion, a demon from the Red Sun. The pregen sheet is a little vague on what sort of demon Mazzion is but let’s say she’s a Level 4 demon and that she’s willing to hear him out when he calls but isn’t an automatic friend. She’s attacking this lorekeeper but the real use here is to intimidate so the GM decides it’s more of an aid situation.
Vryx doesn’t want to leave things to chance so he gets a rare, slain beast for Mazzion to eat, something he knows she really likes. He gets a level 5 bribe (costing a minimum of 100 crystal orbs) so it’s not a small thing but that gives him a +1 bonus to his venture. Vryx spends 4 Sorcery to summon Mazzion and then has to make a check because she’s a specific entity. She spends another Sorcery point on this so he just needs a 3, and rolling a 6 means that Mazzion shows up. He offers her the meat and makes a persuasion check: a bene from Interaction and the level 5 bribe brings it to 3. Vryx rolls a 7 so Mazzion is here to listen. He spends a bene again and gets the bribe bonus so it’s a challenge of 3 for the second persuasion roll. This time Vryx rolls low (bound to happen) and gets a 2. Mazzion sneers at his honeyed words and decides to take her leave. Since the overconfident Goetic didn’t scribe a circle, the demon turns and crashes through a window out into the city. Ruh roh.
When I talked about makers, I mentioned that they had to do a lot of things ahead of time. That’s true for Goetics as well, but they need like an hour to get things set up instead of weeks. It’s a little less of a mini-game and more of a cutscene but I like the idea of calling up entities and talking your way into power. Personally, I’d buck the whole right- or left-handed business and be a necromancer who summons dead souls or a druid who calls on nature spirits… something like that. It’s a different sort of magic system (as always) and one that will appeal to folks who want to play the Faustian sorcery. If that’s your style, this Order does it to a freakin’ T.