What is Sorcery?

Sorcery is the Art of summoning, binding and bargaining with entities which, to all intents and purposes, appear to be demons. Sorcerers tend towards the academic and eccentric, but can range from the bumbling but good-natured professor dipping into the libraries of Hell to the cackling black-goateed madman attempting to bring about the Apocalypse.

The basic theory of Sorcery is really rather simple:

  1. Create a secure magical Circle.
  2. Summon into it a being from the Infernal Realms.
  3. Threaten, cajole, flatter, bribe, bargain and manipulate the demon into doing your bidding.
  4. ???
  5. Profit!

Naturally, the practice tends to be a little more complicated.

Why Sorcery?

The popular portrait of Sorcery sees it as the riskier and less respectable cousin of Theurgy. Some choose this School for similar reasons, some for different ones. Here are some reasons your character might have become interested in the practice of Sorcery:

  1. Power - Making deals with demons is a great way of getting ahead in the political game. Disgracing enemies, covering up your own weaknesses - it's all here.
  2. Boys and Tobacco - Whores, wines, money, drugs; humanity has yet to invent a vice Hell has not already perfected. Both sybarites and those who supply them would do well to look into the possibilities of an Infernal supply contract.
  3. Know Thy Enemy - Some Priests and devout lay worshippers choose to plumb the depths of the Inferno to better predict and foil the Adversary's plans. Others use this line as a convenient excuse for (2).

And here are some OOC reasons you might enjoy playing a Sorcerer:

  1. Power - Both Theurgy and Sorcery, unlike some other Schools, are geared towards “narrow and long” rather than “broad and short” spell progressions. If your character chooses to spend their time researching, they will be rewarded with a spell progression that grows more powerful as it continues.
  2. Demonds - Demons are fun to play with. They can be a goldmine of either terrible angst or lighthearted mischief, depending on your character.
  3. Hideous Consequences - If you're the type who likes being surprised, play a careless or sloppy Sorcerer. We guarantee we can come up with new, exciting and painful consequences for every slapdash rune and fumbled cantrip.

In addition, Sorcery in the Archipelago can have many great uses. A great deal of the city of York is kept in good working order by oath-bound Demons, and it is rumoured that some floating establishments like the Dawkins Institute gain heat and bouyancy from the activities of Infernal beings.

Bound Demons can be used for anything from speeding an arduous ferry crossing, to heating an entire village through a lean winter with little fuel, to transmuting salt water into fresh. Beware, though; while demons are powerful, useful and often obedient, they will often try to twist the unwary Sorcerer's words. A Barony whose residents can all breathe underwater is an excellent thing indeed; a Barony whose residents have all been transmuted to speechless, mindless fish, less so.

Sorcery and Religion

Opinions on Sorcery are divided, but most Priests and Rabbis tend to agree that talking to demons is probably Bad For One's Soul. Responses therefore range from outright condemnation to cautious, controlled experimentation - usually in a pendulum fashion, with each generation's clergy declaring the previous generation to be corrupt and licentious / overcautious and ignorant (delete as appropriate). There are currently known to be a few practising Sorcerers in both Jewish and Anglican hierarchies, although their names are not generally released. The party line on Clergy-as-Sorcerers tends towards the “know thy enemy” argument; and it is certainly true that some ordained students of Sorcery seem to be far more effective at conducting exorcisms.

Since the destruction of the famous Zaubererakademie in Wittenberg, there are few institutions devoted to the organised study of Sorcery. The Invisible College is the closest that Britain comes to such an institution, though its Scholars have a tendency to periodically (and poker-facedly) deny that any of them are practising Sorcerers.

The practice of Sorcery is not incompatible with membership in either the Kabal of Yehudim or Anglican Church, but your superiors may give you funny looks and - depending on your rank - make your life very difficult.

Experimental Sorcery

There will always be a few who attempt the path less travelled. Quite apart from those who attempt to integrate Sorcery with other Schools of magic - discussed on the main Magic page - there are a few who attempt to manipulate the rituals of Sorcery in order to modify them for different, or more powerful, effects.

This is, of course, hideously dangerous. However, it can in some cases also be very effective.

To modify a Sorcerous ritual, you must first yourself know how to perform that ritual (or be working in concert with someone who does). You should then tell the GMs how you intend to modify the ritual, what you are attempting to achieve, and note any factors you believe might modify your experimentation. Bear in mind that various factors (a good plan, greater Sorcerous knowledge, etc.) are likely to increase your chances of success.

Modified Rituals are far more risky to create and perform than the standard spells listed below. In general, the consequences of a mistake or poor luck while attempting a modified Ritual will be as serious as the same misfortune while attempting a ritual one or two steps more powerful.

In general, the Token for a particular Spell cannot be modified. There may be exceptions to this; please consult the GMs if you think you have a particularly suitable idea.


All Sorcerers start with Rhombus Daemonicus and Summon the Imp for free. Sorcerers with Magical Adept or Magical Expert may choose one or two more starting spells from a list which will be provided by the GMs on request. These quirks are the only way by which a PC may start on more than one of the Sorcerous Paths.

Sorcerers may then research up to one more ritual per turn, at a cost of 4AP per ritual. This AP cost may be split over multiple turns if desired. PCs may only research rituals which progress from Paths they already have. New Paths may not generally be gained as standard during the course of the game, but it may be possible to acquire them through exceptional circumstances.

Sorcerers can only see details of the rituals immediately above them in each path they possess, and the lowest-tier ritual of any paths they do not.

Researching a spell does not merely give one the ability to perform the ritual; it also imparts a certain amount of knowledge about the path in which one progresses. Someone who is a devoted adherent of the Path of the Summoner, for example, is more likely to be able to tell that the pale young man dancing with the Countess of Pembroke is, in fact, a citizen of Hell; a devotee of the Infernal path might be able to give you his Duchy or even his name. Similarly, greater knowledge of a ritual may also allow one to change or alter it - though such original research often carries with it its own risks; see the Experimental Theurgy section for more details.


The Path of the Summoner

Adherents of the Path of the Summoner focus on creating more and more powerful demons. While any Sorcerer can summon an Imp, Summoners focus on calling beings of greater potency and terror from the depths of the Infernal Realm.

Summoning powerful demons without an appropriately strongly-warded Circle is rank folly, and the horror stories of unwary Summoners who attempted to raise devils beyond their control are numerous.

Summon the Imp

Summons an Imp from Hell. Imps sour milk, colic babies, frighten cats and steal trinkets.

Imps traditionally appear as short humanoid figures with bright red skin and deformed chancres which might manifest as spikes or horns; however, Imps are as varied as any demon, and many have powers to change their apparent shape.

The Path of the Circle

Adherents of the Path of the Circle focus on creating stronger and stronger Circles to bind their demonic minions. Although Circles generally have no great use when cast alone, when combined with a Summoning they can greatly effect the course of the ritual.

Knowledge of the various Circles also tends to include knowledge of how to return a demon to the Infernal Realms after it has been summoned. While in some cases, with powerful Circles and weak Demons, this may be as simple as crying “Avaunt!” or “I abjure thee!”, some circumstances require lengthier and more complex rituals.

A note on Tokens and AP: Circles do not require AP, since they are effectively useless without a Summon (which does require AP). They do, however, require Tokens.

A note on Oaths and Circles: A Demon may not leave the Circle, under normal circumstances, without the Summoner's permission. Outside the circle, demons are effectively free to do what they will; however, if they have left the circle under a condition or oath, then breaking that oath will return them instantly to the circle, and may send them straight back to the Infernal Realms.

Circles and Expiry: If the Circle into which a demon has been summoned expires before the Demon has been properly abjured, and without a controlling Oath, then the effects can be highly unpredictable. Sometimes the Demon returns instantly to Hell; sometimes it takes with it small portions of the surrounding landscape. Sometimes the Demon finds itself free of the Sorcerer's command and escapes; sometimes it explodes. It is generally agreed that the careful Sorcerer keeps good track of time, and while the passage of the sun, marked candles, hourglasses and the like have traditionally been used as aides memoires, some young Sorcerers are turning to their Inventor friends to develop clever mechanisms of clockwork and mercury, sensitive not only to the passage of time but to the decay of the Infernal energies of the circle, which can cry a warning before it is too late.

(In game terms, one of these devices removes the risk that your character will accidentally allow a Circle to expire before properly abjuring a Demon summoned into it. Since the duration of a Circle is not consistent in time, without one of these devices there is a chance - especially if your character engages in long discourse with the Demon in question - that Plot and/or Consequences will occur.)

Rhombus Daemonicus

The Daemonic Circle will safely hold and bind a lower-ranking member of the Infernal horde. It usually lasts less than an hour.

The Holy Path

The Holy Path is commonly, though not exclusively, followed by Sorcerers who are also priests. Through a series of cantrips and rituals, followers of the Holy Path focus their minds in order to resist the temptations of Hell. Those on the Holy Path are less likely to fall prey to possession, mutilation and the myriad other risks which attend the Sorcerer's art.

The Infernal Path

The Infernal Path is widely, if unjustly, considered the preserve of diabolists. Its detractors argue that its rituals bring one so close to the substance of the Inferno that it cannot but imperil one's soul; its defenders, that there is no greater weapon than knowledge of one's enemy. Followers of the Infernal path find themselves more and more familiar with the residents of Hell, able to negotiate with them on far more amicable terms, and even able to request the occasional free favour.

Cross-Path Spells

There are rumours that masters of more than one Sorcerous path can achieve hitherto unheard-of effects. There is no doubt that these rituals would - theoretically - be intensely dangerous. There is also a small chance that they might be intensely powerful.

An attempt at a cross-path spell of one sort or another is generally to be assumed responsible for the Wittenberg incident.

Some of the more common rumours of effects achievable by combining mastery of two Sorcerous paths include travel through the Infernal realms; a twisted, blighted version of Cry God for Harry; and that old favourite party trick, summoning the Adversary himself.

sorcery.txt · Last modified: 2007/10/03 20:51 by helen