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Old 10-04-2016, 06:14 PM   #1
Gef
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Yucca Valley, CA
Default [RPM] a gifted un-Gifted

Professor Whizbang is an almost-wizard in a world much like our own, but where magic [Ritual Path] is known to the public, though few have the Gift to practice it or understand much about it, even as it props up their governments and corporations. This Gift tends to run in families, and those families have leveraged their magical power for social and economic power as well. A sport pops up in the general population from time to time, but the powers-that-be preserve the status quo, as they do in any world.

Luc San Martin is the scion of a magical family, but there’s something fishy about him: He lacks any natural Gift for magic, though he is gifted in his own way. As a young child, he showed a promising grasp of introductory magical concepts, but he hit a plateau in adolescence, fumbling with practical rituals introduced at that level. Facing scorn from fellow students and the prospect of transfer to a mundane school, he delved into his father’s library and discovered how to enchant an amulet which would give him the power he lacked, and he labored in secret late at night for months to complete it.

Now such amulets to augment power are common enough among wealthy wizards, but Luc’s amulet did not augment power, it merely gave him an elementary ability. He continued supplement his education with the impressive family collection and shot back to the head of his class, but he had to struggle to stay there, as other students found their Gift maturing while his remained static. In a final assessment, in a portion forbidding tools such as his amulet, Luc choked, and his secret came out. The disappointed but loving San Martins encouraged their son to be realistic, to use his obvious intellect to prosper in some other field, and used their connections to place him in a top school.

Luc isn’t done with magic, but now he operates under the pseudonym Professor Whizbang, still laboring late into the night on secret projects. His true gift is teaching magic and especially preparing grimoires, ritual texts so clear that even wizards of modest ability can produce astonishing results by following them. Under this trademark, he sells magic kits on the internet. The introductory kit is wholly mundane, but interesting and aimed at bright kids, whom it directs to the product website. Those who show genuine understanding and interest on the site’s forum get a magical once-over by the good professor, the kit itself serving as a sympathetic connection to locate them. When he finds one of the Gifted, or a truly promising non-Gifted like himself, Professor Whizbang makes a follow-up offer. Thus, Luc has students by correspondence who are true budding wizards, even though they don’t come from magical families like his own.

Reviews for the introductory Professor Whizbang Magic Kit are generally positive, a well-presented multi-media primer on magic theory and samples of things real wizards use for decanic correspondences; a clever kid could even get an idea for a home-based gardening business. Reviews for the limited-circulation supplemental material are non-existent, but that doesn’t mean that powerful concerns haven’t stumbled across them and started to wonder who is sending clear, thorough grimoires worth tens of thousands to high school kids for their allowance money. So far, they don’t suspect a grad student in philosophy working out of his dorm room. New blood in the magical community could be a blessing, and in fact the expansion of the franchise is inevitable, but it could also be disruptive if it happens too quickly.


I’ve been kicking around this character concept since RPM came out, but I’ve no game to play him in, so I thought I’d throw him out as a plot seed for anyone running an RPM campaign with the right switches: Modern-ish, elitist, allow Gadgeteer advantage to make grimoires. Allowing an enchanted item to confer M0 is optional, but losing it reduces the level of grimoire the good professor can churn out (I figure it's possible but frowned on if not outright illegal – never know what idiot might get his hands on it). Making magic secret instead of limited makes him a threat instead of an irritant, and making magic commonplace makes him irrelevant. Remove social constraints or magic Magery 0 learnable, and this kid’s dreams never get dashed.

Professor Whizbang himself needs at least 250pt, I think, but his correspondence cadets could be half that, and a group of them could be amateur monster hunters with him as a Patron. Give the prof an extra hundred points, and he could have some mundane skills to make him slipperier. A variant, if he’s such a genius, is that he’s the inventor of technomagic, which works if it uses a different Magery advantage than the conventional kind: All conventional wizards are part of the establishment, but those fogies wouldn’t even know how to recognize the new breed.

As for Luc himself, he could be anywhere from nefarious to naive. Perhaps he’s just empathizing with kids who never got the opportunity to become wizards just as he lost his own, hoping to prove that he and his young friends can make a contribution, without realizing that what they’ll contribute to is a social upheaval – that’s the outlook I’d take if I could use him as a PC. Or perhaps that upheaval is exactly what he wants.

The build would look something like this:

IQ 15 [100]
Gadgeteer [Aspected: Magic -50%; 13]
Higher Purpose (Magic Tradition, possibly one his own devising) +3 [15]
Less Sleep by 4hr/night [8]
Luck [Aspected: Magic -20%; 12] – represents genius to get better results than a typical non-mage
Magery 0 [Protected Amulet -35%; 4]
--Duplicate [1]
Rules Exemption: Perk Limits [1]
--A score of Ritual Mastery perks [20]
If allowed to affect rituals, Single-Minded and/or Versatile [Aspected: Magic -50%; 3 or 6]
Talent +4 to half a dozen magic-related skills including Teaching, Thaumatology, and Writiing [20] – no help with paths but allows more charms

That’s 200 before disads, skills, and social traits (and any physical traits you want to tack on). The big deal is the social traits, besides a Claim to Hospitality with his family, the students and their friend as Ally Groups or it might be better to represent his role as Rank, level depending on how far the operation has spread.Then you might want him to pay for Wealth as a potential advantage, to cover the cost of his grimoire collection; if he finds a formal place in the magical community, he could buy up from potential wealth to the real deal, selling his grimoires at market price.

Calculation for grimoires:
12 Path Skill
+3 Higher Purpose
+2 Ritual Mastery
+2 Tools
+1 Reliable assisting skill (Writing)
+0 Sacred Space
-6 Rough Draft Grimoire +6
Total target 14 or less

Repeat with +3 for that grimoire to get a +10 final draft on 13 or less
Repeat with +5 for final draft to make a good copy on 15 or less

If Luc can’t use an amulet for Magery 0, then his rough draft will be +4 (11 or less, still 95% with Luck) and his final draft will be +6 (also 11 or less). His Wealth could be a limitation on the quality of grimoires he can actually produce.

Credit where it’s due to Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

Last edited by Gef; 10-05-2016 at 06:18 PM.
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