The basic magics of the Hopeful are called Charms. Use of a Charm is, as a rule, an obviously magical event, as obvious as transformation, unless the Princess specifically tries to cloak herself. Generally the Light’s force overflows into some visible manifestation - a flash of light, a snatch of music, the appearance of a solid object - that leaps from the Princess to her target.
The Power of Love
The Charms are the greater magics of the Hopeful. Use of a Charm is, as a rule, an obviously magical event, as obvious as transformation, unless the Princess specifically tries to cloak herself. Generally the Light's force overflows into some visible manifestation - a flash of light, a snatch of music, the appearance of a solid object - that leaps from the Princess to her target.
The Charms are divided into 10 families. Each Calling has an affinity to 3 of them, learning the Charms within them more easily.
Each Charm has an Action attribute, giving the type of action using it is.
|Instant||Instant action, taking a turn. A dice pool to roll is noted.|
|Reactive||Instant action; can be declared out of turn in initiative order, in response to another action (such as dodging in combat).|
|Full turn||Instant action; requires forgoing Defense in the turn activated.|
|Reflexive||Reflexive action; does not interfere with normal action. A dice pool to roll is noted.|
|Extended||Extended action; a dice pool to roll, the time required for each roll, and the success threshold to finish activation are noted.|
|...and resisted||...the Charm has a target; subtract one of the target's traits from the dice pool.|
|...and contested||...the Charm has a target, who reflexively rolls an opposed dice pool; more successes must be rolled than the target to take effect.|
|Permanent||No action required - the Charm enhances another ability. If the proper conditions obtain, it just works.|
The rules for extended actions are slightly different for Charms. A Charm has to be activated in one attempt; any interruption makes the Charm fail, and near misses don't give bonuses to the next attempt. A Noble does not take a Condition to continue if she fails a roll; instead she takes a cumulative -2 penalty to her dice pool each time she forges on. She does take a Condition on a dramatic failure; her magic's failure generally causes a loss of confidence, so any of the Conditions that come from a compromise are appropriate. On an exceptional success the Noble may reduce the time interval or the threshold as with mundane extended actions, or she may take the Inspired Condition [CofD 289] related to Charms of the same family (or some other Condition with the Storyteller's approval.)
Other than the permanent Charms, each Charm has a duration, ending when the stated time runs out; and a cost, usually in Wisps. Powerful Charms call for Willpower points; many Charms favored by the Queen of Storms inflict damage on their user, which resists magical healing; and using some Charms favored by the Queen of Tears triggers Sensitivity. A Princess who cannot spend enough Wisps to activate a Charm in a single turn may still use it; it just takes her several turns to do so. She must use her action over consecutive turns to charge up the magic, spending what she can; the Charm activates in the turn when she spends the last Wisp needed.
A Charm with a duration of “lasting” changes its target permanently in a flash of magic; as a Charm it ends immediately. Charms with an “indefinite” duration leave a continuing trace of magic on their target (often a Condition or Tilt) which other supernatural powers can detect or influence. A Charm with a duration of “concentration” needs its user's active attention, and ends if the user spends her turn's action on anything but maintaining the Charm.
Each Charm has a rating in dots, which sets the price and difficulty of learning its basic effect. Most Charms also define upgrades, which modify and enhance their effects; each upgrade to a Charm adds 1 dot to its effective rating. A few Charms have another Charm as a prerequisite; to learn these Charms, a Princess must have learned the prerequisite Charm. Upgrades can also have prerequisites, generally of other upgrades to the same Charm. Finally, a Princess' Inner Light limits the dots she can put in a Charm; a Princess cannot learn a Charm with a basic rating higher than Inner Light + 2, or upgrade a Charm with an effective rating equal to that.
Many upgrades change the cost or duration of their Charm, or add a modifier to the activation roll. Therefore, you are not required to apply any upgrade when using a Charm - the basic effect is always available, at the original cost.
A number of permanent Charms have upgrades that allow a Noble to spend Wisps for an additional effect. Unless such an upgrade's description says otherwise, such effects are activated reflexively without a roll, separately from the basic Charm's effect. A Noble doesn't have to pay for those effects until she actually uses them.
Freaking the Mundanes?
The Integrity system [CofD 73-75] states that witnessing the supernatural is a breaking point for mundane humans; does that mean Hopeful magic can break a mundane witness? Unfortunately, yes, it does. The Light is fundamentally benign, but it's still a supernatural power, and no one in the World of Darkness feels safe in the presence of genuine magic, whatever its provenance. Some Nobles theorize that the Kingdom's fall wounded the spirit of humanity itself, to make them fear the mysterious; others note that so much magic in the modern world is wielded by evil monsters that fearing the supernatural is only sensible. Either way, it will take many generations for the Nobility to dispel the fear and distrust of ordinary people for themselves.
However, seeing a Princess in her glory isn't quite the sanity-breaking experience that witnessing other supernaturals can become. Meeting a transformed Princess is never a breaking point. Seeing a Princess change to or from her mundane form is a breaking point, but at a -1 penalty at most. If a Princess uses a Charm to perform an obviously supernatural feat, any mundane witnesses will reach a breaking point, though again at a -1 penalty at most. Targets of a Charm may experience a breaking point with a greater penalty, if the Storyteller thinks the situation merits it. No character reaches a breaking point from witnessing magic from the Light more often than once a scene, and any character who is familiar with the Nobility and understands their mission is immune to breaking points from seeing their powers.
Finally, dramatic failures on these breaking points generally don't leave the kind of traumas represented by the Broken, Fugue or Madness Conditions. A more usual result is a persistent Obsession with finding the Noble whose magic inflicted the breaking point. Another possibility, seen in hardened criminals, is being frightened into repentance. If the question should come up in play, we encourage the Storyteller to be inventive.
Charms and Invocations
Normally, when she activates a Charm, the Princess spends 1 Wisp on top of the Charm’s usual cost to apply one of the Invocations she knows - this adds her dots in the Invocation to the dice pool for activating the Charm. (This is a modifier to the dice pool; in an extended action, applying an Invocation does not raise the maximum number of rolls.) Charms that don’t require a roll to activate gain power from Invocations in other ways; for example, several permanent Charms allow a Princess to apply an Invocation to some mundane Skill rolls. It is never possible to apply two Invocations to a single dice pool, or to stack Invocations in any other way.
An Invocation can be applied for free (without paying the extra Wisp) under certain conditions, generally when her actions are consonant with the principles of the Queen favoring that Invocation, or the target of her actions has a symbolic link with the Invocation. (For a permanent Charm, the target is whoever or whatever the Princess uses the enhanced ability on.) There is also, for each Invocation, a prohibition that a Princess should not break; if she does, she loses the right to apply that Invocation for a period of time, at least until the current scene ends.
A fair number of Charms require dots in an Invocation to purchase; these are called invoked Charms, and are not compatible with any Invocation but their prerequisite. When using such a Charm, a Princess can apply the prerequisite Invocation to gain its bonus (if conditions permit, and she hasn’t broken the ban) or she can make the activation roll without any bonus, but she may not apply any other Invocation’s bonus. If a Charm does not require an Invocation to purchase it, any Invocation can be applied to it; these are called general Charms. There are a few general Charms with upgrades that require Invocation dots – applying such an upgrade converts the Charm to an invoked one – and some invoked Charms with upgrades that require more Invocation dots than the basic Charm does. Upgrades that require different Invocations are not compatible; you may not apply both of them to the same activation of a Charm.
Opposed Charms: Clash of Wills
Occasionally, Nobles working at cross purposes will use Charms at the same time that can’t both succeed. For instance, two of the Hopeful may use the same Shape Charm on the same object to sculpt it in different ways; one Princess may use an Appear Charm to disguise herself while another uses a Learn Charm to see through disguises; or one Noble tries to calm a crowd when another is magically inciting it to riot. More frequently, a Princess will find herself using Charms against the powers of supernatural creatures in such a way that either the Charm or the creature’s power must prevail. When this happens the two characters have a Clash of Wills.
The Storyteller resolves both powers according to their descriptions, including any costs and side effects to their users. If both succeed, the two characters make a contested roll; whoever gets more successes has their power go off as intended, while the other works only so far as the winner’s power permits. Should the two characters tie the contest, they just repeat the roll until one of them gets more than the other. A Princess’ dice pool in a Clash of Wills equals her Inner Light plus the effective rating of the Charm she cast; her Belief modifies the pool, giving the same modifier as for a compromise. The rules for other supernatural beings define the pools they use for a Clash of Wills.
Characters may spend Willpower to bolster the contested roll, but only if they are physically present and aware that their powers are clashing. Certain powers, such as those with exceptionally long durations, are more enduring in a clash. Day-long effects add one die to the clash roll, week-long effects add two, month-long three, and effects that would last a year or longer add four.
Charm Types and Modifiers
Many Charms follow rules which aren’t specific to them, but shared with other Charms; these rules are collected here for reference.
Some Charms can be used on distant targets, or on multiple targets, by taking penalties to their activation roll. If a Charm's dice pool is modified by Sympathy, the strength of the connection between the Princess and her target affects the power of the Charm. Consult this table for the penalty to the activation roll:
|0||Sensory||You can see the target directly.|
|-2||Intimate||The target is a longtime friend, a member of your family, one you love deeply, or a prized possession.|
|-4||Known||You know the target well; or the target is something you own, or something of great importance to you.|
|-6||Acquainted||You know the target slightly; or the target is something you have used, or something you have some feelings for.|
|-8||Encountered||You have met the target briefly; or the target is something you have touched.|
|-10||Described||You have a verbal description of the target, but nothing more.|
|X||Unknown||You know nothing of the target. No Charm can affect targets without a sympathetic connection.|
If a Charm’s dice pool is modified by Commonalty, it can affect all the members of an organization who are currently present at once. If such a Charm is resisted, the member of the organization with the best resistance trait resists for all members; for a contested Charm, each member rolls to contest individually. The difficulty of extending the Charm over an organization depends on the commitment the members have towards each other, or towards the common goal for which the organization exists. Consult this table for the appropriate penalty.
|0||Individual||One person, the default.|
|-1||Dedicated||Everyone in the group affected is mutually Intimate, or the group's goal takes up the majority of its members' time and thought; an established nakama, a family.|
|-3||Concerned||Everyone in the group is mutually Known or better, or all the members make significant sacrifices for the common goal; a new nakama, the long term employees of a small business.|
|-5||Interested||Everyone in the group is mutually Acquainted or better, or the members share an interest in the group's goal; a social club, employees of a large corporation.|
|X||Casual||Some members of the group have only Encountered each other; the group is merely a lot of people gathered in one place, with no common interest. No Charm can affect everyone in such groups.|
|Span of Time||Penalty|
|Within a day||0|
|Within a week||-1|
|Within a month||-2|
|Within a year||-3|
|Within five years||-4|
|Within ten years||-5|
|Add an additional -1 for every additional ten years.|
Some Learn Charms scry across time, revealing events in the past or (for Specchio) the future. These Charms penalize their activation rolls based on the span of time between the Noble and the event she wants to see. Consult this table for the appropriate penalty.
Several Charms create long-lasting effects over an area, enchanting it into a Sanctuary. All of these Charms require extended actions to activate, and the threshold of successes required for the actions depends on the size of the Sanctuary. Add the successes listed below to the threshold for these Charms.
|Rating||Size of Sanctuary Affected||Successes|
|X||Just enough room for one person to stand or lie down (Sanctuary Charms can’t affect an area this small)||n/a|
|•||A small apartment or a cabin in the woods; 1-2 rooms||2|
|••||A large apartment or small remote house; 3-4 rooms||4|
|•••||A converted church, warehouse or large house; 5-8 rooms||6|
|••••||A mansion or apartment building; 9-15 rooms||8|
|•••••||A vast palatial estate, a city block, a skyscraper or a small village||10|
Also, the Charms that affect a Sanctuary become easier to activate when the area in question is one the Princess values, and conversely are difficult to use in areas she dislikes or fears. Activation rolls for these Charms should take modifiers similar to the following.
|Modifier||Connection to the Area|
|+5||Exceptionally strong memories of love and safety, such as a childhood home|
|+3||Strong memories of love and safety, such as a long time friend’s home|
|+1||The Princess, or the Nation she belongs to, owns the property|
|+1-3||The area is a Safe Place for the Princess (bonus = half the Merit dots, rounding down)|
|-1||The Princess has never been in the area before|
|-2||The Princess is trespassing in the area|
|-3||Strong memories of fear or horror|
Certain powerful invoked Charms require a Noble to summon the essence of a Queen into herself, and let that Queen guide her magic to the exclusion of all others. If a Princess activates a Charm tagged as Avatar, she cannot use any Invocation except the Charm's prerequisite until the Charm’s duration expires.
The Queens accept as their avatars only those who uphold their principles and ideals. The Minor Invoker Merit may not be used to learn an Avatar Charm. A Bequest based on an Avatar Charm will not work unless its user has at least 3 dots in the Charm's prerequisite Invocation.
The permanent Charms tagged as Favor (Skill) begin with a simple effect: they allow a Noble to apply Invocations to mundane actions based on the named Skill while transformed. While these Charms can have a wide variety of upgrades, all of them provide one standard upgrade.
Specialized: When the Noble concentrates her training in a narrow field, the Light ensures she can’t fail. Whenever any Specialty she has in the favored Skill applies to the Noble’s action, she may reroll her dice pool after seeing the result. She must accept the result of the second roll.
Permanent Charms tagged as Regalia give a Noble the ability to conjure up an item while transformed, or alter her clothing while transformed to meet a need. Such items (and her clothing) are called her Regalia, the emblems, symbols and paraphernalia of her office, her duty, her Calling and her Nobility. A Regalia Charm puts basic tools at the Noble’s disposal for a specific task, ensuring that when she has to carry out that task, she never suffers penalties for lacking equipment. It also (unless the Charm says otherwise) allows the Noble to apply an Invocation to her dice pools when she uses the Regalia piece. The combination of these two effects is called the Regalia bonus.
Like Favor Charms, Regalia Charms can have many upgrades, but all of them provide one standard upgrade:
- Quality: (Stackable 3 times) The Regalia is very well-made and suited to its purpose. It offers an equipment bonus to dice pools related to its proper use. Each time the Noble takes this upgrade the bonus increases by +1. The total bonus from all Quality upgrades is the Quality bonus.
Any piece of a Noble’s Regalia can appear on her person, ready for use, whenever she transforms, if she wishes it to. She can switch any number of Regalia pieces into or out of solid existence with a transformation action; the dice pool for this action is the same as the one for full transformation. However, if she returns to mundane form she must dismiss all her Regalia as well. (Marking Regalia as Practical lifts this restriction; a Noble may summon or dismiss a Practical Regalia piece in either form.) Naturally, pieces of Regalia help a Noble with her goals only when they are in existence - any bonuses they confer are lost if she sends them away.
Each piece of Regalia has a Durability equal to 1 + half the Princess’ Inner Light (rounding up) and a Structure equal to its Durability + the Princess’ Belief, regardless of its actual Size or composition. Also, because Regalia is part of a Princess’ transformed self, any supernatural power that targets a piece of Regalia triggers a Clash of Wills using the effective rating of the Charm that added that piece. If a Regalia piece is ever destroyed, the Princess may recreate it by the same method used to recreate a destroyed phylactery.
A Princess always knows where her Regalia are and what their state is, even if she forgot in the heat of battle that a piece was destroyed or lost. Like her Phylactery, each piece of her Regalia has an unbreakable Intimate sympathetic connection to her transformed identity. If she has lost a piece, she may recall it to herself with a transformation action. When she does so she may replace all lost Regalia at once, although there is nothing compelling her to do so, rather than leave some lying around.
If the Storyteller agrees, a Princess’ player may declare that one piece of her Regalia is the anchor for two or more of her permanent Charms - for instance, a magical staff that shoots fire can be the Regalia for both Kensai and Levinbolt. Naturally, losing such Regalia pieces removes the benefits of all the Charms tied to them.