Anyone with a Magic Power score can learn Channeling. Channeling involves learning to move and guide essence, the substance of raw magic. Essence can be found pooling in various places, moments, objects or beings of power. Channeling allows a magic-user to wield raw magical power.
Channeling is a spirit-based skill.
Essence is fluid-like, flowing through existence, drawn to areas of creation that have an impact. Strong emotions attract essence. Important events. Places of power, times of transition. Even important personal moments can draw essence. Channeling allows a user to pull raw magic power out of such important places, moments or things.
A user can only ever pull their Magic Power out of a given essence source. Once they draw their full Magic Power, the essence source is attuned and unavailable until it refreshes. Some sources, such as important moments, are single-source, they never refresh, others, such as places of power, refresh their relationship to users at a particular time, such as sunrise or sunset. Smaller sources may only allow a user to take half their Magic Power before attunement, whereas larger sources might allow twice Magic Power.
One of the mysteries of creation is that essence pools appear differently to different practitioners, for some they are full and available, for others, not at all. Every source of essence is eternal in its own way; its relationship to a particular user is not eternal. Essence has flavor and when a user attunes to an essence source, they can be affected by its flavor; channeling essence from the site of a murder will bring out feelings of violence, whereas a lover’s lane might make the channeler amorous and flirtatious.
Channeling is a simple skill roll. A success grants a single point of essence. Each raise grants +1 essence up to Magic Power. Generally sources of essence have a limited number of connections; each subsequent skill check will take a cumulative -2 penalty to channeling until the source refreshes. The exception is a personal essence pool, or attuned container.
Every being has their own personal essence. Essence starts at (Spirit + ½ Vigor) and may be increased through increasing those base abilities or through certain edges. Channeling personal essence is emotionally draining and can even be dangerous. When essence is below half, mood is depressed and the narrator may apply a -2 modifier to any ability check that requires emotional clarity or motivation. When essence is drained to 0, that penalty increases to -4. If essence is drained below 0, the character is in serious trouble; for every point of negative essence, the character suffers a magic fatigue level that cannot be restored until essence pool refreshes naturally. Channeling from an external source cannot replenish personal essence once it is negative.
Personal essence gradually refresh at a rate of 1d4 essence per day of normal activity (not stressful, exertion), or 2d4 per day of rest or spiritual activity. Once personal essence is negative, it is harder to recover; instead of recovering essence, make a Spirit check with the -4 penalty. Failure means loss of another point of personal essence. Success means restoration of 1d4 essence. This continues until essence rises above zero or the character falls into a stupor (their magic fatigue overwhelms them). Channeling requires an essence score of 0 or higher; a character whose essence drops below 0 cannot save themselves from an external source.
Any magic-user can channel their own essence if they have the channeling skill. They can channel up to their Magic Power in a single roll and can channel their pool to 0 or below if they so choose. Magic-users can intentionally kill themselves by pouring out their life force with enough focused will (a high enough roll). Every being has a powerful sense of dread when their essence approaches 0; they instinctively know that going below that value goes against their survival instinct. Whereas Magic Power represents the “normal” level of a magic-user’s ability, essence uses personal life energy to boost magic power.
Personal essence cannot be higher than its normal value, but a user can hold essence ready for instant use. Essence that is present and ready to use is called “Activated Essence.” Activated essence feels a little like holding water in your hands. Every round that a user holds activated essence, they must make a channeling roll with a penalty equal to the essence they are holding. Failure means the essence bleeds away and is gone. Activated essence can be used when activating a power without having to make any channeling rolls. Anyone holding activated essence seems a little surreal and larger than life. This means a user can activate personal essence to have it ready for use in a power without having to roll channeling when they activate the power.
Some beings lose essence (psychic vampires) as part of their natural state. Such beings must drain essence from outside sources to survive.
Essence can be used to boost any powers during activation.
Each point of essence can:
- Negate the Magic Fatigue level associated with activating a difficult power
- Recover an existing level of Magic Fatigue
- Add +2 to any roll involved in a power
- Add +1d6 damage caused by a power
- Increase the range of a power to double its normal range
- Add +2 to any drain check after using a power
- Extend the duration of a power (rounds become 1 minute, minutes become 15 minutes, hours cannot be extended through essence)
Channeling skill can be rolled as a multi-skill die with any casting skill without penalty, meaning the user can roll a channeling die, a casting skill die, and one wild die at once without any penalty.