by Justin Bacon
Art by Rob Nemeth and colored by Philip Reed
Art used by permission of Atlas Games
Unknown Armies, designed by Greg Stolze and John Tynes and published by Atlas Games, features a unique system of magick. Magick is practiced by adepts, each of which subscribes to a specific school of magick. Based on what school the adept belongs to he builds up "charges" in various ways -- members of the school of Pornomancy, for example, build up charges by engaging in ritualized sexual acts; members of the school of Dipsomancy, on the other hand, build up charges by being drunk. These charges (which can be classified as minor, significant, or major based on what the adept did to gain them) can then be expended to create magickal effects.
Magick is, above all, affected by three laws. First, the Law of Symbolic Tension demands that all magick be based on some form an underlying paradox. Hence the adepts of pornomancy gain charges by engaging in sexual acts, but can't gain pleasure in those acts. Adepts of dipsomancy, in contrast, surrender control over their bodies (by getting drunk) in order to gain control over the universe (in the form of magick).
Second, the Law of Transaction says that you can't get more out of magick than what you put in. Therefore you get minor effects from minor charges and major effects from major charges.
Third, the Law of Obedience states that adepts can only subscribe to a single school of magick. The schools are mutually exclusive, . . .
This article originally appeared in the second volume of Pyramid. See the current Pyramid website for more information.
Article publication date: May 12, 2000
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