Design For Living - Powers - Power Words

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Cost: 5 + 1 per Power Word

Prereq: None, although Amber level Psyche and Endurance are useful.


Power Words are a limited form of magic, used mostly in a defensive way. Power words are easy to cast, instantaneous in effect, but have no lasting effect. Because any Power Word involves channelling a burst of Psyche, they are always noticeable, never concealed.

More important than anything in using Power Words is Psyche. The higher the Ranking in Psyche, the more powerful the impact that the Power Word will have on its target. This is especially important in battling Spell Casters, where an inadequate Psyche, weakly driving a Power Word, may not be enough to break their concentration. Endurance is also important, since each use of a Power Word is a drain on the character's life force.

Learning Power Words

Well, they don't have to take the form of Power 'words', they could as easily be gestures, signs, whistles, finger snaps, or whatever the character likes although there must always be some action associated with them.

Unlike other forms of Magic, which use the power of Shadow, Power Words are based on the power of the character who speaks them. Power Words aren't just words, they're actually a linkage, a magical connection, built into the body of the character who owns them.

Range, duration and the effects of Power Words are all restricted to the immediate time and place of the caster. The effects are somewhat uncertain since the raw power used does not take into account the variables of Chaos and Pattern influence in a particular place.

Once your Words are selected, they may not be exchanged, switched about, or otherwise substituted. They're the ones you start with, and they're the only ones you're going to get. Unless you learn more later, of course.

The power words listed below are the ones that are well known. Players can use the 'word' listed, or invent their own. Bear in mind that, like all other Power Words, new Words must have an instantaneous effect. Any 'new' power words can be selected as part the first ones you learn and can also be purchased later at a cost of a point each. New Power Words must be approved.

Countering Power Words

A drawback to Power Words is that they are fairly simple and routine. If an opponent is prepared, it's possible to overcome them.

However, counteracting Power Words requires specific measures.

For example, the most common Power Word, Magic Negation, breaks up a spell in mid-casting, while the Sorcerer is invoking the Lynchpins of the spell. The Magic Negation Power Word wouldn't work against an instantaneous spell, one that is completely prepared, requiring no time-consuming lynchpins.

It's also possible for a Sorcerer to be prepared in advance for a Power Word, and to defend against it. The preparation would require that the Sorcerer would have had to come to the conflict prepared with a protective spell. Such a spell would only be good against the Power Words the Sorcerer knows.

Since Power Words are unique to each character, a Sorcerer can't make any sort of general or 'all purpose' magical defence against Power Words.

For this reason characters with Power Words tend to be rather secretive. They only use them in genuine emergencies.

That way they greatly reduce the chance of being observed, and of having their Power Words countered by others.

Making up new Power Words

So long as the restrictions are followed, players are encouraged to make up their own Power Words.

In general terms, Power Words have to be fast and easy.

Fast, in that what they do should happen in a flash. Easy means they can't do anything complicated, that requires explaining or defining conditions.

For example, most Sorcerer's spells are complex enough to require several parts or phases, something impossible with a

Energy Drain

Since Power Words use the energy of the character, rather than magical energies, they tend to be rather draining.

For most Amberites, most of the time, this is no particular problem.

However, any character with less than Real Endurance (Partial or Shadow) will be tired by each use of a Power Word.

A character of greater endurance, while not usually troubled, should beware of using Power Words when engaged in some other difficult task, like using the Jewel of Judgement, walking the Pattern, or engaging in a Psychic duel.

Example Power Words

  • Burst of Magic: HURG!
Generates a 'pulse' of magical energy, either inside the caster's body, or at some point outside of it (the fingertip, for example). Sometimes useful for activating magical items. Definitely visible as a 'flare' of magic for anyone observing with mystic Logrus sight or by other means of detection.

  • Burst of Psyche: ZZAAQ!
The caster's Psyche is boosted, just for an instant. This may be enough to assist at a critical moment of an attempted Trump call, or during a Psychic battle. It also serves to brighten the character's Psyche, so that an observer will notice the character.

  • Burst of Speed: ZZOOM!
Momentarily speeds the character up. Most useful when you are trying to escape or outrun someone and a last burst of speed would really help. Can be a slight benefit in combat by speeding up a swing, but really designed for running, dodging and diving for cover.

  • Burst of Strength: KROW!
Momentarily boosts the character's strength, allowing them to land a powerful blow, or lift an object heavier than they normally could.

  • Chaos Negation: POLRZ!
Used only against yourself. It works internally, inside your own body, as self protection. Defends against destructive changes to your person that might be rendered by the Logrus, or by other damaging Chaos attacks.

  • Defensive Luck: FORTZ!
Creates an instant of fortunate karma, sort of like a small dose of 'Good Stuff'. Results will be either fortunate events for the caster, or minor accidents befalling the opposition. It can only be used once in any given combat location. It is best used when some event seems to be dependent on chance. For example, it's timely to use it just as the enemy's foot is about to touch down on a patch of ice.

  • Induce Euphoria: WOOH!
The target feels happy and euphoric for a few seconds. A non-aggressive target will generally stop noticing what is going on around them for the duration. While not as useful in combat as a Neural Disrupt, it has the advantage that the target may not realise that the happiness was caused by someone else.
The user must say the name of the target, or possess a higher Psyche.

  • Induce Fear: YAAGH!
Fills the target with irrational terror. If the user of the Power Word has a superior Psyche, or speaks the name of the target, the target will lose all concentration and panic for a second. Animals, or creatures of similarly low intelligence, will generally bolt and keep running even after the fear fades, not realising that the fear was produced by a Power Word.

  • Life-force: LIEVZ!
This Power Word generates a burst of living energy in the target. Doesn't actually have enough time to do any healing, but does break destructive anti-life energies. Also functions well as a 'wake up call' for those who are sleeping or unconscious.
It's also useful in certain medical emergencies, where the heart, lungs or brain may have 'seized' up momentarily.
The target will feel 'good' briefly, as if they were in the peak of health, regardless of their true condition.

  • Light Strobe: LUUM!
Releases a bright 'strobe' or burst of white light. Can emit from the character speaking the Power Word, or from an object that is being touched. Useful in temporarily blinding an opponent (at least the first time), but pretty useless for general illumination.

  • Magic Negation: NOGTZ!
This Word allows disruption of the gathering of magical energies. As a Sorcerer casts a spell, or releases a prepared spell, the Power Word disrupts the elegant structure of the spell and renders it useless. If used fast enough it can also fizzle out trap spells or wards before they are unleashed.
The more powerful the Psyche of the invoker of the Power Word, relative to that of the source of the Magic, the more effective it will be. It can also be used to neutralise active magic, including shields and wards, and other things charged with magical energies.

  • Neural Disrupt: KROLAK!
Directly affects a creature, throwing off their co-ordination, and causing them to twitch or flinch involuntarily. This is best used in a critical moment of battle, changing the Warfare situation for a moment.
Out of combat it works if you need to grab something away from somebody, knock them over, or do something where a momentary break in their co-ordination comes in handy.
Naming the target, like 'Oberon Krolak!' makes it effective against that opponent. If the target is unnamed, then the user of the Power Word must have a superior Psyche.
After the first time, it's possible for victims to steel their mind against the Power Word, and resist its effects.

  • Pain Attack: VOILE!
Gives a 'jolt' of pain to the person or creature at which it is directed. The momentary pain is a distraction, but does no real damage. Named victims are affected, regardless of Psyche. However, if the victim is not named, then resisting is possible for opponents with a superior Psyche.
The main effect is one of surprise, so using it more than once against tough opponents is pretty useless. On the other hand, wimpy or cowardly victims can be driven into helpless terror by repeated uses.

  • Pattern Negation: LEGIT!
As with Chaos Negation, it's something you cast against yourself. Works internally as protection against the influence of Pattern.

  • Process Snuff: QUIMK!
Momentarily dampens whatever is affected. Throwing it at a car's engine would cause it to slow slightly, or even stall out. A campfire would dim, but a flickering candle flame would likely go out altogether. The effect is to dampen the reaction rate down momentarily.

  • Process Surge: MAGIQUE!
In any process (fire, Magic, Pattern, etc.) this adds an extra boost or push. For example, casting it on a working car engine would give it a quickie burst of extra power. A campfire would briefly flare up. The most it can do is double the energy exchange rate of the normal reaction.

  • Psychic Defence: SHAGSK!
Creates a burst of internal Psyche, enough to disrupt any contact that you are involved in.
Also works great against the pressure of others trying to break into your mind. Lasts only for a second but very useful against unexpected attacks during times of psychic contact, or, for example, during Trump calls.

  • Psychic Disrupt: ASKIIR!
Directly affects the creature. It works to disrupt the concentration of the victim. So, someone with the Logrus or Pattern brought to mind, or someone in a tenuous Trump contact, would lose their focus and have to start over again.
Likewise someone casting Magic would be interrupted. Against a 'named' target it will work no matter what the difference in Psyche. Used without a name, it is possible that the object of the Psychic Disrupt, if superior in Psyche, will be unaffected. Repeated use of the Psychic Disrupt Power Word, against the same opponent, will become less and less effective. Having once felt its effect, the victim can brace for subsequent attacks.

  • Resume True Form: SCHANG!
This is a command that forces a person or thing to go back to their true form. It is only effective on things that are not currently in their proper shape. It's really useful in dispelling magical alterations in just about anything. Shape Changers, and things with the power of Shape Changing, can resist the effects, but only with effort.
If used against an unnamed target the caster will need a Psyche advantage. However, even if the Power Word fails, it is likely that any Shape-Changed subject will have reacted in some way. Repeated use against the same opponent will be gradually less and less effective.

  • Shade: OMBRE!
Adds to the darkness of all shadows in an area. The effects are spooky, frightening, scary and forbidding, but with no real effect. Basically used to disorient and confuse.

  • Spark: AFLAK!
Creates a single spark, like that generated when a match is first struck. Only lasts a moment, but it's enough to start a fire, ignite something, or, against a living creature, cause a bit of pain. Spark must be generated at a fingertip, or somewhere on the caster's body.

  • Thunder: HAGGK!
The Power Word, as spoken, is transformed into the sound of thunder bolt, just as if a stroke of lightning banged right from the caster's mouth. Loud, with a sound that carries, and startling. About the worst damage possible is temporary deafness if shouted directly into the ear of a victim.

  • Trump Disrupt: JASK!
Can be cast against a Trump card, instantly blocking any active connection. Used either against a card in the caster's hand, or, by pointing, at a nearby card.
If the caster is receiving a Trump contact, where the other party is holding the card, it can be cast through the contact. In this latter case, it will succeed only if the caster has Psychic superiority. Only works against a card that is currently in use, not a similar card in another deck.

  • Weaken Structure: MARSK!
Temporarily weakens the molecular structure of an object. Works best on rigid objects made of metal, stone, glass, or plastic.
It's ineffective against organic material, including flesh, bone, wood, cotton or wool cloth, and most rope. Won't work against magic or mystic items.
Timing is important when using this Power Word, as it is best used at the exact moment of impact. For example, so that an enemy's weapon or armour might shatter when struck.

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