Knacks: Aard (Force), Axii (Persuasion), Ignis (Combustion), Quen (Protection), Yrden (Containment)
Apprentice Degree: Seeker
Adept Degree: Keeper
Master Degree: Herald
Among the Secret Societies that populate and advance their agendas throughout Théah, perhaps none is so secret as the Heralds. Even the mighty Hellfire Club is known to exist in rumor and shadow, though its purpose (and more importantly, its membership) remains largely unknown. The Heralds, however, are a complete mystery. One does not know of the Heralds unless one is invited into the Heralds, and should one betray their secrets, the fallout is terrible indeed.
Heralds maintain their secrecy by restricting their contact with outsiders. While an individual Herald may have a number of connections and many friends, he may not call upon them to assist with Society business. With no one to rely upon but one another, many years ago it fell to the most senior Heralds to develop strategies for their members to protect themselves. As the secret keepers of history, the Heralds naturally had access to scrolls and tomes of long-forgotten lore, and among these, the organization’s masters found the scraps of knowledge necessary to construct the art of Simádi.
Those who study Sorcery would likely call Simádi a bastard art, for it lacks the singular focus of other Sorceries such as Sorte, Mirage, or even Glamour. Simádi seems to be nothing more than a collection of tricks (extremely handy and even powerful tricks) that give a lone Herald an edge in survival situations, especially combat. With a simple gesture, a Herald who practices Simádi may send a foe sprawling to the ground, trigger a small explosion, or shrug off blows that would prove deadly to an ordinary person. These are accomplished through hand signs (one corresponding to each Knack) that mystically create the desired effect. Despite its potency, a Herald only uses this art sparingly, as he must maintain the secrecy of the Society, and using unknown magic to openly defeat an opponent (assuming that opponent, or a witness, survives) is sure to attract attention.
Like all Sorceries, there is a physical change that manifests with Simádi, but it is fortunately both subtle and temporary. While using one of his Sorcerous Knacks, the irises of a Herald trained in Simádi turn golden yellow, and his pupils elongate to thin slits, like a cat’s. The effect ends as soon as the Herald’s use of Sorcery is complete (typically lasting only for a few seconds, except for the Yrden Knack), but a cautious observer may notice the change, and thus, may have to be dealt with accordingly.
An Apprentice of Simádi is called a Seeker: one who finds history. A Seeker goes out into the world to discover lost lore, explore hidden ruins, and investigate closely-guarded secrets. Seekers may use the Apprentice abilities listed under each Knack (where applicable), but only within a radius of five feet (close combat range).
An Adept of Simádi is called a Keeper: one who protects history. Keepers are charged with cataloguing the vast stores of information brought back by the Seekers, and with protecting the Society’s libraries and safehouses. Keepers may use the Adept abilities listed under each Knack (where applicable), within a radius of fifteen feet.
A Master of Simádi has earned the title of Herald: one who spreads history. Heralds are responsible for determining which of the Society’s secrets are fit for public consumption, and for deciding on the most appropriate forum for disseminating this knowledge. Many Heralds are master performers, and choose to spread this information through folk songs, poems, and plays supposedly “found” by an artist, but actually written and perfected by the Heralds themselves. Heralds may use the Master abilities listed under each Knack (where applicable), within a radius of thirty feet.
Simádi is not a Bargainer’s art; therefore, each use of the Knacks described below requires the expenditure of a Drama Die.
Aard. By using the sign of Force, a practitioner of Simádi may push a target and send him sprawling to the ground. This is essentially a Corps-á-Corps attack made by rolling Wits + Aard against an opponent’s TN to be hit. The target may not make an Active Defense against this attack using any Parry Knack. If successful, the target falls prone and takes damage equal to 1k1 Flesh Wounds for an Apprentice, 2k1 Flesh Wounds for an Adept, and 3k1 Flesh Wounds for a Master. If used against a Brute Squad, only one Brute is affected by this ability, plus one additional Brute for every Raise taken on the Wits + Aard roll. The range for this attack is five feet (close combat) for an Apprentice, fifteen feet for an Adept, and thirty feet for a Master.
Axii. By using the sign of Persuasion, a practitioner of Simádi may influence a target’s emotions and alter their behavior. The target does not need to see the Sorcerer for this Knack to be used against him. An Apprentice may add Unkept Dice equal to his Rank in Axii to all Intimidate Repartee Actions he attempts. An Adept may add Unkept Dice equal to his Rank in Axii to all Taunt Repartee Actions he attempts. A Master may Unkept Dice equal to his Rank in Axii to all Charm Repartee Actions he attempts. All of these added dice are in addition to any other Unkept Dice added for using another Knack in conjunction with the Repartee Action (e.g., Menace for Intimidate Actions or Seduction for Charm Actions).
Ignis. By using the sign of Combustion, a practitioner of Simádi may attempt to cause a fire to erupt spontaneously from any point within range. An Apprentice may create a one-die fire within a radius of five feet (close combat range) with a Wits + Ignis roll against a TN of 10; essentially, he may light a campfire (automatically) or attempt to set a target on fire by rolling Wits + Ignis against that opponent’s TN to be hit. Success indicates that the opponent is on fire and suffers 1k1 Flesh Wounds each time he takes an Action until the flames are extinguished. An Adept may create a two-dice explosion at any point within a radius of fifteen feet, affecting all targets within ten feet of the point of explosion, with a Wits + Ignis roll against a TN of 20. Such targets suffer 2k2 Flesh Wounds immediately and remain on fire, taking damage as described above. A Master may create a three-dice explosion within a range of thirty feet, affecting all targets within fifteen feet of the point of the explosion, with a Wits + Ignis roll against a TN of 30. Such targets suffer 3k3 Flesh Wounds immediately and remain on fire, taking damage as described above. Damage from the explosions is not reduced by range as described in the Game Master’s Guide.
Quen. By using the sign of Protection, a practitioner of Simádi may attempt to deflect attacks or similar damaging effects by summoning a small, instantaneous shield of force at the point of impact. Apprentices may use Quen as an Active Defense Knack under any circumstances, even against firearms (but not cannons). An Adept my use Quen to determine either his Passive Defense or his Active Defense (but not both). A Master may use Quen as a Defense Knack like an Adept; however, if the attack gets through, any damage inflicted is reduced by three Flesh Wounds per Rank in this Knack (typically a total of fifteen).
Yrden. By using the sign of Containment, a practitioner of Simádi may attempt to trap a target (or targets) in one place; although those affected by this ability remain free to move, stepping away from the location they were in when this effect was invoked causes them indescribable pain and forces them to roll two less dice (-2k0) on all Actions while the pain effect lasts. To achieve this feat, the Sorcerer must roll Wits + Yrden against a TN equal to 15 times the number of targets to be affected. An Apprentice may affect one target within a radius of five feet (close combat range). An Adept may affect two targets within a radius of fifteen feet. A Master may affect three targets within a radius of thirty feet. The effect lasts until the end of the Scene for an Apprentice, the end of the Act for an Adept, or until the next sunrise or sunset (whichever comes first) for a Master.
Game Master’s Secrets
Simádi is an extremely rare type of Sorcery, more akin to the Rose & Cross Vow than to any of the Bargainer’s arts or other Sorceries granted by some external power. Instead of being given Simádi as a gift, or in exchange for some payment or favor, a practitioner must study the ancient texts guarded by the Heralds and learn the art for himself. It has no connection to the Barrier; thus, it has no effect on the Barrier. Due to the particular nature of this Sorcery, it may be learned after character creation through the expenditure of Experience Points: forty for Half-Blooded Simádi, and eighty for Full-Blooded Simádi.
Unknown to even the most senior Heralds is the fact that there is additional lost lore yet to be discovered that would enhance a practitioner’s powers to unheard of levels. For each Knack, there exists some scroll, tome, or hidden cave painting that would allow those who studied it to benefit from the effects of Grandmastery training, allowing him to increase his Rank in a Knack from a five to six by spending twenty-five Experience Points. Increasing all of his Knacks to a six (including the lost Knack Heliotrope; see below) would give the Sorcerer a Mastery Level of 4 (Grandmaster) in Simádi, providing the following benefits:
- The Damage Roll for successfully using Aard increases to 4k1, and the range increases to fifty feet.
- The Grandmaster may add Kept Dice equal to his Rank in Axii to any Repartee Action he attempts.
- A Grandmaster may create a four-dice explosion within a range of fifty feet, affecting all targets within twenty feet of the point of the explosion, with a Wits + Ignis roll against a TN of 40. Such targets suffer 4k4 Flesh Wounds immediately and remain on fire, taking damage as described above.
- The damage reduction benefit of the Quen Knack increases to four per Mastery Level, or a total of 24 Flesh Wounds.
- The Grandmaster may affect a total of four targets within fifty feet when using his Yrden Knack, and the effects last for a full twenty-four hours.
Aard may be increased by finding and studying a crumbling scroll buried deep in the ruins below Dionna in Vodacce. The Grandmaster Rank for Axii is detailed in a tome once possessed by Vincenzo Caligari, preserved beneath the waves in the laboratory on his sunken island. A tome that allows its reader to increase his Rank in Ignis to a six is sealed in a locked, airtight chest aboard a sunken Castillian warship off the coast of Avalon. Lost in the catacombs beneath the Cathedral of Saint Mattheus is a painting depicting a Vaticine scientist at work in his laboratory; the notes sprawled across his desk describe the Grandmaster Rank of Quen. Deep beneath the surface of Terra, in a lost cave in the hills of Gaavane, is a crude painting that, when deciphered, details the Grandmaster rank of Yrden.
In addition to those secrets, there is also a lost Sorcerous Knack detailed in a series of ancient etchings inscribed on the wall of a Syrneth ruin (the same location where Yvette Paix and her team discovered a rune-scribed rod) that, if successfully translated, allow a practitioner of Simádi to learn the following Knack.
Heliotrope. By using the sign of Natural Motion, a practitioner of Simádi may seem to move faster than the eye can follow, though this is not because he is sped up, but rather, because those around him are slowed down. As an Apprentice, the Sorcerer may spend a Drama Die to add his Rank in Heliotrope to his Initiative Total for one Round. As an Adept, he may spend a Drama Die to add his Rank in this Knack to the value of each Action Die he rolls for purposes of determining Initiative for one Round. As a Master, he may spend a Drama Die to add Unkept Dice equal to his Rank in this Knack when rolling his Action Dice at the beginning of a Round.
To learn the sixth Rank of Heliotrope, the Sorcerer must negotiate directly with Scyola, the Grasping Angel, who will provide the knowledge in exchange for some hideous task or another. A Sorcerer with Grandmastery of Simádi may spend a Drama Die at the beginning of a Round to add Kept Dice equal to his Rank in Heliotrope when rolling his Action Dice for that Round.