Friday, February 27, 2015

Vasic Stones: Magic as Technology

Vasic Stones are made from the foundation of the universe, and represent a unique connection between the worlds that exist. With an ordinary piece of chalk, an informed user can change the very nature of the piece of the universe they are in, drawing energy, materials, and even laws of nature from other universes. All that is required is the chalk to inform the stone correctly.

The Stones:

Vasic stones are jet black, quite hard, and to be usable, should be smooth. Size varies depending on their intended use-- energy-summoning stones tend to be smaller, while travelling stones are often enormous. Most stones are not blank, but have the outline of the chalk needed to be drawn on them engraved onto their surface -- allowing a user with a minimum of instruction to use it. The stone activates when the last line is drawn -- allowing users to prepare a stone and activate it with a single stroke when its needed. The chalk will glow on the stone while active. Lines drawn on the stone while active will not stick.

'Blank' Stones don't have a use of the stone etched on them. They can do a lot more than the etched stones, but require more skill and training. They are used by researchers looking for new stones, and by those who feel the need to travel light. They require
4 times as long to draw the chalk lines properly.

Vasic magic all centres around linking two locations. The stone creates the connection, and lets through selected parts. Every effect achieved by vasic stones should be explained by this effect.

There are five basic types of stones, each with its own type of ability. Each variation on a stone is likely to have its own market of etched versions:
  • Energy Summoning
  • Substance Summoning
  • Mana Bleeding
  • Communication
  • Transportation

Energy Summoning:

Energy Summoning stones are round spheres or ovals (which really doesn't matter). They are among the smallest and cheapest of the stones -- and among the most useful in everyday life. An energy stone hooks up to a different universe or a different place in your own universe and channels a type of energy through the stone. The amount of energy channelled depends on the size and quality of the stone. The most common energy types are light and heat -- properties of the light and heat can be changed by where they are pulling the energy from. Other energy forms, such as sound, gravity, and electricity, are possible but rarer or unknown. The energy cannot be shaped or even have in incoming shape preserved -- drawing electricity just draws unbalanced static electricity, gravity pulls towards the stone (and cannot be negated) and sound is just a dull roar.

The most basic Energy stones are about 2 inches across, cost $100, and weight .3 lbs. They take 1 minute to inscribe and last for 2 hours.

Matter Summoning:

Matter Summoning Stones are half spheres. They pull raw matter from one place in the universe and deposit it in front of the face of the stone. Minor filtering is not only possible but necessary-- only a single type of substance can be pulled. Substances easily pulled include sea water, fresh water, ice, various kinds of stone, sand, air, and so on. Living matter can theoretically be accessed, but it comes out dead and inedible for the most part. Valuable ores and occasionally pure metals can be pulled, but individual locations tend to run out, and the knowledge of a given spot tends to be a tightly held secret.

Matter stones can't be used to raid specific locations (such as taking gold from fort knox). They are actually pulling small bits of matter from a large area, and the type of matter pulled must be fairly common in the area. Some experts have used the stones to 'image' areas, determining their geological content and what the air is like, but this is far from being a major use of the stones. An inscribed stone will be keyed to both an area and a universe.

The most basic matter stones are about 2.5 inches across, 1.25 inches tall, cost $100, and weight .3 lbs. They take 1 minute to inscribe and last for 30 minutes.

Mana Bleeding:

While the stones are called 'mana bleeders', the effect is not limited to mana. These stones mix the natural laws of one universe with the natural laws of another. This lets magic that works only on one world work on another, or can be used to make the magic of the native world quit working. They also extend to other effects: connecting to the right world could allow an area to ignore or have lowered gravity. In IW connecting to blip could speed up time in the area, bleeding from gernsback could allow power beaming to work, and hooking into yrth could be used to block dimensional travel. The effects of these stones is very setting dependent, and is a good motive for dimensional exploration. The effect is centred on the bleeder.

Mana bleeders are flat disks with very narrow edges and bulging centres. Each must be inscribed for not only where they are bleeding from but also for the current location of the bleeder, which makes pre-inscribed bleeders less common.

The most basic bleeder stones are 4 inches across, cost $500, and weigh .5 lbs. They take 10 minutes to inscribe and last for 1 hour, effecting a 10 yard radius.


Communications stones allows light and sound to be transferred from one communication stone to the other, allowing people to talk to one another, as though they were looking through the face of the stone. Communication stones are disks with perfectly flat faces. The light and sound appears to use the faces of the two connected stones as portals, complete with preservation of angles. Only two stones can connect at a time, both must be activated separately, and both need to use a symbol to find each other. Communication stones can connect through worlds as well as within the same world, but the location of the other stone should be known to within 20 miles. Unlike most stones, the back of a communication stone can be drawn on while the other side is being used. Communication stones are often partially rather than fully inscribed, relying on the user to complete the information needed (such as location).

Communication stones are disks 1/2 inch or thicker. The most basic bleeder stones are 4 inches across, cost $300 for one sided, $400 for two sided, and weigh 1 lb. They take 5 minutes to inscribe and last for 30 minutes. They tend to be more fragile than other stones.


Transportation stones are large and often have odd shapes. Each is fairly unique and very heavy. The carrying capacity of a stone is 1/3rd of its weight. Most stones can be used as transport stone, but in general, the smallest are about 20 inches across and weight 300 lbs.

Transportation stones must have a large flat face that supports the weight of what they are transporting. They cost $100 per 3 lbs (and thus $100 per pound of carrying capacity). They do not require a stone to receive them, but it is helpful. Guiding the load to its final destination requires a pilot (more on this in the 'skills' section). Inscribing one of these stones takes 20 minutes.

Customized Stones

The stats above are for basic stones. The stones and inscriptions can be modified. The 'power' of a basic stone is 0. The total power of an inscription should be 0 or greater.

Weight: each tripling of weight increases the cost of the stone by a multiple of 4 and gives +1 power. Decreasing the weight to a third gives -1 power and divides and the cost by 2. Not applicable to transport stones. Communication stone increase cost as described above but do not provide any additional power.
Fine: + 5 CF, +1 power
Very Fine +24 CF, +2 power, not cumulative with fine.
Poor: -.9 CF, -1 power.
Time: each doubling of time spent increases power by one. Time may only be doubled the number of weight triplings from the basic, plus one for fine or two for very fine. So a fine stone 27 times the weight of a basic stone can have 4 times the amount of time spent on it, for a total of +8 power. A stone may also be inscribed in basic half time for -2 to skill and -2 power.
Duration: Each quartering of duration is +1 power, each tripling of it is -1 power. Not applicable to transport or communication stones.
Area: Each halving of the radius is +1 power, each doubling is -1 power. only applicable to bleeder stones.


Using vasic stones is simple, but will require the character to use skills. These skills should be treated like technological skills, and cultures with access to them should have an usual background (Access to Vasic Magic) [5]. Alternatively, you can consider it to be High TL (Vasic Magic) [5]. The cost and result is the same: these characters have access to a powerful technology others do not.

The basic skill for using Vasic magic is 'Vasic Operation', a IQ/A skill that can be considered to be a brother skill of electronics operation (just without electronics!). Specialization is required: Matter Stone, Energy Stone, Bleeder Stone, Communication, or Travel. These skills allows you to inscribe the stone properly, even without engravings. They default to each other at -2. These skills can be used to adapt to new locations and use existing filters (for energy and matter stones). Finding the proper inscriptions for new worlds and completely new kinds of filters (discovering how to pull gravitic energy, for example) use Thaumology (Vasic).

The mechanism for creating and repairing stones is up to the GM. In the original setting I made it for, The stone is mined from a world where you can hit the 'bedrock of the universe'. As the magic is intended for a cross-world setting, GM's should feel free to come up with their own origins, and even change the prices on different kinds of stones.

Transportation stones require pilots, who use a new speciality of the Navigation skill: Vasic. The navigator can detect the basic location and features of an area, as well as vasic rock, as he is guiding the cargo.  The following modifiers apply:
  • On a specific transportation stone specified during the inscription: +10
  • On another transportation stone: +5
  • On crushed vasic stone or another area connected to the foundations of the universe: +2
  • Navigator is not being transported: -3
  • Each dimensional boundary crossed: -4
  • Distance: long distance modifier+4. If there is no location correlation between two worlds use -2.
  • Power of stone/inscription: +1 to skill for each +1 power.
  • Weight: +1 if the payload is 1/10th or less of the maximum payload for the transportation stone, +2 for 1/100th.

Success by five or more places the payload in the intended location. Success by less than five results in a near miss: the people arrive mostly in the right place. use long distance modifiers to determine how far off they are (success by 3 is two below five, and thus -2 on the long distance table for 1 mile off. A failure will result in either not transporting or being far off target, navigators choice. Continue the progression on the long distance modifiers. The distance of error will not be greater than twice the intended travel distance. The GM may also change which world they end up for a cross-world journey. Its suggested that this be done sparingly and conservatively.

Designers notes:

Vasic magic is designed to be used by a faction in a world-jumping setting. Its designed for reasonably low-tech people (TL3-TL4) with a fairly industrial mindset. Bleeder stones are particularly versatile, and allows for fantastic stunts -- the GM should consider carefully if he wants them in the campaign.

Vasic magic can also be used as a set of rare artifacts. Bleeder, communication, and transportation stones are all extremely useful to world jumpers. Anything that can't be easily done with existing world jumping technology will be quite valuable. It also works to dramatically raise the price on these items. The GM should feel free to adapt to his own needs.

I debated whether the chalk should be special and if a human touch and will is required. I eventually left these unspecified. By default the chalk is not special, and an intelligent being must inscribe it every time -- but changing these assumptions can result in interesting settings.

 The numbers on these items can be beefed up. In fact, its quite possible to run two sets of these people, one with better numbers, and call it a TL difference. Particularly if bleeders and dimensional transport are left out of it. Explanations include a better type of stone, or just better other technology allowing for better quality stones for cheaper. Also, the lack of hard numbers for the amount of light, energy,  or matter produced is intentional. The GM should either pick numbers or just go with a mental picture in his head. The numbers are not a core part of the idea behind the system.

Teleportation can be an extremely powerful ability, and this system provides it. In the system I originally designed, I had a method for transport stones to be used to intercept other stones. I did not include it because I felt it drew attention away from the other stones.

The word 'Vasic' was based on the Greek root 'Vasi' meaing base or foundation-- as in the foundation of the universe. No, I don't speak Greek, I looked up foundation in various languages and found a version I liked. If you prefer to use the term 'foundation magic', or come up with something better, its fine by me.

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