Character Rules--Smoke and Mirrors

Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Character Rules

Listed below are the different types of characters allowed:



This group includes normal folks with no special talents or abilities, as well as those "humans" who are just a bit 'special'.

The first type are typical everyday people with all their foibles, weaknesses, and strengths. The second type of humans are the psychics who are gifted people, like someone who does wonders with math or has a photographic memory. The thing to remember about creating these characters is that ALL psi gifts are rare, though some are more common then others.

Listed below are the different types of psychic powers:

***Telepathy: the ability to read minds and project one's own thoughts. Can read or project thoughts from and to a non-telepath, but can be blocked if the subject is adept at creating blocks or has strong natural blocks. Touch may or may not strengthen the connection. Ranges from getting hunches from someone to full blown conversations.

***Empathy: the ability to feel another's emotions and or project one's own onto another. This talent too, varies in strength. For some, it is very vague emotions they pick up, touching or not. Like telepaths, they often simply view it as a hunch or good judgement. Others are so strong that they become physically ill with the strong emotions around them unless they know how to shield or protect themselves. Shielding is absolutely necessary for empaths. Without shields they can be overwhelmed.

***Pyrokenisis: the ability to light an object on fire with one's mind. This ability works on the molecular level, speeding up molecules and manipulating them, raising the heat level until objects or creatures burst into flame. The rare people that have this gift are able to light objects on fire with their thoughts alone. The object has to be in their line of sight and within a block of their location. When they set something to burn, it is as if that object were soaked in lighter fluid and things that are normally not combustible burn when these talented people set their minds to it. People with this power either have it or they don't, there is no real measure of stronger or weaker.

***Telekinesis: the ability to move things with one's mind. Many people who claim to be experiencing a poltergeist are actually witnessing a show of erratic displays of telekinesis by someone who is unaware of this ability. Telekinesis is a talent that some have to a greater or lesser ability. Some take a long time to master the ability to move a single salt shaker an inch, others can hold a sofa aloft without a sweat.

***Claivoyance: the ability to far see (i.e.: to see into another room without being in it), also known as "remote viewing." One can see people and places that they have never see or been to in their life just by concentrating on instructions or an object related to the subject. Often the information they get is vague, and symbolic ('near water' turns out to refer to a painting of a seashore) but the stronger ones are very accurate. For many people, there are only occasional incidents, usually involving close family members and heavy emotional stimuli (i.e., they see a person is in a buggy accident halfway across the country). Some have frequent, accurate visions.

***Psychobiology: the ability to effect one's own body and another's with one's mind. This power enables people to mentally effect their own or someone else's body much like Zen masters and people who have a healing touch. The Zen masters ability to slow or accelerate their metabolism or to speed healing is more the product of extensive mental conditioning. But since it is a mental ability, it is counted as a psi power. The ability to heal with this psi talent is very rare. An example of this would be the laying on of hands. Another example of this talent would be the ability to cause harm from a distance with their thought, much like some Master vampires are able to do with their voices.

***Psychometry: the ability to view an object's or person's past by touching it or them. Much like clairvoyants, the strong ones will be able to discern great detail, while the weaker ones will only have vague glimpses. If the power is exceptionally strong or a person doesn't know how to control it, they might find wearing gloves, preferably silk ones, helpful in blocking out the history of the object or person.

***Precognition: the ability to foresee the future. Some people have this ability to a small degree. It is usually described as woman's intuition or good hunches. Some people use tools to better use their natural talents, such as Tarot cards, runes etc. But people with a greater, more prominent version of this gift, may see visions which range from just visual to something like a movie with surround sound. However these visions are often highly symbolic and fragmentary and thus hard to interpret.

***Mediums: the ability to sense, channel or communicate with the spirits of the dead. Being a medium is different from necromancy. Where a necromancer can *control* all manner of dead, including zombies and in many cases vampires, mediums can only communicate with spirits. They cannot control the dead. A weak medium may be able to sense the dead only a little more than normals or only be able to get an impression of the spirit and what it is trying to say. More powerful ones are able to actually talk with the dead and can also channel them. The spirit needs permission to enter the medium's body for this to occur.


Vampires in Smoke and Mirrors are pretty much hidden from society. It's not good to advertise oneself when it will only result in all the villagers rising up to burn you and your home to ashes. As such, they take great pains to hide themselves from discovery. Since it's the age of reason, this has helped. Society has forgotten the old lore. And so vampires move quietly through society's nightlife, choosing only a handful of servants they can trust to guard them by day.

The making of a vampire follows the three day rule. A person must be bit and drunk from by the same vampire three days in a row with the last day involving draining the victim almost completely dry. At this point, the person is dying and to become the undead, must drink from the 'sire' to gain immortal life. Weak vampires might not be able to turn someone all the time, so there is risk involved.

All vampires are quicker than humans (not as fast as weres, and often only appear faster because they cloud the minds around them to 'not see' them move). They are stronger, heal quickly, can hypnotize/mesmerize most people (human servants, alpha weres, and some rare gifted people like necromancers are immune). They use a weak telepathy in connection to rolling a person's mind; they also appear quite graceful and agile. Other noted powers though no single vampire has all, generally only one or two: pyrokinetics, flying, strong telepathy, telekinesis, magic, charm, voice. There are others, these just seem more common.

A side note: a vampire doesn't HAVE to kill during feeding. It's certainly more satisfying to the predator in him/her, but is not necessary. That said, the vampire must make sure the victim doesn't talk. Thus they would roll the mind to not reveal nor remember what happened. The marks of teeth would be hidden by the human and not noticed otherwise.

Weaknesses include, fire, silver or silver nitrate (as used in photography development), sunlight, and at times Holy Water or Holy Symbols. In this case, two things need to be present: first is if the vampire intends harm to the person; the second is the faith of the person using the item. Without both present, the items don't work. So a vampire in this universe can handle Holy Water, Crosses, Bibles, Blessed items, the Star of long as said vampire doesn't intend someone harm at the same time. An atheist would be truly screwed.

Destroying a vampire can be done using the above weaknesses as well as staking the heart or destroying it in some way, and beheading.

Vampire's are political creatures. They have a hierarchy, both in dealing with their powers, and politically within the undead community. The hierarchy runs like this:

Vampire Conclave (one per continent, made up of Master vampires only; control the vampires within the continent by wielding an iron fist. They make the rules.)

Enforcers: (these Master vampires enforce the rules either by threat or violence. Renegades among their own kind, they neither seek land nor Conclave seats. They are willing and crave travel.)

Lords and Ladies of the Land (Master vampires, ruling each city's or geographical area's vampire community)

Master Vampires (may take over cities or get on the Council; masterhood determined by the level of power they can naturally wield)

Vampires (never attain Master status no matter how long they 'live'; they can attain greater power over time, but not to the levels of a Master)

Fledgling Vampires (new to the undead life; often considered fledglings for the first 25 years of vampirehood)

Finally, Master vampires have a special gift that non-masters can only envy. It is the ability to form a bond with a mortal that will last as long as both are alive. A Master can choose to tke on a human or lycanthrope servant. Only one bond can exist at a time. These are refered to as the Human Servant. The bonding takes place over time and consists of 4 'Marks'.

1st Mark: vampire gives the person his/her lifeforce, and makes it impossible for the Human Servant to be mesmorized by a vampire or affected by vampiric glamour.

2nd Mark: Human Servant becomes more invulnerable to clouding of the mind. The vampire can now invade the Human Servant's dreams, and communicate within the dreams. The vampire can now siphon off lifeforce from the person if needed.

3rd Mark: vampire can communicate with the Servant through telepathy. Without the Servant's permission for this Mark it would be like committing rape.

4th Mark: the human must drink some of the vampire's blood. It is done in a ceremony with witnesses. This final Mark causes the vampire to lose all power over the Human Servant.

Other things to note: the Human Servant gains the ability to heal quickly, enhanced strength, though not that of a vampire or lycanthrope, and their aging process slows down to nearly nothing. Harming a Human Servant harms the vampire. Kill the vampire and the Human Servant dies or goes insane. The vampire doesn't die if the servant dies, but may mourn the loss for a long time. This bond is not chosen lightly. They are 'stuck' with each other for centuries.


The most important thing to remember is that all lycanthropes are shapeshifters, but not all shapeshifters are lycanthropes.

Lycanthropes, unbeknownst during this time period, suffer from the lycanthropy virus, which is passed through an attack by a lycanthrope in his animal shape. The shape a new lycanthrope will become at the full moon is the same as that of his/her attacker. Wolves and rats are the most common, because their form of the virus is extremely contagious--a scratch can infect. The feline form of the virus is less potent. To become a werecat, the attack must be savage, and a lot of those mauled by werecats die of their wounds. However, in the Victorian Era, the cause of lycanthropy is unknown and still abounds with mythos of how and why such creatures come to be.

Note: since we follow actual physics, a lycanthrope can not lose nor gain mass during their shifting of form. Therefore, a 150 pound man would be a 150 pound tiger-a very small tiger!

Like vampires, lycanthropes remain in the dark as far as normal society goes. Werewolves and werecats tend to stay to wooded areas, as such natural beasts are not common in the cities by any means. Wererats seek the sewer systems during the full moon and as such, may be more prone to remaining in the city during the full moon.

Most Master Vampires can call a particular type of animal, including the lycanthrope of that species. It takes a very powerful alpha to fight that call. Some Master Vampires try to work out a friendly arrangement with the lycanthropes they can control, realizing that willing allies are better than slaves who hate you; they offer protection in return for service, and it becomes a partnership. Some of the older vampires regard 'weres as their rightful serfs, and treat them with arrogance. Lycanthropes tend to be wary of strange Master Vampires until they know them, for this reason.

Aside from their ability to shapeshift into one form, lycanthropes are immune to poisons and most toxins, so they are extremely healthy. They can heal any wound short of a death wound, but if silver is pressed into it, or the wound was made by a silver bullet or knife, or heated metal is pressed into the wound, they may scar. To prevent this, the wound must be re-opened and stitched. It will take fatal damage to brain or heart to kill them, preferably from a silver bullet. Some weres heal faster than other, depending on their strength and power levels.

They are much stronger and faster than humans as well as vampires. All weres have heightened senses. Their sight, sense of smell, and hearing are far more acute than that of normal humans. Only alpha lycanthropes have the ability to partially shift outside of the full moon. Of course, having a muzzle limits speech, but sometimes a set of claws comes in handy!

None of these species of shapeshifter has any organized political structure. Those humans who learn of them tend to hunt them, and so they stay in small groups or live as loners.


They are the stuff of legend and of myth made real and they live among us in Smoke and Mirrors. They have many names: The Daoine Sidhe, the Alfar, the Fada. For years, not everyone had to accept their reality, but now they do. The Fey have always been a presence across the globe and in many cultures. They vary from regional area to area and each has their own particular characteristics and attributes. Many of the legends regarding the Fey are firmly steeped in truth while others are based on poetic license-usually because they have a tradition of remaining a subtle and thinly veiled presence in the world of mortals.

The Fey have been a presence across the globe. The myths and folktales of their heritage and history can be found in nearly every culture to some degree or another. Their regional names and certain distinctive attributes may vary but there are also strong universally held beliefs regarding the whole of Faeriekind and many parallels can be found between societies.

Certain rules apply in their manifestations:

Many of the European Fey are loosely aligned with one of two Courts, the Seeligh/Seelie and the Unseeligh/Unseelie. The terms are actually of Scottish origination, but for purposes of simplification, the majority of Fey from the Scottish, British and Irish Courts will fall under these two categories. Again however, one must remember that when dealing with the Fey, they may have split loyalties or simply decide not to follow or recognize either Court.

Seelie/Seeligh Court:

These are the more benign Fey who are more inclined to work towards Good, although, it behooves you to remember that Fey are almost alien and their ideas of good and evil are different from those of mortals. Although they are more inclined to work with mankind in beneficial and constructive ways it is never wise to assume that they are happy go lucky souls who will not defend themselves OR ask for recompense if their aid is requested. It is also wise to remember that often the price they ask may be more than the recipient of their aid is willing to pay. The Kings and Queens that make up the Seelie Court have formed a peaceful alliance over the centuries and will, in most occasions work together to maintain this measure of peace amongst themselves.

Unseelie/Unseeligh Court:

Fey with a more discordant and malevolent nature are found in this court. Mean spirited tricksters and most of the Fey from nightmare operate within this Court. Many an alliance with the Unseeligh has ended badly. Some of them might come across as the most beautiful and charming individuals you've ever met but their words mask deceptions and lies in most cases. Some are more obvious in their nature, with an affinity for dangerous and fatal pranks, or downright acts of violence against those they wish to harm. Fey in the Unseeligh Court are allied under the High Queen known only as The Queen of Air and Darkness.

Structurally, each geographic division of Fey has their own Rulers, and there can frequently be more than one Ruler within a geographic group (particularly within the scope of division between Seelie and Unseelie Fey), or one that spans several--it depends on their structuring. For example: all of the Daoine Sidhe in Ireland have Finvarra as their Sovereign, while the other British Isles (Scotland, Wales, and Britain) have other tributary Kings and Queens. Another example would be the Middle Eastern djinn: both the Believing djinn and the Unbelieving djinn have their own caliphates set up. The Unbelieving djinn prefer to remain separate and live in the City of Brass, away from the Believing djinn. It is wise to remember that the Fey (Seelie and Unseelie alike) are NOT, strictly speaking, of this world and they have beliefs and outlooks that frequently will seem alien to those born and raised here. For example, a trickster Fey (i.e. Phooka) might consider their actions perfectly normal while a member of the Daoine Sidhe might consider the action, while not being over nice, not something to be concerned about as long as no harmful intent was meant. And even what is considered harmful intent will be viewed differently by certain Fey.

Defining High Court and Low Court Fey:

Included here are some very brief examples of types of Fey and their main regions of origin Please realize that this is only a smattering of categories and variations, and by no means the comprehensive list:

High Court Fey:

Welsh Fair Folk or the Tylwyth Teg (especially found in the Arthurian myths and Avalon stories; NOT Mallory's version);

Teutonic/Scandanavian: Light and Dark Elves, or the Liosalfar and Dockalfar, respectively. (This is where TSR got early inspiration for the Surface Elves and the underground-dwelling drow, incidentally);

Middle Eastern: Djinn: elemental creatures, usually depicted as human, powers and temperament vary greatly between Believing Djinn-Seelie and Unbelieving Djinn--Unseelie); the Pari (Near/Middle Eastern: similar to the djinn, more Sidhe-like).

Low Court Fey:

Low Court Fey: Brownies and buca (found in both Scottish and Germanic traditions, generally the potentially helpful house faerie sort); dwarves. Teutonic/Scandanavian: short and stocky frequently living underground with affinity to metals and the earth; gnomes (Germany, Scotland, Russia--in Russia known as Domovoi: earth dwelling faerie, small frequently depicted only as males); winged fairies/sprites/pixies (nearly universal: usually diminutive and often represent the nature spirits in folklore, often depicted as being ethereal, flighty, carefree and capricious); leprechauns (Irish: small humanoid males, tricky and wily creatures, treasure-hoarders), puca or phooka (Celtic: shapeshifters, often depicted as tricksters with an overgrown sense of fun); fauns (Greek/Roman: half human /half deer); satyrs (Greek/Roman: half human/half goat, often shown as both fierce and wild revelers) nymphs(Greek/Roman: usually show as unusually beautiful females); goblins/kobolds, bogeymen (Germany: usually depicted as smallish, ugly foul tempered creatures causing harm).


Most of the Fey are blessed with one form of GLAMOURIE or another, which is a way of manipulating natural as well as personal energies to effect the people and objects within their vicinity. The degree of successful manipulation or magical effect is dependent on the relative power of the Fey in question and certain types of Fey have a tendency towards particular usage or application of their glamour and magic. It is important to note that the High Court Fey are the strongest and most powerful of the Fey; those others that fall under Low Court Fey tend to have lesser strength and/or limited Glamour and magic at their disposal.

A glamour ... 'Could make a ladye seem a knight, A nutshell seem a guilded barge, A sheeling seem a palace large, A youth seem age and age seem youth All was delusion, nought was truth.' -The Lay of the Last Minstrel, by Reginald Scott

Glamouries range from manipulations of how a person regards another (ie. bewitching a person so they fall desperately in love with the Fey,); how the Fey interact with their environment (ie. the disappearing maiden trick, in which a beautiful woman is glimpsed in an isolated setting but when the person reaches the spot where she stood, there is no trace of her existence, or a Brownie doing chores that would take several humans all day to do within the space of a single night.)

However, a Fey's glamourie, while it may contain the aspects of empathy, illusion, or telekinesis, is none of the above. It is unique to the Fey and although vampires have a weak imitation, their glamours compared to a strong Fey glamourie would be like far-off stars to a swollen moon, or a penlight to a lighthouse. Glamours are not infallible, however. Resistance to a glamourie is possible and alpha weres, Master vampires and strong human psychics or magic users have some degree of invulnerability, although they are not completely immune to a strong, clever Fey wielding his or her glamourie with talent and finesse. Shields can block out some of a glamourie's effect, although the most effective way to cut through any Fey's magic is cold iron.

Although many of the Fey are also magic users, psychic or shape-shifters, their main source of power is their glamourie. The glamourie supports and underlies any effort they undertake and to those knowledgeable about such things, they are as unique and distinct as fingerprints or auras. The most common form of glamourie is a simple ability to hide one's self from prying eyes, and although your vision may slip over the Fey in question, they are *never* invisible. This also effects the sounds that the Fey may make while moving about, but it does nothing to conceal scent. The second most common form of glamourie is the ability to manipulate how others perceive the Fey, but the effectiveness of this depends on how strong the glamourie in question is.

Weak glamouries could make the Fey in question seem slightly more human, slightly more un/attractive, or slightly more Other. A strong glamourie can fool the viewer into believing that they are madly in love, that they are looking at the most attractive person/thing on this plane, or that they are speaking with someone else entirely.

The ability to do many things in a short space of time is more race specific; a brownie, a glastig or a kobold would be able to achieve this, but a High Court Fey, a phouka, or a nymph would not.

By far the first and foremost guideline in creating a Fey character is in doing your homework. Almost any derivation for a Fey character can be well received in the approval process if they have been researched through the folklore from the particular region you wish them to be from and it harmonizes with those Fey.

The other main stipulation is that your Fey character NOT (read: no, nix, nil, nein, don't *even* bother to try it) be from RPG land (ex. no characters going under rules from TSR, White Wolf, RhyDin, etc.) This rule also extends to not trying to bring in a specific character, or a thinly disguised copy, from fantasy/fiction (i.e. Drizzt Do'Urden from the Dark Elf series, Tinkerbell from Peter Pan, etc.). We do this to avoid copyright infringement as well as to encourage you to use your creativity to its fullest. So, if you plan on having a Fey character in the Smoke and Mirrors universe, then please do your research carefully and make sure that the bio you submit conforms to whatever mythology and geographic area that your Fey comes from. THIS INCLUDES NAMES. Please do NOT submit a character with some fantastical name cobbled off of some name generation site or a contrived name, for example 'De Fey' (rather too obvious, don't you think?) or anything with 'Danaan' or 'Sidhe' (this is a *type* of Fey, it's not a name so don't try it). If your Fey is from Wales, find a Welsh name. If they're from India, find an Indian name. Leave the made up names to your own worlds, not mine.

In addition, and this is EXTREMELY important. Despite the fact that the Fey can be capricious and their glamorie might allow them access to dwellings that would be difficult to enter otherwise, keep in mind that in no way should this give you carte blanche to force interaction or enter a private dwelling without clearing it with another writer. Nor should glamourie be used to 'entrall' another character or manipulate another characters actions without clearing with the other characters writer first. When in doubt as to the capabilities and scope of your characters powers, clear it with the List Owner first.


For thousands of years the people of the world have consciously and unconsciously relied upon or believed in spirits. They are most often associated with a faith or religion; however, this is by no means necessary. In fact, outsiders rather than practitioners generally label belief systems as a faith or religion. Some, such as animal spirit guides or demons, are embraced by more than one belief system. The nuances of cultures and belief systems make for variations to choose from in almost any type of spirit guide.

Biographical summaries for any Smoke and Mirrors'spirit character should be well researched in the appropriate folklore, historical, and/or canonical texts. The characters are more likely to function as NPCs due to the tendency to be on earth for short-term assignments. Some spirits, especially guiding spirits, may exist in a humanoid form and some may take a humanoid form in order to interact with humans.

The abilities and weaknesses of spirits are dependent upon the origin and specific function of the character. Although society may refer to the spirits of other belief systems as gods, their followers often do not consider them as such. Weaknesses can and do exist for these characters, such as the susceptibility of some demons to exorcism. Research is the key to creating an accurate character.

The examples listed are not the only options for spirit characters in this universe. They have been chosen because they fittingly depict various possibilities and lend themselves to the setting of this universe.


Angels are Judeo-Christian spirits created by the Lord. The term refers to an office, which is why Lucifer and his demons are still referred to as angels, even though they have fallen from God's graces. Within the office of angels, there are nine orders of angels divided into three hierarchies.

The first tier includes the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones. Dominations, Virtues and Powers make up the second tier and the third consists of the Principalities, Archangels and Angels.

Guardian Angels are assigned to one person for his or her lifetime, and will remain on Earth for much longer periods of time. Higher-ranking angels rarely visit Earth. They usually have special roles or commissions that they are assigned by God. A good example of this would be Metatron, the Voice of God.

Angels typically help by giving advice, performing protective actions, and interceding with God on behalf of sinners. Magic-users may invoke the protection of angels when performing ritual magic.


Demons have been described historically as evil spirits, divine beings in Greece that are both malignant and beneficial, or even the fallen angels of the Judeo-Christian religion. They are summoned, sent, or appear by their own will depending upon the belief system to which they pertain. They can be hierarchical and at odds with their fellow demons. Love, affection, loyalty, or other virtues may or may not exist for them. Some are capable of possessing humans.

Some examples of demons are:

Incubus and succubus, male and female demons who feed off of sexual energy produced by having intercourse with humans. This helps them to maintain their human form and is also done to corrupt.

Daevas, demons who cause plagues and diseases as well as fight every form of religion. Their root is in Persian mythology.

Sholmos, evil humanoid demons from Mongolian mythology.

Eudemons, the beneficial 'divine powers' thought by the Greeks to act as guardians or intermediaries between men and the gods.

Hisa-Me, female demons of death in the Japanese underworld.


A Bodhisattva is an individual on the path to Awakening. The Mahayana describes them as having compassionately delayed their own enlightenment in order to assist all other beings. It is believed they will thus attain the ultimate enlightenment, or Bodhi. Other schools of Buddhism have similar beings, however they are not usually referred to as Bodhisattvas.

In non-Mahayana Buddhism, it refers to Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future, or the historical Buddha Gautama, prior to his enlightenment. Regardless of the school of Buddhism you select for your guiding spirit, it will be associated with an appropriate Jataka, or birth story.

The Jataka is the story of the lives of the Bodhisattva, or how they were born and came to be enlightened. As with any other historical portion of a bio, it does not have to be overly detailed and thus hamper a character's development; general description will suffice.


Loa are spiritual beings of the voodoo belief system that are neither good nor evil. They are not deities, but rather lesser entities that are more accessible. Some loa protect or inhabit specific places, such as cemeteries, the sea, and crossroads. Others are ancestral spirits. They fall into one of three main groups: the Rada, the Ghedes, or the Petro. Groups and/or specific loa have characteristics such as sacred numbers, colors, days, ceremonial foods, speech mannerisms, and ritual objects.

Loa communicate with humans, usually priests or priestesses, through dreams, unusual incidents, or trance possession. The priest or priestess is referred to as a 'horse' or a 'mount' and the loa is said to 'ride' him or her. Possession is considered customary and the relationship between loa and voodoo practitioners is viewed as mutually beneficial. Through the horse, the loa may sing, dance, or give advice.

Possession is complex. It generally requires specific rituals to call the loa. Also of note, is that not all loa speak directly to people through their mounts. It is not unheard of for loa to communicate only through actions or limited vocalizations. Horses function as a vehicle and only the loa's personality and traits are exhibited during trance possession.

Keep in mind that Spirits, though often touted as beneficial, or neither good nor evil, can and may be malignant.


According to the natural laws of Smoke and Mirror's universe, magic works. It is really a form of energy that may be channeled and manipulated under certain conditions. The key to using magic is to learn how to tap into that energy, and how to channel it to do what you want.

Since magic can be manipulated, anyone can learn the skill, although as with any ability, some people are better at it than others. These people just have an innate knack for it, but that does not mean others can't work hard to master it.

There are some people out there who are 'magical nulls'. They have no talent for its use, and may even be less subject to its effects. This may be due to being less 'connected' to the magical currents; they don't 'conduct' the energy well. Perception may also be a factor. Some people simply can't believe that magic really works, or that they could ever learn to use it. Their perception limits them, and so they effectively cannot perform it.

Who uses magic? Witches, mages, wizards, shamans, sorcerors, druids, priests, satanists, medicine men, brujas, root doctors, healers, mystics, necromancers to some extent--there are far too many magical systems, theories and approaches to list here. This universe includes all types of magical practitioners. Simply keep your character consistent within his or her chosen type of magical practice, and do enough research to write it believably.

Since magic is energy, it is found in everything, but the trick is calling it up and out. That's what practitioners of magic learn to do. It runs very strongly in certain channels, such as ley lines. A ley line node is a sort of 'pool' created by the convergence of ley lines. Some places hold 'wells' or 'springs' of magic; these may occur naturally, and/or may be created or added to by believers, worshippers, or inhabitants. Such places would be sacred sites, stone circles, menhirs, temples, churches, cathedrals, mosques, synagogues, etc. Ley lines and magical places may be tapped for power, usually only by certain people or under certain circumstances.

Magical energy can be stored in objects for later use, items which are like magical batteries. Crystals and silver are favored by many for this purpose. Doing this requires some effort in the form of a ritual, spell, etc, although some natural objects may contain power of their own (such as a stone taken from a sacred mountain). Items may also be created as magical, or imbued with magical properties, such as charms, weapons, amulets, ritual items, etc., which are often created for specific uses. Do not go overboard here, though; This is not AD&D. Don't be greedy. If in doubt, ask before having one pop up.

Here are some guidelines you should adhere to when writing about magic in Smoke and Mirrors:

1) Magic should not be easy or all-powerful. We don't write godlike characters here. Even the most accomplished mage has limits. Usually physical limits are reached first. Often a magic user taps into his own energy, especially if desperately attempting an off-the-cuff effect or spell. Even if he's using power stored in a place or object, channeling it through his body, or using his willpower, physically and mentally depletes him and may even cause damage. This runs the gamut from mild exhaustion, hunger, or disorientation to injury, unconsciousness, coma, and in extreme cases, death.

2) Magic has consequences--'there is no free lunch'. The laws of physics still apply: for every action there is still an equal and opposite reaction. Matter can't be created or destroyed, only changed. If a witch casts a spell, she'd better be prepared for the consequences. They may take the form of physical effects (as in Rule #1), or they may be much more overt. This is often referred to as 'backlash' or 'feedback'. Generally backlash is related to the actual spell itself: if a witch casts a spell to call down lightning, the backlash may come in the form of deafening thunder, or she may be zapped by an electrical charge. Using magic to harm another person may cause similar harm to come upon the caster.

Luckily, with training and experience, magical practitioners can learn to reduce or at least dampen the effects of backlash, especially with careful preparation and planning. Backlash becomes a much more dangerous possibility when casting a spell on the run, with no preparation or ritual to serve as an 'insulator'. See #3.

There may also be 'real world' consequences. Calling up a storm will affect the weather in a wider area, possibly causing flood or drought. If you decide to have your character run around casting AD&D fireballs and blowing up buildings, the authorities will notice. In any event, don't do such far-reaching stuff without prior permission from the List Owner.

3) Preparation, the use of ritual and related accoutrements, items and actions--these things are very useful when tapping into, channeling and manipulating magical energy. They range from long, careful High Magick ceremonies to simple circles to chanting, dancing, praying, etc. Usually the exact format depends on the practitioner's preferred magical system and training. The actual rite, chant, spell wording, dance, or items don't really matter to anyone but the user, but the effective benefits for their use may be many. The better prepared the user is, generally the less difficult the backlash and physical depletion, because the 'bells and whistles' serve as a means of efficiently tapping and channeling the power. They also may be used to protect the mage (or the outside world) from whatever he is trying to do.

These types of practices are very handy for the new practitioner in particular, who will often need to lean on them as a crutch. With greater experience and skill, she may need only a simple ritual or a few items to produce the same effects. True masters are often able to accomplish amazing feats with very little in the way of preparation, though even they must worry about the consequences of what they do.

4) Be consistent within your character's chosen magical system and beliefs. Whether you're writing a Gardnerian witch, or Celtic druid, please do enough research to keep things believable. There are resources out there for you. If you're having trouble finding any, ask!

Wiccan witches are going to do things differently than Celtic druids. Where a Dianic priestess might call on her goddess, a sorcerer might call on a demon prince--even to accomplish similar things. It all depends on training and personal choice. There is great variation within classifications as well; there are many different types of witch, mage and druid with different practices and traditions. Culture, background, training and religion influence the practitioner's worldview and perceptions.

In Smoke and Mirrors, there is no one 'true way' or 'right way'. What works for your character won't necessarily work for another. Do not assume that broad generalizations will be true, such as 'all witches can fly', 'only Thor can give success in battle' or 'all druids can heal.' This is not the case (although your character is free to incorrectly believe otherwise.)

5) Don't use magic to force interaction on other writers and characters. Do NOT decide that your character can impinge on others by use of spells, etc. 'Oh, I'll just have my guy cast a spell to make this other character love him'. That sort of thing is quite rude and is frowned upon. If you want to write about this sort of thing with another character, ask the other writer first and set it up that way!

Magical Healing:

Magical healing, like any other magical effect, draws on outside energies to accomplish the healing. The healer must use spells, rites, tools, etc. to actually do the job. These things serve as a focus and a 'buffer' to insulate the mind and body from the powerful energies that are being channeled and directed. Practice, training, experience and raw talent increase effectiveness and efficiency, and can help alleviate the consequences or 'backlash', as always. Magical healing can be dangerous and exhausting for the healer because it generally takes a great deal of energy.

Magical healing is more 'instinctive' than psychic healing. The magic doesn't need to be told exactly how to do what it does, it just does it. This does not gift the healer with any real medical knowledge. Psychic healing is an inherent ability, while magic is a learned skill. Some people may be born with a natural knack or talent, but that just makes it easier for them to learn it.

General Magical Practices:

As said above, the specifics of magical practice vary. There are a few general principles that carry through many systems, however.

When power is called up, it will eventually need to be grounded. Otherwise the mage, and the world around him, will be affected. Ungrounded power, since it's unchanneled and wild, may 'run loose' and cause havoc, and it certainly makes the user uncomfortable.

Some things are magically significant in many different cultures and traditions. Among them: the elements (fire, water, earth and air); sacred numbers (such as three, seven or thirteen); days, times or holidays; moon phases, stars, constellations and astrological signs; colors; herbs, plants and trees; stones; images; the cardinal directions (north, south, east, west).

Magical protections, such as wards, shields or boundaries set around places or buildings, do not last indefinitely and are not all-powerful. They periodically need attention and reinforcement to function at their best. Also, there may be someone out there who's more powerful than you and can breach your defenses. This also goes for personal shields or wards to protect mind, body and soul. CAVEAT: because of the possibility of forced interaction, do not assume that your character can simply breach another's mental shields, for instance, and easily pick things out of his thoughts. Always clear it with the other writer first!