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Walker's · Crown


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A few weeks ago I realized that the Fortune Mastery rules said nothing about the range at which effects could be generated or targeted. After some consultation with members of Everway-L, I came up with the following chart of ranges:

Single bond Fortunes

Range: An arrow's flight

Double-bond Fortunes

Range: To the horizon

Triple-bond Fortunes

Range: Anywhere in the current realm

Quadruple-bond Fortunes

Range: Anywhere in the current sphere

Note that Fortune Masters have greater range than scope: they can eventually cast effects anywhere in a given sphere, but can never affect an entire sphere at once.
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Just a short entry to let folks know that Walker's Crown is still a going concern. Most of August was devoted to preparing my Fall 2007 courses, and most of September was devoted to getting those courses underway as well as to writing the epilogue to my book. I hope to have some game-related entries up soon.
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These are mechanical guidelines for handling Fortune Mastery in play:

Establishing Fortune Bonds

At the start of play, Fortune Masters may bond to one of the cards from the Fortune Deck for each point of Magic they purchase during Hero Creation. (Alternately they may choose to use a point to strengthen a bond already purchased—see the next section of these guidelines for more on strengthening bonds.) Players may not place more than 7 points into their Magic score, nor may they choose to bond to the Usurper card. However, player expenditures on Magic are not linked to the Element scores (as is the case in the standard Everway rules). A starting Fortune Master may have a Magic score higher than any of her Element scores.

Heroes may raise their Magic scores and bond to more Fortunes as a result of in-game activity (e.g., earning a Boon that gives them another point of Magic).

Strengthening Fortune Bonds

Fortune Masters can choose to strengthen an existing Fortune bond in lieu of acquiring a new Fortune. Doing so gives them a more powerful connection to the Fortune, one that allows for greater invocations. In game terms, a strengthened bond allows a Fortune Master to increase the scope, duration, and potency of her effects.

Single-bond Fortunes

Scope: Up to a house's worth of people (or a target no larger in size than a single house).

Duration: Up to a day (24 straight hours).

Potency: Cause/heal a bad wound.

Double-bond Fortunes

Scope: Up to a village's worth of people (or a target no larger in size than a single village).

Duration: Up to a season (approximately 3 months).

Potency: Cause/heal a disabling wound.

Triple-bond Fortunes

Scope: Up to a city's worth of people (or a target no larger in size than a single city).

Duration: Up to a year (or a year and a day, if you're feeling particularly mythical).

Potency: Cause/heal a mortal wound.

Quadruple-bond Fortunes

Scope: Up to a realm's worth of people (or a target no larger in size than a single realm).

Duration: Up to a century (e.g., the bad fairy's curse on Sleeping Beauty and her kingdom).

Potency: Instant death/resurrection.

There are no records of Fortune Masters with quintuple-bond Fortunes, Fortunes capable of permanently affecting entire spheres. Some sages say that establishing five bonds with a Fortune is impossible, that such a level of connection would result in the annihilation of the Fortune Master making the attempt. They argue that eternal, sphere-wide magics are the jealously-guarded province of the Eight Great Gods—or that the Wheel of Fortune's motion can only be arrested for so long. Other sages say that the lack of positive evidence for quintuple bonds is no reason to believe in their impossibility. It's simply the case that no one has yet managed to turn the trick.

During Hero Creation, players of Fortune Masters can only strengthen each of their single-bond Fortunes once (i.e., can only begin the campaign with single and double-bond Fortunes). Triple and quadruple-bond Fortunes are much rarer and have to be earned through play.

Invoking Fortune Bonds

No ritual is required to invoke a Fortune Bond. The Fortune Master wishing to do so only needs to spend a minute or so concentrating on the effect she hopes to achieve. (Note that interrupting a Fortune Master in the midst of an invocation and spoiling the casting is thus possible.) Once the Fortune Master has finishing concentrating, the invocation takes effect.

Effects must be based on the Fortune in question. They can be literal (e.g., using the Lion to change into the shape of a lion) or metaphorical (e.g., using the Lion to give a cowardly soldier courage). Fortune Masters may invoke their Fortunes in either upright or reversed aspects (e.g., using the Lion's reversed meaning of "Weakness" to incapacitate a enemy). An effect's scope, duration, and potency vary in accordance with the strength of the invoking Fortune Master's bond with the invoked Fortune (for specifics on scope, duration, and potency, see the previous section of these guidelines).

Targets of Fortune Mastery may attempt to resist its effects via Karma, Drama, and (in a few specific instances) Fortune. Although there will be situations when Air and Fire are relevant, a target usually defends against a Fortune with his Earth score (for physical effects) or his Water score (for mental/spiritual effects). The strength of the Fortune Master's effect is determined according to this formula: Fire + (number of bonds in Fortune). Example: a Fortune Master with Fire 4 and a double bond to Summer (energy vs. exhaustion) has an effective Fire score of 6 when attempting to put a group of bandits to sleep. In some special cases (those where intricacy and complexity of effect are more important than raw mystical force), the Master's Air score may be substituted for her Fire score. Fortune Masters who use a Fortune to resist the effects of other Fortune Masters may add (number of bonds in Fortune) to the relevant defensive Element. Example: a Fortune Master with Earth 3 and a triple bond to Death (change vs. stasis) resists attempts to alter his form with an effective Earth score of 6. Conflicts between 2 competing effects of the same strength should be resolved by Drama or Fortune.

The invocation of Fortunes is arduous work. According to the Invocation Chart, a Fortune Mage must have a Magic score of at least 7 before she can invoke a single-bond Fortune without acquiring any fatigue. (Higher minimum scores are necessary for fatigue-free invocation of multiple-bond Fortunes.)

There are 4 levels of fatigue:

Exhausted

An exhausted Fortune Master cannot invoke any Fortunes. She is barely conscious: any activity more strenuous than talking will knock her out. It takes 8 hours of uninterrupted rest (e.g., a good night's sleep) for a Fortune Master with Earth 3 to recover from being "exhausted."

Tired

A tired Fortune Master cannot invoke any Fortunes. However, she can engage in mild physical activity (e.g., walking) without penalty. Any action more strenuous than that will move her up a level of fatigue to "exhausted." It takes 4 hours of uninterrupted rest (e.g, a watch) for a Fortune Master with Earth 3 to recover from being "tired."

Winded

A winded Fortune Master cannot invoke any Fortunes. However, she can engage in moderate physical activity (e.g., jogging) without penalty. Any action more strenuous than that will move her up a level of fatigue to "tired." It takes 2 hours of uninterrupted rest (e.g., a catnap) for a Fortune Master with Earth 3 to recover from being "winded."

Fresh

A fresh Fortune Master can invoke any of her Fortunes. Moreover she has no limits on her physical activity.

Fortune Masters with Earth scores above 3 will recover more quickly; those with Earth scores below 3 will recover more slowly.

Combining Fortune Bonds

Fortune Masters can come together in groups known as "decks," combining their Fortunes to create complex effects beyond the ability of any single member of the group. For example, one deck of Masters might combine the Dragon upright (cunning), Eagle reversed (thoughtlessness), and Trickery upright (deceit) Fortunes to produce a nearly foolproof illusion, while another deck could use the Defender upright (safety), Fearing Shadows upright (unnecessary fear), and Griffin upright (valor) Fortunes to ward a kingdom by conjuring up an enchanted wall that frightens foes and heartens allies.

Combination has a few extra rules: each Fortune Master in a deck can only contribute 1 Fortune to the overall effort (i.e., individual Masters can channel only 1 Fortune at a time), each Master must contribute a different Fortune (i.e., multiple invocations of the same Fortune in the same effect and place are impossible), and each effect is only as powerful as its weakest component (i.e., the weakest bond in the effect determines its overall scope, duration, and potency). Combination also requires more concentration than simple invocation (several additional minutes' worth, proving even more opportunities for interruption) as well as physical contact between all of the Masters involved in the invocation (breaking this contact is another way to break the spell).

In addition, combination is more exhausting than regular invocation. According to the Combination Chart, a Fortune Master must have a Magic score of 10 before she can add a Fortune to a deck's effect without acquiring any fatigue. (Higher minimum scores are necessary for fatigue-free combination of multiple-bond Fortunes.)
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Exceeding all other magics in puissance is Fortune Mastery, the ability to harness the supernatural might of the Fortune Deck's Thirty-Five Fortunes. This control is not absolute: even the greatest of Fortune Masters can only bind and invoke a fraction of the Deck's powers. But even a few Fortunes in the right hands can change the Fate of entire spheres.

As explained in the mnemonic couplet "Water to find, Earth to bind, / Air to make, Fire to wake," the Fortune Master has need of all Four Elements:

Water to find. Before a Fortune Master can acquire a Fortune, she must first find it. She undergoes a vision quest, tracking the Fortune she seeks through the realms of spirit. Water is the Element that governs this hunt.

Earth to bind. Once a Fortune Master has found a Fortune, she must bind it to her will. The process is an arduous one: cosmic forces are hard to contain within frail mortal bodies. Earth is the Element that governs this fastening.

Air to make. Bound Fortunes can be invoked to do the Fortune Master's bidding, but the Master must have a clear idea of what she intends. She must picture the desired effect in her mind. Air is the Element that governs this shaping.

Fire to wake. Calling forth a bound Fortune requires energy and effort. The Fortune Master must channel the power of the Fortune through the mental matrix she has imagined. Fire is the Element that governs this exertion.

An apprentice Fortune Master has tentative control of a single Fortune: she can invoke it on its own or combine it with the Fortunes of other Masters, but only by taxing her body and spirit to the utmost. As she practices her art over time, she learns to bind additional Fortunes. She also discovers how to strengthen those bonds she already possesses. Initially exhausting, the Fortune Master's powers become easier to use with experience.

Fortunes can be invoked in either upright or reversed fashion. For example: Fertility (growth vs. decline) can be used to save a village from famine—or to condemn it to starvation. Each invoked Fortune is capable of a myriad of effects. The Winter card could be used literally, encasing an enemy in a pillar of ice, or metaphorically, aging a child to adulthood in minutes. The only limits on a Fortune are its correspondences and the imagination of the Master invoking it.

One Fortune has never been successfully bound or invoked. This is the Usurper, the Thirty-Sixth Fortune. Some Fortune Masters speculate that the Usurper's predilection toward locality and specificity make it ill-suited for Fortune Mastery. No one bound to the Usurper could ever predict its powers. Other Masters argue that the inability to harness the Usurper is a sign that the Eight Great Gods do not wish it done. Only when the Walker completes his task and reunites the spheres will the Thirty-Sixth Fortune be available once more.

For good or ill, Fortune Masters bind themselves to Fortune's Wheel more tightly than other mortals. Should they happen to fall under the influence of the Fortune to which they're bound, they will feel it especially keenly. Their good Fortune will be greater, but their bad Fortune will sting worse.
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In the Thousand Worlds of Walker's Crown, High Magic is the direct invocation of the 36 Fortunes, the supernatural forces depicted in the Fortune Deck. The Eight Great Gods established these cosmic constants at the moment of creation, and they have only changed once in the history of the spheres (when the Traitor God's card was occulted in the aftermath of the War with the Dragons). Enterprising humans (known as High Mages) have learned how to bind themselves to individual Fortunes. These bonds enable the mortals in question to invoke a particular Fortune in response to a specific situation.

Based on the Magic System developed by Ilanin at CURSWiki, High Magic operates in accordance with the following principles:

1. Unlike standard, grab-bag Everway Magic, High Magic is fully integrated with the basic Everway setting assumptions. As Ilanin says, "in a system where everything is based on dramatics and fortunes, it [Magic] barely ties in to the overall metaphysics of the system. It feels like a bolt-on, which isn't what I want at all from a system in which everything else flows together so freely." Low Magic (7+ Elements and Powers) can handle the miscellany of supernatural abilities seen in folklore, legend, and myth. High Magic involves the manipulation of Everway's most basic forces: the Fortunes of the Fortune Deck.

2. High Magic is free-form. My favorite RPG magic systems are those featuring one form or another of what Ars Magica calls "spontaneous" magic: spells developed and cast on the fly to fit a given situation. This is opposed to the Dungeons & Dragons model of memorized spells, one in which a wizard's player has to gamble that the spells she picks at the start of play will be useful later. In Walker's Crown, High Mages can invoke Fortunes in response to the needs of the moment, nudging serendipity in accordance with their wills. For example, a High Mage can invoke Fertility upright to give the barren royal couple a child at long last—or to restore a field of crops blighted by disease. She could also invoke Fertility reversed to curse a wicked lord with sterility or to ruin a greedy merchant's business deal.

3. The free-form capabilities of High Mages function best with some limits, however. If all mages have access to the same powers whenever a spell needs casting, then all mages will soon begin to look and act alike. High Magic therefore places restrictions on the mages' abilities: they can only invoke a certain number of Fortunes, both at a time and in total. Characters using High Magic must make choices: the Fortunes used by one High Mage will not necessarily match those used by another. Even the most powerful of High Mages (those with Magic 9 and 10) can control but a fraction of the total power of the Fortune Deck.

4. Every level of Magic should make a difference. This is one area where games as diverse as Everway and Dungeons & Dragons are in agreement: each new stage of (magical) power should provide players with new abilities and options. I have arranged High Magic so that even the weakest apprentice (a character with Magic 1) can bind and invoke a single Fortune. Whenever a Hero increases his magical ability (i.e., adds a point to her Magic score), he either gains a new Fortune Bond or learns to strengthen an existing Bond. At certain levels, he also learns how to invoke multiple Fortunes at the same time (or to add multiple Fortunes to the spell of another). Finally, increases in power make High Magic less taxing: magical actions that were once exhausting now generate no fatigue at all.
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Everyone in the Thousand Worlds is born under the sign of one of the Twelve Tokens. Select a Token to be your Hero's astrological sign. (I recommend picking the sign/animal you feel bears the most resemblance to your concept of your Hero.) This choice has two effects, one in-character and one out-of-character. The in-character effect is the tendency of NPCs to treat your Hero in accordance with his or her sign: e.g., a Wolfborn will be treated differently than a Roosterborn. The out-of-character effect is the link your Hero has to one of the four seasonal Fortune Cards: e.g., a Frogborn Hero who draws the Spring card upright will have particularly good fortune, while a Tigerborn Hero who draws Summer reversed is in trouble.

Your hero also has a second, lesser link to the Fortune Card corresponding to his season's opposite number. (The seasonal oppositions are Air/Spring vs. Earth/Autumn and Fire/Summer vs. Water/Winter.) A Stagborn Hero who draws the Spring card upright will find his good fortune minimized, while an Owlborn Hero who draws the Summer card reversed will still fail—but not as badly as before.
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Because of the changes I've made to the standard Everway cosmology, I've produced a Walker's Crown "guide" to the Fortune Deck:

https://netfiles.uiuc.edu/rwb/www/gaming/everweb/walkers-crown-fortune-deck.pdf

The cards and their meanings are all the same, but the correspondences have now been updated to include the Eight Great Gods, the Seven Wanderers, and the Twelve Tokens.

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Beyond Morven's Wheel lies the circle of the fixed stars. Among the stars are the Twelve Tokens, a dozen animal-shaped constellations offering knowledgable interpreters clues to the future. The Sun (Jiq's Beacon) passes through each of the Tokens in turn, marking off the months and seasons of the year.

Spring

These three Tokens are affiliated with the Element of Air and the Spring card.

1. The Frog. The timid Frog rules over the first month of spring and the beginning of the year.

2. The Lark. The carefree Lark rules over the second month of spring, the peak of the season.

3. The Hare. The lascivious Hare rules over the third month of spring.

Summer

These three Tokens are affiliated with the Element of Fire and the Summer card.

4. The Hawk. The willful Hawk rules over the first month of summer.

5. The Tiger. The courageous Tiger rules over the second month of summer, the peak of the season.

6. The Carp. The sociable Carp rules over the third month of summer.

Autumn

These three Tokens are affiliated with the Element of Earth and the Autumn card.

7. The Rooster. The vain Rooster rules over the first month of autumn.

8. The Stag. The defiant Stag rules over the second month of autumn, the peak of the season.

9. The Turtle. The steady Turtle rules over the third month of autumn.

Winter

These three Tokens are affiliated with the Element of Water and the Winter card.

10. The Owl. The mournful Owl rules over the first month of winter.

11. The Whale. The pensive Whale rules over the second month of winter, the peak of the season.

12. The Wolf. The hungry Wolf rules over the third month of winter and the end of the year.
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When the Dragons fought the Gods at the dawn of time, the force of their battle splintered Primal Delight into the countless Earths that make up the spheres. However, Heaven survived the war intact. As a result, the night skies are identical in each of the Thousand Worlds.

The greatest of the celestial bodies are the Seven Wanderers, the homes of the gods. The Wanderers pass through the skies of each spheres, traveling through the constellations known as the Twelve Tokens.

Moving out from a given sphere, the Seven Wanderers are:

1. Selay's Ember, commonly known as the Moon. Affiliated with the Priestess card, the Moon is the planet of mystery. Waxing and waning, it also stands for hope.

2. Jiq's Beacon, commonly known as the Sun. Affiliated with the Fool card, the Sun is the planet of creativity. Its light gives life to each sphere.

3. Mynysar's Chariot. Affiliated with the Hermit card, the Chariot is the planet of knowledge. It moves faster through the sky faster than any of the other Wanderers.

4. Cerem's Bower. Affiliated with the Peasant card, the Bower is the planet of fertility. Beautiful to behold, it graces the morning and evening skies.

5. Kesek's Forge. Affiliated with the Smith card, the Forge is the planet of action. It glows above the horizon, red with the fires of Kesek's labors.

6. Kelwar's Throne. Affiliated with the King card, the Throne is the planet of authority. It is appropriately the largest and grandest of the Wanderers.

7. Morven's Wheel. Affiliated with the Soldier card, the Wheel is the planet of adversity. Sages debate its true nature: is it the merciful Wheel of Life or the cruel Wheel of Fortune?

As the goddess of nature, Etany the Huntress prefers to dwell beneath Heaven. She moves from sphere to sphere, making her home in the wilderness.
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Legends state that the Eight Great Gods were once nine in number. But in the War against Alurax and the Dragons, one of the gods betrayed its fellow deities for reasons never revealed to mortal souls. This treachery led to the shattering of Delight, the primal sphere, into the myriad lesser spheres that became the Thousand Worlds. After the Dragons were defeated, the Eight Great Gods punished the traitor god by stripping it of its name and its card in the Fortune Deck. They also placed a geas upon the turncoat, compelling it to walk from sphere to sphere, reconnecting Creation through a network of gates. For this reason, the traitor god is now known as the Walker.
The stories also say that the Walker will get its name and card back upon the day that it completes the last gate connecting the last sphere to the rest of the Thousand Worlds. Then Delight will be restored, and all the worlds will become one again.
Or so the stories say . . .
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