2.0 -- The Magic of the Deryni
Despite having twelve novels, a book of short stories, an encyclopedia like
reference in the Codex, and a book devoted to the subject itself, the magic of
the Deryni is still quite illusive in its definition. Crossing the boundaries of
what is magic, psionics, and divine miracle at times. Things that even the
characters within the stories do not fully understand, even as they do them.
Makes it a little hard to detail properly for an RPG, even one as flexible and
fluid as FUDGE.
Part of the problem is the books themselves. The world of the Deryni from the
authorís point of view has changed much since the first book was published, and
the stories themselves span two hundred years within their covers, making for
many changes from one era to the next. Also, being stories, much of how magic
works is determined by the story itself, so minor variations creep in. This
means that not all the information is completely in sync with the rest, and I
must work as best I can to catalog things to a usable format for gaming.
A few notes: "Usable format for gaming" means that I will change things
that I think wonít work for the game, or that I didnít have sufficient knowledge
at the time to decide. I want the world we game in to be internally consistent,
and if that somehow contradicts new information or that Iíve forgotten that
appear in canon Kurtz, then the gameís way of presenting it will usually be the
correct one, unless the modifications are minor or thereís a great need they be
The story we tell in our game is the most important thing, so some uses of
certain powers may give slightly different results depending on the situation.
Please keep that in mind while using the following guidelines for use of the
powers of your Deryni characters.
Skill Modifiers: When using a Skill, please modify your ability due to
injury, Fatigue loss, and the following guidelines, with a roll of Fair being
desired for success. (Keep in mind that not all Powers are affected by these
modifiers, and some Powers may have others.):
- RANGE: Base Range is touch, and some Skills may not have the range
- Touch or Self: 0
- Within a room: -1
- Within a town/few miles: -2
- Farther: -3 or more.
- FAMILIARITY OF TARGET: It is easier to use your powers on those you
know, versus those you have never had such contact with.
- Very well known, much prior contact: +2
- Known, with little or no prior contact: 0
- Unknown or unseen (the guard just around the corner or on the other
side of the door): -2
- NUMBER OF TARGETS / AREA OF EFFECT: This really doesnít come up in most
powers, but here it is in case itís needed.
- One Person or Self: 0
- 2 People in Addition to Self: -1
- 4 People in Addition to Self: -2
- 8 P.i.A.t.S.: -3
- 16 P.i.A.t.S.: -4
- etc, each double is another -1
- Very Small Effects: +1
- Person Sized or Smaller Effect: 0
- Small Room Size (bedroom, Church entryway): -1
- Large Room Size (Main Hall, Nave of Church): -2
- Field/Castle/Cathedral: -3
Getting Through: An Opposed check is made, attackerís Skill versus
defenderís Shields Skill. Attackerís roll must beat defenderís. Defender may
spend Fatigue to bring roll to a tie. Each round, both lost a point of Fatigue.
Humans vs. Deryni: For the most part, a human cannot detect the use of
Deryni powers upon himself, nor can he stop whatís happening. But a Perception
check might be granted if the particular human is used to such uses of Deryni
Skills and/or is used to the touch of that particular individual. Also, a human
may be looking for the intrusion and has some idea what to look for. Also note
that some powers that alter a personís perceptions such as Mind Control or
Illusion may be overridden if the target has reason to suspect what he feels or
sees. PLAYER CHARACTERS ALWAYS GET A PERCEPTION ROLL, SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY ARE
PLAYER CHARACTERS! Normally I donít make exceptions for PCs, but no one
likes having their characters manipulated by the rest of the party either. But
this wonít come up because all the PCs are good and moral and wouldnít harm
their fellow PCs now would they? PCs get no extra bonuses for preventing what
happens, only knowing it happened.
Power Fatigue and Stamina Fatigue -- The Difference: Deryni get an extra
Fatigue sink based off their Power Attribute. Fatigue is lost from Power first
until the level drops, then it goes to Stamina. Loss of all Fatigue from Stamina
causes character to drop from Fatigue, and loss of all Power Fatigue means
character cannot perform any Deryni Skills (even if the penalties would still
allow an above-Terrible chance at doing so).
Effect of Fatigue on Deryni Skills: Each level lost of Fatigue (off the
Stamina Sink) confers a -1 penalty to Skill being attempted. Fatigue loss from
using abilities is cumulative with other Fatigue losses (such as from
Maintaining Skills: For those Deryni Skills that can be maintained,
Fatigue is spent while doing so. 1 point of Fatigue is spent about every minute
or so. Please note that while Fatigue itself might come back fairly quickly,
that doing several draining workings may leave a Deryni with a lowered effective
Fatigue. Using Mind Speech at great distances, frex, cannot be done more than
once every few days or the Deryni will wear themselves out and be unable to
Fatigue drawn from others: A Deryni may use another personís Fatigue to
fuel his own spells. The subject must be willing and/or completely unconscious.
If willing, the subject may remain awake in a meditative state. Fatigue is drawn
off the subjectís Fatigue sink as normal for rate of draw for the power being
used. If the subject is Deryni, Shields must be lowered beforehand and Fatigue
is drained, as normal, from both Power and Stamina Fatigue sinks.
Sense Enhancement: A Deryni may, with concentration, enhance his or her
senses beyond the norm. This is an extension of just being Deryni, the way
Shields are, so oneís ability to do so is equal to their Power Attribute,
although a Sense Enhancement check is made as if it were an Opposed
Action. The relative degree of a Sense Enhancement check above Mediocre
(Good is two relative degrees and thus a +2, etc.) is added to a Perception
roll. The use of enhanced senses does not drain Fatigue, but does require
concentration from the character, and a Meditation roll may be required in some
Deryni Skills (with basic DLs and modifiers not mentioned above listed
for uses of the Skills).
- Arcane Lore: This Skill is somewhat of a catch-all. It reflects the
general training level of a Deryni and how much information about powers,
magic, and ritual he has been exposed to, read of, or seen performed. It is
not a Deryni Power, but few outside Deryni circles will have access to any of
this information. This also includes knowledge of rituals, which arenít actual
powers in and of themselves, but use the drawing and pooling of psychic energy
to perform a specific effect.
- Mediocre: to know basic information on how an Easy Skill would work.
- Fair: to know basic information on how an Average Skill would work.
- Good: to know basic information on how a Hard Skill would work.
- Great: to know basic information on how a Very Hard Skill would work.
- +1 DL: to actually try to use this knowledge to try a skill in which you
have never used. A successful attempt might mean that you would gain that
ritual/spell/ability as a Skill at Terrible (or higher, depending on the
- FUDGE points may never be spent to determine knowledge or to gain a new
- Clairvoyance: This is the ability to see beyond what is normally
available to the character. There are several ways this Skill may be used.
One, to look inside objects (such as letters or boxes) without opening them.
This requires holding the object scanned in oneís hand while attempting this,
and at least a Fair Skill check. Two, a Deryni may scan a location or spy on a
person. This requires either an arcane connection (an item from that place or
person, that is somehow connected, physically or emotionally, to them or it)
or an intimate knowledge of the person or place. Also, Clairvoyance used at a
distance requires at least a Good roll, which may be modified for distance
and/or strength of the connection. Scanning oneís personal bedroom from the
main hall of the castle might not be that difficult, but spying on a person
youíve met only once and have only the cup he used at dinner, even if heís in
the next room, might be nigh impossible. Clairvoyance will not work through
wards, and may be detected if the Deryni being spied upon is being wary.
- Dowsing: The Border Folk have developed an ability, which is somewhat
akin to Deryni abilities, of using a stick to find water that is hidden. An
ingenious Dowser might also be able to adapt this skill to other uses for
finding things. Each Dowser finds a y-shaped stick that is unique to him or
her, and uses that in the attempt to find water.
- Duel Arcane: This is the art of performing a magical duel to the
ancient rules set up hundreds of years before, and maintained by the Camberian
Council. This involves ritual of setting up wards to contain magical energies,
as well as the duel itself. A Fair check is needed to properly set the warding
circle. The circle is usually conjured with a verse of poetry or other
pronouncement, to show proper forms being used. The Challenger starts the
circle, and each half defined is of the color of its creatorís aura. When both
halves are joined, it merges color. Within the warding is also determined
whether the duel is to the death or yield. The combat then begins with the
Challenged, although a man is expected to yield to a woman in this. The combat
goes in simultaneous rounds, with each participant describing the method used
to overcome the other. The actual combat takes place using energy, and is
mostly invisible to normal humans (although they can see the warding circle)
although any watching Deryni see the effects. A Duel Arcane without a warding
circle will fling large amounts of energy around, which will do nasty and
unpredictable things most often.
- Enchantment: This is the ability to imbue an object with psychic
energy. The energy can be thus simply stored until needed, or programmed with
a message or effect, or a combination of all these. Messages so encoded can
also be set with triggers, so that they activate at a certain time or to a
certain stimulus, or they can be made so that only certain recipients may read
them. Magical items might be made in this way as well, although it would
require a lot of energy and certain Arcane Lore, in addition to the actual
Skill of Enchanting.
- Fair: able to place a message or general energy into an
- Fatigue Banishment: This is a simple ritual that erases all Fatigue
from a person, Deryni or otherwise, on a successful check of Fair. Failure
simply means that it did not work, and it cannot be retried until rest has
been had by the Fatigued person. A spectacular Failure of a -4 roll or
sub-Terrible result might actually increase the Fatigue level. Fatigue so
banished with this ritual is not really gone, only postponed. It will return
after 1 hour per level of the Skill check result. The Fatigue may be Banished
again, but at a cumulative -1 for each time the ritual has been performed on
that person without them resting, in addition to any other penalties that may
be in effect.
- Fire Conjuration: This is the ability to create fire. The fire will
flare into existence at the location chosen, but will not continue to burn
unless thereís something flammable at that position. Once lit, itís like any
other fire. Can also be used to increase the size of an already existing fire.
- Fair: create fire on a prepared or highly flammable surface (lighting
- Good: create fire on a burnable source that isnít as flammable
- Great: create fire on a surface that is normally not flammable (may go
out after creation if thereís no fuel)
- Handfire: With Handfire, a Deryni creates a ball of light (one per
every level of the Skill, at max). This light is about as bright as the
average torch, although with concentration the Deryni can make the light
brighter. It almost always manifests itself in the color of that Deryniís
aura. The light is not bright enough to blind and contains no heat, but the
Deryni may move it about with a thought, and itís creation may startle the
unwary. Handfire is not that hard a Skill, and having a Skill of Fair or more
constitutes an automatic success. -1 for each ball after the first,
cumulative. It is generally one of the first things a Deryni might be taught
while learning their powers, but a self-taught Deryni may not even know the
skill exists. It drains Fatigue at the rate of 1 per every 10 minutes.
- Healing: Healers are very rare among the Deryni. This is the ability
to use oneís powers to speed healing of the body. Manipulation of the wounds
by hand is required, as is a knowledge of basic anatomy and how things are
supposed to be when not injured. Can help alleviate illness, but not cure.
Also, blood loss from injuries is also a danger, although a wound Healed will
have no danger of infection once closed. Soreness and scaring will still be
there with a Healed wound, but that fades in a few days. Healers also usually
have knowledge of mundane healing arts and Herbalism in addition to their
Healing Skill. Females are less likely than males to be Healers, and if a
child is a Healer chances are that at least of his or her parents is as well.
Healers also tend to have higher Power Attributes. Healing is very draining on
Fatigue, drawing out two Fatigue per minute on average, more if the wound is
really difficult and less if very minor.
- Mediocre: Scratch
- Fair: Hurt
- Good: Very Hurt
- Great: Incapacitated
- Superb: Near Death
- Modifiers depend on how complex the wound is, and whether or not there
are any complications involved (compound fractures, etc).
- Blocking, a subset of Healing: Blockers are the result of a very
rare inherent talent. A Blocker is only found among those who are already
able to Heal, and it is probably as rare to find someone who can Block among
Healers as it is to find someone who can Heal amongst the Deryni population.
Blocking is essentially turning an on/off switch for a Deryniís powers and
only a Blocker can access that switch. It is not something that can be
learned if one does not already have the Gift, although anyone with the Gift
can pick it up from telepathically watching another Blocker perform the
function and then practicing it themselves. Blocked Deryni lose all access
to any Skill requiring Power, although not the knowledge they have (unless
that is altered), and their Shields and Power Attribute effectively
disappear. They will be in all ways as normal humans, including the way they
react to merasha. This Blocking is not transferred from parent to child, as
far as anyone knows.
- Illusion: This is a complicated Skill that is not that well defined in
the books. It is the ability to make visible images that have no substance.
Used in conjunction with a Mind Speech attempt though, it can provide images
so real to the recipient that they cannot tell the difference, whereas
normally a target might realize that fire isnít giving off heat and thus run
through it. Illusions do not suffer from the NUMBER OF TARGETS penalties,
although they might for size.
- Meditation: This is the study of concentration. Meditation will help
almost any Deryni skill succeed, erasing any negative modifiers (from physical
condition only) to the use of Deryni powers, with a successful entrance into a
Meditative state. Meditation does not erase modifiers due to range or number
of targets, but for each level the Meditation result gets of Fair or above
will cancel out one point of negative modifier.
- Memory Assumption: This is a very tricky ability. This is the Skill to
take memories from another person, Deryni or human, and integrate them into
your own personality. This is not a well-known skill among the Deryni. This
requires first a successful Death Reading at -2, with the intention of
grabbing the memories for assumption. Then, within a number of days equal to
the level of success of the reading, the Assumer must perform a detailed
analysis of the memories all at once, to integrate them into his own. This is
dangerous, and failure to integrate them and/or interruption while doing so
and/or mistakes in doing so can leave the Assumerís personality shattered or
- Mind Control: This is the art and science of manipulating people from
within the mind. Mind Control is used when a Deryni wishes to alter someoneís
memories, thoughts, and/or behaviors, or to set compulsions and triggers.
Memories can be enhanced, erased, or changed. A trigger may be simply to
remember something when a certain time or stimulus has occurred, or it can be
as powerful as having someone commit suicide rather than betray oneís master.
While radical changes in the target personality may be effected fairly easily
with Mind Control, such obvious effects can and will be noticed by companions
and/or the subject. Discovery of mental tampering can expose a Deryni and
undermine what the change was meant to do. It is also a gray area morally in
- Fair: blur a simple memory or remove or place a simple thought. May also
be used to erase subjectís knowledge of the contact.
- Good: blur more detailed memories or change thought patterns, or place a
simple compulsion. Erase subjectís knowledge of the contact if the subject
was upset by the intrusion.
- Great: Radically change thought patterns or remove deeply rooted
feelings or memories. Place suicide triggers or compulsions.
- To remove or detect Mind Control placed by another Deryni, an Opposed
roll is made vs. the Mind Control result of the original action
- Mind Speech: One of the most basic of Deryni abilities, Mind Speech is
essentially that--the ability to speak mind to mind. Mental communication is
in many ways faster than speaking, and can be used to exchange large amounts
of information quickly. It is not limited to mere words either, emotions and
pictures can be sent as well. Also, the ability to read the minds of others is
also conferred by this, although in some ways they are different skills. Mind
Speech is usually limited to a range of touch among any two individuals who
have never had mental contact before, although this is a fact that very few
non-Deryni know. Deryni well-known to each other may converse across greater
distances, but that drains more Fatigue (x2). A Deryni using Mind Speech,
and/or who is in a receptive state may eavesdrop on mental conversations being
held around him. To protect against this, most Deryni seek physical contact or
a tightly focused conversation.
- Mind Speech Sub-Skills:
- Death Reading: This sub-skill is the reading of memories just after
death. At time of death, memories fade rapidly as the brain shuts down. A
successful Death Reading will reveal specific information if the body still
retains it. The DL for this sub-skill is modified by the time the person has
been dead, and may not be done at range.
- Animal Empathy: This is the ability to call and control animals. It is
simpler than doing so with humans, and is often mostly just projecting
calming or welcoming feelings to the animal, and isnít the same as real
conversations. Reading the perceptions of an animal whom you have calmed can
give you information, but it will be from the animalís point of view.
- Rapport: This is a special type of Mind Speech, thatís held between two
or more Deryni. Rapport allows faster exchanges of knowledge which can be as
little as a quick update or as much as a dump of information that will
require a nightís sleep to properly process. Working in Rapport can help a
group of Deryni to pool talents in order to tackle large tasks, and may be
required for some spells.
- Use basic modifiers for all Mind Speech attempts, except those relating
to size. I.E., take into account Familiarity, Range, and Number of Targets.
- Other Modifiers:
- -1: Tight focus of conversation to prevent being overheard.
- General Difficulty Levels:
- Fair: To surface scan a mind, to send a brief message, to call a calm
animal to you. A Death Reading at time of death.
- Good: To get a deeper read of a mind beyond what is in surface thoughts,
to send a detailed image/emotion/concept, or to enter into gentle rapport
for discussion or imparting information quickly. Also to call or calm a wild
or slightly excited or afraid animal. A Death Reading a few minutes after
- Great: To delve through buried memories, to calm or call an highly
emotional animal, or to go into deep rapport with another. A Death reading
more than a few minutes after death.
- Move Objects: This is the movement of objects, usually fairly small,
through will alone. The difficulty level is modified by how large the object
is, and what degree of fine control you are aiming for. This is also one of
the more dangerous abilities when it is triggered without control, such as
during illness, injury, or dementia. Treat the roll and/or the Deryniís Power
Attribute as if it were Strength as a guide for size or speed of
- Deflect Arrows: This is a use of Move Objects, and involves
directing the course of an arrowís flight. This is most often used as a
defensive measure, with a successful check of Fair or above skewing an arrow
enough off course as to miss its target, regardless of the accuracy of the
shot. (A Fair Deflection will, in other words, prevent a Legendary shot from
hitting its aim.). It can also be used to guarantee the accuracy of a shot
and place the point where the Deflector chooses. Arrow Deflection is not
affected by range unless the Deflector is not the shooter nor the target of
the arrows to be deflected. For every point of Relative Degree of Fair and
above (Fair being 1, Great being 3, etc) one arrow per that round might be
- Open Locks: This is another special use of Move Objects. A Deryni
must heighten his senses first (Fair or above) and then he attempts to open
the locks using this Skill, rather than any physical tools.
- Difficulty Level: Fair = "walking" speed, book-sized object, near
range/within sight, no fine manipulation. Opening a lock is at least a Good
DL, more if the lock is particularly complex or if the Deryni is rushed.
- Object Reading: Reading an object can give a lot of information about
its history to a Deryni. Most of the information comes from strong psychic
impressions, which can be good or bad. But an object forged or shaped will
also "remember" the process, such as a ring remembering being cast and itís
jewels set. Sometimes an object can be cleansed of strong impressions, and
some materials may limit the ability to read it and/or for impressions to be
- Shape-Changing: This is akin to Illusion, although this is an actual
reshaping of the face. No known Deryni has ever done other than change to
another human, but that does not mean that it cannot be done. The first time a
change is made is the hardest, requiring a Good result if the change is minor,
and Great is it is major. A return to that shape requires only a Fair.
Shape-changing can merely be skin deep, or can also affect height, weight,
voice, and other physical attributes. A person retains his or her own
mannerisms though, unless they can Act their new part properly.
- Shields: These are inherent in every Deryni, and on rare occasion,
some humans. Shields are usually up, protecting the mind from unwanted
invasion. A Deryni may lower his or her Shields on command, giving access to
another Deryni. Breaking through another personís mental Shields is very
difficult, and often painful for both involved. (More on Shield-combat later).
While a Deryniís Shields may be up though, he is generally receptive to Mind
Speech and/or Truth Reading, although he may "tighten" his Shields, preventing
even that. The Shield skill is also what is used if a Deryni is trying to
block out emotions or images of things or people he is coming into contact
with. Being upset or weakened may lower your Shield resistance to intrusion.
- Truth Reading: This grants the Reader the ability to sense if a
statement made by another person is true or not. A lie has a strange sound to
it. This ability requires some concentration to active (i.e., it is not always
on), and while Reading another Deryni is possible, it has added complications.
A Deryni gets a Perception roll based on his Power Attribute to detect that
heís being read, as does the Reader to notice that his target is Deryni. Any
person may take offense at being Truth Read, even if they are Deryni, so when
the true bloodline of the target is in question, a prudent Deryni will not
attempt such a Skill. Active tightening of Shields will prevent Truth Reading
to occur. Truth Reading may also be used to compel someone to tell the truth.
Shields will prevent this. Truth Reading is not subject to normal modifiers,
and the only distance modifier that applies is that it must be line of sight,
and the conversation heard.
- Warding: This is the act of creating a psychic wall to protect those
within the boundaries. Wards vary greatly depending on the actual use and
purpose. Some examples: preventing overflow of energies during powerful
workings, preventing the balance of energies from outside influence in
delicate rituals, to protect from scrying, to protect from harm, to warn when
unwanted visitors approach. There are also sets of Wards Major, which resemble
dice colored white and black, which when used prevent physical passage and are
very powerful. Creating these falls under Enchantment and Arcane Lore, but the
requisite knowledge to do so is practically lost at this point in history.
- OTHER MAGICAL SKILLS: There are conceivably many possible skills that
arenít covered here, but these cover all the basic Deryni skills. New lore may
reveal the possibilities of new skills, or a character may try and invent one
on his own. These are things that will happen in game or need to be discussed
with the GM, but in general if something is broad enough to warrant itís own
skill, then one will be created for it.