Chaos is poorly understood by the modern-day descendants of the Empire. They view it as a vast force that brings corruption and destruction. Those who touch it directly—sorcerers—are reviled and feared. But Chaos is not corrupting or destructive. Not is it purifying or creative—at least, not without a mind to work it.
Chaos is an artifact of a world that works very differently from our own, a vast untapped well of potential boiling away a shadow's thickness to the side of everything known. It is the stuff of pure creation, unfettered and unshaped. The right mindset can open that membrane and allow the stuff into our world, but it requires a channel to guide and shape it.
The more cautious workers make that channel outside of themselves, pouring the chaos into molds that constrain it and bind it to the base matter of the world. They are artificers and alchemists, craftsmen that work magic into their art. It is safe—relatively safe, at any rate—but slow, a great deal of effort is required to learn the patterns that will produce a particular effect, and one can hardly improvise.
Then there are the sorcerers. Using their living mind and body as the channel, they are able to shape the chaos into spells of great potential and limitless flexibility. But letting the raw forces of creation pass through you has its own drawbacks: those who do it too often find themselves changing, their body and mind warped by the chaos.
Any character with an Arcane Background may attempt Sorcery. They may try to cast any spell, regardless of whether they know it or not. Instead of spending power points, the would-be sorcerer draws five cards, plus one for every Rank and Extra Power edge he has, but one fewer card for each rank of the spell above Novice. If he does not normally know the spell, he also draws one fewer card.
The cards are then assembled into the best possible poker hand and compared to the following chart:
- Ace High: 1 power point
- Pair: 2 power points
- Pair (face cards): 3 power points
- Two Pair: 4 power points
- Three of a Kind: 5 power points
- Straight: 6 power points
- Flush: 10 power points
- Full House: automatic success with no accumulated Chaos, plus a bonus from the table below
- Four of a Kind: as Full House, plus two bonuses
- Five of a Kind: as Flush, plus three bonuses
- Straight Flush: as Flush, plus four bonuses
Accumulated bonuses can be spent as follows: double Duration, affect an extra target, act as a raise on the Spellcasting roll.
If the power points gathered are enough to cast the spell, they are spent on it immediately. Any leftover power points—including those from hands not sufficient to cast the spell—cause backlash, as does any hand that uses a joker. The sorcerer must make the best possible poker hand: Chaos is fickle and difficult to control. (Wise sorcerers—if there are such things—choose spells that can easily have excess energy dumped into them.)
Backlash Table (roll 2d6 and add the number of unspent power points)
2-3 — Grounded Out: The chaos bursts forth from the caster in a wave of startling but ultimately harmless transformation. Plants or inanimate objects may change color, milk curdles, wine sours.
4-5 — Dazed: The caster is Shaken by the impact of the Chaos. He may recover normally.
6-7 — Exhaustion: As above, plus the caster takes a level of Fatigue as he fights to control the Chaos coursing through him.
8-9 — Wound: Channeling the forces of Chaos takes its toll as the sorcerer's flesh twists into some untenable shape, causing a Wound.
10-11 —Minor Temporary Transformation: The sorcerer suffers some effect, physical or mental, roughly equivalent to a minor Hindrance. This transformation is healed like as if naturally healing wound, but using a Spirit roll rather than Vigor. (Healing skill can not assist this roll.)
12-13 — Major Temporary Transformation: The sorcerer suffers some effect, physical or mental, roughly equivalent to a major Hindrance. This transformation is healed as above, but treat the sorcerer as if he had been Incapacitated.
14-15 —Minor Permanent Transformation: As above, but permanent.
16+ — Major Permanent Transformation: As above, but permanent.