Knacks: Beast, Illumination, Mending, Purification, Regeneration
Apprentice Degree: The Touch
Adept Degree: The Blessing
Master Degree: The Miracle
Everyone in Ussura has heard stories about the little old woman who lives in the woods. Some seek her out to beg for her help. Others try to trick her, or rob her of imagined riches. All these stories end the same way: Matushka gives the seeker even more than he wished for, at a price few would be able or willing to pay.
Podarok is distantly related to Pyeryem, Matushka’s other magical gift to her chosen people. Indeed, the two magics share a few of the same tricks, but Podarok is a much more potent gift: so much so that it has not been granted in a very long time. As a rule, it is only found among the Naditi, and even among that vitzi, it is very rare.
Unlike most Sorceries, Podarok does not have any effect on a magician’s physical appearance. Rather, Podarok forces changes of a behavioral nature. At each Mastery Level, the Game Master assigns one of the following restrictions to the Sorcerer. So long as a Sorcerer maintains all of his restrictions, he may use his powers however he wants. Should he violate one of his restrictions, he loses access to all the powers of Podarok until he performs the penance specified for that restriction.
- Courage: You must never let fear dictate your course of action. If this restriction is violated, you must seek out whatever terrifies you the most and confront it.
- Dignity: You must always act calmly and logically, and never allow emotions to cause you to act rashly or without careful consideration. If this restriction is violated, you must undo the decision you made, and undo all the consequences that resulted from your rash action.
- Forgiveness: You must always show mercy to your enemies, and may never hold a grudge against those who act against you. If this restriction is violated, you must seek out the person you have wronged and do whatever it takes to make amends.
- Honesty: You must never tell a lie, a half-truth, or otherwise obscure the truth in any way. If this restriction is violated, you must spend an entire month without lying.
- Kindness: You must always offer aid to those in need, whether friends, strangers, or even enemies, no matter how desperate the circumstances. If this restriction is violated, you must seek out someone who has wronged you and provide any aid that person requests.
- Moderation: You must do all things in moderation and never overindulge in anything. If this restriction is violated, you must submit to an act of fasting, never indulging in your most favorite activity, for a month.
Some practitioners of Podarok attempt to thwart some of these restrictions by living in isolation, far from any human contact, but Matushka has a way of sending her people to these hermits, no matter how they try to hide.
At this Mastery Level, the magician can spend a Drama Die to activate the Apprentice-Level Power of one of his Sorcerous Knacks.
At this Mastery Level, the magician can spend a Drama Die to activate either an Apprentice-Level power or an Adept-Level Power of one of his Sorcerous Knacks.
At this Mastery Level, the magician can spend a Drama Die to activate any single power associated with one of his Sorcerous Knacks.
Beast. When this Knack is taken, the magician selects an affinity with one of the following animal types: bears, boars, cats, fish, foxes, goats, horses, mice, owls, rabbits, ravens, reindeer, snakes, turtles, or wolves. Once the affinity is chosen, it cannot be changed, and Matushka provides the Sorcerer with the following powers:
As an Apprentice, the magician may spend a Drama Die to see through the eyes of the nearest animal representing his affinity. At this Mastery Level, the animal cannot be controlled by the magician, though the animal in question may tend to do what the magician wants, so long as it is not put into danger. This power lasts until the end of the Scene.
As an Adept, the magician may spend a Drama Die to summon the nearest animal representing his affinity. The magician may issue any instruction he likes to the creature, which will understand him for this purpose only. If there are no creatures within travel distance, or if the summoned creature is unable to fulfill his command, the Game Master will refund the Drama Die spent to activate this power. The animal will follow the magician’s command for as long as it takes to complete it.
As a Master, the magician may spend a Drama Die to take the form of any animal representing his affinity until the end of the Scene. This transformation is identical to a transformation using Pyeryem, but it is automatically successful.
Illumination. The magician may spend a Drama Die to illuminate an area ten feet in radius per his Rank in this Knack. Inside a building, this light will only extend to the boundaries of whatever room the Sorcerer is in. The illumination is equivalent to a sunny day. This light is particularly painful for the undead, resulting in the following non-cumulative conditions:
At the Apprentice Level, any undead exposed to the light take five Flesh Wounds every time they take an Action.
At the Adept Level, the light extends to a maximum of twenty feet per the Sorcerer’s Rank in this Knack. Any undead exposed to the light take ten Flesh Wounds every time they take an action, and roll one less die (-1k0) on any action they attempt.
At the Master Level, the light extends to a maximum of thirty feet per the Sorcerer’s Rank in this Knack. Any undead exposed to the light take fifteen Flesh Wounds every time they take an action, and roll two less dice (-2k0) on any action they attempt.
Mending. The magician may spend a Drama Die and touch a single item up to his Rank in the Mending Knack in cubic feet, perfectly restoring it to its original form. Cracked swords are mended, jammed guns are restored, and faded paintings regain their vibrancy. This gift cannot make an item better than it was originally, or fix any defects present at its creation.
Purification. The magician may spend a Drama Die to cleanse an area of toxins, poisons, diseases, and even dust and dirt. The area is perfectly sterile after its use; even substances inside closed and locked drawers or chests are affected, as are any food or drink within the area. A potentially unfortunate side effect is that any alcohol in the area loses its potency. The area affected is equal to the Sorcerer’s Mastery Level times his Rank in this Knack, in cubic feet.
Regeneration. Magicians with Ranks in this Knack can recover from injury at an incredible rate. Missing or crippled limbs can be completely restored. Missing hands regrow, eyes with cataracts are unclouded, and broken kneecaps reform.
At the Apprentice Level, the magician may spend a Drama Die to heal himself of a number of Flesh Wounds equal to his Mastery Level times his Rank in this Knack. In addition, any open wounds will seal themselves, and bruises or scrapes will fade away.
At the Adept Level, the Sorcerer may spend a Drama Die to heal himself of a single Dramatic Wound. In addition, any broken bones, dislocated joints, or other, similar conditions are healed immediately, any open wounds are sealed, and any bruises or scrapes fade away.
At the Master level, the Sorcerer may spend a Drama Die to heal himself of three Dramatic Wounds. In addition, any injuries the Sorcerer has at that moment are cured. Missing limbs or eyes regrow; all scars fade; open wounds do not just seal, they close completely; and any breaks, dislocations, bruises, or scrapes are completely healed.
Game Master’s Secrets
At the time when Matushka was blessing her people with the gift of Podarok, she had very little concern about the Barrier. As a result, this magic has no effect on the Barrier, either positive or negative. Podarok was intended to empower Matushka’s champions to aid her people in surviving a harsh and brutal life in Ussura.
Human nature being what it is, it did not take long for many of her champions to consider themselves above the unblessed, or for the lowly muzhik to worship these champions as gods. In a fit of pique, Matushka devised the lesser gift of Pyeryem, and sent a wicked storm to kill all of her previously-favored Sorcerers…with one exception.
One of the Fhideli clans remained faithful to their ancient goddess. They lived honest, joyous lives, and those among them blessed with Podarok were seen as servants of the vitzi, rather than its overlords. To protect these wanderers from her wrath, Matushka opened up the borders of the Thrice-Tenth Kingdom and called to them, welcoming the travelers to her home. As the Fhideli clan lived, played, married, and died within the mystical Kingdom, they never lost their faith, seeing themselves as a true family: one blessed to live with their goddess, Haimati.
As the outside world began to plunge into darkness (the formation of empires, nation-encompassing wars, and the corruption of the Bargainers) years became decades, and decades became centuries. It was not until 1657 that Matushka reluctantly admitted that it was time to send her faithful followers home. She returned the lost clan to Ussura, and the shock of leaving their centuries-old home to return to the mortal realm left them confused, their memories fading as they lost their grip on what was real and what was fantasy. This clan would eventually be discovered by the Vitzi Basulde, who called them the Naditi, meaning “free.”
Most of the Naditi joined the Basulde in their travels, but there were those who had inherited Podarok from their ancestors, and they remembered the horror stories of how the people of Ussura bowed down to the Sorcerers hundreds of years ago. To protect against that, the current generation of Sorcerers left. Some of them formed small camps, living deep in the wilderness. A few went into the mountains, to live as hermits and meditate on their blessings. Some even hid in plain sight, traveling to major cities and taking up residence there, trusting their antiquated ways and mysterious reputation to keep people at bay. However, when Matushka’s people are in need of aid, somehow they find their way to one of the lost Naditi and his or her miraculous powers (no matter how well he or she she tries to hide).