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The knife wants to gives us so much, let it.
AKA Knifers, Tipsters, Razors, Dirt Surgeons
No single person can touch history’s timeline where primitive man first touched the edge of a broken stone and cut his finger on the archetypal knife. It happened everywhere and nowhere.
Nothing severed humanity’s evolutionary umbilical cord more completely than the first knife, from the wedge of stone, the first crudely flat metal shapes, to the honed mirror-finish gleam of a fine razor-edged blade. Anthropologists will scream it was fire, but we all know deep down, that without learning to kill off feared competitors first, we would never have braved fire so quickly. Throughout all embryonic cultures, the knife signified our imminent rule as the ultimate predator on earth. Divide and conquer.
With the knife, we where given dominance over all the animals of earth, and we named them, and it was good. With the knife, in all its forms, we cut meat and reap bread, we create art and cure disease, we protect and we kill. For whatever we needed the knife was there and we fed it blood.
Of course people do look on the knife without awe, without reverence, not realising that the knife was our sharp-edged bridge from prey to predator, from species of ape to more-than-human. But nearly everyone looks on the knife with just a little fear of its savagely ordinary power. Every butter knife we hold gave us what we all have today.
Because we all know what accidents happen to those who disrespect the knife, those who do dishonour to their majesty, don’t we?
Yes, the nastiest accidents happen when the knives bite back.
The knife is everywhere, its conceptual cutting scars on the skin of the language you now read: scimitar, scalpel, scythe, scapular, scanty, science, scissor, schism, and sword.
It isn’t a tool, it is a living thing; it has grown with us and evolved with our understanding of nature. What ever boundary we’ve crossed, the cutting edge was there in matter and spirit. It has shaped language and mathematics. It has carved precision concepts by whittling away the encumbering dross. This ordinary but ubiquitous presence soaks our minds so much we drip with images, actual or symbolic.
It is this manifest but unconscious obligation everyone owes the knife is what motivates the drive for magick for the Scyromancers. By ritualising the cutting edge, they imbue utility with fantastic ability. They immerse themselves in adoration of its symbols and the inert knife comes alive.
Nearly all cultures have tales of the primal knife, whether the warrior’s sword or hunter’s spear, murder’s dagger or suffering’s misericord. It was magick from the start, blades that could wound water or steal life. Sacred objects and unholy vampires sublimated mythology and casual fiction. Their power was always there and through them we felt the thrill of Siegfried digging into Fafnir or Arthur’s last charge swinging Excalibur to rally his men to victory.
The magick is still there; from Occident to Orient, from the Northern to the Southern Hemisphere, there will be a place where someone can tell you a story of a magical blade in the hands of heroes or villainy. From Japan’s Shinto priests, to Europe’s Knights Templar, all cultures at some point made a pact with the knife. Assassins with daggers and mercenaries with swords could take down kingdoms all armed with their edge.
This worship of the knife is what generates magick for the scyromancers. Its bland prevalence brought alive by the action of mystical observation. Of course, all this almost sexual objectification of a phallic object of injury doesn’t always make for clear-thinking people so tipsters have a guilty stigma within the Occult Underground and law enforcement. They didn’t earn the nickname razors because they are mostly harmless. Scyromancers have learned the hard way to dance as angels on pinheads. Never let anyone know, is there motto. Most scyromancers carefully camouflage with the trappings of old thaumaturgy since ominous mumbling, hoods, and dagger-waving is pretty much typical occult fare. Then the remaining types do not disguise themselves, through intent or ignorance. This leads to armed, psychopathically blown head cases.
Because scyromancy is not all what you’d expect from a universal symbol, there many variants and alternate schools for knife magick. How many, and what they are, is largely guesswork. It’s not like they belong to a club, or have a convention every year.
Although obsessed about knives, scyromancers do not get to flip-flops or cherries on their knife attacks. You have to get good by paying for it in experience so beware people who can flip-flop or roll 09 on their Remove Your Weapon from the Fight skill.
Scyromancy Blast Style: This is pretty straight forward, they all simulate knife attacks.
The Witch Blade
Scyromancers also use a dedicated knife for their magick. It is a totem weapon, sometimes called a witch blade, athame, totem, etc. every razor has his or her own and they are used in both charging rituals and magick. A scyromancer can go through many such objectified blades but he can only use one at a time. Some scyromancers only use their totem knife; others treat it with tenderness, only using it for ceremonial purposes.
Although any edged blade will do, knives are still the most practical, swords and spears stick out like dangerous sore thumbs although some slick with a sword-cane always wanders through. Scalpels are too flimsy and there always has to be that one creep with a straight razor fetish. Saws and scissors are too impractical. As it was in the beginning, the simple knife is the perfect holy symbol for the tipsters.
The totem knife will be explained in detail in the magick section. Whenever a knifer generates a charge he must choose to keep it or put it in the totem. Once chosen, there is no swapping around of charges.
Dedicating a totem knife is simple. The rules are: there can only be one totem at any time; the scyromancer must be healed of injury or currently unhurt and ritually purified; he must cleanse the blade for an hour with surgical spirits, soap and water, under a pyramid, burn some incense, etcetera; then the scyromancer spends a night and day in ceremonial union with his knife; and he must roll a successful Magick: Scyromancy skill check. Only then he has a totem knife.
There’s also a current King of Daggers or Mistress of Knives, or some or other person in the world with the highest Scyromancy score. What your hear changes from person to person.
Generate a Minor Charge: Perform a three-hour practice or kata with your totem knife.
Generate a Significant Charge: Cause someone injury with your totem knife. It must be four or more points of damage per charge.
Generate a Major Charge: Kill someone historically and globally famous. If you challenge the current Master of Knives to a knife fight and you kill him without using any magick, you will get major charge. In this case the Master of Knives is permitted to refuse your challenge without breaking taboo.
Random Magick Domain: The knife has two-sides, life and death. The knife can push someone over death or stop them going over. The knife cures ill by cutting it out. The knife is a tiller steering the boat of destiny. The knife is the shark-fin of conflict but it harrows towards resolution.
Starting Charges: Scyromancers start with four minor charges.
Charging Tips: Netting a minor charge or two every day is pretty simple and can be performed in the privacy of your home or in a permitted environment such as a dojo. Getting significant charges without breaking the law is next to impossible unless you are a surgeon. If you are lucky you can get a blood doll, someone who wants you to cut them. This way you can score a significant charge off them once in a while without too much hassle. In a similar way two scyromancers can charge one up in a fight to first blood.
Charging without killing
The damage is always the sum of the roll +3. However if the razor is in a relaxed environment and successful on his struggle or knife skill roll, he only does the lowest die result +3; if he fails it is the sum of damage as usual.
Once again: the scyromancer cannot charge up from damage used for magick. It is always one or the other, no exceptions. However, a scyromancer can jab a person, get charged up, and then magickally puree that same person into ribbons.
Scyromancers who start fights or torture helpless victims rack up those significant charges very quickly. A powerfully charged tipster is either a badass or an idiot, both are dangerous.
Taboo: Losing your totem knife drains all your charges, but not your totem’s. If your totem is broken, it loses all charges. There is something primal and demanding about knife magick that never lets you back down from a challenge to knife fight nor ask for mercy once it has started without draining charges. If you do, it is considered like losing your knife. You have to kiss and make up by rededicating it. You can give mercy to an opponent. Being nice is your choice.
Scyromancy Minor Formula Spells
Scyromancy once was a school of magickal philosophy, medicinal sorcery, and sharpened truthfulness. But since then scyromancy has also ran with the bad crowd.
The formula spells represent spells from the older esoteric roots and the newer ones from the giggling ninja psychopaths.
The Test of the Edge (one minor charge)
The next time someone is attacked by a sharp weapon, he will only suffer the lowest die in damage plus modifiers.
Even if the person is just in combat, the obligatory one wound point is ignored and it doesn’t knock off the protection. Only a successful attack can do that.
Every additional charge spent grants another damage protection.
Reversionary Velocity (three minor charges)
This spell allows the scyromancer to throw any knife in reverse, he can see, and it will fly up in an arc and land safely in the knifer’s hand. The GM should incur skill shift penalties if the knife is held fast in wood or concrete, etc.
It can be used as an attack as well doing the sum of the Magick: Scyromancy roll + 3.
Zen Daggery (two minor charges)
One of the scyromancy blasts. The slasher need only wave a blade at the chosen target within line of sight, and the target suffers damage as if the knife had slashed him. The attack ignores armour and clothing, directly opening the flesh.
Damage is always the sum of the Magick: Scyromancy roll +3. The Scyromancer cannot gamble dice like other schools’ minor blasts but it can get combat cherries on good matched pairs.
The Needle of Letting (four minor charges)
The scyromancer can wound a person and during the next round any poisons or diseases of the blood are drawn out. This doesn’t cure any diseases it merely resets them to Day Zero of onset. As only fluids are removed this has no ability to remove diseased tissues, so removing septicaemia of the blood doesn’t alter the source of infection. This spell does not remove infections.
Flight of the Thrown (five minor charges)
The dirt surgeon can jump as far as he can throw his knife, literally launching from standing to landing with little impact. The range of the jump is in feet equal to the sum of the roll in any direction.
The Sword of Truth (seven minor charges)
If the scyromancer knows the truth of an event or person and tells this truth to another person, who would then be subject to a stress check, the scyromancer can choose whether the person receives a hardened or failed notch.
Significant Scyromancy Formula Spells
The Wave of Obedience (one significant charge)
Any knife seen by the scyromancer can be telekinetically operated. The knifer can use the knife to attack as if he was wielding it with his fist.
The Knife that Bites (one significant charge)
This is one significant blast. The knife will do firearms damage if used in an attack. This spell lasts for the next attack, successful or not.
The Art of Unarchery (one significant charge)
This is another significant blast. Unlike others, it is a powered version of the minor blast. The scyromancer throws a knife with the name of the target on his lips. The scyromancer and the target must know each other even if in a cordial professional manner.
It flies up into the air until it is lost from sight. And if the target is outdoors or exposed to the outside air, the knife hits him doing the sum of the roll +3 damage.
A Wounding of Words (Three significant charges)
By holding his dedicated blade in front of his mouth, any speech he listens to has all the untruths cut away so he only hears the clipped, one-word, truthful version of what was said. If there is no truth in what was said, the information may be gibberish or misleading.
Straight to the Heart (Four significant charges)
By writing someone’s name on a knife and spinning it, it will point to that person’s heart, provided the information is correct and in context. The scyromancer
need not know that person, but the questioner must have a fairly good idea of who he or she is in the context of a relationship.
The Wineskin of Life (Six significant charges)
If the scyromancer jabs a knife into the victim, he himself heals the damage dealt.
The Two Edges of Suffering of the Heart (Eight significant charges)
The scyromancer can cut the target with his blade and remove a hardened or failed notch from any one Madness meter.
Major Scryomancer Effects
Touch a knife to render it unnaturally harmless, dedicate a knife by looking at it, cause invisible swords to cut all those that hear you shout, transform your fingers into innocuous but terrible weapons, be able to vampire your health and youth back by drinking the blood of the living. Bind the spirits of those you killed to your will.
The Dedicated Knife (Significant scryomancer artefact)
The totem is the ritual blade the scyromancer uses to charge up. He doesn’t need the blade to use magick; any sharp-edged item can be used, if it is necessary.
The witch blade functions like an adept-created artefact. When the scyromancer chooses to stock up his trick knife with charges, he can. But once chosen, those charges are fixed. They should all be tallied into Minor and Significant charges.
The bonus is that the dagger magician need only place the spell on the knife and the enchantment holds. He doesn’t need an additional significant charge but the effect is one-use only. The spell can be activated at any time as long as the knife can be seen.
The dedicated knife will damage the unliving if it strikes true at the cost of a minor charge. Significant charges break down as usual.
Remember that is the knife is deliberately removed, hidden from the scyromancer, placed where he cannot see or immediately know where it is, the connection with the knife is lost, and the dirt surgeon loses all charges and has to consecrate again. The loss of the link is instantaneous and the loss is palpable for the scyromancer. It’s like losing all feeling in his sixth finger.
No scyromancer can have more than one totem blade. There can only be one for one. It cannot be willingly given away. It can be willingly lost.
A knifer can determine the potential charges in another scyromancer’s dedicated blade by touching it. A scryomancer can dedicate another scryomancer’s charged totem blade; the original knifers link is broken, usurped by your own and you get the other guy’s charges.
What you hear: in Tokyo, there is a Cult of Surgery named The Calligraphers of Wounds. They recite a long and troubled history starting with peasants developing
scyromancy from being taught weapon combat by unscrupulous ronin. The school had a bitter renaissance in the Chinese POW camps in Japan’s pursuit of the Prosperity Sphere. It is now populated by high-pressure medical school fall out who worship the scalpel’s power to heal through injury.
They charge up by performing the sacred Calligraphy of Wounds on people called Canvasses. There is a big underground in Japan consisting of social train-smash victims who get kick-therapy from extreme artistic cutting.
The current Grand Master of Calligraphy is what other scyromancers call the Master of Knives. They’re quite chummy in their secret club.
Notes: This is my school of knife magicians. As part of my creative purge, I am clearing out all my old ideas by at least finishing them and putting them out to rot where everyone can see them.
For as long as the prototypical knife magick was in my computer, TedPro. still delivered his Aischomancy before me here (go check it out). His Aischomancy is cooler named than my Perristomancy.
Scyromancy's similarities to Aischomancy will be obvious, of course, but hopefully dissimilar enough. I tried to make knifers scary GMCs but also character playable. They are (hopefully) balanced combat heavies but with knives not guns. I did try and not make these guys into Highlanderomancer adepts.
This school was an attempt to create old-style magic, which survived the transition to adept magick largely intact by merely updating its core philosophy. I imagine these guys where once armoured noblemen hacking their enemies with magical swords. Without the veneer of honour and majesty it once had, it’s just sleazy.
I did change my adept school’s name. I like to think it is better.
I like the way that it's perfectly ok to harm yourself for charges. (it is, isn't it?) I also like the idea that this is a school with godwalkers, makes for a nice change and opens up a whole new bag of yummy worms to hand the players.
Mattias | profile | Mar 22, 06 | 6:01 am
If I use it I will make the godwalker a godwalker of knife-magic, not tied up to any other archetype but an archetype in and of itself, the school and the path fused into one.
Mattias | profile | Mar 22, 06 | 6:45 am
Well, I suppose the Master of Knives is his own avatar. Go for it.