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Background Knowledge

Background Knowledge is the abstract collected sum of a character's understanding of the underlying theories, best practices, commonalities, etc. of one of the five disciplines of magic. No witch knows everything, and even those more skilled in certain disciplines have areas of greater speciality and areas where they just know the basic facts. A witch with a greater degree of base background knowledge is considered more powerful in that discipline, though this is on average, as they have a greater understanding of the underlying behaviours and interactions in their chosen discipline. Furthermore, when attempting to recognise a clearly magical effect, or perform research in areas related to a discipline then the greater penumbra surrounding their background knowledge is going to be very helpful. That being said it is unusual for a witch to focus their studies exclusively on one discipline, as the comparison and contrasting of different disciplines often helps highlight the distinctions within a witch's discipline of choice.

  • A neophyte witch could be expected to use Linguistics to create a stirring and chilling horror story around a bonfire that sticks with people slightly longer than they wished it did.
  • An averagely powerful witch could use Athletics to lift a car, and throw it down the street.
  • Alternatively they could use Mathematics to attract the person who has their stolen phone to a defined location.
  • Or even, use Ethics to literally see the ties that bind people together in a defined group.
  • The most powerful witches in recorded history have been known to create effects such as using Aesthetics to remodel the streets of London overnight.

When attempting to cast a spell in your turnsheet, you should refer to your character's background when describing the effect that you are attempting to create. This works in the same way that you would refer to your skills when attempting to make mundane changes; due to the nature of magic, the effect you have caused isn't always immediately obvious but making it explicitly clear what you are trying to achieve is very helpful for the GMs. Here, intention is quite literally magic.

You may continue to take advancement points in Background Knowledge in play, but may not exceed 10 points spent, total in a single discipline.


When taking another point of Background Knowledge, as well as getting a general increase in your knowledge and power, you gain a specialisation in a certain area of the discipline. This specialisation - also known as a solution - takes the form of a verb that is thematically in keeping with the school as a whole. If you can describe the effect you are trying to achieve with your spell using this verb it is more likely to be successful and effective. It is not necessary to explicitly state this in your turnsheet to gain this bonus, but putting a comment in noting this is more likely to get it recognised by the GMs.

Examples are given below - these are not an exhaustive list, and you are free to suggest other specialisations subject to GM approval.

Character Generation

At character generation you must take 5 advances of Background Knowledge. As well as providing your character's base level of understanding, they also guide the Skill picks you can make - one advancement in each for each advance in Background Knowledge (in the same disciplines).

Example Solutions


The study of beauty, of meaning through perception, of art, of the senses.

  • Augment - This solution can be used for spells that enhance some inherent features of an object, often visual, but has also been seen to add extra features that are not inherent.
  • Colour - Beyond obvious uses - to change colours - this solution can be used to make certain things more prominent than others within a whole, as in to colour perception of a thing.
  • Fudge - Spells that would be enhanced by a fudge solution are often those which are performed on the fly to generate short-term and practical-if-not-elegant solutions1).
  • Harmonise - This solution often accompanies spells which are designed to help bring two disparate elements into cooperation.
  • Perceive - This solution is common, and is used to assist effects that could see things that are far away, or see detail that might not at first be obvious.


The study of the body, of anatomy, of movement through space.

  • Balance - This solution can be used to assist spells that try to both physically balance objects, and equally spells which seek to deal with two opposing forces.
  • Consume - This solution is seen with effects that hope to exhaust a fuel, for example, or perhaps to assume some parts of a target object's nature.
  • Lift - A favourite party trick among witches. This solution would help with literally levitating a plastic cup, but equally it would help with raising spirits among a downtrodden group.
  • Mimic - This solution would help with disguising you as someone else; it's not a perfect disguise, but an averagely powerful witch could fool people who do not know the target too well.
  • Strike - This solution would help with a spell that is intending to make a focused, sudden change, be this in momentum, perception, or other things.


The study of morality, of philosophy and of belief.

  • Enjoy - Another favourite party trick, often used with spells that cause the positive elements of something to become more obvious and prominent.
  • Enlighten - This solution would be helpful both in spells that attempt to literally light up an area as well as those which help to bring a hidden fact out into public.
  • Persuade - This solution comes into play with spells with spells that aim to assist an argument in being accepted. GM Note: As with the Charisma skill this will never work on PCs, furthermore this is not Jedi mind trick-esque magical persuasion, but magic that helps you be more persuasive. The same applies to all other solutions of a similar ilk.
  • Ruin - Any time you are casting spells to drag something down, to take the positive elements of something and decay them until they are no more, having this solution would be very helpful.
  • Verify - If truth must be discerned from fiction, this solution comes in handy. Of course, no witch is omnipotent, and no spell infallible, so this cannot be used to simply answer any and all questions. The universe is never quite that helpful.


The study of language, of words, of semantics, and the creation of written works.

  • Curse - This solution is very useful for creating effects that are designed to be personal and lingering.
  • Define - This solution is seen both in spells that help convey something clearly, as well as those that make certain aspects of something sharper.
  • Obfuscate - A favourite of witches of a more unsavoury disposition, this solution is very useful when attempting to hide things: physical or otherwise.
  • Simplify - This solution often assists with spells that seeks to sift through and discard a bunch of extraneous features of another spell or object.
  • Translate - This solution is very useful if you have a job in international relations, for obvious reasons.


The study of numbers, quanitities, spaces and the application thereof.

  • Add - One of the simplest solutions; this is useful for both attaching on object to another and also adding new features to a target, generally.
  • Differentiate - This solution is very helpful if attempting to tell the difference between two very similar items, or observe the rates of change of something.
  • Prove - This solution is useful both as an assistance in coming up with sufficient proof, and also to prove something in an old fashioned sense - hence testing it.
  • Refactor - This solution is often seen assisting when a spell is used to realign features of a target to achieve a similar purpose more efficiently.
  • Transform - This solution is very commonly seen when the outward physical appearance of something is changed, but the transformation need not be so obvious.


  • Summon - This can be used to attempt to summon an entity2) in order to contact it, for a variety of purposes. Different entities require different trappings to draw them to a summoning, and attempting to perform a summoning without an understanding of the trappings of the desired entity is considered unwise at best. Trappings of minor entities are usually reasonably straightforward to discover by looking online, but you will have to put in a bit of effort to trawl through the inevitable internet trolls to find the genuine details. For minor entities you can probably find the trappings as part of the summoning action; for anything more powerful, you will have to put in work to find out the trapping before attempting the summoning. This solution is unique in that it occurs in all schools so it can be taken only once, in a single school.
1) no pun intended
2) Normally and Angel, Demon, or Gaian
creation_knowledge.txt · Last modified: 2016/10/05 08:17 by gm_kiwi