Encyclopaedia Arcana #9: Chance Magic

Chance magic is also called luck or fortune magic, and just like divination it’s a type of universal magic.  A mage who can use it is called a chance mage, a luck mage, or sometimes (especially if the mage is female) a witch.

Chance magic affects luck and probability.  A chance mage can affect physical reality, but not in the direct ways that an elemental or a living mage can.  She can’t conjure an orb of light or throw a fireball or transport herself through space.  Instead she nudges things slightly so that events turn out a different way.

Prediction and Control

Chance magic can only affect the random element in any series of events.  The more static and predictable a system, the harder it is for chance magic to affect it.  For a normal person, knocking over a chair is easy but getting a set of dice to come up all sixes is hard.  For a chance mage using their magic, it’s the other way around.

Why is a set of dice easier to affect than a chair?  It’s not because the chair’s heavier, it’s because the dice are moving.  When a human being throws a die, there are thousands of tiny factors affecting which way it rolls:  the person’s conscious decision, their subconscious actions, their reflexes, the way the die slips in their hand, the air resistance, the angle at which it bounces off the table and any obstacles . . . all of those factors add up to a result that’s completely unpredictable.  But for a chance mage, those thousands of factors are exactly what their magic needs.  The more unpredictable an event, the easier it is for a chance mage to control.

A big advantage of chance magic is that since it only works on what’s already there, it’s almost impossible for normal people to realise that it’s being used.  In fact, most of the time chance magic doesn’t look like magic at all – things work out so smoothly that no-one notices it until it’s over.  Even when they do notice, random chance is so much a part of the world that very few people indeed ever figure out that something’s causing it.

Good Luck, Bad Luck

Being able to affect random events is useful enough on its own – you can make a killing at casinos, and that’s just the start of it.  But a chance mage can also string together whole chains of coincidences, and that’s where it becomes really powerful.

As long as they have time to use their magic chance mages never have to worry about accidents – random misfortunes will always just miss them.  They can hex anything electronic into uselessness, causing it to suffer from short circuits and compounded errors until it locks up.  And if they need help with something, they can arrange for random circumstances and odd bits of good luck to stack the odds in their favour until the most difficult task becomes easy.  Chance magic can’t teach you a skill, but it can often substitute for it – more than one chance mage has ‘accidentally’ guessed exactly the right sequence of commands to type into a computer, or picked up a rifle and hit the bullseye on the first try.

But chance magic also has a dark side – just as chance mages can bring good luck to themselves and their friends, they can bring bad luck to their enemies.  This is the witch’s curse of legend, dooming the victim to misfortune.  Sometimes the curse names a specific fate, but just as often it’s general, making the target a magnet for bad luck of every conceivable sort.  Even weak curses are dangerous if the victim happens to be doing something risky, while powerful curses can easily cause death through a series of unlikely events.  Such curses are notoriously difficult to counter, and often the only thing to be done is just to let them run their course.

Mages and Adepts

Chance mages tend to use their power in a more intuitive way than other mages.  While an elemental mage will visualise in his mind exactly what he wants a spell to do, a chance mage’s spells are more likely to be vague and general.  In personality chance mages tend to be quick and impulsive – they rarely plan ahead, trusting to their magic and intuition to get them out of trouble.

Like the other types of universal magic, true chance mages are rare.  However, chance adepts are disproportionately common.  They typically have one particular way in which they can bring good or bad luck, or one situation in which they’ve learnt to apply it.  Chance adepts have an advantage over other adepts in that their magic is almost impossible for normals to detect, which makes it relatively easy for them to blend into mundane society.  In fact, their magic is so hard to detect that often the adepts themselves don’t realise they’re using it.  From their perspective they’re just born lucky, and in a way it’s true.

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One Response to Encyclopaedia Arcana #9: Chance Magic

  1. Connor Tucker says:

    I was wondering if perhaps a chance or life mage, if they wanted, could influence genetic mutation in organisms, for better or worse. If so, would this be a spell that must be done gradually over time, or when the organism is starting/in development, or even just a one-time spell that forever alters their DNA?