The following is a revision of the Porté rules for Seventh Sea I wrote for a character I played. It addresses what I feel were some weaknesses in the existing rules
Knacks: Attunement, Blooding, Bring, Catch, Pocket, Walk, Ward
Porté magic involves the ability to perceive the fabric of space or “the Tapestry.” The Portier (male and neutral, a female practitioner is a Portieusse) learns to tear holes in this fabric into a place known as the “walkway.” These holes bleed slightly, and many claim they can hear a faint sound as if they were screaming in pain.
Attunement allows the sorcerer to sense the warp and weft of the Tapestry and any items he is linked to by blood.
Apprentice: An apprentice Portier can roll Wits + Attunement to sense any use of Porté within (rank x 10) feet. The apprentice can sense his own blooded items within (rank x 100) feet. The apprentice can sense if an object has been blooded by another Portier by touching it and making a Wits + Attunement roll. Any raises taken while blooding the item add to the difficulty.
Adept: An adept can sense any use of Porté within (rank x 25 feet). He can sense his own blooded items within rank miles. An adept can sense if another object has been blooded at a distance in feet equal to his rank. An adept can see and hear through any of his blooded items he can sense by making a Wits + Attunement roll. The adepts sees and hears exactly as if his head were in the spot where the item is located. However, this counts as a use of Porté; other Portier’s can use Attunement to sense it, and Ward to block it.
Master: A master Portier can sense any use of Porté within (rank x 100) feet of his person, and can sense his own blooded items anywhere in the Tapestry. The master can sense if an item blooded by another up to (rank x 2) feet away. A master can not only see and hear through his blooded items, but can also speak through them. If the item is small, the master’s voice seems to come from it. If it is large enough, with a dark or reflective surface, the master can make his image appear on its surface as well.
Blooding allows a Portier to use his blood to attune items (and eventually people) to him, allowing him to affect them with Porté. A Portier can have a total number of “blooded” (attuned) items equal to twice his Blooding rank. The Portier can sever the link to an item at any time, but it cannot be re-established without re-blooding the item.
Apprentice: An apprentice can blood an object with a brief ritual taking 10 Actions. The ritual takes a drop of blood (most Portieres carry a small knife or a hatpin for this). The sorcerer makes a Resolve + Blooding roll (difficulty 3). Each additional raise the Portier takes counts as a free raise when opening a portal to the item.
Adept: An adept can perform the blooding ritual in 5 Actions. Adepts can also attune living beings (including people) as well as objects.
Master: A master of Porté can blood an item or person in 2 Actions (one to acquire a small amount of blood, the other to attune the item). This can be reduced to one action if the master has ready access to some of his own blood (e.g. has suffered any Hits or Dramatic Wounds).
The Bring knack allows a Portier to tear through the Tapestry, reach out through the walkway, and pull a blooded item to him. The Portier makes a Resolve + Bring roll (difficulty 3). If successful, the sorcerer has the item in hand. Each raise taken in blooding the object provides one free raise on this test.
If a Portier attempts to Bring a living being through the walkway, the subject must cooperate, or the attempt fails. Animals never willingly enter a portal, and people are well advised to keep their eyes closed.
Apprentice: An apprentice can Bring only small items, no more than (Resolve x 10 lbs.) in weight.
Adept: An adept can Bring items up to (Resolve x 100 lbs.) in weight, including other people.
Master: A master can Bring items up to (Resolve x 200 lbs.) in weight. This includes multiple people, so long as they all link hands. A master can also Bring any living subject, willing or not, so long as it is blooded. The subject gets a Resolve roll and adds any successes to the difficulty of the Bring test.
A Portier can tear openings into the walkway to “catch” attacks and neutralize them. The sorcerer rolls Wits + Catch like a defensive knack, successes reduce the attacker’s successes normally. Apprentices can use Catch against ranged attacks (including firearms and sorcerous ranged attacks), Adepts can also use Catch against melee attacks. Masters can not only catch an attack, but also warp the walkway in such a fashion as to redirect the attack back at the attacker! The sorcerer can roll Finesse + Catch as a normal attack against the attacker on his next action.
Each Portier can claim a small “fold” of the walkway as his own, using it to store items. These objects are outside the Tapestry altogether and therefore inaccessible except to the owner of the pocket. The Portier can reach into the pocket to store or retrieve an item at any time, requiring only an Action (but no test). A Portier’s pocket can hold up to (rank x 10 lbs.). If it is “overloaded” the pocket dumps its contents into the walkway, where they are lost forever.
This knack allows a Portier to pass through the walkway toward a blooded object, rather than drawing the object to him. There must be enough space near the object for the sorcerer’s body, so a Portier could not Walk to a pin inside a jewelry box, for example. Sorcerers are well advised to use Attunement to ascertain the location of their anchor before entering the walkway.
Entering the walkway neutralizes momentum, so a Portier who acts quickly enough can slip into the walkway from a fall, and emerge elsewhere unharmed.
Anyone passing through the walkway suffers from “portal sickness”-a sort of nausea and disorientation. Roll a die, the subject is at -2 dice for all actions for that many actions. Portieres subtract their Resolve plus their Walk rank, from this roll.
Apprentice: It requires two actions to open the portal, and five actions to move through the walkway to the destination.
Adept: It requires one action to open the portal, and three actions to move through the walkway to the destination.
Master: It requires one action to open the portal, and one action to move through the walkway to the destination. Some Porté masters can move from place to place in the span of a single round. Portieres call this “side stepping.”
With this knack, a Portier can grasp the threads of the Tapestry and re-weave them, to a limited degree.
Apprentice: The sorcerer can attempt to “re-weave” a weakness he senses in the Tapestry (see Attunement), effectively blocking any use of Porté. This is treated like a parry (taking one of the sorcerer’s actions), and the Portier rolls Wits + Ward, adding his successes to the difficulty.
Adept: An adept can ward an area of (rank x 1,000 square feet) against Porté. This requires a Resolve + Ward roll; each raise the sorcerer takes increase the difficulty of opening portals in the warded area by 1. A Portier must make a Wits + Attunement roll against the Ward to sense one of his blooded items inside the ward. The ward does not affect the sorcerer who created it, or any use of Porté he chooses to allow.
Master: A master of Porté can ward an area of (rank x 10,000 square feet). The master also automatically senses any use of Porté in the warded area, regardless of distance.
Rumors exist of other secrets of Porté, known only to true masters of the art. These include power over strange spirits believed to inhabit the walkway, said to be either the ghosts of the damned or possibly even fallen servants of the Creator. Such powers are legendary, and even more condemned by the Church than the already heretical arts of sorcery, bordering on necromancy and other forbidden arts.
Thoughts on the application of the Arts of Porté by Philippe Martin Alexandré du Verre
If you truly intend to practice the Art of Porté, then learn to carry a sharp clean knife or other blade with you at all times, since you never know when a touch of blood may be needed. A sharp pin, like a hatpin, can serve in a pinch. You’ll also want a handkerchief or two to serve as an impromptu bandage. Even an apprentice learns to blood with a minimum of mess, and without staining his or her clothing, but it is still best to be prepared.
Considered by many the least useful ability of the Art, attunement actually has a number of uses that are often overlooked. For example:
Place a blooded object on the person of someone you wish to follow (preferably without being noticed). If you are strongly attuned to that object, you can then follow your quarry at some distance without being noticed, keeping track of their location the whole time. You can then retrieve the object, or Walk to it, as needed.
Blood an object you value so you can always know its whereabouts, and bring it to you when necessary. Less risky than entrusting your valuables to a pocket.
If you have the opportunity, you can blood an item you would like to acquire, then bring it to you later from a safe distance away. Of course, this means you’ll have to be able to handle and blood the item in the first place, and people are understandably cautious about leaving Porté sorcerers alone with their valuable because of this.
It is often advantageous to have a blooded container, such as a purse, box, bottle, or wineskin. You (or a confederate) can place objects inside the container, which are then brought along when you bring the container back to you. This allows the passing of correspondence, for example, and of various sorts of booty as well. Of course, you can only bring the object to you, not send it away from you.
The usefulness of having a well-stocked pocket should not be underestimated. A pocket saves you the trouble of having to blood a number of items, while still allowing you easy access to them. On the other hand, pockets have a way of losing items from time to time, so I caution against placing anything valuable or irreplacable in a pocket for any length of time. It’s also wise to check the contents of your pocket occasionally to ensure nothing has “wandered off.” There’s nothing more annoying than reaching into your pocket for something at a critical moment, only to find it missing.
Some things you might consider placing in your pocket include:
- A knife, rapier or other weapon of choice.
- A loaded pistol. The walkway is quite dry, but it is still wise to check the weapon regularly to make sure the power has not gone bad.
- A coil of light, strong rope.
- A spyglass, magnifying glass, or one of those new microscopes.
- A change of clothing (one never knows).
- A small amount of money for emergencies (no more than you’re willing to lose, should it turn up missing).
- Matches and a candle or lantern.
- A skin of water or perhaps wine.
- Bandages and other medical needs.
- Lockpicks (for those of you so inclined).
- A ball of twine (useful for many things, including negotiating those damned Syrneth labyrinths).
- A mirror (for when you have to ensure you look your best).
- Something too dangerous to keep on your person. For example, I know a clever fellow who dealt with a lit bomb by putting it inside his pocket before it exploded. Destroyed the contents, of course, but protected himself and his companions. A pity he later vanished into the walkway.
If you are concerned about losing a particular pocket item, you may wish to consider blooding it. If it turns up missing, you can reach for it. Sometimes you’re successful, other times there’s nothing to be found, but it’s a better chance than no chance at all.
The most useful, the most dangerous, and certainly the most spectacular use of the Art of Porté is actually traversing the walkway to reach other places. First, a few helpful words of advice when walking: Never open your eyes in the walkway. I’m sure you have been told before, but it bears repeating. Those who have opened their eyes in the walkway have been lost forever. No one has done it and returned to tell the tale. Ignore any and all temptations to even try it (and the walkway has temptations aplenty, let me tell you).
Secondly, never travel the walkway without at least two anchors, preferably more, available to you. If you are unable to reach the anchor you are walking towards, you’ll need another to orient on and find your way out; otherwise you will be lost in the walkway forever. (Although it will likely take far less than eternity for you to break down, open your eyes, and be devoured.) It’s best to always keep an anchor at home (wherever home may be for you). Not only does it serve as an “escape anchor,” but it ensures you’ll always be able to walk back home in an emergency.
It is usually best to work Porté somewhere out of sight, since the Art often disturbs to uninitiated (and can be quite rude at certain social functions). Still, tearing open a hole to the walkway can prove quite intimidating under the right circumstances.
That said, walking is an immensely useful ability to those schooled in how to use it properly. The requirement of having an anchor to walk toward is not as limiting as some might think. It merely requires an application of some cleverness. If you’re lacking in this, I recommend a vocation other than sorcerer.
For example, place anchors where you will need them. Plant an anchor in a place during the day, preferably in some out-of-the-way spot, then you can walk to it later in the night. I’ve found sending a blooded letter or other missive — with the blood in the ink or seal — a useful way to gain entry into a gentleman’s study in the dead of night, for example.
Keep a small, lightweight anchor on your person, a signet ring does nicely. In difficult circumstances you can throw the anchor somewhere you need to go, then walk to it. For example, over a high wall, down into a pit, across a chasm, or outside a barred gate or cell. Ignore the voices that will tell you the chasm or wall is right in front of you in the walkway as well. They’re probably lying.
Masters able to bring others with them into the walkway always take great care to school their charges about not opening their eyes. Unless, of course, they intend to trick them into doing just that, or merely to abandon them in the walkway and trap them there forever. Enemies of Montaigne have been known to disappear, never to be seen in this world again.