There are four major branches of magic with its own advantages and disadvantages. Your skill in these four branches determines the raw power you have at your disposal for using your magical talents. Anyone can learn how to control fire, but without POWER, you will be limited in how big that fire can get.
In order to use magic, you must know magic (Except in the case of materia, see that section for details). Magical knowledge comes in the form of special skills. Most such skills have varying level of effect depending on how well you know that particular form of magic.
For example, fire magic can be done at Mk. 1 at 10, and Mk. 2 at 20, and so on. Most magic aims itself, unless specified otherwise. 100% hard cover will still foil magic, unless the magic can smash down the cover. Visual contact is also a requirement of the target. Without a visual contact, you can only pick a direction and hope for the best. In this case, the victim CAN make a dodge vs 5 succs to get out of the way. This is assuming the direction selected was correct.
For most magic, the MP, or magic points, required to cast is equal to the power level you care to use it at. If you have fire at 40, you could do a mk. 1 fire attack for 1 MP, or a Mk. 4 one for four MP. Assuming your magic style doesn't require it, casting takes no additional time as compared to other actions.
There are advantages to experience. If you completely master a magic, you can cast the lowest level of it without expending MP.
If you are struck with magic, you must endure its affects. In the case of physical trauma, you deal with it as any other damage. For stranger effects, consult the text of the special skill for any resistance, if any, available to the victim. Standard resistance roll is a +check of Stamina or Willpower, or sometimes both.
OverCharging - A mage can, if desperate, cast spells stronger than usual. Such spells gain 15 to their damage check or +2 to the resistance requirement/effect, whichever is greater. Double the MP cost (2 in the case of a mastered mage using level 1 effects) must be paid. The mage must make a Willpower check. If there are less succs than the Mk./Level of the spell being cast, take a stun attack at a mk. of the difference.
For example. Joe the mage wants to overcharge a mk. 3 fire spell. He expends 6 MP instead of three and rolls Willpower. Ooops, only 1 success. 1 is less than the three mark of the spell, so he takes a stun attack. The mark of the stun attack is 3(The mark of the spell) - 1(His one success), which results in two. The stun takes effect right after his spell launches.
Materia magic depends on the physical possesion of concentrated magic marbles known as materia. Every materia has a specific special skill imbued within it. The advantages of materia magic are two fold. One, you don't need to know specific special skills, and two, no one has to get hurt, including yourself.
However, the big downside, you have to have a materia that does what you want to do in order to do it. If you don't have an ice materia, you can't do ice magic, period.
To use a materia, you must hold it up, concentrate, and make a Magery:Use-Materia check. Every two successes is an effective 5 rating in the special held within to be used immediately. A failure wastes the round. A botch means the materia is having a bad day and you can't retry for an hour.
Self Sacrifice/Blood Magic
An artist must suffer for their work. Those who practice this form of magic make this saying quite true. The level of pain and agony you inflict on yourself determines the difficulty at which you can draw out the power of your talents. Start at Difficulty +6 and apply the following things.
Martyrdom sacrifice can be activated while dying so long as the caster doesn't die instantly.
When you don't feel like causing yourself discomfort, why not inflict pain on another creature? Slaying the living can unleash power from within them, powering your spells. The MP of the slain creature determines its usefulness to you. Because of this, heavilly cybered creatures are of lesser value due to their injured magery states.
Killing can be swift and simple, or slow and elaborate. If done in the heat of battle, or quickly, Make a Dexterity:Sacrifice vs 10 check, If done slowly and elaborately, use Intelligence:Sacrifice vs 7. Every success is 10% of the MP that can be drawn from the victim upon its death, up to 100% at 10 succs. The MP is applied thusly. Starting difficulty is 10.
Mind over matter. A mage using psionics suffers overcharging like affects. Simply, a mage who casts a spell psionically suffers a stun attack at the mk./level of the spell. The rating in Psionics is the max rating of any spell that can be cast psionically. In comparison to the others, it is the most 'free' and least likely to kill the user, directly.
Note: When under casting (Paying full price but not using the full mark of a cast spell.), psionics enjoy an extra bonus of -10 damage mod per step in the stun check for casting the spell.
There is much power to be found in the hopes and aspirations of man. Faith harvesting is the most convenient of the powers, in a fashion. It doesn't require lengthy and dangerous sacrificial rites, or stunning or self inflicted wounds to work. You only need comrades, dupes, and supplicants. You gain faith points from the active membership of the faction you're a member of, if any. You also gain faith points from People resources. To tap eithr of these sources, use the +faith command. If someone actively present wants to fuel your spell, you can accept their prayer in several minutes of earnest ritual and a Magery:Absorb-Prayer vs 10 roll. Every two successes results in one faith point for immediate use. Any particular person can only be used in this fashion once a week.
To cast a spell, you must expend faith points in the exact number of MP also needed to cast the spell. These faith points don't replace the MP requirement, they simply allow the spell to be cast. For an additional faith point, a non-offensive spell may be shared with an additional friendly target (MP still needed as if re-cast). Faith can also be used to ward death. When reduced in damage below 0, every faith point spent will heal damage, up to 0. It will not restore conscioussness or restore HP above 0.
So let's say you don't have materia, and you don't want to hurt other people, and you don't want to hurt yourself. What options are available to you? Well, you can raw cast. Raw casting means casting with only your own easilly drawn out power. You have to pay 3 MP and can only use the lowest level/mk. the special skill offers. If the lowest is above Mk. 1, multiply 3 by that Mk. Also, the roll, if any, is at +3 difficulty.