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Anatomy of a Spell

Anatomy of a Spell

Article #3 – Dimensional Envelope
By Alzandrion

Level 12: Temporal Magic Spell. Read spell description for exact effects. (Rifts World Book Three: England page 75, Book of Magic page. 249). For purposes of copyrights, full spell can not be reprinted here.

Spell Summary
A bit of a turn was taken with this A.o.S. article. Rather than focusing on lesser spells to make them more useful, we’re focusing on one of a half-dozen spells that I consider to be a “staple” of any wizard’s spellbook. Temporal magic first created a ruckus in the Palladium world when the book of England arrived, and with it, a new alien called the Temporal Raider. The spell quite simply creates an extra-dimensional closet in which one can hide, sleep, retreat, heal, prepare, live, work, meditate, watch TV, or knit sweaters if one was so inclined. This dimensional envelope doesn’t necessarily “follow” the wizard around, but the invisible door can be accessed when needed and can be stepped in and out of at will. It’s as safe as can be from outsiders, with the only threats being other practitioners of temporal magic. Two versions are available, one lasting hours, and the other decades.

The spell itself doesn’t adequately describe the interior of the envelope, yet it does give some clues as to the physics of this new dimension. There is no apparent light source. There is oxygen enough to last a couple of hours with no apparent renewal when the dimensional door opens (air does not exchange between dimensions). There is gravity like ours on Earth (it doesn’t say otherwise), meaning an apparent floor, and time passes by as Earth time does. Now with no description of the walls, ceiling, and floor for this closet like space, it’s safe to assume one of two things; either the spell, when learned, takes on the interior appearance of something the caster is familiar with such as stone, brick, plaster, wood, etc., or the dimensional space is open and wispy with quickly moving clouds beyond it’s borders, or a blackened void. Should the latter be the case, movement within it would be very disorienting and artificial walls would have to be erected to prevent a “treadmill” effect, meaning walking but going nowhere. Also, there is no indication of extreme temperatures, so one can assume the envelope as being “room” temperature as we know it here on Earth. Either way, GM’s often look past such petty details, allowing the player to designate the interior as he or she sees fit.

Possible Origins
It’s easy to say that this spell was invented by the Temporal Raider alien, but then this would be a very short paragraph. Not to take away from the alien’s expertise in this matter, but they are still biological organisms who have obviously evolved over millions of years to where their bodies are well suited for dimensional exploration. They, however, are not the only being bound by space and time, but for whatever reason they found it necessary to break beyond their borders. It’s likely that their home planet was ravaged by temporal distortions that were chaotic, yet survivable enough to keep them there and alter their physical structure. But creating an extra dimensional space for refuge is not entirely an original idea. Countless gods, intelligences, and beings of the 4th dimension have been doing so long before the raiders have. History has shown that disrupting space and time leads to chaos if not genocide. For whatever reason, the raiders have been spared this fate and continue their selfish endeavors to this day.

Zurvan, god of time, is a likely source for such a spell. Being set apart from time itself, one could conclude that “he” is the oldest of such beings, or at least has a better understanding of the beginning of infinity. But again, pocket dimensions exist in multitudes of forms, and one can argue that they even exist in natural states as well, like tidal pools. So the creation of a personal dimension is not only a spell of antiquity, but one that propels a wizard one step closer to the godliness they crave (whether they realize it or not).

Outside the Box
Time to get wizardly! If you are a man or woman of magic, then you want this spell. It offers everything a wizard needs: protection, time, privacy, and sanctuary. First of all, to learn this spell is to make a long lasting envelope priority number one. (I will not even address the short term version…yet.) It costs a paltry 380 P.P.E. which isn’t bad for your own personal dimension, even if it is only the size of a tool shed. And with a duration that lasts longer than you will, it’s a bargain. Once this spell is learned, a wizard should seek out that 380 P.P.E. immediately, or make preparations while learning the spell. In actual gaming, most characters will already have their closet set up before game play. GM’s should be sure to have an equipment list separate from a character’s “carried” gear, lest your player tear out a pair of water pistols in a surprise vampire attack…when those water pistols were actually buried at the bottom of a toy chest in his pocket dimension.

There are plenty of other uses for this extra-dimensional space, but let’s talk about the space itself. First of all, it’s 10x10x6 feet, or 600 cubic feet. GM’s should allow some flexibility here, especially if you are a dwarf or fairy. Humanoids might want to consider a 9x9x7 foot room, or 567 scubic feet. It’s small, but you have more headroom. Now a generous GM will say that if you cast this spell at a nexus point, you can triple the size of the extra-dimensional space, or make it 1,800 cubic (15x15x8)…which is quite comfortable. Then as a ritual…well you get the point.

Other than your typical bunk bed, weapon chest, chemistry lab, computer room, or incense laden meditation lounge, there are several other uses for this space. I have personally seen some use it as a stable for horses, a garage for hover-cycles, a prison for beings and/or entities, a hideaway for a Necromancer’s undead minions, safe haven from a dog boy’s wizard-sniffing nose, and a pool of water for an otherwise semi-aquatic humanoid. The uses are indeed endless.

Lastly, with GM approval, the dedicated real estate tycoon of a wizard might want to consider “stacking” his or her extra-dimensional spaces. With multiple castings, a Shifter or Temporal Wizard can have several spaces, side by side, above and below, though in reality the spaces do not touch, they only appear that way when a doorway opens between them. This might create a room to room effect linking several envelopes together. The end result, an extra dimensional condominium!

Spell Anatomy
Being a “staple” as I mentioned before, the spell does still have its drawbacks. First, more than a handful of wizards have purchased scrolls and taught themselves without the proper supervision. Those careless wizards, not well versed in dimensional travel, have died in their sleep (failed a Magic Lore roll) due to asphyxiation. Oxygen only lasts for several hours, which means no candle burning. The way around this has been the spell of Sustain for most (another “staple” spell), tiered herb gardens for others, compressed oxygen with digital environmental readouts, certain symbiotic organisms, etc. Reckless wizards have resorted to bionic implants, while other more resourceful ones have found techno-wizard means of replenishing oxygen. Methods of creating artificial light have not been so much an issue. More techno-savvy individuals might tap into E-clips to power the room and make it comfortable, while others still might make use of a small vehicle or robot’s nuclear power source. And to avoid the call of Mother Nature, wizards often rely on Cleanse to ease the pressure on their bladder. Obviously, the dimensional envelope does not come with indoor plumbing. Should the use of this spell become more widespread, a techno-wizard retailer will almost flourish as a result of creating devices to make the interior of a dimensional envelope more livable. Others techno-wizards might create a device allowing non-wizards their own private sanctuary through the use of a high-tech garage door opener to their own dimension.

There is yet another drawback that often goes overlooked. Should a wizard open a door while anywhere near a being also capable of extra dimensional travel, such a s a Shifter, alien, energy being, spirit, etc., that wizard will almost certainly become the target of the beings possibly malevolent curiosity. Some who enter their dimensional envelope never exit, and others find their most prized possession mysteriously missing. Although this should be used as a plot hook for GM’s and not a sinister way to punish helpless players, the possibility is still there. So as the spell itself protects the wizard from any Earthly threat, there are still spells in existence to protect from the unholy, and the extra dimensional.

Spell Rating: 4 out of 5
I would give this spell a great rating for its duration, its many uses, and its reliability. The missing point is as a result of its high cost to make it semi-permanent, and the many spells and or pieces of equipment that must accompany a Dimensional Envelope to make it fully functional. Though one could argue the high cost is not high at all, and is offset by the spell’s overall rarity. I consider it a “must have” spell nonetheless, though not something I would battle a Dimensional Raider in order to acquire.

Spell Combos
As mentioned before, Sustain works wonders to avoid needing oxygen, and Cleanse solves the lack of plumbing problems. Both are long lasting spells, also considered “must have”, and will serve a wizards well even when not in the envelope. Lantern Light is the spell of choice to light a D-Envelope, Mystic Alarm is the spell of choice for security (even works in other dimensions for a mere 5 P.P.E.!), but Sanctum is the ultimate in Dimensional Envelope protection. Unfortunately, these are not so much spell combos as they are necessities.

Spell Modifications
NOTE: Rules for spell modifications/variations of existing spells can be found on p. 38 of Nightbane WB 3: Through the Glass Darkly (TtGD). Penalties, bonuses, and changes to spell level do apply, as per TtGD.

Optional rules: GM’s may want to allow their players to alter the overall size, shape and interior of the envelope without exceeding the limit of cubic footage. They may also want to allow casting near a ley line, nexus point, or as a ritual an extra allowance in size, should you consider size and range to be the same in this instance. Through the Glass Darkly normally uses the Principles of Magic Skill in its modification rules. Substitute Principles of Magic for Magic Lore in Rifts, or fifteen minus what G.M. determines to be the new spell level. In addition to the spell modification rules found in Through the Glass Darkly, I.Q. bonus should logically be applied here. This is another optional rule to be used at GM’s discretion. Again, some modified spells might actually resemble spells that already exist, but keep in mind that it is easier for a wizard in the game to use the knowledge he or she already knows, as opposed to learning a new spell from scratch.

Modified Dimensional Envelope Spells, Temporal Magic

Dimensional Prison
Range: 90 ft (27.4 m)
Duration: 1 hour per level of the caster.
Saving Throw: Not applicable.
P.P.E.: 40
Level: Considered a 9th level spell.

Dimensional Prison opens a visible doorway into a small extra dimensional space. The size of the space is determined by the first person who enters (usually the prisoner), and only gives the prisoner a few inches of headroom, and enough room to lie down. The interior is damp, pitch black, with walls, floor, and ceiling of rough stone. The atmosphere alters itself to keep the inmate alive and breathing no matter what species, though it is as uncomfortable as solitary confinement. Prisoners can be psychics, magic users, Stone Masters, but can not escape unless they can manipulate dimensional doorways. Even brute strength, should they try to break the stone walls, will only find themselves in the same room again, and once they pass through, the walls are renewed. The prisoner can be removed by opening the dimensional doorway and removing them, or by waiting for the spell’s duration to expire. The spell duration can be extended by recasting it prior to the expiration without a lapse in spell effect.

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