House Rules - Tattooing

House Rules - Tattooing Magic

Tattooing represents a way to bind an effect more permanently to a metahuman's body. To bind a tattoo, the character must have the Tattooing metamagic technique, which requires either Quickening or Anchoring as a prerequisite.

Getting Ink

To create the tattoo, the artist, must have the Tattooing metamagical technique and must have Enchanting skill, as well as the Tattoo Artist knowledge skill. Enchanting skill is required to prepare the inks to be used, using one unit of herbal or mineral radicals for every 2 Force Points of the spell. These radicals must be mixed with the ink using a special process, which requires an Enchanting (Alchemy) test against TN equal to the number of units being prepared and a base time of 10 days. Up to (Rating / 2) units of orichalcum may be added at this time.

Tattoos require an amount of body area equal to the spell's force, squared, times 100 square centimeters. The spell's force, squared, in days, is the base time for completing the tattoo. The artist makes a 'Tattoo Artist' test with a TN of 4 to divide the base time. Successes from this roll may also, instead, be used to improve the quality and appearance of the tattoo, which act as additional successes on the Quickening test.

Adding the Magic

Once the tattoo is complete, the spell to be bound to the tattoo must be cast within one month, while the ink is still fresh. The spellcaster must have the Tattooing metamagic technique, and know the spell being cast. The spellcaster casts the spell as an Exclusive activity at the desired force, using spell pool, power foci, category foci, and the aid of spirits or elementals as needed. Expendable foci may not be used on this test. Karma pool may be used on this roll. The spell is cast as per the normal TN of the spell. Successes on this roll, plus successes from the tattooing test that were used to improve its quality, can be used in one of three ways:

  • To divide the base time of 1 hour per karma point spent.
  • Designated as successes for the tattooed spell when activated.
  • Designated to grant the wearer extra dice to resist drain.

The caster then rolls to resist drain. Then, the caster makes a second drain resistance test against the spell's drain code.

1. The karma cost to bind a spell into a tattoo is (Force ^ 2) divided by 2, round down. Each unit of orichalcum used to create the tattoo lowers this cost by 1, to a minimum of 1 point.

2. The effective Force of the spell for dispelling purposes may be raised by spending additional karma equal to (Force x number of points to add) divided by 2, with a minimum of 1 point per additional force point added. The effective Force of Tattooed spells is NOT doubled for dispelling.

3. The bonding karma cost may be paid either by the caster of the spell or the wearer of the tattoo.

Dispelling Tattoos

Dispelling of tattooed spells must occur on the physical plane. Visibility penalties and background count apply to the dispelling test and/or the drain test as per normal spellcasting. A target whose spell has one or more successes successfully removed by dispelling receives a Perception test at a target number of (10 - the Force of the spell). The target number is lowered by 2 if the target is Awakened, and by 1 for each success above 1 that the spell lost to the dispel. A cumulative total of 3 successes on the perception test are needed for the target to notice his spell is being dispelled.


Once the tattoo is created, it can be activated with a complex action. When activated, the spell bound into the tattoo becomes active, with a number of successes equal to those that have been designated for it. The wearer of the tattoo then resists drain from the spell using only body or willpower, unmodified by any cyberware or bioware, plus any dice designated for drain resistance when the tattoo was created. If the force of the spell is greater than the wearer's magic attribute (or Essence if the character is not Awakened), then the drain is physical.

Once activated, the tattoo sustains the spell until it is dispelled, defeated in astral combat with a ward, or cancelled as a free action. Tattooed spells do not count toward foci addiction.


A tattooed spell may be upgraded in Force or Effective Force by paying only the difference in karma cost. Effective Force does not count toward area of the body consumed by the tattoo. If the Force of the spell changes, the tattoo may have to be enlarged or recreated.

The target number to cast the spell for Quickening is modified by a target number penalty equal to (6 - Essence), times one-half, rounded up.

Damage to Tattoo

If a character with tattoos takes an S or a D wound, all tattoos on the character's body must immediately check for damage. Roll 2D6; if the result is less than the force of the spell, the tattoo loses a point of force. A roll of '2' always results in damage to the tattoo. The tattoo must be repaired by an artist, and the spell re-quickened, in order to regain its full force. Naturally, if a limb is tattooed and that limb is lost, the tattoo is lost as well.

Cyberware Reduction

A tattoo on a human requires an area of skin equal to the spell's force, squared, times 100 square centimeters. When applied on other races, the tattoo is scaled appropriate to their size, so all metahumans, in effect, have 15,000 square centimeters to fill. In other words, the sum of the squares of the forces of all tattoos cannot exceed 150 points — and at that point, the metahuman's body is completely covered in tattoos. No bonuses or penalties are given to this number based on being tall, short, skinny, obese, young, or old. Cyberlimbs reduce this amount as follows:

Location Percent Reduced
Per forearm -5%
Per full arm -10%
Per lower leg -10%
Per full leg -20%
Cyberskull -5%
Cybertorso -35%


Bob wants a Force 4 Increase Body spell tattooed. His essence is 3.75. His Body is already 5.

His friend Steve is a Tattoo Artist with Enchanting and Tattooing as metamagical techniques. It'll require 4 units of herbal or mineral radicals. Steve rolls against TN 2 to create the inks and gets 4 successes. Since the base time is 10 days, it'll take 2.5 days to create the inks.

Next, Steve begins tattooing. It'll take Force (4), squared, times 100 square centimeters, or 1600 square centimeters. The base time is 16 days. Steve has the Tattoo Artist skill at 5. The Target Number is 4. Steve will roll, use two karma points to reroll, and gets 4 successes. Since he's not in a hurry, he'll take 8 days to complete the tattoo, and save 2 successes to improve its quality.

Unfortunately, Steve doesn't know the spell to be cast. But Marsha does. Marsha has Sorcery 6, Willpower 6, plus a Health Focus at Force 4 and a Power Focus at Force 2. This gives her a total of 18 dice to roll at TN 5 (Bob's current Body) plus 6-essence (2.25), times one-half (1.125), rounded up (2). Total TN is now 7.

Marsha will have to work hard. She gets lucky, though, and by burning 3 KP on rerolls she gets 11 successes. These are added to Steve's 2 successes from the Tattooing test. She chooses to allocate 8 successes for activation of the spell, 5 successes to give Bob extra dice to resist drain.

To activate his focus, Bob spends a complex action. His Body is 5, his Willpower is 4. Background count is 2. The spell activates with 8 successes, giving him +4 to his Body. Now, he must roll drain. Drain on Increase Body is +1M. At Force 4, the drain is 4/2=2, +1M or 3M. The drain Power is increased by half the background count, making it 4M. Bob now may use his Willpower of 4 or his Body of 5 to resist this drain.

Bob rolls his Body (5) (unaugmented by the tattoo) against TN 4 and gets 3 successes. 2 of those successes stage M down to L. The final success is wasted. Since the force of the tattoo (4) is higher than his Essence (3.75), the drain is physical. Bob takes an L physical wound from the magical energies flowing through his body to power the spell. The spell continues to function until dispelled, or until Bob chooses to deactivate it.

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