Anchoring allows an initiate to place a spell inside an anchoring focus and set certain conditions, called triggers, by which the spell may be set off. Anchoring is quite useful for creating a range of magical tools, traps, and weapons, but has a number of drawbacks, including Karma costs, astral vulnerability when active, and difficulty in creating.

The technique of anchoring is used to create and use anchoring foci (MitS p45). Only an initiate who knows this technique can create an anchoring focus or link a spell to it, though any character (even a mundane) can use an already prepared anchor if they know how to trigger it. For more information on the creation of foci, see Enchanting, MitS p39.

Choosing the Spell and Triggers

Before bonding an anchoring focus, the owner first decides what spell(s) to attach to it. This can be any spell the owner is capable of casting, up to a maximum Force equal to the Force of the anchor. The owner must also choose the triggering conditions. These triggers can be an action or key word from anyone touching the focus, or a specific time (during the next lunar eclipse). Triggers requiring actions or key words require the person to be in physical contact with the focus.

If the owner wants a more specific trigger, or one that will work at a distance from the focus, a detection spell can be linked to the anchor along with the other spell(s). The detection spell works solely to tell the anchor when to turn the spell on or off; it does not provide information to the owner or the holder of the anchor. Another detection spell may be put into it for that purpose. It has a standard range (Force * Magic) from the anchor.

Bonding the Anchor

Before placing spells in a reusable anchor, the character must bond it like any other focus (SR3 p190). The owner specifies the spells and triggers that will be anchored in the focus when it is bonded. Only those spells and triggers may then be linked into the anchor; the choices can be changed by rebonding the focus. A bonded anchoring focus contains its owner's astral signature and an astral link to its owner, like any other focus. However, after the spells are put in place, the mage may unbond the anchor if he so wishes. See Anchoring Foci (MitS p45) for bonding costs.

Linking the Spell

To "charge" the bonded anchoring focus, the owner must link the spells and triggers to the focus. This requires the owner to cast the spell and then make a Linking Test. This entire process is considered a single Exclusive magical activity; the character may not be maintaining spells during this time, he may not use any other foci, and Spell Pool does not refresh until the entire process is over. Spell Pool, totem modifiers, and the Aid Sorcery power of elementals may be used. If the process is interrupted at any point, it must be started over from scratch.

Spellcasting: The initiate casts the spell being linked to the focus at this time, per standard spellcasting rules. You do not actually make the test at this time, merely note the number of dice to be rolled for the Sorcery test. When the anchor is activated later, that is the number of dice the spell is "cast" with. This takes a Complex Action for an expendable focus, or a number of days equal to the Force of the spell for a reusable focus. The process must be attended constantly, with no more time than a quick bite of food brought to him or a trip to the bathroom.

If the spell has effects that are determined during casting, such as Transform or Alter Memory, the effects must be determined now, e.g., changes the target into a wolf.

Multiple Spells: Putting more than one spell in an anchoring focus is difficult, and somewhat risky. Any botch on a test to link a spell in an anchoring focus results in the destruction of the focus. Furthermore, each spell must be maintained during the Spellcasting process, modifying the drain TN, but not the TN for the spell when the focus is actually used. The first spell is at no penalty. The second spell is at +2. The third at +4, and so on. Since this task is Exclusive, sustaining foci cannot be used, and spell pool does not refresh during the process.

Linking Test: After the duration listed, the spells must be finally linked into the focus. The initiate makes a Sorcery Test against a target number equal to the highest Force involved in the linking, +2 for each additional spell, minus the mage's initiate grade.

Drain: Once the spell is linked, the initiate takes Drain for both the Linking Test and all spells cast, using Willpower and any allocated Spell Pool dice. This TN is modified by the sustaining penalty earlier - the first spell is at no penalty, the next at +2, etc. The drain from the link doesn't have this penalty. Spell placed in expendable anchors only cause stun - spells placed in reusable anchors cause physical drain. The Drain Power of the link is the anchor's Force divided by 2 (round down) with a Drain Level of M (stun if expendable, physical if reusable). If the character is knocked unconscious or takes D damage in the process, all the spells unravel and it must be done again from the start.

Using an anchoring focus

Once the spell is linked to the anchor, the anchor is active and can be triggered as above. All users must use the triggers set into the focus itself. Most mages put a secret password or trigger of some kind which only they know to activate or deactivate the object at their will.

When an anchoring focus is triggered, the spell is "cast" using the number of dice determined when the spell was linked. Consider the anchor to be the "spellcaster" for the purposes of targeting. Unless the anchor has a linked detection spell, it can only target itself or the holder of the anchor. If there is a detection spell as a trigger, it can aim its linked spell at any valid target it can detect within range. An activated anchoring focus is present in astral space, to it can target both physical and astral beings.

Whenever the anchor is triggered, it becomes astrally active. If bonded, it may be used as a link back to the creator for ritual sorcery. If not, it still may be targeted by astral beings who wish to, as per a normal focus.

Effects of Anchored Spells

Anchors are normally used for sustained spells, as are sustaining foci. The spell, once triggered, is sustained by the anchor until it is turned off. Instant and permanent spells can be anchored as well, but the spell goes off only when the anchor is triggered. Permanent spells are sustained until they become permanent, then the anchor deactivates. An anchored Manaball will be cast once when the anchor is triggered, but will not activate again until the spell is re-linked into the anchor, 'charging' it again. A spell may be put into an anchor multiple times to provide multiple uses.

Expendable anchors are triggered once and then burn out. As soon as the anchor is deactivated, it is used up and its physical component is destroyed. Expendable anchors are used for one-shot effects, such as alchemical elixers containing health or manipulation spells, which trigger when they are consumed, or combat or manipulation spells that activate when the anchor is shaken, lit on fire, etc., creating magical bombs. Expendable anchors leave behind no connection to their creator other than the astral signature from the spell. Many more effects are possible. Use your imagination.

Reusable anchors are more durable items that can be used over and over, such as a ring linked to an Invisibility spell that can be turned on and off, a hood that casts a Mask spell, or a sword with a Flame Aura spell that allows it to burst into flames. Reusable anchors last until destroyed in astral combat or by some other damage. All spells other than Sustained spells linked to a reusable anchor must be re-linked after each use.

Anchored Spells and Astral Space

An anchor with a linked spell is not considered active until the spell is being maintained. This means that the anchor is dual-natured and vulnerable to astral attack while maintaining a spell. Astral perception can easily detect the anchor's magical aura and determine the spell(s) linked to it.
An active anchor can be attacked in astral combat. If the anchor is defeated, any spells left in the focus are lost. If "killed" it loses its enchantment and must be re-bonded. A sustained spell cast by an anchor can also be dspelled (SR3, p184). If the anchor is reusable, the dispelled spell must be re-linked before it can be triggered again. The focus itself must be destroyed to permanently disable the spell.

Using Anchoring

Anchoring can be used for a variety of magical items for all sorts of uses. The Karma cost, uncertainty of success, and the fact that anchoring foci can be used as a material link for ritual sorcery when bonded generally keep anchored spells fairly rare. Anchored spells offered for purchase are generally very expensive. See Magical Goods (MitS p169) for prices on spell anchors. Remember to include the price of the focus itself.


Executive Protection: A piece of jewelry (such as a lapel pin) that is a Force 5 anchoring focus, with a Force 5 Bullet Armor spell and Force 5 Detect Bullet spell. The detection spell rolls its dice to detect any bullets moving toward the wearer and triggers the armor if it detects any, dropping the armor spell when the danger is past. The anchor is reusable and costs 15 Karma to create (Force 5 x 3 for a reusable anchor). Such items are found in the posession of corporate execs, syndicate bosses, and other big noses who can afford such magical protection.

Healing Elixir: A potion (Force 4 expendable anchor) with a Force 4 Treat spell. The spell triggers when consumed, rolling its dice to heal the drinker and sustaining itself until the healing becomes permanent. It costs no Karma, but 12,000 to obtain the focus.

Wand of Fireballs: A wand that is a Force 4 reusable anchor, with five Force 4 Fireballs linked into it. It fires its fireballs in the direction it is pointing when the user says the word 'Tanstaafl'. It may do this five times before needing to be recharged with more Fireball spells. It costs 12 Karma to create.

"+1" Long Sword: A sword that is a Force 8 reusable anchor, with a Force 8 "Enhance Aim" spell that's been modified for melee combat. It activates when the user draws it from its sheath. It costs 24 Karma to create.

Bullet Kaboom: A bullet that is a Force 3 expendable anchor, with a Force 3 Powerball spell. It goes off when it hits something hard enough to deform the bullet.

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