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Book of Unlimited Magic

Cathartic Magic

Source Secrets of Magic pg. 194
Some spellcasters draw their magic from the gods, while others shape it by precisely manipulating unseen energy. Still others fuel their magic with raw emotion: the cathartic mages. Their emotional magic is powerful, but raw and unpredictable.

Rarity: Uncommon

Catharsis, the process of purging pent-up emotions, places a cathartic mage in a heightened emotional state much like a barbarian's rage. Magical energy pours out, often manifesting in visible displays that cascade off the mage. This can even produce a faint echo of the released emotion within those nearby. Though it seems reasonable that the caster's pent-up emotion would be one that they normally repress, this is by no means required. A cathartic mage could be a generally happy and positive person who still enters an enhanced state as a magical wave of joy overwhelms them.

The magic of emotions is as difficult to master as emotions themselves. Practitioners of this art find themselves tired, unfocused, or in physical pain after tapping into their deepest feelings. It often takes time for these users to reclaim mastery of their own minds. Most cathartic mages find a mundane activity to help settle themselves, such as reading, needlepoint, or simple meditation.


Source Secrets of Magic pg. 194
Using cathartic magic in your game invites heavy use of role-playing emotional states, which can be a challenge for some game tables. Players need to check with their GMs and other players to ensure these rules are appropriate for the game. Entering an emotional fervor doesn't mean anything a character does in that state is acceptable. As always, adding new rules doesn't excuse being rude to other players.

It's also important to keep the cathartic emotion from overshadowing the other parts of your character, as it works best as part of a well-rounded personality. It's a powerful emotion, though not your only emotion. This power can be a double-edged sword, but it doesn't have to be. It could be a fun quirk, a deep struggle, or a mysterious power your character wants to investigate.


Source Secrets of Magic pg. 194
One of the reasons cathartic magic is uncommon has to do with the adjustments the GM must make to incorporate it in the game. Some situations that would normally be detrimental for PCs, like becoming controlled or critically failing at a roll, can be a trigger for powering up instead! Some emotions require a PC or NPC to be an emotional focus, making the ability largely useless if the PC is separated from that person.

Unplanned Catharsis

Source Secrets of Magic pg. 194
In the right circumstances, a GM might introduce cathartic magic into the game without a player pursuing it first. For example, if a mind-controlled bodyguard is ordered to slay someone they vowed to protect, the GM might decide they can take the Catharsis reaction from the Cathartic Mage Dedication. Like any reaction, it still poses a choice—the player could choose not to take it. If the player enjoys this mechanical reveal, they might even want to invest feats into the Cathartic Mage archetype.