Optional Magic System Grimoire

Using Essence

Although essence is innate in all living creatures, it is necessary for a person to focus upon it enough before they are able to manipulate it. In order to allow your character to manipulate their essence, you need to give them the special “Essence” quality, which behaves differently than other qualities. Read on to learn how to set up and use your character’s Essence in your game, but remember that it is entirely up to you and your Game Master whether essence and its magic will exist in your game world, so be sure to check before planning your character around it!

Note: If you landed on this page without reading the previous chapter about Essence, read that first so you can understand how essence works before trying to learn how to use it!

Defining Your Essence

Once your character gets the Essence quality, whether at character creation or added later, you will need to set up your character to learn what they are capable of. Remember: Essence cannot be your character’s primary custom quality. See Character Creation for details.

Finding Your Aura

Roll 1D6 to determine the Aura of your character’s essence. An essence’s Aura explains the nature of the essence, and in turn defines what your character will be able to do with their essence when they grow more comfortable using it. In other words, the Aura specifies what kinds of magic your character will be able to use.

Use the table below to find the Aura that your character’s Essence possesses and write it on your Character Sheet:

Die ValueAuraElement / Power
1HotFire / Heat
2ColdIce / Water / Sharpness
3HeavyEarth / Strength
4FastLightning / Energy
5SlowNature / Time / Precision
6SoftLight / Empathy

An essence’s Aura has nothing (or very little) to do with your character’s personality. Instead, it is simply a defining characteristic of the essence itself, meaning that different Auras allow people to do different things with their essence after gaining control over it. As essence has been studied over time, it has been found that given enough time and mastery, Auras generally allow essences to perform magic related to the associated Element / Power listed above.

Fun fact: Notice how most Auras are associated with a traditional Element but none of them represent Air? Essence itself is associated with Air!

Understanding Density

Your character’s Essence quality’s level represents the “Density” of their essence—the higher the Density of their essence, the more there is to manipulate. What this means is that as your character grows more and more skilled with controlling their essence, their essence will grow within them, allowing them to do more things with it. Using the terms of other RPG systems, this might be understood as your character’s magic level.

Using the Essence quality, you will be able to find what skills a person with the same type of Aura at that level of essence Density is capable of learning/using and choose what your character is able to do. Each level of Density affords your character a certain number of skills they can use their essence for.

DensityBasic SkillsHoned SkillsMaster Skills

Specific skills for each level are laid out in their respective chapter, linked above.

Note: Skills listed in each chapter are intended to reflect your character’s growth of and control over their Essence rather than act as discrete actions that can be performed. As their essence’s Density increases and they learn more skills, envision that as your character enhancing their control over their essence in a way that allows them to perform that skill by learning to manipulate it in certain ways. If your GM allows it, skills can be merged, weakened (unless otherwise specified), or altered to fit certain situations beyond what is described, so long as the Density allows the possibility.

Manipulating Your Essence

Using Essence follows the same rules as other qualities, but a negative impact failure gives your character the “strained” status condition. On a successful roll, you can use the skill you were attempting to do anything that the skill could logically allow. For example, the Honed Skill Grab can be used to hold things in place as well as simply pick them up.

Prolonged use (i.e. maintaining an action using Essence for longer than 1 turn if in Combat or for longer than 5 seconds outside of Combat) can also place strain on your character’s mind. Every time your turn begins while you are maintaining the manipulation of your Essence, make a Check roll using your Essence quality. If you fail the check, your character gains the “strained” status condition.

In addition to this, attempting to manipulate an object up to twice what your Essence’s Density allows (i.e. attempting to lift something that weighs more than your essence can comfortably lift—not going beyond your Essence’s range), you must roll an additional Essence check. If you fail this check, your character gains the “strained” condition and is unable to perform the action. If the object is more than twice what your Essence’s Density allows, the action cannot be performed at all.


As your character’s essence gains more Density, it will be able to be extended further. The ranges listed below are relative to your character’s head and allows for a rounded tip with a 1-foot diameter when extended away from you.

1–25 Feet
3–410 Feet
5–615 Feet
7–820 Feet
9–1025 Feet
Mastery30 Feet

While you are able to stretch your essence as far as the table above specifies, the closer your Essence is to you, the denser and therefore the more powerful/effective a skill can be.


When your character is strained (from either pushing badly failing their Essence Check or from over-exerting their essence) but they try to use their Essence quality again, they risk receiving an Injury to their head. If a character already has the “strained” status condition and they do something that would normally apply the “strained” condition, they receive 1 Injury to their Head, ignoring any protection they might be wearing!

Normally, the “strained” condition goes away after 1 full round during Combat (unless the GM says otherwise) or until the scene or location changes when outside of combat (at the GM’s discretion). If you choose to use Essence while strained, the “strained” condition does not go away until you allow your character the time they need to recover from it. So whether you succeed or fail your Essence roll, you must wait an additional round or scene before it can be removed.


Normally, essence can only extend as far as its range and is immediately shortened/cut off if a solid object passes between the user and its target. If you have achieved Mastery on your Essence quality, your essence will automatically stretch up to half its range around any obstacles that get inbetween the user and its target to prevent the connection from being broken.

For example, if someone walks in front of you while you are trying to Grab something, your essence can automatically stretch around that person so the connection between you and your target is not broken.

LAST UPDATED: October 28, 2019
  • Text and wording changes for clarity throughout
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