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In the 50 Fathoms players section it does not specify what a starting character gets when they select Arcane Background (Magic). This is unlike the other Arcane Backgrounds in the other rule book.

Is this an oversight (and it should be as the Mage in the main rulebook) or does it mean they start with nothing? If so you start at a great disadvantage as you have to select another two edges just to do anything.

Also, does Elemental Mastery Edge give you any benefit other than allowing you to select from a different set of powers (any use cross elemental powers at your new element)? The book doesn't seem to suggest there's any other benefit - is that correct?

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The golden rule when reading any Savage Worlds setting is that if the setting doesn't specify something then it defaults to whatever is specified in the Savage Worlds Core Rules.

In this case, Elemental Magic requires the Arcane Background (Magic) Edge. The description of this Edge in 50 Fathoms gives some information on the different elements, but as it does not specify the number of starting Powers, you use the value from the Arcane Background (Magic) Edge in the core rule book. This states that you start with three powers.

The description for the Elemental Mastery Edge makes it clear that the only benefit each time you take it is access to the spell list for an additional element. This might not sound like much, but spells like Bolt, Blast, Zephyr and Settle Storm are only available to a single type of elementalist. These are all extremely useful and powerful spells, and there are a lot of advantages to being able to expand the spells you have access to by taking the Edge. In addition, the Mastery Edge also gives you access to alternate trappings for those spells that allow them.

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