I want to give a character in my Dresden game a "mage hand" rote. So basically telekinesis on a single object of limited weight. It doesn't seem to fit cleanly into the 4 types of spells: attack, block, maneuver, or counterspell. My best guess is that this should be considered a maneuver, but it doesn't really apply any Aspect, which maneuvers generally do.

Or, is this a minor enough thing that I should just consider it falling under the rules of Mundane Effects (YS259) and let it happen "for free"? That seems potentially a better fit to me, because then a wizard doesn't have to take mental stress for a relatively innocuous spell.

How would you model mage hand in Dresden?


3 Answers 3


It basically depends on how the player views it and the effect it has from there.

If they just wanted it for flavor and were prepared to seriously limit it (think flickum bickus), I think you basically answered your own question and gave the correct reference (YS259). If you go that way, then it can present no obstacle and make no effort. So if someone has a flask in their hand holding it out to the character, they can make it fly to their hand. If they do the simple expedient of closing their hand, then it cannot. If they want to pick up anything that requires any shifts of effort, then it would be beyond this spell. Basically flavor. With some creative thinking, they might be able to do something truly useful with it... but then, Harry did the same with flickum bickus, so I don't think that departs from the fiction overly much.

If they wanted to be able to apply force, then you'd go a different route. Basically, it wouldn't be as simple as one spell- it would depend on the type of force they were trying to exert. If it were to be able to throw the item at someone, you'd go with attack. If it were to be able to hold the object up for defense... you'd go with defend. The tricky one is to overcome... but going to Fate Core for a reference, what has replaced Maneuver is Overcome and Create and Advantage... so for cases like that, I'd go with Maneuver.


This is not innocuous. This is action at a distance - super powers! It is absolutely a maneuver. It doesn't do damage, but it can change the "facts" around your player characters within the fiction.

This would probably be a Spirit spell, as that is the element of both light and energy. Though air could work too, for floating and blowing objects around. This isn't Flickum Bickus, replacing a mundane tool like a match or a lighter. This gets wizards out of cages, steals important documents and items, and basically is well worth the mental Stress it would cost.

Work it up with the parameters you desire and make it a Rote. Don't give it away.

If I have time later, I will post my implementation of the spell.


A Mage Hand spell can't be effectively modeled as a Rote, because the mechanical effects will change drastically from one casting to the next. Of course, you can work something out with your GM and/or fellow players.

Depending on exactly how you use that Mage Hand spell, it's incredibly versatile. Flicking a light switch will place an aspect on the entire scene (Darkness or Well-Lit). Moving a lever on a crane can be almost anything, as long as you don't accidentally Hex the machine (Block an opponent from leaving, create the aspect Cranes Make Great Cover, or have the crane run somebody over for an Attack). Picking up a book from across the room means that you don't have to walk into the sights of the mob hit-man who's hiding behind the couch, which doesn't have a mechanical effect but powerfully changes how the scene will play out.

The trouble, of course, is how to model it in the Dresden Files mechanics. All of those different uses above can have completely different required shifts of power and mechanical effects, and a single Rote can never cover all of them.

If you choose to limit the telekinetic power, and agree to not use it to create scene aspects or start up heavy machinery, then it falls under a Mundane Effect.

If you want to be able to grab important items, start cars, and lock doors, then it's a Maneuver that costs 3 shifts of power: that's the catch-all action when you can't think of anything more specific. Considering the extreme flexibility of the effect (it can affect an area, be sticky, affect multiple people, or do something utterly trivial depending on whether you're opening storage tanks or just grabbing your keys on the way out the door), you should discuss this with your GM (and possibly the rest of the table) before making this a Rote; the power level and action type is going to vary widely depending on effect, and Rotes are supposed to have the same effect every time you use them.


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