(2-7 point Flaw)
There is something you must or must not do, and your life, your luck your magic and perhaps your very soul depends on it. It may be something that has always been upon you, a geas prophesied by druids at your bitch, a sacred oath or vow you swore, or a promise or bargain you made, and Someone (with a capital S) witnessed it and is going to hold you to it. If you disobey, the consequences are dire, if not deadly.
|Dominic De Woolfe is forbidden to ever harm a wolf, the totem shape chosen by his Avatar. A crazed Nephandi discovers this and pulls a rabid wolf out of his hat. Dominic then has the choice of violating his geas or getting bitten by a rabid wolf. He chooses to shoot both the wolf and the Nephandi, and, as a result, his Avatar deserts him, leaving him a mortal without the ability to do magic.|
Characters may have several magical prohibitions or imperatives, and these may come into conflict. In Celtic myth, Cuchulainn had the geasa to "Never refuse hospitality" and "Never eat dog meat." Three hags once offered him roast dog for dinner, and Cuchulainn died soon after. Consequently, most mages keep their magical prohibitions and imperatives secret, lest they be used against them by enemy mages. Perversely, geasa curses and sacred oaths are also marks of great status among certain Traditions, especially the Verbena and Dreamspeakers, who accord status to mages with such Flaws as if each were extra points of Destiny. Simply put, unimportant people don't have geasa or family curses.
GMs should examine each prohibition or imperative and assign a point value to it, as well as to the punishment for violating it. Easily avoided circumstances, such as "Never break bread with a red-haired man," are worth 1 point, while more common, or difficult things, such as "Stop and pet every cat you see," are worth 2 points, and particularly drastic or dangerous circumstances, such as "Never back down from a fight," are worth 3 (or more) points. Consequences are worth points as well (that is to say, you add the point totals of the circumstances and the consequences together). Automatically botching the next major spell you do is worth 1 point, having bad luck for the rest of your life is worth 2, losing all your friends and worldly possessions is worth 3, dying is worth 4, and being deserted by your Avatar is worth 5. Characters and GMs may come up with variants of these.
Traditionally, there is very little that may be done about geasa, which are simply facets of one's Destiny, and curses are devilishly hard to lift (and the Flaw must be bought off if they are). Characters who accidentally violate them may attempt to atone for their crime, fixing whatever they did wrong. A witch who has vowed to never eat any red meat, and then suddenly finds ham in her pea soup, might be able to atone for the trespass by fasting and sending checks to PETA. However, if a mage violates an oath willingly and with full knowledge (and survives) he becomes an oathbreaker, one of the foulest epithets among the Traditions. Oathbreakers are psychically marked. It is virutally impossible for them to find a tutor or any sort of aid. Some Traditions, notably the Order of Hermes and the Verbena, kill them on sight, numbering them among the Nephandi, whose dark paths of power are the only ones left open to them.